Monthly Archives: August 2008

Animal Instinct

Glued to me...

Glued to me...

Ever since I have been home from surgery, guess who has been glued right next to me…
You guessed it:  Reesie, the fourth child.
It different than usual, though.  Usually, Reesie sits in your lap to be petted.  As soon as your hand stops, the nose returns working its way under your fingers hoping the strokes will continue. 
But now, sitting here with my cast, my foot elevated, she just sits.  Reluctantly she will go out to the bathroom.  Quickly she will go downstairs to eat. But then she is right back by my side, alert and ready to keep watch.
In a funny way, it reminds me of the ministry of presence.  I remember in Parker Palmer’s book, A Hidden Wholeness, he speaks of the ministry of presence during his depression.  One of his friends would come over each day and rub his feet for 30 minutes.  Most of the time they didn’t even talk.  It was just the fact that this friend showed up… faithfully… no strings attached.
Can animals be that perceptive?  Do they really know what we need?   I remember now that Reesie’s dad, Casper, is a therapy dog.  Animals bring us so much comfort, love, and joy.   When I wake up in the middle of the night waiting for the pain medicine to kick in,  I am grateful to my friend that is glued to me, licking my toes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Devotion, faith, God, Jesus, Mom, prayer, Presbyterian, Seminary Student, Spirit, Spiritual Formation

The Breaks in Life

I used to think of “breaks” in life to be really good things.  A break on a customer lead, a break from work, summer break, you get the picture.  This is until I broke my foot last weekend…a most unexpected break.  I have spent the last week scooting up stairs, hopping from counter to counter, and sending my family on treasure hunts about the house for things I have forgotten to bring along with me…my glasses, my cell phone, a glass of water.  My lesson this week has been allowing myself to depend on others.  I can’t say I have passed this one with flying colors. 

In my independent mode, it has been really difficult for me to do this.  Friends insist on bringing dinner.  My husband insists on driving me places (luckily it was my left foot!).  My path is just a mess because I can’t carry anything with me while I am on crutches (unless it fits in a small backpack).  First, let me not forget to say how thankful I am to all of you.  Second, let me say feeling dependent is not really my nature.  As a Mom, don’t we want our children to grow up and be independent, self-sufficient, moving on toward a life on their own? 

As I was reflecting on the week, I was drawn to Paul’s ministry.  Paul was quite dependent on those around him.  He had a scribe to write for him.  Church members nursed him.  Friends traveled for him to deliver messages to churches.  I wonder if this troubled Paul?  Did this make Paul less effective?

When I begin to get frustrated and a little testy about a predicament I am in…like this broken foot thing…I like to read Galatians.  Talk about being human.  It is so comforting to me that Paul gets frustrated with this church.

Galatians 3:1-4 NRS Galatians 3:1 ¶ You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2 The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4 Did you experience so much for nothing? — if it really was for nothing.

Am I so foolish to be dependent on so many tasks that in the long run really don’t matter?  Visitors understand the mess.  I actually love it when I don’t have to cook.  My children really don’t mind running little errands for me.  You see this unexpected break has allowed me to expand my focus to things other than those daily tasks I get bogged down in.  This unexpected break has allowed me to let others accept me where I am even though I do not want to be there.  This unexpected break has allowed me to accept the love others want to give me.

Hmmm,  allowing myself to be loved.  Perhaps this is really the lesson I have learned this week.  It is really hard for Moms to sit back and be loved sometimes, because we are so used to doing it for everyone else.  As life is interrupted with little breaks like these, I encourage you to sit back and let others accept you in your broken state.  If you don’t learn anything from the experience, it was a lost opportunity.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cursillo, Devotion, faith, God, Jesus, Mom, prayer, Presbyterian, Seminary Student, Spirit, Spiritual Formation

And how exactly are we connected to the earth?

I’ll be traveling back to Dallas tomorrow, so I am posting my blog today. (Don’t expect this great organization when school starts back!)

While in Colorado, we missed seeing a great “old friend,” Bill Berger.  He passed away in May.  We loved to go see Bill and ride horses at Platte Ranch just south of Fairplay, CO.  Bill was a true kindred spirit.  His “genuine” presence is one to be admired.  I say “genuine” not because he would tell the same story each time we saw him, but because his presence was genuine.  When you were with him, you were important to him. 

I want to share with you a poem Bill wrote which was part of the bulletin at his memorial service:

A Cowboy’s job is to ride the range,

And that I do and notice the change,

The flat lands, pastures and forest, litter and waste,

Remnants of humans, left behind in their haste.

 

Why can’t they slow down, relax and enjoy the sights,

Instead of a quick hike and back to the city lights.

Thinking that nature is here for their use,

Not knowing or caring what results from careless abuse.

 

Mother Nature, she tries with great might,

To tell us and warn us, “Please see the Light.”

The Creator gave us a gift a beauty and wonder,

Too many humans decided to ravage and plunder.

 

The balance of nature, understood by so few,

Been around since the start, so it is nothing new.

To continue to take and forget to give back,

The beauty of nature we take for granted will fall through the crack.

