Quietude

It’s the time of year when I start making lists and checking things off just to keep my head straight. I even add things to my list that I’ve already completed just so I can cross it off!! Anybody??? Life gets more complicated this time of year, and my complications seem to have multiplied for some reason. I’m a nurturer by nature, so it’s easy for me to find myself taking care of everybody else and forgetting to brush my teeth!

One thing on my list will stay on my list no matter how insane my life gets… My morning time with God. Somehow, the rest of my day just goes better if I start early, coffee in hand, Bible open, studying God’s word at my little desk in my studio. My Father meets me here. He waits for me. He knows I’ll be late some mornings, and He knows I’ll be distracted more often than I care to admit. It doesn’t matter. God has a lesson prepared for me each morning, even though I may not know what it is beforehand. I finish my study time feeling… quieted. It’s like while I am working through my Bible study or writing, God is making order out of the chaos in my heart and mind, putting all the thoughts and feelings back into their proper place and perspective so that I can move on with my day.

I will say it now, and as often as anybody will listen, IT IS INVALUABLE!!!! How did I not know this 20 or 30 years ago?? How did I ever raise four kids or work full time with a couple of part-time jobs, or be in a marriage relationship without this closeness with my Lord? Not to mention the sheer joy in having this time of perfect silence and quietude. I know I could have used the quiet and peace countless times over the years. They say God never gives us more than we can bear. I think God never gives us more than HE can bear!

In the stillness of my studio at 6:00 in the morning, God takes all my anxiety, worry, fear, guilt, shame, and condemnation, most all of which is self-imposed, and places it right at the feet of His Son. Like the words to the song in my head this morning.

You plead my cause
You right my wrongs
You break my chains
You overcome
You gave Your life
To give me mine
You say that I am free
How can it be

Unworthy. Undeserving. Humbled.

Click here to listen to Lauren Daigle sing her song, How Can It Be?

Click here to read a previous post about this song.

Quiet Reflections

I’m out of my routine. And I love having a routine. I’m in this vastly beautiful and different environment, yet I’ve developed a routine of a sort. My body isn’t exactly on Denmark time, and it’s not exactly on Home time either, which may make it easier to transition when I return next week. I’m staying up too late (reading) and sleeping later than I normally would at home. I have coffee with my newborn grandson while his mom and dad try to catch another hour of sleep. I cook breakfast for us all while he eats again. Try to beat the time difference (6 hours) and catch my husband at his breakfast time before he heads off to work at home. Text a few minutes. Take a walk. Plan dinner. Nothing earth shattering. But quiet… Peaceful… Restful.

Despite a newborn in the house, this is one of the quietest and most peaceful weeks I’ve ever had. I’m a quiet-loving person, and everyday life just… Isn’t. Quiet, that is. I’ve actually been able to turn off my brain a little, turn down the noise in my head, and just listen. Yes, there are birds and the breeze in the trees, soft rain falling, quiet house noises, clocks ticking and quiet new baby sounds. Let me just state categorically that there is NOTHING more precious in this world than the soft sound of a newborn sleeping in your arms.

Even the music in my head has quieted some. It’s always there, but for over a week now I’ve had just a couple of different lyrics running on a loop in the background. Soft and sure, but always there.

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

It’s very comforting and reassuring to think that God sings over me no matter where I am in this wide world. His grace and mercy find me. I can hear it in the music he gives me. Sometimes I feel him with me when I’m painting, just… present. Sometimes, like this morning, I see God’s grace and mercy, his lovingkindness, in my new grandsons sweet face and chubby cheeks, fresh with Grandmomma kisses on them. And I am overcome with emotion that this great God would love me so very much. That His son, Jesus, would die for me… For this precious baby right here with me. And I am grateful.

Featured image: again, the fjord in Kisserup where we are staying for a few days. I love the way the sky is reflected in the water. A wonderful place to be still and quiet and reflect on the goodness of God.

Listen!

Listening. It’s a lost art. Our minds and ears are assaulted from the minute we wake up until we go to sleep (and sometimes even while we are asleep) with sound. We wake to music on our alarms, or in our heads as I do, we watch the morning news, listen to the radio in the car on the way to work, deal with noise at work all day, more radio or iPod in the car on the way home, kids, dogs, spouses, phones ringing, television, and sometimes we even go to sleep to the sound of the TV or radio.

We hear noise every waking moment, but when do we listen? Where is the silence in our lives? I remind my piano students all the time that the rests are as valuable as the notes in their music. Literally and otherwise. The rests in music are like the punctuation in our speech, giving room for pauses and breaks; Emphasis. Expression!

This past Spring, I used the following acronym for the word LISTEN when engaged in conversation…

L… Let the other person finish, Look at them
I… Invest time, Invite conversation
S… Speak the truth, Sit forward
T… Think before speaking, Try to understand
E… Engage brain, Ears open?
N… Never assume you know what they’re going to say, Notice!

I love the thought that God gave us two ears and one mouth so we could listen twice as much as we talk. Listen to others, to ourselves, and to what the Holy Spirit has to say to us. Only when we are quiet, can we hear what someone else has to say. Only when we still our active, busy lives can we listen to our true selves. It is only in our silence that we can hear the true heart of God.

My favorite place to get still and listen is in my front porch swing. Where’s yours?