Friday, December 30, 2022

2022 Reading Wrap Up

Here is the Goodreads summary of my Year in Books 2022: 

I read 10,000 fewer pages this year than last year! (Update: since writing this, I realized that when I listen to an audiobook, it only counts the number of pages that the audiobook might have in its packet. So, an 800-page book might be zero pages in the audiobook. I would add at least 5,000 pages to the above total pages read, but it doesn't really matter.)  Chalk it up to having a very full year with travel that did not involve having time for reading (because I was walking 71 miles on the Camino or going to conferences and talking with lots of people)! I also did a lot more praying and meditating on my long training walks for the Camino and less listening to audiobooks while I walked! 

These questions are a composite of questions given over the years from the Read 52 Books in 52 Weeks Challenge. 

For all my books with a bit of commentary (I don't write long ones, sorry), click the link HERE.

How many books did you read? 60


No Picnic on Mount Kenya - fascinating prison break just to climb a mountain and go back.

Alexander Hamilton - The book that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to write the Hamilton musical. Good writing!

Undaunted Courage (Lewis and Clark) - excellent writing - could not put it down.


Game of Thrones - A Song of Fire and Ice - I am so surprised I liked the writing, and it is easier for me to read than to watch the blood and gore (and graphic sex) on a screen. The guy really can write. So, I see why he is so popular. 

The Firm - I totally get why he is such a popular novelist. He knows how to get people to turn the page. This was another one I could not put down (and had the time because I am on Christmas break from Spiritual Direction). 

Which character did you fall in love with? 

Dorcas Lane in Lark Rise to Candleford (although I draw much of her from what I watched in the TV series - this is one instance where the theatrical version is better than the book)

Mr. Chips from Goodbye, Mr. Chips


Living Fearless - I think everyone should read this book (and I am not just saying that because the author is my friend)

Soul Journey by Margaret Silf - I had the honor of attending her seminar (via Zoom) on this subject. It is an easy read that caused me to ponder my journey more deeply. 

Did you discover any "new to you" authors? 

John Grisham - I had read a couple of others by him many years ago, but they were novels that were out of his normal genre. I really like The Firm. 

George R.R. Martin - I never in my wildest dreams would have thought I would like his writing, but I did. 

What was your reading goal this year and did you have a plan, and/or follow rabbit trails or wing it? 

My goal was 52 books.

I got through the Renovare Book Club (4) and 1000 Books to Read Before You Die (30) books. I also had a lot of rereads for the Order of the Mustard Seed and 2nd Half Collaborative Cohorts and books I read to prepare for the Camino de Santiago. I only read two for the Book Babes Book Club because not too many of them interested me this year. 

Where did your armchair travels take you? 

France, Russia, the "Blue Highways" of the United States, the Lewis and Clark Trail, Sharecropping South of 1936, fantasy world of Game of Thrones. 

Which book stood out, made an impression, and/or stayed with you the longest? What did you learn from it? 

Similarly: What is the one book you think everybody should read in 2023?

I have recommended this book to so many, and all have loved it. 

Living Fearless - I was already a wholehearted proponent of understanding how loved we are by God and allowing him to tell us who we are (our identity) when I met Jamie and Donna in 2011. They have been speaking on this for years but Jamie finally put it in book form!  Spend a ten-hour retreat (I did it over two days) and create space for God to tell you great things!

Which book had the most original, most unique story?  

Game of Thrones - A Song of Fire and Ice

This guy created quite an amazing world. Some will be offended by the graphic content though. (My doctor told his students that "Carol would not like the show Game of Thrones" many years ago, and he is right, but he knew I would like the writing of the books, and he was correct. The show - NO! 

All that said, I only read the first book (because it was on the list). I don't think I could read the whole series. 

Which book made you laugh? 

Cheaper by the Dozen - What a wacky family!

Which one made you cry? None

Which books did you like the least and why? 

On the Road by Jack Kerouac

It is set in the 50s and would NEVER be popular today because of how denigrating the main characters are to women. These are people who lead lives of quiet desperation. I did not care for it, but I soldiered through it. It is on almost every "must-read list" I have ever seen. So, for that reason, I am glad to finally have my curiosity satisfied. 

Favorite Cover: 

New Question: What are your reading plans for next year?

