Day 7: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

“Sometimes solitude is the only place you can
go to feel safe enough to fall apart.”
Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest,
by Bonnie Gray

There is a big difference between being lonely and enjoying solitude. I work from home, so I spend a lot of time by myself. And I’m okay with that (most of the time). But I do recall many times in my past when I felt all aloneeven when surrounded by other people. I think this often occurs when we are suffering silently with an issue that we don’t feel we can share with others. Maybe it’s too painful or perhaps when we compare our problems to those of others, they seem so unworthy or insignificant. Especially for those of us who are nurturers, we tend to push our own problems aside or shove them down so deep that we “erase” them. Sometimes they stay down or hidden, and we never actually deal with past emotional traumas. Other times, they force their way to the surface when we least expect it.

That’s what happened to Bonnie Gray, the FaithBarista.com blogger and newly published author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace. In Bonnie’s Day 7 blog tour post (part of her book launch) she writes a letter to her lonely seven-year-old self (whom she “re-encountered” with the help of a therapist while experiencing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). I love these words from her letter:

There is someone who collects every drop of your
tears who sits by you at bedside every night. He
knows you find it hard to sleep and it breaks his
heart you cannot feel the touch of his hand on yours.

That someone is Jesus.

And He isn’t going to let these hard years, these
hard moments pass by unnoticed. Unspoken.
Unacknowledged.

It will be painful when you finally realize just how
loved you are, because in order to be found, you
will have to realize you have been lost.

It’s okay. Because this is how you will know that
you are known.
This someone named Jesus will take all your broken pieces.

And He will make something new and beautiful.

Solitude

Sometimes we need a special kind of solitude or spiritual whitespace to walk with God and have a real soul conversation with Jesus.

In her book and on her blog post, Bonnie suggests that we write a letter to our younger selves as part of a self-discovery and healing processWhat would we say to her, knowing what we know now? Another one of Bonnie’s readers, Laura, posted a very beautiful and touching letter to her six-year-old self that serves as a strong reminder of the power that parents, or other loved ones, can have over building up or tearing down children. If you know the childhood rhyme: “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me,” I’m sure you recognize it as a falsehood. Because words are powerful things. And they can hurt. So remember to speak them with care over your children … or to anyone, really.

If you are still carrying around old wounds and battle scars from your past, take time to acknowledge that inner child—who she was, what she experienced, and how she felt. You’ll find Bonnie’s book to be a very helpful resource during this process. Even though her own story unfolds throughout the book, each chapter provides journaling prompts, so you can figure out what may be keeping you from spiritual rest and work on exploring, embracing, and enhancing your own story.

Letting Go

“When we think about spending time with God, we often beat ourselves up for not spending enough time. The guilt kills intimacy of the heart. Whitespace doesn’t keep track of the amount of time. Time doesn’t exist in whitespace. Spiritual whitespace takes place in the eternity of our hearts.”

Remember, God’s presence in our lives and in our hearts is what’s important.

“He has made everything beautiful in its time.
He has also set eternity in the human heart;
yet no one can fathom what God has done
from beginning to end.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV)

Bonnie reading from her book in California at a book launch party (photo by Janine Crum)

 

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Advertisements

Day 6: 21 Days of Rest

I have been reading a book about rest for the past month, and even though a lighter work schedule has given me time away from my desk, the “doer” in me has continued to find a way to fill up my schedule. I have been making promises and setting up self-imposed deadlines for projects that really don’t need to be completed by a specific date/time. So, I was delighted to read Bonnie Gray’s post this morning “The Clock Is Not My Shepherd,” where she shared her decision to change her 21 Days of Rest blog tour. She says,

“I am so excited to continue sharing 21 Days of Rest and Whitespace Challenges.

But, these will not be consecutive 21 Days.

These will be 21 Days written with the rhythm of rest. I will write to you out of a heart fully alive, engaged.

Because Faith Barista is about making a quiet space for you and me, I want to always return to my own heart to live and write from a journey of rest myself.”

