Time to Grow Up – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Autumn 2015

Good morning!

I just pulled the curtains back on this Monday morning because despite being awake and working for a few hours, the sun is just now rising to greet me. I love Mondays and I love mornings.

I’ve pulled a book off my shelf in recent weeks – in part because I live with an adolescent, and in part because I’m going to oversee a homeschooling semester for a different adolescent in the new year, but also because it’s a great book about growing up – and even at fifty, I’m faced with the constant challenge of growing up and into established adulthood – what it means, why it’s important, etcetera.

Today I offer you a few paragraphs from the chapter “You Aren’t Going to Tell Me What to Do!” – which is a great chapter title no matter how you look at it.

“No” is the essential word in dealing with all matters of pseudo-spirituality. We need to acquire facility in saying no. We need to become connoisseurs of the negative.

But this is a particular kind of no, which is somewhat new to the adolescent. Previous to adolescence, the no consisted primarily of prohibitions. Prohibitions forbid certain behaviors because they are dangerous either to self or to society. They are the rules of the game of living. They make it possible to stay alive in relative harmony with things and animals and people. They range all the way from small courtesies at meals (“Don’t talk with your mouth full”) to large matters of survival (“Thou shalt not kill”). Because children have little or no experience in the world, most of the negatives are prohibitions imposed in others. They don’t need to understand the reason for a prohibition, they just need to obey it. Asking “why” is dangerous for it dilutes and delays obedience – if children insist on understanding before obeying (“Don’t stand so close to that cliff!” “Don’t eat those berries!” “Don’t run in the street!”) they’re as good as dead. For the first years of a child’s life he or she is trained in blind obedience, unthinking obedience, unquestioning obedience.

But there comes a time when prohibitions need to develop into renunciations, when the no imposed from the outside needs to become the no embraced from the inside. Adolescence is the optimum time for this development.

This is the place, and time, to make a basic distinction between morality and spirituality in relation to the negative. In matters of morality, we are dealing mostly with prohibitions – the no comes from without; in matters of spirituality, we are dealing mostly with renunciations – the no comes from within.

Morality that does not become spirituality is mostly exterior, like cumbersome armor on the medieval knight. Morality that becomes spirituality is mostly interior, like lissome coordination and supple reflexes in an Olympic athlete. Moral prohibitions repeated and reinforced in adolescence and carried over into adulthood are heavy and restrictive and joyless; spiritual renunciations acquired in adolescence enable us to “lay aside every weight…and run with perseverance the race that is set before us” ( Hebrews 12 ). Prohibitions that ossify become a life sentence in a death cell. Prohibitions that develop into renunciations set us free for sacrificial love climaxed by resurrection.

This all comes to sharp focus in Jesus’ words, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” ( Mark 8 )

I sometimes think of this as the key text for adolescence. This is a transitional text in the Gospel story even as adolescence is a transitional time in our stories. The first half of St. Mark’s Gospel can be seen as analogous to childhood. Jesus is primarily presented as doing things for us, telling us the way things are. He helps and heals, he directs and teaches. He is in the process of revealing God to us by restoring all things, making all things new. The consequences of his ministry are healthy bodies, sane minds, full stomachs, safe passage. Eventually, as the evidence accumulates all around, Peter realizes what has been going on and says, “You are the Christ!” He recognizes God revealed in Jesus. “This is God among us! The salvation of the world!”

It is at this point, but not a moment before, that Jesus introduces his great no, his call for renunciation: deny yourself; take up your cross daily. Note well: this is not a prohibition to be obeyed; it is a renunciation to be embraced. He does not chain the disciples up and march them to Jerusalem and the cross; he invites them to follow him in the renunciation that he embraces on the road to resurrection.

We are only capable of renouncing a false life when are familiar with a real life…..Renunciation clears out the clutter of self, of false spiritualities, of pseudo-life so that there is room in us for God and true spirituality and eternal life.

“No,” in this context, is a freedom word. It frees us from false promises, wrong roads, spurious attractions so that we are free for grace and mercy and love and God – a saved life, a whole life, an exuberant life.

From Eugene Peterson’s Like Dew Your Youth – Growing Up with Your Teenager

So much to think about here.

