Monday, December 30, 2013

Passing Along the Best Stuff, Part 1

One of the things I enjoyed doing a whole lot more of in 2013 was reading. I'm a bit behind in sharing my reviews/thoughts on various reads, so here's a bit of catch up. Enjoy!

Okay, not a book but my favorite new CD for 2013 was Fortunate Fall by Audrey Assad. Incredible through and through. The album drew from St. Augustine's writings so the lyrics are rich and anything but trite. My absolute favorite song on the CD became my anthem for the year - I Shall Not Want.

Now on to some books. It was a very tough autumn. Over the years I have struggled with depression that seems to show up in September. It's an odd month for Seasonal Affective Disorder, but apparently that's when I'm vulnerable. I wrote a bit about it in this blog post. It was during this time that I discovered a terrific book by Edward Welch, Depression: Looking Up From Stubborn Darkness. I've since recommended this one to several others wrestling with depression.

You'll start to see a theme, but my next recommendation is Undone: When Coming Apart Puts You Back Together by Laura Sumner Truax. I just loved the title, but then I loved the book and Laura's writing. She has a beautiful way of being very transparent and weaving the scriptures throughout her story. Perfection not required.

In October I was able to go to a conference in Wichita for a few days. My introverted self was thrilled to get away by myself for a long drive across Kansas. The IVP table was loaded with books and I snagged two by Craig Barnes, Yearning: Living Between How It Is and How It Ought to Be and When God Interrupts: Finding New Life Through Unwanted Change. Neither is particularly new (1992 and 1996 respectively) but somehow I missed them in the 1990s. So glad I found them in 2013 - they are wonderfully written and are steeped in the truth of scriptures.

And on that same trip I was able to listen to a very creative and thoughtful audiobook: Imaginary Jesus by Matt Mikalatos. Fabulous, simply funny and fabulous. I found myself laughing out loud in the car as I trekked across the Kansas wheat fields. Taken from the description on Amazon, because it's a great synopsis: "Imaginary Jesus is an hilarious, fast-paced, not-quite-fictional story that’s unlike anything you’ve ever read before. When Matt Mikalatos realizes that his longtime buddy in the robe and sandals isn’t the real Jesus at all, but an imaginary one, he embarks on a mission to find the real thing. On his wild ride through time, space, and Portland, Oregon, he encounters hundreds of other Imaginary Jesuses determined to stand in his way (like Legalistic Jesus, Perpetually Angry Jesus, and Magic 8 Ball Jesus). But Matt won’t stop until he finds the real Jesus—and finally gets an answer to the question that’s haunted him for years. Be warned: Imaginary Jesus may bring you face-to-face with an imposter in your own life."

Okay, more to follow on some of my best reads from 2013.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Picking My One Word...2014

I can't believe that 2013 is slowly, but surely, wrapping itself up. No disappointment here, it's been a challenging year and yet as I looked at my 2013 "list" and I haven't done too bad: lost weight, read more than 24 books, started getting caught up on scrapbooking, purged a lot of belongings, worked on writing a Rule of Life, etc.

But back on July 21 I wrote about a book - My One Word - and I think it's time to revisit what it had to say: "This book will give you a simple but effective plan to effect personal change (spiritual formation) by allowing a single word to become the lens through which you examine your heart and life for an entire year."

I suspect I will still have a bit of a list for 2014 - it's just who I am, a list maker. But I also think having one word to focus on is a pretty smart idea.

I just listened to the first of four sessions from the DVD that goes with the book. I've been saving it for this week between Christmas and New Year's. A bonus for you...I found this first session on YouTube. It's just a little over 18 minutes long but gives a great running start on how to select your one word for the year.

So if you join me in picking a single word for your year, I'd love to hear about it. I'll be back in a week to post my one word.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Be Where You're Supposed to Be

"Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard." Luke 1:13a

Gabriel, the angel, delivers this incredible news to Zechariah, the priest and husband of barren Elizabeth. This is the opening miracle of the Christmas story. The promise to them was that this long-awaited son, born from years and years of prayer that presumably seemed to result in the silence of God. This gift, John (the Baptist) promised to be a blessing in not only their lives but to the people of Israel as well.

"From the witness of scripture it seems that God acts in ways that speak to a bigger picture than we hold. God's gifts overflow from the recipient and into the wider community." Every year I select an advent book to enjoy throughout the season and that quote is from this year's selection: Silence and Other Surprising Invitations of Advent by Enuma Okoro. And it is wonderful.

Yesterday, Day Four - Remembered by God, spoke a wonderful word to my soul:

"Enduring seasons of seeming silence from God on a particular concern of ours are usually unbearable. They can, among other things, tempt us to believe that God has forgotten about us. Instead we hold onto what we know to be true about God's character even if we don't currently experience that truth about God, no matter how deadening and lengthy the silence. We find faith strengthened in persisting in the commitments and spiritual disciplines of our faith, as did Zechariah....It is interesting to note that when God remembers Zechariah and sends the angel Gabriel to share the good news, Zechariah is where he should be."

He was right where he was supposed to be. (Selah)

"Who knows how God will meet us when we least expect it in the very place we were meant to be."

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Sacred Pause

He has hit the pause button, and all the world seems to be moving forward and I am frozen in time. It is a sacred pause, not necessarily one accompanied by peace and serenity. In fact, it seems more like Jacob in Genesis 32 wrestling with "a man," always recorded as God himself. He was no longer young and impetuous, Jacob had walked more than a few miles, not many smooth. He was reduced to struggling with God for a blessing. He would not let go.

I understand this. This wrestling. This not letting go.

The sacred can be messy. And in this season, during this sacred pause, much has changed. Much has been lost. Not all that is lost is bad and wrong, yet I yearn for the familiar and predictable.

I'm coming to realize like Jacob, to wrestle and not let go. Bless me.

All that is lost is not really what He wanted to define me. I lean into the confidence that I am marked for something more. That ahead is something altogether different, not better necessarily, we are never promised that. That there is a "more" to this story, my narrative.

Abraham was called to leave what he knew and simply walk out in faith. It was in the walking. It was faith.

Our culture is a tricky one. It rewards self-starters, self-effort, self-fulfillment. Recognition and relevance earned. Performance in all things. It leeches into the church and into our faith as a cancer or toxin. A reversal on truth. Living is dying, joy is dependence. "If you abide in me...."

This sacred pause, where so much is stripped away and I see things so much more clearly yet still through a very distorted glass, might well be the blessing.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Wholeness & Worship

I have no sooner finished a book this morning (Undone by Laura Sumner Truax) than I have picked up another one (Yearning by Craig Barnes). I'm not even through the first chapter and I already want to share some of its treasure:

Much of the spiritual advice Christians offer to each other assumes that wholeness is God's great desire for humanity....

