Bible, Christian, church, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, Jesus, loss, love, prayer, retreat, righteousness, sorrow, Spiritual, trials

I have quieted my soul

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I knew before I left the house that the route to my destination would most assuredly include miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic before I reached the other side of Houston.  I set my mind to enjoy my trip no matter what and made sure to leave the house early enough to avoid the late afternoon rush hour.  I must admit there were moments which threatened my deliberate peace, but I was strong and resisted with my mantra “it doesn’t matter….you have plenty of time…enjoy the journey…”  I was prepared for the trip – I knew where I was going, had adequate fuel, snacks and water.  It’s easy to enjoy the journey when you are prepared.

I had been anticipating the retreat for months and with every mile that drew me closer, I could feel the pressures of the every day falling away.  As I drove onto the grounds of my destination an even stronger sense of quiet washed over me.  The kind of peace that you can drink in with every breath. Surrounding stillness that felt as if it were an alternate universe where tight muscles and tense nerves do not exist. Beauty of nature that softly beckons to let go of everything else and simply take it in.  A setting that clearly whispers be still and know that I am God.

I happily unpacked my things in the quaint, cozy room where I would spend the weekend.  There was plenty of time to get settled in and relax before the evening’s events.  I scanned my emails and messages to be sure that nothing important was left without a response and took a moment to review the latest social media posts.  It was there I learned of the attacks in Paris.  I quickly searched the web for more details as the sense of impending doom was knocking at my door.  This is our world and the inability to be prepared for these kinds of horrific acts strikes fear in our hearts.  The threats are bold and fierce and very real and we are at a loss as to what to do.

I gathered the initial facts and put down my phone.  Seeking Him quickly is the only way to turn away the fear of impending doom.  I offered up a familiar prayer of “God, I don’t even know what to pray!”  In times past, that would be the end of a quick “God help them.  God be with them.” prayer, but I have since learned to be still and literally ask God “What do You want me to pray?”  It is not hard to understand and pray for the immediate need for safety and comfort and protection for those who remain in the wake of the horror.  But somehow it still seems lacking.

In this great mystery that is prayer, God, who knows what we need before we ask, has chosen to involve us in a supernatural process.  The more I’ve grown closer to Him and the more I’ve sought understanding, the more it has become evident that I really don’t know very much.  Perhaps He will give me deeper understanding of why He involves us in the process.  Or maybe He won’t.  But He is teaching me more and more how to pray and that with or without understanding, He requires obedience.  If the bible is true and He is God and He knows everything and I cannot do anything (eternal) without Him, then it is very clear that I must learn from Him what to pray.

We can spend much time in worrying and fretting.  We can scream our opinions and blame our politicians, publicly shaming them for what we perceive as their lack of action to keep us safe.  We can cry and moan and fear for our lives, and spread the fear to those around us.  We can beg and plead with God to do something!!  But is that really who we are?  Is that what we are called to??

We must learn to quiet our souls.

Lord, my heart is not haughty, nor my eyes lofty; neither do I exercise myself in matters too great or in things too wonderful for me.  Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with his mother, like a weaned child is my soul within me – ceased from fretting.  O Isreal, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forever.  Psalm 131

Peace I leave with you; My own peace I now give and bequeath to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.  John 14:27

It is clear that He intended for us to participate in this:  “I (David) have calmed…  (You) Do not let…”  We are able to bring our mind, will, and emotions into submission to His Spirit, which is the spirit of Peace. We must find that place of peace so that we can clearly hear His words to us and learn how to act in times of trouble rather than automatically react in our flesh.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have perfect peace and confidence.  In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer – take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted!  For I have overcome the world.  I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you.  John 16:33

There are days I ask myself why I am so surprised when trouble comes.  Duh.  Jesus plainly said there would be trouble in this world.  Our ability to quiet our souls and not be afraid comes from the confidence that we are not OF this world.  THIS LIFE IS TEMPORARY.  Perhaps it’s time for us to step back and get a new perspective.  This life has purpose and meaning and is important to God, but it is a wisp, a vapor in time compared to eternity.

What did God tell me to pray when I heard the news of Paris?  He told me to pray that in midst of the pain and chaos and grief people are experiencing that they would find Him as Savior.  He told me that the mission remains the same, Tell others about Me.  I won’t be traveling to Paris to tell others about Jesus.  But I will be putting feet to my prayers for those in my neighborhood.  It’s not just the people of France who are afraid.  It’s our families, our friends, our neighbors.  If we are afraid right along with them, we have no message of hope to share, no comfort to give.

