Step #5. Listen for the Echoes

season

Friday afternoon I was sitting at a nail salon getting a pedicure for the first time in five months. It was a delightful little gift to have my in-laws watch my kiddo while I stole away for an afternoon of errands. I took the book that I’ve been reading since that last pedicure in June. Reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts is like eating Thai noodle soup. The bowl is huge, and it takes focus and precision to get all the goodness with your chopsticks. I’m loving every bite, but I feel like I must savor it. Back to my story.

My toes were being painted with a coat of Guy Meets Gal-veston (Texas, represent!) while I poured over the latest chapter. I was pleased when I entered the salon and discovered they were playing classical music and there wasn’t a TV to be found in the place. There’s nothing worse than trying to focus and having your brain power stolen to watch Extra. So I’m reading and relaxing when all of a sudden the first stanza of Come Thou Fount begins to play, the single notes of the piano stilling every muscle in my body. I look around but no one else is stopping, no one else seems to be hearing. As quickly as it starts, the music stops and another song, a classical rendition of a One Republic chorus begins to play. I don’t know if the CD was changed at that moment, all I know is that for a few brief moments, I heard my song. If you’ve been following this series, you know what it meant to my heart to hear those notes. Even as I sought rest and relaxation, God was continuing to speak to my heart: I have true rest for you. I know what you need. I know how to encourage you.

 aha moment

I cannot tell you how refreshing that moment was, and I am so thankful my ears were listening for it. Because I wasn’t busy  thumbing through the web on my phone, my ears were ready to pick out the tune. Limiting distractions has real benefits. Because I had spent time in the Word that morning, my heart was attuned to hear… tuned to sing of grace.

stepStep #5. Listen for the Echoes

I love how the Lord uses every possible avenue to speak to our hearts. It can be easy to brush things off as coincidence, but I believe that we can discover hope and joy when we are willing to look for God’s voice in our lives, the sacred echo in our world.

“…Like an echo, God often uses the repetitive events and themes in daily life to get my attention and draw me closer to himself…  I call them sacred echoes because I noticed that throughout my relationships, daily life, and study, the same scripturally sound idea or phrase or word will keep reappearing until I can no longer avoid its presence.” (Margaret Feinberg, The Sacred Echo)

When you hear it, take note! Take a picture, write a line in your journal, say a prayer of thanks, just don’t let the sacred moment pass you by. When we pause to recognize the supernatural in the midst of ordinary, our hearts cannot help but to sing His grace.

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

Listening and Following,

Ginger

 

To catch up on the rest of the series:

Tune My Heart

Step #1. Demonstrate Gratitude

Step #2. Today’s Manna

Step #3. Limit Distractions

Step #4. Rest

Step #2: Today’s Manna

season

This scenario happens far too frequently in my life:

My husband I go out to dinner and can’t decide whether or not to order an appetizer or dessert with our meal. We usually cave and get both. And then we often forgo debating which dessert and simply order two of them. It’s fabulous and waaay too much food. We placate ourselves by talking about how rarely we go out or how much we deserve a treat. By the time we hit the car to drive home I usually remark, “I’m not going to eat ANYTHING tomorrow.”

It doesn’t matter the ridiculous amount of calories I consume in the evening, I’m still going to wake up hungry. I always wake up hungry. I’ve never been one of the lucky few who could just forget to eat lunch. I also know that if I don’t eat when I’m hungry, my hunger can quickly turn into hanger. Hunger + anger = Hanger. “Sorry I snapped. I’m hangry.” I try not to use it as an excuse, I simply acknowledge this fact and make sure to pack a Larabar with me at all times.

Hunger is an important driving force in the Bible. God provides food miraculously for the hungry time and again. Case in point, this story from Exodus.

The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction. (Exodus:16:3-4, NASB)

God was making an important point with the Israelites. If they tried to utilize the manna from the day before, they discovered it rotted through. He wanted to be their source of provision each and every day. Layer that truth with Matthew 4:4 and you find our 2nd step to staying in tune this season.

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

stepSTEP #2. Collect Manna for Today.

I know how easy it can be to read the Word on Sunday and want that manna to be our fix for the whole week, but God desires to speak to us each and every day. The Bible is meant to be our fuel for the journey, the sustanance that will keep us graceful in the midst of the most trying times.

