Thursday, October 31, 2019

Spiritual Direction: An Introduction by Sue Pickering - Chapter 2 Listening to God


Unaware of their own value as children of God, they don't expect God to be interested in their concerns and so they don't recognize God's activity. (p. 40)

As spiritual directors, we listen and watch for this sort of divine weaving of listening and response in the experience of those we companion, alert for anything that hints at a movement of the Spirit in the life of the individual. 

  • Reflect on a significant time of listening and responding to God in your own life. Consider the extent to which you recognised that God was at work.(p.41)

"To listen to another's soul into a condition of disclosure and discovery may be almost the greatest service that any human being ever performs for another . . . One can listen someone into existence." (p. 41, quoting Douglas Steere in Weavings, IX (3): The Upper Room, p. 25)

We do not give to our directees our answers to life's difficult questions; we do not impose upon them our ways of praying or imply that our way of seeing or understanding God is the only way. What we want to be able to give, to model, are: 
  • Our confidence that the God of grace will meet and touch people who want to find their spiritual direction.
  • Our sense of being on solid ground based on our experience of encounter with the reality of God in our own lives. 
  • Our learnings about the territory that directees may discover as they leave familiar road maps of faith, not so we can tell them the way - that is the work of the Holy Spirit - but so that we can fearlessly companion them when they enter desert or darkness on their journey with and towards God. 
  • Our capacity to 'listen to directee's soul into fuller existence'. (p.41-42)
Much of the content of spiritual direction is influenced by the way directees view God and by their struggles to allow their image of God to develop as they discover more of God's character, and experience more of God's love. (p. 43) 

'Who is the God you don't believe in?' asked in the context of open-hearted listening, can invite a re-examination of the experiences, the philosophy and beliefs, and ultimately the image of God which has culminated in the person making a choice to deny God's existence. (p.45)

We do not offer 'cheap grace' or minimize people's accountability for their actions, but we help them bring their uncertainty to God, we help them deepen their relationship with Jesus, we help them listen to the compassionate Spirit. (p. 49)

Theodicy - reconciling the power and goodness of God with the reality of evil and suffering - demanded my attention. (p. 50)

In spiritual direction we walk alongside those who are grappling with the theological, relational, communal and personal implications of a changing view of God and how God works in the world. (p. 51)

We are of little use to others if we have not done our own work here, if we are not able to sit with directees and acknowledge with them the mysteries of life and death. We are at risk of responding with platitude when these and other questions are raised, if we have not engaged at depth and at cost, with the seeming enigma of a God of love and a world of suffering; if we have not found for ourselves the truth of the God who is present - seen or unseen - even in the midst of chaos and tragedy. (p. 51)

Reflection questions
  • Divide a page into segments to represent your life or example 0-10, 11-20, 21-30 etc. In each segment, write or draw a symbol to indicate what your primary image of God was during each period. How has your image of God changed, and what factors have promoted this change?
  • What name/s do you currently use to address God when you pray? Which member of the Trinity do you relate to most easily? Least comfortably?
So why should we listen to God? Because:
  • listening is central to the development of any lasting relationship. Listening to God helps build bonds of love between ourselves and God, and helps us receive God's love deep within our spirits;
  • God tells us to: 'This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!' (Matthew 17.5b). We are called to imitate Christ, who listened to the Father, withdrawing regularly into solitude so he could be still and silent enough to hear clearly;
  • by listening to God we acknowledge our creature-hood; God sees the bigger picture whereas we see only a part. We don't always know the answers or what is best for us, but God does;
  • listening helps us to co-operate with God in furthering the work of the kingdom; as we listen, options for service are explored; relationships are healed; choices are discerned; ways forward for wise us of resources and time are found;
  • other people receive the help they need as we attend to the promptings of the Holy Spirit;
  • listening to God can help keep us out of trouble, for example Joseph's warning dream to take Jesus to safety in Egypt (Matthew 2.13-15)
  • listening to God helps us learn about ourselves: we are encouraged, in the safety of God's acceptance and love, to face our frailty and to develop our potential; gradually the fruit of the Spirit grows in our lives. The more we listen and respond, the deeper the cycle of disclosure and intimacy between ourselves and God and the deeper the level of truth. (p. 53) 

(Retreat in daily life mentioned - I am a big fan of this. I reformatted all of these and have them in my word processor. Available upon request. The website is a bit of a mess, but here is the one I reformatted it from: 53)

God can 'speak' or enter a person's life in a whole variety of ways. In spiritual direction, if we are aware of this diversity we are better placed to help directees pay attention to God, so let's consider some common communication channels

Scripture As spiritual directors we may find ourselves viewing the Bible differently from our directees... It is not the role of the SD to enter into theological debate . . . if a directee brings to spiritual direction a 'hot topic'...then the director's role is to listen well, before encouraging the directee to put the questions and concerns raised directly to God and to listen to God's response. As spiritual directors we do well to have done our own reflection and research on topical issues as they arise, so we are not caught 'on the hop' and in a reckless moment say something which compromises our working alliance with the directee. (p. 57)

(My philosophy for a long time has been to learn to live with the questions. Sometime, very long ago, I came upon this Rainer Maria Rilke at the end of this post.)

