Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wouldn't it be fun if...

The other night I was with a group of women. We were talking about how quickly December flies by. We were talking about the ideas that come to mind to do. There was recognition and acceptance that you do them if you can and you do not if you can not. So many ideas can not be done.

One of the women said quietly (I'm not even sure how many others heard her say it), "Wouldn't it be fun if we had time to share with each other what some of those things are?"

I've been wondering what my answer would be to that question. I've decided that if I had endless amounts of time in December, I would sit down and write a bunch of hand written letters. I would start with the stack of Christmas letters that are on my kitchen table from friends who live out of town. I would respond to the things they have shared. I would express joy over the fun and exciting events of 2010. I would share in their sorrows and do what I could to help them be hopeful for 2011. Then I would sit and see who comes to mind. Who has made a difference in my life in 2010? As those people came to mind I would write them a note telling them what I remember about the encounter/s we had. The fireplace would be lit along with the Christmas tree. Either a vanilla or cinnamon candle would be burning.

There are ways that my life does not feel extremely wealthy. But in the area of friendship, I am awed by the abundance I know there. I have risked much in the way of friendship. I have been blessed beyond measure. Compound interest works in relationships too!

I may not get to sit and write letters this December, but I hope writing this little blog entry will help me to be more mindful about meaningfully saying thank you along the way in 2011.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010


One morning in the last ten days. I woke up hard pressed on every side. Not a great way to start the day. I could not shake the thoughts and feelings that were pressing in. I have given a great deal of thought and prayer time to the topic of sin recently. This is not a pleasant topic to contemplate. I was more than a little irritated that I could not simply decide I was done thinking about it and turn my mind off to it on that day. But no matter how hard I tried, I could not.

In an effort to avoid making everyone's day miserable, I headed to my office to spend some focused time talking with God about it.

I have been asking some questions about grace. It is not possible to understand the vastness of the grace of God without being laid low by the reality of sin. Sin in my life. Sin in the life of others around me. The interaction of sin on each other. Once again God was not rescuing me from the ugliness of something I really did need to see, to be touched by and even hopeless in for a time.

I realized in the conversation with the Lord that I was not capable of grasping what God was trying to show me. I needed help. I spent some time in Romans and then I thought about a book that came to mind when I first entered the room. I picked it up. The title of the next chapter was Humility-Sin. Not even making that up. A glimmer of hope appeared as I started to read the pages.

These are some of the thoughts I have after reading through this chapter. When our eyes are opened to sin we have choices. Will we react to sin with sin? Will we self-justify and self-preserve? Or, will we believe there is another way provided by Christ? Will we choose humility? The life of Christ or Grace makes humility a possible option. Part of why I was troubled earlier in the day because I was very aware I had not responded to sin well. I am surrounded by people who do the same thing. It was all feeling rather impossible. Sin is very common and grace is very uncommon. But as I prayed through all of this, I was seeing and believing that Jesus does make it possible to make a different choice than the norm. To choose humility and grace in the face sin is possible. When surrendering to faith in Christ is chosen, God is proven marvelously truthful, effective in the face of sin and hope is returned. God is recognized and glorified. Grace and humility truly are radically different from the norm.

The whole conversation felt simultaneously very big and very pointed. What am I going to do with all this when I walk out of this room? I asked God this question. The thought that came was to say in my mind the word Grace the next time I was confronted with my own sin or the sin of another. I was hopeful that this choice would in some small and yet sacred way invite all the vastness of what I was learning to be effective in a very pointed and needed way.

I also had the thought, when I crossed the threshold out of my office, that this truth would tested. It was.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

What is Spiritual Direction?

During Thanksgiving week, I came across one of the best descriptions of Spiritual Direction. I read it in a book: The Art of Pastoring - Ministry without all the Answers by David Hansen

Here is an excerpt from Chapter 10 on Leadership:

"Leadership in friendship: Spiritual Direction
In my pastoral friendships I do spiritual direction. Spiritual Direction is a friendship around spiritual matters which is mutual in love but single direction in its focus upon the spiritual walk of one of the parties. As the spiritual director I am the one who listens, paying attention for the work of God in that person's life, and then I point to it.

The difference between spiritual direction and evangelism is that in evangelism my goal is to give a testimony, while in spiritual direction my goal is to hear a testimony. In evangelism I pray for the opportunity to share the good news, while in spiritual direction I try to help the person understand what happened when he or she received the good news, and what the good news means in his or her life now. Spiritual direction is not an attempt to find faith or create faith; it is an attempt to understand faith. Spiritual direction is faith seeking understanding.

But it is faith seeking understanding in the most specific and personal sense. Spiritual direction is not jawing about theology. It is not discussion about a theological object of faith. It is an intense search in the specific person's life for the Living Subject of faith already at work-- looking for that work, pointing to that work so that the directee can participate in God's work, so that he or she can live in active covenant with God in everyday life.

Most Christians like to theologize. Almost any Christian will be happy to give an opinion of what Jesus meant when he said, "Enter through the narrow gate." Far fewer will come and ask what it means specifically for them to enter through the narrow gate.

The difference between abstract theological discussion with a parishioner and spiritual direction is like the difference between talking about fishing and going fishing. I hasten to add that there is nothing wrong with talking about fishing! But it sure doesn't take long to sort out the people who just like to talk about fishing from those who really fish. Some people don't like getting wet. Nor does it take long in a theological discussion to discern if people just like to talk theology or if they desperately wish to live theologically.

In any case, the best possible analogy to a spiritual director is a fishing guide. The best fishing guides and the best spiritual directors have a lot in common.

It goes without saying that a fishing guide needs to know the skills of fly fishing and needs to know how to teach the skills of fly fishing. A client may know a lot about fly choice, casting, line mending and reading in the water; the client my well be another fishing guide! In fact, I've learned that the best fishing guides allow themselves to be guided by another fishing guide on occasion, to learn new skills and new water and to break out of ruts. Or the client may know almost nothing about fly fishing. In either case, all through the process of guiding, the fishing guide is teaching." pgs. 155 & 156

I believe there is a need for this kind of leadership. I have needed it in my own life. I have been blessed to be the recipient of it. It has come to me in both formal and informal settings. It is a conversation I now offer to others. It is a privilege to do so.

During this Thanksgiving week, I am thankful that I came across this description. I also love that he chose fly fishing as his analogy. It's on my list of things to learn down the road.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Shadow Meal

I have been devouring books lately.

I have questions about a lot of things. One of the topics I have questions about is the Lord's Supper. It doesn't seem like many other people have questions about this. I don't remember it ever coming up in conversation with anyone else. But I'm certain there are meanings there that are yet undiscovered for me. I've thought that for a couple of years now.

When I went to Southern California to visit I met up with the Director of the Fuller Campus I attended. We had a GREAT conversation! I had brought him a gift and he did not want me to walk away empty handed. As we were saying goodbye he remembered that he had one more copy of a book he had recently published. Shadow Meal by Mike McNichols. We're friends on facebook. I noticed when this book was published. I hadn't purchased it yet. I was grateful to receive it.

Turns out he has had some of the same questions that I have had. He had taken time to really think through them and make observations about them. It was comforting to know I'm not the only one that things about these things.

I shed a few tears and laughed outloud many times. I get his sense of humor.

So if you have quesitons about the Lord's Supper and the living it our part, don't hesitate to check it out on amazon. If you live close by... as always you are welcome to borrow my copy.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Random Act of Culture - Philadelphia

I'm a little surprised how thankful I am for this video. But it is true, I am thankful.


Happy Thanksgiving!

Click here!

Thursday, November 04, 2010

To hide or not to hide...

This is what I realized today.

I've been hiding. Some relationships have that affect on me.

What would I be like if I was free to depend on God in every relationship I have rather than being self protective in some?

I think I'd be more mature in Christ. I think I'd be less controlled by fear. I think I'd be better a loving other people.

I'll be giving those things some more thought.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Matt and KSU

So we got some pretty exciting news around here not to long ago!

Last January at a thing we call the "No Agenda Retreat" I was getting to know one of the other High School Chaperon moms. We were appreciating the friendship our sons were developing and got onto the topic of colleges.

Her son is a year older than Matt. She mentioned that her son, Wes, was planning to go to Kansas State and mostly because of their Army ROTC program. My reaction was really?! I went on to tell her that I was the first generation to abandon ship on KSU. Many of my relatives graduated from Kansas State. I remember thinking wouldn't it be funny if Matt got interested in KSU because of a friend. There was a part of me that was a little sad that KSU wasn't going to be the right school for me when I was 17 years old.

Well one conversation leads to another and Matt just got his acceptance letter to Kansas State University a couple of weeks ago!

It is funny to me what God uses to prepare you for what is coming. Shortly after we moved back to Texas, Greensburg, KS was wiped out by a huge tornado. I watched interviews of the people from the community and surrounding communities. It brought back many great memories. Memories of growing up with salt of the earth, heart of gold type people that Kansas has a reputation for having. I was very sentimental about it in a way that I had not been for a long time. I remember watching as many new stories as I could find on the internet. Then a year or two later, I caught on the Planet Green channel that they were producing a weekly documentary on the rebuilding of Greensburg as a "green community". From time to time they brought in different college teams from KSU and KU to compete on projects etc. I was impressed by the young adults featured in those stories. Interesting...

Some people in Texas struggle to understand why we would be so excited that Matt is headed off to Manhattan, KS to go to school. That's okay. It has only made it more obvious to me what a God thing this whole interest by Matt in KSU has been. It is a great fit for Matt is so many wonderful ways. It is sad to say but true that there were times when I was tempted to think Matt's future was doomed if he wasn't in the top 8% of his class. That kind of thinking would have been a complete waste of time and energy. By the grace of God, we largely avoided it.

We and other members of Matt's family have prayed consistently from the time he was 3 years old for his education. Without a doubt we have seen God direct us every year. When all is said and done we will have done private school, homeschooling and public school. I am happy to give God all the credit for showing us what, where, when and with whom. I certainly was not smart enough to figure it out on my own!

The Love of God

So the Love of God has been popping up as a topic everywhere I turn. For instance...

I'm studying 1 John with a group of women on Tuesday nights and the Love of God is a strong theme in that book.

I'm working through a book called Journey with Jesus. The first quarter of the book focuses on the Love of God.

At church we've been singing songs that stress the Love of God.

A book I picked up this afternoon that I hadn't been reading for at least a month began with a chapter title called "From Fear to Love".

The section of a book called Soul Cravings that I started this weekend had the title "Love Lost and Abandoned"

I've realized this week that I have been strongly motivated by fear, performance, wisdom, desire to avoid pain and shame.

What would life be like if I was first and primarily motivated by the love of God?

For years I have been in the question... What would life be like if I trusted God? I think there is a possibility that the focus is shifting from trust to love. I think its pretty cool that so much time was spent on the issue of trust. It makes more sense to me than ever that we did spend so much time there. I am both overwhelmed and excited about what will happen in my life (over time) if the love of God is more deeply embraced and understood and then shared.

In the next nine months, I will be held in that conversation by different commitments I have already made. I am grateful.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


My head is spinning!

So many things I have been waiting for I am not longer waiting for. There is a green light. We have passed Go! And may even collect $200.00.

Waiting really was necessary.

Green lights really were needed.

Not a day early or a day late.

Waiting is not for cowards.

Trusting God and depending on God in the middle of the green lights isn't either.

Waiting without bitterness is some of the best training ground on the planet.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stunted Shrub or Thriving Tree

Wisdom from the Lord (via Jeremiah)

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength
and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
in an uninhabited salty land.

“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
and desperately wicked.
Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
according to what their actions deserve.”

These words paint a very telling picture of the difference between trusting in God and trusting in the human heart.

It is interesting to consider the difference between these words and words written under the new covenant. I've got some questions related to the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant that I will be pondering once again.

(Jeremiah 17, NLT)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Catching up with Rob.

My husband gave me a Barnes & Nobles card for my birthday. So as we were checking out the shelves, I was looking for a book that I just wanted to read. Of late, I've been reading books that other people would like me to read or because they are helpful in training me for the kinds of ministries I am involved in. As I was looking through the selves I came across a book written by Rob Bell. It's called: Jesus Wants to Save Christians. The title made me smile. Another provacative title by Rob. So, decision made. I walked to the counter and bought the book.

I got home on Friday and read it.

As the title would indicate, the book is thought provoking. One of the themes in it is this: What does God do with civiliazations that take power and use it against their own people? What does God do with civilizations that ignore Him?

I really wish a lot more Christians would read and consider books like this one and think about what he is saying. I am under no illusion that most people would agree with him. I just think it would be good for most Chrisitans to consider whether or not he has something important to say.

Moving in a different direction...

I am writing this entry because on the 1st of August I made mention of a three year Spiritual Direction training program that I am in. And I explained why I was looking forward to starting Year Two in September.

Four days after that entry, I was introduced to new information about the program. After two weeks of prayer and conversation with many people, I have decided not to return in September.

I feel obligated to give an update here since I had asked for prayer in the prior blog entry.

I'm not comfortable sharing the reasons for my decision in this format.

My new prayer request is that if I am to participate in Spiriutal Direction training that the Lord will direct me to a place that is a good fit for me and provide the resources for the both the program and any travel it may involve. I'm in no hurry to make any decisions.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I'm a mutt.

