Sunday, February 8, 2015

Psalm 62-- Finding Rest in God Alone--outdoor time at North Chickamauga Creek

Today I needed more rest for my soul.  You might think that all that outdoors time on Thursday was enough to last me a long time.  The truth is, the more I have spent in silence and solitude over the past several years, the more my soul craves it.  It is in the silence that I can hear the One Voice most clearly and my soul finds rest.

My body rested yesterday, even though the weather was super perfect to be outside.

Today was a more cloudy day, though the sun broke through at times.  Still, I knew I needed to get out.  I went to North Chickamauga Creek Gorge.  I haven't been there in a while.  Without going up the hiking trail, it's not as long of a walk as other places, but it is a place I can go to experience water and rocks and be in creation.

When I got there this afternoon, I needed to park down at the bottom parking area.  There were about 30 cars there.  Lots of folks outside this afternoon.  I wonder what it was like at the Greenway Farm?

I walked along the hiking path and encountered several folks walking, some with dogs.  It was a great afternoon to be out.

Most everytime I am out in creation, the words "my soul magnifies the Lord" from a song come to mind.  Today, in addition, I kept thinking about my soul finding rest, finding rest in God alone.

Why would I need more rest for my soul after having had so much so recently?  I even had two worship services this morning plus the Thursday night worship time.

It is possible that the heaviness of this final semester that begins tomorrow is upon me.  The nine graduate credits is going to keep me very busy.

It is also possible that tomorrow's interview with the Board of Ordained Ministry occupies some of my mind.  I continue to trust God and seek to be an open and willing vessel, but because it is an important interview, the "nerve-excitedness" does come to surface at times.

There are other things that weigh down my soul at times.  I continue to give them over to the One who can take care of them better than I, yet the burden is there.  Even when God takes those burdens, there is day to day life that requires wisdom and discernment.

Psalm 62 (NIV-- from

1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
3 How long will you assault a man? Would all of you throw him down-- this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
4 They fully intend to topple him from his lofty place; they take delight in lies. With their mouths they bless, but in their hearts they curse. "Selah"
5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
7 My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
8 Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. "Selah"
9 Lowborn men are but a breath, the highborn are but a lie; if weighed on a balance, they are nothing; together they are only a breath.
10 Do not trust in extortion or take pride in stolen goods; though your riches increase, do not set your heart on them.
11 One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong,
12 and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.
As I was walking along the hiking path and enjoying the sight and sounds of the roaring waters in the creek, I reflected on Psalm 61 and the verse about the rock being higher than I and its refuge from last week.  Psalm 62 also mentions God being a rock, salvation, and refuge.

There were many rocks at the creek.  One in particular caught my attention for being higher than I and one that could provide refuge and shelter.

There are several songs with "In God Alone" in them.

One is a Taizé song.  Taizé songs are peaceful and calming. 

Here are the lyrics to "In God Alone":

In God alone my soul can find rest and peace,
in God my peace and joy.
Only in God my soul can find its rest,
find its rest and peace.

Aaron Keyes-- "My Soul Finds Rest in God Alone"

My soul finds rest in God alone, My Rock and my salvation, A fortress strong against my foes, And I will not be shaken. Though lips may bless and hearts may curse, And lies like arrows pierce me, I'll fix my heart on righteousness, I'll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward; Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone Amid the world's temptations; When evil seeks to take a hold I'll cling to my salvation. Though riches come and riches go, Don't set your heart upon them; The fields of hope in which I sow Are harvested in heaven.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward; Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

I'll set my gaze on God alone, And trust in Him completely; With every day pour out my soul, And He will prove His mercy. Though life is but a fleeting breath, A sigh too brief to measure, My King has crushed the curse of death And I am His forever.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward; Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward; Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah, O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah, O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah!

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward; Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward; Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

(instrumental) O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah, O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah, O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah! O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah!
Lyrics from <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>

One other song that comes from Psalm 62 is one I learned from the Upper Room Worship Book: #278--"God is My Rock" / «El Señor es mi fuerza».

I wrote a blog post about this song a while back (October 4, 2012) because it touched me so much during our Academy sessions. 

