Lectio Divina as a Doorway to Rest

 

It’s just a couple of lines, not even a whole verse.

These words from Isaiah 30:15, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust will be your strength,” keeps being brought to the table, the Spirit’s not-so-subtle-daily manna. Two weeks ago, I was sitting in a lodge in northern Ohio, white dogwood right outside the windows and my professor, Dr. Terry Wardle brings it up again. He was telling a story of heart-break and how these verses invited him to return to rest in God even in the turmoil.

This lectio divina work has been one of those returning places. The tv. remote, Facebook, Instagram? They all promise rest. They’re sirens and I’m a sucker for their song. The more tired I am, the more mindlessly I scroll.

I’m learning that I need to make rest appointments with God, to the One who beckoned with a “Come to Me.” Lectio is one of those appointments. It’s my invitation to SLOW down, to receive.

Lectio divina is sometimes a place of incredible aha moments, but it’s not meant to park there stuck in one person’s ruminating. It’s supposed to be a doorway to dialogue and then to an even more simple but luxurious abiding. It’s a doorway for with-God time, being aware and present to He who is always present to us. And when I’m deep in hustle, I need the door swung wide open often.

What are you hearing in this verse? What word/phrase? What invitation?

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Making a Plan for Rest Today and Thursday’s SLOW WORD

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This July I was in Italy for three weeks with my people. I’m still living in the after-glow.  We spent one week on the Ligurian coast, a week in the Dolomites, a quick trip through Venice, and a week with friends in the hills of Tuscany on a vineyard.  A few days into mornings wandering markets and afternoons by the sea, my dad and I were chatting and this was the essence of our conversation: Italy is the anecdote to America.  It’s the anecdote to America’s speed, urgency, commercialism, and constant hustle.

We rented an Air B and B four flights above a gelato shop close enough to the Mediterranean to be lulled asleep by the waves. We feasted on simple foods, ripe white peaches, and bread slathered with pesto, prosciutto and fresh buffalo mozzarella. At night we watched the sun set over the water while eating thin crust pizza and then walked along the coast with a cone of raspberry gelato made in house just that day.  We were just steps from where I was born.

 

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But we weren’t the only ones living SLOWly and lavishly. The Italians spent hours around the table every evening and came out for gelato after the sun set. Whole families walked the town of Sori and Bogliasco and pushed the wheelchairs of the elderly so they could get fresh air.

In contrast, today I’m tempted to crack the whip.  We’ve just gotten back from fall break and my anxiety level is heightened. The oven top has four day old spaghetti sauce splatters (how did it get all the way up the side of the fridge?) and there’s a hurricane of boy’s clothing and soccer gear that hit the living room. I’m tempted to yell, to push, to demand. I’m tempted to make of our classroom an outer reflection of my inner life.  I need a Creator to make order out of chaos. I need Jesus to put his hand over my mind and calm the inner hurricane. I need to SLOW down.  I need to choose to get off the crazy train.

So today I choose SLOW. Today I choose to light a candle on the island whether it still has splashes of dried pumpkin bread on it or not.

I’m making a plan to:

say yes to Silence,

to Lower expectations,

to Open heart, Open hands,

and to stay aWake to God’s presence in the here and now.

I say yes to SLOW.

SLOW living is soul-full living.

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SLOW is going to be my new miniseries right here on the blog because I sense we’re hungry for stillness and for permission to live with margin. When we live SLOW, we live out of fullness, not depleted from hustle. We fill out our planners for every activity. It’s now time to make a plan for rest.

Today, this is my SLOWdown plan: #10MinutesofStillness sprinkled through the day.  I always set my alarm for ten minutes on my phone. It’s permission. I wave the children away and show them how much time I have left. Sometimes I just sit without any expectations, just enjoying the quiet and a cup of tea. Sometimes I listen to the emotions that are just on the surface and need my attention. Other times I follow this pattern from Dr. Daniel Siegel, a well-known neuroscientist who teaches us how to heal an anxious and battered brain: I open my senses one at a time without judging what they take in and then I invite Jesus into the present moment. You can read about these minirests here and here and here.  It’s baby steps for the busy. Perhaps you may want to use the hashtag yourself.  Show us what your experience is like on facebook or Instagram and then link right back here so we can find it.

