Freedom that enlarges or diminishes…..

Greetings.

Not exactly sure where we’re going with this space, with our books and conversations – it’s been a long time.

I recently read Chapter 10 again – Take a Scroll and Write on It. It’s quite fascinating to reflect on the enormous freedom we have to follow God or not.

Josiah had a choice, and so did Jehoiakim – both were presented scrolls. Both were free to decide what to do with what they knew.

We are free as well – free to pursue an enlarged life or a small one. There is a freedom that grows us, another that diminishes us – which one are you pursuing?

Six chapters yet to discuss – anyone out there? Anyone still around?

Finish this book?

Start a new one?

Close up shop for the winter?

Send your thoughts.

The ice axes in your life…..

What an interesting quote.

“A book must be like an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us.” Franz Kafka as quoted in Run with the Horses, Eugene Peterson.

Jeremiah had two ice axes – the one he read and the one he wrote.

What are you reading these days?

In recent days I’ve been talking about books with a variety of friends – the books I’m currently reading, the ones I have read, the ones yet to read – and let me just say, THEY ARE NOT ALL EQUAL.

Beware of fluff – I’m not sure how to spell it, but I refer to many books as “flew-flah”. People writing about thoughts and ideas from a short season of their life, but it becomes quite obvious they haven’t truly lived in those thoughts long enough for them to have deep flavor, sufficient strength. Some books are like a spiritual Trip Advisor – we read them to get a quick pulse on someone’s thinking, their comments – so we can bounce their opinions around with ours – but it is light fare, a spiritual spin.

Other books are like a long dinner in a roadside tavern – a hearty meal with a roaring fire. Friends who bring their library along when they write, who speak of God with both awe and intimacy, who leave us thinking, pondering, musing. They write because they have to, they give us their windows into the Kingdom, their thoughts are rich fare and worthy of our time.

This is not a slam against young writers, just a reminder that you need a wide variety of substantial spiritual thought beginning with the living Word of the Lord.

Eugene Peterson reminds us of what happened when Jeremiah immersed himself in the book of Deuteronomy.

Jeremiah acquired a memory.

Jeremiah developed a theology.

Jeremiah became responsible.

Are you actively allowing the Word and the writings of saints to break the frozen seas of your heart?

If not, why not?

Onward my friends, the world is not well, the Kingdom comes.

New Every Morning

That is the source of Jeremiah’s living persistence, his creative constancy. He was up before the sun, listening to God’s word. Rising early, he was quiet and attentive before his Lord. Long before the yelling started, the mocking, the complaining, there was this centering, discovering, exploring time with God.

“A very original man,” says Garry Wills, “must shape his life, make a schedule that allows him to reflect, and study, and create.”

…..thoughts from Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses, Chapter 9

Heave ho, it’s off to work we go.

What is your work? What are you holding in your hands that is needed in the Kingdom? Are you mastering your craft? Learning the twists and turns of your vocation?

This process will require persistence to be sure, but don’t miss the solid teaching of Chapter 9 – persist in your time with the Lord, give Him the first space. Don’t whine about whether or not you’re a morning person. To be sure, some people find this canvas at the noon hour or in the evening, but most spiritual writers would say that first light is worthy of your consideration, so lean into it and persist in finding this sacred space.

This week we turn to Chapter 10.

If you haven’t sent in an update in a few months, please do. Please do.

Ciao!

p.s. I forgot to post this, and in reading it again after my shower, the phrase “exploring time with God” came to the forefront. This is so important – get up, go on a hike, and explore with Him. He wants to be with you, walk with you, listen to you and share silence with you.

Persistence!

What a great word to consider this week.

To persist.

1. to continue steadfastly or firmly in some state, purpose, course of action, or the like, especially in spite of opposition.

2. to last or endure tenaciously.

3. to be insistent in a statement, request, question.

Children help us better understand this word – they persist in their questions, in their play, in their insistence that we stop and listen.

This is the long obedience in the same direction. It is dogged, resolute. It has staying power.

May the capacity for faithfulness grow within us.

See your faith stretched across the years, expand it – let it grow.

Persist.

Our practices hold us…..

I did it.

I dove into the water today.

