Preparing for Advent


It’s been quite a while since I have heard from any of you. Where are you? I dusted off our LIONESS book and paged through to the end this morning. I still maintain it’s worth the read, but it feels like we’ve lost some momentum and need to turn our minds and hearts and especially our souls toward Advent and the end of this calendar year. Finishing our current book is up to you, sending any thoughts on the book to my email or to the comment section here is UP TO YOU. It’s officially time to move on.

Thanksgiving is early this year, so we can enjoy this week and still have one full work week before Advent officially begins on December 2. I would like to walk through Advent with you this year, here in this space, but I need to know whether or not you all are alive before we begin.

So if you answer these questions in the comments section, your name goes in the hat for my Christmas drawing. I just might allow you to enter each and every time you comment here through the month of December! Yes! Why don’t we do that, that sounds like fun.

Okay, here we go.

1. Where do you go when you want to be quiet and alone?

2. What time of day do you go there?

3. What’s your favorite item on the Thanksgiving menu?

4. Do you order coffee, hot tea, hot chocolate or none of the above?

5. Have you found me on Pinterest yet?

Thinking about all of you this afternoon and wondering where you are…..

First of November….Let Me Hear You Roar!

Good morning.

How is everyone? I’m excited to be entering the last two months of the year, lots of projects yet to do before Christmas. Also looking forward to connecting with two of you over the Christmas break.

Philip is currently traveling, I’m managing the home front. We had a GREAT basketball tournament last weekend, so very fun to see my boys in that context. No longer boys, now young men starting to make their unique marks on the world.

Just writing to remind you this morning that there is NOTHING MORE IMPORTANT than sitting at God’s feet. Train yourself to do it. Make the time. No excuses. Seek the solitude. Find the silence. We are fed there, He leads us to Living Water. We find warmth there, and rest. We also play and romp there, we try out our skills, we learn our name. We practice roaring. He gives us time, He reminds us that we have all the time we will ever need on this earth. And He gives us strength, God strength, to do the work He is asking us to do. He instructs us in how to enter stealthily into the world around us, how to BE the Kingdom in the midst of hurt and suffering. Don’t get lost in books. Don’t fall prey to your screens. Walk into the world around you and give us everything you have, we need you.

Everybody gets to play!

Hey there,

Big week in our city, my oldest two are playing in a basketball tournament against teams from all over Central America. Mom was SUPER proud last night when we were TWO of the starting FIVE. But I’m always a bit sad at the games as well, when I watch the guys who suit up and warm up and never get to play. Coach doesn’t call them in, so they sit and watch the game, but don’t get to participate. It always makes me sad.

I was thinking about that this morning while washing dishes, and wanted to remind you of this precious Kingdom truth – WE ALL GET TO PLAY.

We’re expected to play, the Kingdom needs us to play. We’re not supposed to sit and watch, we’re supposed to PARTICIPATE.

Thinking about all of you today as I enjoy my hot coffee on a rainy afternoon.

The Kingdom needs your strength…..

Good morning lionesses!

Time to wake up and roar a little bit. Nine weeks until Christmas, can we finish this book by then?

I’ve been traveling – first a trip to the states for our 25th Wheaton College Homecoming weekend, then a trip to the beach for an extended weekend, and now home. Always great to be home. I returned with fresh energy for the last weeks of 2012. I’m not where I wanted to be in my yearly goals, so I’ve done some revision and set my mind to accomplishing SOMETHING before we bid goodbye to this year.

I had a delightful breakfast with Gladys by the way, wish I could have seen each and every one of you. Let’s try to make some face time happen in 2013!

So let’s try and pick up the pace with this book, can everyone read up to the start of chapter 6 by early next week? I’d like to start the new year with a new book, so we need to finish this one first.

Chapters 4 and 5 challenge us to think about strength. Physical strength. Spiritual strength. Emotional strength. Relational strength. These are cultural buzz words that need to viewed through a God filter. God often flips the equations, He speaks openly of weakness, He often seems quite unimpressed with power and might. So be careful. All of life begins with a bended knee, in quiet humility. Whatever strength or gift we bring to Kingdom life, we receive from Him. God is center.

As I reread these chapters, I was reminded that lionesses are designed to be strong. Their bodies are sleek and muscular, they embody a strength that is worthy of our reflection. They live out their strength, they give it to their children, to the pride. They pour it out.

We are designed to use our gifts, to live them out. The Kingdom needs the strengths that you were given – use them!

Interesting quote from the book Eighth Day of Creation by Elizabeth O’Connor.

To make growth and self-actualization possible, it is necessary to understand that capacities, organs and organ systems press to function and express themselvs and to be used and exercised, and that such use is satisfying and disuse irritating. The muscular person likes to use his muscles, indeed, has to use them in order to “feel good” and to achieve the subjective feeling of harmonious, successful, uninhibited functioning ( spontaneity ) which is so important an aspect of good growth and psychological health. So also for intelligence, for the uterus, the eyes, the capacity to love. Capacities clamor to be used and cease their clamor only when they are well used. That is, capacities are also needs. Not only is it fun to use our capacities, but it is also necessary for growth. The unused skill or capacity or organ can become a disease center or else atrophy or disappear, thus diminishing the person. Maslow as quoted in the above book.

Use it or lose it.

Practice roaring and you’ll get better at it.

Jump in there.

Give us your strength.

A new week!

Good morning lionesses.

How is this week going for everyone? We’re in the time of birthdays and basketball and cross country and renewing our residency and board meetings and project proposals and the list goes on and on and on. I continue to struggle with managing my life vs. living my life.

I’ve been rereading our book alongside all of you. I like it. It’s one woman’s platform, her way of thinking. She’s presenting a spiritual metaphor that is/was significant to her, and she’s encouraging us to think about it.

