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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Saying Yes to Small Luke 13: 18-21 Lectio Divina

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I walked past the chip aisle to reach for my triscuit box and saw her, an early-store-stocker, sitting on the floor with small plastic Pringles containers sliding on top of her. She looked up at me exasperated, “I just can’t get these annoying little packages to stay. Every ten minutes they fall and I’m rearranging them and begging them to stay until the next person reaches for their favorite flavor.”  My eyes twinkled, “Sounds like my life,” I laughed. She shot me a questioning look. “I just feel like I do the same inane things over and over.” She nodded and made one of those sounds women give to each other, “Uh-huh,” the universal: “I hear you girl.”

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But friend, I see you.

I see you wondering if your small matters.

I see you taking laps around the grocery store with your handwritten list.

I see you with your Monday morning ministry hangover wondering if your Sunday sermon stuck.

I see you writing words again in the early morning and daring to push publish while its still dark.

I see you sliding into bed wondering if your small acts of faithfulness matter.

I see you friend, and your small, ordinary, courageous acts of love.

Here’s the truth that I’m leaning into as I go about my dizzying array of the very small: small can be extraordinarily lavish. “Do small things with great love,” Mother Teresa taught.

And then Jesus showed us how to open our arms just that wide.

 

What small things with great love are you doing today?

 

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Your Brilliant Simple Plan to Create Calm in Chaos and SLOW Word

It’s no secret. I need quiet like I need water.  Perhaps we all do. Have you read this article yet? Our brains require ample amounts of silence in order to rebuild the brain cells stolen by noise and stress.

Because who can truly hear in the middle of all this crushing noise?

“In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). (By the way, this is the first verse of the SLOW Word lectio divina included below.)

 

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This afternoon I chatted with another homeschool mama in the corner of a kitchen as kids in costumes ran from one room to another playing hide and seek. We whispered about the need for quiet as if we were divulging a secret then we giggled at the extremes we go to guard our hours alone. But if this article or my (everyday!) experience are any indication, needing silence is just as essential to our mental and emotional health as our computer’s reboot button is to its continued functioning. And really, should we be surprised? My husband asks me the same question every time my computer seizes up: “When was the last time you rebooted?”

So, friends, it’s time to make a plan for rebooting our internal computer. It’s been necessary for women (and men!) throughout time. John Wesley’s mother, Susanna (1669-1742), used to take her long apron and place it over her head to signal the need for calm. Madeleine L’Engle’s children would recognize her irritability as a need for silence long before she ever did and beg her to take off to her writing tower at Crosswicks. Other women have written about their struggle to create spaces of silence. The introvert in me always smiles when I read Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem The Art of Disappearing.

In the early 1950’s Anne Morrow Lindbergh penned A Gift from the Sea about the wrestle between motherhood and the need for quiet: “I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life.” Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote these words before the hundreds of channels on the tv, the portable XBox, or the black hole of the interwebs.

 

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Into the age-old conversation I’m offering this simple little gem: #10MinutesofStillness. Sometimes simple can be embarrassing, but sometimes it can be brilliant. After years of practicing, this one, my friends, is brilliant simple. Of course, it’s not my brilliance. I’m just the beneficiary. I picked it up from my sister, who picked it up from a friend. You get the idea. Now here’s the prescription: Choose a quiet space, put the phone upside down and turn off any beeps and buzzes, and set an alarm for ten minutes. Full stop. It’s the mini-Sabbath in the middle of your busy Thursday.

(Secret: I’ve found #10MinutesofStillness are just as luxurious on family holidays as they are on a busy weekday. Here’s one of mine from family vacation last year.)

For just ten minutes you push away the incessant to-do list, and just settle into the gorgeous richness of the present moment. Listen for the birds. Scan your space for beauty. Be attentive to your breath. (Maybe you’re a shallow breather like I am?) Perhaps you can take a short phrase of scripture and do centering prayer. Most days I keep it simple. I make a cup of cinnamon tea, head out to the porch, shut the front door with all its crazy on the other side and sit in the swing. Ten minutes to hit the refresh button.