What we find in Scripture is the incredible promise that God has broken into our brokenness to find us there. There is no promise that, having found us, he will paste our fracture lives back together....

God's healing has more to do with  learning to worship than it does with getting this life fixed. What God is eager to heal is the sickness of the soul and the blindness of the heart that takes us down a painful road away from his love. Worship is the means by which our eyes are opened.


Saturday, November 2, 2013


This past week I drafted an executive speech for one of my client's All Employee Meeting. It was the final such meeting of the year and I've drafted three of the four quarterly speeches this CEO has delivered.

In January it was all about casting a vision for the year wrapped in an executive charge of Attitude, Actions and Accountability. In July the message was a charge to Execute after a weaker than desired quarter. And this past week the message was about Finishing Strong.

But more importantly the message was about choosing. They needed to embrace collaboration with one another; they needed to choose teamwork. It is the only way they would finish strong. Essentially - they needed each other.  "Teamwork is not a virtue, teamwork is a choice." - Patrick Lencioni

In reality we choose every day. We choose if we'll work with others or not. We also choose  if we will hope and believe and press forward when times are challenging. That's what I needed him to deliver.

It's a speech I need to give to myself these days. Choose well. The result of your choosing is often the result. Choosing is all about the result. Sort of a reap and sow situation.

Funny, I realized this morning that the speeches I'm writing for the CEO could well be the speeches for my own life. In January it was all optimism and plans for the year -- all about my attitude, actions and accountability. I was incredibly busy with this client who needed me to work nearly full time. Even still I was engaged in a lot of "stuff."

Then came July, Todd had resigned his position and the reality of change did not just amble alongside me it came crashing in. You always think you are prepared for change. You think you're doing the right thing and then you realize you aren't really sure what that it. The reality can be strikingly different than you expected.

And now October. Ah, October. My client base has grown, and those clients are asking for more hours. All so very good in my business when they are "buying" you and your skills every single day. The weight and pressure of that is ridiculous. It is so very personal. But so many other things are hanging by a thread; so much uncertainty. So many things that were not supposed to be yet are.

Well I realized this morning that I too need to choose. My ability to finish strong during this tougher than expected year is really about choice. And frankly, I'll tell you I haven't been choosing all that well. In fact I think I've been defaulting...which of course is a choice as well...defaulting to anger and fear and frustration.

Time to choose. For every negative and frustrating and scary thing in my life (and yours!) there is a choice.

Time to choose belief.
Time to choose love.
Time to choose forgiveness.
Time to choose healing.
Time to choose hope.

Colossians 3:15-17

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dear Lord

These are the days, this very day, when I'm fighting it out. The battle is all inside.

I want to scream and blame. But really I want to be at peace with you and me and those I love.

Today just seems so very hard. Impossible to get there. To let go. To be at peace.

To live this day, just this day seems overwhelming; beyond me. It is.

Only you can turn this around.

Turn this around.

Let my hands open to you. To invite you into these circumstances.

Let my heart forgive and know that this road is my road.

For now this is my road.

Not for always. But for today.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Living as a Barbarian

I first heard Erwin McManus at a Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. I think it was probably more than ten years ago. The talk was a last minute fill-in for a scheduled speaker who had gotten sick. Erwin spoke with no notes; it wasn't a talk he had planned to deliver. And he was brilliant. His talk: The Barbarian Way. That talk became the book.

And here's the point, best illustrated by a quote a friend posted on Facebook: "...(If) I were not an atheist, I would believe in a God who would choose to save people on the basis of the totality of their lives and not the pattern of their words. I think he would prefer an honest and righteous atheist to a TV preacher whose every word is God, God, God, and whose every deed is foul, foul, foul." 

--Isaac Asimov

And yes, I have a lot of friends on Facebook who are not Christians; there are Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Libertarians and, I wouldn't be surprised is there wasn't, a Socialist. Bring it!

It would be amazing if the lives of Christians were more often lived so as to expose and trump the image of Christianity that those TV preachers display -- not talk but real lives that looked different. We are called to be barbarians but we have become so very civilized, and frankly it's not very attractive. We have become addicted to our words; less concerned with what our lives speak.

This is an excerpt for that book. I was so challenged and encouraged this summer by what Erwin had to say about the tribe of barbarians and, more importantly, about how that infects parenting. He parents unafraid and models that keen, unafraid embrace of the faith.

"This is the simplicity of the barbarian way. If you are a follower of Christ, then you are called to fight for the heart of your King. It is a life fueled by passion -- a passion for God and a passion for people. The psalmist tells us to delight ourselves in the Lord, and he will give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4). When Christianity becomes just another religion, it focuses on requirements. Just to keep people in line, we build our own Christian civilization and then demand that everyone who believes in Jesus become a good citizen. It's hard to imagine that Jesus would endure the agony of the Cross just to keep us in line. Jesus began a revolution to secure our freedom. The new covenant that he established puts its trust not in the law, but in the transforming power of God's Spirit living within us. The revolution of the human heart would fuel the life and vitality of this movement. We would delight in God, and He would give us the desires of our hearts. With our hearts burning for God, we would move forward with the freedom to pursue the passions burning within us." (pg. 6-7)

"Jesus was making clear (Matthew 11:16-19) that being a disciple was never intended to be the equivalent of being molded into a stereotype. Jesus and John were considered barbarians, even though they expressed themselves in different ways. But at the core they were the same....What was invisible to others was clear to them. Their lives could not be explained apart from God."(pg. 60)

"To have the Spirit of God dwelling within the heart of someone who chooses a domesticated faith is like having a tiger trapped within a cage. You are not intended to be a spiritual zoo where people can look at God in you from a safe distance. You are a jungle where the Spirit roams wild and free in your life. You are the recipient of the God who cannot be tamed and of a faith that must not be tamed.  You are no longer a prisoner of time and space, but a citizen of the kingdom of God -- a resident of the barbarian tribe. God is not a sedative that keeps you calm and under control by dulling your senses. He does quite the opposite. H awakens your spirit to be truly alive. This past year my daughter, Mariah, has been my travel companion on the barbarian way. She absolutely revels in the identity of being a barbarian. She gets it -- you are most fully alive when you are on an adventure with God." (pg. 66-67)

I really, REALLY, don't want to have a domesticated faith. And I don't want a life more defined by words then life lived well and with adventure.

A wooden plaque hangs above the staircase down to our basement. It says, Never ever give up on the beauty and mystery of the journey of faith. Amen.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Bread & Wine

I am finally back to the rhythm of reading. Simultaneously I'm out of sync in writing my musings on these books. So let me begin to reconcile that lapse.

One of my favorite memories from our time at Open Door was when we joined another couple in the church and decided to invite the entire church to dinner. Well, not at the same time, but monthly over the course of several years. We did just that.

