Sitting and Receiving

How is your writing going?

I usually feel uncomfortable answering that question. However, I’ve discovered the answer is often linked to an even more intimidating question. How is your quiet time going?

Thankfully, I have people in my life who care enough to ask me that question. I must admit, there have been seasons when my quiet time wasn’t going well at all. There have even been periods of time when I yielded to the temptation to skip my time with the Lord all together.

At one point last year, after about a month of whispering arrow prayers to God as I rushed from one task to the next, I broke down in tears. I missed my connection with my Lord. I was exhausted and weary. I knew I desperately needed unstructured time with Him. I finally put my to-do list aside, opened my Bible, and just started reading. I longed to connect with God and sense His presence. I was hungry for His Word and thirsty for His Spirit. As I read in John chapter six, I came across the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand and noticed something unique about John’s description of the event.

Crowds of people were gathered, and they needed to eat. When one of Jesus’ disciples identified a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, Jesus said,

“Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place and the men sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish (John 6:10-11 NIV).

Our Lord told the people to sit down, and about five thousand men sat on that grassy mountainside, anxious to receive what Jesus had for them. He distributed to those who were seated. As I read and re-read the words, “to those who were seated,” it occurred to me that some of the people on that mountainside chose not to sit down. If you are familiar with the account of that amazing event, you know those five loaves of bread and two fish miraculously fed everyone who was seated, with twelve baskets of leftovers to spare.

As I questioned why some of the people would choose not to sit down and receive the sustenance Jesus was offering them, God’s tender conviction washed over me.  I realized I had been just like the people who chose to remain standing. I had been so busy writing and checking off tasks from my to-do list, I hadn’t taken time to sit and receive the spiritual food Jesus had to sustain me and strengthen me and inspire me.

Are you taking time to sit and receive the sustenance Jesus has for you? I can relate to a hectic schedule and deadlines that make setting aside time with our Lord seem difficult. However, if your writing isn’t going well, perhaps you need to have a seat on a grassy mountainside with your Lord. Whether you need inspiration or direction, or simply a few words of encouragement, Jesus has more than enough to sustain you with baskets full to spare. Sometimes, we have to sit in order to receive.

So, my fellow writing friends, how is your quiet time going?

My Top Five Writing Retreats

Cedar Key, Florida

A Breath of Fresh Inspiration

The great outdoors inspires me as a writer, especially in a setting by a river or lake. Water trickling over rocks, breeze-swayed evergreens, birds serenading from treetops, and rainbow-hued flowers. The scent of earth perfuming the air.

My muse comes alive in God’s created paradise. Especially for a cave-dweller like me.

Coming from a resort management background, I’m blessed with insider information about great getaways. There are affordable places around the country, to fuel a writer’s creative juices. Where magical meets practical.

So lean in close, and I’ll whisper a few secrets about my top five writing retreats.

5) Mohican Adventures — Loudonville, Ohio
Amenities & Attractions: Cabins, RV campsites, small lake, Miniature Golf, Go-Karts, Canoe Trips, Horseback riding, wooded area and hiking trails, Wi-Fi (extra fees)
Special Notes: The rolling hills around Loudonville bear the mark of Amish influence. I feel like I’m in a by-gone era when I drive through centuries-old quaint towns. And yet, the resort offers modern convenience.

4) Ozark Outdoors Riverfront Resort — Leasburg, Missouri
Amenities & Attractions: Cabins, motels, condos, RV sites, wooded hiking trails, canoe, raft, kayak, and tube trips, Wi-Fi in designated areas.
Selling Points: I love the choice of three different rivers to roam. This immaculate resort is tucked into lush Ozark hills, twenty minutes from the closest town. Bald eagles often fly overhead, nesting atop trees and massive bluffs in the area.

3) Adventures Unlimited — Milton, Florida
Amenities & Attractions: Historic rental homes, riverside cabins, zip-line, canoe, kayak, and tube trips. Wi-Fi in designated areas.
Writer’s Attraction: How can I resist rooms with names like The American Poet’s, John James Audubon, William Faulkner, Dr. Seuss. Ernest Hemingway, Margaret Mitchell, and Mark Twain? Each unit in the Schoolhouse Inn boasts books and memorabilia for the author it represents. The rocking chairs and swing, on the southern wrap-around porch, allow me to write in a setting fit for the masters.

2) River & Trail Outfitters — Knoxville, Maryland
Amenities & Attractions: White-water rafting, kayaks, tubes, near the landmark village of Harper’s Ferry, WV and the C&O Canal trail, perfect for bikes or an energizing walk.
Creative Triggers: This place feeds my hunger for history and love for America. Located near the confluence of Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia, rich stories of our nation’s heritage wait around every corner. Access to the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, puts me on the same hallowed waterways our forefathers traveled.

1) Voyageur Canoe Outfitters — Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness Area, Minnesota
Amenities & Attractions: Rustic cabins, tent camping, outfitted lake trips by canoe or kayak. Secluded areas to make you feel like you have the whole territory to yourself. A distant moose or bear sighting thickens your plots.
Magnetic Draw: Leave no trace — more than a tag-line, here it’s a way of life. I feel like Lewis or Clark, pioneering new frontiers, while watching water trickle off my paddle. Challenging portages cause blood and oxygen to pump to my brain, spurring new imaginations. I call this place Boundary Energy.

Quieter Times & Lower Prices for all resorts: April, Early May, Late September, October, Tuesday through Thursday in summer.

Writers often need quiet space, and outdoor writing retreats offer a breath of fresh inspiration. No matter where you live, there’s probably an economical resort close by. Take advantage of off-peak periods to sweeten the price. But then again, you could pitch a tent in your own backyard.

Where do you retreat to sharpen your focus? How do you concentrate on projects?

Leasburg, Missouri

Meeting the Muse in God's Creation