Sunday, October 31, 2010

40 days with Jesus week one re-cap

7 days in and I've asked myself at least 100 times-why didn't I do this SOONER? Why did I wait until I was at a place of complete desperation? Who knows, but I'm so glad I'm taking the time now.

I'm not gonna lie-it has been a battle this week to keep God first and find extra time to spend with Him. I always assume this is a good sign I'm on the right track when Satan is literally frantic to stop what I'm doing. Weird, out of the blue, time sucking stuff came up left and right. It got to be funny......sort of.

This week I let myself get into the groove. I felt more busy preparing for the rest of the days. I loaded music onto my I-Pod. I downloaded songs that speak right to this season of my life. I found the perfect time effective yoga routine for me and the most scenic walking route. I created space in my home for the Lord to be there. And in my heart I created an atmosphere of expectancy. I focused on taking deep breaths, praying the Daily Office, and meditating on how absolutely wonderful it is to be His. I didn't let my mind wander too far into the unknown recesses of the future. Strength for today. Hope for tomorrow. One God filled moment at a time.

And I feel ready for the rest of these days. Mixed into the chaos of this life are planned moments with the Divine and it has provided fresh excitement. I can't remember before this week the last time my alarm went off, I threw off the covers and said, "Lord-let's do this." Being motivated by holy transformation is incredible.

And hard. I'm gathering courage to ask the hard questions determined that He is worth any sacrifice.

I said when I started this I wanted to come face to face with the living God. One week in I can honestly say if He were any closer to this heart in these days I'd be there with Him.

We call-He answers. Why are we surprised when He shows up?

Such freedom in the calling. Such comfort in the answering. Such peace in the process.

Lord, I don't deserve a moment of your time and yet you are ALWAYS with me. Humbled. Grateful. Loving You. Amen.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Day 3-A Temple Presentable

Over 2 years ago I gave up sugar completely. It was meant to be a 6 month jump start on the road to healthier eating and living. After 6 months I knew I could never go back. I felt so much better and there was no redeeming value to adding it again "just because." Sugar wasn't something I could manage-it had to be eliminated. Best decision I ever made.

These 40 days find me evaluating other areas of this temple that need work. Now that the 1/2 marathon is behind me I've decided in this stage of life not to train for a longer race. I ran a marathon in college and it is for sure an accomplishment, but it's not something I'm willing to sacrifice that much time for right now.

Psychology experts will tell you, if you want to change something, anything, start walking. There's something that clicks in the mind with the perpetual motion of walking. It's a sign that we're moving forward to the body, soul and spirit. Some of the Godliest people I know walk.....a lot.

So I'm adding walking back into my schedule. My dogs are THRILLED at the thought of it. And I'm eliminating (for now) some ridiculous pace. I try to walk 5 mph when I walk for exercise. Right now I'm just focusing on walking. Being outside (or on the treadmill). Taking the opportunity to zone out or tune in if you will. Again-the opportunity to just be. To breathe in fresh air, listen to praise music, move forward figuratively and literally.

I'm planning a time of fasting in the next few days. I planned on starting this immediately with the beginning of the 40 days, but being sick and a mixture of other things added up to what would be failure. So, in the next day or so I will begin that part. I'm not sure how long, but probably 3-5 days. I'm not such a huge fan of fasting, but it's always amazing what God can do through a body not focused on food. In the words of one of my friends, "I love to fast except for the not eating part." :)

I will continue with the walking, the yoga, the focus on healthier eating/fasting throughout the 40 days and hopefully beyond.

Our responsibility to care for these temples and keep them at optimal availability for the holy spirit to use as he sees fit is vital in our effectiveness as a Christian.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Day 2-The practice of Yoga/Meditation

I meditate on your Name all night, God, treasuring your revelation, O God.
-From Psalm 119

Founded on new age principles, yoga gets a bad name sometimes in Christian circles. Some of the concerns are founded for sure (I'm not worshipping any sun, moon, or gods). Most of the people I know who practice yoga well, though, do so in a way that is Christ honoring and spiritually beneficial.

I'm dedicating these 40 days in part to practicing yoga more faithfully and combining meditation on several scriptures mixed into the practice. It's the ultimate training in quieting the mind, aligning the soul and beginning/ending the day in a state of peace.

Because I have not mastered spending hours in meditation, I'm planning reasonable goals for these 40 days. 6 twenty minute sessions and 4 ten minute sessions a week.

