Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Quotes for reflection....

Shalem Institute has posted several quotes over the last few days on their Facebook page (along with pictures) that have caused me to stop and think.  I share them here for your reflection.

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." ~T.S. Eliot
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
It is possible I am pushing
through solid rock,
like the vein of ore
encased, alone.

I am such a long way in
... I can see no way through and no space.
Everything is close to my face
and everything close to my face is stone.

I don't have much knowledge yet in grief,
so this darkness makes me feel small.
You, be the Master;
Make yourself fierce; break in.
And then your great transforming will happen to me
And my great grief cry will happen to you.

Rainer Maria Rilke
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I have lived on the lip
of insanity, wanting to know reasons,
knocking on a door. It opens.
I've been knocking from the inside.”
― Rumi
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Mystery: it is all around us, and we do not know it.... But sometimes when we give it time and space - whether in deep peace or great anguish - it will come up behind us, or meet us face to face, or move within us, changing the way we see everything, and filling our heart with joy and an upspringing of love that needs no direct object because everything is its object."
~Mary C. Morrison in Let Evening Come
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"There is a you called the Centre...the Bottom of the soul. This depth is the unity, the eternity, of your soul;... it is so infinite that nothing can satisfy it or give it any rest but the infinity of God."   ~William Law
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
These quotes (and/or poems) caught my attention [along with the pictures with which they were posted].  There are thoughts here that resonate within my heart, mind, and soul.  Thoughts that cause me to reflect.
When you read these, what captures your attention?
Blessings on your journey.

Monday, July 23, 2012

I'm diving in! The theme of going deeper keeps returning.

I've written before about going deeper, about diving in deeper, etc.  I find it strangely odd, yet comforting, that this theme of going deeper in my spiritual life journey keeps coming up.  As I've referred to in past posts, one of the times in my life that will always be a spiritual marker for this is a time on a mission trip to Costa Rica in 2006, while at El Bambú.  I felt God letting me know it was time to go deeper in my relationship and I had NO IDEA truly what that really was going to mean.  Yet, my husband Riley responded with "go with the flow" and my life has been a very interesting ride since then.

Academy weeks tend to be times of going deeper, at least for me.  I would imagine that is the case with most folks.  There is silence and solitude.  There is time to have conversations with others.  There is worship time.  There are faculty sessions and then plenary sessions to debrief the reflection time.

This past week, I had been careful to not really pray for marinating as I had once in the past.  There wasn't really anything on  my mind, though I was starting to feel on edge the week prior to going.  And, as I've briefly written, that could have been my heart, mind, and soul being prepared for the Academy time or it could have been a number of other things.... or a combination. 

What I do know is that one afternoon (Thursday, July 19th) during my reflection time after the "Discernment and Ways of Prayer" session on "Walking With a Formed Heart" with Dr. Steve Harper, some thoughts struck me.  We were to answer the question: "In relation to the three dimensions of formation [lifelong process, of being conformed to the image of Christ, for the sake of others], which do you feel more congruent with?  Why?  Which one do you feel is calling for the most of your attention at this time?  Why?"  [This question and the discussion came from a Dr. Robert Mulholland quote from Invitation to a Journey on spiritual formation.  Steve Harper was showing us how this quote can be applied to discernment.  I have this book, but haven't gotten to read it yet.] We can go in other directions as the Spirit leads, but I was working with this question.  While working with it, "for the sake of others" is what kept coming to me as what is calling me the most right now.  At that point, my sleepy eyes and body got the best of me and I did another holy thing for a few minutes-- nap.  When I awoke, a refrain to a song came to my mind out of nowhere (seemingly) because I've not heard this song in a while.  In fact, I had to use my phone to look it up.  But what came into my head were these words: "I'm diving in!"  So, when I looked it up, I learned that the song was by Steven Curtis Chapman.  The refrain in its entirety (because I could only remember a little) and the two verses struck me as appropriate to my reflection and where I am on the journey.  Though I can not explain what this fully means or what it will look like, I am only responsible for the next step that I can see.  So, I'm diving in!

