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."

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Evening prayer books

 We just got back from 2 weeks at West Point NY visiting with my oldest son & his family. What a blessing!

He’s an intensely devoted Catholic; I deeply respect his devotion. Every evening he, Rachel, & the children read/sang from these little prayer books. The book provided a different script for each day of the week. Then you just go through it again & again each week. The entire thing took around 10 minutes. I thought it was beautiful that they did this each evening. It was also especially pleasing since both Devon & Rachel have really good singing voices.

It’s really a great concept. Yes, I realize that these books have been around for well over 100 years, but since I’m from a vastly different Christian tradition, it was all new to me. I can see the benefit of the repetition because it would imprint these words into one’s heart. However, if I’ll being transparent here, I find the songs very dirge-like in style and don’t see everything being sung the entire time as necessary. A part of me wants to make my own prayer book to use. I could compile simple songs, prayers & verses myself…

Monday, June 5, 2023

Soul Fragility

Soul fragility. I heard this term used by pastor and author Rich Villodas. This concept has sparked something inside me…I recognize my own soul as fragile and brittle. On the outside I act like I’m okay when criticism comes my way, but on the inside I’m way too frequently devastated.  I save those critical words and ponder over them as I lick my wounds in private. Or, conversely, I put up walls and don’t listen and write criticism off as worthless. But why does criticism have such a strong effect? Why is my ego so invested?

I’m thinking about some scripture passages in the way that Peterson paraphrases them in The Message:

Matthew 16:24-26 - Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of a deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?

Matthew 5:5 - You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are - no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourself proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You know when my husband John and I are are most likely to get into an argument? When on a long road trip. Neither of us want the other to drive. I struggle with the way he drives as well as just letting go of being in control.

There are are a couple of phrases from authors whom I admire that I’ve been thinking on:

Dallas Willard: I’m practicing the discipline of not have to have the last word.

Nathan Foster: Mini deaths to self

Oh Father, help me draw in silence and practice living in it more. Holy Spirit within me, please help me quiet my soul. Put a guard on my lips oh Lord; that I would refrain from giving in to that compulsion to have the last word. Father, there’s plenty of life that is not exactly as I would want it; rather than always fighting against those circumstances, and sometimes people, that I can’t change, please help me to truly welcome theses small daily opportunities to die to myself. 

Saturday, March 26, 2022

Cultivating a quiet heart

 This morning as I was cooking breakfast I was listening to an interview from 2009 with Eugene Peterson. He’d used an analogy about how a dog chews on a bone, we can chew on the Word. Someone from the audience asked for an example of what that looks like in his life and he shared one. What really ignited in my spirit was that as Peterson shared his personal story, he said he’d been on the first 2 verses of Luke for the past three months. Somehow it was like this gave me context and permission to keep going over & over the same thing. 

For me it’s been Psalm 131, specifically the second part of the second verse: “I’ve cultivated a quiet heart” (MSG). The amplified Bible puts it this way: “my soul is like a weaned child within me [composed and free from discontent]”. The Message paraphrase also compares that quiet heart to bing like a baby content in his mother’s arms. I’ve been thinking about how my youngest grandson, Dominic, looked the last time I saw him this past July. He was hanging out in Rachel’s arms and seemed so totally content. This concept of cultivating a quiet heart has really been gestating in the back of my mind since this past January…..

Saturday, November 13, 2021


 This isn’t scientific, so it’s hard to be sure. But it appears as if there’s been some changes in my life since I started spending this time in silence.

As an aside, I feel compelled to admit what a poor job I do with my time in silence. I’m grateful that I read in Rich Villados’ book, that it’s OK to not do it perfectly. My brain is pinging all over the place. I’m grateful that I read that Thomas Keating said if your mind gets distracted 10,000 times in 20 minutes in prayer, it’s 10,000 opportunities to return to God. I get to do a lot of returning during my times of silence.

Yet…..there’s this feeling I get. I’m not sure how to explain. I think I can best describe it by something I witnessed once. My oldest son Devon used to be rather crabby. One day he had been very crabby with all of us all day long. Then I saw him go and put his head in the lap of Rachel. Rachel is his wife now and I’m not sure if this happened when they were first married or before. Anyway, he put his head in Rachel‘s lap and looked so pleased. Had a smug little smile on his face. It was like he was right where he belonged. It didn’t matter that he had done everything wrong all day and not been nice to anyone, he was loved. Every time I come in the silence I get some of that same type of feeling. I feel a smug little smile on the inside of me.

This doesn’t make sense, but there’s been some changes in my life recently and I think they’re attributable  to the time in silence. Previously, I was tired all the time and struggling with a really really really being burned down at my job. Currently, I’m still more tired than I want to be. I still get overwhelmed and discouraged at work. But there’s a difference. It’s like there’s an inner strength I hadn’t experienced before, a solidness that makes it different. I’ve always enjoyed singing praises to God. But lately I find myself singing them more frequently. Ill be in the shower and suddenly notice that I’m singing away. I’ll wake up with songs in my heart. Throughout the day words of praise will be in my heart. I don’t think I’m imagining this. Frankly, even if I am and it’s a placebo effect, it’s a good one and I’m grateful.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

It’s difficult to be that unproductive

One of the many challenges I face when trying to have even just 7 minutes of silence, is the nagging feeling that it’s a “waste of time”. There I said it. That sounds awful, but it’s the truth. I mean I’m here trying to get my mind silent, while I’m sitting and doing nothing. I’m not even supposed to daydream. I keep reminding myself that this is to put myself in a position where I might be in the presence of God. Or I might open up my receptivity to him. Honestly right now it’s a struggle. I committed myself to 7 minutes every morning on weekends and morning & arrival home from work on week days. I’m going to just make myself do it for the first 30 days and see. 

Saturday, October 30, 2021

The longest seven minutes

Seven minutes. Just seven minutes, that’s all I’m starting with. I’m committing myself to a time of silence twice each day. I’ll record here how it goes.

I’m captivated by a story about mother Theresa. As the story goes, she was interviewed about prayer. During the interview she said she listens to God. The interviewer asked her what God said to her, and she said he listens to her. I don’t fully understand what she was saying but it draws me. With human people, with whom I’m close, I can sit in silence and feel connected. I want to get to that place with God. A pastor named Rich Villodas quotes some neuroscientist who claims that consistent, routine, time in silence rewires the brain in ways that lead to enhanced creativity & other positive things.

So far, as I’ve sought these times of silence, my thoughts have bounced all over the place. I was encouraged when I read that Thomas Keating said that if your mind gets distracted 10,000 times in 20 minutes of prayer, it’s 10,000 opportunities to return to God. I can relate to this.

The other thing I’ve always seemed to experience super briefly at the beginning of a time of silence is a “smiley” feeling. I don’t think this is something God is giving me, I think it’s something I’m feeling. It’s the feeling of getting to be close to someone I’m super delighted likes me. It’s a little bit of a smug feeling. I think I saw the same feeling in my oldest son once. He can be a bit gruff/crabby. He’s been crabby all day with all of us and then he laid down on the couch and put his head in his wife’s lap . The look on his face was a very small smile and kind of a smug expression. It was like he felt like he was the luckiest guy in the world and he got Rachel. Not sure if I’m explaining this very well. But that’s kind of how I feel briefly whenever I enter into any time of silence.

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.

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