Thursday, May 28, 2009

The spirituality of choice…

I just found an amazing blog called Conversion Diary… it's quite unique… all about an Atheist who found God… she's now a converted Catholic, and writes about her life and her faith and how the two intertwine. I like what she has to say.

Today's blog was all about discernment… a word that's flung around in the evangelical church without a lot of discussion or understanding on my part (and maybe on yours too?). I now have a little more of a window into what discernment might be… and how I might take some steps to incorporating this spiritual habit into my decision making process.

My newly expanded understanding of discernment is this;

The idea comes first. Before any decision is ever considered, there's the idea. So I must ask…

What is niggling away at me… what thought, what idea, what unique and/or odd thing is coming to mind again and again… could this be the Holy Spirit's nudge… or as Jennifer says, is The Finger of God pointing me in a certain way? Do I have peace about my action or inaction on this?

Then I am faced with a decision to make. So I must ask…

How will this particular decision effect my primary calling or vocation in life? This involves knowing what my primary vocation is… do I know that? Figure it out… is it being a Godly wife and mother… is it being Godly writer… is it being a Godly care-giver to my ailing parents? I believe in first things first, in their appropriate season. Carefully think this through… then carefully consider what is holding you back… are these surmountable reasons?

Keep your eyes open for confirmation that you are heading in the right direction… often this comes in the form of words that others say to you, especially those wise individuals whom you ask for input (spouses, mentors, spiritual friends) or a series of events that appear uncanny in their significance, or God speaking in various ways through scripture, worship music, nature etc.

Keep in mind that you can't possibly know what God has in mind for the future… as Jennifer says, you don't have a crystal ball. So, proceed, in peace, knowing that God is in control of the details and you are not.

And then, close your eyes and prayerfully let God lead you… with fear, with doubts, with unknowns… trust that when he is up to something, he will be enough for you no matter what. He will provide, he will support, he will catch you when you fall. Ask him to lead you. Tell him you trust him. Thank him for being in control.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The duck in my pool

So, why do I have two blogs… and what is the difference between them? Maybe I'm off base here, but I really do think these two places allow different parts of me to emerge. While there's this deeper more spiritual side of me, and while I believe with all my heart that God is the foundation of, the purpose for, the captain of my life ship, there's also a part of me that is separate… gosh… does that sound anti-Christian?

I've found myself surfing some Christian Women's sites of late, and I have to say that while I admire them, while I learn by reading them, this other separate part of me says, but what about the times when I don't relate… the times I question… the times of darkness and I feel separation from a real close connection with God??? What about those? I don't know, but I feel these times are sort of glossed over by some Christians and painted into a pretty picture most of the time. I just don't want to, I've grow tired of, spiritualizing absolutely everything in my life… and thinking that if I just pray the right thing, say the right thing, read the right scripture, that this too will pass.

Yep, it will pass, for sure it will… I trust in God that it will . But, I want to be alive and fully aware of how I am feeling, thinking, acting, observing RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE of these other times. Somehow… I think that I'd be less than forthright or a shadow of myself if I just glossed over these places in my life that are a little off-kilter, or off the beaten path. They are who I am too. God didn't say only focus on the mountaintops, or on the spiritual highlights… did he?

So, I'm still working through what this means in my life… and obviously, but the very fact that I currently have two different blogs… one focussed on the good and Godly, and one focussed on the real means I'm a little bi-polar in my approach and not yet fully willing to be or accept or live what I'm suggesting I should live. But the blogs are linked, not hidden, and neither is this struggle I feel.

Truth be told I'm still a little afraid… of the Christian women knowing this other side of me… the doubting, struggling, slightly profane at times side, and of the other non-religious women - knowing the spiritual side, believing, connecting with God, living my life as an act of worship side! Does that mean I'm more concerned about what these groups of women think than anything else? Is that ridiculous 'need to be liked' the guiding force behind what I do, say and blog? PLEASE NOT THAT! But hey, I'm human like the rest of you… and so that need to be accepted is real. I've certainly come a ways from that being the guiding force, but it's still there, rearing it's ugly little head and so I need to figure out what that means, and how to deal.

So, I hope you can hang on with me through this process of figuring out who I really am and whether I can somehow take these two parts of me -- the Sometimes Suicidal Mama -- and the -- My Gracenotes -- parts of me, and combine them into a relateable whole that brings something to the table that is palateable. And that's gonna take a while and a whole lot of trust in God's plans… not just mine.

Which brings me to the insight that I believe God gave me yesterday… and the reason that I was going to post it on My Gracenotes rather than SSM… yet after 'writing this down' right now, with you, I believe I will post it in both places (how's that for taking a risk)

So, yesterday morning I got up early… I've had times where I regularly do this, but this Spring has not been one of them. Lots of reasons and excuses come to mind. Anyway, I managed to get up with my 5:40 alarm, took a quick shower and then took my bible and notebook out on the porch with me. I read a bit, listened to the sounds of birds in the early morning garden, and then it happened… the duck… darn that duck… dropped from the sky into our pool. The mood and the atmosphere of peace and Godly connection was immediately broken for me.

My dog dropped down into his 'point', quivering with excitement at this visit from the duck (who returns many times during the day, much to our frustration), and I got up and scared Mr. Duck away with waving of arms and clapping of hands. The dog ran around the pool deck sniffing and wagging his tail, as I returned to the porch again to try to regain my quiet time.

I felt ticked off at first… as I sat and watched the dog and realized that it was almost time to wake up the family. And then, I really watched the dog… and recognized something on the verge of profound… at least it was for me at that moment.

Buddy, my dog, was sitting at attention at the corner of the pool, ears perked up, looking at the sky and wagging his tail. It was a funny posture… sitting while wagging… but Buddy has a very small tail and it was wagging excitedly. He did what he always does after a duck encounter… he sits and waits for the duck to come back… excitedly waiting, expectantly waiting, for what he KNOWS is going to happen again. He shows no interest in his breakfast, in me, in anything but the duck's return. And, due to his amazing ears, Buddy always hears the duck while he's a long way off… before I can hear him, Buddy gets to his feet and looks at the sky… and then the duck comes back, splashing into our shallow end.

I'd been reading these verses in my bible yesterday morning that you probably know… the Lord's prayer… and Jesus is telling his disciples how to pray and it says, "Your Kingdom Come," and those particular words attracted me for some reason… as I thought about what it would be like to pray this, and ask God to take over so many ways in my life, and make it about His Kingdom rather than mine. So, I was thinking this just before the duck encounter.

What hit me between the eyes as I watched the whole thing with the duck and the dog was that Buddy illustrated to me what it might be like to have a Kingdom Come heart. If I was able to live the way Buddy illustrated … anticipating, expecting God to show up and focus on that whole-heartedly… wow, might that be a wild way to live. I know God is there… why not look for signs and sounds of his presence? Now, I'm not suggesting I sit and don't eat or do anything, but I'm saying I need to be attentive and watching. And when God shows up, I'll be ready for whatever he's got going on at that particular moment!

Anyway, that picture of the dog's anticipation and joy and the recognition of an application to my life was unexpected and awesome.

Gotta go, I hear quacking in the distance.


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