Here is a different group singing «El Señor es mi fuerza»:

I took one of my pictures and created a textgram today:

Maybe you were able to find some rest for your soul today.  Whether it was in something you read, something you listened to, some silence, some time with a spiritual friend, or time in creation, or something else, I hope that your soul has found rest.

My soul has.  Through the ebb and flow of life, it is a constant coming back to the center of my being, to the center of my relationship with my Creator, that allows my soul to rest.

May your soul find rest along your journey,


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Come and Rest-- hiking, serving, worship, and prayer-- rest and renewal for the soul

Come and rest.

This has been the theme for the week.  It is an ongoing call in my life as I have been learning to live into the rhythms of "be" and "do".

From the "green" book, A Guide to Prayer For All Who Seek God, to a couple of the devotions in Jesus Calling, this has been the theme.

 Mid-week Vespers follows the green book for its weekly theme and I'm used to that.  Last Sunday I received a phone call asking if I could come up to Dayton, TN for the Still Waters Emmaus Community Gathering and lead the devotion time and communion because I am a spiritual director in their community (and in the Chattanooga Lafayette community).  I said "yes" to this opportunity.

As I reflected on Scripture during the first part of the week, Psalm 61:1-4 stuck with me.  That came from the green book's readings.

Not only did I have the opportunity to attend a worship service, but I was going to speak on the topic.  I also lived it out throughout the week.  It wasn't until the latter part of the week, February 6 and 7 that Jesus Calling started off the devotions with the "come and rest" theme.

For me, this week has truly been a "rest" week because it has been my one week off between terms.  I finished my J-term and had this one week off before Spring semester starts on Monday, February 9th.  I was determined to allow my brain, body, and soul to rest this week.  I did begin some of my required readings toward the end of the week, however, upon receiving an email from one of my professors telling us to get started reading such-and-such book if we hadn't yet.

Wednesday night came and it was time for Mid-Week Vespers.

Jim Lewis included a new song in the service that he wrote back in the Fall, "Give Me Rest".  That was a perfect song for the theme and service and a very meaningful song.   We also sang other great songs that allowed my soul to rest: "Be Still", "O Lord, Hear My Prayer", "I Breathe You In, God", "Releasing", and "Surely God".

The back cover of the bulletin from Mid-Week Vespers shows the six points of the Open Hands prayers that Jim shared this past week and the previous week: recognize, receive, respond, release, remember, rejoice.

At some point during the week I spoke with Valerie Sinclair in Dayton and found out she would be leading music at the gathering Thursday night.  I shared the theme and Scripture with her.  She shared a song with me that was perfect, "I Love Your Presence"!  On Thursday night, she led the worship time with that song she shared with me in the middle of two other songs.  Wow!  What an incredible time of worship!  The other two songs were original songs written by Pastor Bev at her church.  She including a reading of Psalm 91 before the last song which tied in wonderfully.

My main Scripture for speaking on Thursday night was Psalm 61:1-4.  I also read from Matthew 11:28-30 and Psalm 46:10.  Though I had a few notes (literally only words and phrases), I hadn't written much down.  Instead, to prepare for Thursday I had lived "come and rest" during the week and Thursday afternoon.

Earlier Thursday my husband Riley and I took off on a hike on Signal Mountain.  We parked at the Rainbow Lake parking lot and headed up to Edward's Point.  It was a gorgeous day.  Clear blue sky and sunny.  Though it had been crispy cold in the morning, it was warming up.  I hadn't been up to that area in years.  The hike was incredible.  The running water of the creek and the waterfall from where the dam at Rainbow Lake now runs over.  Icicles. The swinging bridge.  The huge rock formations.  The walk along the top of the brow.  The creek with its tiny waterfalls.  Lockhart's Arch.  The point.  The wind blowing through the trees.  The squish of mud at times.  The view of the river below.  The smell of fresh clean air and woods.  Silence and solitude.  Creation.  Time with my hiking partner.  Time with my Creator.  My soul was filled to overflowing!




