Week 1: Making Space For God
What does it look like to make space for God? During our time together last weekend, we talked about daily rhythms that help us make white space for connecting with God intentionally during our days.
Connecting with God was different for each one of us – some of us need silence, some of us connect to God through reading, and some of us by listening to music or by doing something creative with our hands. Discovering what connects us with God is part of the journey.
This week, I encourage you to think about what it is that helps you feel closer to God. For me, it’s being outside. Whether it’s on a walk around the lake, getting lost in the woods, or even just sitting on my patio, there’s something about seeing the sky and hearing the birds chirp that helps me feel closer to my Creator. I’m learning that it’s important to be silent during these times. By default, I am usually playing a podcast or music in the background. It’s important for me to turn everything off and simply be. I am learning to rest in that silence.
Here’s an online assessment that may help you discover how you feel close to the Lord. It was a helpful affirmation to me, and nice to have a little direction. https://www.soulshepherding.org/sacred-pathways-survey/
Take some time this week to schedule intentional time with Him. It will look different for everyone; embrace your unique way of connecting. Put it in your calendar and treat it like an appointment that you are not able to miss. And when you get in that space, let your soul unfurl and relax in His presence.
To close, here is one of my favorite quotes from the book Whispers of Rest:
God’s Whispers to You
I’ve always longed to love you the way
You’ve always dreamed of being loved,
In the way I’ve always intended for you.
There will never come a time
I’ll stop whispering words of love to you.
Come back to me. To your first love.
Let me turn your valley of troubles into a door of hope.
Don’t worry about anything.
Just let me love you.
Glow bright. Let me be your First Love.”
[Whispers of Rest, page 306]
He loves us. He doesn’t require anything but our presence. Let’s meet Him there.
Week 2: Living Authentically in a Digital World
So here we are, in 2019, surrounded by technology. It’s such a good, good tool. And it’s such a good, good distraction. As with everything created, it’s meant for good. But Satan likes to ensnare us by good things. He sneaks in lies that it’s in fact the best thing.
That our good moments are only good if others have commented and liked them. That we have to check. We can become addicted. We can become distracted.
Pray for God’s wisdom on the topic. (James 1:5)
God can and will give you wisdom on technology. He may be ancient, but He is not behind the times. He has a will for each of us with technology. Ask Him to guide you on what to say no on. It’s going to look different for each of us – cable TV, social media, tablets, etc. Ask Him to give you a limit on what you say yes about.
Check in with the way you are using technology. (1 Corinthians 10:23)
In 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about how not all things are beneficial for us. I think this is a good grid to run our technology use through. Maranda and I were talking and she gave me this question that has been a good grid to use as well: “If there’s no fruit, why are you doing it?”
For me, this means I try not to scroll mindlessly or check my phone as a way of not being present in an uncomfortable situation. I ask God to nudge me when I am doing this. If I notice I am mindlessly scrolling, I stop and look at the post I am on and make a genuine connection with that person. I write comment, pray for that person, or send them a message.
I try to post things that bear fruit and not simply post something for likes or boredom. I post to bear fruits of relational connection, encouragement, and praise to God.
Guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23)
Check in with your heart. We must guard our hearts for places where Satan can sneak in and gain a foothold. And social media can often be a slow leak place….a tiny crack becomes bigger and bigger until it’s a big issue.
If you’re noticing envy, discontentment, bitterness, anger, judging, selfishness, pride, boasting, or any feelings that aren’t serving your relationship with God and others, check in to see if a social media break could be valuable.
In all things, pray.
Dear God, we want to live life your way. We want to be intentional in our online presence as well as in our offline presence. Help us to do this well. Help us to be Ambassadors of You and not of the world. Convict us, nudge us, when we are falling in the way of the world. Renew our minds, transform us. God, we surrender our technology use to you. Amen
Week 3: Some thoughts from Ann’s Journal
Simple – Simply You Jesus.
