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Letting Go

September 5, 2014

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I am fairly certain that the two most powerful words in the English language are, “Me, too.”

Yesterday, I told you of my longing for an autumn version of Lent. I told you about how I needed there to be another time of the year when my heart was turned toward surrender.

Turns out that I am not the only one to have ever felt that way.

This is the Jewish month of Elul which is the last month of the Jewish year. For the last month of their year, the Jewish people focus on repentance. They look for places in themselves that are dying or leading toward death. Each of these tender places is held until Rosh Hashanah, or New Year’s. On Rosh Hashanah, the Jews celebrate when God created the world and they attempt to enter a new year with a fresh, clean slate. Ten days after Rosh Hashanah is Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement when the sins of the people are taken away.

From now until Rosh Hashanah, which begins at sunset on September 24th this year I want to challenge you to turn your heart towards repentance as well.

Let’s look, with gentleness, towards the places in us that may be letting go…turning yellow, orange, or crimson.

When it is time, let’s release them with grace as they dance on the wind of change.

And when the day arrives, let’s celebrate the world made new again!

I need another Lent

September 4, 2014

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“There needs to be another Lent,” I complained to my husband just the other day. “Fall feels like just the right time to start to wonder about what places in me need to die.”

When the kids go back to school and red delicious apples are juicy, I find myself aching for fall. I long for brightly colored leaves to drift in the wind. I crave pumpkin flavored coffee, cakes, and scented candles. I look forward to cool breezes through open windows, scarecrows in yards, and choosing an outfit based on boots and scarves.

There is a beauty in fall that exists

to surrender,

to let go,

to die with brilliance.


And when the earth is caught in this parade of spectacular death, I find myself wondering how to join in. NO, I’m not suicidal. I mean spiritual death, symbolic death. What parts of myself need to die? Where is God calling me to make room for the new life of Advent?

Liturgy is such a gift to me in most seasons. But fall doesn’t feel like ordinary times to me, as the liturgical calendar suggests. It is not a time to just keep pushing on with the vigor of summer days; it is time to submit to the coming winter. It is a time to yield. There is still work to be done in fall but it the work of ending well so that winter rest is timely.

My heart needs another Lent. It needs another season of submission and release and surrender.

A Prayer for Beginning School

August 26, 2014

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Yesterday, like so many other parents, I sent my kids back to another school year. It was a rush of bus schedules, buying paper, pens, pencils, and binders, taking pictures, seeing friends again, and signing All. Of. Those. Forms. Whew!First day giggles

This morning, all went a little smoother. The supplies were already at school and pictures didn’t need to be repeated. The bus was almost on time and everyone knew where their classroom was. I felt my soul take a deep breath and relish the beauty of routine restored.

When the bus had pulled away and I had folded a load of laundry, I set out to run. I am listening to Brennan Manning’s “Ragamuffin Gospel” lately as I run. Today’s chapter began with the parable of the talents. The words were so rich as I considered a coming school year and what I hope for my children. Here is what I prayed as I ran and what I will continue to pray.

God, I released them again. I sent them off to live in other’s care for hours of the day. I trusted them to safety others will have to create. And my heart longs to pray for safety.

I want their bodies and their hearts and their minds and their souls to be protected.

I want them to come home to me whole and safe at the end of each day. With all that is going on in the world and this country, safety seems like a good thing to ask for.

I want them to follow rules and make good choices.

I want them to do the work they are given with excellence and receive good grades.

I want them to earn citizenship awards. I want them to be well-liked by teachers and peers.

I want them to be saved from heartache and rejection. I want them to be safe.

And yet, Jesus tells us a story about servants and taking risks. He praises the biggest risks and throws out the one who chose safety. Jesus praises the one who dared to gamble with your money! WHAT? You want us to gamble?

Teach me to trust your love for me enough to risk stepping outside the box and coloring outside the lines. Teach me to trust that you love my being without my performance. And as you teach me to trust you, will you help me to teach them?

Will you fill their  hearts with certainty for my love and their daddy’s love and Your love?

Will you assure them that they are loved enough to gamble and maybe even fail?

Will you pour such love into them that they will risk to love the unlovable?

Will you claim their hearts so completely that they will chance to develop the voices you gave them? Voices that might be different and challenging?

Will you call out to them from a burning bush in their own school yard with a dream for redemption? May they turn aside to see such a thing.


The Spirituality of Rest

August 11, 2014

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I was reminded this past month that there is a spirituality in resting. Some of the spirituality of resting is in knowing your own limits. There is wisdom in knowing that you are tired and not at your best. There is wisdom in choosing to stop when you are burned out. There is wisdom in withdrawing from the public eye and engaging only with those who are closest to you. Yes, there is spirituality in this wisdom.

But then, what do you do with the knowledge that you need rest? Its one thing to know that you are weary; it is another altogether to handle that weariness wisely.

What do you do when you need to rest?

Truth be told, I sometimes take a break from some work in order to finally get to the other work that I have been neglecting. That’s not really rest. If I take a day off from work in order to be at home but spend the whole day cleaning out closets and scrubbing floors, have I really rested? If I work from home one day in order to be present to my kids but spend the entire day with my nose in my computer, is that really rest? No. Its not.

