A Call to Action

It usually seems appropriate to start a blog post with some kind of witty anecdote or deep, meaningful quotation. But no amount of wit or mask of implied depth would be an appropriate introduction to the topic of slavery.

It has been fairly easy up until the past few months to a year to believe the false assumption that slavery in the United States died with the thirteenth amendment. I mean, we all learn about the Emancipation Proclamation, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, and the abolition of slavery.

If you're like me, whenever you heard the word "slavery" you immediately conjured up mental images of ships full of African natives, reminiscent of scenes from Amistad. And yes, those scenes did happen. There were hundreds of thousands of innocent people ripped away from their homes and families and sold to the highest bidders, only to find themselves in a strange land with strange people, strange language and strange customs. Not to mention the horrible ways they were treated, being beaten, raped, and even killed for not pleasing their masters.

But slavery runs so much deeper than merely being an issue of black and white. And despite the best efforts of our forefathers, slavery is still very much alive today, in America and around the world.

I knew this, of course, in a vague, distant sort of way. The sort of way that doesn't really touch me if I don't look at it.

How many people have suffered because I turned away?

God sent me an eye-opener this week in the form of a film called Trade of Innocents. The university I attended for my freshman and sophomore years hosted an event on Monday night in which they held an exclusive screening of the film as well as a question & answer time with the screenwriter/director Christopher Bessette afterward. Not to mention the fact that they had tables set up in the lobby for their social justice department and several organizations that fight human trafficking here in Tennessee, including End Slavery Tennessee and Abolition International. I scooped up several pamphlets, information sheets, and even purchased a bracelet from To Be Free, an extension of Abolition International that sets up and supports after-care for women and girls who have been rescued from sex slavery.

And this was all before I saw the film.

I found my movie buddy and we sat down on the bleachers in the campus church's gym. After some brief introductions of students who worked on marketing the film, the movie started.

Aesthetically the film was beautifully made. The scenery is lush, the music is lovely, the actors are phenomenal.

But beyond that, it tells the heart-wrenching story of girls - some as young as five - who are stolen from their homes and off the streets of Cambodia and sold as sex slaves to "sex tourists." I cried for probably half of the movie.

At the end of the credits, the director of the university's social justice department introduced Christopher Bessette, the film's screenwriter and executive director. He answered questions as to his motives behind the film, why he did certain things creatively, and resources for more information on human trafficking today.

One of the things that struck me most was his description of the moment he knew he had to make this film. He said he had gone to Cambodia and visited a former-brothel-now-safe-house and stood in what used to be called "The Virgin Room," looking down through a barred window at children playing in the street below. He thought, "Sometime, not too long ago, a little girl might have stood at this very window, looking down at children playing, and thinking to herself, 'Why can't I be down there too?'" And he said he got chills and breathed the prayer, "Oh, God, help me tell her story."

That is what he did with this film.

And the only way we can hope to abolish human trafficking - slavery of any kind - whether it is sex trafficking, labor trafficking, or something else, is by telling the victims' stories. There are so many people in the world right now who are like I was a year ago - untouched by this issue because they fear to get a good enough glimpse at it.

But we can't afford to turn away any longer.

According to End Slavery Tennessee:

*Every minute, two children are trafficked (worldwide).

*There are currently around 27 million slaves in the world. Of those, half are minors and 80% are female.

*The average age of entry into prostitution in the United States is between 12 and 14 years old.

*One-third of runaways will be sexually exploited within 48 hours of leaving home; 90% will end up in commercial sex trade.

These children are in our neighborhoods, on our doorstep, in our back yards. You don't have to go to Cambodia to find human trafficking. It's happening right here, right now. When will we stop looking away and finally do something?

God lit the fire under me this week, and the wheels have been turning as I've been trying to discover how I can best use the gifts and talents God has given me to help put a stop to this horrific monster we call slavery and human trafficking. I have some ideas.

What about you? What will you do? Will you look into the eyes of the Innocents and reach out your hand to help?

Or will you turn away?

Jumping In


Today, our good friend Nate Pruitt preached the sermon at our church. He read from John 21, about Peter jumping from the boat and swimming to Jesus, because he was so excited to be with his Lord that the boat wasn't fast enough for him to get there.

               Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize
               that it was Jesus.
               He called out to them,“Friends, haven’t you any fish?”
              “No,” they answered.
               He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find
               some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the
               large number of fish.
               Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as
               Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment
               around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water. The other
               disciples followed in the boat, towing the net
               full of fish, for they were not far from shore, about a hundred yards.
                                                                           (John 21:4-8)


I want to jump in the water, wholeheartedly and excitedly, with no concern for who's watching, and swim to my Lord.

But first, I need to become small and weak enough that I can't hold myself back when the Spirit moves me.

See, there was this moment during the sermon when, on hearing about Peter's enthusiasm for returning to Jesus' side, my body wanted to leap up and run into the next room and kneel down and pray. I could feel the excitement in me swell, that wholehearted, unabashed desire to be next to Jesus.

But apparently, I'm a little too strong for my own good.

Because instead of leaping up and running to His side, I sat in my chair.

Yep. I just sat there.

I could feel my blood pulsing through my veins with that adrenaline rush. But I contained myself. I gave no indication of what I was feeling. I controlled my body, rationalized away the impulse.

Somehow, I don't think this is the kind of "self-control" that Paul talks about as being good (Galatians 5:22-23).

Why do we do this to ourselves? I say we, because I'm fairly certain I'm not the only one. I think that it's part of our fallen nature, the self-preservation that we feel. Because we all at some point struggle with what other people think.

I struggled with it immensely growing up. I was always worrying about what other people would think of me - my friends, peers, teachers, leaders - even my own family. I remember having many a stunted worship experience because I was afraid to raise my hands or clap or shout for joy because I was afraid of what my family would think.

Family!

And these are people who should share the journey with us, be joyful when we are joyful, grieve when we grieve.

Like the other members of my church.

Like the disciples with Peter.

Peter didn't care what they thought when he jumped in the water. They weren't like, "Dude. We're like a hundred yards from shore. You could totally just stay dry and wait a minute. We'll be there in like two seconds."

Nope. They just brought the boat in, following Peter.

But by the time they got the boat anchored and got their dry selves off the boat and onto shore, Peter had already been with Jesus.

Even though it was probably only an extra minute or two, Peter had that extra time with Jesus. Just being with Him. Even if Peter spent it catching his breath, he was breathing with Jesus.

I want to be so excited about Jesus that I will go to any lengths - even if I have to look ridiculous doing it - just so I can breathe with Jesus for a few moments before the rest of the crowd catches up.

God, please make me weak enough to run after You before I think about what I'm doing.

Holy, Holy, Holy

I was in the car yesterday on my way home from grocery shopping by myself. This is a rare occurrence, people. The only reason I was by myself was because earlier in the day, I had been at Publix and Megan lost one of her shoes, which I only realized as we were getting in the car to go pick up my husband. So I quickly asked a manager if she could keep an eye out for it and I'd be back later to pick it up. So, after calling later to make sure they had it, I returned to Publix to get said shoe, and to finish grocery shopping, since part of the reason we'd left was because Caleb was super sleepy.

Anyway.

On my way home, Phillips, Craig and Dean's "Revelation Song" came on the radio. Now, I typically actually criticize a lot of Christian music, because I feel that a lot of it - at least "mainstream" stuff that's heard on the radio - has become dry, redundant, and predictable. But there is something about this song that just gets me. Until yesterday, I couldn't explain what it was, though I'd tried.

At first, I thought maybe it was something about the chord progression, the instrumentation, the harmonies - all of which are amazing.

But no.

Yesterday, I realized it is because of the lyrics.

Worthy is the / Lamb who was slain
Holy, Holy is He
Sing a new song / to Him who sits on 
Heaven's mercy seat (x2)

Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
Who was and is and is to come
With all creation I sing praise to the King of Kings
You are my everything,
And I will adore You.

What struck me as I listened and sang along yesterday (and progressively couldn't sing for crying in utter awe) was that these lyrics are timeless. They are both ancient and future. And they are made for the King of Kings and for Him alone.

In Isaiah 6, the prophet describes a heavenly encounter in which he gets the chance to see God, the Almighty. He says:

I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy , holy is the Lord Almighty; 
    the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.


And then, later - much much later - John describes the exact same scene in Revelation 4:


Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under its wings. Day and night they never stop saying:
“‘Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord God Almighty,’
who was, and is, and is to come.”

It struck me that I was singing the same song that people and heavenly beings have been singing for thousands of years - since before the beginning of time. It filled me with utter joy and awe to be privileged enough - even if for a few moments - to join with the heavenly host in worshiping God Almighty in the same song. And I felt for a tiny bit like I was really a part of the whole hosts of saints throughout history, singing my awe and worship and honor to Jesus.

