Monday, January 31, 2011

Yeah-Not really

Hugs to my friend who called this morning and said, "Happy Valentine's Day! And for the record-I'd pretty much rather be single. You're the smart one." HA! Loved it.
Not hugs to K-Love this morning who made the comment, "If no one loves you, Jesus does." Wha??????????
Jesus is not a consolation prize granted to the relationally alone. And further more-as far as my Bible reads..........
Jesus was single.
Seemed to work out okay for him.

Peace Love Jesus and.....Tea?

Because it's a better option for weight loss and overall well being.
Because I need to sleep more and better.

Because sometimes I need to. Okay. A lot of the time.

Because sometimes I'm just not very.

Yep, the rumors are true. This self appointed caffeine queen is laying down her lattes in an on going attempt for serenity. 2 weeks in I can comfortably say I'm actually going to do it. I'm not giving up coffee completely, but as of next week I'll be only drinking decaf except for very special occasions-and emergencies......still to be defined.
I'm not only drinking decaf tea. That would be ridiculous. But I am trying to tip the scales in the direction of caffeine free. I can already tell such a difference.

Tetley British Blend is officially what convinced me I could switch to tea and survive. I'm loving the decaf and regular with vanilla almond milk. Truly fabulous.

And today it occurred to me. I can drink 51.5 cups of tea for the price of.................1 latte!

Communion-choose your own adventure

Being fairly new to my church I'm still trying to keep up appearances. ha ha. Not really. Well, sorta. I stay on call all weekend and my phone goes off all. the. time. Last Sunday I was standing in line for communion when, about 10 people from the alter, I felt my phone buzz.
A. Answer the call and appear completely irreverent?
B. Slip out of line quietly giving the impression I just remembered some ginormous sin reason I couldn't take communion?
C. Ignore the call momentarily sending up a quick prayer that those in front of me have minimal business to tend to, take communion myself and rush back to work.

The Hand of God

It's a spinning Neutron Star. A Pulsar. Only 12 miles in diameter, it stretches across 150 light years of space. NASA has labeled it......The Hand of God. It's 17,000 miles from the place we stand and it rotates an amazing 7 times a second. Neutron stars are created when standard stars run out of fuel and collapse.
This has been such a gentle reminder to me today that God has His hand outstretched to us as well. Always drawing us to His heart. Always calling us home to Him. And when we need Him-17,000 miles might as well be a single heartbeat.
Our God is with us.

Lent and Easter Reading

These are the books I'll be reading during Lent and Easter this year.

A Clearing Season by Sarah Parsons. Sure, there's work to be done during Lent, but it's the gentle, gradual work of opening one's heart and mind to grace. A Clearing Season will move you week by week from wilderness to holy ground, using a personal tone that will stir and challenge personal reflection.
I am so excited about this one. These are some of my favorite most trusted authors all together in a single book.
Here's what Publishers Weekly had to say: Has there ever been a more hard-hitting, beautifully written, theologically inclusive anthology of writings for Lent and Easter? It's doubtful. Many readers may well find that this collection-a sequel to Plough's highly successful Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas-is the one book they return to year after year, forgoing their usual custom of buying a new Lenten devotional each spring. Six separate sections (Invitation, Temptation, Passion, Crucifixion, Resurrection and New Life) guide readers through the essential elements of spiritual preparation and feature writings from some of Christendom's most celebrated masters. Classic thinkers such as Martin Luther and John Donne share space with 20th-century theologians like C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton and Dorothy Day. There is also a generous sampling from contemporary writers, including Philip Yancey, John Updike, Frederick Buechner, Madeleine L'Engle, Henri Nouwen and Brennan Manning. Caveat lector: no one should have this much pleasure during Lent!

I love the Mosaic Bible and this is the very brief companion devotional. Love that it fits in a purse or bag. Easy to use. Beautifully written.