I am a mutt on so many levels. Pick a northern European country and I am related to somebody there. I'm also protestant mutt. Here is the list of churches I have attended in my life time.

Church of God
Free Methodist
United Methodist
Non denominational
Christian Missionary Alliance
Fellowship Bible
Crossroads Bible
American Baptist
Crossroads Bible

How that has happened is a long story and I couldn't be happier about being a mutt. It's been an adventure. I really resist conversations where there is focus on differences that just don't matter to me.

What does matter to me has come sharply into focus through recent events. These events have nothing to do with my church home. Trying to sort out my reaction took me back to the Apostle's Creed and the Nicene Creed.

In case you've never read either of them or it has been a while, here is one of them:

Nicene Creed

I believe in one God,
the Father Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
and of all things visible and invisible;

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the only begotten Son of God,
begotten of his Father before all worlds,
God of God, Light of Light,
very God of very God,
begotten, not made,
being of one substance with the Father;
by whom all things were made;
who for us men and for our salvation
came down from heaven,
and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost
of the Virgin Mary,
and was made man;
and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried;
and the third day he rose again
according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into heaven,
and sitteth on the right hand of the Father;
and he shall come again, with glory,
to judge both the quick and the dead;
whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost the Lord, and Giver of Life,
who proceedeth from the Father [and the Son];
who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified;
who spake by the Prophets.
And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church;
I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins;
and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. AMEN.

Sitting with these words and some scripture passages where Jesus explains in his own words who He is have been incredibly helpful.

I'm praying that I will honor the Lord and the people I'm having these conversations with by expressing myself with both love and truthfulness. I'm praying a lot for wisdom to be known.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

From Summer to Year Two

Every week of summer has been different from the last. I like that about summer. Then I grow a bit weary of it and I'm ready for the predictablity of a weekly schedule.

We have three weeks left of this summer. We've been trying all summer to figure out a time and way for the three of us to get to Southern California. Yesterday we made a final decision. It's not going to happen this summer. I'm not done being bummed about that. But I'm hopeful I'll be able to fly out in the fall. More details coming on that later.

Matt will be focused on Music Camp this week. Then the last two weeks of summer will be a mixture of the things that haven't gotten done yet.

I will be focused on leading another Listen To My Life group. All women this time. And all women who I have never met before. I'm grateful for this surprise open door.

Then the "Fall" will begin. It will be 90 plus degress but we'll still use the word fall.

I've mentioned before that I'm in a Spiritual Direction training program. It will take three years to complete. This September I begin Year Two. Year One consisted of coming together and praying on Thursday nights and then sharing with one another what we experienced, learned or what is unresolved with the Lord. There was a part of me that wanted to skip Year One and go directly to Year Two. Most of the prayer practices listed were ones I had already participated in or were familiar with. But of course I got way more out of the times of praying and then listening to the other members of the group speak about their prayer lives than I ever thought I would gain. I'm sure skipping Year One is never an option. But I discovered that it would have been a mistake to try.

Year Two changes up the pattern. We will be spending a significant amount of time daily praying on our own. The purpose of Thursday evenings will be to share with one another what is happening as result of our time in prayer. Intimidated is a word that describes how I feel about this next year. Expectant is another. I think I will learn more about abiding and experience more abiding than I have to date. I think I will encounter challenges that will be hard to bear at times. But I'm hopeful that a changing mind and heart will be obviously worth the difficulties of the committment.

Year Two also includes to more significant changes. The first is to resign as many leadership roles as possible for one year and to refrain from leading anything new. Second is to read the Word of God and a handful of assigned books. To limit other reading to "only what is necessary". Yikes.

I might be inviting friends to coffee just so they can tell me what they are reading about. :)

Most people think this is extreme. It is extreme in a culture of "doers". The point of this year is to focus on learning about "being". Doing is easier for me.

If I come to mind to pray for in the next year. There is probably a very good reason for that. I'd appreciate your prayers.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Live. Serve. Change Everything

At Crossroads Bible Church, I participated in Mid School Mission week. We had more than 50 kids plus their leaders going to a handful of locations throughout Dallas and Ft. Worth. The teams served in different ways. My group spent most of our time at a food bank that covers 13 counties in North Texas and also did projects at the church property.

First of all, I owe all of our Mid School Kids an apology. I underestimated them by a long shot!

When I first got wind that Charlie was planning on doing this my first thought was cool! My next thought was who on earth has programs where they are willing and interested in allowing Mid School kids to come serve.

I wanted to help, but it wasn't until mid June that I realized I was going to be able to.

I had coffee with Charlie to ask some questions and just listen to what he had put together! It was an inspiring conversation. He had no doubts about what the kids were capable of doing.

The team of parents and youth that stepped up and helped with this were awesome! A very enjoyable team to be a part of!

Over and over again, I heard leaders saying my kids are really getting along well and working well together. Common purpose is a great bonding agent.

Charlie (our Mid School Director) spent some time conversing with and then teaching to the kids in the evenings. He is both a good listener and a good teacher. It's hard to know how much difference those times will make in the kids lives. So, for any parents reading this... please send Charlie an email or have a conversation with him about what you notice has changed in your kid's perspectives. Some of the comments they were making during the large group conversations were very very good thoughts!

Last but not least, a shout out needs to go to North Texas Food Bank. I have tons of respect for what they are doing and for how they are doing it. If you are looking for a way to serve with a group of friends or a corporate event, don't even hesitate to contact them. Mike, Doris, Mario and Brandon were excellent teachers and helped us accomplish a lot. A conservative estimate of how many meals got put together by CBC kids is 35,000. Seriously! And the kids got that it was a big deal and were amazed by how much could be accomplished by pulling together.

As kids were leaving, one young lady with the biggest smile on her face said, "Hey Charlie, when I came here I didn't know anybody in the 6th grade. Now I know EVERYBODY!" Joy.

I haven't been as tired as I got in a very long time. But I also know that every ounce of energy expended was worth it! God provided strength, energy and abundant love for the kids and the events of each day!

If you were tempted to get involved this year but for whatever reason were not able to. Don't even hesitate to get involved next year!!!!

To those of you who prayed for me and for the other leaders, kids and the lives of people we touched...THANK YOU!!! AMEN. (mm hmmmm)

Thursday, July 08, 2010


I've been thinking about the word surrender. Not an easy topic to think about.

I do not like surrender, submission, trust, letting go. So sometimes I get close to some thinking and feeling related to surrender that is really important and then I run the other direction for a time.

I think about things like what chores I need to get done around the house or something that needs to be organized or chase rabbit trails on the internet.

But, I'm in one of those situations when the word keeps popping up everywhere. So while I run from thinking about it, for a time, the invitation to return keeps happening.

