My love letter to a year that was wild and wonderful, unpredictable and unexpected, full and fun, challenging and humbling and full of more growth than I knew possible.
Pause and praise. Stop. Give thanks. Slow down long enough to see what's happening and count it all as good. This life moves quickly and our vision gets blurry, but I'm learning to live with eyes wide open. I'm learning to slow down and step out of the fray and be still long enough to notice what's around me. The details amaze me, but I don't see them when I'm rushing.
The fiery red veins on a leaf laying in the sidewalk's edge-- Selah. Lord, thank You for autumn and a cooler sky and a slower pace and a calmness all around.
The chirping of a cricket I can't see in the nighttime-- Selah. Lord, thank You for peace and for rest and for restoring my weary soul.
The sweet words left in a comment box on a blog post-- Selah. Lord, thank You for the people in my corner, for the ones who love me so well, for the ones who believe in me endlessly and push me to keep fighting the fight, for the way You've woven hearts together across distance like only You can.
The words of the song that came next in the shuffle-- Selah. Lord, through it all, though it all, my eyes are on You, and through it all, through it all, it is well.
A new season in so many ways-- Selah. An exhale. Selah. A whispered thank you. Selah. A deeply rooted gratitude. Selah. An outpouring of love. Selah.
I pause and I praise. You are good. You are faithful. You are true. You are unfailing. You are gracious. You are radiant. You are holy. You are radical. You are endless. You are for me. And I praise You. Selah.
Every day in October, I'm writing whatever comes to mind when I focus on one word.
You can find all of my Write 31 Days posts HERE.
Selah. Pause and praise. Be still and know. Stop, wait, rest, worship.
2015 has been wild so far. Three months in (how...) and I've found myself seeking selah more and more and more. My soul needs it. My heart longs for it. Everything within me yearns to just stop and be still, to pause and to praise.
Schedules are crazy, hours fly by, and the pressure to hurry mounts with each passing second as the stress builds. I don't want that.
I want selah.
Evenings where the to-do list is a mile long, but I know it can wait until morning, so I stand in the front yard just to watch the sunset. Mornings where emails crowd my inbox, begging for my reply, but I keep the screens off and soak up Scripture instead. Commutes in the car with music just a click of a button away, but instead driving in silence, my heart spilling prayers and worries and wants to my listening Lord.
I want selah.
It's a choice, this selah thing. It's a choice to be still. It's a choice to be silent. It's a choice to worship. It's a choice to find joy.
I choose selah. I loosen my white-knuckled grip on control. I let go of the tasks and the to-dos. I exhale all the pent-up stress that's kept my breath shallow and shaky.
I choose selah. I sink into the true rest my weary bones desperately need. I let my heartbeat calm, surrendering to its Maker, as I let His words flood me and His mercy comfort me. I let my words be few. I let my spirit soar with His. I choose to pause and praise. I choose selah.
Though the cities will always be chaotic, though people will always hurry, though the world flies by in a mess of noise and motion, creation reflects the Creator. Beautiful. Still. Indescribable. This video shows the contrast wonderfully.
After an exhausting day of nannying combined with stress about deadlines and a dozen things that needed to get done yesterday, this sunset was ahead of me the entire drive home. And instead of worrying about the things I needed to do, instead of stressing, instead of drowning out my thoughts with the latest Mat Kearney album, I drove home in silence, just watching. Just staring at the glory of God on display before me. Just choosing selah.
This playlist was on the top of my Spotify page when I opened it up, and I turned it on as I started to work on some writing and blog updates. I expected songs with lyrics, but there were none. Before long, I felt calm and at peace. Before long, I felt my eyes welling up with tears. The simple melodies were all my soul needed to finally breathe, to finally let go, to finally release. I stopped working and just sat and listened as the music filled the room and filled my heart. Who knew a simple "Stress Relief" playlist could bring such sweet selah?
It helps me to get out of the house, to be in a place where there are people around and the smell of roasting coffee beans and the white noise of conversations and clanking plates. It helps me to change my surroundings. It helps me to sit at a new table, pull out my Bible and journal, and pour my heart out onto paper. For an hour or so before the real work of my day begins, this helps me. Intentionally making an effort to pause. Intentionally making an effort to praise. Intentionally carving out room and choosing to devote my time to selah.
May the next three months (and the rest of this year) be even more devoted to selah. May I choose to pause and choose to praise, no matter what comes. May I choose to make the Lord the focus of my days, today and every day.
The world around you spins at warp speed. Days fly by like the calendar can't hold them all together. The clock on your wall tick-tick-ticks loud and steady and never pausing in hesitation. It all just keeps moving onward and it's enough to make you want to panic sometimes.
