Tuesday, May 23, 2017

An Invitation for "Whispers of Rest"




In exchange for my review, The Hachette Book Group, publisher, provided this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”





Today is the day! I have been awaiting this day for several months now.  Shortly after I entered into this year of 2017 sensing that my #Oneword365 would be "Stillness," I was in awe to find that Bonnie Gray was publishing a new Devotional,  Whispers of Rest, with practical daily prayer prompts and Scriptures to help find Soul Rest with God.  So, when the opportunity was given to become part of her Pre-launch Team, I jumped at the chance.  And for the past 21 days I have not been disappointed, as I joined with a great group of other readers who took up challenges to listen more closely for the sweet call of Jesus to daily become His Beloved. 



In fact, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you've probably seen many posts with the hashtag #Whispersofrest, or #soulrest.  There have been so many beautiful offerings posted from all those who have been part of the Pre-Launch team!




As I read and listened to the prayer prompts, as I opened my eyes and heart to see touches of God's Love for me scattered throughout the moments of my days, I have been overwhelmed at God's timing.  When I entered this challenge, I had just visited my Rheumatologist and heard encouraging words.  He was pleased with the low activity of my Rheumatoid Arthritis.   But only days into this study, I was hit with a sudden flare-up of old symptoms and weakness. 



I was desperate to hear those words
of Soul-Rest
And I was overcome by a shaking
of my own abilities.

How could I join in a study
How could I be an encourager
When I felt so weak myself?


And that is the point of this book.  None of us is strong enough on our own.  Jesus is the ONE who carries all the strength. And Jesus is calling each one of us, to find our place next to His heart, resting as HIS BELOVED.


Through a series of personal stories, questions, poems, and Scriptures, Bonnie Gray gradually finds us in our deepest heart longings.  Her words have a way of cutting through the surface layers and touching the true heart without striving or pushing.  Each chapter addresses specific prayer prompts, but then goes further and invites us to participate in active ways that engage minds and bodies along with spiritual growth.


  


  

 

The Lord watches over you—
    the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon by night.

Psalm 121:5-6 NIV 

 

 

 

 




During the chapter titled "Shelter" Bonnie talks about a willow tree that was her comfort as a child:

"During sweltering summers, I'd rest under the willow, when the steel slides were too hot to touch. . . . When it rained lightly in autumn, I'd sit and listen to raindrops pelt against the pavement, staying dry under its canopy. Then, I'd pour out my heart and confide in God. I found shelter under its shade."

I too had a willow tree sheltering place when I was a child, in the backyard of my best friend. We'd spend hours up in that tree, singing songs, planning our futures, sharing our dreams.  . . .  I knew there was a connection from God for me in this particular chapter, especially as I read further and saw that the prayer prompt was to join in for a silent time of resting or contemplative prayer. If you've been following my blog, you may remember my post here, where I heard God's nudges to follow Him into a time of learning to be quiet in His presence.  


Come away with ME
my Lord whispers.
Find a stillness
in MY heart
to satisfy every aching
your own heart
has felt.

Find ME as your shelter
He calls out to my heart.

The swaying brances
of a willow tree
to cover every aching
to stir up every dreaming
to fill up every singing.


And when I came to the end of the chapter, the active challenge was to find a beautiful tree and "Rest under its shade . . . Return to a peaceful place with the One who shelters you."  In these days of walking through a trial that makes no sense to me, there is a shelter being offered from the heart of my Lord.  For every day, and every struggle, He wants to bring a peaceful shelter and a beautiful call to rest with Him.


If your heart has stirred
with a longing to find REST
in the middle of your hard,
join me in listening to the 
only ONE
who truly can bring Soul Rest.

And, I would highly encourage you to visit Bonnie Gray's Website at www.whispersofrest.com where you can find more information about ordering her book for yourself.  Your faith will be built up as you read and participate in ways to find "Whispers of Rest" for yourself.  For ordering info click here.



 

 

 

 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Life Interrupted



THE ARROW AND THE SONG

"I shot an arrow into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For, so swiftly it flew, the sight
Could not follow it in its flight.

I breathed a song into the air,
It fell to earth, I knew not where;
For who has sight so keen and strong,
That it can follow the flight of a song?

Long, long afterward, in an oak
I found the arrow, still unbroke;
And the song, from beginning to end
I found it again in the heart of a friend."
        --Henry W. Longfellow







The stillness path was opening
before me,
And I thought I understood
the meaning.

Open my heart
Listen for the changes
Walk the new path
And reap the new fruit.