What is surrender?
Are there themes to the process?
Is it radically individual?
Is is harder for some than others?
If so why?
If it's easier for some what is equally hard for them?
How does prayer help?
What experiences with God help?
What truths revealed in scripture and in life have really helped me to surrender?
Why have some areas of my life gotten better on this topic and others seem almost untouched?
Besides running, when I get overwhelmed with the word surrender... what else am I doing to prevent the process from taking place?
What do my words have to do with my ability to surrender or not surrender?
What steps of obedience are going to be inevitable if I stop running and submit instead?
Why didn't God make surrendering easy for me to do?

If I am in a service anytime soon that starts to sing, "I surrender all". I might have to pray instead of sing.

My song should be something more like, "I want to be persuaded by God to even want to surrender all."

I realize this is sounding a little glass half empty. I do feel that way. I do know enough about surrender, to know that it is essential for truly living. I also know enough about it to know, that it is not what I want to do when I'm doing whatever the heck I want to do. This internal conflict is one of the greatest sources of tension in my life.

Since, the Lord doesn't seem interested in letting this word drop off my current landscape... sigh... there must be something important and intentional going on. Maybe even something life changing. Well, finally a glass half full thought. Maybe it will help keep me from running. :)

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Bo's Cafe

Bo's Cafe

This is a book I read on vacation. If you would have trouble letting go of the literary critic in you to read the book for it's intended message, then you probably shouldn't bother reading it.

But basically it's about a guy whose personal life is falling apart and his professional life is in jeopardy too.

God allows him to be reconnected with a man from his past. That connection leads to some perspective changing conversations in a variety of places. One of those places is called Bo's Cafe.

We've done a lot of talking about the benefits of Coffee Shop conversations and Pub ministries in Christian ministry books, magazines and seminars. I enjoyed reading a fiction book that used that kind of environment as the setting for the story.

The two themes I got from the book are that real change happens when people really want to end the misery of staying the same. The start to believe there some things about their faith in God they haven't figured out yet.

Real help comes from those who have walked a similar path and crossed through the light at the end of the tunnel ahead of them.

My personal dream of having a coffee/book store around here is motivated by these two themes. For now I'll keep taking up low rent spots (price of a cup of coffee) at the Corner Bakery, Aperitivos (Ap's for short), and Barnes and Noble.

Thanks Darlene for recommending the book. :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


Yes, I was on a break. I didn't really know I was going to take a break until I just did it.

Weeks ago I was very weary. There were many things contributing to that. Some self imposed and others are related to how I spend my time investing in other people.

I found myself, giving myself, the kind of advice that I either want to give to pastors or do give to pastors.

The normal routes of becoming refreshed in everyday life just weren't having the same affect/effect. (I never know which one to use. Please feel free to enlighten me in a comment. :) )

I am very happy to report spending a week with the Lord, my family and some great friends has done a great deal to bring refreshment. We were in a gorgeous area and home in Southern Colorado. I can't explain it. Unless you have a place that does the same thing for you, you probably wouldn't understand it. But being in the mountains, it changes me.

When I got back home I wasn't really ready to get back into the swing of things. There are some "get it done around the house" stuff that I wanted to do. That gave me some more time "away".

We were blessed with a couple of significant provisions in the last couple of weeks as well. I am still on the look for a job that fits. But the need is no longer immediate. We are watching, waiting and praying.

We totaled our car on vacation. Deer ran in front of us at 75 miles per hour. It was not our day to "go home" or get seriously injured. That is taking some time to process. We were provided with another deal on another very good and dependable car in six months time. We bought the Nissan back in December. Really big deal kinda of things to be thankful for there.

Books I read while I was "off".

Bo's Cafe
Reckless Faith - Let Go and Be Led
Reconstructing Natalie

All good for my soul in different ways.

So, now it's time to get back to work and to continue praising God for the break that I really did need.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010


I've decided that from the middle of august to the middle of September is my favorite "month" of the year.

My least favorite is MAY!

I way prefer beginnings to endings.

I'm watching kids I love grow up and move on. I'm genuinely delighted about their new beginnings. Some I have known since birth. Others, I've only really known for a year or two. I love believing that God has plans for us. That He likes filling us in when it is good for us to know and we need to know. I have loved sharing all the hope that surrounds those beliefs with them.

I don't like feeling the sadness at the end of something. After "Senior Speeches" at our church on Sunday, I read a couple of very sad emails. Updates from people who are dealing with hard stuff. I walked out of my office, down the stairs and declared that no one was allowed to play a sad song or watch a sad movie or anything remotely sad was to come out of anyone's mouth for the rest of the day. Dave, knew I wasn't joking.

Friends were planning to come for dinner. I did not want to be in a funk. So I turned on a TV and watched an episode of some show remarkably similar show to Hanna Montana. As my girls in Ft. Worth would say..."Don't judge me." I went into the kitchen to help Dave with Dinner and shared with him my cure for the blues. He smiled.

Dinner was great!
May is OVER!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Year in Review

Barna Research Group - Year in Review Perspective - 2009

"Our studies this year among pastors showed that almost nine out of ten senior pastors of Protestant churches asserted that spiritual immaturity is one of the most serious problems facing the Church. Yet relatively few of those pastors believe that such immaturity is reflected in their church. Few pastors have gone so far as to give their congregants a specific, written statement of how they define spiritual maturity, how it might be measured, the strategy for facilitating such maturity, or what scriptural passages are most helpful in describing and fostering maturity. Those pastors who made any attempt to measure maturity were more likely to gauge depth on the basis of participation in programs than to evaluate people's spiritual understanding or any type of transformational fruit in their lives. Overall, less than one out of every ten pastors said they were completely satisfied with how they assess the spiritual condition of their congregation... our research found that a majority of church going adults are uncertain as to what their church would define as a 'healthy, spiritually mature follower of Christ and they were no more likely to have personally developed a clear notion of such a life."

"Houston, we have a problem!!!!"

This is a problem named, that I care deeply about. I watch. I wait. I pray. God has given me a few ways to engage with others who share my hopes. I'm grateful for this. I have no idea where this will lead me. But I do know that where ever it leads, it will not be easy.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I hope...

people can't measure
miracle worker
unfailingly loving
everlasting kingdom
promise keeper
helps the fallen
lifts the load
need provider
grants desires
he hears
he rescues
destroys wicked

All of these in one song written by David. If these words in this Psalm are believed, I don't see how you could avoid being a worshiper of God. These descriptors questioned, believed and spoken or sung have the power to change a life. Because behind these words is the reality of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Along with describing God this song describes people. Here are some of the descriptors of those who respond in faith:

exult God
praise God's name forever
the generations tell
meditation happens
stories of God are told
songs are sung
glorious Kingdom of God described
God's mightiness is spoken about
God is seen with hopeful eyes
He is called

At the end David says: "I will praise the Lord, and may everyone on earth bless his holy name forever and ever."