 

Subscribe on the right to make sure you get all the SLOW goodness of the miniseries.

 

How do you plan for rest, dear friend? Perhaps this SLOW coming before the Word?

 

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Deep Breath: A Sabbath Practice

God is always trying to give good things to us, but our hands are too full

to receive them.    St. Augustine

 

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Our work this week has piled up heavy and we’re sure we won’t be able to climb out from under it all. I still have two loads of laundry glaring at me to be put away and a writing deadline looming. Sabbath rest feels awkward after a week like this. What if we were to sit still with all that’s weighing heavy, look at each piece clearly, and one by one place each concern in Jesus’ capable hands? He’s got big hands. He’s got this.

Sometimes we need Sabbath rituals to mark a new type of time: a fragrant cup of tea on the porch in the early morning, an afternoon nap on the couch, a slow walk by the creek hearing the trickle of water rush by. Maybe this simple prayer would open up a little breathing space until you can “Come to Him and rest.” Matthew 11:28a

 

May you find not just places of worship this Sabbath and and moments to realign your heart to His True North, but time to be refreshed in His Presence.

Summer

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What I Learned this September

1 We swung into September littered with full suitcases to unpack from vacation and a house that hadn’t seen love for a month.  The next day we started homeschooling amidst the chaos.  I’m taking notes for next year. Start school AFTER preparing the home.  Check.

2 Stephanie White is my local homeschooling guru.  “Just think,” she said, “you have three little apprentices to prepare for the world.  And besides, you get to learn alongside them.” That was key. I love to learn. I could nightly put up a cot in a library.  Alongside my kids I get to learn French and memorize the 7 wonders of the world. I couldn’t be happier with my 9-5 world. Who knew?

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3 Homeschooling science is more fun when you can poke and dissect and feel grainy pollen between your fingers. My mother bought us orange lilies when she was in town ten days ago and last week Friday they started dropping their petals. We took that opportunity to do science. We memorized and watched videos about pollination and flower anatomy but until we started picking apart the stamen, and holding up the delicate filament to the light, we didn’t learn wonder.  What I’ve learned about homeschooling this month is that I love the days we focus on just a few subjects and dive in deep.

4 In September I decided that packed lunches don’t need to be boring. I’m packing a meal three nights a week right now while Andrew takes all three to Soccer and climbing.  Enter the Monet sandwich straight from the Paisley Park Cafe in Mansfield. Does it still exist? I don’t know. These sandwiches were memorable. Large croissants, ham sliced so thin it’s falling apart, a few toasted walnuts, and a smear of basil pesto on the top and bottom. Three minutes at 425 until it’s a bit crispy. Savory ham and pesto? What could be better?

5 While we’re talking food, let’s talk about the Tres Leches Cake. This was my September culinary aha moment. I made one for Jack Lumanog’s birthday, our friend and the COO of the Anglican Church of North America. Andrew said it was Jack’s favorite. Only problem? I had never tasted one myself.  So, when I’m concerned about a first outcome, I always turn to Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.  I have a 90% success rate with Ina.  We moaned through the desert course and decided this was worth making from scratch. We also giggled at how many leches there were in the recipe. One leche baked in and four soaking into the vanilla sponge cake. Whipping cream for on top of the strawberries? One more. Seis Leches! Here’s a link to the recipe for this insanely creamy cake.  Your next birthday cake recipient will thank you.

 

6  Priscilla Shirer has this beautiful sermon that has been playing in my mind on repeat all month. “When you experience the presence of God fall, you are ruined for church as usual.”

