04 March 2013

listening : best practices

As you may {or may not} know I am participating with an awesome group of ladies in an online book club.  36 ladies to be exact.  I need to map it out, because they are from all over.  Which is all kinds of awesome.

We are doing the book 7: an experimental mutiny against excess.

The book came out last year and the internets were abuzz.  I wanted to read it.  But you might remember this time last year was a bit overwhelming - you know, with the new toddler twins added to the mix.  Thankfully over time, the overwhelming has morphed into our new normal.  I had sort of forgotten a little about 7, but not really.  So when I asked the awesome ladies in my book club if we wanted to start a 2nd book, the first suggestion was 7.

So here we are.  7 is basically a look into all of your stuff.  Jen Hatmaker breaks it down into 7 categories to really spend time looking at the excess via fasting & reducing in those categories.  Jen spent 7 months, focusing on one category each month.

The premise is to reduce all of the 'things' that fill up your time/space/thoughts/etc and allow Jesus that room.  As Jen says in the introduction, "Jesus, may there be less of me and my junk and more of You and Your kingdom."  Yes, please, amen.

The first two weeks we are doing the "food fast."  Each lady in our group can choose to apply the fast in the way that makes the most sense for her.  I am blown away by the way the Spirit has led each of us.  I don't think any of us will have matching fasts.  Which is a beautiful reminder of the way God leads us always.  None of us have matching paths.  None. Of. Us.  Thank you, Jesus.

I might write more about my food choices and all the shock I am experiencing over just how often I long for some sugar.  Oh my heavens.  I think I knew this about myself, but I didn't r-e-a-l-l-y know this about myself.  You know?  But on to the listening part...

I am so excited to be clearing away some clutter so I can listen better to the Spirit.

Really listen.

The funny thing is, that I have been trying to predict the Spirit.

It actually reminds me a bit of Grandma Rose.  You must know I adore her.  She has been up in all my business for as long as I can remember.  Of course, this was super annoying when I was a teenager, but grows more endearing the older I get.  She even let my pregnant self + my potty-training-two-year-old move in with her while Brad was in basic and AIT.  {She earned so many jewels in her crown over those 8 months.}  Unfortunately for Grandma, her hearing is horrible.   She actually has complete hearing loss in one ear because of  a virus, and I think the hearing loss in her "good ear" would be labeled profound.   It complicates our long-distance relationship because we are left only being able to talk over the phone, which is difficult at best.  I would never call her during nap time because my shouting would surely wake the boys.  Sometimes I have to spell words out... and then add the "F as in Frank, I as in igloo, G as in george".  Usually it's only a few parts of the conversation that end up needing spelling + shouting to reach a place of understanding.  You know what parts?  The parts when Grandma tries to predict what I am telling her.  It gets hard straining to listen, so she tries to guess what I am saying.  Her mind starts processing what she has guessed and before you know it we are in two different places.  Its frustrating sometimes.  For both of us probably.  Our best conversations are face-to-face.  It has been a gift to get to stay at her house when we travel to the great north.  We take a few moments to sit and drink {decaf. instant} coffee and eat some of her cookies and just chat.  There are rarely misunderstandings in our face-to-face chats.  Usually there is a time or two that I have to tell her something that I don't want to the whole house to hear {think Christmas Eve}, so I have to lean in close to her good ear.  She almost always reaches a hand up to my face to pull me close - she adores a whispered word - if we're standing she'll even put an arm around me.  She doesn't want to miss it.

This is where I find myself at the beginning of 7.  Trying to predict the words the Spirit wants to tell me, jumping to conclusions as I begin processing what He *might* be saying. Maybe I get tired straining to listen, so I just guess?  Maybe I am in a rush?  All I know is that my guessing leads me away from where He is leading.  I don't want to do that.  I want to be still.  I want to sit down and soak it in. I want a face to face conversation.  Often.  I want to pull Him close so I don't miss a word.

Our Pastor said yesterday, "the key to your life is how well you listen," the bottom line is to "ACT on what you HEAR."  I needed those reminders.

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, 
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding, 
and if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, 
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, 
then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God. 
For the Lord gives wisdom, 
and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.  
Proverbs 2:1-6


  1. Good stuff, Amanda. Sorry I haven't jumped on board with this one. It was my intentions but...you know how those can be. Time just isn't right, I guess. I do want to read the book, so it's on my list. Looking forward to seeing your journey through it. I absolutely love hearing the story about your Grandma. Precious!

  2. I love to read your post. The part about Grandma Rose.... there for a minute I felt like I there with you both. Your writing is so vivid.
    Hang on.... God' got great things in store for you.