Category Archives: Spiritual Practices

Drink!

DSC_0097

By Judy Villanueva

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”

She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:4-14) 

Another mile passed on a recent road trip and I could feel the relief that springtime always offers as I stared out the window.  Mesmerized by luscious green fields with purple mountain backdrops, I suddenly noticed a scene that made me smile and seemed to invite me to a holy pause.  At first, all I saw was a large grass field with gushing water stations spaced across its width.  Before I could make much sense of it, my eyes fell upon one cow that stood in front of a gusher drinking and drinking!  It made me laugh the way she stood so easily over the fountain and let the water fill and saturate her. Do you ever have those moments when a song, a scene from a movie, or a cow in a  field become the voice of God?  This was one of those moments, and even as I heard myself giggle, I felt the Lord say to me, “Drink!”

“Give me a drink.”  It was the way Jesus invited the Samaritan woman to friendship and the way he stirred up her thirst for living water.  She is immediately aware that something has broken through the barriers between Jew and Samaritan and becomes curious.  It is then that Jesus reveals himself — there that He offers her a drink from an eternal spring! “If you knew the gift of God and who it is who asks you for a drink…”

Can you feel the heartbeat of God in this encounter, each beat reaching out, wooing and offering a priceless gift?

It makes me curious about all the ways that Jesus comes to me with enticements to drink each day and aware that the thirst that parches my soul often  lingers because I simply and stubbornly do not walk over to the gusher and drink.

When I read scripture, there are times when the words seem to enter the room where I sit and become a drink of living water, particularly on days like this when I sit still and unhurried.  I am thirsty for God but so often don’t even know it and hence, live “dried up” instead of filled and overflowing.

Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control — The wet, refreshing overflow of a saturated life!

How I want to live hydrated, but I must agree to pause at the well with Jesus and learn how to drink deeply.  It is then that I get a glimpse of the One who asks me for a drink and there, that  I feel my true thirst!   The Word of God wants to pour itself into our hearts and minds —but we need to walk over and drink!

“Thank you, Jesus, for seeing me at the wells that I draw from each day and offering me friendship. Keep showing me who You are and help me find my way to your springs of living water! Amen.”

What about you?

Do you know the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink?

Can you feel your thirst for God?

Do you have a way of pausing at the well with Jesus and drinking deeply?

What does that look like for you?

Worship

FaceTime

DSC_1285By Judy Villanueva

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:12)

“Crinkle, crinkle yittle star, how I wonder what you are…” I sang gently alongside my little grand-daughter as I rocked her to sleep. Her head rested on my shoulder and before long, I could feel her go limp in my arms.  I placed her in the crib, prayed a quiet prayer and stood a minute watching her surrender to sleep. In those sweet moments, God tapped me on the shoulder and I felt drawn into awareness that, much like this,

He watches over me wherever I happen to be in my life. He sees me as I come and as I go.  He sings alongside my songs and delights in knowing and loving me.

He may feel distant at times, but I only need look up to find His face!  He is always there, His eyes awaiting mine.

Seeking the face of God as we walk through our day invites us to notice where He is speaking, correcting, or guiding.  It may seem vague, but it really is as simple as returning to awareness that God is here.  Simple or not, I find I need practical help and so I set an alarm on my phone that rings every hour to remind me to “look up”.  It is easy to live a day immersed in activity, mentally disconnected from God, but anytime I agree to slow down I can feel soul-space open up and the potential for face-time!  I try to build into my week a rhythm of walks, prayer, spiritual reading, listening to worship music, and meditating on the Word, all as efforts to look at Jesus.  We live fully known by God at every moment, but if we want to see His face in the mirror, His life formed in us, we must engage with Him!

I am always intrigued by the moments in Scripture that mention an eye-to-eye encounter with Jesus. Like Jairus, who upon receiving word of his daughter’s death, looks up to find Jesus’ eyes on him with a command, “Do not be afraid. Just believe.” I can imagine Jairus thinking, “What shall I believe? My daughter has just died!”

Whatever it was that Jairus saw as he stood facing Jesus grabbed him from the midst of his despair, set him on his feet, and led him to a resurrection!

“Talitha Koum! Little girl, wake up!” And, she did! Is this what happens when we face Jesus?  Do we notice Him looking at us over the crowd and into our broken hearts?  Are we helped to hear His voice that shouts hope to our despair?  Are we emboldened to follow Him to places where our lives are restored and where we feel His gentle tap that reminds us He is watching over us?

