friday joy (wonder edition)

Our summer rhythm of the last decade has been a bit upended this year.

The combination of my returning to work, the hot weather and life events  colliding with

routine  has made me feel like we have lived the past months literally

by the seat of our pants, well make that capris or shorts.

We came off of a few days at the beach back into routine and quickly realized

we had no plan for Caleb’s days.

Gulp.

Courtney was on a road trip taking her college best friend to her first teaching job

in Texas and Carlen was working as she should be.

We limped through Monday with Carl coming home at lunch to munch

and shoot baskets with Caleb.

I adjusted my hours to be home an hour earlier which also meant

a shorter commute time 🙂

and sent out few text message pleas (begging) and

friends helped immediately and into next week as well.

Grateful.

It was a triumph to get to Friday, my day off and what was on Caleb’s mind was doing

something outside of the house.

I definitely had my list of somethings as well but Caleb was the priority.

He began the day by FINALLY mastering the art of paper airplanes by reading

a section out of this book:

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Simple fulfilling joy.

We had a unhurried lunch at Chapel Pub.

I wanted to eat outside because we could but Caleb wanted to sit

in the air conditioning. I couldn’t argue as these days it is a gift

not to be covered in sweat.

Caleb is approaching 12.

There is still the little boy humor which I have been told

and seen plenty of evidence doesn’t evaporate…ever.

We have begun to have conversations richer in-depth and meaning.

We talked about how it feels to not have Mom always, for the most part, available

to his every need.

He expressed his excitement and nervousness for his new middle school but is

still really sad about how much he will miss his friends in other schools.

He’s holding his breath to find out if he will get to learn to play the guitar in

school next year as a year-long focus or one of his art rotations.

He talked about starting a band with friends.

He always politely declines when asked if he wants to see the children’s menu.

It was a first as he took his time over the menu and ordered something other than a

cheeseburger.

He snapped up my phone and took a picture of me.

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He submitted to a selfie I didn’t have in mind.

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This is 11.

We paid the bill and walked over to the library to grab my waiting book loot

and for Caleb to collect on his reading.

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Our next stop was a nickel arcade.

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We raced around and tried our best to amass as

many tickets as a $5 bag of nickels would allow.

I got to play several games of Centipede so my day was complete.

When it came time to redeem the ticket winnings, I found myself

wanting to direct Caleb to other prizes, better “deals”, you know more

bang for your buck.

If this was truly the case of getting a good deal, we should never have

set foot in the arcade as there really is no way to come out ahead for

any outlay of nickels.

In the end, he spent 490 of his 500 tickets on these items:

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A giant pencil and pen and a mini whoopee cushion.

The man at the counter told Caleb he still had 10 tickets to

spend but Caleb said that he was good with what he spent.

But then he decided to buy me two mini Tootsie rolls for 8 tickets.

The counter man said he could have three.

Caleb gasps and with large eyes said “thanks”

and it was the first time I saw the man smile during our visit.

Shared wonder.

We made our final descent towards home but not before

Caleb cashed in his summer reading prize with a  free Slurpee.

(This prize redemption has ceased to change it is always a free Slurpee.)

The days are long and often toasty.

Each moment can easily be filled with essential tasks but what if

now and then we allowed our seconds to be saturated by spending

time in the midst of wonder.

Or lifting our eyes from the relentless black and white lists and

beholding the magnificent shades of wonder which are everywhere.

I recently heard Rob Bell say:

“We need to make it our discipline to not lose wonder.”

I agree.

Wonder is an 11 year-old reaping the reward of the patience practice

of creating until  the first successful flight.

Wonder is found in venturing outside your usual order and tastes.

Wonder does not come packaged in perfectly posed and focused photos.

Wonder is recognizing new paths don’t obliterate the tried

and true ones.

Wonder might just be found while plucking the wrong strings

attempting to bring forth music.

Wonder can be found in a bad investment of nickels.

Wonder is getting something a little extra and puffing up with gratitude.

Wonder can certainly be slurped through a straw.

Wonder doesn’t wait until the house is clean, the fridge is well-stocked

and you are sufficiently rested.

Wonder comes when you let your lungs expand, hands unclench

and surrender to the call,

the practice,

the discipline

of scouting for wonder.

Still need convincing my Friday was full of wonder?

wonder (noun):

  • a cause of astonishment or admiration: marvel
  • a miracle
  • a feeling caused by seeing something that is very surprising,
    beautiful, amazing, etc.
  • the quality of exciting amazed admiration
  • rapt attention or astonishment at something
    awesomely mysterious or new to one’s experience
  • a feeling or doubt or uncertainty

When was the last time you experienced wonder?

Be a wonder seeker.

 

 

spiritual teachers

 

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During our conversation, it became apparent my daughters differ in their preference of

reading the same book repeatedly.

I was reminded of the books I have read daily or year after year.

The stack above is a collection of books that have accompanied

me during the morning hours and remained steadfast through

the ever-changing landscape of life.

Just like a faithful friend, they encourage, remind and provide

a foundation of strength to keep standing.

