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."

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 

                                          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

                                              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

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 


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


 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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Gratitude and Ceviche

Sometimes I think that when such and such thing I want to happen does, then I'll be really happy.

But the truth is as Henry Ford once said - that a person is as happy as he chooses to be.

There's certainly tons of hard stuff in my life right now, but there's also so much good.  Today the department directors and I had lunch together.  It was wonderful all sitting around, relaxing for a bit and talking.  I'd given the medical records gal money to buy the stuff and she made Ceviche.  She makes the best Ceviche of anyone/anyplace that I know.  Sitting there together, it just felt good.  I'm grateful for these people with whom I work.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A fuller version of Lamenting

New CMS Lent campaign urges churches to focus on lament - Inspire ...
Photo from Inspire Magazine


I want to grow into a fuller version of lamenting.

In his book Soong-Chang Rah refers to some research done by Glenn Pemberton.  Rah notes that while lament constitutes 40% of the Psalms, less than 20% of any of the church hymnals contain songs of lament, and even less of the contemporary worship songs popular in churches across America today. Rah goes on to explain how most of the White American churches are "concerned with questions of proper management and joyous celebration".   Rah quotes Walter Breggemann and flat out says "The well-off do not expect their faith to begin in a cry, but rather with a song. They do not expect or need intrusion, but they rejoice in stability [and the] durability of a world and social order that have been beneficial to them".

Rah goes on to explain that a theology that only consists of celebration and doesn't include suffering is not complete.  He speaks of how lament and praise must go hand in hand.

Since I was a young teen I've always felt called to work to help people.  My jobs have primarily had me work with people who are developmentally disabled or mentally ill.  I'm consistently drawn to people on the fringes.  As far back as I can remember I've cried whenever I see people in pain, see a movie where people are ill treated, or read about people being treated bad. I actually have to turn away when there's violence in movies and someone's getting hurt - I can't watch it.  I can't handle boxing or any kind of contact sport  where someone's getting hurt right in front of me. I can't drive by an ambulance without beginning to pray for the people who are going to be served by it.  Sometimes I've been a bit embarrassed about the crying.  At one point I even wondered if I had some kind of repressed memories that caused me to almost take on the emotions of those being hurt.  I sometimes feel like I am kind of a downer in a world of have-it-togethers and maybe I'm missing out on something because of it. Recently I've come to realize that this has absolutely nothing to do with me doing anything - it's just the way I'm wired. 

Because of how I'm wired, in some ways lamenting is a bit natural for me.  

However, I seek to embrace a fuller version of lamenting.  I appreciate Hill's word of explanation that when we lament we "posture ourselves before God to wail, cry and mourn. To lament is to acknowledge the pain that we aren't home and this world is too often marked by evil and injustice. To lament is to ask God the haunting questions 'Where are  you? What are you doing? How long must we wait?' " "a lament is truly asking, seeking, and knocking to understand the heart of God. A lament involves the energy to search, not shut down the quest for truth. It is the passion to ask, rather than rant and rave with already reached conclusions. A lament uses the language of pain, anger, and confusion and moves toward God."

As I ponder this I'm struck with the thought that lamenting should lead me to a deep level realization of my insufficiency and cause me to cling to God.  Then God can provide the answers about what to do.  The older I get the more I realize that some things just can't be fixed. This doesn't mean that I give up.  It means that I will continue to seek to do what God wants me to - and sometimes He supernaturally does stuff - but sometimes He doesn't and things still remain broken (it's the old Humpty Dumpty thing).  I choose to live my life grateful for when God does bless and change things and mindful of the fact that He's God and I'm not when He doesn't.

I want to learn how to Lament

I want to learn about lamenting and learn how to lament.  I want to start lamenting.

Max Richter - A Lamenting Song - YouTube
Photo taken from Max Richter A Lamenting Song

As I was reading today my attention was totally snagged by a story that Hill related; the guy in the story could have been me, what he said echoed the exact words of my heart.  

Hill shared an account of a time when he was at a 2-day retreat with leaders around the country who were involved with the work of justice.  He explained about a time at that retreat when some experiences were shared by some leaders of color. These leaders had gone to work in all-white organizations specifically  to provide direction for greater levels of diversity and equity.  The leaders related how they had found that their experiences in their places of employment were as racially stressful as what they'd experienced in the outside world, or even more so. After they'd shared, one of the white pastors asked some questions.  He explained that he was the senior leader in his organization and he didn't want to do that same thing, he didn't want people of color in his organization to have these bad experiences.  He asked what he could do.