And I read 6 hours one Friday every single Easter season. It's my favorite Max Lucado book. It also draws this heart to the cross. It's filled with gentle reminders that where His life on earth ends, our eternal life in Him begins. This book makes me CRY every single time. And that's what my heart needs every Easter more than anything-to be broken for Him as we remember the ultimate sacrifice.

Restored to Factory Settings

In case you've lost count-this is my 3rd iPhone 4. Yes, I know, I just got a brand new one a month ago when "someone" dropped it in water. I have a bad track record with cell phones, but this time it was not my fault. Honest. On Monday my phone decided staying charged was just too hard and so it stopped.
I live nowhere near an apple store (Is that Apple I hear cheering?) so my only local option is ATT. Let's say they're no help.
I jumped on the phone with Apple who asked, "Has your phone been restored to factory settings?"
I said, "No."
They said, "Well, restore it to factory settings, but just know once you do there's no turning back."
I couldn't help but think in that moment the same thing is happening to those who believe. We're thousands of years away from Eden and an undetermined amount of time from Heaven, but daily, little by little, we're being restored to factory settings. We're becoming more like who He's called us and transforming into the way we were originally intended to be. We're being conformed to His image. I hope I'm more ready today to meet Jesus IRL than I was yesterday. And I pray more than anything I'll never look back.

January Book Club-Review

You all are ON it! Thank you for your timely thoughts on our January book club selection. The Return of the Prodigal Son has long been one of my favorites and I love that it is now taking a special place on several of your bookshelves. I have had this picture hanging in my office since just after college reminding me that God is always calling us home regardless of our shortcomings.

A few of my favorite comments:
"This book has taken me from reading about God's love to experiencing it for myself. Thank you."

"I never truly understood the story until now. All the people play a part. They are all part of my story."

"I understand the older son more now. And I realize I've felt like he did."

"I found God on every page."

I've reviewed this book on here before so I'm not going to do a full review of the book itself. I am glad you enjoyed it :)

As a reminder we're reading So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore in February. I will do a complete review of that book at the end of the month. Of course-send me your thoughts and I'll incorporate them. AND I'll announce March's book later this week.

Thanks for reading!!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

That We May Perfectly Love Thee-Robert Benson

This book fell into my hands at a very good time, as so often is the case. I've had it for years, but never read it until recently. Worshipping in a more liturgical setting lately has been fascinating and powerful for this heart, but admittedly I don't understand the meanings behind all of the ceremonies. It has brought to mind for me that the method of our worship is not nearly as important as the condition of the heart bowing before the One worthy of our adoration.
"I am finally far enough along on my journey to have come to see that the variations on the liturgical dance, as well as the variations in architecture and symbolism and form, are not at odds with each other, they are simply different ways of saying the same things." (23)
The Eucharist, The Lord's Supper, Communion, The Table of the Lord-the terminology is not important. Wine or grape juice, wafers or bread, together or separate, in the pew or at the alter-really, doesn't matter.
"It is the place where the Word made Flesh took on an astonishing and powerful new meaning, powerful enough that we come to these places 2000 years later simply to remember the Story and to reenact it as best we can. It is the place where the Story ends and the place where it begins at the same time." (54)
"What really matters is the Story, of course-not how well we know it, but how well we allow it to know us." (55)
Rooted in the heart of our traditions, the Eucharist is more important than a half nod toward the alter, getting through the line quickly and checking this off our list of religious practices for the week. It is foundational to our faith.
"However we keep the feast, we recognize that we gather in some way with those who were in the room with Christ at that 1st Eucharist." (84)
"This is the moment when all 4 corners of our faith collide-Scripture, tradition, reason and experience-and are bound together with the mysterious presence of God." (86)
I thought more about Communion this morning after reading this book. Watching the people prepare it very carefully. I listened more intently to the prayers prayed over it and prayers for the people, including me. I was more aware of the allotted time for personal confession-time to clear my own thoughts and my own soul. It meant more to me than it has before when we said, "Lift up your hearts/we lift them up to the Lord. And there it is, the gift of our hearts, the gift that God wants the most." (72)
And this book made me realize that our spiritual journey surrounding Communion does not get left at that alter, or in that pew. We receive the sacrament of communion to go and be His Body to the world. To be His hands. To be His feet. To be His heart.
I understood what Robert Benson was saying when he viewed The Eucharist in this light of ongoing responsibility both to receive it and to live it. "Sometimes I hate to see it end because I have a feeling that I just made a promise that I am not sure I can keep. I have just promised, as I took the Body and Blood of Christ, to actually go and be the Body and the Blood of Christ." (92)
Today I received communion in my church with fellow believers in the way outlined by this denomination, in this setting, with these prayers for these people. I received the Body and the Blood (in presence) of Christ Himself. It was a privilege and not one to be taken lightly. But outside the doors of my church, down the road at the other churches, in the next town, in the next city, in the next state, to the next country-countless believers had the same experience in their own traditions, with their own people, of receiving Him also. And I can't help but think that if every one of us who encountered Christ at His table today took the call literally to go from there and be Christ to the world-our world would be a better place.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Book Club!

