The Serenity Prayer

“God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen” (Reinhold Neibuhr).

Most people know this prayer, at least in part. Those who have been through Alcoholics Anonymous or some other kind of recovery program know this prayer very well.

I’m not attending AA, but I think this prayer speaks to my heart and to where I am at the moment.

My idea of happiness is that the world I live in will always be as I would have it and that I could obtain that supreme happiness in the here and now. It almost never involves hardship or suffering of any kind.

This prayer reminds me once again that it’s not about me. This life and this world don’t revolve around me and my wants and needs. However, I can make a difference both in my life and in the lives of those around me.

I’m still getting better and living one day at a time and enjoying one moment at a time. It seems my automatic default is to want to hurry on to the next season of life, which currently for me is fall and cooler temperatures.

This prayer teaches me to see things as they are, to step out of my fantasies and my dreams into the world that is, yet to not resign myself to it. By living in it as it is and being wise to know where I can make a difference, I do my very small part to make the world better than it is.

I think the two key words that are jumping off the page at me tonight are trust and surrender. If I can grab hold of those two concepts and really let them sink into my DNA, then I believe the rest of this prayer will follow.

May this be our prayer going forward to see that if there is to be any change in the world we live in, it must and will begin in each of us.

 

 

 

Prayer and the Pray-er

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:26-28, The Message).

Sometimes I feel like I should be a much better pray-er by now. I’ve had enough practice and amassed all this spiritual knowledge, yet when I actually take the time to pray in private, I get distracted and my mind wanders and I occasionally fall asleep.

I read about all these spiritual giants who would spend hours upon hours in prayer, yet for me even five minutes in dedicated prayer seems like an eternity.

Tonight, I was reminded that sometimes the truest prayers look and sound a lot like sighs and groans. Sometimes, the most spiritual kind of prayer is to confess your complete and utter helplessness to express what’s in your heart, knowing the Holy Spirit is able to translate those inaudible (and sometimes audible) yearnings into prayers that the Father hears.

I’ve mentioned before that sometimes the three best prayers are “Help,” “Thanks,” and “Wow.” Anne Lamott wrote an entire book about those prayers and I confess at times, those are the only words I can muster to express what’s in my heart.

It’s not my great faith in God that sustains me but rather my faith in a great big God that has carried me through seasons of so-called self-sufficiency and seasons of complete God-dependence.

On a side note: today is the seventh anniversary of my very first blog post all the way back in 2010. On another side note, I originally wrote that it was the sixth anniversary before my internal editor caught the mistake.

Thank you, God, that you are more faithful to me than I am to you, and that my destiny isn’t based on my faith in You but in Your faith in me.

 

In the Quiet Solitude And Stillness

“May today there be peace within.

May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.

May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

It is there for each and every one of us” (Teresa of Ávila).

I love hiking the trails at Radnor Lake State Park. I love how I can travel less than 30 minutes from where I live and enter a completely different world where nature has full sway and the noises of civilization seem a million miles away.

Often I feel as though silence is the best kind of language for such a place. Words seem to profane such a sacred place, so I try to talk less and listen more.

I’m trying to be more attentive to my surroundings when I’m on one of the trails. I’m still not very good at taking in everything, but I’m learning more and more how to see rather than just look.

That’s the key to life. Sometimes, what you need is to be silent and still. You need to step away from the hurried rat-race and the voices telling you, “Faster! Faster! More! More!”

I think the best places to do that are the places that are closest to the original Garden of Eden, places with the least amount of man-made noise and pollution and the most nature.

Be still. Be quiet. And listen. Just as Elijah had to strain his ears to hear the still small voice of God, so we sometimes need to be silent and still to hear God speaking.

God is still speaking.

Another Field Trip

I finally accomplished my goal that I set in 2015. I visited the last of the regional campuses of Brentwood Baptist Church, located in East Nashville and known as The Church at Lockeland Springs. That goal will probably need to be amended when the next regional campus starts in Nolensville, but until then– mission accomplished!

I had help from a new app called Waze. It’s like your ordinary GPS app that gives directions, but this one has the option of Mr. T telling you when and where to turn. My personal favorite is him yelling at me to “TURN LEFT, SUCKA!”

