Tag Archives: Faith Barista

Finding Spiritual Whitespace Review


Christian publishers appear to be putting out a lot of books about how to rest or relax. It makes me wonder if the busy doing of Christian life is finally wearing down the church. Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest by Bonnie Gray is a different sort of book.

It’s written blog-style. Like I said in my original assessment, blog-style won’t make the grammar patrol happy, but those who can set aside their stringent rules will find enjoyment and rest in this book. What makes this book different than most other how-to books is that it doesn’t seek to tell us how to resolve our inner issues. Finding Spiritual Whitespace doesn’t even end with Bonnie having no more PTSD. It’s a journey that’s still ongoing, teaching us how to slow down using artistic methods and comparing spiritual rest with artistic whitespace.

I found only one mistake in the book in the way a sentence was structured, but it’s hardly worth mentioning (since I am unable to locate it again). The book caused a lot of good discussion within the book launch team, drawing the group closer to each other. This means you could use this book in your own groups, like a women’s Bible study, for it has questions at the end of each chapter, created similar to her Thursday #faithjam posts at faithbarista.com. But what does it have to do with Life Upside Down?

Here at Life Upside Down, it’s the perfect latte to go with your biscotti. Meaning, people like us who see life differently because of the pain of our past will find rest in Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest. Those suffering daddy issues will face their past and the lost little girl weeping in the corner. A woman will be able to say after reading this, “Yes! Yes! Finally, someone DOES understand!” I gave Finding Spiritual Whitespace five stars.

Buy book here: Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest

Disclosure of material connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase this item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I might use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255, “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” Book given by publisher to review. 


Boxes That Burst #spiritualwhitespace


A network friend has written a book. It took a lot of courage (and therapy) to write it. Imagine having to relive, and even risk censure, to write down painful family memories of abandonment, her parents divorce, and verbal abuse!

You see, what happens in our childhood impacts our adulthood if we allow it, but even if we don’t allow it, the memories crush us regardless because we may not have had the chance to process them. Instead, we compartmentalize them. In other words, we put them into little boxes, duct tape it shut, and shove it way back into our minds’ storage area. Eventually, storage areas become full and boxes burst.

My friend suffers from PTSD.

So when I say I am part of the blog tour, I will not review it in the traditional sense.  I can’t be objective because of how much Bonnie’s story has helped my own. I can FindingWhitespace_alt3Dsay that Bonnie writes blog-style. Grammar hounds will not like the incomplete sentences used like seasoning here and there for effect. Bonnie writes emotion well. So well in fact that, when I read a portion of it to my students at the Susan J. Rheems Adult Day Center, they were mesmerized. I was demonstrating how to show emotion in their memories and how shortened sentences can really impact a person, even if they aren’t grammatically correct. I hope you will stay connected to her blog here as she runs a month-long blog tour. My review will post sometime next week.

Staying Power #faithjam


Our childhood has left us wandering, seeking the magic prescription to plug the gaping, black void in our soul. We don’t have staying power.

In fact, we don’t know why we pursue unhealthy relationships, more money, or status. A touch, the temporary satisfaction of buying something we can’t afford, or a drink or drugs fail to halt that yearning. That yearning hungers for more and that hunger drives our life as if we have no choice so we flit from job to job; from relationship to relationship; from church to church.  Others disappoint our expectations and we move on.

Oh dear one, the only person who can salve that ache is Jesus! It is time you put down roots and examine your life. You find out the why and you will be free!

The Annual Hahn Challenge

Salvation Army Band
Salvation Army Band (Photo credit: danperry.com)

Will you join us as we, once again, surprise the Salvation Army Bell Ringers with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate? Try to do it anonymously. Most restaurants are more than happy to deliver the cup to their bell ringer. It helps them feel a part of encouraging someone they don’t know.


Safe Subjects

St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writin...
St. Augustine writing, revising, and re-writing: Sandro Botticelli’s St. Augustine in His Cell (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I understand even more so, on a physiological level, what it means to hold yourself back or find yourself wanting to say something, but then having nothing to say because you’d rather just not speak from your soul.” – Faith Barista, “Love”

Writing is not a career choice for those who wish to hide their vulnerability. If you blog, anyone can read between the lines and figure out what you fear by what you don’t write. A person who fears revealing herself will choose safe subjects that don’t run close to the pain beneath the surface. Writing novels and blogging reveal who we are whether we give our pen permission or not.

