Thursday, February 22, 2018

Invitation to Solitude & Silence * Book Open House #4

Here we are, friends, 2/3rds of the way through our Invitation to Solitude & Silence conversations.  I'm learning much in your discerning, wise company.

Your willingness to talk about your unique faith journeys, hesitant uncertainties, and surprise aha moments has opened doors for others to consider their own personal walk with Christ.  I think it's fair to say that our borders are enlarging, we're pondering deep in our spirits, we're considering what it looks like to cultivate the practice of a Christ-honoring stillness in the dailyness of our crazily overloaded lives.

God is in the sacred business of continuously peeling back the layers of our wounded, tender, yet sometimes hardened hearts.  Deeply in love with His beloved children, He faithfully beckons us to something more substantial and intimate in our relationship with Him.

For anything healthy takes root, grows upward, and bursts into bloom.

What's He inviting you to?  

Who is He inviting you to be? 

These two quotes from author Ruth Haley Barton caught my attention this week ...

Chapter 7 - Rest for the Soul
I find it inexplicable the way God comes to us and ministers to us when we are willing to trust ourselves to him.  God's way of making his presence known and comforting us in such moments is as individualized and personal as each mother's way of holding and comforting her own child; it is a very intimate thing.  Going all the way into the grief in God's presence left me feeling tender and vulnerable, but I could also sense that I was held safely.  I felt empty and spent, but I also felt comforted by God's loving presence.  I knew I was not alone in my grief.  Nothing was fixed, but I was okay.  I had not been swept away.

Chapter 8 - Emptiness
The gift of solitude ... is that I was able to walk into my emptiness and I didn't get lost in it.  And I think that is what I am most afraid of - that I will get lost in the emptiness and stay in the wilderness forever.  But that is not what happens.  Instead, an imperceptible filling - hardly even noticeable - is taking place in my soul.  While the experience of being empty is painful, emptiness is prerequisite to being filled.  As it turns out, the presence of God is poured out most generously when there is space in our souls to receive him.  In the vast emptiness of the human soul there is finally room for God.

Beyond Words

Dangerously Tired

Book Open House #3
Rest for the Body
Rest for the Mind

Book Open House #5
Facing Ourselves
Pure Presence

Book Open House Conclusion
Receiving Guidance
For the Sake of Others


sharing solitude & silence 


  1. Hi, dear friend!

    There is nothing that can compare to the rest for the soul when we realize we can snuggle safely in the Lord's arms and He will not let go, drop us, tell us to shape up or grow up no matter how old we are. Too often many have a distorted image of the Lord filled in by images of fathers, brothers, uncles, pastors, and others who shamed, abused, neglected, or never wanted us near. Only in His arms can He heal that and give us eyes to see the truth.

    The emptiness I felt as I as retiring could only be filled up during times of solitude with Him. I craved it like someone parched of thirst coming in from the desert. It was the greatest of gifts to renew, replenish, and revitalize my relationship with Him, myself, and the church as a whole. It saddens me that so few tiptoe into this most precious space.

    Have a blessed day! Love and hugs to you!

    1. So very sadly, you're right.

      The damage done to so many by men who should have kept us safe is untold. I applaud all those women who are stepping out of the shadows of shame to proclaim their freedom.

      The creepy bugs scatter when we lift the rock that hides them in darkness.

      I've appreciated your thoughts about the exhaustion that comes from ministry and the healing, refreshing touch you needed and pursued after you had finished. I've found many ministry leaders have not cultivated a rich personal quiet space with the Lord, with personal devotional times serving as study space for preaching and teaching.

      'This'll preach!'

      I find this to be true with blogging as well. It's like we just can't be still with the Lord without some kind of agenda.

      Pam, what have we missed along the way ...

  2. As I read these chapters, I have experienced being dangerously tired than refreshed, needing rest for mind and body and recalibrating, finding rest for my soul and filling the emptiness with God’s fullness BUT not necessarily as Ruth describes how it happened to her in solitude and silence. I have often felt guilty cause I could not experience things the way Ruth has but I am coming to understand that we all may experience God’s presence in different ways. Most important is acknowledging my need and anticipating God to do the work of rejuvenating me and purposing me with His desires. I see in this wonderful book RECEPTIVENESS.

