returning to Lent. one moment at a time.

Lent in everyday language is written off of the pages of my own story where I play the leading role of wife, mother, author, and sometimes-scholar of spiritual formation/soul care and prayer. For each day of Lent, I am committing to fast from my typical outward communication and practice the daily examen. Simply put, the examen is a centuries old practice that helps us notice where God is working in our everyday-ordinary-activity filled lives.

If you have even a small desire to join in this 40-day journey, please know that you do not have to get up in the dark or commit hours and hours of time.  Perhaps in this season of Lent where we might be tempted to give up eating sugar ((again)) or not participate in Lent at all ((again)).. perhaps we can make a change in the way we commonly spend 30 minutes or more of our day and simply ask ourselves two questions about our day.

That’s it. Two questions.

Give up some time spent on distracting activities for 40 days. Read through some reflective questions. Respond here (if you dare🙂 ) or in a journal or on your own blog. And the hope for all of us is that we will learn together how to recognize what things in life are life giving and what things in our lives are more likely to bring us despair and fragmentation.  Hint: If you are doing the examen in the morning hours, you may want to reflect on the day that has just passed. If you are doing these exercises in the evening, you would review the events of the day you are in. Just saying.

In preparation for Day One, here are your two questions

  1. For what moment today am I most grateful?
  2. For what moment today am I least grateful?

Looking forward to returning to God together

this new year. in 52 parts.

The skill of writing is to create a context in which other people can think. Edwin Schlossberg

 

shrieks of laughter can often turn to tears of defeat when two little boys start to wrestle in their pajamas on my giant sized bed. it’s the softest playground they can imagine.

its tempting to let them wrestle away as i type here. just trying to sort out a few of the thoughts that invite me in this new year named 2013. wanting so desperately to start this year differently – yet knowing how mundane and even maniacal some of the new year mechanics have been for me in the past.

  1. write ambitious list with every hopeful financial, spiritual, physical, and relational goal
  2. visit list periodically throughout the year and be sorely disappointed
  3. repeat. repeat. repeat.

this year invites me to so much change. so much growth. so much love and nurturing of my soul and the souls of those nearest and dearest to me. i don’t want to miss a moment of it. and writing it all down helps us to remember and not miss a moment of things.

so as the boys wrestle precariously close to my fragile bedside lamp and piles of suitcases wait to be unpacked from our fabulous family visit to California i pause and ask this week, this first week:

what desires my attention? what is desperate for my affection? what distracts my best intentions? lead me to the truth of what is best suited for peaceful and purposeful daily living.

right now, i think these boys need a wrestling coach.

xo.

mother.author.scholar.mother.

i don’t know why i wrote this is july. it seems so much more appropriate in the wake of what is happening now.

Soul Simple

It’s no ordinary morning that I find myself back in these simple pages. I’ve had a night, a sleepless night, of wondering and listening to God for His love for me. In seasons like the one I currently reside, loss and transition and disorientation are the expected companions. What I was not prepared for, however, has been the constant presence of hope and even her sister… gratitude.

I care very little this morning for looking around me and noticing all of the ways I might have failed, how others might have failed, how our very human culture seems to fail at the most basic levels of human kindness and care. It is probable that part of my awakened state came as I read a brief report of what we are learning is one of the greatest massacres in American history. Colorado, my heart has been with those mortally and emotionally…

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simply breathing

whatever your family bed or nap time routine might entail, there is that final moment when your child’s breathing becomes soft and regular and you know they are are out.

in that moment i am always acutely aware of my own posture.

perfect stillness.

perfect breathing.

perfect peace.

and even with a thousand ragged thoughts clamoring for my response, in that exact moment, i quiet every single one of them. other children and their homework questions will have to wait. phone calls are irrelevant.  bills and to-do lists will have to get in line behind this perfect moment of stillness and quiet breathing where i am doing the very very most important thing in the entire world: breathing quietly so my little one can sleep. my failures or supposed successes of the day do not compare to the sense of ease and rest that finds me snuggled nose to nose with a sleeping child.

so for every moment of chaos and disease that comes for you today, i send an invitation to become aware of simply breathing. it might be the most life giving thing you can give yourself today.

Summer storms in a very dark night

The rip of lightening across the yard rips me out of sleep and quickly to the window. Its still a novelty to this California girl to experience such a wild display of weather in the summer months. Sometimes, like tonight, the lightening comes on tiptoe for hours… Simply lapping across the sky in silent displays of firework like burst of intense white light. Science aside, these storms are nothing short of wonderful, wonder full.