Rest


Read more about and/or purchase the book here.So, in keeping with the spirit and intention of the book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, and the Faith Barista’s words, I will also be giving the perfectionist in me permission to move away from self-imposed deadlines and toward living a journey of rest. I will add blog tour posts as they coincide with Bonnie’s posts so that others may continue to enjoy her words and my photography. And I may write other posts on various days of the month, but quite likely, there will be days with no posts at all. The rhythm of my life, slowing down to allow me to breathe, will set the pace.

Meanwhile, here is my Day 6 blog tour contribution, containing my photo and Bonnie’s words. Feel free to share it.

Acceptance and Rest

Also, check out this rewrite of Psalm 23, “The Clock Is My Dictator” by Marcia Hornok, which appeared on the Faith Barista’s Day 6 blog. This was the first time I had seen it, although it has been around for years. I think many of you will relate to it. I know I did.

The clock is my dictator

I shall not rest.

It makes me lie down
only when exhausted.

It leads me to deep depression.
It hounds my soul.

It leads me in circles of frenzy
for activity’s sake.

Even though I run
frantically from task to task,
I will never get it all done.

For my “ideal” is with me.
Deadlines and my need for approval,
they drive me.

They demand performance from me
beyond the limits of my schedule.

They anoint my head with migraines.
My in-basket overflows.

Surely fatigue and time pressure
shall follow me all the days of my life.

by Marcia Hornok
(1990, In Discipleship Journal)

Let’s give up the quest to reach the end of the “to do” list, and accept that it will never happen. Instead, think about maintaining a more realistic schedule and reaching for physical and spiritual rest along the way. If you’d like to participate in this faith journey that I’m on and connect with the Whitespace Community, click here.

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Day 5: 21 Days of Rest

Whispers, etched in pain but spoken with truth, hope, and encouragement …

Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, offers these things to readers of her book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest. Follow Bonnie on a journey of the soul through the broken places of your past (painful memories you may have buried or tried to erase) to spiritual whitespace, where we can rest together with Jesus.

“Jesus wants us to know there is no place we can find ourselves where his presence cannot reach us.”

Join me this June as I post some of my own photos enhanced by some of my favorite quotes from this thought-provoking, heart-touching book. (Feel free to Pin or share my images.)

Finding Your Whitespace

 You’ll find Bonnie’s Day 5 blog post here.

“Am I the beloved?

This is a complicated question for my heart.

But what good is truth if I am not living it, experiencing it in my story?

Jesus didn’t love us simply with his mind far away in heaven.

Jesus became rest for us. As a person. Not as some idea or concept.

Spiritual whitespace is not an ideal concept of rest.  Spiritual whitespace is making space to engage our heart with a Person.  Jesus.”

 

Somewhere along the way, we stopped valuing the idea of rest. We lost sight of the fact that it’s a critical part of creativity … our health and … our faith. … If you’re tired of being tired, read this book. … If you feel too busy to read this book, then that’s probably the best sign of all that you need it.” Jon Acuff, NYT bestselling author of Stuff Christians Like  (From the foreword for Finding Spiritual Whitespace)

 findingspiritualwhitespace_book-194x300

Take this journey with me and find your own rest using this beautifully written guidebook: Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest. Click on the link (the title of the book or the image above) to order.

Join the 21 Days of Rest blog tour by sharing stories and photos of your own  moments — on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest — using the hashtag: #spiritualwhitespace

 

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Day 4: 21 Days of Rest

Join me on a journey this June to seek rest. I will be posting some of my own photos enhanced by some of my favorite quotes from Bonnie Gray’s book — Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest. I hope you enjoy them. (Feel free to Pin or share my images.) #spiritualwhitespace

Created for Beauty

 

You’ll find Bonnie’s Day 4 blog post here. “I want to make room in my life to be His canvas, that He can fill with beautiful, mysterious things that reflect the unique me He designed. …

God as artist lavishes time on his most beautiful creations in nature.

