Living Room Liturgy: Third Week of November

Psalm 37

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him…

The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, 

and his tongue speaks justice. 

The law of his God is in his heart, 

his steps do not slip.” 

Today, Lord, make me still before you.

In a world that rushes to do violence and to repay violence, may my heart hush still before you, eager for your wisdom.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him.

When my heart is tempted to worry and to preoccupation with the ache of our world, steady it with your wisdom.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

When all my heart can muster is fretful longing, fill it with the delight of the Lord.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

When the world creaks with sin’s ugly brokenness, remind me that sin is always first an offense against a Holy God.

Be still before the Lord.

When I come upon injustice in the world, in my home, in my community, be my voice.

Wait patiently before him.

When I choose complacency and convenience over justice and mercy, lead me in the way of righteousness.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

When this world’s brokenness and wickedness and injustice tempts me to close up, help me to open up the very same way your son did.

Mark my life by the generosity of the cross.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

Whatever interruption shakes the world, my country, my community, my family today, may I be found stubbornly trusting in your Lordship.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

Though all I have fall aside, though wickedness prospers, You, Lord, uphold my life. You are the keeper of my soul. 

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

As you daily teach this truth to my heart, may it move me to a place of fearless righteousness and resolute mercy.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently before him. 

how we’re observing lent.

In typical Lindsey fashion, I’m thinking well in advance running around like a crazy person, wishing I would’ve remembered that Lent was coming a week ago. I’m not going to argue for participating in Lent in this post, because I’m firmly convinced and it wasn’t the words of any human who convinced me, it was simply in the doing that I realized how much I need it. And every year as I look forward to it, I remember when it seemed like an empty practice, and how it wasn’t until the first time I observed it that I realized how much missing out on Lent can mean missing out on Easter.  But if you’re interested in it or you want to know more about it, Ann Voskamp has some helpful words.

I know Eliana is young. I know Phoebe is even younger. I know that they don’t yet grasp the meaning of the church calendar or the things that we’ll do during Lent, but I also think that it’s important that we observe this season as a family, so I’ve made an effort to find a few things that will help us talk about Lent and participate in it in our daily lives.

For the Grown Ups

The first is something that’s just for me. I’m going to be making an effort to follow the She Reads Truth Lent study. I got the first day half-way done while I was feeding Phoebe this morning, and I’m really excited about this. You can get access to it on the app for a small price, but if you follow it online or via email, it’s free. Just visit the link above to sign up.

David and I are also going to be going through Reliving the Passion by Walt Wangerin Jr. When we were engaged, we went through another of Walt Wangerin’s books with some dear friends who were mentoring us.  We read yet another of his books aloud to one another after finding it at a thrift store on our honeymoon. We love that guy.

For Our Family

For our family, I found this resource, which is a reading plan that takes you through the Jesus Storybook Bible (up to the resurrection) during Lent/Easter. We have been trying to start (or end) our day with a reading, song, and prayer. I think Lent will be a good opportunity to build that habit.

I also found this calendar and this “Lenten Path” for children. My plan is to print out the path and then add those activities from the calendar to my copy, adjusting to make them applicable to our family. Each day we’ll color a square of the path and talk a bit about the activity for the day.

Also, I can’t believe I actually nearly forgot this one. Have you heard of The Brilliance? They’re brilliant! (I couldn’t resist.) Their Lent album is one of my favorites. Those songs made up a significant portion of my labor playlist. Because labor is kind of like Lent to me, but that’s possibly another post for another time. We’ll definitely have this one on repeat for the next 40 days.

Also, I was thiiiiis close to trying to hurry up and make an “Alleluia” banner, so we could bury the alleluia, but for a few days now, I’ve been trying to consider the meaning behind that tradition and decide if we’re going to do it, so we’ll see- maybe I’ll just try to have it done for the Easter season, and we’ll have until next year to consider it.

I would love to hear how you are planning to observe Lent with your family.

chart and compass come from thee…

I take the stairs up to our apartment two at a time, trying to shake the cold off and keep from annoying our downstairs neighbors at the same time. I shut the door behind me and the first few notes of that song come greet me like an old friend.