Creation - 'God's other book' …directee speak of moments of connection with God through a natural object which symbolizes some aspect of their lives and their relationship with God. Part of the work of spiritual direction is to help people explore such incidents and observations within the context of their life experience and what is known about God's nature to see what might be learned for their own benefit and for others. (p.59)

The 'still small voice and 'inner promptings'

If we are expectant and still enough to hear the 'still, small voice' we may find ourselves being led by the Spirit of God working with our spirit. Dallas Willard puts it this way:
God comes to us precisely in and through our thoughts, perceptions and experiences, and can approach our conscious life only through them, for they are substance of our lives. We are, therefore, to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12.2). God's gracious incursion in our sol can make our thoughts his thoughts. He will help us learn to distinguish when the though is ours alone and when it is also his. (Quote from Hearing God, p. 93 - My personal favorite book on hearing God's voice - Willard is my hero)(p.60)
Dreams and visions

Other people

Hymn and song lyrics

Other elements of instinctual church life

An unexpected invitation or opportunity or financial provision

Directly through the senses

The creative arts - God can reach us through literature, film, music, drama, dance, painting, sculpture, etc. and through architecture such as cathedrals, bridges, building and the interplay of space and light. 

Silence - doing deep work in our spirit without words or analysis. We may not be able to name what is happening, but something is rearranged in our psyche and we are moved towards wholeness as we set aside our words and open ourselves as fully as we can to God. (p.60-61)

One way of 'testing' religious experience is by looking at its fruit. (p. 65)

Starting in the 1960s, British marine biologist Sir Alister Hardy began testing the hypothesis that people had an inbuilt religious potential or awareness, asking people a single question: 'Have you ever had a religious experience or felt a presence or power, whether you call it God or not, which is different from your everyday life?'. . . The eight categories of religious experience originally drawn up by Hardy are:
  1. Synchronicity and the patterning of events
  2.  The presence of God
  3. A sense of prayers being answered
  4. A presence not called God
  5. A sacred presence in nature
  6. Experiencing that 'all things are one'
  7. The presence of the dead - …rather being aware of a person who has died, often in an unexpected brief moment of farewell or encouragement. Occasionally this will include an uninvited and unwelcome presence in a building or place. 
  8. The presence of evil
Gerald May adds spiritual experience such as visions, intentional imagining, or gaining a sudden intellectual insight; extrasensory experiences such as seeing auras, classic Christian charismatic experiences which include healing, speaking in tongues and prophecy (p.66-67)

1987 Gallup Survey of 985 people in Britain reporting a spiritual or religious experience: 48%

2000 Repeat Survey in conjunction with BBC series Soul of Britain: 76% (attributed to "people's sense of the degree of social permission for such experiences) (p. 67)

Hardy's question or our version of it, can provide an entry point into spiritual conversations with people in every walk of life and may even be a catalyst for people moving toward a deeper connection with God. (p. 68)

Hay comments: "God the Holy Spirit communicates with all of Creation. From this perspective one might see the mission of the Church is to be alert to - and be in tune with  the ways in which God is already in touch with everybody, inside or outside the Church (Hay, The Spirituality of the Unchurched, p. 2 italics Pickering's) p. 69 

Jesus said to 'consider' (Matthew 6.28-33)i.e. 'take a long, loving look at the real'. (p. 71)

When we begin to explore those simple moments which attract our attention, we are building the bridge toward God. 

listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery that it is. In the boredom and the pain of it no less than in the excitement and gladness, touch, taste, and smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace. (Beuchner, Listening to Your Life,  p. 2) (p. 72)
There is a great deal of difference between approaching discernment fearfully, trying hard to 'get it right,' and approaching discernment from a position of confident expectation that God wants our highest good. (p. 79)

'But, I believe the desire to please you does in fact please you.' (Merton, Thoughts on Solitude, p. 53) (p. 80) 

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”  Rainer Maria Hilke

Monday, October 28, 2019

104. Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

I loved this book! I listened to it on I am amazed at what wisdom there is in Stoic Philosophy! God has given wisdom to people because they are made in his image.

Perhaps even more than the great Athenian statesman Pericles, the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius fulfilled Plato’s notion of the philosopher-king. He was well trained for the role, having been handpicked by Hadrian at the age of eight to succeed that imperial luminary. The beneficiary of the finest education the ancient world could offer, Aurelius was drawn to the study of moral philosophy, and his every move as a man of action seems to have been judged according to its lights, as his Meditations attest. Talking to himself in these pages, he has spoken to countless generations across the centuries, showing that retreat into the contemplative chambers of the self can stimulate a brave passage to a truer life, available to us all no matter what our station: “Anywhere you can lead your life, you can lead a good one.” (James Mustich, p.31-32)

Monday Freewrite

Ephesians 2:19-22 was my meditation this morning. It is about the body of Christ. George is gone to work after five wonderful days together, and Paul goes to an art studio class this morning. So I will be by myself. That will be good. I love my family. Michael will hopefully hear about a job today. 

I will be proofing my notes for my class on Friday and also making copies for my class on Saturday. I also have lunch with Claudia and Dial a Book and a doctor's appointment. This week I hope to continue in my strengthening program. 

