God is sending love letters by of divine arrows, pointing to what may seem like random details but are significant signposts of his covenant with us. Rhythms of Rest, Page 131
Tired. Weary. Drained. Ironically, that’s how I began the US book tour for Rhythms of Rest last October. I couldn’t see the arrows for the busyness.
That’s why, months before leaving London, I planned to land in Kansas first. I walked from the plane, through the security glass while holding a retractable banner in one hand and a suitcase filled with gifts in the other; directly into the embrace of my friend, LuAnn.
“I feel like I want to cry,” she exclaimed.
But we laughed instead.
And then we laughed more a few days later when Kelly arrived from San Diego in that same airport. We huddled in a circle among disembarking passengers, rejoicing that God brought us together once again.
“You’re an author,” Kelly said, throwing her head back while squeezing my hand.
Two decades ago, we met in Phoenix and have remained best friends even though thousands of miles separate us.
Thinking about that unusual grace makes me want to cry now as I write this.
The next day, Aunt Paula arrives by car from Oklahoma, hugging a glass pumpkin filled with candy corn, LuAnn’s love language. It was the first time for the two of them to meet. Aunt Paula has been paying attention to the details of my life since the day I was born.
We brew cups of tea, sit around the kitchen table, popping sugary cones into our mouths like punctuation marks on the ends of sentences. And Paula recounts the details as the questions come from my friends. About that day, when I arrived in Tulsa on a Greyhound bus from Missouri at seventeen and moved into her tiny, one bedroom apartment.
But instead of the normal pain I experience rehearsing childhood memories, the unexpected arrival of grace brings beauty, of Light and love shining through the cracks of our brokenness.
Listening, I realized how much I’d forgotten, how much I have forgiven, and how much I am loved.
I’ve not been able to write effortlessly here ever since.
How does one walk back into life without a limp after experiencing rescue from the wilderness of destructive self-talk? How do you go on living as if life is the same when you are not?
There is a way that seems right to a (wo)man but its end is the way to death. And once the lies I tell myself are exposed in love’s perspective, new life begins. Love always wins.
People don’t change because we judge them; people change because we love them.
Three women have unceasingly thrown ropes and pulled me out of the Hades I listen to in my head.
Receive the love of Jesus through one person and be forever changed.
I came to Kansas first because I knew they would love me back from tired, weary, and drained into liking myself again.
Rest in what God thinks of you and experience true Sabbath.
We finish each other’s sentences while slurping blueberry kale shakes, shop the aisles at TJ Maxx, and share pizza smothered in garlic like it’s our last supper. Because it is.
I could tell you about the generous dinner party they host for me with guests. Laura, a bestie from high school arrives first; the friend I was living with when I boarded the Greyhound. She and Aunt Paula meet for the first time in LuAnn’s living room.
How Natalie arrives on the front stoop with her daughter Elyse, after driving all day from Iowa. Our first time to meet in person after countless emails between us.
Many details but I’ll just leave it at this: I’ve had a dream never uttered except in quiet conversations with God. Friends and relatives from every stage of my blessed life converging in one place.
And all the unlikely, pie in the sky, grandiose wishes are granted, beginning in Kansas and every state I visit thereafter.
See yourself through the looking glass of God’s heart and all the ways you’ve been loved come clearly into focus.
Six days after leaving London, LuAnn and I lounge under a canopy of trees shedding golden with feet propped up on a table, marveling about the curiously warm October throughout the US. Surrounded by the rustle of dry leaves on pavement and the glow of slanted light, I replay several conversations, hours before my first speaking engagement. And Paula arrives with a gift.
A silver necklace from Dayspring because she’s read Chapter Seven: Watch for the Arrows. And this day, this time, this book journey, the gift – it all feels a little perfect.
