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Archive for the ‘Prayer’ Category

juggling pinsWe all struggle with our desire for balance, that place of imaginary security. We all admire balance; we even envy it when we perceive others are living a more balanced life than we. But this balance we see and the balance we desire, is it from God? Is it from a need for God? Or is it personal, prideful gymnastics?

…  It takes all my effort and focus just to maintain this appearance of balance. How long I can continue the effort will depend on my resolve.

Eventually, in exhaustion, God offers me merciful futility. I fall down. Gratefully defeated.

There is an unbalanced balance that pleases God. You see it throughout the Bible. It’s only when I accept my imbalance and acknowledge how weak and crippled I am, that I become dependent on God.

That’s where I find the paradox of balance, leaning totally on Him. –  Stephen Shortridge, in Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies

One of my ongoing struggles is with balance. I sometimes feel like a tightrope walker. Sometime like a circus clown with a juggling act … a clown because if anyone were to look closely enough, they would realize how comical it really is. “Why are you trying to juggle that?” I’m not sure if I would have the answer. So I hope no one looks too closely while I keep up the act.

And I get frustrated when I drop a pin or two. Or I get annoyed that no one notices how hard I’m trying to maintain. Or I sink into a dark morass of self-inflicted disappointment, because of self-set goals I’ve missed.

And still, I try to find a balance.

I recently edited a project for a writer, who is also a painter. In order to get a better sense for his writing style, I began reading one of his previously published works: Deepest Thanks, Deeper Apologies. Something I read did more than whisper to me. It spoke, loudly: “This is you. Pay attention!” Maybe it was the timing. Maybe it was just the simple truths. But I saw myself in the above paragraphs.

Finding an unbalance balance. A strange paradox indeed. Unsettling, even undesirable. But sometimes it is necessary because maintaining a perfect balance requires motionlessness. But life itself requires movement, change, challenges. The passage I read and the resulting reflections drew me, on the threshold of a New Year, to make this my prayer …

 

Heavenly Father, it’s a New Year. I meant to have everything worked out, my goals and to-do list for the entire year. Okay, maybe not that, but in my mind I wanted everything figured out, and preferably on paper, so I know what to expect in order to decide in advance how I will tackle it.

An unbalanced balance must be what I need to embrace this year, at least in the beginning, because I see that a motionless balance will not be an option. Please help me with this, Lord.

I don’t have everything figured out and that’s okay. Rather than patting myself on the back because of my misguided sense of control, it will force me to depend on you. And that’s what I really want. Even when I don’t want it, it’s what I really need.

Forgive me for trying to figure it all out instead of resting in You and allowing You to work.

Help me to understand that the things I try to do without Your strength and guidance will only fall flat. And the things that You do through me, often almost without me even knowing or realizing, are the things that really matter. The things that go farther than those things I am grasping to control.

It’s the start of a new year. Let me be led by Your Spirit, guided by Your hand. Let these not be just words but the deep prayer of my heart. Help me to surrender to You in every way, even when it means giving up some of my so-called rights.

Lord, You had every right, and made Yourself a servant. 

Forgiving me for trying to make myself a master, of sorts, in my own mind and bearing. I know you have forgiven. Your grace is renewed each morning. Thank You for that. Help me to lean on You and in leaning, find my strength, my joy. My true balance.

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moonlit night

Let grief be my companion

And the arms of sorrow

Draw me

If it will bring me nigh

To Thee

 

Let my heart, though broken

Plea

Christ in me

 

Let tears

A bracelet, encompass

My sight

Though eyes grow dim

If the clearer sight

Is your heart

Your will

Your plan

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Pray for Paris

Pray for Paris

 

God help us

Help them

The innocent

The perpetrators

God help us

We who say there is nothing we can do

We who jump to discuss surface solutions

Help us, God

All of us who live in this broken world

And all of us who have played a part in hurting it

Help us

Who break your heart over and over

You, whose heart was broken for us

God, help the broken-hearted

For you know them

Reach down to the hurting

The grieving

Give hope as only you can

Have mercy, dear Lord,

For … you know

We need it so much

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need rain in Central ValleyThank You for the rain. Lord, You know how much we need it in the Central Valley. How dry it has been, and how much we lack.

Thank You also for Your grace. Lord, You know how much we need that. How desperately for everything. You do know … and Your grace falls like rain. Not like rain here in the valley, where we see for days “a chance of rain” and “a chance of scattered showers,” and wait in vain but nothing happens. No, Your grace, Your forgiveness, Your mercy, is a continual deluge that seeks to revive our hearts and bring our souls to life once more.

Thank You for Your rain of mercy, Your torrent of grace, Your flood of forgiveness.

Let me open my soul to it as a thirsting ground. For I know that I have nothing inside me that is worthy of such attention, of such generosity … still, You give it freely.

Come, You say, he who is thirsty, and Your living waters flow and bring the world to life. They bring me to life. But only when I open my heart, my soul, and drink deeply of You.

Let my heart always be as joyous of the gentle and torrential rain of Your perpetual grace as I am of the rain that falls outside my window now. More joyous. For the downpour from the sky gives life to the earth. But the downpour from Heaven gives life to the soul, and promises life eternal.

You are the well of Living Water that never runs dry [John 4:14].

