Saturday, November 19, 2011


Crunch, crunch, crunch.

That is what is sounds like outside my house this fall. The acorns are truly raining down out of our oak trees.

The other day I saw a huge flock of black birds land in our biggest oak tree out front. They did a group snatch and grab. At first I was confused and then realized they were taking acorns. Within seconds they all flew away again. I was like, "No come back, please take all you want."

I have been pondering these acorns for weeks now. We are in a drought. In the same year we have the least water we have the most acorns. Hmm.

Yesterday while blowing off the front walk of leaves and acorns, a new insight about these prolific little buggers dropped into my head. When we are stressed and depleted there is this massive seed production going on in our lives. I stopped what I was doing and stood in awe of this thought.

You see, part of what I do is walk alongside people in the some of the hardest days they face on earth. Or, I walk with them while they sort out the meaning of the hardest days they have known on earth. That is a challenging call at times. I need all the help God will give me to keep allowing myself to be in those places with people. We all need to see purpose in the hard and painful days.

This is a beautiful visual of why we patiently endure hard days and our questions around past hard days. Those dry and difficult seasons in our lives produce seeds. All kinds of different seeds. When the season is over we have a rich storage bin of seeds. We have gobs and gobs of seeds. The dryer the season the larger the seed production.

In surprising ways and with people we never knew we'd meet we receive the invitation from God to plant those seeds... to give them away... to offer life to another person. God waters it, feeds it and causes it to grow. And, we have the privilege of seeing purpose and life come out of our past pain.

This is another challenging invitation to trust God. God knows exactly what seeds He is developing. He knows where and with whom He wants to spread them later. If we trust that He is working for His glory and our good and for the good of others then we will more patiently endure. If we do not we will be controlled by our fears. We will be prone to despair. We will wander until we do trust. Or, we will determine to ignore God and go about rescuing ourselves.

This morning before writing this post, I came across this poem:

Be still, my soul! The Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief and pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul! Thy best, thy heavenly Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Poem by Katharina von Sclegal

Dear Lord,

Thank you. This visual of piles and piles of acorn seeds is very helpful to me. To know and believe you have good purposes in all seasons is hopeful to me. For my friends who are hurting and enduring a dry and hard season please show them how to rest in you... to trust in you... to believe in you.

For my friends who are not in that season right now but have bags of seeds to spread around. Guide them to people and places to spread those seeds. May they follow with a listening and responsive heart to the needs of others. May You get all the credit for any life realized in the process.

May we all know how to worship you regardless of what season we find ourselves in.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Cease Striving

I received one of the most unexpected and therefore delightful gifts ever this past weekend.

God has been trying to show me something for some time now. Inviting me to a very big paradigm shift. It's such a big shift that I can honestly say that I see threads of it going back for more than nine years.

I have been very resistant for several reasons. I am the first born child of my family with all the typical leanings of a first born. It is a part of my personality to strive. Second, I live in the most productive and striving culture on the face of the planet. And lastly, I have lived in a church culture that teaches very little about our need for rest. That's a whole lot to overcome.

My awareness of all these things has been growing for almost a decade. In God's grace I have been able to see and understand more and more about words like, "Apart from me (Jesus) you can do nothing." When I look back at the beginning of this journey and think about how absolutely confusing those words were to me, it brings me joy that there is more clarity than confusion at this point. This has truly been a point of life changing or life transforming work in my life.

So what happened this weekend, you ask?

I'll get to that in just a minute but need to explain a couple of lead in events first.

My Grandmother True was passionate about genealogy. You should have seen her basement. The correspondence and research she did was in volumes and with great passion. That was back in the 70's and 80's. So one night in the summer of 2010, I was bored and got on the internet to see if any of her research had made it on to the world wide web. Before I knew it almost two days had been eaten up with following lineage trails back on both my Grandmother True's line and and my Grandfather True's line. I can trace my lineage back to Amsterdam and England.

One of the lines that goes back to England is the Otis line. John Otis arrived to the New World with Rev Peter Hobart and other families in 1635. Each of the families received a land grant near Boston, Massachusetts. I had discovered over a year ago, that it was possible to see that land, as the street name has remained the same since that time. It is called Otis Hill Road. As a part of my internet investigation I pulled up Google maps and thought that it would be very cool to find that hill one day.

So fast forward to June of 2011 and I find out that I have been accepted to a training program that takes place at retreat center locations around the Boston area. So prior to first training weekend in August, I thought I'd like to extend my stay after one of the training sessions to find some of the historical locations that relate to my family story. I thought the best time to do that would be when I go back in June of 2012. I also thought this just because a group of rent a car together each time and I am not usually one of the drivers listed on the rental.

The first night Rebecca and I get into a conversation and I mention that I'd love to find Otis Hill at some point but don't plan to do anything about it on this particular trip.

Well Sunday morning I hear someone running up the stairs at full speed. We're supposed to be in silence until after breakfast when we begin our worship service with prayer. I hear someone knocking on each room door in the hallway. Eventually there is a knock at my door. I say come in. Rebecca opens the door and says very excitedly, "Cheri, you have to come right now. I have to take you to Otis Hill Road. I found it will getting my cup of Starbucks coffee." It was the most delightful unexpected gift. My heart started to pound a bit. We drove for only five minutes or so and there we were.