And I really think that this song will never cease to have that effect on me.


Stuck Inside

I want to wander barefoot through fields of tall grass under the sunshine, close my eyes, smiling into the wind, and feel God.

I want to sit near a brook, dip my toes in the cool, slowly meandering flow, feel minnows nipping, and feel God.

I want to walk a dusty path through a dappled forest, noting the differences in temperature between sunlight and shade, smelling the fragrance of the green, living foliage, and feel God.

I'm tired of being indoors. We have sectioned ourselves off from the world.

I sit here at a desk in front of a brightly lit computer screen, longing for something so much more than what technology (as much as I love - or rather, am addicted - to it) can offer, beyond what modern transportation, and houses and buildings and even church facilities hold.

Why have we closed ourselves off? God created this beautiful, amazing sanctuary for us to live in, to worship in, to work in. It's called Outside, Nature, The Great Outdoors...whatever you want to call it. His handiwork is everywhere - completely obvious, right there in the open. And we've shut ourselves off to it.

If it starts to rain, we run inside, fearing getting too wet. What if we just stood there, letting the drops fall, feeling the prickle of the rain on our skin, the coolness, letting ourselves be saturation, feeling our heart beat with the rolls of thunder? What then? Perhaps we would find that Nature isn't so big and mean and scary after all. Perhaps we would find that God is standing there with us, waiting to see the smiles of enjoyment on our faces. Maybe He wants to see us splash around in the puddles like children, not fearing the rain, but taking sheer pleasure in it.

I realized recently that, somewhere along the line since I moved away from Pennsylvania - where I lived in a small town surrounded by farmland - I began to fear bugs. I used to be able to walk through a swarm of gnats and not flinch, or have a fly land on my arm and not immediately shake it off. I used to sit and watch ants marching to and fro, carrying amazing loads on their backs to their homes. I used to be fascinated by the most minuscule details of nature.

What has happened?

I became an adult.

I've lost my childlike faith, that innocence that believes that I can just reach up and God's hand will be there, that He will walk beside me as I skip along, happy to just be in His presence.

I can't feel that when I am inside. Inside structures created by men, I feel as though I am drowning.

It's difficult to hear - the sound of God's voice gets drowned out by all the distractions with which we surround ourselves.

It's difficult to see - our views of nature are blocked and obstructed by the walls we've built to protect ourselves from it.

It's difficult to feel - we live in climate controlled houses, where we can dictate what temperature it is. We miss feeling the warmth of the sun on our skin, the chill of a crisp autumn breeze, or the frigid bite of a snow-filled wind.

And most importantly, it's difficult to live - we are stuck inside these white-walled prison cells, cut off from the beautiful, vivid life of nature. We don't breathe real air but manufactured, processed, chemicalized air. We don't see by natural light, but by the magic of electricity.

If we have so separated ourselves from Nature - the very evidence of God's existence ("For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." Romans 1:20), how then can we expect to know Him, to fully feel His presence?


I need to get outside.

Brutal, beautiful Love

I visited a friend's church tonight. This was my second visit, and my husband's first. The worship was awesome. God's presence was definitely there. But the pastor said some things that were just deep, and really got me thinking about stuff. (Warning: my thoughts sort of go all over the place, and don't necessarily lead neatly from one to the next.)

He was talking about how God's love is brutal. One of the illustrations he gave (not sure if he came up with it on the spot or not) was that, if the Holy Spirit were a bear and wanted to eat you, He would have to tear you limb from limb in order to do so. If we want to be consumed by the Spirit, by God, we must be broken. It is a painful process, the whole dying to yourself and dying to the world thing. But it is necessary, and it's really beautiful, even though it is brutal.

Myself - I've had a hard heart lately. The past couple of years, since the death of my first daughter, Genna, have taken me through an emotional - and spiritual - roller coaster. I'd thought that I was on this awesome track, growing ever closer to God, when in reality, I had begun shutting myself off from Him. I've described it to several friends as feeling stuck inside a marble statue, being able to see what's going on, but not being able to actually do  anything.

During the sermon tonight, I was thinking again on this image I'd had in my head, of being stuck inside a statue. But then the image changed, and I saw a baby chick struggling desperately to get out of its shell. This struggle is so hard, it takes all the chick's strength and energy - and honestly, all the chick's will, also. But after the long, desperate struggle is over, the shell is broken, and the chick is able to emerge into a new world, and is able to grow.