That's my question - what can I do?!

This is the very question that's been bouncing around in my mind and spirit since I began this recent journey.  But it seems like God keeps putting a Wait into my spirit.  To be honest it's made me feel a bit guilty and uncomfortable.  I mean, if I know something is wrong then I need to set about fixing it - right?  I've wondered if maybe I've heard Him wrong and have just been lazy and self serving; but I keep getting that same pause in my Spirit.  I keep getting this feeling of it's OK to take my time and wait.  I figure maybe He needs to do some work in me before I'll be ready or able to do those things which need to be done.

As I was reading today I was totally caught up in this story; I was right there with the guy asking what can I do.  I was just as confused by the response as Hill relates that the guy in the story was.  The leaders of color all looked at each other when he asked the question and finally one acted as the spokesperson and told the guy.  Hills says that the leader of color said "What we would ask for you to do is lament".

This guy, whoever he was, is a man who thinks like me.  Their response confused him and he apologized for possibly being slow (I could so see myself saying that!) but pointed out that this seemed an insufficient response, that he didn't see how feeling bad about something would change his organization.  Then Hill pointed out how most of the American White Church has an insufficient theology and understanding of lament.  It was pretty cool for me because as Hill spoke about who he learned the most about lament from he noted Soong-Chan Rah.  Guess what?  When I bought Hill's book I also felt compelled to purchase a book by an author I'd never heard of named Soong-Chan Rah who wrote a book entitled Prophetic Lament.  A book with such a title is not one I'd normally buy but I just felt drawn to it.  I have this total thing for Asian culture (I confess to spending my TV watching time immersed in Korean and Chinese dramas) so I figured that must have been the reason for the strong pull of that book. But now I realize it's because I'm meant to learn about lamenting.

I want to develop my own theology around lamenting.  I want to understand what it means to lament and begin to practice lamenting in meaningful ways. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Grateful at work

job-success-life - Career Potential Career Coach Philadelphia
Photo from Job Success
One of the things that really impressed me when I read the book Extreme Ownership was the phrase "There's no such thing as bad teams, only bad leaders" and the corresponding  example the  author provided. It struck me because all too often in my mind I'll complain about one of the leaders on  my team.  This phrase was a wake up call for me; they're not the problem, my leadership failure is the problem.  

One of my biggest personal weaknesses is that I'm too nice, too easy going.  It was the same struggle for me as a parent.  For the past 18 months I've not been happy with the program director at work.  I'd tried several ways to get him to step it up.  These were all rather non confrontational, "polite", attempts to get him to be better at his job.  But they hadn't worked.  The most recent thing was that at the beginning of the year I'd put together a form that pretty much holds him accountable for delivering certain things on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.  I hate doing this kind of thing because it's rather micro managing.  But I figured that at least I'd be clear that he would know what he was supposed to be doing (just in case there was any confusion).  I was stunned that he has consistently not gotten those things done.

I let it slide for way too long.  I realized that I just needed to give him a written counseling and performance improvement plan.  He was not seeming to understand his failing the way I've been doing it.  I realized that it doesn't matter if I'm overwhelmed, I'm still called to lead.  I started praying for God to grow passion in me and to grant me the fortitude that I need.  I prayed about how to have the difficult conversation with the program director.

I sat down with him and went through the counseling and improvement plan.  He was his usual charming self but didn't own up to anything.  He made comments such as how he may not be there yet but he's consistently getting better.  I let him know that he's not meeting the job requirements.  Then I just frankly told him that the whole problem can be summed up in the fact that he lacks ownership and passion.  He acts like it's my job and he's just doing a few parts of it; but that it's his program and until he steps up and takes over he'll never be able to get his stuff done.   It was uncomfortable but I was respectful and the next day it looked like he was going to change his ways.  Then he went home in the middle of that next day sick and was out for 4 days.  Then when he came back there was catch up to be done.  But I didn't let things go; I emailed him the revised due dates for the items in his improvement plan since they were all 4 days later than originally planned. 

I've been a bit anxious in the back of my mind about the meeting with him.  If he didn't have the stuff completed he'd end up with write up number two.  My experience is that when you get to this point with a manager, typically it goes downhill from there and it most often ends up with the 3-write-ups-you're-out situation.  I just continued to treat him good and to pray.

