Sunday, March 29, 2020

Sunday Freewrite: Session 5 - The Tomb

Pray as You Go Journey with Jesus - The Tomb (John 11)

"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, although he may die, yet he shall live." 

"Did I not say that if you believe you would see the glory of God."

"You always hear me."

Imagine yourself as Lazarus returning to your daily life. What would that have have been like?

AWESOME! I certainly would not doubt the power of Jesus. :) 


You have given all to me.
To you Lord I return it,
Everything is yours
Do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace
That is enough for me.

What has stirred in you? (That will be the subject of my 15 minute freewrite.) 

It think we are going to be over 15 days to slow the spread on Monday or Tuesday. I hope it has helped. I, for one, have enjoyed being at home. I have not necessarily worked on any home projects because I have been trying to get ready for my spring term class on line. It is a LOT of work, but I have enjoyed all the new things that I have learned that will probably help me in the long-run. 

What stirs in me about Lazarus coming back from the dead? I think his life would have been one of continual praise and glory to God for giving him a second opportunity to live! So, I think I would live of life of gratitude for every breath.

Hey, I have been given new life in Jesus Christ. So I will live a life of gratitude. 

Actually, I think I am. This has been hard for some people. To be at home. Maybe if I didn't have ways to be in contact with people it would be harder. There are so many ways to be in contact now. 

I am grateful for:
1) This new computer. My camera was not working on my old computer. So, we decided to get this new one. The computer was also running somewhat slow too. Since I teach and will with Zoom, and I do spiritual direction via these means, I thought it would be best to do this. We took a nice drive to Salem to pick it up so I could have it in time for my first class at 10 am on Tuesday. I am somewhat sad that many of my students have dropped out even before the class has started. It makes sense that they are working out at school because they are on campus. So they can work out at home on their own. These will be the smallest classes I have ever had. 
2) George at home - I cannot get over how fun it is to get to see him every single day after seven years of sharing him with his mom and aunt. I am grateful I was able to give him up so he could usher Aunt Dot into heaven and help his mom around the house. Other people are stepping up to help her in Newberg since she cannot go out at 90 years old (not because she is not able to, but it is recommended that she stay at home). 
3) George's mom - She has always been so very kind to me. I am grateful that I don't have mother in law issues.
4) Kids home - I love that we can all gather every weekend as a family together.
5) Quiet mornings in the Word and prayer. I went deeply into John 15 and abiding in the Vine this week. I have loved my prayer times (but I usually do). I have loved praying (and sometimes while walking) for every country in the world through the prayercast.com country videos. It is a priviledge. 
6) Being part of a team who made face masks. I had to step back until I get this class off the ground. But the 10+ hours I spent cutting and ironing were a blessings. I loved it. 

Well there is my 15 minute timer. 






Friday, March 27, 2020

Friday Freewrite Fifteen Examen

Grateful for:
1) A community of believers who work together for the glory of God.
2) D's total commitment to Jesus. "I am committed to him like you guys." YAY!
3) George being at home.

Yesterday was a busy day. I decided to devote it primarily to ironing fabric straps for the masks we are making (I think there are seventy of us on the team now). I put the five hour Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth into my DVD player and ironed away for six hours. I took a break to eat some lunch, go to the bathroom, and answer emails and Messengers about doing this, but that was about it. It was fun, and the time just flew by. I have to take a break now as I don't think my back can take another day of leaning over an ironing board. Many hands make light work. New people are being added to the group all the time. I will break today and talk with Maureen about the Type 5. 

I am almost through the 27th week of the Spiritual Exercises, and it has been so rewarding. I was a bit ahead, so I decided to go slowly through John 15 since it is one of my favorite chapters (along with Psalm 27 and Romans 8). Abiding. Dwelling. Remaining. That is what I have been doing all week, and it has been so great. 

After ironing, George and I went for a walk, and I vegged by watching the news updates on the Coronavirus. Oh, I should also say that after my time in mediation and personal prayer in the Exercises, I have been praying through Seek God for the City and specifically praying through the prayercast.com videos for each country. In light of the Coronavirus, that has been so good to do. I had said I want to pray through the world this year, and I was slow to the trigger starting in January, but I am back on track. I wish Seek God for the City had an online prayer calendar like Operation World does. As it is, I buy the app every year. I think I have been praying through the app since it started, and I had the book before that. I noticed that Steve (the author) was going to come and speak at First Baptist, but I don't know if he came because of all the Coronavirus stuff. I should have written down when he was coming. 

I tried to stay up and awake last night, but I was SO TIRED from standing all day that I fell asleep fairly early. Thus why I woke up at 2 am this morning and got out of bed at 3am. 

Today will be 1) Maureen, 2) Zoom camera set up for my class (should I buy a new computer because the camera in my current one is not working for some reason?) 3) Pray for the World, 4) Do prep for the leadership class - Should I Zoom with Meagan so I can get a feel for where they are at in their leadership and where they want to go? 4) Walk and do Pilates and weights. 

I am going to try to not eat as much. The last two days have been so good. I am cutting down after a long stretch of months (with a couple of lower eating times) of eating too much!

Most deadening: Finding out that my work is NOT done on the project I worked on with another. I need to pray more about my feelings about this. 

Most life-giving: Working on the masks with a team of people (who love Pride and Prejudice)

Today: Unspoken, but I have a lead on who he wants me to love today.  

TTFN!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

12. The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith


25191847

This is my second read-through of this book having read it in November of 2018. (You can find my review of from that time HERE.) I gave it three stars on Goodreads at that time, but I am giving it four stars this time. I liked it better the second time around. Part of the reason is that last time I read the digital edition that was not a Kindle but a facsimile of the original book which made it really difficult to navigate. 

I have also worked with so many more directees at different stages in their journey since reading it last time, and I think the questions at each stage will be really helpful for me in helping my directees along on their journey. 

Also, between reading this the first time and now, I have read Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle and a Ph.D. thesis of a Bethel University student who compares The Critical Journey to the mansions in the Interior Castle and to Clinton's Leadership Emergence Theory/The Making of a Leader which I read years ago and found so helpful in my journey with Jesus.  So it fascinated me to read with that new lens. You can find the Ph.D. thesis HERE. It is really good!

We are revisiting it for the last module of our Spiritual Direction Training:
Module 5 is about recognizing and working with directees in various stages of faith. The Critical Journey...is listed here in order to concentrate on stages 3, 4, 5 and “The Wall” (where most directees are located). Consequently, those particular chapters are the focus. We want to explore in greater detail what it looks like to accompany directees well in each of these stages. 
You might be curious about what those stages of faith are. Here is the diagram:

Image result for The Critical Journey Stages in the life of faith diagram


I do like the combination of all three books and the Ph.D. Thesis and will use all the things I learned when working with directees. 

