My Sabbath Journey

Sabbath!  It was a gift of rest from the hand of God.   Wasn’t it just that simple?  I had always “done” Sunday, and loved every minute of going to church and enjoying a restful afternoon.

But now, I was devouring the subject, tracing the steps through scripture, and beginning to see something else.  The gift of Sabbath was both deep and wide:  Sunday and more.  It was a life with Sabbath monogrammed onto it.  But if this was true, then how, in my world would I open it?  The question hammered hard … chipped chunks out of my long “to do” list…pounded my peace.

Ÿ  Sabbath living, I saw, was everyday life/work done from  a restful, trusting spirit.  It wasn’t only Sunday–the gift was bigger than that. It was all of life with God center stage, not behind the curtains. Scripture made it plain enough.  It was stopping “the train” along the weekday way.  It was noticing.  It was being.  It was God’s idea, and ribboned throughout scripture: a life lived from a restful heart.  It teased me forward.   So why did I know virtually nothing about a “sabbath-kind-of” life during the week?  Something had to give.  My story continues…..

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Life was perpetual everything..…I was 40, and at the top of my game.  Things needed to change.  I was all about work, producing,  running, serving, family this, friends, that, and church, church, church.  I loved what I was doing.  Carbon copy life.  Poster child of too much and too many.  Do it all, and do it now.  Hurry up.   My motto was “more”  My creed was “faster”.   For months and days and years I did the all-American “ work thing”.  And a smelly cavity was beginning to devour my soul.

My spirit groaned.  My body ached.  My temper flared.  My soul shrank.

I met God on Sunday morning, and tossed Him a kiss the rest of the week, even as I served Him virtually full time, and with all my might.  It was what we all did.

As life pinched harder and harder, soul cracks became soul craters.  I was thirsty for God but there was only a trickle of water.  It’s all I allowed! Something had to change.   So I began to find small ways to quench my thirst.

At first, I took small interludes alone with God.  I didn’t know where it would lead.  It didn’t really matter.  I knew I had to jam on the brakes or expect a train wreck. God had to become larger and largest in my life.  So I started small.

While running errands, I would wheel into our church parking lot beside the small lake peppered with ducks and alive with fountains of water.  It reminded me how thirsty I really was.  I’d “brown bag it” at the gazebo on the lush grounds. I’d reflect. And I’d pray.

Other days, in the middle of it all, I’d drive to the country, listening to music.    Again, I’d search for quiet, holy places. And holy places came: a cemetery, a lake, a beach overlook. I began to find spots everywhere. My times were short: 10 to 30 minutes.  I gulped peace…guzzled rest.  I gasped at the surprising Presence of God.   I received the Sabbath pressed late upon me by the loving invitation of God.  “Come…unto me.”

Over the months, sabbath interludes became longer with less space between.  Wrinkled soul craters  began to plump out and beam health.  Family noticed and grinned.  I noticed.  God noticed. Had He been waiting for me to “come out and play” at life more, notice more, rest more?

Shot through with desire by this time, I thirsted for more Sabbath time.  I couldn’t stop. Sabbath had happily shimmied into every morning by now.  Yes!  Every day Sabbath! Trysts with God (called devotions). But even that wasn’t enough. Sabbaths began to morph into monthly, full-day retreats at a nearby spiritual retreat center. Sabbaths had become my spiritual life line.

“Is that sustainable?” a young woman asked me?  Yes, and yes, and a thousand yeses. It’s the other life that isn’t . 

Eventually, on a winter of days, I wrote a book I called “Interludes.  By then  I had found way over 50 ways to experience rich Sabbaths in my life, and eagerly shared most of them in this book.

But that was just a beginning.  Next, God strove mightily with my heart for other women.  He wanted me to open my own home for private day retreats for women who were thirsty for  Sabbath time alone with Him.  I juggled that around for awhile because it seemed so foreign an idea.

