Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lenten leadings

Sometimes God gives the answer before we even ask the question. When I wrote last week that I was fumbling for an appropriate Lenten practice, I had already committed to a deeper focus on the spiritual disciplines in my life--but only because that's what you're supposed to do during Lent.

But it became almost audibly clear to me this weekend: this year, Lent is not a time for giving up something but for expanding my capacity to hold something. This year is not about getting better but about growing bigger--big enough to hold the life that I've been given.

Since that realization, my practice of the spiritual disciplines (such as it is) has been infused with new life, new enthusiasm and has been drained of obligation. The answer was there in front of me all the time.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lent again

"Overheard" on Facebook:

J: "I was born and raised Catholic but now I'm a practicing Baptist. Can I still participate in Lent?"
M: "If you are a practicing Baptist, you don't have anything to give up."

I laughed out loud! I wanted to reply to J (an acquaintance of mine): "Yes! Definitely participate in Lent! First of all, it is a Protestant observance too. Second of all, observing the church calendar has brought so much richness and depth into my spiritual life. I can't imagine coming up to Ash Wednesday without preparing for Lent."

Having said that, I still haven't resolved what my Lenten practice will be this year. Boo and I and a "practicing Baptist" friend (actually, I'd have to say, she's not practicing, she's perfected!) are going to St. Alban's here in Austin for Ash Wednesday services tonight. Boo requested a service with a female rector and it appears from the website that St. Alban's fills the bill.

But beyond that, I don't know . . .

You may remember that last year Boo and I drank only water for all of Lent--no tea, no lemonade, no milk or juice, and especially NO DR. PEPPERs! It was a really useful practice, part of a challenge to remember those who lack clean drinking water around the world, but I never was able to connect it to my spiritual life beyond the theoretical. I want something different this year, but I don't know what.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day

From Brene Brown's latest post, which you can see here

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

25 years later

25 years ago today, I woke up for the very first time with an engagement ring on my finger. The night before, C took me to his parents' hunting land near Waco for our first date in awhile, ostensibly to celebrate Valentines' Day early. Both he and his family had tricked me into thinking that we wouldn't be getting engaged anytime soon so I was truly surprised. He brought chicken and chips and a pan of brownies he had made himself. After we ate supper, he brought me the pan of brownies which I opened to find--tah dah!--the black velvet box with my ring inside (and a hardback copy of Improving Your Serve by Chuck Swindoll which he put in the brownie pan to weight it down and fool me into thinking it really was a pan of brownies but which was truly confusing to me for several seconds as I figured out what was happening. And now, as I think about it, was wonderful foreshadowing of our life together . . . hmmmm . . . ) I cried and cried and nodded "yes" and then we drove to see some long-married friends of mine in a nearby town to show it off. I remember sitting in a large lecture class, staring at my ring, thinking, "I'm getting married" and waiting for the reality of it to sink in. I've said it a million times: we were so young and so stupid and God was so good.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reality (aka, The Most Pathetic Blog Post Ever)

I'm weary.

No, I'm not complaining. I was tempted once to complain about how busy this season is and I realized that if God heard me and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry! I never meant to overload you. What would you like me to take away?" I would immediately straighten up and say, "Nothing!" (Of course, as long as He was feeling so accomodating, I might ask for a few extra hours in a day . . . never hurts to ask, right?)

But the reality is that I've exceeded my ability to manage it all. And I'm tired. And sick. And poor Boo was eating a hunk of Parmesan cheese for breakfast the other morning because, in her words, "When you're gone, we have no food." In fairness to C, that's not at all true but I think it feels that way to all of us sometimes. (I made her oatmeal, by the way, which she loves.)

Rick Warren said, "Doing the work of God at this pace is destroying the work of God in my life" or something like that. He's scads busier than I am, but we all only have the same 24 hours and the same 7 days.

My mantra for this season has been "Be here, be now" and I can honestly say that I've done that. And my word for the year is "wholehearted" and I'm managing that most of the time too. I'm just tired, physically and emotionally. And overwhelmed. And way behind. (I'm positive that when I finally get around to sweeping, there will be enough cat hair in the dustpan to make a whole new cat. And don't even get me started about my paperwork and my billing.)

Once I really was complaining about my schedule to a new friend who frowned and said, "Why does your secretary let this happen?" When I told her that I didn't have a secretary, she blurted out, "You do this to your SELF?"

I don't have a day off until next Saturday (the 13th) at which time I plan to either sleep all day or be incredibly productive, I haven't decided which yet. And don't leave me any comments, either, because no matter what you say, I'll wish I hadn't posted this. But sometimes people say, "I don't know how you do it all!" and I just wanted to be honest that sometimes I don't.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Boy, I wish I had had a camera!

JTH and a friend MD and I finished up the latest retreat for the Michigan folks and were hanging out in the lobby of a Country Inn and Suites waiting for a taxi to take us to the airport. We enjoyed the quiet, the free wi-fi and the coffee for awhile, getting more anxious when the taxi didn't come.

When they finally confirmed that they weren't coming in time and JTH's efforts to get another one didn't go anywhere, we were all starting to vibrate quite a bit. After all, we were in Kalamazoo and missing our flight meant staying overnight and trying again on a Sunday. I said, a little loudly, that I would pay fifty bucks to anyone who would take us to the airport. The woman behind the counter (we later learned that her name was Nancy) said, "I'll do it!" She put up a sign that read "Be right back" and ran out to her car to get it ready for us while we all pooled our cash.

Let's just say that both Nancy and her car had apparently had hard lives, and the car was tiny. I sat in the front seat with my suitcase, my laptop, my purse and a large pizza (not mine) on my lap. Poor MD is tall and had to squish himself into the backseat along with his suitcase and JTH was behind Nancy with all his stuff on his lap too. Then Nancy said, "I'm not sure where the airport is." Excuse me?

JTH, fortunately, had been paying attention and got us there in time for our flight and we all got home safely. I was laughing and saying that it was fun, that it was an adventure and JTH correctly pointed out that if that was an adventure, we lived a pretty boring life. It was still fun, though!