 

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Why #10MinutesofStillness? Here’s what I’ve found after a few years of the practice:

 

1. #10MinutesofStillness is the perfect transition.  Do you reach for a cereal bowl and a remote when the kids are finally in bed? Yup, some nights I do too.  Other nights I want to lean into something more creative. Scheduling a #10MinutesofStillness at the moment of transition helps me to be more mindful of my true desires and not just fall into an immediate Netflix hole. I did the same thing when the kids were young enough to nap.

 

2. #10MinutesofStillness gives us a moment of time to be attentive to emotions crowding under the surface. You know how it is. Your irritability is coming from somewhere. Nonjudgemental listening is the first step to untangling. Bring the emotion up into the air, look at it with compassionate curiosity and without trying to be a Fixer. Bring it up and out into the Presence of Christ.

 

3. #10MinutesofStillness is the creative’s best friend. When we’re mired in the tough of the making and the words refuse to flow, just ten minutes of no agenda silence will often unleash the dam and we’re on our way again.

 

4. #10MinutesofStillness is a gateway back to gratitude.  Practice opening up one sense at a time for sixty seconds each, without judging what you receive and without trying to create meaning. And then start thanking God for the simple gifts you are experiencing. Pretty soon the chaos is tinged with joy and you’re ready to love your people again.

 

5. #10MinutesofStillness can push the door open to God’s Presence. When our head is down and we’re leaning hard into hustle, we can forget to be aware of God-with-us.  Light a candle in your quiet space and sit without an agenda but with expectation, contemplatively present to He who is always present.

 

So, friend, I’m daring you: schedule a mini-Sabbath into your day. Cultivate a small corner of stillness then enter the conversation. What was it like for you? Was it a struggle? Was it a gift? We want to hear. And if you use the hashtag #10MinutesofStillness, let us know! I’d love to see the chorus of contemplatives rise!

 

Do you have another brilliant simple idea for creating calm in the chaos? Do share!

 

Today’s SLOW Word. (The scripture starts at 2:20):

Subscribe on the right for more aThirstforGod.com or the SLOW Word Lectio Divina videos.

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When You’re Running on Empty

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The life you save may be your own. Flannery O’Connor

 

I was wedged into a Bed, Bath, and Beyond aisle late at night standing on a scale. I gasped. Audibly. Still in my pregnancy pants, I was every bit of 44 lbs over my normal weight two months after my second was born. I did the math. She had been eight lbs and the placenta probably weighed around four. And what about all that water? I stepped on a few more scales to make sure the first hadn’t been tampered with. Darn arrogant technology. That was a whole lot of truth staring back at me in big digital numbers. Ping and I was double espresso awake.

 

This little bit of loveliness propelled me into a season of 6 am trips to a small gym at a strip mall across the interstate. I got serious. 6 am serious. The endorphins helped heal the post-partum depression which always followed my births. But the biggest gift of all was discovering that morning exercise created a foundation for the day: more energy, less emotional roller coasters. All of us in the little yellow cottage could agree that was a good thing. 

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But here’s the thing. This felt bigger than just a New Year’s resolution. It felt like I was laying a foundation for a life. In the following weeks when I prayed about how I should be using my time and energy, I kept sensing the same thing. Hold steady. Keep laying this one foundation. The message didn’t move on until habits had been formed. In fact, the message didn’t change for six. whole. months. Six months later a foundation had been laid, something firm, something substantial, something that could be built on.

Apparently I wasn’t done. Not close. There were other layers added later, many layers like rest and sabbath, self-acceptance, and getting rooted and established in God’s love.

During most transitions we have to go back with our hard hats on and bang around a little, make sure each layer is solid, checking to see if there are any worrying cracks.