I can relate to David's desire. Worshiping God freely, passionately, with faith that every word can be believed even when my circumstances make them a challenge to believe has changed me.

When I see people holding back, I have compassion for them. I don't mean physically holding back. I mean holding their hearts back. I long for them to let go and believe.

I don't know what God is up to with this invitation to worship Him for 30 days straight at my church. But I hope that trusting God will be a whole lot easier for those who participate. I hope they will tell their stories. I hope...

Psalm 145

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Women's Weekend - Got Thirst?

On Friday and Saturday I spent some time at church with new friends and old. (Can we stop apologizing for getting old? It happens. I digress.)

Linda Dillow and her friend Bev came and shared their lives with us. Basically I heard them emphasizing that learning to be worshipers of God allows us to enjoy a loving relationship with God. If we do things backwards and focus on serving God as our first priority, we are destined for a list of not wonderful things. Burnout, unrelenting fatigue, doubt, discouragement, unable to face unexpected turns in life etc.

I agree.

How did she define worship? Two things - We love God above all else. We bow our lives to God. I've read half her book called Satisfy My Thirsty Soul. I think if you are aware that you are struggling to surrender your life to God and you are frustrated by that, her book has a shot at being helpful to you.

She invited the ladies to a 30 day challenge. She asked us to commit to 20 minutes of worship for 30 days straight. I wonder how many will say yes to this invitation? I wonder how many have some other things they need to sort out before they will be willing to say yes? I wonder what stories will come from those who participate? I wonder...

At the end, she asked us to think about the story of Abraham traipsing up a mountain with his son. When they arrived, Abraham was to sacrifice his only son. She asked us "Is there a march to the mountains going on with you? Is there something God wants you to sacrifice? Is there something that you are expected to trust God with in a way similar to his son? Are you willing to ask God if it is not obvious to you what it is? Are you willing to give it up? Is there provision in the thicket?" Easy questions like that. (she comments ironically)

I did discover what God was asking me for this weekend. I was thrilled by the assurance I received that if I was really ready to give it up, that peace was possible. I gave it up. So far I haven't taken it back. I do know peace. PRAISE GOD!

If you take Linda up on her 30 day challenge and want to talk about it, I am all ears!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Things you learn in a tax office on April 12th...

You should do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interest of others. Paul to the Philippians

Try that one on, April 12th in a CPA office.

People do things like walk in with 70 pages of documents and look sincerely perplexed when you can't promise them, by the end of the day, a completed extension. You see, you can file an extension on April 15th. But the IRS has no interest in you delaying payment. In fact they will charge you interest and penalties if you don't pay what you owe by April 15th. So a taxpayer either needs to sit himself down with Turbo Tax and answer all those questions. Or, you need to give your accountant enough time to essentially prepare your return. Hopefully only leaving one or two items to estimate because someone hasn't gotten their documents to you on time.

Alas neither of these choices were embraced so you the tax accountant are left with that shocked look. You mean you can't tell me for sure if I owe anything or not before April 15th? There is a part of you that wants to do the impossible, to sacrifice yourself more to make yet another client happy. Then when you realize you are being asked for the impossible you can be tempted to swing the total opposite extreme. You think things like... Are you kidding me? Seriously!!! Do you understand what we do here? Silly me. Of course they don't! That's why they have brought you their stuff.

It's such a killer to have worked so hard since February 1st, to do good work for many people. To then to have late comers walk in and communicate displeasure at your unwillingness to serve them by their definition of well. So hard to not get a little bitter about it!

You take a deep breath and the hard and truthful answer gets delivered. "We can file an extension. We can't calculate what you owe. If it turns out you did not pay enough. You will owe penalties and interest as well. But we can help you avoid this next year."

That answer actually considers someone else as better than yourself. It offers them respect because it is hard news to deliver and it is truthful. My sad moment today was when I found myself seriously tempted to belittle a latecomer and make them feel ridiculous. Definitely not a reaction that is considering someone else as better than myself. Quite the opposite really. Interesting that I'm only seriously tempted to that in some kind of fantasy world. We've all trained ourselves to remain "professional" in such encounters.

This is why everything in life is sacred ground. Every work environment provides you the opportunity to truly practice loving and respecting other people and doing it in a way that is not unloving or disrespectful to yourself. Every family environment is the same too. How can we think in terms of us? Not you or me?

With some people, I did well today. It was about us solving a problem together. With others. I didn't do as well as I would like to do in the future. I don't want to respond with irritation and self justifying thoughts. I'm grateful for another day to keep these words from scripture in mind and invite the Lord to help me try again.

Anybody need an extension filed?

Cracked myself up!

Sunday, April 04, 2010



no strings



he seeks

he rescues

questions: his specialty

creates life where there was death






no boasting






rejected by most


long suffering


never controlling





he doesn't want your fear of him to keep you from him

he wants you to be able to see him

to be set free by him

Jesus: Listen, I'm standing at the door. If you hear my voice and open the door. I will come in to be with you and eat with you and you with me.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


Just finished a book called the Good and Beautiful God, by James Bryan Smith

I was assigned to read it a chapter at a time starting last September.

I haven't been able to read as much as usual the last few weeks due to my work schedule. (Tax season is over in 10 working days!) After work today, I realized if I grabbed this one I could finish it.

The title of the last chapter is "How to Make a Pickle".

The comparison of us to the creation of a pickle was simple. You can't rush the making of a pickle. You can't rush the transformation of a soul into the image of Christ.

There was a lot more detail than that, but the part that stuck out to me is that we, being a society that is so passionate about instant gratification, have to be convinced that growth in God is normally slow. When we don't accept this, we tend to get inspired to do something that might lead to growth and it doesn't get quick results so we are tempted to conclude there is something wrong with us and give up. Or, we just expect fast and we don't get fast so we lose our inspiration.

Smith even goes so far as to say that hurry or the need to hurry is of the Enemy. He point out that it is possible to go quickly with our movements being based in hurry. Hurry is an action born in fear. Interesting.

Other thoughts to consider from this chapter:

choose to ruthlessly eliminate hurry
remove boredom by choosing observation instead
create margin

I do the first by putting cushion between meetings with people. I'm always sorry that I didn't, when I don't. Noticing that helps me plan differently the next time. It also means that I have to be okay with potential downtime between meetings. Thus the need for a purse big enough to carry a book at all times. :)

I have learned to be more observant. My primary teacher in this has been Dave. A good photographer is a good observer.

I plan my schedule around making time to read, pray and exercise. I think about the rhythms of my family and avoid scheduling things on a regular basis that might interrupt that rhythm to much. That took a while for me to learn. It was painful for all of us until I learned it.

This chapter was a reminder to trust God and leave room for his sense of timing. An encouragement that I needed to hear...brought me back from fear to faith.