Today was the meeting.  He came in with his stuff all done to show me.  I was elated.  But what really blessed my socks off was that he talked to me.  He told me that when he was off he'd thought about what I'd said.  He realized that I was right.  He got into this business because he was passionate about helping people and he'd had great programs he'd been in charge of in the past and had a real sense of pride in his work.  He'd had bad experiences and lost his pride and passion along the way and became burned out by the time he came here 2 years ago.  He realized that he had to look at himself and change.  For the first time since I've known this man I really respected him.

Anyone can get burned out - life is hard!  But it takes character to recognize personal failure and to commit to change.  He showed me that today.

I'm grateful.

Saturday, July 4, 2020

You gotta see it before you can be it

Hill brings up a few more concepts that I want to ponder:

  • Transformational analogies in the Bible
  • America's history of white supremacy
  • White Trauma and denial
  • Common Memory
Transformational analogies in the Bible
Caterpillar Into Butterfly PNG Transparent Caterpillar Into ...
Graphic from Caterpillar Into Butterfly
The Nicodemus encounter with Jesus where he's told in John 3:3:
"Jesus replied. 'Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again'" (NIV)

The Message Paraphrase puts John 3:3 this way:
"Jesus said.  You're absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it's not possible to see what I'm pointing to - God's Kingdom"

This concept of being born again, coming into God's Kingdom and being transformed from a person living for the gods of this world into walking in God's ways, is a central theme in Christianity.  Hill points out that it starts with seeing. I've typically thought about how I need to see God's ways, but Hill's encouraged me that I also need to see this world's ways so I can see the difference; and then God can work His change in me. There really are two kingdoms here and truly seeing helps me know what to do, where to go, to be able to live God's Kingdom life.

Only God can truly open my eyes to SEE; I'm continuing to seek Him in this journey.

This is the account of an incident that took place during the journey of the Israelites out of Egypt and  to the promised land. The people were complaining about not having water, detesting the manna God was giving them, and speaking against God and Moses. God caused venomous snakes to come among them and bite and even kill some of the Israelites. Then the people came and admitted to their wrong doing and Moses prayed for them.  God directed Moses to make a snake and put it on a pole and the people could be healed by looking at it.

Hill points out that the snake became a symbol of the trauma the people suffered due to their sin and, by looking at it, the people were healed.  He continues the analogy, coupled with Jesus' words recorded  in John 8:32 about knowing the truth and that setting you free, to say that we can be transformed only when we see the truth about our own sin.  If we can't see our sin, we will continue in the bondage of our sin.  If we can see the sin and repent, then we will allow God to do the transforming work of changing us from our sinful ways.

Jesus compares people who listen what He says and put them into practice to people who build their house on a solid foundation instead of on sand.  

Hill talks about how our foundation matters.  If our foundation is lies, then what can we build?  What will we transform into?  If our foundation is truth, then we can transform into God's Kingdom lives.

Being in Christ, and living in His Kingdom, requires that we leave behind the world's ways and step into His ways.  The old is gone and the new has come.

America's History of White Supremacy 
When Women are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White ...
Graphic from ADL

This one is painful for someone like me to read and accept; but my heart knows the truth when I see it.

Hill goes through scores of historical events that demonstrate this; slavery, the one-drop rule, Jim Crow laws and lynchings.

In a sick way it is fascinating to consider what America did to make slavery "okay" in their minds.  Since slavery couldn't be OK if we read the Bible and see that humans are created in God's image and are all valuable.  Instead, the narrative that was created was that the black people were less than the white people.  Hill points out that prior to this, the people coming to America did not initially think of themselves as white; they were British, French, German, Welsh, Dutch, Irish, etc. Because the way the economic system was designed there was a need for slaves, having a white race allowed for an Okay-ness to slavery.  If the Europeans were seen as a superior white collective, then what they did to Native Americans and black slaves could be Okay.

The one drop rule was a legal principle that any person with even a drop of sub-Saharan African blood was to be considered black.  The obvious message here was that white was the superior race and even a drop of inferior blood contaminated the purity of whiteness.  There were even laws prohibiting marriage between whites and other races.

