Ordinary Time


{slowly going through the Psalms of Ascent….they are becoming my prayers on this heart journey I am on….hope this makes sense}

The house is huge.  There are all sorts of bright colors and flashing lights enticing me to come in.  The music coming from it is an eerie mix that invites my feet to bounce along rhythmically without thinking.  The line of people waiting to enter appeals to my sense of not wanting to miss out.

But once I enter the “Fun House” at the fair, I find the inside to be a series of strange and distorted corridors – not a “house” at all.  There are stairs that move under my feet and a group of mirrors that bend and twist my image into ridiculous reflections.  As I walk through this labyrinth, there are places that the floor drops out from under me, only to jut up into my next step.  And to exit I must navigate my way through a spinning, whirling tube causing me to list to one side, fall down, and roll back to the bottom of this orange and yellow keleidescope.

This would all seem like a lot of fun if  it wasn’t a picture of my life right now.  Rolling, tumbling, trying to catch my balance before and I fall and distorted pictures of who I am.  Too much noise, too much color, too much jolting and upheaval….really, just too much!

So I cry with the Psalmist,

Woe is me for I sojourn in Meshech.  For I dwell among the tents of Kedar.  Too long has my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace….”

Everything in me cries out to escape this place!!  Then the strangest thing happens…I look over to the operator of this disturbing ride and I see Jesus.  We make eye contact, He nods, smiles and in that moment lets me know it is time to leave.

I do not claim to be a theologian but the longer I walk with God, the larger His ways and love expand beyond my capability.  Here I am being jolted and tumbled, unsettled and disturbed and it is Him that is doing it!!  I want calm and He seemingly brings chaos.  I want safety and He brings disturbance.

Dan Allander writes “our striving for {self-protection} must be interrupted by a prophetic voice that will sing cacophony to undermine our idolatry.”  (Now that is a sentence to unpack and not move away from too quickly!!)  Jesus Himself sings this dissatisfaction into my life…in order for me to get up and leave!!  He wishes to undermine those answers – even the good ones – that I trust in to bring me life without Him.  (The crazy thing is…I feel like He previously gave me some of those answers and now He is shaking them to a breaking point!)

Lord, I feel like You are singing noises and moving structures that are causing my “pocket gods” to fall off the shelf and my whole house to rumble.  I know not what needs to happen…but I will ask you to continue to bring rumblings of dissatisfaction until I am willing to leave the house, put on my shoes and go on a new journey with You.

And so my journey with the Psalms of Ascent begins.  They begin where so many journeys begin – with harsh, discordant tones.  But it is that very pain “that penetrates through despair and stimulates a new beginning” (Eugene Peterson).  Psalm 120 says “In my trouble I cried to the Lord and He answered me”.  He answered with disturbance, dissatisfaction and the shaking of the “fun” house because this I know….before I am willing to go on a journey, I must, by necessity, also be willing to leave somewhere I have already been.

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It has been a while since I have posted anything.  Life has seemed a little like I was taking a spin in a blender….not sure it is going to stop, but I know I need to start writing again.  I’ll need to sweep the cobwebs off of this site, but I did write a post the other day for a friend and you can check it out here!  I am so glad to have a God who is not embarrassed!!

Just found this site through a friend of mine.  They have some great Advent music as well as other WONDERFUL music!!  I’ve been listening to it all morning and just had to share it!!

Sojourn Music

Enjoy!!!

I love living in the Pacific Northwest!  It is green and lush and thick with vegetation.  As you fly into the airport you are able to see why some call Seattle the Emerald City!

But there is a moment – a day or two perhaps – when the green explodes into yellows, organge, browns and reds.  The leaves of the trees begin to sing in color!!  They hum in harmony with one another, complimenting each other.  No one color or leaf outshines the others, for their beauty is made all the more prominent when the differences between them can be seen.  It is in the diversity that true beauty is seen.

And…as I walk through this colorful symphony, I am rich!!

I had the opportunity last week to be with a group of people at a retreat.  There we talked about living in rhythm with the Christian Seasons and walking faithfully with God.  One night a group of us sat together and I began to hear that lovely music of diversity again.

There we sat – a Methodist, a Lutheran, a Russian Orthodox, and me (a non-denominational girl who leans toward the Christian mystics and now attends a charismatic church…go figure!!).  And in that small circle of chairs, the world broke out in vibrant color again!  Each person’s beauty accentuated by the differences of the other traditions!  The conversation was a lovely symphony of diverse words and ideas.

And…as I walked away, I realized that, like among the leaves, I am rich within the many colors of my brothers and sisters in Christ!

Lord, thank you for the colors – both in nature and inside Your Church.  Help us to live our lives vibrantly for You while also knowing that others also add to the color of the landscape.  May Your Church in all her color spectrum point to You, our Creator.  And may the world see the beauty of a God who does not just paint in black and white.

I really feel like my life has been caught in a whirlwind for the past couple of months.  First, I do think the rhythm of the summer is a little more chaotic than that of the school year.  Then that rhythm continued to follow me into the Fall.  I am a photographer (as well as a mom, wife, and all else!) and this season has been SUPER busy!!

