Inviting The Lord Into My Morning

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:

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Taking A Stand

There are countless examples of people vehemently standing for things in the world. There are big conversations and big issues that always seem to divide into big “sides.” How often do we identify with a belief, or a side, or a justice, and think we stand for it? In a culture so susceptible to polarization and contention, it’s not hard to “stand” for something. When things get polarized and contentious, we lose the details and the nuances and the honesty within them. We forget our deeper part in them; we forget to be seeking what we’re missing. We start seeing the side itself as the right place to be, rather than our own development within those ideas. We’re welcomed and comfortable beside those who share our perspectives, and it can feel like enough to simply help tip the scale away from the “other” sides.

This past year has been one of particular personal tension for me between the comfortability of what I’ve always (and still) valued, and the need to tease out some overlooked pieces I’ve only newly had the time or care to recognize. Part of my process has involved anger and resentment in situations where I feel alone in the attention to these values. Just because I know better than to shake my fist at those who disagree with my perspectives doesn’t mean I’m immune to the hells encouraging hatred in my heart in the name of something good. And really, I can’t think of anything worse. Anger and resentment from hurt alone is one thing, but to tangle it up in something valuable – to justify it because of something good – is one of the scariest things to me.

The problems of the world can feel so loud – it starts to feel like enough to condemn them. We feel we’re doing something right by standing for or against, but are we looking inward? Can I really pat myself on the back for what I find obvious or easy; for what perhaps comes along with a dose of pride? For the things that make me feel a bit wiser than those I’m comparing to? Can I really be standing for something I value if I’m using that same value as a jumping off point for resentment toward others instead of introspection? There is a fine line between standing honestly for what’s right, and self righteousness. I think the difference is in my own struggle: if I have to work for what I aim to stand for, I’m probably on the right track. If my energy is too consumed with standing against something outside myself, am I really fighting the fight the Lord calls me to?

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Solar Energy–Heat and Light Reaching Ukrainians

Today after church about a dozen of us gathered in the back of the church basement to assemble small solar lights for Ukrainians who were living without reliable electricity. Dave, from our church, was heading to Moldova in a few weeks. His plan is to send a bunch of needed items, including these solar lights, to the Ukrainians across the border, via a church organization he has worked for there.  

These solar lights were brilliantly and simply made. A small board with three LED light strings attached. Behind, a battery stores enough electricity for the nightlight, the smallest of the three strings, to run for 2 weeks if necessary. The battery attaches a regular electric socket, but also to a screen-sized solar panel. 

In Ukraine, the power lines have been destroyed in many places. Without electricity, obviously, people can’t see at night. Light is safety. But they also can’t use their i-phones, which in today’s world allow them to communicate, to work, to shop, and to survive. We talked to a man once from Puerto Rico who had lived through Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. He was without reliable power for 18 months. (Today, he has solar panels, which represent security.)  His mother died during that time, and his memories left him feeling bitter and abandoned by his own, and our, governments. That was when I came to understand how important electricity is in our world today.

So the solar lights we assembled also had an i-phone cord to the battery. In the hands of a Ukrainian family, this transportable light could move with them, allow them to function at night, and travel with reliable electricity. 

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Reflections From the Desert

Last October, we spent two weeks travelling in the deserts of Utah and Colorado. I wrote this piece as a response to camping and hiking in that dry, dry terrain.

The vast, ancient, red-rock, high desert wilderness of southern Utah speaks of life on the very edge of possibility. Sunlight in abundance, and heat – but water is scarce and precious. Without it, nothing lives – yet the desert has clever ways of hanging on to what little there is for future use. 

Hiking and staying in this desert is conducive to reflecting on creation and its amazing capabilities. How do correspondences come into play? It’s very clear that without any water/truth there is no life. But is an over-abundance of heat/love harmful? They say ‘love is all you need’, but I’m not sure that is precisely correct. 

The Lord’s truth is vital for the order of things. Even a very little bit can be treasured, and saved for future use. A tiny drop of water can be stored in the desert dust, gradually increasing its capacity to keep more water, leading to tiny plants being able to establish and grow, until full clear life blooms. 

Here are photos of life – living things – growing in what would seem an impossible place. And yet there it is!