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Bonnie Gray Christian Blog and Commentary

Bonnie Gray

Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher's Weekly, named as one of PW's top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Leadership, Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been a missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com. Bonnie lives in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.

It's been hard for me to choose joy. 

That's because choosing joy isn't really about what I want to do. Choosing joy is about choosing who I really want to be.

And well, the time for me to be the-me-I-feel-God-created-me-to-be -- never seemed convenient, possible or easy.

I've always been waiting for a chance to be welcomed, to belong -- to come to a place or opportunity where I felt "at peace" about all the ideas that I've been carrying -- about who I could become or the life I could experience if I was no longer:

afraid,

unsure,

-- or if some of the family or friendships in my life were

healed,

or unbroken.

I guess I've always been waiting to receive some kind of permission to choose joy.

I've longed to hear a loving voice who could whisper to me, in the moments I don't know what to do -- "Don't be afraid. I love you."

I've been longing for a father to love me. I long to be beloved.

Reflect. The Christmas Story

It takes courage to choose joy. Because choosing joy isn't about what we do, but who we long to be. Beloved.

And that can feel scary. Because what if joy isn't ours to stay?

God understands this fear — that’s why he never tires to whisper “Don’t be afraid. I love you.”  God sent us Jesus.

Just as God chose to announce news of Jesus to the shepherds in the night sky with a simple announcement -- no explanations -- God does the same with us.

God whispers to us, just as he did to shepherds one dark night —

I choose you. Come and see. 

Choose to be the beloved. Choose joy.

His timing is peculiar too. God hits us with an inspiration, when we’re feeling most inadequate.

Like the shepherds, we encounter God as we’re sitting on the outside, on the fringes of what we think is our best.

Just as we begin daring to believe what we’re hearing or seeing about God and His invitation — Whoosh!

Everything returns back to everyday sameness. The night sky.

Circumstances and people around all circling and in holding patterns, just as they’ve always been.

This is when we must hold onto faith and gather our courage.

Everything around us may not change. But, sweet friends, we are called to be changed.

In an instant, God calls us to leave where we are, to go and see.

Let’s say— just as the shepherds did to each other that night: Let us go. And see. Let us choose joy. Today. 

“Let us go to Bethlehem and see what the Lord has told us about.” (Luke 2:15 GWT)

We need to say good bye to some old ways and even some familiar expectations.

It’s time to point our steps to move out. It’s time for us to choose joy.

Respond. Share Your Heart

As you enter into Christmas, be attentive for what God has in store for you.

Slow down.

Stop.

Choose joy.

No matter how brief the encounter, hold onto God's One Word for you this Advent.

He said it. And you heard it.

Dare to discover what the Lord has for you.

Celebrate Christmas born in you — and me.

Choose joy this year.

Pray. Our #OneWordAdvent Prayer Today

Dear Heavenly Father,

Help me to hear your voice.

Touch me once again. 

Give me the courage to be your beloved.

Give me courage to choose joy.

I need you now this Christmas.

Be born in me again. Today. 

In Jesus' name, Amen.

“This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time,
but now it’s out in the open…
The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you.

