Lessons in the Silence and the Art of Contemplation

I feel the words bubbling below the surface – my voice, my thoughts, my desires, rolling on low simmer.

Boil is approaching with a life force of it’s own.

God made me this way.

Ideas and metaphors wax eloquent within my mind. Then, they make their way out into the world- their analogy becoming clearer as I type.

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Words have always been my teacher; I, forever, their pupal.

My heart is open and willing- yearning, even– to understand and empathize with their teachings.

But in the quiet, I’ve discovered a new teacher- and I have listened with fresh curiosity.

Her voice is sweet, gentle and compassionate; her lessons pointed and encouraging….

encouraging me to rise higher, to new levels of faith and prayer. 

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Silence, meditation, contemplation and the breath – this is where I’m seeing and experiencing Jesus, right now.

They help me stop, be still and know .

So quick to speak, these practices teach me the art of listening….

and in listening, I’m brought into God’s Presence – the present moment, now.

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For me to know, I must feel.

I must experience it with my heart.

Because true knowledge, for me, is heart knowledge- a knowing, so embodied, that it’s truth permeates my being…. like breath.

These practices – silence, meditation, contemplation and the breath – have helped move truth from my heart down to my heart – to see and experience Jesus in that space.

Like the lyrics of United Pursuit’s, “Head to Heart’:

From head to the heart, take me on a journey- from letting go, to getting lost in you.

More than words more than good ideals, I found your love in an open field.

I first started exploring contemplative practices about a year ago, but it wasn’t until this summer, that God took me to new and deeper levels.

It’s been three months now, since I first logged off and went silent.

I deleted all social media apps from my phone and blocked their use on my computer. My goal was one month, but when the time came, I knew I was just beginning.

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I’m slowly reemerging, but in the quiet, I learnt some valuable lessons I’ll take with me:

While “disconnected”, I feel and hear God clearly – sometimes loudly and in uncanny ways. I see Him present in the mundane and His hand, in the nuances of my day….

As if i’m standing in the centre of a windstorm, declaring:  “Can you see that?! Can you feel it?! This is God’s Spirit moving!”

Before, I was too distracted to notice.

Too stuffed to taste.

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Breath work and meditation help slow me down.

Four counts in …..

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2

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4

and four counts out ….

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2

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intentionally releasing and letting go.
While focusing on my breath, I consent to work of The Spirit within me. I Feel the moment and whatever it brings, choosing to be still with it.

In time, I hear him. Then I see him or I feel him.

In the stillness I know:

The Spirit is doing a deeper work than my mind can grasp- a healing work I must simply surrender to; be open and willing.

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I’m learning to prioritize rest and self-care- choosing to love from a full tank, rather than refuelling after.

Practically, that looks like working from a place of rest, rather than resting from my work.

It means taking time each day to do the things that fill me up and keep me healthy: things like prayer, yoga, reading, naps, and getting outside regularly. Eating clean, drinking water and getting plenty of sleep at night.

It looks like asking for help and taking intentional time to be still – morning, mid afternoon and before bed.

And I’m learning to reward and pamper myself first, not after I get the job done!

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A funny thing has happened:

My joy has doubled, and my peace magnified. And see Jesus in everything. 

Revelation and wisdom come to me out of no where- and I’m eager to do the daily grind.

I do more in half the time I used to and I’m finally able to leave things unfinished.

I trust that God willl provide- the time, the resources, the knowledge, the answers – everything I need to do His will.

His job is to provide; mine is simply to ask and to trust.

 

Through the art of silence and centering, I’m taking myself off the throne and giving God back his rightful seat in my life.

Because when God puts me somewhere, he’ll keep me there, but if I put myself there, I have to keep me there!

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Where I was once was chasing perfect, I am now choosing present.

Where I once was busy and striving, I’m now intentional and content.

Where my mind was once cluttered, my heart is now calm.

And I finally feel centred in my soul...

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I’ve found the sanctuary and holy ground, where God has always dwelt.

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Breathing Room

So many stirrings.

Such depths of longing.

Yet, few words will form- or suffice.

I want to make concrete these stirrings I have- this growing hunger for more: more space, more freedom, more ease, more breathing room- but I can’t quite yet.