After a busy time with our family all gathering in, I knew I would need to shelter and let the refreshing return. I rested in the beauty of spring, and I waited. . . . and waited some more. . . . But as the Fibro-Flare retreated, an old enemy returned.  The fire of the RA Dragon breathed his heat on my joints again.  When I woke one morning unable to do the simplest tasks, I knew what would be required: a call to the Doctor and the old regimine of prednisone, the most dreaded of my meds, would have to be started. If the inflammation of Rheumatoid Disease is not brought down in time, it spreads to other organs in the body, wreaking havoc on the entire immune system.

Before I made that call, I knew another call needed to be made. A cry to my friends for prayer to ask the Lord for Grace to surrender again. I sent out the texts and I heard back the words, words I had uttered myself so often for each one:

"I am praying for you." 

I held the pills in my palm, the stiffened palm that could not close, and I knew the Lord was near. He orders my days, and He knows the limit of the trial.  As I stared back down the road that I thought I had completed, He whispered words of sweetness in my soul.

"My daughter I see your pain,
and I walk with you still.
There is no turn that surprises Me,
no crooked place I won't make straight.

I am not shocked by the broken ways,
and I do not count your pain 
as failure
in the same way that you do.
I see only LOVE
in your eyes
reflected back from ME
when you gaze 
into My heart.

Just as I carried your burden
all the way to Calvary,
I now carry the trial
as I hold you close.

You are mine
Nothing between us
Look up to My heart
And into My Love."


And I knew the prayers of my friends were being answered as I remembered the Scriptures that were set before me from the online Bible Study offered by my dear friend,
The study for that day, the day of my own lameness returning, was 2 Samuel chapter 9, the story of David the King who brought in a forgotten son. This son was called to the King's table all for the sake of a covenant made between David and the son's father, Jonathan. You can read the story for yourself, and find the beautiful words that paint such a picture of our Lord the King, and the way He calls us to sit at His table, because of the covenant of Love that our Savior made on our behalf.  But the words at the end of the chapter brought the beauty of surrender to my heart once again:


"So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons. And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet."   2 Samuel 9:11,13

 

The lameness of Mephibosheth was not a hindrance to the covenant of love being fulfilled for him. The King called him in, and treated him like a son.  


Are you feeling the weight of a lameness 
somewhere in your soul?
We all carry a weight.

Do you have a friend you can call
for prayer when that lameness
seeks to overwhelm you?

I would love to join you in prayer today.
Even when the pain subsides,
we can humbly admit 
to each other
the weakness that lies inside our hearts.

There is a covenant of Love
to be shared
and to be spread abroad.

The King calls us to sit with Him,
to join Him at His table
like a son.  



 


  

Monday, May 8, 2017

The Gardener Sees

This Gardening heart of mine is finding new ways to be satisfied in this Season of Slow. I may have had to change my activities, but I am finding that God still names who I am in the deep places of my heart.



Have you heard Him call your name?
Have you heard the whisper of 
"Beloved, follow me?"



The British style of Gardening is a fascination to me. So I eagerly wait for new episodes of "Gardeners' World" to appear.  This past week, as the hosts interviewed a most famous gardener, Penelope Hobhouse, she spoke a thought from her younger days that met my way of seeing:

"I was bowled over by suddenly realizing gardening is about beauty and not just being practical." 



Over the years of helping many of my friends in their gardens, there usually came a time when they were surprised at the beauty I saw in the landscape around me. It might have been something they had missed, or something they had counted as a detriment. Even the small "critters" such as the frogs and toads have their own purpose and beauty.







 

 

Say What?

My heart holds fast, when

Others name it plain or drab

I will find beauty.

--BG











And yet, while I have no difficulty finding beauty in gardens, 
I am not so quick to look for the beauty in the rest of my life.



I want to open my eyes
In the drab days
I want to hear music
In the plain songs

For there is a beauty
All around me
Even in the dreary
A singing for the soul
In every darkened day.


 

 "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 

 

 

What about your days?
Is there a beauty that you have overlooked?
Is something drab or plain
catching your eye with a hidden song?




Today's #Haiku #Poetry prompts were the words "fast&plain." Once again, Ronovan Hester has been kind enough to open the invitation to participate in the challenge over at his site:
Ronovan Writes



I am linking this week with:
#LMMLinkup 
Meg Weyerbacher, #TeaAndWordTuesday 
Debbie Kitterman, #TuneInThursday 
 











 

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Spring Brings New Life


Every spring I wait for it. And every spring I stand in awe.
The colors of new life astound my eyes. Has there ever been another green so vivid or so pure? Surely this is the first time I've seen anything like it.  