~ Colossians 1:27 (The Message)

~~~~~

How is God calling you to choose joy this year?

Pull up a chair.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Share a comment below.

For more encouragment, read Bonnie's book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest named by Crosswalk.com as one of the Best Books for Christian Women in 2014.  

 Give the gift of rest to a yourself or a friend for Christmas. Order Bonnie's book and receive some free gifts until December 31, 2016. Click here.

 

 

Bonnie Gray blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grindShe has been named Top 6 Notable New Religion Authors by Publisher's Weekly and writes for DaySpring (in)courage, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  A UCLA graduate, 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, click here to subscribe by email (free) and get each blog post hot and fresh directly in your mailbox. 

Peace is hard to come by. 

Peace was a quiet quality that I've always longed for as a little girl. I felt it at night, when everyone was asleep and the house was still. If I was facing a problem, that's when I did a lot of my thinking. I'd figure a way out.

My peace was often found in asking God to help me find a solution.

Another way I found peace was journaling. I'd write and write, until I felt peaceful. But, these moments of peace were elusive and fleeting. 

I've been learning that the perfect peace that God talks about in Isaiah 26:3 goes deeper:

"You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusts in you."

This verse was given to me when I was eight years old, as a reward for jumping rope the longest at a church picnic -- inscribed on a wooden plaque.  It was one of my few possessions, so I always put it on my desk. I've looked at that verse all my life, but never really quite understood what perfect peace was.

How can peace be "perfect"?

Perfect Peace?

It wasn't until I went through my life-transforming journey to create space to feed my soul and rest --  to make room for spiritual whitespace -- that I looked up the original Hebrew for "peace".

The word is "shalom".

Shalom means a putting back together. Like pieces of a garment, sewn together to make a whole.  Or puzzle pieces gathered together -- found after being lost -- to fit together to make a whole. And I began to understand.  

I've often found peace by knowing what to do.  Or finding a solution. But, the truth is, not every problem has the solution we hope for.  

Most of life really is a journey to experience God -- when we deeply experience our humanity and our stories.

Faith is not given to us to avoid life.

Faith is given, so we can hear the Voice who gently whispers,

"Come to me, weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28

Perfect peace is experienced when I place my trust in Jesus. He is the One who is putting all the pieces back together again.  Not me.

God is putting me back together. Making me whole. Complete.

But, I need to let him.

Christ being born in us -- in the quiet places where we long for perfect peace. Birth is a messy journey, but it is real.

Perfect peace is a Person. Jesus. 

It's human nature to want editorial control of our lives.  

But, Advent calls us to stop. To make room for God's story to take shape in you and me.

To say, as Mary once did -- Let it be to me. Just as you say.

Listen. The Christmas Story

When Mary first heard the news that she was chosen to carry God's son, she experienced anything but peace. "How could this be?" she asked.

Doesn't her question echo our questions? How can this be?

She would be unwed and pregnant. Mary had plans of her own for her engagement, wedding and first year of marriage. Her plans were changed in a way that looked extrememly unfavorably. Dangerous. Threatening her very peace -- and her family's.

God's reply to Mary and to us through the angel Gabriel was radical encouragement --

"Nothing, you see, is impossible with God."  ~ Luke 1:37 MSG

Do we actually believe that God can do anything?

Mary could have responded with --

"Not now..."

"Not me..."

"Not this way...'

"But..."

Instead, Mary believed --

"Yes, I see it all now:
I'm the Lord's... ready to serve.
Let it be with me just as you say."

~ Luke 1:37 MSG

It dawned on me. What Mary saw wasn't how things would work out.

Mary had no idea what was up ahead of her -- giving birth with no friends or family around, returning to raise Jesus among rumors and innuendo, and seeing her son die unexpectedly at 33, hung as a criminal.

What Mary did see was that God would fill in the blanks. She was willing to be that space for His story.

Today, you and I are invited to be that space for God this Christmas too.

Will we fill in all the blanks?  

Or will you let God write His story using ALL parts of yours?

This is the Peace of Christmas, God knows the way.

Receive. God's Advent Whispers For You

Perfect peace isn't found in forgetting. Shalom peace is a putting back together. Wholeness. Real. Complete.

God whispers --

I love all of you.

I am your peace.

Without Jesus, we are left to only hope that things will change for the better. 

Together with Jesus, we can experience perfect peace because His love makes us better.

God knows you and He knows the way ahead. He is your peace. And mine.

Respond. Share Your Heart

What is God telling you to do today? What leap of faith do you need to take, as Christmas approaches, to let God be your perfect peace?

Pray. Our #OneWordAdvent Prayer Today:

Dear Heavenly Father,

This my one word prayer: peace.

I can't see ahead. I don't know what to do.

Here are all my fears and my questions... (share yours).

I want to experience your perfect peace.  

Let it be with me. Just as you say.

Hold me, God, so I can hear you whisper to me, "You don't have to know the way. I do."

In Jesus name, Amen.

~~~~~

How is today's devotional speaking to your heart?

Who can you share today's encouragement with?

Pull up a chair.  Share a comment below.

For encouragment, read Bonnie's book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Yoru Soul to Rest named by Crosswalk.com as one of the Best Books for Christian Women in 2014.  

 Give the gift of rest to a friend for Christmas. Order Bonnie's book and  receive some free gifts until December 31, 2016. Click here.

