Worship at Sunrise
How can I
Morning after morning
Wrap myself in
All this glory
And not open my
Mouth to praise?
by Alesha Sinks
So often I find myself overwhelmed by the beauty of nature. And yet, so often I fail to step forward into the intended result of awe and wonder…worship.
Isn’t that the purpose of creation?
”The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Psalm 19:1 (NIV)
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
Romans 1:20 (NIV)
In the Psalms, there are examples upon examples of the writer praising God, inspired by and in awe of the glory of God’s creation.
“How many are your works, LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.”
“For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;”
Yet so many mornings I hurry, feet pounding across weather pavement, stechting out to reach the sunrise. And when I get there, when I reach the oceans edge with the early light rippling across the waves, when I stand still and breathless at the beauty in front of me, I forget to do the very thing for which my soul was made.
I forget to do the very thing for which my soul was made.
I forget to take my awe of creation and let it lead me into awe of the Creator.
And that’s true of a little million moments throughout my days.
watching pure joy radiate from my son’s face
when that one shaft of light slips through the living room blinds
the first glorious sip of coffee
a peaceful moment, book in hand
a friend reaching out in love and encouragement
that one song playing right, exactly when I needed to hear it
a cool breeze stirring through the hot evening air, summoning us to rest
How often do these moements slip through my grasp, our grasp, awakening joy and peace and hope and beauty, but failing to turn our hearts in gratitude toward their Giver.
Practicing awareness in the moment. Practicing giving a practical, out-loud or a quiet, whispered-in-my-heart “thank you God” when I am surprised by joy. Praciticing reflection on blessings at the end of the day or the week or the month and practicing offering my thanks to God then. Practicing to make a seamless turn from “Wow, how beautiful” into “God, You are so beautiful”.
I’m practicing to make a seamless turn from “Wow, how beautiful” into “God, You are so beautiful”.
Will you practice with me? Will you join me in allowing the beauty around us to not just catch our eyes or our hearts, but to turn our hearts toward God?
My prayer for us today is…
Let the beauty we encounter daily lead us to worship.
I stretched myself into my bed, weighted blanket pulled up, wrapping my heart, heavy and tired. I felt exhausted. Angry. Bombarded…by all the opinions in my head.
Parenting is hard.
And there are so many good ways to parent…how do I know I am choosing the right one?
How do I know that the instant decisions I’m forced to make over and over and over every single day are the right ones? The best ones?
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So often I know, I know they aren’t. I apologize over and over. I snap and yell and rant again and again, and then must circle back to asking forgiveness.
I try this.
I say one thing
Then I change my mind and try a different vein of logic or type of consequence or chose a rewards system or give simply let it slide because I
Maybe you hear them too? The dozens of voices. Opinions. Loud and demanding and, unfortunately, contradictory.
How do I know I’m listening to the right one?
And I can feel the them rising…the voices. Slowly louder and louder in my head. Crushing me with their volume and their weight.
Do this…not that.
If you do this, you will hurt them…
If you don’t do this, you teach them bad habits…
This is kinder…
This is wiser…
This is effective…
This is better for the long haul…
This is practical…
This is for their heart…
..and I am drowning in the voices.
But suddenly, in my head but not from within it, His voice speaks above the din. Softly. As if nearest to me out of them all.
“Don’t listen to them, listen to me.”
And I realize that somehow I thought His voice was there, in the chorus and chaos of voices in my head. I somehow thought His voice was among them, shouting at me with judgement, with fear, with shame.
I forget that His voice is different.
His voice is outside of the crowd. Separate. And only in turning the crowd of opinions down, will I be able to hear His voice, firm and safe. A steady place to rest my heart and mind. A safe bottom to plant my anchor.
The steady thrum of options and opinions isn’t necessary to my parenting.
Being guided by the Holy Spirit is necessary to my parenting.
So I’ll lay my anxious heart down tonight, a little easier. My head will be a little quieter. And my mind and heart will repeat this simple prayer.
God, let me see my children with Your eyes and Your heart. Let me hear Your voice and let my heart be sensitive to Your touch. Give me Your wisdom and strength and grace as I parent, and the humility to allow myself to be parented by You in the process.
