The other day my friend told me she did three things she’s never done before. “How wonderful!” I said. “Do tell!”

Her never before done deeds were: powerwashing her front porch, trimming her boxwoods with a power trimmer and fasting for twenty-four hours. I was so proud of her for each of these accomplishments. But only the last one stuck with me. You see, she paused.

I didn’t quiz her regarding the motivation behind her twenty-four hour fast. No matter the reason, she paused. She paused what was normal for her, she set aside her normal routine in favor of a pause; a reset, if you will.

It kept coming to me. She paused. Something needed to hold, to be set aside for just twenty -four hours. I am so proud of her; so proud of anyone who has the courage to pause.

It simply is not possible to keep on doing the same things, expecting different results. I was challenged, yes even convicted, by my friend’s decision to pause. The next day, I asked myself what needed to pause, to be set aside for awhile. This one simple phrase came to me:

Be still, and know that I am God!

Psalm 46:10

There is very good reason to pause. It is to be available to know that HE is God!

Thanks, friend, for the wonderful example and reminder that nothing is so important it can’t be paused! What will you pause today? If nothing else, take a moment to read all of Psalm 46. It is really beautiful and holds so many promises!

I am a sewist. That means I sew things. Mostly pieced quilts, bags of all types and once in a while, a clothing item for my granddaughters or their dolls. There is one indicator it is time for me to take a break, to pause, if you will. When I spend more time correcting mistakes than making progress, it’s time for a break. Put it down and come back later – probably tomorrow.

When considering my life, determining if a pause is in order, I consider how much time I spend fixing things rather than moving forward.

If I spend more time apologizing than expressing gratitude or joy, I need to pause.

If I am crying more than laughing, I need to pause.

If I am criticizing more than building up, I need to pause.

Pausing looks different for everyone. It might be laying aside the project until tomorrow when it can be seen with fresh eyes. It might be running a warm bubble bath with candles, a favorite beverage, music or a book. It might be taking an evening to watch a good movie. It might be taking an evening with friends at an escape room or other group game event. It might be physically getting away alone for a night or two to sleep, brainstorm next life steps or focus on a hobby.

For me, the most difficult step to pausing is giving myself permission to step away and refocus. My inner voice tells me I should be doing more, working harder, pushing aside the chaos and pressing in. If I just tried harder, I could do it. That is not the voice I want to listen to. There is another voice and it says this:

8My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”

Psalm 27:8

Let this be your prayer today. The invitation to pause is there; it is for you to enjoy. What will your pause look like? How will you be refreshed today?

I recommend pausing for a few minutes and reading all of Psalm 27.

Pause. In a sentence, a semi-colon signals a pause. It isn’t a full-fledged stop like a period. It is shorter than a colon and longer than a comma. It is a pause. It allows a breath, but doesn’t demand a change of course.

I am committed to pausing, even when it isn’t easy or natural. I stayed in Florida a few days longer than Dave. I was ready to be home but my ticket wasn’t until Friday. I checked earlier flights but the difference in fare was too much, so I contented myself to stay. It was a daily, sometimes hourly, decision to remain content. I reminded myself to take deep breaths and relax into the opportunity. I paused.

If you are a fan of March Madness and you don’t change channels during commercial breaks, you may have seen this ad by Gatorade. It certainly caught my attention.

Join me this week as I consdier the power of pausing. Are you ready for a pause? What will it look like? What will you do? Where will you go?

In the meantime, check out The Cabin off 39, a premier destination where pause awaits! Schedule your time away today!

It feels familiar, kind of like hunger pangs that signal it’s time to eat. Only this isn’t hunger. It is more nebulous, sometimes difficult to identify with any degree of certainty. It lingers. It whispers. It requires action.

It is anxiety. Anxiety is the distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune. Because it doesn’t present the same for everyone, it is easily overlooked and explained away, especially by the one experiencing it.