Jim Crow laws were constitutional provisions that mandated the segregation of public schools, public places, public transportation and public restrooms.  Throughout America's history there were cases of people of color having the justice system by-passed and being hung (lynched) for perceived offenses; these events were so horrible that it is beyond comprehension that this could have happened in our country.

White trauma and denial
White Supremacy Is Deadly For Everyone | HuffPost
Graphic from Huffington Post

Trauma responses have been thought of as emotional responses.  But psychologists have come to realize that Trauma happens in the body.  It's a spontaneous protective mechanism used by the body to stop or thwart further/future potential damage. 

"Trauma is not a flaw or weakness. It is a highly effective tool for safety and survival.

Trauma is also not an event. Trauma is the body's protective response to an event - or series of events - that it perceives as potentially dangerous. 

An embedded trauma response can manifest as fighting, fleeing, or freezing - or as some combination of constriction, pain, fear, dread, anxiety, unpleasant thoughts, reactive behaviors, or other sensations and experiences.  This trauma then gets stuck in the body - and stays stuck there until it is addressed. Our rational brain can't stop it from occurring, and it can't talk our body out of it" (Menakem, 2018).   

"The attitudes, convictions, and beliefs of white-body supremacy are reflexive cognitive side effects, like the belief of a claustrophone that the walls are closing in. These ideas have been reinforced through institutions as practice, procedures, and standards" (Menakem, 2018). 

Hill sets forth the belief that it is impossible to be complicit with centuries of traumatizing oppression without becoming traumatized oneself. He states that he believes that white trauma explains why otherwise logical people can come to illogical conclusions and live in denial about what goes on around them.  He explains that denial is comfortable; I mean, who wants to deal with the fact that grandparents that they truly love and see as good people may also be racist?  I have Hill's book in paperback as well as audible.  Recently when I was in the kitchen cutting up vegetables and listening, my husband came in.  It was during the part where Hill was relating the racist history of our country, and my husband commented that this was painful to hear, but that it's true.

After relating America's history of racism, Hill then goes back to look at how God is the God of truth and the enemy is the speaker of the language of lies.  He brings in the Numbers 21:4-8 account and explains that God wanted the Israelites to look at that serpent, the symbol of their sin, for healing.  He reminds us of how Jesus said in John 8:32 that truth sets us free.

He postulates that we won't be free to transform into disciples of Christ who participate in Kingdom living until we come out of denial and deal with our sin in this area. 

Common Memory

Switch on Your Brain III | Better Homes and Gardens - Editorial ...
Graphic from Pineterest
Hill quotes George Erasmus, and aboriginal advocate, saying that "Where common memory is lacking, where people do not share in the same past, there can be no community".This points to the fact that White denial of America's true history keeps Americans of all colors of having real community. Hill challenges " Will we continue to live in denial and allow our home to be built on the weak, foundation of myths, and half-truths? Or will we have the courage to live up to the truth and allow God's holy fire to burn down the old and erect a new home that can hold us all?" " Denial or truth? Sand or rock? Fear or courage?  Let us boldly choose to follow the one who is Truth."

All of this is a LOT to take in.  My mind is reeling and my heart is anguished.  I'm praying that God would awaken me to truth and show me what this means in my every day life.

I find myself noticing things that people say and attitudes that people have that demonstrate white trauma.  I try to gently interject truth into conversations while avoiding any kind of judgmentalism.

I've been thinking, the Holocaust museum in La and the Alcatraz tour/museum in the San Francisco Bay area, are both powerful experiences.  We need these types of museums related to the American massacre of the Native Americans, Slavery, and Lynchings/mistreatment of people of color in our history.  We need these places scattered across the nation to help us understand our history, move our emotions, and hopefully instill a desire in us to not repeat/continue this history. [Please note that this is not all I think we need, it's just one tiny thing that I think would be good.]


Friday, July 3, 2020

God shows up on the Inside of me

History and Meaning of Lavender Roses - ProFlowers Blog
Photo from The History and Meaning of Lavender Roses

I never cease to be amazed at God's goodness to me.

I've been reading a book entitled Sacred Rhythms by Ruth Haley Barton that is about practices you can incorporate into your life. Barton emphasizes how it's not about earning anything from God by doing these things, it's about making yourself more available to God.