I will be concentrating on the list from 1000 Books to Read Before You Die. I have read 375. It has so many books I never would think of reading (like The Firm and Game of Thrones). I really love expanding my horizons of reading this way. 

I will have more time to do so because I am not...
  • watching TV for the year (Just Survivor and Amazing Race). I am not addicted but curious how many more books I might read as a result
  • reading books to prepare for interviews with the Abiding Life/Fruitful Disciple Podcast
  • reading books to lead OMS or 2HC Cohorts
  • teaching at OSU and Timberhill
  • leading an OMS prayer watch
  • leading anyone through the Spiritual Exercises until September.
I am excited about the coming year! 

Father (Père) Goriot

La Comédie humaine is the title of Honoré de Balzac's (1799–1850) multi-volume collection of interlinked novels and stories depicting French society in the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy (1815–1848).

Although some characters appear in many of the novels, they can be read in any order. 

This is my second in the series. The other one being The Wild Ass's Skin.

This is the story of the sweet Pere Goriot who gives all that he has for his daughters who do not appreciate him! Spoiled brats. 

Sweet character, but he was a major enabler.

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

In simple outline, the book sounds like a poor man’s King Lear: A retired businessman is done in by the greed and callousness of his ungrateful daughters. What distinguishes this tale in the fullness of its telling, however, is the way in which Balzac uses Goriot’s sad circumstances to paint a dynamic portrait of a society so entangled with venal motives that even the most fundamental human emotions are perverted. The novelist ironically traces Goriot’s descent from prosperity to poverty by sending him ever higher in Madame Vauquer’s boarding house. In the end, our sympathy for old Goriot is mitigated by our awareness that he has been complicit in his own misery, ruined by the monomania that twists his parental affection into a desperate avarice. Like the fatal flaw of many of Balzac’s memorable protagonists, his obsession is neither unimaginable nor obscure, and all the more terrible for its familiarity.

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Making Room in Advent: 25 Devotionals for a Season of Wonder

This is a delightful Christmas devotional with art by the author to ponder through Visio Divina. It travels slowly through the Luke 1-2 accounts. Day 19 holds the verses on Jesus' birth. So, I finished it today! 

I heard about it because the artistic team and our Leadership pastor put together a great Advent station in our prayer room with pictures and snippets from the book. Here it is:

From the publisher:

Preparation for the Christmas season can often feel busy and frantic, but it doesn't have to be this way. What if we stopped and listened to the movement and unfolding of God's plan around us? Making Room in Advent is an invitation away from the chaos and into the space where God is at work.

The unfolding of God's plan often happens in unlikely spaces, both in Scripture and in our own lives. Join Bette Dickinson as she moves through the story of Jesus' birth and the stories of the many people that were part of the journey. Each page is filled with an original painting that will fill you with hope and wonder during the Advent season. The twenty-five devotionals offer spiritual practices, breath prayers, and reflection questions that allow you to truly make room for God's work in your life, your community, and the world.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Magic (Wild Ass's) Skin by Balzac

I am used to the flowery style of French authors (I DID read all of Proust's seven volumes). So, I actually enjoyed my first foray into Balzac! 

All that said, it is not a very enjoyable plot. It is the whole "men lead lives of quiet desperation" a la Thoreau that I see over and over again in fiction. 

It makes for good storytelling and reflection. I love Mustich's question, "Do our desires use us up?" So profound. 

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

After losing his last gold coin in a desperate wager, Raphael de Valentin leaves the gambling house in the Palais-Royal intent on committing unseemly suicide by drowning himself in the Seine. Along the way, however, he is distracted by the allure of an antique shop. The owner of this old curiosity shop shows Raphael an unimagined treasure: a piece of shagreen (untanned leather) with the power of granting its owner’s every craving. And yet, as the shopkeeper warns his young customer, each wish granted will shrink the shagreen and diminish the days of its possessor. But Raphael is reckless: “I want to live to excess!” he exclaims as he grasps the skin. Thus, the scene is set for one of Balzac’s most telling philosophical explorations. In the foreground is the realism of the author’s vivid descriptions of the gambling den and curio shop (and subsequent episodes of equally astute observation [emphasis mine, Carol]). In the background is the overriding riddle posed by the supernatural skin and the reflections of the antiquary who proffers it: Do our desires use us up? Moving backward and forward in time, Balzac follows Raphael’s fate through a dynamic panorama of contemporary society, illuminating, through the compulsions of a deliciously melodramatic plot, the metaphysical conundrums that thwart and thrill our souls.

