Are you filled with the fulless of God or are you running on empty?

“That He may grant you in accord with the riches of His glory to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”  Ephesians 3:16-19

Are you filled with the fullness of God or are you running on empty?  Perhaps your cup of faith is half full and is being depleted?

Often times as we walk through life, we find ourselves checking the boxes when it comes to our faith because life is too busy to do anything more.  We have very good intentions and we make sure we are doing the things we know are right, like go to church regularly.  In the midst of it, our faith becomes stagnant or it may begin to deplete.

I think just as we all have financial bank accounts and emotional bank accounts, we also have faith bank accounts.  Frequently, we withdraw a lot from our faith bank account as we push through each day.  If we fail to deposit into our faith account, our roots may begin to dry up and the strength we once had is weakened.  If our faith bank account is not full, when trials and struggles hit us, we are less equipped to handle them.  We begin to question God instead of lean on Him, accepting and surrendering to His will.

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Many things are invested in through our faith bank account – trust in God, joy, grace, love and forgiveness of others, etc.  It is important for us to constantly deposit into our account.  God places so many things at our fingertips to invest or pour into our faith accounts.  In order to fill our inner self with the Spirit, we have to utilize these tools He places before us.  We have to take a breather from the business of life and invest time in some of these tools He gives us such as:

Prayer – consistently show up to converse with God, to sit with Him, to listen to Him

Bible (our how to book) – reading the Bible, learning and receiving God’s message

Church – attending church, worshipping and praising Him, serving your community and fellowshipping with the body of Christ

Friends and Family – companions to walk our journey with

Retreats, Bible Studies, Theological and Spiritual resources – resources that help us grow in knowledge and love of Christ as we experience our faith through the eyes of others and with others.

Recently, I found myself in a situation where my cup, my bank account wasn’t full enough to handle the boulder that dropped in front of me.  I wrestled as I stumbled.  I began to question myself and my ability to handle the things that God was placing before me because of the way I was dealing with my boulder.  In doing so, I fell into the “I’m not good enough syndrome.”  Am I good enough to be the daughter He is calling me to, the daughter He is asking to walk along side others?  I attended a women’s conference this weekend, with around 4800 other women – phenomenal.  As I listened to the speakers’ stories and their messages, my faith bank account began to fill.  My spirit was infused with the love, strength and knowledge of Christ.  I realized that God is calling me as His qualified daughter based on His merits and not mine.  I am good enough, especially for His purpose in my life.  He will utilize the gifts He has given me to overcome this boulder in my life as He has done before and to serve Him in the capacity He is calling me to as I  walk along side others with all my brokenness sharing His love, compassion and mercy.

God utilizes everything for His goodness and the tools He gives us to fill our faith account helps us to be “grounded in love… have strength to comprehend… what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”  When we are filled with the fullness of God, we can handle the boulders that fall in front of us with His grace by accepting and trusting that His plan surpasses anything we could fathom.

Are you filled with the fullness of God or are you running on empty?  Does your faith bank account need a little deposit so that you can invest more in trusting God and in the joy that’s buried in your heart waiting to burst through?  If you are feeling depleted, take time to pray, invest in time with your spiritual friends, attend a retreat or a conference if you can, spend time in all capacities that radiate with the love of Jesus.  I’m certain that you will begin to fill your cup of faith.

Do you wrestle with stillness?

“Be still and know I am God.”  Psalm 46:11

Do you struggle with stillness?  What is God saying to you when He says “be still and know I am God?”

A couple of years ago this verse danced in my head and I questioned what it really meant to me, what was God saying to me when He said be still and know I am God? 