Calm. Quiet. Serenity. Focus.

And all on the One who matters most.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The book that changed everything

I feel like I've talked about the Abbey of Gethsemane a lot on here lately. It's my go-to place. I've only been there physically a handful of times, but I carry a part of the feeling I have when I'm there close to my heart. On a stressful day I can close my eyes and be sitting in that huge chapel in total silence with God as close as a whisper. It's serenity to me. The lifestyle of the monks that live there have a pull on this heart. Although I'm not called to live permanently the life lived in an abbey, since the first visit I've felt they have so much to offer our protestant lives.

This book has been on my nightstand for over a year. I'd flip through it now and again just long enough to know if I read it some things would have to change. In preparing for these 40 days with the Lord, I read it cover to cover. And I was right. This changes everything.

My Baptist friends always look at me like I have 3 heads when I tell them I love the Abbey. Generally I get the response, "You're not Catholic." Well, neither is Dennis Okholm. He commented from his time being at an abbey, "I felt totally immersed in scripture." And, "My attraction to monastic liturgy did not mean that I was becoming a Catholic. Instead, it threatened to turn me into a better protestant."

Here's the bottom line; good spiritual habits are good for our health and no religious group is mastering spiritual habits like the monks. We want the quick fix. Monks know there is none. You have to do the work. Chapter one reminds us that benedictine spirituality is not glamorous-it is extraordinarily ordinary. It's a life of habits that in turn develop character traits and muscles of the soul. Indeed, it aims at developing a healthy AND whole person.

Chapter 2 mentions that we have become consumers of religion rather than cultivators of a spiritual life. In the end, the goal of the Protestant and the Benedictine life is the same-to seek God.

By far my favorite part of the book comes from this chapter "What Benedictines have to offer Protestants in this quest is the lived reminder that the Christian community's ultimate function is to shape individuals who, as disciples of Christ, are being formed into his image. In fact, the test of any religious community that claims to be a Christian community is the extent to which the individuals in it, through their life together, are being transformed into the likeness of the one whose body they eat and whose blood they drink."

Chapter 3-learning to listen. I'm not a good listener. I listen for a living and I'm still not that good at it. I'm a talker, an explainer, a rambler and there's a place for all of that, but perhaps not in our spiritual lives. Benedict said, "When words are necessary-speak rarely, briefly, directly and simply. Speech that was malicious, gossip, tasteless or destructive was forbidden." I need that tattooed somewhere big in bold letters.

Chapter 4 describes poverty as the common ownership of all things and a great reminder that Greed cannot cohabite with contentment.

Chapter 5 discussed obedience. "Ultimately, obedience will not destroy the monk's liberty; it will strengthen it. The monk obeys in order to be freer than he would be if he did not." It hit me hard that "It's difficult to practice obedience and humility when you're the only one around." And I loved his quote, "Joining a monastery is a lot like joining the Marines. It's just the motivation is different."

I spent a long time in Chapter 6 on humility. "When we are humble we understand that we are not the exception. We are, like it or not, simply part of the human race."

Chapter 7 discusses Hospitality and you've NEVER experienced hospitality until you've spent a day or 2 at a monastery.

Chapter 8 also struck me hard. Stability. Staying put to get somewhere. I did not know that the vow of stability is unique to Benedictine monks. It's a commitment to stay with the same community for the rest of one's life. Stability means being faithful where we are. Here's another tattoo able quote, "Conversion and growth in character happen when we remain, not when we run." I'm such a runner. Conviction rains down. "If we cannot find God where we are, we will not find him elsewhere."

Chapter 9: Balance: God in everything. The keystone of Benedictine spirituality is balance. The daily office is such a wonderful practice for maintaining balance. Repeated times of prayer recenter us and remind us of what's important.

And finally, to change the world. "The call to Benedictine spirituality is similar to the call embraced by many Christians: to be in the world God created as loyalists to the cause of Christ.

In all the hours I've spent at the abbey, I've perhaps only heard the monks say 100 words. 90% of those words were scripture. Their lives rotate on an axis of predictability. The belief that God is always near and is in all things. They embrace the serious call to be like Him and to live for Him in word and deed. Their anxiety and stress is absent from the character traits they portray. Their peace is transferable without a single word. They have much to teach us if we will be still enough to hear.