Alexian Village

As I looked up at those rock formations, the verse in Psalm 61 kept ringing in my head: "lead me to the rock that is higher than I."  There were times that we were below those rocks... and times that we were on top of some of those rocks.  There were some rocks I wished I could explore because they had some pretty cool looking shelters inside them.  It was enough to be there and view them on this day.

That was probably the best way I could have prepared to share with others on that day.  I was able to empty out myself and be filled up by God.  My mind, my body, and my soul found rest, refuge, and strength in God through that 4 mile hike and being immersed in the woods.

It was a wonderful blessing to share with the Still Waters Emmaus Community Thursday evening.  It was neat to be back in one of my former home churches (Dayton 1st UMC) to speak. 

On Friday I spent some time out and about with two other ladies sharing God's love and light, some coffee, and some food with folks in the community.  I had the opportunity to meet a former veteran who is recovering from a serious car accident; speak Spanish with someone downtown who approached us only speaking Spanish and seemed surprised to be greeted in his language; play with two precious little kids; and chat with several wonderful folks.

I didn't quite make it to the Centering Prayer group at Grace Episcopal Friday afternoon due to driving time to get there, but that's okay.  I spent time on the sun porch in centering prayer.  I will get back to community time of centering prayer, but it didn't happen yesterday.  That is another way of resting my soul.

This truly has been a week of rest for my soul, mind, and body.  Good thing too.  On Monday, bam!  The semester begins.  Three difficult graduate seminary classes to finish out the M.Div., plus my interview with the Board of Ordained Ministry.  Monday is going to be a great day.  Next week is going to be a great week.  The semester is going to be a great semester.  It's just going to be a busy day, a busy week, and a busy semester.

I think I will get out some more today and enjoy this great weather.  My soul can always use more rest and my body can always use more time out in creation.

What about you? When you hear the call "come and rest", how do you respond?  How do you find rest for your body, mind, and soul?

Blessings on your journey,


Monday, February 2, 2015

Fill Me Up... a new song for me

This morning, one of my J-term classmates introduced me to a new song, "Fill Me Up".  Over the phone she shared with me some of the song's lyrics: "You provide the fire, I'll provide the sacrifice."  Wow.  Intrigued, I asked for more, so she sent me a link to the song on YouTube.

The lyrics:

You provide the fire
I'll provide the sacrifice
You provide the spirit
And I will open up inside
Fill me up God
Fill me up God
Fill me up God
Fill me up
Love of God
All my soul
Fill me up
Till i overflow
I want to run over
I want to run over

Casey J sings the song here: (this is the link my classmate sent)

Check out Casey J's website that is above the video.  "Fill Me Up" by Will Reagan is her first single.  She has an incredible voice.  She is from the Atlanta, GA area.  

Jesus Culture also records the song:

It was written by Will Reagan of the United Pursuit Band:

As I read information about the band, I learned they live in Knoxville, TN together in community.  That's pretty cool.  They are kingdom living.  They started recording in 2008 and have produced several recordings.  You can learn more about them at the link above the video (embedded in their name).  You can join United Pursuit in worship on their live streaming site.

You can find others who have covered the song too, such as Tasha Cobbs and Kim Walker (of Jesus Culture).  Check it out.  Find a version that suits you.  Find the chords and learn to play it if you play guitar..... or the notes if you play piano.... or learn to sing it.

"Fill Me Up" is one of those songs that allows me to surrender to God, to focus on God, to experience the love and presence of God.  When I am hungry and thirsty spiritually, I have a new resource that will allow me to be filled.

This song might not be for everyone, but I share it just in case.

Blessings on your journey,


Sunday, February 1, 2015

Next Steps Sermon Series at Burks UMC: Power

Today was the final sermon in the "Next Steps" (Taking the Next Steps: It All Starts with Jesus) series at Burks UMC by Pastor Rowland Buck.  Today's sermon title and focus was "Power".

The other sermons in the series were: Focus (1/11/15), Risk (1/18/15), and Transform (1/25/15).

First, a look back at the other three sermons before looking at today's sermon.

Focus (1/11/15)

"If you chase two rabbits, both will escape."  That was a new idiomatic expression for me, but it definitely expresses the need for focus.

