Tag: spiritual pathways

The Air You Breathe

Recently one of my closest friends was in a crisis situation – the worst day of her life – and in the midst of the chaos, as she was trying to make hard decisions, she had the wisdom to say, “I need to put on my own oxygen mask first.”

You’ve heard this one MILLION times on the pre-flight safety spiel, and have probably heard it as a metaphor for our spiritual rhythms.  

My friend was at a crucial juncture and knew she needed strengthening for what was ahead when family members and others would be needing a lot from her. She knew she couldn’t give what she hadn’t first received.

The other day I was feeling really down and I couldn’t figure out why. I texted a close friend who asked: “Are you tired?”

My first answer was, “No.”

After some reflection I texted, “Well, yes, but I shouldn’t be.”

And then after a little more reflection… “You know…I haven’t been doing a TON, but I realize it’s all been really draining relational stuff. Hmm…”

I realized I was just a little “out of breath”.

Our ability to give good to others comes from the good we first receive from God.

Here’s the thing… I think some of us are putting on masks that pump noxious gas into our systems. We primarily breathe in rants on social media and we absorb raunch and obscenities over TV and movies.

And some of us are putting on masks filled with sleeping gas. We inhale escapist stuff that isn’t real – isn’t pure oxygen, but rather lulls us into false complacency.

But what are the life-giving masks we need to choose?

The love of God is the oxygen we need to do good work in the world. If you want to bring heaven to earth you will need the oxygen the refreshes and renews.  Without breathing deeply of His love we are in danger of sucking in and spewing out bitterness, anger, and criticism, especially in these politically contentious days.

This is not an easy deal! Can we help each other?

What does putting on your own oxygen mask first mean for you today?  

There are a couple of apps that have been helpful to me – Centering Prayer app and Pray as You Go app. Both provide a short portion of Scripture and silence for reflection.

What are the ways you breathe deeply of life-giving relationships, experiences, and practices? 


Soul Food for Vacation Time

It’s March, and you all deserve a vacation! At least you do if you live in my part of the country where the winters seem like an interminable movie in gray and white. It’s like God turns off the color, scent, and sound of life for 6 months.


But we’re a hardy people and we will persevere to Spring which arrives at the end of May and lasts 2 days.

Meanwhile, maybe you’re planning a little escape to tide you over.

If you live by a school calendar you may be preparing for Spring Break.

If you don’t, you still may be planning a warm getaway.


So this post is about resources for vacation (or even “staycation”) refreshment. Continue reading

Finding Your Own Walk

In the summertime I feel like a thirsty person at the end of a long run, standing in front of a gushing fire hydrant, mouth open wide to receive big gulps of sparkling, cold water as fast as I can.  In Minnesota summer is short, so we have to drink quickly!  It’s the DELIGHTFUL season of barefoot and bike rides, corn-on-the-cob and birdsong, pink sunrises and living large outdoors. All of the time.

A friend went strawberry picking and made shortcake for our small group.  Another divided his Hosta to share with me (my yard bunny thanks him 🙁 ).  I got fresh vegetables at the Farmer’s Market Saturday.  Today I’ll celebrate a friend’s birthday lunch outside on the lake.  A baby robin, Roberto, rescued from our window well, has become like a member of our family.

Summer, you are so good.

This past week I had the added gift of getting away to a retreat home in Virginia – tucked in between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghany mountains.  It is a place that has been built with love and prayer and attention to every detail.IMG_7524

I wanted to share some excerpts from a poem, written by our host, Anne Grizzle, in hopes that you might find your own walk with God this summer and “join in the applause”. Continue reading

What do you do When it’s April in Minnesota?

As I write this it is April 15th and I am sitting in Starbucks and it is snowing outside.


I’m convinced Hell isn’t hot and fiery.  It’s Minnesota in April when it is cold, dull steel gray and snowing. Still.

Eternally (it would seem).

Continue reading

What are you giving up for Lent? Or are you giving up Lent?

As I mentioned the other day, we’re on vacation in Florida and the other morning we decided to attend an Ash Wednesday service at a lovely little Episcopal Chapel near where we’re staying.

I was on high alert from the moment we entered because I’m not Episcopalian and I was sure I was going to mess up and kneel at the wrong time, or not know the secret handshake that would get me communion, or ask forgiveness for my “debts” instead of my “trespasses”.

I took my cues from a girl across the aisle who clearly knew the liturgical ropes, bowing to the Bible when it went by and making the sign of the cross on her forehead, lips, and heart.  I was fascinated.