Every month we invited four people to our houses (we alternated hosting every other month) so that we had eight around the table. The host did the drinks, appetizers and main dish. The other couple brought the sides and dessert. My partner in hospitality just happened to have the gift of hospitality. She made it so easy to entertain. (The guys were great too.)

It was crazy fun. We invited our guests, month after month, to tell us their stories - their family of origin, how they got to Denver and Open Door, how they met their spouse, and all about their children. It was amazing.

And that is precisely the point of Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table by Shauna Niequist (daughter of Bill Hybel).

"It's not, actually, strictly, about food for me. It's about what happens when we come together, slow down, open our homes, look into one another's faces, listen to one another's stories." Yep, exactly!

"It happens when we enter the joy and the sorrow of the people we love, and we join together at the table to feed one another and be fed, and while it's not strictly about food, it doesn't happen without it. Food is the starting point, the common ground, the thing to hold and handle, the currency we offer to one another."

"Food is the language of care, the thing we do when traditional language fails us, when we don't know what to say, when there are no words to say. And food is what we offer in celebration...."

And, of course, there are the recipes. Twenty-nine of them. Recipes like blueberry crisp, mango chicken curry, bacon wrapped dates, magical white bean soup, dark chocolate sea salted toffee and maple balsamic pork tenderloin.

Shauna got me all ready to start entertaining again. Being part of a dinner party every month was an amazing joy. And I miss it. Bread & Wine just reminded me of the incredible joy of family, friends and neighbors around the table.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Football as Holy Ground

This weekend I will be rooting for two teams. The Broncos, of course. But also the Kansas City Chiefs. They are a team that has struggled to get back on their proverbial feet. And wow have they. It will be but for one weekend. Only this weekend.

It's holy ground. Arrowhead Stadium. It's all about friendship and commitment and recovery. It's about celebrating a future and a hope.

Seven years ago, Todd did what I could never see him doing. He took his many degrees including his MDiv and took a pastoral position in downtown Denver. Not the pretty side, but the gritty side.

But that is where he met a man who would become one of the treasures of our time downtown. He is someone that I believe is a beautiful example of a redeemed life. He has had horrible things happen to him. He had been rejected repeatedly. He has lived on the streets in Denver, San Diego and Kansas City. He has also lived in our home.

Today he lives in his own.

It's a testament to the power of friendship. Regardless of the good and bad times over these seven years, Todd has refused to walk away. He refused to believe anything other that what this man could become.

He is far from perfect. Or even easy to love at times. But so am I and so are you.

This weekend he is easy to love. This weekend Todd and our friend are celebrating recovery and friendship; and a future redeemed. He is treating Todd to a trip to Kansas City so they can attend a Chiefs game - the team he is passionate for. They have been planning it for months. He paid for the airplane tickets, the hotel, the car, the meals. He is a man with means because he has learned to be wise with his money; he has been faithful to a job in a difficult environment with little encouragement; he is seeing himself in a new way.

Two friends. Celebrating life. And a bit of BBQ.

I'm hoping for a win tomorrow.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Beast

He's big, dark and overpowering. I knew him as a child and teenager and young adult. He was a constant presence. But then I vanquished him out of my house.

He has returned. He is again my companion.

Depression. He has returned. Not his smaller brother Bummed Out. No this is the older brother Depression. At times it has felt like he was sitting on top of my chest; hanging on my back; making me drag him everywhere. Oppressive.

I know he will tire of me; or me him. And somehow he will leave. I hope sooner than later.

I know he hates exercise. So I am exercising.
I know he hates real food. So I am eating wisely.
I know he hates compassion. So I am getting together with friends.
I know he hates truth. So I am reading the Bible and talking back to him.
I know he hates forgiveness. So I am trying to forgive those who have hurt me.
I know he hates grace. So I am working to extend that to others when their decisions have made a big impact on my well being.
I know he hates peace. So I am pressing myself to live in a manna rhythm that focuses on today and not tomorrow.
I know he hates hope. So I am choosing hope in spite of my feelings.
I know he hates contentment. So I am learning gratitude.
I know he hates generosity. So I am giving stuff away.
I know he wants me to stay silent. So I am writing and inviting others in.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

My Big Bad Advocate Momma Self

It's been that kind of week. Best not to cross me especially when it comes to my son. We are three weeks into the school year and I had to turn on my big bad advocate momma self. No one likes me when I'm in BBAMS mode. Especially those on the other side.

But frankly that's what mommas are for...advocating for our kids. No child, teenager or kindergartner, wants to feel like no one has their back. Well, it's been a while, but BBAMS has been out in full force this week. Unfortunately, as a result, I'm wound tighter than a drum.

You know what I want? I want a BBAM right now. Or a BBAP - big bad advocate person. What a joy it is when you know there is someone in your corner. Some days and weeks it gets so exhausting to be the big bad anything.

So today, I hope you have been strong and affirming and available to someone in your life who is in need of a BBAM. What a gift, even if for a moment.

Monday, September 9, 2013

My Cooking Frenzy

Anyone who knows me well knows I'm not one for cooking. It's not that I don't know how, or that I don't enjoy it, because I do. It's just that for years I have not felt I had time. Really I think it was that I simply didn't prioritize it. It provided me so little pleasure and seemed like just another "wife" to do. That is until the past couple weeks.

In recent blog post, I quoted from  that I am reading and working through the study book of The 7 Experiment: Staging Your Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker. I'm pretty much not engaging in the level of denial or fasting that Jen engaged in. I think it's safe to say that I'm allowing her words to challenge me; to cause me to really think deeply about the areas of food, clothes, spending, media, possessions, waste, and stress.

As a result I've got an unusual reading list going: In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifest and Food Rules: An Eater's Manifesto both by Michael Pollan. Then I checked out Food Inc. from the library. I read a great article in the newspaper this weekend on savoring what you eat and a link to another book I may be reading: Mindful Eating

And I started cooking again. With the ingredients I had in my kitchen. To avoid waste and in gratitude for the amazing array of food we in America are so blessed with. My refrigerator and freezer are jammed full. I haven't a clue what's in there actually. 

So I started to bake. I had blueberries and peaches. So first about two weeks ago I made these amazing blueberry maple muffins that Todd and I have been feasting on for breakfast. 

And then I saw our flat of white peaches from Costco sitting invitingly on the counter. While we were devouring them, we wouldn't get through them all before they went bad. So peach cobbler was on the menu, and it was also amazing. In fact I made this recipe on the day we got some very disappointing news. So peach cobbler became dinner. 

Then today I spied the final three peaches in the flat. They were just past good. So, Sweet Peach Muffins with Brown Sugar-Walnut Streusel Topping were baked. But I still had 1 1/2 peaches left. So, next up was Peach Jam (refrigerator style). Oh so easy, and tastes great.

