The Man God Depended On

In 1985, I had a baby at the same time that my then-husband developed a severe psychosis. I had a feeling that I would be raising my son alone. (I was right.) So I named him after the man I trusted could help me: Joseph.

Today we celebrate Joseph of Nazareth, the man God depended on to help raise Jesus. The Bible tells us that Joseph was “just.” This doesn’t only mean that he was fair. He was aligned with doing God’s will, no matter what. Even when devastated by what he thought was Mary’s betrayal, he wanted to do the right thing.

And he did. He married Mary. He named Jesus. He woke up in the night and took his family to Egypt based on a dream. He brought them back to Nazareth. He lived with Jesus for an unknown number of years. He taught Him, and he learned from Him.

When the neighbors were astounded at Jesus’ teaching, they asked, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” Yes, he was. And I think there was a resemblance.

Be Cloistered Inside God’s Love

Mindful Christianity is abiding in Jesus moment by moment. The best description I’ve heard of this comes from Carl McColman:

“God is love. God loves all of us and wants us to experience abundant life. This means abiding in love — love of God and love of neighbors as ourselves. Through prayer and worship, meditation and silence, we can commune with God, experience His presence, have our consciousness transformed by His spirit, participate in His loving nature, and be healed and renewed in that love. This new life (what the New Testament calls ‘the mind of Christ’) will not only bring us joy and happiness (even when we suffer), but will also empower us to be ambassadors for God, to bring God’s love, joy and happiness to others.”

Carl McColman, “The Big Book of Christian Mysticism”

The call to envelop ourselves in God’s love does come at a price: the suffering Jesus paid in His crucifixion AND our need to relinquish “control.”

In these days of coronavirus, we can all see how little control we actually have over our lives. Perhaps this is the best possible time to live in God’s love and be God’s love to our families.

Praying Inside God’s Will

Quite a few of us are praying about COVID-19. I have a long list of people, groups, causes and places I love, which I pray for every day. The Lord has recently been prompting me to find a quieter way to pray inside His will.

Instead of having a long list of what I think SHOULD happen, I am just lifting up the individuals and the groups to God for His will to be done. I am no longer Mrs. God, handing the Lord his honey-do list.

After all, as Psalm 139:4 says, “Before a word is on my tongue, you know it completely, Oh Lord.”

God knows what we need. The purpose of prayer is to help us grow closer to God and to understanding His will. Just lifting up a person or a cause before the Lord and asking that His will be done is enough.

Get Hygge With This Very Long Sabbath

How many times have we whined that we were too busy? Well, nature just took care of that. When we are isolated / socially distanced at home, our attitude makes all the difference.

I’m challenging myself to see this period as an extended Sabbath that I can brighten with hygge elements, like candles, a fire, plenty of reading, and snuggling with my husband and cats.

During this Sabbath, I can spend more time in prayer, which is needed, and study. My husband is teaching himself to bake. I am finally going to read a foot-high pile of magazines. (I’m glad I didn’t listen to you about this, Marie Kondo.).

While I am an introvert who owns the book, “Sorry I’m Late. I Didn’t Want to Come,” I think reframing the concept of social distancing into something wonderful like a Sabbath will work even for extroverts.

This is the time to calm down and get caught up. Enjoy as best you can.

Give Intentional Compliments

With everyone hunkered down, it’s a good time to become intentional about giving at least one sincere compliment a day to family, friends or people who have inspired you.

My inbox is packed with emails about cancellations, closings and concern from everyone I have ever done business with, including museums I’ve visited once and shoe companies. So I imagine yours is, too.

It’s a perfect time to send a complimentary email. And those folks that are stuck with us at home deserve to know that we appreciate them. The more specific the compliment is, the better.

Resource: “Sacred Rhythms”

One of the essential books for Christian mindfulness is Ruth Haley Barton‘s “Sacred Rhythms: Arranging Our Lives for Spiritual Transformation.” I’ve recently finished reading it for the third time as part of Lenten practice.

Ruth Haley Barton

Barton, who is a spiritual director and founder/CEO of the Transforming Center, walks chapter by chapter through the spiritual disciplines that help one lead an intentional life in the presence of Jesus.

She writes about solitude, Scripture, prayer, honoring the body, self-examination, discernment and Sabbath. Each chapter ends with ideas for how to move the content into your own life. Finally she instructs readers how to prepare a rule for life so we can live closer to God in any life season.