And I believe that I have begun to struggle against my shell. I'm really ready. I'm done incubating. I need to bust outta here, see new sights, grow some feathers, and eventually, learn to fly. But I won't be able to do that if I stay in my shell. If I stay in my shell, I will die. I'll outgrow the space, I won't be able to breathe, and I won't have a food source. In order to live - truly live - I must hatch.

And so, that is what I am doing.

Expect to see me leaping from branches flapping my wings in a few months.

Rediscovering Reverence

Today, for the first time in a long time, I visited a church.

I say the first time in a long time, because, for the past nearly seven years, my husband and I were members of a particular church and attended pretty much whenever the doors were open. Recently, however, we felt God's move on our hearts to leave that particular congregation. We weren't sure exactly where God was leading us. We just knew He was moving. So we followed.

Today, my husband and I (along with our daughter, and a friend and her son) visited an Anglican church.

I will be the first to admit that I am by no means an expert in the difference of doctrines or church origins. All I know is that the Anglican church is a sort of outgrowth of the Catholic church that came about during the time of King Henry VIII and the English Reformation. I also know that the Anglican church is a lot more liturgical than almost any other church I've been to (save my grandma's church, which is Episcopal, which is the sister of the Anglican church).

Now, my husband grew up Nazarene, and I...well, I grew up going to a wide variety of churches, from Baptist, to Assemblies of God, to Church of God, to Non-denominational, to Church of Christ. I've been exposed to a lot of different versions of the Body of Christ. This was probably both a good and bad thing for me. I've encountered a lot of diversity in worship, but I also have no clue about the doctrinal background of pretty much any of the afore-mentioned denominations.

When my husband and I married, we decided to go to a Nazarene church. He grew up knowing the denomination, we met at a Nazarene university...it made sense. And so, for the past nearly ten years, I have considered myself Nazarene (though I've been a bad Nazarene and haven't really learned much about the denomination as a whole).

Based on my background (or personal "church history"), choosing to try an Anglican church may seem strange. I come from what you might call a "charismatic" background, where the churches tend to embrace "freedom of worship" more than structured, liturgical services. I've attended many services that were really just several-hours-long worship services, because "the Spirit moved." This is awesome. I love it when the Spirit moves. But I've found over the past several years that the Spirit does not need a lack of structure in order to move. And I've come to feel that many churches fall into one extreme of too little structure, too much freedom; or the other of too much structure, too little freedom. It's either too stiflingly structured, or it's chaos, and there's so much going on that you can't feel the Spirit moving.

The church we visited today was, I believe, a good balance of the two extremes.

I've been realizing slowly over the last several years that deep devotion and liturgy woo me to Christ best. Sure, I love a good worship service. Music speaks to my soul. I love praise and worship bands, and good music, just like the next person. But I've felt that there's a huge lack of reverence when it comes to approaching God. Yes, Jesus is our best friend, who sticks closer than a brother. He broke down the walls that kept us from approaching God. We can now approach the throne of grace boldly, with confidence. But God is still awesome, worthy to be feared and praised. He is mighty, wondrous, amazing. We should be awe-struck to even think to be in the presence of the Creator-God who sent His Son to save us.

That reverence is what I've been missing in churches. And that reverence is what I found today in the Anglican church we attended.

To quote an email I sent to a friend earlier today:

"The first thing that struck me was the unison chanting of the Psalm. It was a long psalm, and I wondered how it could "hold people's attention" by singing the same chord progression over and over and over for that many verses. But by about the third stanza/verse, I realized that there was some kind of amazing power in this unison chanting. People started getting a little freer, actually worshiping through the chanting of the Psalm. I heard a couple of voices begin to harmonize, other voices grow in strength and passion. I was intrigued.

I must admit that, when the Bible was brought ceremoniously down the center aisle for the gospel to be read, I got chills. Congregants bowed their heads as the Bible passed by them; there was such reverence and respect for the Word of God. [...]

For the first time today since I was in elementary school (I think), I took communion with wine. The real stuff. Not grape juice. This was something else that made me think, made me internalize some things. I've never really understood why wine was necessary for communion. I'm not a drinker - I don't particularly like the flavor of alcohol. But the bitterness of the wine - the pungent flavor on my tongue as I chewed my wafer - reminded me of the bitterness of blood, the pain Jesus felt when he died, the weight of the sins of the world."