40 days-an experiment

It started innocently enough about a month ago. It was a simple prayer escaping out of a desperate heart. "God. I need you to stop being a part of this life. I need you to BE this life. I'll do anything." Again, I'm not one to see messages in the sky, but I do believe God speaks to us. Maybe/maybe not audibly. To me hearing God is much more what many describe as a "knowing." Maybe the way God reveals himself to you is none of my business and vice versa (unless you want to share and of course I LOVE that!). And maybe some parts of our relationship with the Lord are private. I'll forever believe that God relates to us all individually-He knows what we need and He knows how to meet us there perfectly with Himself.

Anyway. I knew God was saying to me, "Stop crowding me out."
Immediately I heard myself say, "I'm not." Really??? I'm going to argue. Humanity. Ugh.

But, He was right (duh). I was crowding him out sometimes unintentionally and sometimes 100% on purpose. It hurts my heart to say that, but it's true. Sometimes I stay busy so I don't have to be alone and sometimes I stay busy to avoid hearing what I know to be true. But the balance of this life needed an adjustment.

I started reading a book about the benefits of silence, obedience, and community (book review coming tonight). I started thinking maybe more than being afraid of the answer, true fear is in not asking.

Maybe peace begins when we find enough courage to ask the questions.

Maybe healing begins in a place when we can ask the questions with complete peace that most importantly is our relationship with The Answer.

Maybe we need to wait. To be still long enough to find out what the mission is, where the path is leading, what our hearts are missing and where we fall incredibly short.

Maybe we need to ask, we need to tell Him what's in the deepest recesses of our hearts and then if all we ever hear in return is His heart beating for us-know that is enough.

Everywhere I turned the number 40 popped up. I was thinking more along the lines of 40 minutes of silence spread out over a week or two. I was thinking more like 40 hours of a weekend spent with the Lord on a retreat next year.

But over and over and over and over it has come back in the last month-40 days.



So, it starts today. I'm focusing in on 7 key areas of my life, my relationships, some hurts, and some fears. I'm focusing on temple care and the renewing of this mind. I'll be blogging more specifically about each of these areas this week. Obviously I can't just stop my life for 40 days but I've eliminated everything I possibly can to make enough room for the Lord to have time.

He deserves time.

And who knows. By December 4th.........well, we'll just have to wait and see.

Friday, October 22, 2010

500th Post!!!!

RIDICULOUS! For 500 posts now I have rambled on about Peace, Love, Jesus and Coffee (and books!). To all of you who have followed on the blog, by getting e-mails, by clicking on the facebook/twitter links, or just checking in now and again-Thank you. That you have found inspiration, encouragement, or even a good book to read is ALL because of Him. Whatever you have found useful here is because He's forever changing this heart to be more like Him. Whatever you've found flawed, ugly, offensive without cause, or unnecessary-well, that's all me! I appreciate you joining me on this journey. You bless me beyond measure.

So, why the boxing gloves? Well, that will unfold in the weeks to come. God and I are about to step into the boxing ring and handle a few things that we've needed to face for a long time. This temple is in for a total makeover. Some of it I'll share with you. Some of it probably not. My hope is that 40 days from Monday I'll be in better shape in a bunch of ways for the Kingdom. I'm putting final touches on the plan and will unveil the details soon. I'm excited to see all that the Lord has planned.

You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it. -Margaret Thatcher

Thanks again for reading! Onward!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Treasure of God's Word

It's the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible and every Christian company is adding to the celebration with special products. Most of them are highly expensive (think heirloom) and others are just far too much into reference for my reading preference. All this and more is why (so far) this book is my favorite commemorative addition to the mix.
First of all, it's stunning. I love the royal red and gold cover. I love the parchment type pages. (The pages are slick, but they look like parchment.) I love the commentary running through the book about the original king James translation and how it has changed over the years.
I don't use the king James bible much myself, but I so appreciate it's heritage. We truly do carry with us a treasure when we carry God's word.
I love a good bible promise book as well as the next person, but this one seems to take it to the next level. The topics are simple like comfort, peace, etc. Additionally, there's topics like Our Inheritance and His sacrifice.
More than just a go to book for help, this book would make an excellent study tool.
5 stars nelson. This one's good!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Speaking of the Abbey, this is one of my favorite pictures. This is the entrance to the main chapel. It's a very long walkway and as the sign suggests, noticeably quiet.

It seems fitting.

I've always thought approaching God can be a little too familiar at times. Don't get me wrong, God wants us to freely enter into his presence; He died to grant us access into all that He is and all that He has for us. But sometimes it might do us a favor spiritually to remember that we not only enter into the living room of our dearest friend, but the throne room of God Almighty.

