Category: Rest

Personal Retreat

Personal Retreat

Luke 5:16 (CEV) “But Jesus would often go to some place where he could be alone and pray.”

I remember reading some commentary notes on the Gospel of Luke, and the author mentioned how Luke gives a greater insight into the personal prayer life of Jesus than the other gospel accounts. In numerous places early in Luke (4:42, 6:12, 9:18, 9:28, 11:1), the scriptures point to the practice of Jesus getting away from the crowds, most often in the morning, and taking time to pray. For Jesus that often happened in the context of something important (picking the disciples, the Transfiguration) but not always. Sometimes it appeared to simply be for the purpose of prayer and retreat.

It seems like an obvious thing to us. Of course, Jesus got away from the crowds, demands, busy schedules, speaking, and travel to recharge and connect with God. He was Jesus, the Messiah, Son of God. Why wouldn’t he? 

Perhaps a better question for us is “why wouldn’t we?”

It seems to be a no-brainer that Jesus needed to get away on retreat, and yet we don’t give it the same consideration for our own busy lives. We have relational demands, busy schedules, job/school demands, etc. In spite of all of that, we disregard the need that we have in our own lives for the purpose of prayer and retreat.

Did you just mentally run through the list of commitments on your time and arrive at the conclusion that “personal retreat” just isn’t realistic right now? Do you find yourself saying over and over, “This is just a season. If I can just get past this ______ I’ll be able to rest soon.”  

If you’ve been telling yourself that for a while now, what are the chances that anything is going to be different without you intentionally making a change?

Just as our physical bodies get tired, so do our spirits. Spiritual exhaustion is unhealthy, and so is spiritual starvation. The pace that we often keep in life doesn’t allow for much downtime, and our spirits are calling out to us to stop and take a break. If Jesus needed retreat, how much more do we need that same retreat to remain connected with God?! We know this, but we often don’t give ourselves permission.

How can you give yourself permission for personal retreat and prayer? How will you plan to make that happen sometime in the next 30 days? Even if it’s simply an afternoon “just for you” and no one else, how can you make that happen? Can you get away for 24 hours of retreat?

Take the next 15 minutes to make a plan.

Would Spiritual Direction be helpful to you in this process? Let’s book a session together to work through some of your spiritual needs as a way of making rest, retreat, and time with God a greater priority in your life.


Invest in Yourself

Beyond ceasing to care for our bodies, sometimes we fall into the trap of not caring for our spiritual selves, mental or emotional selves, and that can head down a dangerous path in which neglect turns to dis-ease of the soul.

There is sometimes a tendency to neglect ourselves. It might happen slowly over time, or suddenly, in the case of having a child or some other significant life change. I remember, shortly after our daughter was born, making the phone call to the gym to see about cancelling our membership. We just couldn’t figure out how to make it work while caring for a new baby. 

It’s not just memberships at the gym that can get neglected. Beyond ceasing to care for our bodies, sometimes we fall into the trap of not caring for our spiritual selves, mental or emotional selves, and that can head down a dangerous path in which neglect turns to dis-ease of the soul. Some people have grown up with the belief that others are more important and that can contribute to the neglect of self in all areas. With some sense of “hero humility” we tend to the needs of others rather than investing in ourselves. If any of this sounds familiar, please hear this:

You are worthwhile.

You have value.

You are important to this world.

You play a vital role in the lives of others around you.

You are worth investing in.

You are. You are worth investing in, and it’s completely acceptable to acknowledge that fact. It’s actually counter-cultural to truly believe that you, yourself, are worth investing in, and it can feel like an act of defiance and rebellion to rest, care, and invest in yourself.

It’s not selfish or self-seeking to do so. You deserve to take time for you. If I’ve discovered anything in my years in ministry it’s that I am less effective in all areas of my life when I have poured everything out. I am more effective in all areas of my life when I have taken the time to be filled.

Two years ago I took a 30-day sabbatical after 18 years in ministry. It was long overdue to take that time. I felt a little guilty, and I knew that most people don’t get that kind of opportunity, but I also knew that I was running on empty and would soon burn out. I had seen it happen in numerous colleagues b/c they didn’t take time away. Seeing the results of that lack of prioritization, I realized that I was worth investing in myself. 