 

Early in my motherhood, my mom shared the oxygen mask metaphor with me and it fits right here smack dab in the middle of all this. It mixes metaphors but you get the point. Summer, she said, you can’t put anyone else’s mask on until you have slipped on yours. Check and check. If I forget to take care of my basics, my foundation, there are always consequences.

 

Last week was a week of crazy and I heard it again. Time to go back and shore up the foundation. I was throwing myself into a new schedule with homeschooling and ministry and by the end of the week the corners of my life were showing deep fissures. My patience was frayed. I was yelling faster, overworking. I was saying “yes” too often. Thursday night my husband called it out. I was cleaning after bedtime with a tape of resentfulness on replay before crawling into bed bone tired. Andrew hugged me, saw the tears, and then begged me to take the next day off. The next day during a personal sabbath I went back to the basics. Am I getting enough rest, enough exercise, enough healthy food, enough prayer, enough silence, enough time soaking in the love of God?

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This Pinterest meme brought big tears to the surface last Thursday night:  “You can’t pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself first.” I pinned it to my BRAVE board. It felt brave to say yes to essential things when it would be easier to keep running full speed ahead. But I knew what empty felt like and it was time to go back to the basics and shore up the foundation.

 

What foundations do you shore up when you’re on empty?

If you’re reading Shauna Niequist’s beautiful brave book, Present Over Perfect, you’ll hear little bits of echoes here. Perhaps you want to read too? What’s been connecting with your heart?

 

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Day 20: Kingdom Spreading in Concentric Circles

I’m starting a new job today, Director of Soul Care at Holy Cross Anglican Cathedral here in Loganville, GA. It’s just 10 hours a week but I’m fantastically excited. I get to do exactly what I love to do best: lead people into the presence of Jesus.  I’ll be encouraging the good work already going on, building up the lay who are doing visitations, doing some pastoral care myself and starting healing care groups here in Loganville over the next few months. Here’s the family picture we took just this last week on our porch swing for Holy Cross’ website:

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I’ll keep writing this series, 31 days to Fall in Love with Your Zip Code, but perhaps a bit more slowly. I’m a slow writer anyways. I need to marinade, listen, and wrestle before anything of value finds its way to the page.

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This is a post from two February’s ago…but one which is so central to my theology of the home, that it keeps coming up in every series I write. It is the basis of the next 10 days of our series:

 

Our Christmas tree is still up.  Scratch that.  There is an evergreen tree with dry green needles propped up in the corner of our living room.  Our tree is still dressed with white sparkly lights casting a golden glow up the ceiling, but now there’s a difference.  It’s had a makeover.  Now the tree wears heart-shaped paper doilies, red ribbon garland and valentine hearts.  We’ll keep it up for Valentine’s this week, then I promise I’ll throw the dry thing out on the curb next Sunday night.  Promise.

This was six year old Madeline and my doing.  Saturday afternoon Xavier napped for a solid two hours and Madeline and I gathered red and white construction paper (she’s off pink), scissors and twine onto the coffee table.  We slid our fingers down the paper to crease it, cut out red hearts, punched out small white ones for a garland and all of this while recounting the story of Jesus’ love.  We fingered a long first-century looking nail hidden in the center of the tree and talked aloud about why it still fit on our love tree.  We chatted nonchalantly about how she could feel strong knowing she was loved by Jesus, that she is a daughter of the Most High God, his special girl.  Seeds were planted, little kingdom seeds.

I’ve got a small window and I know it.

 

I have a small window where this precious girl is good soil for the seed of the Word.

 

I have a small window and any ministry I do MUST start here.

 

KINGDOM spreading starts at home.

 

Paul gives hints to Timothy on how to locate an overseer and instructs: watch him with his family.  Has he been faithful managing those closest to him? If he has been wise with those close, he may be able to handle a wider concentric circle. (1 Timothy 3:1-5)  No more neglected marriages and families “sacrificed” for the Kingdom.  It’s just not Biblical. No more believing that God will take care of our families if we take care of His work. We are invited to plant the kingdom deep into the ground right at home.