    The section that jumped out at me was Ruth’s explanation of her anger and under her anger was sadness. “Sadness seems like such a weak and useless emotion compared to anger.” My experience shows me that sadness is a necessity of this life and the more I recognize it, the better I can unwrap it with God and move forward.

    Did you hit 70degrees yesterday? What a teaser, huh?

    1. I like how one person's experience can serve as a catalyst for others to discover how they best can seek and enjoy the presence of the Lord. It's so easy to think that there are experts out there ... and then there's me.

      Because we're so uniquely shaped, how we connect will run the gamut.

      And you're spot on, Carol ... anger's a secondary emotion. It's all about hurt, frustration, fear, disrespect, sadness, etc. When we finally can name what we're truly experiencing instead of hanging all our problems on anger, we can begin to move ahead and figure out what to do with it all ...


      P.S. No 70 degrees around here. But it has been delightful ...


  3. Since Lent began, I've been practicing the daily discipline of silence and solitude, breathing deeply, willing my mind to grow still. As each day goes by, I'm finding this exercise, and the comfort of that intentional alone time with God, are bringing me both joy and peace. Until I tried this, I never would have believed how healing this can be. I hope everyone reading this book is giving silence and solitude the old college try!
    Blessings, everyone!

    1. Martha, thanks for sharing your Lenten experience. I can't help but think it'll encourage others who are considering how to incorporate what they're discovering into their daily routines.

      Please keep filling us in, ok? You are a great encouragement around here!

      Bless you, girl ...

  4. I couldn't agree with this more, Linda: "God's way of making his presence known and comforting us in such moments is as individualized and personal as each mother's way of holding and comforting her own child; it is a very intimate thing." When I first became a Christian, I wanted to hear how everyone else saw and heard God. I was determined one of those ways would be my experience too. When it didn't happen that way, my faith would struggle. It took me a long time to find my own personal and intimate relationship with Him. Once I opened myself up to that, everything changed. Thank you for that reminder, my friend!

    1. I so appreciate what you're saying, Candace. Yes, yes, this is all about a personal relationship!

      Jesus said, 'I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me' {John 14:6}.

      Because this is all about relationship, not religion, this will play out differently for each of us. When I try to make my faith walk look like someone else's, it doesn't seem to fit, does it.

      Yet we still need to be in a faith community, we still need people who will teach us and mentor us. We need to be immersed in God's Word and learn how to pray without ceasing.

      I've been walking with Christ for half a century. My faith is still evolving, changing, growing. It doesn't look much like it did decades ago.

      Except Jesus. He hasn't changed a bit. And I love Him more than ever.

      And your words speak the same beautiful truth.

  5. This book has come at the right time. I feel like I have been on this journey with Ruth as she lived it. Hard to describe but the season I’m in currently has left me feeling not quite myself. I have been busy for so long and now that I truly have time, I feel a little lost.

    So spending time in silence and solitude is healing but also scary. When Ruth described feeling like she might get lost in the emptiness, I knew exactly what she meant. This process of surrendering and trusting is a cleaning out, if you will. It’s hard work but the other side will be so good.

    1. Oh Mary, you've been through so many changes in recent years ... the constant transition can leave us feeling not like ourselves, a bit lost and uncertain.

      Yes, yes. I've been there and I hear exactly what you're saying.

      I'm so glad for the timing of this sacred invitation in your life. I know it's scary, but God is not, is He?!

      May you find peace and renewed vision in your quiet times. I know you're going to be writing about your journey.

      And I, for one, can't wait to follow along and cheer from the sidelines.

      Just like you've done for me ...

      Bless you, friend.

    2. Thank you for your kind words. I know you understand so much of what I share here. I love that you open up your space for meet do that.

      I keep thinking I should be busier or more focused or .... fill in the blank. And then I realize God is giving me exactly what I need- peace, rest, and time with Him.

  6. Me again. Miss hearing from the guys. I have little male spiritual perspectives in my life so I always take notice when they speak.

  7. Thoughtful quotes, thank you for sharing! <3 -

  8. Most of this week I was offline at a team retreat. It was a blessing to have this time with less distractions to have some time for silence and solitude. The chapters were just what I needed for this week. I loved this quote from the chapter "The Rest for Your Soul" "The point of solitude is to be with God with what is true about me right now whatever that is." What a great reminder. In the chapter on emptiness, I was drawn to the part about the wilderness and how Mt Horeb was surrounded by desserts. What an appropriate visual. Our teaching at the retreat our first night was on the wilderness. I love how God will often using teaching from different areas on the same subject. Our teacher talked about how throughout scripture the wilderness was often a place of desolation and despair but most importantly a place where God miraculously saves. It can be a place of safety from our self centered souls. Most importantly, the word of God is found there. Linda, I loved your comment about how each of our relationships with Jesus might be different but Jesus never changes.