On the day we choose to abide on Sabbath, he appears like a gift delivered on our doorstep or an arrow shooting across a cloudless sky. He longs for relationship more than anything we can do for him. The signs are all around. Watch for the arrows. Rhythms of Rest, Pg. 131
Because so many of you have emailed me with the link to the arrow necklace after reading Rhythms of Rest, the kind people at Dayspring are giving away Christmas gifts!
An arrow necklace because we all need to remember to Follow Him when life becomes frantic with busy. Psst . . . surprise! It’s on a special sale until December 14th, grab a few for stocking stuffers!
And they’re giving away this wooden plaque with a reminder from the book of James.
Answer this question in the comments for a chance to win a necklace or the plaque: What are some of the arrows God is using to reveal His love for you right now?
Download printable holiday bookmarks and memes to use as gift tags FREE as my gift to you! Order Rhythms of Rest here and give the gift of rest to a weary world this Christmas.
And I wrote a poem, my first ever, about my time with girlfriends in Kansas and Tweetspeak featured it here.
Two winners will be selected on December 15.
Shelly, Truly included in special memories…. Our time in Kansas. Not only was it the joy of some quality time with you and “your besties” and meeting Laura; but also to see you shine as you spoke about your book. I am deeply happy for you and proud of you. You are loved and are leading others to realize we are all loved by God. Missing you; the separation of so many miles this time of the year is difficult.
I have had your book sitting on my desk waiting to be read. I have picked it up a dozen times but only this week did it feel right. It was time. Oh my word, it is piercing my heart in a million different ways. This season is especially hard when family seems to be the circle and well, our quiver will forever remain empty. I have long struggled with the belonging and fitting in. Years ago I was the outsider in all the playgroups and MOPs conversations. I never had to juggle soccer games or ballet classes. Prom, graduations, college, weddings, etc…never my responsibility. Much seemed missing but busyness can hide a good bit and I kept myself busy. Now, even the busy is cavernous. So I sit here, re-reading chapters 1 and 2. (I realized after I started I need to begin again savoring, underlining and breathing it in.) I haven’t read chapter 7 yet but this post leaves me hungry for it. For me right now, this book is an arrow.
Oh Shelly. This brought tears to my eyes and a truth to my heart. When I have been feeling low, God has been using His creation to speak to me. I have been dreading the winter months with the dark nights, but the sun rises in the morning have been absolutely breath taking the last couple of weeks…glimpses of His love shining through cracks in the trees have been my arrows to show how much He loves me.
Profound reflections on the gift of friends in the Lord–friends who gather you up, encourage your soul, and send you back out into the world changed. And some words that echo in my mind: “How does one walk back into life without a limp after experiencing rescue from the wilderness of destructive self-talk? How do you go on living as if life is the same when you are not?” A challenging and beautiful post in many ways, Shelly.
Such truth !
Tears well up as I remember where I was and now where He has brought me to……..
Thanking God that He never leaves us where He finds us, and so thankful that He has used many arrows in my life to guide me on this sometimes wearying journey.
Currently He is using the birth of a long awaited granddaughter to point me back to the fact that He is always redeeming and giving good gifts :))
Arrows – what a fantastic way to remember that God will point you in the direction of His grace, His love, His mercy…I am tired, worn out, dealing and physical and psychological issues this morning…but also know that my Bible is there is read, to peruse, and focus on. God gave me the arrows “nudge” to get to church last night (even though i was running horrendously late) – allowing me the time to pray with God’s people in God’s house, to speak with a woman who had just met my parents the day before, to have my granddaughter spend time with me after church,…
Arrows – sometimes they pierce…When the work environment you thought was so wonderful, is found to be threatening and cold. But God isn’t and He wants me to either stay and fight or to look elsewhere (so am doing both…).
Arrows – finding out that your blood pressure is sky high and perhaps, after all this time, I’m being directed to take care of myself.
Thank you Shelly for taking your time to write these words of wisdom. Have a blessed day.
