Monday Beginnings

Sunrise and sunset
Your rhythms offered for all
every morning, every evening
without fail.

Breathe in and out
Sight, sound, touch, taste, smell
every day, every night
without fail.

As long as we are here
we are still together
every moment, every hour
without fail.

Attentive to work or rest
laughing or crying
Your words remain faithful
without fail.

Celebrations and sorrows
Ordinary and miraculous
Life here and there; profound gifts
without fail.

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made
    and all their host by the breath of his mouth.
He gathered the waters of the sea as in a bottle;
    he put the deeps in storehouses.
Let all the earth fear the Lord;
    let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him,
for he spoke, and it came to be;
    he commanded, and it stood firm.

– Psalm 33:6-9


God, as we embark on our Monday beginnings, we welcome your assistance and presence. Let our steps be ordered by your Spirit even when we are unaware. Where work is started, let it bring good to our lives…the “good” that honors the life you give us today. Where rest is embraced, may it bring peace. When tears of sorrow or joy need release today, let them flow like fountains; watering our souls and reminding us how wonderfully you’ve created the world. Every beginning is an offering from you. We are grateful; we receive. Thank you for loving us. We need you, Lord, and we trust you completely. Amen.

Moments of Integrity

May the LORD judge between you and me. And may the LORD avenge the wrongs you have done to me, but my hand will not touch you. As the old saying goes, ‘From evil doers come evil deeds, so my hand will not touch you.’”  (David’s words to Saul; I Samuel 24:12-13)

It’s a moment. Saul is pursuing David. He is extremely angry, and his intent is to kill him. David and his small group of men are deep inside a cave when Saul’s army, not knowing David is in there, makes a bathroom stop. David has the perfect chance to kill Saul, or even just take him captive. But he doesn’t. 

He chooses not to do it because he trusts the LORD to be the one who brings justice, and he wants to honor the Lord’s appointed king.  David trusts God more than he trusts his own desires. He trusts God’s timing more than he trusts his own. He knows that one dishonorable or destructive deed just leads to another and another. There is no end to the cycle of evil and violence. He chooses something different in this moment. 

I’ve been reading David and Saul’s story over the past few days.  It is such an incredible story of our humanness and God’s faithfulness. This link takes you to I Samuel 24 for this moment between David and Saul:  https://bit.ly/DavidandSaul  This story strikes me as something that is instructive for us and perhaps a needed word. 

Emotional intelligence teaches us that pausing before reacting allows us the moments to respond in ways that do not perpetuate destruction, cruelty, or falseness. Jesus taught things like pray for your enemies  (Matthew 5:43-48) https://bit.ly/prayforenemies ; and don’t get burdened down with worrying (Matthew 6:27) https://bit.ly/3bVTPvO ; and that we have the ability to observe the actions of falseness or destruction (Matthew 7: 15-19) https://bit.ly/3C36s2P .

How do we remember these teachings in the moment of need?  Well, perhaps a pause gives us enough seconds to choose our response and to consider, as David did in this situation, a better way. The three chapters of Matthew 5-7 are worth our reading and taking to heart as often as we are willing. 

When I read these teachings and stories like David’s, I am reminded of how amazing God is to love us. We are our full human selves, and God continues to shape and restore us into his image. Our brokenness meets God’s healing. Our thwarted thinking is realigned with the mind of Christ. We make different choices. We choose avenues of peace. We love one another in ways that show the world more of the God we worship.  Little moments of integrity. One breath and one response at a time.  

God, thank you for understanding our humanness and brokenness. I know there are so many times I’ve disappointed you. I’ve been weak and allowed circumstances to propel me even though I know your Holy Spirit is so faithful to guide when I pause to hear you.  Our dysfunctions are real, Lord, but your healing does restore us. Your healing gives us the gift of choosing differently. Thank you for any moments we honor you with those choices.
God, please take the hard places in our hearts and minds; create open spaces for us to heal. Your redemption and restoration of our lives is amazing to experience, and we all need you. Please keep doing it more and more. Thank you for leading us to higher ground as we begin this week. It is our desire to honor you with our lives. We love you, Lord, and we trust you completely. Amen.

Friends, be encouraged! God sees you and hears you; you are not alone!

TODAY: Proverbs 27:1

Do not boast about tomorrow,
for you do not know what a day may bring forth.

– Proverbs 27:1

When I was growing up we had a houseboat on Barkley Lake. That is where we spent hours running trot lines, learning how to water ski, and spending time with other families up and down the slip. It was adventure and rest; discovery and learning. This all began with our parents and another couple renting a houseboat for their vacation each summer. Those experiences led to the purchases; our boats were docked right across from one another. We were neighbors on land and water. When we were at the lake, it was all just about that moment.

The name of our houseboat was, TODAY. It often inspired conversation and intrigue. My mom was the one who suggested it and we all agreed, not fully understanding what that name might hold for us and our family. I still remember the peacefulness of watching the moon on the lake at night, early morning fishing, and the fun of learning to ski. Each day its own blessing, each day its own challenge. All a gift.

