Where’s your place?

I often wonder if David ever went back and visited the spot where God used him to wallop Goliath.

Or if Paul paused later in life on the road to Damascus where God had knocked him crazy bold with His grace.

Did Mary ever go back to the spot where the angel first gave her the ridiculously impossible news that she would carry Jesus into the world?

The whole earth is filled with God’s glory, but in some places He just seems more present than others. Or we are paying closer attention.  Some call them “thin places” where the boundary lines between heaven and earth are barely discernible.

Friday I got home from a trip to Great Britain, feeling a little “off”.  Jet-lag or being out of a healthy soul rhythm.  So Saturday morning I went back to one of those thin places – a path I walked daily during a season when many of those days were filled with pain and confusion.  It is a path where I have praised God and also cried out to Him in utter despair.  It’s a place I return to because it is filled with reminders of His presence and faithfulness.

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As I walked yesterday I remembered an early morning after a powerful thunderstorm years ago that had echoed the sounds of the storm in my own life at the time.  The next morning as I was walking around “my” lake I came to a place on the path where there was a bird who had been pelted to the ground by the storm…battered and broken.  I couldn’t tell if there was any life left in him, but it didn’t look good.

I thought, “Lord, that’s a picture of how I feel.  Half the time I’m numb.  Unconscious. Battered and exhausted.  Every once in awhile I regain consciousness and try to move my wings, and figure out how to fly again.  But it just hurts and I collapse in pain again.”

Though this was the way I felt, as I continued to walk this path that represented my journey with God, I had memorized Lamentations 3:21-24 “But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope.  Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed.  His compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.  I say to myself: The Lord is my portion.  I will wait for Him.”

That morning and in the days after, slowly, ever so gradually, God changed the picture in my mind.  He added to it.  I was still that mangled, broken bird, but gradually, I saw myself gently scooped up into the loving hands of God, shielded, nurtured, bound up, healed.  I was an injured bird, cradled in Hands that treasured me and would restore my strength.

Yesterday as I finished my walk, and my memories of God’s faithfulness, these are the words I encountered.

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Where is “that place” for you?  Is there a chair, or a chapel, a path or a beach where you feel God has shown up in ways you can’t deny?  I’d love to see you post your place or your experience in the comments so others can be encouraged.  If you’re a first time commenter and it doesn’t show up immediately, don’t worry, it will!

If you are new to faith and haven’t experienced this, let me share what I prayed every morning I walked that path: “Lord, what do You have to show me about Yourself and myself today?”  Give it a try!

Coming up For Air

This morning I sit across from John at Starbucks early.  I keep hearing deep sighs as he sips his skim white mocha.  There’s a mixture of snow and rain coming down outside.  The fire is on in the fireplace, which is the reason for my sighs, but not his.

We just returned from several days of meetings in one setting and he is heading into a long day of meetings in another.  New place, new set of challenges.  He’s trying to ignore the clamoring emails and choose the daily disciplines of devotions and journalling.  It’s a struggle because… there’s just.so.much.

I’m privileged to have a lot of close friends who are world class leaders.  They are humble but brave.  They are wise and trust God for great things.  They are kingdom bringers.  And somedays they make mistakes, and most days they’re praying like crazy for discernment, and many days they are under a tremendous amount of pressure.  Lately it seems even more stressful than usual.  And they’re facing a lot of situations that feel “between a rock and a hard place-ish”.

“World class leader” may not describe you or me, but we all get into seasons when we’re in over out head.  Whether you’re a student or a CEO or a mom or you just feel like you’ve been holding your breath for too long, I want to stand up and shout Continue reading

When is Your Zero Dark Thirty?

This morning I walked outside in the winter cold at zero dark thirty and looked up to see a partial moon and a few fragile stars clinging to the night.  It struck me that looking up is always the holiest part of my day.  I spend so much time looking down, mired in the minutia, pondering problems without the perspective of Power.  Looking up reminds me to bow down.  It made me think of this post from last year…

I’m not good at the practice of silence and solitude.  I like chatter and hustle and bustle because they feel productive.