In the two years since then I have taken numerous steps to ensure that I invest in myself. I find time daily to be away from others in silence and prayer or meditation. One day each month I go to a retreat center to meet with my Spiritual Director, to share my struggles and celebrations, and to bear my soul and be loved regardless. I walk the grounds of the retreat center and breathe deeply in time that is my own. Sometimes I still feel guilty for having that time, but I know that I will be better for it and investing in myself.

Just recently I took another 30-day sabbatical as an act of investing in myself. In contrast to the last time when I was at the end of my rope, this time was much more “preventative self-care” while I am still at a healthy place. Yes, investing in yourself is self-care, and it’s preventative in that it continues to fill you up before you ever get to the point of empty.

I know it can feel selfish, self-serving, or counterproductive in using your time, but I promise you that investing in yourself reaps endless reward. Taking some time in the midst of life, in order to invest in yourself, shows that you believe in your personal worth. 

It will recharge your spirit. 

It will renew your mind. 

It will establish patterns of sabbath in your life that will create change in other areas of your life.

You are worth investing in.


Let me know if you are interested in Spiritual Direction as an act of investment in your spiritual life. You can contact me through the website or set up a 1-on-1 here.

Invest in Yourself
I’m Off to Make Space

I’m Off to Make Space

Beginning Sunday, July 14, I will be off to make some space for a month. As a pastor, I am blessed to be given time away from my church roles for a 30-day spiritual renewal leave (sabbatical). I will be shutting down my lines of commuications, suspending my blogging, and walking away from social media for that time.

During my month away I will be reading the Psalms in their entirety, reading “The Interior Castle” by St. Therese of Avila, as well as “Chasing Francis” by Ian Cron. I will be journaling, reading fiction, finding some space near water, and enjoying family time. There is likely to be a new tattoo to commemorate my time away.

When I return in the middle of August I will be booking September appointments for Spiritual Direction, both in person and via Skype/Facetime for those who are at a distance. If you are interested in more information on what that looks like and how it works, just reply to this email and in August we will schedule for September.

I’m also working on a lead for a physical location for my practice, so stayed tuned for more information on that. 

Enjoy the next 30 days. Make some space of your own. I will talk to you soon.

Putting up fences

Fences for the many parts of your life can keep those details in their proper circle while ensuring that they don’t allow outside circles to cross over and cause issues.

When I was about five, my favorite toys were Matchbox cars, Lincoln Logs, and the Red River Gang western set which consisted of cowboys on horses, cattle, and lots of fences. I would spend hours making log cabins, setting up corrals for the cattle, and driving a small red Jeep Wrangler matchbox car around the homestead. I remember the fence sections would interlock with one another and I could make circles and squares of corrals to keep the cattle in, but making one long fencerow wasn’t really an option. Sometimes they fell over in that configuration, there weren’t enough pieces, and logically only one long row wouldn’t keep the cows from wandering off. I had to stick with smaller closed corrals.

This came to mind awhile back when talking with a friend. We were lamenting about the busyness of life, the intrusion of work into home life, and the general difficulty of maintaining balance when there is little margin in our lives. I’m sure we aren’t the only two who experience this.

The day I got my first smartphone was an exciting one—the Blackberry Storm. As exciting as it was, it was also another step toward blurring the lines between work, home, and entertainment. I remember thinking about how effective I would be once I was able to access calendars and emails while away from the office. I would be able to balance all of the areas of life in the palm of my hand and it would be glorious. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it would become all-consuming for me.

Years later I still struggle some with how to disengage in my off hours. People have access to me all the time. I rarely turn off my phone and work stuff constantly comes right to me. I know that I’m not alone in this. Some people have phones for convenience and keep a rein on the intrusion. Others have a more difficult time with that, including myself. 

Back to the fences. My friend and I began to talk about putting up fences in life—not a long fence row to divide work and family—but instead smaller corrals to create separation in the pockets of life and identity. Work can be all-consuming, but that doesn’t mean that it belongs at the dinner table. Sabbath days help the body, and sabbath from technology helps the mind and the heart. Constant blurring of lines increases stress, prevents rest, and certainly impacts our relationships when we don’t strike a balance with the many facets of life and schedules.