“Jesus, Savior Pilot me…” 

Words I first heard during college, in a little church I fondly remember. How the carpet and the chairs were deep red, reminiscent of the eucharist; how familiar words of blessing would be passed every Sunday morning: The peace of Christ be with you… And also with you; how it was in that place that I learned how to look for and to listen to Jesus in the rhythms of my life.

How very different my life is now than it was when I excitedly made the pilgrimage every Sunday to a place where knowing Jesus wasn’t just something we talked about, but something we practiced. My husband is sitting on the couch with my daughter and they are listening to those same words, that same song.  Her sister is, for now, asleep in her bed. I sink onto the mustardy velour of our vintage couch and my head finds his shoulder. And it might as well be made of kleenex for all the times his shirt has caught my tears. This time is no different. They’re pooling, puddling right there on his shoulder and I’m starting to resemble a raccoon.

“As a mother stills her child

You can hush the oceans wild

Boisterous waves obey thy will

When you say to them, ‘Be still.’

Wondrous Sovereign of the seas, 

Jesus, Savior Pilot me.”

Those old and comforting words, much older than my experience with them. Still the same as ever they were. An imperfect but helpful picture of the way our Jesus is. These words carry with them memories of frenzied prayers and anxious nights and the peace that comes from trusting. Tonight, their meaning expands for me.  For tonight I have rocked and cuddled, nursed and carried a child in an effort to still her. Patiently, tenderly, holding her close to me so that she knows she is safe, inviting her to give up the struggle and rest. Her eyes open, search, find my face and close again immediately, a serene smile briefly graces her sweet face. She knows me. She knows the safety and comfort of my love, my arms. And I am so imperfect, so frequently impatient and distracted. And yet, he is so constant.

He doesn’t struggle to calm the storms, and his arms aren’t too short to save. He doesn’t mean for me to attempt to navigate hard and ugly and exhausting circumstances on my own. He offers, he expects, to direct me, to carry me, to pilot me. He invites me to surrender. To give up the struggle and lean into the comfort, the peace found in submission.

Oh how very different my life is now. How very much the same my Jesus is. How much older I feel. How much more deeply I feel my need for him.

“Chart and compass come from thee,

Wondrous Sovereign of the Seas,

May I hear you say to me…

Jesus, Savior Pilot me.”

 

Waiting.

“This is not the end here at this grave 
This is just a hole that someone made 
Every hole was made to fill 
And every heart can feel it still– 
Our nature hates a vacuum”

We’re waiting right now.

We’re waiting with my grandfather while he spends his last days, hours here before he sees Jesus.

“This is not the hardest part of all
This is just the seed that has to fall
All our lives we till the ground
Until we lay our sorrows down
And watch the sky for rain 

And my grandmother talks about what a gentleman he is. And we remember.

And my mom talks about how gracious he is. And we remember.

And my dad tells a story about his sense of humor and adventure. And we remember.

And I tell a story about how he told me he would hold on to meet his first great-grand baby, and he did.

And now we tell him it’s okay to let go. His sweet wife stands next to him and urges him to run to Jesus.

“A thing resounds when it rings true 
Ringing all the bells inside of you 
Like a golden sky on a summer eve 
Your heart is tugging at your sleeve 
And you cannot say why 
There must be more”

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Last night we were sprawled on couches and chairs and floor sleeping. Together. Waiting. Expecting.

“There is more 
More than all this pain 
More than all the falling down 
And the getting up again 
There is more 
More than we can see 
From our tiny vantage point 
In this vast eternity 
There is more” 

And as the dim morning light started to creep in through the windows, we thanked the Lord for another day with him, but we know that when there isn’t one, it will be okay. We will be okay. And he will be dancing. His eyes will twinkle again, like they haven’t in years.