Draw away with me.  Quiet your soul.  Pray whatever the Father tells you to pray.  Do whatever the Father tells you to do.  Find supernatural Peace in troubled times.  He is waiting…

“I have quieted my soul” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

Christian, death, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, grief, loss, love, praise, prayer, sorrow, Spiritual, tears, Uncategorized

Good conversations

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This post is dedicated to Sue Rozell – my mentor, my sister in Christ, my friend who this week went home to be with our Lord.  I will truly miss our good conversations.

Lately I have been spending most of my time at home alone, focused on work and projects that have deadlines with not a lot of wiggle room.  I very much enjoy this time alone in productivity and gain a great sense of satisfaction in the creative process, but still I often lay my head down at night feeling that something is missing.  I realized driving home from my visit with my sister last week what it is: Conversation.  Really good conversation.

My husband is a night owl and I’m a morning person (not functioning quite as early as in days past, but most definitely at my best when the sun is rising).  It is not unusual that later in the evening he will approach a really good subject that could prompt some quality exchange.  I’ll know it is a worthy topic yet my response is often a pat reply because I simply lack the mental energy to engage.  I make a note to come back to the subject another day but the thought gets lost in the next day’s activity…

We need good conversations.  You know, the kind that make you think hard or perhaps even question your position on a matter.  Conversations where we are listening as much as talking.  Discourses that put our perceived barriers into perspective because they allow for differences.  Dialogues that stir our passions and ignite us to go deeper into the meaning of our lives.  Fearless discussions that open the paths to growth and change.  Words so rooted in love that they draw others into a refuge where masks can be dropped and freedom can be found.

In our day and time it is easy to miss the value of good conversations.  Technology that allows for the faceless relay of information has crippled us.  We often mistake social media posts for conversation, text our words of encouragement rather than take the time to call or visit, or email our responses to situations in order to avoid conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the opportunities for communication that technology provides.  But I must admit, I’ve too often succumbed to the ease and efficiency of its use rather than allowing the inconvenience to my plans that real conversation may present.

I’ve known for a long time that I lack the skill to sustain chit-chat for any length of time.  I am easily bored with talk of things that are insignificant to me and that category is quite large.  I’m no fashionista, decorator, traveler, entertainer, philosopher or multitudes of other things.  I greatly appreciate the fact that God has gifted us each differently but I struggle in conversation when my very limited knowledge (and interest) of temporal things has very quickly been exhausted.  I can talk “sewing” quite well but even that only takes me so far…  Wow.  I sound reeaaaalllllyyyyy boring.

I love the opportunities I am offered to stand and speak or teach.  I am passionate about my God and my faith, ever-ready to share the things He has done in my life.  I love when the sessions allow for interaction and questions.  I no longer fear those who may disagree with my perspective because I believe in this life we have much to learn from each other. I thoroughly enjoy when someone takes the time on a break between sessions to seek me out and talk.  Really talk.

Through the years I’ve been blessed to have people in my life who have both gently led into and aggressively provoked deeper conversations.  Some have spoken truly profound things to me in the midst of simple conversations not knowing their words would have an eternal impact.  Others have come with difficult words that at the time left me speechless and feeling as if I were gasping for air, only to discover later that the painful truths exposed served to water seeds of needed change.  Many have come with exhortation and encouragement that helped keep my feet on the path that was and is mine to walk. We all need more good conversations.

I am mourning the loss of my friend and already missing the sound of her voice.  As I praise God for her life and say my goodbye, I pray that I will be half the woman of God that she was.  I want to brew more coffee and invite more people into good conversations in the hopes that some will walk away having found what I found with her – a hunger for more of Him.

 

Good conversations” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Two Friends Young Girls Talking PAINTING BY CARL SCHWENINGER JUNIOR

Christian, coffee, Encouragement, Faith, friends, God, grace

God speaks running (part 1)

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These are my favorite shoes.  Besides the fact that they are the most comfortable of all I own, they are more than that to me.  They represent an effort that I find enjoyable even when it’s hard.  They take me outdoors and remind me that there’s more to any given day than the pressures and responsibilities and busy-ness that my list demands.  They take me away from the other voices, the other noises, and give my mind a break.  They take me to a place that God consistently speaks to me.

