Friday, October 30, 2020

54. Compton Cowboys


The Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America's Urban HeartlandThe Compton Cowboys: The New Generation of Cowboys in America's Urban Heartland by Walter Thompson-Hernandez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a great book! This community is 20 minutes away from where I grew up, but it is a world away. I never even knew about the Richland Farms.

Here is their website:

Their website says they are, "A collective of lifelong friends on a mission to uplift their community through horseback and farming lifestyle, all the while highlighting the rich legacy of African-Americans in equine and western heritage."

It is a beautiful book with very personal stories. 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

53. Hardwiring Happiness


Hardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and ConfidenceHardwiring Happiness: The New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence by Rick Hanson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating look at the science behind being mindful. The author proposes that our brains are "Velcro for the bad and Teflon for the good." So we need to be intentional about dwelling on the good. It goes along with Philippians 4:8-9, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you."

From this book, you will . . .

-Understand biological wiring and predisposition to having a negative brain
-Learn how happy and sad thoughts are dictated by your brain and how you should respond
- Delve into the science behind why it is so difficult for us to really bask in the good things that happen, and why we immediately hold tight to the negatives
- Discover training for your brain that will teach you how to embrace the positive
- Develop a user-friendly tool kit to expand feelings of happiness while identifying and responding to positive input
- Learn to erase years of negative and traumatic experiences and overcoming fear
- Learn about the power of journaling, gratitude meditation, morning activities to set your brain
- Research about how to HEAL children and bring your own experiences to education
(This summary was from a course on the book here: )

His acronym for doing this is H.E.A.L.:

HAVE a good experience -
1. Notice one you are already having.
- In the foreground of awareness
- In the background OR
2. Create one.

ENRICH IT - Open your self to it. Enriching makes the experience more powerful by:
- Intensity
- Multimodality
- Novelty
- Salience

Absorbing makes memory systems more receptive by priming and sensitizing them.
- Intend and sense the experience is sinking into you.
- Imagery – Water into a sponge; golden dust sifting down; a jewel into the treasure chest of the heart
- Sensation – Warm soothing balm
- Giving over to the experience; letting it change you
- Letting go of resisting, grasping, clinging: “craving”

LINK IT - Feel it and let it soothe the negative parts of you (the things that have VELCROD to your brain.)

I read this because next month is a Gratitude month, and I am going to take one experience from the day and apply this!

This website has a wonderful podcast interview with the author:

The transcript is also on the website if you prefer to read it. 

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Tuesday, October 27, 2020

52. How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People


How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal PeopleHow to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People by Pete Greig
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a delightful read. Even if you are established in your prayer life, it has great value in inspiring you and seeing your place in God's Kingdom coming. Greig is funny and insightful. I loved his analogies and stories from his own life.

I love that the book also refers to a simple and brief online "Prayer Course" and "Prayer Tools." This would be so helpful for many.

I had the special advantage of a study guide, article, webinars, and podcasts with the author offered through the Renovare Book Club (which I also heartily recommend).

This book is true to its byline A Simple Guide for Normal People.

Here are my answers to the Study Guide questions:

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How to Pray Week Six - Chapters 11 & 12: Spiritual Warfare and Amen


How to Pray Study Guide Questions: Chapters 11-12

Week 6 Yield (pt. 3)



Chapter 11 Spiritual Warfare

Chapter 12 Amen

Key verse: ““Deliver us from the evil one” – Matthew 6:13

Summary points

· The Bible is clear that we’re in a spiritual battle.

· Jesus was speaking into a culture of different world-views.

· Remember the armour of God.

· Pray it. Practice it. Preach it.


Q. How do you find that you approach spiritual warfare: do you relate to any of the world-views of the Sadducees, Essenes, or Pharisees that Pete mentioned?

Note: I am pretty sure this question is referring to the Prayer Course rather than the book (Session 8, 5:20 into the presentation). So here it is in brief –

·        Sadducees – Distrusted super spirituality of demons, angels, etc. Kingdom was sociopolitical.

·        Essenes – Out in the wilderness - Opposite of Sadducees – wallowed in spiritual warfare

·        Pharisees – Middle ground – believed in angels and demons – way to overcome Satan was to live a radically holy life and following the law. Rules fight the enemy.

C.S. Lewis quote in The Screwtape Letters –

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them.”

When hassled by the enemy at night, Wigglesworth rolled over and said, “Oh, it’s only you,” and he rolled over and went back to sleep.