I made it, thanks to Mr. T and Waze. I knew immediately I was going to like this place. It had the smell of a very old church building and looked very inviting. The worship service was spot-on in theology and practicality.

I love how the Church is made up of churches that all express different facets of the body of Christ, yet are all each the body of Christ. Each of the regional campuses has taken on the nuances and flavor of their communities and each reaches out to a different segment of Nashville’s population.

Of course, since I was already in the neighborhood, I had to stop by The Pharmacy for one of their amazing burgers. The one I consumed was called The Farm Burger and had bacon, ham, and a fried egg on it (and it was delicious). I truly appreciate the animal sacrifice that went into the making of this fine creation.

I believe that occasionally, it’s good to break up the routine and do something that’s different. That could mean going to a different church or checking out a part of town that you’re not used to.

I’m thankful for the inspiration to visit all five of the regional campuses. It definitely opened my eyes to the fact that not all of the body of Christ looks and functions like my church. There’s lots of room for every kind of person in God’s kingdom.

 

Another Blog Post About Nothing 

I only posted this picture of my new kitten Peanut because of its cavity inducing cuteness. And because everyone loves kittens. It probably won’t have anything to do with the rest of this blog post.

I’m seriously over the heat. It was another hot and humid day where the moment you step outside it feels like you walked into an oven. An oven with no pizza in it.

If my math is accurate, we have exactly two months until the official start of fall. I’m aware that the state of Tennessee won’t see actual fall weather for another month, but at least it won’t be hotter than the outskirts of hell. Hopefully. Fingers crossed.

Anyway, I survived. I didn’t melt like the Wicked Witch in The Wizard of Oz. 

I’m thankful today for Willis Carrier, the inventor of the air conditioner. I’m thankful for family and friends. I’m thankful for my kitten who is easily amused and keeps everyone else highly entertained. Most of all, I’m thankful for my God who is always enough.

Gratitude wins today. I’m choosing to be thankful rather than be bitter and envious. I’m choosing to see how blessed I am and how all that I have is because of the grace of God and nothing else.

Thank you, God, for my life. Forgive me if I don’t love it enough.

Becoming Your True Self

Earlier today, I was watching a couple of little girls playing and a thought occurred to me. Granted, I am not a parent, so forgive me if I speak out of ignorance in what I’m about to say.

Newborn babies are all cute and precious, but they’re pretty much the same. They have typical newborn behavior that all newborn babies do.

It’s only as babies grow into children who mature into adults that their distinctive personalities really begin to emerge. The older they get, the more their uniqueness shines to set them apart from everybody else.

In the life of faith, it’s only in becoming more like Jesus that we come into our truest selves. The more we grow in grace and take on the characteristics and behaviors of Christ that we truly find out who we really are and what our purpose is.

That’s the irony. It’s only in losing yourself that you find yourself. It’s as if gazing on God reveals more about ourselves than looking inwardly ever could.

As always, I share these things not from on high, having mastered the art of living and figured out all the mysteries of the universe. I come to you like one beggar telling another where to find bread (an image that I still love).

I also believe that you only become truly rich by giving yourself away to those who have need. But that will have to be a topic for another day when I am less sleepy.

 

Christ in Me

It’s Thursday, or as I like to call it, Friday Eve. That means of course that tomorrow’s Friday.

I joke about looking forward to Friday, but so many of us live our lives that way, just getting by from Monday to Friday at 5 pm. That’s not really living as much as it is existing.

If you’re job is something you have to endure to get to the weekend, maybe you need to look for a new job that better suits you.

Maybe what I need isn’t a new set of circumstances (or a new job– I like the one I have) but Christ in me making for a different me in the same circumstances.

Simply put, what I need is Christ in me. As a friend of mine once said, I don’t need a stronger, faster, better version of me. I need a whole new me. That’s Christ in me.

Maybe what I also need is people surrounding me who will bring out the Christ in me, calling forth my best self and not my worst.

Thankfully, Christ in me is not dependent on how super spiritual I am or how disciplined I am or anything like that. It’s all about how Christ is always faithful to His promises to finish the good work He started in me way back when.

My part is to stay surrendered and willing, no matter what.

That’s my everlasting hope, Christ in me.