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It comes like a leaky faucet- in drips and drabs and droplets: the prayers, quotes, songs, pictures, and metaphors of others. Ones for now, I’ll gladly borrow:

The TeacupIlluminata, Breathe with Love. The Coffee ShopStarlight in the Darkness, yoga in the morning. Floating Clouds, open ocean, rustling wind within the trees.

They whisper my unformed words – silent soliloquies.

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It’s a tune I recognize from a pit of knowing-  the woman who longs to emerge and stay:

Who wants more love, less judgement.

More being, less doing.

More get to’s, less have to’s. 

More listening, less talking. 

More living, less striving. 

… In both my external world and my internal.

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In these four weeks of silence, I’ve rediscovered a best friend- the voice I once knew and followed with passion…. my soul.

I hear her again. And her voice is so sweet.

We’re starting at last to honour our own discomfort, to think that maybe we weren’t crazy after all, chafing for years under the oppressive weight of our cultural nonsense.

Millions of us now reach out for our lost, buried souls, and once we begin the search, we’re bound to find it. – Illuminata by Marianne Williamson

….  like an old familiar friend or a cozy sweater; a timeless love song, set to a moody ballad.

At first her voice was quiet, like a soft whisper I strained to hear. But now she’s singing with octane and the innocence of an untamed child.

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Curious, she is; whimsical and passionate; in love with life- her life.

She sees good and beauty everywhere; from an orange, to a butterfly, to the faces of neighbours passing by.

She knows what she wants and it’s not the things this world tells her she does.

She worships in surrender, with a kind of teenage love. Uninterested in religion, but fiercely hungry for God.

She’s inclusive of others, regardless of differences- asking questions without forming opinions first.

She shines bright- Light in poise and manner. Unconcerned with words, she sees no need to explain herself. She lets actions, speak louder.

It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. – James 3:13 (The Message)

Like a lighthouse, she feels no need to draw attention inward. She shines outward for the sake of others- a light left on for pilgrims on the journey.

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She delights in her senses and revels in flavour.

She feels at home – in her body and her community.

She sees abundance in place of scarcity and trusts implicitly.

She flourishes in simplicity and blooms inside the margins- with time, in the waiting. 

She’s unhurried and unrushed, trusting in the process and her pleasure.

It’s the journey she’s after- one of meaning: connection and joy; contentment and faith.

This is the legacy she wants to leave.

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As I’ve listen to her voice and befriended her longings, I found new space to thrive- breathing room.

It was there all along, like an unopened present, just waiting for me to see it.

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I was too busy and distracted to notice; to hurried in my tasks to care. I chose instead, the beat of expectation- my own, the world’s, what I thought the church (and God) required of me. 

Now, I find myself rebelling- pushing back against the fence walls that boxed me in and stifled the lyrics of my soul.

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Like my ideas of faith and God, my life is expanding- and in that expansion, I’ve found myself, again- my true self, my soul.

Like a reunion of saints:

Her innocence, my maturity. Her whimsy, my experience. Her freedom, my longing. Her joy, my suffering.

Together, we are better. 

In our union, we’ve found home. 

 

 

 

 

Making Peace with Who I’m Made to Be | The Enneagram + Living like an Introvert

Eight months ago, I learnt I was an introvert. The discovery blew my mind, because all my life, I had lived like an extrovert.

Outgoing, bubbly and a performer by nature- large crowds don’t scare me and I’m perfectly comfortable being the centre of attention.

I love being with people! How could I possibly be an introvert then?

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Succinctly, Jess Connolly smashed that notion with her definition of the defining difference between the two:

Extroverts get energy and are filled up by being with people. It’s how they recharge.

Whereas, introverts find people and crowds draining. Some may very well love being with people, but they ultimately need solitude, rest and quiet to refuel- and to process.

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BINGO! That was me…

And yet, all these years (29 to be exact) I had been living, working and loving from the well-source of an extrovert.

You see, every three months (and increasingly sooner in difficult seasons of life) I found myself depleted, drained and exhausted. I wanted to quit life and run away… every three months!!! I battled depression because no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t fill back up.

I was empty ALL. THE. TIME.

I battled the shame of being weak and lazy and not good enough – of letting the people I love most down.

I realized in that moment- in discovering I was an introvert -something needed to change.

