Journey Into Lent

800px-Sun_and_Clouds_001  Lent is a very special time for introspection and analysis of our spiritual habits and relationships. It can be a most profound journey into the depths of our soul if we allow ourselves to be focused and determined.  Getting started can often be the hardest step, yet we can simply start by asking Jesus to show us where we need to make changes, or what in our character needs fine tuning. Then, if we sit in the silence and listen with an open mind (and soul), He will show us. It might not be what we expect or even want to hear, or I t might be what we already knew we would hear. None of that really matters because, regardless, it will be exactly what we need to hear. Big or small, easy or hard, it will be what He wants us to concentrate on throughout our Lenten Journey.
There are far too many areas I struggle with and must work on. At the very root of them all is self. So my own personal desire and goal for Lent is to turn self out in order that I may offer myself completely to Jesus to be used wherever He desires.  To help me work on this, I have created for myself the following list of temptations/sins and alternative reactions and/actions to help guide me in times of temptation.

1.  Pride in looks, clothing, actions, etc.? –  Ask myself why and who it is I am trying to impress?  Any other answer than Jesus is wrong.

2.  Greed or materialism? – Aim for simplicity of life.  Declutter; get rid of something I am hoarding.  Review my alms giving and make sure it is not from excess but rather from the first fruits of my finances.  Jesus must be at the top of my budget.

3.  Gossip or speaking ill of others? – Build that other person up.  My words must be as if Jesus is speaking about that person through my mouth.

4.  Negativity? – Focus on the good all around me and in me.  I must train my eyes to see the good.  I must train my eyes to look for and see Jesus in everyone and everything, even myself.

5.  Self-centeredness? – Put someone else first.  I must give of myself to someone else.  I must follow Jesus’ example of self-sacrifice.

6.  Anxiety (Stress) or Perfectionism? – I must accept something as is.  I must have faith that Jesus is in control.  I must loosen my tight grip on every minute detail and offer it up to Jesus.

7.  Judging others? – Bless them instead.  I must lift others up to the Lord and ask His blessing on them in all things.  I must pray to be humble like Jesus.

8.  Too busy? – Sit at the foot of The Cross.  I must spend time in stillness before God.  I must stay with Him until I no longer feel the world in control, until I am absorbed in Jesus.

These are just some of the many ways I need to work at turning out self this Lent. Change is often difficult and growth can sometimes be painful, yet I know my efforts will be rewarded, for Jesus is ever at my side.
Ask Jesus to show you areas in your own life that need improvement and how you can do so successfully.  Allow Him to be your loving guide this Lent on a more profound journey to the depths of your soul.  Your efforts will certainly be greatly rewarded. He only asks for our effort, not perfection.

Blessings on your Lenten Journey everyone. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

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Oh The Joy To Be Found!

409px-Jesus_Rescuing_a_Lamb_Caught_in_ThornsThe following is from Journey Through The Stillness, my personal spiritual journal:

December 16, 2010 I am looking at my figurine of Jesus The Shepherd with the three sheep, the three sheep I know and love so well.  I am pulled by the “Lost but Found” and saying to Jesus, “Do not let me be lost, Lord.”  I hear Him say, “Remember, Martha, when found your joy is perfected.”  I ask Him to help me in putting Him out there on the website, to not let my pride interfere.  I ask for His help in removing self totally and letting it all be only about Him, that others may see and come to Him through it.  He knows this is hard for me.  He knows I enjoy the writing.  I ask for His strength so that I am not ‘lost’ in myself.  I pray, as always, that I never be separated from Him. 

If you have ever been lost, truly lost spiritually, then you completely understand the statement, “When found, your joy is perfected.”  Webster’s Dictionary defines the word lost as ruined, missing or mislaid, wasted.  I would define lost as being separated from, or cut off from something.  I would define spiritually lost as being separated or cut off from that which is most meaningful or needed to sustain life.  Being spiritually lost means being unable to connect with God.

This materialistic world provides us with a multitude of ways to be lost:  money, success, sex, and drugs to name a few.  Being lost in the world is usually overt.  We may think we are keeping our bad habits, our sinfulness, under wraps but the fact is that there are others who see, who know exactly what we are up to.  We are fooling ourselves if we think otherwise.

Besides the worldly ways, there are also other ways to be truly lost and they all involve the “self”.  We can become so focused on certain aspects of our self-perception that it becomes our reality, our goal, our way of life.  We become lost in it.  It might be our looks, vanity.  It might be our reputation in what others think about us, pride.  Worse yet, we might suffer from vain glory, which is boastful pride.  When we become lost in self, self becomes the most important aspect of our lives.  In our out of focus view of life, we are so focused on our self that we become boorishly selfish and self-centered.  We are blinded by our own light and lose sight of what is truly important: love of God, a humble but healthy love of self, and a respectful caring love of others.