How can you and I be any less?

God made our hearts hungry.  For beauty. Dreams. Intimacy with Him. Friendships. Quiet. Rest.

God made our souls long for all these things — that take time.

We are not projects for God. We are poeima of God.

We need spiritual whitespace.

 

Check out these TWO special book launch giveaways! — GIVEAWAY #1:  {35 Winners} Times of Refreshing Journal from DaySpring and GIVEAWAY #2: {15 Winners} A Gold Connected Hearts Necklace by Lisa Leonard PLUS Times of Refreshing Journal Gift Set Giveaway from DaySpring. You must enter by Friday (6/6) so go check it out.

Take this journey with me and find your own rest using this beautifully written guidebook: Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, which released yesterday! Click on the link (the title of the book or the image below) to order.

 

findingspiritualwhitespace_book-194x300

 

Join the 21 Days of Rest blog tour by sharing photos of your own  moments — on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest — using the hashtag: #spiritualwhitespace

 

21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Comfort and Joy

I’ve been thinking a lot about “comfort” lately, not because anything is wrong in my life, just that I find it fascinating to explore the various things, places, people, and situations that many of us turn to for comfort depending on what we are experiencing in our lives. Many people turn to comfort foods, which can either physically comfort us (like hot soup on a cold day) or provide us with a sentimental or nostalgic feeling that links us to loved ones or reconnects us with happier times or places. Enjoying comfort foods is not a bad thing in and of itself; however, according to Wikipedia “Comfort food consumption has been seen as a response to emotional stress and, consequently, as a key contributor to the epidemic of obesity in the United States.”

Made to CraveAs Lysa TerKeurst explains in her book Made to Crave: “Craving isn’t a bad thing. But we must realize God created us to crave more of him. … Many of us have misplaced that craving by overindulging in physical pleasures instead of lasting spiritual satisfaction.”

For example, there are those who find comfort in alcoholic beverages. As a former alcoholic explains it: “alcohol gives [me] a false sense of being at ease … it blurs the hard edges of life and gives [me] a false sense of courage. Alcohol helps a person forget his/her problems for a while, but it doesn’t help resolve them.” However, for those who don’t over-indulge, enjoying a glass of wine, a beer, or a mixed drink is simply part of their winding-down process. In situations like this, a drink can be a comfort, but not a cover-up. And that’s okay; I’m not judging here, just following a train of thought. 🙂Glass of Wine

For those who DO use food or drink as an escape, I am drawn to these lines from another blogger that I recently read: “If we hide from our pain, we don’t need a healer.  If we hide from our faults, we don’t need a redeemer. If we hide from the fact that we are lost, we don’t need a savior.” Are you hiding things in your life? Are you looking to the wrong sources for comfort and answers?

When sharing about her own personal journey, Bonnie Gray shared this: “I decided if I was going to make it through this hard season of my life, I needed as much comfort and beauty for my soul that I could find. Even if it was whisper thin, even if it brought my heart pain to long for it, I would nurture that desire in me. Beauty reminded me that the real me was whole and present inside me. I didn’t know how to begin. But, I knew I needed to begin.”

2014-05-15 11.55.08

What are some things (or places) that bring you comfort? Not necessarily in the midst of catastrophes but when you’re dealing with the everyday blues or when you’re just not feeling your best for whatever reason? I definitely look to nature as a source of comfort – it almost always provides me with a spiritual pick-me-up. Do you have things that you consider comfort wear? I’m not talking about sweats or yoga pants that you wear because they are comfortable. I’m talking about things that, for whatever reason, seem to make you feel just a little bit better.