I would prepare the home.  They would come.  I would go away and leave them alone with the Lord.  I questioned this call, because “no one else was doing it”.  There was no blueprint.   But I did prepare the home.  And they have come.  For over 10 years, God has sent “just enough”.  Not too many.  Not too few.  Over 100 women have come, and God has met them at the door.  They have drunk from the well.  And some now host retreats in their homes.

Sabbath!  Glorious, delicious, wonder-filled gift of God!  And to think….it can begin in a tub!

More ideas for succulent sabbaths will be appearing each week.  Care to come along?

Linda Andersen

Linking to:

GettingDownWithJesus

 

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Sunday Chaos Confession with Yummy Quiche Recipe

It’s prep day around here: Saturday.

Recently, I’ve began reevaluating our family’s life.  What’s working…what’s not.

Confession time: Organization is not my gifting.  That wrench was missing when I was handed the package.

And Sunday morning? Often it is chaos with a side order of panic. 

So, I’ve decided to adopt the Sabbath making gift of Jewish women, prepping the day before. Why?

God’s a pretty smart guy.

He knows that moms don’t really know how to Sabbath and need to be taken by the hand, invited.

Or, perhaps we just need to be given permission?

So, my Beautiful Mama Friends, I figure if God turned off the creative engine to rest on the seventh day, and then crammed making the Sabbath holy into the 10 Commandments, that’s pretty good permission!

No more drinking guilt from a culture that doesn’t know when to say when.

Remember the Israelites’ manna meals wandering in the desert? On Friday those who gathered the manna needed to load up for two days because none of the white starchy stuff would appear with the due on the Sabbath. I think this just might be my clue.

So…..Sundays just got simpler with this planning:

  • Kids shiny with black soccer knees scrubbed, clothes laid out down to the shoes.
  • Breakfast planned
  • Diaper bags, curriculum by the door.
  • Sermon (if I’m preaching) printed, prayed up.
  • My clothes picked out.  Shower, hair and make-up before 7
  • All Sunday meals are made on Saturday afternoon…or earlier if thawing from the freezer!…Wendy’s chili is always in my back pocket.  Grace, sisters!

 

But, honestly? The heart prep is what ends up mattering most.

I’ve noticed that if I haven’t been in the Word, on Sunday mornings I feel like I’m slogging on empty through the service. The readings feel brittle and any seed I throw out lays flat. The goal is that all week long in the Word, my landscape is weeded and plowed up so the Spirit can easily do His creative work when the Body is gathered.

Preparation for me means consciously emptying of ego (aren’t I the center of the Universe?)and “the cares of the world” so that I can open-hands receive Him at the altar.

How do you prep for Sundays?

Rustic Potato Quiche from Cooking Light

Filling:

2 bacon slices

1 cup chopped red potato

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup (2 ounces) Jarlsberg cheese

¼ cup thinly sliced green onions

1 ½ cups 1 low fat milk

¼ tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground red pepper

3 large eggs

¼ tsp paprika

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Prebake crust at 400 for 10 minutes. Cool before filling.

3. Reduce oven temp to 375.

4. To prepare filling, cook bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from skillet; crumble. Add potato and chopped onion to bacon drippings in skillet; sauté 10 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat.

5. Arrange potato mixture, bacon, cheese, and green onions in prepared crust. Combine milk, ¼ tsp salt, pepper, and eggs; stir well with a whisk. Pour milk mixture into crust; sprinkle with paprika. Bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted 1 inch from center comes out clean; let stand 10 minutes.

Yum.  It really comes down to this: if it has bacon, we’re fans.

Summer Gross

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Where to Go with our Anger

A tight face and words that won’t come except spit from gasps of anger.

Seven years old and the wii game’s referee intentionally calls bad games he believes, leaving him stomping. Damming up joy.

He runs, hits.  Tears stream from slammed shut eyes.

Real or perceived injustice,  it still stings.

The question is: Where to go with this anger building?