The lyrics to "DIVE" by Steven Curtis Chapman:

The long awaited rains
Have fallen hard upon the thirst ground
And carved their way to where
The wild and rushing river can be found
And like the rains
I have been carried here to where the river flows, yeah
My heart is racing and my knees are weak
As I walk to the edge
I know there is no turning back
Once my feet have left the ledge
And in the rush I hear a voice
That’s telling me it’s time
to take the leap of faith
So here I go

I’m diving in, I’m going deep
in over my head, I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow,
in over my head, I want to go
The river’s deep, the river’s wide,
the river’s water is alive
So sink or swim, I’m diving in

There is a supernatural power
In this might river’s flow
It can bring the dead to life
And it can fill an empty soul
And give a heart the only thing
Worth living and worth dying for, yeah
But we will never know the awesome power
Of the grace of God
Until we let ourselves get swept away
Into this holy flood
So if you’ll take my hand
We’ll close our eyes and count to three
And take the leap of faith
Come on let’s go

Press here for a link to the song on YOUTUBE.

What about you?  Is there something specific calling to you from the three areas of formation mentioned in the reflection question?  Or, is there something in the song that calls to you?

One thing that I continue to learn on my journey is that deep calls to deep.

May there be times to dive in on your journey!  Come on, let's go!


God speaks through Jesus Calling over and over again...

On Tuesday July 17th, I left at 4:30 am for my journey to the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park, FL for Academy session #5.  I leave early because I prefer to slip through the Atlanta area prior to stand-still traffic.  The total travel time for that day was 9 hours and 40 minutes.  Not bad for stopping in Gainesville, FL at Jason's Deli for lunch.

Since I got up at 3:30 am and left at 4:30 am, I didn't do any devotional reading prior to my leaving.  Instead, I spent time in the car with music in Spanish and English throughout the trip.

After arriving, settling into my room, and starting the first day of the Academy, I was finally able to get to my devotion when I returned to my room at bed time.

When I opened up Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young to see what was there for July 17th, I chuckled and thought 'how appropriate' for the first day of my Academy week as I read the first line: "COME AWAY WITH ME for a while.  The world, with its nonstop demands, can be put on hold." (208)  The first line of the 3rd paragraph also caught my attention: "I have called you to follow Me on a solitary path, making time alone with Me your highest priority and deepest Joy." 

These Academy weeks are commitments of high priority in my life of times to get away and spend time with God the Father, Christ the Son, and Holy Spirit so that I might hear more clearly and grow in my relationship with my Creator. 

What perfect timing for these words, this devotion.  Though I only highlighted two phrases of the devotion, it is packed with more.  The challenge for me is to intentionally take the time to get away EVEN in the midst of the busyness of my life and day.  To quieten my heart, mind, and soul for some moments apart.  Not just quarterly, not even simply daily, but ongoing... as needed.  Whether I am able to get off into the woods or build a fire in my fire pit or not, I need to find ways to make the alone time happen. 

It can be done.  I know that from experience.  My hope and goal is to live into it more often.

This is partially how my Academy week began, with these thoughts from Jesus Calling.  There is more..... thoughts on the discussions, alligators and seeing Jesus (the Jesus Doll). 

May you make time to get away to be alone with the Creator on your journey!



Wham Bam! Reality hits hard.

Well, I'm back home from session #5 of the 2 year Academy.  And since wifi wasn't working in the building in which I stayed, I didn't get a chance to write out my thoughts and reflections via posts.  So, I will probably be posting several posts in the next few days to clear out my heart, mind, and soul a little bit.

I drove home yesterday in my "rolling sanctuary" (car).  Without traffic jams or accidents I made decent time, getting home in 9 hours and 25 minutes (give or take a few).  I was able to debrief some, relax, listen to music, etc. on my journey home. 

The brick wall of reality hit during my drive home with the bombardment of text messages from my step-son (and/or his communicator on his behalf) and the notice from my phone carrier (upon my arrival home) that I am over the limit and have accrued charges.  [NOTE:  I chose to ignore his texts, even during rest stop breaks.  Yet one cannot help but notice the constant buzzing of the phone.]  I thought I would try to call him to see if he wanted to talk.  If only my step-son would answer the phone.  Yet, in this cycle he is in, it won't happen.  We live around his cycles.  The bizarreness of it all, along with the hatred toward family, can be overwhelming at times.  Thankfully, we are a team of four seeking to deal with the situation:  his mother and father as well as me as step-mom and his step-dad. 

That is one part of reality.... Now that I'm home, there are MANY things that require my attention.... not to mention my family, household chores, phone calls that came during my absence, a phone call I need to make to the West Coast, phone calls to friends here, ETC.  WHEW!! 

So, there wasn't much transition time beyond my rolling sanctuary this trip.  However, I am grateful for that time to have been as pleasant and as peaceful as it was!

Now, before I go any further in this day, I am going to have another cup of Costa Rican coffee and spend some time with God.  Maybe then I will be better prepared to deal with whatever comes my way today.