I reconnected with an old practice that never fails me – the cold water, the community, the movement, the clarity, the “refresh” that I desperately needed today and will need for this season of my life.

The water is a physical practice that “holds” me.

Early morning coffee on the porch is a spiritual practice that “holds” me.

I’m studying and musing on this concept of being “held”. I was reminded again today that we must be persistent in the development of our practices, so that we’ll have a keen sense of being “off” when we’re not doing them.

I haven’t been exercising on a regular basis so my body is sluggish and overweight.

I didn’t have enough quiet time this summer so my ability to see and listen are diminished.

But when we turn and head toward what holds us, we are welcomed home.

I was greeted by a multitude of friends today at the pool, it was comforting. I’ve been welcomed back to the porch as well, and it is settling well with my soul.

BUT I MISSED SO MUCH.

The pool has changed. New paint, different systems, many people I don’t know.

There were God moments, stories, open windows that I missed.

And so we begin again, yes?

What practices hold your life in safety?

Do tell, do tell.

Time to start climbing again…..

Well good morning!

It’s always a bit of a stretch to get up and get going after a long, lazy summer – but the mountains are calling us, and we must go.

We’re jumping into our book at Chapter 9 – Twenty Three Years…..Persistently.

In some ways I feel as if I’m waking up after a long respite at a wayside hotel. I’ve savored my moments this summer – delightful experiences with my husband, sons, family, friends.

Bike rides, the library, Good Will hunting, root beer floats.

Few alarm clocks, late night books, painting in my sista’s art studio.

Truly rejuvenating.

But now there is work to be done and I must get moving again.

You want to grow in virtue, to serve God, to love Christ? Well, you will grow in and attain to these things if you will make them a slow and sure, an utterly real, a mountain stepplod and ascent, willing to have to camp for weeks or months in spiritual desolation, darkenss and emptiness at different stages in your march and growth. All demand for constant light, for ever the best – the best to your own feeling, all attempt at eliminating or minimizing the cross and trial, is so much soft folly and puerile trifling. Baron Friedrich von Hugel

As you know, I place a high value on getting oriented spiritually. Where are you today? What is beckoning you in the coming months? What do you need to leave behind? What do you need to acquire? Who are you taking with you?

Vamos.

The first day of the first month…..

…..of the rest of my life.

Sound dramatic? Well it certainly feels that way.

I turned the calendars in my kitchen and laundry room this morning, and enjoyed a sweet pause as I did so.

This is probably the most significant blank canvas I have encountered in my adult life – so bear with me.

I wanted to write because I want you to know how invigorating it has been to approach a new season, and it has reminded me of the many thresholds facing many of you. Let’s go together! I’m here and I’m ready to go and I honestly feel like a little girl again – new desk, new spaces, new work.

Vamos!

Hoping to touch base with each of you this week, send your news when you can.

Con amor y amor.

Life, life and more life…..Send your summer updates!

Good morning dear friends.

This has been a summer full of life – so much winding and turning and swirling – it has been difficult to find my rhythm, and the summer is not over yet! It won’t be until September that life will settle into our “new normal”. This emptying of the nest is NOT for the faint of heart.

So I haven’t been faithful to send thoughts on Run with the Horses, but it’s such a good book, I just can’t walk away from it yet either. So stay with me, we’ll bring it around the corner in due time.

For today, I want to share a little list that landed in my space. It was posted by Joel Delgado, and you can read the full article here, but for today let me share his six thoughts on navigating change.

1. Where am I?

2. What do I need to leave behind?

3. Who do I want to be and how am I going to get there?

4. Where is there room for growth?

5. Who do I want by my side?

6. What are my motivations?

Love this. It built a frame around my chaos this week. Upheaval. Change. Treacherous waves. High winds. In the wildness of this life change, these are the questions worthy of consideration.

I need updates! I haven’t heard from very many of you this summer, would love a summer update and a forecast for your autumn months.

Con amor.

The Beauty of the Deep Clean

Good morning.

I have thought of you all so often in recent days. The parallels between housecleaning and our spiritual lives has been a bit overwhelming at times. We wipe down a surface here and there, we scrub a sink, but it is not the same as taking all the books off the shelf or pulling down the curtains – who knew what creatures lurk in the shadows or folds of the cloth?