As I think about you all and your different stories, I often see your faith growing up and into something new in much the same way that a child becomes an adolescent and then an adult. Sometime we cling to the “prohibition” side of things, just trying to keep ourselves out of trouble, stay within the lines, away from the edge of the cliff, etcetera. But Eugene Peterson’s thoughts here are compelling. The call to grow up and learn the difference between prohibition and renunciation is a direct challenge to us – chewing the solid food of the faith, weaning off the dribbling milk.

God feels big and expansive here – calling us to independence and to our particular giftings, giving us room to sketch and dream and explore, allowing us to bring questions and concerns and doubts in the same way that my sons challenge my authority as they grow older. My mothering ceases to be a litany of prohibitions, and starts to be common explorations – I intercede on their behalf, lift their struggles to the heavens, come alongside them as they learn their true names. I want them to own their faith, be comfortable in their skin. I want God to invite them to mature and grow, so I must move to the background and let God step into the forefront.

This is God Almighty calling on us all to enlarge our lives on His behalf, this is not for the faint of heart. He’s asking us to set aside our petty notions and follow Him, and in order to do that, we’re going to need to grow up. All of us. It will never end, there is always something bright and new around the corner, even in old age.

This coming Sunday marks the beginning of Advent, the start of the Christian year. I’m going to post through December, then might take a pause until I return home in mid January.

I’m collecting photos for my office in the new year – please send me one!

Con amor.

Only You – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Autumn 2015

Good morning!

I’ve been scribbling little notes throughout the week, working my way around a thought that I don’t want to diminish because it is our ballast – it is this deep understanding of who you are – your unique gifts – your “you” that the world has been gifted with only once – right here, right now, in your terrain, in this moment of history.

God’s various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God’s Spirit. God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits…..

All these gifts have a common origin, but are handed out one by one by the one Spirit of God. He decides who gets what, and when. I Corinthians 12 – The Message

And in a different translation…

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.

So let me share a few thoughts this morning – these musings are not fully developed – but I’m sensing some urgency to send them out and let them land where they need to be.

1. To be sure, this is both amazing gift and deep responsibility – I am the Kingdom, you are the Kingdom, the Kingdom is in us. We are the scattered seed, the leaven, the light shining on a hill.

2. We each are walking around with a specific outpouring, a “mezcla” that the world has never seen before and will never see again.

3. While our families and friends and past experiences and temperaments and personalities all cast light on who we are, the deep who we are is settled with our Creator.

4. George MacDonald spoke to this in one of his sermons this week – this sense that there is no competition in the Kingdom, only holy ambition to live fully into the gifts we have been given.

5. Most of this is private, hidden work with God. He is the shaper of our souls, the artisan who is calling forth what He created – everything else is periphery – this is why it is critically important that we have time in His studio, listening as He encourages and chides us.

6. I often tell young parents that children learn to read BY READING – there is no substitute – if you want to develop as a reader, you have to READ. I think that truth applies here as well. We learn our gifts by using our gifts. If you want to shape your life, you invest it – you pour it out, you use it. Remember all our work with the Parable of the Talents? Burying gifts in the dirt for safekeeping is NOT an option.

7. Be careful of spiritual leaders that somehow leave you feeling that in order to succeed, you need to be like them. No. “Success” is being you – it is God’s mighty hand stretched over you, saying, “You are my beloved, on you my favor rests.” You need nothing more.

And so we go out into the world this week – a world aching in the midst of such pain and evil, a broken world. Fear is a dark shroud, we need not live in fear. Light always clears the darkness. We respond by loving our neighbor, by pouring out our gifts, by being present to the amazing life we have been given on this particular day.

Onward my friends.

Con amor.

Two Questions – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Autumn 2015

Greetings!

I’m currently rereading a number of my books. As many of you know, my books are one of my treasures, and it occurred to me recently that it might be beneficial to pass through some of them again. It is quite rare for me to read a book more than once, but I must admit, it has been a fascinating process. It’s interesting to see how much I’ve grown through the accumulation of all these words – and as I pass through many of them again, I’m learning from them in new and different ways because I have changed and grown and matured. And that’s the goal, is it not?

So in rereading Margaret Guenther’s classic work – Holy Listening, The Art of Spiritual Direction – I have been challenged again to see the vital role of spiritual friendship, and the importance of these two questions.

What do you want?

Where do you hurt?

One of the gifts of solitude and silence is allowing God to ask you these questions, and then knowing that He listens as you respond. I have found such healing in entering this tender territory with Him. He knows all things. He holds all things.