While I was digging in the refrigerator for sour cream and eggs for the muffins, I noticed two brown bananas. And since I already had all the baking ingredients out - yep, the bananas were pulled for some bread. Not just normal banana bread but rather Rum Banana Bread with the leftover Brown Sugar-Walnut Streusel Topping.

Todd is cleaning up the kitchen. I love him (every wife needs a husband who clears up the kitchen when she's done making a disaster of things). This morning I watched four episodes of The Pioneer Woman while writing a corporate blog post on the difference between focus groups and instant research communities. Apparently I am getting in touch with my domestic side. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Welcome Fall (Goodbye Summer)

I know there are four seasons each year, but for some reason I tend to break the year into thirds. It's probably because it can keep snowing into May in Colorado. But my four-month groupings are January through April - winter; May through August - summer; September through December - fall/Christmas.

I know. I left out spring. In Colorado, spring is hit or miss. This year it was a miss. We went right from winter to summer. I have no idea why I think of the year in thirds, but I do. These are the transition points in my life. The times I can package and review and then plan for the days ahead.

I'm in that packaging up place. Looking at summer and reflecting. Frankly it was a tough summer. Todd transitioned out of inner city ministry and waited. We waited on "next." I was sick most of the summer and in my tough-to-diagnosis illness I was miserable and lonely.

This summer was all about transition. Leaving behind and living hopeful. Always hopeful.

So now we are in September and I can feel the pull into autumn and the holiday season (well, not that just yet). I'm hopeful for cooler days. I'm hopeful that life will become cooler as well.

I don't know what you do in transition - whether it's simply the seasonal kind or the tough as nails kind that has you keeling like you're adrift at sea - but I clean, and ponder, and clean some more, and ponder some more.

The cleaning is all about control. I know this from experience. I've been doing it since I was a child. When life seems out-of-my-control I reach for something to regain my grip. Cleaning. Simple as that. Yet there was more to it this time...I was drowning in stuff collected. Cleaning has become more like purging. A possessions cleanse. It's just as unpleasant as fasting. Denial. Letting go.

And then there is the pondering. Here's what I'm thinking about:

  • How can I apprehend more and more of grace? I am realizing more and more that grace is everything. I have a tendency to strive for perfection. Truth be told its my cheap attempt at protecting myself from being hurt. I can tell you it doesn't work but that hasn't stopped me from trying. And I feel inordinately frustrated that at 53 I am not better. Seriously. When does a person stop struggling with the same issues? I might as well be 15 some days. But as I have pondered grace I am realizing it is everything. My personal improvement projects are a drop in the bucket; by grace alone I will cross that finish line. 
  • What does a real friend look like? Oh so much pondering on friendship this summer. What I am looking for, and in, friends in my life? What am I offering others in friendship? I have spent so much of my adult life working ridiculous hours and top that off with introvert tendencies, well it makes for a mess when it comes to friends. I don't want a tone of friends (well actually I do), but I want rich real friends; friends I can be myself with; friends where they initiate as often as I do; friends who check in when you withdraw. For many reason, I am deep into pondering this potent topic.
  • What is going on inside of me that I have so much "stuff" and that apparently I keep buying more? Ah, this is a tough one. There are patterns I am seeing in my life that are not acceptable to me when it comes to stuff. Time to reduce and plan for than next stage of life that will have us downsizing just about everything. And while I'm in a state of purge, I'm also considering what heart-issues have propelled me to "need" so much stuff. And I know the stuff is about something that has less to do with their intended purpose, and more to do with a gaping hole in my heart. Ouch. So much more pondering to do on this one.
  • What does it mean to live a life of generosity? I want to be defined by generosity. Not just money and stuff, but generosity of spirit and heart. A person who generously forgives and gives second (and third and fourth) chances; who generously gives time; who generously shares talent and capability. It is the opposite of grudges and bitterness and hurt feelings - those tend to be things that withhold and hold tight. Generosity is expansive. I have been given much and I want a life defined by generosity.
So now I enter September. Still pondering, still cleaning, still pruning and purging. It is all purposeful. It is all hopeful. 

Welcome fall...I want gratitude to define this season. I hope it does in your as well.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What God Cares About

"It you have ever wondered what God really cares about, let Isaiah 58 be your guidepost. If our lives are marked by gossip and slander and apathy and neglect of the poor, we can skip all the outward disciplines and save God the energy. He is stunningly concerned with the marginalized, and He is always, always burrowing deeply into our hearts, our motives, the way we think, the reasons we move. The ax is at the root of the tree. There is a time for pruning, but sometimes a total replanting is in order."

Jen Hatmaker
The 7 Experiment 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why Nobody Believes I'm an Introvert

I look a lot like an extrovert. As a marketing and communications consultant I put myself out there a lot; and as the wife of a pastor I have worked hard to be the first one to extend a hand of welcome and initiate conversations and friendship. 
But don't be fooled, I am definitely more introvert than extrovert. I have always defined this by how I like to recharge my batteries. For me that tends to be alone; I need to withdraw every day. In fact an active day of consulting usually has me running for cover. As my friends can tell you, I rarely agree to anything in the evenings. It just makes the day too long and draining.
My favorite mother's day present for several years was Todd driving me to a nearby Colorado State Park; hooking up the RV and leaving me there for three days. Heaven.
So, when I saw this Fast Company article today it was like I was reading from my own journal. If this stuff interests you as well, it's a great article. Beth understands that introvert/extrovert is not about your public persona. 
I took the test offered in the article. Not really a surprise based on the questions..."You're an ambivert." Frankly I'd never heard the term before, but its that in-between place. Because I'm a consultant, I know I skewed to the middle because I've trained myself to be outspoken and outgoing professionally. And then there is that pastor's wife thing. Yep, skewed to center. So here's the definition of ambivert:
That means you're neither strongly introverted nor strongly extraverted. Recent research by Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Management has found that ambiverts make the best salespeople. Ambiverts tend to be adept at the quality of attunement. They know when to push and when to hold back, when to speak up and when to shut up. So don't fall for the myth of the extraverted sales star. Just keep being your ambiverted self.

And yes, I am a seller of ideas. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Facebook Collecting and Other Misadventures Online

First a disclaimer: I realize that everyone has a different approach and perspective to Facebook so no hate mail. I respect that and have used/engaged with Facebook in an evolving way as well. This is just about some of my own reflection from this summer and my journey to redefining Facebook's place in my life. 

It was seven years ago when I signed up and created my Facebook profile. I did it deliberately but with reservation. I did it because I was a pastor's wife who was working full-time, raising a child, and trying to connect with a high-need congregation that was about 45 minutes away. I wanted to be involved, to be present when I could not actually be there in the flesh.

I believe I started well. Facebook was for friends, not for work associates. LinkedIn was for business; Facebook was personal.