Barton also co-hosts an excellent podcast, “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership.” The current season is covering Lent. She’s a wonder! I hope you look her up.

Create a Playlist of Hope

I’m old enough to have made mixtapes that I created for special times: summer, the beach, Christmas. This Lent has been a challenge for my word of the season: hope. So I created a Spotify playlist of songs of hope to enjoy.

Creating a Spotify playlist is very easy, if you haven’t done it before. (Especially when compared to making a mixtape back in the day.) You might want to create your own playlist for Lent.

The playlist is Songs of Hope by Karen Twinem on Spotify. It contains:

  • “Great Are You Lord” – All Sons and Daughters
  • “I’ll Take You There” – Mavis Staples
  • “Here Comes the Sun” – the Beatles
  • “What a Wonderful World” – Louis Armstrong
  • “Can You Feel It” – The Jacksons
  • “Celebrate” – Three Dog Night
  • “Happy” – Pharrell Williams
  • “In Christ Alone” – MercyMe
  • “It Is Well With My Soul” – Hillsong Chapel
  • “Heaven Come Down” – Michael W. Smith
  • “You Can Make It If You Try” – Sly and the Family Stone
  • “10,000 Reasons” – Matt Redman
  • “One Love” – Bob Marley and the Wailers
  • “Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Aretha Franklin
  • “Hello Hooray” – Alice Cooper
  • “I Gotta Feeling” – Black Eyed Peas
  • “Mighty to Save” – Hillsong UNITED
  • “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” – Amy Grant
  • “Morning Has Broken” – Yusuf / Cat Stevens
  • “Ode to Joy”
  • “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” – Selah
  • “Joy to the World” – Three Dog Night
  • “Mr. Blue Sky” – Electric Light Orchestra
  • “On My Way Home” – Enya
  • “Dance to the Music” – Sly and the Family Stone
  • “Everybody Is a Star” – Sly and the Family Stone
  • “Penny Lane” – the Beatles
  • “We Are the Champions” – Queen
  • “Coming Around Again” – Carly Simon
  • “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me) – Aretha Franklin & George Michael
  • “Perfect Day” – Lou Reed
  • “With a Little Luck” – Wings
  • “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” – Donovan
  • “Believe in Life” – Shawn Phillips

What did I miss?

No Unkind Words. Even Online.

Twitter can be like pornography for the vicious. For reasons I’ll never understand, some people — even some who say they are Christians — enjoy being cruel to people they do not know online. I once read one man say that he can’t figure out the truth about people’s beliefs because it would spoil his fun online. Really?

This Lent, I’m following the advice of a Hindu that I have long admired, the late Eknath Easwaran:

Please do not indulge in unkind words, in negative comments. Criticism, as you know, can only be useful when it is constructive. Comments can only be useful when they are friendly. So even from the point of view of effectiveness, I would suggest that unkind comments add to the problem. Unloving criticism makes situations worse.

Eknath Easwaran, speech in 1979

How to Stop a Downward Thinking Spiral

As the stock market bungee-jumps and fears of the coronavirus intensify, we may find ourselves in a downward thinking spiral. Our thoughts and fears get away from us. Inner peace, joy and calm are gone.

One of the best and most effective ideas I’ve read to stop this comes from Rachael Kable of “The Mindful Kind” book and podcast: Take a deep breathe and name the colors of the things you see.

This distracts the mind and allows us to get back on track. A brief walk is an effective way to start naming colors. A good ending is to express gratitude for the things we have seen.

The Safest Place to Be

Today, millions around the globe are facing a potentially dangerous pandemic. Where’s a safe place to stay?

One famous answer came from Corrie ten Boom, the Dutch Christian who ended up in a Nazi concentration camp for her role in helping almost 800 Jews escape the Germans. She said, “The safest place is in the center of God’s will.”

I agree, but that doesn’t guarantee sunshine and roses for life, as ten Boom well knew. She did God’s will even though it was dangerous and even though she ended up suffering dreadfully for it.

Did she have internal consolation for doing so? Certainly.

Praying to find God’s will in a situation and doing it does bring elements of safety, as well as trouble. It means that the Lord of the universe wants you to succeed. It means that pathways you didn’t expect will appear. It means you can have inner peace about your life. Let’s walk step by step with Jesus this Lent.