Sunday, July 12, 2009

Needing to practice some contemplation? Try one or more of the following exercises this week...and enjoy the solitude and silence of simply "being" with God.

Exercises in the Contemplative Tradition

  1. Pray for ten minutes each morning or evening.
  2. Pray without words (in silence) for five to ten minutes each day.
  3. Offer a short prayer throughout the day (for example, the hesychastic prayer “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner” or the verse “Create in me a clean heart, O God and put a new and right spirit within me” [Ps. 51:10]).
  4. Read a section from a devotional book, such as a spiritual classic like St. Augustine’s Confessions, or it may be a devotional classic such as Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest. Devotional periodicals such as Guideposts or The Upper Room (or some other publication) may interest you. Discover God in the reading.
  5. Write out a prayer in your journal. You may wish to keep it private, or you may wish to share it. Write the letter as if it were addressed to God, telling Him your hopes and dreams, your worries, your needs.
  6. Learn to appreciate God through his creation. Take a walk in a park or simply sit and watch a sunset. Consider the majesty of the world, giving thanks and praise for all of God’s creation.
  7. Set aside fifteen minutes for a time of thanksgiving. Thank God for everything you can think of. Do not worry about intercession or confession; this is simply a time to give thanks.
  8. Practice the art of listening to God. Meditate on a verse of Scripture, being attentive to what God wants to tell you. Note the words in the verse. Does anything stand out? Turn the verse into a prayer. Ask God to teach you during this time of silence.
  9. Hold people and situations before God in prayer. Take ten minutes a day to bring your friends and loved ones before God. Do not worry about words; simply imagine Jesus standing beside them before the throne of grace. Let God minister to all of their cares and hurts.
  10. Try “flash prayers.” When you see someone—anyone—silently pray for that person. Riding on a bus, standing in a line, sitting in a room—wherever you are, inwardly ask God to give those around you joy, to touch their lives with his presence.

Smith, James Bryan. A Spiritual Formation Workbook: Small Group Resources for Nurturing Christian Growth. A Renovare Resource for Spiritual Renewal. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1993. (pp. 87-88)

Thursday, July 9, 2009


"In a noise-polluted world, it is even difficult to hear ourselves think let along try to be still and know God. Yet it seems essential for our spiritual life to seek some silence, no matter how busy we may be. Silence is not to be shunned as empty space, but to be befriended as fertile ground for intimacy with God" --Susan Muto

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." ~ John 7:37b-38 (NIV)

I am departing from the lectionary for the remainder of the summer to explore deeply the Spiritual Discipline Streams, based on Richard Foster's work.

So this week we will focus on Contemplation - The Prayer-Filled Life. Living a life of loving attention to God - through which we experience the divine rest that overcomes our alienation. I think we all need a little (or a lot of rest). Can you imagine your life if you took just a few minutes out of your day to be still... surrounded by silence... alone. I don't know about you, but to me that sounds like a little bit of heaven on earth.

Be still and encouragement for all of us, including me, today.


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Covet vs. Contentment

Why is it that I always want more than I have or something different than I have? Why is contentment so hard to find and once you find it, so hard to keep? Temptation always seems to be lurking, ready to lunge at every turn.

This is one of the sins that I struggle with greatly and seemingly all the time. Does anyone have a secret for contentment?

Of course the answer is in front of me all the time - be grateful for what the Lord has blessed me with. I guess coveting is one of the many traps that I fall into when I take my eyes, my heart, my mind off of Him.

Oh Lord, help me to spend time with you everyday and to allow you to remind me how much I always have to be grateful for.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Five: Life is a Verb

Thanks to Jan from RevGalBlogPals for another great Friday Five...

Digh, Patti. Life is a Verb: 37 Days to Wake Up, Be Mindful,
and Live Intentionally. Guilford, CT: Skirt!, 2008.

Jennifer recommended this book, which I got because I always value Jennifer's reading suggestions. The author of Life is a Verb, Patti Digh worked her book around these topics concerning life as a verb:
  • Say yes.
  • Be generous.
  • Speak up.
  • Love more.
  • Trust yourself.
  • Slow down.
As I read and pondered about living more intentionally, I also have wondered what this Friday Five should be. This book has been the jumping off point for this Friday.

1. What awakens you to the present moment?
Silence. Solitude. A growing awareness of God in every moment and the preciousness of life. There are moments when I catch myself watching closely my girls growing up and I realize how fleeting this life is. How quickly they seem to be changing, maturing and growing. I often wonder how many other parents wish at one point or another that they could stop the hands of time from ticking away the moments so quickly.

2. What are 5 things you see out your window right now?
The most brilliant green grass that I have seen in a long, long time - especially in June (thanks to all the rain, which is not always appreciated!) Children playing and laughing in the sunshine. One of the most glorious of all God's creation - a tree. Beautiful sun-kissed and rain-quenched red roses. A squirrel scurrying quickly (aren't they always!?!) through the yard.

3. Which verbs describe your experience of God?
growing, evolving, sprinting, inspiring, animating, invigorating, energizing, breathing, resting, depending, giving up - control to Him that is...I could go on and on and on...

4. From the book on p. 197:
Who were you when you were 13? Where did that kid go?
She grew up...too fast. But God was there with me every step of the way, even when I wasn't aware of Him. I thank God for that and more, much, much more.

5. From the book on p. 88:
If your work were the answer to a question, what would the question be?
The question...
What is the most wonderful and the most awful thing that you do, the thing that brings so much joy and so much sadness, frustration, and tiredness and the thing that you would NOT trade for anything in the world?
The answer...
My work as a pastor, teacher, preacher, counselor and most of all servant of my Lord.