Have you ever heard of prayer shawls? There are many groups around now that participate in this, but the basic idea is that individuals knit or crochet shawls, which they pray over, and they give them to those in need of comfort and solace. Janet Severi Bristow, one of the founders of the ministry in Hartford, CT describes it this way: “Shawls … made for centuries [are] universal and embracing, symbolic of an inclusive, unconditionally loving, God. They wrap, enfold, comfort, cover, give solace, mother, hug, shelter and beautify.” I just love this idea. Imagine wrapping a shawl of prayers and blessings around your shoulders. Close your eyes and feel the arms of the Father (and those who were involved in the making and distributing of the shawl) giving you a much needed hug.

I don’t have a prayer shawl, but I have a couple of shirts that I consider comfort shirts. One is this flannel shirt pictured below that I’ve had for probably 20 years. The other is a Tigger T-shirt that I may have had for just as long. It has small holes in it so I don’t wear it out anywhere, but sometimes I put it on when I’m having a down day. Or if my husband is out of town, I like to put on one of his shirts to feel closer to him. It comforts me to feel connected to him. I also have a quilt that my older sister made for me. I use it at night when it’s chilly, but I also like to cover up with it on the couch when I’m not feeling well. If you don’t have “comfort wear” already, why not pick something out … something that reminds you of happy times or a particular person or place. Next time you are feeling a little blue or lonely or sick, reach for that shirt or wrap or blanket and give yourself a hug. And be sure to also take some time out for yourself – time to rest and recharge.

I've had this flannel shirt for probably 20 years. It's thin and worn so doesn't really provide much warmth, but it's familiarity brings comfort.

I’ve had this flannel shirt for probably 20 years. It’s thin and worn so doesn’t really provide much warmth, but its familiarity brings me comfort.

This is the quilt/comforter that my sister made for me. I love it.

This is the quilt/comforter that my sister made for me. I love it.

If what you are feeling is stronger, deeper, more than you can handle alone … reach out. Call a friend or family member (we don’t know you are hurting unless you tell us), go to church, or find an opportunity to forget about your own troubles and help someone else. Helping others is a sure way to find not only comfort, but joy.

Lysa TerKeurst reminded me (and thousands of others) in a recent Facebook post: “Be joyful: Intentionally look around for measures of joy each day. There is joy in simply being alive and in being redeemed by God. Remember, joy is a choice we make, not a feeling we hope to get from our circumstances. It’s good to look for the good, to celebrate it even in small ways. Doing so is a moment of victory!”

Bella running with pure joy!

Bella running with pure joy!

No matter how unpleasant your current circumstances might be, don’t cover up or hide from the realities of your life. Don’t cower in shame for your weakness or allow your fears to debilitate you, but boldly reach for comfort whenever you need it. You are not meant to live in fear or to suffer alone. Actively pursue comfort and joy, and you will surely be moving in the right direction!

I will send you the Comforter.

I will send you the Comforter.

 “If you love me, obey me; and I will ask the Father and he will give you another Comforter, and he will never leave you.”

John 14:15-16 (The Living Bible)

Whitespace Community Linkup @ faithbarista.com

Seasons of Life

As time moves on, our individual seasons or stages of life pass and change–sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. Regardless of the speed or whether we are currently where we want to be, it’s a lot easier to navigate if we are open and receptive to the continual ebb and flow of life. If we hold too tightly to where we are and resist change, our hands will not be open to receive the new gifts before us, and we may find ourselves forcefully swept off our feet. On the other hand, if we wish away each day until a “better” season comes, we’ll miss out on the beauty and wonder of the here and now and that wonderful feeling that comes with knowing (regardless of the “bad” times) and accepting that you are where you are supposed to be.

You know, even if you are going through a difficult or uncomfortable time in your life, you can’t let it fill the entire window of your view on the rest of the world. You’d be better off, perhaps even happier, seeing it as simply one of the many panes to view your life and the world through. Whether you realize it or not, there is so much more going on around you and inside you: growth, change, learning opportunities, loving moments, blessings. If you make an effort to adapt your focus, you will begin to think about things that may not be readily visible … things that really matter.