To some degree, we all experience anxiety. It isn’t the universal experience that makes anxiety a problem. It is what is done with it that makes it a problem. Paul makes this recommendation in his letter to the believers in Philippi:

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Philippians 4:6

Prayer is an excellent choice to relieve anxiety. But first, I have to be willing and able to recognize my experience as anxiety. Initially, I respond in a different, less helpful way; a dysfunctional way, if you will.

Denial. I deny that I am anxious. I just don’t like to travel, drive, shop, ride the bus, go on an elevator. I like to walk up ten flights of stairs because it is good for me. I like the comfort of my home so I stay there. Rather than face the uneasiness in my mind, I deny it is there.

Anesthetize. I numb myself so I can’t feel the anxiety or at least not as deeply. Many types of anesthesia are available to us. Gaming, alcohol, drugs, sleep, sex, religion, activity, sports, food — anything to keep my mind from feeling. I attempt to silence the uneasiness in my mind by covering it over with something more powerful.

So how does a person overcome anxiety? The first step seems obvious and yet it is perhaps the most difficult. Admit it’s there. Identify the uneasiness that lingers when considering certain activities. Simply admit it is present.

Sit with it for a bit and ask the question: What danger lurks here? What misfortune might I experience? Is it failure? Looking stupid? Bodily harm? Getting lost? Being alone? Rejection? Isolation? Abandonment? Shame? Exposure?

As the source of anxiety comes into focus, be honest about how you have dealt with it in the past. Ask Jesus where he fits into this picture. How does his presence speak to your anxiety?

Follow Paul’s advice: . . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9

As a person who has suffered with and overcome anxiety on many levels, I in no way want to minimize the difficulty of living free from anxiety. I know how debilitating it is. I know how long it takes to cut free from the entanglements. I know that praying more, reading the Bible more and meditating on scripture is difficult if not impossible at times.

I also know there is hope. There is life after anxiety. It is possible to greet each day with eagerness and expectation of good rather than evil. There are strategies that work, that provide lasting relief.

If you are one who struggles with anxiety, don’t try to do it alone. Reach out to a trusted spiritual advisor, seek professional counseling, ask for help. Begin the journey today to experiencing the peace that is beyond all understanding.

Does God speak to you? Do you hear him? Better yet, do you listen to him?

Sometimes I don’t want to hear what someone has to say so I have sophisticated ways of tuning out the voice. I learn it from my grandchildren.

First strategy: keep moving and making noise. Twirling, singing, talking, dancing, running — all work, especially when done simultaneously.

Second strategy: walk to another room forcefully, preferably with arms crossed across the body, saying something like, “I am not going to listen to you!” to drown out the other person’s voice.

Third strategy: immerse oneself in some type of media – movie, music, TikTok, Instagram, FaceBook – anything with noise and movement.

Fourth strategy: plug the ears with the fingers.

Fifth and final strategy: avoid the person whom you fear will disagree with you or correct you. This can be done by going into another room to play, staying outside, immersing onself in a game or other activity.

When my grandchildren avoid me, it’s because they don’t think I understand. They see me as the voice of judgment and correction. Yes, they know I love them; but in the moment when they need redirection, they don’t believe I get it.

Most of the time when I don’t hear God it’s because I am not listening. I am not listening because I am afraid of what he will say. I am convinced that he disapproves of me and is going to correct me. I either a) don’t want correction because I’m not ready to change or b) I know I need to change and am weighed down by shame.

Jesus’ words come to mind right now. He said this to Nicodemus, his nighttime visitor:

16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. 18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.

John 3:16-18

These are words of life and hope. When I comprehend how deeply God loves me and that Jesus didn’t come to judge me, but to save me — I open my heart to his loving gaze. I can sit with him in all my weirdness and failures and know that I am completely accepted all the time. He knows what it’s like; he gets it.

I have been told that sympathy is feeling sorry for a person’s condition, the experiences he has, her lot in life. It is feeling bad that the choices another made brings her to a certain place. It is the feeling that if I were in your shoes, I would make different choices, but I feel bad for the choices you made and how it impacts you.