David too cried out from the pain of real injustice…went straight to the Father with angry laments.  Then, David’s prayers, joyful or pain-wrenched were included in the Spirit-inspired scripture.

(Can we ask for laments to be Spirit-inspired ?)

And then for millenia, we have sung them as worship:”The arrogant are attacking me, O God; a band of ruthless men seeks my life–men without regard for you.” (Psalm 86:14)

Did you know? Over half of the Psalms are lament Psalms.

I put this music on, handed him sheets of lined paper to write, cry out to God.

I wish I had learned to lament to the Father early, learned where to go with the building pain.

“Our emotions are neutral,” I tell them. “It is where we go with them that counts.”

20 minutes later, Caedmon is sprawled out on the couch, looking like a Golden Retriever tired from playing.

I see his lament…scribbled in red ink across the page. I tell him that after David drained all his anger (uncensored “dash their children against a stone”) out in prayer, he would turn and ask God to come into the pain, to transform his anger.  The question is: God where are you in all of this? I pray with Caedmon for that transformation.  “Jesus, show him Your truth and how much You love him and will always be with him.”

How do you feel now? I ask my boy, drinking rest.  He breathes easily.  Smiles slow.  “Fine. Peace.”

If Jesus already died to carry our pain, lamenting is one way of nailing it to the cross.

There is no Easter for those who do not first cling to the cross.

 

Summer Gross

 

 

 

 

 

Today I’m sharing with:

and

and

and

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What to do when under construction

Two years ago the intercessors @ Holy Trinity Anglican started dreaming: a prayer clinic downtown where people could detour off sidewalks into the Presence of Jesus.

We began driving for inner healing training and planting foundation prayers walking around our 5,000 pop. town (in the summer we burgeon to 18,000 with tourists).

Six months ago, we hung our sign. The owner said she would gladly take a steelhead for her downpayment. My husband happily obliged with a trout caught just down the sidewalk off the lighthouse pier.

As a neutral setting, we built a comfort that we weren’t selling anything…just loving people, giving them a place to encounter Christ. We would ask those stopping by, “What do you want Jesus to do for you today?” then we prayed simply.  People started coming back for more manna.

Men and women come in with life-threatening diseases, depression, anxiety and fear, or just for a blessing. Inner healing prayer groups  and solo seekers meet once a week removing the masks we wear and asking Jesus to heal our still-bleeding memories.  This Monday Jamie, Zach and Hannah are singing, playing, worshiping as the intercessors pray…their gifts melding with the incense of prayers rising.  Could anything be better?

Then, this:

The road in front of the South Haven Prayer Clinic was ripped up, drilled down, sidewalks sledgehammered and large crews are slowly pouring, smoothing, building.

Slowly being the operative word.

This Wednesday with construction tape strewn across the sidewalk and freshly poured concrete, we balanced around the corner with book bags to the laughter of the construction crew. No one would have known they were even allowed on the sidewalk in front of our prayer clinic. Traffic has slowed over the last few months and then…stopped. (We still see referrals!) But in the meantime, what are we doing?

Showing up. Praying. Training. Showing up. Praying. Training. Showing up.

Dionysius the Areopogite shared that the Christian life was a continuum: purification, illumination and union. Over and over and over.

My friend, a missionary, recently came off the field wanting to listen, rest, recover, rebuild and then be flung right back over. Then came “the wall” or perhaps, the knowledge of the wall. A wall which needed to be torn down for the Spirit to seep into every crevice. Construction time and patience.

Patience feels so very unAmerican. Foundations are being torn down, studied, measured and rebuilt.

 

And maybe THIS is what’s going on: (from a parable CS Lewis adapted from George MacDonald and quoted in Mere Christianity.)

Imagine yourself as a living house.  God comes in to rebuild that house.  At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing.

He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on:  you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised.

But presently he starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense.  What on earth is He up to?  The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards.

You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage:  but He is building a palace.  He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Yes.

