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…

View original post 194 more words

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.

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.

Holy Week. Long Friday.

i happened to have a quick coffee with a beautiful friend who is from Sweden. she told me that what we refer to as “Good Friday”, they call “Long Friday”. I don’t know about you, but word swaps like this can make all the difference for me. Long Friday is exactly what Jesus tormented trial and crucifixion must have been.

not to make anywhere near as significant a comparison, but i was brought to mind today the delivery of my last child. it was a scheduled C-section. it was both weird and unsettling for me to anticipate the exact hour and moment of my son’s arrival into the world, as compared to my other three non-scheduled deliveries.  there were moments of dread mixed with a holy anticipation of meeting this new life for the first time. but the calculated operating room felt completely foreign to me. there was little there that made me feel natural in my own skin and i was instantly wishing i could run. i felt awkward and fully awake. i felt pain. i felt that my person hood was secondary to the procedure that was going on. and i had to keep going forward.

until my nurse midwife arrived and signaled for me to push.

i promise, no more details in this post, but suffice to say, there was a birthing moment when all of the pain and the confusion and the dread and the pressure lifted physically and supernaturally… and just like all of my other children arrived, so this new life was born.

for those who have loved Jesus for so long, this day of Long Friday is one where we anticipate with some dark dread to what’s coming. even  those of us who live in this side of the cross, it seems unnatural and alarming that such events could take place upon the Son of God.

the crucifixion is real. we can see it and imagine it and read it and know it. it is as real to us as the resurrection on Sunday. we know that there will be a transformation of Jesus life. we know that Jesus does not stay in pain or in death or in darkness. but today does not feel that way when we meditate throughout the day and into evening the gravity of Jesus alone on the cross. it is awkward and painful to watch and how much more so for a singular man, Jesus, to endure.

be we watch and we wait for new life to come anyway.

Holy Week. Washing Feet …

I so intended to write yesterday. It was a day that I sought God everywhere in the corners of ordinary and found Him.

After as hour of inspiring conversation with my soul friend, I ended our chat to find out that my little tater tot had been creating the most marvelously large mud puddle in our backyard. I am not prone to freak out over mess. Even though I knew he had pretty much ruined his sleeping shirt, I watched him drag the hose and that white shirt and his little toes through the murky muddy yard. I watched him laugh and sing a song about mud. I though about why I wasn’t mad about mud. And then it came. It was so easy to hose this little guy off.

Then the  gentle voice said “It’s not hard for me to wash your feet”.

Tears.

My little guy in all his mud with wet tee shirt and hair and smiling face. He had no idea that this might be a bad idea. Or he did. It didn’t matter. At that moment of observing my son,  I observed Jesus with a towel, at my feet, with my mud, with the muck and yuck of my everyday flaws and imperfections. “It’s not that hard for me to wash your feet”.

But I want to remind Jesus of how hard the cross was, how hard it was to endure shame He didn’t deserve, how much I still miss the simple instructions while I pursue more relevant ambitions, how I ignore the poor and reach for a place among the religious. Don’t you see what a mess I am, Jesus?

“It’s not that hard for me to wash your feet like it’s not that hard for you to wash your son, because you love him so much. And I love you so much.”

It’s that simple for me right now.