Jackie, Sometimes those arrows of discomfort in your work are God nudging you on. Other times, those arrows are poking you, so that others can see how a Christian responds. You never know who is watching you. I’ve had quite a few arrows at work lately, and the pokes have gotten to me, until I asked God for His perfect peace. You know what? I have that peace now. The arrows are still poking me, I think towards retirement. Father, thank You for the arrows. They truly are directional arrows. Give us Your perfect wisdom and peace as we follow the arrows. Fill Jackie with Your rest in Your peace and wisdom. In the name of Jesus, we pray, Amen
Such a joy Shelly to read about where the arrows have been pointing since your childhood. God is so faithful. And so are you. I love reading about this beautiful reunion. Surely He is doing a great thing in your life as you continue to lead women to rest in Him.
His Word and quiet time with Him are my main arrows in this season of life.
I love this post and getting to see and hear about your deep friendships, which God preserved through time and over oceans. God is using an Advent devotional I’ve been reading to remind me to slow down and enjoy the moments of Christmas. I’m enjoying reading again the stories I’ve heard so many times and seeing them in new ways.
Oh Arrows… yes and amen! Love this, and you, and Dayspring for graciously partnering with you. Arrows in my life right now are simply a restoring of words written or spoken –some, my own, and some from others, that God is using to remind me of some things He has promised.
Laundry. It will never all be done, so I can choose to set it aside and look at him.
Calendar. It will always be contradictory, so I can cancel something to look at him.
My babies. At 7, 4 and 1 they remind me daily of whose child I am. It makes me feel very small and very big all at the same time.
Words of Wisdom and Life:)
This made my heart sing!
This entire Advent season has been one big arrow for me. The simplicity of the message, the beauty in the white lights and homemade ornaments are all arrows reminding me of God’s deep love for me. I so loved your book and am looking forward to reading it again in the new year. Blessings!
I have 7 arrows in the form of my grandchildren. All under the age of four. I am reminded daily of what restoration, grace, forgiveness, love & mercy actually look like. Statistically, this life I am living should have never been. I am eternally grateful for all God has not only given me but allowed me to be a witness & participant in that will change every generation in our family for eternity.
The word LOVE is my arrow right now. I am feeling God’s love for me in new and fresh ways. His word is ALIVE and I’m soaking in the love story that He has written to me. This Advent season has been so refreshing as I try to rest in His incredible, vast, never-ending, faithful love for me. I’ve also been amazed how His LOVE showers on me in so many ways. I believe I’m taking the time to breathe in His love that He showers on me through texts from friends, hugs from my girls, a small gift from a mentor, reading words from you book, and my list could go on. This advent season I”m trying to make sure I”m taking the time to breathe in His LOVE for me and not get wrapped up in the hustle of the season.
He’s using my three kids, good books, my forgiving hubby, the snowy weather, and fresh ideas all as arrows pointing me to his love!
God is using this Christmas season as an arrow to point me to His love afresh as I receive new insight into the amazing gift of His Son who was made flesh and dwelt among us!
Love this…I treasure your words and reflection. My arrows are all pointing to God’s love for me and his protection of me during this hard health year. I have come through it stronger in my faith and love for God. And appreciate for life.
Learning to let go of my daughter
My husband joining me at church
Your words continue to bless and nurture!
I still love finding a feather, the evidence that a creature that is free and beautiful, that lives a simple life, one in which it soars and sings and nests and nurtures, has passed by before me…
But, the ONE thing that always makes me heart warm (and it happens EVERY time) is that when I need to go to the store for groceries and incidentals, no matter which store it is…there is always, ALWAYS, an empty parking space by the nearest “cart corral”…so I can put my shopping cart away safely as soon as I have stowed the items away in my vehicle! It might seem silly, but it is such a huge convenience for me, and such a sweet reminder that He cares for me in such a detailed way…
I love the analogy of arrows when talking about our lives and faith! Arrows point is in the right direction and just the thought of how hard a bow is pulled back, the farther the arrow will launch! Some of the arrows that I’ve noticed in my life lately are through the ministering truths of the Christmas carols playing during this holy season and from posts from beautiful Christian women that pull on the soul and stir the heart to long for God more. One other arrow in my life is a dear dear friend whom I have never met in person but who encourages me and prays for me regularly. God is so good and His reminders of His faith and His love and His grace are all around if I only have eyes to see the things He puts before me. Thank you for this beautiful post to help me stop and recognize all the arrows in my life!
