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Listen and pray

The world continues to feel heavy. Some times are more difficult than others.

In those seasons: may we each pray, in our own ways.

Light a candle, recite a verse, cry out in anguish.

Offer up a psalm of lament.

Vent the frustration and anger, fists shaking unto the heavens.

Acknowledge our own small place in the infinite cosmos. Acknowledge our own small understanding. Acknowledge our own small motives and fears and desires.

Take deep breaths. Speak healing words.

Whatever your tradition and custom and comfort level leads you to do: do that.

Lament. Listen. Pray. I believe it matters.

May we give it up, let it out, and then — listen.

Listen to the stories, the questions. Listen for the view from above and the view from the ground. Listen for perspective and for detail.

Listen to the loud voices, listen to the quiet ones, and listen for the still, small voice underneath it all.

May we all listen and seek to discern.

I understand that some people think it doesn’t matter — the praying, the listening. I understand some people don’t think it will make a difference.

But I believe it, so what kind of person would I be if I neglected to fall on my knees?

May we fall on our knees together, or raise our arms to the sky, may we pour out our hearts and hold each others’ hands.

Lament. Listen. Pray.

I’m posting a few words of midweek encouragement here for you — and for me — over the summer.

Jen Hatmaker, Mister Rogers, and me

Shop links in this post are affiliate links, because that’s how we keep our kids stocked up on fruit leather around here. Learn more.

HEY GUESS WHAT! Jen Hatmaker’s publisher sent me a copy of her book, Interrupted, to give away to one of my Instagram friends! (That’s you. Or anyway it COULD BE.) Scroll on down for how to win.

Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted

Jen Hatmaker, Mister Rogers, and Me

I did not realize, upon becoming a parent, how often I would be quoting Mister Rogers and his Neighborhood.

“I like you, just the way you are.”

“I think I’ll make a snappy new day.” (What? I think I will.)

And of course: “Look for the helpers.”

Mister Rogers explained that his mother used to tell him to always look for the helpers, especially when “disasters” hit. Someone will always come to help.

I want my kids to look for the helpers. I also want them to know that WE HELP. I want them to know that when they have needs, God will always send helpers, and when other people have needs, we can be those helpers.

Jen Hatmaker’s book, INTERRUPTED? It’s the story of how God showed her that need is happening all the time, and the helpers need to be us.

It’s not easy and it’s not convenient and it’s going to interrupt your life, but once you’ve been interrupted, you wouldn’t have it any other way.

From Interrupted:

- About 1.2 billion people live on 23 cents per day.
- Someone dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds.
- 100 million people in the world are entirely homeless.
- 780 million people don’t have access to clean water.

God interrupted Jen’s life — her comfortable, steeped-in-Christian-subculture-life — to help. To serve. And to lead others in service.


Says Jen:

“Americans living in excess beyond imagination while the world cries out for intervention is an unbearable tension and utterly misrepresents God’s kingdom.” Yes.

God uses all kind of things to interrupt our lives. To shift our perspective.

For me, it was parenting.

Here’s the deal. Our kids — my kids, your kids — are going to grow up to be some of the most privileged people on the planet.

How do we address the difference between our circumstances, and the ones Jen outlines in Interrupted?

I want to be intentional about teaching our kids that “helping others” isn’t an extracurricular activity. It’s a relational one. We help by forming relationships, asking questions, listening, and then meeting needs.

So about meeting those needs…

And I think — I THINK — my kids learn this best by first having their needs met by us parents. Because oh, do they start out needy and messy and chaotic, each and every one of them. In the beginning, they can’t feed themselves, or clean themselves, or keep themselves warm, or find a safe place to sleep.

But when we step in and we meet them in that place, when we put aside our own expectations for rest and quiet and un-crayoned-upon sofas, and instead tend to the child that inconveniently needs our help — then they know what it feels like to be the one who needs something, and they learn what it feels like to have their needs met with dignity.

When we present them with opportunities to help address the needs of others, doing that will feel right to them.

“We were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children,” says the apostle Paul (1 Thessalonians 2:7). That’s how we take care of each other.

I might be totally wrong.

But even if I’m wrong about that, even if my kids could have learned to serve others without me serving them first — that’s okay.