To slow down, to tuck away
in order to write, to dance, to sing, to paint
To rest without reservation, judgement, guilt, worry or desired perceptions.
To instead, listen, laugh, smile, wave, encounter, play and enjoy …
each moment: easy or difficult, emotionally painful or joyful
physically painful, challenging, or exhilarating.
And to do it all under and in the delight of the Father
You have said that nothing separates us from Your love
NOTHING can take away my relationship with you
Help me respond by not putting anything in Your place
Nothing and no one else can make that promise to never leave.
In You, there is fullness, beauty, boldness, play, laughter, and sweet precious moments.
May I not miss these moments today.
Thank you for ______________,
for the laughter and freedom to play,
for the quiet places,
for the love of family, friends, spouse, children, people in my life
for the level of health I am currently in as it is a place to meet with you
for animals and how they bring joy to life
for landscapes that bring wonder, awe, and mysteries I will never understand.
TO YOU BE THE GLORY!
SIMPLY LISTEN Visual Art Practice
As an artist, I have found that working and playing with visual art materials creates an open space to hear from Jesus. In the studio, I intentionally keep the room quiet, on most days, so that music or other voices do not interfere with hearing the voice of God.
Instead, of going in to great detail on what this looks like to me, I invite you, through this blog, to take time to play and listen for Jesus today. Steal away to a quiet room taking simple art supplies with you. For example, some colored pens, markers, watercolors, paints, or crayons (whatever you have for yourself, kids, grandkids, visitors, etc) and some paper. Sit down and set a 15 minute timer (or longer if you so desire). And simply begin putting pen to paper and doodle like you used to in elementary school. Draw whatever comes to mind and just listen. Listen for God to speak, to inspire images or words, just doodle and listen and be still. Remove the notion that this has to be a work of art, instead enjoy the journey of playing and making in the delight of the Father.
by Ann Williams
Week 4: Living Simply with Food
Our world has created a culture around food that simultaneously idolizes and demonizes it. It’s hard to know what is good to eat. In Genesis 1:31 “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” This includes the food he created to nourish our bodies – all of which He declares is very good. It’s easy to want rules and guidelines to follow when trying to understand how to nourish your body. The amazing truth is that God has already equipped each of us with a body that has the unique capacity to tell us when we are hungry, when we are full, what we need to eat, and how much we need to eat. In holding the truth we get from Genesis along with a consider of our body’s natural physiological function, we have an opportunity to open the door to connect with God in new ways.
What if food could be a source of connection to God, yourself, and others? If you struggle with fear or uncertainty with food, know that your body has all it needs to be able to communicate exactly what it needs with you. God was so good to us in how He created our bodies.
Below is a mindful eating exercise. This exercise can help in bringing awareness to your experience of eating – it allows an opportunity for you to understand why you’re eating, what food you’ve chosen to eat, how much of the food you’re eating, how you’re eating, and a chance to consider where you will invest the energy that this nourishment will provide you with. If I could leave you with only one token of encouragement it would be this: Food is meant to nourish our bodies, not nurture our emotions.
| Mindful Eating Exercise|
Begin by connecting to your breath and body, feel your feet on
the ground and notice your experience in this moment. With your
awareness in this moment, notice any thoughts, sensations or
emotions you are experiencing. (Pause)
Tune into the awareness or sensation that you have in your body
of feeling hungry, thirsty or maybe even feeling full. If you were
going to eat or drink something right now, what is your body
hungry for? What is it thirsty for? Just pay attention and notice
with awareness the sensations that give you this information.
Now, bring your attention to the item in your hand and imagine
that you are seeing it for the first time. Observe with curiosity
as you pay attention and notice the color, shape, texture, and
size. Is there anything else that you notice, sense or feel? (Pause)
Imagine what it took for this item to get to your hands: sunshine,
water, time, processing, and shipping. You may choose to be
aware of gratitude for everyone involved in the cultivation and
preparation of this item of food. You may choose to bring in your
own gratitude or spiritual blessing. (Pause)
Now place the item between your fingers and feel the texture,
temperature and ridges. You may notice smoothness or stickiness.
