When You’re Exhausted & Need to Exhale

So. A kid broke his foot. Six weeks, big cast, shaky crutches. Yeah. That story later. And my sister is still hanging on, trying to eek out a longer pregnancy, her five little girls missing their regular mama. Pray for us all trying to manage and grace for that story too? And in the midst of all this, I’ve been working feverishly on the fringe hours on a big, beautiful project for you all that I am praying will come together to serve you for years? So! When a sister is juggling all the crazy beautiful? Her dear friend shows up with just the words that her heart really needs.
Liz Curtis Higgs, the humble, wise ( funny!)  author of 30 books,  is one of my soul sisters, and together we’ve wandered Shaker Village (that unforgettable story coming soon too). Author of the bestsellers, Bad Girls of the Bible , Bad Girls of the Bible: And What We Can Learn From Them, and The Girl’s Still Got It: Take a Walk with Ruth and the God Who Rocked Her World, Liz has presented more than 1,700 inspirational programs in all 50 United States and 14 foreign countries — but she’s about as down to earth and warm and happiest grace as it gets. I just love her, and love her for coming by today [next week we will pick up with The Jesus Project and  more beautiful memory prints are coming real soon] — but today the relief of  this post from Liz? Well, have a seat on the porch with us  and exhale

photos and text by Liz Curtis Higgs 

Come with me to Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, Kentucky.

These devout believers were known for the saying, “We make you kindly welcome.”

And how do they make you welcome? Quietly.

The last living Kentucky Shaker left this earth in 1923.

Yet welcome they still do.

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Their all-white walls say, “Welcome to a place that is clean.”

Scrubbed clean daily and painted white again when a scrub brush can’t get it clean anymore. A gentle reminder that our sins, red as scarlet, are made white as snow.

The straight edges of Shaker furniture say, “Welcome to a place where beauty is found in a straight line.”

No distracting curves or garish ornamentation to mislead the mind. Here, the surfaces are smooth, the horizontal and the vertical.

The one who makes the crooked places straight would feel most welcome in this land of lines.

The horizontal band of pegs that ring the rooms say, “Welcome to a place of order.”

Chairs, hangers, candle holders are all designed to hang from large wooden pegs. A place for everything, where all questions have answers. “Where do I hang my hat?” Kindly hang it here.

The sparse furnishings say, “Welcome to a place where you can breathe.”

Every graphic artist will recognize it as three-dimensional white space.

There is room for the senses to regroup, free of assault. Simple white curtains open to pastoral views, a feast for tired eyes.

The Shaker silence, broken only by a softly closed door or faint step in the hall says, “Welcome to a place of solitude.”

Thick walls and surrounding fields keep the din of a noisy, modern world at bay. Here is a refuge of quiet and peacefulness. The soul revels in the stillness.

A distant dinner bell says, “Welcome to a place of repast.”

The meals are full of simple goodness. No gourmet sauces, no continental seasonings. Just what the body needs and nothing more, delicious in its simplicity.

The tall bed, so high it requires a foot stool to climb aboard, says, “Welcome to a place of rest.”

Beneath the plain white coverlet and clean white sheets, the restoration of sleep awaits. Those who are heavy laden will find rest.

Every corner of Shaker Village is a prayer closet, created with as few distractions as possible.

At any moment you can drop to your knees and find God, waiting in the silence and saying, “We make you kindly welcome.”

Lord, teach me what the Shakers knew about simplicity.

Help me clear away the distractions of life and find you in the sacred stillness,

in the breathing space of solitude and rest.

Lord, let me find my rest in You.





Liz is married to Bill Higgs and they enjoy their old Kentucky home, a nineteenth-century farmhouse in Louisville, and are the proud (and relieved) parents of two college grads.

All of Liz’a books are highly recommended, especially Rise and Shine and Embrace Grace.

Excerpted from Rise and Shine by Liz Curtis Higgs Copyright © 2004 by Liz Curtis Higgs. Excerpted by permission of WaterBrook Press, a division of Penguin Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.