I still think the last few chapters should be edited and integrated into the chapters of the stages because they repeated quite a bit of the same information. 

Wednesday Morning Examen

Examen Podcast with Father James Martin - Be easy with yourself and remember God. 

Grateful for . . . 
1) George being home. I still cannot get over him not having to leave at 6 am and not seeing him again until Thursday or Friday night.
2) Marco Polos from Anne and Elizabeth.
3) Praying for the world.
4) Giving to a good thing. Reveling and the growth of a woman I have known since she was a newborn.

Morning - Calm and early morning (3am). Time in John 15. Seek God for the City. Pray as You Go. John 15 and Week 27 of the Spiritual Exercises. Messaging back and forth with H to tell her how I love her and seeing her do a  wonderful thing. Walk and prayer for the World. Read Critical Journey

Middle - Hospital walk with George during his lunchtime. I am really trying to take a vacation day as this is my Spring Break, and I was supposed to be at the coast with Michelle. 

Afternoon - More reading. Watched news. Worked on my Coronavirus spread calendar. I talked to Teala, Anne, and Elizabeth on Marco Polo. 

Evening - Town Hall with the President. Critical Journey reading. Sleep. 

Most meaningful - the interaction with H. That was sweet. 

Help me to see you in the next day. 

Monday, March 23, 2020

Monday Morning Freewrite

Well, this has been a long morning. I woke up at 3 am! I thought when I woke up so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed that it must be later, but NO. I got up and started the Pray as You Stay series specifically designed by Pray as You Go for our suggestion to "shelter in place" as much as possible. I also had a Centering Prayer time after my regular Pray as You Go time about Jesus' healing. My word for God was "healer," and I just want to say that God so showed up for that time. I am so easily distracted, but if draw near to him, he will draw near to me (James 4). He so did. YAY!

After this was my meditation time in John 15. Abide in me. Remain in me. Dwell in me. YES, sir! I am down with that.


After this was my world prayer time and Seek God for the City. I prayed through many more countries in South America and started on Africa. Several African countries have not gotten the Coronavirus yet. It was a good time. 

I started this little project of putting the start dates of all the different countries on my calendar. I also write where the first case in the country had traveled from. It is interesting to see the spread, and it is mostly a "rich people" spread. People getting on planes and going to places that were already known to have the virus (even doctors who should know better) and bringing back a microbial present to innocent people. This has fueled my world prayer.

We also had a worship service at home with communion. It was lovely. We watched our church on YouTube along with it. We talked about our fears. I think we are all good. Paul has the highest probability of getting the virus since he is still an essential worker at the hospital and does not work from home or between jobs (Michael decided Amazon delivery quotas were ridiculous - 12 packages in one hour to different locations around a busy city - nope). 

I am also going to cut fabric this morning for masks for the hospital since there is a shortage. I know I have a sewing machine, but it has not been used in years. So it will need some maintenance. It has inspired me to do so though. 

I will also meet with sweet Nicole for spiritual direction and sweet Michelle because she wants to know how to teach Pilates by Zoom starting in one week! Ack! I am less stressed about this now. I think I am going to be fine. 

My other sweet Michelle is not coming to Oregon for Spring Break since the Oregon Beach Cities have asked tourists not to come. I think this is wise. 

Oh, I know it is going to be a good day. I am a little afraid to do the cutting because I might mess everything up. How silly is that? I know once I start, I will get in a groove and love it.

Oh, George is home still, and that has been the sweetest silver lining about this whole world-wise mess. I had prayed he could work from home. This is not exactly what I meant, but it has given me such a sweet taste of what that might be like. He is my bestest of friends, and I love all the walks we have been able to take this last week. I so miss him being up in Hillsboro for almost 7 years. I am praying that his boss will agree to let him work from home from now on and just have him come in for important meetings. We will see. 

That has been by far the most life-giving thing from my entire week. 

Well, I must get over my fear of cutting now because I want to be done with the cutting before I meet with Nicole. I might even ask Marg if she wants to meet this week instead of next Monday since she is not working and at home too, and the night before my first Zoom class might be pretty challenging for me. I would love to switch our times to day time. 

Well, there is the timer. Off to my day! 

Saturday, March 21, 2020

The Passion Questions

This morning, I had the wonderful privilege of being with the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) Portland people via Zoom. I had asked to come up to Portland to here the reflection and spend time with God at the Jesuit Retreat Center since I missed it for Micah and Bri's wedding last year. So, I asked my spiritual director through the Exercises if I could come, and he said, "Yes!" Because of the Coronavirus, I didn't even need to travel to Portland. Paul had a lovely reflection on the Passion and his own personal story. LOVED IT. Now I am reflecting on the questions, and I will answer them here (unless they are super personal, but I haven't read them through to know if they are). 


The Passion
Reflection Questions:

Where are you in your relationship with Jesus?

I think we are on the road together and companions on the journey. He is with me every step of the way. I feel him so near, and God continues to answer that prayer I prayed in 1980 or 81 for a minute by minute relationship with him. I have not had a dry time with him. I have had hard times of pain and suffering, but he feels even nearer in those times. 

Are you ready to walk the passion with Jesus?

100%, but I don't welcome pain. It pains me to see others suffer, but I want to be with him as I remember his suffering for my sin. 

What part of the passion touches you most?

The fact that Jesus washed the feet of his betrayer. That is such love. As I was meditating on the feet washing yesterday, it hit me that it was like he was anointing our feet to go out into the world. Putting feet to the gospel. 


What one thing might Jesus have been thinking about or feeling that you can relate to? 

Being betrayed. That just cuts to my heart. I have been betrayed before, and it does not feel good. How he must have felt. Yet, he forgives as I have forgiven those who have betrayed and trespassed against me. 

What would the conversation about that be?

Jesus, teach me to love those who persecuted you. Judas sold you out for $600 in today's money. My heart breaks. You said to pray for those who persecute you and to love our enemies. What an example that you set for me. Everyone is hurt, but you say not to drink that poison of bitterness. I am so undone by your love.

Reflect on What Jesus saw from the cross.

His mother, his disciples, Roman soldiers. He died for all: Jew and Gentile. He is the one who unifies a divided world. He says, "Forgive them for they know not what they do?" The crucifiers, Peter who denied him, everyone. He forgives everyone from the cross and dies for their transgressions. 

