A Deeper Lent & *SLOW Word Lectio Divina*

This Lent let’s not hold onto control quite so tight. This Lent let’s go deep instead of wide.

Some years we choose on Ash Wednesday to let go of something that has had a strangle hold on our life. Some days we wrestle it into submission. Other times it slams us to the ground and knocks our breath out.

What if we had a Lent where we gave God permission to shine His light into the corners and closets of our lives and do His own lovely spring cleaning. Romans says that He leads us to repentance with kindness. In repentance we’re surrendering to His vision of our lives.

 

What if we gave up the control over which direction our repentance would turn?  

 

Have you ever done a nightly examen? It’s simple really. You spend a quiet moment at the end of the day and ask the Holy Spirit to shine a flashlight on that day’s events, bringing up the luminous thanksgivings, and the deep shadows.

 

  1. What am I most thankful for?

  2. What am I least thankful for?

  3. Where was I a part of God’s Kingdom coming in?

  4. Where have I contributed to the brokenness of the earth with my own sin?

Stop and listen, but do not fear the shame. Surrender without fear to He who is the Light. His arms are open wide for his children coming home.

Let’s dive in deep together.

Praying courage for this 40 days,
Summer Joy

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Guest post by Ashley Larkin and *SLOW Word video*

Hello dear friends, it’s such a privilege for me to introduce you to one of my favorite people and fellow SLOW Word listeners, Ashley Larkin. Visit her on her blog, AshleyMLarkin.com. You won’t be sorry. Ashley, owner of a contagious smile and straight up raw vulnerability, the kind that invites others to tell their stories. She’s a writer/speaker who spins words effortlessly. Below was her beautiful response to Monday’s SLOW Word scripture, Matthew 17:1-8 and I couldn’t wait to share it with you all.  (By the way, I’d love to do this more! Do you have a response I could share with the others…a short quote or a story of sitting with the SLOW Word lectio divinas? I’d love to insert them into our emails or highlight them right here on AThirstforGod.com) And yes, remember, there’s a new SLOW Word every Monday and Thursday. Subscribe on the right to get them slipped into your inbox for time at rest in God’s presence. Find today’s SLOW Word of Isaiah 30:15-18 at the bottom of the post.

It is Wednesday.

Clementine sleeps on the edge of the blanket thrown across my lap, breathing out stinky salmon food breath in regular intervals.
As my mind runs its laps, the rise and fall of her full belly comforts me.

The meadow birds dance from tree limb to feeder, flit beside the windows along the north wall of our house, alight on the branches to the east. The white curtains are pulled to the side of the windows’ moldings, so I can see the birds’ path (and also that of the greedy squirrels) more clearly.

Their figure eights and frenetic darting awaken and calm me in a way only wild ones can. I need them.

The birds sing a plaintive song, and I presume these are calls to their kind about this food source in a front yard in the midst of a long February. I imagine trilled thank yous and notice the feeders are running low; I can’t seem to remember where I’ve put the seed.

Then I remember my family’s own need for food and our rapidly emptying refrigerator and plan the remainder of the week’s meals. I am not regular with this as I want to be, but when I prepare for and cook hot meals, I feel the gift of giver and receiver.

I am acutely aware of dependence today.

In Roots & Sky by Christie Purifoy, I read that there is everything for us to receive. I remember the open hands I prayed for a sister the other night — that she might release her grip on control and let the freedom of God’s love touch her palms.

I think how mine can remain shut, then how I open hands and mouth wide like a desperately hungry hatchling.

I am giver and taker, bouncing branches and empty feeders. I am a child needing to be fed.

On the heels of a hard series of conversations with my youngest, she brought me a bouquet of flowers. Signs of springing life tucked into a shiny camellia leaf, plucked from the mostly dormant garden where the birds eat. I watch bird wings and finger the cluster of grown things.

This morning, I sit for a while in Matthew 17 and Jesus’ transfiguration. Jesus climbs to a high place with Peter, James and John, and suddenly becomes sun and light.

On the edge of such a miracle, Peter says rather plainly, “Lord, it is good for us to be here” and asks if he can put up shelter for not only Jesus, but also Moses and Elijah, who’ve suddenly joined them.

It is good for us to be here, Peter says. No recorded exclamation points, no enthusiasm that we can read.

The only exclamation noted here is from heaven when God says, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

This morning, I hear you, God; I am listening for you, Jesus.

You know that I forget and flit, close ears and seek to hear, hold out my hands and am fed.

