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, March 22, 2021

My need to pray for my nation

Generally speaking in life I try to be a positive person; to think on that which is good, lovely, inspiring.  However, sometimes there are harsh and hard things in life which need to be dealt with.  Over the past year there are several things in my nation that are troubling me.  I love America.  It's my country.  I feel like there is so much to be grateful for that I was born here. But there are things in this nation that are breaking my heart:

We're killing babies.
The CDC keeps records on reproductive health, including abortions.  The 48 reporting states in 2018 report 619,591 legal induced abortions.  I almost start crying just thinking about all those babies that were killed.  All those mothers, many of which were in a bad place and conflicted about what they did. All of those fathers who had no real say in the matter; who may not have even known about it.

We're divided.
A group named Beyond Conflict launched research in 2018 regarding the political polarization in America. This group developed a Beyond Conflict Polarization Index. Their goal in developing this index was to develop a diagnostic tool that provided comprehensive insight into psychological processes of polarization and their causes. They found significant levels of dehumanization, dislike and disagreement between Republicans and Democrats.  It was interesting that they also found that both sides thought the other side dehumanized, disliked and disagreed with them twice as much as they actually did.

Our public media is biased.
In April 2020 the Washington Post conducted a survey of journalists.  They sent out a survey to 13,000 journalists and 13% responded. Of these respondents 78% self identified as liberal democrats.  It seems to me that there's a narrative that is put out and events reported and event details all fit with the narrative.  Repeatedly during the past couple of years only part of certain events were told and when further facts came to light these truths were basically ignored (for example the Nicholas Sandman & friends with the American Indian activist).

The national debt is on an unsustainable path.
The gap between what the U.S. spends and what it earns through tax receipts and other revenue continues to expand at an alarming rate.  As of 3/22/21 the current national debt is $27,965,655,597,214.40. This is estimated to be around $85K per citizen. The US national debt clock is an updated source for this information.

Many people in the US are still living in poverty
According to the US Census,  in 2019, 10.9% of the American population lived in poverty.  The US Welfare system doesn't work.  Changes are needed.

A few years ago I read a book entitled Fervent by Priscilla Shirer about prayer.  The book encouraged me to pray, delve into the Bible, and write out prayers.  I feel compelled to do that regarding my prayer for our nation.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Leading during trying times

 I'm grateful for all God's blessings.  I'm healthy, God meets me during times with Him, I've a husband who loves me, my sons are successful adults, through this entire pandemic I've had consistent work....how can I not be grateful!

None the less, these Covid times wear on one.

I see it in the people with whom I work too.  At the end of the AM meeting today we all sit and just look at each other.  Finally I get up and then they all do too; we're just tired.  I know it's a Friday, but I know that it's really all this COVID stuff - it's a lot.  Today at the end of that meeting I felt like they were all looking at me, but I don't know what to give them or do for them.  We have 3 give aways this month; today was Bagel day so we had Bagels for staff.  That's great and all that, but they need more from me then Bagels...

Father, please show me what I can do to empower, encourage and inspire my people.


Saturday, November 14, 2020

An experience with the examen prayer

Photo from Fine Art America
Last night I was praying the examen with an emphasis on shifts.  The questions were about if I'd noticed shifts in myself during the past week, months or even years.  To think on those shifts and ask God to bring any specific one to mind.  

I kept looking for negative shifts, but the Holy Spirit kept bringing me back to the fact that there's been a shift in my attitude this past year as I've sought him to be my everything.  I know that repentance is important so I was seeking in my mind for some sin, some negative shift...but God kept bringing me back to this increased desire for Him.  I'm not sure how to describe this, but it was as if God wanted me to know that He was pleased.  I was overwhelmed with a sense of it...I cried a little bit because it was so encompassing and wonderful.

I'm reminded again of a couple of verses.  The second half of Romans 2:4 (TPT):

Do you realize that all the wealth of his extravagant kindness is meant to melt your heart and lead you to repentance?

The first half of Hosea 11:4:

I drew them with gentle cords
with band of love

This is who God is.  He is love.

