Stopping for the Sake of Goodness

“I notice you haven’t written in some time.” My friend and I were chatting over lunch.

Her eyes searched mine. “Do you like to write?”

Cautiously, I considered her question. She could not hear the whispers inside my heart, but I could…“Will you be honest? Will you tell her the truth?”

I replied, “Funny you should ask that question.”

I explained to her that earlier that morning, I had noticed the basket next to my bed. Used for a pillow holder over the past several months, I knew what lay underneath.



My journals. A bunch of them. Their pages hold handwritten and uncensored words of my heart. Thoughts, prayers, laments, praises, questions, poems, stories, wrestling matches with God and the blessings from the wrestling.

“Yes, I answered her, “I love to write.”

“So. What’s up? If you love to write, why aren’t you writing?”

The moment had come as I suspected it would.

“Well…………………………………” Long pause. Deep breath. “I’ve been running.”

“Running from what?”

“Running from my passions. Do you remember the last Red Tent Living Retreat?” She had attended it in November.

“Yes. I absolutely loved it.” She replied.

“I did too,” I continued. “Only something so wonderfully good happened that weekend. I was enjoyed and I enjoyed others. It was a weekend full of God’s Goodness. Since then, I have been running in the opposite direction of my desires.”

Her eyes locked onto mine and I was taken by surprise that I held her gaze.  Though tears lie just beneath the surface of my eyes, I felt my resolve begin to strengthen what felt weak inside. As I put words to my truth my resolve softened.

I explained how my heart responded to the pleasure of being with authentic women. The teaching from the Bible nourished my soul. The moments of intimacy, laughter, tears, stories and connection were gifts of love given and received. The unscheduled time and free choice in how to spend it felt lavish. I felt my passion for more unleash that weekend.

Passion ignited is a powerful force in the Kingdom of Grace.

Every day offers moments of choice to live passionately alive in relationship or to run with passion to the hills of solitude and possibly isolation. Neither choice is random to God. He’s already there…no matter where I choose to run. My heart can relax in that truth.

For many years, I did not know he was present. I ran at the highly energized pace of hyper-responsibility. I believed to survive in my uncertain world, I needed to stay sharp and look ahead to dodge what might be coming and I needed to run to stay one step ahead of being caught from behind.

Nothing changed just because I grew up. Living life on the run with one foot in the future and one foot in the past kept my present tightly squeezed somewhere in the middle. My heart was barely breathing, my passion and dreams nearly suffocated by the squeeze. To take time to stop the running felt foolish not to mention selfish.

That is until my exhaustion invited me to make a decision to stop running.

I chose to stop and listen to my body and my heart. I gave myself permission to embrace my desire for rest, for intimacy and connection. I began to prioritize time and space with God and others to breathe and give and receive.

That is why I love the Red Tent Ministry. I have personally experienced the spaces it offers to rest and breathe. The dinners, the articles, the weekend retreats. Women coming together to listen, rest, reflect, and reconnect with God, self and others. Women loving God, themselves and others.

When Red Tent Living accepted my request to offer a women’s retreat last November, I was filled with anticipation and gratitude.

The weekend came as expected, but there was more Goodness than I had anticipated.

Much more.

It was during that weekend that a dream I’ve held in my heart for many years came true.  As a daughter, I longed for my mother’s presence and blessing. Because of illness, she was unable to offer it. The absence of her words and presence left me empty and wondering if I had what it takes to be a woman of substance. When I birthed my own daughter, I wondered if I had what it takes to be a mother. Comparing myself to other women, my judgment of my lack left me coming up short. It was not until I stopped and surrendered to God, that I began to heal from my perceived lack.

During the retreat, I was welcomed and embraced as one a woman of substance. I received love and gave love from the abundance I was given.

But that was not all either.

A dream I have held in my heart since the day my daughter was born was realized that weekend. I longed for a day when I could offer her my presence and my words in blessing her. It was at the retreat that I was given the opportunity to speak God’s Words of blessing over not only her, but other women I love as well.

I wonder…

Have you considered what you might be passionate about? What dreams do you dream?

Have you heard Love’s invitation to stop, look and listen?

If you have noticed your body and heart inviting you to rest, the stop might be worth it….like me, you might just meet wild Jesus in unexpected ways! And you too might be inspired to write about it.

Red Tent Living Weekend
Red Tent Living Weekend

Ellen Oelsen lives in the Texas Hill Country with her husband of 24 years. She is a mother of 4 children and loves their 2 dogs and 1 cat. Her hobbies include cooking, nature, reading, plays, and two stepping. She delights in offering hospitality of the heart and creating spaces of care, rest, play and reflection to inspire hope. She is beginning to expose the writer within her.