 

Let’s start right here.

 

If the Kingdom is like a mustard seed, spreading branches into our world, the Reign of God will saturate our marriages, lift up our children, heal our extended families, provide shade for the neighborhood.

 

If the Kingdom of God is like yeast, it will expand across the city block through the streets of our town, broadcast into and out of houses and workplaces.  Jesus is always with us and when the Kingdom of heaven has been welcomed and come near, we can’t hold Him back, He WILL spread. Good news is like that.

 

When salvation comes to us, an earthquake of resurrection life rocks us fierce, tremors extending for a lifetime. The plates of our life shift and we push up and out.  The Holy Spirit begins to spread Isaiah 61 healing, cuts out cancerous lies, reorients our eyes, opens doors where we have been held captive.

 

I close my eyes and see the brass processional cross come down firm on the ground of our life here at the yellow cottage and pray the power of God spreads out from that epicenter…in concentric circles

 

As we are transformed, we begin to be an epicenter of the Kingdom…rooted right where we are.

 

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We’re on a 31 day journey toward falling in love with our zip code. Our family just moved five states south and are loving the warm October but riding the ups and downs of a major transition. Would you like to come along? Slip your email address (I’ll guard it with my life) into the CONNECT box on the front page and we’ll journey together. Start here.

 

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Day 7: Whisper

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“Enlarge my heart for this people.” It’s the kind of prayer-seed the Lord loves to water. And we have to start with seed, don’t we? We must begin with the tight humble seeds pushed into the ground in order to unwrap, to slide roots deep into the hummus and grow tomorrow’s fruit.

 

 

Our whisper of a prayer starts as almost all good things do, as a daily choice, worship straight out of the will but it ends in the promise of full flower. It’s a “working out of our salvation (Philippians 2:12).” We turn from the “it’s all about me” disease to being able to say “yes” to what God’s already doing here in this zip code and unhindered, join in. But the prayer is more than just about ministry, it’s about heart transformation.

 

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Six years into our ministry in South Haven, MI, in the midst of the untidiness of motherhood with toddlers with one foot in the parish, I began whispering this prayer.  I was a greener-pasture kind of gal, the one who was always surfing the clergy wanted site for a new parish, a new more _______ town, and if I’m being brutally honest, a people to love that were tuned to my needs and looked strikingly more like me. I had a chronic case of discontent.  But the Lord was speaking loud out of 1 Corinthians 13: your ministry will always be robbed powerless if you don’t fall in love with my people.  Start here.

 

This prayer started with a kitchen dance party with my young ones and we were on a Toby Mac kick because he was the only one who could make my oldest get out on the dance floor. “City on Her Knees” repeated its lines, “If you gotta start somewhere, why not here? If you gotta start somehow, why not now?” I put the song at the end of a morning mix on the iphone, a decision-making mix where I could pray through music along with the mess of the cheerios and spilt milk.

 

God answered. The daily whisper became a cry and then the prayer shifted slightly, “Heal my eyes to see this people as You see them.” I began to listen more closely to the stories, to gaze compassionately at a stranger’s face twisted with grief, to appreciate the hard fight of a journey that had won them those wrinkles. I began falling in love with the broken beautiful pieces I was witnessing all around me.  That was my first step out of the inward disease of narcissism and into true ministry.

 

You too? Are you ready to start here…to start now?

 

Daily Action: Nothing profound…just the beginnings of a whisper prayer, “Teach me to love this people.”

 

New to the Series? Start here: Falling in Love with Your Zip Code.

 

Hello, friend, we’re on a journey to thriving right where we’re planted. My family just moved five states south and I’m stumbling through learning to root again, learning to love a new town just like any town, full of the broken beautiful. Come along? Type your email into the “Connect” square on the right hand side of the front page and join me for the pilgrimage. It’ll be nice to have your company along the way.

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Permission to Rest

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You are allowed to rest. This is permission. Invitation.

