Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Reminder

“Let the beloved of the LORD rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long,
and the one the LORD loves rests between his shoulders.” Deut. 33:12

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Dependence, Not Despair

Wisdom from Henri Nouwen two days in a row? I can't help myself! I find there are very few things that I want to say that haven't already been said eloquently by others. However, no one articulates the life of my heart like Henri Nouwen. So often his words provide shape and definition to my thoughts, instincts, emotions, and suspicions.

When Lent began last Wednesday, it was like a wind blew through my heart and ushered in a spaciousness that had been crushed in recent stress. I felt peace, hope, and a lightness of spirit that had been vacant for a few weeks. Nothing in my external circumstances had changed; however, my gaze had shifted...from my stress and struggles to my Savior.

The challenge is to continue moving - not only through this season but this life - with my eyes locked on Him. Just in the past week I've been so aware of the suffering around me and the burdens so many carry. As I'm invited to journey with others, how do I walk with them through their suffering without despair? Without feelings of impotence because I cannot offer more comfort, wisdom, solutions, et al...?

Here's where Nouwen's words speak to both my situation and to my heart. He writes:
The more I think about the human suffering in our world and my desire to offer a healing response, the more I realize how crucial it is not to allow myself to become paralyzed by feelings of impotence and guilt. More important than ever is to be very faithful to my vocation to do well the few things I am called to do and hold on to the joy and peace they bring me. I must resist the temptation to let the forces of darkness pull me into despair and make me one more of their many victims. I have to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and on those who followed him and trust that I will know.
I so deeply desire to offer a healing response to those God has placed in my path, but it is often tempting to give way to despair and that God has someone better suited to offer wise counsel, more prepared with tangible solutions, and well equipped with the right answers. Nouwen's words remind me to not give way to fear but to walk in my God-given calling. When my eyes are fixed on Him, my calling remains clear and I am able to encounter suffering with a spirit of dependence, not despair.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Prayer for Lent

How often have I lived through these weeks without paying much attention to penance, fasting, and prayer? How often have I missed the spiritual fruits of the season without even being aware of it? But how can I ever really celebrate Easter without observing Lent? How can I rejoice fully in your Resurrection when I have avoided participating in your death?

Yes, Lord, I have to die - with you, through you, and in you - and thus become ready to recognize you when you appear to me in your Resurrection. There is so much in me that needs to die: false attachments, greed and anger, impatience and stinginess...I see clearly now how little I have died with you, really gone your way and been faithful to it. O Lord, make this Lenten season different from the other ones. Let me find you again.


~ Henri Nouwen, An Ash Wednesday Prayer

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Holy Moments

When we walk through life with a mindfulness that God is present, active, and loving, then we come to realize that holy moments lurk in the most mundane moments, trivial talk, and simple gestures. A word, a touch, or a glance can deliver a glimpse of the Father and His love that steals our breath.

Mothering has taught me how true this is. Now, let's be honest...there are some "mothering" moments that seem less-than-holy. Sleepless nights, endless dirty diapers, and temper tantrums to name a few. However, it seems throughout their lives my boys have been gifting me with treasures from God at the most surprising times and in the most unique ways.

One of the favorite ways He gifts me is with stolen glances of my boys showing tenderness to each other - snuggled together on one cushion of our three-cushion couch, lying side-by-side in bed with their noses buried in books, the older one encouraging the younger one as he learns to play a new game. When normal life can include the usual brotherly taunts and teases, glimpses of two brothers who share a depth of friendship I have always prayed for blesses me beyond words.

And I could miss it...if I wasn't paying attention. Not just miss the blessing of their relationship, but the gift it is to my heart by a Father who knows me and loves me so well.

Living with eyes open to God's movements requires more than just my mental attention. It requires an expectant and open heart that is pursuing God above all else. Perhaps the model for living in this state is Brother Lawrence, author of the classic book, The Practice of the Presence of God.

He writes,
There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual communion with God. Only those who practice and experience it can comprehend it. Yet I do not advise you to do it for that motive. It is not pleasure that we should seek in this exercise - we should do it from a principle of love, and because God would have us do it. If I were a preacher, I would above all other things preach the practice of the presence of God...Ah! if we but knew the lack we have of the grace and assistance of God, we would never lose sight of Him - not for a moment.
I am awestruck by the fact that I can draw near to God, that I can know Him more fully, and that I can commune with Him. And I am grieved by how easily I neglect to enter into His presence and abide. As I walk in this mindfulness during Lent, my heart echoes Brother Lawrence's words as my prayer - to "never lose sight of Him - not for a moment."

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mindfully Entering In

One aspect of Lent that I particularly appreciate is the mindfulness of it. No one can observe Lent without willfully choosing to do so. Sure, you can decide to give up caffeine, chocolate, Facebook or one of a thousand other vices in "observance," but to me that can reek of what I wrote about in my last post (what we sometimes describe as following the letter of the law but missing the spirit of it).

To truly engage in an observance of Lent, then a certain mindfulness of what you are fasting from(or engaging in, as is my case) and why is required. Yes, it can certainly happen while abstaining from caffeine for 40 days. However, what is important is creating a contemplative spirit as we draw near to God in our Lenten practice and create a spaciousness that invites Him to move and breathe and speak.

Scripture or devotional readings is something that guides many in their observance of Lent. As I was considering what reading would guide me, my eyes fell on a little devotional book that a dear friend, Teri, gave me six months ago. It was sitting literally beside the computer, right in front of me, and the title alone made me chuckle: 40 Days With Jesus. I mean, how obvious!

Just three days into my 40 days, and I realize how timely this book is for me and how perfect it is to guide my meditations, my prayers, and my worship during Lent. On Day One I read, "I am training you to find Me in each moment and to be a channel of My loving Presence." My heart swells as I consider these wonderful words! In this one sentence, I discover the promise of entering into this experience with dedication, mindfulness, and an open heart.

As I mentioned, worship is part of my Lenten practice (along with writing and prayer) this year. Fernando Ortega's Come Down, O Love Divine has quickly become the soundtrack for this season. Particularly his song, "The Good Shepherd," is deeply moving. I pray it will minister to you, as you consider how you are mindfully inviting God into heart and life during these days of Lent: The Good Shepherd by Fernando Ortega

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Making Space

In the past few years, I've noticed surprising, seemingly incompatible, feelings stirring in me. One is a resistance to religious legalism or anything that might smell of it while the other is an attraction to the liturgical calendar.

It might appear that the observance of the cycle of liturgical seasons and the practices that traditionally accompany them would set off the "legalistic" alarm bells in my brain. However, I feel something very different - An invitation to experience time in a way that centers around and is mindful of the life of Christ.

I grew up in the Protestant church, which places much less emphasis on the liturgical cycle than Catholic and Orthodox churches. Christmas and Easter were experienced as two stand-alone celebrations, not an arc unfolding the Story. To experience time framed from Advent to Easter creates a mindfulness of the time of preparation for both the celebration of Jesus' birth (and his expected second coming at the end of time) and the remembrance his death and the celebration of his resurrection and ascension.

We are currently in the season of Lent. This is the period of purification and penance which begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday (or Maundy Thursday, as I grew up hearing it called). As someone new in her understanding of Lent, I value the insights of others who have long been observing this celebration.

My friend, Tara, writes on her website (
The penintenial time of Lent is meant to be a response to God's longing call in Joel 2, "Return to me with your whole heart!" In those words, I hear the ache of a father whose son has rejected him (Luke 15:11-32), the cry of a lover who longs for the beloved (Song of Songs 2), the agony of Christ on the Cross (Mark 15:25-37). In those words, I hear the invitation of God to look at my own heart, and consider the things that keep me from deeper intimacy with a God who loves me beyond anything I could ask or imagine...Contrary to popular culture, Lent isn't about giving something up just to prove that you have control of your addictions, or that you're better than the chocoholic next door. Instead, it's about making space to receive more of God's love, His tenderness and your true identity in Him.
She explains so beautifully why the invitation to observe Lent doesn't send me running with my "legalism" alarms blaring. I understand the invitation of Lent, and I desire to enter in, to practice it mindfully and prayerfully, and to walk in obedience as I make space for God as He directs.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Today, on the first day of Lent, I find myself in an unfamiliar place. Sitting in front of this blog with the intention to write. To be honest, I thought I was finished. After a particularly busy year when the time to write seemed elusive and the desire to write just plain absent, I found the task of keeping up our family's blog just that...a task. Who needs one more job to do, right?

I felt this way primarily because I never wanted this blog to merely be a photo album documenting our family life. No, the idea of Tucker Tracks encompasses a bigger journey...of course including our adventures, but also deeper explorations of the heart, our calling, and the Larger Story in which we (all of us...including you, reader) find ourselves.

To pursue that in this space, I would write. Or that was the plan. Enter 2011 - busyness, distraction, and exhaustion - and this space sat still. Maybe that's okay. We all need times of stillness, and maybe that's true for a blog as well.

But now, as I contemplate what I'm called to this Lenten season, three words keep coming to my mind: pray, worship, and write. So, here I one. Reintroducing myself to my keyboard, training my brain to shape these jumbled words of mine into coherent thoughts, and praying that through 40 days of dedication to these three practices, I will feel an awakening of the heart and experience an intimacy with the One who calls, who I pursue, and who I deeply love.

How are you making space for an encounter with God this Lenten season?