Tag Archives: solitude

What is The Secret Ingredient?

The Secret Ingredient 

On our march towards Christmas we are delighted to welcome PJ Paulson, author of Summer of the Phoenix. What is the secret ingredient?

In 2002, “it hit the fan,” as they say. I lost my job while a quirky medical condition progressed. My romance was on its last legs. I lived in town while pioneering my middle-of-nowhere ranchland – there was lots of driving back and forth. Outbuildings were burglarized. There was a severe drought. People in my life were behaving badly. 

I couldn’t afford a move to Tuscany. A Spiritual Journey to Tibet was out of the question.

Where could I go to awaken my True Soul…

find a relief from pain (mental and physical)…make sense of the chaos…find the good in people…and just get by from day-to-day? 

I needed to figure out why my life was falling apart, how to heal, and how to eventually get back in the game. I needed a sanctuary in which to look closely at life – both physically and mentally – and to heal. 

I made the unconventional choice to forego my city apartment and embrace a simple, stripped-down, country life absent amenities such as plumbing, electricity, and central heat. I drew serenity and strength from Mother Nature to savor life off the grid. During my retreat, I contemplated my life philosophies and direction, eventually transforming a bleak outlook in the face of what appeared to have been a world gone mad. 

Living in eastern Colorado is like having your soul lightly sandblasted. In a high wind it may be literal, but life here is just harsh enough to keep your spirit a little raw. While the subtle discomfort may be disregarded, you feel your environment more intensely. It’s inspirational, like nowhere else I’ve lived.

The ever-present irritant of sand in the oyster creates the pearl. 

My pearl was the inspiration to write. And one day, to understand what I loved so much about that summer here. Then to realize, too, that by practicing the little things that I appreciated so much, other people might learn how to heal in place, too.  

Summer of the Phoenix is my story about that summer, how I coped, and how I turned my life around. Come along with me, and we’ll taste a sample…. 

The Secret Ingredient 

The light changes as sunset approaches; the breeze stills. Shades of green in the field are touched with gold, then with salmon, before becoming dusky. The horizon far to the east turns from blue to blended watercolored bands of violet, salmon, and rose, fading upward to white, and reaching further upward to pale sky blue. 

The waving fields of knee-high blue grama going to seed become still. 

A Says Phoebe, quiet at this season of year, perches on a young Gravenstein apple tree, or on a leaning Autumn Blaze sapling now dead. Moths flit here and there. The phoebe darts out for a meal, and returns to its perch to dine before moving out of sight to another perch. He (or she) has been roosting, I think, in the little thicket of Rugosa roses outside the family room window. 

It’s a soothing view, and I breathe deeply a few times and consciously relax. 

As an exercise, I make a mental composite of the best bits of places I’ve lived, to imagine a place I might consider ideal. 

The remoteness, the peace and quiet, the acreage of this place. 

The love I felt for the home in which I was sheltered for the first thirteen years of my life. Surrounded by fields, woods, and a creek through which to roam and play, and by good friends and family, I had felt secure. 

The creek, pond, and woods of the small farm where we lived when I was first married. Its little bird sanctuary along the pond outlet. There, trees overhung the little cliff east of the mound of shale and clay that had been dug and heaped up, many years before, to make the spring-fed pond. 

The beauty, lushness, and fecundity of the farm on which we had lived in the hills of Pennsylvania. The dogwoods in spring bloom. The sandy beach at the swimming hole. Fresh trout. Raspberries. Wildlife and singing birds in abundance. Forest through which to wander and explore, and fields in which to grow gardens, crops, and fruit trees. 

Put it all together, and set it on the shore of a small lake where I could have a little boat. A little wooden boat with a sail and a set of oars. The little boat would be moored at a wooden dock, patiently awaiting a still dawn, when I would take it out, beyond the majestic sheltering trees of the yard, to fish for breakfast trout. 

I looked for a long time at my fields and trees, watching the light and colors change. I thought of times I’d spent among those trees and fields. I thought of that summer of 2002 when I had spent hour after hour, day after day in July watering those young trees. And it came to me that what I was doing now, in this moment, was what I had done all that summer: Savouring. 

I was savouring my land and the trees I had planted and nurtured. I savoured the fields and the sky. The birds, the singing insects. I savoured Nature. I savoured Life. And I savoured Myself. 

Then it struck me that that – the Savouring of Self, of Soul, of Nature, of Life, and of Spirit – was what made that year of 2002 so special. I had slowed down, taken a deep breath, and Savoured it all. 

