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Posts Tagged ‘soul care’

Jo 23During the past week, I experienced what is a rare treat for me—a rejuvenating ‘ultimate facial’ in a quiet, restful beauty salon. For an hour and a half, I was surrounded by wonderful aromas and relaxing music as I enjoyed some very necessary skin revitalising, along with a gentle hand and foot massage, at the experienced hands of our beauty therapist daughter. But what made it even more enjoyable was the fact that this was a birthday gift from her, paid for and administered with love.

On another day, I made a much needed visit to a physiotherapist, in an attempt to fix some old injuries I suffered last year during a fall while out walking. There my body was treated with care once again, although this time with much firmer massaging that will hopefully bring more healing and strength to those parts of me that have been damaged.

In this same week, I also enjoyed several meals out with various friends and family members. One evening, we shared a pleasant dinner with a guest in our own home. Over all these meals, I enjoyed not only the food but also the good conversations that took place and, while my body might well not have needed so much food indulgence, my mind and spirit were enriched by these experiences.

In the midst of this, I found time to watch some tennis on TV and feel sorry for those players, toiling away so hard to win those matches, as I relaxed in the coolness of our lounge room. Yes, I also cooked and gardened and wrote a little and minded grandchildren—but I tried to take care of myself in the process and enjoy the moment, being thankful I can do all these things. I am not renowned in my family for caring overly well for myself but am slowly learning not to see it as self-indulgence but rather as good stewardship of the resources God has given me.

Yet there is something else I need to do, if I am to be ready to do the things God has for me to do. I need to put time aside to listen to God in a deliberate, focussed way. How easy it is to overlook our spiritual wellbeing as we care for ourselves in other ways! This in turn can affect our minds and emotions and even our bodies, I believe. We need to care for ourselves in a holistic manner—otherwise we may end up unable to function as God created us to function.

So this week, I am taking part in a three day spiritual retreat where I hope to hear inspiring input, be creative, have good conversation with others, yet also find time to be alone with God. I want God’s Spirit to renew me and to resource me deep down for the year ahead, so that out of that overflow within me, God can refresh others.

How are you at caring for every part of you? Are you, like me, learning to do this better?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

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I wonder if you can remember a time when you expected God’s guidance to come in a particular way, only to discover it snuck up on you in quite another. Did you perhaps discount it at first? Did you, like me, not ‘get’ it until a little later?

Recently I found myself having to choose between two options, each of which I felt would be useful for different areas of my life. One was a short editing course at the NSW Writers’ Centre and the other a three day Christian Mentoring Forum. I felt the editing course would be a good refresher for me, but I wanted to hear the main speaker at the Mentoring Forum and also take time to reflect on where I am at in my writing. And because I mentor a small number of women, I also wanted to ensure I was giving them the best possible help.

In the end, I chose the Mentoring Forum. I thought that would give God maximum opportunity to speak to me through the input of others, both formal and informal, and through time alone in a beautiful setting. As it turned out, I did value the input and the interaction with those present. And I enjoyed my moments of solitude as well. Yet God did not speak so much through them as through little whispered ‘asides’ that reached into my spirit and brought quite shattering insight at times.

I was not prepared, for instance, for the impact that my own words ‘I am a writer’ would have on me as we introduced ourselves in our very first session together. It was as if God were saying somewhat urgently to me, ‘Listen to that, Jo! Remember it!’ Then in a brief reflective time during a session on ‘Soul Care’, I felt God almost pleading, ‘Get back to writing with me!’ This made perfect sense from my perspective. Many times when writing my novels, I have stopped to sense God’s presence around me. I have even been known to ask God questions out loud like ‘Is this how you want me to write this? Is this the way you want the story to go?’!

But I find myself still rather easily swayed by self-doubt at times, especially when I hear the other wonderful things Christian leaders are doing in their ministries. As I listen, I ask myself yet again if I should be undertaking a more ‘conventional’ type of ministry—if I should put aside my writing and engage in mentoring and caring for others in a more structured way. Yet even as these thoughts course through my brain, I hear the speaker sharing from her own story how she realised she was not to be running a race marked out for somebody else. And like a sharp arrow, her words pierce my soul. I am not to be overawed by the achievements of others. I am definitely not to turn back the clock and hanker after past ministry roles. God has shown me my path for this stage of my life—and my role is to walk it well, in company with the Author of all things.

So as I write this, I am filled again with love for and awe of our God who knows us so intimately and loves us with such a fierce, all-encompassing love—who says to each of us the same as to Israel so long ago:

I have loved you with an everlasting love: I have drawn you with loving-kindness. (Jer 31:3b)

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