For my non-running readers, hang with me.  I believe as I share His runningspeak, you will be able to relate from the comfort of your robe and fuzzy slippers just as well.  I posted the following earlier this week on social media and will be periodically sharing the many ways God has used running to help me grow.  Perhaps you can relate…

As I sit here this morning with my second cup of coffee (slow start today…) and resist the temptation to visit the Dunkin Donuts which is just minutes away, I am thinking about exercise. Haha. As you may have guessed, I bailed on the aerobics class months ago. I had a really good reason – my summer office work hours prevented me from attending any classes except the one led by miss-serious-muscle-bound-intensity and I simply could not bring myself to endure this voluntary torture and the humiliation that would invariably occur. So I did nothing.

Now fall is here with better hours and cooler temperatures and it’s calling me out. I want to run. It’s always been my preferred method of exercise and tender knees were the only reason I re-entered the aerobic world in the first place. Now the knees are better and I no longer have to rise at 5 am to avoid triple digit temperatures. It’s time. I’ll have to start with walking, but it won’t be long and I’ll be running again. Woohoo!

My excitement builds as I consider the many advantages of running. Here are my top 10:
#1 I don’t have to count my steps.
#2 I don’t have to watch the minutes unless I want to. And if I want to know, I can wear a watch that will do that for me.
#3 The only skill required is the coordination to place one foot in front of the other over and over. Granted, I still struggle with this from time to time but the odds of me kissing the pavement are considerably less than the tripping and stumbling and falling that occur when I attempt to do the grapevine in time to rock music.
#4 There are no mirrors.
#5 THERE ARE NO MIRRORS!!!
#6 I am alone. There are no witnesses to my trips and stumbles unless I take CJ (the dog) and he doesn’t laugh. Well, at least not out loud.
#7 I choose the time and location that suits me.
#8 Run enough and I don’t have to feel guilty about the occasional Dunkin Donut
#9 The only investment needed is a good pair of shoes. And who doesn’t like to buy shoes, right??
#10 Perhaps the greatest revelation I’ve had: If I go at the right time of day, the image I see of myself is no longer the reflection of a poorly spandex-stuffed sausage in movements that can be best described as spastic, but rather a tall, slender, graceful shadow that gives me hope there will be a day when my waistbands no longer threaten to cut off the circulation to my entire body and a trip to my closet can be a moment of joy rather than despair.

So here goes. Time to lace up and get out the door. I am thankful I live in a neighborhood with leash laws and drivers who fully expect to see walkers and runners and cyclists and allow plenty of room as they pass. I’d invite you along, but I don’t have time to wait. Besides, being alone is always a time that God can speak and He speaks running.      🙂

 

God speaks running (Part 1)” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Christian, coffee, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, love, Spiritual, trials

Just a glimpse

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I have a new friend who shared a very thought-provoking post on social media this morning.  As I sipped my coffee and read, I applauded her honesty and the willingness to be vulnerable.   She could have had her “moment” all by herself with none of us the wiser.  But I’m glad she didn’t.

It has been easy to enjoy her optimistic and encouraging personality.  I’ve left our conversations wishing I had half her energy!  She has an engaging way about her, a wonderful family, and a beautiful new home.  Yes.  She is one of those people.  You know, the kind who have it all with not a care in the world…the kind we frown at should a complaint ever escape their lips…the kind of which we often think “if they had my life, they wouldn’t be so chipper all the time.”   At least that’s what we think…

It takes courage to be real enough to share the less-than-perfect moments of our lives, to open ourselves up to those who may choose to criticize.  Her post was the second thing I’d read this week that reminded me of how little we actually see of each other’s lives and subsequently, how ridiculously foolish it is to judge someone based on the small glimpse we get.  The reality is that we are all in this together, this thing called life.  We all need an encouraging word more times that we let on.  We all have an ugly side that surfaces more than we would like.  We all struggle and mess up and make mistakes in the midst of our loving and serving and giving.  And we all need the same Grace to cover it.

Tonight I’ll spend a little time with some women who are struggling.  They are homeless.  The glimpse I’ll get into their lives won’t be about their happiest moments.  It won’t show me how gifted they are or what amazing talents they have.  We won’t sit down on comfortable sofas over nice warm beverages and talk about our families or what new furnishings we’d like to have.  We’ll have only moments to discover what their deepest prayer need is that they are willing to share with a stranger.  We’ll be there to minister to them and it will be easy for them to view us as “those” people.  You know, the ones who have it all together…

My prayer is that I will simply be real.  That in the moment God prompts me, I will be willing to share the less-than-perfect parts of my life so that someone I know or another who I will probably never see again can identify with me and draw some encouragement from the Grace I’ve found.  To believe if God can take my life and make something of it, that He can most certainly do the same for them.

