There are some intentions, a few practices in my life, that act as a tether, keeping me grounded and on track — spiritually, emotionally and mentally. Reading and studying Scripture and journaling have been like oxygen to me, especially in recent years. They encourage focus and provide direction and without them I feel adrift.

Daily Examen is one practice that is somewhat new to my arsenal of tethers (Wikipedia definition of “tether”: a cord, fixture, or flexible attachment that anchors something movable to a reference point which may be fixed or moving). I began this 500-year-old spiritual practice after securing a modern language copy of The Book of Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne.

Examen is rooted in the teachings of the 15th century Spanish priest and theologian Ignatius. Simply put, it’s the practice of reflecting at the end of each day on two things: our consolations (what connects us with God, others, and ourselves) and desolations (what disconnects us). The Upper Room offers an excellent, concise guide to Examen. More information and tools for the practice also are found at the website Sacred Ordinary Days

The practice of Examen isn’t for everyone. Sitting in silence while asking God to show us the connects and disconnects of our day can be unsettling for some, but it can also be rewarding. Noticing and showing gratitude for God’s presence in each day, however you choose to do it, can only enrich your faith and your life. It’s done that for me.

I wrote for five quick minutes today on the one-word prompt “practice”. Join me and other bloggers at Five Minute Friday for other essays.

In other blogging business, I’d like to encourage you to hang out with me here this summer as I begin a series of posts about friendship, feasts and fiction. Our family has been through an intense season these past six months. God has shown up (as He always does) and I know He’s walking through this with us. I also know He’s all about Sabbath practices — taking times for rest and enjoying life’s blessings. This Mother’s Day I’m giving myself the gift of a season of rest. Here and in my day-to-day life, I intend to lighten it up a bit. Hence the focus on friendship, feasts and fiction.

Friendship

I have some amazing, faithful friends. I intend to spend more time with them (if they’ll have me) and I hope to share with you some practices that will enrich your friendships and thoughts on the value of friendship.

Feasts

I also love good food, but I’m not so good at preparing it. Okay, let’s just say it — I’m not the greatest cook. Our son is sharing space with us this summer and we’re going to be cooking up some healthy, tasty recipes. I’ll share a few of them here with you.

Fiction

I definitely love a good book. Lately, I’ve burrowed into some rather intense non-fiction and, while I love being challenged, informed and opened up to different perspectives, I also adore being carried away by a good story. Hand me well-written fiction, and I could be up all night. Not a bad way to spend a summer evening.

I’m easing into my fiction focus with Becoming Mrs. Lewis by Patti Callahan, a fictionalized “tale of unlikely friendship turned to true love between Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis” (jacket blurb). Lewis, the author of the Narnia series, has long been a favorite author. As a lover of everything British, I’m enjoying the descriptions of Oxford, English pubs and the lush countryside. When I’ve finished and offered a review, I’ll award my hard cover copy to one subscriber via e-mail. (If you’re not already a subscriber to this blog, you can remedy that by dropping your e-mail address in the slot below.)

Other books which will make their way into my summer fiction line-up are Light from Distant Stars by Shawn Smucker and All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner. I’ve read and loved works by both authors and trust these new titles will be just as good. They both release this summer, and there will be give-aways!

I’d like to invite you to the conversation. Either here in the comments below or via e-mail, share with me your favorites: a friendship story, a feast-worthy recipe or a work of fiction you think we should read — or re-read.

And Happy Mother’s Day!