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Firm

I had only read two books by Grisham that were out of his normal genre (A Painted House and Skipping Christmas). 

This book is such a page-turner! I can totally see why he is such a popular author. 

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die:

There are times in our reading lives when turning the page is more important than what’s on it, when the headlong rush toward what happens next overwhelms reflection—and sometimes even reason. John Grisham has made a career creating plots that deliver just such pleasure to readers. In his writing, Grisham clearly knows how to enjoy himself, as the crime fiction columnist in the New York Times noticed early in his career, flagging the “relish” with which he writes about the deadly and devious antics of the Memphis law partnership of Bendini, Lambert & Locke in The Firm, his second novel. No matter how dark—or even far-fetched—the misdeeds Grisham has described in his shelf of legal thrillers, his vivid sketches of settings and personalities are made addictively entertaining as the writer’s relish becomes the reader’s. The Firm relates the education of Harvard Law-minted first-year associate Mitch McDeere while he uncovers—and scrambles to escape—the Mob-entangled web of malfeasance at the heart of B, L & L.

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Wow! I finally broke down and listened to the audiobook which was only available through an Audible free trial. I have tried to read this book four times! It is a photo essay and a written work, but I could not get through it, even after watching a documentary on YouTube about the process of writing this book and the biography of the author. But, the book in audio is art! I can see why Mustich included it. 

Interesting that I talked to my mother-in-law on Christmas Day about being poor in Poplar Bluff, Missouri in the same years (the 1930s). These people were even poorer than my mother-in-law.  

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

Jul 27, 2018
In the summer of 1936, Fortune magazine commissioned James Agee and Walker Evans to report on the lives of sharecroppers in the Deep South. Agee was a twenty-six-year-old journalist who’d published a volume of poems two years earlier; Evans was a thirty-two-year-old photographer. The assignment took them to Hale County, Alabama, where they spent eight weeks with three families of tenant farmers. Fortune chose not to run the article that resulted from Agee’s and Evans’s two-month stay, but in 1941 a more significant record of their collaboration finally saw the light: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a landmark volume of photographs and prose that has since been recognized as one of the most remarkable books of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Living Fearless: Exchanging the Lies of the World for the Liberating Truth of God

I cannot believe I forgot to log this lovely book that I read in August (it was a busy summer). Jamie is a personal friend, and he has been teaching this for YEARS. It is so nice to have it in book form so a person can pray through it and learn, from God, about their identity and acceptance in him.

SO many people struggle with their identity, and this is such a helpful book for working through that struggle. 

I have recommended it to several of my spiritual directees (see what I do at Body and Soul Companion), and they have so benefitted from it. 

I went through it in a retreat form over two days. It takes about 10 hours to pray through it. 

It is worth every second! Highly recommend.

Celtic Daily Prayer

Another book I forgot to add to my blog (not my Goodreads page). I loved praying through this book for two years. I miss it. I have a Kindle version of it with recordings of the Northumbrian Community singing the songs. It is a four-year prayer book. So, I am considering going back for years 3 and 4!

It has morning, midday, evening, and compline prayer with scriptures, readings, meditations, and prayers for the morning and evening. It also has prayers for different occasions in the year. 

It is lovely!

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Another one from January that I forgot to post! 

This is a dear story in a short read. It is the review of a life well-lived. Poignant and powerful. 

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

Goodbye, Mr. Chips
James Hilton
James Hilton’s touching story of an English schoolmaster is simple, sweet, and unforgettable. Arthur Chipping—nicknamed Mr. Chips—has taught for most of his long life at a boarding school called Brookfield, ripening, as we learn in gently unfolding flashbacks, from an uncertain and undistinguished youthful instructor into a steady, benevolent presence in the lives of three generations of students. You can read it in the time it would take to drink a pot of tea, yet the warm sentiments in which it steeps you will linger long after you’ve closed its covers. Goodbye, Mr. Chips will certainly make you think fondly of the good teachers you’ve had, but there is more to the book’s sentimental pull. 

