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Holding what gives you life
September 12, 2013

If you are a new subscriber, welcome! To all who have waited a long time for this next edition of Refresh your Soul, enjoy the read. A thriving ministry (read about it in my blog ) has kept the editions sparse this year, but this one is packed full for you …

Inside this issue:
Holding what gives you life
Prayers to the Living Word
October Getaway with God/Stilteweekend
Silent Retreat (3-8 November)
Christian Associates Retreat

Holding what gives you life
prayerful review of the day

A delightful little book arrived through my door last week, which has opened the door to life-giving prayers in our home this week. Sleeping with Bread is an unlikely title for a book on prayer. A lovely little story inspired the title but that's the authors' story to tell.

The book presents a simple means of prayer. In its simplest form we look back on our day by reflecting upon two questions:

For what moment today am I most grateful?
For what moment today am I least grateful?

We reflect in the awareness of God's loving presence. And then we share our answers, either with our companion(s) or privately with God. That’s it!

Traditionally this is called Examen Prayer. Or Review of the Day. My colleague in our silent weeks calls it ‘levensgebed’ or ‘life prayer’. It’s easy enough to do every day, and the impact of this little prayer can be huge.

As I look back through my day, looking for the moments for which I’m most and least grateful, something significant happens.

I notice what gives me life.

I notice how God has been present with me. I notice graces (blessings) that may have passed me by if I’d not stopped to look back. I notice what energizes me and makes me grateful. As I hold these life-giving things, I become more intentionally grateful for the gifts of this particular day. I cherish them more.

I also notice what does not bring me life.

I notice choices I’ve made that were not life-giving, and this helps me to resolve not to make the same mistake tomorrow. (If I do, though, God’s grace is there waiting for me just like today.) I notice sadnesses and struggles, and doing Examen helps me to hold them in prayer. As I find words to express what I notice, the sharing brings these things into the open and lessens their power. And as I learn to live with the mystery of what remains unresolved in my heart, I’m learning the wisdom of Rachel Renen when she says, “An unanswered question is a fine traveling companion. It sharpens your eyes for the road."

Some days I have to search hard for the things I'm least grateful for. Other days it’s the other way around. But each time I follow this simple way of prayer, a few significant things grow within my soul:

1) My resolve to live in gratitude flourishes. After ending my day this way, it’s so much easier the next morning to pull on an attitude of gratitude before my feet hit the floor.

2) My awareness that God is lovingly present with me throughout my days also grows. Simultaneously, so does my willingness to respond in ways that will bless God’s heart. Life-giving? You bet!

3) I find myself increasingly able to discern and embrace the life-giving things.

All this from two simple questions?! How about trying it for a week? Or a month? Do a little experiment to see what it does for you. Then I’d love to hear what it does for you!

Prayers to the Living Word
Deeper Devotion on Facebook

As I've prioritizing face-to-face time over writing over the past several months, my Facebook presence has been sparse to none. My approach on Facebook is project-oriented. I take on a new project when I feel inspired and, in between, I release myself from the expectation of regular posts.

So it's been a while. But the inspiration has returned.

In my daily devotional times, I’ve just begun to walk through the Gospel of John. Deeper Devotion on Facebook is featuring responses that emerge from these times. Short, artful prayers to Jesus, the Living Word.

Posts won’t necessarily appear daily, but whenever something lovely emerges which might be stimulating for others, you’ll find it there. Prayers like this one …

O Light who desires to shine through me,
make me aware of when my sheen's grown dull.
Then take me into your kind hands,
and polish me to a luster.
(a prayer after John 1:6-9)

These are also accessible on my website though they're posted there periodically rather than daily.

Upcoming Events in Holland
October Getaway with God
11-13 October 2013

Ladies! A new season has begun. Is this a fitting time for you to set apart a weekend for just you and God? A Getaway with God / Silent weekend offers you 48 hours of connection and refreshment that will inspire your walk with God for the year ahead.

You'll find all the details and registration info--along with feedback from past participants—at the Getaway with God or Stilteweekend pages.

2 things to note:
1. There are still several places left in this retreat which is rather unusual. Registering by 19 September is advised, as this is when I need to inform the sisters about our numbers. Although registration will stay open after this date until the retreat is full, we can’t guarantee room availability after 20 September.

2. Something new: The guided moments during these weekends will now be held in Dutch OR English, varying from retreat to retreat. The October weekend will be led in Dutch. The January weekend will be led in English.

Registration for the next English-led Getaway, 31 January-2 February 2014, will open in mid-October.

Silent Retreat
5 days set apart for God
3-8 November 2013

Getaway with God participants often go home wishing they had more time to come to a place of rest and seek God's presence. A couple of these participated in our first 5-day silent retreat last March, which was a beautiful and powerful experience for all. If you long for more, this 5-day retreat may be just what you are looking for.

Five days dedicated to meeting with God and turning your attention to how God is working within you. Twice daily guided prayer services and daily conversations with a spiritual director assist in navigating the silence and discerning what God is doing within.

This is an opportunity for both men and women.

A few spots remain open still. If you are interested, don't wait too long to register … or at least to indicate your interest with an email . You'll find all the information @ Silent Retreat or Stilteweek

Note: The guided prayer times will be conducted in Dutch. Spiritual direction sessions will take place in your choice of Dutch or English. Conversations with God can take place in whatever language you choose.

Soul Replenishment Retreat
specifically for Christian Associates staff
13-16 January 2014

As my retreat ministry develops, I’ve received multiple invitations to lead silent retreats for other groups. A weekend with Navigator students and one for seekers within the Vineyard Amsterdam community were on the agenda last May, and in January I will lead one for Christian Associates International, the church-planting organization with whom I worked during my first decade of living in Europe.

Although this is an 'invitation only retreat', I share this here for 2 reasons: 1) to make the link available to readers who are with CA (easily forwardable to potentially interested colleagues, and 2) to get the word out about tailor-made retreats-by-invitation. My availability is limited but possible with sufficient forward planning.

Read about the CAI Retreat .

May holding what gives you life lead you into fertile spaces.

With grace,

Elizabeth de Smaele
MMus, MDiv, CSD
Amstelveen, The Netherlands

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