Somewhere along the way I think I lost my way. Thousands if not millions of potential friends joined Facebook since my first status post was written. It was fun to "connect" with friends and acquaintances; new and old, including those from 30 years back in a pre-Internet world.

I watched others have friend lists that topped 1,000. It was a great broadcasting platform for them. I have friends that are single minded in their posted; they are passionate about a certain topic and FB is a great broadcast media for them. I have other friends who link their Twitter feed with FB so there are a lot of short and sweet posts.

At my most generous, I had probably 460 "friends." And I really tried and wanted to be a friend - high interaction with all they posted. It was a daily ritual to get on FB - peruse the latest in the world of my diverse circle of friends from all walks and seasons of my life.

This past year I confess to experiencing, well, hurt feelings from my cadre of Facebook friends. I began to suspect that in fact I was part of some obligatory FB friend collection because regardless of what I posted ( lost job, illness, etc.) they never post a comment or interacted in any way.

Was I hidden or no longer on their feed? Was it something I said? Was it something I had done?

Ouch, it was starting to feel very much like rejection. Okay, I think I have reentered high school!! Yep my expectations had changed. And I think the real thing was, I actually needed/wanted friends.

Now I know that everyone has different FB habits, motivations and expectations. I accept and applaud that - but am hoping it is deliberate. I think it's important that we access how social media impacts the quality of and even nature of our relationships.

So once I was able to reconcile all those crazy emotions, I realized I am no longer impressed with Facebook friending in my life. It's a shortcut to the real thing; a counterfeit of the real thing: real interaction. At some point I simply wanted more than Facebook could give. I wanted real friends.

If I were to gauge friendship by Facebook over the past six to nine months, I think I have three friends (thank you my unnamed friends, you know who you are!). I have never been someone who collected friends. Regardless of what I may appear I am an introvert living a very extroverted life. I'm a deep with a few versus expansive with many.

So the net, net is that two weeks ago, I trimmed my Facebook "friends" by 25 percent. I suspect I will cut it even further in the future. I want to focus my attention on people that I actually have relationships with or those that I want to stay in touch with over the miles (whether they are active on FB or not).  In fact, I am convinced that the 100 people I cut don't even know I cut them; I think I was part of their collection but we really didn't have any real relationship. Again we all have a FB personality type, mine is simply changing.

I considered getting off altogether. That is certainly a choice. But I love connecting with family in Europe and throughout the US; I enjoy seeing my friends' pictures and reveling in their vacations; and I love keeping dialed in throughout the day to the two loves of my life whom I life with. Truth be told I love the birthday alert!

So for now, I will continue dealing with the tension this personal yet impersonal channel affords.

I have much more I could say about Facebook; so much I love about being able to create an awesome news feed that I can customize based on my clients and interests. In fact the news feed function is the one I spend the most time with at this point. I love following my favorite bloggers via FB.

But friends, well I want a strong emphasis with face-to-face or over the phone or via text, or even via Facebook chat. I want real engagement. Pure and simple.

I'll have more on this topic - friendship - in the coming days. It's been such a great thing to explore and be deliberate about. Friendship is worth it; worth the effort.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Quote for the Day ... and for a Life

Do more than belong: participate. 
Do more than care: help. 
Do more than believe: practice. 
Do more than be fair: be kind. 
Do more than forgive: forget. 
Do more than dream: work.
~ William Arthur Ward  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Living Room Series Study...No Other Gods

This year I am reading a lot about idols. I try to pick a theme for each year. Last year was simplicity. This year I'm working at getting to the heart of the issue. Idols. Seriously crazy topic to tackle but I am loving it.

Last week I finished Kelly Minter's No Other Gods: Confronting Our Modern-Day Idols study. It is my second Kelly Living Room Series study - I completed Ruth: Love, Loss and Legacy a couple years ago. Also excellent.

So if you are interested, here are some excerpts from this great study. I've already started a handful of blog posts on some specific ideas from the study. I'll be writing about those soon. Enjoy.

The core concept comes from 2 Kings 17: 33 & 41: They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods; Even while these people were worshiping the Lord, they were serving their idols. "Gods and gods: the people were living split lives, worshiping the One, while serving the others."

"I believe this half-hearted living is possibly one of the reasons why so many of us have been stuck. Basically, we have edged out God. We have left Him with little room in our hearts. Our false gods have taken up our most treasured spaces, leaving little room for God to show Himself strong on our behalf."

She talks a lot about the difference between professed gods and functional gods. It's a great exercise to evaluate "what has been inflated to function as a substitute for God. All things are potential idols, depending only on our attitudes and actions toward them...idolatry may not involve explicit denials of God's existence or character. It may well come in the form of an overattachment to something that is, in itself, perfectly good...An idol can be physical object, a property, a person, an activity, a role, an institution, a hope, an image, an idea, a pleasure, a hero -- anything that can be substitute for God." (Richard Keyes)

A great quote from John Calvin on the subject: "The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much."

In the second week of the study Kelly asks a great question (actually she asks a lot of them): Other than God, who or what am I trying to build a life through? This is part of a great study on Hagar and Sarah. Terrific and challenging. As was a later study of Rachel and Leah. "The point is that it doesn't matter if you have it all and everything your heart desires, or if you're left wanting and unloved. Neither works. The two women had vastly different circumstances, yet both were left hungry. Why? Because God was not their ultimate thing."

Another great quote: "Of course we may feel grief when parting with something we enjoy, but if true conviction is present, we will begin to look at that thing as something that was taking the place of God, something that was stealing from us. As we rid it from our lives we will be hopeful with anticipation, anxious to see what God will do in this newly-created space. We will not look for loopholes. We will be resolved. We will know that we are in a position to gain, not to be stolen from any longer."

Then in week five, this gem: "This is the 'making room' piece. God wants to do us good! Too often we associate the idea of turning from our false gods with misery and legalism when really it means making room for God to do good in our lives."

It's all about making room. Often our emotions and stuff, physical and otherwise, creates clutter that gets in the way of making room for the good stuff.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Art of Being a Connoisseur of PT...and My Unexpected Summer

I'm guessing a few of you immediately assumed that the "PT" I was referring to is Pastor Todd, as he was fondly called at Open Door Fellowship. Ah, but no, I'm talking physical therapy.

So what do you think it takes to be such a connoisseur of physical therapy?

Let me provide a few of the high points in my credentials:
1) Car accident/rear ended on my way to class my senior year of college (yep, the guy who hit me - no insurance - totaled a sweet, red 1961 VW bug). Result: a lot of neck and back damage and years of physical therapy.
2) Thrown from a horse in Montana. Result: broken back and yes, more than a year of physical therapy.
3) Fell down two stairs into garage (seriously!). Result: severely sprained ankle and a couple months physical therapy.

Which brings me to the summer of 2013. I've spent a lot of it on the couch. Unfortunately.

