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Bonnie Gray Christian Blog and Commentary

Bonnie Gray

The Faith Barista

April2015_Flowers_SpiritualWhitespaceShots

"Come and discover a love you don't have to work for.” E'yen A. Gardner, Love Letters

{feel free to share & download April's Shots of Spiritual Whitespace Prompts [printable below].}

It's daunting.  Starting over.

That's what I'm doing. I'm on the other side of my journey to heal. I don't have panic attacks anymore like I once did. And even the depression that I've experienced for the past couple years is lifting. But, I'm not the person I once was.  And it doesn't mean life will resume as it once did.

Maybe you're feeling this way too? Is God pointing you ahead to a new journey -- and even though it might seem easier, you can't go back to doing life as you have?

Now that my heart is awake to the truth of my story, my wounding and my dreams, I can never unsee the things I've discovered about myself, God, others and life.

God's calling me to live a new way -- as His beloved. It's both exhilarating and also overwhelming.

It's scary to take on an identity that you never felt could ever be yours.

The Beloved?

April2015_Flowers_SpiritualWhitespaceShots

The Second Follow

That's what happens when you uncover your heart.  You're given a second chance to follow Jesus -- in a completely new way -- apart from the story you might have been born into -- or even the story you chose for yourself -- once upon a time.

Jesus says to us, "Come follow me."  This is not the first "Come follow me" Jesus made to the disciples when he first met them washing their nets fishing.

This is the second "Come follow me". That is maybe harder.

This second "Come follow me" happened after the resurrection.  After Jesus rose from the dead. After the disciples tasted and experienced loss, pain, fear and their own failures.

The first "Come follow me" was with the physical Jesus.  But, this second one was going to be guided by faith -- a Presence inside them.  The Voice of the Holy Spirit.

This Second Follow could only be experienced by listening to a quiet Voice inside them -- to step out on a new journey with Jesus.

This Second Follow would take them -- beyond what they could see -- to experience a new identity.

This new self included a cross and a whole identity -- where their stories weren't perfect -- but they were perfectly loved by God.

And as strange as it sounds, this new identity kind of scares me. 

Can I really just suddenly leave my old identity -- and choose to be God's beloved?

April2015_Full_SpiritualWhitespaceShots

{click here to download April's Shots of Spiritual Whitspace}

Life 2.0

What would be the consequences of living with such a radical identity?

What would be the blessings of such a radical identity?

What would be my story?

My Life 1.0: Longing for Soul Rest.  I used to exercise my faith by being strong for God. Hiding. People-pleasing. Fearful of my voice.  

Now that I am living a life of Spiritual Whitespaceno longer debilitated by panic attacks, God's been calling me to live Life 2.0.

Life 2.0:  Becoming God's beloved. God's calling me to experience my faith by being God's beloved. Being fully present.  Soul-nurtured. Speaking in my whole voice.

Since January, I started intentionally making changes -- small and big decisions -- to only say yes to things that point me in the direction of being God's beloved. And saying no to what doesn't.

april spiritual whitespace prompts_b&w
{click to download April's Shots of Spiritual Whitspace}

I'm giving myself permission to be loved. And that means making choices that feel scary. 

But, I'm learning sometimes, fear is found at the doorway where we leave who we once were -- in order to become who we were meant to be: God's beloved.

"My presence will go with you and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14

A Curious Ending

Fear is what the first women who brought spices to the tomb where Jesus laid -- Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome -- found on one morning -- along with a stone rolled away. An angel told them Jesus wasn't dead.

"He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you." Mark 16:7

Then, the strangest, most curious end to a story happened:

"Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid." Mark 16:8

The women were afraid -- even though they were staring at a miracle: life after death.

What Will We Do?

Sometimes, when God rolls away a stone from a tomb in our lives, we can react the same way.  Paralyzed by doubt, disbelief.

We know what to do with dead ends.

But, an empty tomb?  This is not what we expect.

And yet, this is how Mark, the author of the fourth Gospel in the Bible, chose to end the story of Jesus. [The earliest manuscripts do not have verses 9–20 in the text.]

I was shocked and comforted to find this ending post-Easter. 

God knows how we feel, confronted with a stone rolled away.

We read in the other Gospels that the women eventually did go back to tell the disciples what they saw and heard.

What will we do?

Don't Bend

Have you received some words from God? Maybe you are unexpectedly standing before an empty tomb. Or a stone rolled away.

Are you keeping quiet, afraid of where Jesus is leading you?  Is Jesus is asking you to follow Him -- in a new way?

Jesus is going before you.  

But, you will have to make choices to experience this new journey ahead.

This month post-Easter, I want to encourage you to step out.

