A Liturgy for Moments of Anxiety

Lord,

I am anxious.

I feel it in my bones.

Why, o Lord?

Why is my heart beating so fast? Why does everything feel strange?

Tell me that I can do this, Lord.

When my heart is racing and my mind is racing and my thoughts are coming at me a mile a minute. When I feel inadequate and like I can’t measure up. When I feel like everything I do is wrong and everyone knows. When it seems like everyone is staring yet no one cares.

Then.

Then, in that moment Lord, when everything begins to collide, grant me peace. Please, good and gracious God, be merciful with me. Allow me to breathe. Allow me to rest in you. Give me a peace that passes all understanding. Give me a moment of tranquility in my life. I desire, dear Jesus, to feel the rest from my wandering brain and anxious heart. A rest that I know can only come from you.

God, sometimes I feel like a fraud. I feel like I’m a fake and soon everyone will know. Everyone will know that sometimes the person you created me to be fails. I falter and I freeze. I fear. I fear too much. I fear irrationally. I fear for things that will never come to pass.

Help me to realize that I am enough. With your grace and the Holy Spirit, I am enough. With the realization that I am yours for eternity, I am enough. I alone am not enough, but with you I am capable of all things.

Continue to guide me. Continue to help me feel capable. Continue to grant me that peace that I feel coming from you. But, more than anything, help me to see those blessings. Help me to see every step that you take towards me beckoning me to come and rest in you. And let me rest, dear God, let me rest.

 

A Liturgy for Doing the Dishes

Our Good and Gracious God

Enthroned above.

May I first say thanks. May I first express my gratitude to you for every ordinary moment in life. As I do this, as I thank you, with each moment I find mundane, help me to see it anew as extraordinary.

How extraordinary it is, in fact, to wash these dishes. How beautiful to view the plate that you have given me as it reminds me of the food that you have blessed me with. How telling to see the cup that has quenched my thirst and know that the giver of this earthly water is in fact Himself called Living Water.

As I stand here in this place made sacred help me to recognize every good and perfect gift that has come from you. Help me to acknowledge your presence in each moment, in each chore, in each chance I have to serve others.

Lord God, as I wash and scrub and clean and wipe help me to reflect. Help me to look back on this day. Where have I been a blessing? Where have I been used for your Kingdom? Where have I helped others along the way?

Also, Lord, where have I done harm to others? Where have I hurt others? Where have I wronged You or your people today? What can I learn from today’s activities? What do you have to teach me in this moment?

Allow this time for reflection. For quiet. For peace. For rhythm.

Give me silence for this time. This moment. Let me hear, really hear, your precious voice. Cut through my wandering mind. Bring me around to what you have to say. Fill me with your voice, your love, your mercy, your grace.

Teach me. Fill me. Use me.

Once again I thank you. Whatever else is there to do in this moment but be grateful? May this blessing be poured out from me into all others I encounter.

Thank you for the water, the dishes, the soap, the bubbles, the clean, fresh scent. Thank you for the towel, now damp and lying on the counter ready to be hung and used again for this glorious purpose.

A Prayer for Beginning Something New

Fairest Lord Jesus.

Here I am. Here I stand. Help me to be ready.

Thank you for the excitement of new beginnings. Thank you for the blessing of starting afresh. Thank you for your Spirit.

Where I am anxious, give me peace. Where I am scared, grant me confidence. Where I am headstrong, give me humility. Help me to constantly be a vessel for you. Let me be your hands and feet in all that I do today.

As I take the next step, let me do so with confidence. Let my feet forge a new path. Let my eyes see new things. Let my heart feel new experiences. Let my lips speak new words.

And the rewards? The rewards for beginning again? Oh, how I look forward to what lies ahead. How I long to see how you have moved, how you are moving even now, and how you will move in the future. Let me not grow weary, but look with expectant hope to what lies ahead.

Fairest Lord Jesus, thank you.

May I always be filled with gratitude for new beginnings.

 

 

A Liturgy for Meeting a Friend for Coffee

Good and gracious God,

Thank you.

Thank you for my friend.

Thank you for the opportunity to be together on this day, to pray, to laugh, to cry, to know that you are with us.

We are tired, though we can’t imagine why.

We are broken, though we don’t understand how.

We are in need, though we can’t always articulate of what.

God, we are here. We are listening. Speak to us through each other.

Where we must confess, allow us the strength to do so and the grace to hear each other’s confession.

Where we must ask forgiveness, allow us to do so with honesty.