“Lord, I want to see Your face. I want to remember You and live in Your presence more today than yesterday. Help me to engage with you, to slow down enough to hear you calling to me over, what is sometimes, a crowded life. Thank You for the tap on my shoulder and the reassurance that you watch over me. Amen.”

What about you?

What would be like to live a day looking at Jesus? How might it affect your thoughts? Your choices?

Have you experienced the face of God? The sense of Him seeing and knowing you?

Does the pace of your life allow for slowing down? Can you see Jesus over what crowds around you each day?

What habits help you connect to God?

God loves you and knows you. He watches over you always. Slow down and look up!

Worship

Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Kindle Edition of Listening for Love

Delights!

apen friendsBy Judy Villanueva

Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, 
your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house; 
you give them drink from your river of delights. For with you is the fountain of life; 
in your light we see light. (Psalm 36:5-9:)

One bite, and oh my, the goodness hits my taste buds and I feel the joy!!! It was one of those, “Take me now, Lord, because I want to end on this heavenly, scrumptious note!” I have never tasted Sticky Toffee Pudding, but while in Scotland, decided to try one of their favorites and was NOT disappointed! Can you identify? Can you think of something that brings you joy from head to toe…dark chocolate maybe, or windy days, pumpkin pie, autumn leaves, coffee, clouds, bike riding, running, or sitting by the fire? Life is full of delights and if we are attentive to them, we’ll discover the love of God embedded in each one!

The reality is that life is a blend of joys and sorrows, pleasure and pain, seasons of fullness and seasons of loss. They all live together and I suppose that is a good thing. If life were all wonderful, we would likely lose our felt need for God and find our soul longings satisfied in temporal things. And, if life were all sorrowful, we might be swallowed up and unable to think, dream or envision life beyond the pain.

I often wonder if God doesn’t drip delights throughout this world and our experiences within it, because He knows they will remind us that there is a good God at work behind the scenes…a God we can trust.

If I am attentive as I breathe in the beauty of the sunrise, or slow down enough to savor the playfulness of a child, or laugh-to-tears with a friend, I will feel God’s goodness and it will speak love to my soul.

I believe that hidden inside of life’s delights is the love of God, His good will toward us, His delight in delighting us!

I also believe that as we relish and soak up the blessedness of these kinds of moments, we become a little more anchored in love, strengthened for harder days, and helped to believe better in a wise and good God.

“Father God, I am so grateful that You are good! It strengthens me to remember that along with being mighty and wise and Holy, You are also good:) Open my eyes to your goodness today as I sip that first cup of coffee, greet my loved ones, and live this day. Thank You for tasty bites, the love of dear friends, baby hugs and every good thing that will bless me today! Amen.”

What about you?

Do you experience the delights in life as gifts of God’s goodness?

Are you attentive to God’s goodness around you? Can you name a few delights from yesterday?

Do you find that you are more inclined to notice the “good” or the “troublesome” in life?

Practice being attentive to God’s goodness. It becomes a habit that will bless your soul!

Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Listening for Love Kindle Edition

Worship

Thresholds

IMG_5313_2By Judy Villanueva

I stand at the door and knock. Whoever hears my voice and opens the door I will come in to him and will dine with Him and he with me. (Rev. 3:20)

A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” (John 5:5-8)

I hate surprises. I read the end of books first and fast forward movies to relieve the pressure of not knowing what will happen next.  I have a picture of me standing at the threshold of a patio full of friends who had gathered to surprise me on my 30th birthday.  As I approached the doorway I could hear excited whispers and immediately clued in to what was coming. If I’d had time to think about it I might have turned around but momentum pushed me forward and through the threshold!   There, I was welcomed by the joy of people who loved me. I remember lots of doorways over the years, some happy and some sad, — some I ran through and others I felt dragged through.  Each one invited me to enter, even though I never knew quite what would happen next. “Come live life with Me!” Jesus keeps saying. “I am knocking. Open the door. Let’s eat!”

Thresholds.  They are doorways of invitation or at least, that is the way I have come to view them.  We relate most readily to the ones that physically, emotionally or relationally initiate change in our lives like getting married, having a baby, starting a new job, losing a loved one, or becoming ill.  But, are you also aware of the spiritual thresholds that exist all throughout our lives?

