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About Bonnie Gray

Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher's Weekly, named as one of PW's top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Leadership, Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been a missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com. Bonnie lives in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.

Bonnie Gray

Bonnie Gray
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Bonnie Gray is author of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul To Rest, garnering starred review praise from Publisher's Weekly, named as one of PW's top 6 notable new religion authors. Bonnie is a featured contributor at (in)courage and her writing is nationally syndicated, spotlighted by Relevant Magazine, Catalyst Leadership, Today's Christian Woman, and Christianity Today. A UCLA graduate, Bonnie has been a missionary, ministry entrepreneur and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. Bonnie serves up shots of faith for the daily grind on her blog Faith Barista.com. Bonnie lives in Northern California with her husband Eric and their two sons.

Dare to Choose Hope When Life Isn't Perfect This Easter

 

"You see, there are two very different types of hope in this world. One is hoping for something, and the other is hoping in Someone." ~ Pete Wilson

I didn't see it coming. 

I went to bed like I always had, ate dinner with my chopsticks and brushed my teeth just fine.  The next morning, I got dressed and drove into work as usual.  Logged into my account and started checking my emails. 

I started typing.

Needles of pain shot through my wrists.  My fingers felt numb and tingly, like they'd fallen asleep.   Confused, I tried to mouse and click around.  My forearm started hurting even more. My fingers refused to hit another keystroke.

Two hours later, I found myself sitting in front of a doctor who specialized in treating work related injuries.

"You won't be going back to work for a while.  You have RSI (Repetitive Stress Injury).  Might be carpel tunnel syndrome.  We won't know yet, until you get some therapy."

How long will I be out? I asked, thinking a day or two.

When it all was said and done, combining full and partial disability, my road to recovery took nearly three years.

Getting Better Or Getting Worse?

When I first started physical therapy, I was very optimistic. 

I was determined to heal fast. Take my meds, get my therapy, do my exercises and wear my wrist braces.

The problem was healing isn't a linear process.

I was progressively hurting more week after week.  My pain extended to my upper arms, my shoulders, neck and even my back. 

Was I just falling apart?

My physical therapist Tom educated me. You're actually getting better, even if it feels like you're getting worse.

Tom drew a swirl of concentric circles on his note pad. He said that healing is like peeling an onion.   He said that I had ignored the fatigue initially in my muscles so well, that it caused my body to compensate in other areas.

Pain, Tom explained, was a healthy indicator that my body was finally speaking to me.

My path to recovery was to swirl out first -- to understand exactly how far my injury went. 

Tom gently pointed out that as one muscle group got better, I would start feeling the pain in other areas that had been masked on top of the other.

I have found myself in the same condition for many Easters.

I wanted so badly to celebrate the joy of Easter Sunday resurrection, I ignored the layers of stress and unanswered questions from my everyday life.

The Saturday In-Between

Don't get me wrong, I've been filled with joy for Jesus on Easter Sunday, in praise and thankfulness for the sacrifice and love He poured out for me on Good Friday 2000 years ago. 

I am always brought to tears meditating on the suffering our Lord endured emotionally, physically and spiritually by taking up the cross.  But, I was often heart heavy waiting to taste the power of resurrection in some difficult circumstances.

It seemed whenever I thought of Easter, I thought only of Easter Sunday -- the celebration of resurrected life -- or Good Friday -- the death Christ suffered on the cross. 

I forgot that the journey of Easter includes the Saturday In-Between -- for Jesus -- and for me.

Pastor and author Pete Wilson points out the Saturday In-Between:

"Saturday... It seems like a day when nothing is happening.
It's a day of questioning, doubting, wondering and definitely waiting...helplessness or hopelessness.

Is it possible that Saturday is actually a day of preparation?
... Saturday was the day God was engineering a resurrection."

My One Thing

This year, I'm celebrating Easter Sunday with a lot of my story resurrected from my "Saturday" life.  Not in a way where everything has worked out. A lot of the questions I've been asking for a very long time haven't been answered. 

In fact, some of the problems I've asked God to solve haven't gotten better. 

But, I have learned one thing through my time in this extended season of waiting.

That one thing is this:  Jesus' love continues to be one thing I can always say yes to.

In lieu of answers and resolution, we can continually make a choice.  Do we let our pain and hurt shape my faith -- or do we take our faith and run into the arms of Jesus?

