Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Another good start

I sat down to write on New Year's Day, thinking that would be a good way to start 2014. But the words did not come. After reflecting a bit on some guidelines I had written out the night before that I hoped to incorporate into my decisionmaking, I conceded that since the words didn't come, it was OK to let it go.

Seven days later, I see how that was part of a good start.

The best part of the good start has been using a spinoff of one of my daily spiritual readings (Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, www.denisonforum.org) that encourages spending the "First 15" minutes of the morning in focused prayer. I tried something like that two or years ago, and it was extremely rewarding. But sometime since then, life got in the way, and prayer returned to a mostly on-the-go pursuit, and reading and reflection returned to something most likely to happen while I'm pedaling the exercise bike, showering, doing situps or lying in bed, in the moments as I try to go to sleep or wake up.

I decided to give this a try, even as I knew it would start at the same time my husband's routine was changing so that he would no longer be leaving the house each morning before I get out of bed. Would I take the time for myself that includes a praise song, Bible reading and prayer?(Among other things, I feared it would look to him as if I were loafing or being lazy.)

Well, for seven days I have, and I hope and pray I will continue. It hasn't been easy, and I've had to choose each day, and sometimes plan for it the night before, whether I would set aside that time. Each day, it has become clear as the day unfolds that it was the right choice.

Along the way, I've found a new dentist, had my first checkup and scheduled a followup appointment. I've talked with an editor about a story I'm committed to write but struggling to get done. Those are two big issues that clouded the start of the year, and while the story is still far from done, the discussion gives me hope. Overall, the time in prayer seems to be helping me connect to the confidence I have from faith in God.

Of course, there are some tricky issues involved. I've seen and read many things this past week that have made me feel less-than, until I force myself to believe that I must not compare myself to others or worry about what others think.

And then there's the matter of talking or writing about prayer. On the fourth day of the "First 15," the model was given of Matthew 6:5-8, which includes this: "And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." I have to ask myself: Is that what I'm doing? Trying to look holy or pious? And I can say the answer is no. That is not what I am doing. I'm just doing the best I can to follow where the Spirit leads me, and part of how I obey is to keep praying and seeking and trying to write and share and just be this chaotic person that I am ...

And I call this a good start? Yes. Yes!

Even as the journey continues ...

“You have said, 'Seek my face.' My heart says to you, 'Your face, Lord, do I seek.'” Psalm 27:8

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