What is he saying to you?

Forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give someone else. Let it go.

What does he want from you?

To die daily to my need to defend myself. To just forgive and move on. 

What is Jesus calling you to do as you walk the passion with him?

Be his feet to those struggling through this pandemic. 

Scripture related to the passion
Exodus 12:1-14
Exodus 24:1-11
Matt 36: 30 to57
Matt 27
John 18: 12-27
Mark 14:53-72
Luke 23
John 19




Friday, March 20, 2020

11. I'm from Earth? How Understanding Third Culture Kids Can Connect a Divided World


51299550. sy475
"This book was not meant to be a big scientific study on TCKs but rather a sort of letter to those who love us and want to understand us more." 
Carissa Gobbles

I think that Gobbles accomplished this goal beautifully. This is a simple and poignant book about Third Culture Kids (TCKs). A TCK is defined as "Someone who has spent at least 1 year before the age of 17 in a country that was not their passport country" (Location 94). This includes my children, and I wish I could have given this book to people who were not as understanding of my youngest son's difficulty adjusting when we returned after spending just two years in another country.  This book can help people understand.

Gobbles uses stories from her own childhood growing up in Southeast Asia and the Middle East and stories from other TCKs she surveyed for this book. 

She also points out what these amazing people bring to the world: 
TCKs are uniquely positioned to be these connectors in a divided world: to help bridge preconceived ideas of other people with new questions and curiosity; to open doors of wonder and opportunity for connection instead of division. We are a wealth of cultural first-hand experiences just waiting for you to ask us our thoughts. (Location 525)

I highly recommend this book. 

10. Enneagram Transformations by Don Richard Riso


18982464

I finished this book the day before #9 but forgot all about finishing it. This is a precious book that does a very good job of summarizing what Enneagram of personality is all about. Don Richard Riso is a former Jesuit, and he talks about transformation, something that most Enneagram teachers ignore, and I find quite discouraging. Most just tell you all the things that are wrong with your personality without any suggested practices that will help you become free of your false identity. This is a practical book that explains each of the types and then gives RELEASES of the unhealthy parts of that personality and affirmations that promote health. I have given these to one of my directees, and she found it very helpful. 

Friday Fifteen Freewrite

I am a little ahead of time on my Ignatian contemplations and arrived at the washing of the disciples' feet this morning. Lovely time and listened to the words of the Creighton University Online Retreat Week 27 people. That was comforting to my soul.

I also had a new kind of Examen from the Reimagining the Examen app. It was called "My Emotions" and tracked the emotions I felt throughout the day. That was really good. I had never come across that one. Since I tend to "edit my emotions," it was good to feel the feelings that I felt throughout the day. One thing was I was frustrated at how my Pilates recordings through Zoom were coming out on the Canvas website as flipped from horizontal to vertical! UGH! The good news is that I do not have to record these things and can just teach these classes without recording, and that is what I am going to do. I had to use a super long cord with the microphone clipped to my clothes. That worked. If I didn't have such a long body, the camera would not have to be so far away from me. LOL! I think that is an emotion that I felt: laughter and joy. 

The greatest joy I had is that George is working from home! It is sort of ironic that I had been praying that George could get a job in Corvallis, that after almost seven years of him working in Hillsboro that he would be home at night. Well, the Coronavirus made that a possibility. Now George and I realize what we have been missing so much during these seven years. Since I am a pretty strong "S" on the Myers-Briggs, I tend to be a "what is, is" kind of person and have been content with the fact that George has been up on the weeknights with his mom. And I have been so happy that in her late 80s and early 90s, she has been able to have her best friend there with her every day! It has been a pleasure for me to release my husband to do that. I love my mother in law so much. She has been very kind to me over these last 30 years. It was also providential that only a year into the seven years, George would be needed to help usher Aunt Dot into heaven. She did not have anyone else to take care of her than his mom (her sister). So it is so good that he could be there to help her with everything. Again, I was so happy to have less of him so that she could have such a caring and loving person help her in her final two years. 


Now, we are ready to have him home. Tasting this has been so very sweet. What a man. I just cannot say enough good things about him. He is truly a gift of love to me.


Speaking of gift of love. My meditation in Pray as You Go was in Hosea 14. What a beautiful passage! Wow! "I will love them FREELY . . . They shall flourish like a garden, they shall blossom like the vine, their fragrance shall be like the wine of Lebanon." 


God is so committed to our growth. God is so FOR US. He wants to see us blossom and grow and FLOURISH! I believe that for the people I was sad about two days ago. YAY! I release them to You, LORD.


Speaking of blossoming and flourishing, I get to talk to my dear friend, Kim! We are taking a "social distance" walk together in the 65-degree sunshine. We will be taking a route we used to take regularly very early on in our friendship which will be 20 years in September when she joined my Marriage without Regrets Bible Study. Afterwhich we started meeting weekly. What a journey we have been on. She is someone who wants to go the distance with God, and I am so grateful for her friendship. 

I also might do Zoom with a directee I have not seen since December! It should be fun!

TTFN. Off to pray for Asia on my walk. :) 

Thursday, March 19, 2020

9. The Guermantes Way by Proust


18514715
I am into Proust now. There is something whimsical about his LONG musings, but the guy is so obsessed with Madame Guermantes!

It was hard to listen to this man's obsession with people of French society when modern-day France is in the throes of the coronavirus. It seemed so insignificant in comparison. I think it is also difficult for an American to truly understand the hierarchy in a society that has Dukes and Princesses. America has never had that, and we never will, and I am so thankful for that. Such social games! UGH!

It was nice to be able to have a visual picture of the places in Paris mentioned in the book because I have finally been there!

This was my least favorite of the three books I have read so far. I will say that Neville Jason's narration was perfect, and it made this much easier to get through.

I am now 52% of the way through this total tome! YAY!


Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Wednesday Freewrite Fifteen

My sweetheart if home every day now. His company was "slow to the draw" as far as staying at home. I was a little concerned being that he was going home to be with his dear 90-year-old mom every night not knowing who he may have been exposed to at work that day. Then, over the weekend, they said everyone could stay home on Monday, but they would split up the teams into "red" and "blue" groups. They would come in 2 days and then 3 off and visa versa on the opposite weeks. Well, there was a text from George's boss late last night (while George had come home after his first of the two-day cycle and not going to his mom's at night) to say that EVERYONE stays at home and works from home. Hallelujah! Finally, his company has gotten with the program. 