Tomorrow is Easter. Talk about a day for celebrating God's sense of timing. God's doesn't arrive to early and doesn't move to late. I'll be pondering that tomorrow.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I once heard a sermon by my friend Dale.

The whole point of his sermon was that we need three kinds of people in our lives.

We need the people that are out ahead of us in life.
We need the people who are at similar places to our own.
We need the people who are behind us. We need people to cheer on.

That's a lot of people. That's a lot of investment. That's not easy to do.

But who said life was easy.

Thursday, I was having a minor melt down. I needed to talk to someone who had successfully gotten just beyond their teenagers high school years. Someone who would understand what I was trying to sort out. I prayed that God would help me think of someone I could talk to. Someone that would truly help me make sense of what I was trying to work through. The first friend that came to mind, was "in class" and I knew was not available for four more whole hours. That wasn't gonna work. Patience was not what I was feeling. The next person was someone I knew I had a shot at reaching. Score. She answered the phone and she was available. She listened. She taught. She helped sort. She encouraged. At the end, I said I think I've been praying the wrong prayer. I told her how I intended to pray going forward. Before we got off the phone she prayed for me and my whole family. One of the reasons why I thought of her is because she truly loves my whole family. And, boy was I glad that I called her.

Friday, I took off on a two day trip with some girlfriends. The second kind of people. The ones you discover the world with. Some are new friends, others I have long histories with. Oh the stories we can now tell. The sweet memories... The embarrassing moments... The shared humor over things no one else would really appreciate. Pictionary can be boring at this point. We read each others minds to well. We laugh, cry and learn together. We care very deeply about each other. These are some of the speed dial women in my life.

Sunday was been a chance to see the ones coming up behind. The chance to see the younger people of our community. Tonight I got to serve alongside one of those young women. We cleaned up together. Our church had a Palm Sunday Celebration. 400 plus people in the Sanctuary eating a meal together. This means there was some cleaning up to do. First we shared a smile. Then we laughed about this and that. We enjoyed progressing towards our goal together. Nothing significant was said. We just enjoyed each other. I think that's significant. Time well spent. And the tables got put away too.

Tonight one of our pastors reminded us that we are known by our love. Do we love one another? Do we invest in, care for and enjoy one another? I really hurt for people who are to afraid to come in close... to extend themselves to others... to risk loving and being loved.

When Dale preached this sermon years ago, I was reminded how rich with friendships my life has been. On that day I made a decision to be more available to younger women.

This weekend I have been reminded again how rich with friendship and love my life is and, Lord willing, will continue to be.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Satisfy My Thirsty Soul

Good Evening.

Couple of things...

In April, Linda Dillow is going to come to Crossroads Bible Church. She has written a book called: Satisfy My Thirsty Soul. What she's written about, in this book, will be the focus of the Women's Conference.

I've got quite a list of books going right now. I really resisted adding this one to my list. I'm glad I caved. I don't know if I'll make it to the end of the book by the conference. I don't know if I want to. But I will finish Part 1 before her arrival in late April.

I was already excited about praying for the Women's Conference. Having read through Chapter 1, I'm super excited about it!

On purpose, I don't want to say anymore. Maybe after the conference. Basically I wanted to invite you to get her book, read some of it and come. Any California takers? Got a spare room.

I totally hope lots of the high school girls are gonna be there!! Eighty somethings would be great too! :)

Second thing.

Joye introduced me to a website called Shelfari. I keep it updated. On it, you can see what your friends are currently reading, what they have read and what they plan to read. I'd love to be friends on If you sign up, then choose drop down box that say "Books" at the top. Change it to "members" and then search "Cheri Hudspith". Turns out there are 999 Cheri H's.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


In numerous places Caleb is described in the Old Testament as "one who has a different spirit and follows God wholeheartedly".

A friend asked me to consider and share thoughts I have on the development of a wholehearted relationship with God. So as I began to ponder this, I thought: "In a word, why do I think people avoid developing a whole-hearted relationship with God." The word that came to mind is fear.

Then I wondered if that word is going to have a thing to do with Caleb's story. I was pleased to find that it did.

When Caleb got back from spying on the land, in the book of Numbers, he told Moses and the people what he saw. The people didn't like what they heard. Their reaction was fear. Caleb's reaction was loyalty to God and faith in God. Caleb was not afraid.

A wholehearted devotion to God is in part a persistent willingness to be honest with ourselves and with God about what we are afraid of. When God graces us with faith that overcomes our specific list of fears, we know a deeper more personal relationship with God.

That process of being honest with God about our fear and working through it with the Lord develops a relationship of love and trust with God. You find out he doesn't zap you when you admit to weakness and vulnerabilities. Instead He wisely and graciously provides you faith and strength and whatever else you need. Honesty unlocks so much potential in any relationship. I find that to be especially true with God.

God celebrated Caleb's reaction of faith with a promise. He promised that he would live to enter the land plus a gift of a whole big chunk of it. God expressed his deep frustration with the ones who had seen all the miracles of the Red Sea etc and responded with fear. God decided they were not going to be allowed to enter the land.

Knowing that God gets frustrated with the our lack of faith, when he's done so much, shouldn't be a motivator to ignore our fears and just get to work for God. But it should tell us something about what we're missing if we haven't noticed or truly believed how trustworthy and faithful God is.

This is also why I believe the "Father of lies" is so effective at making us ineffective. He knows how to feed our fears with lies. He tells us just enough to paralyze our faith or to make us just self righteous enough to not choose dependence on God. We have to discern in partnership with the Holy Spirit truth from lies. If we don't pay attention to any of this we default to lie believing. If we do pay attention, we spend less time in double-mindedness. A double minded person does not feel wholehearted towards God.

I guess in summary this is what I'm thinking:
To develop a wholehearted relationship with God is in part to acknowledge your fears. To ask God to grace you with a developing faith so that with God, they can be overcome. Faith and loyalty to God are traits that grow over time. When you demonstrate faith and loyalty to God you can be sure that God is pleased.

P.S. Since I initially wrote this I've had time to think about my own life. I have for years been able to say. I know I don't trust God enough. I long to trust God much more than I do. This honest and simple insight has opened the door for many good things in my relationship with the Lord. I have learned to pay attention when I know I'm not trusting God. How do I know I'm not trusting? Truths I have said I believe are not how I choose to live. When that realization happens, I ask God to reveal why I don't trust him. That has meant owning up to being afraid. That is humbling. But once I tested the waters in an area or two and I survived. Actually I've done much more than survived, I received gracious gifts from my Father in Heaven that in one way or another have bolstered my faith. These gifts have without a doubt increased my willingness to be open and honest with God. Praise God the cycle continues: doubt, fear, honesty, seeking, grace, faith, deeper dependence.

