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June 2017

Courageous

Hello and Welcome!

I am so thankful for the privilege of sharing encouragement with you through this blog. Today's post presents a focus on the tremendous courage that we display to others as we live through the difficulties and troubles that manifest in our life. And, this post is a tribute to my dear friend, Chris, who is now with the Lord.

In the last few weeks, I have either witnessed or learned of women who have deliberately chosen courage and perseverance over despair and hopelessness.  All too often it seems we are faced with situations that cause us to have to choose one of those paths. As a few of you know, we sent our dear friend, Chris, on her way to be with Jesus. Chris was a warrior and faced the battle with cancer as any warrior would—fiercely steadfast in her faith in God and His sovereign purpose for her life. At Chris’ memorial service, her pink ribbon sister, Colleen, spoke with admiration of Chris. And, Colleen shared she is continuing to fight on behalf of Chris determined to defeat her own cancer. This is a woman who, in all likelihood, knew no one else at the service and determined to courageously share.

Courage 1You know women who are facing overwhelming circumstances or changes in their life and we can’t help but be affected. Too often we may feel inadequate to provide the words, the hope, or any other measure of comfort that we know is so obviously needed. Women are caregivers and it’s in our nature to want to make whole the brokenness, heal the wounded heart, and soothe the discomfort. But deep down we see how inadequate our resources are and we know what we offer isn’t sufficient to mend, let alone heal.

As a nurse, I know I can’t put a band-aid on a physical wound and expect healing to occur if I haven’t addressed the skin infection. In the same way, I know what I have to offer those who are hurting is no better than a band-aid—it touches the surface but it can’t impact the deep sadness and loss. It sounds arrogant and even prideful that I want to be the source of comfort for those hurting but that’s why I became a nurse—to impact, in whatever way I can, the health of those God brings across my path. So, I feel that frustration within, and I ask God, “What can I do?”.

Prayer 1I “do” what God expects me to do. Pray. And pray more. I lay before Him the names of those hearts that on my own and I ask God to provide what only He can. I earnestly believe He sees each one of us and He knows us as no one else does and I believe He is able to comfort, heal, provide a miracle and more for His precious children. While I’m sad that my prayer list grows as I add one more name after another, I’m thankful that not one of those women (and men) are unknown to God. We must never forget prayer is a powerful action fueled by your belief in God’s ability to provide according to His will.

During an incredibly challenging time in my life, the words Paul wrote in Philippians 1:19-20 (NLT) became very dear to me and continue to be a source of strength.

For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance. For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. For to me, living means living for Christ and dying is even better.

Do you sense the power of this statement and prayer from Paul? Here is the phrase that impacts me the most, “I will never be ashamed”. Paul was referring to his imprisonment but that prison couldn’t contain Paul’s impact as he continued to share and model Christ. Colleen, Deb, Lysa, Kelly, David, Scott—these people, like Paul, live without shame because they live to honor Christ in the face of the challenges. As for Chris, her life continues to bring honor to Christ and she left behind a model of courage. I think Proverbs 31:31 best states the life of Chris, “Give her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” (If you knew her, I’m certain you agree!)

Courage 2I end this post with two power encouragement points:

First, when you feel inadequate to offer what is needed by those we love, your prayer is a powerful act that makes you a co-warrior with those who are courageously facing their challenges.

Second, your faith in God and your trust in His plan for your life models courage to those who watch as you walk through your challenges and difficulty. You don’t have to “do” courageous. It will show as you trust God as your Strength and Jesus as your Savior.

Thank you so much for reading. If you would like to receive the blog posts on a regular basis, please scroll to the top of the page and in the right sidebar you can subscribe. Once you subscribe you'll receive a confirmation notice from Feedblitz. Please post your comments to the blog as I love to hear from you! Or, you can email me at heartsencouragedministry@gmail.com.  Fondly, Terri


Sacred Space Within You and Around You

Hello and Welcome!

In my last post on Meditative Gardens I shared the idea of sacred space as a physical space and as an internal state. Today's post shares in depth why sacred space is an important aspect as you spend time with God. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome! 

Sacred space is the term I use to define the three-dimensional realm where God meets with you and me. Sacred is defined as something that is consecrated, holy and the term space refers to that within me and around me. Sacred space can be established as a physical setting, as a state of mind, and within our heart. It’s probably not hard to image establishing a physical setting as a sacred space but what about the creation of sacred space within one’s heart and mind? Think about sacred space within yourself as an act of worship where you center your heart and mind on God for receptivity to His presence and message. You set all other things aside in heart and mind through separation from distraction, centering your focus on the Lord, and humbling yourself as you ask the Lord to meet you. Let’s look at two Biblical examples related to the concept of sacred space—Moses and Jesus.

Desert In the book of Exodus, you will find references to two tents of meeting. The Tent of Meeting, also known as the Tabernacle, was in the middle of camp and contained, among other items, the Ark of the Covenant. The Tabernacle was where God met with His people and within it the priest performed their assigned holy tasks. The second tent of meeting is described in Exodus 33:7-11. Here we find that Moses set up a tent some distance away outside the Israelite camp. Moses would enter this tent to inquire of the Lord and this was the physical space where he met with God separating himself from the buzz and busyness of the camp. While in the tent, Moses would probably assume a posture of humbleness, bowing low or kneeling with his face to the ground to reframe his view of himself. Though he was the leader of the Israelites, he was a servant before God.