Today is our blessing. May the Lord walk with you; with us.

Lord, thank you for this day and all you offer with it. Help us to appreciate the gift of this moment that was newly created by your hand, and will never be again. Please allow us the joy of your presence; it is the greatest gift. May our steps today be directed by you in every way. Amen.

When The Tall Trees Rest

She was an artist and a poet. But more than anything she was a friend. Her art began with trees reaching high into the sky. They are all praising God at the move of her paintbrush. I marveled at her creative process. I am so grateful for every painting and every poem. She left us with such beauty, and it never stops blessing my days. 

It is Susie’s art and poetry that I saw when we were by the river yesterday. A tree had fallen. A big rip from an old trunk still standing on the bank of the river. A hard fall, based on the jagged edges of the trunk. It must have been loud in falling; it must have shaken the ground. The tall, strong and beautiful tree lay quietly in the flow of the river’s current. Ah…the tall tree is resting. 

Today we celebrate the life of another friend. Nothing will be able to contain her life. No words or prayers. No song or Scripture. But everything will point to the Creator who gave her to us for a little while. Everything will praise the One who placed the Holy Spirit within her and created a channel of intentional love.  Every breath we breathe is mingled with the same breath God breathed into her. She is a tall tree resting now. So deeply loved. I do wonder if Susie is talking with her; welcoming her friend into the eternal peace, eternal joy, eternal rest. 

the roots of tall trees
go 
deep
search
crumble granite
penetrate core
impelled
by the knowledge
that they are
the linchpins
that hold this
entirety
together

– Susie Sims Irvin, The Tall Trees



Lord, for all who mourn today, please bring peace and comfort. For all who need healing, place your hand on their eyes and bodies, restore gently and completely. For the one who is searching, may your spirit guide them clearly to discover you. Let no one who needs a friend remain alone today.
Please keep us growing, Lord. Keep us reaching tall to find you; digging deep with roots that sustain us in the long journey. And for all you hold in your arms today, Jesus, thank you for the gift of their presence. Thank you for the tall trees in our lives. Amen. 

Harpeth River, May 2022. Melinda Britt photo credit

Monday Prayer

The morning peace arrives differently for all of us. But it still arrives. God is faithful. I pray God shows up for you in exactly the way you need today. 

God bring peace to bedsides where people are making transition. Let the presence of the resurrected Christ standing guard with them be very clear today. 

Bring peace to the people we love who are healing. Let their cells receive nutrients and care; let their blood flow richly through their bodies; fill their lungs with your breath of life and sooth the rhythm of every heartbeat. Free their minds from anxiety and fear.
Thank you for equipping the medical teams with your healing grace. May their compassion and skill be guided by you.

Give strength to the ones who are weary but still face the day of long hours. Equip every person for each call and task. Cover them with safety and give wisdom in decisions.  

Please grant rest to those who have a holiday and slower pace. Give them joy and restoration however they need it. 

Where hope is needed, merciful God, please provide the flame that causes us to catch our breath and say, “it must be the presence of Lord with us!”  

Thank you for the creative ways you respond when we ask for help. Open our spirits to see you and receive. We trust you, Lord, and we love you. Thank you for being right here! 

Breaking Open

The first time I traveled to Central America I was studying: “Spirituality in Third World Countries”. It was 2004. Nicaragua. I stood in streets filled with waste, spend the night on coffee farms to learn their practice and got my taste of making tortillas over a wood stove. I also rested in beautiful places and watched the sunset in Leon.

I learned about the fireworks and made peace with the rooster’s adamant heralding of the morning. I shared conversations with strangers and made new friends. We met with religious and political leaders and witnessed firsthand the realities of another culture and people. Something broke open in me during that experience and it’s been breaking open ever since.

My heart has grown. My mind has been sharpened. I have learned hard things and have watched beautiful cultures turn into dark spaces of suffering, while others emerged with hope, strength, and humility. My spirit has been pruned and shaped for something much bigger than me. I hope, on most days, it is shaped and breathing in a way that honors my Creator.

A lot of things break us open. Experiences leave us wide eyed and surprised. Grief and sorrow take our breath away and make it hard to live through the next hour. Beauty breaks us open. Love breaks us open. God breaks us open. Marriage, divorce, death, birth, illness, strength…all so incredibly intimate; breaking us wide open while also making us whole.

If you are breaking open today – may God give you peace to know that you are not alone. Help is on the way. Ask!
If you are celebrating a joy you can’t contain – I hope you see Jesus’ hand reaching out and inviting you to dance. Do it!
If you are surviving one day at a time – know that the plans God has for you are for good and not for harm .Trust this!

We are given life to live. Live fully. When beauty is present, make time to appreciate it. When you or someone you love is hurting – sit in the valley with them; your presence is enough. We are doing this life together – the sorrow and the joy; it is a gift. Above all, remember that you are loved.

