26 Reflections on Silence

I “checked myself in” for a 3-day private Silent Retreat at a Benedictine Monastery this week. Nestled into the San Bernardino mountains in Southern California, St. Andrew’s Abbey is not necessarily a beautiful location. But the prayers and reverence for God that cover the small acreage bring a tangible peace for retreatants.

As I clipped that badge to my shirt “Shhh, I am on a Silent Retreat”, I focused my heart, mind, and soul on stillness. I wanted to experience Jesus in a new way.

Here are the reflections my time of silence brought:

  1. Your other senses are enhanced. I smell my surroundings more potently; I taste and enjoy my food more wholly; I hear others’ words but even more seem to tap into what their hearts mean behind the words (probably because I’m not worried about what I have to say in response!); I see because I intentionally open my eyes to be more observant; and I feel deeper emotions as I tune in to what the Spirit is revealing to me.
  2. It’s extremely challenging at first, but then you begin to enjoy and even revel in it!
  3. It allows you time and energy to not only ask yourself the big life questions, but to also hash them out. (What is my purpose, what am I here for?)
  4. Because doing this one thing is out of your comfort zone, it pushes you to do more things out of your comfort zone (like lay prostrate on the floor for an hour in prayer like King David modeled).
  5. It opens your mind to realize how much you complain and gossip.
  6. It makes you want to ask people a million questions and just stop talking and listen, despite what “good advice” or knowledge you think you can impart.
  7. It stirs up old bitterness and resentment you thought you were healed of.
  8. It causes you to pray. Nonstop.
  9. You become fully aware of the percentage of your thoughts in any given category. (I.e. Here was 8 minutes wasted in jealousy or given to lust. Half my day was spent in planning (quite in vain) for the future and the other half day-dreaming or contemplating my past, etc.)
  10. When you adore Jesus, you are humbled to feel HOW MUCH HE ADORES YOU!
  11. Everyone should try silence for a specific, extended period of time.
  12. It unsettles others and can make you uneasy to not respond – but in the end it’s a good challenge for both you and them to accept the difference in people.
  13. It takes a while to still the heart and totally check in to the silence…of the tongue¬†and the soul.
  14. Perspective becomes clearer.
  15. Your heart changes. Rather than praying for my way and specific requests, I was asking God to move in hearts, lives, and give His guidance; I was fully surrendering to His will be done and being okay with that.
  16. You come to a sense of peace in who you are – who He designed and destined you to be. Because suddenly the things of this world grow strangely dim.
  17. You feel the sense of time more presently. It doesn’t speed by as in a busy day with many appointments, nor does it crawl on endlessly as an unintentionally unfilled day can seem ‘boring’. Every minute is pregnant with purpose, and you feel it as it is.
  18. People come to mind to pray for you would not have thought of otherwise.
  19. Jesus breaks chains.
  20. As the rhythm of life slows, you sleep better.
  21. You don’t want it to end, but you’re also anxious to bring the insights you’ve discovered back to the real world. (I won’t deny I was chomping at the bit to be home a little ūüėČ ).
  22. You drink more water…maybe I just remembered to more often? It happened though!
  23. It’s a catalyst for change! I want to talk rather than text, I want to live life with people rather than Snapchat my life to them, I want to ask questions rather than gossip or complain.
  24. It causes reflection on the past – and to ask hard questions.
  25. It makes you miss mom and dad.
  26. Once you introduce talking again, your pace immediately increases.

 

There were many breakthroughs during the 3 days, but I’d say the greatest praise I have was the Spirit’s assurance on my heart to start boldly proclaiming I AM MOVING TO NAIROBI, KENYA IN JUNE! I have been hesitant and timid to tell people for fear that it will fall through if perhaps I was wrong in discerning God’s call for me to go. This week He broke that chain of fear! I am not called to live half-hearted but to walk boldly in the call He’s given me!

I have held back so it wouldn’t hurt as bad if the rug were pulled out underneath me and I ended up not going. It would soften the blow of failure or disappointment. This fear is of the enemy, though, not of God Almighty!! It really did take the silence to name that fear, call it out, and fill the vacancy with the confidence of Christ.

Praise God!!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

 

26 Things To Know About Israel

The nation of Israel is so unlike anywhere else I’ve been. I mentioned in my last post¬†that I’ve experienced the most culture shock here, and I believe that has translated to learning the most lessons as well.

I’ve promised myself to never stop learning. Having that degree on the wall (or stuffed away in the closet, really) doesn’t mean my time as a student is over. The only way I know I’ll keep improving as a person and able to help others in this journey called life is by being informed and experienced.

Israel has broadened my mind, even my soul, beyond bounds that I never knew were there. I hope you’re able to visit the Holy Land some day, too, lovely reader. It truly is a life-changing experience.

City of Jaffa, Tel Aviv

Disclaimer: Some of these are opinions, observations, or ideas, while others are true facts and I’m not putting any bias into the statements.