This morning I read a translated poem by St Teresa of Avila that explains this experience so well (and it blows my mind that here I am relating to a woman who lived in Spain from 1515 - 1582):

                                                HE DESIRED ME SO I CAME CLOSER

                                                     He desired me so I cam close.

                                              No one can near God unless He has
                                                          prepared a bed for 
                                                                   you.

                                          A thousand souls hear His call every second,
                                  but most every one then looks into their life's mirror and
                                              says, "I am not worthy to leave this
                                                                  sadness.

                                              When I first heard His courting song, I too
                                                     looked at all I had done in my life
                                                                  and said,

                                              "How can I gaze into His omnipresent eyes?"
                                                        I spoke these words with all
                                                                    my heart,

                                            but then He sang again, a song even sweeter,
                                and when I tried to shame myself once more from His presence
                                        God showed compassion and spoke a divine truth,

                                                "I made you dear, and all I made is perfect.
                                                            Please come close, for I
                                                                        desire
                                                                          you." 


Friday, November 13, 2020

Experiencing God through prayer

Photo from Stained Glass Painting Techniques
 I've been circling around praying the prayer of Examen for a few months now.  I've been struggling with silence and solitude for coming up on 2 years.

But God's been so good, so gracious to me.  It's like He's been drawing me to Himself.  Not because I've done anything right at all...just because of His goodness.

I hadn't been able to make myself start a daily practice of the examen prayer.  I'd read about it and it just seemed like too much, so I couldn't make myself do it.  I've also struggled in this same manner with silence and solitude;  it just loomed up so big and unattainable.  I was forcing myself, using a 3 minute timer, to have a time of silence.  

Then I participated in an online course where the facilitator did this thing where he'd start by letting us all be silent and he'd speak  Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God                                                                                                              

Be still and know      

Be still 

Be

Between each section he'd give us some time of silence.  

I found that exercise an effective way to enter into silence.  To detach from the world around and start a time with God.

Then I read Pete Grieg's book How to Pray and nothing seemed so difficult.  All types of prayer seemed more accessible.  

The real clincher with regard to examen came when I shared the goal of praying the exam in my book club  and  a woman, Amanda, recommended an app called Reimaging the Examen. For me, this has made all the difference. This app guides me into going through the examen.  It also has quite a number of differently focused versions that help keep it fresh.  I haven't gotten super lengthy or deep yet. But I'm establishing the pattern.  It's becoming a part of my life.  I find that I'm looking forward to it each day.

Another thing I've noticed is that I've struggled with being exhausted all the time for years now.  But lately I've been more energized.  I know this is gonna sound cheesy, but you know how when you're in love and you start dating someone how all of life just gets brighter and you're happier?  How you just want to be near them every chance you get?  Well that's kind of the experience I've been having with prayer.

It make me think about Matthew 11:28-30.  I've been pondering this passage for the past few years as I've been struggling with fatigue.  I've been especially drawn to the way it reads in The Message paraphrase:

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me - watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly.



Monday, November 9, 2020

Resources

 I'm thinking about how thankful I am for the resources that God's give me:

* The Renovare book club    

Adore the emails, podcasts, and most of all the actual group of people with whom I meet once a week.  It's a somewhat eclectic group - 7 individuals; 2 males & 5 females, ranging from mid 30s to mid 60s in age. Ethnically there's 1 African American, 1 Indian, 1 Japanese, and 4 Caucasians.  All Christians; including  Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Evangelical non denominational, Presbyterian, and Baptist.  These people like books just like me and they're interesting.  Their ideas stimulate me.   

* Some really good books I've read lately  - White Awake, How to Pray, and Jesus and the Disinherited being the most recent.

* The Lectio 365 & Re imagining the Examen apps.  

The Lectio is adding a fresh new perspective to my morning time with God.  I've been trying to figure a simple way to add the Examen into a time in the evening and this app guides me through it.

* The people with whom I work  - My job is hard.  I'm so grateful for the humor and camaraderie that I have with the people with whom I work.

* John & I's relationship - We really seem to have grown closer in these last few months.  I can honestly say he's my best friend.

* Asian dramas - Sometimes I get an immense amount of enjoyment out of these things.


