In the cleft is my favorite place to be. This temporary space helps me hide from my infirmities, wants, needs and desires.
Beneath the shadows I lie in wait for the Lord’s amazing answers. In between He comforts, leads, and guides. As I wait (at times impatiently) he grants me peace and quiet solace. The pace, growth, love and understanding is all he asks.
My Flight to Rome took me through Philadelphia. I arrived next day. Tired, I slept the rest of the afternoon through the evening into the night. Refreshed I awoke next day six hours ahead of the United States.
My first order of interest was to visit the Vatican. To give thanks and commit the rest of my stay to the Lord most high. Afterall I still didn’t know the intent of my trip.
My mind wondered to my visit to Paris with my daughter. Where was the Eiffel Tower? How could we get there? It was almost nightfall, and we were not sure where we were heading. Ask. We did, but most didn’t speak English or were reluctant. Off the train, around the bend and there it stood majestic!
I reflect on that day in Paris as I headed out to find the Vatican in Rome. As the saying goes When in Rome do as the Romans do. They trek. So I trekked. The Problem was I didn’t know where I was trekking to. The hotel’s front desk said it was 15 minutes away from their location. Of course I could handle that trek. But after walking, walking, walking I still couldn’t find it. Thirty minutes later still walking steadily taking pictures of Rome’s dynamic architecture and views of the historic city, I became curious wondering if I was walking in the wrong direction.
The memories of Paris flooded back. Where is it? Don’t know. I finally asked a guy preparing to welcome lunch guests at one of the common outdoor cafes. Around the corner he replied, speaking very little English. I proceeded. No signs. Made no sense anyway because I didn’t speak the language. Pronunciations differed but I thought that at least I would see the name somewhere if it was close.
Ten minutes later I saw a young woman and a nun get out of a taxi. Hmmm good person to follow, right? Yet still I hesitated. Waited a bit then a few minutes later saw the nun down the road walking hastily amidst the crowd. I guess it was time to follow that direction as they disappeared. Slowly I walked. Down to the road’s end.
Suddenly what appeared was the sunlight that illuminated the vastness of an arena. A new world opened. Reminded me of Roman soldiers that I read about in the Bible and reminders of movies I had seen. Like many others, I sat on a curb to rest tired feet. Took pictures as keepsake to share with my girls. Drank water then headed to the long lines that winded up to the entrance of the cathedral. This was the start of Winter with limited tourists, I can’t imagine what it would be like during summer’s busy season and I am not interested to find out. So I determined to stand in line. Heck there’s nothing more planned for the day. I might as well wait in the line for an hour or 2.
Surprisingly the line moved at a good pace and I was eventually inside. Mesmerized by the beauty and unique artistry of the architecture, visitors’ eyes were drawn upward. Yet the interior was filled with the sense of being in a holy place. Traveling solo, I tried to take selfies which were mostly crooked but that didn’t stop me.
I walked to the holy sanitarium where no photos were allowed. I proceeded. In that small space it was reserved for prayer. I sat filled with innate holiness and emptied my mind of everything I had in my heart.
Prayers for the future.
Prayers for my two girls together and alone.
Prayers for family
Prayers for friends. One by one I named them.
I prayed until all I had left was peace that he had heard my cry. Thanksgiving followed with praise for my obedience to follow his lead.
In that moment as the amazing artistically carved figure of Christ on the crossed looked down at me and others in the silence of that sanctuary, I felt the journey was accomplished because I had obeyed. Hmmm what if that was the reason he drew me there?
When we step out in obedience, we can bask in the confidence that God’s got our back. He is in control. There are no surprises with Him. The surprises are for us.
-Dr Shelly Cameron, GreenLight
Journey of Discovery. Discovering the Lord’s will. Discovering new places – just wandering the unknown. Discovering his purpose for the rest of my life
For over two decades the Lord laid on my heart to visit Italy. Go figure. I have consistently misread thinking I’ll go at some point.
Then five years ago my eldest surprised me with a birthday trip to Paris. As I landed, I retorted … omgee it’s not Paris but Italy I am to go!