This has been my greatest joy:  Not that my life is perfect, but that I can choose love -- because Love chose me.

I've been able to find when I couldn't possibly wait any longer in dissonance and lack of closure -- the love of Jesus continues to heal me, carry me and attract me to Him.  I can continue choosing to love God, love others, and pour myself out -- even in weakness and imperfection.

All because Jesus loves me.

Because of the cross.

~~~~~

I had given up hope of ever getting better. Then I got up one day, not feeling any pain.

But, it took me many years to get to that one morning. 

I will always remember who got me through it. 

It wasn't hope in recovery. It was hope in Jesus.

I don't know how long our Saturdays will last, friend.

But one thing I do know, Jesus has walked that Saturday into eternity for us. 

His love will never leave us and His love will get us through to our Easter Sundays.

He knows all about the Saturday-in-between.  And He won't leave us all alone in that time of waiting.

Choose God's whispers of hope. Easter is coming alive in you.

He loves us all the way. Today.

 

"The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ,
after you have suffered a little while,
will himself restore you
and make you strong, firm and steadfast."
~ 1 Peter 5:10

How is Jesus speaking to you this Easter?

Pull up a chair. Share a comment.

Who can you share today's encouragement with?

 FindingSpiritualWhitespace_BookDaySpringFor more encouragement, get a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

Bonnie Gray blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grindShe has been named Top 6 Notable New Religion Authors by Publisher's Weekly and writes for DaySpring (in)courage, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  A UCLA graduate, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

 

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, click here to subscribe by email (free) and get each blog post hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.

 


Lean In And Let God Make A Way For You Today (A Lent Devotional)

"See, I am doing something new. Now it springs forth.
Will you not be aware of it?

I will even make a roadway in the wilderness.
Rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19 

Something happens when you find yourself lying on your bed unable to fall asleep. Not just for one or two nights.  Sometimes, life enters seasons of uncertainty and trials that keep you up and your heart restless.

Life may not unfold the way you thought it would. You try hard to remember who you once were, searching your heart for glimmers of what it was that made you once feel alive. Young, innocent, refreshed.

Jesus understands and sees that longing in us. To find a way. To feel safe and held again.

As sunlight first warms you in the morning, Jesus draws near to whisper --

I am here. Making a way. For you. With you.

And you begin to cry. Because you miss the nearness of God's tender touch.

Something Beautiful and True

I found myself in too many restless, sleepless moments, for a long season during my journey to find rest in Spiritual Whitespace. But, as I laid there, I found in that pit of darkness something beautiful and true. I found I could remember goodness. And it told me that it was in me once. It told me that it had to still be in me now, even though I felt wounded. 

I chose in that moment to believe that goodness was my faith, still breathing in me. The fact that I longed for goodness and hungered for it told me that nothing -- not even my woundedness -- could destroy and rob me of those memories.

That Goodness had a name. It was God's Holy Spirit, alive in me.

And that remembrance and longing for it was the movement of God's fingers soothing my heart. They were hands of Someone who understood how being wounded led Him to remember all that captured His heart. One dark day.

A Deeper Wounding

The darkest moments Jesus found Himself -- as I think about Him this week -- are found in three words -- spoken after Pilate washed his hands, released Barabbas, and had Jesus flogged with a 'cat of nine tails'.

It was a whip divided into several strips, each containing shards of broken pottery at their ends, enabling them to cut skin and tear flesh from bone. Most Roman prisoners didn’t live through these beatings due to shock and loss of blood.

Third-century historian Eusebius described the process in grotesque detail by saying, ‘The sufferer’s veins were laid bare, and the very muscles, sinews, and bowels of the victim were open to exposure."

Jesus somehow although crippled by such physical torture survived -- and had to endure even a deeper wounding. I was drawn to this moment made up of three words found at the close of this scene.

...Then he released Barabbas to them.
But he had Jesus flogged,
and handed him over to be crucified.”
Matt. 24:26

Handed. Him. Over.

Jesus was handed over. I can hear Jesus crying, not out of fear, but out of physical -- and emotional pain. He was abandoned.  Completely given up by everyone.

Make A Way

Life for Jesus would never be without the scars of betrayal.  His story could never be untainted by betrayal, loneliness and rejection. But, Jesus choose it all because behind the brokenness, Jesus carried the memory of why He was willing to live this story that was unravelling in a very bad way. Jesus carried live, beautiful memories --

of how He made you and me in the secret place.

The warmth of our first breath caressing his heart.

He carried the sunshine of our smiles.

Jesus endured all the woundedness and devastation his body and his soul could carry.

Because in His woundedness, Jesus remembered you and me.

There is no place we can find ourselves, where Jesus will not go.  Jesus gives us a home -- with him. In us. His love makes a way. 

God can make a way. For you.

Listen. God's Words For Us

For every moment we wonder what lies ahead, Jesus's tender voice reaches out to us  --

I love you.  I won't leave you.

Lean in. I will make a way for you.

I am here. With you.

Even in our woundedness, Jesus still loves you. And me. Passionately. Irrevocably. Shamelessly. Undeniably completely.

When I realized life was never going to be the same for me again, I stopped wishing to be rescued.
 

I began to desperately pray for courage instead. To lean in. To move towards the longing I still carried of beauty. Of goodness.  That desire became my silent prayer to God.

Lean In

No matter how whisper-thin, imperfect or insignificant our movements forward might be, God will make away for us. Today. No further than just the one step He's calling you to take. Today.

As you move forward with just one step today, we surrender ourselves to the One who has been handed over -- until His last breath made a way -- to you and me. You and I don't ever have to be handed over and lost in the brokenness of life. Jesus puts his hand in ours, to draw us towards Him. So He can carry us. All the way. 

God can make a way to us. With us. No matter where the journey of life takes us, we become the living stories of what it means to be cherished and beloved by Jesus.

Don't let anyone or the hardness of the journey convince you otherwise. Life will never be the same. Let's follow this journey through.

Lean in. Be you. Be the Beloved.

Pray. Our #OneWordLent Prayer Today

Lord Jesus,

Give me courage to lean in.

To take just the one step you're inviting me to take. Today.

To trust you'll make a roadway in the wilderness.

Even rivers in the desert.

Even though I can't see how or when, I surrender myself to your love.

In this very moment. Today.

What’s Your One Word?

Take a moment to be present in this moment. What is one word that speaks to you in today’s verse?

"See, I am doing something new. Now it springs forth. Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness. Rivers in the desert." Isaiah 43:19