These relate to the work of the Spirit in us and, if we learn to listen to the inner urgings of our souls, we discover brilliant and beautiful invitations to be formed by the hand of God.

Really! Jesus stands at these entrances and knocks. We become aware of the knocking when and as we clue in to our own internal life. Curiosities, yearnings, distinct observations while reading the Word or worshipping — a lack of peace, a sense of being awakened to a Voice that says, “Come!”  Listen and follow His voice.  It’s not necessary that we know what will happen next, only that we will find Jesus waiting for us with a table prepared, mud for our eyes, and fish for our tummies!

Something in me identifies this morning with the man by the pool who feels helpless to get into the healing water. Tears burn in my eyes as I read that “Jesus saw him lying there” and knew “his condition”.  My heart aches as I listen to the man tell Jesus that no one will help him get into the pool and suddenly, I hear knocking!  I become aware of my own soul wound that relates to feeling invisible sometimes and find myself standing at a threshold.  I have a sense of what’s beyond because I have read the end of this story!  So, I lean forward to peer in and see Jesus seeing me and asking, “Do you wish to get well?”

It is an invitation to wholeness that is irresistible and while I cannot know what exactly will happen next, I know by now that Jesus always calls me toward life!

“Get up!” There is power in His voice and healing in His eyes and before I know it, I am upright, embraced and walking — welcomed with joy by Jesus who is ever faithful to form holiness in me and heal my life with love .

“What a gift it is that you always see me and know me, Jesus. It revives my soul and makes me happy! Thank you for the thresholds in life that invite me to Your heart, heal my wounds, and form my soul. Please help me to hear you knocking. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you aware when you are standing at a threshold, a doorway of invitation to healing and new life?

Can you hear when Jesus knocks? Can you sense your inner life? Your desires curiosities and angst?

Do you want to be well?

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Listening for Love Kindle Edition

Worship

Look at Me!

dsc_1148By Judy Villanueva

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1Samuel 3:10)

My son, pay attention to what I say; turn your ear to my words; Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart, for they are life to those who find them 
and health to one’s whole body. (Proverbs 4:20-22)

I was ready for the challenge!  I was twenty-three years old.  She was a baby.  I had a college education.  She had determination!  Suddenly, she made her move and crawled as fast as she could for the electrical outlet!  She looked over at me and reached out her dimpled hand in defiance!   I sternly said, “Look at mommy!  Don’t you dare touch that outlet!” We had been here before — many times — and each time I’d watch her teeter between wanting what she wanted and yielding to my voice.  To her credit, she looked at me and stalled for about ten seconds before she touched it!

“Look at Me!”  It’s a directive that parents use to get their child’s attention.  It is meant to entice the young one away from one focal point and onto the parent in order to give needed correction or guidance.  Babies, of course, cannot appreciate the good intentions of the parent and simply want what they want!  Sadly, even grown up, we tend to get focused on things that don’t bring life or worse, are harmful to us. Submitting our desires to God and turning to Him for direction is essential to maintaining a balanced and healthy spiritual life.

The problem is not so much that we want this or that, but rather that our hearts get so filled up with good things (and not so good things) that there is little room left to want God.

Can you hear God when He calls you to look at Him?  It might be a still, small voice, an internal nudge or a louder invitation, like an ulcer, or a life that is falling apart.  If we are not in the habit of “listening”, His might sound like one voice among many.

There is a fine-tuning that happens each time we hear and obey God. The sound of Him becomes clearer!

Likewise, we can deaden our sense of Him by ignoring His prompts and turning away from His face.

Looking for God, listening as we make decisions or walk out the front door is necessary if we are to be helped to want what is most worthy of wanting!  Do you want God?  I do, in theory!  But, too often, I really just want what I want and depend on His kind, steady voice to help me turn away from things that distract me and look at Him.  I want to be aware of God in the middle of my day, especially when He says, “Judy, look at Me!”

I need to feel the sound of Him correcting, directing and helping me find my way to His will.

I need to hear His voice say “I love you” in my every moment and learn to want Him most of all.

“Father, I thank you that you are a wise and watchful parent.  Help me to hear you call when I am in heading away from your will and in need of redirecting!  Keep finding me!  Amen.”

What about you?

Can you hear God when He calls to you?

How do you look at God?