The Sorrows of Young Werther

I thought I had logged all my books this year, but I read this one in January and forgot to log it. I listened to the Librivox recording. Melodramatic!

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

The Sorrows of Young Werther
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Every young person who’s written despairing romantic poems or a melodramatic diary, or even wallowed in the sadness of songs of unrequited love, has an ancestor in Werther, Goethe’s first consequential literary creation. The book in which he appears is for the most part an epistolary novel, consisting of letters from the lovesick title character to a friend who never appears. As a result, reading it is a kind of eavesdropping, as Werther shares his activities, conversations, and reflections with an intimacy of tone and an effusion of feeling that are peculiarly engaging despite the extent of his self-absorption. Traveling from the city to a small town to take care of a family inheritance, Werther grows to like the simplicity and quaintness of country life. But he falls madly in love with a local girl, Charlotte, who admires him but is already engaged. Both Charlotte and her fiancé (later husband) treat Werther with the greatest kindness, but Werther cannot contain his feelings, and spirals into suicidal depression. The end isn’t pretty. Although Goethe’s later work—the novel Elective Affinities, the poetry, and especially Faust—may be more elegant, Werther retains across the centuries all the passion and sentiment that made it so explosive in the Age of Enlightenment. 

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth

This is maybe my fifth time through this classic. I think the first time I read it was in college. I don't remember where I bought the first edition, but it was sometime in the late 70s or early 80s. What is a fun fact is that he wrote it while a pastor at Newberg Friends Church, which is my husband's hometown. 

I have led two groups through the book with the DVD series (which I believe might be free online now - let me check - it was super spendy to buy but I lend it out to so many people).

Yes, it is online free of charge here:

(It is a bit outdated and corny in some portions, but it has some people I really admire who are talking in it.) 

This is a classic about the disciplines. I love his writing style, and it is a great book. I know there are more popular books these days on the disciplines, but I like this one best of all. 

Another plus is that it is translated into so many different languages, and in my line of work, I like to have that option for the people I work with around the world. 

No Picnic on Mount Kenya

Wow! I thought the writing of this book was excellent, and the fact that is it a true story floors me. "We are prisoners, but let's break out and have an adventure up this mountain we can see from the prison camp." 

I liked this book. And it is on the 1000 Books to Read Before You Die List.

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be on the list:

What a wonderful story: Three Italian prisoners of war, held in Kenya by the British during World War II, decide to alleviate the doldrums of their captivity by climbing the mountain—Africa’s second highest—that looms over them. While it sounds like a plot concocted for a high-spirited film comedy, it is in fact entirely true, and Felice Benuzzi’s firsthand account of his wartime exploit is an amusing, gripping, and singular narrative.

Cheaper by the Dozen

I read this to my children many years ago, but it was on the Book Babes list, and they don't usually read older books like this. So, I reread it and found it delightful. (I guess when they met the majority did not find it as delightful as I did, but that happens with this group. I usually feel "out of sync" with the majority.) 

In many ways, my dad was an "efficiency expert" too, but he didn't push it upon me like this dad did! It is a true story written by two of his children. 

I think it is a great read especially as a read aloud to your kids.

Friday, December 16, 2022

Friday Freewrite Fifteen: FREEDOM!

"Guiding our feet into the way of peace"

I am listening to the Porter's Gate Advent Songs and this line of the first song sticks with me as I write this freewrite (freewrites are where you just type or write away for a specified time without any concern about punctuation or spelling or anything) because I feel such peace. It was punctuated as we meditated on Lamentations 3 in the 2nd Watch of the OMS this morning (see below).

I am ever so grateful that 16 1/2 years ago you saved me from a dysfunctional and abusive church situation. It was a time of great affliction, but "because of the Lord's great love, [I] was not consumed." I can look back on that time and see You were (are) truly my hope.

This is so good because I spent the majority of the day at that church yesterday preparing the room above (I still have deep relationships with some people there and was happy to help one of my besties with her daughter's wedding preparation). I have no pain in entering this place and have not for several years. In fact, I have gone back there several times to teach and feel only love. In fact, there is also joy. It was a good decision for us (and our family as the abuse also trickled down to our oldest) to leave. (It also helps that not one of the people in leadership at that time is there anymore.) 

