Setting the Tone for Monday *SLOW Word video*

Welcome sweet friends! Every Monday and Thursday find a SLOW Word Lectio Divina right here. Together we’re being transformed in the listening. Join the community by subscribing on the right to receive small hints and special notes just to you. And no, I don’t get to choose these lovely photos, YouTube chooses for me {Face in hand}

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Weekend Love List

Welcome to the weekend love list.

Grab a cup of coffee. Sit out in the garden with your pj’s 

and choose rest

I wonder if there is a morsel or a meal hidden right here for you?

Perhaps you’d like to start with a Lectio Divina, an ancient way to rest WITH God this weekend. Here we do a new SLOW Word lectio divina every Monday and Thursday. Join us? Subscribe on the right to join a community of fellow listeners.

Here is Isaiah 30:15

“In returning and rest will be your salvation; In quietness and trust is your strength.”

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“Our most important work is accomplished by enjoying the Creator, not checking off a list.

~~Shelly Miller

Doesn’t that sentence invite a much-needed deep breath?

This post by Shelly Miller helped me to tweak my perspective when I was feeling all tied up with self-inflicted lists. Besides, she takes us on a trip to the Cotswolds to visit the most darling little stone cottage. *sigh*

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There is so much to fuel our meditation of the Psalms right here on this Fuller Seminary page. A conversation between Eugene Peterson and Bono would be thought-provoking enough but to take it over the edge, they included a curated spotify play list including Jon Foreman, Jon Michael Talbot, Cistercian monks, Matt Maher, and U2.  Treasure.

 

 

I keep coming back to this recipe year after year. One tray? Yes, please. The overnight brine creates the most moist chicken. Add sage, sweet potatoes, and a dash of cream and tons of grated parmesan before serving. Delicious. I’ll be making it for Sunday supper this weekend for a ton of cousins who are presently running around the house having nerf gun battles. Thank you again Jaime Oliver.

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I’ve picked up this book again and read a page at a time often stopping to revel in a profound quote : The Orthodox Way. What I love about the Orthodox theology revealed in this book is that it leads us to awe. We are reminded that God is full of mystery that the human mind cannot entirely comprehend Him but is invited up to the altar to worship.

Faith is not the supposition that something might be true, but the assurance that someone is there.”

~~Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way

 

 

God is not surprised by our lack. He is moved by it.

~~ Tara Dickson

This beautiful post by Tara Dickson challenged my lack of trust and makes me want to lean in. I will be sitting with this question before the Lord: Is there somewhere that You want me to withdraw so that You can show Your power?

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Do you feel like you live permanently in the waiting room of your life? Perhaps these words of mine from Wednesday will bring hope.

 

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Encouragement for Writers in the Waiting & *SLOW Word video*

SLOW Word video at the bottom of this post. I set the table with the word twice a week around here, Mondays and Thursdays. Join us by subscribing on the right.

 

I’m joining Emily Freeman’s band of writers to pay attention to the inner workings of the spirit this spring. Sometimes I share my learnings in bits and pieces, opening up my box and showing gathered little treasures one at a time. Other times the shift is so profound that it requires a backstory. This one requires two.

 

Here was the crucible event: a few weeks ago I sat in the front row at The Unchained Experience, an art performance show telling the story of a woman being trafficked and coming back out. Yes there were facts that shocked me and made me weep, but there were also blinding rays of hope. In the show models wear avant-garde art onto the floor illustrating each scene in a trafficked woman’s life. The collection was designed by Korto Momolu of Project Runway fame. Its terrible beauty cuts through all the emotional walls we erect between us and the 24 million trafficked. My sister, fierce for these women, is one of the two founders of this awareness event.

 

I rode the waves of the UNCHAINED narration next to Kris Camealy who was gracious enough to be my date for the evening. We met over pasta at an outdoor cafe, shared notes about homeschooling, discovered friends in common (the man who performed her marriage ceremony was my bishop! What?!!!), and then as we drove toward the show I whispered, “The script of the show includes 62 poems. This is the first time I will have seen them performed. I wrote them last year during Lent.”

 

I had written the poems over a period of forty days last spring and then given them as a gift. I’ve held it like a secret, a small hidden joy. UNCHAINED is shown about three times a month all over the country from local inner city high schools of Columbus, OH to Harvard’s Social Enterprise Conference but this was the first time I had been able to attend since my work became the narration. After watching, Kris leaned over, “That script!!! Why do you fool around with prose when you could be writing like that!” At first it felt like a backhanded compliment I’d heard before from professors who looked from one to the other and shook their heads. But Kris’ truth-telling resonated and I gathered her words like Mary wondering what it all could mean.

A small taste of the narration:

“Then the camera zooms in on just one girl,

Fragile, exposed, wings still wet

limited-edition butterfly swept up in his revolting net.

He wants to paint over the frail beauty.

He wants to fabricate

a flesh

to consume.”

 

As UNCHAINED commissioned a new collection from Korto Momolu, they also wanted a new script. My sister knowing I had been scribbling bits and pieces to support UNCHAINED for the last three years, asked me if I wanted to write it. So last Lent I sat in the purple papasan chair in my master closet every morning before dawn imbibing the story of the trafficked, one septic drop at a time. I watched videos and listened to survivor stories. Many mornings I felt physically nauseous as I emerged from the closet and walked downstairs to stir oatmeal and homeschool my three children. For forty days these captives were no longer a number, they were faces and names. But even this wasn’t the true beginning of this story.