If we must rebuke or counsel, let us do so in wisdom and with mercy.

When we listen to each other, let us do so with your ears, with your wisdom, with your love.

God, we come before you this day knowing and experiencing your love. We are grateful for connection. We are grateful for relationship. We are grateful for the place that you hold in our lives. May you always be the center of this friendship, the tie that binds us together, the one that holds us in your arms.

Thank you.

 

A Prayer of Gratitude

After over 20 years in ministry, I’ve seen a few things. Some of my favorites? Introducing people to Jesus for the very first time and worshiping with them in a corporate setting. Notice, I didn’t say going to church, but instead worshiping together. The former is done in a specific building at a specific time, the latter can be done anywhere. I’ve worshiped with others in my home, in the car, at a park, in a restaurant, at the beach, you name it. Sometimes this involves partaking in communion, singing songs, teaching, and prayer. Sometimes it’s one, sometimes it’s a combo. The scriptures give us so many rich ideas as to how we can worship our Lord.

Sometimes, though, we need help. We don’t always have the words to say or know what to do. Often prayer with others makes some nervous or uncomfortable. What if I get it wrong? What if no one relates to what I say? In this case, sometimes it is nice to pray the scriptures. Sometimes this is called the liturgy of the Word. When we speak the Word, God is right there, present in our midst. It is used to remind us of who He is, what He said, and what He is calling us to.

Liturgy is a funny word to some. Even as someone who would identify as more “evangelical,” (though I really struggle with what that word has become) I love liturgical aspects of communal worship. I love responsive readings and communal prayers. Praying together shows our praise and thanksgiving. We can repent together, confess together, and share in God’s blessings together.

This is why I have written some prayers. Some liturgies. Part of the unhurried, ancient rhythms of life revolve around prayer. Praying over others, praying through everyday things, praying for and with people.

If you need a re-boot, if you are new to all this Jesus stuff, if you don’t know where and when to pray, then read the prayers we will post over the coming days and weeks. Pray them over your friends, pray them over your job, pray them over your schools, pray them with your church, with your small group, with your church leaders. Seek God. Slow down. Be more thoughtful. Praise Him.

Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.” ~ Mother Teresa

A Prayer of Gratitude

O Lord

O Gracious and Loving Heavenly Father

Thank you.

Thank you for the sun that rises each morning.

Thank you for the birds in their nests that greet us at the beginning of each new day.

Thank you that I am alive. I know that today holds no promises, but I know in my heart that you are with me.

I am grateful, dear God, for you. I am grateful for Your Word. I am grateful for Jesus. I am grateful for all that you have done for me and all that you are working on in my life right now.

I know, gracious God, that you are big. I know that you are capable and just and loving and merciful. I am so thankful to be on the receiving end of all of those things.

Father, thanks be to you this very day. May I end my day in reflection. May I end my day looking back and seeing all that you have done for me on this very day. May the evening close in and the sun go down and my dinner be eaten and I reflect.

Help me to see it, Lord. Help me to see those ways that you greeted me this morning, sustained me this noon, and delivered me this evening. May I be ever so grateful for your hand in my life.

May I thank you each day.

May I continue this prayer of gratitude forever.

Giving away my Joy

 

There are so many sayings out there dealing with comparison. Most are made to cause us pause, to make us think, to urge us not to compare. The most known, most loved, and most quoted comes from President Roosevelt. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Boy, was he right.

In a world where everyone seems to celebrate differences, why is it that what we actually want is more of the same? At least we behave that way. When I see the differences between my 4 children, I delight in it. I relish it because I think what a boring place our home would be if we were all the same? They like different things, they help in different ways, they enjoy different treats and react differently to punishments. The differences between our family members is what makes life truly sweet.

But then I look at myself. I see what is reflected within me. I see a woman who is constantly comparing her worth, her intelligence, her double chin, the bags under her eyes, her clothes, her shoes, and pretty much everything else with those around her. I’m not the prettiest, the smartest, the best, the most clever, THE anything really. I live a pretty average life, own pretty average stuff, have a pretty average family, and actually LOVE it. So, why does it even matter what others have, don’t have, or gasp. . .think of me? It doesn’t. Or at least, it shouldn’t.

I have wasted hours, probably days, caring about this stuff. But, there was a time when I didn’t and I want that time back. I want my awesome, average life back.

