Tag Archives: Spiritual Life

On Solitude

Yesterday morning, I arrived at the coffee shop where I meet with my friend and coworker weekly for coffee and ministry discussions.  We’re both at a similar place in life — married and in ministry in the same small town, working with both our local churches and our para-church youth ministry.  We both look forward to this time to connect and talk and be encouraged by having a friend looking at life from a similar vantage point.  She happened to be running late due to her previous meeting running long, and I was presented, for the first time in a long time, with an empty spot of time in a coffee shop, Jack Johnson singing overhead…just me, a fresh cup of coffee, an empty journal page, and a stack of books.  All the while, my baby boy is rolling around in my belly, elbowing and kicking (ever-so-gently…thank you 21 weeks!)  reminding me that life as I know it is about to change in a drastic way.

I often get nostalgic when I’m alone in this particular coffee shop, because 7 1/2 years ago, when I interviewed for my ministry position in small-town Washington, I spent an afternoon alone, journalling at this same coffee shop, trying to discern if I would move to this town.  Over the years, the coffee shop has changed from a country-western theme to a more normal contemporary coffee shop, but the barrista and the coffee are still the same.  And 7 1/2 years later, it’s still me in the coffee shop, but it’s not the 22-year-old, recent college grad looking for the adventure of real life, it’s a 30-year-old, married, homeowning, mom-to-be.

Sitting in the same coffee shop, journal and pen in hand, feels grounding.  I suddenly feel centered and able to look at my life from a bird’s eye view, with a wide scape of understanding of where I’ve come from and been over the last 8 years.  I pull out Ruth Haley Barton’s Sacred Rhythms, which I’ve been reading slowly over the last 8 months with a spiritual mentor.  This month’s chapter is on discernment, which Barton describes a spiritual practice we use in combination with a self-examination, in which we take a bird’s eye view of our lives to assess where we are in regards to God’s will.

In the midst of this time and space, I’m aware of how much my soul longs for this kind of solitude, and how lately, I’ve not made it a priority.  In the course of just 45 minutes, my soul is refreshed, my heart inspired, and my spirit renewed with hope.  Again, baby boy kicks me, and I write in my journal, “4-5 more months, and then everything changes.”

I begin to wonder how a mom can have a morning alone in a coffee shop when there’s a baby to care for.  I wonder how a mom can make it to yoga class a few nights a week for physical rejuvenation.  I wonder how a mom can pursue motherhood, solitude, and a healthy marriage all at once.

The Lord doesn’t necessarily respond with a road map for these questions, but He does remind me that nothing can ever or will ever be able to replace time alone with Him.  And in the refreshing of my true self, I realize there’s nothing like the blessing of time in solitude with Him.  In my journal, I commit the next 4-6 weeks to actively pursuing the disciplines I’ve been reading about in Barton, through Solitude, Lectio Divina, Breath Prayer, Yoga and Self-Examination…all of which is a part of the process of transformation the Lord’s been calling me to this year: towards a deeper intimacy in relationship with Him which will hopefully lead to a deeper awareness of and discernment of His will.  This morning, Barton said that being open to God’s will means honestly being willing to be open to the Lord’s leading to anything–absolutely anything…and that solitude is the most important discipline in honing our understanding of His voice.

What does it look like for a mommy minister with young kids to pursue solitude?  I don’t know yet…but this morning I was wooed again to time alone with the Lord and firmly reminded that no matter how full life gets, solitude must still be a part of it.

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This morning in Exodus

This morning in Exodus, I read of Moses’ trips up and down Mt. Sinai, dwelling in the presence of the Lord.  In response to the commands that Moses receives from the Lord, the people say, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”  (Ex. 24:7.).  We know, through reading the rest of the Old Testament, that these words were not so simply lived out.

Something in their lives was not fully submitted to the Lord…maybe it was because they were impatient about getting to their destination.  Maybe they’d become too comfortable living in Egypt, or maybe, they just got tired of a God they couldn’t see, so in the case of the Golden Calf, they replaced Him with one they could see.

This morning, I reflect on how it’s easy to say we’ll be obedient and do everything the Lord says and how there’s a huge disconnect between believing it in our hearts and believing it enough to do it.  The other night with the teens we talked about how a disciple isn’t just someone who believes their teacher, it is someone who follows the teacher’s example and does as the teacher does.

So a logical question is, “Where in my life are my actions not lining up with my beliefs, and am I going to change my beliefs to fit my actions or change my actions to fit my beliefs?”

Takeaways from Catalyst One Day

Yesterday I had the privilege to go to the Catalyst One Day conference, a leadership development day for pastors and ministry leaders…featuring Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel, pastors of mega-huge churches in Atlanta and Oklahoma City.

To summarize the content for yesterday’s conference, I’ll quote a tweeter during the event, “When Pastor Craig speaks, pastors get saved.”  It was incredible to have such a conference in Seattle, the usually forgotten city on major ministry conference tours.  I was soaking in the conversations about leadership, am energized for a new season of ministry, and am excited to spend time reflecting on the challenges about my heart for the lost, my avoidance of conflicts, and how I can create momentum in my areas of leadership. Continue reading

A Reflection on Fasting

I tried to fast a couple of Fridays ago.

It didn’t go so well.  I was irritable most of the time, but the worst part, was that I hated every minute of it.

I shared this with a good friend a week or so later, and she said, “If you hate it, then you shouldn’t do it.” She wasn’t necessarily saying that out of an American worldview that one should do whatever makes one happy. She was responding out of belief that self-loathing and irritability is not what fasting is for.

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And we thank Him for our food

Our church declared March to be a focused time of corporate prayer.  I’m not so diligent on the setting time aside every day to pray, especially not the structured-sit-down-with-my-coffee-at-5:30-Bible-open-spirit-ready kind of prayer time.

But I want to pray for/with our church.  I am updating the daily prayer items on the church’s Facebook page every day, but the 1.32 seconds that it takes to accomplish that task hardly qualifies as anything intentional.
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