When we pay attention to our longing and allow questions about our longing to strip away the outer layers of self-definition, we are tapping in the deepest dynamic of the spiritual life. The stirring of spiritual desire indicates that God’s Spirit is already at work within us, drawing us to himself. We love God because he first loved us. We long for God because he first longed for us. We reach for God because he first reached for us. Nothing in the spiritual life originates with us. It all originates with God.

So it is that the spiritual life begins in the most likely place. It begins with the longing that stirs way down deep, underneath the noise, the activity, the drivenness of our life. But it is not always comfortable to acknowledge such longing, and the direction that such an admission takes us is different for all of us. Ruth Haley Barton, Sacred Rhythms

Climb the mountain friends – go up where the air is thin and you can see for miles.

Ask.

Seek.

Find.

Ah-men.

Time in the Motherhouse – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Autumn 2015

Greetings.

I want to write again about building your trellis and crafting an integrated life – a life where your spiritual journey and “everything else” become more fluid and spacious.  Once again we come up against time, and then not only our daily and weekly rhythms, but the monthly and yearly ones as well.

I came across this while reading Soul Custody by Stephen Smith – this idea of “time in the motherhouse” which was an essential rhythm in the life of Mother Teresa and her order which worked with dying, socially rejected, and marginalized people.

The Sisters shall spend one day in every week, one week in every month, one month in every year; one year in every six years in the motherhouse, wherein contemplation, and penance together with solitude she can gather in the spiritual strength, which she might have used up in the service of the poor. When these Sisters are at home, the others will take their place in the Mission field. Mother Teresa writing in Come Be My Light

To be honest, I found this compelling – I’ve found myself musing on it ever since I read it, and am actually actively working to see how to weave such rhythms into our work with children and families. At first glance it seems daunting, and of course most of us will never take a full year in six, but I am wondering what would happen if we were more intentional about this…..

Then, in a different book, a new edition of The Shaping of Things to Come by Michael Frost and Alan Hirsch, I came across this list written by Robert Banks in a different book entitled Redeeming the Routines.

He’s writing about the enormous gap between belief and everyday life and points out that this gap shows up in ten worrying ways.

1. Few of us apply or know how to apply our belief to our work, or lack of work.

2. We only make minimal connections between our faith and our spare time activities.

3. We have little sense of a Christian approach to regular activities like domestic chores.

4. Our everyday attitudes are partly shaped by the dominant values of our society.

5. Many of our spiritual difficulties stem from the daily pressure we experience ( lack of time, exhaustion, family pressures, etcetera ).

6. Our everyday concerns receive little attention in the church.

7. Only occasionally do professional theologians address routine activities.

8. When addressed, everyday issues tend to be approached too theoretically.

9. Only a minority of Christians read religious books or attend theological courses.

10. Most churchgoers reject the idea of a gap between their beliefs and their ways of life.

Hmmmmm.

This is what I’m thinking about this week. Crafting a life – and within that life, a robust soul that sees everything connected. A life that is spacious and free.

Companions, as we are in this work with you, we beg you, please don’t squander one bit of this marvelous life God has given us…..Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively! 2 Corinthians 6, The Message

So a new week and a new month call to us! Vamos.

Stay in touch, send updates when you can.

Con amor.

Building Your Trellis – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Autumn 2015

Hello!

After all these years, I still miss autumn days. I have found the rhythm of the rainy and dry seasons here, but there’s something about all those apples and pumpkins and falling leaves that resonates deep in  my soul.

I want to continue on with the thoughts I shared last week – time and fruit bearing and crafting a life. Last week I wrote this…..

We are fruit bearers, that is our job – so deepening and ripening needs to be at the forefront of our minds – we need to care about it and attend to the maturing process.

It’s quite interesting when the Bible offers this image of Vine and vineyard, of fruit and wine. The simple fact is that grapes do not grow along the ground, they are trellis plants – they need some type of structure to hold them, a frame that gives them room to stretch and expand.

Spiritual writers often speak of shaping a “rule of life”. When I hear that phrase, I think “trellis”. Margaret Guenther wrote an amazing book called Holy Listening, The Art of Spiritual Direction. It is a rich and full manual on growing up spiritually, but I thought her comments on working with people to craft a “trellis” or “rule of life” were worthy to share here this week.

