April 11, 2012

it's been a while

So it's been a couple months since I last wrote.  I'm not really sure why...maybe I was busy, maybe I let life kick my butt, maybe I was feeling at a loss for words, maybe I didn't feel like I had anything worthy to share...honestly I think it was a little bit of all of it and I just needed a from sharing.
So now I'm back, but I'm still not sure I really have anything worth saying.   The one thing God has been teaching me during this time of listening (instead of speaking) is that sometimes tests from God don't come in the way you expect.
A lot of people take God's promise to never give us more then we can handle to say, "Well God must know I can handle a lot 'cuz He sure is putting me through some stuff" and then they try and fix it themselves to prove they've passed the test God placed before them.
I've been learning these last few weeks that the test is not a test of doing but a test of faith.  Sometimes  Most times passing the test isn't "doing something" or "fixing something" or relying on our own resourcefulness but it's a test of whether or not you will trust God.
The last few months have been crazy and frustrating and maddening at times but at the beginning and end of everyday (and many moments in between) I'm learning to simple cry out to my Father "help!"
I don't know how He is going to get me through or when some of these things will resolve... BUT I do know that He is good and loves me and I need to start acting like I believe it.  I truly do "need thee every hour."

Linking back up with Emily over at Imperfect Prose

February 1, 2012

Lauri: Warrior Princess

...Prayer Warrior to be precise.
This year I feel like God is leading me to deeper devotion in my prayer life.  When I was in Kenya, one of the first lessons the Pastor taught our team was, "Without prayer you will not survive, literally."  And so those 8 weeks we took him at his word and sought God's face over everything, growing in confidence to pray out loud, learning better how to pray with and for others, even exploring different ways to pray both individually and as a group.  It was one of those lessons I thought would never fade, that I had finally earned my prayer warrior stripes for good.
But a couple years later, a couple years of food security and being within my cultural comfort zone surrounded by everything I need to meet my survival needs, and my warrior stripes have significant;y faded; my prayer muscle has grown flabby.
And so, I feel like my Heavenly Father is telling me to get off the couch and get working on those muscles again.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 has been gnawing at my heart, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
And so I have begun.
Step 1.  When I say I'm going to pray for someone, I write their name on a post-it note and stick it to my bathroom mirror.  This way while I'm brushing my teeth and drying my hair I am reminded to seek God on their behalf. (for someone like me who thinks better while she's moving/doing something it definitely helps)
Step 2.  I am trying to be intentional about praying before I go to sleep and to use my first controllable conscious thought to pray a prayer of thanksgiving.  "Thank you God for this breath in my lungs and seeing me safely through the night" starts the morning off a lot better than "O shoot is it really Monday, what have I got to do today?"
Step 3.  I pray before I eat.  Not just a prayer of thanks for my food, but I pray for heavy burdens on my heart.  This is how I fast.  Prayer and fasting seem to go together like peas and carrots and this has been a sticky problem for me in my desire to become more prayer warrior like...warriors fast and I can't.  I have a history of eating issues or not-eating issues to be more precise but that is a story of God's faithfulness for another time, we'll just say that by God's grace it is not a daily struggle.  However, it is still a struggle in particular when I am anxious or feel like my world is out of control and so I know that choosing not to eat for a period of time will lead to an unnecessary temptation.  So with all of this messiness I've had a hard time figuring out how to work "fasting" into my life.  I've done media fasts, but I feel like there's something about focusing on your Sustainer instead of sustenance that media-fasts miss.  So I've started using my meal time as a reminder to pray for things that are particularly heavy on my heart, things I need to lay at Jesus' feet continually so that I don't try and fix it on my own.  I don't know if it's right or an appropriate alternative but it's working for me
Step 4.  I'm reminding myself to pray with confidence, like the daughter of the King that He has made me to be.
Ephesians 3:12 : In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Hebrews 4:16 : Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Matthew 21:22 If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.
Pretty powerful promises!

On my own I am weak and I need to constantly be reminded of what I know to be true.  I need to remember that it is not only in Kenya that I will not survive without prayer...it's everywhere.  By His grace alone can I become the Prayer Warrior Princess that He would have me be.

Linking up with Emily and others at Imperfect Prose

January 25, 2012

Teaching and spilling paint and panic attacks of inadequacy

I need to be honest I am a pretty extreme type A linear logic driven thinker by nature.  Everything is connected, everything has a place, and for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction on which I depend for my sanity.  My family, friends, and coworkers can attest to my love of things in alphabetical or rainbow color order, the tangled webs of logic, justification, or explanation at a moments notice, and my uneasiness when I can't put a logic to something.
My mom and my sister and some of my closest friends are artists.
For a long time I could not see myself as artistic or even creative because I saw their ability to create beauty and felt woefully inadequate.   "Oh, I'm not artistic (or fashionable, or creative, or musical, or able to dance), you should see what my sister/mom/friend can do" was my refrain when people looked over my shoulder and commented on my doodles or asked if I liked to dance.  And because my type A brain measured myself against others and found me lacking so I just refused to include art in the definition of who I am.
Then a shift happened, I'm not sure when...it was more of a glacial melt then an earthquake...I started owning up to my doodling abilities, my love of moving to the music, my own personal style.  And I realized something, the language of beauty is one that must be practiced...whether its spilling finger paint and glitter glue, or making a quilt, or baking bread, or arranging flowers, or playing an instrument or singing or writing poetry or prose or whatever else it is that you can use to express beauty, you need to keep doing it to stay fluent.  Practicing not be better by the world's standards but practicing to be better able to use that medium to express what you want it to.
I still wish I could take a picture of what I see in my brain or record the words on my heart without having to do the work of getting it out; I still get really frustrated when the brush won't go the way I want it to or the pencil won't follow the line in my head but I know now that sometimes it's enough just to get it out and on to paper.
I'm teaching a women's Sunday school class this Sunday about art as worship.  I'll be honest the old panic attacks of inadequacy are nipping at my heels -" how am I, the crazy kid who got really mad in art class and refused to dance for years, going to have anything to share?"
All I have is this by God's grace alone have I begun to stutter this language of beauty.  He is Author of beauty and His love of it is written on our hearts.  He has given us each various and varied gifts to express this writing on our hearts, and He calls us to be faithful.  To reflect His beauty back at Him.  It's not art because someone else deems it worthy, its art because I've done it for Him and He calls me worthy.