Don't bend. Don't water yourself down. Be the you God made.

 

Begin your version of Life 2.0. Be the Beloved.

“Don’t bend; don’t water it down; don’t edit your own soul according to the fashion..."
Frank Kafka

~~~~~

Pull up a chair. Share a comment.  

What is your version of Life 2.0? How is Jesus calling you to The Second Follow?

~~~~~

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, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

 

*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

 

 


{photo credit} printbles hand-lettering & photography by Kelly Ishmael Minding my nest.

"You see, there are two very different types of hope in this world. One is hoping for something, and the other is hoping in Someone." ~ Pete Wilson

I didn't see it coming. 

I went to bed like I always had, ate dinner with my chopsticks and brushed my teeth just fine.  The next morning, I got dressed and drove into work as usual.  Logged into my account and started checking my emails. 

I started typing.

Needles of pain shot through my wrists.  My fingers felt numb and tingly, like they'd fallen asleep.   Confused, I tried to mouse and click around.  My forearm started hurting even more. My fingers refused to hit another keystroke.

Two hours later, I found myself sitting in front of a doctor who specialized in treating work related injuries.

"You won't be going back to work for a while.  You have RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury).  Might be carpel tunnel syndrome.  We won't know yet, until you get some therapy."

How long will I be out? I asked, thinking a day or two.

When it all was said and done, combining full and partial disability, my road to recovery took nearly three years.

Getting Better Or Getting Worse?

When I first started physical therapy, I was very optimistic. 

I was determined to heal fast. Take my meds, get my therapy, do my exercises and wear my wrist braces.

The problem was healing isn't a linear process.

I was progressively hurting more week after week.  My pain extended to my upper arms, my shoulders, neck and even my back. 

Was I just falling apart?

My physical therapist Tom educated me. You're actually getting better, even if it feels like you're getting worse.

Tom drew a swirl of concentric circles on his note pad. He said that healing is like peeling an onion.   He said that I had ignored the fatigue initially in my muscles so well, that it caused my body to compensate in other areas.

Pain, Tom explained, was a healthy indicator that my body was finally speaking to me.

My path to recovery was to swirl out first -- to understand exactly how far my injury went. 

Tom gently pointed out that as one muscle group got better, I would start feeling the pain in other areas that had been masked on top of the other.

I have found myself in the same condition for many Easters.

I wanted so badly to celebrate the joy of Easter Sunday resurrection, I ignored the layers of stress and unanswered questions from my everyday life.

The Saturday In-Between

Don't get me wrong, I've been filled with joy for Jesus on Easter Sunday, in praise and thankfulness for the sacrifice and love He poured out for me on Good Friday 2000 years ago. 

I am always brought to tears meditating on the suffering our Lord endured emotionally, physically and spiritually by taking up the cross.  But, I was often heart heavy waiting to taste the power of resurrection in some difficult circumstances.

It seemed whenever I thought of Easter, I thought only of Easter Sunday -- the celebration of resurrected life -- or Good Friday -- the death Christ suffered on the cross. 

I forgot that the journey of Easter includes the Saturday In-Between -- for Jesus -- and for me.

Pastor and author Pete Wilson points out in Plan B, of the Saturday In-Between:

"Saturday... It seems like a day when nothing is happening.
It's a day of questioning, doubting, wondering and definitely waiting...helplessness or hopelessness.

Is it possible that Saturday is actually a day of preparation?
... Saturday was the day God was engineering a resurrection."

My One Thing

This year, I'm celebrating Easter Sunday with a lot of my story resurrected from my "Saturday" life.  Not in a way where everything has worked out. A lot of the questions I've been asking for a very long time haven't been answered. 

In fact, some of the problems I've asked God to solve haven't gotten better. 

But, I have learned one thing through my time in this extended season of waiting.

That one thing is this:  Jesus' love continues to be one thing I can always say yes to.

In lieu of answers and resolution, we can continually make a choice.  Do we let our pain and hurt shape my faith -- or do we take our faith and run into the arms of Jesus?

This has been my greatest joy:  Not that my life is perfect, but that I can choose love -- because Love chose me.

I've been able to find when I couldn't possibly wait any longer in dissonance and lack of closure -- the love of Jesus continues to heal me, carry me and attract me to Him.  I can continue choosing to love God, love others, and pour myself out -- even in weakness and imperfection.

All because Jesus loves me.

