How it came to be……
At the close of 2009 I was feeling that God was nudging me toward something different. I felt it, yet I could not name it. I have always said God sometimes has to yell at me to get my attention. The more I tried to ignore the feeling, the more insistent God became. Little did I know where I was headed.
The holidays were upon me. While I have always loved Christmas, I have never been particularly enchanted with New Years Eve or with making resolutions. I think this stems from New Years focusing so much on the passage of time, and too much on what is wrong that needs a resolution to fix it. I don’t mind time passing, celebrating birthdays, or even making a commitment and then working hard to achieve it, but overall, I live very much in the present and enjoy my life with great enthusiasm. In actuality, I have a very simplistic view of life, and of God. I believe in doing good and being good; that God loves me and wants me to be happy. I even believe He sends me smiles, quite often, in the way of animals, nature, and the timing of little things. In fact, I have found that God has quite a sense of humor, which shows when He really wants to get my attention. For example, one night (of many) after I had been at the emergency room almost all night long with my Mother, I was driving home along our curvy, country road extremely tired, worried, and lonely. I was asking God to hold me tight and make me strong to help my Mom, and my Dad. The radio began playing a song by Rascal Flatts called “Stand”. I had never heard it before, but I knew God had sent it to me at that moment. Here are the beginning lyrics to “Stand”:
“You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless
Like you’ve lost your fight
But you’ll be alright, you’ll be alright
Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you’re made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause its all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you’ve had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you Stand, Then you stand.”
The tears flowed along with the “thank you, Lords” for most of the way home. Then, in the last curve just before my neighborhood there was an alligator waddling across the road. It was as if God said enough with the crying, now laughter! You see, God knows that in our household we have been staunch University of Florida Gator supporters for generations! So, now I am crying and laughing, and saying “I hear you, Lord! Thank you!” In my simplistic view of faith, and God, there is no other answer for how that song, and an alligator, intruded my life at those exact predawn moments! God sent them! Period!
Another time, I was alone with my Mom in a care facility. The going was rough, as she was hallucinating due to an infection. She was relating terrible things she thought she had witnessed during the night and it was greatly disturbing her, and me! I finally calmed her, but I was almost in tears, and so I just sat down next to her bed by the big window. Outside the window was a hedge. A white cattle egret was walking along the top of it scavenging for bugs. He came to where I was sitting, stopped, turned and faced me. We were literally almost nose to nose. He looked at me and I looked at him. I burst out laughing and I knew right then that God was saying to me that everything was okay, and that He was watching over me.
In my simple view of life, I also know that I can not change what was, and that, while I can prepare myself for my best future, worrying about the future serves no purpose except to create stress. There is enough stress in the present without increasing it with the unknown of the future! I trust God to work out everything in the best way possible for all concerned, even when I don’t like a particular situation or find it hard to cope with. Especially then! In particular, I don’t like goodbyes, especially ones that are forever, and ones that leave you with a throbbing ache or anxiousness in your heart. The day I had to say goodbye to my beautiful Mother as she lay in a hospital bed dying, and the day I had to hug and then leave each of my three children away at college are examples of those types of goodbyes. I can still physically feel each one of those hugs. They are a part of me. I believe they are now etched into my soul.
My Facebook profile page states that I am in love with life! It says that I also love beautiful art, the sound of fingers sliding across guitar strings, lyrics that make my heart sing, smile, cry, etc., along with old movies, and that in my next life I want to dance! These are all true insights I chose to post in order to help my friends know a little more about me. However, a more important insight is the fact that often my status update or post is a spiritual thought or quote, or a post to make others smile, laugh, or just feel good about themselves. It makes my heart feel good to do so.
For a long time my usual morning routine has been to spend time reading in certain devotional materials and writing in my prayer journal, which I affectionately call my “Book of Answered Prayer”. Over years of writing in it I discovered that my prayers were always answered. They were not always answered in the way I expected, but the proof was right in front of me. Over time every issue or request was either resolved or answered. God was showing me His hand at work in my life and in the lives of my loved ones. As a result, I have come to know He truly loves me. I have learned to trust in His outcomes and to have faith in His timing.
As the holidays came to a close and 2010 was starting, God was still nudging (yelling at) me, and I knew I must try to figure out where God was leading me. I thought the best place to start would be in prayer. One of my favorite daily devotionals that I read in without fail is “God Calling”, edited by A. J.Russell. The January 1st entry in God Calling reads as follows: “I stand between the years. The light of My Presence is flung across the year to come … over the past year, is My Shadow thrown.” It goes on to say, “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.” The January 2nd entry reads: “You are to help to save others. Never let one day pass when you have not reached out an arm of Love to someone outside your home – a note, a letter, a visit, help in some way… Be full of joy. Joy saves. Joy cures. Joy in Me… How many burdens can you lighten this year? How many hearts can you cheer? How many souls can you help? … And in giving you gain: “Good measure, pressed down and running over. I your Lord have said it.”
The knowledge that God was holding the year ahead in trust for me, and that He would supply the wisdom and the strength each day, gave me the courage I needed to go forward. There was also the sense that I would need courage, because I felt God was asking me to step outside my comfort zone in order to share my trust and faith in Him with others in a new way.