I'll be reviewing The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen on Monday. Last chance to get me your thoughts this weekend :) And we're reading So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore for February. Love reading with all of you!!! Thanks for joining us :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Never good to be crazy alone-Meredith Gould

Again, I have no pictures. I promise (maybe) to do better on future trips. I'll write "remember you have a blog" on my arm or something. Meanwhile, I left Oregon Wednesday headed through Denver (OH my COLD!) and straight to Baltimore to spend time with the fabulous Meredith Gould.
What? You don't think you can meet someone on a prayer channel on twitter (@Virtual_Abbey), yak on-line via various forms of social media, talk on the phone twice (I think), meet in real life and now be IRL friends? Well then you don't know anything because that's exactly how it happened! :)
I can count on one hand the people in my life I feel like I could talk to about absolutely anything. Securely added to that elite circle is Meredith. As I was answering an e-mail to her yesterday, asking her a question on Twitter and chatting on Skype-simultaneously-I thought to myself-WHO did I talk to before!?!? :)
I love those people who show up and feel like they've always been there. People that you can't remember what your life was like before they arrived. People that drop in at a God appointed time and you instantly treasure them as a gift.
I think I spent the whole week talking, but my favorite part of these days was listening. She has great stories, excellent God timed wisdom, and the best humor to bring it all together. I could have listened to her talk for days, maybe weeks.
I have no intention of listing ANY details of what we discussed on here at least right now. I'm still processing all of that anyway. But, I will say in an amazingly indirect way, I left these days feeling like I'd been given permission to live my life. Permission to set (and keep) good boundaries. Permission to make God priority 1. Permission to love God with everything, to worship Him without apology in whatever way makes sense for this life in this season, and to not look back-except to laugh. Maybe I already knew all that but maybe I really, more than I realized, needed to hear it.
I can't put words to how good it was for my heart and soul to be there. It should not come as a surprise at this point in the week for me to disclose that yes, I cried, on the plane almost all the way to Georgia. It was that kind of a week. Soul discussions are the best. I was miserably sad to see them come to an end.
It was a week I may very well cherish for the rest of my life and I'm very, very grateful.
I'm fairly certain for years to come whenever I hear a fire alarm......I'll smile.

Monday, January 24, 2011


Yes, I have an Iphone 4 that takes fabulous pictures always attatched to some part of my body. Yes, I know I was on vacation and should have taken lots of pictures. I'M SORRY! Let me see what I can steal from various forms of media to make you feel like you were there :)

I left Monday morning for Oregon to visit the fabulous Brenda Finkle. If I start telling you what a God thing it is to be friends with her, to be spiritually connected to her, to have a true soul sister in her I'll never stop. So, just trust me that it was absolute Godly perfection to spend 3 days with her IRL. Talking, laughing, sharing.............Heaven. If I knew who to ask I'd see about having the geography changed. Oregon and Georgia.....entirely too far apart! Stunningly beautiful time in Oregon-truly. And I got to play with her sweet dogs. Mac-Hilarious.