I think this is not going to be long as I would like to get to things. I slept in this morning until 6 am. I am not sure what time I fell asleep. 


Sunday, October 27, 2019

103. Rick Steves Pocket Amsterdam

I wanted color maps and pictures and a lighter pocket size as we spend the day in Amsterdam in November. I love reading travel books. I learned so much about the city. We have been there before, but we did not get to the art museums (opting for The Hiding Place in the Corrie Ten Boom Museum and the Anne Frank House last time). We had always hoped we would return, and we are doing this five years later!

102. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf


What has become of me? I liked a book by Virginia Woolf! I thought this was so beautifully written and ethereal but very sad. She gets inside the heads of all the characters of the Ramsay family and their friends who are visiting their vacation home by the sea in Scotland. Then time passes. It is exquisite, and I totally understand why it is a masterpiece. I liked it so much more than I liked Mrs. Dalloway!

“What is the meaning of life? That was all- a simple question; one that tended to close in on one with years, the great revelation had never come. The great revelation perhaps never did come. Instead, there were little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark; here was one.”
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse, p. 161

Sunday Freewrite

I might as well just type it out this Sunday morning since things will start hopping here in a bit. I woke up at about 4:50 but made myself sleep until 5:50. I got up, had my tea, had some lectio divina in 1 Timothy, and even read a chapter of Asimov. (I think I am getting into him now.) I have also set up a "Good Morning" command that gives me the weather, Reuter's News Update and plays me an hour of Gregorian music. Right now, the nuns of some abbey in Europe are singing their old familiar song to me. I have listened to this playlist for over a year now, and it never gets old. Part of my growth. Part of my peaceful start of the day that makes the whole rest of the day so much better. 

The 1 Timothy meditation essence was to FLEE FROM the love of money (and other vices that are inferred) and RUN TO (Pursue) righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. The fruit of all this pursuit is peace (and all other fruits of the Spirit). This truly is the good life. 

We went to Bend, and I realize I still have a fear of going around curvy corners on precipices. I used to have a recurring nightmare about being in a car with a family (like Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang) and going over the edge. Well, I was with my family (minus Michael, who had a job interview), and I was scared. I didn't handle it well! There is still growth to be had. On the way home, we were on the non-precipice side and went slowly behind a truck. I also forced myself to be engrossed in reading my book about Amsterdam, and I did much better. In fact, I had no fear at all. Of course, George was driving and not my less experienced driver son. He was so cute, he said, "Mom, this will be a growing experience for all of us." Sometimes, the things that come out of his mouth are so WISE. He has been like this since he was young. He cuts to the quick. I am so proud of him for going to a Design Conference in Bend without knowing if he would know anyone. He found some professors from his design major and had lunch with them. In the meantime, George and I walked 11 MILES on the Descutes River Trail one day and the other end of about 4 MILES on the next day. It was so fun to be able to walk again. Surprisingly, my RIGHT leg peroneal muscle made bending the RIGHT knee difficult, but my LEFT leg that was fractured on July 18 did GREAT! I am so happy about all the exercise. 

Now, the reality will be that I have to go back to NO GEORGE for a few days after five days with him.. I could be around him 24/7/365. I am so happy in my marriage, and it truly is a gift. He is the nicest person I have ever met. Truly so peaceful and kind and loving. He just woke up, and he just brings peace into a room. 

Well, it has been fifteen minutes. On to reading more Asimov. TTFN. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2019


I think I like freewrites so much. It just helps me to articulate what I am thinking and feeling.

These last two weeks have been intense Enneagram studies. I have this window of time before I go back to teaching in January where I can totally pour myself into this Enneagram Professionals Credentialing Course, and I am going for it, and I love it. I could do it all day. I just got a text from a friend who wanted to know all about the Instinctual Variants, and I am just studying that. She is doing it to understand a loved one better. So there is my HELPER person so excited to be able to help someone love another person better.

As you can see from yesterday's test, I am still highest on SOCIAL, but I think since I have been working on my "instinctual stack," I am much more balanced in the other two. YAY ME! I think Trapdoor has helped me on my INTIMATE (second one also called SEXUAL, but I like One-on-One better or sensual too). Trapdoor opened my eyes to the experience of art and literature.

Speaking of literature, OH MY. I am reading To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. OH MY. Talk about exquistine writing. I did not particularly care for Mrs. Dolloway (but liked it better when I saw the movie), but maybe it is because I was younger and have exposed myself to a lot of different literature since then. To the Lighthouse is such a deep dive in the psyche of a whole lot of people. It is about the inner thoughts of men and women that is delicious. I am listening to Juliet ? read it. Perfect tempo.

I am so excited to go on a adventure with George! I will taste the delights of Dutch art (Van Gogh Museum will be such a treat). I will see the bicycles and canals of Amsterdam. I will take in the beauty of the Romantic Rhine and the bodily delights of hikes to high vistas. I will do it with my best friend and the only person I feel 100% comfortable with (with Kim and Debbie as very close seconds, really. Maybe Nancy too - when she doesn't hide from me. LOL!). Oh, and I will taste delightful ALSATIAN FOOD! I cannot wait until this happens. It would be so fun. Oh and sink my teeth into a soft pretzel will be delightful too. Oh am I getting excited or what.

