This Is the Self God Loves

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IMG_4576I breathe and let the pressure release –
deflating the overblown self until it is only the
real, true, small, mortal self.

This is the self God loves.
This is the self that is able to love.
This is the self who can love another.

This is the self that is finite in its form
but infinite in Your glory

For this small, mortal self is Yours –

Yours, for You originated it with your creative force
Yours, for You have and will continue to redeem it
Yours, for You breathe meaningful life into it.

In our vast world where human beings chase after immortality, this small, mortal self is my greatest gift. It is the greatest privilege. It is the vessel for Your glory – a technicolor beauty unable to behold without covering our eyes or looking away in discomfort.

So as the morning sun rises and a full day awaits,
I breathe Your air
and I release all the pressure.

I am Yours again,
and I am alive
for another day in Your world.

I pause.
I give thanks.
I go forward to bless the world.

This Technicolor Life

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9B1A219A-F033-4EFD-A81E-CB1A1F3B9D19.jpgThe calendar on our refrigerator needs updating. To update it, I need time to cull all of our schedules and bring them into harmony – a harmony that will dance in front our eyes every time I gather food or fill my water cup this month.  The paper calendar looks empty right now, but it is far from it.  Soon, it will bleed technicolor. It will tell of all the many stories to be lived in the coming weeks –

Light Blue for baseball games, children’s choir performance, and end of year festivities
Green for church events and night-time meetings
Dark Blue for time with friends
Red for travel, graduation, birthdays
Orange for miles run
Black for meals to make

To live amongst it all is to ask our inner lives to line up within the designated tasks of the day. To live this technicolor life is to transition quickly from workday to family time. Child of God to Servant of God. Mother to Minister, and back again. Rising One to Settling One. Human Working to Human Being. Continue reading

Etch Into Me Something Permanent

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It became a practice for me earlier this year – writing a word or phrase from my morning prayer onto my left wrist, right above my watchband.  I notice it during the day as my fingers type out plans to be made.  I notice it during the moments when I check for the time, only to realize how quickly it has passed.  I notice it during the moments when I wring my hands on behalf of all that I do not understand and all that I cannot fix.

It comes with the simple yearning: Etch into me something permanent. Write upon me a Word that soaks into my soul and brands my bones. Continue reading

My Cup Overflows

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cup overflows
photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/val-er-ie/14343350693

These days are full.  My desk holds more piles of tasks and needs than I can tackle in a lifetime, nevertheless in 30 hours each week.  My children hold more needs for their own flourishing than I could ever provide them, even if I quit my job and gave each hour to the labor of mothering.  My grandfather lies in a hospice bed an hour away.  His sons wait upon him as he approaches his final hours.  They watch his fragile frame and listen to his breathing.  He holds more needs than his body can fulfill any longer, even if the drugs and the care continued.

There are limits to who we are and what we can do.  Continue reading

Centered Hearts, Swelling Gratitude, Abundant Grace. How?

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With busy lives (tasks with deadlines; needs with accompanying cries, whimpers, and whines; minutes that tick by without permission), how can we live with centered hearts (the kind that focuses our caring labor on the long-game care of humanity; not the kind we assume comes from the labels that people use to define our personhood), swelling gratitude (the kind that is born from the “enough” around us; not the painted calligraphy kind that is purchased at craft stores), and abundant grace (the kind that comes from the wells of forgiveness for perpetual imperfection; not the kind from ballerinas or naive optimism)?

If not for the Divine Parent who loves our busy lives, forgives our imperfect attempts, and redeems our busyness, I know not how. Continue reading

Unfastening the Tool Belt: Cease, Take Refuge (Psalm 34)

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“I sought the Lord, and God answered me,
     and delivered me from all my fears…
The poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
     and was saved from every trouble…
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears,
and rescues them from all their troubles.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
and saves the crushed in spirit.

Many are the afflictions o the righteous,
     but the Lord rescues them from them all.
God keeps all their bones; not one of them will be broken.

The Lord redeems the life of his servants; 
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.”
– Psalm 34: 4, 6, 17-20, 22

“Silence the contending opinions you have within your heart… You do your best to call a halt to these noisy crosscurrents of personal feelings, opinions, and ideas.  You start over… You center upon what God’s estimate of this person was in creation and is now in God’s redemptive wisdom and love… You choose to center down.” – Wayne E. Oates, Nurturing Silence in a Noisy Heart, 43.

Weary, I collapse.  The tool belt hangs heavy and clumsily around my waist, creating a loud thump as I fall to the ground.  The tools weigh me down and leave me grounded wherever I have fallen.  Where I sit, there I am stuck.  I lift my eyes towards where I wished I had landed instead – a cushioned seat, a place with a better vantage point, a spot in the company of friends.  My body pulses and aches, and the distance between where I sit and where I wish I sat grows further and further.

Continue reading

Bless the Beast

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Sadao Watanabe, “Jacob Wrestles the Angel”

Like all seasons of life, this sabbatical year has been beautiful and brutal.  It has been bitter and sweet.  It has held great joys that I have relished and great griefs that I have lamented.  There have been moments that have been good and moments that have been good for me.

Along the way, I have wrapped each negative feeling with a purpose.  By God’s persistent grace, I have journaled my way from loneliness to self-reflection, from loss of career to personal re-stocking of wisdom, from loss of community to gained a connection with the common experience of living far from home.  Though our return to Louisville is only a few months away, my endurance for resting and reframing has begun to run low. Continue reading