Jeremiah 15:16 is one of my all-time favorite verses and speaks to the precious nature of God’s Word.

When your words came, I ate them;
    they were my joy and my heart’s delight,
for I bear your name,
    Lord God Almighty.

If we want our hearts to remain in tune, we would be wise to fill up each and every day. My hope and prayer is that the Word of God would be our joy and delight, the source we turn to satisfy our hunger.

“Like an addiction, a compulsion that can’t stop its seeking, do I always want to see more beauty–more of the glory of God? Because that is what I am made for–to give Him more glory. More eucharisteo, more. And not only yesterday. But today– manna today or I starve.” (Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts)

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

 

Following,
Ginger

12 Ways to Stay in Tune this Season

season

November is upon us, but we need not fear the upcoming calendar. Pinterest may have you pining to do more with your decorations, but my goal this month is to remind us to stay focused on our hearts. I need this encouragement on a daily basis! The usual stresses of the season don’t just happen for homeowners and parents. Students are preparing for finals. The working crew is trying to eek out as much vacation time as possible, and we are all seeking to create amazing moments for our favorite people. This season piles expectation upon expectation, and I’m not just talking about Christmas. Somehow Thanksgiving and Christmas get rolled into one and the exhaustion creeps in earlier each year.

Yesterday I mentioned one of my favorite hymns and my theme for the rest of 2013.

“Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.”

– Robert Robinson, 1735-1790

My prayer is that my heart would keep in tune with God’s grace and not drift sharp or flat.

If you’ve ever played an instrument you know how easy it can be to let things slide out of tune. You lose your focus, forget to check, the weather changes… so many things play into the perfection of the pitch. So let’s keep the pitchy notes at bay and stay engaged in the process.

Today kicks off 12 Ways to Stay in Tune this Season.

STEP #1. Demonstrate GRATITUDE!

An attitude of gratitude is completely counter-cultural. Everything about our culture tells us we will be happy if… we get the right stuff, have enough house, take the big vacations, have the best body… and on and on. Thankfulness should be our daily rhythm because it’s the truth. We have SO much to be thankful for.

“One act of thanksgiving, when things go wrong with us, is worth a thousand thanks when things are agreeable to our inclinations.” St. John of Avila

Gratitude is like a muscle; we’ve got to work it out. So while I LOVE combing Pinterest to find projects and things to beautify my house, maybe I need to start walking through my own house and pin post-its of thanks for the blessings I DO have. The growth could start by simply thanking the baggers at the grocery store. Or maybe it looks like voicing my thanks to the Lord in the morning and listing out my thanks in a journal before I go to sleep.

I love the trend to list thanks in November on social media, but what if that same attitude could continue throughout the year. What if we took up the challenge to ONLY use social media to spread an attitude of gratitude rather than gloating, complaining, or arguing?

The more readily we express thanksgiving, the less room we have for negative thoughts and words. So let’s be intentional and let’s be proactive. Ideas for active gratitude:

1. Volunteer with those less fortunate
2. Write thank you notes
3. Purposefully call, text, or e-mail to tell someone why you are thankful for their presence in your life
4. Memorize a verse about giving thanks: “… Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV)
5. Go around the table and have everyone say what they are thankful for
6. Get a paper tablecloth and record your blessings
7. Speak your gratitude out loud even in challenging situations: “Thank you for another diaper to change… for a daughter who is healthy, arms that are strong enough to lift her, hands that are able to love her in this way.”
8. Make eye contact and say thank you to any service staff you come in contact with: waiters, drive-thru employees, clerks… you get the idea!
9. I keep hearing about people getting “Boo’d” for Halloween or “Egged” for Easter. Someone start giving “THANXED” blessings on doorsteps. Hah! Leave a cornucopia of encouragement and thankful notes for the house.
10. Let your prayers begin with thankfulness and praise!

Any other ideas?

 

The list is just a start, but I hope it stirs your thoughts. If we want to live more fully in tune with God’s grace, a thankful heart is the perfect launching point.

“The real problem of life is never a lack of time. The real problem of life – in my life – is lack of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks-take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks-and He miraculously makes it more than enough.” – Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Following,
Ginger