Dave Ramsey is a well-known Christian based financial advisor. One of his public posts on Facebook suggested coming up with a mission statement for the year using not only your financial goals, but also your personal and spiritual goals. Following his suggestions for brainstorming I came up with my 2010 Mission Statement: To add stillness to my prayer time becoming more infused with God, that I may heed His voice to live according to His plan within my financial means; to share His love for all through my joyful spirit; and to use my creative talents to reflect His Glory. I realized that when I pray, I do all the ‘talking’, even when I write in my prayer journal. If I really wanted to know where God was leading me, I needed to be still and listen. When I ask God to lead me to ‘what is mine to do’, I need to wait for an answer!
Stillness is something that has always come hard for me. I am a person who is always busy, always on the go, and I do everything fast. My joy in life is always pulsing through me, in much the same way as background music playing. Being still and quieting my inner voice was going to be a very difficult and different experience for me. If only I knew the challenges and rewards that awaited me!
Determined to try, on January 4, 2010, I began my new journey. I read my usual devotionals, which included a prayer confirming my faith, asking Jesus to help me be the person He wanted me to be, and thanking him for forgiveness of my sins. Next I read the January 4thexcerpts in “Daily Word” and in “God Calling”, and then I wrote in my prayer journal. The last part of my daily prayer routine had consisted of reading in an inspirational book which inspired me and helped me grow spiritually. As I finish each book, I always had another one waiting. An example of this type of book would be “The Divine Embrace” by Ken Gire. My plan for this new year was to then add stillness, to sit silently and still before my God.
At this particular time the inspirational book I was reading in was “Divine Mercy in My Soul, The Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska”. This is important to note because Jesus appears to, talks to, and permeates Saint Faustina’s entire being with His tender love and mercy. At first, when my time in The Stillness began, I thought I was just visualizing myself in a similar situation. And, while I felt inspired from the very first time to write down what happened in a separate journal, I thought it couldn’t possibly be real. I felt that I had to be creating these thoughts and messages because I wanted to hear them. As I continued to go into The Stillness, I began to realize there were instances where I would write about something in The Stillness Journal and then read about the same or similar thing a day or two later, or even longer, in her diary. There was no possible way I could have made up these things ahead of time. This was especially true concerning The Holy Trinity. It disturbed me enough that I notated the date read in the margin of the book and cross referenced the dates I had written about it in the journal. The Holy Trinity’s relationship to The Sign of The Cross was the main message I felt He wanted me to write down in my journal, and so I did. I began to trust more in His leading, yet still could not wrap my brain around the fact that He would choose me. I felt so unworthy of His confidence and trust in me, and yet, time and time again the message would be to tell me why I could, should, and would do as He bid! He told me in no uncertain terms that I was His daughter and humbled me by asking what daughter would not speak on behalf of her Father.
His daughter is how I have come to view myself and my relationship with God throughout my journey into The Stillness. I am a daughter listening to the advise, praise, admonition, love, and longings of her father and wanting nothing more than to carry out His wishes, and to keep a record of it in order that I might remember it always. Whether or not you or I believe that it is really a direct or indirect communication with God, there is honesty, hope, fear, and longing in the written record. I have come to the difficult conclusion that I can do nothing less than share the full content of my Stillness Journal. Even after being admonished several times by Him about my vanity, I still found it very hard to share publicly my most private communications with Him. By humbling myself, and putting Him first, I began to feel less anxious about it. I shared a few things with friends and coworkers, and then He led me to the point where I knew He wanted me to post The Stillness Journal on Facebook. Remember how at the start of 2010 I felt I was going to need courage to step outside of my comfort zone! When I realized what He was asking of me, I was taken aback. I thought I could just share the things I wanted to share and with those I wanted to share it with. Not so, not so! I was (am) to share all of it with everyone!
The very next day, I set up the Facebook page and sent an invitation to follow along on my (private) journey to my entire friend list. Very quickly I had many of my friends following along. At first, I felt awkward about it, and expressed it. Several friends sent me messages immediately telling me how great it was, and that they were looking forward to more. God had led me to them; and them to Him! How great He is! , I felt led to take another big step outside my comfort zone with Martha’s Orbit website, and Martha’s Orbital Buzz blog. And so I began a journey into the vast Stillness of Spiritual Orbit! I began personally writing motivational spiritual content to post publicly, often including excerpts from my Stillness journal.
At this point in my journey, I am totally humbled. To say I am totally at ease with all of it would be a lie. Actually, I am in Awe, and I am fearful. I want to get it right for Him. It is my prayer that in sharing my own personal journey, as He has requested, it may serve to awaken in the hearts of many, a longing to be Still. Overwhelmingly, the common thread throughout my journey is a message of faith and joy, which presumes a Father with whom we can communicate in a very simple way, if we but open our spirit and enter into The Stillness.
Here is my personal method of entering into The Stillness:
To help myself enter I breathe slowly and deeply, and then I imagine this conversation:
“Are you there, Lord?” “Yes, Martha, I am here. Remember? I am always here, for I am in you and you are in Me.”
“Yes, Lord, I remember. I am in you, and You are in me.” “Well, then, Martha, be still. Know that I am God.”
“Yes, Lord, I will be still, for you are God… Here I bow my head low, and envision Jesus placing His hands in blessing upon my head.
The entire 1st year of my journal can be accessed here at the top by hovering over Journey Through The Stillness to show a drop down menu. You will then see a list of pages organized by month and year, beginning at the start of my journey in January, 2010.
Enjoy and God Bless!