There were other things that affected me during the service, but alas, this post is already long enough. Attending an Anglican church today, though, taught me that ritual and tradition is okay. There absolutely can be freedom in worship in a structured setting. And I firmly believe that, at least for some, the structure actually helps people focus more on the most important thing: God, through Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. 

I completely believe, also, that different formats of worship (and different denominations) exist because they call to different people. Just as people have different personalities, I think that people have different ways of worshiping. If we all worshiped God the same way, life would be pretty boring. So I am by no means knocking any denomination, because I think that God uses everything for His glory, and every denomination does some kind of good, and brings people to Christ.

Liturgy seems to be my thing. I can do charismatic, evenagelical services all you want me to. But it seems that, for me, the quiet reverence of a liturgical service speaks to my heart the most.

What do you think?

I like to say that I don't care what people think, but deep down (well, probably not so deep down, at least to the people who know me best) I really do care. I wish I didn't so much. While I'd love to let things just roll off my back like water off a duck, I typically let them sink in - nice and deep. I let them burrow in and irritate me. And then I tend to have bitterness issues. Oh, I don't really talk about it. Much. But I think about it a lot. All kinds of nasty thoughts flitting through my head. Things I could have said in retaliation, or smart remarks that would have dropped the jaws of the other party. Oh, yes. I think. Too much, I fear.

For far too long, I've thought about what others think. I've anticipated any possible reaction to the things I do or say (or write). And for far too long, I've spent far too much energy on worrying about those reactions. Even if I haven't always shown it.

I've been slowly coming out of a dry season in my faith. Everybody has them at some point, whether you want to admit it or not. And just because someone has a dry season doesn't mean that they're "falling away" or "on the wrong path," for example. It means that they're facing questions. It means that things have come up in life that don't fit into a neat little box. It means that maybe - just maybe - they're human. They're not perfect. They've fallen. And perhaps they need help up, instead of being kicked while they're down.

So, this dry season - it's been tough. I've described it to a couple of friends as feeling as though I was stuck inside a statue: I could see things happening around me - life, movement, the things I needed to do - but I was stuck inside this marble and I couldn't move. And maybe a part of me didn't care to move. It's not a happy place, being stuck. But I feel like God is beginning to melt the ice that I'd let form around me. He's breaking through again, warming my veins. I can feel my heart beating again - slowly, perhaps, yes. But beating. With life, with energy. With a desire for God's will. 

I'm beginning to shake off these chains that have bound me for a while now. Stretching my arms and legs, wiggling my fingers and toes. Where I had been asleep, I feel a tingling, and I just have to move.

I may not be perfect. In fact, I'm not perfect. No one among us is. We are all human, and, as Paul wrote, "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23, NIV). But that means that we are all on equal footing. God - Jesus Christ - has and can save us all. And He saves me, even now.

If it weren't for Christ, I don't know where I'd be. I'd probably be somewhere completely different. I may not be with my husband right now. But our God is an awesome God, and He found me where I had fallen, and He carries me. Times get tough every now and again, but I'm so glad that He doesn't look at me for my circumstances, but with the gracious eyes that see His Son in me.

And I need to remember that His eyes and His thoughts are the only ones I need worry about.

Witnessing to all (?) creation...

I've been thinking lately about animals. Especially since I'm a vegetarian, you know, I think about the whole issue of why we shouldn't kill animals. At first, I was soft on the issue. "Well, we shouldn't kill animals in mass numbers. That's just wrong. But I guess if you hunt it/fish it/raise it on a family farm and then kill it, it's not so bad." And then I read some stuff on PETA's website about how animals feel pain. How mama animals love their young and actually want to be mothers.

Now, I can relate to this, because I'm a mother.

And then I started thinking about - wait for it, Christians! - animal souls. Yes, you read that correctly. My whole life growing up, I learned that animals didn't have souls and humans did, and this is why we are different. Humans aren't "just another animal." Family members (and other members of our faith community) were horrified and outraged if anyone classified humans as animals. Like it was shameful to be placed on the same level as them.

So, I turned to my bible as my source of information. I mean, God's word has to be good for something, right? So, why not find out why we believe what we believe from it?

I found that Ecclesiastes 3 (the famous "there is a time for everything" chapter) held some interesting information for me.


This, of course, raised some questions. The main one, though, deals with us having the same breath.


I'm about to get a little nooma on you.


In the 14th nooma video "Breathe," Rob Bell talks about how, historically, the name for God found in Exodus (where God tells Moses to tell the people "I AM THAT I AM"), the word "Yahweh" or "Jehovah," (rendered YHWH in the Anglicized version) actually is a sound word - literally onomatopoeia - for breathing. Bell says that the words for each letter are Yod Heh Vah Heh, signifying the intake and outlet of breath, and that the Hebrew words for "breath" and "spirit" are the same.


If you think about this, wouldn't that then mean that, when the writer of Ecclesiastes says "all have the same breath," this refers to the breath of life God breathed into us? Traditionally, this breath breathed into Adam has signified God's spirit (which makes sense, if "breath" and "spirit" are the same thing). 


But then, does this mean that animals have spirits too?


Honestly, I'm tending to lean more toward the "yes" side of this argument. And you can say what you will. But from my experience with some amazing animals, I wonder: how can they not have spirits?


As for the part of Ecclesiastes 3:21 ("Who knows if the spirit of man rises upward and if the spirit of the animal goes down into the earth?"), I don't know. We as humans don't even know enough about our own souls and/or spirits to decipher stuff like that for ourselves.


But, following this train of thought, I sort of maybe witnessed to a dog recently.


Back in February, I was visiting my mom & sisters in South Carolina. My mom has two dogs: Andi and Razz. They're both some kind of mix of shepherd and chow, we think. Razz is Andi's puppy.


Andi is now over 10 years old, and she recently had some digestive issues that had mom concerned that she might not have much longer. While I was visiting, there was one night in particular that we all thought Andi wouldn't make it through the night. She was incredibly weak, but she was also in pain, and so she stood so as not to lie on her stomach, which was apparently causing her much grief. Her ears and tail were drooping, and if she did attempt to walk at all, it was in tiny, shaking steps, not getting her much further than a few inches at a time.


I was very convicted about this animal/spirit concept that night, and at one point I sat on the floor in front of Andi, wrapped my arms around her neck and held her, gently stroking her fur, and whispered into her ear how much God loved her, and that Jesus died for all of us so that we wouldn't be captives to sin anymore. I told her how much God cared for her and wept at her pain. And I told her how I felt maybe a little crazy for telling her those things, but I wanted her to know. Just in case.


It turned out that Andi was just having some old-dog digestive issues, and she's still going. Not as strong as she used to, but she's still alive. 


But I don't regret "witnessing" to her at all. And I think I may try to practice this more often in the future.

I will be still

Call me crazy, but I've been thinking about monasticism.

Not to become a nun or anything, of course. I mean, come on, I'm married. The vow of chastity would be out the window in a minute.

But on a more serious note, there is a lot in the monastic lifestyle that intrigues me, or calls to me, if you will. With the lifestyle comes a certain amount of peace, solitude, stillness. A contemplativeness that transcends the busyness of life and focuses on God and God alone.

This is what interests me.

I find that I often get too caught up in "doing" and "going" and forget to be still and know that God is God. And this is the most important thing for us to do.

In chapter ten of the book of Luke, Jesus visits the home of Mary and Martha. Mary sits at Jesus' feet and listens to him, while Martha busies herself with, presumably, household chores - things that do need to get done, in a practical sense (especially when one is entertaining Jesus - "My goodness, those dishes aren't clean! Can't have the Messiah eating on that!"). But while Martha is upset that the majority of the chores have fallen to her, Jesus tells her that "...one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:42, HCSB).

Right there, Jesus is speaking not only to Martha, but to all of the Marthas in the world (men included!). We all get too caught up in the "doing" sometimes, and we all need a reminder that it is okay - actually preferable and vitally important - to sit at Jesus' feet and just listen.

I couldn't just drop my life and go live in a monastery. I have legitimate responsibilities that I have already committed to (such as my husband). But I think it is feasible to bring a bit of the monastic experience into my life. Yes, it will be difficult to turn off the computer after the fourth time checking my email and playing Geo Challenge on Facebook. Yes, my husband is hungry and wants dinner now. Yes, there are a whole host of other things just waiting to be done.

But what is more important: a casserole, Or the King of Kings? My husband, or the Lover of my soul?

Jesus is important enough to make time for. I have no excuse to not make time for him. If he is truly my All in All, then shouldn't I be giving him my time?

This is my goal this year, an early New Year's resolution, I suppose. I am determined to be conscious and aware of my days, of how I spend my time. I want to live my life with purpose and intention, and I don't want to do anything that will pull me away from God and into the busyness and chaos that screams for my attention.

I will be still.