A few weeks later, I had gone to see my eye doctor just for a regular exam so I could get some contacts.  As I’m sitting in the chair, my doctor looks at me concerned and began asking me a series of questions.  He asked if I was dizzy and having headaches.  I looked at him very confused and slowly stated, I was fine and no I hadn’t been having any issues with headaches or dizziness.  He explained to me that my optic nerve looked swollen.  He said it could be one of two things, it was swelling, which would indicate neurological issues or there was calcium deposits causing it to look like swelling, which would affect my peripheral vision.  He referred me to a neuro ophthalmologist to run further tests.  Of course, like most people, I go home and search the internet, not very wise.  Everything bad under the sun comes up, heightening my anxieties.  I made an appointment to see the specialist.  I spent an entire day undergoing several exams on my eye and was becoming very concerned through each exam.  After all the tests, she still could not make a determination what was going on with my eye and made me an appointment at another facility to have an ultrasound done on my eye.  I was alone and frightened as none of these tests revealed a definitive answer.  I had a couple of hours before the appointment for the ultrasound.  I found myself longing to go sit quietly in a church.  I found a church just down the road from where my ultrasound was scheduled.  When I walked in, I noticed they had Adoration in a small chapel.  I went in to sit, to “be still,” with Jesus.  Being there brought about a calmness and tranquility and all my anxieties on what could be wrong with my eyes were gone.  I was in a state of stillness and I knew that God was in control.  I knew that no matter what the doctor found, this was part of God’s plan in my journey.

Now, when I read that verse and contemplate its meaning, I know that God is telling me, “relax, I have this figured out, you are mine and I am your God, your Heavenly Father who loves you, who has a plan for you and all things in  your life.”

Being still and allowing God to be God, does not mean you have to go to a church or a chapel and find complete solitude or quietness.  You can find this stillness in your home or outdoors.  God is all around you and anytime you find yourself needing to be still, find a comfortable spot, pause and allow Him to reveal to you that He has everything under control because He is God.  This stillness is a moment of focus on God in all matters in your life.

Seeing God in all things

Is your heart open to receiving God?  Is your mind open to allowing Him to reveal Himself to you?  Are your eyes and ears open to seeing and hearing Him around you?

God is present in all things, I have no doubt about that.  He has revealed Himself to me in so many things, small things on the ground, on my windshield, in a person, in a hug, in a book, and through life of the animals and plants around me.  I have written a lot about seeing God in all things.  I want to share an experience I had where God revealed Himself through the Bible and nature.

As I was looking for something, I ran across something in a journal that I had written during a weekend I spent at a Bed N Breakfast two years ago.  I decided to just sit with my Bible on the porch, read and reflect. I flipped to my favorite Psalm, Psalm 139, read it, placed my Bible down, and asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to me what God wanted me to see.  I never imagined what God had in store.  The pages in my Bible flipped.  I picked it up and read something, jotted it down.  Put the Bible back down and the wind turned the pages again, so I picked it back up and jotted the verses I read.  This went on for quite some time.  The most interesting part of it all was that what I was jotting down was in sync with what I was seeing and hearing around me as I peered in the distance from the view of the porch.  This Bed N Breakfast has become a spiritual encounter for me each time I spend a weekend there.  This is my spot to connect with God through nature.  Through this place and what I have learned over the years from the teachings of St. Ignatius, I find that God reveals Himself to us in so many things throughout our day.  It’s just a matter of opening our minds, heart and eyes.  I want to share what I wrote, a composite of all the verses I read.

Why do I seek You Lord when You are with me.  You sit beside me.  You hold me and comfort me.  You rest Your hand upon me.  From Your presence I cannot flee.  You are all around me.  (Psalm 139:5, 7)  I hear a melody as You whisper to my heart a new song, a song of love.  (Psalm 144:9)  I see the birds of Heaven perched in a tree.  Among the branches, he sings a melody.  I know this is meant for me, to know that You are near, that You are singing to my heart.  Your melody is found in the chimes of the wind as You turn the page of Your Word, speaking to my heart.  You tell me You guard my steps by day and my sleep by night for You never slumber nor sleep.  I find rest in knowing Your hand will guard me from the enemy.  (Psalm 144:4,7)  For You tell me that You are my Father, I am Your daughter.  You are the Rock of my salvation.  (Psalm 89:27)  You fill me with Your mercy as I am poor and needy. (Psalm 109:22)  You give me food for my soul as I marvel in Your wondrous works.  For great are Your works, majestic and glorious. (Psalm 111:2-3)  The trees sparkle like fluttering butterflies as they dance to Your harmony.  The birds are so carefree as they spread their wings and are lifted to the Heavens.  My mind is in awe as I watch the light of Your presence sweep across the grass like a lamp for my feet guiding my path. (Psalm 119:105)  Your hand is my compass as it brushes the grass saying follow me.  The wind is Your messenger guiding my journey, never fleeing and always patient.  Your light is a cloak covering my soul.  The clouds are Your chariot on the wings of the wind lifting my heart and my soul to a place of rest in Your presence. (Psalm 104:1-4)

