Guest post by Ashley Larkin and *SLOW Word video*

Hello dear friends, it’s such a privilege for me to introduce you to one of my favorite people and fellow SLOW Word listeners, Ashley Larkin. Visit her on her blog, AshleyMLarkin.com. You won’t be sorry. Ashley, owner of a contagious smile and straight up raw vulnerability, the kind that invites others to tell their stories. She’s a writer/speaker who spins words effortlessly. Below was her beautiful response to Monday’s SLOW Word scripture, Matthew 17:1-8 and I couldn’t wait to share it with you all.  (By the way, I’d love to do this more! Do you have a response I could share with the others…a short quote or a story of sitting with the SLOW Word lectio divinas? I’d love to insert them into our emails or highlight them right here on AThirstforGod.com) And yes, remember, there’s a new SLOW Word every Monday and Thursday. Subscribe on the right to get them slipped into your inbox for time at rest in God’s presence. Find today’s SLOW Word of Isaiah 30:15-18 at the bottom of the post.

It is Wednesday.

Clementine sleeps on the edge of the blanket thrown across my lap, breathing out stinky salmon food breath in regular intervals.
As my mind runs its laps, the rise and fall of her full belly comforts me.

The meadow birds dance from tree limb to feeder, flit beside the windows along the north wall of our house, alight on the branches to the east. The white curtains are pulled to the side of the windows’ moldings, so I can see the birds’ path (and also that of the greedy squirrels) more clearly.

Their figure eights and frenetic darting awaken and calm me in a way only wild ones can. I need them.

The birds sing a plaintive song, and I presume these are calls to their kind about this food source in a front yard in the midst of a long February. I imagine trilled thank yous and notice the feeders are running low; I can’t seem to remember where I’ve put the seed.

Then I remember my family’s own need for food and our rapidly emptying refrigerator and plan the remainder of the week’s meals. I am not regular with this as I want to be, but when I prepare for and cook hot meals, I feel the gift of giver and receiver.

I am acutely aware of dependence today.

In Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy, I read that there is everything for us to receive. I remember the open hands I prayed for a sister the other night — that she might release her grip on control and let the freedom of God’s love touch her palms.

I think how mine can remain shut, then how I open hands and mouth wide like a desperately hungry hatchling.

I am giver and taker, bouncing branches and empty feeders. I am a child needing to be fed.

On the heels of a hard series of conversations with my youngest, she brought me a bouquet of flowers. Signs of springing life tucked into a shiny camellia leaf, plucked from the mostly dormant garden where the birds eat. I watch bird wings and finger the cluster of grown things.

This morning, I sit for a while in Matthew 17 and Jesus’ transfiguration. Jesus climbs to a high place with Peter, James and John, and suddenly becomes sun and light.

On the edge of such a miracle, Peter says rather plainly, “Lord, it is good for us to be here” and asks if he can put up shelter for not only Jesus, but also Moses and Elijah, who’ve suddenly joined them.

It is good for us to be here, Peter says. No recorded exclamation points, no enthusiasm that we can read.

The only exclamation noted here is from heaven when God says, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

This morning, I hear you, God; I am listening for you, Jesus.

You know that I forget and flit, close ears and seek to hear, hold out my hands and am fed.

Surrounded by miracle, we are utterly ordinary. Surrounded by the ordinary, we, too, are miracle.

 

Thank you Ashley for this beautiful gift!

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Praying to Heal our Land *SLOW Word Lectio video*

 

Right here every Monday and Thursday dear ones, we’re listening, we’re praying, and we’re being transformed by the word. Perhaps this is a gift you want to share, to set the feast for another weary pilgrim.

 

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

What if the land that you need healed is right under your own two feet?

We pour out our heart for the healing of our nation, for the daughters stolen as possessions, for the country whose children wear scars from their first breath.

But what if a fissure has appeared right through your home from the front door to the back and ever widening?

This, dear friends, is when we sit down, light our candle and determine to stay:

“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will heal their land.”

We humble ourselves, pour out our uncensured prayers and seek the face of the only One who knows how to knit together land.

 

We turn and turn again from our sin when we look down and find that we are the ones holding the pick-axe that broke open the scar.

Tonight I’m staying right here: Seek my Face.  These are the words that dropped weighty in my hand and I’m turning them over like rocks at the beach. I’m listening to them chink against each other, feeling their shape, their coolness.