And yesterday I found myself again with a physical therapist. Referred by my Head and Neck Surgeon (those folks must have been feeling bad about how important they sounded since they used to be call Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists). Anyway, I've spend the summer on a journey of sorts, not a comfortable one at all I might add, to get answers to why I have felt so miserable.

I suspect a few of you I know can totally relate. Mystery symptoms. First you ignore them. I thought I had some cold virus, menopause or exhaustion-thing going all at the same time. Then the dizziness, mental zaps, fatigue, blurry vision, body shocks, and on and on. I've felt like a nut trying to describe how I feel to doctors. The lexicon isn't great when it comes to dizzy.

My summer of 2013 journey led me to an evening brain MRI up in (Lafayette) to rule out multiple sclerosis, stroke and brain tumor. All clear! Which then led me to the Head and Neck Surgery department downtown with a side trip to Audiology. Yep, my hearing is great and no holes in my eardrums or fluid in my ear so I intend to continue to turn the volume up on my to music -- I love it loud.

It's a process of narrowing and eliminating more than identifying. Sometimes that is how life's difficulties are - you have to eliminate what it isn't before you can land on what it is.

So are you still interested? Actually I'm getting bored with the topic, except I have to live with myself, in this body that is simply not cooperating.

Okay, back to the ENT (sorry I just can't do this surgeon thing). She got it. I was talking her language. And yes, I hugged she when I left.

While she couldn't be positive without more tests, it sounds  like inner ear which of course makes total sense based on the symptoms. It's just there isn't anything much more specific than that. We are just going with inner ear before she hands me off to the neurologist for investigation into vestibular migraine. I hate the word migraine so I am sticking with inner ear.

And that led me to the physical therapist yesterday and a nice guy named Scott at Kaiser's Skyline PT offices...downtown again (apparently everything related to whatever is going on requires a 45 - 1.5 hour drive to get there!).  He spent an hour making me nauseous. And it was a good thing.

First, I had no idea after years of back rehab that these physical therapists also rehab inner ears. Well some do. Kind of made me want to laugh. I prefer back massages, just to be clear. But now Scott has allowed me to add to my resume of physical therapy experiences.

So it was a bit too easy for him to get me off balance, spinning and reaching for a bucket. Again, while he doesn't know precisely why or how... he pretty sure I don't need any more tests ... inner ear problem. He's also pretty sure it's not vestibular migraine (I like him alot). And he sent me home with 'phase one' exercises for my brain/inner ear combo. Basically I do these every day until they no long make me sick, dizzy or visually unfocused. Fun. Then he'll give me tougher exercises, and so on.

It could take up to a year to "fix" this. But at least I know where the damage is and that it can be fixed. That's a hopeful place for someone who has virtually stopped driving and doing much of anything. My introvert tendencies are in full display - just not feeling super social this summer.

But the really bad news was delivered at the very end of my session with Scott. He recommended some dietary changes to help with the symptoms - no caffeine (coffee!), no salt (as in don't touch a shaker and no processed foods with salt), no chocolate (enough said).

If I wasn't depressed before he just sent me over the ledge. So which do you think I am mourning most? Yep, it's the coffee.

So if you made it to the end of my tale, you get a gold star in my book.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Litmus Test

"If you want a good litmus test of your spiritual growth, simply examine the nature and quality of your relationships with others. Are you more loving, more compassionate, more patient, more understanding, more caring, more giving, more forgiving than you were a year ago? If you cannot answer these kinds of questions in the affirmative and, especially, if others cannot answer them in the affirmative about you, then you need to examine carefully the nature of your spiritual life and growth."

Invitation to a Journey by M. Robert Mulholland, Jr., page 42

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mother's Wisdom

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered; Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; Succeed anyway. People may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God; It is never between you and them anyway.

Mother Teresa

(Thank you Kris Wright)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Bestow Upon Us Fullness in our Need"

I Am Bending My Knee
Originally from the Carmina Gadelica I, 3
Taken from Esther de Waal, editor, The Celtic Vision (Liguori, MO: Liguori/Triumph, 1988, 2001), p. 7.
I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who purchased me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
In friendship and affection.
Through Thine own Anointed One, O God,
Bestow upon us fullness in our need,
Love towards God,
The affection of God,
The smile of God,
The wisdom of God,
The grace of God,
The fear of God,
And the will of God
To do on the world of the Three,
As angels and saints
Do in heaven;
Each shade and light,
Each day and night,
Each time in kindness,
Give Thou us Thy Spirit.
NOTE: For sixty years the folklorist Alexander Carmichael (1832–1912) traversed Scotland's Outer Hebrides isles collecting and translating the traditions of its Gaelic-Catholic people. His eventual trove contained a little of everything — their ballads, prayers, proverbs, hymns, charms, incantations, runes, poems, tales and songs. Carmichael's labor of love was published in six volumes across seventy years as Carmina Gadelica ("Hymns of the Gael") Hymns and Incantations, With Illustrative Notes on Words, Rites, and Customs, Dying and Obsolete: Orally Collected in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. Carmichael published the first two volumes in 1900. His daughter Ella continued the project. Volumes 3 and 4 were published by his grandson, James Watson, in 1940–1941. Volumes 5 and 6 were published by Angus Matheson in 1954 and 1971.
Thank you Journey with Jesus for this gem:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

My One Word

I love finishing a good book. It's like a wonderfully prepared meal; I'm still savoring the flavors. So while its still fresh let me share with you My One Word by Mike Ashcroft and Rachel Olsen. This is typically a book most read in preparation for a new year. Think of My One Word as a New Year's resolution replacement.

Here's how the authors describe it: "This book will give you a simple but effective plan to effect personal change (spiritual formation) by allowing a single word to become the lens through which you examine your heart and life for an entire year....Between these pages I'll outline how to pick a word for the year and how to focus on it. I'll discuss what you can do to drive it deep into your character and what you can do to apply it in your life. The goal is a transformed heart."

So now for some excerpts because there are some lovely ones to share.

Chapter Two: Beyond Self-Help
"We like grace on our own terms. And we like to earn our grace, thank you very much. We value initiative and efforts in others and assume that's what God values in us too. We qualify ourselves based on how hard we work. We evaluate our character based on how often we go to church, attend Bible studies, volunteer, or check other items off one the standard religious resume. We carry the subtle belief that God helps those who help themselves."

"Our efforts are not the source of change we are after; they can't be. Rather, they get us in a position for God to change us."

Chapter Three: Pick Your Word
"When we look beneath our behavior we discover what's driving it - the beliefs and motives that make up our character."

"It is better to do something about one thing than nothing about everything."

Chapter Four: Self-Deception
"As long as we file the truth neatly into a 'belief category,' we will remain deceived. Only when we begin to let what we believe affect what we do are we able to embrace the process of formation."