As the pages were turning in my Bible and I was jotting down verses and taking in everything around me I noticed a few things.  I observed, a bright colorful cardinal perched in a nearby tree, a beautiful coat of red contrasting the leaves of the tree.  I heard songs of the birds as I listened attentively.  I knew this song was for me to hear, to know God was near, present in the melody.

In the distance, I watch as the light and the shadows brushed the meadow.  The winds moved the grass as if God’s hand was gliding over it.  The light moved across the field followed by a shadow, as if the chariot of the clouds was traveling ‘on the wings of the wind.’  The view, the sounds and the verses I read all made sense.  God was speaking to me through the wind.  The Holy Spirit was turning the pages of the Bible and my eyes and ears were drawn to things surrounding me to let me know that this was meant for me to hear and to see, to feel God’s presence, to know He was with me always guiding and protecting me.

The last verses I read as I sat on that porch were:

  • “Teach us to count our days aright that we may gain wisdom of heart,” Psalm 90:12.
  • “Fill us at day break with Your mercy that all our days we may sing for joy,” Psalm 90:14.
  • “If only I had wings like a dove that I might fly away and find rest.  Far away I would flee; I would stay in a desert.  I would soon find a shelter from the raging wind and storm,” Psalm 55:7-9
  • My message to you my friends as I write this is that we never journey alone. God is with us in each moment, in the subtlety of life. Ask Him today to reveal Himself to you. Open your heart, mind, eyes and ears to receive Him. Perhaps in your path, you will see a cross on the sidewalk from the formation of pine needles or the warmth of air will brush your face in a moment of need. In these moments, He is letting you know He’s there.
  • Where do you encounter God?

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    Where do you encounter God?  Do you just encounter Him in your prayer time?  Or do you see Him in everything around you?

    Do you see Him in the strength of the rocks, the sturdiness and height of a pine tree, the depths of the ocean, in a smile or in the peace of a loved one as their earthly bodies begin to fade from this temporary home?  Do you hear Him in the songs of the birds, the sound of the water falling, in the laughter of a child, the kindness spoken through a stranger or words you read in a book?  Do you feel Him in the caress of a loved one, through the touch of the wind or the warmth of the sun?  Do you know His presence is with you when you smell the scents of the wild flowers or the newness of spring after fresh falling rain?  Do you taste His sweetness in the most delighted pastry or His passion in the bitterness of a glass of wine?

    Are you aware of His presence through each of your senses?  Everything around you, within you, that is a part of you encounters the presence of God.  Are you too distracted to recognize Him in the smallest detail surrounding you?

    I’ve read that when you lose one of your senses, the brain rewires and  enhances other senses.  Over a year ago, I began to notice that I was losing my hearing.  There were some low tones that I absolutely could not hear.  I love nature and I love walking or sitting near running water from a fall, a fountain or just across a bed of rocks.  I also love to sit and listen to the birds.  I find so much peace and rest in God’s presence when I am outdoors tuned into the sounds of nature.  Losing my hearing was a bit scary and losing this piece of God’s presence in my life was just as bothersome.

    In the spring of last year, after visiting my ENT, I was diagnosed with a genetic hearing disorder.  My options were surgery that had a 1% chance of total hearing loss or hearing aids the rest of my life.  After consulting with the surgeon, I decided to have the surgery.  I remember contemplating a bad day in surgery, resulting in losing my hearing.  The more I thought about it and the more I prayed about it, I began to feel at peace that if I lost my hearing perhaps God just wanted me to tune my other senses and see His presence through my sight, taste, touch and smell.

