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Holy Isolation

Every year at the start of the holiday season, I vow that I am not going to be overcome by “Christmas craziness” – the condition that occurs when the have-to-dos become more stressful than enjoyable.

With COVID-19 raging everywhere, one would think that with shelter-in-place restrictions, mask wearing requirements and travel warnings, it would be easier to maintain a calm outlook. With no holiday visitors anticipated, who cares if you leave a few Christmas decorations in the box this year?

Yet…technology is very good at providing diversions, even guilt trips, that gnaw away at my attempts to hang onto tranquility.

As each day passes, the promotional emails continue to bombard my inbox:

~Order today for Christmas delivery!

~24 hour access on new arrivals!

~Up to 50% off – these prices are HOT!

I start feeling anxious.

Some days I feel rebellious, wanting to escape what seem like holiday demands; other days I obsess, spending countless hours searching online for that perfect gift.

Here in New Mexico, there aren’t too many streams close by – but a dear friend blessed me with the devotional Streams In The Desert, which has been a source of inspiration and comfort each morning.

L.B. Cowman writes: “The one thing we need today more than anything else is to spend time alone with our Lord, sitting at His feet in the sacred privacy of His blessed presence.

Therein lies the answer to maintaining serenity – call it meditation, contemplative or centering prayer, or just plain old resting with and talking to God.

My favorite part of these mornings is turning on the Christmas tree lights and sitting down with coffee for some quiet time with God.

This time of sacred isolation feeds my soul like nothing else can.

During this time of year, it is important to remember the true meaning of Christmas, and to hold onto the gratitude and wonder of reflecting on the birth of Jesus – God’s gift to all mankind.

He saved the world – and He can save us from holiday madness, too.

God doesn’t flood our mental inboxes or pressure us.

He is always available, and warmly welcomes us when we reach out to Him; His gifts of peace and calm sustain us – not just through the holidays, but always.

What a joy it is to isolate with Him…

“Every life that desires to be strong must have its ‘Most Holy Place’ (Exodus 26:33) into which only God enters.” ~ L.B. Cowman, Streams In The Desert

Soulful Media

During my quiet time this morning, I reflected on the passing of our dear friend Owen, who lost his valiant battle with pancreatic cancer. He will be long remembered for his gentle spirit, his kindness, and his unwavering faith which sustained him through his illness. We will carry a piece of Owen in our hearts, always.

When a friend’s death occurs, we remember their character; status, possessions, and travelogues fade into obscurity.

It is the legacy of love we leave behind that is most important.

It’s funny how clearing out mindspace can open the window for more meaningful thoughts.

After deleting my Facebook account, I was pleasantly surprised at the arrival of the words for this post. At the outset of beWARM, my intention was to write only when thoughts from the Holy Spirit filtered in. The number of followers was never a high priority; I believe that God knew all along who should read my words.

From time to time, I wondered if I had any more to write. When I considered stopping, there would be a random message of affirmation that told me to continue.

In light of facing a friend’s end of life, I realize that this blog is my SoulBook.

Through beWARM, my desire is to continue to embrace realness, vulnerability and encouragement, while also sharing my faith. And one day, I hope my grandchildren will read my words, and know my heart.

We all need our foundations to be shored up along our life journeys, especially now with all the anxiety and unpredictability in the world.

Thankfully, our omnipotent God is always there for us to lean on, even in the worst of times.

My prayer is that you, dear readers, will find your own Soulful Media outlet – one that is an instant and direct line of communication with God, where you can express your heart to Him.

He will hit the “like” button on every one of your posts.

Trust in him at all times, O people;
    pour out your heart before him;
    God is a refuge for us. 
~ Psalm 62:8 (ESV)

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beWARM celebrated it’s 10th birthday in October! My deepest thanks to my daughter Kristy for the gift of this blog on my 60th birthday. It is hard to believe that this is my 150th post! And I am ever grateful for you, dear readers. I appreciate how you have shared your SoulBook thoughts with me. Sending much love to all of you…

Gimme Shelter

Since the invasion of COVID-19, a new normal exists for everyone. The idea of infectious droplets floating in the atmosphere has us going about our daily tasks armed with masks, wipes, and sprays, which we use in hopes to eliminate those dangerous germs. The daily news is rife with reports of sickness, death, and an increasing variety of symptoms, some alarming, that accompany this disease. We thought children were protected from becoming infected – until recent reports show that they, too can be at risk.

Our minds can easily become fearful, confused, and weighed down with all of the what-ifs of the future.

When we think of how free and easy life was just a couple of short months ago, it seems an almost dreamlike existence. It has taken a pandemic to make us realize what a pleasurable life we took for granted.

The effects of the Coronavirus have been compounded by closures and restrictions that will have long lasting effects; all of us know someone who has been deeply affected financially – and who may never recoup their losses.