Lately as I've taken extra time to spend with Him I can almost hear in the depths of my soul-


It's nothing more than a whisper.


And my soul quiets before the creator of all things and the occupant of this heart.

And I know without a shadow of a doubt that He is near.

True worship might just always begin with silent reverence.

Abbey Thoughts

You don't have to know me that long to know The Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky is my favorite place in all the world. I'm still savoring my last trip there and all the Lord showed me during our time together. I love the simplicity. I love the serenity. I love the peace and the calm and the removal of distractions to the point that God is all you hear. I'd love to go there once a week and refuel.
When I'm there I like to sit right here for a long time. I can't help but think a layer of pure gold and this is what the gates of Heaven might look like.

And the message might just ring through for all of eternity. God alone. I want to live with that mentality here so that there I feel right at home.
With God alone.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bloom anyway

It's been a weird season spiritually. I try not to go back and read posts from exactly one year ago because everything seemed just perfect. Life comes at you fast sometimes. But just this week I feel like God has come back around. The theology in that is lousy, but the feelings are good. Very good.

I've been asking God for a sign. Not like a make my front door mat wet in the morning and the porch dry kind of sign-just a "I'm still here with you on your journey" kind of sign. I've got the verses and the theology to stand firm on His promises, but sometimes you just want the feelings to accompany the truth, ya know?

I do not have a green thumb, but I do have excellent soil for growing roses. One of my rose bushes grows the most beautiful purple roses in April. The past 4 Aprils they have blossomed into an amazing array of lavender blooms. I call them April roses. That's the only month I've ever seen them. The rest of the year pink, red, white and yellow, but it's like the purple ones want to come out when it's just them. I get that.

Yesterday I was walking around my yard with the dogs and I looked up just to see a bush FULL of purple roses. I approached them quizzically. Finally I said (out loud)....."It's October." And I heard in the farthest reaches of my spirit, "It doesn't matter what month it is. Bloom anyway."

I almost cried.

Yes, circumstances at the moment don't add up to the most supported season. I've spent a LOT of quality alone time with the Lord, which may be just what my soul has needed. This season doesn't take the Lord by surprise. Even on the last visit to the mountaintop God knew this valley was right around the corner. It doesn't matter. He calls us to bloom anyway.

Bloom without great soil. Bloom without seemingly sufficient sunlight. Bloom in a season that feels like it's not really your time to shine. Bloom anyway.

And I plan to.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Run On

(A big huge shout out to my number 1 fan Tami Heim for wearing THESE during the half marathon! It was the socks!!)

Run a half marathon even though I'm not in the best shape of my life? CHECK!! For my next trick I'll try walking on water :)

Yes, the half marathon was a raving success. It was so much fun to run at Disney. They really do everything right. It was a race at night so we had to be there about 8:30 PM and it started at 10 P.M. They had great music, a fun DJ, signage at every mile. It was fun. And it went fast. Which was good.

It took a little over 3 hours which ended up being over 20 minutes faster than race pace. 11,500 people ran it and only 7275 people finished. I thought about not finishing around mile 2. :) The weather was perfect, the people were fun, it was a beautiful night, and I'm really glad I ran AND finished it.

All that to say I'm done running for awhile. Sometimes I forget that NO is a complete sentence and that I can't do all things. It's a problem :) I miss hanging out at the gym on the elliptical reading a book AND working out at the same time. I miss being able to only run a few miles. I miss taking my dogs for a walk and calling that a workout.

So, it was a good challenge, it was a success, but I'm headed back to the gym for awhile :) thanks for all the prayers, love and well wishes. It was a blast!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Booga Booga Land-Thomas Nelson

The DVD industry has come a long way with cartoons especially in the religious market. This DVD is cute. The characters are lovable and easy to relate to, the stories are easy to follow and the pace is fast moving. The graphics most of the time were fairly up to date for a cartoon. I thought the story lines were good and portrayed the various parables quite well. However, the ending of the stories left a little bit to be desired as far as an explanation. I thought they could have taken a moment at the end to "debrief" to make sure the parable really sticks in the minds of children. Otherwise, I thought it was great! Glad to hear they intend to make more episodes covering more parables in the near future. On a side note, the ancillary products that accompany the dvd's as far as plush, etc. are ADORABLE. Great additions to this series.