Developing Rhythm (sort of)

No, I still haven’t learned how to dance. That’s coming—one of these days!

I have been back in Cape Town for a little more than six weeks; and in those six weeks, I have taught at three conferences, worked on various projects, and done my day-to-day work. I’m feeling a bit tired but not as frantic and exhausted as I would normally feel after being on such a hectic schedule.

cup of morning joe
cup of morning joe

I’m trying really hard to develop a healthy rhythm of work and play and rest this year; and although I have been struggling of late, I already see fruit budding from my attempts. I’m not a morning person, so having quiet time before work is not really an option for me. (I’m just being honest.) For years, thanks to some handy apps, I have been listening to scripture or the office of Morning Prayer while I have been getting ready in the morning. My mind often wanders during the readings, but I know God’s Word is sinking in despite my short attention span. However, I felt like I needed to develop a new practice, and I wanted to start the day off with scripture and prayer before I got out of bed. (Naturally, I keep my alarm on just in case I drift off to sleep!) I read the gospel or epistle reading of the lectionary and offer to God the day and pray for blessings and protection for those I love. The practice only takes three to five minutes, but I feel like it is making a significant difference in my life.

In addition to my new morning routine, I’m reading more (yay!) and going to the gym regularly. My work schedule is relentless until mid-July, so I need your prayers for discipline to keep developing a healthy rhythm.

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God Moments

At this point in my preparation for the big move, it is easy for me to lose God in the details. But sometimes God surprises me in unexpected ways, reminding me of his faithful presence and guidance along my journey and of his work in the lives of others and in the world.

This week, I have seen God in the young family who invited me over to dinner to talk with their kids about my future work in South Africa. On so many levels, this couple “gets it,” perhaps even more than I do, as they try to cultivate hearts of compassion in their children.

I have seen God in one of my self-defense instructors who has used a family tragedy to help we women better protect ourselves.

Penguin
Penguins in South Africa? Yes. Another God Surprise? Perhaps.

I have seen God in my new friend who is going through a painful breakup. Instead of allowing the pain and hurt to drive him away from God, my friend is turning to God, growing deeper in faith.

I have seen God in a couple who, upon learning of a connection with a mutual friend, invited me, a mere stranger, to their dinner party. At the gathering, I reconnected with some old high school and college friends and I made new friends. This couple has the gift of hospitality and a love for South Africa; I’m glad I can call them friends.

These are some extreme examples of “God moments,” but I believe each day is filled with God’s touches and flourishes. Unfortunately, I’m often too busy to notice them. I’m praying to be more aware of God in my everyday life.

A Catholic Nun, An Episcopal Priest, and A Gospel Singer

No, this isn’t a joke, but it ought to be. And if I were clever enough, it would be.

As I wrote in my last blog post, the past few weeks have been difficult; but I believe they have been full of growth. I don’t think I’ll realize how much I have grown in faith until months down the road. God has used a Catholic nun, an Episcopal priest, and a gospel singer to help me refocus on him.

Mother Teresa

I have always been a huge fan of Mother Teresa, but I have never read any of her books until yesterday. I was verifying a quotation for work and ran across a bunch of Mother Teresa’s sayings in the book A Simple Path. I decided to download it. This compilation of Mother Teresa’s writings has reminded me of my (our) purpose in life—to love God and to love and serve others in Christ’s love. Here are some of my favorite quotations from the book:

“God doesn’t require us to succeed. He only requires that you try.”

“Prayer in action is love; love in action is service.”

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time and always start with the person nearest you.”

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

Episcopal Priest
Earlier this summer, my mom reminded me of the importance of staying focus and of being mindful of distractions. I have stayed focus on my missionary preparation, but I did lose focus about my identity in Christ. The Ephesians sermon series that one of my priests, Fr. Gilliam Malone, is preaching has re-centered me, reminding me that I’m God’s daughter and that I don’t have to earn God’s love. I realized that I expect more of myself than God does. I expect myself to be perfect; God expects me to be faithful. (You can listen to these sermons via your media player at http://www.stgeorgesnashville.org/Media/Sermons. Click on “Ephesians 1: Adoption in Him” and “Ephesians 2: The Necessity of Jesus’ Death.” I haven’t listened to the third installment preached by The Reverend Sarah Kerr, but I know it will be good!)

Gospel Singer
During the hard drive back from Memphis (see my last blog post, “Sacred”), I listened to Marvin Sapp’s album I Win. The songs are full of redemption and hope. I really resonated with the song “Deeper,” in which Sapp sings about how God calls us out of our comfort zone to go deeper with him. You can download the song at iTunes or listen to it for free below via Spotify. (If you don’t have Spotify, it’s free to download; and it’s great!)

*Image source for Mother Teresa photo: http://pinterest.com/sparklyrainbow/