And this simple mediation.
His voice is not in the crowd.
It shows up in the eyes of my little ones, again and again.
And this becoming.
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I see in his eyes. This desire to become alike to those he loves.
In the eyes of a three year old, it easy to see and to interpret that look. That desire.
But in the eyes of a twenty year old, a twenty-eight year old, a thirty-eight year old, a fifty-right year old, it’s harder to spot.
It’s still there though.
This desire to be alike to those we love or to those we admire doesn’t go away with age.
Because perhaps, if we look closely, we can find beautiful ways that those we love have already shaped us. And that they have shaped us so deeply, it’s hard to distinguish their influence from who are most deeply are.
That can be a painful truth.
But it can also be a beautiful truth.
It has struck me again and again this year, and particularly this Mother’s Day, how there are so many pieces of me put in place by others. Unintentionally maybe. Subtly. Beautifully.
And as I become aware of them, it’s up to me to keep them, or change them.
Today, I want to focus on all the wonderful, beautiful things about me that were taught by and learned from my mother. I’m still learning from her, becoming like her, seeing the fruit of my childhood admiration come out of the deepest parts of me.
And today, I’m thankful for so many beautiful pieces of me that are credited to her. To her teaching, her loving, her serving, her planning and organization, her openness and honesty, and most of all her willingness to admit weakness and failure and her need for Jesus.
I have so many memories of her leading and guiding us toward Jesus, or simply watching her pursue Him herself.
I pray that this can be my legacy as well. That those memories and habits I watched in her all these years become so deeply a part of me that they become who I am too.
So many pieces of me
I take for granted,
Mistake as innate.
Till I stop and watch
You live and love.
Then with sudden clarity
I see myself,
All the pieces of me
That aren’t accidental at all.
Instead they are hours
And days and years
Of you sacrificing,
Pouring yourself into me.
Yourself out for me.
And most of all
Pouring yourself out
Letting Him fill you
So that you could pour
Into me something better
Than just yourself.
I hope that I
Can pour myself
Out that way too.
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I should have said
For the lessons you taught
All the ways you pushed me
Out and out and out of comfort
Till I could step on my own.
I should have said
For the footprints to follow
The path cleared and waiting
The shaping of heart and mind
The formation of me.
I should have said
For the things I learned
To not be as well as to be
There are both together
And I am thankful.
I should have said
For the things you taught
They are part of me so deeply
I can’t separate them out.
And I don’t want to.
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I'm learning to see
That there just might be
More than one right answer
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I was less than five minutes into that podcast episode when I found tears springing to my eyes, heart beating faster in agreement.
It was me.
It was all me.
Everything she said about feeling this weight, this pressure to find and make the right decision, it was like she had looked inside me and was reading back what she found.
I've lived, and I still live, so much of my life under the fear of messing up. Under the fear of missing out. Under the fear of making that one wrong decision that unhinges everything.
And through the painful, beautiful, soulful work of others, that they are graciously sharing with the world, I am beginning to see that maybe God doesn't work the way I think.
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Just maybe, He gives us far more freedom in our decisions than I think.
A bad decision is not near enough to unhinge God's eternal plan.
I can rebel my way out of God's favor.
I can make stubbornly, unwise choices that will lead me far away from who God designed me to be.
I can miss out on certain life experiences by choosing one thing over another.
But if I humble myself and seek God, I will not miss out on Him. No matter how many "wrong" decisions I make.
Because God is The Great Author.
An Author Who can write His plots to beauty and purpose and good despite the foolish blunderings His characters create when trying to write their own stories.
Because God delights to give us free will and the ability to choose based not on formal command from Him, but on the good desires He has already placed inside us.
Because God lavishes His goodness upon us, primarily, in the form of intimacy with Himself. And that gift can be given no matter where we physically are in life.
If we will just turn to Him.
If we will just humble ourselves to seek Him.
If we will just delight in His presence.
If we will just enjoy His goodness to us. His presence with us.
Oh to live in that space of freedom and joy and delight in Jesus. That space where my decisions can flow freely and confidently. Not necessarily because He speaks to me directly about every one, but because I am confident in His love and care for me, and resting in the trust that what He has already placed inside of me will guide my decisions as I draw near to His heart.