I have to say that I follow the model of Jesus! 😊 I am not afraid of Satan. I am protected, but he is real. I have had some pretty wild times of warfare, and it scared me a bit in my 20s. I got a lot of hassle. Part of it is the gift of discernment. Now, I know it is there, but I am not freaked out anymore. He is alive and real. BELIEVE ME! I have had people’s demons growl at me more than once. So weird when it has happened. Some of the people I was around in my 20s were more like Essenes, but most were pretty balanced.  I lived overseas where it is more blatant. Satan is alive here in America but more subtle. “There is more power in one drop of the shed blood of Jesus Christ than all the power Satan can muster.” I armor up daily and go out into the world.

The book that I read in Spain when there was great warfare and the people I was living with were more like Pharisees when it came to warfare, convinced me of the reality of Satan: Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices (here is a PDF summary of the book). Then I came back from Spain and worked with Tom White for ten years. (Tom was the one who was leading the workshop at Proclaim and asked me to come with him. So I told the women's retreat I would not speak for them and met George and went to Thailand. I mentioned this last week.) 

Q. How do we get the balance right between the reality of spiritual warfare and focusing on Jesus? “When we pray for God’s Kingdom come it’s because it’s not automatic… we have to pray it in.”

I think I answered part of that in the previous questions. I am so convinced of God’s power over the enemy. Jesus is the victor. I also see how Jesus combated Satan in the wilderness with the Word of God. So there is no reason for me to freak-out.

Q. How does this reality affect the way that we do spiritual warfare?

I do warfare with CONFIDENCE in the power and protection of God. I stand firm. I have Morning Affirmations that have a spiritual warfare component. I love Pete’s was of warfare: Know Your Authority, Know How to Fight (Wield the Word and Wear the Shoes of the Gospel of Peace, Standing Our Ground), and Standing Firm in an Opposite Spirit.

Q. What are the strongholds – greed, arrogance, etc. – in your home, work, or community context? How can you live in the “equal but opposite spirit” this week?

I think materialism is a real stronghold in our community. I want to pray more and discover more. I love praying for our city and the university that I work at.

Do It

Revisit the goals that you set at the beginning of reading How to Pray to grow in prayer and your relationship with God. Which one thing that you’ve learnt will you take away from this book study?

Most of this was review but a GOOD review and encouragement to “excel still more.” I am praying through the whole book of Psalms again, something I used to do on a yearly basis but have not in the last 10 years or so.  I would love to start a Corvallis Centering Prayer Circle that meets likes the one in Albany. I am also going to read Opening to God by Benner and reread Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home. I really loved this book. Oh, and I also applied to be part of the Order of the Mustard Seed, but I have not heard a thing from the people in Oregon who are supposed to contact me. That’s OK though. 😊

Monday, October 26, 2020

51. The Buddha in the Attic


The Buddha in the AtticThe Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a quick read, but it was a big overview of Japanese wives who came to the West Coast in the early 1900s up until World War II. There were no real characters. Just a long list of people in different situations throughout the years. No depth. The Buddha in the Attic reference did not come until 84% of the way through the book, and it was just one comment in another long list. It made me want to read another book about Japanese internment during World War II, but this would not be one I would recommend for that purpose.

View all my reviews

 The Chicago Tribune says, "Read the book in a single sitting, and this chorus of narrators speaks in a poetry that is both spare and passionate, sure to haunt even the most coldhearted among us."[6]

The Washington Independent Review of Books says "Though Knopf, publisher of The Buddha in the Attic, classifies the book as a novel, it is more like a beautifully rendered emakimono, hand-painted horizontal scrolls that depict a series of scenes, telling a story in frozen moments."[7]

Saturday, October 24, 2020

50. A Full Life by Jimmy Carter


A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety
by Jimmy Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was absolutely delightful! It is a bird's eye view of his life. He doesn't go into much detail about all the eras of his life, but I liked that.

I was in high school when he came to be president. So when he got to his platform in his election, my memory went to my political science class where we had a "mock election," and I was a presidential candidate with "Win with Wardrop" as my campaign slogan (and Sue Brock as my campaign manager). I had to study all the policies of the two candidates (Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter), and debate my policies. (I won in a landslide, by the way.) I remember the gas lines during the energy crisis and the hostages in Iran. I really liked to hear his thoughts about the B-1 bomber since my dad was working on that project and lost his job when Carter came to be president. I liked hearing about his convictions about God, abortion, peace in the Middle East, etc. It was a super informative book. Loved it from beginning to end! He is a great man.

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49. Celtic Prayers from Iona by J. Philip Newell


Celtic Prayers from Iona: The Heart of Celtic Spirituality
by J. Philip Newell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a dear little book! I have been reading Pete's Greig's book, How to Pray: A Simple Guide for Normal People, and he talked about Celtic Prayers. So I hopped on over to my library website, and this was the only one they had, but it is a simple little book with one week of prayers beautifully calligraphed and a different daily prayer focus of justice and peace, healing, the goodness of creation and care for the earth, commitment to Christ, communion of heaven and earth, welcome and hospitality. There is also a guide to which Psalms and Gospel to read for that particular day of the year. Lovely and simple.