    Through this experience and others in my life, I am realizing in this journey with God I can see, hear, taste, feel and smell His presence all day and all around me.  And so can you – all it takes is to awaken your senses and awareness.

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    In nature, you can see the possibilities and strength of God by observing the strength of the rocks and the height of the pine trees.  You can discover how intricate and special you are by observing the details of a flower, a leaf, or a butterfly.  You can watch the bees as they move from flower to flower and only pollinate the flowers they are intended to and recognize you have a unique purpose just as these bees do.  You can taste of His passion each time you consume the Eucharist and are transformed through Him.  You can feel the embrace of His love through the hug of a child or a dear friend.  As the wind blows across your face, you can feel His breath, breathe life into your being.

    Today, I challenge you to pay attention to the smallest of details and see God revealing Himself in some way to you in your unique life as you journey closer to Him in this temporary home.

    Be Still…

    Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:11

    pexels-photo-326055.jpegHave things in your life been hectic, with little room for God? Are you struggling to sit quietly in prayer to listen to what He wants to tell you? Is your mind full of clutter and preventing you from being in the stillness, the presence of God?

    Sometimes I think when we are at this pivotal moment where we are struggling to find this time, to free our minds, to sit at the feet of Jesus and just be still, God places us in a circumstance that does just that. He calls us to rest in Him when we are tired, weary, worn out from the busyness of life.

    For me, I think this has been recent. I was at a pivotal moment where I was worn out, struggling to find time to pray. When I did find time, my mind was everywhere but there. I remember long ago when I was at the beginning of my spiritual journey, I told my spiritual director that my mind was full of clutter and I couldn’t pray. She suggested that perhaps God wanted me to bring this clutter to prayer. Again, recently, I found myself at this point, struggling to pray with all this clutter. Except this time the clutter was more about all the things I needed to do or to not forget I needed to do. Every time I sat down to pray, when I found a few minutes, my mind was focused on everything I needed to do that day.  My days had become too busy, too busy to even set aside a small amount of time for focused prayer.

    Several months ago, I found myself unexpectedly sitting in a hospital bed for 2 days with nothing to do, but rest.  This little episode caused me a lot of downtime, a lot of rest. I found myself often wondering what am I going to do with all this restful time, in the absence of the busyness? Then God whispers, “be still and know that I am God.” I am the God who created day and night, water and land, all the animals that roam the earth, and most of all you. Trust in my ways and embrace my love by resting in my arms today. Rest your mind and let me guide your thoughts and your path. I will direct your life, through the story I have already written and the living master piece I have set before you. Now let me direct you by first being still and listening to the tiny whispers you hear. For in Me, you find all that you long for, all that you need. Rest my dear one. Rest!

    In the busyness of your life consider setting aside time to be still and rest in the presence of God, at the feet of Jesus.  Quiet your mind and listen to what He is saying to you.  Your prayer is a conversation between you and Him, let Him speak to you as you rest your mind and your voice.

    Freedom

    Imagine you are walking along the beach.  The sand is sliding in and out of your toes as the ocean brushes over your feet ever so gently.  The sun begins to rise on the horizon.  The sky is painted in an array of orange and pink hues.  The view is breathtaking.  As you breathe in the fresh air, you smell the newness of the day that has been placed before you.  As you continue to peer across the ocean embracing all the beauty before your eyes, a seagull flies nearby, sweeping near the ocean surface.   What a delight as you imagine the freedom he has in the open sky.  Just as you imagine soaring free in the beautiful skies, the wind blows across your face and through your hair and you feel an immense freedom.  Peace sweeps through your entire body and you know deep within that there is a presence within you whispering “I am within you and will never leave you”.  At this moment, you experience the greatest freedom from the things that bound you in the world around you.  You want to stay in this place.  You soak up all that you can to experience it as long as you can, walking freely along the beach shore engaging all your senses.  The world feels as though it has stood still and it is just you, the beach and all that has been placed before you in the peaceful scenario by the one who has loved you from the beginning, your first love who “formed [your] inmost  being and knit [you] in [your] mother’s womb,” Psalm 139:13.