His arrows are pointing me to be held and wait. The season of doing and being is changing. The arrow of His love brings Grace overflowing so in turn in this time of year in the midst of hold and wait I can shower drops of grace on the ones who He has placed in my life.
This Advent season is pointing to hope in the midst of hopelessness. A liver transplant for a dying family member, a phone call that may lead to an interview, and email of encouragement when I have lost hope.
On a disgruntled morning as I left for work, chewing on a sore point in my life, I pulled up behind a car at my first traffic light. “Beloved” the license plate in front of me read. Who calls us “Beloved” except our God? He pointed me to Himself for quietness of my mind, forgiveness for the sore point in my life and companionship in the walk I call “my life”.
I call them “love letters” and if I slow down, I see them. When I am full tilt I miss them all. It’s as simple as my favorite Christmas song coming on the radio just as I turn on the car. I love that my Heavenly Father knows all the little details about me. Sometimes the love letters are big–when I am pondering a big issue and He places the answer unequivocally before me in the words of a friend or colleague, the verses or readings of the day, in my Pastor’s sermon…He can place them anywhere, He only requires that I slow down enough to notice.
What a beautiful dream, Shelley, and what a vivid fulfillment of it! I have often had the same dream but have never told anyone, or even God, about it. I guess this post is my arrow, right, and I’ll be having a conversation with Him about this over greenery and wrapping gifts today.
I’m just starting but rest is His arrow. I didn’t think it would be so hard to Sabbath. It is a struggle for me but I’m trying to do little steps. Thanks for the encouragement.
Right now through a small group of women, studying and encouraging each other during the Advent season.
Shelly, I think God knew that rest would be hard for us humans, which is why He reminded us so often. Even after experiencing the beauty of rest, the swirl of activity seduces me into the whirlwind. What a gift to even see your book on my nightstand, reminding me to rest in Him!
I think God is refocusing me by directing me more to Advent and how through many people and many years until the right time He brought us the Greatest Gift of His Son, Jesus. He always love me (us) and always will. He got us covered. That’s is what Christmas finally is more to me this year.
Meant to say He WILL always love me (us) and He’s got us covered. Didn’t see an edit button.
Unexpected answered prayer to an expensive problem, cozy time on the couch to read and relax due to illness, glorious sunsets, twinkling lights, grace from my husband and friends, advent readings pointing to hope… thank You for these arrows of Your love God!
“Three women have unceasingly thrown ropes and pulled me out of the Hades I listen to in my head.” This phrase just summarized the arrows the Lord has constantly put in my life. He uses them regularly whenever the need arises. I am learning to let some things go this season, to evaluate what will make a lasting memory or increase spiritual growth, letting the other things go. My son, Timmy 13, is having surgery today…This will also help us prioritize life this next 16 days.
Gifts of two books about prayer and an unexpected time of conversation and connection with a new friend.
Thank you, Shelly, for sharing so poignantly from your recent book tour. Your humble appreciation of God’s grace, as expressed through relationships in your life, had me whispering, “Me, too. Me, too.”. My arrow arrived just this morning while I was working out to Christmas music. A snow flurry out the window provided a beautiful, peaceful focal point through the whole routine. I thanked God for the lovely gift, and then continued praising him for family, friends, precious Christmas memories of the past, new memories to make in the future as another grandchild arrives in January, and more. My eyes filled with tears as I contemplated God’s goodness and love!
God is using the arrow of grace to allow me to be guilt free about my decision to not send Christmas cards this year. I am in the middle of a job change and a relocation and will move permanently into my new home a week before Christmas. Christmas cards can happen next year. Maybe.
