Voice

Blessed is the LORD! for he has heard the voice of my prayer. The LORD is my strength and my shield, my heart trust in him, and I have been helped; Therefore my heart dances for joy, and in my song will I praise him. The LORD is the strength of his people, a safe refuge for his anointed. Save your people and bless your inheritance, shepherd them and carry them forever. Psalm 28


There is a modern catch phrase meaning: ‘the person speaking has something to say, and the people listening affirm that the speaker is worthy of speaking.’ The catch phrase is: to “have a voice.” We might say, “she found her voice” or “I have a voice” or “they gave me a voice.”

Truth is: You have a voice. If you’ve ever felt silenced, you know it’s a terrible feeling. And to have a voice is a wonderful and healthy way of using your rightful power.

God is one who gives voice; and the most important place we use our voice is in prayer. Anyone can pray, anytime. No one can silence your prayers. And best of all, the LORD of creation listens to your voice and joins in your prayer– with compassion, vision and wisdom beyond words.

VESPERS Prayer

There are countless ways of using your voice in prayer. There are talking prayers and silent prayers, group prayers and solitary prayers. There is mental prayer and meditation, intercessory prayer and soaking prayer, breath prayers and desperate prayers. There are scripted prayers, prayer services and praying in the Spirit. Prayer breeds life, and there are so many new things to learn and try when it comes to your VOICE in prayer.

Vespers is a service of evening prayer, which comes out of the monastic community tradition. Vespers is a wonderful way to transition the day into a hopeful evening.

A Vespers prayer time is something you can do any evening, anywhere. If you like, you can light a candle, sit quietly and invite yourself into God’s presence, then read a Psalm and finally close with a prayer that is intended to be used for a full week. There are various prayer books and resources that provide us with scriptures, prayers and songs for Vespers.

Let’s Try It

Light a candle and sit quietly alone or with others. Rest in silence for a minute or two. Rest your heart and mind and silently confess your intention to enter into God’s presence.

Read this evening’s Psalm 28:6-9 aloud. Is there a word or phrase that speaks to you? Form what you’re thinking about into a prayer. Write it down, talk to God about it or share it with someone else. Use your freedom in Christ to speak your peace!

Say the Our Father aloud: Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

Conclude by saying The Prayer Appointed for the Week. (From The Book of Common Prayer in the Season of Lent): Gracious Father, whose blessed Son Jesus Christ came down from heaven to be the true bread which give life to the world: Evermore give me this bread, that he may live in me, and I in him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,
Katie

Daily Examen

Since the object of our love is infinite, we can always love more and more perfectly.  St. Ignatius of Loyola

O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling. Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; and I will praise you with songs, O God, my God. Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and my God. Psalm 43:3-6


Has your week been a blur? Do you even know what day it is?

I had to think about it! It’s Friday. I’m actually moving, if you can believe that. Dave and I are taking our time, migrating our things from a temporary house to some newly remodeled digs. I picked a fight with him today, because he was bringing boxes and items in the front door too fast for my taste! In between moving tasks, we’re each doing our day jobs from the home office, like many of you; and like many of you, we’re not getting the traction we want each day.

The Good New is: every day is an opportunity for grace and self-compassion. In these days, I find it helpful to have spiritual exercises I can practice until they become– my practice. One such practice is the Daily Examen.

Spiritual Practice: The Daily Examen

Another way to pray is to watch for God’s presence in your life. More than 400 years ago St. Ignatius Loyola taught about mindfulness via a simple practice called the Daily Examen. The Examen is a guided reflection on the events of the day meant to help us notice God’s presence and receive God’s guidance. Most people practice Examen in the evening, but many prefer to look back on the previous day each morning. Try this version of St. Ignatius’s prayer:

1. Become aware of God’s presence. Sit quietly in a comfortable spot and establish your openness to God: Breath deeply, sit in silence until your mind slows down, read Psalm 43:3-6. Then, review the events of your day with a prayerful attitude. The day may seem blurry or meaningless to you. Ask God to bring clarity and understanding.

2. Review the day with gratitude. Gratitude is the foundation of our relationship with God. Walk through your day in the presence of God and note the joy and goodness. Focus on the day’s gifts. Look at your work and the people you interacted with. What did you receive from these people? What did you give them? Pay attention to small things—the food you ate, the sights you saw, and other seemingly small pleasures. God is in the details.

