Hey, my friend. Today is the day! I am going to share with you what happened during the break in the podcast and how God encouraged me during that time.
If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, just go back a couple of episodes to episode 109 and you’ll hear more about how God invited me to pause the podcast for the last month of Lent so that I could spend that time with Him in silence. I share how it all came about and some of the obstacles and objections that kind of stood in my way.
But today, I wanted to share with you a couple of specific things: first, the intentions and boundaries I set for myself during this time, and second, how I actually spent my time and the ways God met with me through that.
Intentions and Boundaries I Set for Myself
Okay, so let me start with the way I prepared for this pause and the intentions and boundaries I set in place.
The most obvious thing would be that I paused the podcast, right? That was the main invitation from God in the first place: not to create any new content for the podcast but to, instead, spend that time in silence. To have one day a week where I didn’t have to speak or teach or lead, but to just be together with Him. And so I paused the podcast and didn’t create any new episodes for 4 weeks.
I also decided to use that time that I normally spend preparing for the podcast and recording the episodes as my “Holy Hush” time—extended times of silence together with God. No calls, no talking to other people. Almost like a mini-retreat.
Since I typically work on the podcast in the morning one day a week, that’s the time I used for this period of extended silence. I didn’t want to use it for any work-related activities. I didn’t want to have to “produce” anything. It was instead a few hours where I could just “be” together with God.
And then in the afternoons on those days, I continued with my normal work tasks, like responding to my spiritual direction clients via email or praying about my work, which you’ll hear more about in a few minutes.
How I Spent My Time
So how, exactly, did I spend my time? If I could summarize it for you, I kind of broke it up into three different categories.
But first, let me say… I got sick. Does that ever happen to you? You finally take a break or you go on vacation, and the first day or two, you get sick or you have a bad headache or something just hurts in your body? A few days after I recorded the episode talking about the pause of the podcast, my stomach started feeling funny. And it just happened to be on a Saturday night, and by Sunday morning, I still wasn’t feeling well. So I stayed home from church and rested and got a little extra 1:1 time with the Lord that morning.
Then, the last week of Lent, during Holy Week, we actually had our spring break from homeschool, plus we didn’t have Sunday school on Easter Sunday, so that was a whole week’s “pause” from teaching and leading. And I’m not going to lie, it was good, but it has also been challenging at times to “re-enter” regular life, you know? Celia Miller talked about that back in episode 94, as she left her silent retreat and went back home. That can be a hard threshold to cross, entering normal life again after a special time with the Lord.
Seeking and Creating Beauty
Okay, so how did I spend my time? The first category of activities includes seeking and creating beauty.
I took time to create art. For me, art is a way to meet with God, to use the creativity He gave to me, and to listen for what He might have to say to me. I don’t do a lot of painting—I’m more of a drawing or mixed media artist—but this time, I was drawn to paint two gals who are just raising their hands in praise of God. It’s nothing special if you just look at it, but it’s special to me, because it expressed my heart’s desire to worship God and praise Him.
I also lingered with the book The Flower Hunter, by Lucy Hunter. Lucy creates these absolutely beautiful flower arrangements, and the book has pictures of those, along with the story of how she grew different flowers or her own growth as a gardener and artist. I’m not much of a gardener myself, but I still feel drawn to these beautiful flowers and how she puts them together and cares for them. And the book is broken up into the four seasons, so there’s a theme to each section. And since we were just entering spring, it was fun to see the changes in flowers and colors she put together.
There were a couple of things she wrote that spoke to me, as well. One was about her process of learning to arrange flowers. Let me share it with you:
“If you sit around waiting for an inspirational moment to hit you, the chances are you’ll be looking at an empty page all day. Explore those things that truly fascinate you rather than whatever is deemed to be the trend of the moment. Look closely at the tiny details right under your nose. And allow your curiosity and your creativity free rein… most of all, make a mess experimenting. No one learns to arrange flowers without making some truly questionable arrangements along the way, just as no one becomes a gardener without killing a few plants, however good their intentions might be.” (Lucy Hunter)
As an artist and writer, I appreciate her invitation to be curious and explore and pay attention to what you see. I also appreciate her invitation to just dive in and make a mess. Because isn’t that how life is sometimes? We can’t start out doing something perfectly. We need time to explore and experiment and learn and grow.
We learn how to love others through exploring and being curious and stretching ourselves. We learn how to keep a clean house by experimenting with different routines or methods until we find the one that works for us. We learn how to teach by just getting up and teaching. It doesn’t happen naturally for most of us, and even if it does, there are still things we need to learn, there are still ways we can grow and let God transform us.
So that mindset of curiosity and exploration was a bit of theme for me during the pause.
Lucy also wrote about slowing down, and I don’t think I’ve shared it yet, but my word for the year is “unhurried.” So what she shared about that really resonated with me, too. Maybe I’ll share more about that in another episode.