Last year, I decided to start a few things after I received news from the doctor that my cholesterol was a little high. Figured I had to do something to not be added to a growing list of medications Soooo … I started ballroom dancing. Yep. Loved it! But it didn’t let me lose too many pounds fast enough, so I ‘accepted’ a 6-week challenge from a gym I had ignored when I moved to the new area. The challenge was to lose 20lbs. At the end of the challenge, I had lost over 13lbs – a little shy of my goal but boy was I encouraged to continue.
Afresh, there was a very strong urge again to go to Italy. I know the best time to go is April or October since it’s cold at year-end and not the best time. But the strongest urge was there to not let the new year go by without being obedient to his leading. So, I made plans to go end December which was pushed forward to January. I didn’t have a clue where I was going. But when he said go, I finally got moving.
I followed the lord’s leading. I was going alone. Yep, alone. Yikes! It was a solo retreat with me and him only. Asked the Lord to pave the way for flights, accommodation and everything else. Maybe I would finish up the book RedLight when God says No. Hmmm I really didn’t know.
I didn’t tell anyone except hinting to my girls who are strong supporters of their mom and understand her ‘madness’.
I began thinking deeply of the possibility in the fall. A few weeks later my hotel association colleague offered me to stay at her apartment in Milan. Only problem, its night life is ‘amazing’ so not much sleep or a place to write I was told.
It would be cold
Don’t know where I’m going
Need for adequate funds
Obedience to his leading
I shared with two prayer partners to keep me in prayers as I journeyed. Partial funds came through a project I had been working on which coincidentally ended immediately before I was scheduled to leave. Godwink? Like Mary Magdalene I kept all these things in my heart.
The solo retreat touched hearts with inspiration even before it began. Before it was even paid for or properly planned.
I was going on a one-way ticket initially without a rush while asking the lord to route my way. I was following his lead for flights, accommodation, location of where to stay, what food to eat (I’m not a foodie) and when to return. Crazy going so far without a plan. To a planner, it was a quiet nightmare. I said, “really Lord?” People will think I’m crazy.
Just as I am, without one plea But that Thy blood was shed for me And that Thou bid'st me come to Thee Oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come
Just as I am, though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt Fighting and fears within without Oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come Ooh, just as I am, ooh, I come Ooh, just as I am, oh Lamb of God, I come
Just as I am, Thou wilt receive Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve Because Thy promise I believe Oh, Lamb of God, I come, I come Ooh, just as I am, ooh, I come Ooh, just as I am, oh Lamb of God, I come Oh lamb of God, I come
Disabled Charlotte Elliot wrote the above hymn Just as I Am at her lowest. She wrote it at a time when she thought she was most unworthy. Sure glad she did. The hymn has comforted many for centuries.
The Lord God accepts us just as we are. So go to him today. He accepts returns. All you have to do is ask.
Retreat means to withdraw. To take a step back. Jesus did this many times. He would disappear to spend time in the presence of his Father. He wanted to quiet his heart to gain the strength needed for the next steps on his earthly sojourn. If he needed strength, how much more we? Shouldn’t we follow the example that He set?
Larissa Marks, HuffPost contributor provided 6 practical steps to do a spiritual retreat. Here I share while giving a few of my own commentary.
Create the time and find a place. Any place quiet will do. It may be in your home. It may be away. It may be at a monastery or in nature. For me I skipped home to get away from the distractions. After two decades of receiving a prod to go, I finally gave in. Just me. Solo.
Set your intentions. What is the purpose? What is it you would like to achieve from this time with him? Is it a calling? Is it a life decision that you need to make? For me it was discernment and to follow his leading for the next phase of my life
Settle into God’s presence. Do something that quiets your heart and eases you into his presence. For me it’s walking in nature or sitting quietly breathing–welcoming and experiencing his presence. Ask him what he wants you to receive at this time. Listen and follow his lead.
Reflect. Do some quiet reflection. What have you experienced in the last few weeks, months or even years? What has been draining you? What has brought you satisfaction?
Connect with God. Read scripture. Notice any desire(s) that emerge. For me in his presence there’s always fullness of joy. Even in the midst of life’s storms I find that I can experience his quiet peace.
