Saturday, April 30, 2016

Making Solitude Time With God

Some people would say my hubby and I have a pretty quiet, laid back life.

  • We are empty-nesters.
  • We live in a cottage, on a lake.
  • We are just a few years away from retirement.(I actually stopped working last year.)
  • We are currently not involved in a lot of community/social groups.

But a quiet life doesn't mean there is lots of time for solitude and seclusion from family activities, daily responsibilities, and time that the two of us spend together. In fact, there are times I really crave solitude with God, but it just doesn't come that easily. (And when I say "solitude" I don't especially mean a devotional time in the Word and/or prayer. I am pretty much able to do that every day.) I mean just getting away from all of the schedules and business, t.v. and computer, and just making time to gather my thoughts, rest, and relax. 

We have a small lot, which our cottage is situated on. There are two different patio areas - one on the lakeside of the house and one on the roadside. In the summer, we use the lakeside area for entertaining quite a lot. The other patio, though, is not real functional, currently. Our grill is located there and we have a small table and chairs, but never really eat at it, as there is no real shade or privacy. Well, I'm very excited to say that that is going to be changing soon! 

My hubby just purchased a pergola kit and will be putting it up there! I already have been dreaming and planning what I want this peaceful spot to look like. Here are some pictures from the internet that caught my attention...

all photos can be accessed through my Pinterest Board

I hope to start several vining flowers to grow over the top of the pergola. I also would love to purchase a sitting area...possibly an outdoor daybed or sectional set. Once the spring weather decides to arrive and actually stay - we have had a rough April, with lots of wind, rain, and temps in the 40s-50s, I hope to make this area my outdoor solitude spot!! Currently, my only real "inside" solitude spot it in the bathtub, when I take a long hot bath, which is fine, especially when the weather is nasty - like today!!   :-(  But, I just love being outdoors and in the beauty of nature. I look forward to this addition to our little cottage!!

Do you have a place of solitude that you like to go to (or have a dream of the kind of place that you would like to have time away in solitude and seclusion from people and daily activities)? 

The Word encourages us to take time away from daily life...
In Old Testament Times God’s People Practiced Solitude
“Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the ‘tent of meeting’… The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.” (Exodus 33:7, 11)
“[Elijah] went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him… a gentle whisper” (1 Kings 19:9, 12).
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.” (David; Psalm 23:1-3)
“Let him sit alone in silence, for the Lord has laid it on him.” (Lamentations 3:28)
Jesus Practiced Solitude and Silence (If He Needed it How Much More do We!)
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.(Luke 4:42)
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:16)
Solitude is Important for Spiritual Growth
“But the LORD is in his holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.” (Habakkuk 2:20)
“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15)
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
Jesus’ Disciples Prayed in Solitude and Silence
Peter went away from his traveling companions to go into solitude and silence and seek God. He had a vision and heart the voice of the Lord three times. His experience led to the Gospel being spread among the Gentiles. “About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened…” Acts 10:9-11).
The discipline of Solitude is an excellent tool to build our relationship with Christ! For some people it may take time to practice and get used to it, but once you do, it is a phenomenal way to build intimacy with Christ and take in the goodness in life! It will become a "personal retreat" of sorts. Whether you spend 20 minutes or several hours there, it should be your very own space.
I realize that most people cannot build their own secluded spot, but usually we can look for similar spots in a local park or a corner of your yard. When I worked, there was a private corner between the two buildings on the property, where I would go back to, over my lunch hour and enjoy the woods and nature. Wherever you go, make it your own little spot, if possible. Turn off your phone and computer and take in the beauty of the Lord!!
Have a blessed weekend!!

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Monday, April 18, 2016

When Memory Fades...

It was November of 2011...I was a newby still - it was only the second time that I had officially posted on my blog. I wrote on my experience of my son (then only 18 years old) having accidently hit his head and having a concussion. The fear, anxiety, and frustration were all there in that post.

An excerpt from that post: 
"He can’t remember and keeps asking questions from one minute to the next….my heart aches for him in his frustration to remember. He starts to panic…..I remind him to stay calm. Can we make it home before he loses it? We do, but even then he can’t relax at home…..questions and more questions (yikes! Will he be like this the next 2-3 days?) Please, Lord, bring back his memory! ...later on, I start to feel the release of my emotions from the stressful evening and shed some tears! Oh, the things we endure as parents! We love, yet at such a cost!!!"

