Is God Silent In Your Life?

Lake Peyto, Banff National Park, Canada, 2010, taken by Martha Wiggins

Lake Peyto, Banff National Park, Canada, 2010, taken by Martha Wiggins

“He says, Be still, and know that I am God.”

Is God silent in your life?  Did you ever think that just maybe He is waiting for you to be silent?

In the physical realm to be silent is to be without noise.  In the spiritual realm to be silent is also without noise, but with the added dimensions of a longing heart, a listening ear, and an open mind.  It is to be still before God.

A longing heart is a desire, a yearning to know that God is all that He says He is.  It is the driving force to become still before God. (oxymoron I know, but still true.)  It is to the longing heart that He gives Himself completely.

A listening ear is one leaned in to catch every syllable, every voice inflection.  The listening ear is where silence truly begins.  By making ourselves still before God, we are leaned in ready to hear His words for us.  To a listening ear He speaks volumes.

An open mind is a naivete.  It is a willingness to let in all that comes in the silence.  To be open is to welcome.  When we welcome His Spirit by being still before Him, He lovingly comes to us.  It is to the open mind He gives wisdom.

Spiritual silence, therefore, reaps great rewards for all who seek God in the stillness.  God gives us His complete attention, speaks His words for our life, and instills in us His wisdom.  Seek God out.  Find a special place in your home, your church, or out in nature.  Go and sit before Him, but don’t just sit there.  Have a longing heart, a listening ear, and an open mind.  Be still and know that He is God.

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A New Year

holy-spirit_2889073      As this new year opens before me, I remind myself of what was, what is, and hope for what is to be. 

I do not dwell on what was, except to reflect on what in myself is good and true and what in myself needs to be changed.  

In what is, I remind myself that there are many blessings to be savored and to be thankful for right here and now.  I will make a conscientious effort daily to look for and see more good in each present moment.  

In what is to be, I will hold fast to the knowledge that I am a creation of God Almighty. I am alive only by His grace, and I am made to live in eternity with Him by that very same grace. Therefore, I will place my hope and trust only in God, The Father; Jesus, The Son; and The Holy Spirit to whom all glory belongs now and forever!

Have a Happy and Blessed New Year!

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He Holds The Year For You In Trust

“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you’.”  Isaiah 41:13

     A most Happy and Blessed New Year to all! 

“I stand between the years.  The Light of My Presence is flung across the year to come – the radiance of the Sun of Righteousness.  Backward, over the past year, is My Shadow thrown, hiding trouble and sorrow and disappointment. … I hold the year in My Hands – in trust for you.  But I shall guide you one day at a time. … And for each day I shall supply the wisdom and the strength.”  (An excerpt from January 1st in “God Calling”, A.J. Russell)

          For many years the above excerpt from “God Calling” has been my favorite reflection to begin the New Year.  It brings such comfort to know He is in control.  Even so, like many, I have the tendency to want to know the outcome before I begin.  Sometimes I spend so much time ‘getting started’ that I never really begin!  I research, organize, question, and plan.  I want every little detail in place to assure success before I actually begin.  In the August 24th entry from “Journey Through The Stillness”, my personal spiritual journal shared on facebook,  He tells me, “It is that first step that is the hardest.  Remember when you stepped out onto facebook?  Wasn’t I there leading the way?  The first step leads to the next, and so on.” 

The reality is success is never secure.  There are just too many variables outside our control.  Ultimately, we are not in control of anything except our actions, our free will.  We give our best effort, and then hope for the best outcome.  However, if we are honest, sometimes the failures we experience are actually successes, because they lead us to the next step, to the right step, the right plan… the real success.

I tend to tussle with Jesus over this very thing quite often.  I want perfection; He wants action.  Or, I want to be part of the flock when He wants me to lead the flock!  I often say He drags me kicking and screaming to what is good for me.  And while hindsight is 20/20, I know if I was allowed to see all before I began I might run backwards and never realize the good that was in store for me!