 

Mother Nature she fights and tried to repair,

One against many just isn’t fair.

For one who understands, it brings a tear to my eye,

Without balance, can’t they understand nature will slowly die.

Written by:

Bill Berger, Platte Ranch, Fairplay CO

There is nothing like riding a horse up a hill, through the trees which reveals a beautiful plateau surrounded by mountains towering at 14,000 ft.  And at this moment it is so obvious that in God’s creation we are all connected, man to man, man to mountain, man to horse.  Each part is connected to God, therefore, each part is connected to one created in the image of God.

When I read Bill’s message, I am drawn to that word balance.  Bill found the secret to balance.  It was personal.  It reflected his soul.  It was genuine.  I pray one day to discover the balance Bill knew.  I keep trying, and when I fail, I will try again to appreciate nature, earth, man, animal all part of the balance of God’s creation.  A gift we so quickly overlook.

May you see God’s gift in creation today.

Dean with our friend and guide Jimmy at the Platte Ranch

Dean with our friend and guide Jimmy at the Platte Ranch

 

Bill’s daughter, Amy, has taken over operations at Platte Ranch Riding Stables.  If you are in the Summit County, CO area, go see her.  It will be a blessing to you : 719-836-1670.  And make a plan to stay for dinner.   Our friend Jimmy take great wildlife photos.  You can see them at the ranch, or find them at http://jdubpix.com/

Blessings to all of you who have found a Bill, an Amy or a Jimmy in your life.  Life is precious.  Make it count and know whose you are.

With great love for those who help us figure it out!

Lil

Leave a comment

Filed under Spiritual Formation

Drenched in the Spirit

As I went down in the river to pray
Studying about that good old way
And who shall wear the starry crown
Good Lord, show me the way!

Anticipating the River

Any guide will tell you if you want to get wet,

you must sit in the front of the boat.

When you go to the river to pray,

are you siting in the front of the boat?

Are you ready to get drenched in the Spirit?

Drenched in the River
Joy in the journey
comes from allowing yourself to be drenched in the Spirit!
Joy in the River!
In his book, Christian Meditation, James Finley has a wonderful parable about a river enterer.  In short, this parable is about spiritual journey.  When you come to God’s presence, do you want to stick your toe in the River, or do you want to be drenched in the Spirit.   This is your choice.  For years I came to the river and tested the water with my big toe.  “Why?”  I ask myself.
Perhaps I was afraid of what I would find there.  Would God want me to give up something?  Perhaps I was comfortable and not ready to jump.  Would God want me to change?  Was I afraid to be loved unconditionally?
At one point I had to decide to make the jump… into the deep end, of course.  Otherwise, I would be in just waist high, not drenched by the Spirit.  What I found was…me, being loved unconditionally by God.  Somewhere along my journey I lost myself.  Perhaps it was trying to be the best mother, wife, friend, etc… Somewhere I lost me.  Loving God and being loved by God brings out the truth in who I am. 
I pray that you, too, will jump in the river and be drenched by the Spirit.  This is the joy in the journey.
May you find the river today.
Zechariah 9:15 15 The LORD of hosts will protect them, and they shall devour and tread down the slingers;1 they shall drink their blood2 like wine, and be full like a bowl, drenched like the corners of the altar.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cursillo, Devotion, faith, God, Jesus, Mom, prayer, Presbyterian, Seminary Student, Spirit, Spiritual Formation

Old Friends

2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 16  Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and through grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, 17 comfort your hearts and strengthen them in every good work and word.

 

Do you remember how it feels when you visit with old friends?  There is a bit of anticipation and anxiety.  Have they changed since I saw them last?  Will they still like to play cards after dinner?  Do they still eat red meat?  Will I know what to say to them?  Have I changed too much?

I recently spent the evening with my family and some “old friends.”  It was a wonderful experience.  We picked up right where we left off, easy in the company of one another, updating each other on life’s events since out last time together.  In fact my children exclaimed, “These are some of my best friends, Mom.  I really like to play with them.” 

Just like “old friends”, Jesus’ love is a source of comfort.  We can pick up with Jesus right where we left off.  It might have been yesterday.  It might have been last week, last year, or maybe last decade.  Each one of us lives a different spiritual journey.  But Jesus is there for you, ready to embrace you right where you left off, just like an “old friend” who embraces you when you come home. 

Have you spoken to an “old friend” lately?  May the comfort of our Lord Jesus Christ be present to you when you do.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cursillo, Devotion, faith, God, Jesus, Mom, prayer, Presbyterian, Seminary Student, Spirit, Spiritual Formation

Living with Brokenness

Psalm 147:1-3

1Praise the Lord!

How good it is to sing praises to our God;

for he is gracious, and a song of praise is fitting.

2The Lord builds up Jerusalem;

he gathers the outcasts of Israel.

3He heals the brokenhearted,

and binds up their wounds.

The Psalms were written as prayers to God; therefore, I find myself easily identifying with these texts.  These texts are real, holy, and written to address each one of us.