It was a bit surreal. Eleven generations ago, a family led by John and Margaret Otis left Barnstable, England with a group of Puritans and started their new lives in the New World. They are a part of my story. It was beautiful piece of property that is on Walton Cove, in Hingham Bay which borders Boston Harbor.

So why the title cease striving? Well, I've been learning how to do that. Learning to let the Lord bless me with unexpected gifts. He is very creative in how He demonstrates His love for each of us. In my case the timing of it all boggles my mind. Even though I had the information I did not feel compelled to make the discovery of this amazing place happen. That is new for me. In the past something that I longed for would have made me anxious until I got it accomplished. One thing led to another over 15 months or more and there I stood. I hope I never forget just how lovely that felt. It was a treat to see how much Rebecca enjoyed participating in the gift! She wasn't missing that all this was some kind of God thing happening! She kept saying things like I can't believe I remembered your families name. I can't believe I saw the little sign. Very fun!

I'm getting less and less interested in making anything happen in my own strength. Which is a very good thing since it is a complete waste of time!

Here's a few pics...

Thursday, October 06, 2011

One Thousand Gifts

I enjoyed the book One Thousand Gifts so much. It was creative. So creative it ignored all the writing rules. Or, so I am told. If you've read much of this blog you know that I am not a trained writer. I do not understand the rules either. (To my friends who are skilled and trained writers and you still take the time to read this blog, please know that I understand how difficult that must be for you at times.)

In that book, Ann shares that she had this profound ah ha moment at the end of the her first 1000 gifts list. As I got closer and closer to that number I started to place that expectation on God and my own list. That is not a good idea. I realized that and asked the Lord to help me avoid placing any expectations on the process, myself or the Lord. So I went back to simply enjoying the list making and worship experience of it all.

Within the last 10 entries, I did have a realization about thankfulness that I have never had before. Thankfulness received is not complete unless it is re-gifted. I found this word re-gift kinda funny the first time I thought about it. Re-gifting is quite controversial. Most people don't think it's a good idea in our everyday lives to re-gift. For some it's associated with giving away what you did not want in the first place. But it is also associated with what you do not need to keep. The second idea is where people are most comfortable with re-gifting. If I have two toasters... why wouldn't I give the second one away?

It is humbling to receive an unexpected gift. It is rude and unkind to not receive an unexpected gift. So when people reach out to us and say thank you we need to receive it. It is an act of love to receive the gift offered. But now what? Unexpected gifts can create a pride problem. We can take to much ownership of the gift. That is what I saw for the first time. Re-gifting can help keep us from having prideful reactions. What we receive we can pass on. It feels complete to pass it on. To whom much is given much is expected. I think one of the expectations that makes sense to me is passing on the generosity given to us.

I've written about this topic of thankfulness quite a bit over the past two years. It has been a theme that God has been working on in my life. I really do have a deep sense of thankfulness that the Lord has opened my eyes to how weak my thankful muscles were. I'm excited to see what the Lord will show me next about all this.

Dear Lord,

Help us to receive gifts from you and others. Help us to see how to offer them on to other people. Help us not to expect gifts. Help us to avoid pride when gifts are offered. Help us to see you as the source of all good things. Help us to be generous with others as you have been generous with us. Change our greedy and prideful hearts to ones that love.


A Thankful Heart

This was written on a recent Silent Retreat

A Thankful Heart

A thankful heart
both good and true
a bit like the surprise
of the morning dew.

A demanding heart abandoned
a seeing heart embraced.
Not an easy journey
and truly a gift of Grace.

A more opened heart


desiring to say with abundant measure...

Thank You

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Is that Love?

Where did August go?

Playing catch up from being gone so long in July.
Disappearing to the mountains for almost a week for refreshment.
Dropping our son off at college.
Flying into Hurricane territory with a crazy amount of peace to start a new and significant phase of training in Boston.

That is where August went.

In the midst of all that something got said to me three different times. All three times it really got my attention and I could not figure out why until this morning. Dave and I are in the process of starting a new home group with another couple. In preparation for that we are reading a book called: Love Walked Among Us by Paul Miller. Reading this book, this morning, helped me to see what I was sorting out.

Here are the words that were spoken to me. "I know love is not a feeling. Love is an action."

I do not believe this is true. I believe that another pendulum swing has happened. It is fair to think that our culture has preached a message that says love is a feeling. Human "wisdom" has reduced love to a feeling. When the feelings stop then people believe that love has ended. In response to one half truth another has been created. Love is an action. Is that all love is?

If love is not a feeling and love is an action than isn't love very legalistic? Couldn't you come up with the to do list of actions that are loving and then you do them and define yourself as loving. You can even use the bible to come up with the to do list. That picture starts to look like a Pharisee to me. Obedient actions that include nothing else is not love.

Two things come to mind that I believe are true about love. Jesus is love. Jesus did not love us with parts of himself. Jesus loves us with his mind, his will, his emotions and his strength or actions. I believe that the transformation process in us is to take us from people who do not know how to love to others to people who love like Jesus. I believe that is why Jesus called Luke 10:27 the greatest commandment.