What sorts of things help you hear His voice?

Are you learning to want God, most of all?

There is nothing more orienting than looking at God!  It finds us!

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Listening for Love Kindle Edition

Worship

Buttered to the Edges

img_5710By Judy Villanueva

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,  nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.

He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season.  And its leaf does not wither;  And in whatever he does, he prospers.         (Psalm 1:1-3)                                                                                                     

I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

The smell of bacon crisping filled the kitchen and snuck up the stairs with enticements to wake up and get moving!  My husband and I were staying at the home of dear friends and had dutifully followed the call of pork to the kitchen. “Pop!” The toast had risen and the buttering began!  That’s when she said it!  “Did you butter to the edges?”  I looked up just in time to catch the nodding smile of my friend’s husband as he slathered butter all the way to the crust!  The idea made sense on so many levels and seemed to sizzle alongside the bacon with a question for me to ponder. “Is my life buttered to the edges?  Is Christ being formed in me all the way through to my crust, saturating every bite with the taste of His buttery goodness?”

The Potter and clay, the Vine and branches, and the tree firmly planted by streams of water tell a story of spiritual growth.  They describe ways of being in life that are soul forming and God-shaping.

Revealed in each metaphor is an invitation to flourish alongside a picture of a mind blowing collaboration with the Creator!

Our part involves staying in His hands, abiding in the Vine, and sinking our roots into
the waters of Life.  His part is faithfully molding, filling and nourishing us to our edges.  Far from a magic wand, we work with God in the growth of strong branches and forming of fruit.  But, it is His beautiful heart that cleanses, heals, and imparts the power that transforms us from the inside out.

A seed sprouted that day at the breakfast table, a desire to be buttery!  And, right alongside was an invitation to consider my crustiness.  I sighed as I recognized the dry burnt edges of worry and fear, impatience and pride…unbelief and self-will.

Can I know what God already knows with my arms raised and heart secured by His love?

Do I trust that His invitations are designed to shape my soul as they stir up desires to be more like Him?  In those precarious moments that seem to teeter between pain and promise, I felt the Potter’s hand gently tilt my face toward His and say, “Abide with Me.” Staying in His hands, delighting in His word, paying attention to His voice help me touch His love and cooperate in making me buttery, but the feel of His face seeing me in all my crustiness floods my heart with gratitude and lionhearted hope!  His love makes a way.

“Thank you, Father, for your love. It’s what drew me to you so many years ago and what keeps drawing me every day since. Teach me how to abide better. Call me into your presence. Make me more like Jesus. Amen.”

What about you?

Is your life buttery to the edges?  Is Christ being formed in you?

Can you name your crusty edges?

Most of us know how to visit God but what is it to abide with Him?

Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected
Y8MH-U7TF-NK6C-UBAU

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Listening for Love Kindle Edition

Worship

Mary and Martha

treetrail

By Judy Villanueva

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42)

To sit at the feet of Jesus and let Him be my one distraction sounds both enticing and elusive. More often than not, I find myself in the kitchen with Martha, scowling at Mary and wishing so badly I could be the one sitting at Jesus’ feet.  I like to think that Martha loved Jesus from the kitchen amidst her many distractions and wish I couldn’t relate to how she let them postpone the joy of entering his presence.  But, I can.   As I slow down with this passage and take my pulse, I become aware that I am stuck in the kitchen!  I want to be next to Jesus, close enough to see the expression in his eyes and hear the tone of his voice. I know he is in the room with me but am not quite sure how to drop all my doing and find a place at His feet.  Do you ever feel that way?

This moment of awareness becomes a prayer and I ask Jesus to take my soapy hands and lead me out of the kitchen. “Help me, Lord, to turn away from the many things that fill my heart with worry and teach me to want only one thing — only One.”  I suddenly realize that what I really need is to look at Jesus!  One simple nod from Him is all it will take to help me drop my dishes and run to Him. Imagine this moment with me.

Can you see Jesus looking at you in the middle of your day and inviting you to come sit with Him?

Prayerfully, with my Bible on my lap, I imagine the scene and I look at Jesus.  He looks at me!  I see Him seeing me and hold my breath.  THEN, He gives me a smile and a nod and I run to Him!  I realize, as I make my way over, that I didn’t think there would be room for me and I wasn’t sure I’d be welcome.  But, looking up at Jesus face I find a big welcome and looking down at His feet, I find a place prepared just for me!