 

7  I’m watching Madam Secretary on Netflix. It’s reminiscent of West Wing though not as fast or witty or…lovable 🙂 . OK, so it’s not like West Wing, but I still love Tea Leoni as the Secretary of State, her husband as a professor of religion at Georgetown and both of them trying to figure out how to engage with many of the foreign issues we face.

8  Carly Fiorina. I was enthusiastically climbing onto the bandwagon after some insightful comments Ms. Fiorina made at Republican debate until I read this on Red State.  Now I’m concerned with her integrity. Anybody else have better information?

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9 These are the books by my nightstand right now. I’ll share the others slowly. Big Magic is the type of book on writing I would read furtively under a blanket with a flashlight. It may be a bit hoaky, (magic?) but it’s an entertaining, well-written, and generous piece of creative midwifery. There should be a picture of Big Magic in the thesaurus under writer encouragement: heartening, cheering up, inspiration, motivation, stimulation, fortification. If you are a creative or an entrepreneur and your War of Art by Steven Pressfield is dog-eared, Big Magic is your next download.

8 My daughter has always wanted to SAVE THE BABIES. When she could barely talk, she arranged her dozen babies on the stairs, one per step, and informed me that when she grew up she wanted to have real babies stacked up to the ceiling. She used hand motions to get the point across. A few days ago she ran around the house searching for change to fill an empty bottle for the pregnancy clinic in our area in order to SAVE THE BABIES. This got Andrew thinking. What if she would take that passion as well as her love for cupcakes and marry them using the Cupcake Kids.  Madeline is busy making plans. Have you seen this simple idea to raise money for imprisoned children with AIDS in Uganda? Do you have young girls? You’re going to want to check this out: https://vimeo.com/85654021

9. So…I was planning on doing a 31 day writing extravaganza on REST and spiritual exhaustion starting today. In fact, I planned and wrote three-fourths of the posts for it. I wrote drafts and perused old blog posts and designed a title page and had a lovely title: Selah: 31 Days of rest for the war-weary. And then Tuesday it seemed to me the Lord said, no, that He wanted the 31 days of rest to be a book on His time. He wanted me fully present this October to be able to move with His agenda.  I’m learning to listen. I’m also learning that I can’t add items to my agenda without taking something away.  Even more important? I can’t add items to my agenda without being willing to provide the intercession support to support the work.  I’m learning. Slowly.

 

What did you learn through September?

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Welcome Home, A Sabbath Blessing

We have been racing and filling and schlepping heavy loads and now…

it is a deep breath kind of day,

a put up your feet kind of Sabbath,

a stop and watch the water flow kind of day.

 

Praying for you…praying for me…May we stop spinning, stop producing,

stop pretending perfect long enough

to hear Him say

come on in,

my beloved,

welcome home.

Have you found these lovely lullabies? We sometimes put them on around bedtime snack time…the perfect transition.

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Naming the restlessness: Audrey Assad

You have made us for Yourself, Oh God, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.    St. Augustine

I’ve been listening to a lot of Audrey Assad lately. I’m captivated by her articulation of our hunger for God and how it comes out simply in worship. Here is a short of a conversation about the desire for a life of communion with God.

No time to watch Audrey share about her hunger for an underlying life of prayer? Here is her song Restless. For me it’s a search to live in His Presence.

Name your restlessness?  Is it a core longing?

  • A safe and secure environment
  • Constant reinforcement of personal worth
  • Repeated messages that you are valued, unique and special
  • Unconditional love and acceptance
  • Basic care and nurture
  • Encouragement to grow and develop personal gifts and talents
  • A pathway to fellowship with God
  • A sense of belonging
  • Feeling useful and needed

When we experience anxiety, fear or anger, could it be a lack in what Terry Wardle calls a core longing?

When does it arise? Time of day? After a “trigger” event? During a season like Christmas?

 

Can you give a feeling to your restlessness? Try this chart here. Journal that.

