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.

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Lent in everyday language. Day Thirty-two.

It’s official.

I am free from one of my own worst enemies: my tendency to be mad when I don’t finish something the way I wanted to. Like this blog where I purposed myself to write everyday during the days of Lent. 40 days to be exact that would mark my devotion to the deeper spiritual practices of daily examen. I even offered to share these daily nuggets with my faith community on their homepage. I started strong, was hit mid-stream with a writers dilemma (how much to share and how much not to share), and sort of petered off in my resolve to write everyday.

Usually these starts and stops are quickly followed by some self-debasing language that seems to scold me like some highly critical parent “See. You never finish what you start. See. You always stop before you finish. See. You’re late.”  During this highly introspective and contemplative season of my life, I have not had the time or space to spend with these voices of criticism and control. Instead, other voices have beckoned me onward and forward.

Like one voice from the editor of the company I am doing free-lance work for right now. She said (paraphrased) “Amy, you are a writer. You have the heart of a writer, and that can’t be taught. The other stuff like structure and grammar is easy to work on once you have the heart for writing” Another voice came from my husband who noticed I hadn’t been posting. He said “I miss getting your daily emails. I really like what you write.”  So these two very important people who matter so much in terms of what I am writing were the voices that trumped the other ones who play with my insecurity and fear that I am somehow not allowed to fail. Or to write honestly. Or to fail. Or to pause. Or to write about something controversial.

These are my words, downloaded from a mind full of stories and dreams and poems for a world where I believe authentic living is possible. Where I believe that the God created us to live is in simplicity and unity with God. Where I believe that Jesus is our model for a perfectly authentic spirituality. Where I believe that Jesus left His Spirit to be Our Holy Counselor and Present help to live this life well.

Where I believe that the language we speak and the words we choose can invite healing into a world is too codependent on popular culture to choose for them how they will think and what they will care about.

These words matter. Your words matter. Our words matter.

Daily Examen

1. How do you see God’s provision today?

Today I see the way God is providing time for me to have carved out time to be one on one with my kids. This is a result of the role my husband has been able to play in our family lately since our job transition back in December. My 8 year old son asked me on Monday if we could have a date looked forward to it all week. It took all day for us to finally get out of the house and when we did, I think we held hands for about three hours straight. We He talked about everything. He told me the movies he wanted to see, the girl he liked at school, the way he wanted to learn phonics better because “school isn’t just about grades, Mom. I want to really learn some stuff!” He didn’t ask me any questions. I watched him and noticed things that escape my attention when I am busy wrangling 4 at a time.  I imagine that is the way God wants me to be present with my children more often.

2. How do you need to see God’s provision today?

One of the parts of our date was to head to the Lego store at one of the biggest and nicest malls in Orange County. I am not a mall person. Never have been. It always makes me feel instantly like I am wearing the wrong shoes or my jeans aren’t new enough or that I want to run into the Baby Gap and buy all of my children matching outfits. I also am amazed at the number of messages stores send with their marketing promises of sexy-skinny-rich. It just doesn’t fit me on a normal everyday, let alone in a season where I really can’t afford to buy myself a new pair of jeans. In the mall, we went straight to the Lego store to play and look at Legos. But even there I felt that pull to have more, to have something, to buy something, to validate my love for my son (WHO LOVES LEGOS) by purchasing something for him before we left. My purchase was SMALL. But my need for God in this struggle against stuff is BIG. I need to see God in these little wars against stuff. I need to see how God wants to provide and how to feel less guilty when I do want things.  Do I always have to say no? Am I never allowed to want things? Will I ever be able to buy a new pair of jeans? Will this season of scarcity be the way I will live normally or will there be some balance? God, provide your peace as you provide for every other need in my life.

How do these questions help you notice God in your everyday life?

Lent in everyday language. Day Twenty-nine.

I was sharing with a friend today that I hadn’t been very faithful to my daily posts. The reason is due in large part to the fact that I have been laser focused on a new venture with my chef husband where we hope to provide meals to families. Many, many, families.

My friend commented “It sounds like you are in a season within a season!” How true.

How true always.

Seasons that seem to present us with something specific, like winter for example, often erupt into the most brilliant days of sunshine and people immediately want to throw their boots into the basement (that’s what I did when I lived in Michigan anyway). Winter plus sunshine. A season within a season.

I have shared so much about our financial situation here, calling it L.A.C.K. yet in this season of financial questions, we have lived on less and learned to launch. Forgive the poor alliterations, but Lack and Launch are presenting themselves in a magnificent display of season within season. How is it even possible that we could carry both around with us each day? How do you carry the spiritual and natural polarities around with you each day?

So with that I invite you to embrace whatever season of life is apparent, and the mysterious appearances of diverging sub-seasons that spring up everywhere.

My Examen- My Poem of Noticing

Where do you notice God today?

sunlight through back doors spilling onto kitchen tiles while my husband cooks and cooks and cooks. miracles showing up underfoot. God, give me the ability to let myself look down in unlikely places to see You showing up.

son running in circles with dirty, wet grassy feet and falling into piles of his own laughter and hiccups. the fullness of joy encapsulated in the freedom of a two year old. God, give me the freedom to be that full of joy.

red and yellow and orange peppers eaten raw from a bowl. sweet. crunchy. perfect vegetables grown from seeds that I mostly taste drowned in false flavors and sauces and preservatives. God, help me to learn how to eat from and to enjoy from the Garden again.

