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. 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Undaunted Courage

I have had this book for years (it was a giveaway at my library), but I had not read it. My book club put it on this year's list, and I realized I was going to need to read it by 7 pm today. 

I started early and read and read and finished it in a day. It is a great book. A page-turner!

Lewis is the main character. I did not know that Jefferson had such an influence on him even before the journey of discovery. It is a great book. I think Lewis was a perfectionist and had a mental illness though. So sorry for him.

What an adventure though! 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The Autobiography of Santa Claus

I found this book pretty delightful! I know much of it is just fantasy. It is a trip through history that I found enchanting. It was recommended to me by a young mom who is reading it to her two small children. 

We have been celebrating St. Nicholas Day since my kids were toddlers. We just had Santa Claus, Are You for Real? This would be a great one to read leading up to that holiday! 

From Goodreads

It all started when Jeff Guinn was assigned to write a piece full of little-known facts about Christmas for his paper, 
The Fort Worth Star-Telegram. A few months later, he received a call from a gentleman who told him that he showed the story to an important friend who didn't think much of it. And who might that be? asked Jeff. The next thing he knew, he was whisked off to the North Pole to meet with this "very important friend," and the rest is, well, as they say, history.

An enchanting holiday treasure, The Autobiography of Santa Claus combines solid historical fact with legend to deliver the definitive story of Santa Claus. And who better to lead us through seventeen centuries of Christmas magic than good ol' Saint Nick himself? Families will delight in each chapter of this new Christmas classic-one per each cold December night leading up to Christmas!

Cultivating God's Presence

I heard about this book when the author was interviewed for the Order of the Mustard Seed Podcast:

 I was intrigued. So, I bought the book to read on my Camino to Castlewellan journey. The part I read during that was wonderful. Once I got home, the part in the middle was a little repetitive about history and such.  I have read extensively about Monasticism and Celtic Christianity. So, the middle was a bit boring for me. It was redeemed at the end by talking about elements of a Rule of Life that I found useful!

What is really providential is that he is a regular speaker and trustee at Ffald y Brenin (The Sheepfold of the King) in Wales. This is the conference center that the spiritual formation group I work for (2HC - do it! It is that good) is considering for our opening retreat next year! The day I found this out was the day I read about it, and he speaks about this place extensively in his book. That was cool! 

Seeking God: Finding Another Kind of Life with St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard

I really liked this book by Trevor Hudson. I love St. Ignatius and the Spiritual Exercises (I offer them - look on my ministry website: )

I also loved hearing Dallas Willard's words integrated into Trevor's book. I hope this encourages more people who will pray the Exercises. They were life-changing for me, and I hope they are for a whole new generation of people. 

If you are going to read this, join the Renovare Book Club, and you will have access to a podcast by Trevor, and articles that he has written about this book. They are invaluable. 

Friday, November 11, 2022

Friday Freewrite Fifteen

Me at Peavy Arboretum 

The sun will rise in 22 minutes. So, I will use 15 of them for a nice Freewrite on my trusty blog. I have been blogging since 2004 (this is the second blog because the other one disappeared for a while and reappeared many years after I had started this one. I cannot remember when I switched to this one.). 

So I am feeling 100% better. I think the last few days were not COVID but were JETLAG! It is a real thing, and I don't care if others say, "Oh it doesn't take me that much time to recover from it...blah...blah...blah." (Telling me I am wrong for feeling jet lag SO MANY days after my return from Europe or wherever. Not wrong for feeling this way people. It is just that you are probably always tired. I am a person who is rarely tired. So, when I am tired it is usually for a reason which can be JETLAG or sickness.) I ALWAYS take 1 day for every hour difference in the time zone. So, this is day nine back, and I slept until I usually sleep (which is 4 am) and stayed up as late as I usually stay up the previous night. So, I have a TON of energy this morning. No sniffles. No cough. Lots of energy. I am a bunny this morning. YAY!

Note to self: DO NOT SCHEDULE things for at least five days after you return. It was crazy to have an out-of-town guest and start a contemplative cohort and meet 2-3 directees a day. GIVE YOURSELF SPACE, Carol, next time. But I loved having Bene here. It could not be helped. Maybe could have cut our time in Northern Ireland short to have space to recover (also would not have gotten COVID in the first place). Oh well, live and learn!

Today, I listened to Trevor Hudson's podcast that came out last Monday, and it was so spot on about two things 1) that often the spiritual formation movement can leave out mission. This is one of the reasons I did not connect with Renovare. In fact, one book that we read for the book club was SO OFF BASE when it came to mission [I will not mention the name of it or the author] that I almost threw the book across the room! So, I thank Trevor for having the humility to admit this. I loved what he said, "The world is God's first fiance. Where I am is to share God's love with the world." Good words. 2) that we need to be "shaping a life that has space for joy... we are a people who should be overwhelmed with joy...notice our resistance to joy."  AMEN again. I 100% agree. I am not saying to deny our emotions but to really notice if we think it is something we should not be characterized by. God gave me the name Carol (song of joy) for a reason.

Speaking of joy. I had a clean cancer check again eight years after Melanoma. Many don't know that I had it. But I had the beginning stages, and my friend, Abigail, caught it early on. So, as a celebration, I went for a walk in McDonald Forest/Peavy Arboretum. I love that place. I almost did not do it because it was foggy and cold, but it was above the fog. So, I had a glorious 45-minute walk among the fall leaves. They are down earlier this year due to the storm that came in over the weekend, but I got the glorious tail end of it. I did a little video about seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and tasting nature. I will see if I can post it here.