How do we rest?

First, I am reminded of the rhythm in Genesis 1: God worked six days and rested on the seventh. God did not work six days at this job and then worked the seventh on another job. God did not work six days and go to the grocery store on the seventh. God rested. All striving ceased for that day. No to-do lists. No productivity charts. No tasks. Just stop. And rest.

Second, resting looks different for different people. Some people rest by laying around and watching movies or reading books all day. Some people rest by creating art work or planting in the garden. Some people rest over a cup of coffee with friends or lingering over a fantastic dinner. The point to resting is to “re-create”.

Third, resting is play. The entire purpose for play is to experiment and find joy. That is rest.

When will you rest this week?

How will you rest this week?

While I am Away

July 8, 2014

This week my writing energy is turned elsewhere as I craft an e-book for the website.

In two weeks, I leave for a vacation with my family.

Please be patient with me! I will be back to a more regular blogging schedule in August.

A Prayer for Freedom

July 3, 2014

Creator God,

You established this idea of freedom. It was your creation to begin with. Today, this nation celebrates a hard-won battle for independence. We will eat hamburgers, watermelon, and ice cream. We will splash in swimming pools and laugh with family. We will watch the night skies fill with fireworks.


And our hearts will feel joy and connection with those around us.

White fireworks

But, I wonder if You meant for freedom to be about more than independence…

I wonder if You set us free for dependence’s sake…

I wonder if you set us free for You and not from You… 

I wonder if You set us free for more than freedom’s sake…

I wonder if You celebrate our freedom with fireworks or tears?

Playing with Prayer: Color

June 30, 2014

Today’s invitation to playing with prayer is brought to you by the idea and love of COLOR!

  1. The first invitation is to grab some sidewalk chalk and just color! You are not seeking to create a work of art here, you are simply allowing color to express the state of your soul. So, as you sit on your hot sidewalk, take a few deep breaths and ask God to be with you. Then, choose whatever color you feel drawn to. Don’t over think it! Create! Play! Enjoy!
  2. The second invitation has two variations. You can either, plant some colorful flowers that you enjoy–in a pot, a window box, or a flower bed. Don’t get dragged down into specifics about growth rate and successful flowering. Just choose the ones that bring a sense of joy to you. OR, go pick some wildflowers and leave a bouquet somewhere you can enjoy it often. Whenever you notice these bright spots of color, invite yourself to notice and savor the beauty. It is a gift from God!



Playing with Prayer

June 26, 2014

Summer seems like a good time to let our hair down, relax a bit, and play. I want to encourage you to let your spiritual practices out for some fresh air this summer as well. Today we will cover two possibilities of ways to play with prayer in the summer time. There will be more in the days to come…


  1. Get some bubbles. Yes, you heard correctly. Bubbles. I get them at the dollar store but I hear that you can even make your solution as well. Pinterest is the place to check for a recipe.  Either way, get some bubbles and get a wand to blow them with. As you blow each bubble, imagine that each contains a prayer need. Watch it float away or pop. Trust that God has that one and move on to the next. This is a great way to get kids to play at prayer with you.



2. If your summer vacation takes you anywhere near water, there are lots of ways to play at prayer. First, simply notice how the water is always moving. Imagine placing your prayer concerns in that water and feel the current carry it away from you. You can also challenge your kids to build creatures in the sand with you instead of just building castles. Ask them to create a new animal there and talk about how amazingly creative God is!

Sand Dreams

A Mirror

June 24, 2014

One of my favorite things about the work that I do is learning new things alongside directees. At the beginning of the year, 2 directees both asked me to learn more about the Enneagram with them. I was honored to do so! While I am by no means any kind of expert in the field, I do love to learn new ways to map the spiritual journey and the Enneagram is a rich resource. So, I dived in.

The Enneagram is an ancient tool that Richard Rohr dates back to the desert fathers of the fourth century. The really, really basic idea is that there are 9 root sins that plague humanity.  Each of the nine types, denoted by numbers, are more susceptible to one of these sins. The root sins of the Enneagram are the 7 deadly sins plus 2 more that were edited from the canonized list.

The trouble with things like the Enneagram is that the best way to learn how it really works is to apply it to yourself. I am a 9. Nines are peacemakers, mediators, and accommodators. Nines see all sides of an issue at hand and are deeply empathetic. Those are things that I really like about being a nine. But…like all strengths, there are shadows to consider. In order to be a peacemaker, nines are also procrastinators and avoiders. Nines resist being drawn into conflict and will stall in taking a stand for as long as possible plus a little while longer.  They will only make a stand or take a side when the threat is dire.

Our church family is currently participating in a formal, church-wide discussion of the following question:

Based on our study of Scripture, how will women be allowed to use their gifts?

In our corner of religious tradition, women are generally not allowed to speak in public assemblies nor are they in formal leadership. We are not an ordaining tradition so ordination isn’t part of the conversation but all of the same ideas are being considered. I have been a part of this tradition for all of my life. And yet, I experienced a call to vocational ministry. These two things don’t compute for some. They are oil and water. But, they are both my story.