I rejoice this morning in my advent devotional time that you have turned my sorrow into joy, mourning into gladness. I have no pain or bitterness. In fact, one of the people involved with the pain was there, and I felt only love (which is so weird because that person came to mind as I was meditating in Lectio365 yesterday morning, not realizing that that person would probably be there). I am not consumed. I am not in pain even in that relationship (and good because we were tasked with a project together). God is so good. 

He has "guided my feet into the way of peace." You are truly my HOPE. 

19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall.
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
    therefore I will wait for him.”

25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him;
26 it is good to wait quietly
    for the salvation of the Lord.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

Calling All Years Good: Christian Vocation Throughout Life's Seasons

This book is used by the 2HC in Station 6: Seasons of Life and Grieving Losses. According to the people who wrote the 2HC,
 It provides a helpful framework for understanding distinct stages of life: entrance and ending points, characteristics and experiences and communal dynamics of each state. Two key takeaways from the book are: 

1) We experience multiple callings over a lifetime.
2) We need to discern afresh our vocation or calling(s) throughout all seasons of life. 

I think this is a pretty accurate description of the book. The participants aren't required to read it, but things are gleaned from it for the participants. I thought it was important for me to read it as I guide my small group and spiritual directees.

It was good. They referred to Eric Erickson a lot during the book, and he is the author I gleaned the most from in my counseling psychology studies in grad school. So, it was nice to review some of his theories and realize how they have become absorbed into so much of what I look at when working with people.

As I was reading this book, I was doing direction with someone discerning an important life decision about her vocation. So, it was helpful to know. I also read the chapters about "emerging adults" because this is where my kids are at.

I did find it amusing that the people writing the chapters on older adults were not older adults themselves. Surely, since it was a book that had many contributors, there would have been someone, with the proper theological degree, who had been through that stage or was in it themselves. 

I would say this is a pretty academic book and had some things that I felt were not biblical. I found it interesting but not earth-shattering. I like The Critical Journey much better, which is the other book the 2HC uses and the one I read for both Years I and II in my spiritual direction training. Also, The Making of a Leader is an excellent and soundly Biblical take on life stages that I prefer (and ingrained in me even though his style is very stoic). 

Messiah Meditations

 I wrote this on my Bible Book Club Blog at the end of the first three-year journey through the Bible in 2010 because it sums up the Scarlet Thread of Redemption so beautifully. There have been several updates since then. Eventually, I made it into a book, and a church even did it during their Advent Season. I love to go through it myself every once in a while, and I wasn't disappointed (although I have more edits to make). Yes, I cried at the end once again. Hallelujah! 

I find it so fascinating that I went to the room in London where Handel composed the Messiah, and I didn't take a single picture! I think I was just undone. I felt like it was holy ground. What a masterpiece.

Orthodoxy: A Modern Adaptation

I am very thankful that one of the new people in my Renovare Book Club recommended this modern adaptation of Chesterton. I read the original book a few months ago, but this is updated without losing Chesterton's voice. It is excellent!

I highly recommend it if you have always wanted to tackle Chesterton. 

I also recommend the Renovare Book Club for this book. We are currently going through it, and we have an excellent leader through the whole book. 

Here is a podcast about the book: 

(You can go directly to the podcast on the website here:

Thursday, December 08, 2022

Spiritual Direction Supervision: Principles, Practices, and Storytelling

I read this over February and March when I took a course from the author, but I forgot to log it here! So, I only have three more books to goal of 52 books! WOOHOO!

I felt so privileged to be able to take supervision training from this wonderful woman. She has 40 years of experience in Spiritual Direction, and her teaching was so practical! She has done this for so many years but has only recently written a book about supervision. It is so good!

Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Adventures of Augie March

The writing is excellent. People do live lives of quiet desperation though. Sigh. 