Summer Gross

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Thanksgivings with Ann @ www.aholyexperience.com :

Kathy who inspires me to risk loving big at our Prayer Clinic

mint chocolate chip (low sugar) ice cream

an extra year!  Last year I thought I was turning 37.  Off a number 🙂

a husband who gives me the pulpit

For my dearest Bethel (house of God) mother who knew this quote and knew it was the answer to the question

New friends and full beautiful dear ones

lungs starting to get free

white throated sparrows and my son who knew what they were

linked with:

On In Around button

and Laura: @the wellspring
and

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Receiving the Sabbath as a Gift

Fridays at a thirst for God we focus on Sabbath, carving out space for God, for rest:

Spring dances in, high and lifted up, waving scepters of gold. Gilded Day bounds free from the east, rising tentatively above slim, blue line of clouds that scurry. Birds chirp. Airplane drones, pretending a sun didn’t rise!

I watch….. still.  Cobwebs emerge, necklaced with dew, on shiny leaves.  Last year’s corn wears shadows well.  Trees blaze, red, gold: now buckets of yellow. Rainbow colors tremble, immodest across bluish sky: breathless peach–purple thunder.

Raucous crows announce “fiesta”!  Sun lavishes painterly light with good cheer. Today, seems overladen with possibilities!  Shadows are, quite simply, disappearing.  All of them. Inside and out.  “You are here!”

And still I watch.  Morning is secure now: full bodied and relentless in bright patchworks. Spring in Michigan.  A coolish breeze reminds me– scatters last year’s leaves in a dervish across emerald grass.

Spring brings crisp, bold mornings, and still-cool fireplace-kind-of-evenings. Mittens are put away.  Garden goods “pop”.  Glad earth turns.  Evenings stretch longer now, and Sun stretches out its’ bedtime.

Gifts of the morning, gifts of the evening.  How many do I miss, and why?  No reason passes muster!  These Sabbaths I will receive, or feel the loss to my soul.

And so, it is brief, but I claim this gift…this Sabbath.  I savor, and I pray, because I can, and not because I must.  “Multicolored gift of God, do your deep and soundless work in my soul.”

Linda Andersen

Where do you go to receive true rest?

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The Shepherd is Here

The Shepherd is Here

I shall not lack…

 

And this seems to be key:  You are always enough in the present.

I am the one who runs ahead

into lack, who runs ahead

into fear and smacks my head sharp.

If Your Kingdom-spreading Presence is with me, for me, how could I lack?

You are HERE and that news is like spring water starting to run.  Fear drives me to lack as a frozen stream, stuck.  Your Presence heals my fear of not enough, my fear of new, my fear of the unknown skin-tearing judgment.

You are HERE. I shall not lack.

 

Sheep are dumb.  This is what I heard over and over in sermons.  But now I hear: “Sheep are simple.”

I AM simple to You.  You know my needs hidden and how to hands-open meet them in the here and where to hit the rock to see the water spill.

This awkward, leaping frog jump into the future was never made for me. I am simple.  I was meant to take measured steps, gathering starchy manna spread in front of me.

To deliberately live simple, to live one ear pressed up toward You

open,

slow,

body brushing crook and rod,

pulled in close

to the Shepherd.

Summer Gross

Just A Sip

One of my favorite songs: I AM by Jill Phillips. Lyrics under the embedded YouTube clip

 

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest
The tide can change so fast,
But I will stay
The same through the past,
The same in future, same today

CHORUS:
I am constant; I am near
I am peace that shatters all your secret fears
I am holy; I am wise
I’m the only one who knows your heart’s desires
Your heart’s desires

Oh weary, tired and worn,
Let out your sighs
And drop that heavy load you hold
Cause Mine is light

I know you through and through;
There’s no need to hide
I want to show you love
That is deep and high and wide

CHORUS(2x)

Oh gently lay your head
Upon my chest
And I will comfort you
Like a mother while you rest

 

Counting Thanksgivings with Ann:

Calvin’s Festival of Faith and Writing and Ann calling out prophets to speak Word and poetry to a world enamored with industry and smeared production.  I wept silently.