Empathy on the other hand feels what the other person is feeling. It knows that if I were you, I would do exactly the same thing. It is feeling the desperation of the moment, the difficulty of making a different choice. It feels the pain and struggle of the decision.

According to Hebrews, Jesus empathizes with me.

14So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. 15This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. 16So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

Hebrews 4:14-16

There is the solution. Since Jesus understands, empathizes with our weaknesses, we can come boldly to him, right into the place he abides, right before the throne with no fear or uneasiness. It is what we know of humans that makes us hesitant, not what we know of God.

Take my word for it and then give it a try…come before him boldly with all your scars and messiness and see if he doesn’t greet you with a smile and a warm embrace!

He gets it!

We have two homes — one in Indiana and one in Florida. Some people have their primary residence and a cottage on the lake or a cabin in the woods or both. I just returned from our vacation home in Florida.

The house in Florida is great. It’s a small townhome; one home in a building with three other homes. The whole neighborhood is buildings with four to six dwellings in each building. There is a pool for the neighborhood and a dog park. It’s very simple, very basic. We don’t do any work outside, not even pull a single weed. I love the quietness of my neighborhood and the opportunity to step out of the chaos for a little while in the winter by going to Florida. But it isn’t my forever home.

In Indiana, I live on 12 acres of wooded property and I can’t see my neighbors. Our landscaping is extensive and requires a great deal of attention during the summer months. We mow, pull weeds, trim bushes and replace trees that die. The house is larger than two people need, but we built when our three kids lived at home. It is a solid house that will be our forever home. It is what I call home no matter where I wander; it calls to me and invites me back.

When I arrived home on Friday, I breathed in the familiar smell of my home. I enjoyed the hot water that went to the farthest faucet in the house in a few seconds (in Florida it takes two minutes). I marveled that the drinking water faucet was pressurized. I love the serenity of the woods and the five deer who greeted me from the meadow.

As I pondered the two homes, I thought about my other two homes — the one here and the one in heaven. Life on earth is good. It is adequate. It provides all I need. Sometimes it is even amazing!

14For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.

Hebrews 13:14

Then I imagined heaven. It is the home I long for, the one that calls to me. I am confident it will be beyond my wildest expectations. It will combine the best of all my experiences here on earth. I won’t wait on hot water and I won’t have to pull weeds or mow lawn. The deck won’t need powerwashing and the wood won’t rot in the weather.

As much as I love my life on earth and my homes here, I look forward to heaven and what is in store for me there.

9That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

Does life here seem permanent? Do you love where you live? Is the house adequate? Too small? Too large? Is the work unending? Keep in mind, this is not forever and what is to come is beyond your wildest dreams! Hang in there! This isn’t all there is and the next place is, well, nothing we can imagine.

He loves you and looks forward to seeing you! And he’s getting the party ready for you!

Monday’s post stayed in my head. I didn’t get the words on paper, I barely had them in order in my head. The idea was there, but it didn’t blossom or grow.

Friday my daughters picked me up at the airport. We went for dinner together to welcome me home, followed by a girls’ sleepover at my house. Saturday was filled with raucous fun so enjoyable, we extended the sleepover another night. My daughter’s husband joined us and he brought their dog, Zeus, a 10-year old Old English bulldog.

Soon after arriving, Zeus changed. He didn’t move, he didn’t eat, he didn’t drink, he didn’t go outside. He could barely walk to go to bed when it was time.

Sunday morning he was worse. Unable to walk, my son-in-law carried him upstairs and we put him in front of the fireplace and lit it. It seemed death might be imminent. The sleepover extended one more night.

Monday morning, we awoke to find Zeus had peacefully passed away. The tears flowed, we looked at pictures, we reminisced.

It was an interesting way to transition to northern Indiana. I admit, I am honored Zeus felt comfortable enough to choose my home for his final outing. It’s a blessing to provide space for my daughter to grieve, to walk with her through a difficult loss.

3All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. 4He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Someone needs you to hold space for them today, to offer comfort. Who is it?