Like I said, I’m not Episcopalian and I’m not Catholic either, but by turns throughout my life I have been disdainful towards, curious about, and, in the past five years, enriched by many of  their practices.

When I was growing up all I knew was that the Catholic kids went to St. Petronille for church (named after a guy who must have been on the JV team of saints because I’ve never heard of him since and neither has my husband who did grow up Catholic).  They got to get out of school early on Wednesday to go to Catechism and got to eat fish on Friday.  We never had fish in my family.  So they were special and kind of mysterious to me.

On Wednesday, while I still struggled to own the words of liturgy in a way that was meaningful, I deeply appreciated the silence, the reverence, and the simplicity of a worship gathering full of Scripture.  These guys really do repentance big time!

Anyway, all this has got me thinking about Lent and the question many people ask, “What are you giving up for Lent?”

Confession:  As far as I can remember I’ve never given up anything for Lent.

It’s just not been a part of my spiritual tradition.  And frankly, when I have considered it I’ve always thought “Well I could give up Starbucks if I wanted to, but I don’t have to so I won’t.”  I am so not into sacrifice.  I realize this exposes one of the idols I daily pray to relinquish – the idol of comfort.  Ugh!

I know it’s easy to abuse this practice…make it a badge of honor, a “work of righteousness”, an end instead of a means.  But, I’ve been reading about it and I’m wondering if it might be a good spiritual practice for me, identifying with Jesus in some small way, this voluntary sacrifice stuff.  I’m cringing even as I write this.  I find myself thinking, “Could I pick something I like, but don’t like too much?  Kind of ease into this maybe?”

I know we’re past the kick-off time, but Jesus is all about grace, right?  So even though it wouldn’t be neat and tidy and legal, I could still start something I think.

I want to know… What has your experience been with giving up something for Lent?  Was it a meaningful discipline?

Couple quotes on Lent…

“Lenten disciplines help us to abstain from the daily distractions that prevent us from seeing and naming reality correctly. As we allow some of the external trappings of our lives to be stripped away, we can return to a truer sense of ourselves and a deeper pursuit of God.” Ruth Haley Barton

“Like going with Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, that we might come face to ugly face with our enemy.  Our sacrificing that we might become more like Christ in His sacrifice.”  Ann Voskamp

Stretching the Muscle of Right-Sizing

Last week I wrote that I’m going to try suggesting a creative spiritual experiment or resource on Fridays.  If you’re like me it’s easy to read stuff like this and say, “Oh, great idea.” but not do anything about it.  My hope is that a bunch of us in this blogommunity (yes, I made up that word) might say, “YES!  I’m in!” and give these things a shot over the weekend.  I asked Katy and Maggie for an idea of what to call this and Maggie suggested “Spirit Stretch Fridays”.  But if any of you have other ideas share!!  Put ’em in the comments!

Here in Minnesota we have had the most delightfully bizarre week of summer weather right smack dab in October when we’re usually worried about when the first snowfall is going to come.  I’ve written before (rather obnoxiously) about how I’m sure Jesus is just like me in my preference for being outdoors. http://laurac-payingattention.blogspot.com/2011/08/jesus-is-just-like-me.html

But in some ways I really do think getting outside and paying attention can be a spiritual discipline for a bunch of reasons:

– If spiritual exercises are about stretching spiritual muscles, this one stretches our humility, praise, and perspective muscles because we stop doing work and focus on something other than ourselves.

– It right-sizes our problems.  It’s a reminder that regardless of anything else, God is in control – the seasons will change, the leaves will fall, the snow will blow, everything will die, and then, miraculously, (especially in Minnesota it seems!) He’ll do it all over again!  Spring WILL arrive again and the earth will be reborn.

– It right-sizes US.  It’s a reminder of the power and majesty of God.  How big He is and how small I am.  The world will not stop spinning if I take time out to rest.

– It prompts us to do what we were made to do! “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” Psalm 150:6

I love this quote:

Every human being is “formed to be a spectator of the created world and given eyes that he might be led to its Author by contemplating so beautiful a representation.” John Calvin

So maybe get outside and walk or ride or play this weekend!  Here’s a little of what I’ve been seeing…

Psalm 73:18 Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvelous deeds.  Praise be to His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory.

If you want to see some REALLY spectacular pictures, check out Anne Voskamp’s :

And don’t forget to post ideas you have!

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