Could soul care save your September?

September is looming. 

There is much to look forward to as autumn approaches. Many would join me in declaring it a favorite season. The hope of the leaves, temperatures, football games, smells, and tastes headed my way makes my heart do a little dance.

soul care questions

However, holding hands with that hope is angst. The free-flowing schedule of summer is about to be taken over by responsibilities, kick-offs, homework, and sports. I am overwhelmed in anticipation of all there will be to do and manage. Maybe for you, that day has already come. I have a few days left before it hits me.

The start of the new school year can feel like a Mack truck: it carries wonderful things in its trailer, but also threatens to run us over with its speed and weight. We too often stumble into November battered and bruised, wondering how we will make it to Christmas.

I've been thinking about what we can and should do now in order to be prepared for this onslaught. Parts of me want to cut anything and everything that is not essential so I have room to add in what is coming. But I think there is a better way.

This is the time to ask soul care questions.
What fills my soul? Could I do more of that?

What drains my soul? Could I do less of that?

Maybe its time to say no to an activity, even if it's been done before, because your soul will not be able to hold it and stay healthy. Maybe its time to say yes to an activity, even if you don't know where it will fit, because it will give you the strength you need to keep going.

This is the time to be discerning and courageous. This is the time to give yourself grace upon grace as you figure out how to move to this next season.


For my part, I'd like to offer you two gifts that I hope might help.

First, a video. Yup, like a crazy person, I made a YouTube video even though I don't know how to edit or follow any of the other rules of that genre. I just felt like something I experienced would translate better to talking than writing.

Last week, in part because of these coming changes, I was caught in some swirls of anxiety. What helped me make it through was a beautiful conversation we had at a Socratic Scripture Study. I wanted to tell the story of how God kept bringing the words back to me. I hope it might be a short thing you could add that could be a little soul care for today.

Second, an offer. (If you made it through the video, you already know about this.) I have encountered God in unique and powerful ways through Socratic Scripture study. When people gather with questions, authenticity, and love around these ancient texts, I believe the Spiritspeaks to us. So, I want to make it easy for people to experience it for themselves as they enter a season when soul care might be especially needed.

So, all my studies are free in the month of September. This is offer is probably only helpful for those of you who are local to Minneapolis, but anyone is welcome. See my Socratic Scripture Studies page for more information and to register.


Whatever you choose, I pray you can find hope and strength for your soul to thrive in the coming season. I love the encouragement of Jeremiah 6:16,

“Stand at the crossroads and look;
    ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
    and you will find rest for your souls."

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The Manger Never Stops Being Amazing

baby

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“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her first child, a son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” –Luke 2:6-7

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. –Luke 2:15-19

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I have written at other times on this blog about the circumstances surrounding the birth of my firstborn. God let my husband and I know He was with us in the midst of the frightening circumstances. I felt God's love more tangibly than any other point in my life.

That memory is always particularly poignant when my son's birthday comes around. But the story is no less powerful at any other time of the year. When we share it with others, they share our joy and hope in a God who cares for us.

Christmas Day was almost a week ago already. Time keeps relentlessly trudging forward. Some of us had holidays we will never forget, some had days they wish they could. The month of December, as all months, was likely a mix of joy and sorrow, stress and peace, despair and hope, busyness and calm. Some expectations were exceeded; some were never even got out the front door of our hearts.

As the month of December flew by, I had let go of many of my hopes, this series being a daily occurrence among them. We had more commitments than I realized, and it was so difficult to keep up. I wish there had been more peace, more quiet, and more space for contemplation.

I feel like I missed out on the way I wanted Advent to be.

But, the thing is, Advent reflections don’t have to fit inside the window of December 1-25. We never have to put end caps on our wonderment about the incarnation. The picture of God coming to earth in the form of a baby never stops demonstrating His love.

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Emmanuel, thank You for coming so many years ago and thank You for being here with us now. You are always loving, always filled with grace, and always beyond our expectations. Help us keep our sense of wonderment about who You are and how You came to us. Fill us with Your love, and let it overflow to this world You came to save. Amen.

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Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) – Chris Tomlin

“Emmanuel, Emmanuel God incarnate, here to dwell Emmanuel, Emmanuel Praise His name Emmanuel”


NoticingImmanuel

Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.

 


Thank you for joining me for my Advent series! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas season! Please join me in 2014 as I pick back up with my Psalms Journey series, as well as reflections on the everyday life of faith.

An Overfilled Christmas

 full Christmas tree

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“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10

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This year, I put my box of Christmas ornaments away with one full layer of decorations still in it. I just couldn’t find any more room on the tree. After so many years of accumulation, it was full.

My overflowing Christmas tree seems symbolic of the entire Christmas season. Despite my best efforts, the older I get, the more it seems to fill up.

It’s exhausting. And not reflective of the life Jesus came to give us.

Sometimes my response adds to the sense of things being overcrowded. I get worried that the fullness of this season is overtaking the fullness of Christ.

So I pack shame and regret and frustration on top of it all, wondering how I lost track of Christmas, worried that my kids will grow up without the sense of the true meaning of it all that I hope to give them.

But that response does not help take me back to the fullness of Christ.

One of the wonderful things about the life Christ offers us is He never withdraws His offer. It is always there. If we lose track of this Christmas, we will have another chance next Christmas, as well as all the months and days between now and then.

It’s true that life is made of moments, but is it also composed of a lifetime.

I’ve often heard stories of how the innkeeper missed his chance to partake in the miracle and wonder of the first Christmas. But I don’t know if that’s actually a helpful thought. Yes, he did miss that one moment. But he had the rest of his life to find Christ. He didn’t lose the opportunity forever when he missed the moment before him.

Maybe 30 years later, the people of Bethlehem heard stories of a miracle worker, teacher, and prophet who was born in their town. Maybe it triggered memories of how the sky shone unusually bright one night about that many years ago. Maybe someday they were able to find the peace, hope, and fullness of life with Immanuel. They may have missed it that night, but they might not have missed it forever.

Christmas comes every year. Perhaps this Christmas needs a do-over for you, but that’s okay. Christ is still here, and He will always be here, offering you His fullness and peace.

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Dear Jesus, replace our busyness with Your fullness. Replace our shame with Your love. Replace our guilt with Your forgiveness. May we never stop searching for You. May we never stop seeking what You have to offer us. Amen.

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O Little Town of Bethlehem- Sarah McLachlan

“Where meek souls will receive Him still the dear Christ enters in.”


NoticingImmanuel

Noticing Immanuel: a series for Advent. Each day starts with noticing: a picture of an everyday Christmas moment. That picture leads to a verse, a meditation, a prayer, and a song. My hope is that when we see those Christmas moments a second time, they will strike us differently. That we might feel the presence of Immanuel this Christmas season, whether we are sitting in quiet or moving in chaos.