 

It had been a busy day, full of teetering stacks of laundry and ministry and the kind of slow exhaustion that makes one desperate for another cup of coffee…at 8…just to make it through the bedtime routine.  I laid on the couch utterly finished, trying to talk myself into walking downstairs to wash my face. The kids were finally asleep and in their own beds. I clicked the tv off. My show was over but my mind still spun. Then, out of the quiet I finally heard the invitation, “You, my child, are allowed to rest.”

 

The verses I had done Lectio Divina with that morning in my group came back to me in pushed open space of silence:

As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him” (Psalm 103:13, 17a).

 

He never expected a cape wearing supermom. He never expected me to take a flying leap from motherhood to ministry and back again without getting out of breath. He never expected me to soar into this move with all its constant anxious newness without the whiplash of the triggers. He remembers that I am dust and instead of being repelled by that fact, He offers me rest.

 

And you too.

 

You, my friend, are given permission to rest, a commandment to rest. This weekend, lets peel off these velcroed  capes and lean into the truth of our own frailty.

 

Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28) Yes, that sounds good about now.

Come pilgrimage with me into rest and into His heart. Place your email (always protected) in the Connect box on the front page and we’ll gently ramble there together.

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How to Be Still and Know that He is God

The three R’s, it’s quickly becoming Maddie and my “thing” every morning…perhaps it’s because of her giggles…perhaps it’s because I know how much I need it too.

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Rest, Receive, Respond: these are the 3 R’s taught by Terry Wardle, a professor at Ashland Seminary who teaches formational prayer.

 

They are a practical way to line up for a blessing from Jesus.

 

Rest: I pull her down on my lap in the warm kitchen, whisper to her to close her eyes and take a few deep breaths. Just relax. That’s when I see the smile start playing.

 

Receive: “Maddie, receive Jesus’ love for a few moments. You are His girl and He delights in you.”  I start seeing a giggle coming up to the surface, the same giggles she gets during a movie when the Prince kisses his true love.

 

Respond: Tell Him you love Him back or thank Him.  Now she’s throwing her head back as if the joy can’t be held in. I can’t help but believe that she’s been in line and felt His hand on her head, his words spoken over her, seen His loving eyes look directly at her.

 

She’s been blessed, she knows that she’s His Beloved, and she’s beginning to learn that seeking the blessing can really be that simple.

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How often I have forgotten.

 

I’m the mom with the scripture memory cards in the middle of the breakfast table and all the Bible storybooks strewn around the house. I get out the big royal blue one with gold edging with the graham crackers and milk at bedtime. The other morning I reached for the devotional with breakfast and got “the look” from Caedmon.  Enough, it said. I’m stuffed.  It’s not the first time I’ve seen that look lately.

 

Too much stuffing knowledge and not enough blessing.

 

The look registered and I pulled out my iphone still loaded with a worship video based on Zephaniah 3:17:

Worship Opener/Zephaniah 3:17 from designerMD on Vimeo.

 

As he read the words on the small screen out loud, Caedmon’s eyes began to shine. “How does that make you feel, buddy?”  “I don’t know, Mom. I just like it,” he said.

 

We all hunger for blessing. 

 

Zephaniah 3:17 is a blessing in black on white:

The Lord your God is in your midst,

a mighty one who will save;

he will rejoice over you with gladness;

he will quiet you by his love;

he will exult over you with loud singing.

 

I had been spending my quiet time with this verse feeling my own chaotic heart slowly grow still with: “The Lord your God is with you…He will quiet you with His love.”

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But here are the questions: How often do I cram down the words, gather the bullet points, but don’t spend heart to heart time with the Word Himself?

 

Or, how often do I talk about the well but don’t lead them to take a drink? I give them maps, paint the pictures, tell stories about water, but still leave them thirsty?