                                                                     Graphic from Banzai

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Blessings upon blessings


I've got so much to be grateful for.  

Three things that really stand out to me from this week: 

1. God opening up my mind and helping me This past Thursday I was having trouble with my phone. I kept trying to get "Siri" to make calls & texts while I was driving and to get driving directions and it kept saying Siri wasn't available because I wasn't connected to the internet. I'd gone to the phone settings and unsuccessfully tried to fix it. I had an important meeting at the company I work for's corporate offices in west LA. I've been there once, a long time ago and didn't really remember how to get there, so I got driving directions off the internet prior to leaving from my work site to go there. Unfortunately I got lost. I hate that scarey feeling; I find LA a bit hard to navigte due to the busy traffic and density of the city. So I prayed and pulled over into a gas station parking area. I asked God to open up my mind and help me figure what setting was wrong on my phone so I could get it to work right. He did! So I could then get driving directions; it was close by but it wasn't an intuiative situation - I really needed those driving directions. 

2. God sparing our home from the fires Work is just so over the top hard lately! My profession is always challenging but this COVID sitaution seems to make it way over the top. I keep going back to James 1:2-4 in the Passion Translation and seeking to remember that I have so many opportunities before me for God to work perserverance into my life. However, due to all the work I haven't been keeping up with the news so at the end of a hard week and a hard day I make a 2 1/2 hour trek to my home in Wrightwood. The drive was grueling but I kept reminding myself that I was almost home. Right when I was pulling into the car port at home I got a text from a friend who lives in Wrightwood asking if I had all my stuff ready in case we needed to evacuate - although I knew there were fires in southern Cali, I didn't realize that they'd endangered my area yet. As I got out of the car I smelled the smoke and my heart plummeted. I've been praying to God's help and protection over the fire fighters and property...but now I began praying for my own home. When John texted our neighbor who works as a fire figher he basically said to be ready to evacate because it could happen. I would have never made the trek home if I knew I might have to leave again. Anyway, I'm grateful to say that the winds stopped and it looks like I'll be able to enjoy my weekend at home in a safe home! I'm grateful.

3.  My son Daniel who's refused for the past few years to have anything to do with John texted him this morning to make sure we're all OK in Wrightwood.  Thanks be to God!  This is a tiny step in the right direction.  May this just be the beginning.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

God Sightings

.

 Sometimes I go through life like a horse with blinders.

Graphic from Crosspoint Community Church

Lately I've been seeking to change that.  I've been seeking to engage in God sightings (if I'm transparent I've been doing this on and off).  What I mean by that is noticing God at work in creation, people, events throughout my day, and in my life. It's kind of like how bird watchers are looking for certain types of birds and then when they find them it's like - aha!  I'm trying to incorporate the God sightings mentality into my every day life.  Every time I do this I realize how much God is doing that I typically fail to notice.

It's interesting because the God sightings practice has made me realize that I'm living with some of the answers to my prayers from years ago, and hand't even realized it.

One such prayer was to get to belong to a book club.  Years ago I watched a chick flick entitled The Jane Austin Book Club.  At the time I watched that movie, I remember thinking Gee, I want to have friends and belong to a book club where we share. I love to read.  I want to hang out with other readers and read and talk about books.  

About a year ago God blessed me with a book club.  

I joined through Renovare. Two years ago I'd done a book club through Renovare but it was online, and although I enjoyed the specific books, didn't get really get much out of the group. Last year I determined to either find an in-person group or not do it at all.  So I took the leap and met up with total strangers at a location very close to my work.  It was a small group of people, 5 people plus me.  They're all passionate, intelligent, people from various walks of life.  One's a seminary professor; another is a nurse practitioner; 2 are educated, relatively financially well off, home makers; another is a just retired inner city ministry leader; and I'm a SNF administrator running a 43-bed facility that serves schizophrenics. It's been intellectually and spiritually stimulating to get to meet with them once a month.  Very slowly, we're getting to know each other too.  I think some of them may be becoming friends quicker than me; I'm slow to truly open up to people and feel comfortable - but we're getting there.  This year just a few more newcomers are joining too.



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