Because of the cross.

~~~~~

I had given up hope of ever getting better. Then I got up one day, not feeling any pain.

But, it took me many years to get to that one morning. 

I will always remember who got me through it. 

It wasn't hope in recovery. It was hope in Jesus.

I don't know how long our Saturdays will last, friend.

But one thing I do know, Jesus has walked that Saturday into eternity for us. 

His love will never leave us and His love will get us through to our Easter Sundays.

He knows all about the Saturday-in-between.  And He won't leave us all alone in that time of waiting.

He loves us all the way.

 

"The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you
and make you strong, firm and steadfast."
~ 1 Peter 5:10

How is Jesus speaking to you this Easter?

Pull up a chair. 

~~~~~

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, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

*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

 "You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintry light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen." ~ Ernest Hemingway

You might have wondered like I have. When will it be my time?

When will it be my turn . . . to taste spring? Like me, you might have been waiting, longing -- ever so patiently -- to finally come to a place in your story. Where there are no more distractions. No more tears. No more fear.

Where the road will walk wide and the people you meet on this journey will welcome you with open arms. And call you friend. You imagine what it would be like to walk into a room and feel at home with yourself.

Like me, you long to be known.

I've often struggled to find this inner place of spring -- where I could finally grow into the me God had in mind when He made me. I kept waiting for a moment I felt I was okay, when I was no longer afraid -- when I could feel confident of where I was headed, what I was doing, and where it was all culminating to.

I was always trying to figure out my dream and my calling. I thought I was being purposeful. I thought I was a good thinker. 

But, the honest truth that I've come to realize is this: I was really afraid to be the Beloved. God's beloved. Now. As is.

More Intimately Soul Beautiful

It's a lot easier to set goals and endeavor to achieve them -- whether they are better versions of ourselves as a woman, friend, daughter, wife, mother, or even as a believer.

But, it is a lot more vulnerable to say instead --

"I need loving. I don't want to do it all. I need beauty."

And in those quiet moments, it is intimately more soul beautiful to hear God whisper in return --

"You don't have to do it all. Don't try to be something.

Be my Beloved. Be loved."

It's easier to push through in a noisy world that celebrates doing and ignore God's soulful whispers. To do something definable -- to do things that others could point to and say, "Look. She did something. She is somebody."

It's a lot harder to stop. And soak in all that really matters again.

To rest. To feel tenderness toward yourself and those you love.


{click to download free printable}

It's what our soul truly longs for. To love and to be loved.

Love. It's the seed to everything we were meant to be in this life.

The Most Beautiful Vision of You

Love. It's the seed God planted in each of us as He traced His fingerprints into our hearts when God made us in the secret place. When God dreamed of making something new -- when He thought of all the sunsets He would paint, all the waves He would brush along the ocean's edge, and all the wildflowers He would dot along hillsides no one else would ever see, except Him alone -- God thought of you.

God held the most beautiful, perfect vision of you -- and He breathed that part of Himself into your soul and your spirit. Your personality. Your likes and dislikes.

And He protected that eternal version of you with His love. No amount of brokenness, betrayal, loss or rejection can hurt that inner part of you.

Because you belong to Him. You are His beloved. His love is Spring to our soul.

Will you let Spring back in? Will you let God love you again -- in a fresh and new way?

Like honey bees harvesting nectar in the spring when flowers and plants are in bloom, I'm gathering Scriptures that are returning a sweetness to my soul. 

I've come to a point in my journey -- a chapter in my story -- to make these truths mine.  Now. 

I'm not going to wait.

I choose to be God's beloved -- afraid, doubtful, incomplete. As is. I am choosing to be God's beloved -- by saying yes to Spring.

6 Whispers of God's Spring In You

It's the first weeks of Spring. I'd like to celebrate it by sharing God's whispers of love with you -- as they're whispering Spring in me.

You are my beloved.

Just rest. "Return to rest, my soul for the Lord has been good to you." {Psalm 116:7}

Choose joy. "He will take delight in you... He renews you with his love.. he will rejoice over you with singing." {Zephaniah 3:17}

You are my beloved.

Be real. "Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders." {Deuteronomy 33:12}

Choose beauty. The God who made the world and everything in it...He made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God." {Acts 17:26-27}

You are my beloved.

Enjoy what delights you. "Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. And delight yourself in abundance." {Isaiah 55:1-2}

Start new. Cherish the small. "Do not despise these small beginnings. You are mine." {Zechariah 4:10, Isaiah 43:1}

May these whispers of love inspire you to join me on this journey of spiritual whitespace:  choose to be His Beloved.

Today. Don't wait.

Let His Love become Spring in you today.

~~~~~

Pull up a chair. Share a Scripture that God is whispering words of love to you. How can you say yes to Spring in you?

 

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, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  After graduating from UCLA, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in 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.  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

*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

 

 

 

{Photo Credit: Kelly Ishmael MindingMyNest.com}

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