Nurturing Your Soul

This month my Recalibrate Life read is The Worn Out Woman: When Your Life is Full and Your Spirit is Empty by Dr. Steven Stephens and Alice Gray.

I think it has been well established that many women feel overwhelmed and long for nurturing. Gray says that when this nurturing goes unattended “the longing for it deepens.”

As Christians there is a deep yearning in our hearts for depth of connection with the Lord. We need for Him to meet with us, to lead us, to comfort us, to restore us, and to give us rest, just to mention a few needs that often fill our hearts and souls. These are ways that He nurtures us.

When we read Psalm 23, we sigh with that yearning for the rest promised to be found in the green meadows and for the peace that we find as we are led beside still waters. We want what David found there as a shepherd boy. There under the stars just talking to the Lord, breathing deeply, and finding rest in the midst of the struggles that a shepherd has with unruly sheep.

Where can we find the quiet that creates space for that kind of intimacy with the Lord? Last week we considered the option of a mini-retreat as a way to help us gain direction as we evaluate our lives and reroute our life to follow His purpose. While that is great, we still are left with the day-to-day, how can our souls be nurtured in the busyness of the day-to-day?

We need the Lord. We need consistent time with Him, we need to be available so that we can grow in knowing Him and His character more. We need Him to help us in building our faith. And all of that takes time.

I know from personal experience this does not just happen apart from doing some planning. Life’s busyness often squeezes out the little time we thought we might have with the Lord. Each of our lives have different schedules, different people, and different expectations clamoring for our attention. The authors of The Worn Out Woman explain it best as they say that “finding time to nurture your soul is a unique quest for each person.”

This book gives many different suggestions as to how to find time to spend with the Lord despite life’s craziness.

Finding time to spend with the Lord may mean taking time to talk with Him in the midst of your chores. Maybe that is at the kitchen sink as you wash another sinkful of dishes or maybe it is in the laundry room as you put another load of clothes in. These places that we regularly find ourselves in can become our very own “prayer closets.”

You may do best to schedule an appointment on your calendar, setting aside a certain block of time to just spend with the Lord. Or as another suggested, schedule a “Jesus date.”

It may even be an option for you to find an opportunity for your “mind and spirit…to commune with the Lord while you are exercizing.” Meditate as you do your morning stretches. Or pray as you bike. Your exercize time can become a time to draw near to Him. 

Along with finding a time, it is also important to consider what place seems nurturing to you. This choice of places is obviously dictated by what your life allows. But you can meet with the Lord anywhere. Maybe you will choose your garden or your porch, maybe you enjoy sitting in a special rocking chair or possibly there is a corner of your dining room table where you want to meet with the Lord as you sip your coffee or tea. Or as we mentioned earlier maybe it will be on your bike or exercise mat. Or it could be that you meet with Him on your commute to work. I know there was a time in my life when bath-time was my time with the Lord, I read and prayed and even journaled in the tub. It is what life dictated at the time.

If at all possible, make it a place you love so you will want to go there often. Once you find that place you may want to put together a basket of items that you want to use in your time with the Lord. I have my Bible, my prayer journal, sometimes a study I am working on, or a devotional I want to read, as well as pens, pencils, and highlighter (actually I often use colored pencils).

When the weather is conducive I enjoy spending time on our patio in the morning when the sun has just begun to warm the air.

I also have enjoyed wonderful peaceful times on the beach in the morning, of course my coffee has to come with me. It is so relaxing to listen to the waves splash on the sand, as I read my Bible or devotional and jot notes or prayers in my journal. Sometimes I just shut my eyes and soak in the warmth of the sun and feel the Lord’s love for me.

Another option that I have delighted in is taking a neighborhood walk, praying and listening as I go. Or spending time in meditation or breath prayer on a hiking trail. I have found such peace fill me as I go, I feel such deep closeness with the Lord walking and talking with Him.

In the cold, inclement weather at times I have just propped up my head on a stack of pillows in bed as I read and journal enjoying the coziness of my blankets and favorite quilt. The Lord meets me in the quietness there often.

One of the most important points shared in all of this is that we need to find moments to really linger. I have often found this to be a struggle as my to-do list races through my mind and the clock ticks away the minutes. Settling in with the Lord takes time. but I am continuing to learn to linger. I shared about this in a post from earlier this year which you can find here, The Luxury of Lingering . It still can be a struggle but I know the wonderful rewards when I truly do linger, so I find myself reaching for that more often.

The Lord is a God of restoration. David tells us from personal experience that he found his soul restored with the Lord. The Lord is very clear in His Word that He wants to touch our lives intimately but it is up to us to set aside time and find a place where we can be available to Him. He is always with us, but we are not always aware and listening and really being present with Him.

I hope that you are encouraged to spend time with the Lord and really enjoy the soul-nurturing that takes place as you deepen your relationship with Him.

Next week we will look at how a worn out woman can deal with the difficult things in life. I hope you will join me again as I continue my journey in recalibrating life.

*The photo of the wildflower meadow was taken by Annie Spratt and found on Unsplashed.

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Growing in Grace through Meditation, Reflection, and Journaling

Are your growing in grace as you take time to reflect on God’s Word?