I have come to learn He will not ask anything of me He doesn’t already know I can do.  He assures me, if I step out in faith, all I need will be waiting for me.  He understands I want to know all the steps before I take the first one, but this is not His way.  His Way is Trust.  Only after many convincing signs of His will for me to do so, did I begin to share my faith outwardly, through my personal journal on facebook.  It is the same with the website and blog.  I have truly stepped out in faith and trust, and He has met me with everything I need.  Has it been easily done, NO; but able to be done?  YES!

Remember, He holds the year for you in Trust.  Think about this; let it sink in.  Then, unafraid, step out into your New Year in trust.  All you need will be there.  What is waiting there for you?

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Do You Hear The Birds?

“He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, yet the world knew Him not.”  John 1:10

“White noise” such as ambient background music, a low hum, or a high pitch whine, is often piped into offices as a sound neutralizer.  It acts as a barrier to prevent private conversations from being overheard, and to allow employees to focus better by eliminating unwanted sound distractions.  At first the white noise might easily be heard by the employees, but it soon fades into oblivion and they no longer know it is even there.

In reality, our everyday lives are filled with white noise:  TV, radio, traffic sounds, mall music, conversations.  Go a step further and consider that even the thoughts running through our mind are white noise.  With all that noise and all those thoughts processing through our heads at any given moment, it is a wonder that we can truly focus on anything.  But, somehow we do.  We learn to ‘tune out’ what isn’t necessary.  The problem with tuning out things is that we often miss something important.  We might see the bird, but do we hear it singing?

During Advent we might see the Christmas decorations.  We might hear the Christmas Carols, but do we experience their true meaning, their true joy, or does it become just white noise?  Do we focus on our hectic ‘to do’ lists or on the Christmas Season’s inner stirrings of our soul?  When we see the Christ child laying in the manger with the Star shinning brightly above, do we see it as just a symbol or a profound truth?  Has it become just white noise?

If white noise is drowning out the profound truth of Jesus Christ, The Word made flesh, then we need to slow our pace, focus, and pay attention to the inner stirrings of our soul.  We need to listen to actually hear the birds singing, to hear the Spirit speaking to our heart urging us to prepare a room for Him.

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Together In Peace

616px-Fra_Angelico_Adoration“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people.”  Psalm 85:8

     During Christmastime we are often faced with family challenges, family conflicts.  While most families have loving relationships with each other, all is not merry and bright at some family gatherings.  To say the least, this can be quite upsetting for all concerned.  Sometimes the best we can do is to manage the situation from our own perspective.

First, we must realize, and come to terms with, the fact that no one is in our control.  We do not create, nor are we responsible for others’ thoughts, words, or actions.  Again… we are not in control of others.  Once we realize this, the pressure is off.  It is not on us to see that everyone behaves, that everyone has a good time.  We become free to add good vibes to the atmosphere.  We create an aura around our own orbital path that radiates self worth, love, and joy.

Second, in order to create this aura we must go to the One who IS in control.  Spending time in His presence we release the burden of control to Him and seek His help to do so. By centering our orbital path around God, The Father, we feel the weight lifted, we feel loved.  We know that at the very moment our circumstances become embroiled, negative, or unloving, we can turn within to His love.

Advent is a time of preparation, a time of gift giving.  Let us stock up in advance by spending time with Him on gifts of love within ourselves to share with those around us, even those we may find hard to love.  If we feel His Love within, we will radiate His Love outwardly and bring peace to our surroundings.

This Christmas do not let others rob you of His gift of Love for you, and do not be afraid to share His gift through words of Peace, Love, and Joy.  May all your Christmas celebrations be Merry and Bright!

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We Are Prepared to Give…But Are We Prepared To Receive?

616px-Fra_Angelico_AdorationGive, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38

Selfishness is a learned trait usually beginning at a very young age when we have something we want taken from us.   While selfishness is learned, giving is actually an innate quality.  Most of us enjoy giving.  We enjoy the personal rewards reaped from making someone else happy.  It seems then, we are naturally prepared to give, but are we prepared to receive?