Sonny-so sweet.

I would post here a horrible airport picture before I left, but it's my blog and I wouldn't do that to myself :) Read feeble attempt to not burst into tears when it was time to leave. For the record-FAIL! Cried all the way to Denver. I never cry. I just told someone yesterday, "You have to be careful with Jesus stuff-it'll mess you up!" Such a special time.

Totally comfortable home. Was tempted to send for the pups and move right in! :) Except-I think these few days aside it's generally VERY cold there and we know I don't do cold. Bummer.

Beautiful home. Comfy few days. Just what I needed. For sure.

And for the record, Brenda now holds the number 3 slot of people in the world I'll let make my coffee. I don't take friends who make good coffee for granted.....ever! :)

I'm tempted to write all about it, but I can't. My heart is still processing. God is still showing up with His plans and His purposes for our time together and those continue. I'm overwhelmed with the sweet ways God shows up when we need it the most. Thankful me.
Proverbs 17:17
A friend loves at all times.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Outta here

As I'm getting ready to literally circle the country next week for a much needed few days away and to see a couple of my favorite people, I'm remembering this post by my sweet friend Sandy King and feeling kind of the same way. (ok, not that the 2 I'm meeting are ax murderers......I'm sure at least 1 of them isn't!).

The online world has opened up crazy opportunities to know people that without twitter/facebook/blogging/social media I'd never know. I don't write on here a lot about the virtual abbey (@Virtual_Abbey) but I could, in some way, almost every day. It amazes me all the time how much of my life is consumed (in a good way) with e-mails, tweets, fb messages, phone calls, Skype calls and messages and texts from people that a year ago I had no idea were on their way. Always feel on any given day that God is whispering that to all of us, "hold on-you don't know the good things I have coming."

And so I'm thankful for so many people-a virtual community of believers around the world to pray, share, and grow with. You don't think those are real relationships? I'd have to disagree. And on that note I'm thankful to know, and about to know many more IRL.

No doubt God is at work.

So yeah I think meeting new people is a little intimidating. No doubt I like myself better on the blog some days than IRL too! But, I'm encouraged by the 2 people I met just this week who almost jumped on me and said, "YOU ARE! YOU'RE JUST LIKE YOUR BLOG!!!" Yep, it's all me :) Now, I just have to figure out is if they like the blog!!! Yikes!! :)

Hope you all have a perfect week! I'll be back in a week :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

In case you didn't know

This +
This even with

Will eventually =


And now this.

Without (much) further adieu

February book club!!! And YES it's on kindle :) Don't feel like you need this one?? Yeah, read it and find out. As always, send me your comments via any form of media you prefer and I'll post it into one entry at the end of February. Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My top blog posts of 2010

I pulled my blog stats for the year just because it makes me curious sometimes who's reading what. Always find it SO interesting. Like that 35 people in Italy read my blog regularly?? And I feel like I should say a huge THANK YOU to all of you for clicking into this site more than 5000 times this year. I started this blog for my own catharsis and that you ever find something interesting, encouraging, or inspiring is ALL Jesus. Blessed to be on this journey with all of you.

Without further rambling......
Here's my most read blog posts of 2010 in order of popularity!

1. God Speaking.
2. Safe Now
3. 500th Post
4. When Virtual Becomes Reality
5. Singles Anonymous
6. You're Not Catholic
7. The Question on my Soul's Table

February book club title coming later today and new posts the rest of the week!!


Friday, January 7, 2011

Be careful what you ask for

I'm recovering from an ulcer in my eye this week which has been less than enjoyable. I wrote this earlier this week for something else and I'm going to use it for today's post.