I am consistently drawn to pray Psalm 147, and I consistently stop and reflect after verse 3.  Why do I do this?  Because in my vulnerable state of brokenness, I see God there with me; God gathers me us.   I see my neighbors there with me; God has gathered them up.  Why is it in our brokenness we so easily see God?  For me, brokenness is being apart from God, not realizing God’s constant presence with me.  In the moment of realization that I am apart from God, broken away and outcast, I am consumed with the presence of God gathering me up.  And for very fact that God seeks me out, I sing praises at all times, broken or whole. 

And I can’t help but smile when I sing.  Singing makes me feel alive.  Singing is like a full body prayer to God, standing up, singing from the soul.  There is a quotation on the wall at Perkins in the call for choir members to the group Seminary Singers which says, “Those who sing pray twice.”   I am not a good singer, but this is not a prerequisite.  Everyone is invited to sing and pray twice.

I invite you to sing today.  And in your song of praise, allow yourself to be healed by the Spirit who will bind up your wounds, allowing you to let go of these wounds, place them at the feet of Jesus and be free. 

(If you, like me, are not choir material, you might try just singing the song in your heart!) 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Cursillo, Devotion, faith, God, Jesus, Mom, prayer, Presbyterian, Seminary Student, Spirit, Spiritual Formation, Uncategorized

“Type A” to “Blank Check”

I love gadgets.  I rationalize using them because I let myself believe they make me more productive.  Once the input is complete, the gadgets even remind me I sould be doing something.  It is quite remarkable actually.  But somehow I just can’t give up the handwritten family calendar.  Two copies in fact.  One that sits in the kitchen at home for all to see and one that goes with me just about anywhere.  You might consider this the Type A part of me.  I don’t like to be late.  I don’t like to reschedule appointments.  A good day is crossing off all tasks with a checkmark – complete.

Realizing this only adds to the stress of my life, I am trying to let go of this control, giving God my life like a “blank check.”  I might not accomplish as many taks during the day, but my day is more meaningful to me.  I see more God-filled moments as I encourage myself to live fully in God’s presencce.

If you want to live more fully in God’s presence, try opening your day with this prayer.  “God, I give you my life today as a blank check.  As you tenderly fill in the “pay to” spaces, I pray that I recognize your presence in each moment.”  And as you close the day, think of the God filled moments which you have shared with God, and close the day with a prayer of thanksgiving for those moments.

May your day be filled with the peace of God,

Lil

Leave a comment

Filed under Devotion, faith, God, Jesus, Mom, prayer, Presbyterian, Seminary Student, Spirit, Spiritual Formation

Hiking with God

I went hiking with my family yesterday. It was a beautiful day. Our destination was Mayflower Gulch in Summit County, CO. I was amazed how difficult it was to get seven people out the door. The teenagers were tired and not thrilled about going on a hike. The backpacks needed to be packed with sunscreen, water, band-aids for blisters, and jackets for a change in weather. And I’m glad my husband did not forget the mosquito spray!

Once we arrived, the mosquitoes were thick. But this did not deter us. We were prepared. The thunder was getting louder over the next mountain. But this did not deter us. We were prepared. The birds were singing sweet melodies, the water was rushing in the distance, and the butterflies were dancing on the wildflowers as if they were a welcoming committee.

My thoughts, opening to God’s presence with us, drew me to the butterflies dancing on the wildflowers. They flew from one bright flower to another, dancing with anticipation like a child on Christmas morning taking in the abundant gifts of love. I made a connection with the butterflies in a new way today. It was clear to me that these beautiful creatures had to prepare for the day. These butterflies must climb out of the cocoon to meet the day.

My thoughts about these butterflies led me to contemplate my relationship with God. I too must be prepared to meet God at the flowers or the leaves or the dirt in the bright sun or in the darkness of night. What’s most important about the preparation is that I actually get out of the cocoon. If I stay tucked away in my home, I miss opportunities to meet God in my life. If I had listened to the children who did not want to hike today, I would have missed this opportunity to learn something about my relationship with God. I must cross the threshold from the house and to get out into the world, into God’ presence choosing to allow God to transform my life.

Friends, may you see butterflies in a new way today!

Lil

1 Comment

Filed under Cursillo, Devotion, faith, God, Jesus, Mom, prayer, Presbyterian, Seminary Student, Spirit, Spiritual Formation

Intentional Living

Summer has given me a chance to refocus.  This is the time I look at my calendar, decide what is important, get rid of the not important, not urgent in my life.  It is a time I can truly reflect on the question, “What do I need to give up so God can give me something in its place”?

After some time of intentional thinking and prayer, I make a list of those things which are important to me and have some sense of urgency to them.  This list becomes my intentional living list.  Then, when I am faced with a decision, I look at this list to see if it fits my intentional living.

If you want more information about getting rid of the “urgent” in your life, I invite you to read perhaps the shortest book you will ever read: Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles E. Hummel.

Intentionally yours,

Lil

Leave a comment

Filed under Cursillo, Devotion, faith, God, Jesus, Mom, prayer, Presbyterian, Seminary Student, Spirit, Uncategorized