    1. TJ - I love that the retreat and the book have kind of melded together, each one speaking into the other.

      Don't you just cherish those times with fewer distractions?!

      I'm thinking it's only gotten more difficult in this season because our phones have become attached to our bodies and we've become addicted to constant stimulation and are completely missing the boat on what we're truly craving.


    2. Oh and I forgot to say a great big thanks for sharing the Book Open House with your tribe

      It means so much to me that you'd do that, especially since we've just met recently.


  9. Empty. Empty so God can fill the space. It can sure feel uncomfortable intentionally keeping my schedule more 'empty' these days. And trusting there's a learning here necessary on this journey! Lovely quotes you have shared here again Linda. Thank you.

  10. Linda,
    Though I haven't been able to read the whole book, I have enjoyed stopping by for excerpts. So true that an emptiness has to happen before we can feel and experience the fullness of God. How good that He doesn't leave us in that empty state forever....His timing is perfect.
    Bev xx

    1. It was so sweet of you to share what's been happening over here, Bev

      Thanks for spreading the word ... so kind!

  11. In my sickness (I've been sick for days), God is inviting me to relax and just be in His presence. :)

    Thanks for this reminder.

    1. I hope that today's find you perkier and stronger, Lux!

      And your story is mind, too. Those are the seasons when we have no choice but to relax with the One who loves us best of all.

      Thankfully ...

  12. Oh my goodness, I have been invited into the 'vast emptiness' and I can't wait to go. I LOVE this book. I read only two chapters a week, and it's a struggle not to pick it up again until the next week. I think I'll spend a little more time thinking and answering the questions at the end of the chapters in the weeks to come.

    1. Oh my, you weren't kidding when you said you've been invited and have said 'yes'!

      Ceil, I am so very moved by your decision, by your saying 'yes' to following God's lead in your life in this next season.

      Readers - please read Ceil's own words

      Bless you, dear friend. I admire you so, I am cheering you forward, and I so very much hope we will keep in touch ...


  13. Linda, I so appreciated this post. As hard and scary as it can be to bring my wounds before God--to voice them to Him--I have found the release of heartache in so doing. He is such a good, loving Father!

    This quote poignantly describes the letting go process. I loved it!

    "Going all the way into the grief in God's presence left me feeling tender and vulnerable, but I could also sense that I was held safely. I felt empty and spent, but I also felt comforted by God's loving presence.”

    1. You're so right, Jeanne ... that release of heartache when we finally share it with the One who loves us most is indescribable. It's not that the heartache leaves, it's that He joins us in it and carries us through it.

      I'm guessing that's what grieving well looks like. We are not alone ...

  14. Finally caught up on these two chapters! I love the invitation to meet with God wherever we are, in the gratitude or the grief- just to be as we are before him- and that although we may not feel that anything tangible has changed, it strengthens us to move forwards.
    Also, creating the emptiness so God can fill it... Well with a foot of snow here, no public transport and police advice not to travel for the rest of the day the space has certainly been created. Now I just need to make the most of it and use it well!

    1. Nothing like being snowed in and maybe even losing electricity to invite us to hunker down and enjoy stillness. Bonus points for no computers or phones!


  15. Ah, Linda! I am finding this book to be a good friend. Reading (and re-reading) slowly and taking it all in. I just finished Emptiness last night, so I am behind... but I have a 1/2 day off tomorrow and a free weekend ahead, so I hope to catch up by Monday.

    The last week has been a bit "chaotic" at Casa Dunbar and having this book on my nightstand has been like a healing balm.

    Bless you for inviting us to join you in reading it. I am so thankful :)


    1. I see you're burning the midnight oil, friend ... I hope you sleep blissfully and enjoy some of that long awaited quiet that looks to be ahead of you.

      A healing balm. Yes. Yes.

      And sometimes just a paragraph at a time.

      His Word ... and words from His people.


Dear Reader ~

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* sigh *

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