Sunday, November 30, 2014

Palm Up, Palms Down


I spent a Saturday walking the grounds of a Catholic seminary this past summer. Most of the people there on the last day of May, as the sun burned hot on my skin, were on a silent retreat. For twenty-four hours the world was eerily quiet. The kind of quiet that leads you to have to face your demons, or in my case, face God. There was no hiding the anger and the fear that was coming out each time I opened my mouth.



The night before I was reminded of a practice from Richard Foster, “Palms Up, Palms Down.”



Simply put, you find a quiet place, put your palms down, and release all of your fears and anxieties to God. You let yourself feel them drop from your tight grip and fall to the ground. Then you turn your palms back up and ask for peace and what you need. You allow Him to fill you back up as you sit in silence.



Silence.

Peace.

The things I am often lacking in my life.

 
Photo Courtesy of  byjenniferupton.com

But today the sun is certainly not warm. The cold air fills my lungs and the days are short. The only light that shines comes from the tree in the corner of my living room and the candle in my Advent wreath. 

The Hope candle.

Seeing past the darkness to embrace the Light. But it is hard to see when you are holding on to things that block your view.


 Palms up. Palms down.


Where is your Hope?

What is it that you need this Advent season? 

What do you need to give back?



Today I want you to carve out some time – even just five minutes – and pray a Palms Up Palms Down prayer of your own. Give back to God the things that are weighing you, the things that are holding you back from being the woman, the writer, the artist, the creator that you are designed to be. Allow Him to infuse back to you peace, inspiration, wisdom, strength, or whatever it is you need. Then share with us, if you want to, your experience. We want to encourage you and to pray alongside you.


Monday, November 24, 2014

We Remember - In the Edges of the Day

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. Normally at this time I start to feel a surge of stress. I think of the gifts for teachers that should could be bought, the cookies for neighbors to be baked, the meals to be prepped, the Christmas decorations to be brought out and put up. Advent hasn't even started and I am lost in the noise of expectations and the trappings of making things look beautiful.


This year I am going to pause.



I want to remember.


I want to remember this year. The eleven months of memories we have made so far.

I want to remember the friends we have made. The relationships born and strengthened this year. The connections we made. The way life was shared. The evenings of talks around fires and children playing too late in the evening. The texts, the emails, and the phone calls. The prayers for each other and the belief that God has so much in store for us.

I want to remember the loss. I want to honor relationships changed. I want to let go of dreams that died. Plans that veered off course. I want to let them go, palms down, and hand them back to the Father who gives and takes away, even when it feels painful and unfair.

I want to remember milestones. I want to think of the lost teeth, the first days of school, and new skills acquired. I want to remember the times she tried something hard and succeeded! I want to remember the times she tried something hard and failed. The firsts and the lasts. The success and the failure. All of it is good. All can be remembered.

I want to remember the decisions I've made. The ones that were good. Even the ones I regret.

I want to remember the times I felt alive. The times I knew I was walking in my calling. The times I was hearing the Spirit speak to me and following. I want to remember the times I felt God’s love pour out of me. I want to remember the times I felt Kingdom come right here on earth because I was doing what I have been called to do.

And as we gather around the table on Thursday, I want to remember the meals shared. Memories made. Laughter. Tears. Prayers. All so good. All to be honored.


This week, pause and remember. Remember all of this. Release this year and leave room for preparation. We are about to usher in the coming King. We are opening our home and our heart for the Messiah. We let go of our success and failure so have room for the King of King and Prince of Peace to rule in our hearts.

We will wait with expectation.

But today, today we remember.



What do you want to remember this year?

******


Join us at In the Edges of the Day for some low stress, guided activities to help you remember this week as we prepare for Advent.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A November Reset

October ended with the kind of cold that you feel deep inside….the kind that whispers to you a reminder that it isn't going to be warm again for a very long time.



I can feel it, this restart in my heart November brings each year. The comfortable rhythm feels like home. I am pulled to the kitchen. I light candles without a second thought. I eat salads and soups because soon I will happily spend every waking moment in the kitchen so I better attempt to be good now. I drink cup after cup of tea.

I try to find a peace in the tension of simultaneously speeding up and slowing down. It is a reminder that this is more than the rhythm of the holiday season, it is the rhythm of our life. Fast, slow. Fast, slow. I am much more aware of it now, and find time in the fast to stop to see.


We spent the weekend in preparation mode. We began the mammoth project of cleaning out the basement so the girls have room to run around when the air is too cold for them to play in outside. We went to Nutcracker rehearsals since we are almost a month away from show time! And most importantly, we set up for our month of Thanksgiving.


It is important to me, each November, to use the month to prepare my heart. I know I cannot enter into Advent if I haven’t had this time to reflect. The same way I plant the last of the spring bulbs in the earth, I plant the practice of gratitude deep in my heart. I try to limit my use of social media and what time I am on I focus on #30daysofthanks. Each day I list one thing I am grateful for.

The slowing down is good for my heart. And my girls focus as well. In the past, we have done a Thankful Tree. Each day they both write what they are grateful for on a leaf and the leaf is glued to the tree. But this year, I couldn't find any paper leaves (or even a leaf stencil) so we are doing a Thankful Banner. Each day they get to fill in what they are grateful for and write it on that day’s pennant. It is strung against the windows of our dining room and I have no doubt that when we sit down on Thanksgiving Day to share a meal with family and friends we will be blessed by the physical reminder of all that we have.


Snow is falling now. When I look out the window there is no denying seasons will soon be shifting. I am ready.

I hope and pray you are as well.





*What is it that you are doing to prepare your heart?
*Are you finding ways to practice gratitude this month?

*How are some ways that you cultivate a spirit of Thanksgiving in your kids?