Here’s the second piece of the backstory: for six years I had studied poetry at Asbury University, Virginia Theological Seminary and Wesleyan Seminary in D.C. with fantastic midwife poets. I found a small corner of the world where my words could be born. I sat weekly with other writers in critique sessions and loved the weighing of words and deciding just where the line breaks should be placed. As I had children, I would pick up small projects in which poems could find light but mostly stepped sideways into other creative ministries in my new role as an ordained Anglican priest. I had put in untold passion and spread out hours honing this craft and then slipped it all into a drawer and wondered if it would ever emerge again.

 

Watching the UNCHAINED event was overwhelming but with a couple of weeks of distance, this is what I learned this spring: If I am faithful to the craft, I will be ready for the fire.  Let me explain.

 

Amber Haines, author of Wild in the Hollow, a profound, deep-well kind of memoir, was interviewed by Emily Freeman, my inner artist whisperer, in a video on the HopeWriters membership website.  Amber, with her easy smile, has a prophetic presence and a warm, Arkansas lilt to her voice. With a deep knowing from her own writing experience, she encouraged writers to “not try to write a book until the book is asking to be written.” Then she clarified her words deeper. I leaned in. “Wait for the fire,” she said.

But, here’s where all these threads come together. Something happened after I watched the UNCHAINED event and realized that the six years I had honed the craft of poetry (and oh yes, I hope to keep honing this for a lifetime) had been transformed into something dynamic, vital, God-breathed when I was patient enough to wait for the fire. As I was obedient to the art that wanted to be made and the God who was calling it forth, I could rest in the simple act of daily yeses. Something inside me has begun to rest in the writing. I don’t have to strive, I only have to stay faithful. I can keep doing the work until the fire meets the gathered logs of my craft.

 

As I waited in the early dawn of Lent, something like a small Pentecost happened. When I walked into the closet every morning, I walked in with prayer, begging the Spirit to breathe into my words, to create something bigger than just Summer and scribbled lines of poetry. I begged for words which would throw open prison doors.

 

Love and fire and craft all merged to create a narration which speaks the truth about human dignity as the image of God into spaces where the church will never be given an invitation. And now I’m preaching, but can you hear the mini-Pentecost? Can you hear the rush of wind?  In Exodus 35, it was the artists, the craftsmen of the tabernacle who was gifted with the Spirit first.

 

So here’s the gift this spring for you and for me:

Be brave. Keep showing up to the art.  Be faithful. Keep honing your craft. Pray. Wait for the fire. Pentecost will come.

 

You friend, what one bit of advice strengthens you in the long obedience?

Subscribe on the right to get practical encouragement for the spiritual life and the twice weekly lectio divina videos we’re calling the SLOW Word Movement here. Join me for slow scripture which slips easily into prayer tomorrow.

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The Promise of Pentecost *SLOW Word video*

Welcome to this quiet corner of the noisy interwebs! These lectio divinas are a quiet listening to scripture as a doorway to prayer. As we slow and listen together we’re choosing spiritual whitespace over all the beeps and buzzes of our phones in order to carve out much-needed space for the Word.  So sit right on down on the front porch and let’s allow God through Acts 1:4-8 to have His way with us. {Oh, and friend, if this little time of lectio divina is a gift for you today, perhaps it would be a gift for a friend? Pass on the gift of SLOW.}

 

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Ascension Day @ Jesus’ Feet *SLOW Word*

Last words.  We turn them over and over in our hand like a last gift, a necklace, a jewel, discovering every angle, looking at the way the light shines through it. We hold onto the tone, the timbre of their voice. Last words get embossed in the mind.

 

That last visit sitting in the white nursing home room, under the window, my Nona was barely able to talk. Alzheimer had claimed all her words. She who once wore a mass of red curls like a crown, whispered like a child, nodding her head as if it was heavy. After hours sitting next to her, holding her hand and holding a monologue about the children and the happenings in our Mitford-like town in Pittsburgh, I thought all memory of me had slipped into the dark of her mind. But, as I got up to leave, I leaned forward to kiss her peach-fuzz covered cheek and heard her whisper, “I love you Sweetie” just like always. Just like she had whispered for the last thirty-eight years as I hugged her good-bye by the car. I glanced into her eyes surprised but she had already closed her eyes. She was already gone. I held her words like blue-green seaglass I search for on the shore, familiar and precious.

 

And Jesus’ last words? In Matthew Jesus leaves his disciples with the words every newly-adopted child needs to hear: “I will be with you always to the end of the age.” But, in Luke 24, Jesus gives last directions before he ascends: “I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

 

The Spirit is the Father’s promise. Let’s just park here for a minute. The Father promises the Spirit, a magnanimous promise from of a perfect, loving, all-powerful Being. It’s a promise we can trust, a promise we can build a house on, build a life on. Can you hear echoes of Luke 11? “If you then who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Holy Spirit give good gifts to them that ask Him.”

 

Ask. Stay. Wait.

 

 

It’s a daily thing, a lifetime learning. We’re invited to lean into the promise, to not rush ahead, but to hold out our empty hands for our Abba to fill. Frances MacNutt says that prayer is just our sitting at the table with the Father and asking Abba to pass the mashed potatoes. I can still hear the laughter in his voice from the tape I listened to early in my ministry, “And He LOVES to feed his children.”  It’s the same big-hearted Daddy tone of Luke 12:32, “Don’t be afraid little flock, for the Father is pleased to give you the Kingdom.”

 

Luke all this time has been setting us up for his sequel, the book of Acts and the opening chapters punctuated with the fireworks of Pentecost. He’s setting us up for power, not for emptiness. He’s pointing to a new life fired by hope and the ability to bring the Kingdom wherever we put down our feet one step at a time. Your Kingdom come Here on earth as it is in heaven. Your Kingdom come here.

 

He is setting us up for gain, not for loss.

 

What are you hearing in these last words, my friend? 

 

 

 

 

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