3. Pay attention to your emotions. One of St. Ignatius’s great insights was that we detect the presence of the Spirit of God in the movements of our emotions. Reflect on the feelings you experienced during the day. Boredom? Joy? Resentment? Compassion? Anger? Confidence? What is God saying through these feelings?

God will most likely show you some ways that you fell short. Make note of these mistakes and faults. But look deeply for other implications. Does a feeling of frustration perhaps mean that God wants you consider a new direction in some area of your work? Are you concerned about a friend? Perhaps you should reach out to her in some way.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it. Ask the Holy Spirit to direct you to something during the day that God thinks is particularly important. It may involve a feeling—positive or negative. It may be a significant encounter with another person or a vivid moment of pleasure or peace. Or it may be something that seems rather insignificant. Look at it. Pray about it. Allow the prayer to arise spontaneously from your heart—whether intercession, praise, repentance, or gratitude.

5. Look toward tomorrow. Ask God to give you light for tomorrow’s challenges. Pay attention to the feelings that surface as you survey what’s coming up. Are you doubtful? Cheerful? Apprehensive? Full of delighted anticipation? Allow these feelings to turn into prayer. Seek God’s guidance. Ask for help and understanding. Pray for hope.

St. Ignatius encouraged people to talk to Jesus like a friend. End the Daily Examen with a conversation with Jesus. Ask forgiveness for your sins and healing for your wounds. Ask for God’s protection and help. Ask for God’s wisdom about the questions you have and the problems you face. Do all this in the spirit of gratitude. Your life is a gift, and it is filled with gifts from God. End the Daily Examen with the Our Father.

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,
Katie

Evening Light

May God be merciful to us and bless us, show us the light of his countenance and come to us. Psalm 67:1


It’s been a long day of news and announcements concerning the coronavirus outbreak. I’m grateful for my morning prayer walk and Ryan’s Morning Drop of Hope, because shortly after the day spun away from me! As I type this, we’ve just learned of the stay at home directive from the Governor’s office as well as Larimer County. I pray you are well.

VESPERS Prayer

Speaking of prayer, I’m a fan of all kinds of prayer. There are talking prayers and silent prayers, group prayers and solitary prayers. There is mental prayer and meditation, intercessory prayer and soaking prayer, breath prayers and desperate prayers. There are scripted prayers, prayer services and praying in the Spirit. Prayer breeds life, and there are so many new things to learn and try when it comes to prayer.

Vespers is a service of evening prayer, which comes out of the monastic community tradition. Vespers is a wonderful way to transition the day into a hopeful evening.

A Vespers prayer time is something you can do anytime, anywhere. If you like, you can light a candle, sit quietly and invite yourself into God’s presence, then read a Psalm and finally close with a prayer that is intended to be used for a full week. There are various prayer books and resources that provide us with scriptures, prayers and songs for Vespers.

Let’s Try It

Light a candle and sit quietly alone or with others. Rest in silence for a minute or two. Rest your heart and mind and silently confess your intention to enter into God’s presence.

Read Psalm 67 aloud. Is there a word or phrase that speaks to you? Form what you’re thinking about into a prayer. Write it down, talk to God about it or share it with someone else.

Say The Lord’s Prayer aloud: Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen

Conclude by saying The Prayer Appointed for the Week. (From The Book of Common Prayer in the Season of Lent): Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,
Katie

In the Waiting

So then, my friends and family, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— 1 Corinthians 11

Generous God, help us rest our lives in your goodness. Give us the patience and endurance to wait for our neighbors who also depend on your goodness. Amen


Have you ever hiked with a tired child—one who was slower than the group and at some point, sat down on a rock and refused to move? Perhaps after whining for a mile or so, the little person just plopped down and yelled, “WAIT UP!”

We have old videos of this happening in our family. After doing everything possible to urge the straggler along, the family finally faced the fact that we must wait for one another. Nothing is gained by rushing down the trail if someone gets left in the forest and eaten by wolves. (On second thought, there are margaritas to be gained—at Ed’s Cantina in Estes Park, which is why we were rushing in the first place!)

My Lenten readings took me somewhere unexpected this morning, and it relates to today’s headlines. In 1 Corinthians 11, Paul’s counsels: Wait for One Another.

In the early church, some Christians were embroiled in greed and selfishness. Food scarcity was the presenting problem. One group had access to more and was eating better meals, while another group was left waiting out back. This problem within human nature cannot be confined to church life, because the same issues are at work in our country during the coronavirus outbreak.

Walter Brueggemann comments: In an economy of acute individualism, the strong and powerful can, in greedy ways, monopolize resources and take them from the table of the vulnerable; or conversely, policies and practices of the community may generate an equitable distribution of essential life resources so that all may participate together in well-being.

In the news today, we learn of the tension between the priority of “keep the economy moving” and the need to slow down our movements and wait for the virus to be contained and the health care system to expand capacity.

Paul counsels: Wait for one another. The basis for the waiting is the promise that there will be enough divine/human compassion and resources to weather this economic vulnerability together.

God’s promises stand at all times—times of famine, war, plague, terrorism and political ruthlessness. We have no idea how the mind of Christ will influence this economy while we wait together. The wait-promise is fully illustrated in the story where Jesus feeds 5K people and has a surplus of bread. These stories exist in faith traditions to illustrate divine providence working in tandem with human love.

History shows that where the Christ-presence reigns, there is always enough. This gospel claim of always-enough puts the greedy anxiety of certain economic policy directions to shame. We don’t need to choose between health and future wealth. Health and wealth actually work together. If we choose to stand in solidarity with the physically vulnerable, and our health care community, by modifying our economic operations today, we will be OK. I’m not sure how this being-OK will happen (I’m a former social studies teacher who respects the science of economics), but it will happen.

Spiritual Practice

Read the verse listed at the top of the page, pray the starter prayer, and then listen to this song: Take Courage. The hook phrase in the song is: So take courage my heart / Stay steadfast my soul / He’s in the waiting.

The drop of hope we receive from God’s promises is all the sweeter when we use our hands and feet to pass it on to our neighbor. Do you know someone who has lost their job or is concerned about their well-being? Reach out with a word of hope today and some kind of material gift. Your gift could be a card, your presence on a FaceTime call, flowers or a food item. Pass on your hope, and remember to wash your hands!

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,
Katie

P.S. The song is recorded by our Crossroads Church worship leaders. More songs and hopeful messages live and on-demand every week during these weird times.

The Name Game

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1

Gracious God, help us to become masters of recognizing and regulating own emotions and thus a transforming presence in an anxious world. Amen


My colleague Ryan Howell is on Facebook Live, 10am weekdays, sharing a Daily Drop of Hope. This morning the topic was The Blame Game. I encourage you to join Ryan for a hopeful thoughts and actual Bible wisdom. (Sometimes the Bible is used to spread foolery—just sayin’.)

And now for my expertise on the Blame Game: I have thousands of stories of me using blame to discharge my own emotional discomfort. However, I have no actual video footage of me doing these childish things. And, since videos of people mercilessly blaming people are funny, I’ll borrow one from Brené Brown.

Here’s what we know about the blame game from researcher Brené Brown and the Daring Way™ community of helping professionals.

  1. We play it when we’re feeling hurt, frustrated, afraid. (Often it’s fear.)
  2. The antidote is to play the Name Game instead.

The Name Game is a little game you play with yourself when you have a blaming thought or say a blaming thing. The object of the Name Game is to graciously NAME a few things about yourself in an effort to stop the spiral and observe yourself truthfully. The payoff is peace, love and a little JOY.

Make no mistake the Name Game takes skill and courage. In order to win you need to:

  1. Name the feeling/emotion you are experiencing. (Here’s a list of core emotions; be aware that anger is what we consider a secondary emotion. It’s usually masking other emotions. Name the emotions that often show up as anger for you.)
  2. Name the place in your body where you physically feel discomfort. (Rapid pulse, dry mouth, constricted throat, racing heart, churning stomach, aching head, shaking hands, weak legs… Are we having fun yet?)
  3. Name the thoughts in your mind: (What thought loops occupy your mind; or what does your thought-process look/sound like when you’re playing the blame game?)

The Name Game is a hard alternative to blame, and it’s the only path to freedom when you get emotionally hooked. Naming your emotions and mental story lines is a way to become a transforming presence in yourself, your home and your workplace.

Spiritual Practice

Think about a time you blamed or were tempted to blame. Can you name what you were feeling?

Name the places in your body where you felt uncomfortable. And name the thoughts you were having when you blamed.

In this season, let’s be on the lookout for our own negative emotions, bodily discomfort and scary thoughts. AND! Let’s be watching out for fellow travelers who are having these experiences; and let’s show them some grace. Empathy means being able to feel what the other is feeling. Imagine what they might be feeling in their body and saying in their mind. Then say a prayer for the person and let it go!