 

“They” told me to find my purpose, my strength, my need for love, my identity all in Christ but never showed me how.  I struggled toward Him but was held back by the long rubber band always retracting towards my own neediness.  I never knew how to be “filled.” Finally, shame crept in and covered my relationship with God like that thin burnt oily covering on the hood of my kitchen stove.  20 years later and I have finally learned to live full of Love. And when I’m triggered, living out of that crazy, primal place, I’ve learned how to crawl back in to His heart.

 

How? Rest, Receive, Respond.

 

Be still and know that He is God.

 

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It’s dwelling with The Way, the Truth and the Life, not just learning about Him.

It’s blessing: the inner core of a life wrapped in unconditional love built on a framework of Scriptural knowledge.

It’s the 3 R’s: Rest, Receive, Respond.

It’s the practice of worship and soaking in His love.

It’s allowing yourself to stop seeking, and instead, just be found.

It’s Scripture meditation beyond memorization to conversation.

It’s the constant communication, “pray continually:” our lifting up our ordinary struggle to an always Present, loving Abba.

It’s learning to line up for a blessing.

 Summer Gross

Come journey with me.  Slip your email into the “Connect” square on the front page of A Thirst for God. 

Other times I’ve written about the 3 R’s:

When You Don’t Feel Worthy of God’s Love

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Shame-less Devotion, the Revolution

Everyday just under the surface lies a low-grade growl of shame: “You haven’t done enough.” Do you have his voice on repetition as well? Not enough vegetables on the table. Not enough exercise. Not enough blank.

 

Shame comes in for an easy landing when I’ve blown up angry, seen his sweet heart shrivel. It pounces after the kids walk away, pull open the glass school door. I’ve made breakfast, the oatmeal with the hot apples, but have forgotten to feed their souls.

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Shame.

 

I who say I’m on a quest to know His Presence vibrating wildly through every minute live bowed low to it.

 

And do you know where shame gets loudest, my friends? Here. I had hopes for my morning, for the prayer and the quiet and the pulling out that big Bible to find life but that little one wakes up with an early morning whine and an empty belly. That chair sits empty. Again.

 

It’s time to rebel. It’s time for a Shame-less Revolution, a Shame-less Devotion.  The thirst for living water never goes away but it’s time to release the hunt for the well from the frustration. It’s time to no longer pretend that life is not the blur of the kids and the carpool, the chores, the volunteering, the deadlines, the homework, the dinner, the bedtime and the exhausted sigh.

 

We all fly through life in a blur slightly dizzy.

 

We live smeared without a Center.

 

Remember ballet class and learning how to turn to avoid dizziness?  No, I didn’t have dance class either, but somehow I learned this. When turning, we fix our eyes on a clock, on a pole, something…and keep fixing our eyes there turn after turn.

 

It’s called spotting and this is what I want. I want Jesus clear when all else blurs.

 

I want to release devotion from early morning shame and on those hard days, spot on Jesus, find ways to draw close throughout the day.

 

Susanna Wesley, John Wesley’s mama, used to throw her apron over her head for a bit of prayer here or there. I don’t wear an apron long enough but I think in the swirl of 16 kids, she might be packing some wisdom.

 

It’s time for a Shame-less Devotion for the busy…practical ways we can wriggle in close throughout our day, find the well…ways we can spot on Jesus in the midst of our daily blur.

 

Think I’d leave you without a practical exercise? (This is what I’ve been doing lately…join me?)

Throughout the day, fix Your eyes on Jesus, arms out, inviting.

Listen for His question, that same question he asked the blind man (and doesn’t the blurring blind us too?): “What is it that you really need?”

Allow your answer to bubble up slowly. Listen…a lament, a cry, a desire. Lay it before Him.

Then, let His love enfold you. Receive. 

 

This is going to become a new quest…this search…this spotting.  Come along?  Pilgrimage with me and slip your email into the CONNECT box on the front page. 

 

And you, friend, how do you “spot” on Jesus?

