Monday Wakes with an Invitation

Rockyneck sailboats

Monday awakes, warm and muggy from rain that fell during the night. While the sun is trying hard to break through the clouds, it’s not quite succeeding – as though the clouds are saying “It’s our turn! You got Saturday!”

Sometimes anthropomorphizing the weather is incredibly satisfying. It is perhaps easier to cope with clouds and rain if I can attribute human characteristics to them!

But the real thing is that Monday awakes. It wakes from a summer weekend of wonder. It wakes from a Sunday of liturgy and rest to a day of work. It wakes from leisure and reading to schedules and to-do lists. It wakes with stubborn resolve saying “You will pay attention to me. You can’t afford not to!”

Monday also wakes with an invitation – an invitation to breakfast. 

While I rarely eat breakfast during the weekday, on the weekend I love it! I love sitting with a beautiful breakfast and hot coffee.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus gives an amazing invitation to his disciples. He says to a work-weary crowd “Come have breakfast”.

The verse comes after Jesus has been crucified and has risen, appearing to different people. First he is seen by Mary, then by the disciples and finally by others. He’s on the banks of the Sea of Galilee watching the disciples fishing in a boat. They have fished the entire night and they’ve caught nothing. Their nets and stomachs are empty. But this man on the banks of the sea tells them “Just try it one more time.”

Just one more time.Just do it one more time! 

So they do it. Weary, frustrated, hungry – they still try one more time. And the result does not disappoint. They catch so many fish that they can’t even bring the full net in. It’s too heavy. You can picture it – fish jumping around in the net, strong men trying with all their muscles to hold the net but they have to throw some back.

And that picture is amazing – this picture of trying one more time and succeeding! Just one more time – and it happens.

But the compelling part of the passage is on shore where Jesus takes the fish and fixes it for them – those hungry, weary humans; those men whom he has eaten with, walked with, and stayed with for three years. He knows them. He knows their frame, he hears their hearts – and he invites them to breakfast.

“Come and have breakfast!”*

The words are said with full knowledge of all that the invitation means. Come rest. Come sit. Come and be filled. Come – have breakfast!

It’s an early morning here in Boston. The quiet of the city morning is broken by a raucous group of homeless who are waking to the day. Except for coffee shops and the Walgreens that boasts a 24-hour day, all businesses are still closed, their doors closed until the business day begins.

And I have an invitation to breakfast from One who will give rest on a weary Monday.

Maybe you haven’t fished all night – but maybe it’s something else. Maybe your worries have kept you up during the wee hours, your mind occupied with so much that concerns and hurts you. Maybe something else has kept you up all night – tears flowing because it’s safe when no one can see them. Maybe grief and loss; maybe worry over children; maybe fear of the future. No matter what it is that has kept you out all night, with nothing to show for it but bone-weary tiredness, you have an invitation to breakfast from One who gives rest.

*John 21:12

A Shared Umbrella

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The insistent ring of the alarm. Heavy eyes, still swollen partially shut with sleep. Awareness that it is Tuesday, and I must wake up. The slow methodical movements of my body on autopilot knowing what has to be done to go from sleepy-eyed to one of the many productive people rushing through mass transit to make this machinery called the ‘economy’ work.

All of this for what? For a paycheck? For retirement? For a new dress? For a re-built transmission on our car? For an electric bill? For kids college? There are days when it feels so trite. So nothing.

To add to these bleak thoughts, it’s been raining. Hard. Not short showers where the sun blinks through as though crying a little and then bursts forth into smiles; rather it’s downpours where the bottom of your jeans get wet, your purse is soggy and water seeps through your shoes. It smells like rain and all the trash of the city is mashed together under foot.

Umbrellas are everywhere and instead of people bumping into people, it is umbrella on umbrella, small spokes getting caught in other small spokes. Most have their own umbrellas, but occasionally you will see people sharing, heads bent together to ensure maximum coverage. While those of us who are alone are walking quickly, impatient with the raindrops and downpours that stymie our progress, those who are sharing are often laughing or talking intensely.

Along with the sharing of umbrellas comes the inevitable sharing of life.

Several years ago, while still in high school, my son Micah did a project for a video contest. His skill and technique have improved ten-fold, but I still loved this, one of the first projects he did for competition.

Called “A Shared Umbrella” it tells with few words and many actions the story of a teenage girl, defeated and done with life. At her window, high in an apartment building she looks out at a bleak city scene of rain and sorrow. Pills are poured out in her hand, she’s ready to end her struggle, her struggle with life and with pain.

She looks out the window and sees two strangers – one dressed in a suit and tie, a business man off to work; the other dressed in old clothes, clearly without money. They are both waiting for the same bus. The business man waits with an umbrella, the poorer has none. And then in an unexpected act of humility and kindness the business man walks over and holds out his umbrella, sharing it with a stranger, offering a shield against the rain pouring down. They stand together until finally the bus comes carrying both off to their respective lives.

Just this simple act is enough to give the girl hope. If an umbrella can be shared among unlikely people, then life may be worth living. It is a small act of redemption in her bleak world.

I love his piece. I love the images, I love the graphics, and I love the story.

Offering protection and hope through sharing an umbrella is seemingly so simple; why do I make it so hard? Especially today, when nothing feels redemptive, least of all sharing an umbrella.

Today as I walk in the rain, I am acutely aware of my humanity and frailty; ashamed of my blah spirit and my feelings that none of this makes any difference; aware too of the humanity of all around me.  And with that awareness, tired as I am, I want to offer hope; I want to share my umbrella.

But first – can I have some sun?

Gratitude – Number 245 & Muffin Monday

In my worn journal I look back until I find it — Number 245. I’m frantic to find it, it seems crucial to the day.

It’s written in slightly messy, black cursive, as if the writer was in a hurry. The journal is 39 pages of thanks — my first foray into giving thanks in a concrete way, a way where I can look back.

Number 245 is squeezed between ‘Les Miserables – stories of grace’, and ‘rental cars’, as if an afterthought. But it’s there as I knew it would be.

The words are ‘Monday Mornings’ and then in brackets beside the words ‘knowing I can’t do it on my own’. And it’s true. I can’t. What is true every day, that I can’t do this alone, comes with a force on Monday.

It’s as though God is whispering to me, urging me to remember. Urging me to remember that it is He who redeems Mondays, who takes me from Sunday’s rest through Monday’s unknown, who reminds me I can’t do this on my own. The words of author Ann Voskamp, challenged to speak words of gratitude through her pen, through keeping a journal that resulted in the book One Thousand Gifts, resonate:

“That which I refuse to give thanks for, I refuse to believe Christ can redeem”

So I thank God for number 245 in my list of One Thousand Gifts: Monday Mornings (knowing I can’t do it on my own).

“But, first, remember, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.” Aslan to Jill in The Silver Chair


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Pumpkin Pie MuffinsI love the muffin cookbook I am getting through connecting with Stacy and today’s recipe is a perfect fall Muffin: Pumpkin Pie Muffins. They’re called ‘Pumpkin Pie Muffins’ because they are made with canned pumpkin and the same spices as pumpkin pie. Stacy promises that the whole house will smell like you’ve been baking pie. Either click on the above link or the picture to get to the recipe.

Velvet, Steel, & Muffins

Everyone needs a friend who is velvet and steel. A friend who exudes grace, but isn’t afraid to speak pure, raw truth into our lives. A friend who sees us clearly, knows how to rebuke and love.

Velvet and Steel.

A few months ago I was talking to my velvet and steel friend and the subject of my Monday posts came up. It wasn’t negative but she did say that I should go back and look at my Monday writing. “There’s a theme running through them”, she said. “That of trying to reconcile your Sundays with your Mondays”.

The Holy Ache of living in the not yet.

She’s right. My Monday mornings reflect the wonderful and awful tension of living in the in between. I don’t think this tension will ever end. I think it’s the tension of all of humanity. We are able to experience glimpses of grace that leave us longing for more, longing for something greater when all will be made whole in our broken, beautiful planet. A time when there will no longer be tension between Sunday and Monday.

Sunday is my velvet, Monday is my steel. I know I need both. If I lived in a world of Sundays, I would be little use to anyone. If Mondays were my only reality, I would despair.

So I’m adding something lovely to the tension that I know will continue.

Muffins. Yes. Muffins.

Because there is something perfect about mixing muffins with Mondays. About knowing that there is something so purely good about muffins, something so practical, affordable, and lovely. Muffins make Mondays more bearable.

Peach Blueberry MuffinsI am delighted to partner with Stacy Rushton author of Food Lust, People Love. You’ll like what she does with stories and food, weaving her stories through her recipes. Today’s muffins are Peach Blueberry Muffins and I can’t wait to try them. Just click on the link or the picture and you’ll have yourself a new recipe! 

So welcome to Monday’s Holy Ache and Muffins.

I’m curious, what are your Monday’s like? Do they reflect the ache of rest meeting reality, velvet meeting steel?

Spice Your Monday With All the Wrinkled Ladies

I’m breaking away from my usual Monday morning contemplation and bringing you something with a bit more holiday spirit. In the United States today is a Federal Holiday – evidently we have a few dead presidents that had birthdays during these months and this is our way to celebrate them. I’m all for it if it means a 3-day weekend.

And in the spirit of the holiday I wanted to post a response to Beyoncé’s Super Bowl appearance. I’d venture very few women can relate to her super sexy over the top show – and I won’t even get into how oblivious the Super Bowl planners are to kids in the audience and parents who want their kids to have  a little G rated fun.

But the video below? I’m pretty sure you’ll love this parody of “All the Single Ladies” from Anita Renfroe. Take a look at “All the Wrinkled Ladies” and see what you think.

How Do I Live out Sunday Rest in my Monday Chaos?

With the sweet taste of communion bread still on my tongue I curse Monday morning. How can this be? How can I so quickly forget Sunday’s rest and grace as I step into the day after?

There is always a Monday after. It might not be the literal day, but there is always a Monday after. Whether it be a big event, a transformative experience, a high from a retreat – reality comes after with its sharp teeth and caustic tongue.

What use is Sunday if it doesn’t translate to Monday morning? 

If my calling ignores Mondays then it is of little use. If the clarity of Sunday cannot be applied to the muddy waters of Monday then how can I live effectively?

In a book called Finding Calcutta, the author Mary Poplin, takes a journey to Calcutta to work with Mother Theresa for two months. Through service she discovers a Christianity that she had never experienced before and her heart is changed. But her struggle comes with finding her own Calcutta once she is back in the United States. How can this experience be translated into her work? Her life? She is at a university, not in the slums; surrounded by grey cells and academics, not by nuns; committed to students and learning, not the poor and starving. Yet she was called to apply the same principles to her work that Mother Theresa applied in her calling by God to the poor. Mary was called to translate her Sunday moments into her Monday work.

Memorial plaque dedicated to Mother Teresa by ...

“Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are. . . . You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see.” –Mother Teresa

I don’t know much today – but I know I am called to translate Sunday into Monday – I am called to remember the sweet taste of communion bread, the body and the blood, as I move forward into the work of today. I am called to seek God in the details, to understand that nothing is beyond the redemptive work of God, to ‘find the sick, suffering, and lonely’ hidden behind grey government cubicles, to live out Sunday in this Monday.

How do you live out Sunday rest in your Monday chaos?

City Life and “Being Birthed”

English: Moscow-city 2010,March

“Every time I get off a crowded metro I feel like I have just been birthed. When you live in a city where people do not have personal space and it is in everyone’s interest to help you out of the train, you literally get squeezed out the door.”

My cousin Judy lives in Moscow. She lived there previously and after a few years away has returned with her family. Judy is loving being back in an urban setting and I recently asked her to tell me more about her life moving back to this massive city.

She responded with the quote above.

….I feel like I have just been birthed….

I love her description!

And while she describes Moscow, it fits with other cities. Everyday as doors open on the subway, people are birthed; pushed into an unpredictable world, a world that pushes, jostles, shoves and makes its mark on us.

We are pushed into places and spaces that challenge and confound. Even if we try to hold back, the birthing process that the city works on us always wins.

Like newborn babies we open our mouths to scream, and our eyes wide, taking in all that surrounds us. We’re pushed from safe and predictable into uncertainty and constant change. It’s new everyday.

And everyday like a newborn babe, just birthed, I am in desperate need of Someone to hold me, Someone to walk me through this process, Someone to let me know I’m not alone.

This morning I’ve been birthed by the city and desperately need to be surrounded by God. For where my day is unpredictable and holds all those things that make a newborn cry when they leave the womb — cold, discomfort, pain, and strangers — my God is strong and trustworthy, invested in this birthing process.

What about you? Where have you been birthed this Monday morning? Is it a city or somewhere else? Is it a safe space or a place of unpredictability? Would love to hear from you through the comments.