My boy used to lay his head in the crook of my arm on Sunday nights as we watched Extreme Makeover. His sister was asleep upstairs in her crib. He was the big boy. He would sometimes fall asleep right there before the reveal and I’d listen to him as he’d catch his breath and then breathe even again.

He’s growing too fast, so fast I can’t catch up. It’s this land between us which needs to be healed.

So I’m here to seek. I’m asking his Maker, the One who had a dream of him before I did, the One who placed him in my arms, to teach me how to mother a runner. I’m seeking to know how to celebrate the tender mystery that is a young boy stretching out.

 

What are you hearing in this SLOW Word, my friend? 

 

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#MondayMorningatJesusFeet *Matthew 5:43-48 video*

It’s #MondayMorningsatJesusFeet. It’s just the perfect place to start the week, listening, leaning in close. Come with me? Let’s pray through Matthew 5:43-48 together.  And yes, my friend, every Monday and Thursday there’s a lectio divina video right here. We’re setting a feast of the Word. Perhaps there’s someone you’d like to invite?

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Speak your Servant is Listening *SLOW Word video*

{Every Monday and Thursday find a SLOW Word Lectio Divina right here. Now they’re streamlined. Shorter. A little less talk and a fast track to the Word. That’s why we’re here, right? Forget the toast. We’re hungry for the feast. If you’d like to receive these SLOW Word Lectios by email, subscribe on the right. I’m so glad you’re here. It’s such a privilege to come into the Presence together.}

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I’m still sitting in my chair by the fire. The kids are in bed but bedtime snack dishes with the sleepytime tea, the honey bear, and the graham crackers are still strewn across the table.

 

Isaiah 43:1-2 is singing a tune I can’t identify. The phrase, “they will not sweep over you,” surprised me. Have you ever listened to a lectio divina and thought you knew where the Spirit was going to lead you and then you land in an unfamiliar section of your little town?

 

“And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

 

Last summer we took a backpacking trip through a corner of the Cohutta mountains of Northern GA. This fall there were fires there. I wonder what it looks like now. Our 3 mile trek in was idyllic with white rhododendron’s spilling onto the trail. We staked our tents next to a river and slept deep until the thunder and cracks of lightning and the pouring rain. The boys found themselves sleeping or not sleeping in a puddle. We were up early, drying out, and huddling around our tiny backpacking stove as it boiled water for our hot chocolate and oatmeal. It was summer in GA and so the discomfort didn’t last more than an hour and the children were soon fishing on a large rock in the middle of the river. The river was swollen when we hiked that afternoon and we had to cross it four times. Our feet slipped on the stones as we dipped up to our waist and tried to help the children to land. Andrew’s a natural. He does this for fun. I was meant to be a land animal.

As I sat with these words from Isaiah 43, “they will not sweep over you,” and this was the story that came to mind. I was struggling to cross the river. Overwhelmed. A little frightened. I was wishing I had a cord, a rope, a hand, something to hold onto. “I will be with you.” I listen. That’s definitely a part of the answer.

 

I think about how overwhelmed I get by the chaos of a daily household. I think about being a single parent when Andrew’s travels oversees and how life falls heavily right here…in my lap.

 

Another story comes into memory, a labyrinth walk this last December. I walked the large canvas labyrinth with a sense of Presence, of holding onto Christ’s hands. He was leading though turned towards me. I sensed His graciousness with my tiredness. I stopped on most turns to rest, for a breath, to enjoy the quiet. I learned to stop in the present moment, not to race, not to demand, not to push through. So much of my learning to rest comes with this verse, “He remembers that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103:14). There’s so much grace in those words, so much understanding. He knows I’m human and He holds out His hands. I can trust those hands. I can trust the pace.

 

I still don’t know where this is headed. Not really. I’m sitting with the question, a puzzle that’s spread all over the card table with colors fanned across and no larger picture. But I sense something here. I sense the call to hold these words. I sense the call to carry the words into tomorrow, through the next turn.

 

I don’t know the answer, not yet, but now I’m listening to whispers which sound like hope.

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#MondaysAtJesusFeet

Here we are, friends. It’s Monday.

It’s Monday and it’s time to sit and to savor the Word at Jesus’ feet.