I still get to be changed by the daily practice of it.

I still get to practice having my heart broken by need, up close and personal, every day.

I still get to practice putting aside my own agenda to meet (short) people where they are.

I still get to practice patience, and gentleness, and kindness, and goodness, and self-control, and love.

I get a crash course in spiritual development, every single day! And since we have a whole bunch of kids, they get to practice with each other, too.

There are people in need EVERYWHERE.

Some of them are in your house.

Jen says this: “Serving people is not heaven’s requirement, only a response to heaven’s mercy.”

And this: “It’s about creating a place to belong before people are expected to behave or even believe.” (She’s talking about church here. I’m applying it to family. Same-same.)

And this: “An accurate understanding of grace will wreck the tidy categories we’ve assigned people and allow us to open our arms wide.”

Let’s keep our arms open wide.

Let’s be the helpers. Every day.

Start where you are. It might seem small. It might turn out to be bigger than you thought.

Start somewhere. Start here.

For one of YOU!

Want a copy of INTERRUPTED for your very own? You do. Good news: I’m giving away a copy sent over by the publisher!

If you follow me on Instagram, “like” today’s photo of the book for an entry to win. If you aren’t an IG person, that’s cool. Email me to enter to win instead. (melissacamarawilkins at gmail dot com, subject line: INTERRUPTED. That should do it.) I’ll choose a winner at random on Friday, 8/22.

I hope you love it!

Weekly mashup: Be your own creative self

Instead of a weekly roundup of links (lots of which you’d have surely already read, because other bloggers do the weekly link list so well), I’m going to try sharing a weekly-ish mashup of others’ thoughts and ideas that have been speaking to me.

If we felt strongly about things like “accuracy in titles” we would have to call it the Monthly-ish Mashup. And yet.

Show up. Be your own creative self. Make a difference.

Ideas today from Olive Chan via SheLoves Magazine, Justine Musk, and Seth Godin.

Show up

Anybody else ever have one of those weeks when you wonder why you even leave the house?

Maybe you have a fussy baby, or a potty-training toddler, or maybe you have work to do, or, I don’t know, you just like your couch?

Okay, well. Me too.


Even if you don’t talk to anyone, even if you don’t connect with the teaching that week, even if you would have been more comfortable in your pajamas (yes!) (what?) showing up in your faith community matters, says Olive Chan at SheLoves.

Your presence matters.

You’re contributing to the diversity of the community, just by being there. You’re saying that the community is richer for having all its various parts. You’re saying that the presence of each of the other people matters, too.

I think that’s a beautiful reason to get out the door, whether to church or to any other community.

Being present and being yourself matters in your neighborhood, your parenting circle, your workplace, your creative community — even if no one takes any particular notice on any one day. Your presence shapes the reality of that group.

Know yourself

Just showing up matters. And then if you can: show up as yourself, as your own creative self.

Justine Musk writes that the task of any artist (or otherwise creative person) is to carve out a niche of one. Create a category that’s beyond comparison or competition because it’s made of just you.

To do that, we have to know our selves, our skills, our gifts, and our deep interests. We have to seek to understand what we can offer the world that no one else can. We need to be growing in our awareness of how our offering meets the world’s needs.

That’s your project, and mine. Aren’t we all creative, in one way or another? Aren’t we all life artists, making something beautiful out of our everyday happenings?

We can be.

When we know who we are and we show up, we add our presence plus our unique perspective to our communities.

And as an added bonus, when we’re not comparing or competing, showing up gets even easier.

Finding your angle

But how do you know what you have to offer? How do you know what’s unique to you?

Start by observing yourself and others, and then ask yourself this, via Seth Godin: What are you willing to sacrifice for?

(Perhaps even: what’s your why?)

What motivates you? What do you care about that others don’t notice? What can you offer, that no one else is willing to?

Start there.

Summing it up

Showing up = contributing to diversity of community, in faith communities and in creative ones.

Being creative = carving out a niche of one, and then adding your unique contribution to the community of offerings.

Knowing which ONE you are = what are you willing to sacrifice for? What’s your why? Start there.

Show up. Be your own creative self. Make a difference. Mmm hmm.


Showing up, knowing yourself — does this resonate for you? Let me know over on the Twitters, ‘kay?