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Bonnie Gray Christian Blog and Commentary

Bonnie Gray

The Faith Barista

This might sound crazy, but God actually loves to spend time with you.

We often worry about how to spend time with God, struggling with how we can reach him. But, what if it was the other way around?

What if God was the one longing for you -- to let Him into your world -- to explore together what it is that moves your heart and feeds your soul?

If we could only believe it -- really believed it enough to try it -- we'd hear His quiet, soft whispers to you. And me.

You are loved.  Cherished.

You're worth it.  just rest.

God intimately resides deep in our hearts and He longs for us to share our hearts with Him.

lovedandcherishedworthitrest

{Loved -- Whispers of Rest Collection created by RedLetterWords & Me}

Think for a moment. What Jesus once said to believers when the apostle John wrote it down for us. I actually hear Him whispering these words so gently to us today --

 

"Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking.

If you hear my voice and open the door,

I will come into your home and

share a meal with you,

and you with me." Rev.3:20

The door Jesus is standing behind is the doorway to your heart.  And no one can open it except you.

And the home Jesus longs to step into? It's the innermost place where you can just be you. And nothing and no one else.  Where you and I most deeply long for someone to see us. Love us. As is.  To laugh. Cry. Dream. Rest.

To be known.  Isn't that home? makerestyourheartshome

{Rest -- Whispers of Rest Collection}

Sharing a meal with you... what does that mean?  Will you let him into what feeds your soul? What are the things you like to do -- and the things you don't like to do?

Will you dare to let God -- in moments of spiritual whitespace -- refresh your soul with what uniquely refuels you (the most simplest things will do).  And let go of what simply drains you (even the things that appear to be no-brainer to others)?

And you -- share a meal -- with me.  You. with. me. We forget that part.  I forget that part.  

Jesus wants you to share with Him.  Feed your soul with me.  Do you hear His whispers too?

His whispers of rest invite you to rest in the One who calls you His.

resttheOnewhocallsyouHis

{Heart -- Whispers of Rest Collection}

The busyness and stress of other people’s expectations, fear of not being enough and just being on autopilot mode may have overwhelmed our schedules.

But, rest is just one whisper away.

Because Jesus is standing here holding onto us -- longing to wash over and awaken us with rest.  

Maybe all we've ever known to do is to cope.  And make a way for ourselves, with God -- but with our heads.  We've never let soul rest into our hearts. That's okay.  Jesus whispers --

Listen.  Confide.  Draw near.

listendrawnearconfide_pink 
{Listen -- Whispers of Rest Collection}

And He'll never, ever stop whispering to us.  Because we are His. A new journey is beginning.  You can begin anywhere.  Just begin.

The book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest has transformed my life, as Jesus led me to experience it first hand.

And I know #SpiritualWhitespace will transform yours too.

Together, we'll become the beloved. His Beloved.

beginanywherejustbegin 
{Begin -- Whispers of Rest Collection}

~~~~~

How has God been whispering words of rest to you? Pull up a chair. Share a comment below.

Whispers of Rest Art Prints featured in today's post is a new colletion by RedLetterWords and me to inspire  soulful moments with God, to hear His whispers of rest for you.  Each art print features a quote from my book Finding Spiritual Whitespace to inspire echoes of beauty and rest for your soul.

~~~~~

{Today's post is part of Bonnie Gray's Online Spiritual Whitespace {Face}Book Club. It's free!  You can join anytime by simply liking Bonnie's Facebook Page.  Order a copy of her book and grab a journal!  Find out more & read about it here http://www.faithbarista.com/bookclub}

 

By Bonnie Gray. Bonnie is the soulful author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, named as the Top 6 notable new religion authors.  Bonnie blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grindShe writes for DaySpring (in)courage and her work has been spotlighted by Christianity Today, Relevant, Catalyst Leadership and she's After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

For inspiration to create space in your life to breathe, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly.  This memoir-driven guidebook for rest will nurture your heart to draw closer to God. 

"Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility." - Ann Voskamp, NY Times bestsellng author of One Thousand Gifts

"If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever befrore, this is the book for you." - Lysa TerKeurst, NY Times bestselling author of Unglued

"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.
Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. 
-Jon Acuff,NY  Times bestselling author of Start!

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here. Click here to subscribe by email -(free) and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox

 

Even in the darkest of nights, love is light. Letting the kids stay up on Sunday night. Creating memories.
(Merry Christmas, friends. Let's make Christmas new this year. In us.) 

I have a very special video to share with you today at the end of today's article. I hope it will touch your soul with a comfort and peace, like the warmth of a candle flickering in the window.  Just for you.

We lit up a Christmas tree for the first time Sunday night.

Protestors in Berkeley, California, lit up the streets in violence that same night.

It was both a night of peace and yet, for many enraged over police killings in Ferguson, Missouri and New York, a tide of anger erupted that could not be quelled.

It was my birthday weekend.  And I've always loved how the beginning of my story is wrapped around the Bigger Story of Someone who loved me enough to come for me.  The birth of Jesus.