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Friday, October 23, 2020

The "State of the Well" Freewrite Friday

 I used to do these "State of the Well" Freewrites years ago (mostly around the time of the State of the Union address), but I am resurrecting it for today. I started one of these on September 2, but here it is almost two months later, and I am just getting back to it. It will probably be longer than my usual "Freewrite Fifteen" though.

Well-Tuned Body

My back is doing great. I am going to Dr. Myers at 11:15 today, but it is just a bit tight after six weeks of no tightness. I don't let it get to the point of incapacity anymore. I listen to my body a LOT more. I do Centering Prayer and concentrate on relaxing my body. I also have this wonderful Apple Watch that reminds me to get up and walk around for at least a minute. It has also helped me to not do so much sitting in the morning. I would have my time with God (usually 2 hours) and then go on to work at my computer. Then I started teaching which got me out of the house and on my bike and doing Pilates for three hours. Since I am not teaching, I am making a point of having a reflective walk for at least 30 minutes. Sometimes I bring my tea with me and walk very slowly and just listen to God. That has really helped my back! Today, it is VERY COLD. So I am doing things a bit out of order until the sun comes up fully and I won't freeze. (I took a break and walked around the block with George with full thermal protection from head to toe. BRRR.)

I have been good about doing Pilates even though I am not teaching. I have been using Brooke Siler's CD. I am loving some of her cues. 

I have FINALLY, after a year, said good-bye to the weight I gained from my broken leg and broken toes (broke three of them at different times). I am down 10% and at 22.7 BMI. Weight Watchers is the bomb. I want to get down to 22 which is 4.7 more pounds away because this will give me wiggle room for a vacation splurge. I am hoping being on WW that I will do better at maintenance. 

When I found out I was not teaching, I was sad, but God has said that this is a time to focus on my health, and I have really enjoyed the weight loss and strength gain. Next week, I start back to more weights, maybe even going back to The Firm! Strength training is my weakest point. Cardio, flexibility, and bodyweight strength are ingrained. 

Well-Educated Mind

I am only going to read 5 out of 11 books for Book Babes Book Club this year. I was not really excited about the other choices. I realize I have freedom to not have to read ALL of them. Actually, if any of the five I am reading to not catch me in the first 40 pages, I will not read it. This is Nancy Pearl's rule of thumb for reading. Read the first 50 pages and put it down if it doesn't float your boat, but if you are over 50:
This rule of 50 worked exceedingly well until I entered my own 50s. As I wended my way toward 60, and beyond, I could no longer avoid the realization that, while the reading time remaining in my life was growing shorter, the world of books that I wanted to read was, if anything, growing larger. In a flash of, if I do say so myself, brilliance, I realized that my Rule of 50 was incomplete. It needed an addendum. And here it is: When you are 51 years of age or older, subtract your age from 100, and the resulting number (which, of course, gets smaller every year) is the number of pages you should read before you can guiltlessly give up on a book. As the saying goes, "Age has its privileges."
I just have so many books that I want to read. They are books on my 1000 Books to Read Before You Die list which, 90% of the time, has books I would never think of reading and am so glad I did! Most of the books this year in Book Babes just don't seem that interesting. I am pleasantly surprised by how much I love what is probably Jimmy Carter's last book. So, I will give most of them a least the 40-page courtesy. I am also not really big on the discussions we have. I have never felt really comfortable in the group dynamic of that group. 

There are SO MANY books that I have ordered or had in my queue that are of a spiritual flavor, and I am much more excited about those. But that overlaps into the next category. 

Well-Watered Soul

"Speaking of my soul, I love my life. I love the year He has me on as I have focused more on prayer this year. I have been reading rich prayer classics, and my favorite one this year has definitely been God Guides. Such a simple concept to "Listen and Obey," but as that sweet disciple in the Philippines says, "Some Christians don't get it" (he said it in a very cute non-native speaker way, but I cannot find what he wrote). I would say that is true. I will also say it is a spiritual discipline to stop long enough to really listen to the Lord. That is why I am trying to be intentional about sitting down with pen and journal and waiting on the Lord to speak. Then writing it down. "
I wrote this in 2014! I cut and pasted my last "State of the Well" so that I could remember my categories, and I laughed because you could say that same thing about 2020. I just recommended God Guides to my Renovare Book Club this morning and give it out like candy. My latest book I love on prayer is How to Pray by Pete Grieg.

Being a spiritual director has made me so happy. It is what I have been passionate about for years, and now it is my primary ministry! It causes my whole life to be around prayer, and eventually, I will make Praise and Prayer Pilates videos too! ( ) Sitting with people in direction is more prayer. I love it! So my soul is so well!