(Jesus)"He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’"

Here is where I see simply taking loving actions as being wise rather than legalistic. I have been called by God to do things that I did not want to do. Rather than compassion, concern or care for the other person I was fearful, selfish or prideful. I have asked God to help me to be able to simply do what I was being asked to do. God did help me and then in the process an understanding or a change in me did come through obedient surrender. In other words some things you just can't understand until you experience them with a teachable spirit. But there is so much more going on there than just doing a loving act. It's not actually the action itself that is love. It's coming to understand God and care about others more than myself that is love.

So I think the next time someone says to me that love is an action wanting me to see the wisdom of that expression... I will have to say please don't reduce love to just action. I think Love is more.

Sunday, July 31, 2011


It's a good thing I forget how difficult reentry after a Mission Trip can be.

Anger is one of the emotions. I wont specifically vent here. It's not appropriate. The specifics are not my point. I just want to say that there is something about going cross cultural that opens your eyes up. You see things you've either been totally blind to or putting effort into ignoring. Something about getting away and seeing other places do things differently and are getting better results leaves you with a level of frustration that is impossible to ignore. Especially when you remember that not everyone was on the same trip you just came back from and their perspectives haven't changed one bit. There is a breaking down process that happens on these trips that few other experiences allows for. I am asking God to keep the anger from turning to bitterness. I am asking God to give me loving responses when I get close to "hot points" in my culture. I'm hoping that I do no harm with the anger that is sometimes within me.

Sadness has been another strong emotion. I could have burst into tears most of Thursday afternoon. I had two good nights of sleep so it wasn't all about being tired. I had to focus on work. So when I got home I processed with Dave for a while and then gave myself a break from my to do list and spent time praying. I was sad because... the "flip the switch process" from working with a group of people, all working towards the spread of the gospel to...BAM now I'm making sure I got the checks posted to the correct expense account. Well it was just to fast and hard for my soul to take in. (Why God gives us these passions and then limits the resources to pursue them is on my list of heavenly questions.) Once the sadness was named, it was easy for me to discover devotions and verses that brought comfort to me as I have prayed about all that was stirred up in my thoughts and emotions on Thursday. I am doing much better now. Frankly, now I am grateful for the sadness. Sadness always motivates seeing under the surface for me. God has met me there in very encouraging ways.

Okay enough of the hard stuff... because by far there is way more encouraging stuff.

One of the things I have figured out about myself is that I have been put on the planet to care about and encourage leaders. It was not an accident that I was placed on the Nenagh team. I mentioned in a previous blog why it was good for both Pastor Matt and I to spend time together. But it was also timely that I was matched up with Nev. Nev is 24 years old. From all I gathered, his leadership skills are being developed at a pretty rapid rate. There were so many similarities in how we engage with God and with engage with other people serving God. I think I was placed there to say, on a few occasions: You are on the right track. Keep trusting what the Lord is doing in your life. And here's why I am saying that to you based on my own history with the Lord. Here's what's fun about the time spent with these two gentlemen. When I applied to go on this trip neither of those relationships was on my radar of possibilities. For those of you that know anything about the Desires and Longings Map that I walk through with people, you will understand how significant this realization of purpose was for me on this trip.

Which brings me to the sermon this morning. Pastor Mike spoke about Mary. He shared the story from Luke 1. The time when Mary is doing the daily dailies and an Angel shows us up and says... by the way, you will be the mother of God. The title for the sermon was: The Model of Discipleship. Mary had a willing and receptive heart. Preparation had gone into that moment. Preparation had been done on both sides. God prepared Mary's heart to receive the message. Mary invested with her community in knowing who her God is so well that she was able to quote back a passage from 1 Samuel in response. Mary said yes to God. It was not an easy thing to say yes to.

When friends first asked me, do you plan to apply to go to Ireland, three quick reasons for why "no" was clearly the right answer rolled off my tongue on several different occasions. The Still Small Voice convicted me that I had not actually prayed about that and asked God if He wanted me to be on the trip. The more I prayed about it, talked with others who would help me make the decision and other events in my life the more I realized that there was a sense that I should be willing to go. And, I got to the place where I really wanted to go. I'm grateful the Lord made it possible. My life would be far poorer if I had stayed with my three quick reasons for not going.

It matters, that it is possible for the Lord, in his grace in mercy to increase our sensitivity to his voice and to follow wherever He leads us. I believe this with increasingly clarity. I understand the dangers here. I know that part of my life purpose is to help people as they learn to be more responsive to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives. To God and God alone be the glory.

There is a lot involved in Reentry. It is not easy work. I haven't even discovered the half of it yet. Our team will continue to work through by reading The Celtic Way of Evangelism. I'll be reading with Dave on the road trip to Colorado this week. I'm really looking forward to it. Brent and Charlie tell me I'll like this book. I may have more to share after this week. That's it for now. Thanks for listening.

First pic is of Matt and Nev.
Second pic - Nenagh Team
Third pic - Team CBC

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Planning is wee bit overrated!

Nothing goes as planned...

Our week here is Nenagh has been a week of rolling with it. I think it has been good for all of us. It's been a great week to practice listening and responding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. It's also been a good week for simply paying attention to who is responding to us and enjoying them.