 

Look for the patterns, and come into the Presence of God without a mask, ready to receive.

 

 

 

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Re-igniting when our Flame Flickers Low

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Welcome friends to Word-Seeds. Here we take a step into the Scripture, read the gospel for Sunday morning, prepare our hearts. This week, read here first: Matthew 5:13-20.  Stop at pictures ? They are wide open spaces for contemplation in the middle of the meditation.

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I sat on a bench at Wade’s Bayou watching the carps’ backs roll just under the surface. The Lake Michigan inlet looked more like a crowded koi pond. I had brought my Alpha book, Questions of Life and was reading the Chapter on the Holy Spirit again. The bench was cemented into the ground and so was I. I wasn’t going anywhere until God showed up.

 

I wasn’t filled with angst, I was just resolute.

 

About five weeks before, my Tuesday morning women’s group had begun joining Nicky Gumbel and his gargantuan Alpha class at Holy Trinity Brompton  by sliding a tape in the VCR. Alpha is a type of Christianity 101 and after years without much Christian Education, they needed the basics. We all did.

 

The Holy Spirit weekend was approaching and it had all just clicked. This is what I had been missing. I had been living thick with doubt for eight years. In college Christians had begun annoying me with their perfect formulas and black and white question and answer books. I had more questions than answers. For one? Why would God let a little girl be abused? Yes, that one. The questions held me.

 

Questions are important. They are guides to the struggle. They tell you where to start the journey. But, sometimes they reveal places of deep need, tender places where the wounds reside. They are often the places where our deepest laments should begin. When glossed over, they hold us hostage.

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 All through seminary and the early ministry years, I had searched for God, been lonely for God, fought for God, and wrestled Him hard.  I had prayed, but not trusted.  Then one day I slid over. That’s how it felt, like a slide of a lever on a soundboard…untrusting to trust, just like that. I gave over the tangle of questions and rested.

 

How? I finally came to the point where I believed that God is fully good, always loving. I may never be able to wrap my mind around all the issues that glared at me but I could rest in His goodness.

 God rock

 

Besides, He was infinite. I was not. I only have a brain about the size of a closed fist. I finally handed Him the frayed ends of my doubt.

 

A couple months later I found myself searching for more, as if I was searching under the couch cushions for that last puzzle piece.

 

When the tourists walked around the bench at Wade’s Bayou, I hardly saw them. I was waiting out God. Wood slats under me. Sunny day overhead. I sat. I waited. I had decided something was missing, like the Spirit and fire.

 

I was like a butane lighter that kept trying to fire but could never ignite.

 

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I had grown up witnessing miracles. Cancer healed, exes slipping the rings back on, alcoholics dumping whiskey down the sink.  I expected to preach Jesus and see the same things. My husband saw them. I didn’t. I was all words and no power.   All wick and no flame.

 

Nothing was catching fire.

 

I waited holding onto the Alpha book. I was expectant. Besides, He promised. It’s what Jesus told his disciples. Wait. Acts 1: 4-5,”Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” I was thirsty for my own Pentecost.

 

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Was it an hour later? I don’t know. I remember being in an entirely emotionally neutral state and looking out onto the water rippled with light when a powerful sense of the love of God encompassed me. From zero to 100 in three seconds. I bathed in that love, was showered in that love, drank in that love, was utterly overwhelmed by that love. I sat still. I was inside the flame.

 

Was I devoid of the Holy Spirit before? I don’t think so. I believe every Christian has the Presence of the Holy Spirit on their lives.  But, this my friends was an extreme makeover. Afterwards, fruit flourished in ministry, my flailing marriage, my own interior life which had been stalled for years. What else? After Wade’s Bayou, I had the desire to read more Scripture, to be placed under His authority, its authority. I was like the thirsty who couldn’t get enough. I woke up early eager to drink more.