The sun has gone to bed, and a meadowlark sings to me his song, “Goodnight! 

Summer of the Phoenix is available on Amazon in Kindle eBook (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KP927P4), black and white paperback (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0976323532 ), and color paperback (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0976323524 ). 

About the Author 

secret ingredient 


PJ Paulson lives on a small ranch in rural Colorado with cats, dogs, and cattle. She has been described as a benign non-conformist who lives life on her own terms, and is not overly concerned with how humankind at large may judge that life path. This assessment is certainly borne out as she turns around her life in Summer of the Phoenix! 


I have not read this book but it does  sound fascinating.

Sunday Stillness – What is Solitude? LINK

Sunday Stillness – What is Solitude?



That’s what I have found in the past week – a peace – a lack of myself and my desire to control. I have left it all behind in order to find my place with Jesus.

Where did I find it?

In the quiet moments – few and far between – but there. It is possible to find that quietness.

Knowing that before I start anything, I seek the quietness of my soul. Don’t start anything until I refresh my soul.

Reading Psalm 30

I understand now that when I use self-reliance, I am NOT relying on God. Praising God for being my reliance. Praising Him for standing by my side.

“I” do get in the way of my relationship with God. (Tweet this)

So I am trying to let go. Relax and listen to Him. Rest in between my “doings”.

I cried out to God
He lifted me from the depths
Placed me on His Rock

(Janis Cox – haiku, 2015, based on Psalm 30)

Hear Him
Grabs hold of my soul
Deep within myself
Stirs life

(Janis Cox, mirror poem, based on Psalm 30)

We had a lovely family vacation at a cottage last week. Thanks to all who commented for the past two weeks. Sorry I didn’t have time to write back but I read every one of the comments.

Please remember to sign up for my monthly (well maybe monthly) newsletter. Inside scoops.

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Tadeo Turtle is on sale for $10 plus shipping until Monday. Signed copy. Follow this link. August Surprise

Today is Sunday Stillness.


Janis is the author of the award winning children’s book, Tadeo Turtle, published by Word Alive Press. Available in Kindle Format, in bookstores, online and from her website. Curriculum available upon request. Janis also is a contributor to Hope Stream Radio. Join her on Tuesdays and Saturdays.


You can find her on Facebook, and Twitter. Tadeo has his own Facebook Page.






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Sunday Stillness – Solitude

Sunday Stillness – Solitude


I love to meet God in the stillness of the morning. When I sit still – yes, still.

I didn’t used to be able to sit still. During the day I go, go and go some more. But I believe I have the energy to do that because I do sit still every morning – for prayer, study and just being with God.

The first time I tried to sit still I lasted five minutes. It’s amazing how one can learn the discipline of sitting still.

And solitude doesn’t bother me as much as it used to. I would always crave someone to talk to. I have that friend now, Jesus is His Name. No matter where I go, He is always there with me.

Therefore I am never alone in my solitude. (Tweet this)

Solitude and silence is an opportunity to focus on your Intimacy with Jesus, to unhook from your daily responsibilities and the people you interact with, in order to attend to the Lord alone (Soul Shepherding).

Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10, NIV).

Today is Sunday Stillness.

Do you have a Scripture that spoke to you this week? Please link below. If you post to Twitter use #sundaystillness and @authorjaniscox.

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I would appreciate if you would link only about God’s Word. If you have a linky party that’s okay if it is about the same thing. Please no sales or prizes. I want this to be friendly but I must ask you to abide by the rules. Others want to read God’s Word – and that is what I would like the links to be about. I must take down the links that don’t follow the rules. Thanks so much.


Please check out all the places I link to during the week. Thanks to everyone who has joined Sunday Stillness. I do try to get to your posts every week but I admit sometimes I don’t have the time.

Here are my favourite links for Sunday Stillness:

The Sunday Community

Still Saturday

 Sharing His Beauty

Missional Women – Faith Filled Fridays

Scripture and Snapshot


The Weekend Brew

Have You Visited Under the Cover of Prayer?

Have You Visited Under the Cover of Prayer?

On Fridays I write at Under the Cover of Prayer or UTCOP. I would love you to visit us over there.

Last Friday I wrote:

Do You Have Enough Dead Space? – Solitude – Part 1

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to PrayI have been reading a book called Your God is Too Safe by Mark Buchanan. The chapter on slowing down and the spiritual disciplines of solitude, silence and secrecy – It reminded me – to take time to smell the roses.

