For about the past month I have been on a new journey spiritually. Raised in the Church of Christ, I surrendered to Jesus at the age of 21 after attending a Baptist church for just a couple of months with my boyfriend…who eventually became my husband. Over the course of our marriage we have attended various non-denominational churches and one precious Presbyterian church.
Of all the churches we have attended, some of my sweetest memories have been of my first experience with Liturgy in the Presbyterian church which we attended in Pennsylvania. We only lived there for one year but absolutely loved it. The seasons, the lush greenery, the farms and orchards and sweet corn festival, and the snow…beautiful, thick snow. We found that little church quite by accident, having browsed through the Yellow Pages (remember those?) and visiting what we thought was a Baptist church. We sat down before our first service and opened the bulletin to see the full name of the church…North Park Evangelical Presbyterian Church. Hmmm. Alrighty, then. Neither of us had ever been Presbyterian so we were game!
Needless to say, we loved it immediately. The worship was sweet and simple, the teaching of Scripture thorough and filled with deep truth, and the liturgy was fresh and new to my heart. When we moved away the next summer I knew we had experienced something special and hoped to find a church with the same sweet spirit that NPEPC had. We now attend a wonderful non-denominational church and I could not ask for better teaching. We have made dear friends and are so blessed by our church family. But one thing I miss is the connection with the Liturgical calendar and the awareness of the seasons of Jesus’ life as the seasons of the year pass by.
That was the first year I attempted to celebrate Advent. Soon after arriving in Tennessee I began observing Lent, though usually very loosely. Still, there is something inside of me that longs for the routine of Liturgy and written prayers that act as a springboard to my prayer life along with reading the same scriptures that are being absorbed by the hearts of believers all over the world. It’s the feeling of connection with the “Capital C” Church and the bigness of the Kingdom of God. As I get older I am realizing, more and more, that I need structure in my spiritual walk and that I can’t grow well by just “winging it” regarding prayer and Bible Study.
I also am a nerd when it comes to organizational tools and office supplies. Lead me into an Office Depot or Staples and you will see me inhale with joy the smell of fresh paper, ink and notebooks! I try a different planner every year, usually one for my “normal” life and one for homeschooling. I’ve used them all, and can tell you easily what I don’t like (busy pages, stickers and frills) but struggle to find what consistently works.
This year, I finally found it. The one. The Holy Grail of planners. (I am NOT exaggerating!) The Sacred Ordinary Days Liturgical Day Planner created by Jennifer Giles Kemper. (Click the link to go to her site and you can explore all she has to offer.) Not only does it have plenty of simple, uncluttered space for organizing the insanity that is my day it has daily readings, prayers, and pages upon pages of opportunity for introspective journaling. (Ever heard of the practice of examen? Me neither. Look it up. It is life changing.)
I have been waking up around 6:00 am most days, which for this homeschooling mom is EARLY, and spending time at my desk, lit by a single candle and simple lamp, with my Journaling Bible, the planner, and various books of prayer.
And Coffee. 🙂
To say that I look forward to this time is a huge understatement. It has become the fuel of my day and helps me to be less likely to growl at my kids. Ahem.
By giving myself plenty of time in the morning to really meditate on the Scriptures, to exercise my artistic side and creatively journal what the Lord reveals to my heart, and to have my day laid out before me with the top 3 priorities of the day reminding me that it is ok to not get every single thing checked off my list as long as those top 3 were completed, I am more relaxed, more productive, and…well…nicer. Add in the spiritual connection to the worldwide church, the written prayers that somehow align with the cries of my heart and give me words when my mind fails to find them, and you have what has become the cornerstone of my day. I absolutely love these mornings with God. They are so rich and feed my soul.
So, yes, this is not my normal post but I just felt the urge to share what has been a blessing for me with you, my dear reader:) I get absolutely nothing from this. Jennifer Giles Kemper has no idea that I am writing this post. In fact, she has no idea I exist! Ha! Let me know if you have experience with written prayers and/or liturgy and how you have incorporated it into your walk with the Lord. I am always open to new ideas. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading! I look forward to hearing from you!