amelia · faith · just write life · motherhood · writing

What It Means for Me to Live Prayer

IMG_6043In February, when I attended FCWC (which is really more retreat than conference and I recommend it wholeheartedly for introverted writers and harried moms who want to be writers), Robert Benson was the keynote speaker. I wrote a little about some things Robert had to say about hurry and life and living within the steps of the Ancient Dance.

Robert will tell you he is a little man but God is great. He’ll also tell you the Yankees are the only baseball team worth watching and if you dress like an artist people will believe you actually are one. Because of my proximity to the staff at conference, I got to spend a little extra time with him, and because I have a habit of putting my foot in my mouth, we had a good laugh together. We wound up in the same shuttle on the way back to the airport–over an hour of him and Eddie Jones (who is my publisher) talking church and baseball and publishing’s state of affairs.

One of those divine moments you have to watch out for at conferences where everyone believes God will place you where He wants you. God placed me where I could listen.

Robert has written a lot of books about life and Christianity but not about Christian living in the self-help sense of the genre. Don’t expect a how-to list and questions to work through and a Facebook chat group.

I purchased Living Prayer because I’ve been in a season of life in which I wrestle with prayer. Not just the action of it–what it means to pray ceaselessly or in communion–but what it means to pray and ask and receive.

Or to not.

IMG_2246I wonder over and over when we pray for healing and restoration and then say God is good when we receive those things if we could have received them without the prayer? And when we don’t, we say that is His will, so if His plan is unchanging, what is our purpose in prayer? What is the point?

Prayer, for me, has not been a rhythm, a stepping to a cadence my soul already knows. Rather it has been a beating and a brush-off. A way people had of offering comfort when what I really wanted was someone to rail with me, to hold me while I wept, to tell me that I am out of tune with God’s rhythm because prayer is not about what I can get but what I can receive.

Prayer is not meant to be the catch-all we so often make it.

People tell me God is so good when I answer their questions about my daughter’s health. I nod. God is good.

But my daughter is not healed.

She may never be, and that is our reality.

She compensates well and we move through our days and maybe I might call her physical therapist because her hip drop is back and her leg is very stiff and she cried the other night because her knee hurt. If her next MRI shows her lesion has receded, I’ll be surprised. If it shows a new spot of deterioration, we’ll still go through our every day and maybe see her neurologist an extra time or two.

And the only prayer I have is that God will show us how to live though our days.

I no longer offer petitions for her body or mine. I offer praise for every day that is better, for every moment that we are broken, for every set of hands that folds with mine. Then i get really quiet because Robert says we cannot hear God’s voice when we are too full of our own. 

And “it is our brokenness… that holds the key to whatever we have to share.”

There is a chapter in this book about Walking in the Dark. If you’ve never walked that path, perhaps you cannot yet understand. But if you have…

“Perhaps God needs me to pray so I can be about the business of laying myself and the people and places and things I care about on the altar.”

And that simple act is what I am learning prayer is. A laying down. A lifting up. A coming to the altar.

I’d love to have you join me there.

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just write life · motherhood · savor · writing

Because Hurry is No Posture for Anyone

Unless there’s an emergency. Hurry is allowed then.

I spent last week in the company of great writers at the Florida Christian Writers Conference (you can head over here if you want to know why I go to writers conferences).

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Our keynote speaker was Robert Benson who can talk eucharist and Yankee baseball in the same sentence. My only quandary after hearing him speak is which book to read first. I’m leaning toward Living Prayer because a review says Benson “makes the ordinary events of life seem mystical and the mystical seem ordinary.” Which is the consistent cry of my heart and probably why I was moved hearing this man speak about life and art and writing and Jesus.

“Hurry,” he chastised softly one morning, “is no posture for a writer.”


 

Everyday I get out of bed and stumble over to the preset coffee maker and pour a cup. I nestle into a corner of our couch and I study and pray and journal. Sometimes I blog or read or socialize with others awake in the dim light of dawn.

Then my kids wake up and rush, rush, rush and hurry, hurry, hurry become my mantra. Somewhere between the turning over of the clock from 6:29 to 6:30 my slow easy morning becomes a winded sprint and there’s yelling and fussing and so much stress.

Hurry is no posture for a mother either.

When I hurry–when I push and prod and pull my kids through our morning routine–I set a tone for the rest of our day. I wake them with the notion that we are already behind and we must rush to catch up.

What if instead I woke them with the notion that we have a whole day of discovering God’s goodness upon us? What if I saw the morning as a filter through which the rest of our moments, our comings and goings, sifted through? What if instead of posturing hurry, I postured slow?


 

Sometimes I let them sleep in until almost seven. I make pancakes or oatmeal and hot tea for little sore throats. I pack up my computer so it’s not taken out until my work day has resumed and I listen when they chatter and I smile when they laugh.

I promise not to yell.

We load the banged-up minivan and we run through the day on the short drive to school without actually having to run.

And the only difference between when we get to school on these days and when we get to school on others is me.

Me.

My actions didn’t change. Lunches still got packed. Shoes still got lost and then found. Breakfast dishes were left on the table and the cat might have been left in the house.

But my attitude said slow down. Savor. Sip. Stow away the goodness and the glory in the mess and the broken.

Hurry, my friends, is no posture for anyone.

Slow down. Look around. Catch your breath.

You’ll get there no matter the route you take. But the difference will be in the journey.

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Robert Benson with me on the last day of conference.