Aug 9 2012

Every Thursday, Thanksgiving

Counting thanks to 1000 and beyond…

793. An empty email inbox. (Be encouraged. It is possible!)

794. I finally learned how to make my own salad dressing, one that doesn’t trigger a migraine:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp brown sugar
1/8 tsp salt
a dash of soy sauce
Shake vigorously.
(measurements are approximate and to taste, so sample and adjust as necessary)

795. Eating salads everyday–I’ve eaten more salad this week than in the last year. Thankful  for coming close to being more vegetarian than not.

796. An enjoyable evening around a bonfire, toasting marshmallows and getting to know my neighbors.

797. A lovely lunch with my friend Beth.

798. Hanging out with 8 great young people while their moms planned children’s ministries for this coming year. Olympic bean bag dives, feeding cheerios to baby ducks, tracing hands and feet, reading stories, lots of giggles, all the while soaking up the lake view.

799. Sun through leaves

800. Loving Hugh of St Victor’s Didiscalicon, a 12th century text that focuses on the spiritual practice of reading.

801. Speckled robins

802. Blown away by a familiar worship song sung in multiple languages, and the beautiful video paired with it:

(To listen, please pause the blog music first, found in the right column, under Music for Dreaming.)

 

What are you thankful for this week? Might you share with us 1 or 2 gratitudes in the comments so we can rejoice with you?

Join Kimberlee and I as we give thanks together.

And the inspiration for counting gratitudes:


Aug 6 2012

A Simple Song

(You may want to pause the blog music in the right column under Music for Dreaming.)

I’m house-sitting this week and as I looked through the CDs by the stereo, I found Chris Tomlin’s How Great is Our God: The Essential Collection. The liner notes brought tears to my eyes:

It doesn’t seem too long ago that I was sitting on the bed in a small hotel room in Texas having just finished leading a night of worship with students at a camp with a new friend, Louie Giglio. He had been teaching from the book of Revelation, specifically chapter 4. Sitting there with my Bible on the bed strumming my guitar, I began to sing this little melody with the lyrics jumping from the page. Even though it was in the middle of the night, I thought Louie had to hear it, so I knocked on his door, woke him up, and asked if I could come into his room and play this simple song.

I began to sing “we fall down/ we lay our crowns/ at the feet of Jesus…the greatness of / mercy and love/ at the feet of Jesus…and we cry Holy, Holy, Holy/ we cry Holy, Holy, Holy/ we cry Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lamb.”

I’ll never forget Louie’s words: “The whole world is going to sing that song.”  My response was, “Really? I was just hoping we could sing it at camp this week.”

The Youtube recording is from a Passion Worship evening. In it, over a decade later, Chris Tomlin is singing that same song with thousands and then calling a church in Botswana, to sing it with them in their language.

If you hear God calling you, listen.

He may bless the world through your simple song.


Aug 5 2012

The Prayer Corner

“God works with the world as it is in order to bring it
to where it can be.
Prayer changes the way the world is,
and therefore changes what the world can be.
Prayer opens the world to its own transformation.”

–Marjorie Suchocki

Prayer has always fascinated and frustrated me. The scientist in me has often longed for more concrete information about how prayer works and what my role is.

Reading theologian Marjorie Suchocki’s book In God’s Presence transformed my prayer practice because it offered a way of thinking about how prayer—even the littlest of prayers—could impact the world. While no theory of prayer can possibly capture the full reality, her description helped me envision prayer as something tangible, a practice which invited my participation.

She describes prayer as adding something new and unexpected into the cosmos, creative material that God uses to mold and craft this current world into the redeemed reality of his Kingdom. When we pray, that prayer is something new, something that wasn’t there the moment before. The act of praying opens us (and the whole world) to transformation in ways beyond our imagining.

What’s even more amazing is that God has called us into partnership with him through the gift of prayer. The Holy Spirit, according to Paul in his letter to the Romans, prays in us, showing us God’s heart, his vision for the world as it can be. We pray in response to the Holy Spirit’s nudging and the world is changed, moved that much closer to the full realization of the Kingdom.

