My Journey

Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future."

Monday, February 3, 2020

Relating to another's struggles

Image result for purple stained glass windows
Photo from Devotions by Chris
I like books written in the first person.  It's like I'm getting to know someone; getting in on the dialogue in their mind.

As I'm starting to read Teresa of Avila's Interior Castle, I'm finding myself delighted and drawn to this writer.  She writes these words

"These interior matters are so obscure to the mind that anyone with as little learning as I will be sure to have to say many superfluous and even irrelevant things in order to say a single one that is to the point.  The reader must have patience with me, as I have with myself when writing about things of which I know nothing; for really I sometimes take up my paper, like a perfect fool, with no idea of what to say or how to begin.”

It’s interesting to read this and then know that myself and numerous other people have been blessed by this woman’s writing hundreds of years later.

I adore her.  I can relate to this woman.  How often do I feel this exact way?!

Saturday, February 1, 2020

That one didn’t work

It ends up I’m not going to be able to do that small group after all. The lady emailed me back that this group is for people in their 30s. I can understand why they would have groups for people in certain ages since you’re in the same season of life together. It does seem odd however, but they didn’t write this on their website advertisement about the group. Typically when a group is aimed toward a specific group of people they will come out and say that. This group was advertised with all the other groups and they all say the groups are for all ages in the church. Maybe it was one of those things where it just ended up that way and now they want to keep it that way. I think it was telling about myself and my own issues, that I felt hurt. It was kind of like a rejection on an emotional level. My head knew that it was totally OK that they had a group for just that age group, and my emotions felt like I was being told I couldn’t come because I’m too old. Perhaps that’s why this happened, so I could become aware of this brokenness inside me and let God work on healing me.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Small group

Graphic from FPC, Gardner, Kansas
I hunger for Christian community.

In recent years I've engaged in a few small groups through Faith church Covina but they were all term limited and not what I was really seeking.  they were all based on Christian books; they were good books but I long for more of a Bible fellowship. I want to find a small group of Christ followers to do life with.

I tried a new group this past Wednesday. It is through Humanity Church in Pomona. Logistically it is super good; it meets on Wednesdays at 7:30PM at the home of one of the members and it's only 2 miles from my job.  By starting at 7:30 & that close to my job I can always make it no matter what goes on at work, that's a huge plus.

I adored the pattern of the meeting:
  •  Check in - Every single person present shared what God had been saying to them during the past week, and their high point and low points from the week.                                            
  •  Praise time - I'm not yet sure what this will be.  I think that it may vary greatly, depending on who leads it. This time, very soft, almost indistinguishable background praise music was put on.  The facilitator said to think about an area in our lives where we aren't free and why.  She said to not say something like shopping, food, drugs but to look at the root - addiction.  To seek to identify some root causes blocking freedom in your life and to speak them out.  Then she said to seek words from God to speak to these things in your life and to speak those out. People's eyes were pretty much closed during this time and the atmosphere was very honest and real. People initially spoke aloud things like fear of not being good enough, inferiority, fear of the unknown, etc.  Then those same people later spoke to their own blockages, words that God had given them. I think everyone, except me, spoke during this time (there might have been one other person).  Although they are all believers, they are still strangers to me and this was way too much for me within minutes of meeting a group of people.  But I was OK with not talking and it wasn't too obvious because there were about 10 or 11 people there.               
  • Listening time - The idea here reminded me a bit of what I've read about early Quaker church gatherings. The group sat in silence waiting on God.  Allowing time for Him to speak to our hearts. Periodically people would speak aloud things that they felt God had given them to speak to the group or to individuals in the room.   The same person who'd facilitated the praise time opened up this time by briefly explaining. She explained that God might give you a mental picture, Bible verse, single word, or message for the group or individual and to go ahead and speak it out.  The pervasive feeling was that the Believers in the room were trying to hear from God and move in prophetic and word of wisdom gifts; and that the only way to be able to do this was to step out in faith and try it - that it was OK if you didn't do it "right" that we were all here together trying to move in God's Spirit.  I did note that some people seemed to talk a lot, I kind of wondered how they'd have time to hear from God.  Yet, they seemed excited and like this was something cool they wanted to do.  Nothing that I heard at any time was contrary to the Word.                                                                                                           
  •  Then they took about a 5 minute break.                                                                             
  •  When we came back together, we took turns, reading 5 verses each until a chapter in Matthew was read.  We then just discussed the chapter.  I greatly enjoyed this part.  People were taking turns saying things that verses in this chapter said to them.  Several people brought up other scripture passages as they made their points.  People shared incidents in their lives that related to things they were saying about the passage.  It was in this part of the meeting that I shared some.     
  • One person prayed aloud a prayer to close out our time together.                                                
  •  They took volunteers to lead the 1st part, Bible time, and bring a snack for this next week.
I've always wanted to be involved in a group where everyone took turns leading.  That feels so real to me.  I adored the excited about God, genuine, and open feel of the group.  I definitely want to go back.  My only concern is that it's a very young group; I doubt that anyone there is older than 30.  I'm their parents age.  That's not a problem for me; young people have the holy spirit and Paul told Timothy to not let people look down on his age - I can certainly learn from them.  It just may feel weird for them.  I don't want it to seem like I'm a creeper - I mean is it weird for me to want to be there?