Writing in community with Jennifer Dukes Lee who has big news this spring…a new book: Love Idol. I’m looking forward to being one of the first…

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Finding Time for Prayer – The Busy Mama’s Remix

It seems impossible doesn’t it?  My beautiful college friend asked THE question: How do we find time to pray and wait on God as busy moms?

 

How do we sit at His feet when they are climbing all over our lap?

 

We wake up to the cry down the hall and we are at work as soon as our feet hit the floor.  And we are so bone tired. All. The. Time.  We want to pray but every time we get silent enough, we feel a nap coming on, and oh, here it comes, the accompanying wave of guilt.

 

No guilt served up here.

 

This is finding time for prayer, the re-mix, the busy mom version.  Here’s the original.

 

The exhausted mom version?  I’ve been there. I’m still there many days. I went to sleep at 8:20 last night. No writing, no reading, no Downton Abbey. My kids are 9,7, and 4 and my 4 year old has nightmares, poor guy.  He cries out from the upstairs hallway and then I’m awake. Yup, that’s when I pray.  Whatever time Xavier has his nightmare is my wakeup call.  Yesterday morning? 2:00 a.m. This morning? 5:20 a.m., much more civilized.

 

OK, I’m up and it’s time for the honest re-mix, the busy mom version.

085

087

 

We want to steal bits of time, to stay focused among the one hundred emergencies a day.  If anyone asks me what is hardest about being a mom with young ones it’s the emotional swings.  They are skipping with me into a store, each hop going higher and higher throwing their head back with laughter one minute, and utterly dissolved into a puddle of tears, skinned knee the next.  In just one day?  This times fifty = constantly worn out mom.

 

This Christmas was THE FIRST batch of un-burnt cookies. First in nine years. I was so proud. Before there was always an emergency in that crucial 10 minutes, (a fall, a fight over a toy, a “mom! I need toilet paper!”), and I burnt 100’s of cookies before completely giving up the fight. Success 9 years later. Huge unwarranted kudos coming from the family. I’ll take it.

 

We want to hear from God, to have Him empower our work, our motherhood, our marriage, our ministry. Perhaps we want to hear God’s direction for our lives. All of this takes time waiting, which we haven’t got.  Now what?

be-still

 

Sabbath:

Honestly? Most of my time alone with God for the last 9 years was made possible with a babysitter once a week for six hours.  My sanity depended on it. Any ministry I did depended on it. Often I would go sit at a coffee shop with a book and a far-away look unwinding from the stress of mothering wee ones. I would always start by staring at the wall.  Yup, just staring. I was allowed to stare, no one was pulling at my jeans. Any books I read, journaling I did, praying I enjoyed, happened during that six hour time period.

 

Where did we get the idea that the fourth commandment to take a Sabbath does not apply to moms? The truth is that we are on the job if we are at home. On. The. Job.

 

The story you read this weekend about being refilled by God? It happened on one of these Sabbaths.  I had an amazing babysitter during that time. A few.  They didn’t charge a lot but they loved my kids and they made this weekly Sabbath possible. Thank you Jennifer, Julia and Kim.

 

It seems impossible.  There’s a money hurdle and you don’t know a reasonable babysitter in your area.  Yup, I’m in that position right now. Perhaps you and another mom could switch babysitting for a few hours?  Do you have an aunt or a mom close by? Perhaps your man could give you an evening, or take the kids to Playland on Saturday mornings, leave you home in the delicious quiet?

 

Fast:

Thirsty? Need more time with God? This is where fasting comes in. Fast a favorite evening television show. Fast a girlfriend visit. Exhausted and having a hard time focusing? He understands. Just offer your imperfect time to God.

 

How?

 

Deep breaths. Quiet your heart. Be present with the Lord with a short scripture.  Breathe in: “Be Still and Know that I am God.” Breathe out: Be still and know that I am God.” Use the Jesus Prayer:  “Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Or for the sake of this particular issue of empowering, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses,” (Acts 1:8). That means you too, sister.