Putting up fences can corral some of those unruly aspects of life. Those squares or circles of fencing for the Red River Gang kept the cattle IN and the pests OUT. Fences for the many parts of your life can keep those details in their proper circle while ensuring that they don’t allow outside circles to cross over and cause issues.

What do you need to put a fence around to keep it in the proper place? 

What systems do you need to put in place to ensure that your many circles remain separate? 

How can the use of fences give more honor and space to your relationships? 

 

Putting up fences
Even Hummingbirds Stop

Even Hummingbirds Stop

Our culture has an addiction to busyness which isn’t good for our souls. We have an obsession with movement and activity which doesn’t allow for our spirits to rest.

I stood outside sipping my morning coffee. It was one of those mornings where the air was cool, but my slippers and the mug of coffee offered the warmth I needed to enjoy the moment of pause. I sipped mindfully. I breathed deeply the smell of coffee and fresh air. I drank in the quiet moments that made everything else melt away.

I heard birds of all sorts singing their morning tunes as they flitted from branch to branch. A bluejay, oriole, redwing blackbird, goldfinch, and plenty of robins filled the morning quiet. Suddenly I heard a buzz nearby me, moving fast. My first thought was that it seemed too early in the day, and season, for a bee of significant size to be buzzing by in that way.

Before that thought finished, I stood in amazement as I saw a hummingbird land on a branch not 10 feet away from me. That was the source of the buzz I had heard—the rapid movement and busyness of the morning. And yet in this moment it had stopped all the winged activity and sat on a branch to rest.

This happened three times, in fact. Each time I stood still, motionless, taking in the rare sight of a hummingbird at rest. It was a small holy moment for me. And then it occurred to me in that moment:

Even hummingbirds stop.

I think for most of us there is a lot of activity and movement in life. With busy schedules, and long “to do” lists, so often we go from one thing to the next, and the next, barely pausing to eat or grab more coffee. As a pastor, there is somehow even a badge of honor that comes with constant activity and full calendars. Twisted, I know.

Our culture has an addiction to busyness which isn’t good for our souls. We have an obsession with movement and activity which doesn’t allow for our spirits to rest.

Even hummingbirds stop. We should too.

Find time today, maybe even right now, to stop and rest. Savor that cup of coffee instead of slugging it down. Really taste and smell it. Get up from your desk and take a 10 minute walk. Go outside, close your eyes, and take a few minutes to simply listen to what’s happening around you. Then open your eyes and look for a few things you haven’t noticed before.

How will you make_space today?

 

Just Settle

It took me a while to accept that this too is prayer: to settle, rest, and be still in God’s loving attention upon me.

I was sitting on the couch with my dog in my arms. She was trying to get comfy for a nap while I was spending some time praying in the early morning. She kept shifting and moving and getting distracted by every little sound in the house. She kept looking up at me as though I had said something, or maybe it was somehow to be reassured that I was still right there. Her nap wasn’t happening and neither was my praying.

“Just settle,” I said to her with a calming whisper. “I’m right here, just settle. Rest.”

While trying to pray, I was struck by the irony. I was convicted by the metaphor. 

I so easily get distracted in prayer, sidetracked by the noises of my busy mind racing and trying to figure out what’s next and where I need to be. I circle and circle the latest agitation in my life as I feel like I can’t dare let go. I pause in the midst of broken prayers wondering if God is still there and if God is actually listening.

Sometimes it’s just noise.

Sometimes I can just barely hear God whisper, “Just settle, Trevor. Rest. I’m right here.”

It took me a while to accept that this too is prayer: to settle, rest, and be still in God’s loving attention upon me. I don’t have to perform, say flowery and fancy words to impress God, or come with any agenda whatsoever. I don’t need to talk and talk and talk as though the length of my prayer will carry more weight. 

It can be as easy as just settling into God’s loving presence.

My dog’s favorite place to be is on my lap as she rests in our presence to each other. That’s prayer. I need to learn from my dog I guess.

Just settle. Rest. God is right here.

 

Just Settle