Tag Archives: saints & heroes

Loaded with Love

What a fabulous weekend I had serving as the speaker at Faith Church‘s women’s retreat this weekend!

This month, November, we’re diving into the idea of “doing” after a month-long reflection in October on “being.” However, since I’ve been away over the weekend (and, prior to that, was busy preparing for the retreat), we’ll start our discussion of doing with revisiting a blog post I wrote a few years ago: a short & sweet reflection on the wisdom Mother Teresa can bring to our “doing.”

• • • • •

I deeply admire Mother Teresa.  I have a book that compiles many of her powerful, written words (called A Simple Path) and in getting to know her through these words, I cannot help but be convicted and inspired by her devoted obedience to Christ — whom she deeply loved and proclaimed to be Lord (Romans 10:9) — and by her compelling life of service to the poor, sick, and lowly.

blog.love heartIn  A Simple Path, Mother Teresa’s words speak this truth into my life: “[T]his is God’s wish for us — to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.”

The second part of this statement is so crucial. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the needs of the world. What issues can we address? Who can we serve and how, when so many need so much? But the Holy Spirit will guide us. If we are attentive to the Spirit, our task is to obey when he leads us. We are called to no more than that . . . and certainly to no less.

I also find inspiration in the words that the Missionaries of Charity have on a poster in the headquarters: “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into the doing.”

Teach us to load our service with love, Lord. To put deep, overflowing love into the task of service your Spirit has before us — whatever it may be.

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The Perilous, Exciting, Whirling Adventure

In speaking about Christian faith in an increasingly materialist, naturalistic world, G.K. Chesterton wrote about the “thrilling romance” of belief in Christ: of understanding one’s self, one’s place in this world, one’s being and purpose for existence. The exuberance of living real life and being truly and fully human. In his great apologetic work Orthodoxy, he wrote, “People have fallen into a foolish habit of speaking of orthodoxy as something heavy, humdrum, and safe.” (Pause and consider: Is my faith humdrum? Has obedience become heavy? Is my God safe?) Yet, he writes, “There never was anything so perilous and exciting as orthodoxy.” His personal journey of faith was, for Chesterton, “one whirling adventure.” Indeed!

Similarly, Dorothy Leigh Sayers (a somewhat eccentric and exceedingly brilliant and creative theologian, literary critic, and writer of the early twentieth century) described how people of her culture – familiar with Christianity in a general sense – “simply cannot believe that anything so interesting, so exciting, and so dramatic can be the orthodox Creed of the Church.” For Sayers and for Chesterton, the gospel message and all that gospel entails was the most thrilling, moving, and centering reality for humanity. Continue reading

Of Photons, Saints, and Truth

Many Bible scholars name her as the first evangelist. The very first person, in all of Scripture’s record, who practiced this “discipline” that intimidates me so.

And yet she makes it look so simple, so natural, and very un-intimidating.

She had met Christ at a well. He easily demolished strict ethnic and gender barriers with words of kindness and truth, sending those walls of racism and sexism crashing down. He spoke convicting and perhaps painful truth to her about her life. He offered her living water — deep satisfaction for her soul. And he revealed to her that he was the promised Messiah.

What she did next was so, so simple. She went into town — the community that likely judged and shunned her — and “said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?'”

They listened. Something about her voice, her demeanor, her sincerity drew them. And they began to seek him out.

John tell us that “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:1-42).

Scripture does not record her name, but in Eastern Orthodox church history and tradition she is called “St. Photini.” It is a name that speaks of light.

A photon is the basic unit of light. Hard for me to imagine — but I picture it as a dust mote in a sunbeam. A tiny speck of powerful brilliance, containing the very essence of light itself. Tiny, but shining forth. So miniscule, yet with the power to illuminate the darkness.

This is the image of evangelism I’ve been ruminating on. This simple woman with a checkered past and a life probably full of emotional confusion, simply and vibrantly told the truth about her interaction with Christ. She was a small and “insignificant” person in her community, but she did what was only natural. She invited others, “Come and see!” She, like a photon, was a single unit of light. She shone with the brilliance of Christ and it illuminated others’ hearts.