    In this moment God meets you where you are.   He meets you in this pivotal moment of your life as you embrace all he has laid before you.  Do you feel His encounter?  Have you wondered where he has been lately?  Have you been spiritually starved, caught up in the busyness of life?  Are you restless and feel like you never have a chance to sit down, let alone pray?  Or may be you just feel there is more to your life, more to you, God is calling you but you don’t know what for?  Or perhaps you are afraid to be still and listen, afraid of what you may hear?  May be you are afraid to surrender control of the things in your life, afraid of the unknown?  Whatever it may be, in this moment when you let go and let His presence sweep you into the solitude of you and Him, feel the freedom of knowing He is with you as He guides your hands, feet, eyes, ears, and thoughts.

    So often we feel stuck in the mundane of life.  We check the boxes on our to do lists and even the boxes in our faith.  One day, we wake up and feel something is missing in our life.

    Each of us was born with a desire, a desire for God.  We fill this desire or longing, with money, sex, status, material things, etc.  There is always something missing, something more.  That something more is God.  He is the only one that can fully satisfy that desire.  He created us to desire a relationship with Him.  If we never establish it and try to fill this desire with other stuff, we will never be full, something will always be missing.

    A Walk On The Seashore

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    Have you walked along the beach lately?  Have you ever taken delight in combing the beach for seashells or perhaps other interesting things?  I remember when I was a kid, we lived on a naval base in Florida.  We visited the beaches often.  I recall searching for sand dollars, seashells and shark teeth.  I also recall being stung by a jellyfish.  When we walk along the seashore there is no telling what we may discover as we intentionally search the sand below our feet.

    Today, walk along the seashore with me.  Delight in the quietness around you as you hear the crashing waves of the ocean and feel the coolness of the water wash over your feet.  Notice the water turning over the sand as it washes ashore.  Do you see anything below?  Does anything stand out before you?

    Now look at your day, your week, the footprints that are trailing behind you in the sand.  Has anything significant happened?  Let your thoughts turn over the events of the day or week, searching for those feelings that have been the strongest in your day or week.  Pause for a moment and listen to those feelings, what are they telling you about your day or week.  Wash the sand away from them and discover the gem of those feelings.  Are they feelings of joy and happiness or are they feelings of anger and resentment.  Perhaps they are feelings of peace or regrets.  Whatever they may be, search them deeper, uncover what God may be revealing to you through those feelings.

    As you search deeper to understand these feelings, to discover what they are and what they mean for your journey, you notice someone walking towards you.  He approaches you with gentleness and love and invites you to breakfast that he has prepared right there on the shore of the sea.  You feel you know him but you are uncertain.  As you accept his offer for breakfast, your feelings you just uncovered reveal the fruits of your journey to you.  You know what God is telling you through these feelings, what He is asking you to do in your journey.  Everything is so clear to you and you realize this person offering you breakfast is Jesus, and He is guiding your thoughts as you overturn and uncover your feelings.  He comforts any feelings that are troubling you and He illuminates any feelings of joy and peace.  Sit by the shore with Him for a little while, be present with Him and embellish this moment of comfort and peace of all that you are feeling from the day or week.

    In John 21:1-14, Jesus appears to His disciples at the sea, just as He has appeared to you.  They are out fishing one night and are not successful in catching anything.  Jesus is standing on the shore and asks them about their catch and then tells them to throw the nets over the right side of the boat and they catch a plentitude of fish.  At this point Peter realizes it’s Jesus standing before them.  Their disappointments of not catching any fish have turned into a moment of comfort and joy, not because they caught fish but because they see Jesus.

    Just as the disciples delight in the presence of Jesus, may you as well because He is present with you whether you are on the shore of the sea or in your house staring out the window.