Grace can take you places hustling can’t! (Liz Gilbert)

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,

Katie

Take Courage

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side. Later that night, the boat was pounded by the waves, and the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.When the disciples saw him, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14

Lord Jesus, who brings calm out of chaos: Help us recover our True Selves, that we might trust you with courageous and free hearts. Amen


The Bible tells a story about Jesus’s disciples being afraid during a storm. (A common childhood fear.) One evening after a long day of teaching and feeding a crowd, Jesus directed his friends to take their boat to the other side of a large lake. He then headed into the mountains for an evening of solitude. (A common practice among wise parents and servant leaders!)

At dawn he comes walking to them on the stormy lake. When they see him, they are terrified and telling themselves a catastrophic story—“Not only are we stuck in a violent storm, but a dark spirit is coming after us too!”

The disciples’ emotional reaction lines up with Brené Brown’s research on courage and human nature. When something bad happens to us, the brain immediately concocts a story to make sense out of the events. The story does NOT need to be true; in fact it’s usually untrue. Your brain is looking for the quickest explanation in an effort to protect yourself. This is why it’s so hard to stay grounded in faith when something scary is happening.

The disciples are frightened by the storm. They don’t quite trust Jesus, because they’re not yet convinced of God’s power to walk us through difficulty. Jesus explains to them that they have “hard hearts”—they are stuck thinking in the false and fearful categories of scarcity, victimization and self-protection.

It’s easy in this troubled world to forget that we are the children of God. When get overwhelmed, we fall prey to anxiety about scarcity and catastrophe.

Spiritual Practice:

Lent is a good time to remember who we are and what it means to be children of God and disciples of Christ. In the story, Jesus urges us, “Take courage! Don’t be afraid.” The story tells us that Spirit of Christ is more powerful than any threat– and able to calm any chaos. But this confidence can only happen in us when we are grounded in our true identity in Christ. Without access to your True Self, you cannot freely exercise faith when storms come. The opposite of freedom and well-being is fear and greed. But we have the option to choose!

For me, the best way to overcome fear is to stop and really feel it and say to myself, “I’m scared, but it’s only a feeling. Fear has no power; but God’s Love does!” When I don’t stop and talk to myself about fear, it spirals. When I stop, breath and confess my fear, I have the opportunity to remember God’s presence and receive Peace. This is not a perfect science, but it’s a good start.

As I’m typing this, the news is telling scary stories about the consequences of coronavirus in Italy. I’m glad we can practice some simple self-care wherever we are.

Have a blessed evening, and rest safely,

Katie

Simply Enough

Every generous act of giving comes from above. James, the brother of Jesus

Giving God, we are amazed by your creative generosity. Help us to trust and participate in your way of sharing and providing. Give us eyes to see who is being left out; and give us the courage to broaden our circles of care.   


Yesterday afternoon I made corned beef and cabbage. I couldn’t find a green cabbage, but I found a red one—good enough. I didn’t have large carrots, but Amy had a small bag of mini carrots—good enough. I was out of onions, and a neighbor gave me her two onions—simply enough.

This ordinary experience has me thinking about the way God moves provisions through people to overcome scarcity and create enough.

Remember the Jesus story where he has the disciples seat a hungry crowd on the green grass? Jesus and his team then create a meal out of next-to-nothing. The story is all about God overcoming scarcity. Everyone was invited to the table, and everyone was fed and satisfied—unlimited inclusion; unlimited food.

Contrast this with the Old Testament story of Joseph, his brothers and an Egyptian Pharaoh during a famine. Joseph tells his brothers to lie to Pharaoh and tell Pharaoh they are cattlemen rather than shepherds when they ask for food. Pharaoh controls the food supply; and he dislikes shepherds.

Walter Brueggemann comments: Pharaoh’s practice is quite ordinary. We are always sorting out people to see who qualifies for abundance, whether by race, class, gender, character, education, performance, or production. This is standard practice in every society. But Jesus is extraordinary. No norms of qualification. No questions asked. All are welcome! All are fed! Jesus’s extraordinary generosity contrasts with the ordinary outlook of Pharaoh.

Spiritual Practice:

Consider these things: With whom are you sharing these days? It matters not what you have nor what you need: It matters that we share. God moves resources through people. Period. If our table is open to everyone, our hands are extended for sharing and our hearts are humble for receiving… we simply will have enough.

With whom are you sharing these days? Who shares with you? Leave a comment and tell us about your circle of sharing and how you plan to expand it during our community-wide struggle with the spread of the coronavirus.

Have a blessed day and peaceful night,
Katie