Deane's Blog

lent

How will I be different?

FaithDeane Watters1 Comment

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We are now sixteen days into the season of Lent. I  ponder my direction:

When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning how will I be different? What am I preparing for?

If Easter Sunday comes and I'm more worried about the ham in my oven than I am about my spiritual condition, then I think I have missed out. It becomes just an easter bunny sunday.

In the book, Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer author Micha Boyett finds herself undone at feelings of unimportance and lack of prayer after the birth of her first child. "My first year of motherhood I lost prayer. I lost early mornings of quiet, mornings in my pajamas with a Bible in my lap, mornings when I spoke my mind's chaos into God's ear and let the chaos come back ordered, holy sealed. I lost peace. I lost clarity and certitude...I blamed myself." She longed to experience God again. While reading Kathleen Norris's The Cloister Walk, she learned that "The Benedictines, more than any other people I know, insist that there is time in each day for prayer, for work, for study and for play." She proceeded to study the monastic perspective and apply what she could into her own experience. She met with a spiritual advisor and went after a deeper satisfaction in her spiritual life. "The antidote to exhaustion is not necessarily rest. The antidote...is whole heartedness." She views wholeheartedness as "allowing every part of me to be loved by God." This is her story of returning to wholeness and faith.

I love the word wholehearted! How can I allow every part of me to be loved by God so that Easter morning will find me fully entering into rejoicing because Christ died and then came alive again?  For me, it means:

  • Loving and listening to my self
  • Resting in grace, God's and mine
  • Loving deeper so Christ will be known
  • Deliberately scanning my eyes over the early morning milky colored sky with birds chirping in the woods as the sun peeks through, feeling the pleasure.
  • Opening the Word and seeing what joyful thing God speaks out that day
  • Embracing today so tomorrow won't be my hyper-focus
  • Staying awake to the movement of God all around me
  • Finding one beautiful thing to photograph each day
  • Praying with abandon, believing God, with much hope and joy
  • Living in thankfulness instead of discontent

My Easter morning goal: to wake up ready to wholeheartedly celebrate Christ's beautiful work on the cross and his resurrection.

I will be ready by living this next moment with grace toward myself and others. By staying awake to God's nearness. By being in the Word to remind myself of  the "today-ness" of His story. To search out a fresh perspective of Christ's work and to be open to understanding my fear so that today can be freely lived. By serving my fellow travelers, as Jesus did.

Reading about Boyett's path toward wholeheartedness was a delight. I'm composing my own trek in that direction and it certainly is a beautiful journey.

On to a fully anticipated and joy-filled Resurrection Morning!

courage

FaithDeane WattersComment

Sunday mornings find me sitting around a table with ten to twelve women considering what it means to chase after the heart of God. COURAGE was our topic this week. I write to uncover what COURAGE means to me. Courage is: not living stuck but moving forward, doing it even if afraid, choosing to not be offended even though I have every right to be, stepping outside my comfort zone, facing the giant right in front of me, slamming the brakes on the need to perform, treating time as a treasure - to be savored and appreciated, not being afraid to confront when necessary, admitting when I am wrong, being confident, agreeing to forgive, daring to love well and deeper, taking risks to dream big, offering grace, having faith even when twenty one men have been beheaded because they were Christians, looking back and embracing what God has allowed in my life, speaking up, listening well, waiting, trusting that God is near, sovereign, kind and good, respecting God and not taking him lightly, enduring suffering by leaning in to hear the whispers of the One who knows and loves me well, not being intimidated by those who want to make me look foolish.

When David came to the camp of the Israelites, he found them cowering because the giant, Goliath, mocked God and intimidated them. David stepped up and slayed the enemy with the first of five stones because he "believed God was bigger than the man he faced. He believed God was real and with him." (Jennie Allen) He saw the jeering offense as being against God and outrage gripped him. He stepped up and did the thing even though it appeared impossible and unreachable to those around him.

Surrounded by brave ones, I ponder their battles: The one who perseveres in the midst of deep loneliness... she who lost many babies through miscarriage... he who lost his father and read his eulogy in subzero temperatures... the one whose mother died when she was a teenager and has grown into a beautiful woman her mother would have been crazy about...the mother whose son broke her heart...the mom with a son in the ER longing for answers... parents who lost a dear one to suicide...one who has taken in a young man in need of solid love, guidance and lots-of-food...the sister who grieves the loss of her best-friend...the daughter who yearns for her mother's love...she who had a violent father and even now can't quite dare to trust or believe that God is love...the one who longs for freedom from depression...the son who aches for his dad's approval...the daughter who has been kicked out...the one who cries out to feel "good enough" and "known"...she who suffers every day with chronic pain...one who writes, hesitatingly, carefully, beautifully revealing her painful childhood... Each stands tall to courageously face every new day.