Here is why James Mustich thinks it should be one of the 1000 Books You Read Before You Die:

The title of Saul Bellow’s third novel evokes Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and the voice that tells it—like the one Mark Twain created for Huck—is alive with the rhythms and energies of speech. The book’s irrepressible hero grows up in a poor Jewish household during the Great Depression. He ventures out from the family circle to find his way in the world, trying his hand at a motley assortment of jobs and encountering a host of colorful schemers, scammers, dreamers, and lovers. Ever restless, always hungering for experience, Augie roams from Chicago to Mexico and on into postwar Europe—“Look at me, going everywhere!” he taunts himself—where he’s wheeling and dealing at story’s end, still searching “for the right thing to do, for a fate good enough.” The worlds through which he passes and the characters he meets are rendered with a richness and a density that is true to life rather than to art; and Augie’s ardent inner life—fueled by the philosophies, plans, and passions he embraces and discards—plays out in pool rooms, department stores, apartment houses, and conversations, just like our own soulful enthusiasms. For six hundred pages, Bellow wrestles Augie’s buoyant encounters with experience into sentences that are extraordinary in their capacity: “They are like hall closets,” Joan Acocella has written, “you open them and everything falls out.” 

Sunday, December 04, 2022

Sunday Freewrite

I decided to not go to church today. I meant to, but I got lost in a project, and George was putting on his shoes, and I was still in my pajamas! George did have a meeting after church. So I would have had to wait for him for a couple of hours. So it is good I didn't go with him. 

Oh well.

It has been a lovely time alone. I hear the kids got up but only more recently. Someone is playing the Ware Patterson Duo CD from 1993. I love that my kids love classical music. We went to the Christmas Concert at OSU, and there was a flute solo that inspired them to play this CD. 

I have had a wonderful, deep-down peace for the last couple of hours. It is that peace presence. No anxiety about anything and close to God's presence. I would say it is more like the whole morning. 

I think it is the conclusion of a great weekend. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were the Discernment Retreat for the 2HC, and I think it went really, really well. I loved leading different small groups. This is my favorite of the three retreats. I have many of the discernment practices printed out (because most are from Elizabeth Liebert's excellent book, ) but I love seeing how to do this in community and not just individually. I would love to lead a discernment retreat in the future. It is really helpful, and it is about leading a lifestyle of discernment, really. Noticing God in the midst of everything. It really goes back to Beth's talks on seeing God in the ordinary of everyday life. 

So the peace was through most of the retreat. I did my 20 hours of silence on Thursday from 9 am to 5 am Friday instead of when most of the people do it. this was mainly because the Discernment Retreat Day of Silence always falls on the day of the OSU Christmas Concert, and it was just awkward not to interact with my family during the evening. So I switched it to Thursday since I am no longer teaching at OSU on that day (or any day). 

Speaking of not teaching at OSU, that was part of my silent retreat. Last year's retreat was the last day of my term. So I did take a break in the middle of it, but I had SO MUCH going on. I was 90 percent done with all these projects, and it was so nice for this retreat to not have things hanging over my head that I needed to complete. And I could just bask in gratitude for the GOOD DISCERNMENT I was able to exercise in saying good-bye to some things to create more margin in my life. I am less at the behest of other people and deadlines. I am so much FREER this year! YAY! This is because discernment is not about me and how great I am at making decisions, but it is about God speaking and letting him lead and guide me. 

Discernment leads to peace. 

Oh, one thing that came up when people were saying what they gleaned from the retreat was "I think we are trying too hard at this." Then when the leaders were debriefing, I told them about Trevor saying that we need to "pay attention to our resistance to joy."

Then one of the other leaders texted me a great "ditty" he wrote in reaction to that comment. I will ask him if it is OK to share it here. For now, I better go! 

Friday, December 02, 2022

Friday Freewrite Fifteen

I don't think I have quite adjusted to the new normal for me. I don't have to go to OSU to work! I didn't realize the time it would free up until after I came back from the Camino because getting ready for that was a whole lot of work. 

We just finished hour 8 of the 11 hours of the 2nd Half Collaborative Retreat 2 on Discernment. The rest of them are now in a Silent Retreat of 20 hours from 9 am Friday to 5 am Saturday Pacific time. The rule is no social media and no music or reading (not my rules - I would probably allow music and reading), but I did my Silent Retreat yesterday because I knew that we would be going, as a family, to the Holiday Concert at OSU, and last year, it was so hard to go to it and not be able to say anything to my family (although my boys didn't even notice until George told them at the intermission of the concert). So, I switched it up and took a long walk in snow and sunshine, and it was glorious. I am continuing on with a retreat of sorts but according to Carol's rules since I already had my 20 hours of silence. 