~~~~~

What is one thing God is inviting you to step into today with Him? What one word in today's scripture speaks to you?

What one word speaks to you in today's scripture? Pull up a chair. And share a comment.

Who can you share today's encouragement with?

 FindingSpiritualWhitespace_BookDaySpringFor more encouragement, get a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

Bonnie Gray blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grindShe has been named Top 6 Notable New Religion Authors by Publisher's Weekly and writes for DaySpring (in)courage, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  A UCLA graduate, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

 

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, click here to subscribe by email (free) and get each blog post hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.

 

 


Let God Stay And Hold You Today (A Lent Devotional)

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.
'Stay here...with me.'"

Jesus in Matthew 26:38

During my season through anxiety, I was very sensitive to loud music . But since my breakthrough in therapy a couple years ago, I got an idea.  I had always wanted to go to a Gungor concert and they were in San Francisco one week. So I texted our babysitter and found myself standing next to my husband Eric on one side and some twenty-something girls on the other. We had an hour left to kill.

I found out both girls were seminary students. "So, what're you studying…? What's next?"

You might think people who look happy and perfect wouldn't have hard stories to share. But, they do. The blond-haired girl with blue eyes tells me, half-yelling across the drone of concert goers, "I'm not really sure what God wants me to do. I've told Him I'll do whatever He wants me to do."

She pauses. "But, I feel like I've been wandering."

Not So Different

Blue-eyed Girl tells me she's been hurt. She's run into dead ends when she thought God had been opening doors.

All of a sudden, it seemed to me there was no one else in the room. Except me and her unspoken story.

The old me, pre-PTSD me, would've given her some cheerful advice.  Safe words. But, now I see everything differently.

When the world we live in doesn't match the dreams we thought God put on our hearts -- don't we all feel a little lost?

When we step out and try to be ourselves -- and offer something authentic and real -- and find out someone doesn't think it's good enough -- don't we all wonder who would stay?

And when we have to face something hard -- but we don't know how long the journey will take -- and we want to give up -- but we can't go back either-- don't we wonder why God is silent?

