Welcome to the Cafe…

sab-bath /ˈsabəTH/noun;  a day of rest.

Hi there, thanks for stopping by.  I started writing as a way to process my spiritual journey.  During that time, I was drawn to the idea of rest.  That’s when the title, “Sabbath Cafe,” came to me.  As sabbath is meant to be a time for rest and restoration, I hope this blog will bring peace and vitality to all who visit.

Sit back, relax and enjoy the view.

Your spiritual barista,
Michele

Podcast #113 Learning to hear from God (6:36) (Connecting with God #3)

Folks often ask me how do I hear from God. It’s actually pretty simple, but it’s a very personal experience. I’ll share a great exercise to help you get started.

Here’s the podcast transcript:

Welcome to the Sabbath Cafe Podcast. This is episode 113 – learning how to hear from God.

One of the questions people often ask me is how do you hear from the Lord.  I always have a hard time explaining because I think this is a very personal experience. But there are practices that can help.  So that’s what we’ll talk about today.

Let me just clarify first… that hearing from God isn’t anything weird or strange. It’s not like you hear this “deep voice” from the sky.  It’s really just learning how God communicates with us in a personal way.  Hearing from God is also a major part of the Christian tradition. From Catholic to Protestant groups, You’ll find many classical Christian literatures that talk about it. I learned a lot from reading classics like “Practicing the Presence of God” by Brother Lawrence and “Celebration of Discipline” by Richard Foster. Hearing God is an essential part of our spiritual heritage.

For many of us today, when we think about this topic, we tend to imagine God speaking from heaven in a booming voice. There may even be thunder and lightning in the background.  Kind of like what happens in a Disney movie, right? But in reality, it’s the complete opposite.  When God wants to communicate with us personally, He actually speaks in a gentle and quiet voice.

It’s like that Bible passage when Elijah hid in the mountains after his big showdown with Jezebel. And God came to meet him. There first came this great and powerful wind that tore the mountains apart, but God was not in the wind. After the wind, there was a powerful earthquake that shook things up, but God was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there came a fire. But God was not in the fire. And after the fire, God showed up in a whisper. And that’s when Elijah went to meet God.

And that’s how God speaks in my life too, with a still and quiet whisper. That’s why when I’m seeking God’s insight and wisdom, I need to first calm down my heart. I notice that when I’m relaxed, I can sense God’s thoughts more clearly. However, if I’m feeling stressed or worried about something,  it’s hard for me to sort out what God is trying to tell me.  And it’s not until I journal and process through some things to calm those emotions down, and then, I can sense more clearly what God is trying to say.

So in today’s session, let’s look at some easy steps to help you practice how to tune into God’s still small voice.

I really think the most important part in learning to hear God’s voice is learning to pay attention to God. The truth is if you’re used to multi-tasking or doing many things at the same time, it’s very hard to hear God when you’re in that mode.  Because all of the things you’re doing will distract you and drown out God’s quiet whispers.  So I recommend that in the beginning, you set aside time when you can be alone. And if you can’t be alone, find some time when you can give God your full attention.

Now relax, and take a deep breath.  In the beginning, pray this prayer, “Lord, I’m here to meet with you.  You have my full attention, come and meet with me.” We declare to God and to ourselves that this is our focus.  And then focus on a short prayer like “Thank you Lord, Thank you Jesus.”  “I love You, Jesus.”  And if any thought or worry suddenly rise up, acknowledge them, and simply pray, “Lord, I just give this concern to you.”  Return to your simple prayer – “Thank you Jesus. I love you Jesus.” and continue to focus on God.

After a couple of minutes, your heart will relax and you’ll begin to calm down. As you start to feel more at peace, the thoughts that usually clutter your mind will clear up.  And that’s when God’s thoughts will quietly appear.  Sometimes, God chose to be silent, and that’s fine. Allow your heart to rest and just enjoy the Peace and Stillness for as long as you can.

The first few times you try this, maybe you won’t sense anything yet. And you may still get distracted. And that’s okay.  Just like everything else, it gets better with practice. 

And as you continue these short sessions where you learn to focus your heart and your mind solely on God, then it will become easier, and you’ll know how to tune into God’s voice in your own way. 

Just remember this.  God wants us to succeed. And as we make our hearts available to Him. The Holy Spirit will come and help us learn how to dwell in Peace.