Most people who come to us for direction value their time, protest vigorously that they do not have enough of it, and would probably deny they waste it. Yet the commandment to observe the Sabbath is routinely – even proudly – violated by many of us who are meticulous in our observance of the other nine. “Not wasting time” becomes an excuse for neglecting time for true rest and reflection, what the poet Lessing called “the creative pause”. Most important, we can use busyness and crowded schedules to hide from God. Even as we delude ourselves that we are being good stewards, we fill our days so tightly that we close him out. Our excessive busyness masks the sin of sloth…..People need a workable rule of life to bring proportion to their stewardship of time and energy.

I sometimes ask people to keep a careful record of their activities, hour by hour, for a day – and better still, for a week. This is analogous to the helpful practice of dieting for weight loss in which the dieter records each morsel of food taken in. In both cases there are surprises. The person who “eats nothing” discovers she has been eating all day, taking in a highly calorific mouthful here, a highly calorific mouthful there. The person who would like to pray but “has no time” may find that he is able to watch reruns of The Odd Couple and never misses Twin Peaks – or whatever the current media fad may be. But it is not fair of me to single out television, although its influence is insidious; late-twentieth-century citizens have almost unlimited opportunities for consumption, stimulation and empty activity.

At any rate, when the log of activity is examined, it will reveal soft places, waste and evasions. The directee is able to see time as a precious gift, to be used and structured. Then it is time to create a rule which takes into account the relationship to God, others and one’s deepest self. Areas of disproportion and hence potential sinfulness become apparent, so that the rule can serve as a reminder where caution is needed. Self-care is a holy obligation; yet a surprising number of people formulate a rule which stipulates how many minutes a day will be spent in prayer or how many times a week they will be present at the Eucharist, but ignore their dangerous addictions to food, alcohol, or nicotine. Finally there needs to be provision for sheer fun. It was a joyous insight when I realized that in Middle English “silly” meant “blessed”, cognate with the Modern German selig. So I find myself asking directees, “What have you put in this rule for fun? Where’s the blessed silliness in it?” The outward form of the rule is not important; it can be a terse outline of a few words, or it can run to several pages to be included in a journal. It is, after all, a quite disposable document, subject always to review and revision.

Okay, so let’s unpack this a little and let me offer up a few suggestions for building a trellis.

1. Luscious fruit and wooden sticks are not the same thing – the trellis serves the process of bearing fruit. I know way too many people who have rigid structure without life.

2. Yet grapevines need structure, something to wrap our little tendrils around and a frame that will stand firm in the rain and wind.

3. It’s always a worthwhile exercise to examine your frame – first to find the “soft places, waste and evasions”, and second to truly investigate what holds you and what does not. I know far too many people who have a frame, but it is does not give life. I think this is what Margaret means when she says – Then it is time to create a rule which takes into account the relationship to God, others and one’s deepest self.

4. Sometimes a renovation is in order. I’m currently working on my trellis – I found some dry rot, places where termites have hollowed out the wood – I realized I was in sore need of some fresh practices that would sustain new areas of growth.

5. And then of course, leaving time and space for joy. I’ve been working very hard in these days, and could use some “blessed silliness”.

And you?

Get out the hammer and nails and set to work dear friends. Craft a structure that will support a beautiful, fruit-bearing life.

Con amor – praying for you all this week.

All the time we need…..- Find Me Here Tuesdays – Autumn 2015

Time. If we’re going to talk about growing up in our faith, we’re going to have to address the issue of time. We’re going to have to sort and sift through our life and make room because the number of hours in the day is not going to change, we are going to have to change. In order to grow up and mature, we must attend to the critical needs of our heart and soul and soil. This is the private and hidden life of the saint – this is finding a quiet spot and shutting the door. It’s not at all glamorous, and in this era where everything shines and blasts from the public stage – this is turning and heading the other way – into the quiet, into solitude.

So let me share a few thoughts that I have come across in recent days.

When we read the lives of the saints, we are struck by a certain large leisure which went hand in hand with remarkable effectiveness. They were never hurried; they did comparatively few things, and these not necessarily striking or important; and they troubled very little about their influence. Yet they always seemed to hit the mark; their simplest actions had a distinction, an exquisiteness that suggest the artist. The reason is not so far to seek. Their sainthood lay in their habit of referring the smallest actions to God. They lived in God; they acted from a pure motive of love towards God. They were free from self-regard as from slavery to the good opinion of others. God saw and God rewarded; what else they did they need? They possessed God and possessed themselves in God. Hence the inalienable dignity of the meek, quiet figures that seem to produce such marvelous effect with such humble materials. Creative Prayer as quoted in Divine Hours

And a series of thoughts from our dear Oswald Chambers.