If only we could seek to view our sorrows, our incredibly painful trials, as offenses against God, not against us. While stepping through the mounds of unbelief, discouragement and fear, might we simply believe he is real and trust him? Exercising a deep courageous faith as invisible as he is may appear foolish. But can we stand strong? He alone gives what we need to keep getting out of bed with hope in our hearts and a fresh joy rising as the sun peeks through the trees bringing early morning light.

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Father God,

We live afraid. Everything feels big, icy, cold and immovable.

What are we missing out on because of this fear?

Come, rest with our suffering hearts that we may feel assured that you know.

Let us hear your sighs, see your tears, feel your nearness,

And rise up to let nothing, not even our sorrow, mock the living God.

Put the pebbles in our hands and fuel the strength to keep throwing until those giants called unbelief, fear, doubt and anxiety shrink and cower in the corner, knowing they have encountered the living God. They can no longer thrive. Let us hasten to action. May the victory be yours.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.         2 Timothy 1:7

 

Plans for Lent

FaithDeane WattersComment

I was hyper-focusing today about how busy my life has been since Brian left 13 days ago. It is uncanny how many meetings, classes, appointments, visits, travel and studies I have been a part of in the past two weeks. Today was going to be full also.  All of this captured my attention completely so that my mind zeroed in on my to-do list the minute I woke up. Brian is my stabilizer. There is something about his steady, methodical way of approaching  life that is settling for me. Just a word from him, a point of view, some common sense bit of advice and I am happily on my way. On my own, I have a tendency to zoom in on things that would normally settle down after chatting with him. Sigh...I need the guy I guess. I'm so happy he is coming back...in 12 days.

Today sped by. Bible study at 9:30, short planning meeting at 11:00, lunch with a friend at 11:30 and then home. Get out the paper, make a list. Get out the vacuum cleaner, dust the floors. Get out the computer, answer emails. Then it hit me:

Today is Ash Wednesday! It is the first day of Lent and I was skimming right through it with nary a thought toward what it means and how I plan to observe the next 40 days.

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Lent is a time in our year that we are invited into a deeper awareness of Christ's death and suffering. There are many ways to remember him and to commemorate his actions which will allow us to experience humility, awareness and deep thanksgiving during this short season. I have found an interesting website called 40 Ideas for Lent where many, from a variety of traditions,  have shared ideas about how they have observed Lent. Tonight I'm formulating my own forty day plan. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • I plan to write, on the following questions, taken from 40 Ideas for Lent 2015:
  1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different?             What am I preparing for? 
  2. Is there something in my life—a habit, a sin, a grudge, a fear, a prejudice, an addiction, an emotional barrier, a form of excess—that keeps me from loving God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving my neighbor as myself? How might I address that over the next 40 days?
  3. Lent is a time to listen to God, but sometimes God speaks through others, particularly the poor, oppressed, marginalized, and suffering. To whom should I be listening this season? How can I cultivate a listening posture toward others whose perspective and experiences might differ from my own?
  4. Is there a spiritual discipline—praying the hours, lectio divina, the examen—that I’ve always wanted to try?  How might I alter my daily routine to include one of these disciplines?
  5. The cycle of death and resurrection is central to the Christian faith. In what ways is that cycle present in my life right now? Where might there be necessary change, suffering, death and decay, and how might new life emerge from those experiences?
  • I am reading Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett, a tale about a young woman who realizes she has lost prayer after the birth of their first child. Here she tells about her determined journey back.
  • Every morning I will open the scriptures with She Reads Truth to join in their Lenten study. From the scripture and commentary, I will write to pray and process the truths I have encountered.
  • Inviting God to join me while I remain silent for 15-20 minutes each day will be a new practice as I move through these 40 days of reflection. What does God want to say? How can I know unless I am still enough to hear? What might these moments of rest in his presence reveal to me?
  • At breakfast time, Brian and I will read through a book edited by Nancy Guthrie, Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, a compilation of meditations by classic and contemporary writers and teachers that "will draw us into an experience of the passion of the cross and the power of the resurrection." After reading and thoroughly enjoying her anthology of Advent writings, we decided to read this Lenten collection.
  • In the next few days I might decide on a few other ways to observe this season.

What might you be doing for Lent this year? Have you found a way to more fully focus on the cross of Christ? Just think how joyful Easter could be after spending forty days in preparation. I would love to know your thoughts or plans for making this a special set-aside season.

Perhaps choosing to focus on Christ and his suffering, I will be less prone to hyper-focus on my own schedule, to slow down and grow in my wonder and amazement over what Christ's  death truly meant for me and our world.

Won't you join me?