An Unclenched Moment {A Prayer for Fear & Worry}

Gentle me, Holy One,

into an unclenched moment,

a deep breath,

a letting go

of heavy expectancies, of shriveling anxieties,

of dead certainties,

that softened by the silence,

surrounded by the light, and open to the mystery,

I may be found by wholeness,

upheld by the unfathomable, entranced by the simple,

and filled with the joy that is You.

~Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace

Why must uncertainty feel like fear? Why does it stalk us with unanswered questions and smirk upon our unknowing? Why do our hearts sink so quickly into sands of worry?

Yes, gentle us, Lord. Unclench our moment. Increase our trust.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go. ~The Holy One (Joshua 1:9)

A Beautiful Gap {2014 Reflection}

I’ve been immersed recently in strategic planning, something I both equally love and hate. I love the process: logic, analysis, innovation. It’s candy for my mind. But boy, can the outcome frustrate you; your mind builds this picture of what can be and it’s beautiful and invigorating, but then there’s reality. Thud. Rarely is the real world as neat, tidy, and efficient as plans shrunk down to flow charts and worksheets. 

A Gap Analysis is a tool used in strategic planning to asses the disparity ditch between what can be and what is. I’m a straight-up idealist. Louis and I are just hanging out, taking in our trees of green and red roses too. Disparity ditches are dangerous places for idealists. It doesn’t take much for me to crash a big rig of grand ideas into one of those babies, only to have it all go up in the flames of despondency and despair.

Last night Early this morning, I laid in bed saying goodbye to 2014. I thought of all the things that could have been, that weren’t. I could feel the wheels pulling toward the ditch, but then, in what I can only call a tug of grace, I thought of all I had for which to be grateful. I could see the snapshots of acceptance in my life–spaces of surrender that feel like victorious freedom. There were also portraits of promises hanging, inviting me to stand before them and discover their subtle strokes of genius.

Here I am on the precipice of 2015, with a new kind of G.A.P. analysis of my life: Gratitude, Acceptance, and Promise.

Gratitude | noun: the quality of being thankful; the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

  • I am thankful for friendships–I am loved by truly beautiful friends in the most generous of ways. They gift me with acceptance, faithfulness, and truth.
  • I am thankful for my family, those both near and far–Our family has experienced a lot of growth pains over the last year. We faced challenges in 2014 that I hope never to repeat, but the crucible exposed the treasures of character, commitment, and forgiveness we didn’t know we had. We are better for the wear and I am thankful for the way we have faced the trials together.
  • I am thankful for God’s provision–Finances were dreaded this year, but each deadline was met with manna from heaven: temporary jobs at just the right times,dollar stretching further than expected, and grace to find sacrifice not so hard as I imagined it to be. Additionally, God provided us with great health. Aside from a couple broken ribs, 2014 was a year of great health for me and the hubs found himself sickness-free for Christmas and his birthday for the first time in as many years as I can remember.

Acceptance | noun: the action of consenting. 

  • I accept I still have a long way to go. I’m imperfect. I don’t have anything to prove. In the margin where mistakes are allowed, grace is found.
  • I accept that not everyone is going to like me. Some people do not want to be my friend. I will survive. I release myself from having to earn other’s approval.
  •  I accept that the way of wisdom is a humble path. I will still seek wisdom, even it looks like foolishness to others and understand that this releases me from the need to have impressive credentials or accomplishments.
  • I accept that surrender is the most vigorous work I may ever do in responding to God. It isn’t giving up, it’s giving in to his way in his time in my life. Surrender is dying to self in every moment so Christ can live in me in every thought, feeling, and behavior. 

Promise | verb: give good grounds for expecting; give hope, herald, evidence of. 

  • I see God at work–it might not be according to my plan, but I see him inviting me into places and relationships that are rich with the evidences of his leading. I see transformation happening. I see the humility, righteousness, and peace of His kingdom doing its thing.
  • I hear God speaking–what I am being taught through the #likeagirl Bible study is filled with grace and giving evidence to God’s faithfulness to the calling he has placed on my life.
  • I see growth–In January 2011, at the recommendation of a mentor I picked up the book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. The first chapter of that book unraveled my life. The question of the first chapter asked, “What would it look like for me to lead more consistently from my soul–the place of my own encounter with God–rather than lead primarily from my head, my unbridled activism, or my performance-oriented drivenness?” Where I was at that time left me unable to answer this question. I couldn’t find God in the context of my leadership. Long story short, life screeched to a halt. Last week I found this book in a box filled with reflections that I had written during that very raw time. There were tears, a few tics, and then a deep awareness that God had done so much in my life since that time. There has been healing, chastisement, redemption, and a growing up. What hope this is! What joy and expectation it gives me for the new year. 

How about you? Have you thought through the G.A.P. places of your life? It’s a beautiful gap! 

