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Letting Go

September 5, 2014

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I am fairly certain that the two most powerful words in the English language are, “Me, too.”

Yesterday, I told you of my longing for an autumn version of Lent. I told you about how I needed there to be another time of the year when my heart was turned toward surrender.

Turns out that I am not the only one to have ever felt that way.

This is the Jewish month of Elul which is the last month of the Jewish year. For the last month of their year, the Jewish people focus on repentance. They look for places in themselves that are dying or leading toward death. Each of these tender places is held until Rosh Hashanah, or New Year’s. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jews celebrate when God created the world and they attempt to enter a new year with a fresh, clean slate. Ten days after Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement when the sins of the people are taken away.

From now until Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sunset on September 24th this year I want to challenge you to turn your heart towards repentance as well.

Let’s look, with gentleness, towards the places in us that may be letting go…turning yellow, orange, or crimson.

When it is time, let’s release them with grace as they dance on the wind of change.

And when the day arrives, let’s celebrate the world made new again!

I need another Lent

September 4, 2014

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“There needs to be another Lent,” I complained to my husband just the other day. “Fall feels like just the right time to start to wonder about what places in me need to die.”

When the kids go back to school and red delicious apples are juicy, I find myself aching for fall. I long for brightly colored leaves to drift in the wind. I crave pumpkin flavored coffee, cakes, and scented candles. I look forward to cool breezes through open windows, scarecrows in yards, and choosing an outfit based on boots and scarves.

There is a beauty in fall that exists

to surrender,

to let go,

to die with brilliance.

 

And when the earth is caught in this parade of spectacular death, I find myself wondering how to join in. NO, I’m not suicidal. I mean spiritual death, symbolic death. What parts of myself need to die? Where is God calling me to make room for the new life of Advent?

Liturgy is such a gift to me in most seasons. But fall doesn’t feel like ordinary times to me, as the liturgical calendar suggests. It is not a time to just keep pushing on with the vigor of summer days; it is time to submit to the coming winter. It is a time to yield. There is still work to be done in fall but it the work of ending well so that winter rest is timely.

My heart needs another Lent. It needs another season of submission and release and surrender.

A Prayer for Beginning School

August 26, 2014

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Yesterday, like so many other parents, I sent my kids back to another school year. It was a rush of bus schedules, buying paper, pens, pencils, and binders, taking pictures, seeing friends again, and signing All. Of. Those. Forms. Whew!First day giggles

This morning, all went a little smoother. The supplies were already at school and pictures didn’t need to be repeated. The bus was almost on time and everyone knew where their classroom was. I felt my soul take a deep breath and relish the beauty of routine restored.

When the bus had pulled away and I had folded a load of laundry, I set out to run. I am listening to Brennan Manning’s “Ragamuffin Gospel” lately as I run. Today’s chapter began with the parable of the talents. The words were so rich as I considered a coming school year and what I hope for my children. Here is what I prayed as I ran and what I will continue to pray.


God, I released them again. I sent them off to live in other’s care for hours of the day. I trusted them to safety others will have to create. And my heart longs to pray for safety.

I want their bodies and their hearts and their minds and their souls to be protected.

I want them to come home to me whole and safe at the end of each day. With all that is going on in the world and this country, safety seems like a good thing to ask for.

I want them to follow rules and make good choices.

I want them to do the work they are given with excellence and receive good grades.

I want them to earn citizenship awards. I want them to be well-liked by teachers and peers.

I want them to be saved from heartache and rejection. I want them to be safe.

And yet, Jesus tells us a story about servants and taking risks. He praises the biggest risks and throws out the one who chose safety. Jesus praises the one who dared to gamble with your money! WHAT? You want us to gamble?

Teach me to trust your love for me enough to risk stepping outside the box and coloring outside the lines. Teach me to trust that you love my being without my performance. And as you teach me to trust you, will you help me to teach them?

Will you fill their  hearts with certainty for my love and their daddy’s love and Your love?

Will you assure them that they are loved enough to gamble and maybe even fail?

Will you pour such love into them that they will risk to love the unlovable?

Will you claim their hearts so completely that they will chance to develop the voices you gave them? Voices that might be different and challenging?

Will you call out to them from a burning bush in their own school yard with a dream for redemption? May they turn aside to see such a thing.

Amen.

The Spirituality of Rest

August 11, 2014

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I was reminded this past month that there is a spirituality in resting. Some of the spirituality of resting is in knowing your own limits. There is wisdom in knowing that you are tired and not at your best. There is wisdom in choosing to stop when you are burned out. There is wisdom in withdrawing from the public eye and engaging only with those who are closest to you. Yes, there is spirituality in this wisdom.

But then, what do you do with the knowledge that you need rest? Its one thing to know that you are weary; it is another altogether to handle that weariness wisely.

What do you do when you need to rest?

Truth be told, I sometimes take a break from some work in order to finally get to the other work that I have been neglecting. That’s not really rest. If I take a day off from work in order to be at home but spend the whole day cleaning out closets and scrubbing floors, have I really rested? If I work from home one day in order to be present to my kids but spend the entire day with my nose in my computer, is that really rest? No. Its not.

How do we rest?

First, I am reminded of the rhythm in Genesis 1: God worked six days and rested on the seventh. God did not work six days at this job and then worked the seventh on another job. God did not work six days and go to the grocery store on the seventh. God rested. All striving ceased for that day. No to-do lists. No productivity charts. No tasks. Just stop. And rest.

Second, resting looks different for different people. Some people rest by laying around and watching movies or reading books all day. Some people rest by creating art work or planting in the garden. Some people rest over a cup of coffee with friends or lingering over a fantastic dinner. The point to resting is to “re-create”.

Third, resting is play. The entire purpose for play is to experiment and find joy. That is rest.

When will you rest this week?

How will you rest this week?

While I am Away

July 8, 2014

This week my writing energy is turned elsewhere as I craft an e-book for the website.

In two weeks, I leave for a vacation with my family.

Please be patient with me! I will be back to a more regular blogging schedule in August.

A Prayer for Freedom

July 3, 2014

Creator God,

You established this idea of freedom. It was your creation to begin with. Today, this nation celebrates a hard-won battle for independence. We will eat hamburgers, watermelon, and ice cream. We will splash in swimming pools and laugh with family. We will watch the night skies fill with fireworks.

Fireworks

And our hearts will feel joy and connection with those around us.

White fireworks

But, I wonder if You meant for freedom to be about more than independence…

I wonder if You set us free for dependence’s sake…

I wonder if you set us free for You and not from You… 

I wonder if You set us free for more than freedom’s sake…

I wonder if You celebrate our freedom with fireworks or tears?

Playing with Prayer: Color

June 30, 2014

Today’s invitation to playing with prayer is brought to you by the idea and love of COLOR!

  1. The first invitation is to grab some sidewalk chalk and just color! You are not seeking to create a work of art here, you are simply allowing color to express the state of your soul. So, as you sit on your hot sidewalk, take a few deep breaths and ask God to be with you. Then, choose whatever color you feel drawn to. Don’t over think it! Create! Play! Enjoy!
  2. The second invitation has two variations. You can either, plant some colorful flowers that you enjoy–in a pot, a window box, or a flower bed. Don’t get dragged down into specifics about growth rate and successful flowering. Just choose the ones that bring a sense of joy to you. OR, go pick some wildflowers and leave a bouquet somewhere you can enjoy it often. Whenever you notice these bright spots of color, invite yourself to notice and savor the beauty. It is a gift from God!

    Image

    Azealas!

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