So, here I sit. I have spent the last hour prepping the house for the housecleaners who are still coming. Yes, I still have a couple come once a month. George's gift to me many, many years ago when I was so steeped in homeschooling that it was hard for me to balance everything. Once I finished homeschooling, I was too attached to them to let them go. They are family. So, even though I am fully capable of cleaning. I love them. Enough said. We can take the financial impact that cleaning one time a month does. 

I am about 4 hours away from finishing the 28.75-hour tome of The Guermantes Way. I have to be honest that reading about snooty French aristocrats, and the main characters OBSESSION with them is a little strange now that France is in the peak of the Coronavirus outbreak today. WHO CARE? This guy had a problem. Too obsessed with stuff that really does not matter, but I didn't grow up in a society that had such strick social levels. We never really knew in my town who had the money and status and who did not. 

I am reading Enneagram Transformations. I had read one of the types for a spiritual direction directee but then put it down. Now I am reading the whole short book. It is lovely and a good summary of the whole system. What I love about Riso is his hopefulness and practical ways we can get out of the rut of our personality type. 

I am also reading The Critical Journey: Stages in the Life of Faith. This is a reread for my spiritual direction training with School of Sustainable Faith (shameless plug - they are starting one in Portland next fall - so good - great trainers). We are concentrating on Stages 3-6 (the cleaners are chatting away - they are not convinced that the social distance thing is valid - but I have read the research, and it IS, so stays away) where most directees come for help. What is so cool is that I read a Ph.D. thesis that compares this book with J. Robert Clinton's Leadership Emergence Theory and The Interior Castle. Talk about my world's colliding! All that to say is that his research (I need to see how many people he interviewed) shows that this is the stage where people need the most help from a person like a spiritual director. So today I will continue reading this great book and compare it with Clinton and this book. (This is my strong SF that loves to look at facts and data yet treat them with personal warmth while an ST will look at facts and data and use it for things rather than relationships.) 

I will also be watching a teaching seminar on the power of Zoom for students. I am still trying to figure out how to record my spring term teaching. I recorded a trial run, but then it said it was being saved to the "cloud" and would be sent to me in my email, but I have received nothing. I don't know where it went. 

After this, I will lead a Renovare Book Club Discussion on The Interior Castle. We will have four people which makes for great social distancing in my living room. The other two will call in. I am hoping that the other three can handle them while I lead the discussion. I don't want to have to worry about them while I am leading the discussion. I loved this book, and I am surprised that I thought it was such an easy read. I have always wanted to read it. I am not sure that I need to read Mansions of the Heart by a modern-day interpreter of the Castle. I got it. He was interesting to have interviewed though. 

Still debating whether I will continue to lead this. Next year should be lighter without SD and Enneagram cohorts. Speaking of my Enneagram cohort - it has been postponed. So we will not be doing the 7-2-5-8 panels until a later time. Dale is wanting to have just our cohort do panels on our own. 

Well, that was a quick fifteen minutes. Once more thing, I have a webinar with the expert on The Interior Castle at 4 pm. Then I am going to relax and watch Survivor at 8 pm. :) 


Oh, one more thing, Timberhill and G3 were both closed yesterday. SO I don't have to stress over deciding if I will sub during Spring Term this year! 

Monday, March 16, 2020

Monday Freewrite Fifteen

As I sit here, the sun is just peeking up over the clouds flooding my back and side yard with a glowing low light. I like mornings. Yesterday I woke up at 4 am. This morning was 6:35 am, which is very late for me. I am listening to my nuns sing Hallelujah. I think I fell in love with this kind of music when I watched that Hallelujah scene in The Sound of Music when I was six years old. Just me. 

The schools officially stopped today. The library is closed. George's company is letting them work from home today to see if their computer system can handle all the remote workers. For me, there is no "boredom" that sets in. There are a plethora of books in my Kindle and on my shelves to last me a very long time. I know that I was homebound for the better part of six weeks with my broken leg last summer, and I reveled in it. This is when you know you really are an Introvert. People usually disagree with me on that point all the time, but I am. The fact that three things got canceled this weekend (or went online like church) did not bother me one bit. I love people, but I love being alone too. Actually, we are never alone. 

So to my time with God this morning. Well, let's go to yesterday. It is so interesting that AGAIN there is a meditation on Mary and Martha when I did it earlier in the week with the Spiritual Exercises, and then Pray as You Go had it too. On top of all of that, Teresa of Avila talks about being a contemplative in action is about the merging of Mary and Martha. My rereading of The Critical Journey also talked about that "doing to being" boundary (although they do not call it that but Clinton does in his book). Then today, the meditation in Pray as You Go was on a prophet not being welcome in their own town and the questions about what I am passionate about really hit me. I think I am most passionate about the merging of Mary and Martha. About betting from Stage 4 to Stage 5 and getting over "The Wall." I love sitting with leaders in spiritual direction who struggle with this. Some are passionate "doers" but realize that their "being" is not there. 

My passion for the Exercises comes out of that too. I love how Ignatius addresses this. That is why I want to bring the Exercises to the world. Many have written books, but I would like to bring the Exercises into the 21st Century by creating an app or a podcast that has the Exercises in a Pray as You Go format. I have written Pray as You Go two times about this because I would just love for them to do it, but they have not written me back. So, I am asking God to drop someone in my lab who could help me with the technical aspect of this. 

I have only about two minutes left on my fifteen-minute timer. Today, I am going to read more of The Critical Journey and The Guermantes Way and Enneagram Transformations and maybe even read that book about third culture kids by Wendy's daughter. That is what I have on my Goodreads cue. Then I hope to finish His Dark Materials before the free HBO days run out. I have 1 episode left, and it has been excellent. So many of my favorite British actors and Lin-Manuel Miranda too! This is on my 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list, but I thought I would watch the mini-series before I read it. 

There is the timer. BYE! 

Friday, March 13, 2020

8. Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila


33528292. sy475

This is such a lovely book. It is the third book in the Renovare Book Club for 2019-2020. 

It encouraged me to go deeper and deeper with the Lord. In those more interior "mansions" there is marriage to the Lord, that deeper union that Teresa describes at the rain that comes down into a river and there is no way to separate the two different kinds of water. 

This is a worthwhile read!