Blessings on your journey!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Quiet Time--Lessons from a bookmark

Quiet time.  Ahh.... Just the thought of it sounds wonderful.  My quiet time isn't as lengthy some days as I may want or need, but I attempt to incorporate quiet time into my life.  Thankfully, I'm heading into a week in which I'll be able to have quite a bit of quiet time.  Academy #32, week/session #5, here I come.  You could add "ready or not" to that statement.  In some ways, I'm really ready... ready to be near the alligators again, to be with my covenant group and the rest of the folks of Academy #32.  Yet, I go with some sadness, because some folks won't be there this session nor in the future, and they will be missed greatly.  I go not so ready as well because I'm no way near to having read the required readings this time.  Spring semester with my courses was fairly intense and I didn't really get to start Academy reading until after the semester.  I'm also not 100% ready to learn what God might have for me this go around, but I am open.  And that's about all I can offer.

So, what's that about "quiet time"?  Oh, yeah..... I have a set of bookmarks that I picked up to give somebody sometime.  Don't know who; don't know when.  I looked at it again today and thought it would be something I might write about.  Thus the post.

Here is the bookmark:

In case it is difficult to read, I'll type out what it says:

"You can keep Christ at the center of your life by spending quiet time with Him.  This quiet time is an appointment you keep with Him daily.  Here are some suggestions for developing a consistent quiet time...

Priority-- Make this a priority in your day.  Select a time and a schedule around 15 minutes daily.

Preparation-- Find a place where you can be alone.  Have your materials together (Bible, journal, devotional book, prayer list, pen or pencil).

Plan-- Develop a plan that includes prayer, Bible study, and writing down your thoughts."

On the back on the bookmark is this Scripture from Hebrews 10:22-- "Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith..."

This is a Broadman Church Supplies bookmark, copyrighted 2008.

How is "quiet time" on your journey? 

~Debra ☺

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Keep Walking the Path...

Hiking Path at Camp Lookout, taken 2011.

Have you ever second-guessed where you were heading or wondered if you were truly on the right path?  I have.  It's something that comes to mind off and on for me.  Though it seems right for me to no longer be a full time language educator, I have questioned where I'm heading.  Part of that questioning is that I cannot fully see.  I know where I am now.  I am at 53 hours of the 96 required for the M.Div.  I have been approved and supported by the Staff Parish at my local church and by the local church.

The next step for the former is to keep on taking classes.  But, I need to be careful in taking them because I need to have 1/3 of the total on campus (the rest I'm taking online via the EXL option).  So far, I have 3 credits on campus.  It hasn't worked out to take more yet, though I'm hoping that this upcoming Academy session works out to be an Independent Study as well, as one of the Faculty is also an Asbury seminary Faculty.  If this works out, this can give me another on campus course.  The next step on the latter will be to meet with the District committee at some point. 

There are days when I wonder why I'm putting so much time, money, and energy into this degree and why I'm here in the first place.  It is in those times that I need to go back and remember how I got here.  I got here by listening to the Voice of Truth, the One who Called me, my Creator.  Both the calling back into seminary and the calling to begin the Ordination journey were clear callings to me.  Could I still be wrong even if I think I clearly heard?  Yes, there is that chance.  I've made quite a few mistakes in my life.  Yet there were affirmations at the time, and since....

Even so, I still question.  Maybe it's because all the other voices have gotten louder again and I can barely hear the Still, Small One.

This morning, I opened up Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence by Sarah Young to see what God might have for me today, this 14th of July.  And, this is why I was prompted to write.

Here is what I read:

"KEEP WALKING with Me along the path I have chosen for you.  Your desire to live close to Me is a delight to My heart.  I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not My way for you.  Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain.  The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak.  Someday you will dance lightfooted on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy.  All I require of you is to take the next step, clinging to My hand for strength and direction.  Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend.  Stay on the path I have selected for you.  It is truly the path of Life." (205)

Scripture references: Psalm 37:23-24; Psalm 16:11

Wow!!  That was timely in my life.  Okay, okay, I get it God.  I will keep walking the path and simply take the next step. 

How about you?  When you doubt, remember to simply take that next step.  Remember to keep walking the path that God has chosen for you.  Live close to God.  Cling to God for strength and direction. 

Blessings as you continue your journey,


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Kingdom Thoughts from Angry Birds

A few weeks back, it struck me that Angry Birds could be an analogy for the Kingdom. 

For me, it was one of those light bulb, a-ha moments.  Some of you might differ in opinion.  That's okay.  We can see Kingdom things in many places when our eyes are open.  And, often, the way we see the analogies isn't how someone else will see them or relate to them.