Heart pounding now I quickly begin the ritual of closing windows. The wind sneaks in a spray of fresh rain while I slam the window closed and blows on my face the most intense breath of earthy breath.

Pound. Pound. Pound.

Adrenaline comes to me in these moments not only because of what feels like impending natural danger but also because I am so emotionally and spiritually moved by the intense energy and beauty of these onset storms. One moment, peaceful slumber. The next instant, fully awake to life. It is impossible to sleep as every pulse point is at the ready. Fully alive because of this dangerous beauty. Merciless lightening slaps at trees where some branches will not escape. Thunder applauds.

Heart pounding I am expectant and slightly fearful. No one in their sane mind would venture out into this wild dance, but I long to. No one in their safe mind would risk being struck, but what is this human longing to be out where life is wild and unexpected.

Pound. Pound. Pound.

One hand on the cool glass I peer out. Something like sadness comes over me as I recognize that this is as close as I will ever be to this beautiful and dangerous storm.

Heart subsiding to normal beats, I finally lay down and simply let the dark quiet of the after storm console me.

Soul grateful

It’s no ordinary morning that I find myself back in these simple pages. I’ve had a night, a sleepless night, of wondering and listening to God for His love for me. In seasons like the one I currently reside, loss and transition and disorientation are the expected companions. What I was not prepared for, however, has been the constant presence of hope and even her sister… gratitude.

I care very little this morning for looking around me and noticing all of the ways I might have failed, how others might have failed, how our very human culture seems to fail at the most basic levels of human kindness and care. It is probable that part of my awakened state came as I read a brief report of what we are learning is one of the greatest massacres in American history. Colorado, my heart has been with those mortally and emotionally wounded by the impact of one human who could not creep out of the fear and loss and disorientation of his own soul.

Instead, out of nowhere, my youngest boy giggles in his sleep. Loudly. For several minutes. And suddenly in all of this mess, the fullness of joy breaks in. Right there while I am in the dark, lightness. Right there in a place of fear, total abandon and freedom.

And isn’t that just what God offers? Daily, amazing, sustaining grace in forms both profound and plebeian. Surreal and simple.

So the dark nights make way for dawn
Stars make way for morning birdsongs
Skies transform daily into canvas
Only One knows how to move nature through perfect design.

Shame and fear are silenced when Gratitude sits at the breakfast table.
Counting even the trials as joy, she hands out a cup of remembrance.. God loves.
Hope sings of better things to come like so many early birds perched safely in their nests
She laughs at the days to come and has no fear of what’s ahead
Only One knows how to impart this confidence of heart.

In this exact moment, soul grateful.

Eastertide. Jesus walks with me.

I’m a couple weeks into new routine of paying attention more regularly to my prayer life. I have been doing this through the discipline of praying the hours. I can’t say that I have hit every time slot, but what has happened to my train of thought has been nothing short of wonderful.

As an extrovert with a husband working mostly from home and four children, I have no shortage of voices to engage my thinking throughout the day. Maybe for you it is work conversations, people you bump into at school, your children’s coaches or ballet teachers. Maybe for you, you have voices that are challenging or exhausting. Maybe as much as you love talking (like me) the sound of your own voice and thought life exhausts you at times.

Fixed hour prayer has been one way to integrate all of my external noise with internal dialogue with Jesus. Our family is in the midst of a few path-altering choices where my husband and I are facing decisions that affect our financial future. We can only talk about these things for so long before we come to a place where we are forced to surrender. We do not control every outcome. We do not hold the responses of others under our influence. We can make predictions, but they are just as likely to not happen as they are to happen. So instead of spinning these thoughts like plates in the air, fixed hour prayer is one way to set all of the plates back in the cupboard and let them rest for awhile. After a momentary pause from spinning, I am finding myself more content with the unknown, more ready to face the next few hours without anxiety.

We have many voices to engage throughout the days and week.  For me it is husband, children, friends, ministry partners, authors, spiritual directees and mentees who cause my own mental noise to become a jumbled mess of ideas and problems to consider.  Having the fixed mark of praying the hours has been one way to regularly deposit the cares and concerns of my day into the capable hands of Jesus Christ.Then, I move on the the next few hours with a much more contented and clear conscience. It’s as if these regular stops are reminding my soul that God is always aware of me in an even greater way than my little mind is aware of Him.

  • Do you find it easy or difficult to pray throughout the day?
  • What are the practices of habits that you engage to bring you back into knowing the presence of God?