I Couldn't have planned this

Previously on the blog...

Make room for space, because sometimes it is the only thing that will keep you from quitting everything

Today on the blog, sometimes you need space because you don't know what's coming up.

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By the time this specific retreat rolled around I had worked a pretty decent rhythm into my life of getting a 24-hour solitude time every 3 months. Occasionally I would enter into these times feeling like I didn't necessarily 'need' it but I would still make the effort and try my best to enter in.  February 2012.

First, what I remember about this specific solitude time.  

Then, what came afterwards.

  • I went to a hotel about 90 minutes away
  • I brought books and DVDs of conferences, my running shoes, and blank index cards with a pen.  I checked-in, got settled, then got hungry.  
  • I practice the discipline of feasting instead of fasting on these retreats, so I have energy to focus and think.  Maybe in the future that will change
  • I went to Swiss Chalet, got a Family Pack (as I usually do for these), ate in my car listening to the Podcast sermon I had going
  • I went back to the room and worked through the Lord's Prayer, line by line. Then had a shower, partly to bathe, partly as a ritual act of cleansing anything I just worked through.  

I'm telling you, these things work.

When you're as scatterbrained as I am, or your mind will not slow down, use whatever tricks you can to intentionally shift into rest mode.

  • I fell asleep while reading, or praying...probably praying.
  • In the morning I watched a sermon by Family Ministry Genius, Doug Fields, entitled, "Focus on your own Family".  He reminded me that I'm replaceable in every role in life except as husband and dad, so make my time with my family count.  From there I wrote out people to pray for on index cards and spent a couple of hours writing out thoughts about these people.  One of them was my mom.  I can specifically remember praying extensively for her, like I never have before, and not really knowing why I felt like I needed to.  Another thing I prayed for was my role as Youth Pastor at Springvale, not knowing why, I took some time to let God know that this role was not my identity, and if it had to change, I would let that happen.

Then, 

I couldn't have planned this

Within the next 4 weeks,

  • Karen and I had our first serious discussion about there possibly being something else outside of this church for us (the only church we have known in our marriage and most of her life). We had no idea what
  • I was approached by another church about a position opening, that quite frankly I was very interested in. We ended up feeling like there was a lot of work left to be done at Springvale, and were excited about sticking around there for the next few years.
  • Then, my mom went into the ER after being sick for a few weeks at home.  She was soon diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer.  Over the next 4 weeks I went through the most difficult emotional and spiritual journey of my life, along with the rest of my family. I spoke honestly and openly, I felt prayers from others more tangibly than ever before, I felt peace, when, on April 22nd 2012 my beautiful mom passed away.  

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We all sound smart talking about the past.  

...Choices we should have made, how things would have turned out; we are bold when it comes to talking about our stories. But how do we ever properly prepare for the future?  By making room for space.

When we make choices to refresh our souls we walk through the valleys with peace an hope.

All this to say, 

If you have never done something like this, if rest is not part of your rhythm, drop something and replace it with nothing.  Do it because you're tired and you may breakdown.  Or, do it because you haven't in a while and you have no idea what tomorrow holds.  Let me tell you, tomorrow you may need all the strength and help you can get. 

 

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To be honest, it's been a month since I've posted because I haven't made enough room for space. My soul is itching to create new things.  So, I had to ship this post, just to get back off the ground.  More to come, a lot more.