Do you see the relevance of His Word for your life as you read it?

Do you feel yourself taking it to heart and really living out the truth nuggets that stand out to you?

Last week we talked about the importance of soul friendships in our lives to help us grow in our relationship with the Lord. There is so much growth that can occur as we share with a spiritual friend about the Lord, His Word, and His work in our lives. But we need to be intentional in our daily lives to grow in grace through being in the Word and in being alone with God.

We can take time to read our Bibles, check the box on our to-do list that says “done” to us, and move on with our busy days. I sadly have to admit I have done that. And although I could say that I was reading the Bible, I took nothing into my heart and it had very little effect on my life.

So what can you do? How can you make it matter? How does this growing in grace stuff really happen?

I think it is really important to come to the Word wanting to know the Lord more, wanting the Holy Spirit to lead you and to give you awareness of what He wants to show you and teach you. I haven’t always done that. I suppose it is because it means slowing down, being quiet, and stopping to pause as He leads. All too often my mind is racing ahead to my to-do list.

The Lord knows our hearts, our minds, and our lives. He knows where we need wisdom, knowledge, conviction, and guidance. So, I am trying to slow down more and more. I am taking to time to really meditate and reflect on the Word as I read. This means I choose a portion of the Scriptures to read, read it through, and slowly take in what is being said.

I find it helpful to compare translations of the Bible as I am reading. I especially like to look at the Amplified version alongside a New International Version or an English Standard version.

Many times I take time to rewrite some of the Scripture I am studying. I may rewrite it in my own words just to help me personalize it or oftentimes I write it into a prayer. I read a few verses and realize I want the Lord to work that in my heart and life and I turn it into a prayer.

Recently I was reading in Acts 11 and came to verse 23, I read:                                                                                      “When he arrived and saw what grace (favor) God was bestowing upon them, he was full of joy; and he continuously exhorted (warned, urged, and encouraged) them to all cleave unto and remain faithful to and devoted to the Lord with [resolute and steady] purpose of heart.” (emphasis mine) 

Immediately I thought, I want that (the portion in bold in the above passage). I rewrote it into a prayer asking the Lord to help me to cleave to Him and to be faithful and devoted with a resolute and steady purpose of heart. The words of that verse perfectly declared what my heart yearns for in my relationship with the Lord. I actually didn’t write this prayer in my journal instead I just wrote it in my Bible near the verse.

As I read there are often keywords that stand out to me. Words that I need better understanding of, or words or phrases that just touch my heart and I want to know more. Sometimes I use my Concordance to compare the words in some other verses, and other times I research meanings in a Bible dictionary or other Bible helps.

There are also times when those keywords stand out, that I realize it is truly the Holy Spirit shining a light into the dark crevices of my heart where I have hidden sinful attitudes and thoughts. At those times the Spirit convicts me and leads me to repentance. I recognize that I am doing what the Lord commands me not to do, or I am not responding in the loving way I should. And once again, the Word leads me to prayer. I talk with the Lord about why I am struggling with this issue, that person, or both. I ask for forgiveness from Him, and for help with the person or issue, whether that be for help to forgive or accept or to just know what He wants me to do.

When I slow down and take time to reflect on the Word, I relate it to my own feelings, actions, behaviors, attitudes, and situations. I think about what I may need to change, what areas I need to grow in, and seek guidance as to how to go forward. There are so many lessons in the Word. We can take the key words and phrases to heart and chew on them all day long taking them with us in our minds and thinking on them as we move through our day consciously aware of what the Lord is teaching us.

Of course, since I love to write, much of this process is recorded in my journal. I want to remember what I am learning as I read the Word. I want to remember what the Holy Spirit shows me about me that I have been blind to. I want to be able to see the Lord at work on my behalf helping me to grow in grace as He answers my prayers. I write key verses, I write my thoughts and my questions. And I write my prayers.

I use to write out all of my prayers years ago, but after a while I felt like I was just repeating some of the same things and it became a chore. Yet, I knew I wanted to record my prayers. I felt stuck and was unsure what to do. I have since found that keeping a small booklet with prayer lists for the people I pray daily or frequently for works very well. As I read my Bible I find verses that seem to say exactly what I want to pray for those dear ones and I write these verses on that person’s page and pray through the verses as I bring their needs before the Lord.

I still record prayers in my journal but they are the prayers I personalize from the Word and prayers for things that I want the Lord to work on in my heart and life. I record prayers that come out of “the cellar of my soul.” I record my confessions of bad attitudes, and sinfulness, I write about my fears, my personal heartache, areas of neediness and hurt, and things relevant to that day that I want to give to the Lord.

Yes, this all takes time, and some days I get bogged down because I get frustrated but I am continuing to grow. I am learning and I am excited about the things the Lord is showing me and helping me with.

I have found a couple of books along the way that have been very helpful, I am sure there are many others you may be familiar with but these have led me in my learning.
1. Journal Keeping: Writing for Spiritual Growth by Luann Budd
2. Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney

The Lord desires that we come to know Him more and we do that through learning in His Word, and experiencing His presence in our daily moment-to-moment lives. I hope that you have found something here that will help you in your journey in growing in grace.

Next week we will look at Growing in Grace through Celebration: Praise and Worship.