Here is a helpful summary of it from Wikipedia: 

The Interior Castle is divided into seven mansions (also called dwelling places), each level describing a step to get closer to God. In her work, Teresa already assumed entrance into the first mansions by prayer and meditation.
The first three mansions are considered to be active prayer and asceticism. The first mansions begin with a soul's state of grace, but the souls are surrounded by sin and only starting to seek God's grace through humility in order to achieve perfection. The second mansions are also called the Mansions of the Practice of Prayer because the soul seeks to advance through the castle by daily thoughts of God, humble recognition of God's work in the soul and ultimately daily prayer. The third mansions are the Mansions of Exemplary Life characterized through divine grace a love for God that is so great that the soul has an aversion to both mortal and venial sin and a desire to do works of charitable service to man for the ultimate glory of God.
The fourth through seventh mansions are considered to be mystical or contemplative prayer. The fourth mansions are a departure from the soul actively acquiring what it gains as God increases his role. The fifth mansions contain incipient Union in which the soul prepares itself to receive gifts from God. If the fifth mansion can be compared to a betrothal, the sixth mansion can be compared to lovers. The soul spends increasing amounts of time torn between favors from God and from outside afflictions. The soul achieves clarity in prayer and a spiritual marriage with God in the seventh mansions.

Friday Freewrite Fifteen

I have been up since 6 am, but my 9-12 Supervision for Spiritual Directors Group was canceled this morning. I would have been on the road up to Mt. Angel by now. So I have been puttering in sort of a good way. I had a good time in the story of Joseph with Pray as You Go (they certainly jump around all over the place with their Scripture reading), but I have not gotten to my time in the Exercise or an Examen time. I have also been reading Interior Castle by Teresa of Avila. I am amazed at how much easier to read this is than I thought! I just finished the Sixth Mansion and am about two chapters into the Seventh Mansion, and that is the Contemplative in Action part that I love so much! So I am intrigued and not able to stop, but it is cool because she just talked about how the Seventh Mansion (Contemplative in Action) part is like the fusion of Mary and Martha, and I just contemplated that in the Exercises this week! I love that they went together. Later today, I have a phone conversation who will be teaching the Instincts in her cohort at the end of March. That is all I have on my "plate" today that is official. 

Since my thing got canceled (due to the Coronavirus), I have until 2 pm with a free day. So, I will work on the corrections to my Type 8 Study Sheet (even though Dale's corrections were SO OVER my head that it hurts), finish Interior Castle and prepare for leading my Renovare Book Club on this book this next week (but I might postpone this until the peak of the crisis is over), read Proust (I love this audiobook, and it was worth it to get this - it was free with the Audible free trial, but I might just go a couple of months with audible to get the last two books since they are SUPER expensive if you buy the audiobooks as a stand-alone and NO libraries have the complete audiobooks), and read The Critical Journey

I know this containment strategy is stressful for everyone, but I will use it to be home and read books. I will walk every day (my vacation starts today, by the way) since I have social distance from everyone.

Yesterday's most deadening thing was finding out that Michael decided to not continue with the Amazon delivery job after three weeks. His boss was really nice about it, but he wanted Michael to "speed up" because Amazon had impossible quotas (we had seen this in the Amazon documentary on Frontline). Michael just felt like that was unrealistic and unsafe. So he decided to take a job with the US Census instead. It is only until July, but we approve since Amazon really has unrealistic expectations of their employees. I was still sad it did not work out. It was one year ago that the owner of his company died of a heart attack. When they restructured in June, he was out of a job.

Another thing that is not necessarily stressful but will be interesting is that I need to teach my Pilates classes remotely for spring term. KK tells me I just set my iPhone up in my living room and teach my class, but I just do not know how that will go. I might make up tutorial videos where I teach each move individually. How will I know if they are doing the moves? I cannot observe them to make sure they are doing them safely and correctly? so it is not stressful or deadening just uncertain. 

The last deadening thing is that I am one degree of separation from the latest victim of the Coronavirus. He had cancer and was not expected to live very long, but he contracted it, and it killed him quickly.  Sobering. 

Last deadening that got me a little hot and bothered is that George's work is NOT sending their people home to work remotely even though one of the elementary schools (with people in his office having children who go there) has cases of the virus! Insane. (They are meeting at 11am to discuss it though.)

What was life-giving yesterday?  

  • My students - I only had 11 out of 30 in my first class and 4 out of 17 for my second one. I know that most who did not come to the first one were people who all had As in the class. Only two that didn't come were borderline between an A and an A- so their grade dropped. So it was probably that combined with many other classes on campus were canceled. I loved the smaller groups, and Pilates I voted for MELLOW and slow. I love mellow and slow because it works your core more because you are so conscious of your mind/body connection. I also love the people who came. The second class voted for FAST, but I liked the variety. I had a great term. Very great term. LOVE teaching there. 
  • Time with God. I meditated on spiritual blindness in the morning and physical blindness after work. I love the Exercises. 
My timer when off a while ago. So I better go. :) 

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Journeying with Jesus and Storytelling


Today, I meditated in Jn 9 and the healing of the man born blind. It reminded me of this story and how retelling the stories I am meditating on can really bring me to a personal encounter with Jesus: 

When the time came for me...to tell my story, I did fine...until the very last scene. The Pharisees cast out the man who had been blind, and Jesus went to find him. When he did, Jesus asked him if he believed in the Son of Man. He replied, “Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?” Jesus answered, “You have seen him, and it is he who is speaking with you.” And he responded, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Jesus.

At that precise moment, as I was telling the story in front of the group, I was suddenly overwhelmed with emotion. My heart overflowed and tears filled my eyes. My voice cracked and I had to stop the story. The image was so intense and the meaning so profound that no words could express them. The story had moved beyond a performance or teaching moment, to become a very personal encounter with the Jesus who seeks and saves, heals and reveals.

I did finish the story, and while the feedback from the group was kind, they were mostly puzzled. “Where did that emotion come from?" they asked. I tried to explain, but was not sure even I understood the full impact. But the conference leader, a professional, biblical storyteller who has performed literally thousands of times vast portions of the Bible, including the entire book of John, said, “After listening to you, I will never tell that story the same way again.”

If we are to be effective tellers of the biblical story, we must move beyond merely memorizing the text, to the more profound and spiritual task of learning it by heart. In my case, even though I had finished memorizing the story, I was still processing its message.

Deuteronomy 11:18 says, “You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.” To learn by heart is to “lay-up” in our hearts. And until we lay up in our hearts these stories we tell, not only will we miss a tremendous spiritual blessing, but our effectiveness in sharing it with others will be greatly reduced.