I decided to answer this question by simply asking.  I emailed the group contact person and asked.  I explained that I adore the group and would like to continue but wanted to make sure that my age wouldn't be a problem for the group.  It seems like it may be an uncomfortable thing to ask, yet, relationships are uncomfortable sometimes and I believe that relationships can't develop without the willingness to be honest.  So we'll see what transpires.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Passion for my job

Image result for a purple match flame
Photo from 1zoom.me
I'm really feeling called out in my spirit to regain and increase my passion in my work.

To look at more of the big picture things such as systems, culture, and productivity.

I want to spend some time pondering some thoughts related to this.  I'll be doing a series of posts about various topics related to this

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Some goals for 2020

Image result for new growth in purple
Photo from The Bull
I don't want this to be about shame and guilt but I do want to constantly grow and change and set goals for myself. I want this to be about progress, not perfection

Spiritual

  • Read through the gospels twice - in 2 different translations during my morning time with God
  • 5Xs a week have a 3-5 minute time of  silence during my morning time with God ("be still and know that I am God" -Psalm 46:10)
  • Memorize one Bible verse a month
  • Read: Doors into Prayer: An Invitation by Emilie Griffin, Interior Castle by Teresa of Avilia, Life without Lack - Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 by Dallas Willard, Fervent by Priscilla Schrier
  • Start volunteering as a tutor with homeless youth
  • Join a small Bible study group that meets at least twice a month 
  • Develop a relationship where I can help another woman to grow in her relationship with God
Physical
  • 5Xs a week take a walk for at least 30 minutes
  • Continue trying new ways to incorporate more vegetables into my diet - each week spend some time checking out vegetable recipes and trying out new ideas
  • Purposely try to reduce my sugar intake.  Compile a list of creative ways - unsweetened tea, have fruit for dessert, etc.
  • 3Xs a week use small dumbells for 5 minutes
  • 2Xs a week spend at least 5 minutes trying to do a yoga youtube
Vocational
  • Get a Key Factor developed for the Program Department
  • Thoroughly complete spend downs weekly-stay within expense budget
  • Week days complete my key factor-ensure NHPPD hrs requirement met daily and OT limited to only essential-shift coverage
  • Develop a performance metric for social services
  • Reduce meal penalties for my building
  • Develop a staff retention program for my building
  • Have a systematic method consistently practiced for DPH reported incident paperwork file thoroughness
  • Increase meaningfulness of QAPI program
  • Work with DON to increase her focus on specifics of resident medical needs
  • Work with PD to take ownership
  • Work with BOM to be kinder and less stressed in her approach to staff and herself
  • Work with Maintenance director to start his day with a facility walk through and follow up (also to be purposeful in his schedule to avoid meal penalties and to use me if needed)
  • Work with HIM to develop some reasonable vocational goals for herself
Relational
  • Implement listening skills with John - really listen to him
  • Increase spoken affirming and complementary words to John
  • Decrease focus on John's character defects or annoying habits
  • Get together with Daniel once a month
  • Make sure to go see Devon & family in Monterey 3Xs this year
  • Make sure to go see Dylan & family in Washington once this year (might be in Florida)
  • Enjoy 7 Life House Theater productions with Shelia and Cindy this year
  • Make a new friend

