Thursday, April 19, 2012

Two-Word Prayer

I continue my journey of faith and food by acknowledging, for today at least, that God wants to shape me both physically and spiritually. I search the bible for new meaning; new insights; new ways to get a tangible sense of God’s presence to help me manage my food choices.

Help, God!

The quickest prayer that came to my mind was this simple two-word prayer. But I realized that it has a tiny comma in between the words: Help, comma, God…which implies my request for help with a pause in between. That comma is the moment of stopping where I change from what I asked (“help”) and who I asked it from (“God”!) My tendency, though, is to slip through this request in a different way, without the comma. It then becomes “Help God!” and here I go again, taking on the task of thinking that I can actually help my heavenly Father do what He needs to do in my life. If I stop the control issues and pause at that comma, it makes all the difference.

Romans 8:25-26
“But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.”

The Romans scripture speaks of waiting for what we do not have in a patient way. Not just waiting, but waiting patiently. This comma between the words Help and God can be my visual reminder to wait patiently. Then I can move on to the next words of wisdom and rest in the assurance that the Spirit does, in fact, help me in my weakness.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Finches: part 2

My finch feeder has six perches. Many times I’ll see five of those perches occupied with the tiny beauties, but rarely all six. Even with the empty spots, the finches will perform their flying gymnastics, waiting impatiently for a turn at the feeder, while those on the perches nibble, then look around, then nibble again. Sometime there’s a battle for a particular perch, even with another empty spot available. One bird will swoop in and knock another one off its feeding spot…how rude! I wouldn’t like to be interrupted in the middle of a meal, would you? I often want to shout: “Hey! There’s another spot on the other side! There’s plenty of food for everyone. There’s even more food in the big bag for you when the feeder is empty!”

I behave like those finches. Even with plenty of love and grace available to me, I approach God with feeble prayer requests, looking for one tiny piece of nyjer seed at a time. Hey God, would You please watch over our family today? While You’re at it, do You think You could help my parents too? How about my neighbors, or maybe my husband, and all those other people at the cancer center? What about me…do You have energy left for me, too, God? And do You still love me for asking all this?

God probably feels like I do with those little finches. I imagine He wants to say: “Eat away! Ask away! I have all that…and more for you, Lisa!” Like the finches, I eat from God’s stores of abundance by putting my face right in there; pulling out those treats personally. I, too, find myself peeking around from my perch in prayer, as if I’m watching for someone to knock me off my spot to tell me it’s not my turn to ask God for anything anymore. And God probably wants to say “Hey! There’s another spot and plenty of room and food for everyone! I have more than you can imagine!”

Like the finches, I need to feed on one little piece at a time, since that’s what it takes to understand God’s love. I approach God cautiously, watching out for the other finches who I think might get my portion of God’s love. Sometimes I even change perches, thinking the love tastes different from another angle. But when I remember God probably wants to take His entire bag of nyjer seed and dump it all over me, I can realize more clearly the truth in my soul: with God, there’s always more, if only I ask.

This morning, all six perches at the feeder were filled for a few moments, yet there’s still plenty of finch food left. How about that?

Sunday, February 26, 2012


It had been an extra-tough year. My husband’s cancer diagnosis last spring blasted our family into a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments, medical questions, fear, more medical questions, financial questions, more fear, more doctor’s appointments, and oh yes, more questions. Today, we experience our daily lives at an awkward pace; switching out the old pace and perspective on life for this new normal. Joe’s health continues to stabilize, but my writing needed some resuscitation. I needed to find myself again and ask some basic questions: who am I, what do I think about, what I need. I needed to thrive, not just survive; and in the middle of it all I still needed God.

Fortunately, God never left. He is still here. I just forgot. I also forgot some of my habits which seem insignificant but are the source of refueling for my soul. Habits like prayer and journaling, not just several days a week, but every day. My spirit longed for the simple things again: for time with myself, time with friends, time for baking. Last week, I remembered another joy I’ve missed: replenishing my finch feeder.

The shepherd’s hook out back had been empty for months, and last week I finally put up a finch feeder again. The next day, my eyes clouded with tears when I saw that the finches returned. They simply wanted their share; their portion; one tiny piece of nyjer seed at a time, and that's when I remembered. It's not the big doses of God that matter; it's the regular little portions that I will always crave. And receive, if only I ask.

The finches are back and so am I.