Tag Archives: Tyler Staton

Worship Wednesday – First Things First – with Consumed by Fire

Photo Credit: Heartlight

Then the man and his wife [Adam and Eve] heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the breeze of the day, and they hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord called out to the man, “Where are you?Genesis 3:8-9

One day in a place where Jesus had just finished praying, one of His disciples requested, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” So Jesus told them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come… – Luke 11:1-2

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence [boldness], so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15-16

What is it that keeps us from praying?

Is it shame or fear? Yet God calls for us to show ourselves to Him. He looks on us with deep compassion.

Is it not our practice? The disciples witnessed both Jesus’ pattern of prayer and His power to live a life pleasing to the Father. They didn’t ask what was His secret. They seemed to know it was his dependence on the Father through prayer.

Is it our sin that makes us too shy to talk to God? He is not surprised at our struggle. He knows our weaknesses and loves us still. We have a sinless mediator in Jesus and because of Him we have access to the Father.

Prayer can be hard for me for all the above reasons. Add to those the weight of so much need in the world, and I find myself too quickly distracted by the world’s chatter. Oh to stay in the quiet of His peace!

So I pray a bit then switch to over-thinking and worry, or drop out altogether to some other cheap substitute to prayer. Nevertheless, because of His long-suffering with His children, He draws us back to Himself, and I return often to that throne of grace. As a child running to my dad…the best dad we could ever hope to have. Father God.

Have you read Tyler Staton‘s Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools yet? It has been my guidebook (alongside the Bible) in recent months toward a deeper walk with the Lord.

Tyler Staton introduces his readers to writer teacher John Mark Comer. Comer is the founder of Practicing the Way. This is a website with the focus of offering a pathway to becoming like Jesus in community. All of the teaching and resources are free, and I’ve been grateful to God for how He is speaking to me in this space. My hope is to be part of a prayer community in our local church. Pray with me for this. Are you part of such a community?

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

Comer’s series on prayer is also available on YouTube. The first two messages are linked (the other two I will link when they come online).

YouTube Video: Prayer – Talking to God – John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Talking with God – John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Listening to God – John Mark Comer

YouTube Video: Prayer – Being with God – John Mark Comer

Photo Credit: YouTube, John Mark Comer

As often happens, while thinking about the whole practice of prayer in my life, I heard the song below on the car radio. It preached!

Worship with me to the deeply intimate song “First Things First” by the band of brothers Consumed by Fire.

All the things that I have held dear
The vanities that whispered in my ear
What would I do if they all disappeared
Riches and fame and all that they could buy
I’ve come to find they never satisfy
What would I gain if my soul’s the price

I don’t wanna love what the world loves
I don’t wanna chase what the world does
I only want you
I only want you

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first

I give it all
My life an offering
My heart is yours
So have Your way in me
Your kingdom’s all I wanna seek

I don’t wanna love what the world loves
No, I don’t wanna chase what the world does
I only want you
I only want you

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first
To keep the first thing first
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first, oh

First thing’s first
I seek Your will
Not my own
Surrender all my wants to you
Keep the first thing first
To live Your truth
Walk Your ways
Set my eyes
Lord, I fix my face on you
All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first, oh
To keep the first thing first

All my desires reversed
To keep the first thing first*

Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

*Lyrics to First Things First – Songwriters: Jake Hess, Jordan David Ward, Caleb Paul Ward, Grant Timothy Bias

YouTube Video – Consumed by Fire – “First Things First” – (Acoustic + Story Behind)

Photo Credit: YouTube, J. C. Ryle, John Mark Comer

Let’s keep worshiping, y’all!

Monday Morning Moment – Generational Trauma and an Early Morning Exercise Toward Flourishing

Photo Credit: Medical News Today

Early riser here. In fact, I rarely need an alarm.

In other seasons of life, the morning came with joy. For some time now, I have struggled with negative thoughts…not so much anxiety or depression as much as a certain sense of feeling undone.

Since reading Tyler Staton’s Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, my morning routine has changed some. No more mindless scrolling through various social media on my phone. It is no longer within reach. Once up, I make my bed. That lifelong routine continues. However, while still in bed, just barely awake, I now do two things to clear my head and set my heart for the day.

1) I recite the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). This is actually the prayer that Jesus taught his disciples when they asked him to teach them how to pray. Whether you have a relationship with Jesus or not, if you believe in God, this prayer is one you can embrace. A friend, younger than me, said to a small group of women recently in a study on prayer, “We should memorize the Lord’s Prayer”. It struck me as odd because, in my generation, we learned the Lord’s Prayer in school. Led by our teacher, we recited it as a whole class every day along with the Pledge of Allegiance. Whatever our religion or lack thereof. Until 1962, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled school prayer (led by teachers) unconstitutional.

This prayer helps me to turn my thoughts to God and the creeping uneasiness changes more to hopefulness.

Photo Credit: Lutheran Homeschool

2) I recite Psalm 23. This psalm, often referred to by its first line “The Lord is my Shepherd”, was written by David, a shepherd himself before he became king. In meditating on this psalm, I’m reminded of God’s care of his sheep. No matter what happens, he keeps his eye on us. He provides for us, anticipating our every need, and welcomes us Home to be with Him at the end of our lives.

Photo Credit: ChristArt

These two passages are easy to memorize and even easier to make part of a morning routine They have done wonders for my waking to a new day.

So what does this have to do with generational trauma? I’ve written often about this previously (and strongly recommend reading these pieces if you haven’t already).

Monday Morning Moment – Generational Sin and Trauma – Don’t Trip Over What’s Behind You – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Sins of the Fathers – Neglect and Abandonment – It Stops Here. – Deb Mills

Monday Morning Moment – Abuse – Where Does It Begin and How Do We Respond? – Deb Mills

Photo Credit: Jennifer Nurick

We have all experienced some sort of trauma through our families, across generations. Some (including in my own family) would rather not “go there”, and I understand. However, it is in recognizing our trauma and taking steps toward healing that helps us to avoid continuing the trauma in our children and grandchildren.

As adults, we want the same things our children need – to be safe (no “bracing for impact” in relationships), to be seen (truly known by those most significant in our lives), to be soothed (our emotions understood and acknowledged, without judgment, even when they are big and out of proportion), and secure (that no matter what, we are loved. Our persons are NOT leaving the room).

Whatever we may have experienced as children, we can alter our present. Whatever we did as young and overwhelmed parents, we can move, with love and insight, to a better situation with our kids. The past is just that…the past. We can be truly with each other, in the here and now…if we are brave and willing to be humble.” – Deb Mills

The major component of trauma in my own life was abandonment. I don’t know about my grandparents’ childhood, but from my grandparents’ adulthood through the present, my family has felt the sting of abandonment. It is generational and can not only affect us but our children as well. Abandonment is a very real source of trauma and can actually find its way back up the family tree, if we don’t do the work of rooting it out. [The longer stories are in my blogs above.]

What better way to start each day praying to and meditating on a Father who will NEVER abandon his children!

[Below you will find further resources on generational trauma and a helpful graphic on the power of showing up.]

Photo Credit: Dr. Dan Siegel & Dr. Tina Payne Bryson

Breaking the Chains of Generational Trauma: We Don’t Have to Pass Down Everything We Inherit – Elizabeth Dixon

Monday Morning Moment – Righting Ourselves After Betrayal – Deb Mills

How does trauma spill from one generation to the next? – Rachel Zimmerman

Generational Trauma: Breaking the Cycle of Adverse Childhood Experiences

Jakob’s Family: The Psychology of Generational Trauma

Monday Morning Moment – From Unmoved to Reengaged – Perspective

Sit with me (or walk with me, as you like). Just for a few minutes. Hoping this 2-week old chick has drawn you in. She must be taking in so much new in her few days of life, with 5 other little ones (belonging to my daughter who raises chickens now, as well as children).

This is a brief lament about a squandered day. Mondays are usually full days and happy, hopeful days, filled with all the possibilities of a new week. This Monday…today, I allowed to lay dormant. Unmoved by the chores at home, the beloved people in my life, or those in the world who could use a friend.

Unmoved. Do you ever have days like that?

I finally got out of my own way to go thrifting midday with a writer friend of mine. She was also struggling with getting words on a page, so to speak. Nothing to say that hasn’t already been said, right? Writer’s block is hard for a writer. We are energized by that type of creativity. My energy was low. It was good to see her anyway; we found some bargains, and we would pray for each other in this doldrum.

Then late afternoon came and I sat at my computer hoping for inspiration. That was when I rediscovered the poem below…and a switch flipped the light on.

Aweless by Albert D. Spalding, Jr.

The king passes in front of the soldiers.

They stand strong and silent.

The people strain to see.

Power excites and enthralls and enchants.

I walked on the sidewalk in front of the cathedral.

I looked up at the giant ornate doors.

I stepped backwards and tried to see the full length of the tallest decorative spire.

I noticed the cell phone antennae.

What motivates the design and building of a cathedral?

What sort of awe quickens the heart and brightens the imagination?

Am I going through life without the Big Deal?

Have I missed my chance to be truly inspired, truly overcome by awe?

Where are my fellow worshipers, who can join me in designing our cathedral?

When do we come together to fall on our knees and chant, “Holy! Holy! Holy!”

Yahweh passes in front of us.

We avoid stepping on the old chewing gum on the sidewalk.

We check our cell phone.

Here’s what came out of this cautionary tale for me. We can move from the dullest of mundane days into something quite momentous, as we shake off what seems to be and reengage in the what is.

I was reminded of a recent trip to an urgent care center with an Afghan mom, her little son, and another Afghan friend who translates for me. The little son probably had an ear infection that had kept him awake and crying during the night before. He needed antibiotics. As we were providing information to the admissions clerk (concentrating on unfamiliar spelling of names common in another world), my friends had plenty of time to look around the waiting area. My translator buddy (all of 13y/o who has been in the US over a year now) asked me, “Debbie, why are there these little green trees on all the walls?”

It’s a small thing, but St. Patrick’s Day was completely out of her cultural experience. Why it is such a big deal in the US is actually hard to explain as well. A cause for celebration, I’m thinking.

Every single day of our lives is a cause for celebration.

With that reminder (and the Spalding poem), thanks to answered prayer, I’m sure, my day was delivered from being completely barren. Perspective was restored along with the drive that comes with it. I spent the rest of the day left to me in life-giving activity.

Reading a chapter of Tyler Staton’s Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools (highly recommended). Making supper for my husband (who has a very long week ahead), and celebrating his light, joking mood (glad I didn’t miss that under my earlier black cloud). Two deep phone conversations with friends who share common goals in life. Praying myself to sleep.

Perspective – what a gift! I had beaten myself up fairly completely over a wasted day, and before it was too late to redeem, God helped me clear the mechanism. Joy.

So thanks for staying with me. Your company inspires me, and I know it costs you time and thought. Praying for you right now…God knows who you are…praying for you to be moved to engage in this amazing life we have in this messy world. Praying life-giving perspective. Look up.

Worship Wednesday – Anxiety, Holding On, & Reclaiming Perspective – Deb Mills

And if you love baseball (or not so much), this scene from For the Love of the Game will thrill your hearts with its fight and determination on the last pitch:

Monday Morning Moment – Use Your Words

Photo Credit: Writing Quotes, C. S. Lewis

What does the mommy say to the little one, screaming, angry tears, head flung back, and arms swinging?

“Use your words.”

Great counsel for all ages.

Words are not always easy to come by. In fact, they can become all jumbled in response to the large emotions that demand an answer. This is the right brain/left brain challenge. Our emotions come just ahead of our determination of what they mean…and our “putting into words” that meaning.

Reason and emotion: A Note on Plato, Darwin, and Damasio – Joachim I Krueger Ph.D.

As adults, we have also used silence in place of words, either intentionally to punish or unintentionally because we just did not know what to say.

Using our words is a healthy habit in relationships because it forces us to think through our emotions and process how they apply to any action we take in dealing with them. For example, someone significant to me says I hurt them or didn’t value their effort. I can respond in so many ways. Yet, what if I decided to “take the criticism” as a gift (this is graduate level relationship stuff) and use it to enhance my understanding of that significant other? What if I determined then to hear their pain or disappointment as true? It was definitely true for them.

Is it possible for me to humble myself and first respond to their hurt? Maybe seeking more clarification as to just what happened? Even if it means I sort out my part in that breach between us, confess my part, and offer an apology. Possibly even some sort of restitution. Would that open a path forward? It may very well be that we didn’t intend to hurt but a sincere acknowledgement of their pain (even an apology) is exactly what is needed for the moment.

Whew! A lot to process. If you’re still with me…

Use your words. What matters more than being right? Being in relationship…in community.

Author, pastor Scott Sauls wrote a beautiful endorsement of the book Humility: The Joy of Self-Forgetfulness by Gavin Ortlund. Below are 10 practices that Dr. Ortlund presents as means to both grow and express humility in our relationships [In Sauls’ endorsement above, you’ll find commentary on how to work these out in our lives – helping us to use our words well]:

  1. Work at listening.
  2. Practice gratitude.
  3. Learn from criticism.
  4. Cultivate the enjoyment of life.
  5. Embrace weakness.
  6. Laugh at yourself.
  7. Visit a cemetery.
  8. Study the universe.
  9. Meditate on heavenly worship.
  10. Bathe everything else in humility. – Gavin Ortlund, Humility: The Joy of Self-Forgetfulness

These 10 practices are far from a trite handling of relationship woes. Take the time to go back to Dr. Sauls’ endorsement of Dr. Ortlund’s study of humility. This is the foundation of using our words well.

Words can injure or heal. We all know this. If we want some sort of vindication or revenge, maybe using our words needs schooling. Silence isn’t the answer…it can last far too long. Too long.

Photo Image: Heartlight, John Greenleaf Whittier

If we truly want to restore a relationship or mend a fence with another, taking steps toward that person with true humility and a sincere desire to understand is where we start.

Coming to terms with our own story helps us use our words for healing. Perspective can lessen the sting from painful encounters. When we do the work of sorting out our own emotions related to conflict, then we can hear the other without triggering our own emotions from the past.

In Tyler Staton‘s book, Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools, he talks about the role of confession in relationship building and rebuilding. Taking responsibility for our part in the conflict, saying it out loud, and asking forgiveness. When we keep silent or we don’t use our words in positive ways, we hide ourselves from the very exposure and vulnerability that confession frees us from. Again, this requires enormous humility…or, at the very least, a willingness to humble ourselves.

Confession is “to excavate down into the layers of your own life, uncovering not just what’s obvious on the surface but the layers of personal history underneath that continue to inform your present.”Tyler Staton, Praying Like Monks, Living Like Fools

None of this is for the frail of heart…we can keep hiding behind pride, entitlement, hurt, and offense. Our various screens (social media, computers, phones, TVs) have taken our voice. We have, too often, become spectators of relationships, rather than deep in the beauty of being known by and truly knowing the people across the room from us.

Put your phone down, and use your words. Or…pick up that phone, and make the call…begin the process of reconnecting…which could lead to healing.

What are you waiting for?

Photo Credit: 3-Word Wisdom