During this season of Lent, I pray that I will be able to set self aside and truly become the person that God wants me to be.  I pray you will also.  Blessings to each of you along your personal faith journey, and remember, “When found, your joy is perfected.”

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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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An Advent Experiment

Columbian Ground Squirrels, Banff National Park, Canada, 2010, taken by Martha Wiggins

Columbian Ground Squirrels, Banff National Park, Canada, 2010, taken by Martha Wiggins

“Turn from evil, and do good; seek peace, and follow after it.”  Psalm 34: 15

In the bustling season of Advent we often get in such a hurry to get things accomplished we don’t really see the other person right in front of or right beside us. They are just part of the crowd that is in our way, slowing us down, trying our patience.  When we do slow down to look at others, are they in a hurry also? Are they impatient with others, maybe even with us?  Do we look at them and just wish they would hurry up and get out of our way? When we really look at them are we really seeing ourselves?

Advent is meant to be a season of Peace rather than all hustle and bustle. Jesus comes to bring Peace to the busy world, but also Peace to each heart.  When we begin to really see others, even ourselves in others, we begin to behave differently. We begin to slow down and take some time to show more respect, more kindness, even love to those all around us. A blanket of Peace begins to spread across the land, and we begin to experience Peace in our own hearts as we prepare the way for all to receive Him when He comes into the world on Christmas morn.

An Advent experiment:  Be the person you want others to be.  Pay close attention though, because it is hard to live up to the standards we often wish to hold others to.  But also see, when we do, others respond accordingly.  Can you smile at EVERY person you come in contact with?  Can you make the others in the cash register line laugh and smile, or make the cashier glad you came through their line?  Be the person you want others to be and watch as they (and you) are transformed!

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A Thankful Heart

 

Interior of Saint Peter's Basilica, Rome, Italy, 2011, taken by Martha Wiggins

Interior of Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy, 2011, taken by Martha Wiggins

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  And be thankful.”  Colossians 3:15

Today’s post is from Journey Through The Stillness (my personal spiritual journal.)  There are some great quotes about thankfulness and joy. I will type them in bold, and hope that you take some time to think about them.  Enjoy!

April 6, 2011Today I come to The Stillness with a thankful heart.  At times I am blindsided by gifts from Him, totally unexpected.  And at times I am so busy analyzing the what, when, where, how, and why that I forget to relax and enjoy.  So today I come in awe and thanksgiving.  Jesus says, “A thankful heart is a joyful heart whose joy is free to fly.  Joy from a thankful heart knows no bounds.  It is unstoppable, freely flowing to all it comes in contact with.  Live in the joy, child.  Do not focus on the doubts, pain, and fears of what was, is, and could be.  Focus on what joy there is in the present moment.  Tell all to train themselves to look for the blessings right in front of them.  They are breathing, they are alive, they are themselves, they exist!  Start simply with that and be joyful.  The rest will fall into place. Live outwardly from a thankful heart.

     That last line says it all!  If we live outwardly from a thankful heart, all else will fall into place.  It won’t take long for our lives to be transformed.  And, it won’t take long for others to be transformed by us!  I am thankful for each one of you…God Bless.

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‘The Being Prayer’

In one of my times of Stillness before God, He gave me what I have come to lovingly call ‘The Being Prayer’. Of the many beautiful and soulful prayers He has given me through the years, it is probably my most favorite.
When I am feeling lost, hurt, unloved; when my nerves are frazzled or my to do list seems insurmountable; when my words to others do not reflect who I want to be; when I am envious, or judgmental; when I am overwhelmed by the world and its’ troubles, by evil and circumstances beyond my control; it is then I kneel and pray my ‘Being Prayer’. It never ceases first to humble me, and then to ground me, to calm my spirit restlessness. I read each line slowly and with intent. As I do, I can literally sense my soul slowly reopening. I begin to feel a deep abiding sense that I am where I belong, in my true home. And yet, I rise confidently ready to venture back into my earthly life in grateful humility and love.

