Listen Acrostic: More on My 2018 Theme Word

Since a third of the year will soon be gone, I wanted to give more thought to my 2018 theme word listen. For me, the creative exercise of writing acrostics is an excellent way to go deeper in my consideration of certain words. Doing so helps me think of different aspects of the word.

So as I remind myself of and reflect on listen, I pray you are blessed and inspired to listen more carefully as well. And not only that, but if you chose a theme word of your own this year, maybe reading this creative exercise will inspire you to do something similar with your word. Whatever the case, friends, may you be blessed as you read!

Listen 

Lean close and be attentive to every word and to nonverbal cues as well.

Invite others—including God—to speak by asking questions and waiting for their answers. 

Silence distractions by turning off or putting away electronic devices and by setting aside time for communication.

Think about what I’ve heard, processing it and letting it sink in instead of quickly forgetting it.

Empathize with concerns shared with me and also grant understanding to my own thoughts and feelings.

Note action I need to take in response to what I’ve heard.

I pray that I—and you as well—will have hearts to become better listeners and that God will help us grow our listening skills. Now what was that you were saying?

“‘Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live.’” Isaiah 55:3 NIV 

*Which aspect of listening is the most challenging for you?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out next week. One lucky subscriber will receive a $15 gift card to Barnes & Noble and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by sea turtle, Creative Commons License

Winter and Life Extremes: A Time to Hunker Down

Do you get any of winter’s deep freeze days where you live? You know, those days that start in the single digits or below and if you’re lucky climb well into the teens? We shiver our way through days like that each winter here in southeast Kansas. And I am not a fan.

In fact, I’m not a fan of winter in general, but I must admit, like everything else, winter has its perks. One of those perks for writers like me unfolds as nature speaks something new to us, something we can share through the written word. And sometimes those words come out as poetry.

So here’s my latest poem, friends—inspired and served up by Old Man Winter himself. I hope it blesses you. Even if you shiver a bit while reading it!

A Time to Hunker Down

We all notice the day
when winter blows in,
when autumn’s refreshing nip
takes a frigid turn.
Jackets and sweaters give way
to gloves and down,
and we all settle in
for Old Man Winter’s stay.

And then one night
the cold becomes colder
and we’re plunged into
deep freeze days,
days when nature itself hunkers down,
when nothing moves or makes a peep,
when frozen silence is all we hear.
Yes, nature holds its breath,
shuts down and waits it out.
The bitter extreme calls for a break.

As ever, we can learn from nature.
Let’s take our cues, follow its lead
when bitter extremes hit our lives.
We too might benefit
by stepping back and taking a breath,
by getting quiet and waiting on God.
We too may need to hunker down,
we too may need to take a break.
And one day the sun will come out,
one day sweet life will go on.

“. . . ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” Mark 6:31

*When have you had to hunker down?

The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Midweek Morsel: God Speaks When He Seems Silent

5771861523_5c38e5529e_zAs children of God, we eventually go through periods when God seems quiet—we might even think of them as desert times. Last fall I shared about just such a period in my life lately. We may wonder why God is being silent, why he is not speaking to our spirits as clearly as in the past.

In truth, God speaks to us even in the silence. For example, at times when I may not hear his voice in my spirit, I still hear him speak through his Word. Also consider what Margaret Feinberg says on this topic in her book The Organic God:

“But as I practice the art of listening to God, I am discovering that he is surprisingly talkative even in the silence. Prayers are not going unanswered as much as he is responding in unexpected ways. . . . His voice is found in the wisdom of friends and spiritual leaders. He whispers through dreams and visions and abundant provision. He speaks through both conscience and conviction and an undeniable sense that some thoughts are more like God-thoughts than my own. He even speaks in the silence.”

So let’s take heart, friends, even when God seems quiet. Let’s listen. Let’s be alert to the unexpected. Our loving Father will indeed speak.

“. . . ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening. . .’” 1 Samuel 3:9

*How has God spoken to you even in the silence?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by seyed mostafa zamini, Creative Commons License

The Gift of Silence

Do you have your own name written down on your Christmas list? If not, put it at the top right now.

I’ll make it simple for you and even tell you what to give yourself. Gift yourself with silence. That’s right—the glorious life-giving gift of soothing silence.

The gift of silence took me by surprise a couple of weeks ago. Not long after the early morning hubbub of going-to-school-and-work traffic had ceased, I went out to fill the birdbath with fresh water. As the sun shone brightly, the night’s heavy frost still glittered all around.

Happy to be out enjoying a few minutes in God’s beautiful world, I sang as I worked—until I realized my voice was the only sound I heard. I then stopped and listened.

I couldn’t believe it. Pure silence. No wind, no birdsong, no car humming down the street. Not even the rustle of leaves. It was as if the earth was holding its breath.

I looked around and drank in the frosty beauty of the cold fall morning. First one leaf and then another drifted to the ground without a sound, almost like following the cues of a conductor. A silent symphony in a soundless sanctuary. If it hadn’t been so cold, I would have lingered a little longer. I would have partaken more deeply of the solace of silence.

Yes, silence can heal. Silence refreshes and restores. It gives us a chance to take a deep breath and commune with the Father. We need silence but many times we don’t recognize it or take time for it.

At a writers conference I attended recently, Betsey Newenhuyse, editorial director of Moody Publishers and one of our workshop instructors, spoke about nurturing the Christian writer’s soul.

Betsey told us that mental stimulation is critically important for creative people, but she pointed out that we have a deep need for silence and peace as well. She reminded us how our lives are overstuffed and then cautioned us to think deeply about what we don’t need to do and to focus on what we need to know, not on things we don’t need to know. I’d say that’s good advice for anyone, writer or not.

Are we allowing time for silence in our lives? If not, what changes do we need to make to gift ourselves with its life-giving benefits?

Let’s not wait for the moments of silence that surprise us—though those are wonderful. Let’s seek out silence as well, especially during the holiday season. Let’s enter into a soundless sanctuary and wait for the silent symphony to begin. The Conductor stands ready to give the cues. Let’s accept his gift of peace.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” Psalm 23:2

*Flickr photo by Zadok the Priest