Let us, too, be people who “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15)

Loaded With Love

I deeply admire Mother Teresa. As a Protestant, I realize that she and I differ on some key theological matters. I know that for some, perhaps even some of you readers, a post about Mother Teresa may seem controversial. But I have a book that compiles many of her powerful, written words (called A Simple Path) and in getting to know her through these words, I cannot help but be convicted and inspired by her devoted obedience to Christ — whom she deeply loved and proclaimed to be Lord (Romans 10:9) — and by her compelling life of service to the poor, sick, and lowly.

In the book A Simple Path, Mother Teresa’s words speak this truth into my life: “[T]his is God’s wish for us — to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.”

The second part of this statement is so crucial. It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the needs of the world. What issues can we address? Who can we serve and how, when so many need so much? But the Holy Spirit will guide us. If we are attentive to the Spirit, our task is to obey when he leads us. We are called to no more than that . . . and certainly to no less.

I also find inspiration in the words that the Missionaries of Charity have on a poster in the headquarters: “It is not how much we do, but how much love we put into the doing.”

Teach us to load our service with love, Lord. To put deep, overflowing love into the task of service your Spirit has before us — whatever it may be.

15-Minute Formation: Examen

Much of the lingo regarding spiritual formation has to do with be-ing rather than do-ing. Fundamentally I completely agree with this shift in focus. We seek to abide in Christ rather than “accomplish” for Christ.

But by nature I am a do-er. I am very accomplishment oriented. Each day I leave behind a list scrawled on paper or a Post-it in which I’ve recorded my to-do’s (and attempted to do at least some of them).

This month’s spiritual discipline of life-change adds an element of do-ing to our be-ing as we actively and intentionally join our best efforts with the Spirit’s work in our life, seeking to align our actions, character, and thoughts with the way of Christ.

One powerful way to do this is through the practice of examen.

In examen, we muster the courage take honest stock of our lives with God. Here’s how I explain examen in The Busy Mom’s Guide to Spiritual Survival (you can find more in-depth discussion of this topic in the book):

Ignatius of Loyola taught that Jesus-followers should regularly spend a focused time of prayerful reflection, taking stock of their day and evaluating how well they lived out your faith. He called this practice examen and outlined it in five basic parts:

1. Recognize that you are in the presence of God.

2. Reflect on your day with gratitude and thank God for how he blessed you, guided you, and provided for you.

3. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you as you prepare to evaluate the outer actions and inner motives of your day. Open yourself to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

4. Take time to prayerfully review your day. Start in the morning and think through the events that occurred during the day—consider your interactions with your children, spouse, and others; reflect on your inner thoughts and feelings; evaluate your use of time and your attentiveness to God. As you review your day, joyfully respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit as God points out areas in which you fell short of how he wants you to live and to love. Continue reading

A Celtic Prayer

I am a week late, I know. But it’s still March, and so I think it’s fitting to visit the lovely, moving prayer attributed to St. Patrick and recited by Celtic Christians for centuries. Below is an excerpt of this touching prayer; as you read, consider saying the words aloud in an attitude or prayer.

I bind unto myself today / The strong Name of the Trinity,

By invocation of the same, / The Three in One and One in Three.

 

I bind this day to me for ever. By power of faith, Christ’s incarnation;

His baptism in the Jordan river;
His death on Cross for my salvation;

His bursting from the spicèd tomb;
His riding up the heavenly way;

His coming at the day of doom [Judgement];
I bind unto myself today.

 

I bind unto myself today / The power of God to hold and lead,

His eye to watch, His might to stay, / His ear to hearken to my need.

The wisdom of my God to teach, His hand to guide, His shield to ward,

The word of God to give me speech,
His heavenly host to be my guard.

 

Christ be with me, Christ within me,

Christ behind me, Christ before me,

Christ beside me, Christ to win me,

Christ to comfort and restore me.

