Welcome to my blog...

Green trees, cool water, a gentle breeze...the perfect place to sit at the feet of the Master and learn. Jesus taught so often on the shoreline, and He's still speaking today.

This is where I share the lessons He teaches me, often during the time I spend on the shores of a local lake. I don't have all the answers...and some days I don't have any. But I go here when I need to draw near to Him in a tangible way. Come with me...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Oxymoron of Me - The Wild, Quiet Life

I tend to live life at 100 mph.  Always doing, always thinking, always connecting people one with another.  I work a full time job, head a ministry that could easily be a full time job, and have spent a lot of time lately with my 22 year old son who's been going through some tough stuff the past 6 months.

On top of all those things vying for my time, I'm on the church praise team, lead a monthly women's prayer group, and I try to stay in touch with many friends through emails, cards, and trips to the diner for a cup of coffee.

And then there are my interests and passions.  Writing, singing, reading, biking, walking, the theater, and most recently some very amateur photography.

I'm very lucky in that while I'll never become wealthy doing my job, it has wonderful perks which allow me access to local theaters, Broadway, concerts, theme parks, ball parks, restaurants and more...all at no cost.  A friend once joked that I live a wild life of constant entertainment.  That might be a tad overstated, but I am fortunate to have many cultural outlets.

Recently though, I've slowed down.  I've taken my foot entirely off the gas pedal.  I've begun to coast.  Part of it might be attributable to the very early spring here in New Jersey.  Beautiful, sunny weather with temps in the 60's, 70's and even 80's last month made day after day a wonder to behold.  And behold I have.  Where normally I'm one to look at the trees and wonder when they'd gone from bare to full bloom, I'm now outside each day seeing the subtlety of change.

Buds tightly closed one day, are cracked open the next.  A day or two later I see the flowers begin to unfurl.  Like watching time elapsed photography, I'm aware of trees, shrubs, plants and flowers slowly and beautifully coming back to life.  Bursts of color...yellow, red, pink, green,  purple, white...a veritable rainbow of hues cover the landscape.

And then there are the walks along the shore of my lake.  Spectacular sunsets compete each evening for "best in show".  Golden sunsets shimmer over the ripples of water.  Trees are highlighted against skies painted with such exquisite intensity it's as if they're on fire.  Even the moon, stars and other planets like Venus and Jupiter have put on an amazing display night after night.

So what's the problem?  Well, I find myself in uncharted territory.  While I've slowed down before, for a day, a weekend, maybe on rare occasion even for a week's vacation, this has lasted for months.  My soul longs to be outside and commune with God's creation.  I rush to the park after work to catch enough light to take the 3 and a half mile walk through some of the woods and fields near the marina.

 I've been setting aside all else so that I can quiet my heart, extend my hand, and let God lead me in the dance.  It's as if I can't absorb enough of the sights, sounds, and smells that surround me outdoors.  I try to log each one somewhere in my mind, tucking it away.  Hiding the experiences in my heart.  It almost scares me.  Why this sudden push to soak in the beauty and stillness of my surroundings?  Why the hesitation to take on all those responsibilities that used to consume my day?  Am I subconsciously aware that there will come a time when I can no longer indulge my senses in this way?  Will there come a time when things are so hard I will need to dig deep to remember this closeness to my Creator?  I don't know, but I'm fighting the part of me that feels guilty for stepping off the treadmill and just standing in awe at all that's around me.

After all, doesn't Psalm 46:10 say  "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth?" (NIV) And Psalm 23: 1-3 remind us "The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me  lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.  (emphasis mine) He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake."(NIV).  So why should I feel bad?  I also think about Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 which says: "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace."

I can't stay in this place forever.  I need to get back to family needs, ministry tasks, day to day obligations.  But I have come to believe that this is a God-given season of refreshing.  An extended downtime when He and I can walk together and I can simply drink in all He has to show me and reflect on it.  He has created a world for me to enjoy and I am being obedient when I take the time to do that. When I once again have to pick up the pace, I pray I can find balance.  Rest stops along the highway.  Or better yet, instead of going only 0 or 100 mph, cruising more consistently at a manageable 50.

I generally wrap up my posts with some conclusion, some 'insightful' thought,or lesson learned, but today I feel like I'm just wondering out loud.  It's been such a strange time for me.  I'd love to hear about any similar experience you might have had.  What have YOU learned from it? 


  1. I relate. This whole year of jobless wandering has had me coasting along, trying to cling to the beauty. Clinging to the rose among the thorns. Our times are in His hands, great id His Faithfulness. Let's just enjoy being in awe of Him, letting him lead us, squeeze us and mold us, shall we? Hope your son is doing well...In His Grace, Dawn

    1. Dawn - I actually said outloud the other day "God, can you just find me someone who can support me so I don't have to work a 9-5? Then you and I could spend this luxurious time together every day!" I don't think that's going to happen, but I am enjoying this for now :) My son was doing better but we've hit some bumps in the road the past 2 weeks - it's a process and prayer is always appreciated :)

  2. Been wanting to comment on this post, but circumstances beyond my control have kept me from doing so.

    You may remember my story, Toni, from several Aprils back (2008, to be exact). When I wound up in the ER and didn't remember how I got there? Lost 3 weeks worth of memory? At the time, I was completely submerged in busyness -- at church (#1), at work, at my children's schools. You name it, if a warm, moving body was needed, I was there. I'd forgotten how to say the word 'NO.' The docs were all truly befuddled as to what actually had happened to me. I'm convinced it was completely God who stopped me dead (almost literally) in my tracks, forcing me to BE STILL AND KNOW that HE WAS AND IS God. Lesson learned -- ask God FIRST before giving someone an answer about something, especially if it is involving a huge chunk of your time and your life. AND -- be sure to WAIT and LISTEN for His answer to you.

    As a newbie retiree, I'm enjoying life at a much slower pace, and I've found that God can and DOES provide ways for me to minister to others that don't have me running over the human speed limit and in a million different directions. Enjoy those precious, precious times with Him, Toni. Times of sometimes doing nothing but walking and talking with Him in the 'garden' (or in your case, the lakeside!). You may not, as you stated, be able to stay in that place with Him forever -- but you can return to it often. It's the very best place to be, my PSF!!!! <3 <3 <3

    BTW, the pics in this post are BEAUTIFUL!!!!!

    1. I do remember you telling me that story Pam -as you warned me to slow down :) Thank you for your words of wisdom and encouragement. I am enjoying this time to the full for sure. I'm storing these times up and meditating on them in my heart...and it feels wonderful :) Thanks for the compliment on the pics...God is an awesome artist!

  3. Toni your mention of Ecclesiastes1-8 Happens to be one of my favorites. For God has a purpose for all of us to learn. We all have gifts that he has choosen for each of us to use according to his purpose. Yes Just like Pam said sometimes he will stop us in our tracks our take our feet off the peddles. I am learning that it's the quality of time that we put into God and Not The quainity. We can think we are doing alot, but if it's not for good intent, or done half heartedly why even do it at all. So I guess what I'm trying to share through my eyes and Heart is when you get to your lakeside it's right where God wants you to be. If he calls you to wear many hats and you can do them all for his glory go for it Sister. Just remember you are beautiful, so take the time to stop and smell the beauty around you! Love you for your heart your amazing!!

    1. Thanks for the encouragement MaryElla. Yes, I do believe he has called me to be apart for awhile. That he's filling my heart and soul with a deeper love for Him than I've experienced before. Not sure why we fear what is so good sometimes. Almost as if we don't think it is deserved so we shouldn't enjoy it. Love you to sweets :)