But, just one hour's drive away from our home in Silicon Valley, where Josh and Caleb were playing hide and seek with ornaments in the boughs of our Christmas tree, hundreds of protestors could not contain the brokenness of their stories -- wrapped in generations upon generations of pain and racism.

Riots broke out into assaults, tear gas and smoke bombs flung into one another from both sides.

The story of our country is bleeding into stories filled with division and ugliness.

Where is the peace?

What is real peace?

It made me think about my own journey.

Loose Ends

There are a lot of loose ends in life, aren't there?

Don't we try to tie them all up during the holiday season?

Don't we try to hide the strife and any ugliness -- in fear we'd ruin Christmas?

But, the mere effort to do that makes it plain to my heart:  there are pieces of my story I can't change.

The truth is that Christmas can only come -- Christmas can only be made new -- if we bring our ruins to Jesus at Christmas.

Because it's only then, when we bring all our broken pieces to Jesus -- that our hearts will be touched by a beauty so quiet, so tender and so real.

Then, the candle we light at Advent will no longer be something we do at Christmas.

We will experience Christmas. In our hearts.

For most of my life, I've held onto a peace that I manufactured -- in order to be okay in my family of origin.

I've ignored the hurt and the pain -- and endured a lot of dysfunction because I thought that's what it  meant to maintain the peace.

I didn't want to be a refugee.

Displaced. Disoriented.

It's always seemed better to hold out manufactured hope -- rather than giving up and becoming an emotional refugee.

This fear of becoming an emotional refugee is the voice of the little child in me.

God doesn't want me to be alone as that little child anymore.

This year, the birth of Jesus tells me He was once a refugee too.

Jesus Was a Refugee

Are you feeling the pressure of expectations this Christmas?  To fit in with the manufactured pictures of peace?  

Jesus sees right into the heart of it all.  He sees our families, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, enemies, our marriages, our children, and our unspoken stories.

We may tempted to manufacture our own peace during this Christmas season, when the pressure of perfection presses in on us.

Real peace from God is not manufactured or even problem-solved.

Real peace from God isn't the absence of darkness.

Real peace from God is Shalom - a putting back together again.

Real Peace from God is a Person -- Jesus who steps into the darkness and whispers --

I love you.

You are mine.

Jesus was born right in the middle of violence -- igniting the anger of Herod to kill an entire city of boys under age two. Jesus died a brutal, violent death, beaten to an inch of His life.

Peace is Jesus who was born and displaced as a refugee. Fleeing in exile to Egypt in the arms of his first-time parents Mary and Joseph. Jesus was a refugee in a world who didn't love Him, know Him or want Him. Marginalized. Crucified on a cross.

Jesus is The One who offers Himself. As a gift of love. To love you and me.

A Refuge

I'm letting go of holding onto a manufactured peace.  And in those secret moments of honesty, I am both afraid and willing. But, even in all this, Jesus is holding onto me. And gently asking me to trust Him, whispering --

Come.

Let me be your refuge.

Let love in.

Make room for love, joy, peace, love. For candles, hot cocoa, the glow of a Christmas tree, a journal, a walk, a hug for a friend, a good cry, a good laugh -- right in the midst of our loose ends.

We're no longer refugees.

Because God is our refuge, love is our new home.

"You alone are my refuge, my place of safety; You are my God, and I trust you." Ps. 91:2

~~~~~

How are you experiencing God in Christmas new this year?

Pull up a chair.  Share your thoughts.  Share a comment below.

I have a very special video to share with you today! It's a fresh take on the story of the birth of Jesus -- told by the people of Bethlehem.

This spoke such beauty, so powerfully to me this month. Click below to watch this amazing, beautiful, soul-inspiring video. Be inspired.  Share this with a friend and warm their heart today!  

{Credits} This is a mini-documentary titled "O Little Town of Bethlehem".  Directed by Tim Parsons. St. Paul's Arts & Media (stpauls.org.nz). 

Jesus Is a Refugee - The Real Meaning of Peace: The Story of the Birth of Jesus

~~~~~

By Bonnie Gray. Bonnie is the soulful author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly, named as the Top 6 notable new religion authors.  Bonnie blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grind. She writes for DaySpring (in)courage and her work has been spotlighted by Christianity Today, Relevant, Catalyst Leadership and she's After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

For inspiration to create space in your life to breathe, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly.  This memoir-driven guidebook for rest will nurture your heart to draw closer to God. 

*December Special*  Free Gifts with your order. Give the gift of rest to a friend -- and yourself -- this Christmas.  Click here to sign up.

Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into painful childhood memoires to discover a better story of rest. Visit TheBonnieGray.com to learn more. 

"Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility." - Ann Voskamp, NY Times bestsellng author of One Thousand Gifts

"If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever befrore, this is the book for you." - Lysa TerKeurst, NY Times bestselling author of Unglued

"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.
Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. 
-Jon Acuff,NY  Times bestselling author of Start!

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here. Click here to subscribe by email -(free) and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox

 

There’s myth in some Christian social circles that if we’re struggling with discouragement, doubt or feelings of hurt or sadness, it may be due to the fact that we’re not being grateful.

