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?

Eastertide. The Divine Office &The Office of Midnight.

wow. who knew that there would be such a perfect treasure awaiting me in the the divine office/praying the hours. most moms worth their salt will admit to occasional if not frequent bouts of nightly wake-ups, returning little ones back … Continue reading

Why I am observing Eastertide… the 50 days of Easter.

“We do not think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.”
Richard Rohr

I so appreciate just about everything that Richard Rohr has to say. He is a man that is not only a prolific writer and thinker (which is inspiring) but he is a man who has pursued simplicity and integration as ways to make his faith more real (which is even more inspiring). I’d like to think that is my aim as well.

So in this season of Eastertide (the days beginning Resurrection day until Pentecost) (a season I have never observed in any formal way) I purpose myself into a new way of “thinking by living”. For the next 50 days I will attempt to read through the liturgy of the hours. For those unfamiliar with this practice, I promise to share more as I go. Simply put, it is a practice of praying on the hour about every three hours throughout the day with some specific guidelines to help anchor your time. The best way I have heard liturgy of the hours described is by Phyllis Tickle who writes

“The daily offices are like small chapels or wayside stations within the days courses” (The Divine Hours/Pocket Edition).

In recent years I have fallen in love with the practices of churches that have pentecostal theology. Somehow in my formative faith, I missed the emphasis of the Holy Spirit and it’s power for transformation in much of my life as a Christian. Just a few years ago, I was fortunate to have a time span of two years where I was weekly attending church services where the gifts of the Holy Spirit were part of the teaching. Concurrently I was engaged in a Masters in Spiritual Formation program that included several courses and experiences that reconnected for me the link between healing and Christian spirituality. It was as if God woke me up into the reality that the Holy Spirit was more than a fuzzy feeling, but a Person coming to bring me the fullness of the Kingdom Jesus kept talking about to me in Scriptures.

Why do I bring this up here?

Eastertide, which begins on Easter Sunday, is the 40 day journey between Jesus resurrection and His ascension and then 10 days later, the Holy Spirit arrives. (Easter+40=ascension. Easter+50=Holy Spirit arrives).

When I think back to my own Christian life, most of it could be summarized as an Eastertide Christian. I had a deep relationship with Jesus and was well acquainted with God through His Word, but I had not ever really recognized or received the Holy Spirit as a person to have a relationship with. As long as Jesus was in the picture, the Holy Spirit could remain an ambiguous force . But an encounter with the Holy Spirit changed that for me. And that is something I wish to commemorate by acknowledging that as real as the historical appearance of the Holy Spirit was at Pentecost, I have had my own pentecostal experience. So in this season, another one of expectation and mystery, I lean in through a new spiritual path of regular intervals to pause and pray and watch for the movement of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

So perhaps in this season of Easter, you can be expectant about the ways in which the Living Jesus will encounter you? Perhaps there is a way to pray or notice Jesus that you would like to observe for this period of time?

Perhaps you would like to share some of those ideas and observations here?

Lent in everyday language. Day One.

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 coveted morning sleep ( yikes) 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 like I am! But 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 pleasurable activities for 40 days. Read through some reflective questions. Respond here 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 disconnection.  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.

Day One Questions

  1. For what moment today am I most grateful?
    Today I am most grateful for the moment I was able to have with my nine year old daughter who is hurting from a difficult friendship. She asked me to walk her up to the school building but then told me ” That’s good mama. I’m fine now”. I stood and watched her walk straight into the place where her heart could surely be bruised again- across the pavement– getting smaller and smaller in the distance. She never turned back. It is a tug for me when I want to be perfectly available to fight against all of my children’s painful moments, that somehow my grown-up presence will protect their little souls from damage. I am deeply grateful that God is growing both of us in our ability to walk through pain without letting the pain walk its way all over us.
  2. For what moment today am I least grateful?
    I am least grateful for the moment when I was late for an appointment ((again)). I stayed in the parking lot just a few minutes too late talking about nothing of consequence while the margin grew less and less for me to leave and be on time. I arrived over 15 minutes late and I noticed how often this is the case for me. I justify this behavior by telling myself that I just live “in the present” and ” I have no concept of time”. But today when I walked in to the small room where the meeting had already started, I recognized a lack of care for others when I consistently show up late. This is old behavior and it generally puts mean in a cycle of guilt/shame/feeling immature. Not fun.

How does this practice of examen help you notice God today?

Lent in everyday language

Welcome to Lent

This is a time where the church globally recognizes a season of intentional prayer, fasting and reconciliation in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection on Easter.