That list of people is quite interesting:

The team members interacting with one another which include our fearless leaders Nev and Dave. As well as Keith, Jacki, Vanessa, Nicole and myself. And last and certainly not least the pastor we've come to help Matt.

20 plus church members

Random people on the street who know Matt and his wife Jules as we pass out fliers all over town. 3000 addresses will be covered in 4 or so days.

2 members of the "Tidy Town" civic group and a couple of youth doing community service. One of the Tidy Town representatives is Martin. He is a bit of a town historian. So while cleaning up the grave yard in the center of town he told us stories on break and asked us about our project. We hope to catch up again with him later in the week.

Nev has gotten to play football (soccer) with Matt and his team for two nights and may get invited to play in a game on Friday night. We plan to go watch and cheer them on. Hopefully we'll get to interact with some others on the sidelines as well while we're there.

Vanessa, Keith and Nev did Questionarres on the street today... If you had one question to ask God, what would it be? We may incorporate some of what was learned in the Sunday Coffee Bar conversation.

Nicole has been creating art all week. We will be leaving behind some of it for the church.

That give you a taste of what it has been like. We have had plans for each day but if someone shows an interest in interacting with us the plan gets scrapped and we go there. Much of that is work that only God knows about. We hope Matt becomes more aware over time if any meaningful seeds were planted in the lives of those who do not yet believe.

In many ways the trip has been about the encouragement of believers. Matt and his wife Jules have been doing the church plant here for 9 years. That is a long time. This is slow work. It makes a difference for teams like us to come in and provide much needed boost of support, encouragement, a listening ear and appreciation for so much that gets done that does not get recognized. I've been walking this journey with my own brother back in the States. I could not be more delighted about being put on a team sent here to encourage a church planting pastor. We talked for over an hour today. It was helpful to both of us.

Young Nev. He's 24. He's dubbed me the Mum of the group. And rightly so. I'm even older than the pastor. :) Nev and I share a lot of similarities in how we see things and how we approach ministry. It has been good for us to work through the decision making process together on a few occasions on this trip. He is very open about his faith. What he has learned and what he is in the middle of learning right now. It has been a joy to both listen and throw in a few words of encouragement. I do not know what all God has planned for this young man. But God has rescued him from a lot! He knows it. There joy in his soul to match. It's contagious. He is truly the most joyful person with gift of evangelism I have ever met. I'm praying that God will allow Dave and I to host him in America in some form or fashion. We'll see if that is God's plan or mine. :)

So we've got three more days to roll with it and see what happens. That will include a football game, a hurling game and a football fun day, attending a local children's play, Sunday service and whatever else we get surprised with.

For those of you praying for us, a great big thank you!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Falling in love with Ireland

A friend has asked to hear my thoughts so far on being in Ireland. There are so many that I struggle to know where to start. I'm certain they will come out in random ways here. I have thoughts about the students... the country... the leaders... my own walk with the Lord.

I tried to express this to Dave on the phone the other night. I have been studying and praying about compassion and the need there is in the world to reach out to other people in very meaningful ways. I've thought about the connections to that mindset and to the worship of God. I've thought about my resistance to communicate the gospel in the form of a proclamation. I don't know if this is going to make sense to anyone else... but I find myself living and breathing in the collision of all these things. They are not ideas. They are not thoughts. They are what we are living in community. And it is overwhelmingly beautiful to me.

There are many similarities to our culture and to Ireland. The differences that I have picked up on so far are very subtle but very real. It seems very risky to try and explain any of what I see because I have been here such a short time and I'm very open to the idea that I do not really understand what I am seeing yet. One thing that I find myself thinking about a lot is this: there is a history here of combat between two sides. The combat has taken place at all levels. It has happened with words, with fists, with guns. Those two sides want peace and they are trying to figure it out. They have succeeded in many ways. But what they still struggle to work out continues to shape their culture. There is conflict in all cultures. But what the conflict is and how God helps one person to develop a heart of compassion for the person they were once told to hate is very personal and very complex. Loyalty and allegiance to family and religion against an enemy is a great deal to let go of. What is so exciting for me to see in yet another culture is that Jesus Christ is excellent and making a way for all of us to let go of how we perceive others and see them through God's eyes instead and to love them as God loves us. This is a miracle.

The particular project that I am on is a good match for me. There are seven of us on our team. We have two leaders and one young adult that are all from Northern Ireland. We have three of us from Texas and one from Colorado. We are joined up with a baptist church plant in southern Ireland. We are in a county called Tipperary. A town called Nenagh is our location.  The population is around 8,000 people. We believer there is only one evangelical church in this area and they are it. They are suspected by many to be a cult, so the people open to God are not open to them. Then there is the other problem that I have heard so much about in Western cultures which is that there is a  very high percentage of people who are not interested in anything to do with religion. On Thursday I read a four page newspaper article ( I mean four full pages) on matters related to protecting children from the church. So our mission will be to interact with people in this community. We will attempt to show them what it means to be a Christ follower by how we treat them and how we treat each other. It will hopefully have nothing to do with religion. It will have everything to do with how much we know God has loved us and how much we know God loves them. We hope that any curiosity about who we are and why we have come will lead them into relationships with Pastor Matt and others at The Hatchery.