Eventually, as you become familiar with hearing God’s voice, you’ll start to recognize His voice throughout your day even when you’re busy.   For me, God often talks to me when I’m driving, or when I’m on a walk. And lately, He’s been especially chatty when I’m doing dishes. 🙂 

So as you can see, there’s no secret handshake when it comes to hearing from God.  All you need is a willingness to hang out with Jesus. And it’s just like making a new friend. The more time you spend together, the better you’ll get to know each other.  

I hope what I’ve shared has been helpful, and I’m excited to see what God will show you this week. Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

Podcast #112 Finding a theme for your spiritual walk (4:19) (Connecting with God #2)

Starting a new journey often feels intimidating. I share some prompts and questions in this episode to help you find a personal focus for your spiritual path.

Here’s the podcast transcript:

Welcome to Sabbath Cafe Podcast. You’re listening to Episode 112 – Finding a personal theme for your spiritual life.

So last time we talked about writing a letter to God. And it’s a chance to get reacquainted. I hope you at least gave it a try. I’m hoping writing a letter gave you some momentum so you can continue that dialogue with God. Today, I’ll share about how to find a theme for your spiritual life.

When you’re starting your own spiritual journey, one of the more challenging things is that now it’s more free form. It’s not as structured.  So I get questions from people asking about that because they’re used to going to church and having a sermon or Sunday school program already planned for them.  There’s a theme that’s already picked out.  And suddenly, when you start your own walk with God, and you’re like what do I focus on? What do I do?

So today, let’s look at 2 simple ways to start your own program.

The first question I often ask people is what are some verses that you’ve been thinking about lately? If there are scriptures that come to mind a lot, start writing them down.  And look it up.  Read up the whole chapter… or the whole story, if it’s about a Bible character.  The other day, I was praying, and something reminded me about Queen Esther, so I read parts of the Book of Esther.  It was very insightful and helped answer my questions.   Is your name Joseph?  Maybe you can read up on the story of Joseph.  The key is to keep your heart open and see what truths or insights jump out at you while you’re in this process.  

Another helpful question is… what’s a topic you’ve been curious about or you think about often? Is there a question you’ve been wanting to ask God about?  For a season, I was curious about prayer.  The idea that a normal person like me can influence the divine is simply fascinating.  So I went to a Bible website, and searched for all the scriptures about prayer in the New Testament.  Surprisingly, there weren’t too many in the New Testament. So I just started reading through them.  And I learned a lot about prayer from that.  

So as you can see, there are many ways you can start your own spiritual journey.

The important thing is to find something that you’re interested about so you can start a dialog with God. I’ve found that God is so ready to share His thoughts with us in a personal way… It almost doesn’t matter how or why we come to Him… As long as we do, He will take that opportunity to connect with us. So feel free to jump in wherever you’re at in your journey. 

I hope the ideas I’ve shared in this podcast have been helpful, and I hope you try it.  Have fun, and I’ll see you in the next podcast.

Reconnecting with God – (Podcast #111 script)

Lately, I’ve been focusing more on making podcasts. Here is the transcript of Podcast #111 for those that prefer to read it in blog format.
(Click here for podcast #111)

During Covid lock down, I reconnected with many friends online.  We talked a lot about how they’re doing with the changes. And as time went on, I noticed a common theme.  Because they couldn’t go to church, and couldn’t meet up with friends, they felt pretty spiritually isolated. 

I can understand that.   Especially when you’ve been in a spiritual community for a long time.  You have a worship team or a choir that brought beautiful music, and pastors and teachers who gave great messages.   Everyone brings their talents, and the whole experience is just wonderful.  But when you’re suddenly cut off from that, it throws you off balance.

And this happens at a time when we feel like we need spiritual guidance and encouragements the most. Suddenly, we feel like we’re cut off from our spiritual support.

So someone asked me how I was dealing with changes now that church has gone virtual. And I realized that God has been transitioning me and my husband for a while.  In the last few years, I’ve been mainly working on my own personal connection with God, and I’ve moved away from a community based spirituality.  

It’s not that having a spiritual community is bad, but I think for most of us, we have been so blessed with our friends and christian community that we kind of forgot how to connect with God on our own. 

Actually, our Christian faith is immensely personal.  The essence of the Christian faith is that we don’t need any more rituals. We don’t need a middle person either like a pastor or priest. We don’t need any more sacrifices or intermediaries…The real good news as Christians is that we can connect with God directly… simply as who we are.  Any time.  Any place.  We don’t need to wait for Sundays.  We don’t even need to go to a building or a temple. Jesus has done all of the work so we have the privilege to get access to God 24/7, anywhere, any time.  Not only that, He even gives us the Holy Spirit as our personal spiritual assistant. 