Yikes.

Pashur lived at the surface, proclaiming peace and smiles. He kept life simple and pleasing, like dusting the visible surfaces as opposed to the top of the cabinet we cannot see or the back side which has been invisible for months.

Jeremiah looked for the deep clean.

The task of a prophet is not to smooth things over but to make things right. The function of religion is not to make people feel good but to make them good. Love? Yes, God loves us. But his love is passionate and seeks faithful, committed love in return. God does not want tame pets to fondle and feed; he wants mature, free people who will respond to him in authentic individuality. For that to happen there must be honesty and truth. The self must be toppled from its pedestal. There must be pure hearts and clear intelligence, confession of sin and commitment in faith. Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses

So these have been interesting days – again and again I’ve met my sin in that grime and dirt, the hidden corners, the places no one else can see. God has used these days to expose it, to bring the darkness out into the light.

In the beginning this house was overwhelming – projects everywhere and a limited amount of time to finish them before a summer flight to the states. Stacks of papers, stuffed shelves – everywhere dust and dirt and unorganized mess. This particular summer brought the additional dimension of closing shop on school and preparing for a very different September.

The blunt truth is that in the beginning it is not a fun process. It’s much easier to avoid conflict, to proclaim peace, to curl up and watch another episode on Netflix. Who really cares?

Well, God does. He cares about deep cleaning and hacking because in that muck there are treasures, and the very process of wiping away shelf after shelf of dust and grime, that process is important.

Somewhere along the way there is a tipping point, that moment when there are more clean areas than dirty ones – rejoicing! I got there last night, the house is finally taking on a new look, a bright and orderly look, and I can feel it in my soul.

So a few reminders as you consider spiritual housecleaning.

1. Don’t underestimate how your physical surrounding affect your soul. If you live in chaos, chaos spills into every area of your life. If you’re struggling spiritually, clean your house.

2. Make a list. The list was daunting, but it brought shape and texture to the task.

3. Start with easy jobs. One boy cleaned a drawer, another organized the games.

4. Create landing places. Everything that didn’t have a secure place moved to big tables – stacks and piles and decisions yet to be made.

5. Finish something, that first shelf looked fantastic.

6. Celebrate along the way. Stop and have a cup of coffee, take a long shower at the end of the day, play Words with Friends.

7. Toss, toss, toss. When in doubt, give it away for someone else to enjoy.

8. Leave open spaces as you go – shelves that aren’t filled, drawers half full.

9. Dream as you work – write down ideas that come, thoughts that are stirred up, shopping lists, etcetera.

10. Finish the job. About halfway through I had to rethink my original task list. It was too long and some things will wait until August, but then I determined to see the rest of the jobs through to the end so that I can get on that plane with a sense of deep satisfaction.

Okay, enough for now. I’ve had these thoughts floating in my head and wanted to write them down for you.

Go to it! Go deep, take the high trails.

Take a spin!

All truth must be experienced personally before it is complete, before it is authentic. This truth, that God shapes us, that we are shaped by God, was Jeremiah’s from the beginning. He had lived this in detail. He had been on that potter’s wheel from before his birth. No word would mean more to Jeremiah than this one, formed by God. Jeremiah experienced his life as the created work of God. He was not a random accumulation of cells; he was formed by loving, skilled hands. He wasn’t a potentiality of material just waiting for the lucky time when he could, by asserting his will, make something of his life; he was already made something by God, formed for his purposes.

The life of faith is very physical. Being a Christian is very much a matter of the flesh – of space and time and things. It means being thrown on the potter’s wheel and shaped, our entire selves, into something useful and beautiful. And when we are not useful or beautiful we are reshaped. Painful, but worth it. Eugene Peterson, Run with the Horses

I typed out the list this morning, we’re about to embark on our “summer deep cleaning projects” before we fly to family and friends and libraries and our bikes and corn on the cob and long days of sunshine. Work before play, ah yes.

It’s dirt and dust, grime and clutter. Keep. Toss. Give away.

Round and round we go as life shapes us.

Don’t be afraid to take a spin this summer!