Back to the Delightful Ordinary

By Debbi Jo Dieter

I need routine.

The few weeks right around Christmas are usually a stark contrast from my normal routine. Kids are home from school, work schedules are different, and even my eating patterns are not the same. Therefore, I get a little off balance.

After the Christmas hustle and bustle is over, I am usually glad to return to routine. This year, in my heart, I heard this phrase, “back to the delightful ordinary.” This made me feel good – made me feel glad to embrace the regular routines of life, which could otherwise be called, “the same old thing.”

C.S. Lewis, in his book, The Screwtape Letters, had this to say about “the Same Old Thing”: (Remember as you read this that Uncle Screwtape, a demon, is advising his demon nephew on how to tempt humans.)

The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart – an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship.

Lewis goes on to talk about how God, the enemy of the demons, has created seasons for us as a gift, “each season different yet every year the same.” Good words to remember as we continue into the cold and dark part of winter.

I am happy to go back to the ordinary and let it be delightful. Being grounded in routine gives me the freedom to bounce out of it at times. Being stuck in routine leads to legalism and death.

For me, to appreciate the routine has become one of my January gifts.

Take a Breath

By Debbi Jo Dieter

It’s Advent.

Take a breath.  A deep breath. And a third.

This past Autumn, we’ve been starting our spiritual direction groups with three deep, wonderful breaths – breathing in God’s peace, love, truth, everything. And breathing out what needs to be gotten rid of, or let go of.

Sometimes, in my own prayer times, it’s more like 7 breaths, or 12.

Advent is preparation.

And, immediately, a wince in my heart – so many expectations for Christmas!

But, Advent is not preparation for Christmas. Not really. It’s preparation for Jesus. And that feels different, life-giving ,on-going. Jesus brings Life to my world, to the whole world.

O come, o come Immanuel! – we are desperate for You, Lord Jesus. Our whole world needs Your peace. My personal world needs Your peace.

As I breathe in, I whisper people’s names, places in the world, feelings, hopes, sighs, longings. This is my prayer.

And, God, Immanuel, is with me, breathes through me, and aligns my aching heart with The Heart of compassion, and longing, and peace.

This is my Advent prayer.

Faith Like a Mustard Seed

By Julie Miller

It was just a little mustard seed dream. A seemingly innocuous seed planted in the heart-soil of a suburban mother living her suburban life. But, that little God-planted seed stirring deep in Nancy Blanski’s soul would eventually change everything in her life.

That seed? A yearning to provide sacred space, a sanctuary of silence and solitude, a refuge for those who seek time alone with God, in the heart of the ever-moving, constantly whirling commotion of downtown Minneapolis.

Today, standing strong like all mustard trees do, is a beautifully renovated building off of Nicollet Avenue, which she and her husband, Bill, now call home. And within those walls a sacred space is taking shape.

Soon, the doors will be open...

By sometime early 2016, all who yearn for time set apart will find not only a sweet little retreat space to spend with the Savior in the overnight hours, but, also invitations to classes, group spiritual direction and other settings that will breathe peace deep into your soul.

It all started as a little mustard seed dream...dreamed first by the heart of God for his beloved city folk.  And, because Nancy and Bill faithfully tended and nurtured that dream, sacred space will soon be available to all who seek it.