 

The gospels are filled with references to Jesus going off early in the morning to spend hours with the Father.  “But Jesus Himself would often slip away by Himself to pray.” This Luke 5:16 verse is echoed in Luke 6:12, Luke 9:28, Matthew 14:23, Mark 1:35-36, Mark 6:46, and John 6:15. He picked out his twelve after one such morning.

 

If Jesus required this in His own perfect life, this sitting, soaking, listening, sharing, why do we have such a burgeoning sense of self-reliance?

 

Martin Luther shared with a colleague that he had so much to do that day he needed to take the first three hours in prayer. When I was at Asbury college, I remember hearing about an Indian seminarian across the street who would try to fit his homework around his prayer, complaining he never had enough time on his knees and when did these Americans wait on God?

 

Over the years, I’ve seen a direct correlation between the light of Christ in my life and prayer.  Sermons dusty? Sit. Wait. Pray. Marriage struggling? Sit. Wait. Pray. Maybe it’s just me who needs the waiting because I have so much to break through. I’m stubborn, prideful. It takes time to become pliable for Him.  It takes listening and waiting and journaling and conversation, but a lot of just sitting still, expectant.

 

While waiting all of this happens:

1. We fold ourselves deep into humility. We recognize that we can’t do it on our own, without God our work is utterly empty. We lean in dependent and He breaks through the thick ice of our pride. We become a creature before the Creator.

2. Repentance comes. We get out of God’s way.  What must I empty that is hindering God’s work? What needs to be confessed? What needs to be healed?

3. Wisdom comes. The Word is opened and we understand its correlation with the needs of the moment.

4. The Spirit comes. Our work is empowered.

 

Paul got it. He explains it to the Colossians: “Christ in me, the hope of glory. Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me,” Colossians 1:27b-29.

 

One of our Anglican bishops says that he believes we leak the Spirit in our daily lives. As we turn toward other sources to meet our needs, as we sin, as we depend upon ourselves, His power leaks out. He believes that the infilling is a constant need. I agree.  That is why we wait. We wait for God present to transform our small offerings to God-empowered ministries.

 

We lift up our loaves and fish and pray they will be enough to nourish. We lift up our water and pray He will transform it to wine. We lift up our ordinary and wait to be broken and blessed.

 

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We lift up our minuscule candle flame and ask Him to be the bellows. That’s how fires get started.

 

I pray for wisdom for this house mess, for Him to brood over this chaos. I pray for the Spirit’s power before I do spiritual direction. I pray for calm before I make the bedtime rounds. I pray before I write.

 

We wait for Him to ignite our spiritual giftings. When the Holy Spirit empowers, His fruit filters down to all areas of our lives (Galatians 5:22-25). Hallelujah because I need some serious patience around the morning rush.

 

He lights us and people see and they can warm their hands in our flame, but they will only truly get warm if they turn toward the Son, toward Jesus.

 

We just hope to light their way.

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Thirsty for more?

Come pilgrimage with me. Slip your email into the connect box on the front page and we’ll journey together.

When you Need More of God 

My favorite book on the subject? Terry Wardle’s Untamed Christian, Unleashed Church, a somewhat humorous and highly masculine book (sports analogies, man humor) about our need for the Holy Spirit. A must read. Perfect for clergy or laity.

pics from our trip to Italy and Wikimedia.com

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Sabbath: The Gift of Fallow Ground

Sabbath is a theme around here…you’ll find a new invitation to set down the load, drink deep of the week here every weekend.

 

I’ve had an extended Sabbath…a slow continual feast.  A hope-infused retreat. That’s how it goes with us. I come through my mom and dad’s door weary, carrying life heavy and arrive back home energized.  You would too if you knew them. They are a double tag-team of inspiration. They build back the broken places so I can move forward with courage. More about this amazing event later in the month. You won’t want to miss their redemptive story (that’s me on the far right with my beautiful girl):

 

 

And back in the cocoon of home, desire has risen fresh with the morning and here I am clicking on the computer with last week’s glittery gold nail polish half worn off.