But what does this mean for us in everyday, ordinary life, where the cosmos is the dishes in the sink, work (or lack of work), the to-do list, busy schedules, all the while wanting to be faithful and hope-full?

If you’re feeling a nudge to the practice of prayer, or to go deeper, sometimes it’s hard to find a place to start, or to start anew, so the practice for this month is exactly that: create a small place in your home for prayer. In the Eastern Orthodox tradition, this visible spot is called the Beautiful Corner.

This space could be simply a bible, an icon, a cross, or some other visual call to prayer. Icons have been used for nearly two thousand years as reminders of the spiritual reality behind our everyday lives. I find photos of loved ones make wonderful prayer prompts.

If you have kiddos, let them help decorate it with things meaningful for them.

It could become a place to stop on the way out the door to work, a place to take a break in the midst of the to-do list, or a place to say good-night, recollecting the presence of God throughout the day.

Simple or elaborate, a prayer corner doesn’t add anything to our schedules, it just gives prayer a more visible place in our daily lives. Seeing the corner day after day can gently capture our attention and call our hearts to prayer.

It only takes a moment, and the world is changed.

_____

(The Prayer Corner was also printed in this month’s Bethany Briefs.)


Aug 3 2012

Friday Florilegium

Today’s Florilegium is from Daily Strength for Daily Needs, and such a timely collection of quotes for our 24/7 lives.

Then I said, I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for naught, and in vain.–Isaiah 49:4

Because I spent the strength Thou gavest me
In struggle which Thou never didst ordain,
And have but dregs of life to offer Thee–
O Lord, I do repent.
–Sarah Williams (1837–1868), English poet

Mind, it is our best work that He wants, not the dregs of our exhaustion. I think He must prefer quality to quantity.
–George MacDonald (1824 – 1905), Scottish author, poet, and pastor

If the people about you are carrying on their business or their benevolence at a pace which drains the life out of you, resolutely take a slower pace; be called a laggard, make less money, accomplish less work than they, but be what you were meant to be and can be. You have your natural limit of power as much as an engine,–ten-horse power, or twenty, or a hundred. You are fit to do certain kinds of work, and you need a certain kind and amount of fuel, and a certain kind of handling.
–George S. Merriam

In your occupations, try to possess your soul in peace. It is not a good plan to be in haste to perform any action that it may be the sooner over. On the contrary, you should accustom yourself to do whatever you have to do with tranquillity, in order that you may retain the possession of yourself and of settled peace.
–Madame Guyon (1648 – 1717), French Christian mystic

And for another Friday literary bouquet, join Kimberlee Conway Ireton.


Aug 2 2012

Every Thursday, Thanksgiving

Counting thanks to 1000 and beyond…

784. Meerkats at the Woodland Park Zoo. I love this one, surveying her domain!

785. Visiting with my friend Heidi and her daughters in a Kenyan hut (at the Zoo!)

786. Hydrangea  blue and pink glory.

787. A reorganized prayer room. The great things about this room are it’s comfy couch and peaceful silence. So grateful for my friend Julie, who took me to Ikea for lamps and candles!

788. Jack’s amazing creativity and detail: a set of miniature weapons. The sword even has a sheath made from the hollow quill of a feather.

789. Candles and icons encouraging me as I work on my dissertation.

789. Pink amazingness!

790. A blueberry picking adventure.

791. While Kimberlee and the kiddos picked berries, I read about the medieval approach to reading: lectio divina. In between words, I saw a hummingbird, a noisy hawk, and lots of young bespeckled robins. The air was scented with eau d’fresh-cut-grass.

792. But the highlight, of which I have no photo, was 2 year old Ben, full of joy as he fed the  goats at the farm. A wonderful day!

What are you thankful for this week? Might you share with us 1 or 2 gratitudes in the comments so we can rejoice with you?

Join Kimberlee and I as we give thanks together.

And the inspiration for counting gratitudes:

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