Hope to see you at UTCOP. For the next 2 Fridays I will be continuing this series.

And check out my Facebook page where I post from UTCOP and He Cares for You.



Do You Have Enough Dead Space? – Solitude – Part 1

Do You Have Enough Dead Space? – Solitude – Part 1

by Janis Cox

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray

Jesus Goes Up Alone onto a Mountain to Pray (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In reading a chapter called “Leave Yourself Alone” in a book called Your God is Too Safe by Mark Buchanan, I was captivated by three spiritual disciplines – Solitude, Silence and Secrecy.

I will try to tell you what I have learned in three sessions. Today’s is Solitude.

“The loss of dead space is killing us, inch by noisy inch” (page 176, Your God is Too Safe).

Mark talks about giving ourselves time for solitude – and in those moments Jesus can increase and we can decrease.


Painted by Janis Cox for Sunday Stillness at www.janiscox.com

Jesus sought solitude.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed (Mark 1:35, NIV).

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place (Mark 6:32, NIV).

Jesus was slow.

This is so unlike me. I move quickly. I act quickly. I need to S-L-O-W down.

Solitude – is a space for listening.

Solitude – is not aloneness.

Solitude – this is where we meet God.

If we only talk to God and do not listen we may never hear from Him.
(tweet this)

Can I go slower and do more? I believe God gives us that ability. Let’s take time for some solitude this week and see what happens.



we know that to hear from you we need to slow down, we need to stop and we need solitude. Please help us to find that time in the coming week so we get even closer to You. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Janis Cox

Janis Cox - Author and Illustrator

Janis, a former school teacher and small business owner, found a new passion in writing in her retirement. A writer since 2003, Janis co-ordinates a group blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. She is also a contributor to a group blog called Family and Faith Matters.

Janis is the author of the award winning children’s book, Tadeo Turtle, published by Word Alive Press. She is the author and watercolour illustrator. For more information visit Janis on her website He Cares for You. She is a member of The Word Guild andInscribe Writers Fellowship.


The Sound of God’s Peace

by Janice Keats

One of my favourite childhood memories includes spending many nights traveling in my father’s pleasure boat, which was a longliner. Equipped with a sleeping capacity of six and all of the amenities that a family would need, we spent many nights anchored into the deep waters. On some occasions we were docked in a nearby community.

In the darkness of the evening nothing was heard except the gentle waves breaking against the side of the boat. There was usually no other ocean traffic that passed by after dusk. The ocean was our solace as we rocked through the night. But the sweetest sound of my ocean travels was when we were securely docked in a new community because I loved to explore. Those nights I lay awake listening to the scraping sounds of the buoys rubbing against the wharf creating a gentle lopping splash. I could hear the soft rushing waves as they rolled through the intertwining logs of the wharf. Those same sounds awoke me in the mornings.

When I reminisce I imagine how calming it must be for a child to be gently rocked in a mother’s bosom. I imagine how calming it must be for a child of God to be cradled in God’s bosom when tough times arise. When I am found in a desperate time of my life I can recall those wonderful memories and prayerfully wait upon God to guide me safely. Yes, God is in the storms at sea and in the storms of life that so many endure, but He is also in the stillness of the night. God is a God of peace, gentleness and solitude. When we look for Him we will find Him. Whether it is in the middle of the darkest ocean or moored safely to a wharf.

“I will listen to God the Lord. He has ordered peace for those who worship him.” (Psalm 85:8) NCV

Janice is a freelance writer, and speaker. Her passion is developing and teaching workshops on various Biblical Studies, and planning ladies night out events. She is a certified lay Pastoral Counsellor and is presently employed in ministry. She has had several articles published in various local, provincial and national newspapers.

She is the author of, Poems of Inspiration and Occasion and, A Journey to the Heart of Evangelism. Future works include a devotional book and an audio book of her poems. She is married with three grown children, all of whom are accomplished musicians. Her twin daughters, known as The Keats, are country singers and her son is a recording engineer. Janice Keatshttp://themasterspath.wordpress.com/


Where are your out-of-the-way places?

In The Message we read:

“Jesus instructed him, “Don’t talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed self to the priest, along with the offering ordered by Moses. Your cleansed and obedient life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done.” But the man couldn’t keep it to himself, and the word got out. Soon a large crowd of people had gathered to listen and be healed of their ailments. As often as possible Jesus withdrew to out-of-the-way places for prayer” (Luke 5:14-16 The Message).

