A Prayer for – Its Complicated & Beautiful – Mother’s Day

18447102_10154696654913182_2127541269479065258_nGracious and Good God –
We praise You for being the One who brings life, who brings us love, who brings hope, who restores – and today, we lift up and thank you particularly for all those who Mother us in our midst. God thank you for our Mothers – for biological, adopted, foster, and step Moms, for single moms and Aunties, for Grandmothers and Godmommas, for teachers and advocates of us all; thank you for Mommys, for Mommas, for Ma and for Madre, for fresh new parents and for skilled mature ones – God we thank you for all those who bring life, who love and lead us, who bring hope and restore.

We also remember those who have gone before us, Women who raised up generations, who suffered and fought and whose bodies brought us life and faith today – oh God, You know what power and what frailty it is to be a Mother. May you be our strength Jesus, may You pour into and refresh us as Mothers and Mother figures, may the Holy Spirit’s Power and Truth guide us first, as we guide and raise up others. Daily remind us as Women that we find our strength in you, we flourish when we abide in you, we can speak up and advocate for others when we have your Word in our heart.

And God today we also lift up all those for whom today is difficult – whether this day brings up grief, longing, guilt, or a gap in our own lives; Holy Spirit would you be the Comforter, the Mother figure that we need today; Jesus would your presence fill in our gaps, our memories, our pains, and our unfulfilled dreams; God as you declare in Deuteronomy, would you be to each of us like a Mother eagle who stirs up her nest, protects her young, and helps us fly on strong wings.

God, we declare again to day that You are the source of all life, and we thank you for giving us Mothers in all their many beautiful forms, those who provide, birth, encourage, and strengthen us in our faith and on our journey. In the strong power of Jesus name we pray today – Amen.

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Fighting for Self-Care: Reset in 2016

As the new year begins I have been motivated to take inventory and reset my intentions for 2016. And the number one area that has been on my mind, heart and spirit is the issue of self-care. I have been reminded in so many ways during this past year that self-care is integral, woven throughout, indeed required for healthy, strong leadership. And I’ve also been reminded of the truth that self-care shapes our capacity toward and commitment to faithful discipleship, marriage, parenting – you know, life! As I finished out a too-full season this past year, and found myself basking in the refreshment and rest over the holiday break, my soul cried out to me, “Hang onto this space of rest, this renewal, this place of pause from rushing so that you can savor – YOU NEED MORE OF THIS.” And I’ve decided that in order to continue on and pastor well, love well, parent well, just to fully and healthily be me – I am going to listen to that cry.

It’s not that the importance of self-care is new information for me – I’ve long understood and worked toward self-care as part of being a healthy leader, woman, mother, activist. And I know too well when feelings of burn out, despair, or fatigue settle in and replace my sense of calling, passion, and capacity – then I am not able to do much of anything well. What feels newer and more deeply impressed upon my soul in this particular season is the reality of how much work, preparing, protection – even fighting for it – self-care requires. It is of course one thing to affirm the truth of self-care being a good thing; it goes to a whole other level when self-care gets written into my day timer, inserted into my time and mind, protected before and in front of other demands that will and do surge over my life. When I am committed to in this coming year is becoming more aware of, and doing the work that is required in my season, of actually protecting self-care. Right now that looks like actualizing the hopes and intentions into hours with my pen and my journal, walks during my lunch break, saying yes to true things of nourishment in my life and saying no to the rest. Before burn-out draws near, I’m committing to having the hard conversations, going on more dates with my hubby, eating more vegetables, having more fun, and celebrating and praying through who God has really made me to be as the new year begins. And it already feels amazing.

Starting over the holiday break I spent a lot of time thinking, planning, and praying around self-care in this next year. I started several spiritual practices that became obvious to me I was in need of, and I charted out plans to reset and reformat different areas of life over the coming year. Yes, I decided to take a whole year to reset portions of life that are in need of more self-care and focus – instead of underestimating the time or intention that this work might require, which I confess is often my usual method when it comes to self expectations. I redid much of my daytimer and my personal rhythms, taking some realistic inventory of my commitments, goals, health, and projects – so that I could say no to some things, plan ahead for other things, move some things back, and limit some things. I have to say, it felt like a tiny revolution to significantly move around my time, to prioritize and decide for myself what was most needed, most nourishing, most where the Spirit was calling me to be! One of the most refreshing parts of this reset was building in protected time each day that I now call “nourish time” – time where I pray, read, write, journal, listen to God, connect with my people, enjoy music, exercise, and enjoy my husband and kids. Every single day I do something in this category – often most things in this category. I’m already sensing that this planned-ahead-for “nourish time” is easily my biggest accomplishment of this month. Forget crossing off my to-do list, I actually redid what got on my to-do list! Because I am realizing more and more that without structure, preparation, and form being given to my value and longing for self-care, it simply WILL NOT HAPPEN. Period. Self-care happens in real time, within the heavy work load, the parenting crisis, the spiritual lament, the painful and the joyful. Other things will continue to be asked of me and expected of me, because there is no break from it all to reset and find self-care – I have to make it happen, create the space, fight for it to happen.

Maybe you’ve been on this journey of planning for and protecting self-care – what can you teach the rest of us? Or maybe you’re tired and overwhelmed and haven’t yet identified what self-care even looks like for you right now – maybe you need to fight for more self-care. Maybe you wrestle with the idea of taking time for your own care, or where that fits with a full job, serving others, justice work, parenting, or just M-F reality. Whatever season of life you’re in, if you’re longing for more of something, space for something, protected time for something – even if you already agree with the value of self-care, my prayer is that we encourage each other toward protecting, and fighting for the actual work of self-care in this coming season. Sharing ideas, tools, resources, or hang-ups with self-care are most welcome – I am sharing two tools below. This is the first of many thoughts and steps lived out around self-care for me, and I am excited to learn alongside others in this journey. I can already feel the shifts taking place internally and the spaces opening up. I can’t wait for more. Reset to fighting for self-care – ready, steady, GO!

Two tools I’ve loved this month:
The Book: “Take Time for Your Life,” by Coach Cheryl Richardson, http://www.cherylrichardson.com/store/take-time-for-your-life-introduction/
Blog and newsletter reflections from Dr. Chenequa Walker-Barnes, https://drchanequa.wordpress.com/2015/12/31/journey-to-self-care/

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A Holy Experience – and hearing Advent anew

I love Ann Voskamp’s site, “A Holy Experience.” If you ever have one blog to visit in the early mornings or late nights, and ever want to pause and think about things like gratitude, faith, children and everyday sacredness, farming and food, beauty and noticing the small things, vulnerability and trust, love and questions, the power of words and of listening – then you may love her site as much as I do.

Today, I came across this Advent story she told to her daughters, a story told into and through their simple and amazing little lives. This story about what Christmas is really about, and the wisdom of a child, is about the best version I’ve ever heard – it’s retelling the sometimes too-familiar to feel awe-inspiring, yet powerfully eternal and poignant, story of Immanuel God with us.

Read it sometime if you like, and remember the power of God’s gift with a smile, some sniffs and tears, while a little person tugs at your pant leg – everyday ordinary meets wondrously sacred all the time on her blog.

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