For most of my life, I’ve been afraid to share about the times I’ve felt overwhelmed emotionally, especially when I felt stuck–whether in friendships, ministry, my career, relationships or dysfunctional family dynamics—and particularly during the holidays.

I didn’t want people to misjudge me, because I honestly have been grateful for everything God’s done for me and provided.

But, does being grateful mean emotional amnesia?

Guilt and Compartmentalizing

I’ve always felt like I had to hold my breath until God resolved my journey so I could then show how God came through for me. I based my faith on how competent I was in being happy and strong until everything ended up wrapped up with a pretty bow.

But, most of life isn’t like this.

I had to learn this the hard way. Compartmentalizing certain parts of my story led me to eventually experience anxiety and panic attacks so intense I literally struggled to breathe.

Most of us have been there. Sometimes, when I was down about things, someone would say, “Be thankful. There are so many people who are worse off.” I know it was well intended, but it made me feel guilty and ashamed, so I hid those parts of me that suffered.

That doesn’t sit right with me anymore. In my journey to heal, I’m experiencing a new freedom and intimacy with God that comes from confiding in my wounds and fears.

I don’t think God wants to guilt us into feeling better about our struggles because others are suffering more.

Jesus didn’t say to the blind man, “Be thankful you can walk.”

Jesus had compassion for each person’s plight and condition, never comparing.

Truly Known

Jesus brought honor to brokenness by inviting us to draw near, as is: “Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).

Jesus didn’t say, “Come to me, all who are strong and worry-free.”

Sometimes, we try to alleviate suffering by minimizing our need to be known. We end up living emotionally isolated lives, even though we’re the most 24/7 digitally-connected generation ever.

The truth is that gratitude comes from being truly known–connected to things that break us–by sharing our brokenness with God and each other.

Jesus himself understands that being thankful doesn’t necessarily take away the struggle. On the night Jesus shared a Passover meal of thanksgiving -- grateful for God's providence and protection -- Jesus confided in His inner turmoil – even though Jesus had literally given thanks for the bread and the cup earlier in the evening with His closest friends: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here … With me. I’m very sad. It feels as if I’m dying” (Matthew 26:37-38 (NIV, CEB).

Jesus didn’t want the struggle, but He loved us.

Jesus chose to be broken.

This year, I'm learning to have the courage to be broken. I’m opening my heart to my real thanksgiving list. By redefining how we think about gratitude our journey of faith doesn’t have to be just seen through the lens of success—or failure.

Here are 5 Ways God Redefines Gratitude

I'm thankful ..

1. I can be in need, so I can go on a new journey to find comfort. “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you” (Isaiah 66:13).

2. I can feel sadness, so I don't have to live separated from my heart. I can cry and feel afraid because God loves all parts of my story. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book”( Psalm 56:8).

3. I don't have to want suffering, but I can choose to embrace it. Because God doesn't see it as shameful. "Do not be afraid. I have reclaimed you. I have called you by name; you are mine”( Psalm 43:1).

4. I can fall apart, because Jesus carries me when I’ve gone as far as I can go. “Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you”( Isaiah 46:4).

5. For God's promisesI’ll never abandon you. I’m never going to leave you. “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in” (Psalm 27:10).

We can go on because beautiful things can be found among the devastation of letting go. We can be broken and real, because Jesus still chooses you and me.

If God’s brought you on a journey through a season of brokenness, step out to give thanks. Not because you’re strong. Not because everything is picture perfect. But because you are loved.

This article is an excerpt from Relevant Magazine:  "10 Ways To Redefine Gratitude". To read the entire list of 10 Ways to Redfine Gratitude, read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/10-ways-redefine-gratitude

~~~~~

Pull up a chair.  Share your thoughts.  Share a comment below.

By Bonnie Gray, the Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grind. Bonnie is the soulful author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly. Bonnie writes for DaySpring (in)courage and her work has been spotlighted by Christianity Today, Relevant, Catalyst Leadership and she's been named in the Top 6 notable new religion authors. After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

For inspiration to create space in your life to breathe, order a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, which has garnered starred review praise from Publisher’s Weekly.  This memoir-driven guidebook for rest will nurture your heart to draw closer to God. 

*December Special*  Free Gifts with your order. Give the gift of rest to a friend -- and yourself -- this Christmas.  Click here to sign up.

Learn how a life-long dream unexpectedly launched Bonnie into painful childhood memoires to discover a better story of rest. Visit TheBonnieGray.com to learn more. 

"Whitespace is soul grace. Bonnie Gray ushers weary women into the real possibility." - Ann Voskamp, NY Times bestsellng author of One Thousand Gifts

"If you want to hear Jesus speak more tenderly to your soul than ever befrore, this is the book for you." - Lysa TerKeurst, NY Times bestselling author of Unglued

"We live in a culture that brags and boasts about being busy. Into that reality steps Bonnie with a new idea.
Whitespace is an important concept and Bonnie has captured it perfectly. 
-Jon Acuff,NY  Times bestselling author of Start!

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, I'd like welcome you here. Click here to subscribe by email -(free) and get each post in this series served up hot and fresh directly in your mailbox

 

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