"Don't forget that when we stop allowing truth in, either because it's painful or unflattering or inconvenient, we will wind up self-deceived. Positive thinking is commendable but denial is detrimental."

"I firmly believe vision-fueled action is more powerful than regret-based restraint."

Chapter Five: Keep it in Front of You
"That's why, instead of choosing our one word by looking at who we are, we choose our one word with a forward-facing vision of who we want to become in the future."

Chapter Six: Hearing isn't the Hard Part
"God will speak through the word you've committed to. But he doesn't speak just to be heard, he speaks to be followed and obeyed from the heart."

"She didn't find much comfort in that answer. So I told her, 'You know, Alaina, everyone tries to create a life for themselves that is worry-free. We want to earn enough money that we'll never have to worry about expenses, that we can always pay our bills and have money left to buy the things we want. We want job security and good health and problem-fee days. We want to be in control and not have to rely on anyone to get our needs met, including God."

"The life that everyone wants is really a life that doesn't require any faith....So if you and I want to be people that please God, we're going to have to live a life that requires faith."

Chapter Seven: Let it Morph
"It's important to understand that we cannot obligate God in any way by the one word we choose. This is not a 'name it and claim it' exercise. Nonetheless, God will word through your word according to his purposes and for your maturity."

Chapter Eight: Seeing Through Your Word
"The attention of our eyes focuses the affection of our heart....(Advertisers) know that what we see determines the direction we will go."

"Each year, that's my goal for my one word. I want to train my eyes to look at my world - all of it - through the lens of my one word. I need to learn to see differently, if I am going to live differently.

Chapter Nine: Blow Up the Moment
"Satan's perpetual aim is to infiltrate our thoughts with his thoughts, promoting his lies over God's truth. If Satan can control our thoughts, he can control our behaviors. This is a war - Satan has declared it - and your mind is ground zero."

"We can take our thoughts captive - every single one. How? First you must blow up the moment. Your reaction or mindless drift into temptation happens in a moment. You must create the space in that moment to see what is happening and then to make a decision. The key is to isolate and examine the specific thought or belief that's driving your desire in that moment. Take it captive; identify it. Then stack it up against the knowledge of God."

Chapter Ten: Write Your Guts Out
"I am convinced that our struggle to see God at work in our lives is not a result of his lack of work, but rather of our lack of attention to it. Our failure to take the time to articulate it when it happens."

Chapter Eleven: Wait for It
"We become so consumed with getting where we believe God wants us to be that we forget to be with God. Our prayers amount to, God, be with me while I do what needs to be done."

"Lamentations 3:24 declares, 'The Lord is my portion.' This is the reason we wait. Our contentment is not with where we are, but who we are with."

"Waiting is an active practice. So is surrender. Waiting allows me to get my eyes off of where I want to go or where I believe God wants me to go and fix them on him. Waiting prepares me for his lead. Surrender prepares me to follow."

"God is more interested in your relationship with him than your usefulness to him. He has created you for himself, not just to execute his plans. It takes time for this to sink in. Time in his presence is the only way to truly abandon your own plans and learn to trust him. It takes time for our prayers to shift from, 'God, be with me as I go,' to, 'God, I just want to be with you where you are.'"

Chapter Twelve: Last Words
"The normal, natural pace of our lives will not likely lead us toward spiritual formation. This principle is one of the foundations My One Word is built upon. We aren't going to drift toward spiritual formation, toward developing a heart of wisdom. It has to be chosen and done."

"Our chosen words provide lenses through which we can see God's work in our lives over the course of a year. They're lenses that help us see what is happening in our hearts. But they can also help us keep eternity in view."

Friday, July 5, 2013

Waiting to Ponder

Now Sarai, Abram's wife, had borne him no children. But she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar; so she said to Abram, "The Lord has kept me from having children. Go, sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her." (Genesis 16:1-2)

Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. (Genesis 21:1)

"...this was going to happen with or without Hagar; with or without Ismael; with or without Sarah's manipulation; with or without Abram's passiveness." - Kelly Minter

Monday, June 24, 2013

Five More Days

What a crazy season this is. I have been reading many of my favorite bloggers and gleaning great encouragement (and a few laughs). While I blog really just for me...a place to express and emote, I hope that something in my journey is an encouragement to others and not just self absorption.

So we are down to five more days of ministry at Open Door Fellowship. Todd packed his Jeep with a bunch of empty boxes. His desk has been sold on Craig's List; his "counseling couch" donated to the ODF youth group. All that remains are files and books - lots of books!

They will sit in our garage along with the bookcases awaiting a new home at a new job. The unknown.

He has a handful of final meetings and then one last Sunday. And then seven years at ODF will be complete. When we said yes to serving in the inner city, dependent on support (no salary or benefits), Todd and I agreed to five years. We wanted to make a serious commitment.

Well, at five years I lost my job and it would have been convenient for Todd to move on to a salary, but we served on. We completed closer to seven years. At various moments this past month, I've cried. The memories sweet for the most part.

But it was over six months ago when Todd and I both knew that God was pressing us on. Our passion and concern is for those in the marketplace. Both Todd and I come from the market and our hearts are attuned to those who are called to walk faithfully in corporations and offices and manufacturing floors and in the field.

We are listening right now. July brings its own challenges, but opportunities as well.

We live expectantly.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dying to Self Over a Thank You

I started writing this post just for me, not convinced I would or should ever really post it. There is a churn in me. A battle. I am losing. I think I'm supposed to.

Resentment. Brewing from low to boil. Ick. Creates a bit of self-loathing because this is not who I want to be. These are not thoughts I want to be thinking, or trying to shove down. They leech back to the surface, and leave a muddy trail. And I think I am tracking mud everywhere.

Expectations. There you have it, one of the roots of my resentment.

The need to be seen; to not be invisible; to not be taken for granted.

I can name names. I smile on the outside, but inside hurt has taken root. Resentment at 'thank yous' unspoken. Resentment about too many situations over these past several years.

I let them fester. Foolish on my part.

Now they are in full bud. I can hardly call them blooms - they are weeds.

The scriptures which I love say: do all for Christ. Well apparently I have a bit of work to do on that one. Serving him seems to require being around other people and apparently I have issues. Expectations.

Geez, don't they know the sacrifice that was involved. Don't they know it was obedience for me.

Epic fail on my part.

All I needed was the smile of approval of my Father. Not theirs. Oh, but I wanted it. I was greedy. I wanted them both. So much still to learn. So many hurtful things said -- they didn't even know --  they need to be forgiven, and yes, forgotten. Let go.

The generosity of grace has been my musing this past month. I shared with a friend recently that I am concern that we as Christians are working so hard to perform our way to greater and greater perfection as we approach retirement and ultimately death. The goal - to be more like Christ. Right?