I wish I could say more about my worship experiences here than I will be able to do. I am very afraid anything I would attempt to say would take so much away from what actually happened in my soul. I will say that it is an honor, a privilege and a humbling thing to be invited into a vision or a mission that has been long sought and earnestly prayed for before your arrival. The leaders here are passionately hopeful about what God may do through Project 32. Their prayers and teaching and their worship through song reflect that passion well. It has made an impact on my soul. Other members on the team have acknowledged this out loud to me as well.

On a very personal note the Lord has given me glimpses of why I am here at this time in my journey. Saint Patrick and I seem to have a lot in common. When Ken Castor from Crown College was speaking on Friday night, I was reminded of this. Patrick is a contemplative prayer that I have taken note of before. St. Patrick has written a prayer that is often quoted and it goes something like this: Christ above me, Christ below me, Christ to my right, Christ to my left... It goes on. You can look it up if you'd like to read the whole thing. But basically Patrick was persuaded that if he chose to abide with Christ in prayer that God would help him to reach the people of Ireland. It turns out that leap of faith was correct. For the next seven days I will pray as often as God graces me with the ability to do so and watch God work through me and the rest of the team. It will be one of my greatest joys.

I have serious doubts I will have the time I have had this morning to write again while on this trip. But know that I plan to share more when I can.

Pray for God's Spirit to open the eyes of the blind to his love for them. Thanks.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


Well, I have not mentioned a really big deal thing that is happening in my life on this blog yet.

I think that falls under the idea that you don't want to count your chickens before their hatched. And I have never really gotten over the amazement that God has made a way for me to go.

I leave on July 11th and return on the 26th. I am going with a team of 5 leaders and 10 students. We will arrive in Dublin and travel to Belfast. We will be trained and then we will serve the people of Ireland in teams made up of students from lots of different places. So our students will be mixed in with other students from other places. The way things are designed matters to me. So far so good on that front. I think that this will be a very rich and full experience for our whole team.

One of the strengths I offer is flexibility. I have been on enough of these to know that nothing ever goes exactly as planned. You could end up with sheep in the road that need 45 minutes to cross, etc. I really have learned to expect that and actually enjoy rolling with it. But I can be pushed to far... I get tired too. So I've spent some time praying that I will sense that before I say or do something ridiculous. Or that I will be able to say I'm sorry and regroup if it happens. I'd appreciate your prayers for me on this. A calm leader that trusts the twists and turns can provide a lot of security and patience in the rest of the team.

I do not have the gift of evangelism. I have used this as an excuse far more than I like to think about it. I love being with my friends who do not think they have it either but clearly do. Does God come up in every conversation with every person you ever meet? Or almost every person? If the answer is yes, then please know that you have been grace with an amazing gift that not all of us have. I have grown to the place that I at least acknowledge in almost every encounter that God might be up to something. But that doesn't mean I speak up. I sense the Lord wants to stretch me a bit here on this trip.

I have been asking for the Lord to show me a very natural way to enter into a conversation where depending on God might come up fairly easily.  I have received the answer to my question. When I have an opportunity to speak one on one with someone from Ireland I think I will bring up the economic crisis that has been splashed all over the news in recent months. This is a challenge for both youth and adults in any culture and it is something that both my personal background and business background give me a lot of perspective on. My faith has been what has given me peace and hope in the midst of what doesn't make much sense in terms of monetary provision.

I am super excited about the youth on this trip and spending time with them. I know some well. I know some from afar. I know some through Matt. I know almost nothing about a couple of them. I know that when I return from these two weeks that I will know all of them in really significant ways. That makes my heart very happy.

We also have a very good team of adult leaders. They all care about the spiritual development of their own lives and more importantly of these students. They all know how important an adventure like this is in developing faith. Some care a lot about safety, for all the nervous parents that is a good thing to know. It will be fun to discover on the trip who had what role for what reason on what day.

If I have access to a computer, I will blog while I am gone. If not, I'll share the blessings of the Land of the Irish when I return.

If you are reading this and you have contributed financially to this trip, please let me say again, Thank You! As the Ireland Team comes to mind please pray for us and the people we are meeting as we go.

Belfast Photos
This photo of Belfast is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Monday, June 06, 2011

Graduation here we come!

I am actually feeling very excited and grateful about celebrating this week with Matt. It wont surprise me if these emotions turn on a dime later in the week. But there is plenty of time for feeling sad later. I just want to enjoy the fun of remembering the last eighteen years and dreaming about what is next! We celebrate with friends and family at our church on Friday evening. The ceremony is on Saturday afternoon. Dinner with a few of Matt's closest friends on Sunday evening. That's pretty cool line up of events! Especially when I remember that I was clueless months ago about what would be meaningful ways to celebrate.

I keep remembering that I am extremely blessed. Many Moms at this point in their lives do not have a clue what they will be doing next. That is not my story. I've had the great joy and privilege of  investing in the next phase of my life for quite a while now. I'm truly excited about all that is before me. God has done so much, shown me so much and introduced me to so many great people. Life could not be more rich. I really mean that.

One of those things will actually be walking alongside other men and women who are in the discovery process of "what's next" for them.