No more pain lingering, erased as if it never was

A clean floor, a friend spreading almond-scented straight-up gift across my dingy hardwoods.

New book for the children, the friendship and march for justice by Martin Luther King and Abraham Heschel.  A call to march out our anger, see the image of God in each.

Whole milk yogurt from the neighborhood store (!) to beef up children

April 23rd, anniversary of our first date, a walk through the white trilium and three years later, my saying yes, the beginning of the hard beautiful work of grace.

 

 

 

 

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The Wisdom of Sleep

It was a night to remember.  I was on a personal, sabbath retreat at a cottage by a lake, and it was getting late.  Piano music drifted in magical waves through my window.  From a chair plumped in pillows, I watched night envelop day.  Creator God was preparing His children for bed.

Shadows deepened against the orange bar of sunlit water.  Stars brightened against encroaching night.  “Peace on earth”.  “Good will toward mankind”.  I could hear the message of the night.

A strand of lights sparkled along the shoreline.  A lone fishing boat drifted dark against the sun.  I thought about the night.  Wasn’t it God’s engraved invitation to rest and surrender all my cares?  When I shortened my night wasn’t I declaring some kind of mutiny against this care?  Night was God’s good idea.  From the beginning He gave us, His kids, the gift.

With a sigh, Day changed places with night.  “Your turn”, it seemed to say.  I was overcome with the mystic stillness.  God had spoken: “Rest”.  “Renew”  “Surrender”.  “Here is my gift prepared for you before the foundations of the earth”.

Finally came the ecstasy of laying my head down on the pillow. The songs of night played on.  As I watched, silken strands of starlight played over the windowsill through evening mists.  “How kind”, I thought, “and how good of God to make these jewels for my enjoyment”.

That was a night to remember–mostly because I stopped.

Lingering, at such a time, unwrapped the holy to me.  And the gift comes every day!

Linda Andersen

Sharing with L.L. Barkat @ http://seedlingsinstone.blogspot.com/

and Laura @  the wellspring: http://www.lauraboggess.com/

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Resurrection Laughter

The cavernous airport terminal throbbed with life in the fast lane.  Monotonous voices droned from every speaker, and frigid air washed in and out of automatic doors in shivery waves.  Caterpillar lines formed at each gate, and cell phones popped in and out of pockets like so many prairie dogs on a summer day.

 

Flights were cancelled.  Schedules were changed.  Eyebrows arched, and the soul of the building was filled with the mournful voices of the delayed.  It was winter in Michigan, and I was there.

 

I watched as the caterpillar rearranged itself after each announcement.  Boxes, bags, purses, golf gear.  People lurched and surged with their burden–now in line, now out.  Lines disappeared, and people stood in forlorn groups, wondering what to do with their time–and their baggage.  Various options, none of them easy.  Pack it.  Stash it.  Carry it.  Fold it.  Drop it.  Push it.  Roll it.  Stow it.  Hundreds of passengers faithfully lugged their treasured possessions behind them, yet appeared to desperately want them gone.  What would come of all this, I wondered.

 

One traveler caught my eye.  He was different.  This one, with skin of ebony and eyes sparkling with good humor, apparently had no baggage.  He stood alone and happily in line.  And when he had to, he moved happily out of line.  He looked around him at the tight frowns and decided, this one with no baggage, to do something about it.  I was there, and I saw.

 

Mostly he used his wide smile.  Wrapping itself around him and stretching beyond him, it touched several people who were close.  They, too began to smile.  Slowly at first, then widely.  The people around him, they grinned!  And they kept on smiling and grinning, until the caterpillar line was one, long unbridled smile.  It was a gift from him who had no baggage, but what he did have, he shared.