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Prayer for John

Graphic from UI Here
I've been praying and reading the word to determine what to pray for John.

This is what I came up with:


Father I thank You that You are the giver of good things.  I thank You for marriage.  You’ve created that divine mystery of how a man charms a woman and the two make love and become one.  It is truly magnificent and is Your creation.  Marriage mirrors Your love for the church, your people throughout the earth and throughout time.   I praise You as the creative engineer, maker of good things, all powerful and holy one.

Father, I’m sorry for the ways John and I have failed in marriage.  Failed to make the other person more important than ourselves. All powerful, all mighty God, please change me. Help me to be a more generous, giving, wife.

Father I pray that You would unveil within John the unlimited riches of Your glory and favor until supernatural strength floods his innermost being with Your divine might and explosive power. Oh Holy Spirit empower John to constantly use his faith so that the life of Christ will be released deep inside him, and the resting place of Christ’s love will become the very source and root of John’s life.  Empower John to discover the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. May John experience Your extravagant love pouring into him until he is filled to overflowing with Your fullness.
Father give John listening ears so that he can hear both the words and heart behind the words of those around him.  Increase his already compassionate heart to see ways he can give help, gifts, and encouragement to those around him. May Your love in John produce a generous spirit. Let giving to those around him spring up freely from the joy of giving.  May the measure John uses to give be extravagant and may You bless him in that same measure. Oh Father enrich John in every way as he gives generously on every occasion.  
Father, help John and I to live together in perfect unity by loving, honoring and respecting one another and serving each other for Your glory, honor and praise! 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Order, Disorder and Re-order

Photo from Box City
This morning I was listening to a super interesting dialog between Richard Rohr and Rob Bell on the Alternate Orthodoxy.  There was just so much there that has got me thinking......I'm going to just pick one thing that I want to ponder on and write my way through right now.  Not that I'll totally grasp and apply the concepts in one sitting, but I just want to think on them some more.

 In life we're working our way through 3 "boxes". The 1st one is order, the 2nd one is disorder, the 3rd one is re-order.  Conservatives get stuck in the first box;  their need for order is high.  They use good, right order that's founded in reality and helpful for life and child rearing.  But then they also construct artificial order that isn't true, but they stick to it at all costs due to their extreme need for order. Liberals, progressives and academics get stuck in the second box of disorder. They just keep deconstructing everything.  This has caused so many problems for the children who are teens today because they grew up in this constant deconstructing; it's a difficult way to grow up. There's no rules or reality and nothing to hang on to. Richard Rohr emphasized that there's no "non stop flight from the first box to the third box".  People want that; they want to just get there.  He emphasized how it's only when we face disorder in ourselves, our culture, our church and experience; when we go through the falling apart of what Thomas Merton called "our salvation project",  that we can work through the process of re-order.

I'm in the process of going into that third box.  I've been a life time in getting there.


I started out in the order box.  I grew up in a fundamentalist, evangelical home. Yet I can  remember as young as 10 or 11 knowing in the depth of my heart, that some things weren't right.  The 1st thing I remember was knowing that this giving your heart to Jesus at one specific time, and being saved, wasn't really like that.  In my church you walked down the isle, gave your heart to Jesus, and became saved.  Later on when I was involved in a high school campus ministry I even learned to give a 3 minute testimony about the before and after of this experience.  The problem was, I knew at 11 - I'd never disbelieved.  As much as I knew and understood, I always loved God and Jesus and reached out for him.  I distinctly remember walking down that isle when I was in the 5th grade to make my church happy - I knew that I wasn't "unsaved" before. I'd had the extreme blessing of growing up in a house that went to church and so I got to learn about God, the Bible, and Jesus from the time I was born.  I'm extremely grateful for that.  There was so much truth there.  But there was also what Rohr refers to as a culture that needed order and attached to orderly ideas that don't have Biblical or really even experiential reality to back them up - that don't make sense. This idea that "salvation" is a one point in time event just doesn't add up for me; it never has.