Jehovah's Witnesses just came by so I should add a little on to my timer. It is funny because I saw them out there and almost didn't answer the door. I wonder if part of my more introverted personality has been just how I have shifted over the years to know how to conserve. There is such a balance between conserving my energy and being selfish to not wish someone a good day. He had 1 Peter 5 on his little iPad, and I told him it was one of my favorite chapters. I know we don't believe the same things, but I am not going to pound it over their head but give them a good smile and tell them to have a good day.

Back to what I was saying. I am learning to appreciate the sensual, but part of that is that I have gone more to my Integrated healthy FOUR which needs to develop creativity and creativity and art are so life-giving for me.

But people are also life-giving for me. One on one and groups really. I don't like "social" gathering with no purpose. They must be purposeful to be meaningful to me. That is why I don't go to parties very much anymore. I don't go to Tupperware parties.

So the agenda today will be:

  1. Study Triads for at least one hour. I will also work on my Type 8 Worksheet and will proofread my Type 5 one since my spell check is not working!
  2. Do a Contemplative Reflection Form with Marty over the phone at noon. That will be Number 6 with only four more to go! YAY! I can taste the end of my Spiritual Direction Supervision Journey over.
  3. Find a time to meet with Fran for Direction.
  4. Proofread my Subtype/Instinctual Variants Tests
  5. Read on Amsterdam and finish my France book since it is due soon. 
  6. Read To the Lighthouse
  7. Go over my needs for a website and photo book with Paul.
  8. Take two walks and do Pilates routine to the faster paced CD.
  9.  Fast and pray for jobs for my boys! 
  10. Stealth Spiritual Direction with a certain someone! 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Sunday, October 20, 2019

101. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

This is the best book on grief I have ever read. I cannot believe I had never come across it before. It is not part of the boxed set of C.S. Lewis' non-fiction books. I wonder why? I would give this to anyone who was struggling with loss of a loved one. It is so powerful. It is so profound, (but what writing by C.S. Lewis is NOT profound?)

There are too many quotes to put here, but I will just put one:
Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I've already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn't a circular trench. But it isn't. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn't repeat.
I thought deeply about my mother who lost my dad to pancreatic cancer in 1985. Her grief stayed with her until the day she died in 2007. She still functioned, and she functioned well. She just was on that long valley journey. I realized today that she was 58 years, 3 months, and 18 days old. I am 60. She was a very young widow. They were married for 28 years, 10 month, and 9 days. I have been married for 29 years, 2 months, and 29 days. It is weird to think I have been married longer than my parents, and that I am older than my mom when she became a widow. I cannot imagine how hard that must have been to be such a young widow, really. They were so extremely happy in their marriage, as I am in mine. I know that was the BEST gift they gave me was their marriage relationship. It was different than mine, but it was loyal and loving. I am grateful for their example.

(I know I am being anal retentive about the days, but I got this new app that does this for me, and I think it is sort of cool.)  

100. Nine Lenses on the World: the Enneagram Perspective

9607904This is my primary text for the Studio E (Enneagram) Professionals Certification I am currently taking from October to May. I am glad I learned about personality theory in graduate school because this author refers to many of those early pioneers. This is definitely more academic in origin than other books I have read on the Enneagram (I think I am up to nine books now). It is not my favorite, but it is quite thorough on the explaining end. 

I think if I had to pick my favorite, it would be The Wisdom of the Enneagram for its comprehensive nature and practical application exercises sprinkled throughout. I am also a little biased because I love Russ Hudson's teaching, having taken a class on the instinctual variants in 2018-2019, and currently taking another one this fall on the Holy Ideas. He has such a heart, and I think he understands Type Two a lot better than most Enneagram experts. Riso and Hudson make The Wisdom of the Enneagram generic for all faiths (and might be alarming for some evangelicals), but I hear Riso's Ignatian roots throughout that book. I also really love The Sacred Enneagram for its tie to contemplative spirituality. 

The major drawback of Nine Lenses on the World is that it has no exercises. It tells you about "correcting lenses" that are healthy for you, but it offers no road to get there through exercises. I also don't think he totally gets the Type Two. (As I mentioned above, this is the reason why I like Riso/Hudson. I know Hudson gets them because I have heard him talk extensively about how Type Twos often feel very misunderstood by the majority of Enneagram gurus, and he gets why they feel that way. He is close to a lot of Type Twos, and I appreciate that he has years of experience to back that up.)  

This book is thorough at explaining things to the point of being too dry at times. I do love his references to characters in movies and literature who exemplify the nine types. That was fun. I have emailed with the author, and he seems like a lovely older gentleman. It was through him that I was connected to my current certification program. My trainer, Dale, is heavily influenced by this teacher and less influenced by Riso and Hudson, as he acknowledges in his cohort. I was glad to hear that one of my cohort members read The Wisdom of the Enneagram at a retreat once, and it changed her life. (She read it in 2 1/2 days - how on earth? It took me weeks to get through it.)

My next book will be by Bea Chestnut who everyone seems to really like. She is a Type Two (but a Self-Preservation Two, which is quite different from the other two instinctual variants because it is a counter type) which should be helpful since I am also a Type Two. It is good to hear from a variety of types who write these books though. 