Linking up with Emily and others in the beauty of redemption over at Imperfect Prose.

January 11, 2012

NPR Wisdom

re-post from 2 years ago...because it's something I needed to hear again
I was listening to Morning Edition during my commute today and I heard something that made me think. During a plug for supporting public media the announcer said that "sometimes it is worth it to stop everything and just to listen." I'm pretty sure that they were talking about that moment when you put your shopping or appointments on hold for a few minutes to stay in your parked car to listen to an NPR story that has captured your attention, which I have done and I wholeheartedly feel that that is a worthy cause I feel that this phrase has much deeper applications.
Often times in New England I feel that efficiency is so highly prized that quick response and action are prioritized higher than actually listening to what people are saying, processing it and responding thoughtfully. How often do we miss what other people say or even respond with a completely inappropriate ("not making sense" not "naughty" inappropriate)response? One i have caught myself saying is: when some says,"What's new?" I will respond "fine thank you, how are you?" First of all they didn't ask how I was, they asked what was new in my life. Second, I'm assuming that they won't actually care about my response to I answer "fine" instead of how I really am. craziness!!!!
Imagine the implications in everyday life if we, even for just one day, made an intentional effort to actually listen to what everyone said to us and to respond after first thinking about what they said and how we should respond. I can imagine that while some people would be flattered or intrigued, others will become easily frustrated by not receiving a response at the speed that they expect.

But even deeper than that, God frequently calls us to "stop and just listen." This is so unamerican. Stopping everything, all the multitasking, worrying, juggling and spinning plates, to listen to someone Who wants to focus on Him alone. If anyone else were to demand this type of attention it would seem absurd and yet this is exactly what God calls us to do, to "be still and know that He is God." Most times He doesn't even want to tell us what to do but reveal a part of who He is! Reading God's Word, prayer, church, the sacraments, all of these are ways that God speaks to us and these are all things that should never be multitasked. God deserves a singular focus.
I remember a speaker talking about being still and allowing things to settle during that stillness. She used the visual of a mason jar filled with swirling muddy water, you couldn't see anything other than brown, but when she let it sit eventually the dirt settled to the bottom and the sticks and rocks that were previously hidden became perfectly visable. I think that there are probably imbedded sins and idols that are easy to hide when I am busy, God is calling me to be still so that I have to focus on Him and to allow the Holy Spirit to reveal and root out those sins.

Random bit of wisdom from WNPR.

Linking up with Emily over at Imperfect Prose

January 4, 2012

dementors, starring contests with computers, massive to do lists and all of my other lame excuses

yes, it has been too long since I've posted...over a month in fact
I could blame it on the massive to-do lists I had...what with the holidays and work craziness and going to school for a week
I could blame it on the fact that cold gray weather seems to suck a lot of joy and creativity out of my spirit much like the dementors that tormented Harry Potter
I could also blame it on the fact that the cheeky little cursor blinked a constant nagging taunt every time I thought I had something to share...I couldn't get the thoughts to get out of my head long enough to make hem make sense on the screen and so nights turned into starring contests between me and my computer, usually with a glass of wine as a referee
The truth is, I'm lame and all of these factors plus others kicked my butt and kept me from writing.  I want to do better this year.
I spend so much time wondering if the thoughts rolling around in my head are worth putting words to.  Honestly most of them probably aren't; but I now know that if I don't go through the effort to exercise my word-crafting muscle that when I actually do have an idea worthy the muscle will be so flabby and out of practice that it won't come out right anyways.  Besides, who's to say what's worth the effort and what isn't?  Perhaps some of my random ramblings will spark a thought in someone else's mind and have consequences I could never imagine.
All that being said...'tis the season for resolutions so here I go
This year I resolve to keep up with planning my meals on a weekly basis in order to be a better steward of my food budget and the items I purchase ( i bought a beautiful magnetic chalkboard from ikea for just such a purpose).  Last year I kept up with this until late February, I'm hoping this year to make it past my birthday in March and maybe even into the summer :)
This year I resolve to ask my self "What can I create?" instead of "What can I consume?"  I want to live out the image of my Creator in this way.  I also resolve to be more intentional in how I spend my money, more local and small business shopping and more fair trade and organic items.
This year I resolve to be more intentional in my garden planning and harvest preserving.
This year I resolve to choose to focus on gratitude when the lonelys and the discontents settle in.
This year I resolve to my more faithful in how I pray for others.
This year I resolve to write more often, even if it's silly or just a nifty idea that I've found.