A Pilgrimage of Poetry: “You Are Not Alone”

A Pilgrimage of Poetry: “You Are Not Alone”

“Pilgrims are poets who create by taking journeys.” So said Anna Elkins, as she led a poetry writing class at the Bethel Writers Workshop. I never had any desire to write poetry, but when I heard Anna share a poem she had written at the Welcome Session, the beauty of her words drew me in. I figured I would give it a go. Instructed to use our five senses to explore the world around us, we were sent off to find inspiration in whatever caught our attention, from the beautiful to the mundane. I knew instinctively where I wanted to go. I didn’t realize that the writing I’d create would affect me so much. Since when is poetry supposed to do that? This poem is for anyone who is facing uncertainty in life. In the middle of your circumstances, I pray these words will help you to find hope. And peace. You are not alone.   “Not Alone” by Lorraine Marie Varela   I walk the halls from my place of safety and step out into the world unknown.   The coolness of the halls brought comfort; their sights and sounds wrapped me in the familiarity of days gone by. My childhood was spent within the sanctuary of halls such as these.   I leave the coolness the chatter the peace and step out into the light the quiet the heat as I journey toward the unfamiliar.   Up ahead I know I will encounter dust and rocks. Dust and rocks.   But is there more?   The shade of the tree welcomes me to come and sit within its shelter.   In...
Finding Hope When You’re Facing an Impossible Situation

Finding Hope When You’re Facing an Impossible Situation

I love to use the Internet. “Information at your fingertips.” Sometimes it’s hard to remember what life was like before Google, Wikipedia, web browsers and search engines—all ready at our whim to dispense advice as we search for answers to our questions, from the meaningful to the mundane. This knowledge gives us power—or at least, the sense of control over our situation and environment. The answer to any problem that faces us is just a mouse-click away. If only it were that easy… This thirst for knowledge has been around since the beginning of time—knowledge that was passed down from one generation to another. Skills were taught from parent to child, a trusted pattern for survival. Until one day, the trusted methods failed to work, and instead of a positive outcome, an impossible situation loomed in its place.   Luke 5:1-11 The Miracle Catch of Fish   Simon Peter was a fisherman who faced an impossible situation. He’d been out fishing in his boat all night, doing all the right things—fishing in the right places, at the right time, with the right equipment, just as he had learned and done many times before—but he came up empty-handed without a single fish for all his efforts. Tired and frustrated, Peter was on the shore taking care of his nets when a Man got into his boat nearby. The Man said to Peter, “Let me use your boat.” The Man was Jesus. Peter got into the boat with Jesus and pushed off, so that Jesus could teach the people while in the boat. When Jesus finished His teaching, He turned his attention to Peter...
5 Unusual Ways Listening Better Will Immediately Improve Your Relationships

5 Unusual Ways Listening Better Will Immediately Improve Your Relationships

Listening is an art that is developed. It requires discipline and engages all that you are.” If you’re like most people I know, you want to be a good listener. Listening well is not always easy to do, especially with all the distractions that constantly compete for our attention. Even after fourteen years of practicing the art of listening—opening my Bible to read the Word and hear the quiet whisper of the Lord as He then speaks to my heart—it still is a challenge for me to be still. It’s difficult to turn off those internal and external distractions that cause me to lose focus. But I’ve found that this is often the key I need, so that I can listen well. This devotional, which is included in my book Powerful Moments in the Presence of God, was impressed to me as I practiced being still so that I could listen to God. It’s a message I’ve returned to many times…I guess because I need this reminder often, so that I can put it into practice. What I find most interesting is that when I am intentional to listen closely, it not only improves my relationship with God, but also with others.   Five Unusual Ways Listening Better Will Immediately Improve Your Relationships—With God and With Others You will receive deeper truth—revelation from the Bible that will impact your life. You will become sensitized to the needs of those around you. You will change your behavior. You will learn and grow. You will draw near.   Each of these concepts build on the other. It’s so cool! If you want to immediately...