 

Focus:

I couldn’t get away but my inner healing care group was meeting the next day and I needed God’s Presence to show up strong.  I needed more than a good curriculum because He is the only One who truly has the power to heal. Without the Spirit’s power, without Jesus’ authority, without my heart being right before Him, it could be an exercise in frustration instead of another step toward healing.

 

That’s when I lit a candle and had it burning all day right on top of the kitchen table. Every time I saw it, there was a small invitation to pray. It’s just a simple candle in a glass jar but it reminds me that He is present. It reminds me that prayer is like incense rising before His throne.  Sometimes it was a seriously short prayer, imagining Him, the Light of the World, present in the room with us the next day.  Sometimes it was a sentence, “Lord, I need You to burn anything away that might hinder You from working tomorrow.”

 

Worship:

It’s just a song on repeat and I join the worship while I go about my daily chores.  Your Great Name by Natalie Grant. Laura Story’s Mighty to Save. Matt Maher’s Christ is Risen. I might even invite the kids to dance in the kitchen while we pray God’s Kingdom come.

 votive lit

Fall:

Sometimes when I’m exhausted, I lose all ability to form words. At those moments I can only pray really… simple… prayers. I can only fall on His mercy. This “breath prayer” is from Ron DelBene in a book called, The Breath of Life. It’s perfect for us busy moms.  Simple. Profound. Here it is:

 

We find a moment of quiet before the Lord (nap time? before bed?) and imagine the Lord standing before us, arms outstretched, inviting. He speaks: “What do you most want from me?” Listen for the deep heart’s cry that bubbles to the surface. This, my friend, becomes the simple prayer that you offer.  But, don’t let go of the prayer, allow it to become part of the ongoing conversation between you. Breathe with it. Cry out. Keep it simple: “I am lonely.” “I need true rest.” “I need to know that I am loved unconditionally.” Or like Moses: “God, don’t send me out unless you are going!”  (Exodus 33:15 Summer’s version).

 

Finally, there is grace:

Finally, friends, remember that there is outpourings of grace for us. When I first had Xavier and was overwhelmed with all three, 4 1/2, 2 and 0, I would pick up the phone whenever the stress reached over my eyes.  My mama in her quiet voice would quote Isaiah 40:11, “He gently leads those who are with young.” Gently. He encourages us to be gentle with ourselves as well.  We can live life grace-fueled. No more huge helpings of guilt, only acceptance.

 

Remember that word?  When grace and acceptance and humility intertwines, it’s the quickest way to fall back into His power alone and be filled right back up.

skeleton-key

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Thirsty for more?  Let’s go to the well together. Come along for the journey. Put your email in the “Connect” box on the front page and lets pilgrimage together.

Thirsty for more encouragement? Encouragement 101 for you.  Blessings, friend!

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Counting thanks with Ann Voskamp and writing in community with the insightful Laura Boggess:

1. Thank you Jesus for Ann, for her courage, for her obedience in writing…I’m sending her book into dark places and watching them light up bright!

2. Mom and Dad Gross’ encouragement. I was cornered to keep writing, to find more avenues for these words to find a home! Cornered in a good way, of course!

3. Xavier’s love of legos. He builds and I clean and I’m crazy thankful for multi-colored plastic pieces everywhere.

4. After School Kids: Beautiful women giving their time to teach, beautiful friendships started. So thankful.

5. Drinking in beauty at the National Aviary. Drinking in oxygen. Watching my boy’s eyes light up.

6. My brother’s wedding at a chateau in France this August? I’m crazy excited.

7. Aaron and Elodie setting up home this side of the Atlantic. Kissing baby’s cheeks more often.

8. Feeling stilled, thankful, purpose-filled.

9. Salt-tasting at Church of the Incarnation, Strip District. Thank you Dr. Leslie and Fr. Paul for the imagery that will stay with our children forever. My favorite? The Himalayan pink

10. Roast with red wine filling my house with that gorgeous earthy smell all day.

 

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