Do you get overwhelmed, feel like you are crowded in, have too many tasks in your in-box?

I used to feel this way – often.

Recently I have learned to ask God before committing myself to “one more thing”. Join me at my new blog A Better Way to see the rest of my post on how I try to cope with this situation.

But even when we get into a situation of “there is too much on my plate”, we have to remember what Jesus did. As often as possible Jesus withdrew – where? To out-of-the-way places. Personally, when my kids were small I found the bathroom a very safe retreat. I could ask God to hold it all together for me; bring me down to a calmer frame of mind; remind me what really was important.

Where is your out-of-the-way place? If you haven’t found one yet – try to think where you could go for that moment of respite; for the time to call out to God. It is better to be prepared because we know that time will come and if we have that spot chosen it will be easier to get there – quickly.

My Gratitude Journal for this week:

49. Praise and worship music that makes my heart soar
50. A walk around the lake
51. Sunshine skies
52. Inventors of medicine
53. Someone to mow the lawn (at home – my husband, in Arizona – someone else)
54. The sweet song of the birds singing in the morning
55. Naturopath doctors

Don’t forget to check the side panel to see all the countries I have prayed for this year. Join me in Prayers for the World.


Father, we know that Jesus went to quiet spots to pray. Help us to find our quiet spots now. Then when we need them we know were to go. Thank You for being there in the midst of the noise and in our quiet times. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN


Our Need for Solitude

by Mark D. Roberts (reprinted with permission from High Calling Blogs, February 2, 2011)

Luke 6:12-16

Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God.  And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles.

[Luke 6:12-13]

Yesterday, I shared some reflections on Luke 6:12-16, noting that Jesus spent all night in prayer prior to identifying his twelve apostles. Today, I want to remain with this passage so as to focus on Jesus’ example of solitude.

Jesus did not just pray all night. He quite intentionally left the crowds and even his own followers in order to be alone. At other times in his ministry, most notably in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus took others along with him when he prayed. But, in Luke 6, Jesus chose to be in solitude. The text suggests that this helped Jesus in his extended conversation with God.

God created us to be in community. We are meant to live our lives with others, serving them and growing in relationship with them. But there are times, as Jesus shows us by his example, when we need to break away from others for a while in order to be alone with God. Solitude, of course, isn’t really “solo time,” since God is with us. But being away from other people for a while can help us to quiet our souls so that we might pray more honestly and listen to God more attentively.

My friend Dave Williamson, former Director of Laity Lodge, recently made me aware of a provocative lecture by William Deresiewicz, former professor at Yale and literary critic. Deresiewicz delivered this lecture, entitled “Solitude and Leadership,” to the plebe class at West Point in October 2009. (I commend this lecture, though warn you of a bit of salty language.) Deresiewicz begins by arguing that “true leadership means being able to think for yourself and act on your convictions.” This is possible, he explains, only if we are able to step back from the crowd and reflect. The thoughtfulness required for true leadership comes in the context of solitude. Thus, Deresiewicz concludes his lecture: “I started by noting that solitude and leadership would seem to be contradictory things. But it seems to me that solitude is the very essence of leadership. The position of the leader is ultimately an intensely solitary, even intensely lonely one. However many people you may consult, you are the one who has to make the hard decisions. And at such moments, all you really have is yourself.”

I believe Deresiewicz is profoundly right, yet profoundly wrong in one crucial respect. When you have to make hard decisions, you have more than just yourself. You have the triune God ready to guide you if you are willing to pay attention . . . and attention requires times of solitude.

QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: When do you experience true solitude? When are you able to get away from the frenzy of life in order to be alone with God? Have you experienced a connection between solitude and leadership? Are you facing challenges in your life for which you need to get away so as to think and pray?

PRAYER: Dear Lord, your example challenges me, not only to pray more deeply, but also to be more intentional about getting away from the demands of life in order to be alone with you. You know how easy it is for me to think this is important, but not to do anything about it. Help me, I pray, to be more intentional and faithful about taking time away to be with you.

I want to pray for those who are reading this reflection today. I expect some are struck by their need for solitude and are already making plans to get away. But I expect others are feeling overwhelmed. They’re thinking that they don’t even have enough time to do all that is demanded of them. And now they’re supposed to find extra time for solitude! Help them, Lord, to determine what is best. Help them to find time, even short moments, when they can be quiet with you. Encourage them and strengthen them.

All praise be to you, Lord Jesus, for showing us how best to live by your own example. Amen.