Surrounded by miracle, we are utterly ordinary. Surrounded by the ordinary, we, too, are miracle.

 

Thank you Ashley for this beautiful gift!

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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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#MondayMorningatJesusFeet *Matthew 5:43-48 video*

It’s #MondayMorningsatJesusFeet. It’s just the perfect place to start the week, listening, leaning in close. Come with me? Let’s pray through Matthew 5:43-48 together.  And yes, my friend, every Monday and Thursday there’s a lectio divina video right here. We’re setting a feast of the Word. Perhaps there’s someone you’d like to invite?

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Speak your Servant is Listening *SLOW Word video*

{Every Monday and Thursday find a SLOW Word Lectio Divina right here. Now they’re streamlined. Shorter. A little less talk and a fast track to the Word. That’s why we’re here, right? Forget the toast. We’re hungry for the feast. If you’d like to receive these SLOW Word Lectios by email, subscribe on the right. I’m so glad you’re here. It’s such a privilege to come into the Presence together.}

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I’m still sitting in my chair by the fire. The kids are in bed but bedtime snack dishes with the sleepytime tea, the honey bear, and the graham crackers are still strewn across the table.

 

Isaiah 43:1-2 is singing a tune I can’t identify. The phrase, “they will not sweep over you,” surprised me. Have you ever listened to a lectio divina and thought you knew where the Spirit was going to lead you and then you land in an unfamiliar section of your little town?

 

“And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.”

 

Last summer we took a backpacking trip through a corner of the Cohutta mountains of Northern GA. This fall there were fires there. I wonder what it looks like now. Our 3 mile trek in was idyllic with white rhododendron’s spilling onto the trail. We staked our tents next to a river and slept deep until the thunder and cracks of lightning and the pouring rain. The boys found themselves sleeping or not sleeping in a puddle. We were up early, drying out, and huddling around our tiny backpacking stove as it boiled water for our hot chocolate and oatmeal. It was summer in GA and so the discomfort didn’t last more than an hour and the children were soon fishing on a large rock in the middle of the river. The river was swollen when we hiked that afternoon and we had to cross it four times. Our feet slipped on the stones as we dipped up to our waist and tried to help the children to land. Andrew’s a natural. He does this for fun. I was meant to be a land animal.

As I sat with these words from Isaiah 43, “they will not sweep over you,” and this was the story that came to mind. I was struggling to cross the river. Overwhelmed. A little frightened. I was wishing I had a cord, a rope, a hand, something to hold onto. “I will be with you.” I listen. That’s definitely a part of the answer.

 

I think about how overwhelmed I get by the chaos of a daily household. I think about being a single parent when Andrew’s travels oversees and how life falls heavily right here…in my lap.

 

Another story comes into memory, a labyrinth walk this last December. I walked the large canvas labyrinth with a sense of Presence, of holding onto Christ’s hands. He was leading though turned towards me. I sensed His graciousness with my tiredness. I stopped on most turns to rest, for a breath, to enjoy the quiet. I learned to stop in the present moment, not to race, not to demand, not to push through. So much of my learning to rest comes with this verse, “He remembers that we are but dust.” (Psalm 103:14). There’s so much grace in those words, so much understanding. He knows I’m human and He holds out His hands. I can trust those hands. I can trust the pace.

 

I still don’t know where this is headed. Not really. I’m sitting with the question, a puzzle that’s spread all over the card table with colors fanned across and no larger picture. But I sense something here. I sense the call to hold these words. I sense the call to carry the words into tomorrow, through the next turn.

 

I don’t know the answer, not yet, but now I’m listening to whispers which sound like hope.

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A Long Obedience in the Same Direction? Start here. *SLOW Word*

Feel like you’re walking a long road and it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier?

Yup, you’re not alone. Today we park in Ephesians for some strength and a whole lot of encouragement.  Let’s listen together.

Have someone else who may need a cup of water from this same well? Pass it along to a friend.  Subscribe on the right to receive these twice weekly little videos straight into your email.

 

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Matthew 4:18-22 SLOW Word Lectio Divina

Friends, I’m hearing multiple questions in this Matthew 4:18-22 passage today, questions to stay present to this week.

It’s journaling time.

1. In what way am I divided and continue to go back to what’s familiar? The disciples fishing and mending their nets had already been following Jesus for at least a year. Yet, they didn’t have a vision for a total change of life, a vision which was profound enough to keep them focused. Do you think that maybe they didn’t know that the listening would be transformed into action…action they would be asked to take? So here’s another question: 2. In what way am I a passive follower of Christ?