There are several more I could place on the honorable mention

list, some might even be your favorites but besides

my Bibles, these have been my truest guides.

(A tiny sliver of me feels so vulnerable sharing these
books. Perhaps because they are a window to this delicate
and fierce walk of faith.)

Daily Light: A common thread of scriptures for the morning and the evening.
One of two devotional I have given the most to loved ones.

Jesus Calling: This is my number two gift devotional. I started reading
this devotional a long time before it became so popular. I loved that it
always seemed to express what I needed to read.
(If you are curious to know my #3 gift, it would be Blessing for the Evening.
It would make my stack, but I don’t own it. Isn’t that wild?) 🙂

Let Go: This might be a strange choice, how a slim book of letters
written by a 17th century French Archbishop would find its way
into my hands but I am thankful it did. This book is tough and
tender. It has this beautiful sunset on the cover but don’t be fooled.
Sometimes we need our teachers to be gentle, sometimes we
need a little shaking. It’s all about surrender.

My Utmost For His Highest: I started reading this devotional
in high school. A friend raved about it so I eventually bought
a copy of the original version and I couldn’t understand it.
Later in college, they came out with a contemporary version
and it was much more to my comprehension. This probably
explains why my friend went on to become an emergency
room doctor and I did not. I do read the original from time to
time and understand it more, it only takes me two readings now 😉
Timeless wisdom.

Seeking God’s Face: This one makes me sigh. For years,
I have wanted to follow a lectionary or a listing of daily scriptures
to read based on the church calendar. No matter which one
I would choose, I was confused. I never knew if I was
reading in the correct place. It drove my perfectionist heart
crazy. Enter this wonderful book made for non-emergency
room doctors tee hee. Here’s a picture.

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See the box? For the next 12 years (heh) I will know my place!
That’s a very good thing.

31 Days of Praise/Prayer: There are times in life when words are distant,
prayer seems futile and difficult. I alternated between these two volumes as
they taught me how to prayer through the scriptures and to keep clinging
to His promises.

How To Study The Bible For Yourself: The pages of this book are yellowed
by age. There is so much wisdom in this small book. I return to it time
and again to be reminded of the many ways to study the Word of God.

Venite: I have written about this book several times. It is now out of print
but used copies can be found. I was raised in church and over my 50 years,
have been apart of so many church traditions and experiences.I am so
grateful for this fact. I also know that I love tradition.
The pastor of the church we now attend always says we are a storied
people steeped in the story of God. I adore this and it is the very reason
I reached back to grasp the old ways. This prayer
book helped me rediscover parts of my church upbringing I had abandoned.
I found it at a time when I was very much in a wilderness and physically
stopping to pray throughout my day and night changed my life.
It changed my heart and drenched me with peace and hope.
I know it sounds trite or cliché but truly I felt my soul fly home
when I began to pray the hours.
There is something so sacred about uttering words that have been
said by countless seekers over centuries.

I wrote Robert Benson who
compiled this book to thank him and to share how
unaware my soul was missing
something until I started praying the hours.
(His letter response is a very cherished possession.)
I wish I always stopped my busyness to pray throughout
the day but when I remember
to pause, I am remade breath by breath.

Whispers of Hope: I bought this book in 2005 at a Beth Moore
conference in Spokane, Washington. I am so happy that she has
updated and recently re-released it.
(Although for those of us with large handwriting, I wish
they had kept the book the same size…oh well.)
Each day is a scripture reading,some thoughts from Beth
and spaces to write out prayers.
I can fan through the pages and see the multitude of prayers
required during that time frame. Some answered and
some remain. I wonder if all of them had been answered would
I still have the need to pray. As I let my eyes roam over those
needs still not resolved, I can’t ignore the reality of seeing His hand.
I know that He has drawn me closer to Himself.
I have changed in the midst of each hardship.
It is more than hindsight allowing me to see more clearly.
It is the prayers of 2005 and the God who was more than equal to
those cries, He is the same God who walked me through
the aching years that would follow.
He knew when I poured my ink prayers onto paper
that more hardship would come and He would remain.
He still remains.

What books bring you comfort?

This post is apart of the 31 days…yet again series
about books. You can find the entire series here.

 

 

stability

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I want every single portion of God’s inspired word to have a chance at my heart.
I don’t want a single issue in my soul to remain unmoved because I wasn’t
careful to expose myself to the full breadth of His wisdom and revelation.
I expect God to surprise me with insight from what I might have thought to
be the most unlikely portions of His words.
I want the full package, so I read the full package.

—from Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge

This weekend contained what I affectionately call Super Saturday.

For most of the nearly 21 years we have lived in our home, Carl has summoned his

work weary body to play early morning basketball.

He is a superhero in my book on the court as well as in winning the dark morning battle

against the comforter.

I call these Saturday mornings “super” because I am able to

rise a little a lot later than Carl and bask in the quiet of the house.

I spend time in the Word, perhaps catch up on a Bible study I am

doing with friends and can joyfully linger longer than on normal rushed mornings.

