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Monday, October 17, 2016

31 Days of Presence: Day....Well, I'm Not Quite Sure: Here's Where I Am....Thinking, Always, Thinking

So my intention with this blog was to practice 31 Days of Presence and write about it each day. I am till practicing Presence but I needed to pull back from the writing. The reason that we practice any spiritual discipline is to place ourselves in a position so that we are able to receive the Presence of God. The writing stared to feel like the motivation for the practice instead of the practice informing the writing.

This past weekend I was with some friends who I don't see often but have been key players in my formation as a Salvation Army Officer and a believer and the question was asked, "Aren't you a writer?" I responded this way...

"Well, I don't think so. I have a friend who is really a legit writer. She is disciplined and loves developing her craft. I don't really fall into that category but I do write from time to time....I guess I am a person who has thoughts and then occasionally writes them down..."

I have no intention of really growing this blog....if that happens it will be lovely but even now since I am taking a Facebook fast until after the election (more on that later) I wonder if I am just throwing words and thoughts aimlessly into the air. I am not building a platform. I don't plan on writing a book.

Why do I write if I am not a writer?

Well, I need to do something with the things that I think...sometimes it's creating art,sometimes it is verbal discourse, sometimes it's preaching, sometimes it's writing....

One of the reasons that I read so much is that I want to hear others ideas and experiences. It spurs me on to think more thoughts, to grow, to learn...maybe just maybe my voice will be one that helps others. I suppose that is what I am a person who occasionally writes down her thoughts.

The break in writing was good. It helped me to be present to the purpose of this activity and to really examine my motivation. I write a lot...in my head. Maybe part of this whole journey is learning the discipline of writing those thoughts.

Today I wrote....today I will be present.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

31 Days of Presence: Day 6 Trying to Ignore the Call to Fast

"It should be accepted as a most elementary human and moral truth that no man can live a fully sane and decent life unless he is able to say "no" on occasion to his natural bodily appetites. No man who simply eats and drinks whenever he feels like eating and drinking, who smokes whenever he feels the urge to light a cigarette, who gratifies his curiosity and sensuality whenever they are stimulated can consider himself a free person. He was renounced his spiritual freedom and become the servant of bodily impulse. Therefore his mind and will are not fully his own. They are under the power of his appetites."  
Thomas Merton

Over the last several weeks the discipline of fasting keeps popping up and I have promptly ignored it and moved on. Fasting is hard and I am practicing Presence...oh wait...

Fasting is a discipline that I always struggle with because there are just so many factors. What exactly am I fasting from, food, TV, social media, talking,,,how long should it last? The reality is that this is one of those things that I find terribly intimidating and spend so much time overthinking that I struggle to engage the practice. 

Today God brought fasting to my attention from two completely unrelated sources. Perhaps it's time to stop overthinking and start listening. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

31 Days of Presence: Day 5 What Happened to Day 4?


Day 4 was a day filled with meetings that required me to be present and focused on a lot of numbers....I am not a numbers person....well, I'm really not a meeting person either. By the end of the day I had to decide how I should use my reserves, writing or feeding my children. The children won...they are very persistent.

There was a temptation to beat myself up over not writing yesterday and then I remembered that part of this project is being present to myself. I chose to give myself a chance to rest and recharge so that I could be more present to God and others on Day 5.

Being present takes focus and energy.

That's it.

 That's the extent of my profundity for the day.

 I am still recharging.

Monday, October 3, 2016

31 Days of Presence: Day 3 There You Are Peter!


Tonight I was able to share one of my all time favorite movies with my sweet little girl. Hook is a movie that I can watch again and again and always find something new that captures my heart. 

As we were watching this scene Becca asked, "What is that boy doing Mama?" I told her to just wait. Finally, with great joy and excitement, she said "He SEES Peter Mama!!" 

It took him a few minutes of exploring and poking but the moment he stretched Peter's face into a smile...that is when he really saw the essence of Peter Pan. That essence was hidden, buried under the layers of adult. It took a bit of work to get to it but that little boy was patient. That little boy was present to Peter. 

In Acts chapter 3 there is a story of Peter and John going to Temple to pray. On the way there they were approached by a crippled beggar asking for money. The Scripture says, "a man lame from birth was being carried in. Each day he was put beside the Temple gate, the one called the Beautiful Gate, so he could beg from the people going into the Temple(Acts 3:2b). Day after day this man approached people for money. This was how he made his living. 