This conversation in our church family has been personally challenging.  I find myself as a poster child for why we have to talk about this. People who fall on both sides of the issue point to me as an example. The only way I know to describe how this feels is to compare it to something else.

When you stand in the checkout line at Wal-Mart and see the racks lined with tabloids, do you find yourself unable to look away? The train wrecks of people’s lives are hard to ignore. And yet, those are real people. While many of the events “documented” might be fiction, the people are real. They have parents, they have friends and bosses. They might have spouses and children. They are real people who eat every day and sleep at night. And yet, we ogle those lives. We can’t help but look into their space with zoom lenses and judge.

For me, this conversation in our church has left me feeling like the object of a tabloid story. See, coming to grips with my own sense of calling has been 20 years of hard soul-work. I didn’t come to this conclusion lightly or easily. I fought this calling with every fiber of my being for years. Coming to terms with a calling that would certainly, someday, place me in this kind of position was and is REALLY. HARD. WORK. The soul-work was about trusting God for this very day that I could stand firm in the calling of ministry when others, whom I love, would take a stand against it. The soul-work was about naming the passion that burns in my heart for the word of God. The soul-work was about seeing myself as truly called, even as a female. I had never seen a woman do this kind of work and I wasn’t sure that God meant for women, especially me to  do ministry work. The soul-work was about asking God to heal the wounds in my heart inflicted because I am female and assumed God loved me less.

But now, the tabloid version is all people see. They zoom their lens onto the part that supports their own feelings about a policy and judge.

The Enneagram has become a mirror for me to better understand my behavior in this conversation. As a nine, the limelight is excruciating for me. I don’t take sides easily and I sure don’t seek to become a lightning rod. I prefer for the world to roll on without conflict but if conflict must happen, I would just rather avoid it altogether. Instead, I find myself front and center with nowhere to hide.

There are some great nines in history. Abraham Lincoln was a nine. Ronald Reagan was also a nine. Plenty of nines have learned to embrace the shadow of avoidance in order to offer wise peace. They take their time to understand both sides of an issue in order to broker a true peace that invites both sides closer to the middle by understanding the other side. That is the work of a redeemed, transformed into the image of Christ nine!

I hope to learn to stand in front of this mirror with eyes wide open. I hope to stand firmly in the calling that is from God, and not myself. I hope to be bold and timely in this stance. I hope to tell the story of the work that God has done in me with honesty and candor. I hope to resist the urge to hide behind my nine-ness and instead embrace the opportunity to be all of myself…the self that God knows and lovingly called into being. I hope at the end of this year to stand before this mirror of the Enneagram and see that God has been at work redeeming this nine.

The Spirituality of Play

June 19, 2014

We have a little dog who doesn’t know that the world isn’t about play. She is part Jack Russell terrier which means that she is super hyper, all the time. If you tied her to a sled, I am pretty sure she could pull four times her body weight by shear will power. But, she only weighs 12 pounds so we don’t know how to test that theory. She barks at the electric sweeper we use on the hardwood floors. She takes a toy outside with her whenever she needs to ‘use the facilities’. We have a nightly ritual that is affectionately known as “Crazy Dog”. In this game, all of the family is upstairs and the kids are usually in their beds when the dog suddenly spins a circle and then darts down the stairs. As she races back up, you are expected to be at the top of the stairs to clap your hands once, really loudly. Then she spins again and runs back down. She peels out on the wood floors of the first floor and flies back up the stairs. This game will continue for as long as you wait at the top to clap. If you choose to stop, she will simply chase her tail at top speeds. She lives to play.

She's a blur!

She’s a blur!

Play then rest

Play then rest








The beginning of summertime is always both glorious and difficult. After nine grueling months of homework, tests, and strict schedules, freedom can be a confounding thing. The first impulse my kids exhibit is to sit numbly in front of a TV. I only allow this to go on for about a weekend. Then, we begin the work of learning to play again. Yes, the work. It takes work to begin to remember how to play. My children resist at first.

“We have to play outside for a WHOLE hour?”

“I don’t know what to draw with sidewalk chalk!”

But slowly, surely it starts to come back to them: the beauty of time to follow their soul toward joy and beauty, the gift of learning about what you love, the freedom to move all day long.

Play!Batta, batta SWING!

Just a girl and her minion


When was the last time you, as an adult, played? When did you allow joy to lead your activity without worry for who was watching or a to-do list? When did you last run because it felt good to pump your legs? When did you draw or color for the beauty of chalk on your hands? When did you read a book you liked? God is in each of these things. When we are at play, we are nearest to our child-like selves. We lose our inhibitions and encounter the Kingdom with wide-eyed joy. Play today. Just for a minute…splash in some water sprinklers or toss around a baseball. Pick wildflowers. Chase butterflies. Play beach volleyball. Build a sandcastle. However you do it, play!

And look for God.    Oakley-Sunglasses-Clearance[1]

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