Some of the questions and notes I have from this sermon:
  • Where are you now and where does God want to move you?
  • Wherever you are, what is your next step?
  • Life works best when Jesus is the focus.
  • Jesus is all about change.
  • Scripture: Mark 1:1-11
To get more from the sermon, you can watch it here:

Risk (1/18/15)

Some of the questions and notes I have from this sermon:
  • What are you longing for?
  • What is your biggest dream?
  • Whatever it is, it drives your next steps.
  • Change is risky.
  • To change is to risk.
  • What is God dreaming for you?
  • Growth doesn't happen in comfort zones.
  • Great things never came from comfort zones.
  • Taking risks is embracing growth.
  • Grab hold of what could be.
  • Scripture: John 1:43-51
There was a quote by Socrates on the secret to change:

To get more from the sermon, you can watch it here:

Transform (1/25/15)

Some of the questions and notes I have from this sermon (I attended both services; notes are combined here):
  • Steps can be treacherous.
  • Jesus desires relationships.
  • Jesus wants to transform your life.
  • Jesus will make you a fisher of people, making you a disciple of Jesus.
  • Discipleship is all about following Jesus. It is about understanding that Jesus is the leader. (head)
  • Jesus accepts and takes you where you are and transforms you. (heart)
  • Be committed to the mission of Christ, which is fishing for people. (hands)
  • Transformation takes place through spiritual disciplines.  Ones that we're familiar with in the UMC are part of our membership vows: prayer, presence (worship), gifts, service, and witness.
  • Scripture: Mark 1:16-20

As I listened to the sermon, I drew an image of a head, heart, and hands.  It was a basic circle with a heart underneath and two hands underneath the heart spread out to serve.  Art is not my strong point, but I like visual images.  I found this one to express the concept.
To get more from the sermon, you can watch it here:

(I can't get this one to upload, but I will try again later.  The link is below for now.)

Power (2/1/15)

Some of the questions and notes I have from this sermon (I attended both services; notes are combined here):
  • What is your next step?
  • God is working in your life, even if you are unaware.
  • What is OUR next step as a church, as Burks UMC?
  • As a community of disciples, what are we dreaming about?
  • Where Jesus is, things happen.
  • Belief + Action = Transformation
  • Turn the world upside down.
  • Free life.
  • Freedom.
  • Kingdom power.
  • Scripture: Mark 1:21-28
To get more from the sermon, you can watch it here:

The sermon in the second service was more powerful today.  It was almost a different sermon.  I got something out of both of them, but the kingdom power, freedom, and turning the world upside part were aspects were not included in the first service and those resonated with me. ☺

Some of the goals fo the next steps for Burks UMC are shared in this video on VIMEO, "I Can See":

Today being the first of the month was communion Sunday.  I knew I would be assisting with the "Welcome" and "Prayer" in the first service today, but I didn't know until I got there that I would be assisting with the liturgy in communion.  I was more than glad to do so.  I enjoy sharing in the liturgy and helping to assist serve.  At our church, there are servers that serve the congregation.  The pastors make sure the servers have enough bread and wine (juice) and offer prayer to those who come to the altar (if they desire someone to pray with them).

As I stood there watching the congregation file down the aisles to take communion, at one point I noticed tears.  I was praying for these people and it touched me to be a part of that moment.  Even though I wasn't serving them, I was able to see them one by one.  This is the church congregation that has nurtured me through the M.Div. portion of my seminary days (and through the end of my Certificate in Christian Studies).  They recommended me to be a Candidate, they have heard me preach twice, they have supported and encouraged me along the way as I've assisted in services, taught classes, directed missions, etc.  This is the church that is sending me onward to the Conference for my commissioning interview.  I don't know if I will get another opportunity to preside over communion or preach there.  Maybe that was part of the tears too.  I did get to pray with a couple at the altar too.  That was a special and holy time too.

What is my next step?  Which one? ☺  My interview is February 9th.  That's my next step in the commissioning process.  For seminary my next step is Spring semester which begins on the 9th too.  There is another next step in my life that will occur this week, but I'll write more about that later.  In the meanwhile, I plan to keep listening to the One who will guide and direct me, draw me close, strengthen me, and transform me.

What is your next step?

Blessings on your journey,