I tell my heart to slow down. I've seen it all before. But silly heart, it doesn't listen to my words. Not when the evidence lies right there, for all to see: 






 Spring Treasures

Small creature appears

And my own heart gives a throb

Will you leap or stay? 

--BG









And while my heart is awakened, I think back to another new life, the ONE that changed everything. The same life that even in the womb stirred something deep. It's a Christmas kind of thought that matches this New Life way of thinking:



 "When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: 'Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!'"



And I am led to ponder, to wonder,
what will my heart
say when He
brings New Life
to my own days?




New Life Leaps

My soul will you throb

When Breath of Life comes new, fresh--

Recognize and Leap?

--BG






This spring I took an online poetry mini-course offered by Jamie Wright Bagley. I was so blessed as I moved through the chapters of her course called "Poetry for A Wild Existence." Many of her lessons were accompanied by photo prompts, or word prompts, or questions probing our thoughts about what poetry stirs up in our hearts.


This poem was created in response to a photo
showing a beautiful and inviting sunroom, with a one-word
prompt of "present:"



Feasting

On the porch

I rest my soul

The robins "cheerily, cheerily, cheerily,"

   And the chickadee "dee, dee, dee"

      Sing the music

         for my meal.

I feast on sunshine

   And drink of the breeze

      I am present

         here with God. 

           --BG

  


 Are there treasures this spring that cause 
your heart to leap within you? 
Is New Life being stirred in you?

I would love to hear your thoughts, 
just leave a comment below!





If you have a desire to try your hand
at a beautiful and fun poetry course,
visit Jamie's site, at JamieWrightBagley.com



Or, if Haiku appeals to you, then this week's #Haiku #Poetry prompt 
led by Ronovan Hester over at his site,
includes the words "Leap&Throb."
If you love poetry, why not give either of these a try?



I am also linking today with:

Meg Weyerbacher, #TeaAndWordTuesday 
Jennifer Dukes Lee, #TellHisStory 
Mary-andering Creatively, #LMMLinkup 
Debbie Kitterman, #TuneInThursday 
 




 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Living Water


The rains were falling steadily all night, and as I saw a break this morning, I was drawn outside to witness the sparkling of the drops as they caressed the new growth on the peonies:


 




Have you ever been thirsty?
I am speaking about the kind of thirsting
where you feel so thirsty there is a fainting in your soul.












I have been in that land of thirsting,
and I have watched the shimmering waves
of heat baking the desert sands
as my parched soul 
looked up to Heaven
waiting
for even one cloud to form.



Many years ago, my family traveled and shared a drama in which I portrayed The Woman at the Well. Week after week, in many different settings, my lips spoke the cry of a woman so thirsty that she begged for a drink when the well was right before her. You see, Jesus had offered to her a different kind of water: a filling up for her soul's thirsting.



"Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'”



As the weeks and the months passed, everytime I spoke those woman's words, a deeper longing was planted in my own heart. I didn't know it at the time, though. I thought I was being filled, as I gave out the words of Jesus, week after week.  


Ah, how does it happen?
How does a cry in our heart
become lodged so deep
that only another
longing
can answer in return?



I thought I knew how deep the well in my own heart was. I thought I felt the fullness of my Lord's Words when I shared His heart with those around me.  But I had only scratched the surface.  I offered my praise, and I offered my worship, and my Lord knew what was required to let me see my own unmet longing.


The desert of pain
And the heat of suffering
burned away the 
half-met longings
to uncover
the well where
full-hearted cries
could finally be uttered.



I have some very dear friends who continually pray for my healing. They wait in hope for the day that Jesus will restore movement to me, and a full remission in this place of pain. Where would I be without their sweet prayers of HOPE? And I do see improvement from the awful heat and swelling that began this journey of disease.


But there is a deeper healing 
in my soul
that I would never trade
even for just a day 
without physical pain.


For how can I tell
of the wondrous
filling
for my soul's 
thirsty well?

How can I sing
of my Savior's dear Presence
carrying my heart
to His bosom of rest
when the pain
overwhelms?

And How will I share
these dewdrops of love
poured down on my heart
when the desert sky
breaks
with the water
from Heaven?



Is your heart facing a desert sun today? Are you fainting as the heat of the day wastes your soul?  There is a filling that can happen for you too, my friend.  There is a place of stillness close to the heart of God where He calls you to come. It is His very Word spoken at the end of our drama, week after week. I longed for those words to be mine, years ago, but it took the pain of suffering to bring them home to my heart:



"The Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' And let the one who hears say, 'Come!' Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life."








I am linking today with: