Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
She texts me before her trip to the Santa Cruz Mountains, a grove of beauty and respite where she’ll lead women in hearing the voice of God.
I am going right through your town on Friday! Do you have time for coffee?
I adore her heart, her quiet boldness in leaning with Holy Spirit, the exquisite vulnerability and strength she offers when she paints and teaches and writes.
Yes! Absolutely! I can’t wait!
It is the first time we meet in person, after reading each other’s books and texting and chatting on the phone. And ever since, I’ve wanted you to meet her too.
For our Voices series, where we share our thoughts on worship, imagination, and listening for God, here is my interview with author of A Good Way Through: My Journey with God from Disappointment into Hope, Kristen Kludt.
At the end of the interview, join in the conversation by leaving a blog comment for Kristen, and you’ll be entered to win a copy of her beautiful new book, A Good Way Through.
Here is my interview with Kristen:
My favorite thing to do with God daily is to sit on my front porch with a book, my Bible, my journal, some art supplies and a cup of tea. The ritual of drinking tea calms me and grounds me—it gives me something warm to hold in my hands as I center myself. I read a few verses and a page or two from a book. Then, I respond in some way through art. Usually I’ll write out a word or phrase from something I’ve read, then use markers or watercolors to doodle around it as a kind of meditative prayer.
The only way I can fit this into my day is by committing to spend the first 15 minutes of my sons’ afternoon nap/rest time with God. (I am a full-time stay-at-home parent.) While my one year old sleeps and my four year old plays quietly in his room, I do this first—in spite of waiting emails and dirty dishes. Otherwise I miss the chance.
About once a week, I write a letter to one of a couple of friends who live far away. I find that doing so helps me to reflect more deeply on the ways God is moving in my life. It’s become a deeply spiritual practice.
And there are the margins of my day. How can I turn my heart toward God in the in-between moments? I have a few verses that I pray throughout the day at different times. They began as a discipline and have become a habit, especially when I wake in the middle of the night.
Technology definitely distracts me. It’s easy for me to pull out my phone and scroll through social media posts in the margin moments of my days. I do it without thinking. So, I’ve set some boundaries on my phone. I keep it in the kitchen, not in my pocket. I take one day off of social media and email every week. I put away my phone by 9pm.
I do think it’s possible for everyone to hear God. I suspect that God’s “voice” sounds a little bit different to everyone. God speaks to me most often in the language of metaphor—a perfect language for a poet like me. Sometimes when I pray an image comes to my mind, and oftentimes its meaning will grow and shift over the course of weeks as I meditate on it.
I think God also speaks in convergence. Sometimes I’ll hear a similar message in multiple places: a conversation with a friend, a blog post somewhere, a verse I read, a song I hear. When I notice a repeated theme, I pay attention.
One important piece is to regularly turn down the noise. I hear God best when I regularly take time in silence to tune my ears to the frequency at which God speaks. Interestingly, I don’t always hear God in this time of silence—sometimes it’s later in my day, in the middle of a task or a conversation, but I would have missed it if I hadn’t already turned my attention toward God.
It’s also important to take what you hear and hold it to the truths you know about God. If what you hear is unkind, unloving, or cruel (as my own self-talk too often is), it probably isn’t God talking. If what you hear is kind, loving, and full of grace, and if it aligns with what you know to be true about God from scripture, chances are it’s God’s voice. And perhaps it doesn’t always matter if good, true, loving words are “really from God” as opposed to out of my own mind—telling the voice of the Spirit from the mind of the Spirit-filled Jesus-follower is, perhaps, an unnecessary distinction. God can be subtle and speaks in many ways.
My imagination certainly plays a role in listening. I try to still my heart and mind, and sometimes it’s hard to do so. One of the best ways I’ve found is to imagine myself in a place with God: sitting in a meadow or by a stream. Imagining the details of such a place—the kind of place I naturally feel God’s presence—helps the distracting thoughts fall aside. I think my own imagination and God’s voice begin to intermingle in a lovely sort of communion.
What are some favorite resources—music, books, media—that you treasure and can’t help recommending to friends?
Right now The Listening Day by Paul J. Pastor is my front porch companion and Burn This As a Light, an album by Tom Wuest, is my soundtrack—simple melodies and words that riff on a Bible verse or two. Other favorites are The Artist’s Rule by Christine Valters Paintner and Night Visions (an Advent devotional) by Jan Richardson. Poems by Wendell Berry, Mary Oliver, and Rainer Maria Rilke all also shape my own writing and reflection.
Thank you so much, Kristen.
Kristen Leigh Kludt is a contemplative Christian writer and spiritual guide. Her first book, A Good Way Through: My Journey with God from Disappointment into Hope, released in February. Mother to two boys, she lives, works, and plays in San Francisco’s East Bay, where her husband is a pastor. She is growing daily toward a life of integrity and love and invites others to do likewise. Read more or say hello at KristenLeighKludt.com
WIN A COPY OF A GOOD WAY THROUGH!
Enter to win a copy of Kristen’s beautiful book, A Good Way Through. To enter, simply leave a blog comment, sharing one thing Kristen said that resonated with you or influenced how you think about worshipping God. The winner (by random drawing) will be notified on Monday, October 16,
The words come in a rush, but I mean them: “Declare it over yourself. Speak truth over your own heart.”
I know this isn’t easy. But it is, oh, so important.
I am walking, mid-morning light on my face, bag slung over one shoulder. I speak to remind sisters what I need to remember too: we battle to receive Life, and this battle requires our full attention. We cannot afford to sleep; we must attend to our hearts; we must call our spirits to awake. Come on now.
I spend my early morning playing worship music over myself. Earbuds pressed in, my legs pushing out, my arms pulling the handles of the rowing machine we keep in the studio behind our house. Through dark windows I watch dawn kiss the air outside. Wake up, Wake up. There is light coming.
We wait, expecting, watching hope give birth again. Come, Holy Spirit, fill us up. We need you.
My heart is raw, hungry. And I want to keep it this way. More of God means more of the real us, a daughter who knows who she is and who connects with her Father . . . which means we get more of Him. A win-win.
In worship, Father reminds us what is true. He shows us who He is. And in that truth we know who we are. And then we can declare truth–over ourselves, over our hearts, over our minds, over our bodies, over our family, over our home, over our relationships, over our work.
This is the the act of worship–and where we want to stay. So we pray: Keep me raw. Keep me true. Keep me hungry.
This is not passive listening. This is a choosing–a surrendering of a rebellious heart to gain a heart of hope. Father, shine your light in.
We let our Father love us, and, through His love, we are able to love ourselves and love others–a task that means life and death. A task that is the most important thing we can ever do.
So, girl, come on now, we need to fight for our own hearts. We need to recognize our own desperation for God. We need to stand up and claim our place–daughter, beloved one–and do whatever it takes to wake ourselves up to worship the One who is worthy.
There is nothing more vital to our lives right now. More essential than our beating heart, the accomplishment of our wildest dream. All goodness comes from the Father who loves us. Let’s not forget to tap into His truth today.
We are made to worship. We are made to turn to the One who made us and give him glory in all things.
The One who made us shows us how to love Him so we can receive the love He has to give us. And after that, nothing is ever the same.
What is one thing you do every day that turns your mind and your heart to God? How has this changed you? What is your favorite way to worship Him? (*And here is the link to the video of me declaring aloud this truth.)
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com
Her room smells of sweetness. Fruit soap, from her shower. Citrus-sugar, from the pink candle, unlit, on her dresser. She is a tangled lump, a mound of cotton comforter and sheets.
The room is dark. I crack the shutters open. And still, just the beginning of sunlight, shy and rosy, peeks slow. I open the shutters wider. I invite light further in.
Clothes lie scattered on the floor. A stack of books and binders. Fabric halfway folded, scraps poking out from the sewing box my mother gave her last year.
I bend, soft and quick, kissing her cheek before she feels light’s tiptoe into the room. I want to be first—the first to wake her. Mostly because she still lets me be first.
Her bed is bigger now, with a linen-iron headboard. Dolls huddle on a chest in the corner, under a magnetic wall board decorated with Polaroids and Instagrams.
She is in the middle, here. My eleven year-old girl. We feel the push and pull of her growing up. Desire for safety and adventure both. Wanting to belong. Yet delighting in independence. It’s hard.
Mother and daughter know now–the sacred space beyond morning–beginning. Time is held here, the place where the Father bends to kiss his beloved. I am my daughter’s mother. And I am her sister too.
And it begins with the acceptance: we are God’s daughter.
For here, here is the sacred echo of lullaby we know, that we have always known. The trust of belonging before we knew words, before we knew birth. Daughter is before time—it is in it and beyond it—existing in moments and yet more than moments too.
Daughter—the creation of beauty creating itself through the knowing itself. Daughter knows who she is, and she lives out the truth of that claim.
I am yours, and you are mine.
My daughter’s eyes open after she first sighs. Legs stretch out, then arms. Her cheeks are exquisite, like the cheeks all mother’s know. Cheeks that still squish with the pressure of lips. Cheeks that smell of purity, the timelessness of birth, the innocence of what is true.
It is the sensation of her cheeks on my lips that reminds me. The name I forget when day drags light around, lassoing sun rays and pretending its boss. The name of beginning. The name of what light is. The name of hope. The name of True.
I want to awake True.
And the kiss of her cheek lets me claim it—for True is the name of daughter. True is the name of pure. True is the name of beginning. True is the name marked bold, tenacious, light, glory, color. True is tucked in fast and close, tucked into the crook of her Father’s arms.
God holds True like a mother. He holds her and kisses her cheeks. He awakes her further, whispering beauty, inviting her to stay always, and trust Him. For He never, despite any circumstances, goes away.
We are the daughter. The beloved. We claim our inheritance, and the claiming emboldens us. Our obedience shows us the Truest Us: His daughter, His beloved. True is now confidence. In love.
“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3).
In the darkness, when the sun has yet to shine, we wait for light to come. In light, theFather dispels the distractions that lead to forgetfulness. Rather, He gives truth that sustains: we are his daughter.
Come mother us, God. The beginning of every day.
Our identity, as a daughter of God, can change everything–how we view our circumstances, how we approach struggles, how we cling to hope or experience joy. How often do you think about your identity as God’s daughter? How does this change you in practical ways?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com