When you look at your life, what do you see? I found these words from Lysa TerKeurst: “Do I see the incredible spouse I married, or do I just grumble about his faults? Do I see the health of a son who can play sports as a good thing, or do I just grumble about his sweaty laundry? Do I see how fortunate we are to have enough food to eat, or do I just grumble about a kitchen that never stays clean?” Think about it. What do you see?

It sort of reminds me of conversations I have had with friends about my job as a coypeditor. Overall, the evidence of my work is not visible to most people because they don’t see the mistakes that were caught and fixed. However, if I’m not doing my job or I do it poorly, people notice; some might even be quick to point out the mistakes. Similarly, some people tend to focus more on what is wrong in their lives than what is right.

Do you ever think about all the good things God is doing for you every single day? Things that you don’t even notice? I imagine the good things that go on in our lives because of Him are not noticed nearly as much as the things we determine are wrong or inconvenient or “shouldn’t have happened.” And we sure seem to pray or talk to Him about all the things we wish he would take away or fix more than we thank Him for all the good He has done. I know I am guilty of that.

For example, sometimes when I’m driving, my mind goes elsewhere. Suddenly, I find myself at my destination with no real recollection of the drive. (I do pay attention most of the time. Really.) Have you ever thought about how many wrecks you didn’t have because God was watching over you? Do you thank God every day that you can get up in the morning and you can breathe easily and walk steadily and you aren’t in pain? If you’re like me, I think we tend to take stuff like that for granted, until we experience the opposite.

After suffering whiplash from an accident and dealing with some other issues, my sister Elizabeth commented on a Facebook post recently:  “so today was totally opposite from yesterday and was a very bad day mostly. woke up in severe pain, baby is teething and in tons of pain, lost all my contacts in my phone, power went out, etc. But like I told my brother, today has made me realize how many wonderful days I have and how very very few bad ones. I love my life even when it is a bad day :)” She’s got the right idea. Thankfulness and prayer can help turn your inner turmoil into peace. Peace about who you are, where you are, and what is going on in your life, no matter what the season. And with that peace comes hope.

My friend Matt Wagner wrote this: “Hope can spring up in any circumstance, any scenario. Like joy, it’s not a product of our surroundings; it’s a product of us. At times it is a simple, inexplicable feeling. Just as often, it is a conscious decision that we make. Either way, hope is always a good thing. It is a catalyst to inner strength, the root to persistence and a defense for happiness.”

So, if you haven’t already, take a moment now to be grateful for who you are, who is in your life, what you have as well as what you don’t have … and be sure to truly experience and learn from the here and now of this season in your life.  It will be gone before you know it. But you won’t need to look back with regrets; there will be a new day to live right in front of you.

*************************************************

And now, moving on to something a little lighter:
I’ve got an easy “seasonal” recipe to share with you.
Anything Goes Pizza

 

I started with a Freschetta wheat crust. You can use whatever you want: Pillsbury pizza dough, a Boboli crust, pita bread, tortillas, English muffins … it’s up to you. (If you choose muffins, pita bread or tortillas, and put out a variety of toppings, everyone in the family can create their own personal pizzas.)

Next, I got my selection of toppings together. I was going for a Greek pizza, so I chose Prego Veggie Smart sauce, grilled chicken breast strips, black olives, spinach leaves, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and feta cheese. Here is where you can mix things up by selecting seasonal veggies and/or adding in your own personal favorites. I would have made it without the chicken, but I added the meat for Bart.

I layered all the ingredients and baked on 350 for about 8 to 12 minutes. If you choose a crust that needs to be baked, you’ll need to follow the directions on the package before adding your toppings and popping it back in the oven. The only part of this recipe that takes a little time is chopping your toppings. Other than that, this is a quick and easy meal and could turn out to be a fun/creative event for the family. Enjoy your time together and your fabulous pizza!

To those who follow my blog, I apologize for not posting anything for about three weeks. I was enjoying family time with my stepson who was in town visiting us, and then I had to get caught up on work. Thank you to Angela who checked up on me and requested a new post. 🙂 It’s always nice to hear you are missed.