Bonus idea for you here or on your own--from the book on p. 149:
"Go outside. Walk slowly forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. It might be an idea, it might be an object. Name it. Set it aside. Walk forward. Open your hand and let something fall into it from the sky. Name it. Set it aside. Repeat. . . ."

I am on vacation next week and I will do this then and post my results! What an awesome idea, thanks!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

εχω χαρα!!!

Yes, even though Greek has begun and at times over the last several weeks, I have felt completely overwhelmed, I must say that I am enjoying Greek. I also freely admit that it has definitely been a humbling experience. Memory don't fail me now!

Tonight, I am appreciating the abundance of blessing in my life - looking across the room and seeing my DH sleeping on the couch - listening to his peaceful, even breathing. He totally deserves this BTW because he has been up since 3:30 a.m.! I do not tell him enough just how wonderful he is and how thankful I am to God for him! There is no way that I could live out this call that God has placed in my (really our) life without his love, encouragement and support. No doubt about it, he is my biggest fan, but there is so much more. I am so grateful that he is the best daddy that our two beautiful daughters could ever have. He is so caring and involved in their lives it seriously brings tears to my eyes.

I am thankful for the joy that comes in knowing that both girls are upstairs sleeping in their beds healthy, safe and sound. I have continued to witness just how fragile life can be and how absolutely necessary it is to live in the moment and to find joy, even in those moments where there is anything but joy to be found.

So goodnight sweet world for tomorrow waits on the other side of a good night's rest. Sleep tight.

Friday, May 29, 2009

The BIG To Do!!!

It is time once again for the Revgalblogpals' Friday Five!!!!

Greetings from the land of the Big To-Do!

It seems like every year I enter into the summer with a growing list of HUGE projects/events/trips that seem to have a permanent place on the 'to do' list.

This year I have a huge move pending so that takes up an entire list all on its own, but it doesn't take a big event like that for me to make plans bigger than my summer can hold!
How about you?

Is this the third summer in a row you have made a pledge involving your garage and actually getting a car into it?
Did you once again miss the registration deadline for the continuing education event of your dreams ?
Are you starting to think you couldn't even find the tents, let alone get it together to pull off a camping trip?

Here is your chance to get it out into the open and OWN your Big To-Do! Who knows? Maybe making the list will help you move the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-Da!

1) What home fix-it project is on your Big To-Do?
I have a feeling I will not be accomplishing any fix-it project this summer, though my wonderful hubby might unbury the garage so that we actually might be able to have it for the car! What a wonderful thought. :)

2) What event (fun or work) is on your Big To-Do?
Two annual summer events are: UMC Annual Conference and Vacation Bible School. I also think the church where I serve is needing to look at a ministry plan, so I hope to at the least get started with that over the summer.

3) What trip is on your Big To-Do?
I have a week's vaca the end of June, ending with a weekend of camping with our wonderful couple friends and NO children! Yippee!!!! In addition, I think that DH's work is going to shut down for the last two weeks in July, so we may be doing some day trips with the girls...we shall see.

4) What do you wish was on someone ELSE's (partner, family member, celebrity, etc...) Big To-Do?
I am really praying that my brother, who lives on the opposite coast and who I have not seen for nearly 4 years, will actually be able to make a visit sometime this summer. I am truly excited about the possibility of my girls totally falling head over heels in love with Uncle Chris and he with them, so that maybe we won't have to wait so long for his next visit! :) Yes, I admit to scheming to that end already!

5) Getting inspired? What may end this summer having moved from the Big To-Do to the Big Ta-da?
I just began my summer class - Greek, so hopefully, I will have moved from wondering if I can actually retain Greek to learning it! That would indeed be a BIG Ta-Da for me! :)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meet and Greet: May I Interview YOU? edition

From Mompriest at RevGalBlogPals...

1. Where do you blog?
odyssey, sitting almost anywhere with my macbook! :)

2. What are your favorite non-revgal blog pal blogs?
The Bishop's Blog
Into the Great Un-Gnome
The Painted Prayerbook

3. What gives you joy?
My two beautiful daughters
Rachel (Ray Ray) & Grace (Little Miss Lou Who)

And my wonderful, supportive husband

And as crazy as it may sound, the blessed opportunity to be in ministry and in seminary at the same time!  Thank you, God!

4. What is your favorite sound?
the sound of laughter, of singing, music, silence, rain on a metal roof, rubber tires on gravel roads

5. What do you hope to hear once you enter the pearly gates?
Hello Andii.  Welcome home.

6. You have up to 15 words, what would you put on your tombstone?
Her legacy is in her children, watch them and you will see her echo.

7. Write the first sentence of your own great American novel.
Hers seemed like a completely hopeless situation, but there is hope, even in the hopeless.

8. What color do you prefer your pen?
I am a pen snob and I do prefer blue!

9. What magazines do you subscribe too?
Time, Sojourners, Christianity Today, Entertainment Weekly

10. What is something you want to achieve in this decade?
Continue on the path toward my Master of Divinity.  I hope to be finished before the end of the next decade and then onto ordination!

11. Why are you cool?
Is there such a thing as geeky cool?  I love hanging around younger people who make me feel young. :)  They are cool!

12. What is one of your favorite memories?
There are so many to choose from.  Memories from a mission trip that I was blessed to co-lead almost 7 years ago -  a 3-week trip to Ukraine.  What an awesome experience.  While we were there, we met some amazing Ukrainian people who ministered to us way more than we to them.  I remember leaving Lutsk on the train to Kiev and our Ukrainian ministry partners standing on the platform in tears as the train pulled out, saying, "Until we meet again in heaven!"  What an amazing experience!

13. Anything else you've always wanted to be asked?
Hey friend, how 'bout lunch?