I want to welcome you to an online space where you can discover some spiritual practices again ( or for the first time), share stories about where you notice God in your daily life, and perhaps explore some of the ways that you can make space for God in this 40 day season. ((Technically, Lent is a little longer than 40 days, but the early church took Sundays off from fasting as they tended to celebrate the resurrection each and every Sunday)). So whether you embrace a more orthodox view of this day and decided to fast from food for 40 days or whether you take these 40 days as an opportunity to explore some ways to be more charitable, I want to welcome you on a sacred journey that we are taking as an online community, exploring ancient practices with modern technology and relevant life application.

Where do you sense God inviting you to something purposeful in the next 40 days?

Have you ever participated in Lent? What was that experience like for you?

5:27

I don’t know if this ever happens to you, but sometimes the Holy Spirit seems to wake me up consistently at the same hour of the early morning to tell me something or answer something. This morning I heard and saw a path for church life, family life, community life that was titled in my mind ” Making space for God”. This was no doubt prompted by my bedtime reading of Jen Hatmakers book 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. My friend Teri recommended this book to me as I was sharing with her some of the ways God was refining my ideas about money and the value of time. A phrase that I use to describe this season is that we have half the money but twice the time with my husband since he lost his job a month ago. This answers all of our prayers on so many levels… Prayers to live more simply, to be more present with God and each other, to stand in solidarity with the larger population of mankind who live on pennies a day,

This book demonstrates the way our excess can absolutely be eliminated if we ask ourselves some questions and put into practice the discipline of poverty or simplicity:

1. Do I have space for God in my daily life?
2. Do I stand in solidarity with those who live in poverty? How?
3.Am I willing to fast in the areas of my life that I use to fill my hunger for God (food, shopping, activities)?
4. Do the many unused items in my home that have to be cleaned, maintained, and stored keep me in bondage rather than bring joy and gratitude?

I am not asking these questions as much as God is asking them, pressing them, burning them into me. Our lovely little family of six has lived quite nicely and happily in a 900 square foot beach bungalow. One bathroom, one closet, three bedrooms. It is something that has presented itself as a challenge-yes- but mostly a gift as I consider the many ways it has been a boundary to how much we can consume. Even so, when we find we have too many items to fit comfortably in our home, off my daughters run around the neighborhood like Santa elves delivering lovely toys and clothing to the littler girls in my neighborhood.

But this question, this book I am reading, Hatmaker’s references to Shane Claiborne… All of this dialogue makes me acutely aware of my need to remember,daily, what God cares about… And how I can make space for that. How I remember is by writing, but I don’t always allow space for that.

May God give me a year of creating daily space for God’s direction, a year of eliminating distractions and pursuits, a year of listening to the quiet voice that invites me to live from my true self.

hospital prayers

Before I became a parent, my prayer requests to God were spiritual activities done in order to maintain clear communication with God. I had the underlying expectation that prayer would be answered with a “yes”, “no”, or “wait.” Yet, with the birth of our first child, the fervency increased to such a degree that prayer became a way of breathing. Prayer was my posture before the only One that could keep my children safe from life’s unknown assailants.

Lying undisturbed in a hospital bed, my 8-year-old daughter slept peacefully for the first time in several days. The wind and rain rapped against the glass outside on this dark night just before Christmas, but in this room, all was quiet, save for the rhythmic beeping of her oxygen monitor. Pneumonia was the diagnosis. Never had my prayers been so earnest and simple: “heal her and bring her home.”

Three days later, we were still in the hospital waiting for a change in my daughter’s condition. We were wondering if our daughter would be able to come home for Christmas and wondering if her pneumonia was not some other affliction. Laying our hands on her body, we prayed for her as a family, wanting to believe that God was in control. That night I stayed with my daughter and prayed that her fever would lower to the prescribed temperature and we would leave the next day. Instead, her fever spiked again and we lost hope that Kayla would go home. Sensing her discouragement, I crawled into the big hospital bed, pulled her into my chest, and hugged her thin hot body. She asked, “Mom, why when you pray for healing does God not heal you right right that second?” “Sweetie,” I replied quietly “that is a very good question.” “Mama,” she mused, “I think it is because God wants us to know that life is hard.”

I was alternately saddened and amazed by this revelation of what my daughter described as our human condition. I had to examine my motives. Were my prayers merely for an escape from danger or for the wisdom to live through difficulty in the power of God’s sustaining grace? I now saw the need for both.

That Christmas, God not only provided a way for my daughter leave the hospital, but a way for me to leave my limited experience with prayer. For both, I am grateful.