 

I’ve been completely separated from the demands of everyday life and it’s been healthy.

 

Life has a way of sifting itself out when you set the heavy things down for a time.

 

And that’s just what happened. Somewhere along the two weeks of continual holidays, I set down my phone beside the bed and it migrated under the mattress where only fingers could shimmy it out and for days it lay there forgotten, undemanding.

 

What had gripped me hard in an escape from isolation during Advent had been lost until it was time to go home and you know what?

 

I just lived.  Facebook stilled.  Twitter grew quiet and emails piled up unanswered.  But I lived. I whipped up countless batches of scrambled eggs, stole moments by the fire to read, and played countless games of Ticket to Ride with my brothers, Andrew and dad into dark hours. I raced my children down the hill on sleds and my only striving was making baby Ulee break out in those smiles that would wave full through his entire body.

 

I lived full of feasting, taking large gulps of joy.

 

Everything else lay fallow.

 

Whatever a Sabbath might be, a stillness or a feasting. Sabbath always includes setting down our ordinary and letting work lie fallow.

 

Someday I want to pack Andrew’s camera and take a trip back to Malabar Farm in Mansfield, OH.  There in the middle of the farm fields a screen writer, Louis Bromfield, would stop tapping on his typewriter to move the mouths of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall and pull himself up on a tractor.  He had a hobby farm in a large way and would allow the Hollywood elite to come home with him as long as they would pick up a hoe during the day or sell vegetables at the stand at the end of the lane. (photo by Tom Batchelder)

 

But what I love about him most is that along with his stack of screen writes on his desk, he unrolled charts of crop rotations.  He studied his small plot of earth, was highly concerned with soil depletion and even when it wasn’t popular, learned the art of letting the earth lay fallow.

Check out this newsreel from the 40’s of Louis’ farm:

 

And this is the gift of Sabbath.

 

When our little section of earth lies fallow, we soak, rebuild, renourish, regenerate what has been lost.

 

We must die in order to Live.

 

And what is it that the Wise One says: There is a time for everything under heaven…a time to plant, and a time to uproot…a time to speak and a time to be silent.  (Ecclesiastes 3)

 

And in that fallow, replenished ground, the dying seed can be planted in the dark soft turned-over loam and bloom a hundred fold.

 

And this is my prayer for you today, my friend.  For fallow ground.

 

Lord of the Harvest,

we pray for a rhythm of rest,

a stilling of the reaching hand,

a setting down of our clumsy burdens.

Amen

 

And for the comment section: What does becoming fallow ground mean for you today?

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For Your Sabbath Quiet Hours: A Clearing in the Wild lyrics

Dear One, you’ve been spinning, making magic out of straw. You’ve loved with fierceness and lived strong. You’ve struggled tired and flailed.  Now it’s time to rest, breathe deep. Refill. Put a pot of orange slices, cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stove to simmer. Set out cheese and crackers out for dinner, light a fire in the fireplace, open a book that makes you sit still, drink deep.

 

For you, my friend, I’m praying for a clearing in the wild.

 

I’m praying for space to reconnect, where you can come into His Presence, curl up and get strong again.

 

This is our favorite Sunday afternoon music: A Clearing in the Wild. We saw Red Tail Ring by accident at Salt of the Earth, a small local-food restaurant/music venue in Fennville, MI. We walked in on a Saturday afternoon, slid into a booth after a hike in the Allegan State Game area and together consumed a huge homemade s’more. Red Tail Ring, a husband a wife team from Kalamazoo, MI were picking banjos in the next room and we took turn standing with a child in the shadows, transported. Upon arriving home, we immediately downloaded this song from itunes and now it’s the song we play on repeat to mark our entrance to the quiet hours. Check it out here.

 

Today as the sun begins to set on your year, I pray for quiet hours to allow the blessing to settle in.  I pray for you to “rest heavy, my Love.”

