As I sit

As I sit in my quiet house with my coffee, a thousand things tumble through my head. To-Do lists and reminders and things I want to do with the kids and things we could do as a family and people I need to call and emails I need to write. My world is quiet but inside is not.

Until I make a choice and take out my journal and find a thought to focus on, a thread, and it comes out through my pen onto paper and with the focus comes quiet and with the quiet comes peace.

And then I can listen.

I can listen to what’s deeper than the chatter and the to-do and the should and have to and regrets. There’s a stillness deep inside.

Prepare my heart to worship You, my only desire is to honour You, I’m weak and in need of something fresh. 

Something about music. Something about the sounds and the words sits deep in my soul and comes up just when I need to. It’s a beautiful thing, really. These are lyrics a song that I can’t even find online, a band that I listened to as a teen because they were local and it was something to do. Today, they are my prayer.

Search me today and make me new
Wisdom and hope I pray from you
Break up my selfish, stubborn will
No matter the cost, I’ll serve you still
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Sometimes it feels like I don’t know what I’m doing

Yesterday I prayed with my daughter. I’m almost ashamed that such a simple thing is worth reflecting and writing on, but it is. Praying with my daughter is a rare thing. Praying for her or around her is normal. We talk about prayer together. Still there seemed to be some sort of disconnect, like going from “oh I love dancing” to “will you dance with me”.

I don’t know how to do this “raising kids in a Christian home” thing. I have enough trouble with the “raising kids part” and then the “Christian home” side…well, often it feels like I’m having to make things up as I go and hope for the best. We don’t do things the way my husband was raised (as much as he is a fantastic person and I completely adore my inlaws, it just doesn’t work for us), and things from my childhood are no help (in my family the closest we got to spiritual teachings was watching Jesus Christ Superstar). I watch the people around me but they all seem so natural at it, asking questions makes me feel awkward and uncomfortable. Like I should know how to do this. Like it should come naturally.

It doesn’t really. There’s so many things I want for my kids and I’m just not sure how to do it all. I want them to have a deep longing for a connection with the Divine, but I also want them to understand and respect other faith cultures. I want them to be sure of their place in the world but I don’t want them to forget there are others who need. I want them to have strength and courage and be a voice for the voiceless but I don’t want them to miss the point and feel superior to the people around them. I want them to know God and experience his love and grace, but I want them to have the opportunity to seek him out on their own terms.

So they come to church with us. They learn all the things they learn in their program (which I’m assuming is good quality stuff since husband and other people I love and respect are running things). They hear husband and I talk and discuss. They see me involved and participate with us. I don’t hide my faith, but at the same time it’s very much my faith and the problem comes with trying to share that with them.

So today was a big step. When the girl was frustrated and teary eyed, when I was replaying the scolding I’d given in my head, when I remembered that there is more to being good than acting good, I asked her if I could pray with her. Because she is my girl and keeps me on my toes and challenges me more than she’ll ever know, her response was “why?”

Why? 

Because you’re special and amazing and I love you. Because you’ve had a rough day. Because sometimes it feels like no matter how hard you try you can’t get it right. Because we need to remember we’re not in this alone. Because I know you can get past this. Because God loves you even more than I do. Because I get it wrong too and need to remember it’s not all up to me. Because we both need all the love we can get. Because God is good and wants good for us.

I don’t always do it right – as a parent or as a believer or as an example or any of the other things I am in the run of the day, but in that moment, by the grace of God, I think I did.

When it comes in a Whisper

This feels like an odd place to start, but everyone needs to start somewhere.

The short story was that there was a prayer retreat. A prayer retreat that took months of planning and thousands of emails and hundreds of conversations and gentle nudges and bit pushes and wondering if we had all gone nuts and how could this all really work.

Then it happened. And now it’s over.

For the last two days I’ve wrestled with my reflections, asking myself if it’s wrong to consider a prayer retreat anticlimactic.

In all the prep and all the prayer and all the journey it took to pull it together there was just so much new and exciting and possible. The things going on around it all seemed to tie in and this, this was going to be the moment where something clicked and something changed and all the other pieces came together and it happened.

Not really sure what I thought the it was. Not really sure what I thought would happen. It was just this idea that we’d all be together and focussed on God and available  that SOMETHING had to happen. Right?

Things did happen, of course. All of the feedback has been wonderful. I just didn’t feel it. Maybe it’s because I was sick or maybe it’s because I was distracted or maybe…maybe it wasn’t a moment.

Of course I’m reminded of Elijah in 1 Kings and how God wasn’t in the fire or the earthquake but in the whisper.

Why do I think God in the fire or God in the moment is better or more desirable than God in the whisper?

I look back over the time planning the retreat and I can’t deny God’s presence. God guiding us and leading us through conversations and prayer and situations. I can’t deny that God has changed me and healed me and helped me to grow so much over the last few months. All in a whisper. Instead of bowing down amazed that the God of all things, creator of heaven and earth has spoken to me and called me and taken me by the hand, I stomp my foot and pout because there wasn’t any fireworks.

I am thankful for the whisper. I am thankful for the change and the growth. I am thankful for the reminder that I don’t need to wait for a moment – for an eathquake or a fire or an event – to encounter the living God.

Growth happens so slowly. Cell by cell in layers building up, each one so small you almost can’t see it. I’m reminded of growth on an evergreen tree – so delicate and small and seemingly insignificant we forget that ever branch once started out like that.

Evergreen growth

(taken from words4it.com)

I want to grow. I want to see the people around me grow. I want the community as a whole to grow and I see signs of that growth, little glimpses of it here and there. God is leading us, just as He intends to, sometimes despite our own understanding of the situation.

Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by Thy help I come

And I hope, by Thy good blessing, safely to arrive at home