“There is more 
More than we can stand 
Standing in the glory 
Of a love that never ends 
There is more 
More than we can guess 
More and more, forever more 
And not a second less”

My dad says the closest thing he’s ever experienced to what we’re doing now is being there for each of our births.  It strikes me funny because I think, how is this even the same? And I think about this while I sit next to my Grandpa and I hold his hand and my sweet baby girl kicks and kicks and kicks from the inside. And I think about how he is about to enter into new life. A better one with no pain or sorrow or hurting. One where he will see Jesus. And I smile. And I think I start to understand why Paul said we shouldn’t mourn like people without hope. Because my grandpa’s labor breaths? They’re leading to life eternal. They’re leading to a kind of birth so good we can’t even imagine it.

“There is more than what the naked eye can see 
Clothing all our days with mystery 
Watching over everything 
Wilder than our wildest dreams 
Could ever dream to be 
There is more”

*Andrew Peterson, More

Wondering, Wandering, and Why I Sometimes Don’t Sing in Church.

I feel like I should be sorry, but I’m not really.

I know it might look like I’m angry or ambivalent or something, but I’m really really not.

Please don’t take my quiet consideration as judgement or condemnation, a bad attitude, or a warning sign.

It’s just that several months ago now, I made myself a promise. A promise that has changed my life, the way I think about other people and the way I think about my faith.

I promised I would start thinking and stop lying.

And that’s why, on Sunday? When we sang that sassy song about how changed we are because we’re Christians, I didn’t sing most of the words.

I’m a sassy girl. I love sass.

It just doesn’t feel right in my worship songs. I don’t like sass when it comes to the blood of Jesus. And I think it’s because it hits too close to home for me. Please don’t hear me saying this song is bad. All I’m saying is that I can’t sing it right now.

See, I know how it goes with me.  For me, that sass quickly turns into pride, into me thinking that I somehow earned or deserved my salvation and my righteousness.  Into me thinking of the world as us and them, not people covered by the blood of Jesus, but people separated by our behaviors and our beliefs.  It turns into a teenage girl who filled journals with arrogant words because she didn’t know what it meant to be grateful for the Gospel.  It turns into a woman who thinks she deserves something from God.

And that’s why, church. When we sing that song, I’m not going to sing along.  It’s because I know my own heart, I know that it’s prone to wander.

It’s because when I see the words “I won’t go back again/That’s just not who I am” on the screen, my heart breaks a little and  a tear falls down my cheek because I know that the opposite is true.

I will go back again.

That’s exactly who I am.

And Jesus knows it, too. Better than I do. And his grace extends to me anyway. His righteousness covers me anyway.

So please give me grace. Because I’m still learning how to live this way. I still feel like I’m playing “Real or Not Real” with everything I know about Jesus and the Bible and what it means to really follow Christ.  And if I’m going to be faithful to the work that God is doing, that means thinking and no more lies.

It means I don’t have to pretend that God’s grace extended to me when I “was” a sinner, but that I now keep my end of the bargain, so I’m basically ok. Because I don’t.  And I’m not.

And it means that I don’t have to pretend that my sinful heart always wants what God wants, that I don’t have the assurance I will never doubt or make mistakes or choose the wrong thing.

I am finding that to truly live in the good of the Gospel, I have to first accept the fact that I’m sinful, through and through. There’s no good in me, and there’s no use pretending like there is.

But in Jesus? All the treasure, all the good, all the freedom.

Let me be confident in Jesus, and his powerful hands to hold me, not in my ability to follow him.

ten weeks of tuesdays: where I bend the rules and write about Jesus Feminist

I feel like I should apologize for missing the last two “Ten Weeks of Tuesdays.”  So, I’m sorry.  I hope this monstrosity of a post that I’m scared to push “publish” on will make up for it.  It’s based on a book, rather than a song, but I make the rules and I say that’s okay.  I welcome your comments; I just ask that they be made in love, with humility, and prayer.  

Apparently bringing Jesus Feminist with me to Starbucks for an hour or two of coffee and reading was a big mistake. When my dad offered to watch my sweet baby for the afternoon, I jumped at the chance to be alone and to read and to write.  But now the lump at the back of my throat almost can’t be swallowed, and I’m sniffing so much people probably think I’m all kinds of sick.  I’m just inches away from the mother of all ugly cries. This book is wrecking me, people.