Our conference leader told a wonderful story that may illustrate my point. The Jewish community celebrates annually the giving of the Law with a joyous ceremony that includes publicly holding high in the hands of the leader a copy of the Torah. During WWII, a rabbi in a Jewish concentration camp felt the burden of not having a copy of the Torah to use for the celebration. He noticed a young boy who had a reputation for knowing the Scriptures. “Do you know the Law?” he asked the boy. “Yes,” came the response. “Do you know it well?” asked the rabbi. “Yes,” he replied, “I know it very well.” And with that, the rabbi took the boy in his arms, and holding him up, they celebrated God’s giving the gift of the Scriptures.

We are not simply repeating the words, but incarnationally living the Word...The Bible story must become your story...As you learn and as you tell, try to visualize the story, and look for reactions and feelings within the story that reveals truth.[1]


[1] Handout “Storytelling as Spiritual Discipline” by Lloyd P. Rogers (emphasis mine)

Wednesday Morning Freewrite Examen

Second Week of Lent - Be Kind. Give people the benefit of the doubt (everyone is carrying around some sort of burden that you don't know about). Honor the absent. Don't be a jerk - just because you are having a rotten day doesn't mean you have to pass it on to others. BE A KIND PERSON.

Grateful for . . . 
1) My body working great. I had a little hip thing right before I went to Boise, and the first morning in Boise I was able to work it out before I sat for two days. It has carried over to where I have no recognizable pain anywhere.
2) Moving my body in Pilates classes yesterday. I felt so great.
3) Riding my bike in the sunshine.
4) The Spiritual Exercises four sessions yesterday was so life-giving. So good to meditate in the miracles and parables of Jesus.

Beginning of my day - Spiritual Exercise time #1. Martha and Mary. Psalm 27:4. There is one thing that is important in life. 

Rest of Morning - Lovely ride to work. Lovely students. 

Middle of the Day - Rode back from OSU in the sunshine. Spiritual Exercises #2 in my cozy room. Deeper meditation in Psalm 16:11 - Acts 2:25-28. Ate lunch and rested. Read a bit of The Guns of August (wrote post review). The Critical Journey. Interior Castle. All good reading. 

Afternoon - Submitted grades that I know are set. I have the highest number of As in my Pilates I class than any other class I have ever taught. I rested and watched the news. Read some more. 

Evening - Spiritual Exercises #3 - Jn 9:1041. The man born blind. Light out of Darkness as the sun went down. I love these longer days. Ate dinner. Watched TV. 

End of the Day - Spiritual Exercises #4 - Lk 1511-32. Repetition of the Prodigal - "there is more joy in among and in the presence of the angels of God over one (especially) wicked person who repents [changed his mind for the better]" and "the father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness for him, and he ran and embraced him and kissed him fervently."

I want to have that kind of forgiveness Lord. Special miracle for a change of thinking for someone. Our minds play tricks. 

The most meaningful part of the day - times in the Exercises. Each was sweet in its own way. I need reminders throughout the day. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

7. The Guns of August


6469983 

This took me forever to get through. I got it a couple of months ago but had to return it and wait. It is a very popular book because it is considered the quintessential book about the beginning of World War I. It is very detailed. I read another book by Tuchman called A Distant Mirror about the 14th Century. I liked that book better because it was about all of society. This one was all about war. It was too much for me, but now I know so much about the details of the start of this terrible war. That Kaiser was power-hungry. It was interesting when they were in Alsace in France since I was just there in November. 

Tuesday Freewrite

Mr. Freewrite, 

We have got to stop meeting like this! This has been so good for me to write almost every day. I had gotten out of the habit. It is easier to do it here. I suppose I could do it in my word processor, and I did that while I was writing the Exercises for Everyone manual last year. Lauren Graham said that she does this when she gets stuck. She does a freewrite (although she does not call it that) when she is in the middle of writing just to keep writing. Somehow clearing her head of the task writing she is doing with a freewrite clears her head so she can proceed. I still think it is so cool the Loralei Gilmore is a novelist. :) 

Yesterday was grand, George and I watched the sunrise as we drove to Hillsboro. I got a study room and got many little tasks done. On the way, I was able to process something with George, but it also brought something else up that had a lot of emotion behind it, and we processed that together. I love how George is never intimidated by my emotions. By the time we got to Hillsboro, just the verbalization made us both able to know how to proceed. 

He brought me Persian food at lunch, and we ate out on the patio of the Hillsboro Library and took a walk afterward. I went back to my little study room and read the Spiritual Direction Supervision articles for my supervision group that will meet in Mt. Angel on Friday. This is the third Friday of each month with Sister Joan. I don't know if I will go every month (especially in the rainy winter months), but it is a "come when you can" group," and I like that.

After work, we drove to Downtown Portland for our Type 4 panel. Before that, we ate a Persian Picnic with the leftovers of our lunch. Portland State University has a nice park right behind our meeting room. The sun was so gorgeous and air so crisp.

The panels, again, were top notch. I really love this group of people, and I love my cohort of strong and lovely women. I am working with Jules on the Type 8 Study Sheet. She is Type 1 and had lots of suggestions and corrections and reformating, but asked if I was bothered by that, and I said, "Absolutely not. I love it." I am doing the Type 5 Study Sheet with Maureen. She was on the Type 4 panel last night and so lovely. I sent her my notes for our sheet, and she said, let's use all of it, and I will add things on working with Type 5 and on death and dying (she was a hospice social worker before she retired this year). Working with each of them is so different but delightful. I love how God uniquely made each and every one of us. 

It was a delightful day. 

This morning, my contemplation was in Mary and Martha with a cross-reference to Psalm 27:4. ONE THING is needful. I love God's presence. I live to be in His presence while loving and living on this earth. That is the essence of it. Simple.

Oh, when I was working in the study room yesterday, I was able to get half of my talk on leadership for the team I will be speaking to on April 19th. It came together so effortlessly, and I love these self-imposed "workdays" I have every other Monday all day at the study rooms of the Hillsboro Library. It is almost better that I am not at home because I can be so much more focused without distractions. I need to ponder this. I love going up there to be with George, and it works out because of our Enneagram Panels, but that will be over in May. I just need to think through where I might be able to do that. I love the time with George in the car, but I don't like that he has to take me back to Corvallis. In the summer, I could stay up in Newberg, but I really only need ONE day to go into the library with him. I don't need a whole week. It worked when I was finishing up my writing of the Bible Book Club Blog, but now I don't know if I need that intense work time, especially if I will be developing a website this summer.

