There's no sale here. No Black Friday ad. No click funnel. Nope. I'm not that great at sales.
I am great at sharing with you what I'm passionate about - and making sure you pay attention to and take care of your body and spirit. That's why I'm so excited about this Advent season and journeying with you through my new book, Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Advent Devotional for the Whole Self.
My friends, I LOVE the seasons of Advent and Christmas. But it's not always easy. Not all my Christmas memories are joy-filled and positive, and neither are yours. I had a stroke nearly 17 years ago - on my December birthday - that left me in a hospital room for Advent 2005. You could say that this shift in my journey invited me into more presence and embodiment. That crisis changed my life and asked me to be present in my body in entirely different and new ways with God. It actually helped me discover more hope.
But guess what? You do not need a crisis to journey closer to God this Advent season. You just need a little bit of hope and the time set aside time to do it. A reader emailed me this week that she couldn't get the book in time for Advent. I told her that was just fine, to practice presence until it arrived! Your journey is not confined to the calendar. But if you're like me and need a little accountability that does include a calendar, I have a free one for you. I'll be coloring in my days with words or images and some markers noting when I feel close to God.
Also, here's an early invitation from the book to get you started. I hope you'll use it amidst the scrolling of sales to kindle some hope in a world that truly needs it.
Close your eyes and ask yourself: Where do you feel hope in your body? Many of us connect to hope with our heart or our gut. Maybe hope to you is more about reason and thought, and you feel it in your head. Maybe for you hope is about doing something, and you feel it in your hands and your feet. Think about where you feel hope. Take a few breaths and try to connect with where you feel it inside yourself. Then, place a hand on that part of your body and breathe. If you are struggling to connect hope with a physical part of yourself, simply place a hand over your heart and ask God for hope as you breathe.
When you are ready to move on, ask yourself if there is a part of you that is holding back from feeling hope, perhaps even to protect you. It's not uncommon for us to put up walls to avoid disappointment. This is a normal response. However, I invite you to think about what it would look like to hope with your entire being. What would it mean this season? What could it look like?
As a Christian, you already know the end of the Advent story. Christ is coming! Not "Christ might come," or "Christ will get around to coming eventually," but "Christ is coming." The gift of Christ is the physical symbol of our hope in human form. Christ is God with us, let that fill you with hope for the days to come!
The Lenten season is upon us and I don't know about you but I am admittedly tired of giving up!
The past two years have been filled with "giving up" things, not by choice, that drew me closer to my Creator (like travel, for example). Oops, see number 5 below.
But this invitation of "giving up" for Lent need not be about letting go for the sake of letting go or letting go with remorse. We are invited to let go of things that get in our way of connecting with God and make room for more time with our God in these 40 days leading up to Easter.
So I am pondering things beyond the standard list I've chosen to give up in the past (like chocolate and wine). I'm pondering things (actions/habits) that will give me a more peace-filled, embodied, and connected journey to God if I let them go - once and for all! Below is a list of a dozen things I am "giving up" this year.
12 Things I Am Giving Up
Ouch, huh?! Does one jump out to you more than another? Once you have found your place to start, take a deep breath and let it soak in a bit. Will you choose to practice letting it go and give it up - for Lent and even beyond!?
Without this (or these) in your life, there's more room to listen and draw nearer to God. There's space to be a world changer and a difference maker. Practice letting go and you'll walk into Easter better knowing a Christ who lived without these 12!
Giving up also gives us room to lean in a bit more. Do you need help along the way to stay connected with your whole self and listen to your Creator (not that other stuff)? If you have your copy of Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit on your shelf, it's the perfect 40 day companion to make room for more trust, community, peace, healing, love, joy, wisdom, connection, and hope in your life with Christ. Consider picking it up and begin again your time of holy listening with God.
How will you choose to journey through these 40 days towards Easter? What will you give up this year (or maybe even for good)? What will you pick up?
I've been working on something exciting while patiently waiting to share it with you. Finally, the title of my Advent devotional for 2022 is available to share!