 

The man began to laugh!  In an airport, on a dismal day, he laughed.  And his laughter caught.  He laughed and he laughed.  At himself he laughed and at his plight.  He laughed so deeply his belly shook.  And it caught.  First one, then more.  They began to laugh.  Small at first, and then large.  They laughed with him and at themselves.  They laughed at their plight and they laughed together.  And because the laughter lingered they kept laughing as they left one line for another.

 

The elfin man now helped them with their baggage.  He lifted their boxes and held their wraps, and they laughed and they smiled.  I watched.  The man with the empty arms became a hat tree, a closet, a bellboy.  He couldn’t have done so if his own arms had been full of heavy burdens.  If he had been limping and lurching through the caterpillar line he may not have smiled, may not have laughed.  And there would be no one to help them with their burdens.

 

This man, this one, he packed lightly.  He traveled light, like the wind.  He probably lived lightly.  And the laughter of such a one transformed a line and a terminal.  His joy reset

Stuck spirits.  And we all of us laughed in a line.

 

Later, travelers at my gate jostled their way onto the plane, stowing their goods, mumbling complaints under their collective breaths and groaning their dissatisfaction.  Only a short ride away from the gate, and we stopped again!  A two-hour delay on the

runway!  Tempers flared and children cried.  I saw.

 

The smallish man with ebony skin began talking.  And again he smiled.  He laughed as he talked, and laughed some more as he told stories.  Again I saw the miracle emerge.  His good cheer wound round and round the passengers until it had done its work.  His laughter bounced over and beyond his seat, working its’ jolly way around the entire cabin.

 

He had no baggage.  He carried people.  He shouldered their loads and made them smile.  In a blizzard, in the middle of winter, in the overcrowded cabin of an airliner, I saw the Christ at work.  I was there, and I saw:  Liberty incarnate.

Linda Andersen

linking here:

Winsome Wednesdays

and Emily @ imperfect prose

The first photograph can be bought on etsy here: http://www.etsy.com/listing/76325259/vintage-suitcase-fine-art-photography

photo of luggage against fence:

http://homespuntoronto.blogspot.com/#!/2011/05/re-purposed-vintage-luggage.html

all other photos found on google images

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Expect Resurrection

HERE.

He is

here.

 

The God of the Universe: All-Wise, All-powerfull, saturated through and through with goodness and love,

star-namer, man molder, light flinger, …

Healer, Redeemer, Life Breather, Dead Raiser, Wave Calmer,

 

is HERE.

 

The question is:

What in you needs to be resurrected, my friend?  What circumstance in your life today needs the “same power that raised Christ from the dead?” (Ephesians 1:19-20)

 

He has not left you to wander alone, shuffling behind full carts of brown-bagged pain, hoarded empty comfort.

You have not been abandoned.

He is here.  You, if you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, are his Child, Heir, Beloved.

AND,

He promised:

“I will be with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)

These were the words he desired to fall on our ears last, to echo down through millenia.

So Dear One:

What prison, (problem, knotted fear, pain) in your life would not be utterly transformed by the Presence of the Risen Conqueror walking fearlessly into it?

Invite Him in and

expect Resurrection.

 

Summer Gross

(If you need someone to pray with you today, leave a comment…sometimes the road has been long and hard and we need someone else to lead us into His Presence.)

Just a Sip:

Take a time out.  He IS here but our brain still short circuits, not believing we have truly been adopted by the God of the Universe, that the power, strength, wisdom, supplies of the universe are at our Abba Father’s disposal.  And Oh, how He yearns spill over into our empty hands.

One of the greatest retooling in our brain needs to occur at this point:  Knowing that He is present at all times…with us.  We have an orphan complex, still thinking we are homeless.

Take ten minutes to rest, concentrating on the truth that He is present in His fullness, with all of His power, love, strength, wisdom… with you… right now.

Ready for a spiritual exercise? 