Once upon a time, my family lived overseas. Sure, I used facebook to keep up with family and friends. It was nice, actually. But, guess what? I didn’t care about what anyone else was cooking, because chances are I couldn’t even find all of the ingredients. I didn’t care about telephone plans, or coupons, or hot deals. I didn’t give a rip about people’s home decor or the latest trends because the latest trends where I lived were so different. I didn’t care about your hairstyle because the guy who did my hair pretty much did whatever he wanted, as did the rest of the stylists in my town. Your stories were nice, your kids were cute, your husbands were great, but so what? It didn’t really have anything to do with me and my life. I was looking at facebook while standing in line at the post office for an hour just to pay a bill. I cooked a dinner that my family would appreciate, but that chances are, you might not. And, I didn’t even care.

When we moved back to the states, I celebrated the differences between my family and others. I thought it was cool. I didn’t care that your kids went to bed at 8 and mine were just eating dinner. It didn’t matter to me that our neighbors had a fancy car and I was still borrowing my dad’s minivan. Who really cares? My kids were fed and had a ride to school. We walked to the grocery store sometimes because we missed walking so much. So what if the crazy Americans thought we were poor, we were healthy, right?

But, slowly the perfect Pinterest pins have made me compare myself. My parenting. My choices. The Instagram photos in all their filtered glory make me wonder why my skin doesn’t look like that. I don’t want to care. But, often I do.

But oh how freeing it is when you make decisions for yourself. How liberating it is to come to grips with the fact that your pants have a little tear in the waistband that only you can see and that your glasses have this little scratch and that your couch kind of smells like the dog and that your kid did, in fact, fail that test BUT your pants are your absolute faves, your glasses are adorable, your dog is pretty much family and your kid is actually really smart but just had a bad day. Don’t we all? Don’t we all have an off day? There’s no way that you can tell me that the cute mom has never been pooped on by her baby or that the super athletic mom is laughing with delight on mile 6 because it’s so fun! They all struggle. We all struggle. Some of us are more disciplined than others. (Not me.) Some are more naturally thin or attractive or fun. Whatever, sure. We all have great qualities. But we also all have some areas that need work. The people that look like they have it all together, the people that you compare yourself to, they may be 10 hot seconds from falling apart. You just aren’t gonna see that unfold on Instagram. There isn’t going to be a slide in her story of her falling apart on the bathroom floor, crying in the dark because she’s overwhelmed. But you better believe it’s happened. You’re not going to see cute pins of her yelling at her husband and kids and walking out the front door to catch her breath and take a little break. But, I suppose she could have made a slide of that one, too. Do you think there’s pins of the mom who drinks too much or the boss that snaps at her employees under stress? Yeah, I don’t think so either. But, dang, she’s cute and she made a killer organic chicken casserole with tons of veggies that her toddler loved and ate with abandon right before she put him the tub and smiled big for the camera. Those are the snapshots she sharing with you.

I’m convinced that I haven’t let comparison rob my joy, I’ve just practically given it away! I’ve told comparison, “whatever. You can just have it.” I’ve spent so much time (wasted time) seeing myself as less than that the joy has been sucked right out. And, I’m just not going to do it anymore. Forget it. Comparison isn’t worth it. It’s not worth losing my joy to compare myself with a standard that doesn’t even exist. It’s filtered and fake and only shows one tiny part of the whole. I’m taking my joy back. Today. Now. And I’d suggest you do the same.

Let it Go

 

Do you ever see someone’s posts on social media and just kind of freak out in your mind? You start doing mental gymnastics thinking that “they can’t say that” or “that’s not nice” or “that’s not true?” You really have this intense desire to call them out on their racism or lack of tolerance or just plain “wrong” ideas/ideals.

Or maybe they even say stuff to you or in front of you that just gets you going. I have to admit, I am occasionally proud of my snarky, sarcastic comments. Many times, I can’t think of the correct response and later I am left thinking, “I should have said. . .” If I am witty enough to speak in the moment, which doesn’t happen often, I get caught up in how clever or funny I am and not in how my words have adversely affected someone’s heart.
The only problem is that 2 Timothy 2:23-26 says this, “Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.”

He’s not saying here “don’t have a snarky rebuttal.” Paul’s not telling us to not say something funny and sarcastic that’s really gonna show them. He says, “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies.” He knows that these controversies breed quarrels, and we are not to be a part of that. Not only should we have nothing to do with it, but we are to “be kind to everyone.” Not just those who don’t bait me on Facebook. Not just those who think and act and look like me. Not just those worthy of my kindness, but everyone. Really. Everyone. If we must correct, it says we correct with gentleness. I’ve never seen a gentle correction on Facebook. Or Instagram. Or Twitter. That probably needs to happen one on one. In private. Away from the spotlight. When you’re not already upset about the other’s behavior.