Mary De Muth in Thin Places revealed as much in her book when she said a writer’s first novel is autobiographical. Every character we write are composites of people we’ve met or pieces of our inner selves recreated in a character. Writing is not a hiding place. It sweeps back the curtains and lets the light shine on our secrets. If we are honest, re-reading our own writing can be therapeutic. In the Christian world, we call that self-examination. I’ve always said it’s healthy to re-read your old blogs or journals to learn from our past. But some writers continue to hide behind great ability. They write intelligent blogs and quiver fearfully behind safe subjects. Although, those safe subjects are great reads and full of humor; it’s a safe subject nonetheless.

Moral of the Story: Do not be afraid!

Can you relate? Explain.

People Who Influence

What people influence you? And how do they influence? Why do you admire the people you admire? Is it because they are godly people or is it how they dress? Are the people you admire shallow and image driven or deep in the Word of God? Maybe it’s their magnetism that draws you to them. Whatever the case, the people who have that kind of power of influence that draw us should be people who inspire us to godly things. They should shine like an arrow pointing right at the scriptures and the God behind the scriptures. That’s what Bonnie does over at Faith Barista. Today is her first blog post in a long time.

She asked, “What is your word for 2013?”


Because without relationships, people can’t see Jesus working in our lives in tangible ways.

Now it’s your turn. What’s your word for 2013 and why?


http://www.zastavki.com/eng/Nature/Seasons/Autumn/wallpaper-19576-18.htmIt’s difficult to share things—to have the courage to share. Things that become emotional clog in my throat, my breathing becomes labored, and I smile and nod. I sit so still and I don’t want to look at anyone. Part of me wonders as I struggle for breath if I am about to have a panic attack.

Then, God answers my soundless cry. It’s reassuring and my breathing becomes normal. Emotions though have always been difficult to handle. I still want to be that woman who can handle anything, forgetting His lesson that I do not have to be strong. God has given me a great support system. I should just let Him be strong. His protective hand remains and I feel it with me, steadying me. I am determined to live as though each person is trustable, trusting God to piece together my heart should someone shatter it.

And that will happen—someone will betray me or disappoint me, but I don’t have to let it affect me in such a way that I live isolated in a crowd. I choose to love. I choose friendships. I choose risk. Because a life in hiding is no life at all, but a self-made prison binding me to bitter judgment and cynicism.

As Beth Moore says, “Life is challenging, but it is never empty.” My life is full and I like it that way. I like what God is doing to my life and how He is changing me. I found my voice and I am learning to live fearlessly. I am learning the joy of life even as it challenges me. I no longer feel that empty longing and I am learning there are others who have suffered, too. Their compassion, love, and authenticity reminds me of God’s presence. He is everywhere and I am loved and I feel His love every day.

So thank you, Lord, for not letting go and for making a way through my walls.

God in a Chinese Fortune Cookie


Dear God,

In “Oh, God Book 2” the little girl receives a message from you in a Chinese cookie. After watching that movie, I often wished when I cracked open a Chinese cookie your message would be on that sliver of paper–a clear direction in a confusing world.

But then, I am reminded what Mondays With My Old Pastor, by Jose Luis Navajo said, “Don’t despair if you don’t understand the meaning of something today. Keep eating the fruit. This is also the message of the cross.” He pointed to the dozen crucifixes that decorated the simple room. “We do not understand what happened there until we visit the tomb and find it empty. Too often we despair and give up in the middle of the storm, when the only thing we should do is trust and wait. The storm will pass, and then we will discover that the waves that terrified us were actually the same waves that served to alter the course of our sailing causing us to dock in the right harbor.”

My Father, I know you don’t speak through a Chinese cookie. I only have to fall back on your Word. You gave us that and the Holy Spirit. You gave us your Son. You gave us you.

Hear my prayer, O Lord,

and give ear to my cry;

hold not your peace at my tears!

For I am a sojourner with you,

a guest, like all my fathers,

Look away from me, that I may smile again,

before I depart and am no more!

– Psalm 39:12-13

So when I eat at a Chinese restaurant, I won’t look for a sign from you in a Chinese cookie. I’ll look on my knees. I’ll look in the pages of your book. You are praiseworthy, my Father.