We ask, "Is there any other way?"

Any Other Way

These are the same words Jesus found himself whispering in a garden one night in Gethsemane into thick silence. While wave upon wave of questions poured out of Him. And the dilemma of turning left or right was both as painful as it was unwanted. There was no way out. 

Is there any other way? Jesus asked.

Jesus could have chosen to pray by himself and hide this inner struggle.

Jesus had often prayed alone. And yet, on the worst night of his life, Jesus tells us he needed someone to hold onto the hard moment.

Jesus needed someone to stay.

Stay With Me

Jesus didn't have a timetable, to know how long the journey of the cross would take. How long the beatings would last. How long he'd have to drag the cross inch by inch, with lashes bleeding cut deep in his back. He didn't know how he would feel yanked around in chains, from one place to another, in sleep deprivation.

Jesus had never, ever experienced the feel of spit on his face while He shivered in the cold alone. The overwhelming anxiety of the unknown, but the certain pain and fear of what was to come brought Jesus to his knees. Right where you and I sometimes have to go, when we don't know what to do.

Overwhelmed, anxiety ridden, Jesus turned to those closest to him. Jesus became vulnerable and let his disciples see him, as desperation filled the pit of his stomach.

Jesus confided in them. Jesus stumbled right up to the edge of Himself.

Then he said to [Peter, James and John],

"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. 'Stay here...with me."

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if there is any way, get me out of this." Matthew 26:31-39

Jesus asked someone to stay with Him that night. Jesus needed someone to stay.

In the Middle

The Scriptures tell us that Jesus was so overwhelmed with anguish that his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. Could Jesus have been experiencing panic attacks?  If you've ever had one, you might never see that night in Gethsemane the same way ever again.

This was how Jesus spent His final moments of solitude.  The calm before the storm. Stay here… with me. He asked.

Jesus is intimately familiar with the pain of a journey unresolved -- right in the middle of it.

Yet, unlike me, Jesus did not yield to temptation. Jesus, instead, yielded to the journey.

Willingly. Lovingly.
Tenderly. Fully.
Completely. For You.  And Me.

We don't have to be alone anymore -- even when we fail to yield. Especially in the moments when we want to, but we don't know how. Jesus suffered for us.  So He can stay.

Jesus suffers with us, in the middle of it all. With you and me.

In our wandering, we are never truly lost.

Having Someone to hold on to.  Changes everything.  Having Someone love you in the waiting -- in the suffering. Changes you. Love heals.

The Best Gift

I looked into Blue-eyed Girl and said, "You know, I think we're all wanderers in this life.  We're all on a journey. Maybe wandering is living out faith. Maybe the best gift we can offer to others wandering in this world without hope is to walk as a wanderer with them -- except with hope.  Maybe being willing to wander with Jesus is one of the sweetest gift we surrender with him." Blue-Eyed Girl gave me a big hug.  "Thank you," she smiled, as she squeezed my hand.

Our #OneWordLent Prayer Today

Today, you and I may not know where our journey of faith leads, but, Jesus whispers --

I've wandered willingly into darkness one night long ago,
So you don't have to walk alone anymore.

Let me hold onto you. Let me stay.
I call you beautiful. I call you mine. Today.

Rather than trying to avoid the journey ahead, however hard, let Jesus hold you and let His love give you courage to walk the journey ahead.

Is there someone you can confide in? Begin with Jesus. Then, confide in a one or two friends. Just like Jesus did.

~~~~~

How can Jesus comfort you on your journey this week?

What one word speaks to you in today's scripture? Pull up a chair. And share a comment.

Who can you share today's encouragement with?

 FindingSpiritualWhitespace_BookDaySpringFor more encouragement, get a copy of Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest.

Bonnie Gray blogs at Faith Barista, serving up shots of faith in the daily grindShe has been named Top 6 Notable New Religion Authors by Publisher's Weekly and writes for DaySpring (in)courage, Revelant Magazine, spotlighted by Christianity Today and Catalyst Leadership.  A UCLA graduate, Bonnie served as a missionary, ministry entrepreneur, and Silicon Valley high-tech professional. She lives in California with her husband, Eric, and their two sons.

 

*Don't miss!* If you are new to Faith Barista, click here to subscribe by email (free) and get each blog post hot and fresh directly in your mailbox.