Prayer does not fit us for greater works; prayer is the greater work.

The great enemy to the Lord Jesus Christ in the present day is the conception of practical work that has not come from the New Testament, but from the systems of the world in which endless energy and activities are insisted upon, but no private life with God…..It is the innermost of the innermost that reveals the power of life…..The central thing about the kingdom of Jesus Christ is a personal relationship to Himself, not public usefulness to men…..You have no idea of where God is going to engineer your circumstances, no knowledge of what strain is going to be put on you either at home or abroad, and if you waste your time in over-active energies instead of getting into soak on the great fundamental truths of God’s Redemption, you will snap when the strain comes; but if this time of soaking before God is spent in getting rooted and grounded in God on the unpractical line; you will remain true to Him whatever happens.

One can reach heaven from any place on earth. Jan Richardson, In the Sanctuary of Women

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Reading recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity. God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12, The Message

Okay, let’s jump in here and think about this a bit. Time. We need to think about it as adults, we didn’t think about it as children – babies and toddlers aren’t aware of the passing of time, they live and move and breathe in a sensory world – from hunger and eating to watching and playing and then drifting to sleep. We don’t see babies with a watch on their arm or an alarm set on their phone. Children and adolescents start to feel the pull of time – they count birthdays and important milestones – graduations and applications and licenses and such. By the time we’re functioning adults, time has us – we feel it’s pull, so much to do, so little time to do it, so many people depending on us for something or expecting us to be someplace.

Midlife has been such an interesting passage for me – I definitively felt the “crest of the hill” and the “descent”. At first it scared me, now it’s shaping my days and forcing me to address this life I am living. Time in midlife has different dimensions – I see babies being born and it feels like SO LONG AGO. I watch my parents aging, and it feels a bit too close for comfort. Ah yes, time.

I think the only way we can address maturity and growth is through Scripture – John 15 is very clear about this. This is how my Father shows who he is – when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples…..You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil.

We are fruit bearers, that is our job – so deepening and ripening needs to be at the forefront of our minds – we need to care about it and attend to the maturing process.

Much to think about here, but so let me leave you this week with a few thoughts and challenges.

1. Ripe fruit depends quite a bit on the dirt, the quality of the soil. Only you can know your terrain – so finding time to be with Him gives you access to that knowing. God already knows you completely, when you come to Him, you come to your dirt and He teaches you who you are.

2. It’s not easy to daily find time with God, especially if it is not part of your daily routine. Create a place and time and then commit to going there at least 5 of 7 days a week from now until the start of Advent which is November 29 – six weeks is plenty of time to develop a rhythm. A bit of ritual and routine will help – a candle to light, a hot cup of joe, a spicy tea. Most people will tell you that mornings are best – I think that’s because once a day starts, it’s hard to pull back. It doesn’t matter – find a time and stick to it.

3. There is only spaciousness here. This is invitation and blessing and gift. This is not rules and regulations, this is relationship. Choose some metaphors and live within them. I remember when the boys and I were studying the Middle Ages one year, at some point during that time, I saw a castle in the countryside. It was raining and cold and most of the people were miserable. I climbed a winding stairwell and entered a room with a roaring fire and two chairs close to the warmth. I was immediately ushered into the presence of the King because I WAS HIS DAUGHTER. I found such comfort there – it is an image that I always return to when I’m cold and wet and miserable.

Time is rather elusive, but we have all the time we need, we have all the time there is. Our goal is to bear fruit ripened on the Vine, and that process takes time – so for what it is worth, let’s find the time this autumn.

Own Your Dirt – Find Me Here Tuesdays – Autumn 2015

Greetings from the land of spiritual retreat.

Today is our last day on the mountain in paradise – tomorrow morning early we are back to life and work. As many of you know, over the past decade, I’ve gone on spiritual retreat once a year with a dear soul friend – she invited me to it, I accepted, and now it has become part of my spiritual rhythm. For many reasons we “missed” a session in recent months, but this past weekend, we made space for it and as per His custom, God met each of us on the mountain. I’m going home tomorrow with a different perspective, I’ve listened and received counsel from Him, I’ve been disciplined in areas of disobedience. I’ve been reminded how critically important it is to pull back and retreat.