I like thinking about being a lioness, rarely do I actually see myself that way. It made me laugh out loud this morning as I watched a cat stalking a bird through the elephant ears off my back porch. This tiny stray cat is perhaps a bit more indicative of my style, but I’m praying we will learn something here. Read on and keep your thoughts coming.

I am a reader of books as you know. There are books and then there are BOOKS. There are authors and then there are AUTHORS. We’re going to experience both. You met one of my BOOKS and AUTHORS when you read Life of the Beloved. Henri is on a completely different level then most books you will find at any bookstore. Henri’s books you return to, you work your way through again, and you are always impacted in new and different ways. Some authors you enjoy the way you do a cup of coffee on a busy day, others you WALK WITH, they take you places and you find yourself thinking and wondering and changing as a result of what they are saying.

I’ve been working my way through a book entitled The Only Necessary Thing by Henri. It’s a compilation of his writings, grouped by theme. I just finished rereading many different thoughts on being the Beloved, and of course, it made me think of my lionesses.

This is Henri speaking to us this morning.

I very much believe that the core moment of Jesus’ public life was the baptism in the Jordan, when Jesus heard the affirmation, “You are my beloved on whom my favor rests.” That is the core experience of Jesus. He is reminded in a deep, deep way of who he is. The temptations in the desert are temptations to move him away from that spiritual identity. He was tempted to believe he was someone else:

You are the one who can turn stone into bread.

You are the one who can jump from the temple.

You are the one who can make others bow to your power.

Jesus said, “No, no, no. I am the Beloved from God.” I think his whole life is continually claiming that identity in the midst of everything…..Prayer, then, is listening to that voice – to the One who calls you the Beloved. It is to constantly go back to the truth of who we are and claim it for ourselves.

I’m not what I do.

I’m not what people say about me.

I’m not what I have.

Although there is nothing wrong with success, there is nothing wrong with popularity, there is nothing wrong with being powerful, finally my spiritual identity is not rooted in the world, the things the world gives me. My life is rooted in my spiritual identity. Whatever we do, we have to go back regularly to that place of core identity. Henri Nouwen, The One Necessary Thing, page 67.

Many of you are writing and sharing “core identity” experiences. You are moving out of the shallows in ¬†your life and into the deeper waters. This is a good thing my dears, but it is terribly frightening, is it not? If I am not what I do, if I am not what people say about me, if I am not what I have, THEN WHO AM I???

Learning how to swim in the deeper waters is not easy, stay the course. Write. Listen. Spend time in solitude and silence. Walk. Bake. Paint. Create.

Stay the course.

Find Your Metaphors

Good morning lionesses!

How fun to actually write that word here in this space. I’ve been referring to you as lionesses in my notes and journals and thoughts, and now we’ve officially landed together in the midst of this metaphor.

The word metaphor is rooted in “transfer” and “bringing to bear”, it is the “carrying over” of significance from one word to another. In this case, emerging adult women become lionesses.

Metaphors are fragile at best. I would hardly wish that you begin to stalk antelopes and rip away at their flesh, but there is much in God’s creation that can teach and shape and mold us. He beckons us to the wilds to learn about Him for He is EVERYWHERE.

This book stirred me, as I hope it stirs you. I don’t agree with everything, and you probably won’t either, but this is the metaphor that brought us together. I honestly would not have initiated this little group had it not been for this book, so we will allow this nudge to be what it is, a gift from God.

Find your metaphors. Seek the images and experiences that bring God to bear in your present tense life.

If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has ever known. Matthew Arnold.

Love that quote from the beginning of Chapter Two.

May your strength and life and beauty continue to awaken.

It is time.

p.s. Sounds like this is a little experiment as well. Do we like Kindle formats or the real pages in our hand? Vamos a ver.

Gracias Jorge!

Wow. So grateful this morning for people who know how to work with computers and websites and blogs!!! We finally have our comments appearing with the posts, so we can more easily follow the group conversation. Gracias Jorge!

Let me know if you have a copy of the book yet. If you’re enjoying it, read away! I will never be one to hold you back from reading a book that you are enjoying. If you haven’t started yet, let’s try to be finished with Chapter Two by end of this week.

More to come tomorrow.

A Weekend Blessing

Hey there.

I’m off this afternoon with two teenage young men who want to SURF. School’s out at noon today, so the begging and pleading began early in the week for a trip to the water, and can I bring a friend? My second son is off at 4am tomorrow for a belated birthday birding trip, and my youngest is off to bowl with friends tonight.

It’s the weekend!!!

If you haven’t found our new book yet, try to find a copy and get started this weekend. I leave you with yet another blessing from one of my early morning reads.

Stretching out my hand over you this day and blessing you in the name of the One who is looking for us.

Know that the God who calls you

will stir up courage within you,

will accompany you in your waking,

will sustain you in your seeing.

From In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson

Time to Wake Up

She leaned across the table after speaking to me for a full ten minutes in the fastest Spanish I had ever heard, all with the full expectation that I was understanding every single word of her little speech, and with bright eyes flashing, she said – Wake. Up. Which in that moment of language school in Guatemala oh so many years ago, was God’s way of saying to me, time to engage.

Chapter One is one woman’s story of her personal awakening. She is inviting us to think with her on what it means to be a lioness, but deeper still, what it means to wake up.

At different times in my life, I’ve been asked, yet again, to awaken. Our world pulls us toward slumber and boredom, but God is active and present tense.

Start thinking about lionesses, watch a few documentaries on them. I just watched African Cats with Jadmin – fascinating!

Start thinking about times when God has leaned across the table, looked you in the eyes, and asked you to wake…..up.

I think it’s time.