Each Angry Bird is unique in color, shape, and gift.  They have a specific task that they can fulfill based on their ability.  Together, they can conquer those pigs who have stolen from them.  To me, this is the Body of Christ.  We are multi-colored, multi-cultured; we are various shapes and sizes; and we are gifted differently.  Together, we can conquer the enemy who has stolen from us.

Some analogies lose strength if taken too far.  And, I'm not sure how far I could take this anyway.  But, it was a thought I had a few weeks back in June (June 19th to be exact) and thought I'd share it.

As for the game Angry Birds.... it's something I tried to stay away from for a while.  But, last semester with my studies, it became my reward and study break.  My daughter is the one who introduced me to the game, having put a few apps on my phone.  So, I guess it's because of my daughter that I was even able to come up with the Kingdom thoughts about Angry Birds. ☺ 

Where do you find Kingdom analogies?

Blessings on your journey!


Monday, July 9, 2012

I tried to skip church, but technology wouldn't allow me....

So, I tried to skip church yesterday.  That's right.  And, I admit it.  It's okay.  I've already confessed to my associate pastor.  She knows.  I wasn't going to totally miss it.  I planned to watch it on the screen, LIVE!  The watching was good, but my lip reading wasn't so good and the sound wasn't working.  So, I showered and headed in for the 2nd service.  [By the way, it's okay to skip church.... to get out and be church... but that wasn't what I was doing yesterday.]

I got to see some folks I wouldn't have if I didn't go in..... I got to see the end of the 1st service on the screen in the Narthex.  I got to see my husband at the altar with our daughter next to him... and others around too.  That was powerful.  I got to see folks in the hallway and in Sunday School.

I got to see folks in the 2nd service, one of those a visitor with whom I worked a recent Emmaus weekend.

You might be wondering why I was trying to skip out of community and simply watch via the internet.  So, I'll let you know.... I really wasn't in the mood to be around people yesterday.  There are days like that, you know.  Even for extroverts. ☺  And when this extrovert isn't getting enough silence and solitude, it becomes even harder to be among others.  Add to it the fact that I don't wear much of a mask anymore and it's not always fun or easy to be around others.... if you're going to live an authentic life, that includes being authentic about the struggles.  And, sometimes I'd rather not be so authentic about that.

Before I went to church, I did send out notice to some long time sisters in Christ to let them know that I was struggling and on edge these days.  Honestly, I can't put my finger 100% on it.  But, I have been standing in the gap for others.... and there is need to stand in the gap in my own life.  Plus, heading into another session of the Academy means that I'm about to be shaken up even more (because I'm not praying for marination time again!!).   Between the physical, emotional, and spiritual things of life, I can sense the need for someone to be holding up my arms for extra strength.  And, sense I call to accountability others to reach out, I reached out.

Today, I got a message from a recent new friend/author who asked "How can we pray for you?"  What timing?!?!  That was pretty cool!  I didn't mention my spiritual funk from yesterday or my attempt to skip church.  He can read about that here. ☺  What I mentioned was the upcoming Academy week.... for me... and for my family back home as they have time together.  Then another trip later in the summer, a mission trip to Costa Rica. 

There is reason for there to be spiritual edginess in my life. ☺

This morning I read a quote by Brennan Manning in A Guide To Prayer for All Who Seek God.  It is from Manning's Reflection for Ragamuffins, but I found it on pages 278-279 of the Guide.  Manning writes: "What the world longs for from the Christian religion is the witness of men and women daring enough to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, wild enough to be burned in the fire of love, real enough to make others see how unreal they are.  Jesus, son of the living God, anoint us with fire this day.  Let your Word not shine in our hearts, but let it burn.  Let there be no division, compromise, or holding back. [...]"

That quote grabbed me this morning...... that's how I want to live, that's how I hope I'm living.  I recognize that I'm not 100% successful 100% of the time, but I do hope and pray that the percentage is more now than it was 5, 10, 15, 20 years ago.  I hope to be that person that dares "to be different, humble enough to make mistakes, wild enough to be burned in the fire of love, real enough to make others see how unreal they are."

Even with that being my heart's desire, there are days in which I would rather hide out in my "cave", so to speak.  But, thankfully technology doesn't always work and yesterday I was forced to get out.  I was also honest enough to reach out.  Whew! 

How about you?  What is going on in your journey?  Where is it taking you?

Blessings as you continue to learn and grow..... and live it out in community.