And this is awesome! We now have an all-access pass to God. The veil is torn, the gate is opened. There’s nothing blocking us from God anymore.  

But even though we know this in our mind, often, we can still feel intimidated approaching God by ourselves.  And that’s what many of my friends were feeling. 

So if you also feel like you don’t quite know how to talk to God on your own right now, I have a few tips and activities to help you and God get reacquainted. And I’ll be sharing that in the next few podcasts.

And the first tip I want to share with you today is to write a letter to God.  Sometimes, when you haven’t talked with a friend for a while, it can be very intimidating to call them up out of the blue.  And you feel like… it’s going to be awkward… What do I say? I feel bad I haven’t been in touch…  All of these things run through your mind. But when you write a letter, you take that pressure off. Take time to write out your thoughts.  You can also go back and delete sections you don’t like.  In a sense, you have a safe space, and you can still communicate sincerely. 

So I want to invite you to write a letter to God and share what’s been on your heart lately. The key of this exercise is to help you get comfortable in opening your heart and sharing with God again. 

In the beginning, you may feel like you don’t know what to say.  And that’s fine.  You don’t have to put pressure on yourself.  If you don’t know what to say, just write that down. You can write something like “I don’t really know what to say, but I’m taking this first step…” Just start with that and write what’s on your heart. You’ll be surprised.

So the first step I have is to write God a letter.  You can write about your frustrations or fears… Do you have any questions for God?  And even who do you want God to be for you in this season.

You can use any piece of paper to do this… but I would recommend that you start writing in a spare notebook.  Any notebook will do; just something designated as your letters to God. And that can be your private space… a private dialog between you and God.  Any time you feel spiritually disconnected, just start writing in that notebook. And see how things go.

That’s all I have for this session. Thanks for listening and enjoy your letter writing!

Podcast #111 Reconnecting with God (5:41)

Many of us feel spiritually isolated lately. In this new podcast series, I’ll be sharing some ideas to help you jumpstart your personal dialog with God. I share my first quick tip in this short episode.

Mini-podcast: Any advice for yourself during quarantine? (Covid Reflections #3)

In this last part of our Covid Reflections minicasts, let’s think about what we’ve learned and see what wisdom or advice you’d like to share with yourself during quarantine.

This finishes up the Covid Reflection series. I will be starting a new series in the next episode. Stay tuned!

Mini-podcast: What did you learn during quarantine? (Covid Reflections #2)

For part 2 of the Covid Reflections series, I’ll share a surprising lesson I learned from a simple grocery store run. This podcast was originally recorded for Jifcast. Enjoy!

Mini-podcast: How did you change during quarantine? (Covid Reflections #1)

Through all the ups and downs, many of our communities are slowly transitioning out of quarantine. It’s a great time to reflect on the past few months, and process through this unprecedented event. Here’s my mini-cast (3 min) to help with the process.

Bob, The Grasshopper

A friend shared something that brought a smile to my face today. I hope it encourages you too.

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I hope everyone is doing okay, amidst everything that’s going on around the world right now.  I think the goal for me this year is just to survive through all this chaos.

I want to share a little encouragement to remind myself to keep going.  I hope it’ll remind you too.

Bob, the grasshopper

I want to tell you a story of a grasshopper; let’s call him “Bob”.  I found him on my windshield one morning when I got in the car.  My husband told me to just drive and he’ll leave.  So I drove, and Bob realize the wind was getting big as I saw his antenna fly like crazy.  I thought he would jump off the next time I came to a stop sign or traffic light, but nope; he held on.

When I got onto the highway, I worried he’d get blown off if he doesn’t fly…

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Podcast #107 Connecting with God in times of crisis

Like the rest of the world, we’ve been sheltering in place for over a week now. I felt tossed about in the storm, and overrun with fear. Where do I go from here?

Embracing Solitude – the art of being alone

I started thinking about this topic during the holiday season. The holidays are all about folks gathering and celebrating together. Ironically, I think that’s why it can make people more aware of being alone. In this social media age, “being alone” gets a bad reputation. I see many books and conferences about how to develop and find community, but not many books that explore the other side of reality – of being alone. Being alone and feeling alone are different. One can be physically alone, and still feel content. On the other hand, even when surrounded by family and friends, one can still feel isolated and disconnected.

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Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
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