I’ve thought a lot about the progression of life. The Lord created us beautifully with such incredible stages and phases from infancy to old age and everything in between. I am in the in-between. I have young kids – but not babies. I have older kids, but not yet in high school. I am in a phase of overall normal health and strength. I am strong enough to care for my home, and can reliably walk, carry things, pick up children – even as I watch my kids still learning about their bodies and how to play games and care for themselves, and also watch my older relatives and friends work on slowing down. I am in an in-between phase.
And often I don’t feel well equipped to navigate the daily challenges of the in-between with grace. I look at kids and long for my own early childhood when I had few responsibilities and all the time in the world to lie in bed and read a book. I talk with people my parents’ age and I am amazed at the skill and the warmth and the practice that they bring as they face life’s ups and downs and I long for that knowledge and understanding.
I can get stuck feeling like this in-between is too hard. Everyday I pray quick prayers for patience and warmth and love throughout the day’s challenges. I often read small parts of reflections, or sermons, or Bible verses. I go to church most weeks and get through each talk with at least a part of my brain listening as I support 4 wriggly kids. But as I navigate this busy and chaotic time I so rarely have the space to focus deeply on turning to the Lord. I almost never get to read a whole Bible chapter or listen to a full sermon. And this can feel unfair to me – as though I NEED that time in order to follow the Lord. How does this phase fit in the system – what is this crazy in-between time of life? I can get trapped in feeling like the demands of having young kids but also not the full knowledge that another decade will bring me is somehow my fault.
Continue reading Surely the Lord is in This Place
Rather than an article today, we wanted to share some links to a wonderful New Church resource – New Church Vineyard. One of the things they’ve done is collect songs, sermons, videos, and projects from congregations around the world and brought them all to one place. You can find song recordings of some favorite Christmas hymns. Or watch videos of beautifully felted figures in a reading of the Christmas story in a variety of languages. Or find a talk to read with your family on Christmas morning. Or maybe even find a Sunday School project you came up with! It’s an incredible collection.
Here are a few links to get you started with Christmas Resources:
The whole Christmas theme of all types of resources is here
New Church Vineyard has many collections of songs, but here is a link to the Christmas themed songs they’ve gathered
Christmas videos in a variety of styles and languages are here
At this link you can find some really lovely coloring pages
There is a lot to explore and look at on the website – we hope you enjoy many of these things as you head into this special Advent season.
You know when a song gets stuck in your head – but in a good way, the mood and words buoying you up along your way? I love that there are many religious songs I’ve learned in my life that come to mind, reassuring me even in extremely hard moments.
There’s a song by The Child’s Sisters called “One Heart.” It opens with “Oh Lord, we are gathered” and often when I’m tired or uncertain but trying to keep moving just the tone of that opening line comes to mind and is a wonderful prayerful reminder.
There’s a song called “Cares Chorus” that starts “I cast all my cares upon You. I lay all of my burden down at your feet.“ This one is even pretty directly a biblical passage, but having its beautiful tune brings those words to mind in a more complex, deep, and reassuring way than the words on their own.
The last while I’ve been thinking about capacity. How much I can hold. How much I can do. How much I can give. How much I have. And what those capacities mean: if I’ve got space for a lot more but am running on empty; if I’m full and overflowing – past capacity; if I have more to give but don’t know where it can go; or when something is uncomfortable how can I build my capacity to go through it without overflowing. (There’s a great book by Francis Weller called The Wild Edge of Sorrow that was really useful in my thinking about this).
One of the Bible songs that comes up most often for me because of these ponderings is called “Let the Love Flow” by John Odhner (it’s a part of the Songs from the Word collection by John and Lori).
Continue reading Letting the Lord’s Love Flow
I’ve spent a lot of my life waking up feeling stressed and burdened. Before I opened my eyes I felt the strain of the day ahead of me. I woke up already feeling defeated.
In the last few years that has shifted. Through a variety of tactics, mental shifts, and skills gained I can often wake up with a much lighter mood. There was a stretch of time when I would wake up and feel light and cheerful – at least as cheery as can be expected at 6 AM. Some days I even felt surprised at my own happy vibe!
But there’s been a lot of change and upheaval in my life in the last year and a bit and I’ve noticed the heavy, stressed, bogged-down wake up feeling creeping back in. I was noticing that recently when I heard about someone making an effort to read the Bible first thing in the morning as a way of inviting the Lord into their day, rather than going on social media.
I was pondering this idea and thinking about how that could maybe help, and maybe I should try to find a way to make time for that……I was waffling. But I thought maybe it would make a small difference to my beginning mood. I decided to think about it.
Then I heard a sermon by Derek Elphick about the story of Naaman:
Continue reading Inviting The Lord Into My Morning