Year In Focus: Selah…

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I’m a shallow breather. Every now and then I end up taking a huge, full breath. It’s like I’m having to catch up. At 60, I’m used to the pattern. In fact it’s so natural for me that I often don’t realize that I’m doing it.

But those around me do, and they regularly ask me if something’s wrong because I sound like I’m sighing—at least that’s what I’ve been told. It’s gotten to the point that my husband asks, “Breathing or sighing?” He doesn’t want to assume and he wants to be sure I’m okay.

I don’t know how long I’ve done this. I asked a doctor once about it, but they sort of blew the whole thing off as a non-issue. So I don’t worry about it.

But I wonder. This forgetting to breathe sometimes feels like a metaphor for my life. I move at a pretty fast pace. I take on a lot. A little improvement has come with age and awareness (aka acceptance) of my limitations.

How does this apply to my theme this year of stillness and rest?

I’m glad you asked.

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I need to learn to pause. I can’t keep going at a speed that leaves no room for breathing.

Last week I was reading in Psalms, the prayer book of the Bible, and I noticed a word I tend to skip over. My New Living Translation uses the word “interlude.” Older translations have the word, Selah, set off to the side. Essentially, the word is an invitation to pause. To take some time consider the previous verses—to let the Truth sink in deeply.

I don’t know about you, but I like that…I need that. And not just when I’m reading scripture. I need to schedule in time to reflect the same way I am intentional about getting up and moving each hour (Thank you FitBit).

My recent reading about sabbath reinforced the truth that it is not simply empty inactivity, just as spiritual fasting isn’t merely not eating. Pausing to catch my breath isn’t Selah. Inherent within Selah is the spiritual practice of reflection, listening, and focus. It won’t happen unconsciously or outside of my intention.

So today, I will be looking for moments to stop, breathe, and reflect. I hope you find some, too.

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Book Review: Hymns of the Heart

book review hymns of the heart

As close to perfect as I’ve read in a long time.

There is really nothing I didn’t like about this book. I only wish there was more. The author addresses thirty five psalms in this volume. There is a good representation of familiar and less familiar selections included. The author gives the more familiar psalms a look that is refreshing, while taking the time to lift up less familiar hymn an intention and well-deserved nod.

In the epilogue the author notes mentions the varied emotions expressed in the psalms and how this was encouragement to the growth of his awe and wonder for God. His intention to draw the reader into similar patterns of growth can be considered “mission completed.”

The heart of this pastor is poured out on each page. I can imagine the material being preached and the people being blessed. Rev. Faughn has done his homework, but it neither comes across as “preachy” in a negative way or condescending manner. I found myself learning and going deeper.

Each chapter is written in an easy to follow style. I love the author’s use of alliteration. The way it is presented could clearly enhance a person’s individual study time or be well-suited to a class or small group study.
I highly recommend this book. I received a copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.

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