This morning when I came to my time with God I knew I'd had a bad attitude lately.  I've been super overwhelmed by the work load at my job. This Covid-19 thing has caused a TON of extra work in the  SNF (skilled nursing facility) world.  I'm grateful that we don't have any cases yet but still DPH (department of public health) is there all the time, calling me, I have to do online survey every day (even my days off or when I take a few vacation days) before noon and I have to report our PPE supplies daily.  My job is super challenging just ordinarily, but with COVID it's gotten to place where I've struggled with those feelings of this is just too much!!

So I come to God and I remember anew my bad attitude and start to say I'm sorry and that I know I need to change.  Then I have this super  quick experience, I'm not sure exactly how to explain it, but's it's like God shows up on the inside of me.  The Holy Spirit wells up in me and I start out by saying my words of apology/repentance to God, but then I start hearing myself saying words about how I need to stop saying all these things about it being too much and start thanking God that it is He Who will give me the energy I need to do these things...I don't know how to explain this but it was a spiritual experience.  God infused me with faith and hope and a view of a different way of living. I wasn't engaging in any of these spiritual practices such as Lecto Divina or solitude & silence or anything else.  It was just me on my couch trying to come to God and feeling kind of guilty and disconnected. I'd recently gone to visit my son & his family in Monterey so my typical rhythms were off and I'd not had quality morning time with God lately.  Everything's been rushed with me getting up earlier and trying to get into work earlier so I can get more accomplished, and then working late and being exhausted.  The main thing I'm trying to express here is I haven't been doing anything right, but here's God showing up for me any way.  Talk about the best One to be in a relationship with - God's definitely THE ONE!  Don't get me wrong, my husband's great and I love him & am grateful for him; but sometimes we disappoint each other.  And I'm a classic romantic who longs for romance...but God, man He's the best!

I just wanted to take a moment and try to write down this experience.  Because I'm grateful and I want to remember these precious moments.  I treasure these experiences.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

White privilege

I am not 'white,' but I am surrounded by white privilege ...
Graphic from Bangor Daily News
This is my journey and the journal of my journey. So I can be totally honest.  I am starting with the fact that the term "white privilege" makes me cringe.  I associate it with liberal America.  The rich actors & actresses who bail rioters out of jail (those rioters who damaged & destroyed the businesses of working Americans).  I associate the term with academics who are out of the touch with the day to day lives of the rest of us.

But I've started on this journey and I'm seeking to see and listen.

Most of the definitions I read of white privilege left me cold.  Wikipedia talks about societal privilege that benefits white people over non-white people. Wiki also mentions an invisible package of unearned assets. When I read this kind of thing it sounds like no white people suffer.  Or  that affluent white people didn't have to work hard to get to where they are at. 

However, I was captivated by the definition that Hill  shares from Julian DeShazier (incidentally I looked up Julian and am quite impressed.  He's someone I want to listen to more of.  Was deeply moved by his youtube Strange Fruit). DeShazier says "white privilege is the ability to walk away, the ability to go back to normal if we choose".

DeShazier's right - I can always walk away.

This reminds of something that a therapist who I was once seeing told me.  That therapist was black.  She told me once that typically nothing is about race for white people but everything is about race for black people.  I never understood what she meant at that time. It's starting to make sense to me now.

A journey into learning about what being white really means

Most likely because of everything going on in the world around me with the George Floyd tragedy and rioting, I find my heart reaching out to want....change. 

But this is a different kind of longing then I've known in the past.  This time it's not about starting with doing. There's a feeling deep in my inner being that feels like I need to change, but that before I can change, I need to see who I am, where I am at.  Perhaps I also need to learn how people who are different then me see people who are like me.

I want to better understand how people who aren't white feel. 

With this in mind I ordered 2 books to help me, both of which I found were on back order so it will be awhile before I get them.  However, one of them I was also able to purchase on Audible so I've been listening to it.  It's entitled White Awake by Daniel Hill.

The secondary title line on Hill's book is "an honest look at what it means to be white".

I think this is where my journey needs to start - with seeing what it means to be white.

I honestly have never really thought about that.  But I want to journey into understanding what white culture is.  I think because numerically there are more white people in America, it is the dominant culture.  Because it's the dominant culture it is unrecognized.