Receive and return. Think about what you received during this time away. What do you want to stop doing or start doing? Remember, it’s not about you, it’s about the Lord and accomplishing his will and purpose for your life.
Hope these tips will help provide guidance as you make important life decisions or seek discernment for the next phase of your life. If you have done solo retreats, what did you walk away with? What stood out most about this experience? Do share. We would love to hear.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that
Dr. Martin Luther King
Pop up alert busted through my work! tWitch, my beloved twitch was found dead in a hotel room. What? I blinked my eyes. Was I seeing right. Twitch? My twitch? Who in heavens name could have harmed ‘my twitch’? Second news alert. He did it himself! A single shot. Omgeeee you’re lying! That’s not true. How could they say that? He couldn’t have. Shortly after a note from his wife came with the words … they’ll dance. She will save the last dance for him.
Hours later, still in disbelief, a friend texted to share the passing of an ex co-worker who had suddenly died during a colonoscopy. What? Very few succumb to that procedure which is designed to check for problems before they arise. Subsequent chats came of a mom, a dad, an uncle who the deadly disease cancer had snatched away. Separate circumstances but just like my mom, sister and grandma, they had passed away. Their slow difficult suffering had ended.
The death of loved ones, friends and family cannot be avoided. But Daily reports of suicide ensue. Can that mental disease be stopped? Are there signs? Depression? Joy? Can it be avoided?
Jesus Is The Answer
Jesus is the answer. Personally, there are times when the going gets rough. It’s at those times that I run to the only one who can take over the hurts, the pains, the fears, the lack of understanding of why things happen. School shootings. Why take an innocent life? Why do children go astray? Families don’t talk. Relatives fuss and fight. Not to mention couples who fight. Divorce is popular these days where the common practice is that at the first signs of an issue society encourages individuals to separate… to take care of yourself. No longer try to work it out. Go live across the street. Live nearby so children won’t suffer ‘too much’.
We scream and cry what’s wrong? Then the still small voice of the Lord quiets our hearts saying I am the answer. Jesus is the answer. Tell him your woes, your misunderstandings, your weakness, your fears.
Pray. Talk to him. He will see you through. He will provide the strength needed during the difficult times. It may appear through a song. A brief sign. A friend. But we must be in tune. We must ask. Through prayer and the help of a trusted friend who cares enough to seek help on your behalf work wonders.
Our hearts hurt together. May Strength and courage be yours through Christ. My heart hurts for you.
Thank you for being a friend. Lots of struggles but God made you special. I pray God will provide the desires of your heart. That you will always continue to give the gift of love that he has provided to you.
I pray today will be special day for you, you and yes… you too.
I was doing some house work which included some rearrangements. When I was done I plugged back in the computer, laptop and devices. Noting worked. I figured that the electrical surge protector had gone bad. So I went to get another. As I plugged it in, I realized that the previous electrical equipment was simply not plugged in. I gasped, rolled my eyes and connected it to the wall plug and voila! It worked!
Caused me to reflect on our relationship with the Lord. We may lead groups, build relationships and do all manner of things but if we are not plugged into Christ the source, then it makes no sense.
Today, I encourage you to check your spiritual connection. Are you plugged in? Are you reading the word, doing daily devotion? Praying? All these contribute to our spiritual development. Without them we are just going through the motion with no effect.
Stop and check your battery life . Don’t miss his GreenLight Plug back in and experience the divine power from above.
Closed doors prevent mistakes. Just because a path is clear doesn’t mean it’s the one God intends for us to follow. Sometimes we won’t have the information we need to make a wise decision, so He blocks the way. The Holy Spirit knows the whole road map for our life, so we should follow Him.
Closed doors redirect our walk. God won’t leave a willing servant with nothing to do. Closed doors can result in better fruit, more satisfaction, and greater glory for Him.
Closed doors test faith and build perseverance. Waiting for the Lord is hard, but it’s a means by which we can learn wisdom, patience, and trust.
Closed doors buy us time. We aren’t always as prepared as we’d like to think. God may temporarily hold shut an opportunity for service until we’re ready.
These 4 reasons were written by Dr. Charles Stanley for our encouragement. Going through a challenge? Reflect on them and be encouraged while you wait.