It was about a year ago, a woman messaged me and wanted to meet which I did willingly. It was the beginning of a beautiful work of God as, together, we sought the Lord for her healing.

One evening I shared with her my experience of asking Jesus questions. I remember telling her that I had yet to come up with a life situation, a question, for which Jesus did not have a corresponding experience. I found great comfort in asking Jesus questions.

With very little hesitation, she disagreed with me. She didn’t think Jesus knew what it was like to walk in her shoes, to feel the isolation her life situation brought to her. I didn’t have a ready answer for her, nothing to point to that proved he did. I invited her to ask Jesus about it. And then I fervently prayed, committing it to his hands.

A few days later, I received an ecstatic text message from her. He did know what it felt like! And she shared with me what Jesus told her, how he understood and felt her isolation. In that moment, she received comfort in a way only Jesus can do.

As I consider Jesus’ life, I see that he demonstrated a healthy pattern of knowing when to embrace solitude or companionship and community. He wasn’t afraid to ask for help and he wasn’t afraid to be alone.

In the ultimate act of love, he also knows what it means to be completely abandoned. Not only by his human friends, but by his Father.

50Then all his disciples deserted him and ran away. 

Mark 14:50

33At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. 34Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Mark 15:33-34

Jesus did this all for you and I. He did it so we could experience relationship, his presence in all of life.

I stand by what I said to my friend. I have found nothing in life that Jesus cannot come alongside and say, “I know just how you feel. This is what I did. I will be here with you.”

Go ahead. Test this. Ask Jesus.

Jesus teaches me. He teaches me how to be alone. He teaches me when to ask for companionship.

 33He took Peter, James, and John with him, and he became deeply troubled and distressed. 34He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”

Mark 14:33-34

There are times in life to seek solitude, times to make friends with being alone. It is an opportunity to clear the clutter and allow our souls to be refreshed in the presence of God.

There are times in life to ask for companionship. It is an opportunity to experience community and the beauty of relationship.

Jesus’ companions on this night took a nap. While he fought the battle of his life, they succumbed to sleep. He still took them with him for comfort.

May you have the courage and wisdom to know when to press into solitude and when to seek companionship.

May you always be quick to ask Jesus to accompany you, to be your companion in solitude and grief; in the mundane and ordinary, in the unusual as well as the extraordinary.

Ever felt scared to be alone? Not scared like “someone is going to get me!” scared, but scared like “what will I do all day?” scared.

Christmas vacation is over and the kids all go back to school; mostly you are excited and giddy to be in a routine again but there’s that part of you that is kind of scared.

Or the end of vacation and everyone goes home and mostly you’re glad to have the house back but there’s a part of you wondering what you will do with all your time.

It might be when the kids come home for college break – summer or winter – and then they go back to school and there is a moment of panic when you wonder what the evenings will be like without them.

Today I took my guests to the airport, knowing when I dropped them off I would be alone for a few days. I love being alone. But … I was nervous, kind of scared. The butterflies flapped about in my gut and I had to wonder why.

As I stepped into the house, I looked around. It all felt overwhelming to me. So I did what we all ought to do when we feel scared of being alone. I sat down and paused. Taking a few deep breaths, I allowed myself to relax into the “aloneness.” I watched a little TV, took a short nap, and awoke with renewed energy. My TO-DO list didn’t feel nearly as impossible.

Transitions are difficult. Sometimes the transition to having the house alone – even if alone is with someone else – takes a little time.

I know I am not Jesus and maybe he didn’t get off kilter being alone, but he did spend time alone. Intentionally. He went off by himself often. I want to learn from him.

45Immediately after this, Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and head across the lake to Bethsaida, while he sent the people home. 46After telling everyone good-bye, he went up into the hills by himself to pray. 47Late that night, the disciples were in their boat in the middle of the lake, and Jesus was alone on land.

Mark 6::45-47

What upsets your calm facade? Do you avoid being alone because it’s just so … alone? What type of transition is the most difficult for you? Can you be like Jesus and make those times of alone purposeful?