3. What is Jesus asking me to set down in order to follow Him unencumbered? Fascinating, huh? We are weighted down by a to-do list that’s too long, expectations that are undesirable, an ego that is never satiated, fears which demand our obedience, and other people’s ideas of who and what we should be. No wonder we can’t answer His “Come Follow Me.” We’re a bit busy juggling our own heavy problems.

4 and 5. Where or to what is Christ asking me to follow Him? Perhaps you’ve been sensing a nudge into brand new territory. Perhaps you’ve seen something which you can’t unsee, something which demands you show up with intention to love, to fight, to humbly serve. Perhaps we can just simply ask the question, Jesus, what breaks Your heart? Then we follow Him there.

Finally, 6. Is there a person Jesus wants me to invite to meet this Christ? 

Lord, open our ears to hear Your voice and make us brave enough to follow. Amen.

 

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John 1: 29-34 SLOW Word Lectio Divina video

#MondaysAtJesusFeet

Every Monday and Thursday find a SLOW Word Lectio Divina video right here.  I’m an audible learner. You too? I’m finding there are lots of us out there. Subscribe on the right to have these slipped right into your email…and find other tidbits there as well. Perhaps you know someone else who may want to sit at Jesus’ feet with us?

 

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On the Journey toward Self-Acceptance + *SLOW Word video*

 

My holidays were straight up gluttonous.  Baked brie oozing out of its pastry crust.  Chilled mimosas for breakfast with crepes carefully folded over nutella and strawberries. Then later, Balsamic Roasted Beef, smashed potatoes, and peas and pancetta for Christmas dinner. With wine. Always with wine.

And that was just the first 24 hours. My people take feasting seriously.

Then gluttony took on a deeper level. I. DID. NOT. WANT. TO. STOP. for sleep, for exercise, for bathing (it’s getting real people!), for breathing. I wanted to bathe in joy, to seize it and ride it home. I sat Indian style with little ones on the floor, eating imaginary eggs from tiny hands and rolled onto my back to surge a curly headed nephew up into an airplane ride with my feet. I went on every excursion. I watched movies on the couch late into the night my brother reciting the lines of Chariots of Fire before they occurred. Then I stayed up later to journal. Each morning there was more coffee and less of me. Repeat for three more days.

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I tried to remember to stop and inhabit the present moment, to listen, to drink deep.

 

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Two days in, I slid into cruise control and held my breath.

Here’s the problem. I’m an introvert and a four on the enneagram. I only have so much energy, lots to process, and then I crash and push through until I hit a wall. Every year it happens. Every year I forget. In the past, I’ve shamed myself. Why don’t I have more to give? Why can’t I just be like_______ and dance my way through? Shame and I are close acquaintances.

But, it’s time to grow up, to slide into the wider spaces of self-acceptance.

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This quote by Parker Palmer curated by Leanna Tankersley on her Instagram whispered a kind of quiet truth that made me come back…and back to listen again:

“They decide to live “Divided No More.” They decide no longer to act on the outside in a way that contradicts some truth about themselves that they hold deeply on the inside.”

Palmer’s words echo this quote by Fr. Romano Guardini which I’ve come to circle so often these last few years.

“The act of self-acceptance is the root of all things. I must agree to be the person who I am. Agree to the qualifications which I have. Agree to live within my limits…The clarity and the courageousness of this acceptance is the foundation of all existence,” Fr. Romano Guardini.

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If Guardini’s words feel like an invitation to self-acceptance, my one-word for 2014, Parker Palmer’s words feel like a line in the sand. It whispers with a deep magic to this recovering people-pleaser.

Self-acceptance is a choice to be whole, not frayed. And no one else can make that choice for me. I’ve decided it’s time for me to grow up. It’s time to be “divided no more.”

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(Christmas morning selfie by my daughter. Love her.)

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He is doing a new thing *SLOW Word video*

Every Monday and Thursday we listen to the Word using a Lectio Divina. Subscribe on the right to get the word slipped into your inbox twice a week.

 

It’s now 2017. My witty sister-in-law Heather and I had a little New Year’s bubbly at midnight though our guys had to work for it…with power tools. Here’s the link to the video. After they went back to their game, we thought we’d put on pj’s and ring in the new year with a SLOW Word. Join us? I think you’ll discover as much hope as we did for our new year in Isaiah 43:19-21.

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