Have you ever successfully argued on Facebook? Or Instagram? Or Twitter? Have your opponents “seen the light” and changed their ways because of something so incredibly amazing that you said? I’m pretty sure the answer is no. It’s the equivalent of a “bomb drop.” You know, when someone says something shocking and then turns around and walks away. That’s so easy to do online.

I have committed to no online arguments. It’s important to my life, my job, and most importantly my faith. My witness. How others see me is how others relate to Jesus. How can I say that I know him if I act like we’ve never met? According to this passage in 2 Timothy, my kindness could lead God to grant someone repentance that leads to a knowledge of the truth. God leads them to repentance, not me. God leads them to Truth, not me. I’m a vessel, sure. But believe me, even my witty self isn’t changing anyone’s mind in online polemics.

Next time you feel the urge to “show them,” I encourage you to read 2 Timothy again. I encourage you to stop, just for a second, and think about what you really want to say. Remember that we should “have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies.” Maybe your waiting, your kindness, will lead others to repentance.

What I Hope I’ve Taught my Children.

 

Have you ever held things together with a good old rubber band? Maybe your kid’s toys, or a bundle of rhubarb or asparagus fresh from the garden? They can hold anything! Heck, I even used them to hold my jeans together when I couldn’t afford to “splurge” on maternity pants.

Rubber bands are awesome, but generally they’re just a temporary fix. The asparagus gets cooked, we no longer need the toys, and our pants, well, you know.

Often throughout the last 20 years as a mom I’ve felt like our family was held tight by a perfect, stretchy, brightly colored rubber band. Sometimes I’ve been the rubber band, sometimes my husband or children, often our faith or our love for each other. Like a beautiful bouquet of flowers, we’ve been held together tightly, traveling as one from place to place, idea to idea, adventure to adventure. But a bouquet, no matter how beautiful, doesn’t stay rubber banded together forever. You take it home, trim the ends, and cut that thick, green rubber band. And then you watch it fall a little. It loosens up. You take the individual flowers and keep them together in a vase, but they are no longer tightly bound. They’re free! They still belong together, they still complement one another, but they each take up their own space. They are separate and together at once.

Last weekend we cut our family’s rubber band. We left our sweet, fun, capable daughter at a University that’s a few hundred miles from home. It’s the first time our family of six has been separated. The emotions were high, but it was time. Time for our bouquet to spread out and flourish.

We came home and the very next morning I went to our mom’s group where I actually serve as a mentor mom. I always joke that it’s because I’m old, but the truth is is I have been doing this for a pretty long time. I’ve earned every scar and delighted in every blessing. I’ve seen good days, bad days, and everything in between. And I’ve loved it!

I’ve learned so much along the way and I’ve tried really hard to teach them a few things, too. Here are some of the things that I hope I’ve taught them as they begin to leave home.

1. God comes first. I’m not perfect, and neither is anyone else that I know. You can’t fully lean on anyone else in this life. No one can be your everything, that’s just too big of a burden to bear. Everyone will disappoint you sometime, but God will be your rock. Lean on him.

2. You won’t make friends with everyone. That’s ok. Not everyone will appreciate your sense of humor or love of Star Trek. That’s ok. You will find your people, and your people will find you.

3. Be kind. Be generous. Be loving. Look for the beauty in everyone. Not one of us is better than another. Not one. We were all created in the image of God, and we are all worthy of love and respect.

4. Befriend people who are different than you. Actually, befriend a lot of these people. This is how we learn. This is how we grow. I pray that you never stay in a bubble or with only those who think how you think. You need people in your life who are of a different faith, a different color, a different party, a different ideology. Never forget this.

5. Don’t be gross, but there are more important things than a beautifully kept house. Like how the people who enter your home feel when they’re there. Be hospitable. Pull up another chair. Make your table longer. Cook for bodies, but feed souls. Let everyone who enters your home know deep in their bones how welcome they truly are.

6. Life is always better on the dance floor! Jump in. Take risks. Look silly. Be real. You’re not the best dancer, that’s ok. You don’t always have the best moves. I look like an old lady. Whatever. When we jump in and have fun the rewards always outweigh the risks. Just go for it!

7. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference in someone’s life, but you do have to make a difference. Make a difference in the lives of those around you. Let your mark be a positive one.