Breathe deeply for ten minutes, eyes closed, repeating: “You are here” or “You are always with me.” or “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack.” etc. Thank Him for the truth finding its way deeper into your mind, dislodging the fear, anger, frustration, worry.

or listen prayerfully to Kari Jobe sing “Here“:

linking with:

and Jami @ http://www.callmeblessed.com/
and

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Leaning Back into Grace

Resurrection is a gift.  Pure gift.  God kneading Kingdom  and spreading into us Life.

“If the Spirit of Him who rose Christ from the dead is living in you, then the Spirit of Him who rose Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies.”  (Romans 8:11)

This is our very present Hope.  Romans 8 whispers that resurrection is not just a future reality, but a Spirit-infused present reality.  Our powerful God of Easter pursues our death and with our surrendered help, conquers our death by His death.* (See prayer below)

We can lean back into grace.

This week, all I can do is receive.  I have had walking pneumonia that has knocked me off my feet. Literally horizontal…avec heating pad.

I have been leaning back into grace.

A friend came over and cleaned my house Monday: pure unadulturated grace.

My husband fills needs wordlessly and shows me grace in action.

And then there’s been that other grace: Grace to have enough energy to coordinate the tradition of coloring eggs. Thin shavings of crayons spread over steamy eggs.  Crayons melted, spreading a confetti of 3D color.

But here’s the gift, as Ann Voskamp would say, the hard eucharisteo: Sickness has been resurrection at work, raising me from of the death of expectations, out of law and into grace.

I have had no where else to go.

This has been the gift:

This sickness my ipad has 2 new books on it and I’ve been switching back and forth writing on little virtual notepads (way too much fun, I’m such a nerd!):  Holley Gerth‘s, You’re Already Amazing and neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf’s Who Switched Off My Brain.  They are informing and filling out eachother.

Holley Gerth speaks truth about our crazy expectations for our lives and how we eat every expectation handed to us by those who “love us and have a wonderful plan for our lives.”

She says: “Expectations are laws we place on ourselves and each other…You must do X or you will be punished in some way.” (Chapter 8)  She says that when we accept others’ expectations of us (or even our own Tower of Babel: our own expectations are often built from bricks of pride), there are usually unspoken punishments involved: disapproval, guilt, rejection, withdrawal of love, shame.

Huge aha moment: I’ve been living hunchbacked, bowed down under law.  Expectations force its way into every corner of my calendar, consume my housecleaning, pepper through my mothering and worse of all, make idols of my dreams.

What have I discovered?  Others’ expectations are subtle in my life, but my own…not so much. Expectations are weighing me down, drowning me in law.

I clean around my house angry that I haven’t done more.  I hold up a standard of perfect, and when I don’t see it, slap myself around in an internal dialogue, frustrated.  I am angry I don’t clean like my olympic homemaker of a mother-in-law, gifted in holding out her hand and making the chaos obey. (Where did Mary Poppins buy that snappy song for tidying up the nursery?)

Good mothers have clean houses.  Good wives welcome their husband home with order.  My expectations have created a harried woman, overwhelmed by perfect, unable to accept grace.

Dr. Caroline Leaf, a neuroscientist, teaches that thoughts can be formed and reformed, in fact, “transformed by the renewing of our mind.” (Romans 12:2)  Scripture is powerful and when meditated upon, literally transforms the landscape of our brain.

I have been getting up off the heating pad for a half hour at a time deep-breathing grace:  Summer, you are not under law, but under grace.  I am loving my family through tasks, loving myself by not demanding a sacrifice of pain in order to pursue perfect.

I have dropped expectations and have been drinking a new concoction: resurrection laced with grace.

And I am noticing grace is starting to spread.

Grace is spreading on the heat of my struggle and the surprise is: a confetti of celebration.  Who knows how far?

Summer Gross

*Paschal Troparian from Easter Liturgy:

Christ is risen from the dead,

trampling down death by death,

and on those in the tombs bestowing life!
linking with Ann Voskamp:

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