Silence and solitude, at least from a distance, seem well, lonely and unconstructive. Like  waiting for a bus you’re not sure is coming.

However, though it’s not my go-to mode, over the years I’ve grudgingly come to experience great value in the discipline of being alone and quiet with God.

When I look at the account of the first Christmas, it’s not that there wasn’t chaos, confusion, and noise.  “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes”??  Are you kidding? Continue reading

Breathing in Advent

Confession:  Even though I wrote about it recently, I skipped church yesterday.  I didn’t skip because I wanted to have brunch with friends, or catch an early football game.  It’s just that I had been with people constantly last week over Thanksgiving and I knew I needed some true silence and solitude.

I wrote in my journal, “I need to breathe…have a Sabbath removed from frenzy. I need to listen for Your still small voice.  I need to fill up with You.  Speak into the silence, Lord. Come Holy Spirit.”

I’ve started to copy an acquaintance of mine who signs her emails: “Breathe deep. Lean hard. God’s love holds.”  I need that reminder

It made me think of this post originally from 2 years ago…

really wish I liked Yoga more.   It’s healthy.  And it’s so in.  But I’m not crazy about it.

Here are the only things I like about Yoga:

  • the comfy pants that are like legal pajamas,
  • the fact that you do it in a group with great people, and not, for example on a stationary bike in your basement (like a crazy introvert),
  • the corpse pose (where you lay still with soft music playing)…

And one more thing…                                                                                                                  They remind you to breathe.  In fact, I think that’s the only part I consistently get right when I go.  I mess up all the poses.  And I can’t make myself pretzelize (is that a word?) like my friend Brooke. Continue reading

Pregnant, part 3

This week I’m thinking about Mary and three spiritual practices that may help us prepare for Christmas.  You can read the first in the series here  and here if you want.

I’m not good at the practice of silence and solitude.  I like chatter and hustle and bustle because they feel productive.

Silence and solitude, at least from a distance, seem well, lonely and unconstructive. Like  waiting for a bus you’re not sure is coming.

However, though it’s not my go-to mode, over the years I’ve grudgingly come to experience great value in the discipline of being alone and quiet with God.

When I look at the account of the first Christmas, it’s not that there wasn’t chaos, confusion, and noise.  “The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes”??  Are you kidding?

Continue reading

On Mary and Getting Ready

It’s coming on christmas
They’re cutting down trees
They’re putting up reindeer
And singing songs of joy and peace.

Joni Mitchell’s been singing those lyrics in my brain today.

It’s coming on Christmas…

and we’re in “getting ready mode”.

John’s been gone at meetings in Houston so I’ve been using the time to get the house ready for Christmas.

And, as I wrote last week, our daughter Maggie got engaged and would like an early summer wedding, so we’re getting ready for that which means constant g-chats and texts with the girls in D.C., and phone calls to check dates with…well, everyone.

And then over the weekend the “to do’s” of Christmas hit me.  You know, like when you’ve noticed that it started snowing but then you don’t look outside for awhile and when you look again you can’t believe how it’s piled up.  There’s a lot that I’ve promised to do that has snuck up on me like a silent snow drift.

And I’m grateful for a full life, but I need to get ready for all of it.

This morning, in between doing all this getting ready stuff there were several distinct moments of silence and solitude when it felt like God said, “Hold it.  Shhhh.  I’m here.”

And in those moments I wondered what getting ready for Christmas really looks like.

Continue reading

Word Fatigue

The other day in our small group, one of the women was describing the feeling of heaviness, helplessness, and lethargy she felt upon return from a year in Africa.  I said it sounded like she had experienced “compassion fatigue” – the sense of overload you have when you’ve seen too much suffering, heard too many stories of loss and spent time with people in despair, too many requests for more money.

Visiting a church recently, I felt like I experienced a similar phenomena.  “Word fatigue”.

Continue reading