Now, our thoughts are consumed with prevention and recovery – and Personal Protective Equipment. Who knew that PPE would become an object of necessity – and desire?

While our main focus has been warding off this virus by protecting ourselves in every possible way,  this preoccupation has diverted our attention from other invasive pathogens that can so easily creep in.

Do we have adequate PPE on board to safeguard our hearts and minds? What is in place to deflect the infiltration of common diseases of the soul, such as fear, doubt, pride, and greed, to name a few?

We need clarity of mind – and connection with God’s Presence – to equip ourselves with the ammunition to keep these subtle invaders at bay.

God can provide the shelter and protection we need to ward off the disruption of negative thoughts and direct us back to the security and refuge He alone can provide.

There is never a shortage of His unending love – and His constant goodness and mercy never mutate.

Let’s run for shelter under God’s wings – and hope that with courage and strength that comes from Him, we will be equipped to deal with whatever life sends.

His shelves of comfort and repose are always stocked.

He will cover you with His wings. And under His wings you will be safe. He is faithful like a safe-covering and a strong wall. ~Psalm 91:4

 

 

 

Every Port in the Storm

These days, we are all navigating uncharted waters. In a flash, our daily lives somersaulted into never-before imagined routines. What we knew as casual and commonplace personal interaction now requires antiseptic treatment before and afterwards.

We’re not sure how best to adapt to what appears to be a murky and uncertain future. Each of us is plagued by questions we never dreamed of asking.

~When will we get to be with family and friends again?

~Will I ever be able to go back to work – or will I even have a job?

~If I or a loved one do contract the Coronavirus, will I /they recover?

Life before COVID-19 seems a distant memory.

I’ve never before considered becoming an “escapee” from reality – but I have to admit that I have employed various distraction techniques during these past weeks.

There have been days of plowing into long neglected house projects, hours of yard work, ambitious cooking escapades (pasta making and bread baking) balanced with long stretches of wandering around the internet and binge-watching Netflix series. And of course, there is comfort to be found in music, piano playing, and long walks with my best friend. :)

Regular Zoom gatherings with family and friends have sprinkled joy, laughter and connection into the isolation world, allowing us to express love and give virtual hugs.

But yet, whatever the diversion, the truth is that this virus – and its ramifications – aren’t disappearing any time soon.

The even bigger TRUTH is, whatever our escape route may be, God is there, waiting for us with His safety net. 

Our loving Lord is our Navigator, our Companion, our Protector, and our Refuge. He waits patiently with open arms for us to arrive; He is happiest when we spend time with Him.

Whatever your diversions of choice are during this time, I hope that you will devote some of your attention to God. Being in His Presence is a balm for the soul that has ultimate staying power.

Rather than seeking any port in a storm, look in God’s direction.

He is our Every Port, for all journeys.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.~ Psalm 138:7

 For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. ~ Isaiah 41:13
    

 

Mission? Impossible.

The rhythm of daily life takes on a new tempo when you have been stopped in your tracks.
Physical activities that were previously routine and enjoyed, social and church events, and gatherings of friends at home are temporarily on hold.

When life comes to a screeching halt, God has a way of grabbing our attention.

And the challenge is to gracefully accept that we aren’t able to do many of the things that bring us the greatest joy.

For us, traveling to Third World countries with Medical Ministry International each year and serving on an eye project  has been part of the fabric of our lives for decades. It has been an honor and a privilege to serve God by having the opportunity to help improve and restore vision to those who don’t have access to eye care.

We will dearly miss being part of the team in Yapacani, Bolivia. This year, we can serve best by being prayer partners from afar.

And that will have to be sufficient.

When our hopes and plans change course, we have to trust that God will work things out.

And He has. Well-seasoned team members with years of experience have joined the team. Together with the experienced and new team members who had already signed up, another amazing group of volunteers is ready to bless many.

God knew ahead of time just who He needed.

And how grateful we are for His providence.

In this time of healing since our accident, God has spoken to us in countless ways.

When physical rest is necessary, God asks us to invite Him into our hearts.

He, too needs a place to rest.

And what a beautiful feeling it is to know that He is there, simply happy to have been welcomed in.

His peace and quiet restore our spirits, deepening the well of our faith.

And we are thankful.

When we aren’t able to do the things we love most, God helps us reassess our priorities.

We have had the gift of time to focus on what is really important.

Having days with empty spaces has actually been refreshing. We haven’t had to live by the clock, rushing to do the next thing, distracted by too many plans.

Open ended time with family and friends, where we can be truly present to one another, has been restorative.

And a life-changing blessing.

When time and God is all we have, we can refocus and refine our mission.

Sometimes, simply being with – and loving HIm – is enough.

The disappointments of life are simply the hidden appointments of love. ~C.A. Fox  (From Streams In The Desert, February 1)

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Please join us in prayer for the MMI eye team in Yapacani, Bolivia, February 9-23, 2019.

 

 

 

 

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