Develop A Spiritual Practice

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I get a lot of feed back from people in regards to their seeming inability to be able to carve out quiet time for themselves. Taking that another step further, I had the opportunity last week to present a holistic health message to nurses and managers in the skilled nursing facility setting, and self-care is a big concern. We can all struggle with making space or creating margin in our lives, but it is imperative for over all physical and emotional health. Even beyond that, we are spiritual beings who need to be connected to the source of our strength and to know what to pursue and what to relinquish. The development of a spiritual practice helps us to navigate those questions so we can live fully in our humanity.

I have been a long time fan of Henri Nouwen. Henri, who is now deceased, has been a beloved author, priest, and world famous spiritual counselor and guide, who’s writings continue to inspire and re align his readers in profound ways.

I am re- reading his book Spiritual Direction and I was struck by this;

Developing ears to hear God takes time. We all have strong resistances to listening. First of all, we find it very hard to create empty spaces in our lives and to give up our occupations and preoccupations, even for a while. We suffer from a fear of the empty space. We are so concerned with being useful, effective, and in control that a useless ineffective, and uncontrollable moment scares us and drives us right back to the security of having something valuable to do.

I know that for myself, when I am taking my daily morning time to be alone and meditate, I can feel as though I am “wasting” time and my mind will begin to fill with chatter. Thoughts of my to do list, the kids activities, the bathroom that needs cleaned….whatever, will start to infiltrate my mind until I push them back and give myself permission and encouragement to be still. The truth is, I cannot go very many days with out long periods of alone time to start my day.

The morning spiritual practice is so integrated into my life, it is as if I am cutting off my right arm or not drinking water when I defer it at all. The more you are intentional about it, the more deeply it embeds into who you are. The Bible says that Jesus retreated often  and the New Testament talks about “praying continuously”. For me this looks like at least an hour in the morning of reading the Bible, in my head or out loud, and writing my prayers out. I have a designated space in my bedroom where I do this. When I am exceptionally pressured, I set my alarm and do not allow my self to get pulled away into a different direction. I often times write one scripture or a short theme out on a post it note and refer to it through out the day. Any time I start to get anxious about any situation, I pause and read it and it puts me back into The Vine (John 15:5), the source of strength. As you are intentional about creating this time for yourself, others will begin to understand, respect and give you your space- but that will only happen after you show consistency in guarding it and making it a priority.

Do we want to see the truth in our lives? Maybe we don’t….maybe it is easier if we don’t. Henri went on to say this in the same chapter; Resistance in the form of preoccupation and distraction often prevents us from seeing the truth of our lives, hearing God’s voice and living a spiritual life. To listen with obedience to the voice of God requires building up a resistance to all the other voices that compete for our attention.

I know for myself, the spiritual practice continues to be a persistent intentional routine, but it has also become a deep place of peace that no other thing or person on earth can replicate. I have had times where I knew I was running, so to speak, from hearing the voice of truth in my life. It leaves one empty and shallow. If we are going to tap into who we really were created to be and tap into the things we were expressly created to do in this short time called life, we are going to have to spend time with The Creator.

I encourage you to create empty spaces in your life. Decide to swim against the water of culture and abide in the place you were designed to be. This is not time wasted, it is value added. Do not be afraid of the quietness, be intentional and begin your spiritual journey<3

 

* Honest Aromas offers  Christian Life Coaching! If you would like more information on this idea, visit  juliaallman.com

Failure

Do you remember in the movie City Slickers when the character, Ed, said his best and worst day were the same day? I relate to that in this way; that the things in my life that could have potentially destroyed me, have been the very things that have given me grit and determination to change.  Those times have been the catalyst to eventually propel me into my best self and my best potential.

I have found that the humility I have learned in failure has been fertile ground for authenticity and given me a more meaningful way to relate to others.

I am sitting here this morning in my quiet place. The corner space in my room, next to a window that has been designated for prayer and meditation. I am reading Psalm 91, H.C.G Moule and Beth Moore. As I feel a cool, gentle breeze touching my shoulder after a humid, sticky night, I find that I am in very good company.  The words  that I am reading were written by people  who have a deep understanding of failure. The constant theme is; what is impossible with man, is possible with God.

It is not only that God loves,  knows and relates to us, in real time, through Jesus Christ…which is pretty mind blowing.   It is that He can still prove inexhaustible and victorious in our mortal flesh today! It is also that, He and He alone, can set us free from the slavery of sin. And it is further, that because He has set His love upon us He will deliver us. 

I am sitting here right now, drinking in His love and mercy. His absolute encouragement  and inspiration toward me to lift my eyes up to the mountains from where my help comes from. The awesome overwhelmedness that He is a master at taking ashes and creating beautiful things out them.  He really wants to do that for me and for you today and every day!