I pray that I have taught my precious kids these lessons, not through books or words, but through my actions. As a mom of four amazing young people, I want to be a better person every single day. I want to be teaching them even when I’m exhausted or when I think that they’re not paying attention. I want to live my life in a way that when it’s time for them to live on their own (as that time has already come for one) they are ready.

Moms, Dads, friends, you can do this. Begin to teach the most valuable life lessons when your children are young and they will not forget all that they have learned.

To the friend who’s chasing perfection.

Sometimes I get caught up in the crazy. I think that everything has to be picture perfect, on a white background, with a beautiful font. It all has to match, or at least “go” and look good on my Instagram.

Life isn’t really that way. Sometimes the Lord takes us for a ride down a path we never asked to be on. Sometimes we look at our lives and think, “I didn’t think it would ever be this way.” Or “I didn’t see this coming.” Or “I never expected this.” For two Sundays in a row, or maybe it’s been three, I’ve sat next to someone grieving something that’s “not supposed to be this way.” The tears flow and sometimes drop to the floor. We hug. Or maybe we don’t for fear that we might possibly, actually, literally break. This week I’ve prayed with sweet friends for deliverance from sin and I’ve hugged friends who want to be moms but aren’t and moms who’s babies never got to live and laugh and love on this Earth. I’ve been in hospital waiting rooms and I’ve been woken in the middle of the night knowing that I need to pray. All. In. One. Week.

This world isn’t even close to Instagram perfect. We messed that up a long time ago. But what comes after. . . well, that is. And it’s worth the trouble. And the prayer. And the trials. Job said it best when he said, “Should we accept only good from God and not adversity?”

Know what other trap we fall into? Have you seen those posts on Facebook about if people aren’t for you, let them go. . . Let go of relationships that don’t serve you. . . If people don’t value you. . .
Guess what? Friends, we are to, “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:2) If I’m constantly shaking off that friend who needs a little extra grace, how am I bearing her burdens? How am I serving her? If I don’t sit with friends who are sick and in need, but instead rid myself of them because they don’t serve me any good, how am I showing love? How can I do any of the “one anothers” we see in scripture if other’s burdens are too much for me?

I’m not so good at this. I’m not great at bearing my soul and being open and vulnerable. I’m not great at hugging or showing empathy. I can rejoice with those who rejoice, but it is stinking hard to mourn with those who mourn. I forget important days and don’t finish everything I start. But, I want to. I strive to. I desire to live in community even if – especially if – it means people show up to my dirty house or if I have to muster up the courage to go places that make me uncomfortable. I want to live in a community that bears one another’s burdens and doesn’t care about having everything posted on a pretty background with a really sweet font. I want to see you behind the tears. I want to see you without the make up or the mask. And, I want you to see me, too. If I had the chance to never wear a mask again, I would. If I knew that this world was safe and my tribe wouldn’t make me feel less than, I would never “fake fine” again. And, I hope you won’t, either. That’s my next challenge, I think. I’ll be real if you’ll be real. . .

Last night, while visiting a friend in the hospital he said, “want to see my scar?” (Kind of typical because he’s funny and feisty and great.) His daughter showed me a picture of it and I can’t stop thinking about that moment. Not because it’s ugly, but because it’s beautiful. I mean, it’s ugly all right, but it means something huge. You see, what it took to make that scar is what it took to keep him alive. He’s here on this Earth shining the light of Jesus because of that scar. He’s cracking jokes because of that scar. His wife and kids can smile because of that scar. Listen, we all have scars. Some of them, like his, aren’t even actual scars yet. They’re wounds that need healing. They’re fresh and raw and come with a boatload of emotion. And we’re never going to post them on Instagram for fear of an unfollow. Or because people might know that we’re not perfect. They might find out that behind the make up and masks we have blemishes. We have actual, real live flaws that made us who we are today.

Today when talking to a friend, we both realized that perspective is huge. We’ve shared our struggles and disappointments this week. And then we realized how little our complaints from earlier in the week actually were. How our problems really seemed so small. Our bigger desire was to mourn with those who mourn. To listen. To love. To pray. To sit in a baby dedication or a prayer circle when every human instinct in you is saying run. This isn’t fair. I don’t want to be here. This isn’t serving me well.

Friends, let’s work at this. Let’s love one another. Forgive one another. Bear one another’s burdens. Live at peace with one another. Let’s take off the masks and show our scars and not run but stand strong, firm, and together. United in the One who gives us strength.

I love you, friends. Pass that on.

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