So, hats off to you, my sister!!  Thank you for the reminder that it is seldom our perceived perfection that encourages others, but rather our everyday kind of humanity.  Makes me want to curl up in my hideously comfortable pj’s and relax…

 

Just a glimpse” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, friends, God, grace, grief, Jesus, love, prayer, sorrow, tears, trials

When faith and prayer are not enough

 

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This week my heart has been heavy for a friend.  Her plate is full and she just got served another big helping of life that has the ability to overwhelm.  Again.  While I don’t feel that I know her that well yet, what I have seen in her quiet demeanor is a river that runs deep, a strength that endures, and a life lived in the business of giving.  We had but a moment together before an event when she relayed the latest information to me and I felt that old, familiar helplessness rising as I watched her fight the tears that welled up in her eyes.  I recognized the resistance to the unwelcomed flood that threatened to pour forth, a resistance to yield for fear that the waters would rise and overtake her, drowning her in the unspoken sorrow that claimed her heart that day.

She covets the thoughts and prayers of her friends and family and I assured her immediately that I would be praying and standing with her in faith for the help and hope and healing that is needed.  And I have.  I am sure that she is confident that I will not forget to pray or speak life over her situation.  I have no actual hand in the solution, no concrete way to step in and save the day, yet I have not been able to shake the feeling that I need to do more.

God has worked in my life an openness to others and a comfort with sharing my experiences, but I am still at heart a private and more reserved person when it comes to my own needs.  I see this same characteristic in my friend.  I approach with caution not because I don’t want to help, but because I do not want to press too far or offend in any way.  So as I asked God what more could I do, He answered in His wonderful simplicity:

“You can cook.  You can clean.  You can drive.  You can listen.  You can help.”

I couldn’t wait to see her this morning just to say “Let me help.”  To tell her that I can cook, clean, drive, and listen. It’s not like I didn’t know I can do these things, but His prompting was to stop waiting for her to ask!  To probe for a little more information about the things that lie ahead and to purposefully plan to do things she would never ask me to do.  We so often reserve these acts of service for the moms who’ve come home with a newborn or the family that mourns a lost one.  So many people we know have so many problems that we can find ourselves paralyzed into inactivity, relying on our promises of faithful prayers to be enough.  And sometimes they are.  But I strongly suspect that more often our faith should have some actual muscle behind it and our prayers should be more shown than heard, because true faith produces good works (James 2).

On the other hand, in our desire to live our faith and be strong Christians we many times find ourselves unable to ask for help.  My friend needs rest. She would never ask and I’m no Martha Stewart, but I can cook a meal.  It won’t give her days of rest but maybe for that evening she can just sit for a while.  I can drive and run errands and maybe for an hour or two she doesn’t have to think about what needs to be done in her ordinary life.  I can listen and let her cry without any expectations or condemnation but simply because sometimes we just need to have a good, long cry.  I am not the answer to the problem, but I can help.

Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the Law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2

Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews  13:16

So this week and the next week and the next week and for however long she needs, I will help.  And as I stand in faith and pray for those I know who are in need, I think I’ll head to the kitchen a little more often and cook someone a meal.

 

When faith and prayer are not enough” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

 

Bible, children, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, Jesus, love, mothers, praise, Spiritual, Uncategorized

To be known

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CJ and I have a regular route that we walk and run together.  I’ve mapped this particular course #1 because it is a large circle, preferable when one is navigationally challenged, and #2 because it is exactly 2 miles and easy to calculate my efforts when I’m inclined to do so.  I noticed this distinctly marked driveway on the very first time around and it made me smile.  It still makes me smile every time I see it.  I suspect it is the result of an action without much forethought nor concern for what the local home owners association would have to say about it.   Just a young boy with a can of spray paint upon which the thought comes to mind to write his name.

I’ve wanted to photograph this signature for a while now but as it is private property and I intended to post the photo on the internet, I thought it wise to obtain permission lest I be considered some kind of creeper with a camera in the neighborhood.  I decided on my round with CJ Saturday morning that I would knock on the door and ask.  As I approached, however, there was no need to knock for the woman of the house was outside with her dog.  From the street I told her how every time I walk by her drive it makes me smile.  She warmly replied that her son had scrawled his name there years ago and while she felt she should probably do something to remove it and the now older teenage boy strongly encourages her to do so, she leaves it as is because it makes her smile, too.  She graciously permitted me to take the picture and I promised that I would drop by a copy of the blog once written.