God is working in my life to replace fear with faith and this work has been the reason for much of the trust I know in God today.

So to the friend that asked me to think about this, thank you. It has been extremely helpful to me and helped me put some things together that I had not, yet seen.

Friday, March 05, 2010

I noticed this week...

I like the life I'm living. Got a few reminders this week that I need to be really grateful for that.

Hasn't always been true for me. While its difficult to see people in places where they don't really enjoy the lives they are living, I like that I really do have hope for them. And not tiny bits of hope either.

That's all.

Good Night

Friday, February 19, 2010

Caught between...

the unconditional love of God and the wrath of God.

This is one of the most difficult tensions for me. It recently came up again in a practical life issues discussion with a friend. It also came up in a sermon last weekend, Joshua 7. (Thanks Mike for teaching through this passage and bringing the reality of the tension back into focus for me.)

What we believe about these two aspects of God matters SO MUCH! I don't feel equipped to do it justice here. So, if this is a topic that matters to you, I highly recommend this book: The Good and Beautiful God by James Bryan Smith. I have decided to not retype the entire chapter here. :)

It is worth the price of the book to read Chapter 6. The book affirmed some conclusions I have been reaching. It explained well some of the reasons we get confused about these truths. He defines both love and wrath within the context of each other.

When people want the wrath of God without the love of God, they have missed it. When they want the love of God with out the wrath of God, they have missed it. If you struggle holding the two together, please do not give up on the struggle.

In future related conversations with people, I will be asking God to help me hold both together.

My other reaction to this: Come Lord Jesus Come!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Praying for Teens

I was given a prayer journal for the Lent season a few months back. I didn't think to pick it up yesterday. But I noticed it on my desk this afternoon.

I enjoyed reading the verses presented and the devotional thoughts. I prayed about the suggested items at the bottom of the page. But it was the right hand column that really stood out to me.

"Let your sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, and our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace... How blessed are the people whose God is the Lord! Psalm 144:12,15

For people in their teens to radically commit their lives to Christ; to make wise choices; for older mentors; for solid friendships with their peers who are following Jesus; for open communication with parents; for God's intentions for their generation to come forth in fullest measure.

Pray for people in their teens. Envision them following Christ five or ten years from now." pg. 7 - Seek God for the City 2010

I especially liked envisioning our son 5 and 10 years down the road. 22 and 27 - Oh my! We've been amazed so far by the grace that God has poured into Matt's life and the amount of it that has been received and not rejected.

It's not difficult to think of a long list of other students to pray for too. You know who you are! A joy to pray for them.

If you haven't ever read Matt's blog or haven't "stopped by" lately I think it will be an encouragement to you. Click on the link called Mr. Matt. It's on the right side of my blog.

If you've prayed for our boy, mentored him, told him a Bible story or shared with him why your confident in God... You are one of my favorite people on the planet!!!!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


Good Morning,

Yesterday, I received more than a few encouraging things from the Lord through his people. But one thing has been wonderful to think about.

A friend called last night. We needed to talk about when we're going to get together next. We got all that worked out and then she said she had something she wanted to read me. It was a prayer of mine that she's had around for at least seven years, maybe even longer than that.

Key words in the prayer: my desires, the will of God and trust.

I understood all those years ago that my desires did not match up with God's will or design for my life very often. I really wanted them to. I was confused. I was hurting. For what ever reason (God), I never gave up believing that there must be a way for that to happen.

At the time, the word trust came up because I was wrestling through whether or not I was supposed to go to seminary. Was it simply my choice? Was God leading me there? Or was I going there just because I wanted to? Did it make any sense to go there? Would others around me accept my decision? I didn't have a lot of experience with trusting God's leadership at that point in my life. I kept doing the leading.

There is no doubt in my mind that a prayerful life, a paying attention to God throughout the day life, has been what has lead me to trust submitting my will to His. In times of prayer I have known acceptance, love, filling, strength, courage, hope, perseverance and all of that has led to willingness. I am willing, dare I say, even like following. Trust is a big honking deal! Trust happens in meaningful relationship. Meaningful relationship for me, with the Lord, has been developed first through the study of his Word. It's extremely important to get to know who the Lord is. Study has continued, but prayer has been the focus of the relationship development.

I pray when I walk. I pray when I drive. I pray when I sing. I pray when I'm in conversation with other people. I pray before I meet people. I often pray after I leave people. I pray when I get an email. I pray when I'm confused. I pray when I'm joyful. I pray when my kid walks out the door. I pray when he returns. I pray for Dave's big meeting. Or, for a friends concern. I pray while I read books. I pray while I read scripture. I pray when my heart is troubled personally or for a friend. I pray in groups of women. Sometimes, many times I forget to pray.

So to my friend who hung on to that prayer. Prayed for me. Then bothered to say, hey I've got something I want to read to you. Thank you. You've made a difference in my life all these years. I'm sure your love for me will continue to make a difference. I love you.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Daring to Dream

I was in a conversation the other day. A friend of mine was about ready to tell me about some circumstances that have happened in the last ten days or so. Its the kind of circumstances where if it keeps moving forward, something we've been dreaming about for some kids in Ft. Worth could happen. He stopped himself from speaking. I said, "What?". He said honestly, "I'm afraid to say it out loud because I might jinx it." I gave him a look. The look meant, don't think that way. He knew it. And then he braved telling me the story of what has been happening. He wanted me to know how I could pray for the people and the circumstances.

Then I admitted to my friend, that I gave him that look because I'm tempted to be controlled by that fear too. Why is it, that we believe that if we speak the words that somehow God's intervention might end? The other fear that I deal with is that if I name it, I might start to demand that God do it. If He doesn't do it then I'll be shamed and look foolish.

Is there any part of life where there isn't tons to learn about???!!!

In a show of solidarity with my friend/brother in Christ, who risked sharing the progression of a dream with me this week, I'm going to put out there a dream of mine. I'm asking God to keep me from having a demanding attitude about it all. I'm asking God to help me trust Him with it. I really have no idea if this place will ever exist.

If you want to, after I describe it you can send me some suggestions for a name. I'd like for this place I'm dreaming about to have a name.

Okay, here it is. It's a book store. Or at least it looks like a bookstore to the average person walking by. (It's really a non profit ministry in disguise). It's full of great literature for sale. There are books on history, philosophy and Christianity in there too. It has homey places to sit read and have conversation. You can buy a great cup of tea and a great cup of coffee in this place. Some wonderful cooking friend of mine in the area, will want to get a business going out of her home and he/she will bake yummy things for people to eat with their coffee or tea. In the back will be a room. It will look like a library room in a large/old fashioned home. It will have a fireplace. It will be the perfect spot for a one on one conversation that just wouldn't be a good idea to have out in front with everyone else. Also in the room or maybe even another one, it will have a great big table made of big logs or something substantial. Around that table I can lead or simply participate in books discussions. Or, lead small groups through these Listen To My Life materials I'm so excited about.