 

A Clearing in the Wild:

Verse:

Rest heavy my Love.

Turn it all off.

Slow it all down while the sun’s far away.

Cause we mark the pages of every new day

and I want your first steps to be strong.

 

Let yourself go,

sigh like the rapids,

breathe down your body

let the dam overflow

and release the day like a thunder of sparrows

and lie in the stillness when everything’s gone.

 

I love you the fullest

when everything’s stripped

when nothing’ else is with us a clearing in the wild

leave no strings trailing

your sword is still flailing

so no thorns can grab on

as we float til’ the dawn.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Advent, Day 16: When We Do Too Much

The Advent lectionary and my little Advent series here collided randomly this Sunday in the most satisfying way. Yesterday’s scriptures, “He shall feed his flock” was featured for the Old Testament and then were repeated by Christ to John the Baptist in the gospel and as soon as I sat down in church, a lovely Mezzo-soprano and soprano sang the Messiah scriptures. I sat and bathed.

 

Later the children and I chatted about what we needed to be fed by our Shepherd. We pulled off tags  with words scrawled vertically on a paper in a prayer station, much like you would find at a Laundromat for a dog-sitting service. Simple and uncomplicated. We fingered them in our pockets for the rest of the evening, small kinesthetic prayers.  Xavier picked, “love.” Caedmon picked, “joy.” I chose peace. I desperately need peace from loud and crowding Christmas expectations.

 

I had already held the round see-through wafer in my hand, prayed for more “Jesus,” put the wafer on my tongue to dissolve. I’m always desperately in need of more Jesus.

 

The rest of the aria from the Soprano is what echoed in my mind later, “Come unto me all ye that labour.” It was one of the first arias I was handed in college. I listened but struggled not to breathe with her, mouth every word. Once you’ve sung anything for an audience your muscle memory takes over and the words are not just words, they are words connected to the diaphragm strength it takes to sing those words.

 

This was the phrase that stood out: “Take My yoke upon you and learn of me.”  As I heard the phrase repeated I wondered how many yokes I had taken on this Advent. And whose they were, because they were not His and they should not have been mine.

 

The image being used by Christ here is of an oxen and a double yoke, and the promise that yoked up with the Almighty God in the other half, our assigned work will not strain us out of God-rest.

 

When we do too much, we are slipping out of the yoke, trying to pull in our own strength. We strain hard and soon drop exhausted.

 

I wondered how many other yokes I have picked up, determined that I need to look over each one, ask them whose they are and if it’s time to lay them down. Holley Gerth in this girlfriend-chat of a book, You’re Already Amazing,  (which I love) says there are both talents that we are given and some we are not endowed. On Purpose. God doesn’t want us to try to take over everyone else’s gift. He just wants us to walk forward in ours, with His Almighty empowering fastened securely.

 

This Christmas season I’m giving up perfect.  I’m giving up the fear that my kids won’t have a magical Christmas. I’m giving up the fear that my dear sister-in-law won’t like her gift.

 

I’m giving up the hype. I’m so done with the hype. I just want more Jesus…for all of us.

 

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Perhaps an Advent journal entry or just a simple list in your prayer time:

What yokes have you taken on that may not be yours? Where is the most strain, the least God awareness in your life?

What expectations of the holidays are building up your anxiety?

Perhaps these jobs or expectations need to be reattached to the strength of God,  (I can’t do this in my strength any longer) perhaps they need to be slipped off your neck, given to the antique shop to hang on their crowded wall…

 

We’re on our way, dear friends, there are just a few more turns in the path to the manger.  Come with? Put your email in the CONNECT box and pilgrimage with us. We’re also partnering and working up some lovely treasures for you in the New Year. You don’t want to miss a thing.

linking today with Jen Ferguson with the Soli Deo Gloria sisterhood where she is sharing about a free 30 day book encouraging us to stand with slaves around the world: January is Human Trafficking Awareness month.  Yes. Let’s do this.

 

 

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