Fully Human, Fully Divine: An Advent Devotional for the Whole Self
Ah, this captures the invitation of an embodied journey with the embodied Christ! Each week of this devotional provides prompts for using your whole self to meet God as you prepare to receive the hope, peace, joy, and love the Advent season offers you.
This book, published by Upper Room Books, will be available in plenty of time for Christmas 2022. Most exciting, an e-course option from the publisher will be available. That means they are recording bonus content for me to share with you, and you (or your small group) can journey through the book with ME. But if you want the behind-the-scenes scoop all along the way next year, be sure to join our new online community. I'll share the details there first as we prepare to release this new content and experience for Christmas next year.
Thanks for celebrating this new release with me and make plans now to journey with me toward Christmas 2022!
Are you longing for more this Lenten season? Looking for ways to connect your body and spirit? Seeking accountability and connection along the way? Grab your copy of Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit and join us for this online retreat.
Over 40 days, you'll receive direct support and encouragement from Whitney as well as bonus teachings using the book, Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit. Included in your retreat is access to our new Peace Seekers online community.
This Lenten season, give yourself the gift of safe space and explore God's peace in the process! Your retreat is open now with instant access to help you begin preparing for your Lenten journey.
The 40-day experience will begin on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021. Will you join us for accountability and connection this season as we listen and prepare ourselves for Easter? Click below for full details and to register today.
Oh, coronavirus, you've taken too much from us this year, retreats included. However, I am so very excited to share with you each that online retreats are here.
YES! We're finally ready to begin our journey of online retreats at Exploring Peace Ministries. It's been a challenging season for all of us to find new ways to interact and connect in our businesses, churches, communities, and relationships. After pausing all in-person retreats for 2020 due to COVID-19, I wasn't sure what was next. Yet after much discernment and lots of prayer and help, I've discovered and created a safe online space that I think you're going to love. Yes, it's possible to connect in safe space amidst a pandemic and I can't wait for us to begin. I'm more than thrilled to be hosting my online retreat book experience for you in a new space, our Peace Seekers Community. You'll find me there now along with our community moderator, Lauren, and a handful of Beta Testers. If you register for the Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit book retreat, you'll gain access to our community and see exactly what's in it for you (encouragement, connection, community with other Peace Seekers just to name a few)! The retreat and our new community is open as of TODAY!
Retreat materials will be available for pre-work beginning August 17th. Our 40 Days together and live teachings begin September 1st! Don't miss out on this chance to offer your body and spirit a reboot in community. I am so excited to journey through the book with you!
seismic shift, noun: a great change
Gracious, friends. The last time I posted anything at the blog was April. It's now...October. I had no idea it had been so long since I sat down here to write. What happened? I'm "supposed to be" a writer!
Well, I think it's a combination of quite a few things. The first component is grace. YAY for grace! I am discovering the grace to let go of my "perfect plan" and realize if you don't get a blog post from me, it is quite likely...you do not even miss it. After all, you're bombarded with words from every direction on a moment by moment basis. A dormant blog does not cause a seismic shift.
But life surely does! And, sometimes you get stuck before you can shift. Who is with me?
What has led me to my recent shift? A perfect combination of season of life challenges like parenting (being a mom to a teen is so very different than being a mom to a toddler, I'm learning) and healthcare needs (I haven't had a thyroid since I was 18 years old and my body is experiencing a shift in hormones too, anybody relate?). Nothing huge on its own, but definitely plenty of change. And I got stuck amidst the change. Stuck in my head. Stuck in my body. Stuck.
My stuck spirit needed a shift. My soul needed some TLC. Pardon me for not taking the time to share much of this shift. So, since I get asked a lot for resources, I thought popping in to share some of my recent shifting tools may be helpful.
My soul care toolbox currently includes:
NOTE: I feel like this is really important to say because people assume since soul care is my passion that I experience bliss-filled consistent meditations and hear from God every time I sit down to pray or practice. Ummmm, no. It's a practice to embrace any of these and to care for yourself, my friends. Don't think it has to be perfect or ideal. Simply start where you are and practice. It's in the practice that we find the shift.