If I was to find my joy again and the energy I needed to love and serve my people well, I needed to start honouring my body, mind and soul’s need for solitude, rest and quiet.

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God had already started teaching me about peace in solitude, so I was excited to take this next steps.

Slowly and surely, I implemented the following:

  • Creating space in my days, as well as my weeks, for rest, reflection and alone time
  • Prioritizing things that fill me up, like reading, writing, getting outside and doing yoga
  • Working from a place of rest, rather than resting from work  (as my husband put it, “Make rest your priority Kailey, not work.”)
  • Concentrating on one project or work focus at a time, giving it all my energies before moving on to the next
  • Creating an evening routine of solitude and rest, so I woke feeling full, rejuvenated and inspired
  • Pouring into a few people I’m called to, rather than many and everyone
  • Being honest with myself and others about my limitations (saying no to even good things, when I didn’t have the energy or knew I needed to fill up)
  • Leaving blank days on the calendar with nothing scheduled, so I could take them at my leisure

I could write about these in elaborate detail, because quite honestly, it took time and intentionality to figure out how to do this!

It was trial and error in discovering the practice steps and ways of living and loving like an introvert.

Needless to say, I started to breath again. I felt peace return and I could hear my heart sing. It was working!

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Shortly thereafter, I stumbled upon the Enneagram, during one of Christa Black Giffords Webinars. Why did I need to take another personality test? I balked. But with her endorsement, I checked it out.

Thirty minutes into taking the Enneagram test, I was in tears- like someone had opened my heart’s journal and read every entry.

Staring back at me were my longings, felt needs and idiosyncrasies; my fears and insecurity. Like they were normal and very much ok. I was seen and accepted by this infamous number 4 that so accurately embodied my deeply emotional soul.

All my life I’ve felt different, (in both a good and bad way) battling the notion that I am wrong or bad- shame my biggest enemy. And here I was, learning that this was normal for a 4 and that in fact, it was not only my greatest weakness, but also my greatest strength, if I harnessed it.

For weeks, I listened to The Road Back to You, a podcast devoted to looking at life through the eyes of the Enneagram from a Christian perspective. Never had I laughed and cried so hard in forty minutes.

In the same way I felt after discovering I was an introvert, I felt seen, heard, validated, and understood in shared experiences with other 4’s!

Don’t you know these are the basic needs of a four and how they feel most loved?!?!

And my wrestle with shame? The infamous demon in the closet for 4’s!

My goodness…. revelation after revelation. 

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I’ll admit, I am very much still learning and discovering the Enneagram. I am far and wide a newbie at it, but what I love most, is the intricacy and depth of it’s reach.

Not only does it outline my basic nature, but also character development at different levels of maturity and how I function under stress or shame or exhaustion- what the Enneagram calls, your shadow side.

It’s informative, challenging and encouraging. Honouring the person God created me to be, while simultaneously calling me UP, rather than OUT.

With the help of The Enneagram, I’m coming to a deeper understanding of my God given strengths and weakness; honouring them, rather than fighting them. I’m learning to acknowledge the shame that so easily ensnares me, rather than will it away. And I’m discovering how a lifestyle of rest and mothering myself, will help me flourish and come alive in ways I’ve only yet tasted.

My capacity for life these days is SO MUCH SMALLER than I ever dared imagine! But if I want to live in health and joy and rest, it’s necessary and good.

And when I love from that place- from the place of my truest self- I discover the connection, belonging and meaning I aspire to leave as my legacy!

The Enneagram and living like an introvert: my  road back to health; to the wholeness and freedom that’s mine in becoming my truest self- the person God created me to be.

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Get started on your journey:

Introvert Living

Discover the peace and pleasure in solitude and rest- mothering yourself to wholeness of health and mind and joy.

 

The Enneagram

Learn your Enneagram Number and start discovering the way you’re wired. Find freedom in who God created you to be in your truest self.

A New Kind of Courage | Devotion. Emotion. Movement. Breath

Courage these days looks different than it used to…

Where it once was loud, it now stays silent. Where it once was proud, it now bows in humility. Where it once was seen, it now seeks solitude.

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Courage has taken on a new posture in this season of life and the truth is, it’s a dance- one I’m learning the steps to, far too slowly for my former striving self.