One who has developed a selfish, self-centered nature will generally claw and grab for whatever can be gotten.  Their true goal is the gift itself.  On the other hand, one who has nurtured a giving, selfless nature will wait patiently and quietly for rewards.  Their true goal is to savor and enjoy the moment.

There is certainly an art to receiving graciously.  When one receives a gift graciously, the focus is on the giver, not the gift.  The true goal is to make the gift-giver feel good, to feel as if they have greatly pleased the recipient.

Then there is also the selfish giver.  This one seeks only to make him or herself look good for the act of giving, or for the actual gift given,  In stark contrast, there is the selfless giver, who seeks only to bring genuine joy to the recipient.

When selfless givers and receivers get together there is true celebrating for they are actually celebrating each other.  Peace, Love, and Joy abound.  And that is the true spirit of Christmas!

In Jesus, we find the most perfect gift of all.  God Our Father gives His Son to each of us selflessly.  He sends His Son to be Light to the whole world that we might live forever in Eternity with Him.   Are we prepared to receive Him selflessly?  Are we prepared to give ourselves to Him selflessly in return?  How we give to and receive from others, setting their happiness as our true goal, will go a long way in preparing our own hearts for God’s gift.

This Christmas let us each seek to be both a selfless giver and a selfless receiver. May His Peace, Love, and Joy abound for each of you!

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Less Is More

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Peter Wenzel, taken by Martha Wiggins, Vatican Museum, 2012

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Peter Wenzel, taken by Martha Wiggins, Vatican Museum, 2012

“Let all that you do be done in love.”  1 Corinthians 16: 14

While Advent is the season of Peace, Love, and Joy, it is also the season where, just as a fever rises on a thermometer, stress levels can go up and up, and up.  We become overwhelmed with multiple ‘to do’ lists:  gifts to buy, cards to send, the next place to hide the Elf, food to prepare, people to see, and lots more.  Before we know it we are looking for a place to hide, for an escape route.  We don’t know whether we are coming or going.  When we lose our way the true meaning of Christmas, the reason for the season, also gets lost in the fray.

Two popular sayings come to mind.  “Less is more”, and, “If a little is good, a lot is better!”  If we are speaking of dieting, where the less you eat the more you lose, then less IS more.  If you like whip cream, well then, a little is good, but a lot IS better, and less is NOT more!

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus this Advent, we may find that more decorations will not fill a heart lacking love, and more gifts will not prove our love for someone.  However, a heartfelt gift of our self just might.  Even a little time spent sharing ourselves, by making a simple phone call, assisting someone in need, or maybe even helping someone else with their decorations, will not only fill the heart of the recipient, but ours as well.  If a few less decorations means more time spent sharing our love with others, then Less IS more.

Also, taking time to refuel our spirit is essential to being able to accomplish all those things on our ‘to do’ lists.  Spending a little time in prayer with Jesus will prepare our hearts to give more fully and more genuinely.  In doing so, we become filled with His love and a burning desire to share it with all those we come in contact with.  So, if spending a little time with Jesus makes us share love with others more, then… if a little is good, a lot IS better.

Maybe we can each find special ways where cutting back, or doing more, may be the key to experiencing a very productive and memorable Advent.  One with generous hearts focused on and filled with His love.

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When God Gives A Gift

443px-Botticelli_04_Louvre “May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.”  Jude 1:2

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes, in all kinds of packaging.  A beautifully wrapped gift is a joy to open and discover the surprise within.  Just as the gifts come in different styles, so do the recipients, the openers.  Some tantalize the onlookers, and themselves, by slowly untying the bow, carefully undoing the tape at the seams, and gently opening the box.  Others just rip through in a big hurry to get to the contents!

Not all gifts can be opened by pulling off the bow and paper, or by taking out the tissue and looking in the bag.  Not all gifts come packaged!  Something that was lost and is now found, a knowing smile, a good deed rendered, a thoughtful phone call, an answered prayer, or a sacrifice made are all examples of gifts that must be opened in a different way.