One of the things that I think has positioned me to be ready to embark upon this journey is a situation with my youngest son Daniel that's been going on for a few years.  He has some beliefs that don't make sense to me and he's almost ostracized me. Because he is my son and my love for him is great, I've been willing to do what it takes to keep the relationship.  One of the truths I came to as I've been on that journey with Daniel was that I needed to become a safe person for Daniel to share how he felt.  To not come to Daniel with an attitude of needing to defend myself, but to come with him a sincere desire to want to hear his perception, his pain, his experience.  Now Daniel and I aren't anywhere near where I long to be yet.  He has a list of things I am not allowed to talk with him about: my spiritual beliefs, politics, anything he thinks could be advice (and trust me on this, there's a lot of things that I can't fathom how he perceived them to be advice giving).  But one of the things I've learned, and am constantly seeking to grow at doing, is this idea of really hearing another person.  To understand that the other person's experiences and "reality" may not match mine and to set my "reality" aside for a moment to hear the other person's.  I guess it's a simple as the old adage about stepping into another person's shoes.

So I am coming to this whole issue of race with a desire to step back, look at myself and my own white culture, and hear how people who aren't white perceive white culture.

Right now I don't want to do anything other than as accurately as possible really see and hear.

Heavenly Father, I open up my heart to You.  Please open my eyes and heart so I can see and hear.  Please lead me where I am to go.  I affirm my trust in You.  I thank You that You are trustworthy.  Oh Father I ask forgiveness for my former complacency and apathy.  I'm sorry for my shallow concern for the struggles of my brothers and sisters of color. Thank You for Your patience with my slowness.  Father, You're the only one who can bring about change.  Show me what I need to do, and Father please change what needs to be changed in me.  Oh Holy Spirit empower me to cooperate with the process of the upcoming days.....

Monday, May 25, 2020

1 Peter 1:2B (TPT)

May God’s delightful grace and peace cascade over you many times over!

Photo from Stanford medicine

God I need You. I need Your grace and peace. As the water cascades over the rocks, I need Your grace and peace splashing over me; over the rocky places in my soul. I need that water to soften up the membranes of my soul so that the water of Your grace and peace seep into me. Seep into me until I am full. Full of grace. Grace means to do honor or credit by one’s presence. Biblical grace is about Your enabling power and spiritual healing offered through mercy and love of Jesus Christ. Peace means totality and completeness, success, fulfillment, wholeness, harmony, security, and well being. Father, change me on the inside so that I can experience this. Enable me to cooperate with You in this work.

Friday, May 22, 2020

The struggle

Today I'm struggling.
February 2012 – Reaching Hurting Women Ministries
Photo from Reaching hurting women ministries

I'm so over the top tired.

This whole COVID-19 situation has created lots of extra work at my job.  Lots of missives coming out every week from LA county DPH (dept of public health), from CMS (Center for Medicare & Medicaid), and the CDC.  Lots of time trying to figure out what they mean to me operationally for our facility and then working with our director of staff development  to determine how to train everyone on these changes.  Typically staff training prep and execution are among my favorite things, but I just feel exhausted.

Of course this is on top of an already challenging job of running a skilled nursing facility (SNF) with a special treatment program for schizophrenics.

My people are tired.  They've been working hard to absorb all the changes.  We have to wear these masks and goggles and that's exhausting; especially given that a large portion of our facility is outside.  On the good side it's like a park with all the big trees and grass; I've always adored these grounds.  But it's warm and the mask & goggles feel awkward and hot.  It sounds so minor but I can see it taking a toll on folks, and know it does me too.

I'm the administrator.  I'm the leader.  I've got to be positive, unafraid, confident and give encouragement to everyone else.  Make sure that I take care of my people.

It's not like I'm alone.  I've got some great leaders on my team who have really worked together with me to try to make things good for staff.

I recognize that I have so much to be thankful for.

We have not had anyone come down with COVID-19 symptoms (I say it this way because my guess is that if you tested all of the patients and our staff you'd find several of us have the virus but no symptoms).  My heart goes out to the traditional SNFs who are serving the elderly and have COVID-19 running rampant through their buildings and people dying.  Those are the people I'm praying for.  Those are the people who have a right to be tired.

But, even so, I still feel how I feel.  I can't guilt myself into feeling any better.  I read something from Brian Morykon with Renovare that struck true for me.   Morykon said:

"When I feel down, I’ll often compare my situation to others who currently have it much worse or historical worst case scenarios. My self pep talk goes something like this: “Get over it.”

This works about as well as you’d imagine.