Sweet, sweet soul...breathe. Breathe in slow. Breathe out slow. Inhale, and let all the goodness of this life and all the blessings from your Creator fill up every ounce of your body and your bones. Exhale, and let all the worry and doubt and fear and anxiety leave you. Inhale, and take it all in. Receive. Absorb. Exhale, and whisper words of praise and thankfulness. This is selah. This is what it means to pause and praise.
Sweet, sweet soul...slow down. You weren't created to keep up with the craziness. You weren't built to endlessly run and run and run, frantic and frazzled and weary. Your bones can't handle it, and you know full well that your heart can't either. You need to be still. You need to let the noise fade away. You need to let silence envelop you. You need to let every muscle relax, let every ounce of you stop fighting, let every bone just be.
Sweet, sweet soul...do you feel how refreshing this is? You were knitted together, stitch by stitch in love, by a Creator who knows every little bit of you intimately. He wants what is so perfectly best for you. None of that includes hurry, or worry, or stress, or fear. None of that includes pushing yourself to the brink of breakdown and total exhaustion just because the world is egging you on.
In the best way He could, Jesus showed us we need rest. He, as a human just like you, sweet soul, rested. Time and time again. He got away from the crowds, from the demands, from the work, from the noise...and He rested. He was still. He was silent. He worshipped, prayed, and was still with His Father.
He showed us how badly we need this. We need this stillness, this silence, this slowing down. How refreshing is it all, sweet soul? Can you feel it wash over you, even just the words? Can you feel it all begin to settle? Can you feel your heartbeat calm? Can you feel your breath fill you with peace?
That's Him, dear one. That's the Spirit. That's the peace that we can't understand, coming from the One who knows us and knows our souls so need this. This, all of this, is refreshment. And it's so good. Let it in. Let it wash over you. Carve out time for it, every day. Create space for your soul to breathe and just be.
Sweet, sweet soul...you are beloved. Let that refresh you.
All my love,
This letter is the first of what I know will be many letters written with The Letter Link-Up by Mr. Thomas & Me. Amber's heart for community and authenticity is beautiful and radiant, and every time she has a new idea (like this one), I jump on board instantly. If you're new here through this link-up, welcome! It's great to have you here. I can't wait to get to know you.
2012 was beloved.
2013 was commit.
Do you sense a trend in the last two years? Commit: to do, to carry into action deliberately, entrust. Devote: to commit by a solemn act, to give over to a cause, enterprise or activity. Strong verbs.
But now, it's 2015, and I'm going in a totally different direction.
2015 is selah.
Selah: stop and listen, to pause and praise, to exalt, to lift up.
My prayer for this year is simple: selah. My prayer is that every day, in every season, despite every changing emotion, I would pause and praise. My prayer is that this year would be defined by stillness, rest, reflection, worship. My prayer is that my devotions wouldn't be rushed or hurried or just another thing on my to-do list, but that I would truly stop and listen. My prayer is that I won't be too busy or too hurried or too worried to stop, to pause, to lift up. My prayer is not that I would rely on my own strength, but that I would exalt the strength of the Lord, exalt His glory, exalt His name. My prayer for this year builds on the prayers of the past two years-- I'm committing my year and devoting my year to the pausing and the praising of my Savior, Creator, Redeemer, my Abba.
Last weekend, my church held a soul care retreat for group leaders, and it was a morning of silence and stillness with just me, my Bible, my journal, and my God. If ever I was reminded of how refreshing selah can be, that morning was it. For more than two hours, I didn't say a word, didn't look at my phone, didn't see anyone else, wasn't distracted by anything. For hours, I was able to pause and to praise.
This was what spilled onto the page that morning:
Abba-- may this morning bring selah. May this day be about pausing and bringing you praise. May I be still, be silent, be at peace. May I rest in Your presence and let all chaos settle before You. May I breathe in Your grace and breathe out Your praise. May I reflect on all You've done, putting aside all my to-dos. May You be at my center. May You be at the core. May You be at the forefront and in the spotlight. May all my strivings cease. May You be Christ alone, May You be my Cornerstone. May You be Lord of all. May You invade, disrupt, bring to the light, unsettle, and stir up in me the places where idols reign and You have been replaced by my pride and humanity. May I leave this place today looking more like You in a way that is lasting. May silence be a practice I carry with me. May stillness refresh what is weary within me. May Your goodness overcome all my wretchedness. May You come. Holy Spirit, You are welcome here. Come, flood this place and fill the atmosphere. Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by Your presence, Lord.
May 2015 be full of selah.
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