A few photos this morning as a prayer offering.

Lunes por la Mañana en Guatemala

Rooster calls across the dark morning tell me to rise, a new day has come. Before the people move or I can launch my mind to the work ahead, every bird, animal and plant is making a clear claim of praise for the faithful rise of the son. Villancico; song of praise. Santa Maria is invisible; the clouds shield any human sight of her presence.  Nublado.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 
This is what the ancients were commended for. – Hebrews 11:1

Morning Prayer
God, thank you for the creation that never ceases to praise you for the morning’s arrival. You have ordained another day; you speak it into being for all creatures.  And whether we wake with heaviness or joy – you are here with us. Please walk with us wherever our steps trod today, we need you. Clear our minds of fear and shame. Remove the weight of worry. Fill our spirits with your grace and mercy. Remind us that we were created with your love, and we cannot destroy what you are making whole. Where we are broken – keep mending and restoring. When we are moving too fast – redeem within us your pace. Wherever love needs to pour over our wounds, we welcome your presence however you come. We trust you completely. Let it be. Amen. 

Wee Hours Prayer

(a repost from July 2021)

Nudges of your Spirit come in the wee hours.
Perhaps, Lord, someone you love is reaching 
for your hand of grace.
We are seen. Even in the wee hours.  
Reaching into the dark spaces of grief 
and uncertainty 
of pain. 
Come now, Holy Spirit, come.  
Come now with your mercy 
into the wee hours of our lives. 

Where suffering has interrupted the days of a focused life; Lord have mercy.
When grief grips our souls and tugs against the pursuit of healing; Lord have mercy.
For the past that returns unwanted, for the futures we dare to dream; Lord have mercy.
Bring your arms of grace around our trembling bodies. 
Offer your blanket of peace to cover the places 
of our lives left out in the cold unattended.

Lead us to our simple prayers:
Help! Mercy! Come quickly Lord Jesus to help us! 
Remind us again that your love that persists
In the wee hours
In the waking hours
In all hours. 

For you, Holy God, created us and placed us in time on earth
Where your grace is never offered too early, 
and never arrives too late.
We find our peace in the arms
of the resurrected Christ 
holding us all again. 
One miracle moment at a time.
Bring rest. Restore our breathing. Bring peace. 
Let your love lead us back to sleep. 
Amen. 

Fires

PEACE 2022

I confess to praying for snow. It is selfish and I know not everyone needs or wants it. I need the falling mystery that changes everything overnight. I welcome the joy of overwhelming delight; the invitation to play. I hope for it every winter and even in the quiet of the night, I sometimes pray, “Lord, if we can experience the snow, please bring it.” This morning we woke up to beautiful snow. How absolutely wonderful! A gift. 

I realize now that I was waiting for it…the snow. Perhaps even this particular snow on the 3rd of January 2022. The “word” for this year came a few weeks ago and was confirmed as we listened and let the days pass through the new year. The year of Peace. 

Jan 3 2022

Lord, we embrace the peace you give: 
Peace in your timing; it is perfect, we trust you. 
Peace in our life’s work; it is meaningful, we need it.
Peace with our pace; not ahead of you and never too far behind.
Peace in our serving; for your glory and never our own.
Peace in our location; for wherever you are and wherever you send us, is where we need to be.
Peace in our friendships; may they bless and encourage; sharpen and never harm.
Peace in our joy; let it come from deep wells of your grace, unhindered by circumstance.
Peace in our whole being; for how you created us is enough. We are formed in your image. 

Gracious Creator, give us Peace in our grounding of you
for though the mountains fall and the earth shakes 
though our spirits mourn and our hearts break
though our laughter is fleeting, our joy is unending
For in all of this:  
 – you are forever and ever our God. You do not leave or forsake. You are steadfast and trustworthy. You bring possibilities out of our impossibles. You redeem what we thought could never be. You pick us up, dust us off and call us beloved. You are the author and finisher of our faith. Our Savior. In you and through you, we find and hold our Peace. 

Welcome to the year of Peace. Whatever comes, we are confident of God’s holy presence with us.  

The Candle In my Kitchen

I learned the practice from a friend several years ago. When prayer is needed and it’s all you can do, light a candle and let it burn. Let it be a sign and a reminder to hold that person or situation in prayer as you go about your space. Trust God to hear your spirit and love to cover the gaps.

There is a candle burning in my space today. It’s for those I love who suffer, and those who are fulfilling dreams. For leaders trying to navigate an unknown future and healthcare professionals offering healing in whatever way they can. It’s for those whose past haunts them and for those courageously walking the path of recovery step by step. The candle burns with prayers for hope, healing, strength and joy. The candle burns with love. If it is all I am able to give, I trust God that it is enough. Light a candle. Pray. God will move mountains at just the right time and place to reveal the presence of Christ among us.