Advent has so much of a focus around Mary, the mother of Christ and the things she pondered in her heart. This has been a season such as this for me as well. A season of reflection. A season where my heart was drawn to the God who humbled Himself and entered the womb of a woman to dwell among us and teach us what love is all about. A time to hear how the Holy Spirit is stirring in my heart; preparing to birth something new within.
I can always tell when the Holy Spirit is moving because it makes me uncomfortable. It stretches me beyond my comfort zone and waits to see if I will act – because God can only present us with the stirring, we have to respond with our action.
Recently, I lost fifty pounds in an effort to create a wholesome place for the Holy Spirit to dwell within. This act was an act of hope. Hope that had to begin with surrendering an area of my life to Him – trusting that He would help me find myself again. Layer by layer the weight from my body is melting, but so are the lies and fears that buried a heart of hope. A heart yearning to know its story and where it fits into the bigger picture of life.
My life has been dictated by the world; a world of noise and busyness. I’ve come to realize that the noise and busyness is a stumbling block to hear the gentle whisper of the Holy Spirit. But that noise and busyness have also been what I’ve allowed to define me. The busier I am, the more I’m involved. The more I’m involved, the more connected I am. You see, I’m afraid of isolation and removing myself from “things” because that is what I believe connects me to the world – the world that I’ve allowed to define me.
It’s funny how God orchestrates things in your life – that when presented individually you wonder how they will all fit together. My weight loss led to deep and honest discussions with others being challenged in the same area, which led to me becoming a health and wellness coach, which fit inline perfectly with ministering to people. Although ministry isn’t how the company is defined, my approach is one that begins with an understanding that our human body is a dwelling place for God; a tabernacle of His presence. Taking on something new was certainly not in line with my goals of de-cluttering my life, but it felt so natural and so right.
One day in the midst of an overwhelming To-Do List, God clearly spoke to my heart and revealed that I needed to bring myself to Adoration on a regular basis. My first thought was “Where am I going to fit that into my week”? These are the promptings I push away all the time as I choose other “good things” for my life. Then a thought entered that made me very uncomfortable and I recognized it – the Holy Spirit is stirring. Why? Because I’ve asked for guidance. Will I listen? I know I’m being asked to let go of things. Things I love, with people I love. Things and people that have been a safety net for me, a source of love, protection, and faith. God is calling me to step out and take a chance at that something new He wants to birth in me.
This Christmas was an unusually gifted season of books – those I gave and those I received. My book of choice to gift to others this year (and of course grabbed for myself) was a random find on a back shelf in the bookstore. I was clearly drawn to it. It is called the Alchemist. I started to read it yesterday and knew that this was a book meant for me in this season. However, I see that God has some quiet learning in store for me as well and each book I received seems to have a common theme that He longs to reveal to me for the year ahead. This theme dovetails on a quote that has been on my heart throughout the year. It is often said that we don’t choose our Saint’s but our Saint’s choose us. For me, I know that St. Hildegard chose me and has opened up a door of self-exploration and a sense of clarity when it comes to my story. She says it best in the quote that she placed on my heart:
We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.
As I sat yesterday and gathered all these lovely books together, there is a reminiscent theme in each of the Prologues –
The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
Message: To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.
Who Does He Say You Are? by Colleen C. Mitchell
Message: Be who you were created to be – a woman in the image and likeness of God. Discovering your unique identity in Christ.
Shadow Of The Storm – Connilyn Cossette
Message: With her heart inspired to a new calling…..
The 15 Commitments of Conscious Leadership – by Jim Dethmer, Diana Chapman, & Kaley Warner Klemp
Message: Less drama, more creativity
The Artist’s Way – by Julia Cameron (my um-teenth time reading this one)
Message: Artists are visionaries who routinely practice a form of faith, seeing clearly and moving toward a creative goal that shimmers in the distance. Insight to the limiting beliefs and fears that inhibit the creative process.
Books I will pray from and learn from in Adoration
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots – A Living Novena A guided meditation from the Holy Land
Signs of Life – Scott Hahn 20 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots
Message: When the walls of life get too high or we hit into them all together, we cry out “Don’t just stand there. Do something!” God created us with bodies of action, and he set us to work in a world full of things to do. Understanding the customs of our Catholic faith is the first step in seeing in a new way, and growing in wisdom and knowledge.
My 2019 morning devotional will be Three Minutes a Day by The Christophers
Message: Everyone has a God-given mission. One person can make a difference. Constructive action works miracles.
My 2019 evening devotional will be Jesus Calling by Sarah Young
Message: Experience a deeper relationship with Jesus as you savor the presence of the One who understands you perfectly and loves you forever.
These books are a reminder to me that how I interpret the world is God’s gift to me. To embrace that gift, I need to listen and find my own voice once again – to find MY story, as Saint Hildegard reminds me.
Another gift from a co-worker was a beautiful new journal with the cover engraved with a quote from C.S. Lewis:
I believe in Christ, like I believe in the sun – not because I can see it,
but by it I can see everything else.