Thank you God that the things that the devil meant to destroy me have been turned for good in your hand. Thank you God for your Holy Spirit that leads me in to all truth and uses my life to help other’s with their’s. I am overwhelmed as I sit in your presence. I thank you for the other’s who have gone before me and have transparently encouraged me by their trials, struggles and failures. As difficult as the road has been, I thank you that you did not allow me to become hardened. You kept my heart soft and vulnerable, so that you could continue to teach me and I could continue to encourage others with the comfort I have received.  And I thank you that you, and you alone, can grow the most beautiful creations out of seemingly impossible conditions. 

 

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I am walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today.

Think On These Things…

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It is SO easy for all of us to look at what is wrong in any situation…being grumpy and complaining takes little effort. It is so easy to complain about the weather, the government, or another human being.

I have a son who is autistic. His brain apparently does not have a lot of serotonin or dopamine, because he struggles to look at the bright side of anything. We are attempting to teach him every day to recount the good things of the day, or happy memories he has experienced in the last 24 hours and let me tell you, it is grueling work! We all get very frustrated with him but do you know what? I find I can be the exact same way many times! I have this written in my dining room from Phil. 4:8; I challenge you to insert truth to all of these meditations, especially the situations you are experiencing right now that are clouded by doubt and frustration.
WHATEVER THINGS ARE TRUE-  (Insert yours here) I wrote; I am loved, forgiven, accepted and pleasing to God.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE NOBLE- Despite our struggles and set backs, my husband and I are attempting to build a holy union called marriage.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE JUST- Our children are growing up into the gifts and talents that God purposes for their lives and we experience that as a family.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE PURE- God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit give us access to themselves daily.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE LOVELY- Children that I wasn’t supposed to have, green grass, hemlocks, flowers on my porch and in my hand.
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE OF GOOD REPORT- I made it through this day loving those around me!
WHAT EVER THINGS ARE VIRTUOUS- Trusting that God has plan and future for me that is good even when my circumstances can make me doubt. I don’t give up!
WHAT EVER IS PRAISEWORTHY- I have life, I have food,  I have water, I have clothing and shelter.
So it says we are to MEDITATE ON THESE THINGS. It takes effort, energy and a changing of our minds- many times from what we see, to faith in what we don’t see. I love the HOPE that is in that!

God has given us the capacity to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. When we look at people who completely frustrate us, we must look at who they really are…who they were created to be, just as we want them to do for us. The renewing power we have been given is a super natural gift, the ability to look at something we see and yet have faith in something that we do not see is not of this world! We have access to this power and we must apprehend it with faith and a grateful heart.

I hope you take a few moments to do this exercise, just writing it out has been transforming to me! I am right here walking this path of wholeness with you and I would love to hear from you today!

Carve Out Some Peace

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After reading Henri Nouwen’s, Spiritual Direction,  I was reminded how I needed to have a quiet space in my house where I can pray and make a spiritual impact to my life and that of my family’s. I typically do have quiet, meditation time, but I was doing it at the dining room table where it can be extremely peaceful first thing in the morning, and be rudely interrupted by a number of intruders later.

When my oldest children were little, I taught them not to officially come out of their rooms until 8 A.M., so we could all have focused quiet-time in the morning. When our younger two were little, that was much more difficult, as by that time I was also helping take care of my mother- in- law in our home. I remember feeling like the only place I could have peace was in the bathroom and that was only if no one was calling the dreaded name, “mom”!!

So at the time, I purchased a small bamboo top bistro table and chairs and put it in my bedroom to re-focus my mind in the morning. It was my “secret place,” as not secret as it was! Since we moved into our new home 4 years ago, I did not have a purposed place until yesterday! I bought a cute little set of reclaimed furniture at a tag sale over the weekend, with this very respite in mind. I lit some unscented candles in my room which is already permeated with the Lavender and Roman Chamomile essential oils I use, and the Thyme, Peppermint, Cypress and Eucalyptus my husband uses in our bedtime repertoire!

Peace! Tranquility! Hidden in the corner of the bedroom, tucked behind a large plant that blocks the view of the doorway. A blank canvas to begin my prayer and meditation time. A ,”look at the hand,” to the world and the interruptions that clamor for my peace! My intentionality at carving out peace in my life.  It’s all part of holistic health- carve out some for yourself! We would love to hear about it:-)

 

Meditation

 

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When I open my eyes in the morning Is a beautiful meditation that I often focus on in the morning. Check out The Christian Meditator on YouTube. Focus your attention on being thankful this morning, for this day and for the rest of the weekend.

I hope it blesses you and makes you aware of who you are and what God’s plans are for you.

Honest Aromas makes a wonderful meditation blend with the Ancient Oils of Frankincense and Myrrh. Put a drop of each in your hands and inhale deeply for healing of all kinds, vitality, and all over immune system strengthening.

Peace<3