Well Adjusted Heart

So well adjusted. That thing in December was so uncalled for and such a case of projection. But I have worked through it and let it go. Emotionally, I could not be better. It helps so much to have the daily Examen to evaluate my days and keep me on top of my emotions. I think the Enneagram has also been so helpful for me to grow emotionally. 

I also just love my family. We are all doing well. I love that George is home. He is the best. We are doing more marriage mentoring these days, and one of the women said they wanted us because we are so happy, and we ARE! 

How to Pray Week Five - Chapters 9 & 10: Listening, Confession & Reconciliation


How to Pray Study Guide Questions: Chapters 9-10

Week 5 Yield (pt. 2)


Chapter 9 Listening

Chapter 10 Confession & Reconciliation

Key verse: “Give us today our daily bread” – Matthew 6:11

Summary points

· We are designed to walk and talk with God

· Slow down, Soften up

· When listening to God, remember ABC: Advice, Bible, Common Sense Questions


Q. Do you feel like your connection to God’s voice is like “wi-fi”, “cell phone” or “snail mail”?

Do you find it’s obvious when God is speaking to you?

I am not sure what the differentiation is between all those different connections. I find it obvious when God is speaking to me. It is a “movement of the heart” that is undeniable.

Q. Do you experience hearing God’s voice in a specific way? If so, how?

I find I experience it in all the ways that Grieg describes in the book: Scripture, dreams and visions (the wild dream about the man walking across the street with my coat on and then seeing him walk across the street the next day), counsel and common sense, personal reflection (loved what he said about doing something else and it comes together -thus why I have my best times of listening after my time with God and on a “reflection” walk around the block), and action (and it reminded me of the whole sequence of events in finding Steve Hawthorne at a church in Lake Oswego and going to Thailand as a result and getting to know George more deeply – all following that time of “silence” with God that I mentioned last week),  I believe God is CONSTANTLY trying to speak to us, but we don’t bother to listen. “Is the reason we’re not still/to hear you speak/because we don’t believe you will?” (lyrics from “In Stillness and Simplicity” by Michael Card).

Q. What practical actions could you take this week to make time for listening to God?

I try to have a “listen and obey” time every day. Lately, I have been doing a walk after my time with him stilling, and he speaks just as Grieg describes on page 161-162 giving my mind a “little space to wonder.” I loved that he said, “Cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist explain that these sorts of activities switch the brain onto its ‘default mode,” a state in which we are better able to access our subconscious, connect disparate ideas, and solve nagging problems…Overthinking is not productive. Intensity and earnestness rarely attract the Holy Spirit. We may well become more receptive to the whisper of God by occupying ourselves with less spiritual activities” (p. 161-162). I also find walking the labyrinth up at the hospital has been a great time of listening as I come to the center and “receive” what he is to tell me.

Q. How can we encourage one another to “keep our hearts soft” in the busyness of our daily lives?

Testimony of what God is doing in a through me with Centering Prayer, listening and obeying. Stories are always great. I also think creating space for others to listen with me. I do that when I sit with another in spiritual direction. We have a time of listening usually. Books: Hearing God and God Guides.

Do It

Practise the Lectio Divina. You might like to explore the teaching of Jesus in Matthew 5:13-16. Remember to:

· Read it – Familiarisation

· Explore it – Imagination

· Pray it – Conversation

· Enjoy it – Celebration

My Suggested Resources

Listening to God:


·   Hearing God by Dallas Willard is the BEST biblical case for God speaking today.

·   A Chance to Die by Elisabeth Eliot – great biography of Amy Carmichael – Hero of listening.

·   God Guides is a sweet book with 52 stories by a missionary in India who learned to listen and obey.


Examen Prayer

·        Here is the “Rummaging for God” mentioned on p. 173:

·        Podcast: Fr. James Martin Examen Podcast (He has a weekly message and intro to the Examen every time. The actual Examen starts about 3:20):

·        App: Reimagining the Examen App:

·        My Day before Election Day Examen of 2016:



Wednesday, October 21, 2020

48. A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life



I read a pamphlet by William in my 20s, thinking it was his whole book. Now I see it was only an edited version of that book that is over 300 pages. Renovare Book Club is reading this next year so it is forcing me to read the whole thing!

Written in 1729, it is a bit dated but has some great pearls of wisdom. I found him a bit "do this" "don't do that" kind of person rather than how I see the desire to do God's will coming out of intimacy with Him rather than behavior modification. Law wrote this in his early 30s, and he may have had more of an "overflow of the love of God" kind of mentality later on in life. 