Must think that all through. BUT,  for now, I must get dressed and get to my class. I am just doing a simple band class with both of them. I just did not have the energy to make up a new routine today. I am so looking forward to coming home after weight lifting and having a home day since I really have not settled here since I left home for Boise at 1:30 last Thursday! Home sweet home!

Monday, March 09, 2020

Monday Morning Freewrite Fifteen

Examen (with the help of The Examen Podcast)

Message: Honor the absent. Like this. 

Review of yesterday

Things that blessed my day:
1) Exit Row seat in the front of the plane because the gate person at Alaska Airlines thought I really needed it. I was all by myself and just had the most amazing time communing with God.
2) The Boise Airport Business Center private carrols. I was going to sit there waiting (I was there almost two hours before my flight because Debbie and Ralph needed to get to church, and there was NO LINE at TSA precheck) for the flight with all the hubbub, but "Type Two needs to work on her soul in solitude." So I looked for the Business Center and "Replayed the Moments" from Moment by Moment 11-22. I wrote and wrote, and some things came out from the weekend in Boise that were really important for me to process. I knew I felt a burden for one person from the night before, but there was another interaction with a person that left me unsettled. So I needed to really process that. BLESSED MY DAY. 
3) I guess I want to add the "Blessing of the Exit Row." I was reading The Critical Journey and switched to Interior Castle, and something about the particular mansion that Teresa of Avila was talking about just caught my heart, and then I heard God say, "Look behind you," and I would have missed it had he not said something. There was Majestic Mount Hood, God's handiwork, right there, and my window had already passed it. The person behind me was also looking in raptures, and we had a beautiful moment looking at it together, and then she said, "Look down that way." I looked at the opposite window, and you could see the Cascade Range north of Mount Hood (Mount St. Helens and Ranier) and the other way you could see the mountains south of Mt. Hood. It was such a perfect view, and it was just a God moment. 

Start of Day - I slept until 7:45, but it was 6:45 because of Daylight Savings Time. I had a good hour with God, but I had not been able to fall asleep the night before because of my intense talk with a new friend that evening. My heart was hurting for that friend and also disturbed. So I did have time with God, but I knew I would have time at the airport to really expand. I needed to process.

The rest of the morning - I packed up and got dropped off at the airport by 9:25am. I saw God all over the time at the Business Center described above. Then I boarded the plane, but we had a little delay, and I was able to watch all the drama for why it was delayed. The flight was already described. I love the things we are reading with the Sustainable Faith School of Spiritual Direction. I think it is pretty near perfect training IMHO. :) Peaceful time and perfect timing of the pick up by George. I was first off the plane and first to get my bag and out the door to see George just pulling up. 

Middle of the Day - We had lunch at Park Stone Wood Kitchen. I will miss our little going up to send me off and going there either before or after. Last time was more disjointed because he got called into that important meeting at work, and I had to scramble to find a way to get there that was providential because of how Barbie and I connected on some relational things we were going through. 

Afternoon - We made it just in time to see the new Emma at the Broadway Theatre in Salem. Since it will never come to Corvallis, and it was nice to catch it on the way down. It was delightful. 

Evening - We went for a walk and then came back and George fixed me dinner. I caught up on the news and fell fast asleep. Traveling is exhausting.

Regrets - Not processing something that has been building for quite some time. Lord, I felt like you told me to just let it go. So I kiss it and send it away to freedom. Forgive me for carrying the burden of another person's stuff. I want to be better at discerning when it is their issue and not mine. I don't let you carry that. I acknowledge my self-sufficiency in it all. 

Most meaningful - Majestic Mountains :) God was so faithful to tell me to look out the window (even to look behind me because my window had already passed Mount Hood)

Today I will work at the Hillsboro Library. I plan on taking a long walk too. I really did not get too much exercise this weekend, and I am a little creaky! Then we are off to our Type Four Enneagram Panel. I am learning so much. I will work on the class I am teaching that I put on hold to do the Enneagram Instinctual Variants talk. 

The rest of the week:
Tuesday - Class, and weights. Do preliminary grades. Work on Leadership Class talk.
Wednesday - Zoom with Jules. Put final touches on the Type 8 Study Sheet. Rachel hair. Amy dinner. Bake cookies for my 100% attendance students.
Thursday - Last day of Winter term. Final grades submitted. Set up the Spring term Canvas site. (I have "The Well" in my calendar, and I have NO idea why it is there.) 
Friday - Spiritual Direction Supervision Group in Mt. Angel from 9-12. Then I will spend a couple of hours there.
Saturday - Spring Break begins. Final touches on the Type 5 Study Sheet with Maureen. 

Decisions: Getaway with George over the weekend? There is something that is going on that weekend, and I cannot remember what it is! I also need to decide whether I will go to Southern Cal for Rick's memorial. 




Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Wednesday Fifteen Minute Freewrite

I have no particular agenda in my writing today. But that is the purpose of the freewrite: to just write every day for fifteen minutes and through that, you become a better writer. For me, I become a better processor of my feelings. There is something about this activity that really helps me process my life one day at a time. The fact that I do it here is because I have had this blog since 2004, and it is just what I do (I had another blog before this so that one might have started in 2004). 

This morning was the Two Standards Exercise. Yes, I am doing it AGAIN. I went through it right after my traumatic event (that I am doing very well with, by the way) because I was proofreading and editing my book, Exercises for Everyone. That was so providential. Then, I did it again when I was actually going through the Exercises for myself. Now I am going through it again because I was ahead in the Exercises for Everyone, and I wanted to get a feel for whether Moment by Moment would be a good fit for a current directee who has a hard time carving out time to pray. This is a lighter version. I also recommended the book as a possibility to Janie for a directee she has. I thought I should do it myself since I am ahead in the other one, and I need to recommend it from my experience. Actually, I didn't quite recommend it, I said it was an option for her until I was done doing my 18th Annotation adaptation. I had read through it while I was writing my manual, and I was not super impressed. It seemed to be watered down, but now that I have done it, I think it is BRILLIANT. It goes through the whole of the Exercises. Yes, they are curtailed, but I think "watered-down" is the wrong word for it. The gist of the Exercises is presented in a lovely manner. I would recommend it now. I will have to look at what I wrote in my book review of it last year and compare how I feel about it now. 

