Medicine For The Soul; Fire In The Sky

Not sure if you knew this about me but I’m a human connection junkie. I look for opportunities at every corner to connect whether through a smile, conversation about the weather, sharing of story or deeper moments of spiritual formation. Some circles call people with this trait an empath, others call it extroverted. Whatever you call it, traveling full-time suites my thirst for this connectivity. I know and trust that seemingly random moments are divinely orchestrated and I wake up with great anticipation of seeing and experiencing these amazing moments of exchange. Security, comfort, and money are unfruitful drivers and I tend to spend little time thinking about them, trusting that my daily bread will come. I wake up longing to speak words of peace and affirmation over those I meet and when needed, to share a hard word of truth in love. I wake up open to receive. I have learned over the years, that filtering (discernment) is essential to being healthy in my gift set. I have learned that I must allow for times of quiet and solitude in order for the Holy Spirit to fill up my empty vessel. It’s important for my well-being and those I am surrounded by. 

And so it was, thanks to Abba’s faithfulness in weaving us together with the Saints, that we were gifted a week of solitude on a beach in South Australia. 

We met Jacia, a beautiful young soul, in Northern Thailand and shared a night of song and story. Before we parted ways, Jacia mentioned that if we ever needed a season of rest, that her family owned a little beach shack and would be happy to share it with us. We exchanged info and tucked it away for a time that only Abba could bring; for South Australia wasn’t yet on our routing pattern. However, that timing came to fruition sooner than we thought as it proved to be the soft landing spot after a tender return from the US where I was caring for my mother. 

img_0159We arrived to what truly was the cutest little beach shack, and a warm welcome from Luke and Diane Hopton, Jacia’s parents. They had us over for dinner and we were delighted by their faith stories. We found a few other times to connect with them and with some of their dear friends, but my normal capacity for friendship was low so as tempting as it was to fill our week up with meals and visits, I reluctantly declined.

img_0148The honest truth was that I was wrecked in my spirit, numb really. I tried to force any sort of feeling in the physical, nearly attacking my husband with affection, dancing wildly on the deserted beach, convincing my sweet son to walk miles and miles with me searching for seashells, trying to work up a sweat, just trying to feel alive. But it was in the stillness of the evenings when the sun was setting that benevolent rays of mercy would shine on me. Craig would bring out the guitar and strum gently or make a lovely cheese platter and we would just sit, quietly, night after night, watching the sun set on the horizon. It was in those moments, that I laid down my pride, laid down my sorrow, emptied myself out and opened up. It was in those moments that waves of Abba’s unending love and faithfulness came rolling in; dividing my soul from spirit, exposing the attitudes of my heart, and washing over me with precious words of healing. 

Words like: 

*The Great Physician is a faithful healer and can be trusted with even the most aggressive aliments. Tonight’s tonic included an epic sunset in the South Australian sky.

*In the stillness… in the quiet hour… You are with me.

*Faith is not a feeling. Faith is not an event. It is not a mystical or magical experience. Faith is not hope. Hope operates in the natural. Faith is the language of the supernatural. It the tether between us and the living God.

*Abba sees the things you and I can not see. You are going to recover. There is a level above science, there is a level above technology. It is the level where faith hovers and with the Creator of the Universe all things are possible.

*Faith goes into the future, secures the future, comes back to get you and leads you into that future.

img_0165I’ve written songs about the beach, about the living water that sustains me, and I’m so thankful that my Creator knows that this is a place that really fills me up. I love going to the beach with God! I’m also thankful for kinfolk like the Hopton’s who graciously care for us along the way, allowing us the time and space to allow the Spirit of God to care for us along the way. 

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Rest Doesn’t Come Easy

IMG_9969We’re in Austin, TX for four months, resting. Well, that’s what we tell people.

But, after three years traveling two different continents at a relatively active pace, I would say we are here in Austin to learn to rest.