It has been difficult to slow down…rest…play…and not allow work to consume me.  (Although I don’t think I’m saying anything that any other mother wouldn’t say as well!)

So…this is a quick post to say that I’m back (or at least trying to be)!  And to share a resource we’ve been using during this last little bit of Ordinary Time.

Stories2

Stories1

As far as I understand, for some, the last bit of Ordinary Time becomes “Kingdomtide”.  We’ve been trying to practice this in our family – both in our reading and our living of life.  One of the books that we’ve enjoyed reading together around our meal times is Tales of the Kingdom by David and Karen Mains.  It is a beautiful allegory of life in the kingdom and each time I read it, I find new depths and dimensions.

For little kids and big kids…it is a wonderful read!!!

REST

Compulsion.

Frenzy.

If only I can get one more thing done.

Dishes piling in the sink.

Pictures needing to be edited.

Piles of clothing looking to be washed.

Chaotic dance.

Noisy activity.

I hear  screams of “be productive!!”

I should exercise.

I should return phone calls and emails.

I should…I should…I should…

I was made to work, was I not?

Finishing…accomplishing feels good.

It drives me to squeeze all I can out of the moment.

But it squeezes out my vitality too.

Until my body shuts down and says “no”.

In infirmity I hear deeper music.

No…it is the same chaotic tune

Only I have forgotten to sing the repetitive chorus.

For its pace slows and says “REST…REST…REST”

“Cease striving and know I am God…”

“In quietness and trust is your strength…”

“Remember the Sabbath and keep it…”

“Trust Me…I am God!”

But I find myself arguing with the Almighty.

If I can only use my time to get things done…(wait, Whose time??)

If I can just cross off a few more items on the list, then I can sit and be still.

But The List is a prolific breeding machine

Until my desk overflows with “just one more thing”.

So I choose to trust Him

And not the twin idols of efficiency and productivity.

To gaze upon my God,

To remember He holds the cosmos together…not me,

To learn to “waste time” with Him,

To obey,

To know the rest of God.

Mothering

 

 

So…Christine Sine of Mustard Seed Associates has been doing a series on Spiritual Practices this entire summer. It has been fascinating to read (and be challenged by) how others connect with God in their everyday lives. I have resonated with quite a few of the writers and have enjoyed their eloquence as they expressed a practice we share in common. I’ve been reluctant to join the conversation however, partly because of my insecurity of a piece of writing being “good enough” but more often because every time I go to write something…I am interrupted by two fascinating creatures called “my children”.

 

You see, I am often asked what I do, and that is tough to answer. I am a photographer, I have a background in education and tutoring, I am always in the process of working on some artistic project, but when it really, really comes down to it…I am a mom.

 

(Excuse me for a minute…I’ve just been interrupted by a little boy in need of a morning hug!)

 

And it dawned on me this morning that my mothering is a spiritual practice!! Though much of what I do on a daily basis is mundane, tedious and repetitive (and will never get its own reality TV show), everyday those repetitive actions lead me into a deepening of my walk with God.

 

As I watch my children from a distance, I smile at who they are becoming and am amazed at their creativity and abilities. And so I enter into the delight of a Parent Whose eyes sparkle at the very sight of His children.

 

As I feed, clean, touch and hold my children, I surround them with the security of a love that will always take care of them. And so I am reminded that I too have a Love that is very present to take care of my even little everyday needs.

 

(Wait another moment…I need to go make morning conversation and laughter with my pre-teen…a sometimes daunting task!!)

 

As I discipline my children, I do so not to crush them, but to help them grow up into healthy habits of thought and living. And so again, I enter into the work of God as He becomes the Master Gardener who prunes our lives and trains the branches to grow in the direction of His pleasure.

 

As I stop what I am doing when I am interrupted (as I am thousands of times a day), I send a message to my children that they matter, they are listened to, and they are important. Does not God do the same for me? He is never annoyed by my “interruptions”, but rather calls me to come to Him with any care, question or concern I might have.

 

When I ask them questions and have conversation with them…when I do their laundry…when I remind them to pick up after themselves…when I take a lunch to school after it has been left at home…when I help a procrastinating child finish a school project…when I remind them to be nice to each other…when I say no…when I say yes…when I cook food that is good for their bodies…when I go to school performances…when I remind them to take their vitamins…when I comfort tears…when I celebrate victories…when I love their dad…when I tuck them into bed at night…(did I mention all the “when I remind them” phrases??) all these things teach them what it means to live as a family, belonging to one another. And it leads me on a journey with God into His family and as a member of the tribe. As I mother, I am lead into the rhythms of God, the grace of God, and the unstoppable parent-love of God. And as an added bonus, He calls me to co-labor with Him and help continue the rhythms, grace, and love in this world.

 

Now…if you’ll excuse me, there is toast burning in the toaster, kids need to eat breakfast, and we need to get out the door in about 3 minutes!!! Ahh…that all sounds so spiritual doesn’t it??

 

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