One of my granddaughters is the age now that her son was when he made his mark.  She loves to write and gifts of paper and pen are always welcomed and treasured.  She writes her name and I love the perfectly imperfect way her letters and words form on the pages.  She writes little stories and draws pictures and writes simply for the love of writing, the strokes of the pen leaving an imprint of who she is now that will not be forgotten no matter the years that pass.  It is a bittersweet ache this grandmother’s heart feels as I watch her grow up faster than I would like.

It is not uncommon for children to write their names.  A lot.  On papers and tablets and books.  In the dirt with a stick or spelled out with rocks.  In the sand where the next waves will quickly wash it out to sea.  Carved in trees and picnic tables and more than a few desks.  And of course, the occasional driveway.

For some children perhaps it is a cry for help, a need for immediate attention.  But I think for the most part they are simply the declarations that  I was here.  This is me.  I am.   An unconscious, unemotional expression of the need to be known, a need we all have that deepens and most definitely becomes more emotional as we grow older.  We want others to know who we truly are, often before we even really know ourselves.  We sometimes seek relationships to complete us.  We enter professions where our talents and abilities can define us and accolades are our measure of who we are.  And while these things may bring a great deal of satisfaction and fulfillment it is not unusual to struggle with insecurities once left alone and all is quiet.  Who really knows us?  And if they did really know, would they still love us? Are me making our mark on this world in way that matters?

I think of how we look at our own children and see things they cannot see and know things they cannot know about themselves.  To know them is so much more than knowing what they do.  It’s recognizing the briefest of looks that crossed their face when no one else saw it.  It’s understanding their joys and pains when they have no words to describe them.  It is knowing that you’ve looked at that little face so many times you have every freckle memorized and would know if one should fade away.  And yet, we are still limited by our humanity when it comes to knowing another completely.

But there is One who knows.  He knew us before we were ever created in the womb.  He knows the very number of hairs on our head.  He calls us to come to Him as His children, unafraid in His presence.  We are fearfully made and unconditionally loved not because of what we do but for the simple fact that we exist.  We are accepted through Jesus as if we have never erred, sung and danced over with unadulterated joy in the heavens.  The impact we desire to make, the peace we search for, the fulfillment we long for is founded in a truth that is ours for the taking – we are known by Him.

 

To be known” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.

 

 

Bible, Christian, church, Encouragement, Faith, family, friends, God, grace, love, mothers

Simple pleasures

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I can’t completely describe the feeling I had as I watched my 86-year-old mother ride a bicycle this week.  My first thoughts were filled with trepidation at the idea of a fall, but once she began those fears disappeared with every sure and steady push on the pedals.

She’d been telling us for several weeks that she wanted to ride a bicycle one more time.  I must admit, our first responses were not very encouraging.  We tried quite diligently to dissuade her, offering up a couple of “safer” options – what about a 3-wheeler?  a stationary?  No.  Absolutely not.  Nothing would do but that she ride a regular, old-fashioned bicycle.  (Had she not mentioned it at church where a friend provided the bicycle, I’m sure we would still be dragging our feet in order to fulfill her wish.)  Her mind made up and her plan in place, we could choose to participate or not.  Either way, she was going to ride a bicycle after church.

She is in good health and has no reason to believe that death is at her door quite yet.  But just in case, she lets us know when she thinks of something else she’s added to her bucket list.  The list is made up of simple things. Some are places she’s never been but would like to go.  We’re not talking about traveling abroad or to places of historic significance, but rather the fact that she’s never eaten at Joe’s Crab Shack, and things like that.  But others, like this one, draw from the wellspring of vivid childhood memories which bring a smile to her face at just the thought of them.

My brothers and I were there to watch and take photos.  Friends from church hung around in the parking lot and cheered her on.  She didn’t know what all the fuss was about.  She just wanted to ride a bike.

I watched her ride and the simplicity of the pleasure on her face almost brought me to tears.  (Had I cried, she would have wondered what in the world was wrong with me, so years of training prevented me from yielding to emotions I could not explain.)  Even as I look at the pictures today, I feel this strange sense of happiness and pride and love and sadness all mixed together and there are no words that adequately describe it.  Now that she has a successful bike ride under her belt, she plans to swim and roller skate.  And with all the objections my rational brain is tempted to raise, I suspect that I will make every effort to help her do exactly that.  I will see her smile and be awash once again in emotions that stir me to my core.  But I won’t cry.  At least not where she can see me.

There is beauty in the simplicity of her heart and her life, a reminder to me to open my eyes.  There are simple pleasures to be enjoyed in this life and I don’t want to miss them.  She is teaching me still.

This is the day that the Lord has made.  

I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:24

Simple pleasures” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Photograph by Kay Stinnett and cannot be used without permission.