The journey continues . . .  

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Saturday Sixteen Minute Freewrite

Here we go! 

I have not written for a whole week. I guess I was pretty full on in study mode for my Enneagram cohort. I was also full on talking with Paul regularly about his future and employment and life. I loved it. I was not feeling super well, so I canceled two of the things that I was supposed to do on Thursday that involved heavy people contact because I knew that Friday morning would be heavily people intense, and I think that was a very good call. 

It sort of overlapped to talk to Paul because we also talked about his Enneagram Five tendency to go into his little researching world. He is so bright and intelligent and loves learning new things. I love that about him. He has been diligent to apply for jobs but is getting no bites. We talked about how to network, which I believe is one of his weaknesses. He has potential to be a great leader. That is what I am encouraging in him. I am so proud of how well he did in college and even in his student job. I wish he could have gone on to develop that student job into a full time career job because it was so perfect for him: creating web content for professors, requiring him to learn so much about each subject he created content for! Perfect for my Type 5 Researcher with a Type 4 artistic type wing. So, I am still praying for something like that to come up in his life. It is a faith journey for me!

I had an interesting interaction in my cohort yesterday. We discussed the Instinctual variants, and the way my cohort leader described it, I seem more like an "Intimate/One-on-one" type than a "Social/Group" type. I have always said that "Social" does not mean you are a not one-on-one type. I have always said I am more "relational" than "social." So I am still pondering that in my head. I have taken instinctual variant tests, and the Riso/Hudson one came up as pretty strongly Social actually. Intimate came in as second, but I am pretty sure it was a distant second, and when I took the class on this, when the Intimate people would ask questions, I definitely thought, "Oh I am definitely not that!" So I am just going to hold it out there. I suppose it does not matter, really. I am who I am. I also think I am pretty balanced in these three areas. I joke about self-preservation being my lowest one, but I am pretty responsible with self-preservation kinds of things, but I also outsource it to George (cooking) and Valentina and Pieter (cleaning), but I do money well. I do maintain the home well, but I don't know how to do handy work. So I want to get better at calling people who are good at this. Regardless, I think I am pretty balanced with them, and I also think I am a pretty darn healthy Type Two! I read some of the characteristics of Type Two, and I say, "I have never in my LIFE done that because that is so unhealthy to do!" So, I also like Riso/Hudson because they have a stack from unhealthy to healthy, and I was in the medium range until my break with my old church, but that experience SO changed my life for the better. It was my "wake up" call about my Type Two tendencies that it propelled me into a whole new life of peace and contentment and depth and healthier relationships. So, I would say I have been in a pretty healthy range now for probably 13 years and getting healthier every single day! I love that! 

So Riso/Hudson gives me hope where I feel like this current book does not really give many avenues for hope in growth. It says "This is the 'correcting lens' of this type," but it gives you no roadmap for change. I feel like I have been given a great roadmap for change through Riso/Hudson and through Ignatian spirituality.

That is sixteen minutes. Off to study for my class now! (Or maybe read C.S. Lewis?)


Monday, October 14, 2019

99. Study is Hard Work

I had to go to the Oregon State University library to get this book written in 1955 by a teacher of study techniques at Kent School in Connecticut. It is on 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List. When I went to Goodreads, I found a group commenters who had been in his classes, and they raved about him. Their lives were changed through his teaching. 

I read many "how to study" books in college. I was the Scholarship Chairman for my sorority and wrote a manual for our new pledges with many of these principles. It was good to review them. This is definitely written for its time (published 1956), but the principles of study are timeless. It was good to be reminded of good study habits since I am "back in school" for the Enneagram certification course I am taking. I am already applying the principles. 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

98. Dracula by Bram Stoker

SO GOOD! I was not even scared. It is a 1897 Gothic Novel. It is in epistolary form. It is journal entries and letters by the main characters. It is a great story of good against evil and had me engaged the entire time. It is a classic. The narration was done by different actors. It had me on the edge of my seat the whole time. 

All that said, I think I am done with spooky fiction for the month of October. It is time to read something spiritual! (I am sure people are shocked by all these scary books I have been reading this month. It is definitely not my genre.)

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Saturday Sixteen Minute Freewrite

Here we go. Timer set for sixteen. I do not get up until I have written for sixteen minutes. That is the nature of a freewrite. You are not supposed to correct spelling, grammar, or punctuation (but I must admit sometimes I cannot help myself). 

Yesterday was great. I walked 17,106 steps and 8.4 miles. I had gotten close to 10,000 about a week ago, but since my tibia fracture, I have not walked that much. 

It was a beautiful fall day at Dawson Creek. The leaves were turning all sorts of fall colors, and the ducks and Canada geese were in the ponds. 

Since George came down to Corvallis for our missional community, I decided to go back up to work with him on Friday. I am going to try to do that every time. In some ways, I wish our missional community would coincide with me having to go up to Portland for my Studio E (Enneagram) Cohort, but I did like having the entire day there at the Hillsboro Library. 