Where do I need to notice God today?

broken little bird in the form of a ten-year old girl. a daughter of nobody knows exactly. left behind to fall through cracks of beauracracy and democracy and inefficiency. we watch with our “hands tied”. God, untie our hands to we can untie her abuse.

broken dreams in the form of mental illness on a man who leads the country in a compassionate cry for Uganda. media feasts. citizens speculate. God, grant us the wisdom to know the difference between truth and lies and media spun drama.

hungry people camping outside of grocery stores where there is enough food for everyone. I hand them something simple, but it isn’t enough to feed them their identity.  God. let the last be the first as You let Your Kingdom come.

How are these questions prompting you to see God with new eyes today?

Lent in everyday language. Day Six.

Motherhood is not a full-time job. Please do not let anyone fool you.

Motherhood is overtime, all holidays, and weekends.

During the last few nights my 2 year old has been experiencing what I would dramatically call “night terrors”. Screaming out, night sweats, unable to be awakened. Several times a night. Poor buddy. So in the darkness of the morning when God was kind enough to rouse me, I was still holding my small little son in in just-the-right-way so that he would not wake up again. I laid there for what felt like hours… just holding him and wondering why he was so troubled during his sleeping hours. And I prayed quietly over his soul, that it would be well with his soul, that God would help him to lie down in green pastures, that he would have a sound mind.

It occurred to me in those moments how grateful I was for God’s words in me to pray over my small little son. I don’t have words all the time for what I need, for what my children need, for what other people need. I have words, but not for what people need. Make sense?

So an hour later when my (still) heartbroken middle daughter lamented again about her friendship woes… I had another word for her… from God.  I told her that she was the light of the world, she was a peacemaker and she would be blessed, that she was the apple of God’s eye and God was aware of her trouble.  God’s words for her needs, through me.

So in this way, we become for people what they need from God.. we become for people what we can never be without God’s great power to heal and bring reconciliation. This is our Lenten journey… to move our own desires aside for bits of days and weeks and to be for others what they cannot be for themselves. In Christ alone we have access to this.

Daily Examen

1. Where do you notice God’s grace through others? At church today I was aware of how many people in our congregation have become part of our life in the last few months. So many people have prayed, offered support and care, been amazing to our children, and invited us to share in a meal. We have also watched people get baptized, had people in our house for a meal, prayed for others, met them one-on-one for counseling, prayed for healing in marriages and invited neighbors to church. Our family has been the blessed recipients of heaps and heaps of gracious and generous gifts of time and resources and prayer from others. None of this would be possible if God had not designed His church this way… to care for one another like a good family should.

2. Where do you notice that you need God’s grace from others? In relationships with friends, misunderstanding can lead me to build protective walls around myself to keep those people from hurting me again. I know I am not alone in this. Some of these relationships can be avoided and the pain will diminish, but the walls of protection stay firmly built inside of me. I realize that I am unable to break these walls down by myself. I realize that they may be there for a good reason or a very bad one, but they are walls none the less. Walls keep out pain, sure, but they keep out light and can even lock us into a part of ourselves.  That is where I sit with past hurts from the recent ending of two important friendships.  I need God’s grace here… for myself… for others… for the human condition of imperfection.  I need God’s grace to build a bridge, a ladder, a wrecking ball against these protective walls that keep me from fully forgiving and moving out again in grace in these relationships.  I don’t know how, or I am unwilling. Either way, I need fresh grace in these season of reconciliation.

How do these questions help you to notice God today?

Lent in everyday language. Day Four

So on day four of my Lenten pilgrimage, I come with a bit of desolation. Through a heartbreak of my middle daughter, I am reliving and reentering memories of friendships that have been my own heartache. I hold these things before God, but it is another thing to hold them out in public places. Whether my fault or theirs, when friendships end abruptly, it brings a polarity of response: 1. It’s my fault. 2. It’s their fault.

What I want, what I deeply desire, is a new parable ((for girl relationships in particular)) where friends can move in and out of friendships without crushing or being crushed by others. I proposed to my young daughter this metaphor. FRIENDS are so much like shoes. We see them. We are drawn to them. We begin by trying them on and then wearing them. Some are a perfect fit. Some aren’t but we love them anyway. Some we outgrow. Some we loose. ( you get the picture). But if the shoes pinch our toes or give us a blister, it is time to pass them on to someone whose feet will fit them better than ours. Kindly and without malice. And when someone else is wearing those shoes that we thought would always be ours, let’s fight the temptations to be jealous or resentful. We are now closer to finding our favorite and comfortable pair of shoes.

Dear friends, do any of you need a new view on some tricky friendships? How do you lovingly let go of someone?

Daily Examen

1. Where did I find God today?
Today I found God in my patient response to interruptions. What grace to let other people need something from you that requires a sacrifice of your agenda. And what grace to have a cheerful attitude about it. My list of hopes and plans for my day were all but left untouched and for some uncommon reason, it did not rob me of my peace. I saw these interruptions as my loving Father showing me a better way for my day than I could have planned for myself.

2. Where did I miss God today?
Today I was heightened in awareness of the deeply broken relationships between people who claim to follow after God. I will include myself in this mess. We know that God offers us paths to unity, but God must know our free will and egos win out generally. If marital brokeness, deep friendship wounds, parent-child estrangement are occurring in the Church, where is God? How do two people so uniquely interpret the path of right living, of love for each other, of marriage? Where are you in all of this unending brokeness between your people? Bring a remedy, please, that I can effectively use to see Your will for our relationships with those who are supposed to be brothers and sisters.


How do theses questions help you notice God today?