How do you care for your body and your soul when you need to shift? Sometimes it takes getting stuck to realize we can indeed create great change in our lives and shift toward God's peace with purposeful practices and habits. If you're stuck, I pray you find a seismic shift! Let me know if you explore some of these tools and how they offer you peace on your journey. What's in your soul care toolbox these days?
Sometimes you have to zoom out before you can refocus the camera, my friend texted me. Yes, that's what these days before Easter have been about for me. Zooming out so I can see again. Discovering focus. Discovering refuge with God.
2017 has been zoomed in so far - packed with opportunities to share and celebrate the release of Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit. And a time to soak up being in my community offering local events and workshops. April so far has been for zooming out and refocusing (and washing all the laundry!). And I'm so grateful; the timing couldn't be better.
Holy Week is nearly here! There is much to mourn, there is much to celebrate. There is much to experience, to taste, and to see! Psalm 34:8 in the Common English Bible (my current favorite version) says, "Taste and see how good the Lord is! The one who takes refuge in him is truly happy!" In zooming out, I find refuge in God. In zooming out, I find courage to journey off the beaten path. In zooming out, I can taste and see the good things.
Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey off the Beaten Path has been my Audible read during my morning walk/run lately And wow, has it come at just the right time! Many good things are happening with the ministry of Exploring Peace and amidst this my mom asked me recently, "So, are you practicing what you preach?"
Ping. I'm thankful a mother's love can survive asking such a question. Time for a bit of self-reflection.
So, you could say that read came at a good time. Erin spoke to my heart. And her book wasn't all about building boundaries and saying no to life or stuff (well, maybe some of it). Erin's message invites us to journey the path just for us. Erin invites us to taste and see what God offers us! Erin reminded me to discover joy and delight and not to rush past it.
Yes, I share and teach and offer soul care resources for others. I LOVE my job - zoomed in or zoomed out. They say we are drawn to what we long for most. I long for soul care on this journey. I think we all do. And, you know one thing that is really good for my soul? JOY! My spiritual director and I spent an entire year exploring the concept of finding joy and delight (my homework one month was to blow bubbles - a practice I often invite my retreatants to experience). Delight! And, I think I'm finally getting brave enough to pause and lavish in it. Sound ridiculous? Maybe it's time for more bubbles.
Brené Brown reminded me recently (in one of her talks, not over a cup of tea, wouldn't that be fun!?) that as a culture, we don't know how to experience joy. We rush right past it rather than embrace it. We expect the worst. We move on to the next thing. We rush past a lot, don't we? Okay, book release is complete. Oh, well. That was good...done. What's next?
Nope, I'm choosing to pause right here and give thanks for the joy of this season, for the privilege of publishing my first devotional book, for good health that allowed me a ton more travel than I'm comfortable with in a couple of months time, and now for the chance to take long walks while I learn to chase slow. If I'm being honest, finding joy in chasing slow is harder than it seems.
How are you journeying off the beaten path? How are you chasing slow?
In chasing my own slow and finding my joy, I helped set up a prayer room for my son's youth group this week. And, I couldn't find a reflection mandala that fit our theme of Psalm 34. So, I created one! This brought me joy and the only thing that brings more joy is sharing it with you. Download it here if you'd like. And if praying with mandalas is new to you, check out my friend (and fellow Upper Room author) Sharon's new book, Praying with Mandalas. It's a delightful introduction to using mandalas for prayer and reflection.
Blessings on your Holy Week. May you taste and see, may you discover joy and delight in the good around you as you find refuge in our God this Easter season.
As you can see from the previous post, the book signing and celebration at Parnassus was a great joy. Thanks to your support, the book was the number one seller at the bookstore and was even listed in The Tennessean as such. Truly never imagined this! They do have some signed copies left in stock, as of this week. Stop by and say hello to their amazing staff.
Many of you have sent me messages about your own 40-day journeys and your story of healing and wholeness. I’m indeed on my own journey and it gives me great honor to companion you in yours.
And you have asked, how can I help? Here are some ideas:
Simply contact me to share your thoughts. It is an honor to be a companion on your spiritual formation journey.