Each of these are all directly or indirectly gifts from God, our Creator, who loves to please us, who wants to see us happy.  Such gifts are only seen or noticed when we are paying attention.  When God gives a gift … it must be opened with the heart.  When we open our heart to Him, His gifts to us are endless.  In fact, they are Eternal!

This Advent open your heart and receive your gifts.  You will find many wonderful surprises … if you are paying attention.  God Bless and Merry Christmas!

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Earthly Reminders Of Heavenly Things …Christmas Central

Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy, (Basilica of St. Mary over Minerva) taken by Martha Wiggins, 2011

Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy, (Basilica of St. Mary over Minerva) taken by Martha Wiggins, 2011. Saint Catherine of Siena is buried beneath the altar, and to the left is a statue carved by Michelangelo -Christ Bearing The Cross.

“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit; Seen by the angels; preached among the Gentiles; Believed in throughout the world, taken up into glory.”  1 Timothy 3:16

Most of us fill our houses with the things we like, whether functional or just pleasant to look at.  In doing so we make our home a haven, a place where we feel good.  When we surround ourselves with things that make us feel good we create an atmosphere that nourishes our senses, an atmosphere that reminds us of who were, who we are now, or who we wish to become in the future.

In this same way, many Catholics and Christians surround themselves with images of their faith.  Some even go so far as to say that Catholics actually ‘worship’ statues, which is completely false.  In reality, religious art, figurines, and symbols serve to remind us of our all important relationship with our heavenly creator and His love for us.  I call them ‘earthly reminders of heavenly things’.

Saints were real people who lived and died in faithfully great service to God.  They serve as role models for our lives and can even intercede for us if we call upon them in faithful prayer.  For instance, an image of Jesus The Shepherd with sheep reminds us that we are all part of His flock and should seek to follow Him and His example for our lives.  A statue of Mary can serve to remind us, that as His mother, she is also our spiritual mother to whom we can turn in our time of need, asking her to intercede on our behalf with her Son.  A prayer card with an image of Saint Frances can help us remember to be kind to all of God’s creatures, and we can ask for His help in doing so.  Each image, in its own way, causes us to reflect on what is the most important thing, our relationship with God.  When we surround ourselves with these reminders we create a spiritual atmosphere that is more conducive to living life as we should.

In a similar way, a Creche or Manger scene is often the focal point of our decorations for the Christmas season.  Let’s say it is ‘Christmas Central’ in our home.  Through its figurines of Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus, it tells the Christmas Story of the babe in a manger who came into the World, and was the Light for all mankind.  It serves as a reminder of who we were, who we are, and who we are to become!  All of this in one small setting of figurines; it is our earthly reminder of the One heavenly thing most important in our lives, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.  “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory; The glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.”  John 1:14

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This Little Light Of Mine

Bernini's Holy Spirit at Saint Peter's Basilica

Bernini’s Holy Spirit at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy, 2011

“You are the light of the world.”  Matthew 5:14

Christmas lights are brightly shining.  Everywhere we look there are decorative blinking street lights, store lights, and in our own homes there are tree lights and candle lights.  They have a special glow.  They bring a smile to our face and joy to our hearts.  They light up our life!

When we feel the joy of these beautiful lights, we take on a warm glow.  We smile more, we share more, we love more.  We make those around us feel our joy too!  Each of us in our own unique way is a Christmas light.

God sent His only Son, Jesus, to become the Light of the world.  He is the true gift of Christmas.  If we have prepared our hearts to receive His gift we will become lit from within.  Like the Christmas lights we see everywhere, we will be visible to all.  Our faces will shine brightly with smiles that are bigger and warmer than ever before.  Our hearts will radiate the warmth of our love to all we come in contact with.

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket.  They set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father.”  (Matthew 5:14-17)

Yes, in our own unique way, each of us is a Christmas Light!

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