Finally, another way I sought beauty was just by spending more time outside. Spring is on its way here, and flowers are starting to come out, and more birds are around and singing. And there is just something about being out in nature that helps me to slow down and pay more attention to God’s presence in my life. Have you noticed that, too?
Making Space to Learn
So I took time to seek and create beauty. I also love to learn, and so I made time and space to do that during the podcast pause.
Specifically for me, this meant revisiting some online courses that I have purchased in the past, reviewing some of the concepts and seeing if there is anything I need to change or modify in this season. It also meant pre-reading some books we’re going to be using next year for school and previewing a video course I’m planning for my daughter to take.
And then I had the opportunity to connect with an online business manager who helped me explore some good ways to do some of the business side of client management. I love connecting and writing to the women I work with, but sometimes the paperwork side of things… not so much. You know? And she was just wonderful, so if you run a business of some sort and are looking for a recommendation for someone to help you organize some of that backend business stuff or manage a project or something like that, just email me and I’ll pass her information along to you, okay?
Taking Time to Reflect
So I had time to seek and create beauty, and I made space to learn. I also set aside time to reflect. This came out in a couple of different ways.
One was more business focused. Last month, I quietly celebrated the 2-year anniversary of the podcast and the 5-year anniversary of my work at Love Does That. So it seemed like an appropriate time to step back and reflect on how God has moved and is continuing to move, not just in my life but in the lives of my clients.
I wish I could share more about the specific testimonies these women have, but let me just say that women are finding a lightness of heart and peace and joy as they talk to God about their grief and hurt. And it just so encourages me to stay true to what God has called me to do, to stay focused on caring for those who are hurting, and for me specifically to care for those who are more on the quiet side and like to write and journal, because I don’t feel like there are a lot of spaces for us who like to do that.
And then to look back and see how Love Does That started and where we are now… it’s just nothing like I imagined, but so much better. And it reminds of me of the verse that says God can do so much more than we can ask or imagine.
So part of my reflecting was centered on Love Does That, and the other kind of reflecting was more personal. I shared in episode 109 that I can have a bit of a perfectionistic tendency, and overall, I have really felt God’s invitation over the past 5 years or so to be fully present in my life, especially with my husband and kids. And so I started reading the book Present Over Perfect, by Shauna Niequist, and slowly making my way through the guided journal that goes along with it.
I’m nowhere near finished with either the book or the journal, so that is something I’ll continue to do in the weeks and months ahead.
Final Thoughts on the Podcast Pause
So there you have it, my friend. That’s what my time away looked like. But there are just a couple more things I wanted to share with you.
One is, you have no idea how many times the thought popped into my head to just record a quick podcast. Especially during those first couple of weeks. I thought, “I could just record an episode really quick and schedule it for after Easter. No one would even know.” But then I would be reminded of God’s invitation to not speak or teach during this time, and how this was His gift to me, and so I pushed that thought away and told myself there would be plenty of time to record once I got back.
Another is that a lot of topics and questions came to mind that I want to talk about here with you, things that are stirring on my heart and on yours. And as I pray and plan for the podcast over the next few months, God just really shared a lot with me there, and I am so excited to have those conversations with you.
Finally, I realized there is a big difference between choosing not to speak and losing the ability to speak. I can think back to a time in my life where I was unable to write, unable to teach, unable to speak what truly mattered to me… and being in that place is so incredibly hard. We can experience it for a lot of reasons. Maybe we went through trauma, or experienced a deep grief or betrayal, or maybe we suffered at the hands of another. And we lost our words. We retreated into ourselves, maybe even to survive. I don’t know.
Choosing not to speak, choosing to be silent for a certain period of time, can be a life-giving spiritual practice. It’s a posture of listening to God and wanting to hear what He has to say. But having your words taken away, that is not of the Lord. And if you have experienced that, first let me say, I am so very sorry. And I would really love to have you join me in the Journal Gently program. We use writing and journaling as a way to find our voice again, with God’s help. You can learn more about that at lovedoesthat.org/journalgently.
Okay, my friend, that is all for today. Thank you for letting me share about my experience during the podcast pause. I hope that it was an encouragement to you, especially if you are sensing a similar invitation from God to take a break or practice silence and solitude.
Next week, I’ll be sharing a conversation with a friend about loving our family members who are not believers. It is tender and raw and hopeful all at the same time. I can’t wait for you to hear it. Until then, let’s encourage one another…
- Episode 109: It’s Getting Real: God’s Invitation to Me for the Rest of Lent
- Episode 92: Practicing the Holy Hush Instead of the Holiday Hustle: Intentionally Inviting Moments of Deep Silence
- Episode 94: Entering the Silence and Stillness with God: A Conversation with Blogger and Writer Celia Miller
Learn more and register for Journal Gently, an 8-week program designed to help you use writing as a way to process hurt, grief, and trauma with God.