Rest doesn’t come easy when one’s value is based upon what one accomplishes. Poet, David Whyte writes; “Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. To rest it to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not even to a sense of inner accomplishment or an imagined state of attained stillness, but to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of natural exchange…”

Oh! It it is nearly impossible to engage in. All of the elements are in place, our desire to seek rest initially lead us to have conversations with kinfolk in Austin when we were here in May. They in turn began to share our need for rest with their neighbors, etc… We prayed and asked for this rest. Then a friend spoke with a friend, who had a friend, who had a precious plot of land right on Lake Austin. He was happy to gift us with a place to park our rig, allowing us amenities of sewer, water and electricity. He met us when we arrived and welcomed us, stating he hoped that we would use the property well and that rest would come. He then took us for Texas BBQ and went on his way.

So here we are with this beautiful setting, the sun shining on cue each day we wake, and just enough in our fridge to fill our bellies.

The first week, Rhys was still with us, finishing out his four weeks on the bus. So, much of our time was spent showing him the amazing sights and sounds of Austin, including Barton Springs, Torchies Tacos, Congress Street, the University area, Contra dancing and a day for packing and swimming at the lake. It was a great week and I’ll write more about it later.

The second week there was an inkling that rest was upon us, but the slow down was going to take time. Our bodies were ready, but our minds were still consumed with outpouring and giving. We volunteered with our kinfolk at MLF, we sought new friends on street corners, and through our social media and began hosting gatherings at the lake.

Then in the third week, we were scheduled to attend a folk music conference. We went, engaged with our fellow folkies and shared music. We met Matt Nakoa, a fellow muso from NYC, and quickly found kinship with him. We were careful though, as we didn’t want to distract him from benefits that the conference had for him.

All the while, we could feel a wooing happening in our hearts towards rest and the desire to give in to the rest was coming upon us like a wave far out in the ocean, building and building. What a dichotomy to have a spiritual awakening in such a physically driven place. It started to feel like we were trudging through mud, we were meant to be networking and gleaning wisdom about the music industry. Instead, many conversations, which started with practical ideals about traveling and touring full-time, ended in philosophical and spiritual musings about faith and purpose. Some of the conversations where so beautiful, and others were met with a deer in the headlights stare.

You’d think after that weekend we’d finally give in, but instead we had another party at the lake. (And, I should mention, that we all were feeling different levels of this pull towards rest, however, I was the one most resistant) The party was relaxing and some really great conversations happened. Another weekend passed and then it hit. My mind started to spiral after a few misses from friends who we still hadn’t seen in Austin, all whom had worthy excuses. None the less, it brought up insecurities and feelings of unworthiness, and lack of purpose. On Saturday night we shared sacred space with a group of folks we met a few weeks earlier. It was refreshing, yet I struggled to maintain composure. We went to church on Sunday and the minister talked about how important encouragement is to the soul. He talked about how we need to encourage one another day after day, so that we won’t lose heart, leaving us vulnerable to temptation. I could feel my heart slipping. I wanted rest, but rest seemed to represent loneliness, a feeling I know all to well.

IMG_9971So, here we are one month into our stay and this morning, after weeks of mind battles about rest, white knuckling, running here and there on supposed errands, worrying about this and that, I woke with an ever-present monkey on my back. I knew it was there all along, but I finally decided to let it go. I spoke, “I want rest. Real rest.” I needed worship. I needed a moment of intimacy with the one who offers rest. I downloaded “All Sons and Daughters, Tonight” and as I listened and sang along I allowed the wave of rest to wash over me, remembering and releasing the need for an inner sense of accomplishment or even an imagined state of attained stillness, but rather to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of super natural exchange. I’m sure it will be a journey but as these waves wash over us through the next few month, I trust that we will slowly, rest easy.

How do you define rest? And, how do you find it?

Lying low

Rest doesn’t come easy for us Hollands! We are all busy bodies and rest is often seen as an obstacle to overcome. However, every once in a while, our feet just stop moving. I’m thankful for family and friends that are always so willing to allow us that rest. It is when we rest that we find strength. It is when we rest that wisdom can settle in.

In Mid-August, we spend five days “lying low” and enjoying time with my Aunt Carol and Randy. They are precious people with very generous hearts. They shared in story about their journey’s through life (I love hearing the history of my family) and encouraged us in our faith. They also delighted us with opportunities to read (which don’t come very often) and the best kind of rest for our kids specially, bike ride, water ski and tubing.