“We’re not just cultivating a life well-lived, we’re cultivating the things which bring life to our souls so we can truly live. We’re cultivating the things which help us live well no matter what our circumstances are.” 

Jolene Underwood from What Do You Really Want In This Life 

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Mathew 11:28 (MSG)

Dear Reader, Are you tired, weary, longing to get away? Can I tell you how often I feel this way? The fog of fatigue daily plagues my life, there’s no escaping it. Times it suffocates and I long to run away. Is it just me or do you feel this way too?

This is where I found myself a couple of weeks ago, longing for a retreat. I’d like to tell you I was longing for a spiritual retreat. I was not. What I wanted was days of doing nothing. Days without an agenda. Days wrapped in fuzzy blankets, wool socks, a stack of books, and no interruptions.

We had planned a day trip but our appointment with Duke Dysautonomia Clinic was mere days away. We saw the wisdom in my Sweet Man making the trip alone, while Lola and I stayed home.

There was a part of me sad to miss the trip, miss time with children and grandchildren, eggy (a pre-schooler’s made up word) over my man traveling alone. And there was a part of me zinging with excitement at the prospect of a day without an agenda.

Dawn came early with my Sweet Man’s four am departure, I stacked the books, filled my mug, opened my journal and Bible and sat in the quiet. Pen in hand, I wrote the words, “What shall I start with first?”

It’s eerily quiet that time of day when you are alone, save for the dog who had licked her Papa goodbye and promptly gone back to bed.

Journaling through my time with the Lord, my fingers itched to reach for the books I had stacked nearby.

I had dreamt of a cabin tucked away, with sounds of nature, a stream nearby with water trickling over rocks. My toes warming by a crackling fire. Reading several books from start to finish.

I found myself camped “in” The Wilderness Place rather than tucked away in a cabin. I read through Nehemiah, chapter nine, coming across these words:

“They remained standing in place for THREE hours while the Book of the Law of the Lord their God was being read aloud to them. THEN for THREE MORE hours they confessed their sins and worshiped the Lord their God with loud voices.” Nehemiah 9:3 (NLT) emphasis mine 

Scratching a few notes in my journal:

Rebuilding

Seeking God 

Repenting

Praising God

Recalling what God has done

Feeling quite plumped up with my notes, I reached for the first book. The book itself needled and picked and pushed me back into The Word again.

I needed quiet. I needed to listen.

Lenten season was fast approaching. This retreat of sorts was showing me I did not need to give anything up. Rather, I needed to take something up. More space to listen. Ya’ll, hear me now, I am not a good listener. I much prefer to fill all the space with words!

God was calling me to sit with him in silence. To listen. I thought of Nehemiah and the Israelites. How they stood for three hours listening to the Law of God. I thought of myself, feeling quite content when I fill an hour with all of my needs rather than listen to what He needs of me.

I needed to make more space for God to speak, and my soul to be filled. It is then my weariness will fade away. I will breathe life and drink of Living Water.

The day did not go as I had planned, and really why am I so surprised? I worship, adore, and serve a mighty God who surprises me every day exactly where I am.

cultivating the things which help us live well no matter what our circumstances are.”  Jolene Underwood

“The Joy of the Spring shall be yours in full measure. Revel in the earth’s joy. Do not you think that Nature is weary, too, of her long months of travail. There will come back a wonderful joy, if you share in her joy now.” 

From A Devotional Diary-God Calling-By Two Listeners

Gifts of Grace