But what I am sensing in that still small voice is that the goal is to grow in my experience, appreciation and embodiment of grace. That is Christ.

As I age I so want to be beyond my sin, yet it haunts me. I want to be getting better. Perhaps I am simply more aware.

Grace. He loves me. This big sinner. He loves me.

That resentment needs some weed killer. Seems just as hard as rooting up of the weed/bush that grows back year after year just outside our split-rail fence in the open space. Its shoots and roots emerge in the flowers and the grass spreading disruption throughout my garden.

From my morning reading in 40 Loaves by C.D. Baker:

"So let's ask him for the gift...every day. Let's ask him to show us how much he loves us in spite of ourselves. Let's ask him to teach us the gospel daily - to remind us over and over that he loves his children no matter what.

"Let's ask him daily to show himself as he really is -- a big lover of big sinners.

"And when he answers us, we will be changed. No longer will we obey for our own gain, but instead we will simply follow him, and gladly. For each time we feel his love overflowing in our hearts, spilling over into every part of our being and bursting beyond ourselves in love for others, we will love him again, and again, and again."

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Power of Remembering

Deeply Loved

40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus

By Keri Wyatt Kent


Memory, like a muscle, atrophies when unused, grows when exercised. I was blessed to grow up in a church where we read, studied, and memorized Scripture. At church camp I memorized verses to win prizes and to be the best Christian—or so it seemed. Later in life, I realized that memorizing may have earned me gold stars at Sunday School, but it didn’t earn me God’s favor. It did, however, teach me his vocabulary, attune the ear of my heart to the inflections of his voice…

Memorized scripture will come to mind at just the right time—this is the way God speaks to his beloved. We hear his voice in our heart, in a recalled verse of hymn lyric. We speak truth to others, dipping from the well of Scripture within us…

Memorizing truth about Jesus’ love for us can help us experience God’s love more deeply.

To read more from Deeply Loved, find the book at your favorite retailer or download the ebook for half price for a limited time only from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Christian Book Distributors!

About the Author:

Keri Wyatt Kent is the author of ten books, a freelance writer and speaker. She writes and speaking about slowing down, simplifying and listening to God. To learn more, join Keri on a 40 day Lent study of her book on Facebook or by following her on Twitter (@KeriWyattKent #DeeplyLoved).

Excerpt from Deeply Loved: 40 Ways in 40 Days to Experience the Heart of Jesus by Keri Wyatt Kent. © by Abingdon Press. Used by Permission.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Prayer of Saint Patrick

St. Patrick of Ireland (fifth century)

The Prayer of Saint Patrick

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.
I arise today
Through the strength of Christ's birth and His baptism,
Through the strength of His crucifixion and His burial,
Through the strength of His resurrection and His ascension,
Through the strength of His descent for the judgment of doom.
I arise today
Through the strength of the love of cherubim,
In obedience of angels,
In service of archangels,
In the hope of resurrection to meet with reward,
In the prayers of patriarchs,
In preachings of the apostles,
In faiths of confessors,
In innocence of virgins,
In deeds of righteous men.
I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today
Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From every one who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
I summon today all these powers between me and evil,
Against every cruel merciless power that opposes my body and soul,
Against incantations of false prophets,
Against black laws of pagandom,
Against false laws of heretics,
Against craft of idolatry,
Against spells of women and smiths and wizards,
Against every knowledge that corrupts man's body and soul.
Christ shield me today
Against poison, against burning,
Against drowning, against wounding,
So that reward may come to me in abundance.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation.

Recovering reliable historical information about many of the saints is difficult if not impossible, and Saint Patrick (c. 390–461) is no exception. Born in Scotland, Patrick was imprisoned and taken to Ireland when he was about sixteen years old. He retuned to Scotland, only to have a dream in which the people of Ireland called out to him, “we beg you, holy youth, to come and walk among us once again.” He did return, and although the details are obscure and the legends are large, he wandered and ministered in Ireland for over thirty years, converting the nation.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Books, Books, and More Books!

Time to do a bit of book review catch up. I've decided in 2013 to do less book reviewing for publishers, and more book reviewing from my own library. (Although I just received an advance copy of Dan and Chip Heath's new book - without requesting it -- Decisive: How to Make Better choices in Life and Work. Not complaining!)

I logged only 17 books read last year, well short of my goal of 24.  But in January and February 2013 I already finished five books! January business travel was very good for book reading as was my two-to-three-hours-a-day compute to my client's offices.

The Weight of Mercy, Deb Richardson-Moore
This book is a must read for all who serve at Open Door fellowship/Ministries or those simply passionate for the poor. I laughed throughout this wonderful memoir of a journalist turned pastor of an inner city ministry. Her journey paralleled our own that I savored her words. She like us went to seminary at mid-life -- simply following God's call. And like us she landed in an unexpected place. The inner city of West Greenville, North Carolina. Her stories of the addicted, homeless poor, emotionally and spiritually impoverished could easily have been written about those in the Open Door Fellowship congregation. She learned so many of the lessons we did, the hard way. There is no manual for such ministry. This is a wonderful and entertaining read.

Leadership 101, John Maxwell
This great book was "read" on my drive to work - a minimum one hour each way weather depending. Yep, it was an audio book. But I enjoyed it so much that I now have The Complete 101 Collection. Leadership 101 is one of eight books in the collection, and has great counsel on the development of a leader, the traits of a leader adn the impact of a leader. A great audiobook for my commute.

The Hidden Life of Prayer, David McIntrye
This was one of those Kindle finds that I couldn't resist at $.99 - thank you Tim Challies for the recommendation. Well, this little book is more than worth the change. It's quite a treasure. I read it on an airplace ride to Florida (business!) and I kept highlighting passage after passage. It is written by David McIntyre (1859 – 1938), a Scottish preacher and Principal of the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow from 1913 to 1938. I do love Scottish preacher: "The soil in which the prayer of faith takes root is a life of unbroken communion with God, a life in which the windows of the soul are always open towards the City of Rest."

Living in the Land of Enough, Courtney Carver
And this was the ebook I read on the flight home. Another quick read and inexpensive Kindle acquisition - $.99! This is a book about choice. Choosing to choose less. The chapters span the topics of Money, Time, Diconnect, Food, Space, Entertainment, Gratitude and the simple fact that You are Enough. I love that last one. I think it's the reason I stuggle with Much. Great ideas, great encouragement.

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business, Patrick Lencioni
This is my new favorite business book -- and a great "read" on my commute to client's offcies. I was introduced to the content at this past year's Global Leadership Summit. I'm a big fan of Patrick Lencioni and I believe this is his best book yet. This is one of those rare business books that is about the hard and soft sides of a successful business. I was chewing on a variety of topics as I went through it -- sharing with my husband and how it applied to the Church and with clients about how the information could challenge their organization. Excellent. We picked up the hard copy on this one for future reading.