I’m currently rereading Eugene Peterson’s Under the Unpredictable Plant, and he speaks to the spiritual disciplines in his chapter “In the Belly of the Fish”. He first sketches the basic structure of Kingdom life – Lord’s Day Worship with Your Community, Daily Praying the Psalms, and Recollected Prayer through the hours of the day – Peterson argues these are essential for all of us, and must be the basic framework of our days. If you want to better understand that framework, I would encourage you to read the book. He then goes on to speak of fourteen associated acts or disciplines – reminding us that we need to be familiar with all of them and knowledgeable in how they function.

And then, he advises us to own our dirt – and here I want you to pay special attention.

I use the image of soil to represent the place in which I cultivate the life of prayer which then develops into my vocational spirituality. When analyzed, this soil is seen to comprise many elements: actual congregation, family background, personal education, individual temperament, regional climate, local politics, mass culture. The soil conditions in Vermont are different from those in Texas. Any attempt to grow crops that is not mindful of soil will not be successful.

Any attempt to cultivate a spirituality copied from something grown on someone else’s soil is as misguided as planting orange groves in Minnesota. Careful and detailed attention must be given to the conditions, inner and outer, historical and current, in which I, not you, exist. Nothing comes to grief more swiftly than an imitative spirituality that disregards conditions. Spirituality cannot be imposed, it must be grown. Prayer is not a scarecrow put together from old scraps of lumber and cast-off clothing and then pushed into the soil; it is seed that germinates in the soil, sensitive to everything that is there – nitrogen and potash, earthworms and potato bugs, rain and sun…..Everything is connected, proportions are important, size is critical…..Knowledge of the tools ( disciplines ) is necessary, but the knowledge will surely be destructive, if not incorporated into a practiced familiarity with the actual soil conditions and a studied reverence in the ways in which vegetables, fruits, souls and bodies actually grow. Eugene Peterson

So here’s his list.

Spiritual Reading

Spiritual Direction

Meditation

Confession

Bodily Exercise

Fasting

Sabbath Keeping

Dream Interpretation

Retreats

Pilgrimage

Tithing

Journaling

Sabbaticals

Small Groups

It’s an interesting list that he’s proposing. I’m thinking about it – seeing areas where I have a solid understanding of the tool, others I’ve never used, some I’m not sure that I ever will.

The thought I will leave you with is this – a soul grows if it is fed and cultivated, it requires discipline and care – it is always an organic process – close to the earth, coming forth from your particular terrain. Soul growth is always customized to the individual.

I learned that again this weekend. I hunkered down with my Father – watched His sunrises and sunsets over the mountains, took long naps under His watch, listened while He shaped and tended my heart. It is a private and personal process, completely available to you should you choose to climb the mountain.

Send your thoughts, and know that I am praying for you.

A little cafecito on the back porch to get us started…..Find Me Here Tuesdays – Autumn 2015

It seemed the right thing to do – I just brewed some fresh coffee, set out a tablecloth and came to the back porch to write this post which you will find tomorrow if you look – this porch is sacred space for me, and whatever small corner of the world we share via this little blog, it is sacred as well.

Many of you are new here, so I want to spend a little bit of time sketching for you why I come here and why you might be interested in coming and what I will expect and what you should expect.

At some point in my midlife journey I realized that I both needed and wanted to give back. As I reflected on the many women that came alongside me when I was single, when I had a classroom of my own for the very first time, when I was getting married, when I had little ones, when I was selling my house and moving to an island, I was deeply impacted by the presence of their lives in mine over those years. And as I thought about that company of women, I knew it was time to make sure I was doing the same for women younger than myself. Of course, most of the women I knew didn’t live in the same part of the world as I did, so I started writing here – and I opened up the door for women to exchange emails with me and to come visit if at all possible. So it began by wanting to give to younger generations in the same way that older generations had given to me, but it has become so much more. If somehow someone finds out about you all and they ask me about it, this is what I say.

You are LIFE to me – the fresh newness of finding a first job, giving an important speech, moving to a new city to be closer to a boyfriend – your lives as single women, your vocations – the marriages and babies – it is ALL life to me and it has an energy that keeps my spirits up as I start to “go down the backside of the hill” as my youngest son likes to remind me.

You are CHISPA – this is Spanish for spark and a call out to sweet Gladys. If you have landed here it is because we made a “click” somewhere and somehow – you spent time looking at my books, we cooked or baked together, you played with my children or I played with yours, we walked along the beach together, we stayed up late with the candles burning, we poured wine or shared coffee – somehow we made a connect. I saw your spark and wanted to call it forth.