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,

Christ in hearts of all that love me,

Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

I bind unto myself the Name, / The strong Name of the Trinity;

By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,

Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:

Praise to the Lord of my salvation,

Salvation is of Christ the Lord.

 

One of my heroes…

I’ve decided to add a new category to this web site. You’ll find it over on the side and it’s called “an eclectic list of heroes.” If you click on it, for now you’ll just find this post — which will hopefully be the first of many.

I think having heroes is a critical part of spiritual growth. They give us something authentic to aim for. We find inspiration in their stories and journeys. They tell us something about ourselves and what we can do on this planet.

Back in my cubicle-in-a-publishing-house days, a had a picture of one my heroes as the wallpaper on my computer. One of my friends walked by and did a double-take. He said, “Kelli, why do you have F.D.R. on your computer?…And why is F.D.R. wearing jewelry?!”

Well, it wasn’t F.D.R. It was a photograph of Dorothy Leigh Sayers — British theologian, friend of the Inklings, and murder-mystery-novelist extraordinaire.

My friend was right — the resemblance to F.D.R. was really uncanny.

I was first introduced to Dorothy Sayers in a theology class by another brilliant theologian, Gil Meilaender. There are many things to admire about Dorothy Sayers, such as her influence on and acquaintance with the likes of Lewis and Tolkein; her courageous metriculation through Oxford as one of the first female graduates (with honors too!); and of course her thought-provoking treatises on issues of theology and Christian practice.

But I think what I love most about Dorothy Sayers is her role as mystery novelist. She created Lord Peter Wimsey and the series of novels in which this royal sleuth solves crime (pre-C.S.I. technology). I love that this vibrant Christian wrote about murder, created a rather sexy (and odd) detective, and was respected by others in the genre. I love that though theological issues are woven in the background of her novels, they are hardly “Christian.” (How could one really write a “Christian” murder mystery? At least a decent one at any rate? Doesn’t seem possible to me.) I love that Sayers makes no bones about the importance of doing a good job at one’s work (in this case mystery writing) as an avenue of serving God.

I can’t wait to meet Dorothy Sayers some day. She was far from perfect — in fact, had a few “famous” sins and also odd quirks like a massive collection of cats in her old age. But it’s this flawed humanity that sets her squarely in this list. She was real. She was creative. She defies the stereotypes in many, many ways. She is a hero to me.

Meeting Perpetua

I’ve kept a journal off and on since my early teens. I’ve been tempted many times to toss out the spiral bound volumes filled with doodles of hearts and records of crushes. It’s a bit humiliating to realize that—yes that typical flighty, emotional, giddy fifteen year-old—was me!

Journalling took on an entirely new meaning to me when I met Perpetua during my senior year of college. She was about my age—22 years old. And like me, she was a devoted Christian. As part of a class assignment, I had to read Perpetua’s journal.

Her 1,800 year old journal.

Perpetua was an educated young woman who converted to Christianity and paid a high price—in A.D. 203 Perpetua and her friend Felicity were thrown into prison and later martyred in the arena for their faith. While she was jailed, she kept a prison diary. Her first-person account is thought by many to be the earliest written text by a Christian woman. (You can find her account here.)

As I read Perpetua’s words, imagining myself in her situation—locked away with other young believers, preparing to face martyrdom—“church history” came alive to me. This wasn’t just a matter of names and dates—this was a real, living, young woman who courageously put ink to paper. I’m so thankful she did.

I don’t journal now nearly as much as I once did—time alone to write and think is rare in this current stage of life, juggling work, motherhood, ministry, and marriage. But when I do sit down and put my pen to a blank page, I know it’s worth it. It’s a type of spiritual discipline for me—a way of stretching spiritual muscles, re-centering on the important things of life, clearing away the chaos and the junk.

I don’t usually try to write anything profound—but I try to be real and authentic. If you’re thinking of starting a journal, here are a few tips I’ve found really helpful. Continue reading