My heart truly hopes and prays this prayer may do the same for you. It is lengthy, but that is part of it’s full circle process. Take your time with each line and let your being join with His.🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

“The Being Prayer”
Here I am, Lord, humbly kneeling before You.
I am here to be with You.
I am because You ARE, because You EXIST.
I am because You GIVE me being; because You breathe the Breath Of LIFE into me.
I am WHAT You give me to be.
I am here because I desire to live wholly and joyfully exactly as You have created me.
I thank You, Holy Father, for my being, for my existence.
I praise and glorify Your Most Holy Name.
For You are God Most High; Jesus Christ, The Son and Savior; and The Holy Spirit, who Lights The Way and guides my steps.
In You only do I live and breathe, do I have Life here on earth.
You live inside this being, created by You; IN, BY, and For LOVE.
There in You patiently wait for that Holy Love to be returned.
Here I am, Lord.
I am here to be with You, to be IN You.
To Adore You, and to Worship You,
God Most High.
You are Creator of all that exists,
Master over all beings,
Lord of the Universe.
Here I am, Lord, your humble and loving being.
Help me to remain Your faithful servant and truthful witness here on this earth until that day You call me home; that day You bring me to live forever in Eternal Love with You.
Amen.
(Martha McDuff Wiggins, 09/24/2020)

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Who Do You Say I Am?

520px-Shield-Trinity-Scutum-Fidei-English-001_svg“But what about you? he asked.  Who do you say I am?”  Mark 8:29

While the Holy season of Lent is often a time of self-discernment, a time of asking ourselves the tough questions about our faith and our relationship with God, right now, the time at hand, is always a perfect time to do so.

Jesus asked His disciples a very simple, yet very tough question, “Who do you say I am?”  When asked by Jesus, this question becomes the single most important question of our life.  Life in eternity hangs in the balance. We each must come to know Him personally as our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who redeemed our individual sins on the Cross of Salvation. We each travel that personal faith journey as led by the Holy Spirit within. No two faith journeys are alike, but all will end at the foot of His Cross.

Before we can come to the above conviction about Jesus, we must first come to know God, The Father. We must first answer the same question posed to the disciples above, but about God. If you don’t know God, then you can’t know Jesus, and you can’t receive the Holy Spirit within to guide you from this life into Life Eternal with the Three of them, The Triune Godhead: God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit.

The following is a 2010 entry from Journey Through The Stillness, my personal spiritual journal.  This particular entry delves into who we are in relation to God.  What does it mean personally when I, or you, say He is God?

September 22, 2010He says, “You say you will be still, for I am God.  You know that I am God, and I AM.  What does this mean?  I am your God; I am the God of all.  What does this mean?”  I feel He is waiting to be answered, but I just sit in thought.  Then I say, “You ARE God.  You are LIFE.  I MUST live in and through You.  I MUST accept myself for WHO I am; a child of God.  I MUST give over to You all that I think, do  and say; ALL that I am.  I MUST accept myself AS I am; the way You created me, in your image and likeness.  I MUST be the person you WILL me to be, a person of love.  You are God.  You are LOVE.  We are united in love, not just You and I, but all of creation.  I MUST live in the unity of love now and forever.  I am created by You for that very purpose.”  He smiles, “Well said, my daughter, now go and live in love.”

Because I was asked, I had to find my answer. Many are never asked. Many never even ask themselves. So I ask you now, “ Who do you say God is?”  If you don’t have an answer, or you struggle putting it into words that form the basic tenet for you life, then now is the perfect time to reflect on and answer this most important question.  Remember, to know Jesus as your Savior, you must know God, His Father, who sent Him to you. If you reflect on WHY God would send His only begotten Son to suffer such a horrible sacrificial death as public crucifixion so that YOU personally would  be redeemed, be pardoned for all of your wretched sins against Him, then you will be on the right path.

Not the What, but the WHY. Who are you to God? Why would He create you, place you here on earth, and want to bring you back to Heaven to live in Eternity? Answer that and you will know WHO He is. If you need some help, begin in the Bible, Book of John, Chapter 1.  Writing down your thoughts as you reflect on these important faith journey questions will help you to form a cohesive bond between you and The Triune Godhead.  It will help you to answer the questions not just in your mind, but to also write these answers on your heart for your soul to read each day.

Even if you already have the all important answers to both questions,  “Who do you say God is”, and “Who do you say Jesus is”, it is always good to take some time to reignite the flame within. It is always good to revisit why you believe as you do, and own your answers.  These two questions are asked every single day in some way.  We must always be prepared to answer Him and then live our answer.

So, Ask, Believe, and Own. Rediscover and be rejuvenated in your faith. Then, go forth to live in His Love!

“When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart,” (Jeremiah 29:13)

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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 just maybe He is waiting for you to be silent so He can speak? He IS waiting. He is waiting for you to not only silence yourself physically, but to also come to Him in spiritual silence. And, He promises He is ever there waiting; waiting for you.

