Valerie’s Thoughts

I was thinking about the idea of a “thread.” For me, this means the themes in my life that I keep coming back to even when I go away from them for a while.

An example is that years ago, I was in a season where I could not do much music for a variety of reasons too long to go into here. Yet, that was the time when I did a lot of reading on “how to write.” My English teacher senior year in High School made us write a five page paper on a regular basis. It was hard and a great discipline. It is interesting to me that during the “writing/non-music time,” I also discovered Renovare. Here I am, decades later, during both music and writing, the latter of which is heavily tied into Renovare.

I share all this as it might be instructive sometime if you are feeling “at loose ends” to reflect on some of the things that you did for a period of time in childhood, your teen years, young adulthood, that seemed to be “island activities,” that is, things you did for a summer job or while recuperating from a broken leg. Things that didn’t really seem, at the time, connected to what you were doing with the rest of your life.

Were they enjoyable? Are they something you would like to pick up again now? How might you do that?

Yana, Nigeria – A Muslim man’s frustrated desire to marry a young Christian woman resulted in him accusing her of “blasphemy,” and led to violence on February 2. One person was left dead, seven Christians hospitalized and five churches were destroyed.

The Rev. Garba Gaius, pastor of the congregation to which the young woman belongs, told Compass that the young Christian, Paitence Yusuf, was at home the night of February 1 when a young man asked her to meet him outside. After they had gone outside he told her he wanted to befriend and marry her. Yusuf sharply declined, Rev. Gaius said. As she walked back into her house, the man, whose identity has not been disclosed, told her, “I beg you in the name of God and his apostle, Muhammad, to please accept me as your boyfriend,” Rev. Gaius said. He said Yusuf looked the man in the face and replied, “You are pleading in the name of a person I do not know. Jesus I know, but Muhammad I do not know.” The Muslim man left, Rev. Gaius said, gathering friends and neighbors that night to tell them that Yusuf had blasphemed Muhammad.

“…to live calmly in the middle of chaos, productively in an arena of waste, lovingly in a maelstrom of individuality, and gently in a world full of violence.”

Joan Chittister

It’s been a while since I’ve written. There was a lot going on this summer with my younger daughter becoming engaged and a fun but unexpected week in the Tetons and Yellowstone with her and her fiance. It’s been a season of a lot of good things but sometimes feeling like there are too many good things happening all at once! The fall program season has started at church and I’m feeling a bit “down” about all of that as I’m not mentally ready for all that that entails. This morning, when I woke up, it was overcast (a bit unusual for Colorado which has 300 sunny days a year) and rain was blowing from the clouds. As I walked out to get the newspaper, there was a rainbow in the west. (That is also unusual since the majority of our rainstorms are in the afternoon, rainbows usually are seen in the east.) It was a good reminder to me from God that there are bigger things to think about than all the details and current frustrations of life. It was like a morning postcard from God saying: “I am bigger than all of this. Keep your eyes focused up, not down.” Thank you, God.

In Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s book, “Gift from the Sea,” she writes: “We seem so frightened today of being alone that we never let it happen. Even if family, friends and movies should fail, there is still the radio or television to fill up the void. Women, who used to complain of loneliness, need never be alone any more. We can do our housework with soap-opera heroes at our side. Even day-dreaming was more creative than this: it demanded something of oneself and it fed the inner life. Now, instead of planting our own dream blossoms, we choke the space with continuous music, chatter and companionship to which we do not even listen. It is simply there to fill the vacuum. When the noise stops there is no inner music to take its place. We must re-learn to be alone.”

This struck me as being an important concept not only for us adults but for our children. If our children don’t know how to plant their “own dream blossoms,” how will they ever have time to develop their own “inner music”? How will they ultimately ever know what the deepest desires of their hearts are? How will they ever handle times when they are truly alone and have no external distraction to fill the void?

We must as adults take time to be silent and alone: no music, no TV, no external distractions so that we can hear our hearts speak to us. And we must raise our children with regular times of being alone so that they can grow up to hear their hearts, which is the space in which God often speaks. Constant noise is being used successfully by the Enemy of our souls to keep us from being able to hear God and that subtle strategy is working very well, especially with our children.

A way to begin practicing this with your children: when they come home from school, after they have talked with you, had a snack, decompressed a bit, insist on a half hour of alone time either in their room or outside. No IPods, no conversation, just alone time to process their day, their dreams, their lives. It could also happen after dinner, depending on your family’s schedule.

Or when in the car, insist that some of the time, especially on longer trips, be quiet time: no music, no reading, no conversation. Let everyone have a bit of non-distracted quiet space. At first, it may be very hard for both the children and the adults to encounter this. (A good way to discern if you are addicted to noise is to ride silently in a car for 30 minutes and see what your response is!)

We must be intentional about this in our lives and in giving this gift of alone time in silence to our children as often as possible. It gives us a chance to hear God speaking to and through our hearts deepest places. Our very lives and souls could be at stake.

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