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cloudy night skyVeil thins beneath a cloudy sky

Bringing tears, like rain

Looming gray upon my heart

Upon the sky

Yet beyond, the sun

Where forever is sealed

 

But here, beneath the gray

My heart bids me to pray

Until the veil descends once more

And my eyes

Dimmed

Are dry

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thanks, a poem prayerLast time, you remember

I asked you for help

 

I asked

For a lot of reasons

And spoke

A lot of things

In that one word

 

And you did it

You helped me

In ways I recognize

In ways I sense but don’t necessarily see

 

In ways I’ll never know

But can only believe

 

So today

I just want to say

 

A simple word, I know

That falls so short

Of all I want to say

 

It’s not enough

Never can be

And its tone

Can sometimes mean

The opposite of thanks

 

But here

And now

It comes from that place

So full of feeling

It wells up and over

With something akin to tears

And laughter

And a full heart

At all you’ve done

And answered

 

All this, in my heart

And mind

And hidden, even from me

In my soul

Is in this thanks

 

So here it is

For you

 

Thanks

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better connection

In my last post, I mentioned that I was working on my New Year’s resolutions. Drafting them up, they look something like this:

1.       Disconnect to Reconnect

In Colorado, I saw a neat little flyer. It stood out to me. It said, “There is no wi-fi in nature. But we’re sure you’ll find a better connection.”

As I’ve been praying about the New Year, I feel that I should to take a break from blogging and Facebooking. I’ve heard it takes about six weeks to build a new habit or to break an old one. So I’ll be going offline at the beginning of the year, for roughly 40 days, to disconnect from some things in order to connect (or reconnect) with others … and hopefully regain perspective of the most important things.

I’ll be available through email because I can’t go offline completely; my writing/editing work is all online. Just letting go of those “extras” for a while.

2.       Cultivate Real Communication

With Facebook and other social media, it is easy to maintain surface relationships, to see “what’s going on” but actually have no idea what is really happening in someone’s life or heart. Marjorie Holmes, in I’ve Got to Talk to Somebody, God, writes:

“Today there is so little genuine communication. The very push and pressure of living among so many people has driven us deeper inside ourselves. There, despite all the talk that swirls around us, we are locked in a lonely prison. It is a … place for our own protection, yet a place of anxieties and fears, where the loneliness can be intolerable, unless we find God there.”

I think it is a place, also, from which we need to reach out to others, not connecting on the surface, but listening, learning, and being there for each other through real communication.

That’s a resolution I have this year. Not sure exactly how to go about it, which is one of the reasons I’m disconnecting for a while, in hopes of reconnecting with a different perspective. Hopefully a more meaningful one.

3.       Find Direction in Writing

Another reason I don’t plan to post on my blogs for the next while is to figure out what it is I want to say … or more importantly, what God wants me to say. When I feel rushed or pressured to write, what comes out is often not the best of what there is to say or write, because the best of things take time.

I know this is going against advice from writing classes and connecting through social media. They say that to create a presence, you need to post regularly, at least once a week, and try to do it on the same day every week. I don’t know if I’ve ever kept up with that, and I don’t know if I ever will.

But right now, I know that I shouldn’t be even trying. Because if there is no heart and soul behind it, even the best and most tried-and-true technique will fall flat. I need to work a little more on the heart and soul right now.

4.       Make Progress in Long-term Goals

This probably starts with figuring out what some of those goals are. Mark Batterson, in his best-selling book The Circle Maker, discusses the importance of having life goals on a variety of themes – family, influence, experiential, physical. He writes:

“Setting a goal creates structural tension in your brain, which will seek to close the gap between where you are and where you want to be, who you are and who you want to become. If you don’t set goals, your mind will become stagnant. Goal setting is good stewardship of your right-brain imagination. It’s also great for your prayer life.”

I plan to make progress in figuring out some of those goals and mapping a way, perhaps through prayer, to reach them.

5.       Keep a Proper Balance in Life (especially in busy times)

I make time for the things I have to do. When I have classes, I wake up before six on the days I have to be on time for class. I stay up late the night before an assignment is due studying or writing in order to get a good grade in class.

But it’s so easy to neglect the things I don’t have to do, even though I know it’s a bad idea in the long run. Things like exercise, or prayer, or reading the Bible, or studying about writing, or spending time with my kids. Each one of those things gets relegated to back burner during busy times. Before I realize it, a season has gone by without exercise, or I can’t remember the last time I sat on the floor with the kids and played a board game.

I know this is a subjective and vague resolution, partly because I don’t yet have a plan, and partly because even if I did have a plan, I wouldn’t want to post it. Because … well, you know what they say about those “greatest plans of mice and men.” And also because things change; needs change according to the cycles of life and schedules of life.

6.       Create Space

I planned to have only five New Year’s resolutions, but I added this one last minute, after finishing a book titled Gift from the Sea.

Sometimes the best we can do is figure out where we’re going and what we’re meant to do here and now. Next month or next year might bring a whole different slew of responsibilities or requirements.

But I want to get it right. I don’t want to feel like I’m missing something important or leaving something behind, or going too fast that I end up forgetting the most important things. I want to create space in my life (and our lives are just so busy these days). In Gift from the Sea, Anne Morrow Lindbergh writes:

“It is only framed in space that beauty blooms. Only in space are events and objects and people unique and significant—and therefore beautiful. … My life … lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself.”

I saw myself in those words. So little empty space. I don’t want that. I don’t want to miss the significance in moments and people because I am going too fast to stop and notice them. My final resolution is to create those spaces on a regular basis. I’m not sure exactly how just yet.

Maybe by going slower. Or stopping completely at times. Minimizing the “extras” in my life. Or just being conscious of the need to have that space. I just placed a shell on my writing desk, my own “gift from the sea” to help me remember the need for space.

This is going to be my last post for a while. But I look forward to connecting with you again soon, and would love to hear from you … your resolutions and your hopes for the New Year. Your prayers and wishes.

Happy New Year!

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