If you spend any time at all in a larger city you will notice that there are a lot of people who are begging on the streets. For many residents of cities those who are begging become a part of the white noise of the city. The sounds of traffic, pigeons strutting along the sidewalks, the metallic statue guys and the beggars; all a part of the fabric of the city but nothing that really catches your attention because they are always there. 

I imagine this is what most days were like for the man lame from birth who sat outside of the Temple at the gate called Beautiful. In and out people went all day long, focused on getting into the Temple to pray and to worship and out to get back to their daily lives. But then one day something incredible happened....

"Peter and John looked at him intently...(3:4a)"

They looked at him...intently! 

There was in fact a healing miracle that happened in this story and that was pretty great but before that miracle could happen Peter and John needed to be present to this man. A man that was so often overlooked. A man who had probably resigned himself to this life of being carried to the Temple each day and watching the people rush passed looking over and even through him. 

Healing begins with seeing. 
Restoration begins with seeing. 
Seeing is the begining of miracles. 
Presence is the beginning of miracles. 

What a beautiful thing to be seen. For someone to intimately and lovingly poke and smush and spread our faces into a smile and say "There you are!"


Sunday, October 2, 2016

31 Days of Presence Day 2:I Have Become Uncomfortably Numb

To numb is to deprive of feeling or responsiveness. There are very good reasons that things are numbed. Before a dentist works on a cavity, the tooth and surrounding area are numbed with Novocaine so that the dentist can do the needed work to prevent further decay. Eventually the Novocaine wears off and we are left with that uncomfortable tingling and the feeling that your lips are sliding off of your face. 

Over the past several months I have been attempting to reengage with emotions that felt overwhelming in the last season of my life. But as soon as I start to feel my lips sliding I panic and I attempt to numb again. 

My numbing agents of choice? Social media, books, food, napping, jokes, music, work...I could go on but I think you get the idea. 

With apologies to Pink Floyd, I have become uncomfortably numb. Numb is no longer working for me. The numbing is preventing me from feeling the discomfort but it's also preventing me from experiencing the fullness of life and most importantly the fullness of the Presence of God. 

This 31 days of Presence is really about giving myself the space to let the Novocaine wear off. I want to push through the awkward and discomfort so that I can experience the fullness of what God has for me. So for the next 31 days when I grab for my phone, or rush to fill in the uncomfortable spaces with a wise crack, or try to lose myself in a book or a nap, I will stop myself and touch my face just to make sure that my lips are where they are supposed to be and get back to the business Life. 

 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father,
 this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth.
 I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit - not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength -
that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love,
 you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! 
Live full lives, full in the fullness of God. 
God can do anything, you know - far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
 Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!  Ephesians 3:14-21 MSG

Saturday, October 1, 2016

31 Days of Presence: Day 1 Skipping Stones

The last several months I have felt a bit like a stone that is being skipped across a pond. I have been powerfully propelled forward and I am just skimming the surface of life. Every once in a while I touch down on the water but then I am back in the air again with the wind whistling in my ears wondering how I keep getting launched. 
In his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster says this, " In contemporary society our Adversary majors in three things: noise, hurry, and crowds. If he can keep us engaged in "muchness" and "manyness," he will rest satisfied (15)."

The "muchness" and "manyness" is depleting my soul. I am merely skimming the surface of moments with my family. I have become unaware of my own spirit and person. I am able to acknowledge that God is indeed present but much like being in a noisy party, I can't quite make out what He is saying. 

For the next 31 days I will be using this space to share my journey to Presence. This is a place of accountability for me. This is a place where I can step back, reflect, and share honestly where I am at in journey. I add the word honestly because I don't want this to become a place where I share contrived depth. Contrived depth helps no one. 

So, what does all of this look like? Here is where I am starting:
  • Driving the speed limit. 
  • Deleting social media apps from my phone and tablet. 
  • 5 minutes of silence each day. 
  • Daily practice of Lectio Divina
Well here it is...time to go be present. 



Sunday, December 1, 2013

Heaven is about to break upon us...


 


Sometimes there are days when it feels like the darkness is winning. 
Sometimes it's when there are a lot of big and terrible things going on all around.

Today it was the multitude of small things.
So many small hurtful and dark things on this, the first day of Advent.

But I am reminded that the Light has come to drive out darkness.
I will look for the tiny flames of light that flicker in the darkness as it has passed from person to person as Advent gains momentum. Until the day of His arrival, the coming of The King of Light.


"Because of God's tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.,and to guide us to the path of peace." Luke 1:78-79