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.

In this world we are barraged with constant noise. If  it is not the clamor and echoes of daily life grinding out its existence, then it is the constant messages and echoes within our own mind. Either might be both good and bad. When the noises are beautiful music or positive self image thoughts, we feel alive and energized to be and become all we can be. When the noises are the grinding sounds of street traffic and the bellowing voices coming through our TVs, or the negative degrading images of our failures, we feel beat up, downtrodden, or frozen in place. Life isn’t living in us. It is something only others live.

In today’s current worldly noise, even positive people find the noise outside to be overwhelming and threatening to their inner peace. If this is so, and it is for me, then we can only imagine what is happening interiorly to those already compromised by this world and it’s never ending onslaught of negative messaging. Spiritual silence becomes an elusive butterfly or even non-existent.

You may wonder how to truly still yourself spiritually. You may have previously tried, failed, and given up. You need to realize it was the world telling you no, not God.  You know how to still your body physically. However, preparing yourself mentally before trying to enter into stillness before God is a must. A few heartfelt prayers, a bit of reading in His Word, or some other devotional material in a quiet place, will set the mood and atmosphere to do so. It will stir the soul’s desire for something more. In that desire you approach God asking Him to be with you in your silence. He is already there, and will make Himself known when invited in. It may be a calmness or serene feeling, it may be a connection or feeling of unity with all of creation, it may be a brighter hopeful outlook, it may be an increase in strength of willpower, it may be an inclination or idea to do a particular thing, it may be just pure silence in an emptiness of all worldly thoughts, it may be a much needed interior rest and respite from all the negativity, it may be a new peace of heart or a feeling of being truly loved. Whatever form the Gift of His Presence takes, you will know you’ve been rewarded for coming to Him in (as I call it) The Stillness.

Please know, it may take a few times, several attempts, before you truly become spiritually silent. He sees your efforts and knows your heart. If sincere He will respond, but He may first test you in your readiness, resolve, and perseverance. Instead of quitting after not being able to turn off your mind and senses, tell Him you will return again because you love Him and desire to be with Him in this new way. Then, prepare yourself and return everyday repeating that desire at the start. He expects nothing more from you. Even if this all you ever do, and you realize no actual feelings or Presence during the time spent each day before Him, you will begin to notice the effects on your relationship with Him. He promises you will feel closer to Him and more easily reach out to Him through all the worldly noise of the day. You will sense, if not feel, Him right there with you. Not that it matters, but I have lived this, so I promise you too. It becomes an undeniably real Presence within you, all because you spent time in silence before Him.

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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Prayer For Those Who Knock, Yet Cannot See

This is one of my most favorite prayers given to me in my “Journey Through The Stillness”… and I paired it with Jesus as I often see Him in The Stillness. It is a prayer much needed in today’s world. 💗🙏🏻

There, but for the grace of God, go I.🙏🏻🙏🏻
Have a blessed day everyone. He loves you dearly.❤️✝️

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In The Shadow Of Grace

Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Canada, 2010 taken by Martha M Wiggins

Icefields Parkway, Banff National Park, Canada, 2010 taken by Martha M Wiggins

Lord, let me walk through this day in the shadow of Your loving Mercy and Forgiveness, yet in the Light of Your Resurrection and Everlasting Joy.
Amen.  (MMW)

When light falls on an object it casts a shadow where the object displaces the light’s rays.  Shadows can be regarded by some as darkness, as evil lurking.  Such would be the case if Satan’s glaring light fell upon you.  Your shadow would become an ugly space to be in, for Satan’s light is false.  It’s glaring brightness attracts and pulls sinners in, taking hold of them until the shadow of death is flung far and wide around them.  They may appear alive and fulfilled, but truly they are just empty shells.  Wherever they cast a shadow others are attracted by their false brightness.  Within their shadow of death evil is most definitely lurking.

The complete antithesis of this shadow of death is the Light that shines forth from Jesus Christ, the Light of Resurrection and Everlasting Joy.  When His Light lands on you the shadow you cast is quite different.  Because we have the Light of Christ our shadows are not filled with darkness, but instead, with divine graces such as love, mercy, forgiveness, charity, and hope.  When others enter within our shadow they find comfort and life rather than sin and death.  For, from those who have the Light of Christ upon them, the shadow that is flung far and wide is the shadow of His Grace.

I pray each of us live in His Light and cast a shadow of His Grace upon all those we meet this day.  And, may God bless all who seek that grace. 🙏🏻

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