In Nashville, Parnassus Books is known and loved by locals and visitors alike. Just recently, I read an article from co-owner (and one of my favorite authors), Ann Patchett, about planning your travels around amazing local booksellers like Parnassus. And, if you're in Nashville, you are in for a treat as you don't have to travel far. Parnassus is a gem to Nashvillians.
So when my fantastic editor at Upper Room Books, emailed me to share that we would be celebrating the launch of Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit at Parnassus in January, I was a wee bit (okay, a lot) excited. There is much that goes in to giving life to a book. And, Parnassus fully understands and appreciates this fact. It seemed the perfect place to celebrate this devotional's birthing. Their team was awesome. I arrived to the beautiful cover (envisioned by the Upper Room team after I shared my heart and ideas) filling the window of the shop. Greeted by friendly staff and the shop dog (neither of which treated me like a "newbie" author but instead welcomed me with open arms and a wagging tail).
Book supporters (I have some pretty amazing friends, you know who you are, thank you!) began arriving as I ran to the restroom to take a deep breath. My heart was racing and I wondered how or why God invited me here. Who, me Lord? We soon ran out of chairs and strangers even paused to join us in this very special place.
In Greek Mythology, Parnassus is known as the home of music and poetry. Truth is, I am a huge music and poetry fan! Although I'm not well-versed in the myths of ancient Greece. And, while there was no audible soundtrack, it felt like it. I was asked to read some of my story from the introduction to the book and answer questions - both of which felt extraordinarily daunting. Who, me?
In a standing-room-only middle-of-a-bookstore, I shared God's nudges and longings. I invited people (some who simply came to grab their copy of Zadie's new book - which is on my reading list!) to listen for God with their whole self - breath, body, and spirit. You see, Parnassus Books may have made me feel like the special guest as a local author (I was even invited to sign their author's book), yet it isn't about me at all. It's about you - your whole self. God created you with breath, body, and spirit. God created you to listen for those nudges and dreams. God created you to release your fears. God created you to come alive with purpose. God created you.
Reflecting in Parnassus helped me claim this for myself and for you too.
Yes, Lord. Me.
Scripture reading is an important spiriutal discipline in my life. There are seasons when I long for in-depth Bible study and there are seasons when I long for more of a meditative style scripture reading. The first approach is informational, the second is formational. Both are important on the spiritual formation journey.
Lectio Divina is the style of reading scripture I enjoy most regularly. Clearly, it is one of my favorite ways of spending time with God as my new devotional Holy Listening with Breath, Body, and the Spirit includes 40 different selections for Lectio Divina (latin for meditative reading). It's a fairly simple way, yet also very transformative, to spend time in scripture as you read and reflect on how the scripture touches you. You read, reflect, respond, and rest in God's word.
But, where do you start and how do you select a passage if you don't have a guide in your hand? In this season of life, my time in scripture follows the lectionary (a 3-year cycle of readings throughout the old and new testament). There are two main tools I use as my guide for following the lectionary. The first one is published by Upper Room Books each year, Disciplines 2017. This in-depth little book is loaded with deep yet also brief daily thoughts from 52 various writers. Each week the writers reflect on the weekly lectionary passages and invite you in to deeper reflection and study. I have turned to Disciplines over the years (for my personal study and for leading small groups). This year, I am truly humbled to be included as one of those 52 writers in the 2017 edition and Iook forward to journeying with these thoughts throughout the year.
Next up, and newest to my spiritual formation tool kit, is the Sacred Ordinary Days Planner. This planner includes the current lectionary passages for the week and follows the liturgical year. The liturgical year is also known as the Christian Year. It includes all the seasons of the church (lent, advent, easter, etc.). If you're new to discovering the rhythm of the liturgical year and long for a community of resources, check out Sacred Ordinary Days! My friend, Jenn Giles Kemper, is the founder of this soul-stirring company (you can check out the new calendars at the link below). Sacred Ordinary Days now offers weekly and monthly formatted planners for your year and include much more than simply a guide to the liturgical calendar. Great for personal reflection and for daily planning. Check them out!
It is with Lectio Divina, the Lectionary, and embracing the Liturgical year that I discover the rhythm I long for in a new calendar year. How do you plan to spend time in God's word in 2017?
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC