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Good morning, friends, and deep peace to you as we start this new week ~
If you are new to Monday Manna, I want to offer you the warmest of welcomes and my great gratitude for the privilege of sharing with you. 💜 My “sparkle sister,” the Traci Smith, offered such a generous shout-out for Monday Manna in her Substack last week, and so I know I have some new friends in the mix here (more on Traci below, by the way). Inboxes—and life!—are overflowing these days, and so I’m always amazed when people take time to read here. My continual hope in this space is to somehow be a channel of God’s nourishment for you as you beautifully and uniquely nourish the world. The world really, really needs you.
It’s continued to feel like a time of discernment for me for a whole host of reasons and in a myriad of areas. I was talking with a mentor-friend recently, asking her for wisdom and any insights. And she did what the wisest, deepest people we know do, which is turn those questions around and hand that power back to the one asking.
“It sounds like a ‘paying attention’ time,” she said with love and steadiness. “And,” she added, “I would encourage you to think about how God has led you in the past. How would you describe your experience of the Spirit’s guidance at other points in your life?”
After carrying that charge — to pay attention — and that question — the Spirit’s leading in the past — two words kept surfacing, like a needle and thread that’s been stitching my life together without my noticing.
I’m finding I can trace this thread all the way back to childhood, but a couple of the most prominent examples I’ve been mulling on were my decision after college to go live in Taiwan instead of Law School, and the creation of my first book, Ash and Starlight: Prayers for the Chaos and Grace of Daily Life.
I’d love to share and reflect more on both of these things at some point here, but I guess the thing I really want to impress into your heart’s hands is the comforting reassurance that God is guiding us.
If we are paying attention, open-hearted, and open-handed…if we do what we can to steward with love what God’s given us…if we are willing to believe we actually can flow toward and not force what we most deeply hope for in life…
Then, things can actually become an adventure of joy.
We keep pressing in to the good heart of God who is at work in ways we maybe don’t see, but might sense at a soul-level.
I’m reminded of one of my favorite, favorite prayers — one I’ve shared here before — from Thomas Merton.
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I a hope I have that desire in all tha tI am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. An I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”
I wonder how you might describe the Spirit’s leading in your own life…I hope you might do a little tracing this week. It will root and free you…
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Here’s a prayer for decision-making from my book, Ash and Starlight (both versions!)…
When I’m not sure what to do
Wise and guiding God,
I praise you for your wisdom.
You, God, know all about me,
all about my circumstances,
all about the world around me.
You know, better than I do,
what needs to happen,
the decisions I face,
the person I’m trying to become…
But sometimes, God, I’m paralyzed
by the choices before me.
Discernment feels like a desert,
and I’m lacking clear direction,
knowledge, and support.
I feel lost, afraid, and alone,
scorching under that hot sun
and not sure what to do.
I strain my eyes for a sign….
Even in my fear,
even in my frustration,
I summon thanks to you, God.
I know in time you will disperse
the clouds from my eyes,
unplug my heart,
crack open my mind,
and tune me to recognize your voice.
I believe you see what I cannot,
and your Spirit will come with
wind and water to bring me
in the direction you desire.
Please help me see what you want me to do,
then give me the courage to do what I see.
Open my eyes to those
you’ve placed in my life –
people exuding your loving care
in this time of seeking and searching.
I pray for your holy clarity, God,
in all my circumstances and
in the decisions I must make today.
Whatever the choice before me,
may I seek you in it.
May I choose the bigger life
with trust in my Guide…
Deuteronomy 30:19-20 * Isaiah 30:21 * Romans 12:1-2
“And when you turn to the right or when
you turn to the left, your ears shall hear
a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way;
walk in it.’” – Isaiah 30:21
Something that nourished me recently…
*As I write, my husband, Jeff, is leading a group from Wilmette on a Racial Justice Pilgrimage to Montgomery and Birmingham. I’ve only heard bits and pieces, but will be eager to share more next week. Among the stops was the Birmingham Jail where Martin Luther King Jr. was incarcerated and wrote his letter…
*There’s no good segue from heroes to Halloween, but here it is. Trick-or-treating was a delight, even if frigid (brought back the memories of snowy Halloweens in South Dakota).
*The Chicago Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite places, and on this last visit, we discovered the “Rookery,” an enormous castle sculpture designed by Patrick Dougherty. My youngest especially reveled in hiding in it…
Ash and Starlight, plus other good things…
*SECOND EDITION OF ASH AND STARLIGHT IS HERE! And currently 20% off. :)
*As I mentioned earlier, you need to know Traci Smith if you don’t already. She is an ordained minister and mother of three who is passionate about creating connection and spiritual nourishment for families in a practical, meaningful way. Her books are all fantastic, but make sure you get a copy of the Christmas one before Advent begins. She has a weekly Substack called “Tuesday Treasures” ( I love that little synchronicity — Monday Manna, Tuesday Treasures) with little links to lots of goodness.
*RAFFLE TIME ~ A reminder that it’s officially “raffle time.” As mentioned a couple weeks ago, Kathy Bostrom created a team raffle basket with sweet gifts for a new baby, parent, and older sibling. Go here to learn about how to enter. Bless and thank you, friends.
Trust you are being led, my friend. Listen to and within your life. With you for the adventure…
Love and Light,
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Monday Manna is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.