God is using the arrow of peace to remind me that after I finish at my job next week, I’ll have a couple weeks off before I (hopefully!) start a new job. I have peace in knowing that I’ll have time to rest and to accomplish. I also have peace in knowing that God has chosen my next job, even if I don’t yet know what it is.
God is using the arrow of love to remind me that he gave his only begotten Son for me. None of the other stuff matters.
Hi Shelly. Well I suffer from what I call the “hustle”. We all know what it looks like-days of getting up and hustling to get kids (and myself) ready. Then I hustle to work. Then I hustle to activities. Then I hustle home. Then I hustle dinner. Then I hustle evening chores that morph into mountains which result in no hustle to communicate with my husband. The scenario plays out on a daily basis-including Sunday. On Sunday I add in the hustle of serving at my church combined with any undone errand/chore/grading/lesson planning/etc that I could not accomplish during the week. Oh.I.Am.So.Tired. I saved your book for Thanksgiving vacation at the beach. And when I opened the pages, something happened. I could breathe. Deeply. I could list many pages that resonated with me. How I sat in the sunshine and nodded my head yes. Whispered Amen. Cried just a little. But my arrows? Page 60-“Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength”. That verse is my arrow! Shot clear across your page, through my memory, and straight to my heart. Months ago while completely wearing and burnt out, yet still hustling, this bible verse just “showed up” on my radar. I felt so convicted as I read the words! I even memorized the verse AND carry it around in my purse. But the hustle won. Sure the verse sounded good. Yes I wanted to really lean into it. But there is just.so.much.to.do. Then the second arrow shot and my mouth dropped! Page 61-I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you”-WHAT!! That is the second verse that God placed before me months ago that I loved, yet ignored. I truly believe that now is the time for me to see that God is showing me what I have felt in my heart. His mighty arrows are gently guiding me to stop the hustle and show down. And guess what:) I have done just that. For the past two weeks (the first two Sundays of Advent), I have enjoyed the total blessing of Sabbath. No hustle. No hustle. No hustle. And it is beautiful and peaceful and restful and precious.
Thank you for your words. I am so grateful for your book.
Arrows–the season has been an arrow for me. I truly enjoy the season. Most Christmas seasons I get consumed in the busyness. I’ve been busy at work, but the busyness of Christmas, this year has been enjoyable. I’ve enjoyed creating the cards and writing notes in them. I’ve enjoyed decorating and remembering Christmases past. However, this season is different–more depth. Christmas is an arrow for us to redirect our thoughts and understanding to what matters. God, our Everlasting Father, loves us so much that He sent His only begotten Son, Jesus, to empty Himself of His glory and become a poor baby born in a stable to a peasant girl. He would learn to be a carpenter. And yet, this poor carpenter would turn the world upside down! He would heal the sick restore sight to the blind, touch the leper, and raise the dead. He taught like no other rabbi–with authority from heaven. This Son of Man loves us so much, that He took our sin upon Himself and died on the cross to pay the price of our sins. And He conquered death by rising!
Oh, how HE loves us!
This is the arrow that I hope everyone follows this Christmas season. God bless you.
So many “arrows” are my “manna” during times of serious trials….walks with my dog, fresh blanket of snow, a sunset, a sweet conversation with one of my daughters or son, a surprise gift from a friend, a surprise trip of love from friends, His Word feeding my soul, ….He Sees me, He Knows me…HE IS WITH ME….goes Before me! All Praise and Glidy to Him!!!
I am just now noticing arrows. Looking forward to reading your book.
An arrow for me means a way to point at Jesus. Reminding me to look at him always as my anchor.
The passing of my father-in-law.
It has made me treasure the time I have left with my mother all the more.
I have a magnet given to me by a dear friend that is on my frig with this G.K. Chesterton quote:
“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.”
(it has a picture of him with his wife in the background)
kinda looks like he’s remembering her as if in a word bubble in a cartoon