This one only happens if it falls into the category, "Thy will be done". I can't make this one happen. I have no desire at this point in my life to make anything happen that doesn't match up with the Lord anyway.

It is a work of grace that I sit here at the end of what I've written unafraid, hopeful but not demanding and ready to trust God with the dream. What a great journal entry to run across 20 years from now.

What are you dreaming about?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Do not stifle...

SCRIPTURE REFLECTION: “Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thes. 5:17-19 NLT

Of all the scriptures my grandparents could have chosen to put in the front of the bible they gave me on my 17th birthday, this is the one.

I don't think it is to big of a stretch to assume this is who they hoped I would be.

This recent focus on being grateful has helped me to see how I have stifled the Holy Spirit in the past. This is yet another example of why it is so important to pay attention when you believe God is asking you to obey a command in scripture. Until you obey the command, by and through God's grace, you will not know the benefits of obedience. It's all theory without obedience.

But once your willingness to and your love for God unites with God's expectations of how He invites us to live; Then you will truly know a changing heart. A heart that is being conformed to the likeness of God. It happens in layers, it happens over time. But just like scriptures says that it will happen. It happens.

Thank goodness for all the people in my life who have said out loud these words are true. Their faith through actions and words have helped me risk believing and walking by faith too. To my grandparents, I don't think it was an accident that you wrote those verses in my bible. Thank you. May I stifle the Spirit less and less. Amen.

One Life Letter created for

From Discontentment to Gratitude
By Cheri Hudspith, oneLifemaps Facilitator
Related to the Reviewing My Days Map, Desires & Longings Map, and Valley Experiences Map from Listen To My Life: Maps for Recognizing and Responding to God in My Story by Sibyl Towner and Sharon Swing.

Last fall, I was troubled by the fact that I could not arrive at a contented place in a very big part of my life. I wanted desperately to live without the tension and burden of discontentment. I noticed that when I talked about the future, my voice was filled with angst and struggle. It was not the voice of a trusting daughter. I desire to be a trusting daughter of the Most High God. I started asking the Lord to show me the cause of my discontentment.

Apparently, this was something the Lord was pretty happy to supply an answer to. Through a series of events - a retreat in Colorado, questions asked by others in a bible study on Colossians, a serious physical trial being faced by a friend and a book called Choosing Gratitude by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, I discovered a hard truth. The Lord both gently and firmly with His still small voice said, “Cheri, you are demanding. In the places where you choose not to be grateful in all circumstances, you only know discontentment.”

Through the use of the Reviewing My Days Map, I have discovered that God is moving in this area of my life where I have been discontent. He's just not doing it the way I want Him to do it or at the speed I want. My arrogance in this way of thinking is so profoundly heart breaking. Who am I to tell God how or when to do anything?! Now, it is more clear to me why I have resisted the Desires & Longings Map. I was afraid of being disappointed and being tempted to get bossy with God. I instinctively knew that I would be in potential conflict with God when I dared to give voice to what I desire and long for.

I am now making use of the Valley Experiences Map. What events in my life or ways of seeing the world need to be reframed by truth - truths about God and truths about me? While praying through this map, I'm having a series of new realizations that are helping me understand how my past hurts contribute to my tendencies toward ungrateful discontentment.

God has done a work in me. I can honestly say that I have moved from discontentment to contentment, angst to peace, bossiness to submissiveness and ungratefulness to gratitude. I have known the deep love of the Lord for me in the midst of the revelation of truth. I'm so grateful He heard my cries and has answered them. Praise be to God!

SCRIPTURE REFLECTION: “Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. Do not stifle the Holy Spirit.” 1 Thes. 5:17-19 NLT

QUESTION: Will you trust the Lord to show you where you struggle to be content or grateful? Are you being invited to discover how to be grateful in all circumstances?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Watching and Waiting

I have a prayer request.

I start working again as an accountant in February. I'll be working Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. I'll be preparing tax returns. I'll be back at Owen's office. It's definetly one of my second homes. I worked for Owen for six years or so before I started my journey into seminary and beyond.

I'm very grateful for the income. We are in need of it. I'm very grateful that my skills as an accountant will help provide for our needs. Owen understands that I'm skilled as an accountant but that its not my first love. That gives me flexibilty that not all accounting offices would provide. A blessing indeed!

My prayer request is that I'll know what do do after tax season is over. Its our belief, at this point, that I need to continue generating a stream of income. Do I see about staying on at Owen's office? Do I look for a ministry that needs an accoutant cause that's what gets me in the door? Do I get my CPA license back? I let it go when I entered seminary. Am I waiting and watching for a surprise that's beyond my ability to imagine?

I plan to take one day at a time and to watch and pray. One of my prayers is that I wont panic and do something rebellious and controlling. I'm learning to get more comfortable with the idea that my story really only makes sense to God. I have pretty crazy resume of life experiences at this point. As do so many of us.

I like knowing that time will march on. Someday I'll be able to write a post about the answer to this period of watching and praying. I like this season of gratitude that I have been in. My heart is truly in the most trusting place it has ever known.

What are you watching and waiting for in prayer? God bless us all.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Books read in '09

George Mueller of Bristol by Pierson
Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership by Barton
Soul Feast by Thompson
Crazy Love by Chan
Talking with My Father by Stedman
The North Face of God by Gire
Christian Meditation by Finley
Creating a Life with God by Wolpert
Seeking God Together by Fryling
The Great Emergence by Tickle
A Tale of Three Kings by Edwards
The Echo Within by Benson
A Grace Disguised by Sittser
Sacred Companion by Benner
Journal of Spiritual Formation and Soul Care - Talbot School of Theology
The Furious Longing of God by Manning
The Cure for the Common Life by Lucado
Hinds Feet on High Place by Hurnard
Fanny J. Crosby by Crosby
The Best Question Ever by Stanley
Choosing Gratitude by DeMoss
Life Together by Bonhoffer
The Book of Acts

Great way to remember a year!

Some of these books came my way because I needed help understanding something.
Some came to inspire me to walk by faith in the Lord.
Some came because I need to understand the questions of other people better.
Some came because they are a part of a larger conversation that God wants me involved in for reasons that are more clear to God than me.
Some came to help me introduce ways of seeing that I care about to people I care about.
Some came because I'm immature and blind and their written by people steps ahead of me that aren't so immature and blind.

I totally understand that reading this much isn't for everybody. But I'm extremely grateful that I know it is good for me. And I'm thankful I have the education and resources to do so. It kinda cracked me up to look at this list. Prior to typing it I was kinda feeling like I hadn't read much this year.