As I read the post again, I almost had a feeling of de-ja-vu! Was that experience a foretaste of what was to come....this time with my mother, instead of my son? The only difference is that that was a temporary memory loss and this time it is progressive and permanent. Same emotions, same fears, different generation. 

As a main caretaker, there are good days and not-so-good days with my mom. Don't get me wrong. I love my mom more than anything. But the repetitive questioning, childlike behavior, and inability for her to process any deep thinking or decision-making can wear on my patience. I definitely have realized my own need for the presence and patience that only God can provide. If, like me, you are one of the estimated 15 million Americans caring for someone with dementia, you know that it’s a uniquely devastating disease. Dementia—the most common form is Alzheimer’s—robs you of the person you love. It attacks memory, personality, language, and physical abilities. It can last for years, even decades. And it has no cure.
I know that over time, my mom's dementia will only get progressively worse. That is why I try to appreciate the good times that I have been blessed to have  to spend with her. Several months ago I made the choice to quit my job and be one of the main caretakers of my mom for this very reason. Those days and moments can be cut short at any time. I know that, even on those days when it is more difficult to have patience and endurance, I try to keep reminding myself that the days are short, compared to what time I may still have with her. I pray for strength and am so thankful that I can go to the Lord, Who... my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him.(Psalm 28:7)
No matter what kinds of difficulties and trials we may be going through in our lives, we can lean on our Lord to strengthen and help us!! He provides all of our needs!! Praise Him!!

May you all have a blessed week!

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Monday, April 11, 2016

Life is Precious

I know, for me, I tend to sometimes forget how precious life is.... The lives of those around me and my own.

This past weekend the hubby and I attended the 3rd birthday party of our grand-niece.(our niece's daughter.) I remember when this rambunctious bundle of toddler energy was born. At a mere 4 lbs, 12 oz., she was a true miracle! My niece found out just a year after having her daughter that she had a rare blood-clotting disease that had caused and would cause her to have multiple problems in pregnancy and childbirth, including miscarriage, early labor, and low birth weight. Her doctor discouraged her from trying to have more children, as not only could it cause her to have pregnancy issues, but was a threat to her own life during pregnancy and childbirth. My niece and nephew were devastated with the diagnosis, as they both wanted more children. After grieving for a time, though, they decided to focus on their precious little girl, and be thankful for the blessing of her in their lives.

This little "princess" as she kept telling us she was at her birthday party, is such a blessing to so many people - parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. Her sweet spirit is a reminder to me how precious life is.
 Loved the princess birthday cakes!!
 For privacy reasons, I didn't show a picture of my grand-nieces face. 
My niece helping my grand-niece open presents.

I'm reminded of my own son, who was a miracle baby for me and my hubby over 23 years ago. We didn't think we could have children. After years of trying, and almost giving up, I conceived and he came into our lives!!

In reality, I believe we are all precious miracles of God's love.
Jeremiah 1:5 - Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; 
Ephesians 2:10 - For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
 1 John 3:1 - See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 

The older I get the more I believe it...Life is very precious! I pray that no matter where you are in your life or how young or old you are, that you know how your life is very precious to the Lord!! He loves us and holds us in His very loving hands. This reminds me also of the story of the lost sheep...

Luke 15:4-7
“What man among you, if he has a hundred sheep and has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? “When he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. “And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ “I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Each and every life is precious!!!!

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Finding Hope and Comfort, When Your'e Hurting or Confused

I desired relationship, not just with Jesus, but with my only son.

I shared  

I waited  

I gave thanks 

I put on the full armor of God; fought the enemy with the Lord's help!

I read God's promises over and over in His Word and claimed them for myself.

I waited again 

I tried to do everything right, and nothing seemed to confused me and if I’m being really honest it hurt my heart. 
I felt both of them drawing farther away, not closer to me.

What was I to do? What was I supposed to learn? Maybe it's this...

  • Maybe welcoming God’s promises requires the same sort of acceptance we give any guest who arrives at our home: preparation, waiting, making room for the promise to have seat at the table, even as it’s still far off in the distance.
  • Maybe sometimes God’s promises wait in the distance. Pain waits there too. That’s when He comes alongside. The presence of the living God, eagerly, but quietly drawing near to you in your hurting.
  • Maybe I need to live a sincerely Listening Life. to listen until I understand.  He commands, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). "And to those whose minds are steadfastly fixed on Him, He gives the gift of peace."... 