 

 

Bonnie Gray blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grindShe has been named Top 6 Notable New Religion Authors by Publisher's Weekly and writes for DaySpring (in)courage, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  A UCLA graduate, 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, click here to subscribe by email (free) and get each blog post hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.

When I was little, I loved looking at the rain.

I'd watch the raindrops scoot their way down the side car window as I leaned in close, my breath warming the glass pane. If it was raining hard, I'd see the raindrops race each other down, and I'd trace their path with my finger to see who would win.

I liked sitting in the backseat. It was my quiet little corner in the big wide world. And I was happy. Sometimes, if Mom was driving us back home at night, I'd look out to try and find the moon. We lived in the city, so the moon was the best of what was left of nature's skyline. There was too much city light pollution. We couldn't see the stars.

But, back home, I'd look outside my bedroom curtains. And sometimes, if it was very, very late and I wasn't asleep, I might find one or two stars. Twinkling.

Longing for Hope

Life is a journey. Sometimes night isn't something we see with our eyes, but something we experience in our hearts when we wait too long . . . for something we hope for. A dream. A passion, a child, or a home.

Sometimes, we find our footsteps on an unexpected journey of silence . . . when we've prayed and prayed . . . for someone we hope would be our friend. Our sister, mother, our father, or husband.

It is times like this, we may find it difficult to find hope alive, lit and new. Even thoughlike the moon and the stars we know God placed above us in the heavens ­­ sometimes, we just can't see it.

Jesus knows this longing for hope to be made new. Jesus understands this journey to find the light ­­ and our need for courage to move towards this light. This light is hope.

A New Journey

It was with hope God sparked a special star one dark night. It was so bright that men from the opposite ends of the world ­­ the East ­­ could see it. Yet, this light was also placed somewhere no one else would notice it. Except by the wise men ­­ the magi.

The star was a quiet, glimmering sparkle. Is this real? Should I go? I imagine the magi asking.

These are questions we may be asking ourselves.

This light kept shining. Inviting them to follow. This star ­­ this light ­­ invited them to go on a new journey. Away from life as they knew it. How about you?

Has God put a light on your journey this Christmas. Hope?

Dreams Not Forgotten

Even though we may have given up hope in ways ­ no one else would know about, God knows. God sees. God has kept everything we've waited for -- in our prayers and maybe even dreams we let slip through our fingers.

God has not forgotten. God has heard your prayers.

God has heard your voice. Calling out to Him in the night.

Not one of us is left out of this invitation to hope.

Every year, we are called to make this journey ­­ to find Christmas reborn in us once more.

Advent Whispers to You

Hear God whisper lovingly to you ­­

I remember . . . .you've been waiting . . .

for love, kindness, provision,

for healing. emotional. physical.

I remember . . . you've been praying . . .

for circumstances to change,

for a reversal of chaos of this world,

because things are not the way they're supposed to be.

I remember . . . you.

Despite the way things appear, God is not silent in the silence.

Look. Listen. Let Me love you.

I am your Light. I am your hope. I will carry you.

Though the journey is paved with sunrises and sunsets, dusk and dawning, trials and long days, God is faithful.

Hope. It's part of our Advent journey.

"We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure . . . which Jesus has entered for us." {Hebrews 6:19­20}

How is God calling you on a new journey of hope this Christmas ­­ taking shape in your heart ­­ where you carry silent prayers?

Take some time this week to experience Advent with Jesus.

  • Pour out your heart to Him from pen to paper. Journal. Write a letter to Him.
  • Light a candle and simply let God whisper to you in the silence.
  • Sit and listen to your favorite Christmas carol after the house is quiet, and let that song be a prayer.
  • Pause right now and pray. Give yourself permission to note where you are in your story this year entering into Christmas.  May your desires, sorrows, or hopes become your unspoken prayer right now with Jesus.
"Now the magi from the east arrived saying, 'We saw His star in the east and have come'. . . and the star went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was." {Matthew 2:1,9,10}

For more encouragement your soul, read Bonnie’s book Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, named by Crosswalk.com as one of the Best Books for Christian Women in 2014.

 

 

 

Bonnie Gray blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grindShe has been named Top 6 Notable New Religion Authors by Publisher's Weekly and writes for DaySpring (in)courage, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  A UCLA graduate, 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, click here to subscribe by email (free) and get each blog post hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.

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