I pray and sometimes read a book.

I am recovered.

On Super Saturdays, I can luxuriate for an hour or more in the silence.

The curve of my soul longs for space, time and solitude.

Over the years there have been any number of combinations of slumbering

children pressed into beds on Saturday morning.

The youngest member of our tribe is made in the image of his hoops playing dad and

rarely sleeps long enough to my liking.

Super Saturdays are a gift I spread my arms

wider to greedily receive.

I resist the pull of extended slumber.

I don’t mind seeing my dog waiting at the bottom of our

steps.

We both are looking for an open door.

I fill a glass of water and prepare the kettle for tea.

I slide into my chair and exhale.

I breath out because I don’t want to inhale the chatterbox telling me,

I don’t have enough time, 

someone will wake up any moment,

aren’t you still tired.

I simply keep breathing and dive in that very second.

I write out a Psalm, read and pray through passages of scripture.

Upon reflection, I discover I have spent time in

old and new,

poetry, letters and history.

When the last verse is consumed I feel

flooded by the synergy of the passages.

I have one more day of reading in  Deuteronomy.

There has been an undulating rhythm in reading this time,

God, your God seems to open each verse.

There in the silence I whisper as well,

God, my God,

you are the one who ties each

verse from beginning to finale.

You are the one who invites me along despite my failings. 

You have intertwined me with your plans, purposes and promises.

Every plea I utter falls on open and affectionate ears.

As if the spell is broken I hear feet sliding

down carpeted stairs.

This sacred sequestered morning with my

Maker has informed my heart deep enough

to offer welcome to my semi-conscious son

instead of feeling interrupted. (Progress!)

Later in the kitchen over hot mugs of weekend fortitude,

I chat with Carl about my Super Saturday.

He says,

“This must feel like stability since you have been reading
the last couple of days.”

I respond with a grin,

Oh I like that word Carl.
Stability.
Thank you for saying that.

I’m going to hold onto
that word for a while.”

This response actually came an hour later, when I was finishing

a book and Carl was performing more heroic feats over

our bills.

What I immediately said to Carl was reflexive,

my default

steeped in

the school of perfection

and performance.

I have come to see them as twin idols flanking my mantle.

“Well, yeah, but I have been reading everyday.”

I voice my deep wonder about God and without

missing a breath, I feel the need to point out my “spotless” record.

Stability is found hanging out with the one who holds

the substance of my life in His hands.

Showing up is a discipline and doesn’t add tally marks to my worth.

I am stabilized when I exchange my horizontal posture

for a vertical position before Him.

Some days I am fortified by allowing Him to love me while

my head continues to dent my pillow.

God is all parts stability and this is a beautiful blessed reality.

A welcome relief to my soul.

I can find Him in 5-minute segments or occasional

Super Saturdays.

God in all His awe-inspiring stability makes every day super.

 

 

kept by walking

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I blame the gravitational pull of my mattress.

I was determined to keep my walking date with myself on Saturday.

I slept later than I wanted perhaps not longer than I needed.

As I pulled on my shoes, I noticed a few dots of water scattered

upon finger smudged panes.

Dismissing my thoughts of “it’s going to pour” or “gosh, it’s colder outside than I realized”,

I instructed my feet to step away from the house.

We have the pleasure of living two short blocks away from a city park complete with a

sunken rose garden.

I decided to circle the park a few times.

As you probably surmised, the heavens opened with applause at my

triumphant bed defeat with pelting rain.

As I neared the rose garden, the covering of trees spreads out and

I felt every raindrop multiply and the wind force pushing me back to

my starting point.

Only 5 minutes had passed.

I hadn’t worked up a sweat.

It was too cold actually.

I should go home and choose another day, my mind encouraged.

I kept placing heel in front of toe.

Once I reached the far side of the park and would soon re-enter the

intense weather chamber, I noticed the expanse of fir trees.

I looked down at the paved portion of my path and realized the cement was dry.

Not one droplet of rain had been allowed to penetrate the earth below.

I tilted my head back and gazed at branches imitating a cathedral

of hands interlocked in prayer.

This was a place of protection.

A sanctuary of peace from the storm.

Maybe I should walk back and forth along this untouched road.

I’d be warm and dry and less tossed about by mighty gusts.

My feet kept walking.

Often we feel unprepared and an ill-equipped match for the prevailing winds.

My park circles reminded me of the inevitability and strength of storms.

Storms wrestle us from our slumber and announce their presence.

We must keep walking.

Each step leads closer to the prized destination.

We may question our resolve to keep moving

until

the height,

the length,

the width

and

the breadth

of God’s arms

encloses us,

shelters us,

protects us,

speaks peace over us,

comforts us,

and simply is present with us.

He reaches into the waters which threaten

to drown and

clasps His spirit with ours and

gives us strength to keep in step with Him.

He is the most welcome respite in

times of persistent onslaught.

We will get wet.

We will be chafed by the wind.

We may feel we are circling a path in a cold

wilderness but we are not left alone.

We must keep walking.

It’s the only way to get home.