Now is the time to leave after 15 minutes. 

Happy Friday! 

Wednesday, November 09, 2022


I started this two days ago. So, I am starting over again. One of my directees and I were talking about the importance of writing for us, and I told her I did freewrites almost daily and that I used to post them on my blog a lot. It made me miss more regular freewrites. I do them more in my private journal now though.

So, I am one week out from our return to Corvallis from the Camino and Castlewellan. It will be at 2:35 today. My COVID symptoms are totally gone now, but George still has a lingering cough and also has no taste or smell. It is amazing how we all react to this virus differently.

So, for the last few days I have had a steady stream of directees. I was busy from Friday to Monday. Friday, I started a Contemplative Cohort with people from all over the world. I also met with one of my directees who is finishing up the Spiritual Exercises. After that meeting, I made a handout for my Contemplative Cohort. (You can view it on my Body and Soul Companion blog if you want to join in the "November is for Noticing God in All Things" practice.) Then I picked up my guest (childhood and college friend) for the weekend. Thankfully, she went out with my basketball buddies on Friday night because I was still in quarantine. Then I got up the next morning and fixed her breakfast because my sweet George was so sick. We had no groceries, but John and Katherine went shopping for us and delivered them to our door! I had to isolate myself from my guest until an hour before the banquet for the OSU Hall of Fame and Trailblazer inductees. This all left me pretty wiped out. It is enough to deal with jetlag but COVID for both of us made having a guest difficult. I took her to the shuttle at 4:45 am on Monday morning and crashed afterward. (Note to self - give yourself a buffer when you come back - I could see us not doing the Gathering and Castlewellan and going directly home after the Camino, but we did not know about the Hall of Fame banquet until after we had already booked these tickets, and I am glad we did it all because it was so lovely to meet all the 24-7/Order of the Mustard Seed people. I am also so glad to see my friend, and it would have been rude not to have her stay with us!) 

I canceled my two Monday directees and rescheduled them for Thursday. I also did not make it to Silent Prayer and had a total rest day. (Except I had to write a recommendation letter that was due and couldn't get to until coming back from overseas.) I was much more refreshed for the two directees I had on Tuesday and the one I had this morning because of the rest. 

Now I am waiting on hearing back from my partner, Dan, about meeting to discuss our small group and another woman who is RIGHT in my target group for spiritual directees! She contacted me, out of the blue, when we arrived in Santiago. I am waiting to set up a time for a meeting with her and am very excited about this relationship. 

The sun is shining brilliantly. So, when it gets a little warmer (32 degrees right now), we will go walk in the sunshine and enjoy the fall leaves!

I think my time is up for this freewrite. TTFN!

Thursday, November 03, 2022

Camino to Castlewellan Freewrite

I have been journaling in a special book for the Camino to Castlewellan journey, and now I am back to my little cozy corner in the place I call "home"! I loved our journey of 17 days. I have been journaling a lot about it because I don't want to forget everything I learned.

I am bleary-eyed and forced myself back to sleep three times last night. I fell asleep at 7:30 pm. Then I woke up again at 9 pm, 11 pm, 2 am, etc. Then I finally allowed myself to get up at 5 am. I made it to the 2nd Prayer Watch of the Order of the Mustard Seed at 5:30 am. I loved it, and I will probably go to the 8:30 am Pacific Coast one too. I will probably go to Silent Prayer also. I want to get back into a regular schedule, and this is the way to do that.

Overall, the trip was fantastic. There was one night when I lost it, our first night in Santiago, but John and Katherine, and George were so kind to me. I have never lost it in front of them, and the emotions of returning to Santiago after 40 years and the perceived expectations with a group of that size were a little overwhelming for me. John said that he was convinced that there was enemy involvement in even trying to get there. I have to agree. I am so grateful for Aisha and John and Katherine and George who really picked up on things and prayed into them. I am glad I did not walk the Camino alone. I am glad that the people who asked to go on the trip did come because John and Katherine were more of our pace and positivity. I loved how encouraging they were. It was so good. I am so grateful they decided to come along for the ride. It was not the trip I dreamed of when I invited Elizabeth and Stacy and Eunice. I am glad we walked our own Camino. I am glad I am not alone. I am never alone with you Lord. Never alone. I learned about the importance of community on this trip. I learned the importance of choosing your companions wisely. I learned that the last time I was here, I was totally, unequivocally ALONE. Ron was so sweet to say that he had no idea the abuse I suffered, and he wished he would have known. I did feel utterly ALONE, but this time I was not alone. "We walked in love with the wind on our wings/Covered the earth with the songs we'd sing/the miles flew by." Thank you, God, for the miles flying by in every way. 

24-7 Gathering was overwhelming. I liked most of the talks. I was too exhausted to go to one of them, and that is when people tell you how much you "missed" by not going. Why do people do that? How do they know what I would have missed or not missed? I am different, and I have never been a BIG, MASSIVE group person. I like more intimate, smaller gatherings of people. The Castlewellan retreat was much better for me, but even then, George and I felt we wanted to get out and experience the beauty all around us and journal in silence and solitude. 

My timer never went off. So, this was longer than a fifteen-minute freewrite. BYE!

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 ...