“Jesus, thank you that always see me. I give you permission to nudge me out of my busyness! Thank you that I will always see a “welcome” in your eyes and find a place in your presence prepared just for me. Help me today to bring that same welcome to others. Amen.”

How about you?

Where do you find yourself in this Bible story? Are you in the kitchen, busy with preparations? Or, are you sitting at Jesus feet?

Does the pace of your life leave room for noticing Jesus beckoning you to come to Him?

Do you define yourself by the “many things” or by the “only One”?

What do you need from Jesus today? As you sit at His feet and have His full attention, how can He help you today?

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Listening for Love Kindle Edition

Worship

Finding God

DSC_0527By Judy Villanueva

But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. (Deut 4:29)

How sweet it is when my little grand finds me!  To be reached for by chubby baby arms is too wonderful to describe but the words “sheer joy” come awfully close! Sitting on the floor I quietly watch as my two-year-old visitor stacks and knocks over blocks with glee. Occasionally, she stands and runs in circles laughing until another toy beckons for her attention.  All the while, I see her sneaking peaks to make sure I am near and, every so often, she interrupts her play to find me.  Then, for a few cherished moments she crawls up on my lap and nestles in close for “kissies.”  As I soak her up, I realize how good it feels to be found, reached for and wanted! “Is it any different with God?” I wonder.  Does He, too, delight when we turn away from our toys and reach for Him?

I never dreamed that after so many years of being a Christian I would still be learning how to want God. That may sound strange but I find that life has a way of crowding out my desire for God with temporal offers of fullness.  I naturally know how to want these things, but want to want the Divine heart that watches and waits for my notice.  The thought that God delights when I reach for Him is as much mind-blowing, as it is an explosion of wonder!

The One who made all things wants me and reached across the heavens with a cross to make a place for me on His lap.

Trials always motivate me to reach for God, but my prayer is to grow in love for God and live interrupted by His presence, in breathless anticipation of finding Him and being found!

Last night, as my husband and I sat under a canopy of stars we decided to begin an experiment.  For thirty days we are endeavoring to spend 20 minutes a day in silent prayer. Our hope is to engage in a daily moment, 1200 seconds long, that consists of crawling up on the lap of God and sitting quietly in His arms.  What happens to worries and fears, I wonder, when we stop looking at them and rest with God instead?

In stillness, God helps us feel His love touching our lives.

When we stop talking and moving about, when we let His movements of grace interrupt our play — when we simply let God hold us,  we find our place on His lap where we are hugged and kissed — found, reached for and wanted!  Yes, He soaks in our presence and wraps us up in His.

 “Thank you, Father, for being my place of rest and for all the ways your reach out for me.  Help me to look up from my toys and find You in my days.   Thank you for the cross that reached across the heavens to find me!  Amen.”

What about you?

Do you want God?

Do you believe that God delights when you reach for Him?

How do you reach for Him?

Do you notice when God’s presence invites a holy interruption?

God wants you!  Reach for Him.

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Listening for Love Kindle Edition

Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected
RX5L-GUTE-MXRD-43KI

Worship

It All Counts!

IMG_3735By Judy Villanueva

Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16)

“The word present, of course, means near, close to, next to, and the prefix omni gives it universality. God is everywhere here, close to everything, next to everyone.” (AW Tozer, Knowledge of the Holy)

Laying face up in my closet I stared into the blouses that hung above me. This little cubby proves to be a quiet place to pray and always helps me feel tucked away with God.  Do you ever wake up aware of your soul’s longing for God — for an experience of His face, a moment of His love, a Divine touch?  I do, especially when life gets prickly.  To feel His presence infuses all the pieces of my life with hope and meaning.

No matter the trial or richness of any moment, it is the “God with” factor that makes me strong, hopeful, and happy!

As light breaks the night, I wake up with this prayer on my lips, “Find me Father.  Bump into me today.  Help me to live this day with you.”  I admit that what I’m asking for are lightning bolts and holy visions, but instead, God greets me in the morning with whispers and melodies, smiles, coffee and the grace to find Him in the gifts embedded in ordinary days. And, believe it or not, it all counts!

Rainbows, breezes, sunlight and hugs — puffy white clouds and the taste of buttered toast all count as God’s love reaching out to us.