Speaking of the Hillsboro Library. The Corvallis-Benton County Library finally decided to not to join the rest of Oregon in the "Passport" program. I never understood why they did not participate, but last February they joined, and now I can check out books from the Washington County Library system. I found a book that the Corvallis Library did not have! The best thing about studying there is that I can also use their study rooms! I used to go there quite a bit when George was first working at Qorvo in 2013. I had finished homeschooling. Both boys were in college, and I think that it might have even been an "off" year for our missional stuff. So, I was finishing Bible Book Club, and I went up there for the entire week some time and would go to the library and just type away from April to some time in the late summer/early fall. It was great! I finished BBC. I think I did it in 2014 too; but 2015, I started working at OSU so Hillsboro was curtailed, but all that to say is that I would go to the Quiet Reading Room, and there were these study rooms off of it, and people would go in there, and I wished I could too (because sometime people in the Quiet Reading Room were not always that quiet). I asked about getting a library card there because the Corvallis Library allows cards for people who work in Corvallis (or at least they used to). Since George works in Hillsboro, I thought he would be eligible, but they don't have that. They would say, "But we do Passport. Do you have that in your library?" Sadly no. So, I would covet those study rooms.

So, yesterday, I was in there from 10-11 and 1-4. It was glorious. Even though it was a school holiday and many of the study rooms were inhabited by rambuntious kids, those study rooms are very sound proof! I even had a white board. So, I studied Enneagram stuff for four hours and charted some things on the board. That was helpful for me to have a visual as I studied.

I walked before the library opened in Dawson Creek from 8-9 and then walked some more with George and his coworker. Then they had a "Mega walk" planned at 11:50, and I did another hour of fast paced walking. Then after my study room time was up I walked again and listened to Dracula (good story!). 

I was SO TIRED I came home and was asleep by 9pm! Thus why I got out of bed at 3am! 

Now my sixteen minutes is up, and I bit you adieu. Oh but wait, I am going to take a little more time. Speaking of "adieu," on the way back from Hillsboro, I mentioned to George about that French restaurant (Cuvee) in Carlton. On a whim, we stopped having not had a date together for two weeks.  WOWEE KAZOWEE! It was très magnifique!


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Thursday Thirteen Minute Freewrite

These are the books I am reading:

Dracula - Continuing with my October spooky books
Study is Hard Work - On my list. I think I do most of the things he recommends, but I love that it is a book a 50s professor, and he quotes the Bible regularly!
Nine Lenses on the World - It is my primary text for the Enneagram credentialing course, but I have another eight days to read one chapter, and I have not read it yet. But it is on my list. 

Here is a "Spiritual Location Exercise" for contemplation. 

Each question starts with "In this season of your life . . . 

#1. What have been your dominant thoughts?

When will I be able to thoroughly walk again back to my normal pace and duration? Will I be OK to hike up hills on our trip in November? When will the boys both have permanent jobs? Should I move up to Hillsboro to be with George? When do we close up shop here in Corvallis? Will I have the discipline to lose the weight I gained during my recovery from my broken tibia?

#2. What have been your dominant feelings?

Dominant is peace. Really and truly. I know that God has a plan for my boys. I just would like to see some movement. It was a blow to have Michael lose his job when they had just said, "we don't want to lose you." He had a great interview but lost to the other person when it was down to two. Since then, no new prospects. I am sad. They seem to be fine, but I am anxious and sad for them.

Excitement about getting to spend nine straight days with George on an adventure.

Peaceful about the direction that he has for in spiritual direction. I think I was born to do this.

Excited to learn all I can from Dale in my Enneagram nine month course and the ten hour course with Russ Hudson.

#3. What has been the condition of your body?

Pain and spasming at my serratus posterior inferior. Every once in a while, he makes it worse, and I am not sure if it was my doctor or his medical students messing with my back, but it is spasming where it did not do this the WHOLE time I had my recovery. So I am frustrated that I even went yesterday. My foot is much better (walking on it after no weight bearing for 6 weeks made it really jammed up). So, I am just laying low all day today and might not even go to Missional Community. I need to not sit in a chair too long.

Plateaued on my weight. I lost 5.5 pounds of the 10 that I gained and then I have kept at that weight for the last 2 1/2 weeks. I have done really well the last three days. So I think I am going to break that plateau, but I am frustrated that I have not been more diligent about getting this weight off. I knew it would happen because so much of my maintenance is burning calories.

Other than that, my leg is recovering ever so nicely. It is great to walk again!

#4. What has been your strongest desire?

To see my boys established in their jobs and relationships. Michael is thriving living in Salem and being so independent, and Paul is recovering from another surgery and he took care of me so well during my recovery. Now is the time for both of them to find those jobs. Big desire.

Personally, I think it is to recover the fitness I lost from my fractured tibia.

I feel so great with the Lord who has been my strength through all of this. I want to establish a practice of spiritual direction that helps others draw to the Lord in deeper and more real ways.

#5. Where are you today? (i.e. how would you describe it?)

Today, I am forced into resting my spasming back. So I am content with what God has given me for today. I would love to ride my bike and still might because this spasming might just be my body adjusting to the manipulation. We will see. I will be wise. In the meantime, I will read and study.

#6. What is God doing in this season of your life?