The second example of a physical setting established as sacred space is found in Luke 22:39-46. Jesus takes his disciples to the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives, specifically to the garden of Gethsemane. In verse 39 of the NIV, it states that Jesus went, as usual, to the Mount of Olives. The phrase as usual caused me to wonder what drew Jesus to that space. Was it a place of solitude? Did it remind him of the garden, a sacred space, his Father established in Eden? Because of my own love of nature, I can easily grasp how the garden of Gethsemane may have represented a sacred space for Jesus to meet with the Father. In the same way, Moses separated himself from the camp, Jesus removed himself from the disciples so he could establish a sacred space and come before his Father. Both set their focus on God and humbled themselves before Him.  Tulip pathWhile the physical aspect of sacred space is important it can be irrelevant if there has not been adequate preparation of our heart and mind. Why is this preparation significant? It’s because my heart, your heart has replaced the former temple. In 1 Corinthians 3:17, the apostle Paul reminds us that we are the temple of God. As a believer saved by Jesus Christ, your body is now a temple for the Holy Spirit. You have become the Tabernacle—the dwelling place of God. The former Tabernacle of the Old Testament has been replaced and now God meets within your heart and soul. Take a moment and let that truth sink in. Have you ever thought of your heart as a tent of meeting or as the garden—the sacred space within?

Preparing your heart as an internal sacred space requires intentionality and dedication.  Separation, focus, and humbleness are among the key elements. As you come before God, dedicate and consecrate your heart and mind to Him alone, and choose to be fully present without pretense. Next, you should come in authenticity. Come just as you are before God with sin and weaknesses. You are offering yourself to God with an open, surrendered heart along with a thoughtful, curious, and reverent state of mind. You come without an agenda, making your heart and mind, ears and eyes sensitive to perceiving God’s voice. As you develop your practice of entering sacred space, you will find a rhythm and a desire to return to your “tent of meeting”. God delights in you and wants you to experience His presence.

I encourage you to give the following questions serious thought. What if you could live so that you enter each day expecting surprises, refusing to follow the easiest route, letting go of control, and laughing at the future? What if you choose to be receptive to God’s prompts and direction without having all the details or any details? The questions are important. God ordained all the days of your life. He knows every day you will live (Psalm 139:16). Who better to guide you, direct you, give strength in your weakness, and sustain your hope? How will you receive all this and more? It is within sacred space. Personally, I love to think of my heart as a garden. Genesis says God met with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and I call that the very first sacred space! As God met with them so He meets with me in the garden of my heart. God and I together have worked the garden of my heart, removing the thorns, tangles, and dead things. God has and continues to bring healing and His love grows the fruit of the Spirit within me.


Icon Hearts Encouraged

Designating Fixed Sacred Space

Selecting a fixed physical location for sacred space depends on what you want to do in that space. Here are some things to think about as you plan.

  • Is the space just for you or may others in your life use it too?
  • Do you want the space to be readily visible as a reminder or do you want it to be private?
  • Will you bring the items you need to the sacred space each time you go there, or do you want the space set up so you pop in and everything you need is already present?
  • If the space is for prayer and meditation and your house is never quiet, then you may want to consider creating a quiet zone or quiet time. If that’s impossible, then what about a space in your garden, sitting in your car, or a walk-in closet. What about noise-cancelling headphones? Sound crazy? Not when you consider the benefits you will experience by setting yourself apart to be in the presence of God. Don’t stop at the first or second roadblock. This is important.
  • If the space is for worship, do you need space to move around? Do you care if anyone hears you worship?
  • Some Don’ts:  don’t let your sacred space be a distraction; don’t clutter, simplify; don’t forget your focus: God.

Examples of Simple Sacred Spaces Inside and Outside

  Sacred Space 2Meditative garden 6 edit Bench
Creating Flexible Sacred Space

Anywhere, anytime is the key to flexible sacred space.

Maybe there isn’t any one place or any specific time that you can designate as sacred space. The maybes are endless. No problem. Select a container, fill it with the items you need for prayer, worship, or communion with God. Grab and go.

Sacred space can be created within you in spite of not having a dedicated physical space for meeting with God. You are sacred to God and He dwells within you. The act of stopping activity, separating yourself from distraction, and deliberately, authentically presenting yourself to God creates a sacred space. Following are a couple ideas of when or where sacred space can happen. For instance, at work I have to park in a multi-story parking garage. I take a few moments before exiting my car to be with God in that quiet space. Another example is the elevator at work. I have capitalized on alone time in the elevator as a moment to come before God with thanksgiving, gratitude, or requests for help during my day. You might be amazed at those unique moments where you find yourself alone in the busiest of environments. Speak to God aloud or in your mind and intentionally dedicate the moment being fully present to engage with the Lord. Hopefully these example shows you how you can get creative with sacred space! 

Let me know how you create sacred space within and around you! I'm certain you have wonderful ideas and you may inspire another reader. If you're not already a subscriber just click on the "Subscribe" button  in the right sidebar and Feedblitz will send you an confirmation. Make sure you confirm your subscription and then you'll automatically receive the posts. 

Blessings to you!  Terri