Again, notice if you have any thoughts, sensations or emotions
at this time. Continue to breathe and be fully present in this
Take the piece of food and bring it toward your nose and smell
with your full awareness. Notice if you have any memories,
sensations or reactions in your body. Even before you eat it,
you may notice that you begin to have a digestive response
in your body just by noticing and smelling. (Pause)
With full awareness of your hand moving toward your mouth,
place the object (fruit or chocolate) into your mouth without
chewing or swallowing it. Just allow it to be in your mouth, roll it
around to different parts of your mouth and tongue. Notice the
flavor and texture. Notice the physical sensations within your
body, especially your mouth and your gut. Continue to breathe
as you explore the sensation of having this item in your mouth.
Next take just one bite and notice the flavor, notice the change
of texture. Then very slowly begin to chew this piece of food,
and notice the parts of your mouth that are involved in chewing.
Notice the sound and movement of chewing, as you continue
to notice the sensations and flavor. (Pause)
When you are ready, swallow this item and notice the path that
it follows from your mouth and throat into your stomach. Notice
the sensation and taste that may linger in your mouth. Connect
again to your body and your breath and notice your experience
in this moment. (Pause)
The Mindful Eating Script written by Christine Milovani, LCSW,
based on information from KabatZinn’s book Full Catastrophe
Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress,
Pain, and Illness published by Delacorte Press in 2013 and
McWatter’s article Mindful Eating 101: Eating in the Present
Moment available at
By Emily Estes, MS, RDN, LMNT
Founder Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, Sage Nutrition, LLC firstname.lastname@example.org
Week 5: Simply Breathing
Genesis 2:7 “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”
God gave us breath. It’s what He used to bring us to life. Our breath can affect the quality of our lives. It’s the difference between life and death.
I think we can all agree on the fact that breath is important. The really cool thing about the breath (and sometimes not so cool) is that it affects your entire body. Proof that it does indeed affect the quality of your life. In our go, go… go-some-more culture we are a people plagued with shortened, shallow breath. If you’re like me, stopping to take a deep breath or trying to improve my breath is something I need to be intentional about.
By improving our breath, we also get to improve our nervous system, digestion, heart rate, immune system, and overall vitality while also reducing our stress levels, anxiety, depression and insomnia. I could go on and on about the science behind the benefits of breathing, but just know that God made our bodies in such a way that we can create change within by improving the quality of our breath.
I want to skip right away to a breathing exercise. If you have any further questions about the science, benefits, things to avoid, etc. of breathing, please don’t hesitate to ask.
Controlled breathing is a great place to start changing the way you breathe. The goal is to breathe at a rate of five breaths per minute, which generally translates into inhaling and exhaling to the count of six. If you have never practiced breathing exercises before, you may have to work up to this practice slowly, starting with inhaling and exhaling to the count of three and working your way up to six. Trust me, it’s harder then you think. A simple controlled breathing exercise will look something like this:
1. Sitting upright or lying down, place your hands on your belly.
2. Slowly breathe in, expanding your belly, to the count of five. (You should be able to feel the rise and fall of the belly as you inhale and exhale.)
3. Pause at the top of the breath.
4. Slowly breathe out to the count of six.
5. Work your way up to practicing this pattern for 10 or so minutes a day.
Don’t be surprised if it’s harder then you thought it would be. Remember that we, as a culture, are not great at utilizing our breath and you’re not alone. Just keep practicing.
I’ll end with this little segment from the book “All In” by Mark Batterson:
“You take approximately 23,000 breaths every day, but when was the last time you thanked God for one of them? The process of inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide is a complicated respiratory task that requires physiological precision. We tend to thank God for the things that take our breath away. And that’s fine. But maybe we should thank him for every other breath too!”
“GOD, the Master, told the dry bones, “Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realize that I am GOD!”” Ezekiel 37:5-6 MSG
On the journey with you,