Up all night with searing eye pain. Hurt to open it hurt to close it. Didn't want to cry (salt water in there? No). Long long exhausting scary night. Went to Dr. this morning expecting a scratched cornea. Diagnosed with an ulcer in my eye. They panicked and I joined them. Pretty serious. Very scary. The pain mixed with fear was not good. Couldn't go to work. Decided to worry about all I had to do there while I was at it. Made it home with strict instructions to keep it closed, rest, no light and round the clock meds every 2 hours.

When I stopped panicking long enough to hear I heard God say, "this is what you're asking of me. Concentrated, set apart, quiet time with me. Go with it.".

Do I think God gave me an ulcer in my eye? No. Do I think God can use this for my spiritual benefit? For sure. It's been a mixed day. Moments of sweet peace and rest in His presence. Having to just be. Can't read, can't do-just being with Him. Sweet sweet moments.

And, the opposite. Eye medicine that hurts way more than the eye itself. Literal fear when the alarm goes off every 2 hours. Misery.

But-what God has spoken to me above everything else in these days is "there is pain in the light". The Dr. pointed her light into my eye and lightning went through my whole body. She apologized but said, "it's the only way."

The same is true for this journey this year to find His heart. I'd love to post on here every day about how easy life is and how wonderful that He's in control while I trust Him perfectly. But, it's not always that simple and that's rarely the truth. Life is hard. Learning to trust Him is hard. Coming face to face with the parts of me that look/act nothing like Him is devastating. Bringing those things to the light is crucial. Yes-pain in the light mixed with the eventual promise of glorious freedom.

I can hear the Spirit who wants spiritual wholeness for me more than I do saying, "it's the only way".

Thankful for
1. An impromptu day of "rest". For moments of peace. For remembering sooner than I have before that faith trumps fear every time.

2. For people who are willing to take my responsibilities when I cannot from work to prayer tonight-remembering it's okay to ask for help.

3. For not feeling stuck spiritually anymore. This journey has eliminated that from my thinking. It's a great burden to lose.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Learning to be still

It's January 4th and I'm so thankful for my new year's resolution already. The desire to give this year to the Lord and to be present with Him has already guided my thoughts, determined my actions, and granted me peace. Establishing accountability has been key. Grateful that God knows what we need and provides it when we need it. I mentioned to a friend the other day, "It's amazing. As much as I want to be with Him, I will never want Him as much as He does me. Incredible." Laying a foundational habit of spending time with Him is the key to spiritual growth and finding true peace. Loving this year already.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

To newness of life

I don't care at all for endings. I like to keep my favorite things forever. I'm crazy loyal to the people to which I feel like being loyal. I like the people I love to stay. It upsets me more than it should when Philosophy discontinues my lipstick (Hey! I was committed to YOU!), Starbucks cancels my favorite mug right after I break mine, or I can't find Ken's Northern Italian Dressing (I'm from the NORTH-I want it!). I don't like when things are finished, done, over with, ended.....or uncertain, up in the air for that matter.

When Jesus breathes his last from the cross and says, "It is finished," my heart instantly breaks for the disciples every time I read it. I'm afraid having been one of them I'd have been forever documented as a raving lunatic. "WAIT!! You don't have to leave. You can prepare a place right here. There's land RIGHT down the street! When you said you're coming back soon you mean like at lunch?? Like in a month??? WHEN???" Sigh.

I'm always a little happier for the followers when Jesus leaves them with the sweet Holy Spirit. The sense of His presence must have made Heaven feel a little less far away. And today He's still a beautiful, daily, moment by moment reminder that God truly is with us.

In the new year may you remember that there is new, life giving life in Him. Yes, for salvation, but also for an all the time whenever we need it do-over. Closer than the air you breathe, more dependable than your next heart beat, ever faithful, He loves you. When He came and died He did away with the uncertainty of endings. And one day, may we all discover, that the end of what we know of life is really just the beginning.