This book is about the close relationship between the devotional life and practical service to others. It is about being "forever great in the presence of God" rather than the eyes of the world because the church of his time had fallen into mediocrity.  What I found interesting is that William Law's writings influenced William Wilberforce (one of my heroes) the Wesley brothers (although he was sharply criticized by John Wesley when Law turned to mysticism later in life), Gibbon, George Whitefield, and Samuel Johnson!

I found this had some real gems and some very slow parts. Overall, I am glad I read the whole thing! 

47. The Way of All Flesh

This is a satirical, semiautobiographical Bildungsroman (a literary genre that focuses on the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist from youth to adulthood, in which character change is important. The term comes from the Germon words Bildung ("education") and Roman ("novel"). In this novel, the protagonist is Ernest Pontifex. The style reminded me of Dickens, and I laughed out loud on some points. It is very anti-Victorian and anti-Christianity which reflects the authors own feelings. 

I was surprised how much I enjoyed this! 

Monday, October 19, 2020

How to Pray Week Four - Chapters 7-8: Unanswered Prayer, Contemplation


How to Pray Study Guide Questions: Chapters 7-8

Week 4 Asking (pt. 2) and Yield (pt. 1)


Chapter 7:  Unanswered Prayer

Chapter 8:  Contemplation

Key verse: “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” – Matthew 6:10

Summary points

· The Bible is honest about unanswered prayer – we are part of a faith that is all about wrestling

· God’s world, God’s war, God’s will.

· God’s silence is not the same as his absence.

· Contemplative prayer is silent enjoyment of God’s loving presence.

· The contemplation journey has 3 stages:

o Meditation: “Me and God”

o Contemplation: “God and me”

o Communion: “only God” 


Q. Have you ever felt God’s silence/absence in seasons of your life and faith? How did you respond? How has the reality of unanswered prayer affected your relationship with God?

The first thing that comes to mind is my time surrounding my move to Eugene. I was SO overwhelmed with my career (working 60-80 hour weeks) in a new city, living alone. Once I moved in with Gwen, things turned radically around. I think I realized how much we need community for growth. (“There is a strong temptation toward self-isolation when our souls are overwhelmed” [p. 117].) He led me to not speak at the Women’s Conference and to go to the Proclaim Conference (now Mission Connection) and re-meeting with George and what God had told me before that, connecting miraculously with Steve, going to Thailand. I really feel I left Corvallis because of fear and giving up on the vision he had given me. I was also running away from my two best guy friends getting married. “God’s greatest refusals were sometimes the true answers to our truest prayer” (PT Forsyth). I see that he wanted to give me the BEST (and that was a new vision and George as my husband) and “exceeding abundantly beyond what I could ever ask or imagine” (Eph 3:20). The dark night I experienced made me also get some help and career counseling from Shari’s mom who helped me find out what was a better fit for me career-wise. Financial aid counseling was NOT it!  

I think unanswered prayer has taught me the beauty of “waiting” (Kavah in Hebrew) and persevering in prayer. I pray toward the peace of God. It has bound me closer to him rather than made me angry at him or doubt his kindness. He knows what is best for me. “His trains are always on time and never miss their connections” (Ginny Bowen).

Q. How do you think we can get better, as communities, at dealing with the realities and challenges of unanswered prayer?

Let people feel their feelings and encourage honesty with God. To listen and not judge like Job’s friends.

Q. How can we encourage one another in “faithfulness” as well as “faith”?

I am not sure I know how to answer this one. I can encourage others by example. I can encourage others by asking them to join me in my adventures in prayer. I can ask and listen when people tell me how they are experiencing God in their daily life.

Q: What is your initial reaction to the practice of contemplation? Does it excite you, scare you, or bore you?

 EXCITE! It is my favorite part of prayer. I love to commune with God. Thus, this was my favorite chapter.

Q. How does this quote from Mother Teresa challenge our culture’s attitude to social justice or practical action? “It’s not how much we do but how much love we put into the actions that we do.”

This is what I have talked with one of my directees, just this morning. It is about overflow. It is about operating out of that centered place with God, who is love. Then he oozes out into our actions.

 Q. It can be difficult to make time to pause and contemplate God. What rhythms could you put in place to grow this type of prayer in your life?

I take the time to contemplate in silence and centering prayer every day. I was inspired to pursue longer periods of it over the past two years since reading The Cloud of Unknowing and The Interior Castle. I began practicing it with others two-three times a week for 20 minutes (with 30-40 people by Zoom at 8:30 am on Sundays and 12:30 pm on Thursdays). I begin and end my Lectio Divina time with contemplation. The last step in Lectio Divina – “Silencio” is centering prayer contemplation and ‘apophatic” (prayer without words). I find it helpful to contemplate in the midst of chaos now too. 

Do It

Pete says, “Even when we don’t understand, we can still trust”. Take time to stop, pause, and recommit to trusting God in your life. You might like to play some worship music and spend time sitting and reflecting.