The word that comes to my heart is: REBUILDING. I am rebuilding my strength. I am rebuilding my ministry as I took such a big break (that I loved by the way). Maybe another word is REENTERING.

A picture is that I have been watching other people surf the wave of the Spirit and have enjoyed watching their rides. I have been sitting on the shore with Jesus just soaking up the rays of God's love, but I am slowly getting back in the water with my board. I need to do this incrementally with no one pushing me. My waves are coming, and I will paddle out to meet them at just the right time.

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

97. Carrie by Stephen King

10160130 I saw this movie in a theatre when I was a senior in high school, and it made me think I would not EVER read a Stephen King novel or see another of his movies because it gave me nightmares! I cannot believe my mom let me go. When The Exorcist was all the rage, all my friends went to it without me. Mom said, "No," and I didn't mind that she said so. I don't know WHY I went to this movie though.

All that said, I have said it in the review of the previous Stephen King novel that this man can tell a good story. This poor girl was so abused at home and at school. She just flipped! (Funny story: It saw it the year I became Prom Queen, but I had a little bit better experience.)

I have to laugh because my osteopath saw my book today next to my bag (could not put it down once I started reading it), and said, "Carol, you are reading Carrie!" He knows me well. He is a huge Game of Thrones fan, and we have talked about how I cannot watch that show. He knows I am more the Downton Abbey and Jane Austen type. I told him it is just because it is on that 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list. His medical student immediately said, "Well, you do know that Game of Thrones is on that list! I KNOW! I think it will be easier to read it than to watch it though! 

Then his medical student went on to tell me all the Stephen King novels that I MUST read, but I thanked him kindly and said, "I read the two on the list, and that is where I stop!" 

Tuesday, October 08, 2019

96. To Hell and Back by Audie Murphy

In November, I am going to the part of France called the Colmar Pocket where this man was made history as the most decorated combat soldier in military history. What bravery! 

This is his entire story from growing up poor in Texas to joining the military during World War II. He moves in combat from North Africa to Italy to France to Germany. 

I could NEVER be a soldier. This man was so gifted at it. I am also watching the movie as I am reading it. He stars in the movie about his life because he became an accomplished actor after the war. This is not for everyone, but I was mesmerized. 


When I was a child, I was told that men were branded by war. Has the brand been put on me? Have the years of blood and ruin stripped me of all decency? Of all belief?

Not of all belief. I believe in the force of a hand grenade, the power of artillery, the accuracy of a Garand. I believe in hitting before you get hit, and that dead men do not look noble. 

But I also believe in men like Brandon and Novak and Swope and Kerrigan; and all the men who stood up against the enemy taking their beatings without whimper and their triumphs without boasting. The men who went and would go again to hell and back to preserve what our country thinks right and decent.

My country. America! That is it. We have been so intent on death that we have forgotten life. And now suddenly life faces us. I swear to myself that I will measure up to  it. I may be branded by war, but I will not be defeated by it.

Gradually it becomes clear. I will go back. I will find the kind of girl of whom I once dreamed. I will learn to look at life through uncynical eyes, to have faith, to know love. I will learn to work in peace as in war. And finally -- finally, like countless others, I will learn to live again. (p. 273-74)

Now comes the picture of mass defeat, the most awesome spectacle of the war. It is in the bent bodies of old women who poke among ruins seeking some miserable object that will link their lives with the old days. It is in the shamed darting eyes of the defeated. It is in the faces of the little boys who regard our triumphant columns with fear and fascination. And above all it is in the thousands of beaten, dusty soldiers who stream along the roads towards the stockades. Their feet clump wearily, mechanically, hopelessly on the still endless road of war. They move as haggard, gray masses, in which the individual had neither life nor meaning. It is impossible to see in these men the quality that made them stand up and fight like demons out of hell a few shorts months ago. (p. 270)

Tuesday Twelve Minute Freewrite

Twelve minutes and counting and then I am off to work on my house. My leg is recovered enough for me to resume my house deep cleaning that I had to stop when my tibia fractured. I can get up and down from the floor now. YAY! I was 42 days into that odyssey and since I am not teaching, I have time this fall. 

I do not regret having more time this fall. I am usually very busy in the fall with our missional community starting up AND Pilates classes. Last year I also had Timberhill. What a difference a year makes! 

I could not fall asleep last night so I read some about Amsterdam. Today, I am going to walk and do strengthening .I think I will be able to do my work out with the Firm. I THINK. I need to get back to being strong and fit. I feel pretty strong in my core because of the exercises I did in bed, but I need to get back to overall body strength and still need to get off the remaining pounds I gained while infirm.

I don't know if I have twelve minutes worth of writing in me today. I want to get on to my other things. I spent time this morning discussing my latest book read 11/22/63. So I am behind in my usual morning routine. I did have my Sacred Reading time, and I spent time in the end of Romans 8. NOTHING can separate me from the love of God in Christ. I am so concerned about my kids. Still NO JOBS on the horizon. I am begging and pleading. Last time Michael got a job, it was a miracle from nowhere! (Then the owner died, and that changed everything!)

Well, I am going to end before twelve minutes. There are too many things I want to get to before I fall into my lull time at about 2:30pm. I am praying I don't munch too much. I really want to get this weight off before my trip down the Rhine! 


95. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

This was the reading choice of my 1000 Books to Read Before You Die Goodreads group since it is October, and we voted to read scary. Scary books are not my thing, but there is something about having a book list to work from that opens you up to reading things you would never think to read. I have never read a Stephen King novel. I saw Carrie in the movie theatre my senior year of high school, and it scared me FOREVER! (That book is also on the list.) 

This book was very long (850 pages), but it had me from the get go! It helped that I got sick last weekend and just listened while I was in bed recovering. 

Stephen King can write! I liked this one because it involves looking at the butterfly effect/chaos theory. If you went back in time and changed incident/incidents, what would that do to the future? It is an interesting question. 

I was surprised at how invested I got in the characters, wanting them to succeed. I even cried. I loved a look back at life in the late 1950s into the 1960s since I was born into that era. Learning the history surrounding the JFK assassination was also quite enlightening. 

This book is well done. Warning: foul language galore. That is the one thing I did not like about the book. Too much of it for my taste. 

Saturday, October 05, 2019

Saturday Sixteen Minute Freewrite

I have not been setting my timer for the last few freewrites, but I will today because I want to make sure I have some reading time before George wakes up. I fell FAST asleep at 9:30 last night, just a few short minutes into Poldark. I was very tired from the day. I woke up at 4:15 am, warmed up my premade chai and had some time with God. Then George's mom got up, and we chatted. Then it was a flurry to get out the door with George so that I could make it to the Beaverton Transit Center to make it to Downtown Portland to make it to my first Enneagram Certificate course. It is called Studio E, and it is a small cohort with eight women and the leader, Dale. He knows his stuff! WOW! I was blown away at how much I learned just in one four hour period. I am the third to the oldest. I thought I would be one of the younger ones based on the picture I saw from the last cohort he held two years ago. So that was a pleasant surprise. The oldest will be 80 in February. I think the youngest is probably in her late 20s or early 30s. We all told our stories. (Well, almost all. One woman could not come due to the flu, so two volunteered to tell their stories next week so she could feel included.) I think Dale is a very self-aware and sensitive person. 

I did so much walking from and back to the Max line and up to Dale's office. The elevator only goes to the 12th floor. Then, it is a walk up the stairs to the 13th. He was willing to hold our first meeting on the first floor for accessibility for me, but I am two weeks ahead of schedule as far as my leg recovery is concerned. So I hobbled from the Max and up that last flight of stairs. It felt good. The main challenge is the foot. It feels very tight after not having full pressure put on it for 9 weeks! I can walk slow, but I cannot walk my usual pace yet. I usually do 17 minute miles when I walk at a leisurely pace. Now my pace is about 23-25. So I have a ways to go, but my foot enjoyed the exercises. It was my back that was tight after not rolling (I thought George had a roller at his mom's house so did not being mine up) the night before and sitting in a chair for four hours with just two breaks (he promised to give us more breaks next time). 

I got off the Max line at Orenco and walked to Salam. Then I walked almost the whole way back to Qorvo! I almost had 10,000 steps. I think I was over 9000, but I could not keep my eyes open passed 9:30! So no exercise goal met for yesterday, but I burned a lot of calories with my walking. 

Anywho, I am still trying to decide the best course of action for me when it comes to going to downtown Portland for the next two times. I will go October 18 and November 1. I think on the 18th I will drive there directly and park in the garage, but I might take the MAX in from Geo's work on November 1 because he must pick me up to go to the airport afterward. I guess I could take the MAX on November 1 because the Red Line goes all the way to the airport, and I get out at 1pm and my plane does not leave until 4:15, but I will have my luggage with me to lug up to the 13th floor! So I have a few weeks to think through that. I would have my ultralight backpack with only two nights worth of contents. So that wouldn't be necessarily difficult to do, and it goes right there. I will research it. 

Well there is more I would love to write. but my time is up. I do want to say that my original purpose in writing this morning is to say how utterly free and peaceful I have felt the last few days. I have restricted movement in my leg, but I am only getting better. I am not declining. I also just love meditating in Romans 8 - there is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus, for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ has SET YOU FREE from the law of sin and of death. These were words that saved me in the fall of 1983 when I was recovering from my breakdown as I walked the shores of Lake Washington. Want to cement that memory in my mind for it is one of the sweetest in my recollection. 

94. The Death of Ivan Ilyich

2265925 This is a novella by a writing giant! I have missed you Tolstoy. This causes one to think about life and its purpose. It is short and sweet with three hours of listening. I highly recommend it. 

93. Zoom at Sea

This is a nicely illustrated children's book. It is about the adventure of a cat at sea. I was very surprised my library did not have it and had to order it for me as it is part of the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list.

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

92. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

13007584. sx318 All I can say is, "READ THIS!" It truly is, "A masterpiece...a spellbinding work" (Life Magazine). I have always shied away from this book because it is about gruesome murders in Kansas in 1959, but Capote was an exquisite storyteller. I was hooked immediately. He did such a good job of painting a picture of all the people involved. The narrator on this audiobook was excellent. 


Here I go for fifteen minutes. I did not do the fifteen-minute freewrite Friday as I thought. And I totally missed this last Friday. So, I a...