We’re doing Lectio Divina every Monday and Thursday right here and today we’re spending time with Matthew 5:21-24 because here in the Sermon on the Mount is where we learn to walk out our faith.

There are some words of Jesus that require us to sit with them in prayer.

Because otherwise we’d rush right on by. It’s easier that way. We’d rather the internal mess stayed covered. We’d rather stay ignorant of our shadow sides.

 

In today’s scripture, we’re asked to uncover the root of anger in our lives and reconcile with our brother but sometimes those roots are buried. Deep. Today we give God permission to uncover what needs to be exposed. As we listen, we’re offered the truth that reconciliation leads to real Life.

{Every Monday and Thursday we have a Lectio Divina right here. Subscribe on the right to get them slipped quietly into your inbox.}

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A Long Obedience in the Same Direction? Start here. *SLOW Word*

Feel like you’re walking a long road and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier?

Yup, you’re not alone. Today we park in Ephesians for some strength and a whole lot of encouragement.  Let’s listen together.

Have someone else who may need a cup of water from this same well? Pass it along to a friend.  Subscribe on the right to receive these twice weekly little videos straight into your email.

 

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A Few of My Favorite Things and *SLOW Word*

{SLOW Word Lectio Divina is right here pasted onto the bottom of this post.  Remember, Lectio Divinas are posted right here every Monday and Thursday. Subscribe on the right to get them slipped into your inbox.}

Here are a few of my favorite things:

My bee earrings:

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It’s easy to feel lost in a world addicted to big. Big projects. Big success. You question your worth. You wonder if somehow BIG passed you by and if you should scrape and strive for it. I’m pretty sure that would be the death of my soul. My bee earrings remind me to celebrate my smallness and know that the essential work of pollination by tiny beings makes the world go round.

It’s my cheer for a mustard-seed life. I’ll tell you more another time. Go bees!

 

The quote from Pedro Arrupe I can’t get enough of. Pedro Arrupe was a missionary to the Japanese and a political prisoner during WW2. After WW2 he moved to the outskirts of Hiroshima and cared for people during the bombing and its aftermath. He was voted Superior General of the Jesuits in 1965 and served until 1983. This gorgeous quote came from that life.

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

From Finding God in All Things: A Marquette Prayer Book © 2009 Marquette University Press.

 

I am undone by Elgar’s Lux Aeterna. Every. Single. Time.

 

Chatbooks – I adore these little square books that are so simple to put together. In fact, I’ve created four in the last two months. I’m NOT a scrapbook mom. This is totally worth every penny. Besides this video cracks. me. up:

 

 

This teaching. Want more of that same Exodus 33 passage from today’s SLOW Word Lectio Divina? Don’t miss this. If you’ve never been introduced to the beautiful ministry of Terry Wardle, you’re missing out. Terry’s one of my professors for the Spiritual Formation Spiritual Direction Certificate I’m attending. #blessed.

“What distinguishes our faith from all the other religions of the world?” The Presence.

Listen:

 

 

How to Survive a Shipwreck:  by Jonathan Martin

What a book. There aren’t many books written from the point of view of a Christian falling apart, in full acceptance of the free-fall. This book is vulnerable and beautiful with the gift of being given access of someone’s holy of holies.  You feel the need to talk softly, to take off your shoes. Jonathan Martin does some stunning theology as he listens to Scripture in the midst of the pain. He invites us to get comfortable with humiliation, grace and the love of God. It is tender and gorgeous, authentic and rich. I heartily recommend this book. Perhaps we will see the “shipwreck” seasons of our lives and others as not something to be judged, but a time to sit shiva, listen to the grief, and watch for the gentle movements of the Spirit. Resurrection is coming. The Resurrection and the Life is coming.

“Letting the storm and the night have their way with you, letting the Spirit come in with the wind to make you into something new, is much easier said than done. There are so many reasons not to be reborn. There are so many reasons to choose resuscitation over resurrection.” Jonathan Martin

 

 

These verses. Let’s savor the Word together:

 

Friend, what area of your life do you sense God inviting you to stop and invite His Presence in?

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Matthew 5: 3-9

Dear friends, every Monday and Thursday we gather right here to slow down and savor the word. Join us in the SLOW Word Movement nourishing us with the Word on four continents by subscribing on the right and receiving these Lectio Divinas by email.

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