Another one of those things will be a training program called Selah. I found out in the last few days that I have been accepted. It is in Boston. It is a training program for Spiritual Directors. I will travel there five times over the next two years. There are two other women from the DFW area that will be taking this journey with me. That makes it even better!

Yep... lots of joy going on in this heart tonight. Thank you Lord for that!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

One Thousand Gift list for today

In honor of the book One Thousand Gifts here is my  list for this day...

My husband's flight plans to the middle east got cancelled yesterday and so I got to have him home an extra day before he sets off to some far flung place.
My son tells me real things. He risks not pretending with me.
The wildflowers in our neighborhood are simply delightful... so many designs and colors.
People on the walking path said hello.
Prom is tonight and Matt did a great job ordering a corsage! So pretty.
Thankful for all the people who make all those corsages. WoW!
My reflections on the LTML group that finished yesterday. I spent time with two very lovely sisters in Christ.
Blackberries that taste really good.
A podcast where I could have said AMEN very loudly a dozen times. And also had me mulling over a few questions.
Time on the deck with a book recently received from a dear friend.
Plans to see a movie I've wanted to see for weeks now.
I have a envelope with checks to turn in tomorrow. The money for the Ireland trip in July has been raised.
The friends I miss. I wish I could transport them all here to my dining room table right now to tell them I miss them and asking them how they are doing in person.
The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and the presence of God in and around my life.

What are you thankful for this day?

Sunday, May 01, 2011

When I am 75...

When I am 75, how will people be responding to my words?

This thought occurred to me more than once during this weekend. Jill Briscoe came to speak to the women of our church and our guests on Friday and Saturday. I have heard Jill speak many times before. And as much as I try not to have high expectations about anything anymore... those things usually get me into trouble.  I did have high expectations for this weekend and they were more than exceeded.

What I notice about Jill this weekend.The older she gets the more revelatory she gets. She tells stories that Stuart her husband still tells her she might not want to tell. She makes mistakes. The Lord shows her she has made a mistake. She listens. She discovers in her heart why she did what part of her did not want to do. She trusts the Lord for another go at it with Him absent of fear.

She notices so much. She notices the world and then lessons found there. She notices the connections between the world she observes and the God she adores and trusts.

She admits that sometimes she must learn to listen to her own teaching. To follow the advice that she is giving to others. And she knows the humility that is required to admit this is sometimes so very hard to do.

She admits that she has been ruled by fear and worry. She has been on a life long quest to choose faith, to choose to sit with God about the places where she does not trust. She has learned how to cope and take action against what could and has defeated her.

She has learned to see with the Eyes of Heaven. When she sees this way it often inspires poetry. It kind of bursts out of her.

She began as a street preacher. What a joy to hear the sound in her voice when she remembers those days. As God would have it, there have been other venues for her preaching but she loves most speaking to those who know they need God and need no persuasion for that part of her wisdom. To this day she finds herself in those kinds of places very often. And yet, thank the Lord she has been brought in places like ours where some are not so aware of their deep need for God in absolutely every way. Her stories which demonstrates her own deep need for a surrendered life help others others to see their need. God has placed her in dangerous and outrageous situations, what God does there opens our eyes to the missed opportunities and the ridiculousness of being so careful where we live.

Once again, I am irritated by my cultures passion for safety and its effects on me. I play it to safe and try to call it wisdom. This will not change in me apart for the work of grace in my life. I know this for sure. It is not simply a matter of making a decision and knowing instant change.

Somehow all of this is connected to the trip to Ireland that is coming up for me. That both scares and thrills me. Will I surrender? Will I trust God in radical ways for me in that environment? Will I even be able to see the opportunities to trust and step out in faith? Will I follow God where I sense He is leading me? I will pray that I will do with His help. I will ask others to pray for me.

I also received significant encouragement about how I handle the after moments when I teach. There should be a whole semester in seminary spent on that. I probably need to talk with my Spiritual Director about it this next month. I left the second workshop with significant negative emotions. I asked God for help. The fast answer was in Jill's talk that followed immediately. "God did not ask us to be good and successful.", Jill said. 'He asked us to be good and faithful." That helped me see what was causing all the negative emotions. Then at the end of the night God allowed a conversation and prayer time with one of the participants that completed the answer to my prayers. I have so much to learn! I am grateful God shows me that He is very interested in teaching me.

If God gives me 75 years, how will people be responding to my words?

I hope they will say. She trusts God. She loves God. She has committed her life to faithfulness and surrender. It blows me away what God does with that. I think I'll ask God to help me do the same in every relationship and circumstance God gives me.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


I love it when Matt calls me Mama. It's a nickname for me that he uses when he needs something from me or he is in a good mood and wants to say thank you.

Matt is eighteen now and getting ready to launch into the next phase of his life. People have been asking me how I'm doing with that. I am living in a very bittersweet season.

I am genuinely excited for the path that is set before him. I am confident that he is following the Lord's leading. I'm very hopeful that he will love college life. I'm excited about the role I will play in encouraging him through the transition. That is all the sweet parts!