May we each learn to live in that space of freedom and trust.
Trust that He will give us everything we need to make good decisions as we draw close to Him in love.
Trust that He is powerful enough to accomplish His will in me and in the world regardless of my decisions along the way, as long as I am making those decisions in a posture of drawing near to Him.
I'm learning to see
That there just might be
More than one right answer
<img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1556474800457-C20XK06DCETYQQ7ZRHPC/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kNiEM88mrzHRsd1mQ3bxVct7gQa3H78H3Y0txjaiv_0fDoOvxcdMmMKkDsyUqMSsMWxHk725yiiHCCLfrh8O1z4YTzHvnKhyp6Da-NYroOW3ZGjoBKy3azqku80C789l0s0XaMNjCqAzRibjnE_wBlkZ2axuMlPfqFLWy-3Tjp4nKScCHg1XF4aLsQJlo6oYbA/IMG_4568.JPG?format=original" alt=""/>
The prompt hung there in my mind. Confusing. Unclear.
And a for a few hours, I had no words.
But when the first idea burst through in my brain, it was like the floodgates opened and I couldn’t stop writing.
Just writing this was incredibly helpful to me. I hope maybe, as you read these five small poems, you will feel seen.
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Prompt: The Words You Always Wanted to Say to Him/Her But Never Did
I never wanted you
To be my friend.
I wanted you
to be his.
Because I care more about him
Than I care about
Maybe I’m wrong,
But I think the same temptations hold us close
I see things in you
Pressing, begging, rearing to come out in me
And I’m running hard
I pray maybe you will start running soon too
Or that maybe,
I am just wrong about you
It’s okay to not be perfect
It’s okay to not have it all figured out
I like you better that way, anyways
Let’s be broken together
I’ll hold your pieces
You hold mine
If I get cut, it’s okay.
Because we’ll be together.
I cared what you thought
So when you chose them
I suddenly felt caught
In my childish naivety
Why would I have ever thought
You’d choose me?
That day life taught
Me a lesson
I’d spend the rest of it unlearning
You can’t see it, girl
But you’re so very loved.
And there’s not one single person
You will meet in this whole, beautiful life
Who will be enough to love you
As much as you already are.
If you feel inspired, try out this prompt too. You don’t have to consider yourself a writer to write. And I’d love to read what you come up with. Or keep it private.
This was a sad and beautiful and helpful exercise for me to do and maybe it will be the same for you.
I wanted to share with you a project I’m starting tomorrow.
The 100 Day Project
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The 100 Day Project is a creativity challenge. Many people do this on their own, and some as part of a group. There is a large community of people that I will be joining to complete the challenge beginning April 2nd and finishing July 10th.
If you follow my Instagram (@aleshablessed), you may remember that I participated last year. I did 100 days of storytelling, with the goal of telling short stories about my life everyday, in order to grow and explore my storytelling ability.
Although I stopped participating in the challenge around day 50, and I didn’t even complete every day up until then, I loved it. I felt my confidence, and I think, my skill grow throughout the challenge.
This year, I am taking on the challenge again, with the goal of finishing…not completing every day. But keeping on until the end. And my creative goal?
100 Days of Poetry
I plan to write a poem every day for 100 days, about whatever I want.
I have been writing poems since elementary school. I used to carry one of those tiny composition notebooks around so that I could spend the minutes waiting and the minutes in the car scribbling down tiny poems about cows and trees and whatever else ten-year-old Alesha thought about.
I’ve always thought my writing somewhat reflected that poetic bent from my childhood. But lately, I’ve wanted to lean in to that a bit.
And I wanted to write and actually share it again. Regularly.
If you want to follow along, you can join me on Instagram or wait and see the poetry “round ups” I post on here.
I hope, maybe, the poetry will inspire something in you. A reflection. An emotion. A prayer. A poem of your own.
I’m going to try to write more than just poems for the next four months, but even if I don’t write anything else, I am praying that the poems do the same thing all of my words are intended to do…
to reset your perspective with truth.
What is something you were obsessed with as a child that you would love to revisit? Why not?