LESSONS ABOUT THE PEOPLE, CULTURE, ETC.

1) “Die” is an expression for “Wow!” or “No way!”. If you tell an Israeli cool or shocking news, and they exclaim, “Die!” that doesn’t mean they want you to literally die.

2) To be a “frayer” in Israel is their worst nightmare. It translates roughly to sucker, or a naive person who can be manipulated. They avoid being a frayer by making others a frayer…a.k.a. tourists.

3) Israeli’s value the character trait of honesty above most others.

4) Dead Sea mud in Israel is $1.50. It’s $250 in America. (‘Cus we’re frayers;) ).

5) Israeli men are intimidated by the Israeli women. The world is intimidated by Israeli women.

6) Although Israeli’s can be aggressive and pushy at first, once a relationship is built, they become family. From an Israeli himself, “Everyone here is my brother. I would do anything for them, and they would do anything for me, too.”

7) The very attractive, swole guys at the gym…are more than likely gay. 3 sources told me this.

8) Tel Aviv is one of the most outspoken cities for gay pride in the world.

9) Young Israeli’s are some of the most fit people I’ve ever seen because of their time in the IDF when they’re 18-21 (Israeli Defense Forces).

10) Israeli’s are innovative and bright when it comes to new ideas and advancing technology, medicine, and miscellaneous inventions. At times, however, they lack the implementation and marketing piece in order to make their innovations known to the world at large.

11) This drive to improve comes from their culture of “talmud”. Talmud means they question and argue a status quo in order to rise above it.

12) Tel Aviv’s name literally means “old-new” to show the new innovation and growth of Israel while never forgetting its¬†history and foundation as a Jewish state.

IMG_8149
Panorama of Tel Aviv.

LESSONS ABOUT THE POLITICAL NATURE IN ISRAEL

13) Israel could demolish ISIS in 10 days. (Valid source on this statement.)

14) ISIS hides out underneath and inside hospitals, schools, mosques, etc. They use their women, children, and elderly as a shield because they know Israel won’t attack innocent civilians.

15) Israel realizes they are thought of negatively in most of the world. They also know if they went on the offensive and took out extremist groups attacking them, media around the world and then people everywhere would believe Israel is the bad guy. They are always on the defensive and will avoid killing innocent civilians at all costs.

16) Israeli’s are pro-American.

17) The majority of Israeli’s are not pro-Obama. They’re still bitter he skipped visiting the country on his first tour after he was elected. Beyond that, and from their mouths, this administration has tightened the immigration process so much for Israeli’s that even if most of their family is in the states, they wait 8-10 YEARS before being approved. These aren’t terrorists trying to come to America. They are businessmen, educators, and families, who want a better quality of life.

18) Israeli’s are proud to serve their country in the IDF. It’s not all of their dreams to make military their career, but they serve, and patriotism for their homeland is strong because of it.

19) Israel is the size of New Jersey. In America, 6.9 per 1000 capita are serving in the military. In Israel, 78.3 per 1000 capita are currently serving. Republic of China with a population of 1.357 billion has 80.9 per 1000 capita serving. (See footnote). Just for a bit of reference and to understand how prepared and ready Israel is for outside attack.

20) Shepherds along the Syrian border of Golan Heights are spies.

Looking
Looking out over the Syrian border.

21) Good things have happened between Israeli and Palestinian relations, but it’s never reported on.

22) From an Israeli journalist I met: “If ISIS brings down Hamas in Gaza, we will miss Hamas.”

23) Palestine is being funded by the international community – American and European tax dollars are going to them. The mosques and media in Palestine send constant anti-American messages to their people. Seems like America may be a “frayer” in this relationship.

LESSONS ABOUT FAITH AND RELIGION

24) In John 2:1-11 there’s the story of Jesus turning water into wine at the end of the wedding festivities. In the text it says this happened on “the third day” which would have been Tuesday. Also, in the Old Testament, Tuesday was the only day God blessed twice. Weddings and bar mitzvah’s are commonly held on Tuesday’s in Jewish communities because of the belief that it’s an especially blessed day. I guess we’re really going up, on a Tuesday.

25) The Hebrew word “gethsemane” translates to olive press, where olives are crushed and grinded to become oil through a process of 3 methods. Jesus retreated to the Garden of Gethsemane when he knew his time to die on the cross was near. In Matthew 26:36-46 it says Jesus was pressed and crushed, like in an olive press, and he prayed 3 times to God to remove this cup (responsibility) from him. Everything God does is so purposeful to show us He’s living and active.

2,000 year old stone road where Christ walked on his way to Golgotha.

26) Reading the Bible comes to life after a trip to Israel.

There is so much more to learn and understand about Israel that only a trip yourself will really reveal to you. So, shalom and nesi’√° tov√°!

stay lovely,
the tall girl

References
Active Troops Source