And I’ll wait and pray, however long it takes.

Love, your daughter

I Know You Won’t Listen to Me

Dear Little Girl Me,

I know you won’t listen to me. You aren’t listening to anyone these days. Do not dismiss what your instinct is telling you. That’s the Holy Spirit talking. Even though you aren’t saved yet, you’re searching for Jesus. First, you thought baptism would save you and if you acted a certain way, dressed in a certain way, maybe God would love you. Maybe you would be good enough to get to Heaven. You got out of that false religion for the wrong reasons and yet it caused you to research that religion. It many ways that was a step closer in the right direction. Then, you lost your way.

That anger inside of you is like a disease.

Trust me when I tell you the anger will eat you up inside, like one of those tissue-eating bacteria you’ve read about. Some days those conversations with the invisible rendition of your birth father behind the closed door of your room are angry; other days they are calm, almost forgiving.


You won’t forgive him until your mid-thirties. This issue won’t go away. You should listen to that instinct that tells you at eighteen to call your birth father even though that will cause problems. There’s always two sides to every story.

In divorce, there are no bad guys or good guys, except in abuse situations—it’s just two brokenhearted people standing in the pool of discarded dreams or unrealistic expectations. You’re in the middle, wet with their tears, heavy with their burdens and hurts. Your birth father will nearly die because of heart issues and when you find him years from now, you’ll feel closure and relief that you called him and he was still alive. That’s all you needed anyway. You already know Jesus loves you. As Psalm 27:10 assures you, you have a Father in Heaven, but right now at eighteen all you want to feel is loved. You trade a piece of yourself every time you lie with a man outside the bounds of marriage.

One day you’ll meet the right man and you’ll treat him, at first, harshly, but you’ll marry him and that marriage will be what God uses to bring you to Him. It will be the final chess move and you’ll be stronger. You’ll finally know love. But for now you’ll try to find that love in men, crossing that moral line, and then, you’ll go to credit cards.

You’ll spend money you don’t have and can’t pay back because buying clothes and jewelry makes you feel complete. Coming out with an armful of new stuff, fills for the moment the gap in your soul. It only works for a little while and then the “drug” wears off and you’re restless again. You know something is wrong, but you’re looking in the wrong direction for what you need. What you are looking for is not available. I know you hurt right now and no one is listening. You don’t know how to explain your hurt or anger, or how to express it. You don’t know who will listen. You’re always scared. You’re always hiding behind your books.

You’re always hiding.


Stop hiding.


It’s time to heal.


And to heal, you need to be brave.


Love, Big Girl Me

“There’s a Theology in Everything”

That’s what I said on our hike as we tripped, stumbled, fell and trudged through snow as deep as mid-calf following a virgin snow-covered trail up Bill Williams Mountain. We hiked for hours and never reached the top. By the time, we neared the top, or what we thought was the top, the snow level became an impenetrable obstacle with the trail veering into yet another switchback and deep into more trees. I could see the light above teasing us with thoughts of, “almost there.” I know we skated across the side of the mountain and we could see the backbone of it from where we hiked. A hike that was supposed to take five hours round trip would take considerably longer with this much snow.

So we turned around and discovered the trip back so much easier as we slid and stumbled down the trail, avoiding tree branches and other hidden menaces beneath the white. We found a dry log and ate lunch there, then continued. My pants were soaked through and my skin stung. My socks squished in my waterproof boots. Snow had fallen inside during the climb up, and now kept my toes effectively refrigerated as we climbed down the mountain. We descended according to the website a couple of thousand feet and the air warmed and my legs no longer felt icy, but wet. Mud caked my clothes and I grinned.

Yes, there’s a theology in everything. A theology in climbing. A theology in retreating. A theology in overcoming. A theology in not giving up and returning to the trail when the snow will be gone to reach the summit of the mountain. A theology in knowing when to retreat instead of risking frost bite and sapping away our physical strength when we can’t see the end and the snow continually increases in inches the higher up we climb. Creation reminded me of the challenges in my own life—the daily ones and the infrequent ones that teach me through natural consequences what to do and what not to do.

How many times have you tried to climb when God wanted you to turn around? Sometimes it takes fearlessness to climb, and courage to turn around when God directs you elsewhere.