46. Bullfinch's Mythology

 "First published in three separate volumes from 1855 to 1863... It quickly became the standard source of classic tales from Ancient Greece and Rome, the Norse tradition, and beyond. This edition contains the full text of The Age of Fable, or Stories of Gods and Heroes, the first volume of Bulfinch's seminal work. From stories of the Greek gods of Mt. Olympus to retellings of the Illiad and the Odyssey, from descriptions of mythological monsters to tales of Hindu and Egyptian deities, Bulinch's versions of these classic stories bring their characters to life. Throughout the text, Bulfinch includes examples of literary interpretations of and allusions to the various stories and points out proverbial expressions that have their origins in the mythology he relates, making this a vital reference for students of literature as well as a delightfully vibrant collection of the stories that form our cultural heritage."

I totally agree with the above summary. I found this so interesting that he transfers these stories to the works by such literary giants as Byron, Tennyson, Milton, and Virgil; and works of art in places like the Louvre. It makes me wish I knew these myths better so that I could have understood many things I have read and seen over the years.

It was such a water hose of myths that it was hard to soak it all in. I wished I had an illustrated version! I followed The Iliad and Odyssey because I taught these two in classical literature with homeschoolers.

This book is not for everyone. I think most would find it quite dry. I found parts fascinating and parts dry. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

45. The Breath of Life by Ron DelBene


This was one of the books that were recommended in the book How to Pray, and I found it in a PDF on the author's website. How generous of him! It is a short book, and I found it helpful for understanding and explaining "Breath Prayer." Just the day before I read this, I had a session with a directee who relayed her "Blessed History" to me, and how she would say this short prayer to God through a very difficult time of her life, and how meaningful it was. She didn't even refer to it as a "Breath Prayer" though. 

According to the author:

The breath prayer is a short prayer of praise and petition that has been used since ancient times. As we breathe unceasingly, our breathing supports life and renews our corporeal system. When we use the breath prayer to develop our ability to pray unceasingly, God’s love supports and renews us.
Historically, the breath prayer rose out of the Psalms. Repeated phrases from the Psalms became short prayers to remind one of the entire psalm.


In some religious traditions, various forms of a breath prayer have been called “aspiratory” or “ejaculatory” prayers. The term aspiratory comes from the Latin word meaning “to breathe,” and ejaculatory from the sport of javelin throwing. Such prayers have traditionally been short and have risen from individual circumstances. In times of stress, need, or joy we may pray, “Jesus, help me” or “O God, hear my prayer” or “Praise to thee, O God.” Such prayers rise spontaneously from within, sometimes flowing from us without our being consciously aware that we are praying.

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

How to Pray Week Three - Chapters 5 & 6: Petition and Intercession


How to Pray Study Guide Questions: Chapters 5-6

Week 3 Asking (pt. 1)


Chapter 5:  Petition

Chapter 6: Intercession

 Key verse: “Give us this day our daily bread” – Matthew 6:11

Summary points

· The Father loves to give good gifts.

· Traffic lights: Yes, Wait, No.

· Sometimes we need to “stack dominoes” and persevere in prayer


Q: It’s often easier to believe God can change things in our hearts rather than believing in things can see in the world. Do you agree?

There is a word missing, but I am going to assume the question is whether we think it is easier to believe God can change things in us personally rather than changing something outside of us in the world. I believe pretty equally in both. I can choose to obey. So I have a part in the change, but I have been interceding too long to not believe that God can change things in the world. I have no control over people’s choices, but I love to see God change people’s hearts. I have seen communism fall and more disciplemaking movements happening across the world than ever in history! Prayer changes me and the world.

Q: How often do you ask God for what you want as well as what you need?

When I was reading this chapter, I had just read about Jesus asking blind Bartimaeus, “What do you want me to do for you?” (This is a big moment in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius. So I return to this passage frequently.)  I sometimes have a hard time knowing what I really and truly want. I believe God puts things on my heart, and I ask. Sometimes they seem pretty wild. Like when I saw a Suburban, and we were driving our truck with a baby and one on the way. I prayed for a Suburban and shortly after this George’s dad said, “I want to give you my Suburban.” Oh really? 

So the day Jesus asked me what I wanted after my usual time of being in the presence of God and then taking my prayer soaking walk, I said, “Lord, I have all I need, but I wouldn’t mind a kayak. Yes, I would like a kayak. And I would love it if George would go through the Spiritual Exercises again using the book I wrote. That seems pretty demanding since he has already gone through them before though."