Jesus-Feminist-Cover-copy

Her stories of loving Jesus and loving people and what really matters are breaking my heart.

And then Jesus is making it whole again.

Because, you see, I grew up in a world where girls are princesses and life is an exciting adventure story and marriage is what rescues you from having to make hard choices and hang up shelves.  Because you’re the woman and that’s how it is. Women do this and men do that. And it’s practical things and it’s spiritual things and it’s already been decided so just read your script and fall in line.  

And then I got married. To a wonderful, godly man who doesn’t hang up shelves or change the oil and who wanted me to make decisions with him.  And I didn’t know what to do.

And I went to a wonderful church and I wrote “Yay!” on a piece of paper to cast my vote for a woman pastor. And it was exciting.

And I decided that working would be the best use of my time and I tried to kill the dream I had to be a momma and spent my time frantically searching for a job. 

And then I went to a wonderful church where a man was in charge of the women’s ministry. And where you were certain to be greeted by a “member of the leadership team and his wife” after the service.  And I struggled with  my place as a woman with no children and a job, but it was still exciting.

And I saw Jesus at work in both places.

And then… sweet Eliana. And all the sudden, those little obediences started to make sense.  All those no’s when all I had wanted were yeses.  And it was Jesus.  And it has nothing to do with the fact that I’m a woman and my place is in the home. It has everything to do with Jesus making me more like him.

And I still hear things like “It’s good you’re staying home; that’s the best thing for Eliana” and “You don’t want to go back to work, do you?” And I don’t, but it’s not because work isn’t  the place for mommas.  It’s because I’m obeying Jesus.

And when I hear Jesus calling me to the hard work of staying home, to the difficult obedience of laying down education and dreams and jobs, and when I hear him calling my friend to the hard work of placing her child in the care of someone else and to the difficult obedience of motherhood and a career, it doesn’t seem as simple as we would like to think it is.

And then I look at my baby and I think about what she will hear. All the lies she’ll be told about what it means to be a woman and what it means to follow Jesus.

And I think about how Jesus has given us the greatest gift of all and we still want a list of rules instead.  We still read the Bible like it’s a catalog of formulaic lives we can choose from instead of a story about the one who made life worth living.

And we make the Gospel about ourselves when it has always been about Jesus.

And I think about how to be faithful to what I’m learning about loving Jesus. And I realize that I’m asking for  more rules and more laws and some step-by-step suggestions and a how-to plan instead of leaning in to the one whose very name is Love.

And that’s why this book is wrecking me.  Because it’s not one of those “I was just like you until I became enlightened,” angry books.  But it’s not shy and it’s unapologetic.  It’s a book that suggests that maybe the point isn’t who changes the tires or who gets to stand in pulpits.  Jesus is the point.  And the love that this author has for Jesus is in every line and on every page.  Even if I don’t agree with everything she says, I see that she’s doing her best to follow Jesus, and I believe that we can agree to disagree on some things, because Jesus is bigger than all of that.

I got this book largely because I read reviews that praise Sarah Bessey for her humility and her attitude.  I haven’t been disappointed.  She doesn’t poke or prod or accuse.  She doesn’t even try to make me believe she has it all figured out.  She just challenges me to follow Jesus.  And to trust that he will be there, leading in the right way.

This book is wrecking me because it doesn’t tell me what to believe.  It doesn’t offer me a check list or a promise of what my life will look like. It invites me to fall in love with Jesus so that I will live, write, and think like him.

Yes, theology is important.  It’s important to know truth and to spend time studying the Bible. I’m not at all suggesting that these things don’t matter.  Nor am I suggesting that I’ve got this figured out, or that I’d be able to articulate my position on a lot of issues.  I just feel like we spend an awful lot of time talking about checklists and facts and not much time talking about Jesus.  But his name is all over this book. And that’s more renewing and refreshing than a peppermint mocha and an ugly cry on a Tuesday afternoon.

If you want to have your own ugly cry coffee fest, you can get Jesus Feminist on Amazon.