All that to say, it was SO GOOD to review the Two Standards and the Temptation in the wilderness. Pray as You go had this exact meditation on Sunday, and their Lenten devotional was also on it last Thursday. I just need to know that the enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, and we need to treat him like a spoiled child, and we need to be firm with him, and he will give up his petulant acting (Spiritual Exercises 325). AMEN! Interestingly, one of my directees and I took authority against the enemy in a session last week, and miraculous things have happened since then. We DO have an enemy of our soul. I still think the thing that happened to me in December was from the PIT, and all my spiritual directors were the first to tell me so. I was still in the "maybe all the accusations were true" mode when they were very persistent in saying, "That is not the woman that I know. It is a lie." Each one, quite apart from one another (Carol does not know Cammie and Sister Joan and visa-versa, but I just found out that Sister Joan does know Cammie because they worked together in training) said that I needed to put my armor on, and this is what I am doing. I am also asking Jesus for help in all of this because he was tested by the devil just as we are. I don't want to sound like I see a demon under every bush, but the accusations were so outrageous with no basis in reality of what really happened.

So it has been good to meditate on this over and over again over the last couple of months. 

On another note, I notice that I get discouraged when just one person makes a negative comment about what I am doing. My Pilates I class loves my music. In my Pilates II, just one student (the most verbal) made a negative comment when I suggested the music that I was going to play saying that only one playlist has worked with our routine all term (and we have had 17 classes). So that was a bit discouraging. My desire to please everyone all the time came out. It was good to examine that during my Examen though, and I know it is a compulsion of mine to please. I have feet of clay, what can I say? Even at 60 years old, I still struggle with things like a 20 something telling me something negative. 

There is the timer. BYE! 

By the way: Here is my review of the book with an update:

https://carolhomeschool2.blogspot.com/2018/12/58-moment-by-moment-retreat-in-everyday.html

Tuesday, March 03, 2020

Tuesday Ten Freewrite

I am doing a Tuesday Ten. Usually, I write for fifteen, but I have ten minutes before I get ready to go to class. It was supposed to be overcast today, but the sun is shining right now. So I want to go early to class to take advantage of that.

I have been really low-stress lately. I feel like getting ready for this Integrating Your Instincts Class has been a good reminder to be integrating all of them in my daily life and allow dominant ones to support the weaker ones and visa-versa. So yay.

I had a good day with Sister Joan. I had not seen her since January 20. So we met for 2 1/2 hours! She didn't want to stop. I kept saying, "Don't you need to go to lunch?" But we did get to talking about me doing Spiritual Direction Supervision after my training in Boise is complete. A group of about 8-10 meet the second Friday of the month, eight times a year for ongoing supervision. She gave me all the articles for the March meeting, and I might go. It would have been so much simpler to have taken her class way back when, but I think the Boise one has been perfect for me. I never would have met all the wonderful people in my cohort, and my wonderful cohort leaders, Sandy and Marty. So I am grateful to be in that. On top of all that, the cherry on top of the ice cream sundae is getting to see Debbie every other month! So, it really is a win-win. There is also something about me getting out of town every sixty days that has been really good. It always resets me.

My directee yesterday (yes 2.5 hours with Sister Joan receiving direction and 1.25 hours giving it), and she had never considered a private retreat away from the home. I think this has been one of the best nurturing thing I have done over the last 40 years. When was the first retreat I took. I remember I would take a retreat on Sundays of my Senior year in college and go to the basement of McNary dorm (or the other one that was the women's dorm - was it Callahan?) and spend time with God and not do homework. I wonder when the first travel away and have an overnight retreat. I definitely starting doing mini-retreats in the summer of 1980 (so it has been 40 years - probably started with the Navigators in the Fall of 1979 because they were BIG on TAWG time and days of prayer). That was such a pivotal time for me spiritually. My sorority sisters said that something had changed in me after that summer. I lived at the Rustenbach's by myself. It was so great. I spent so much time with God and alone. I found the road back to me and the LORD. Self-awareness is God-awareness according to Calvin and Teresa of Avila.

I must read some more of that book. I also got the Type 8 study sheet back from Jules already! WOW! I don't think it is due until May. She is a fire-cracker and so responsible! YAY!

Well, that was 10 minutes. Time to eat breakfast and get ready to get out the door. 



Sunday, March 01, 2020

Sunday Freewrite Fifteen

I just got back from the 8:15am service at church. I prayed again. I didn't think I would cry like I usually do during praying in front of the church, but this time I did it during the announcement about Beth L's talk on Christ and the Resurrection. I love that woman. So I cry when I talk about people I love using their gifts for the glory of God. So you go, GIRL!

Mike gave a sermon on politics that was so good. He is brave. We have quite a divide in our church on that score, and I stay out of it. But people are very respectful about it even with the wide variety of views in our body. The Kingdom of God is my allegiance.

I got some really encouraging texts from two people. One was a person I just met with for spiritual direction, and we prayed over some big things, and then some miraculous things happened last night. I woke up to a very long text that came in after I had fallen asleep. YAY GOD. Another came in while I was at church about a church change for a leader in town that has been a long time coming. She was so sweet that she wanted me to know before I would hear it through the rumor mill. Two women I love. Serving Jesus. I love my life.

I love this Moment by Moment book! I got to Jesus' baptism, and I usually really love the questions, but after the first couple I wrote, "Weird questions." One was, "What does my baptismal identity mean to me?" So I figured it was a Catholic thing (first thing in this book that even had a hint of that). I looked it up, and this is when they say you are a child of God and in the church. But then I let God take me on from that, and He reminded me of my "identity name" in the sense that my Kingdom Community would define it. And I know mine is "Boldly Beloved." One of the questions was "How do I experience temptations to ignore or compromise my personal and Christian identity? What has been the fruit of my struggles to live in a way that is true to my identity?" I immediately thought about the curses that were pronounced on me at the end of December. That this one person does not like my boldness (their term was my "dominant, Type A personality" that is distasteful to them). I wrote in my journal, "I am not going to change who I am and who God made me to be because one person doesn't like who I am." (Not to mention that I say very little in gatherings when that person is there because I know they are really critical of me.) God gave me this identity name years ago, and I think I have lived into that name. I don't think I am naturally this way! I am a Boldly Beloved Child of God. That is the name he has given me, and I have had to get over my fears of rejection to be that. I am not that in an obnoxious or neurotic way. I am who I am, and if you reject that part of me, you are rejecting the part of me that is a gift from God.

I live for an audience of One.

So I don't think they are bad or weird questions anymore. In fact, I brought this reinvigorated "boldly belovedness" to my prayer this morning at church.


YIPPEE FOR I AM FREE! 

Old Herbaceous

This was a sweet story about a gardener in England from the time he was a boy to an old man. It made me cry it was so short and sweet.  Here...