You are seeking the KINGDOM – you have passions and desires, you know there is more than this world and you are stretching to embrace that, you are called and it shows. You are His beloved and on you His favor rests.

For me, it has always meant so much to be seen and known and welcomed – and that is what I want to extend to you – a safe place – a refuge you can carry around in your back pocket. Sometimes it is enough to know that there are doors that will always open to you – this is one of those doors.

So what am I expecting of you? Absolutely nothing – you don’t have to read these blogs or write me emails, you don’t have to do anything.

And what can you expect from me? I will write on Tuesdays – it keeps everyone current with me so that I don’t have to repeat myself in emails, and you can always find me if you want. I will also respond to your emails when you write – I’m coming out of a bit of a fog with that, so hopefully my responses will be within a few days. You can send me stories or specific prayer requests, you can ask me questions or let off steam – you can share a victory or set a burden down – I will pray for you.

And to wrap up this monologue, I do have one request – no pedestals please. Do not place me up on some platform, I might fall and get hurt. I am just like you. I am a fellow traveler, I’ve just covered more miles than you have – we are in this together.

Lately I’ve been reading some of George MacDonald’s sermons – he’s a fan favorite of so many writers, so I’m slowly working my way through his thoughts. This particular passage was in a sermon on Light, I leave you this week with his challenge.

Come to God, then, my brother, my sister, with all your desires and instincts, all your lofty ideals, all your longing for purity and unselfishness, all your yearning to love and be true, all your aspirations after self-forgetfulness and child-life in the breath of the Father; come to Him with all your weaknesses, all your shames, all your futilities; with all your helplessness over your own thoughts; with all your failure, yes, with the sick sense of having missed the tide of true affairs; come to Him with all your doubts, fears, dishonesties, meannesses, paltrinesses, misjudgments, wearinesses, disappointments, and stalenesses; be sure He will take you and all your miserable brood, whether of draggle-winged angels, or covert-seeking snakes, into His care, the angels for life, the snakes for death, and you for liberty in His limitless heart! For He is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. George MacDonald

Oh here we go my friends! Vamos!

Con amor until next Tuesday.

And now welcome to October! Find Me Here Tuesdays Start Next Week

Hey there friends!

September zoomed by and now here we are in October – I’m looking forward to being back in this space starting next week. I had hoped to have a beautiful new blog with a section for the Books that I’m Reading and another section with some essays that I’ve been writing for you, but alas, that has not happened YET. So bear with this humble corner, and know that I’m on the search for an amazing designer/web person that wants to come for a week and work on my projects in exchange for free lodging in our casita and meals from my kitchen – I’m all about bartering, vamos.

Soooooo, welcome welcome welcome – if you’re new here, I’m so glad you’re here. This space is where I land once a week so you can know what I’m thinking and musing on as our hours turn into days and weeks and months and seasons. You are welcome to leave comments, but for most of you, our correspondence is via email – now and again, you write and I write back. You send prayer requests or questions or updates, and I tuck them in and around my thoughts and prayers for you.

More to come soon, make sure you touch base next Tuesday!

Con amor,

J

Welcome to September – Find Me Here Tuesdays

Hey there friends,

What a great day to begin again in this space – September 1 – start of my autumn season – four months to go in our BIG YEAR.

So let’s gather a bit – when you have a chance – and as your summers are winding down – send me a little update – where have you been, where are you going – specific prayer requests for the coming season.

I came across this prayer in my Divine Hours reading this morning, and it settled my soul. It’s a deep breath prayer that I often return to at the start of a new season.

O Lord, my God, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; yet you have called me to stand in this house, and to serve at this work.

To you and to your service I devote myself, body, soul, and spirit.

Fill my memory with the record of your mighty works; enlighten my understanding with the light of your Holy Spirit; and may all the desires of my heart and will center in what you would have me to do.

Make me an instrument of your salvation for the people entrusted to my care, and grant that by my life and teaching I may set forth your true and living Word.

Be always with me in carrying out the duties of my faith.

In prayer, quicken my devotion; in praises, heighten my love and gratitude; in conversation, give me readiness of thought and expression; and grant that by the clearness and brightness of your holy Word, all the world may be drawn into your blessed kingdom.

All this I ask for the sake of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Looking forward to connecting in the coming days – autumn here we come!