My 2013 One Word

To Listen:

To live empty, open, hands up receiving

To surge in breaths of God truth,

To abide in God one wing covering another.

To breathe out focused:

the Presence of God is HERE, always Here…

Always speaking, and me?

Learning, stumbling to listen.


The wind is loud when you live close to the beach.  This morning it sounds hollow, gathered from 100 miles away from the top of the mitten and tunneling towards South Haven across the waves.


Before dawn this morning I open the door of the little yellow cottage and the storm door slams.  I shut my eyes and say a quick prayer the children stay asleep for Andrew.  At McDonalds I go through the drive through, pick up my breakfast sandwich and the wind tunnels into the minivan, taking my breath away.  At the office, I open the car door and it slams open, hard on the hinges.


The earth is loud, but most of the time, God is not.  I am leaning in, learning to practice stillness, to actively ear- to- the- sky listen.


I have spent much of the last six months of my life loud, around a loud young family, doing loud things.  I’m the annoying mom at the soccer field who crosses the line, jumping up when Caed gets the ball and moves it Messi-like toward the goal (yup, I’m that proud.  Not apologetic.) I look around, hold my hand up, apologize I’ve crossed the line yet again, laugh at myself and sit back down into my blue folding chair.


I’m the dance-party in the kitchen mom, turning up TobyMac and twirling children over the wood floor.  I’m often the first to speak and the longest to preach.


I live… loud.  And yes, I know there is a time for everything, but have you seen their small eyes when I stop talking, lean down, look into their eyes and just listen?


Monday, I ignored the pressing chores, shut the computer and sat still at the table as the after school apples and peanut butter was quickly consumed. “Mom, I’m their captain,” I heard, as I leaned in.  What followed was a description of an elaborate 1st graders game, runners and a jail and guarders and boys and girls on separate sides.  “But, the secret is the papers,” she smiled smugly, nodding slowly.  “The papers tell everyone if they are a runner, a guarder or a co-leader and then every Tuesday they are allowed to switch.  The boys don’t have papers, but I keep them in my desk.”


When you sit still enough and press in to listen, you hear secrets.


Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. (Jeremiah 33:3 ESV)


I want to live listening…to that Love always surging toward me, that truth opening my heart to live Godward.


I struggle and juggle time in a world of children and laundry and ministry.  My Bibles pile up, sitting waiting with fresh Word and I daily pray for thirst, and lately, I smack my lips, parched.  Every time I carve out time, I open that page, I gulp more LIFE and my mind is washed fresh.  I  hit the renew button, repent toward truth.


Lately I’ve begun loving this ESV daily lectionary in the early morning and then later?  I lay clunky brown leather Bibles open around the house, the ones which were held over my head as I said “Yes” to its authority over me at ordination.  They lay open on the bathroom sink, flat beside the white double kitchen sink where I bathed babies, open on the black coffee table, and I turn thin pages and sip throughout the day, searching for more LIFE.  Then, a few times a week like this, I wake up early, escape to the office, guzzle like I’ve been crossing the desert.

Why do I hunger to lean forward, to listen?  I want more God, more gulps of clean, fresh true God.  I want to become one of those listeners entrusted with the secret things of God.  I want to mine LIFE for myself and others, us wanderers through the dark of this fallen planet.

Yesterday, parched, I headed for a church full on the other side of 50 miles of white, snowy M43, and sat down in a prayer room with women full of wisdom.  At the end of our time, oil was placed on my forehead by a listening spiritual director and this was prayed over me, she who barely knows me…the same prayer prayed by many for the umpteenth time this last six months.  It is all I hear as I tentatively walk in the realms of the writers and preachers, the fresh wisdom gatherers and of course, the listeners:


Isaiah 45:3
I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name.


In listening, we may open our hands tentatively, search truth, but then, surprise!  He full-arm reaches toward us giving out more ripe, succulent, dripping fruit off that Tree of Life.


He reaches to give more of Himself and I find the more I drink from His hands, the more thirsty I get.


Tonight the wind has died down, the internal static calmed, the rumblings of children upstairs has stopped and I sit into the stillness with my hot chamomile tea, open my heart and remember all the words, the treasures mined in the midst of the daily noise.


This is my one word this 2013: Listen

Friends, what words are filling your intention for this next year?

Summer Gross

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