In looking forward to 2015 I want to treasure this reflection and be faithful in responding to God’s presence in my life. I plan to write here more–no, really I do. This site was originally started to help capture my devotional responses to Christ and his Word. It is good for my soul when I write…you’re welcome to peek at what I am learning about his beautiful love and the gracious invitation to be his disciple. I’ve been preparing for the new #likeagirl study which will be on The Sermon on the Mount, so expect regular reflections on Matthew 5-7. (I will also update my Reading page with the books I’ve been reading as source work for this study.)

In closing, I leave you with my prayer for 2015–

O God of such truth as sweeps away all lies, of such grace as shrivels all excuses, come now to find us for we have lost ourselves in a shuffle of disguises and the rattle of empty words. 

Let your Spirit move mercifully to recreate us from the chaos of our lives. 

We have been careless of our days, our loves, our gifts, our chances…

Our prayer is to change, O God, not out of despair of self but for love of you, and for the selves we long to become before we simply waste away. 

Let your mercy move in and through us now…


~Ted Loder, My Heart in My Mouth

No Time Like the Present {For When It’s Time to Change}

I’ve been neglecting my blog while I’ve been busy attending to my soul. There are some things in life that aren’t done best as a multi-tasked action items. Souls needs sabbaths from routines; they need rest to listen carefully in the quiet of life.

But the season is changing and autumn ushers me back into the rhythm of doing stuff I always do.

In the listening, I have heard it’s time for a change.  The old has to go; the new is already present and invites me to attend to its possibilities. The quiet awakens hope and urges me to embrace change.

In the quiet I have heard three clear calls for life:

1. The composed life is cowardly. I have worked to near perfection my keep-calm-and-carry-on skills.  Sadly, I use them everywhere it matters the least. I’ve no problem freaking out if my sweet husband forgets something trivial or if one of the dogs brings mud in the house. Man, I am all over that piddly stuff. Real stuff though, like people who need an advocate or dark places that need a light bearer, yeah, those places will mum me up so fast. I don’t like the consequences, particularly the social consequences, of making waves. I’ve become an observer boring.

It’s fear and I know it. Crusaders get shot and I find all kinds of clever excuses to leave the leading to others. Falling in behind rank is just a deceiver’s way of using others as personal shields.

It’s stupid. It’s not me. It has to end.

2. Cool love is really not love at all. Circumstances over the last few years have forced me to be in some really uncomfortable and unfamiliar places. I’ve been mostly detached. It has seemed like a really safe strategy–safe that is for my heart; and I’ve been all about protecting that baby. But when was Jesus ever uninterested or cold to others? When did he ever leave the loving to someone else?

Again, fear has been winning.

This too is stupid. It’s not me. I’m over it.

3. The life that Jesus invites us into is really pretty crazy. It’s far from the ordinary little existence I’ve been living. It’s a life that’s bold and brave. It’s throws the status quo overboard and turns the boat straight for the water falls. I’ve been thinking so much over the last couple of months how often Jesus was getting crazy on the Sabbath and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why so many of his followers are I am so ho hum.

I don’t know if Jesus is calling me to some crazy “thing” or just to live a life that would actually require trusting him. I do know he’s calling me to stop ambivalantly following the prefabricated model of institutionalized, mostly white, male-directed, suburban churchianty. I’m hungry to be where his presence is pressing people to see his goodness and love. I’d say I’m even a little agitated with how sterile, disconnected and inconsequential we I have made following him to be.

I’m a little nervous about what these changes are going to mean for me. And by ‘nervous,’ I mean excited; I’m excited to trust Jesus more and to see him more fully known in my life.

How about you? Are you feeling like the Spirit is pushing you to leave the comfort zone and step out/up?

Are You Blessed? {James Howell Quotable}

The notion of a divine warehouse full of packages (for me!), just waiting for me to back my station wagon up to the door and load up by simply asking is laughably problematic. But the conclusive, eighth Beatitude might teach us that if there were boxes of blessedness to be collected, we might open them and find them to contain, not neat goodies we’d hate to miss out on, but harder realities we might prefer to leave in the bay. The saints who have lived most closely to God have opened their “boxes” and discovered that following Jesus can and does leave you marginalized, ostracized, wounded, in danger, and even dead. If we try to yank out the thread of the final Beatitudes, we unravel the fabric, and think God is boxing up a little kingdom, something comforting, even a grand inheritance–forgetting that promises are for the future, not this minute, forgetting the immense cost of discipleship (James C. Howell, The Beatitudes for Today).

No matter how trying our circumstances, we are blessed. For our poverty, we will be filled. In our mourning, comforted. In our powerlessness, established. Even our hunger for righteousness will be satisfied. Hold on to hope–the King and his kingdom are at hand.

Rich With Rusty Treasures

Like the quickly fleeting green flash at sunset, I sometimes glimpse a truer picture of who I am: I am a self-proclaimed ruler doing everything I can to keep my little kingdom going. Having everything in its place, lacking nothing, and leaving no space for surprises are the intangibles of my rule. Never panic. Never beg. Keep calm and carry on.

Please join me at Pick Your Portion to continue reading.