I can also remember that growing up in this fundamentalist group there is a sense of those who are "in" and "out". For example, Catholics aren't considered really "saved".  I mean God forbid that you'd meet and marry one - then you'd be "yoked to an unbeliever"!  I can remember several times in high school and onward where that felt all wrong. I can specifically remember once, I think I was in high school at the time, wishing something along the lines of I wish Catholics were saved too - I really like those Catholics and want to be together with them too. I think that my heart knew what my head didn't yet; I'd experienced the love of God.  When I was in middle school and living through that angst that is specially known to the adolescent, going time and time again tot he book of Psalms.  I'd found a paraphrase of the Bible called "The Living Bible" that I could actually understand.  The intensity and heightened emotion within many Psalms drew me in and the Holy Spirit ministered love to me when I needed it most. The result of love is to want everyone to get to be part of it.

Another result of that In and Out group thinking is that I always felt apart from the people around me.  As a Christian I never felt like I was one of the kids at my school or out in the community.  I was only one of the church people.  That made there always be a touch of sadness inside me. 

When I was pregnant with my first son (who BTW is now 31 years old) I read a book that opened up a whole new world for me: Celebration of Discipline by Richard J. Foster.  Through that I began an acquaintance with Christian writers through the ages.  I realized that there was a big world out there of real Christians who'd come before and who didn't think identically to my church.  I caught a glimpse of the wide stream of orthodox Christianity. Writers like Thomas a Kempis, Brother Lawrence, Meister Eckhart, and many others.  I was drawn to the Christian Mystics.  I found it amusing that so many of these authors were Catholic.

Several years later I read The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning.  That book helped me see, and experience, the grace of God as I'd never done before.  It helped open doors in my mind that made me able to see things in a different way.  It was interesting because I have a wonderful Christian friend, a true woman of God, that I know from my local, fundamentalist church.  I'd talked about how wonderful that book was and given her a copy as a gift.  She and I both adore reading and studying alone and in groups. When she finished reading the book she said something to me about where was the accountability, the recognition of sin?  She missed it!  She missed that God's love and grace are so great, and the more we experience it, the less we want sin any more.  It's right there in Romans 2:4 that it's the love of God that brings us to repentance.  True repentance is turning away from our sin.  It's love that draws us there, not condemnation or fear of hell.

A couple of years after that I remember being at the library and seeing a book title: "What if everyone gets saved?"  I will never forget what happened in that instant - something leaped for joy within my spirit! I checked out the book and it ended up not being what I'd wanted; it took away from what Jesus had done and that hurt more than even thinking some people might not be saved.  But that experience, that connection to the idea of everyone being saved, stuck with me.

Then about 5 years ago I read Rob Bell's famous book Love Wins.  My heart exploded and I've never been the same again.  All around me everyone called it heresy.  But for me, I'd finally found the path where I could experience resonance. There was finally a thought process on which I could embark that allowed me to love everyone like my soul desired.  There didn't have to be outsiders and insiders anymore - Paul's words from Galatians 3:28 about there no longer being Jews, Gentile, slave, free, male, female - us all being one in Christ - they made sense now!

I am still a sojourner in the life of faith-still trying to figure it out while accepting and embracing that there truly is a mystery of faith.  But through these past few years I've been able to connect with "unbelievers" in ways I never could previously.  I've held more genuine conversations about God, His love, and the impact it can have on the individual than I ever had before. It seems like I'm having more of a positive impact than before.  I feel more comfortable with myself and other people - I can allow them to be whomever they are.  I'm more open about my own faith.
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