I’m fumbling and stumbling my way through it.

And yet, each day, each week, each lesson, I find myself dancing this new courage by heart.

Devotion and Emotion. Movement and Breath:

The basic fundamentals that encapsul this new courage.

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1. Devotion to God through the brave act of showing up

– of coming to him every day just to be with Him, no agenda. To hear from Him, to talk to Him and to read His word. Allowing this time to penetrate my heart and remake me every new morning, from the inside out.

Not in pursuit to “be better and do better”, but to receive, in my perpetual neediness and surmounting weakness- knowing and trusting that in my humanness surrendered, He is strong and mighty and most powerful.

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2. Giving my Emotions to Jesus and Taking Authority over Lies

Instead of willing myself different, I’m learning to be brave enough to welcome my emotions in whatever form.

Be it anger or resentment or frustration or guilt or shame or panic, I’m inviting Jesus to walk parallel to those emotions, feeling His easy lightness alongside the dark heaviness.

Feeling both coexist in the same space- my heart- allowing His presence to fight for me, rather than trying to “fix myself.”

And when His Spirit nudges- when I recognize the lies for what they are – the lies taunting me with untruths about who I am or what I need to do

I’m learning to courageously take my authority in Jesus and send them away… because for too long, I gave lies centre stage and an open mic night in my heart- free reign and an all access pass to harass me and my every thought.

But it stops here.
I will be brave enough to say, “no more”, because I am more: More than a conqueror. More than my mistakes. More than my weakness. More than my imperfections. More than my immaturity. More than my inability to meet others expectations and please every person in my life.

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3. Movement as Worship.

For everything there is a season and this is my season to fly- to learn to fly, anyway. I am no longer a caterpillar in a cocoon, but a butterfly, entirely new in Christ Jesus.

After a season of physical rest- of trusting the good in non-movement– I am finding a new stride: dance to music in my living room, yoga on my patio, running outside in nature.

For a former exercise addict turned nothing-but-walking, these humble beginnings feel awkward and hard.

Every movement is a brave act of surrender and in humility, I’m trusting that with time, I will find my footing and my strength- a new strength, firmer and more grounded than my former self.

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4. Breath as a life line- my connection in every moment to Love and Presence and Life.

Meditation and Centering Prayer and the simple act of intentional breathing.

To stop takes courage.

I’m learning that whatever it is, can wait, because in this moment, what I need more, is Him.

More than to get it done, more than to exercise my rights, more than to be heard or understood,  to fix it or figure it out, what I need now is Jesus.

Breath has become my wordless prayer.

I’m still waiting for the gifts of tongues, but until then, when words fail me or I can’t articulate what I feel, I’m bravely allowing breath to bring me home – to usher me into God’s presence and his heart.

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Devotion and Emotion. Movement and Breath…

All of this feels new and foreign and yet none of it is new or even foreign. They’re old truths and old practices. Ones that find homage in many homes and hearts and cultures and religions. And yet Im learning them with new intensity and intentionality.

I am a student of rest, learning to mother herself back to Love.

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I’d love to know:

  • How do you intentionally connect to Love?
  • What rhythms of rest has God led you to implement?
  • How has sabbath become a lifestyle rather than just a day?
  • How is God teaching you to mother yourself to wholeness?

We’re in this together- sojourners on the pilgrimage to Christ.

 

Letter to self | When you need to hear well done

I’ve prayed when I didn’t want to.

I’ve stayed when I wanted to go. 

I’ve fought when I wanted to leave.

I’ve kept quiet when I wanted to point fault. 

I’ve forgiven when deeply offended.

I’ve sought forgiveness when I’ve wounded and hurt. 

I’ve trusted when all things point otherwise.

I’ve believed when it made no sense at all. 

I’ve spoken life when death’s all around me.

I’ve died to be born to new life. 

I’ve sung praise in the midst of destruction.

I’ve grieved for lives not my own. 

I’ve cared even though it costs me.

I’ve loved to the point that it hurts. 

I’ve pressed on when I wanted to drop out.

I’ve quit because I knew it was best. 


I’ve lived far from perfection, but friend, I’ve lived this life well.

So for now, I’m saying, “Well done. My dear, you’re doing swell.”