I say that I want silence, but I am not convinced that I do.
The noise in my home begins at 8 am each day, and the final silence begins around midnight. When you raise older teens alongside young children, quiet space comes in tiny pockets, bathroom breaks, a stolen afternoon hour. When the blessed silence appears, what do I normally do? I “listen” to the noise of the Internet. I escape into pixels + photos, not allowing room for the quiet to make space in my soul. In the midst of silence, I am not silent at all.
I am listening to a new podcast by Ruth Haley Barton and in episode 2, she has a conversation about silence and solitude. She says that when we choose solitude, we are “being present to the One who is always present with us.” We sit in silence to come home to ourselves in His presence. We are able to own the truth of our lives, the good, the bad and the ugly, from cultivating solitude as a place to simply be in the love of God. From the place of love, the truth can come out.
Being silent doesn’t come easy. We have mind-chatter, anxiety, an incessant desire to grab our phone. The good news is that we get to know ourselves better through this–we see that we are not good at being still, not good at waiting on God. We recognize that we do not trust God with the things that aren’t getting done while we sit. We don’t trust that He can lead us into what we need. Choosing silence and solitude is an expression of trust, of relinquishing control. We stink at that.
Ruth says that it took a year for her to get comfortable with even 10 minutes of daily silence. Palms open, no reading, no praying, only being with God. This reminds me that learning the rhythms of new spiritual disciplines requires practice. We don’t show up “ready” and amazing, connected and content. We simply show up. Every day. We may not see or experience the fruit of silence in the midst of it. It may feel awful, vulnerable, and mock our demand for doing. The fruit of silence may reveal itself in the way we live the rest of the day, our centeredness, resting in our belovedness, an ability to give a good word to another.
We often give up on the practice of silence and solitude because of the bad feelings and the unease. This is not instant spiritual gratification or transformation. This is building a lifestyle of responding to God and practicing what we aren’t good at: giving up control. We come and we sit in His presence. We wait. This changes us, little by little. We sit still long enough for the “sediment of our soul to settle”. It *will* settle, if we give it time. His voice will come, His presence near and dear. An invitation to restful love.
This summer I want to cultivate silence. I want to sit for those 10 minutes without doing, without giving words, without spiritually striving. I want to sit with Jesus, my kind companion, my gentle Lord, the lover and caretaker of my soul. I want to listen and receive. I want to be okay with my undoneness, my limits, my personal chaos. I will fail at all of it. But He loves to touch those places in us, healing us, soothing us. Cosmos to our chaos.
May we receive Him, sitting still, open-handed, willing, and open. Jesus, come.
We had a gloriously fun + active vacation last week at Holden Beach. Sun and games and laughter and food. So rich, so needed. After we arrived home on Saturday and unpacked, my mind began thinking more deeply about summer, our rhythms, and our needs. It didn’t take long before I sensed the Lord whispering to my soul: repair the foundation.
The school year was a busy buzz of living hard, full schedules, and our homes + souls wore thin, ragged, and there was little time to tend the deeper places well. By May, the foundations of our well-ordered homes and souls began to crack or crumble, but the grace of June swooped in with space and grace!
Summer is our time to build and repair the foundation of living well.
We can make space in our schedules + souls to tend the broken parts, the messy corners, the weary minds. We can step back from social media and the Internet to read long and linger with characters, ideas, and places. We can clean + organize neglected places in our homes, declutter the kitchen pantry, wipe the ceiling fan blades. We can journal, sharing our hearts and minds with Jesus alone instead of offering another Instagram sound bite. We can splash in the pool, assemble a jigsaw puzzle, play a card game with our kids.
The pace has changed. And we can too.
Our souls and bodies have been humming on adrenaline for a while. They resist the slowing, worried that we are forgetting something, checking and rechecking the calendar and lists. We have forgotten how to breathe, how to unplug, how to be.
I am reading a lovely 40-day devotional, and it reminds me to be the beloved. Stop the striving, the doing, the pushing, worshipping at the altar of productivity. Summer is a beautiful season to be loved. We can take the time to repair the heart-places where our identity has been bruised + confused by the pushiness of our culture.
So this week I have been tending my soul, quieting it, allowing it space to breathe. I am spending hours reading, pulling back from being online, doing art, and sleeping as long as I need to. I have been tending my home, starting with the kitchen, day-by-day wiping, decluttering, and restoring. With every opportunity that crosses my path, I ask myself, “Will this repair my foundation?” This is the filter for my summer.
The choices we make in summer to rebuild, renew, and repair our lives will build a life that is solid, healthy, and strong. The busy rhythm of fall will be here before we know it, and now is the time to build a solid foundation of wellness in our bodies, souls, spirits, and homes. What we build in the summer can help sustain us creatively and emotionally when the fall schedule begins.
So how about you? What are the ways you need to “rebuild your foundation”? This is a great time to get alone, pull out your bullet journal, and make a list of ways that the Spirit is prompting you. Mine includes a deep clean of my home, a quieter online presence, being with Jesus, working on some of my children’s character issues, and rebuilding life-giving routines.
May the grace of summer lend itself to a deeper life, greater health, and foundational wellness.
I always enjoy linking up with Emily to share as a community what we are learning, whether it’s deep or silly, random or significant. It’s a great group of women to learn from and visit!
Here are five things that I learned this Spring:
1. Celebrate the milestones.
It’s easy for me to be overwhelmed when I see several birthdays, holidays, and important events on the calendar. I can easily shut down. But this year, I looked at every milestone in the eye and gave it the simple care, attention, and honor it deserved. I have no regrets and feel a deep sense of joy when I think about the presence I offered and the details I completed. Parenting, family, community, and friendship is about showing up. I am learning to do that more and more.
2. Pushing past my comfort zone to produce content is satisfying + empowering.
This Spring I learned how to send an email newsletter, how to do Facebook Lives, and then how to take my vision to empower women to learn to live a lifestyle of engagement + retreat and turn it into meaningful content. Over time, with planning, research, and learning new tech skills, I was able to release an email video series for women on Creating Your One-Woman Retreat. I am not a long-term project person and often give up when I hit the hard or confusing aspects of a project. I learned how great it feels to live with a growth mindset and to take the time to overcome obstacles to offer women valuable content.
3. Earl Grey Tea is like a warm hug from a perfumed grandma.
My digestive system has rebelled against coffee so I finally decided it was time to treat myself kindly and stop drinking it. I tried so many different kinds of tea, and it wasn’t until I had a lovely cup of Earl Grey that I knew I had found my tea soulmate. Earl Grey has the scent of bergamot along with some lavender notes which always makes me feel like there is a comforting grandmother brewing the cup. A bit of sugar and almond milk, and that’ll do just fine.
4. I do best when I have a daily uniform to wear.
This Spring, I wore four different versions of black pants with flowy tops. It worked so well to know that I didn’t need to make decisions during a very busy season of my life. I felt comfortable + effective whether I needed to teach, clean, exercise, or run errands. Adding in some fun earrings or a necklace elevated it for date night. This summer I have chosen this Old Navy swing dress as my uniform. I got three of them on sale. It’s like wearing a nightgown every day. #winning
5. Kayaking + Yoga will make my 40s healthier + happier.
These are new practices that I began this Spring, and both fill me in soul + body. Kayaking gets me out in nature, in touch with trees, water, birds, beauty. The methodical rowing calms me and moves me to prayer. Yoga has made me reconnect with my body, my breath, and has cleared out soul-clutter. I am so grateful for these gentle, life-giving ways to move my body and to give me spaces to quiet + connect with myself during this busy season of life.
How about you? What’s one thing you learned this Spring about yourself, the Lord, or life?