I'm learning that when you are broken or alone or have questions and aches, goodIt’s good to be desperate if you’re willing to be desperate enough to cry out to Him and let Him reach into the aching places and reveal you and heal you and speak to you.

When I feel desperate for my son in prayer, peace evades me. In a sense, I feel a deep concern for him. But, I do believe God put this in my heart...
Even Paul wrote "Apart from external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?" (2 Corinthians 11:28-29)
The statement here shows the depth of feeling of this great apostle; and shows what should be the feeling of every believer.
 "Now by all this which the apostle did and suffered, by all actions and sufferings, care and sympathy, he fully appeared to be a true and faithful minister of Christ, and abundantly more than the false apostles, who could produce none of these things as testimonies in their favour."
But, how can I have that intense concern and find peace?
The Holy Spirit is the Giver of  peace, and He dispenses it as a gift. Galatians 5:22 says one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is peace. Notice that every promise Jesus made to His troubled disciples on the night before His death was rooted in the coming of the Holy Spirit. Christ promised life, full understanding, and peace to those who are His disciples, but it is the Spirit of God who takes the things of Christ and gives them to us. 
"Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful" (John 14:27). 
Jesus shows us His promise of peace. We ought to be able to lay hold of this peace. It is there, it is ours; but we must take hold of it. The peace He gives has to be received and applied in our lives.
He calls us to let the Lord's peace work in us. 
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts." Colossians 3:15 
As I  continue to pray for my son(and for a closer relationship) and wait, I'm learning that sometimes young men need time.  
"Growing in grace and wisdom and stature isn’t an immediate download — it happens the way a tree grows up: over many yearsThere’s a reason why children begin as seeds. It’s okay — it’s okay —- that growth and change take time — it’s supposed to. There are good young men out there who need to be unearthed from low expectations, and made over by relentless grace, who are given confidence to to do hard things by giving them hard things to do. 
Don’t quit now. There’s a whole generation of the hardest boys who can become the greatest men.There’s a whole generation of young men who will rise up if we raise our expectations, who can turn over new leaves because we never stop believing in them, who can do hard things because we never give up on them, no matter how hard it gets." ~ Ann Voskamp
Until then I am called to just be a pointing arrow — by the way I humbly sacrifice and serve
"The world needs the mothers and the gentle and the kind and the humble and the generously giving to get down on their knees and love enough to say exactly just that– through their words and hearts and serving, sacrificing hands. 
Focus more on living Truth than pointing out error, more on celebrating the beautiful than decrying all that’s broken — more on being a servant than on being right. That doesn’t mean we ignore concerns— it means our ultimate focus is on the commendable. Be a Light so lovely that he is drawn to the Source and warmth of it.
By this one white heart....Pure Love branded right into the prayers and the prodigals led back home.~ Ann Voskamp 
In my spirit “I know God is going to bring my son back to Him.”
Now, Satan wants me to ask “And what if He doesn’t?” — what if He doesn’t do what we plea, what we pray, what we believe He can and will do and should do?
Even if He doesn’t – He does still love us.
If He doesn’t — I will still believe. Still believe — in Him. 

So, I continue to :   
>"Let your requests be made known to God, with    thanksgiving and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus”. (Philippians 4:6-7)  (Ask the Lord to have you feel as He would have you feel ...) 
>"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord."(James 1:5-7)   
>When your heart and mind are troubled . . .Dwell on the hope and the promises found in Jesus Christ - for a harvest worth all of a mother's worn and faithful grace!
13 Encouraging Bible Verses About Hope
With A Little Hope . . .Finding hope in the unexpected places, in the circumstances that seem overwhelming, in the moments you question everything you ever knew. Scriptures of hope:
  • "The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves those who have a humbled (contrite) spirit."(Psalm 34:18)
  • "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."(Psalm 34:19)
  •  "Know also that wisdom is like honey for you: If you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off."(Prov. 24;14)   
  • "...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."(Romans 5:3-5) 
  •  " the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."(Romans 15:13)
He may not be answering our prayers yet, but He is working in us. He doesn’t always still our storms. But He can still us, in the storms. May the comforting Holy Spirit of God counsel and comfort us as we make our way through this broken world.

Rest In Me - A Song of Hope & Encouragement

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