Within hours, George mentioned in passing that he was praying the day before, and he felt like he would like to go through my guide to the Spiritual Exercises. I told him I had just prayed about it that morning, and he jokingly said, “So you were 24 hours late in hearing God!” LOL! Then a little later he said, “I just ordered  you a kayak from REI.” I didn’t know he had been looking for one for months for me. So those are a few fun stories. I believe he just wants to give good gifts.

Or the time I prayed the young women in the group I was mentoring would realize that my tea was low (that they drank every Sunday) so they could grow as guests in their future overseas. Of course, I could afford to go out and buy tea, but God laid it on my heart to pray it. 

The next day there was tea on my doorstep when I got home from shopping with a little note from one of the women. Then day after that, two of the women in my group were together, and secretly dropped by two more boxes (I saw them on my doorstep doing it but didn't want to spoil their "surprise").  A little later, I got money in the mail from another one of them saying that they wanted to reimburse me for all the tea and treats. And finally one of them came with a white trash bag filled with tea saying, "My mom was helping someone move, and this lady had all this tea, and I knew you love tea and have it for all of us and others." (I am STILL getting through that tea all these years later!)  So ASK, and he gives abundantly for his plans and purposes! WOOHOO! 

I agree that asking is because God is RELATIONAL, and he wants us to be VULNERABLE. As a Type Two on the Enneagram, I am not always in tune with what I want or need. It is vulnerable and scary for me to articulate it once I know what I want and need. 

I also think that God wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Ps 37). God laid buying a bigger house on my heart once, and I thought, “NO NO NO. I will not live the American dream! We are going back overseas! We want to keep our house small and be frugal!” But he kept saying he wanted us to have a bigger house. 

It was true that our house was getting quite small for the groups we were having over, and their ever-growing families. So, I told my friend Kim (and God) that I would like him to just drop something in our lap because we just didn’t want our whole lives to be dominated by a house hunt. I also said, “I would like him to drop a house like Dale and Mary’s house into our lap.” Their house would mean kids in the basement within earshot, and adults upstairs with prayer or Bible study, etc. 

I told her this on Friday, and on Tuesday, Dale and I were painting props for the church Christmas concert, and he said, “We are putting our house up for sale.” We made an offer within hours, and it has brought us 18 years of people from all over the world, eating, laughing, loving, praying, studying his word, doing spiritual direction, and listening prayer. SO GLAD God plopped it in our lap.  

Pete uses the traffic light analogy to describe different ways God responds to our prayers:

· Green: Yes

· Amber: Wait / Persevere

· Red: No

Q: Are you experiencing a “green”, “amber” or “red” response to any specific prayers at the moment?

I am one who loves a clear answer. I don’t have a problem with a “NO." I have even learned to just “WAIT” too! (I gave a whole message on waiting once.) I waited for my husband for years, and he was so worth the wait. 

I have seen him answer too many prayers that I had to wait YEARS for (like the salvation of all but one of my immediate family) to not persevere. He is faithful. YES, I have many things I have an amber-like on right now, but in the waiting (Hebrew word is qavah [kaw-vaw’] comes from a root that means “to bind together by twisting,” and I see waiting as an opportunity to bind my heart with God’s heart). There is one I pray for and hope for, and I am waiting with hopeful anticipation!


Do It

Take time to pray. Remember the following as you pray:

· Pray incrementally: Pray for a specific next step, rather than jumping to the top of the staircase

· Pray the promises of God: Is there a specific promise that relates to the situation?



You also might like to follow the P.R.A.Y model – start by pausing and welcome the Holy Spirit, then rejoice and give thanks before asking. Remember to yield and surrender everything back to God as you finish.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

44. Sleeping with Bread

 I missed reviewing this little gem I read in August. This is a sweet way to look at the Examen. It includes the experiences of the three authors. 

Life is Simple

Life is this simple.
We are living in a world that is absolutely transparent and God is shining through it all the time.

This is not just a fable or a nice story.
 It is true.
If we abandon ourselves to God and forget ourselves, 
we see it sometimes and we see it maybe frequently.
God manifests himself everywhere, 
in everything, in people and in things and in nature and in events.
It becomes very obvious that he is everywhere 
and in everything and we cannot be without him.
You cannot be without God. 
It’s impossible.
 It’s simply impossible.

Thursday, October 08, 2020

Freewrite Fifteen

 I remember in the "olden days" I would set my Flylady timer for my freewrites. Then I found an online timer. Now I have either Siri or Alexa help me out in that area. 

The timer is set for fifteen.

Today I woke up at 5:50 am. I had a time of Centering Breath Prayer. I decided my Breath Prayer would be "My God and my all" for this season of my life. That seems appropriate.

Then I went back once again into Psalm 8 which has been my "go-to" Psalm this week, and it happens to be the one that the "Toolshed" on "reading through the Psalm" connected with the book, How to Pray, that we are reading for Renovare Book Club this fall suggested I mull over. I thought that was cool. 