So I just listened to Paul Zach's album that just dropped called Christmas Hymns. I love it. I just had a "heaven-touching earth" moment while listening. God is so good.

I like having this extra day to really unpack this silent retreat too. It was a lot of walking and reflecting on the last year, and one big thing that jumps out to me is that I am living a more discerning life these days (because I have been taught so well by others), and I am living in the fruit of living the discerning life (I have the discernment retreat from LAST year to thank for that too - so thank you, 2HC peeps, for creating such an awesome curriculum that I get to be a part of by leading a small group and doing spiritual direction with two of the people!). The choice to leave OSU was a good one. I did take a walk there in my silent retreat, and I know I loved my students, and I had so many sweet memories of those students that I take with me. But I made the best decision to leave! 

Well, there is my bell, and I want to do some more journaling about my retreat. 


Friday, November 18, 2022

Friday Freewrite Fifteen

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Today, in the Ignatian Spirituality Center Friday Prayer Time, we had some things to pray about after hearing music and how it relates to prayer.

Have you ever been encouraged by a song at a difficult moment?

ALL THE TIME! Many times, it is a secular song too. The one above comes to mind. There is a theme to many of these songs that came to mind during this prayer time:

"I Hope You Dance" by LeAnn Womack 

When I had just had enough of the stuff with a partner, I had at a dysfunctional church I had been a part of for several years. I felt sorry for this woman who seemed to be sidelined in the church. I had been overseas and did not know the TROUBLE she had caused. She wanted to lead and no one would let her lead. So I told the leadership that I would take her under my wing. BIG MISTAKE. I should have checked out her background. I should have trusted my discernment when I saw red flags!  

She dropped out of our co-leading halfway through the year and went to the leadership and spun a tale about me. I still, to this day, do not know what she said to them. I did not do one thing to warrant her wrath, but she trashed me big time. 

(I got a big apology from the two leaders after everything was all sifted out.)

This was my liberation song from her clutches. (She ended up having an affair and leaving her husband and two small children a couple of years later. I still have NO IDEA what she told the leadership I supposedly did. I was nothing but KIND to her the whole time we partnered together in leading a study.) 

This is a song of FREEDOM from her. I was able to DANCE after that, and God opened up a wonderful door for investing in women hungry to grow. It was lovely after that. God told me in the shower when it came to that woman, "You have discernment. Use it!" I just let my compassion and compulsion to "help" her get me into such trouble. 

"Wasted" by Carrie Underwood

Again, roped into leading with a person from that church. I finally had enough and left that church after 27 years. This song was a song about liberation too. I had discerned things with this person in the past, but I was told she had "changed" so I took a risk and partnered with her. There were so many "red flags" during our preparation in leadership. The other leader saw them and backed out at the last minute. I just went in hoping that I could love that person enough to make it work. It was a disaster and again, I was slandered to the leadership. She did the same thing to a person after me who also left the church. We left on June 16, 2006, and I celebrate it as my "Liberation Day" every year! 

"Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac

This was back in the 70s when I allowed myself to be manipulated into a romantic relationship. God kept telling me to leave, but I was in my late teens, and I was "afraid of changing because I built my life around [that person]." I was able to break away on March 17, 1979, and I celebrate that day as my anniversary of "Marriage to the Lord" day! (I had been "engaged" from September 17, 1969, to March 17, 1979, but He had all of me on that day. 

I am not a quitter but in all of those times, it was time to leave. Those three songs were the first that came to mind, but there are COUNTLESS others. 

They are all songs of freedom, and what I have learned is to choose your friends wisely. When someone shows you who they are, believe them! I listen to my discernment and go the other way now. :) 

How is music part of your prayer life?

I really love Pray as You Go because there is always music that helps me enter in, but I have to say that music is not as much a part of my life since I don't help lead worship at church anymore. I would always have those songs in my head the whole week. I have been praying the Psalms since August and have been convinced that I need to be more intentional about music. 

In what ways does God want to communicate with you?

All ways. In silence. In word prayer. Through his word. Through music. 

That was fun to remember how far I have come. 

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