While a strong dose of perspective is sometimes just the thing we need, author Fil Anderson notes that it is rarely healthy to “get over it”—things pushed down eventually come out sideways. We must instead enter into it and pass through it.  And to do that, “it” has to be clearly named."

This resonated for me.

Then my second thought was - but what is it?  What's actually making me feel so above and beyond overwhelmed and exhausted?

My first thoughts leap to what a poor woman of faith I am.  That I'm not making enough time to spend time in God's presence and that's why I'm so exhausted.

Now, it certainly is true that I will benefit from more time with God.  More time of spiritual nourishment so my soul can be strengthened for those tasks set before me.  I truly believe that God wants to use me right where I am and that I'm where I'm supposed to be.  But the guilt and self put downs are rarely helpful.

I don't get to bed at a reasonable time at night.  Partially 'cuz I'm afraid to go to bed - I've a history of tossing and turning. Partially 'cuz I stay up late reading fiction or watching TV and the conscious thoughts are about fun - I want fun in my life, this vicarious living out something energetic and fun calls to me. There's something disturbingly unwholesome in this whole dynamic but I don't know exactly how to fix it.  I guess, going forward, I will just make myself stop everything - reading, Youtube, TV-within 7.5hrs of when I need to get up the next day.  I can just sit for 30 minutes with my thoughts if I want to .....I'll try that and see what happens.

Maybe my it is a group of things that when all put together make it seem like "too much".  The work demands & sleep issues mentioned above combined with my own deepest fears of inadequacy.  Can I really do this, really be enough, really give my staff what they need and be the leader that can make things good here?  Of course not.  I know that God has me here, but it's only through Him that I'll ever pull this off.

Right now, I'm not even good at praying.  But I thank You God that You've give me Your Holy Spirit to live within me.  I thank You that Your Word tells me that the Holy Spirit prays with words that can't be expressed. Oh Father, I need You.  I need Your encouragement, hope, strength, wisdom and joy...

Friday, May 15, 2020

It's great when stuff works

Mini Glass Purple Jar with Lid
Image from The Purple Store
It's always delightful when something works.

Recently at work I took a risk - and it paid off!

With all the COVID-19 things it's extra tough at work.  Thankfully, to date, we've not had any patients catch the virus.  But I still recognize how hard it is for my staff.  All the new rules; just donning the required goggles and face mask make work feel harder.  Not to mention that it's tough for staff after work; even little things like going to the grocery store are hard now.

To help accommodate for this, we've been doing things for staff at work.  But, aside from one psychological first aide video training, it's all been food related.  We've provided staff with 2 or 3 meals or some snacks each week just to make things a bit easier for them.  Also, because when there's food it's a soul-connection time as we share food and eat together.

A few weeks ago I got the idea that I wanted to give staff the gift of time for themselves.  My Health Information Manager helped me.  We bounced ideas off each other and came up with all kinds of creative things.  We took our Resident activity room and turned into an interest center room for 3 days.  There was a gardening section, the pool table, a nap area, and a scrap book section where people could make their own page for a facility scrap book.  We had aroma therapy scents and music playing.  We let staff sign up for 1/2 hour slots to spend in the room while a manager covered that 1/2 for them so they could go take time for themselves.

The part where I feel like I was putting myself out there was the training that went with the sign ups for this.  It was just a 1-page worth of 14pt writing where I spoke from my heart to the staff.  It had a picture atop of water going into a well. I super briefly used the water well analogy and talked about how as care givers we are like a well that is always giving out water.  I exhorted them about the need to ensure that they do things to keep their well full so that they can keep giving out.  Then tied this idea into the room filled with "filling" things in which they could choose to engage.  I even kind of preached just a tiny bit about gratitude.  How being grateful as a way of life will help fill their wells.  We had a glass jar and lots of brightly colored small paper squares on which staff could write something for which they're grateful and put in the jar.  I let them know that we're going to keep the gratitude jar going even after the 3-day gift of time event.

I was scared that this whole thing might bomb.  The director of nursing initially just acted distracted and didn't get into it when I tried to explain what I wanted to do.  But medical records and the activity director helped me.  I'm so grateful to say that staff super got into it and totally had fun with it.  There's lots of beautiful individual pages in our scrapbook.

Most of all I'm blessed to see a glass gratitude jar filled with brightly colored bits of paper!  And yes, I'll admit it.  I read through all of them and my heart is overflowing.....

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.
Blog Widget by LinkWithin