It also coincides with the Week of Psalm pertaining to Creation that my directees are going through in the Spiritual Exercises. So I have gone through Psalm 8 with four of my directees this week in different ways. Today, I prayed through it with one of them, and that was my favorite way to mull. It has also been nice to read it in The Passion Translation that my directee on Monday told me about. That is nice. 

After this time in the Psalms I had some Examen prayer, and Psalm helped me understand one of my desolations from the previous day (I do my Examen in the morning for the previous day - I just do not do well doing it at night) because the speaker in a four-week seminar I am attending implied that ALL creatures are made in the image of God, and I just don't buy that. I think Psalm 8 says that God made us a little lower than him and that we are to "rule over the works of God's hands" (verse 6). So maybe I misunderstood what she was saying, but that was something I needed to process. I have one more session, but I am not sure I am going to go to the last one. I really like the lady, and it is good to know what some people believe, but I am seeing that only man was made in the image of God. All of creation is wonderful, but they are not bearers of God's image. I cannot see that. Maybe I should contact her privately. I feel a little intimidated asking this in front of all the other attendees. 

I also looked at Psalm 58. That was so pertinent for praying for our election. I have LOVED not watching the news these last two weeks. That was my desolation every day. I am praying. I am informed because I do see highlights now and then that flash up on my screen, but I am not getting sucked into the vortex of news anymore, and that is quite freeing.

After this, I listened to Pray as You Go. It was on the Galatians who had thrown away God's grace for the law. 

This was all followed by a short Centering Prayer time of 10 minutes.

Then, I went for a melding together of it all walk with George before he started his workday. We had a little Examen prayer time together as we walked around the block.

Then, it was off to a podcast interview with Josh Worden. I will put the link here. He wanted to know about my time in Oregon State Women's Basketball and what I have done afterward. So I could talk about my passion for helping people find freedom from physical pain (through Pilates and personal training) and emotional and spiritual pain (through spiritual direction, listening prayer, and understanding their MBTI/Enneagram/DISC). I didn't go into a lot of detail about the personality stuff except the Enneagram, but it was fun.

After this, I jumped into a spiritual direction time for 1 1/2 hour that was life-giving. Directly after that, I had a Centering Prayer time with 30 people from Mercy Center, Burlingame. Then, I went for a reflection walk.

Now I am freewriting and off for a little rest after an eventful morning into the afternoon! 


Wednesday, October 07, 2020

43. The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman

I found this book to be so interesting and challenging. It is about Hmong refugees in the central Californian town of Merced. It specifically focuses on a family who has a child with epilepsy and their cross-cultural clashes with the medical community. It is a fascinating read. I also appreciated her dive into the history of the Hmong, and how they came to be refugees in the United States. 

Here is an interesting article about more recent happenings with this family: 

Finding Christ in the World: Week Five - Sin in the World, Sin in Me

My underlines and notes that I never finished, but I am going to post it anyway!

Those who do not believe think that all the wrong int he world is due merely to human mistakes and lack of progress. We disciples see it as due to sin, to the choices people make to ignore what God wants and to do what we want, instead. That choice brings with it all the wreckage around us - in ourselves and in our world. 

We can't deny the wreckage, but we deny that humanity can overcome it. In our worldview, all the evils around us are rooted in humanity's prideful decision that we will choose our own purposes We cannot. Our purpose is already set: to love God, others, and self. 

Without Christ, the chaos and wreckage in the world remains senseless. 

Can we accept the gift of recognizing that we are doing wrong without having to hate our broken selves?

We know that, even if we are broken, we are not unlovable...we were "destined to be molded to the pattern of his Son" [and share inwardly His likeness, AMP] (Rom. 8:20). 

Planning, puzzling, problem-solving -- take these to prayer. For the Lord intends that we serve and love our Creator in the tangle of our minds as well as in the welter of our feelings and emotions. 

These things would not happen were we all to put God first and keep God first. We don't. Instead, banks, schools, the media, governments -- all are structured to serve first of all the little gods: profit, pleasure, and power, "the ruling forces ... masters of the darkness in this world" (Eph. 6:12).

Like polluted air, that earthly order gets into every one of us and every one of us makes it, the earthly order.

Gratitude is your best defense against the mysteries

Day 1
Everyone pays attention to the news, watching politics and the economy. You go deeper: you see how what is happening has everything to do with the way people are using their freedom. 

You've thought and prayed about the chaos you are being shaped from. "Sin in the world" is the disciples' name for that chaos. And only Jesus Christ can save us from it.

Tuesday Ten Minute Freewrite

I am going to go great guns for 10 minutes on this freewrite. I am meeting with a person (not sure if she wants direction - she just wanted ...