Cultivating an openness to “count” what we may regard as ordinary blessings becomes a powerful pathway into the Divine presence.

The practice of noticing the day’s blessings is a habit that can form in spite of our reluctance to recognize the Holy within the ordinary.  We are products of a culture that craves special effects, so cooperating with the Holy Spirit as He draws our attention to His gentle movements of love can be challenging.  It requires that we let go of our preconceived notions of Holy encounters and avail ourselves to watching for “God with” us in and through the very life given to us each day.

I stumbled out of bed this morning and moved toward the coffee I smelled brewing down the hallway.  As I took that first warm sip of goodness, I thanked God for taste buds and the new day.  Later, working at my desk, I noticed movement outside my window and there, staring in at me, was a gloriously colored bird arrayed in bright yellow and crimson.  I could not help but stare back at him and offer thanks to God for the beauty He splashed all over this little creature!  That same afternoon I found myself on a couch soaking in the company of a friend, all the while aware that I was in the middle of another good gift.  Do these count as the Divine reaching into my life and offering me love?  “Surely the Lord is in this place,”  the very place where we live each day!  Whether in a closet or on a couch, working at a desk or stumbling out of bed, God is always with us and wants us to know it!

“Father, find me. Bump into me today and help me to live this day with you. Thank you that you love being found!   Help me notice your gentle movements of love today. Amen.”

What about you?

Looking back on your day, are you aware of God’s gentle movements of love?  What were they?

Where do you most easily notice God?

How does the “God with” factor affect you?   He is with you.

God loves to be found!  Ask Him to bump into you today.

DSC_0504

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Listening for Love Kindle Edition

Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected
REXN-GRA0-BPS0-AMIB

Worship

Dwelling

DSC_0272By Judy Villanueva

One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

Tax prep-check, load dishwasher-check, shop for dinner-check, doctor appointment-check. Wait.  The man in the hospital elevator wants to talk?  He’s rambling about politics and Donald Trump and then mentions that he is worried about a blood clot in his leg. What?  I become aware that I’m trying to maneuver away from him and suddenly feel compelled to look at his face.  I finally see him!  He says he has multiple auto-immune diseases and talks casually as he lifts his pant leg to show me the area on his calf that is causing concern.  Something holy sweeps over my heart and I finally set aside my “to do” list and hear the Lord say to me, “Dwell, daughter.  Stop.  Linger.  Make a place for Me.”

My favorite definition of the word, dwell, is “to linger over”.  It implies an interested pause whereby we allow ourselves to be still and ponder.  The challenge of the daylight hours is that they are filled with enticements to occupy and preoccupy our minds, hearts, and hands.  Then, of course, there is the voice of our 21st century culture that isn’t bashful about imposing the notion that we are what we do so, DO…and then, do some more!

If we are not careful and prayerful, we will forget how to linger over life…how to pause at God’s urgings, join Him in loving and discover the Divine presence that lingers over us…all the time.

How do we make our lives a place for Jesus?  Where might we dwell to cultivate a Psalm 27:4 heart that yearns for only One thing?

My best guess is that any place where God is can become holy if we’ll linger there and give Him our attention.  What if we slowed down as we read the Word and let it become a place of gazing at God’s beauty rather than simply reading a text?  What if, instead of rushing through days, we endeavored to set a sane pace so that we’d notice God’s movements around us?

What if God really was our one desire?

I wish I could say that I knew just how to minister to the man I met in the elevator.  To be honest, by the time I realized I was on holy ground, we had reached the parking lot and the moment was slipping away.  But, in dwelling there for just those few minutes I felt the weight of God’s love for him and the beauty of it splashed all over my heart!  It made me tearful and grateful — and eager to tarry with Jesus.

“Thank you, Father, for inviting me to dwell with you in my life.  Help me to make my life a place for you.   Shape in me a heart that wants only One thing.  Amen.”

What about you?

How do you do at dwelling?  in a moment?  a passage of scripture?  at a sunset?  with a stranger or friend?

Can you feel God’s invitations to be still and ponder?

How is the pace of your life?  Does it allow you time to stop, linger and make a place for Jesus?

God has made a place for you.

61FxF8WxgfL._AC_US218_Click here to buy Listening for Love Kindle Edition

Copyrighted.com Registered & Protected
MIP7-QEVC-RS9V-GWDW

Worship