Bitter seems like to drastic of a word. But sad does not. There are very sad parts of all this to me. He is choosing to go out of state, so he wont be two hours away. There is so much I will miss about his presence in our home. When he is content with life: he is kind, helpful, cheerful and a great person to be in a conversation with. I will miss knowing that when I am tired that I will have that young energy to turn to for help. I will miss how excited he can get about the things he cares about! I will miss knowing his church leaders and mentors. I will miss being a part of the same somethings... the same community, the same school, the same church and the same vacation destination. :)

I will miss him. It will take time to adjust. I will be very sad for me some days and I will be just so happy for him on others! I don't really see this season ending anytime soon.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Things I've added to this blog...

I finally have taken the time to do a little updating around here. 

Under "Places to go and people to see...", I have added two links. One is to my Shelfari account. It is a website that allows me to display the books that I have read, the ones I am currently reading and the ones I plan to read in the future. 

The second new link is labeled One Life Letters. At this link you will find a blog that is associated with the workshops and retreats that I lead. This blog consists of posts from many different people. If you have done the Listen To My Life Maps you may find these blog entries a good way to remain engaged in the Listen To My Life thought process. If you have not but are considering the maps, you may find these blog entries helpful towards making a decision.

Friday, March 18, 2011

An Ignatian Prayer that has blessed me

Eternal Lord and King of all creation, humbly I come before you. I am moved by your grace and offer myself to you and to your work. I deeply desire to be with you accepting all wrongs and rejections and all poverty, both actual and spiritual-- I deliberately choose this, if it is for your greater service and praise.

Lord Jesus,
Help me to know you, to love you, to follow you
Help alleviate my fears and fan the embers of trust within me
Give me the strength to say yes to your invitations
the courage to continue my journey with you
Remind me that you are
the Way
the Truth
the Life
and apart from you there is no life
but with you
and you alone
is fullness of life,


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Good questions

I have been learning how to be a good listener. One of the best clues I have gotten has been to not judge people while they are talking but instead to listen with wonder. Thinking in terms of wonder while I am listening makes it much easier for me to really pay attention to what is being said. I wonder what it is like to be...

Very few people really want you to offer them an opinion. What I also think is interesting about that is very few people actually need my opinion. The opinion we need is the Lord's thoughts and guidance. It seems that as the issue at hand is discussed that often the answer is discovered by the speaker. Sometimes when you listen well. people will invite you to probe with them into new territory. Again not taking control of the conversation but just going where they need to go to discover what they need to discover. Maybe it's wisdom or perspective or hope or how to love.

Sometimes these conversations have an obvious end. There is no more humanly speaking to talk about. There will be no more benefit from talking. And that is my favorite time to then bow our heads and hearts and pray together. To thank God for any help that has come in the conversation and to give up to Him the yet undiscovered answers.

Now that I've been listening to a lot of different people for a while, I am starting to hunger for the ability to ask good or helpful questions. That will be the next focus of my training in listening.

Still realizing that just because you've thought of a good question you may need to wait to ask it somewhere down the line.

I really do think the world would be a better more loving place if there is an increase in good listeners in the world.

To all of you who have spent your time listening to me to help me grow in faith, hope and love... thank you!

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Irish Blessing

May you always have work for your hands to do
May your pockets hold always a coin or two
May the sun shine bright on your windowpane
May the rainbow be certain to follow each rain
May the hand of a friend always be near you
And may God fill your heart with gladness to cheer you

- Irish Blessing

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Traveling without ever leaving my desk

I listen to a series of lectures from a church planting conference and two different sermons today. So I'm thinking about a lot of different things right now.

While I type this I am in my office watching the sunset. The clouds are floating by quickly so the sunset is changing quickly. The soft light of sunset is something I never grow tired of. There is something so soothing about this time of the day when I take the time to stop and enjoy it.

It has put me in the mood to ponder memorable thoughts from what I listened to today...

Going from a Movement to an Institution
The thought to ponder from this lecture was this. On a spectrum, am I more currently more a part of a movement of God or an institution created by God? I think I have both going on around me. I'm involved with more than one set of believers. I prefer movements. But I respect our need for institutions. The speaker was describing how at the beginning of something new you are largely in a movement of God among a group of people inspired to sacrifice and love one another. Then life with people happens. Something goes poorly. Chaos ensues. A group of people sits down to figure out how to deal with the problem. The problem may be small or it may be big. When a decision is made and acted upon. A piece of the movement has just become an institution.

He argued for why institutions are necessary. They were good arguments. But he also said that there will come a time when the institution is doing more harm than good and a revival or rebirth will need to occur it will swing back towards being more of a movement again. That isn't the only option for what might happen in my opinion but it's certainly the one I like the best.

The Gospel of Peace
The next recording was a sermon on Peace. The peace of the gospel. In it he argued that some people know peace because they choose to ignore anything that makes them anxious. Then he did a beautiful job of walking through the passage on peace from Philippians 4. "Be anxious for nothing but with... As people who trust Jesus Christ with their lives we have other options than to try to ignore what makes us anxious. We are given courage to acknowledge the uncertainties that life will bring. We have the opportunity to pray with thankful hearts and instead of trusting in blind ignorance that comes with a shallow sense of peace. We get a promise of rock solid guardianship of our minds and hearts by the master of the universe who brings peace beyond our ability to describe to another. Sometimes the peace is so amazing other people, ironically, will be tempted to believe you are in denial.

I am watching a friend let the peace of Christ rule in her life. My faith is greater because of it. It makes me feel sad to think of all the people who don't believe God wants to be there for them in this way. They don't even try out a simple prayer blended up with an attitude of hopeful thanksgiving. They miss out on having access to what is Eternal in their very temporary circumstances.

Spiritual Gifts
Since I had an unexpected ice day, I also had time to listen to yet another sermon. Last Sunday, I got to deal with leaky pipe issues. This meant waiting on a plumber to arrive at my home. So I decided to log on and listen to last Sunday's sermon. It was on the topic of Spiritual Gifts. Our pastor Steve asked people to text him with their gifts and how they discovered what they are. I wondered what I would have sent if I had gotten that text. I love to teach. I love to encourage. I love to believe God. Sometimes I think the Spirit of God moves me to do those things in a measure that feels united with God and supernatural to me and not just my personality being demonstrated. Sometimes I am told that how I explain things helps people to understand. Sometimes I am told that what I express gives courage where there was once fear. Sometimes I believe God for what is unreasonable and miraculous.

I have walked around all over the place today. My soul needed it. I am thankful for another ice day. I hope we don't have another one anytime soon. :)

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Standing at the plate

Life is fragile.

Love is required.

Love doesn't happen without God.

These are the thoughts running through me. But there is more than these words. How do I feel? Well the experience that came to mind when I asked myself that question is this. I am a little girl standing at the plate. I'm playing baseball with a group of friends. I am scared to death. Will I be able to hit the ball? There is a feeling that comes with that moment. You feel so vulnerable. You desire so much to succeed. You want to succeed to avoid the shame of failure. But even more than that you want to succeed to be a part of a team. To be apart of something bigger than just you. You know how great it will be if you smack that ball hard. You know how sad it will be if you swing.... and you miss.

How is all this connected. I'm not totally sure yet. But it is connected. Love is risky. It places you in a very vulnerable position. It requires faith in the God who is the source of love. Sometimes I am aware that God is calling me to love. And I fell like that little girl. Grabbing the bat in faith. Walking to the plate in faith. Standing there and waiting and praying that God will speak when it is time for us to swing and not knowing the outcome.

Jesus said, "Apart from me, you can do nothing."
Jesus said, "Follow me."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Diane Rose - What a great story!

My friend Paula sent me a link to this video! I love every word of it! I wish Diane lived around the corner from me. I'd be inviting her to every Listen to My Life event to share her story in person! Click on her name and you'll see what I mean!

Diane Rose - The Amazing Quilter

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Give to God

Romans 12

A Living Sacrifice to God
1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.[b] 2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (NLT)

I got to thinkin'. I like it when that happens.

I think it is a big deal that the body is mentioned in these two verses. I think humans are tempted for some reason to think as the gnostics thought. We seem to want to separate ourselves into pieces. I understand the Hebrews in Old Testament times did not think this way and I wonder if this is the influence of God on their culture. Are people tempted to have a gnostic view of life? (flesh is bad, spirit is good) I think they are. To me, this verse speaks against that. I increasingly believe that all of who we are is intended to be worshipers of God. I have found it a lot easier to relate to God since I have started paying attention to all of who I am.

I also believe it is fair to say that we will default to what we know and trust. Or, we conform to what/who we know and trust. Paul is asking us to believe that if we place our faith in Father, Son and Holy Spirit we will have to believe differently than we did before. We will need to believe differently about everything. A major part of that journey means we will have to learn to think differently.

I think it's fair to say that most people are so conformed by their environments that they don't even realize they do not think as God thinks. Most people do a lot of work to get God to say what they want God to say. They start with the culture instead of assuming their culture has it backwards/upside down. This is where listening to God and surrendering to God comes in. When the Holy Spirit starts the process of teaching one of His children a new way of seeing there are baby steps along the way, opportunities to retreat back into old ways of understanding or choose to trust God with new ways of understanding. The new ways are God's will.

God wills that we not worry but instead trust Him
God wills that we are not independent but dependent on Him
God wills that we are not greedy but that we are compassionate to others as He is to us.

I listen to Christians as they discuss their lives. So often they don't even recognize that they are worried, trying to do it on their own and greedy to get "the best that life has to offer".

There is something about the willingness to give your life away (offering) to God that helps you to see better, to be more likely to have faith and then depend on God. When you do, God changes you. Praise God!!!!

I do think these are verses on obedience. God wants us to live lives that say, "I get it." I get that willfully doing my own thing is self-destructive and disrespectful and unwise and arrogant and... In view of all that you have revealed to me about who you are and what you have come to offer me I am going to respond to you by yielding (offering up my life) to you. When I choose that life I am going to realize that that is a life that worships you and therefore glorifies you. When I do all that, I will actually understand and appreciate what is good for me. I will know what it is to be pleased with my life. I will know a completeness (perfect) when others around me are saying they are discontent and unsatisfied. It will all be because I trusted myself to You.

So I hope, for all of us, that we will be persuaded by what God has done for us, and then give ourselves to God and trust Him with the outcome.

Friday, January 07, 2011


Be sorrowed by sin.

Be amazed by the grace, love and mercy of God.

Share both with others.