Go in the strength you have (not what you don't have)

Go in the strength you have (not what you don't have)

Wednesday Wonderment are weekly 4(ish) minute audio ponderments, prayers or invitations to spiritual practices from Paula Gamble-Grant, the founder of reFresh. This week, in the midst of her own stress and worry, she's turned to Gideon....listen in to the invitations to "go in the strength you have" (not what you don't have!)

Peace and every good to you and all whom you love!

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Earth's Crammed with Heaven...

Earth's Crammed with Heaven...

Part of our growth in the spiritual life has to do with awareness - opening our eyes to see and our hearts to respond to God's movement and action and beauty which is constantly surrounding us. On this week's Wednesday Wonderment, Paula talks about noticing...in what ways might you open the eyes of your heart toward God's love in the ordinary parts of everyday life?

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What if love and beauty are chasing me...?

What if love and beauty are chasing me...?

What if Love and Beauty are chasing you...every day of your life?

Take a short "selah" break in your day to listen - that's right to listen - to Paula ponder and guide you in a short reFlection about God's pursuant love.

Click on the audio and feel free to download and share with your friends.

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Love enters the mystery - part 2

Love enters the mystery - part 2

Love transforms because love unites ~Bonaventure

This longing for "more" is often first presented as a need for clarity and/or understanding of how life/faith/love works. Four out of five people I meet with are trying to "figure it out." When I explore what the "it" is with them, the result they think they want is a formula/plan that "works." It's clear that "it" isn't working, but there's not much clarity about what would be different if "it" did work. 

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Love enters the mystery

Love enters the mystery

"Knowledge may take us to the threshold of God, but love enters into the mystery," ~ Ilia Delio 

Spiritual Direction happens at the intersection of where people have come to the threshold of God with knowledge, and know it’s not enough. They are the ones who are hungering for something more, something deeper, something more significant. My privilege as a Spiritual Director is to companion the daring souls who have arrived at this threshold. It is in this place where I hear things like,

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Ordinary time

Ordinary time

This very uninspiring title of "Ordinary time" is part of the rhythm of the church year. There are the "special" seasons - like Advent and Christmas, Lent and Easter. But depending upon how many Sundays there are, 33 or 34 weeks within a calendar year are deemed "ordinary." Currently, we are in the 2nd week of ordinary time and will be so until Nov 29th when Advent kicks off a new church calendar year.

Ordinary is just so...ordinary: common, unexceptional, routine, average, mundane, standard, normal. When you hear the word "ordinary," what happens inside of you? A "bleh" or a "please!" Repulsion or relief? Disgust or delight? 

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Trusting the rhythm of quiet

Trusting the rhythm of quiet

I am so grateful as of late for my directees. Recently, it feels to me like God is distant and quiet. This isn't the first time this has happened. And it won't be the last. It isn't as disturbing as it used to be...I've journeyed enough to know that God can feel both fully present and fully absent at the same time. He is immanently transcendant. He is transcendantly immanent. Though I don't feel he is "near" I am yet reassured somewhere deep in my soul that I am held together by the One who both unravels me and holds all things together at the same time.

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Forty Days

Forty Days

Lent is 40 days long. I say it again... loooooong. If you have chosen to abstain from something for Lent this year, or have done so in the past, you probably understand why I say this.

I can maintain anything for a couple weeks. It is a challenge to continue being intentional about this observance of Lent for 40 days plus the Sabbath days. March 5-April 20.

I have been pondering how long 40 days feels. I am pondering how 40 days played out in the Scriptures

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Ego is a crappy listener...

Ego is a crappy listener...

Last week I read a blog snippet of a man who walked the Camino del Santiago in Spain as a pilgrimage. It is something I hope to do someday and I'm always intrigued by reading how others become more attuned to themselves and God along the way.  

In this post [click HERE for original] , David Fulton talks about how he got blisters - even though he prepared for the journey, had a steady pace, invested in good socks, broke in his boots and everything. Then it hit him. He had come on the journey to slow down and even with all his meticulous preparations, he still got gnarly, painful blisters and was pushing through them to accomplish the journey. The question became, would he heed his body's signal for rest?

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Everyday Parables - the struggle to be present

Everyday Parables - the struggle to be present

Sunday's softball game was frustrating to me. It was not because of the hot 90 plus degree weather – our catcher was getting sunspots in her eyes and dizzy from getting up and down and standing in the glaring sun. It wasn't because I got a nice abrasion on my leg by trying to get back to third base and not making it in time. It wasn't because of my bobbled ball in fielding a hard grounder to second.

My frustration came because it seemed no one could live in the present.

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Everyday Parables .... tenacity

Everyday Parables .... tenacity

I love to walk in the summer. Unfortunately, if I get out real early, my face and hands intercept the spun webbings of fastidious little creatures. I usually vocalize a bit of an “argh” in frustration while I swipe at the sticky threads on my flesh. I dream of inventing a device to attach to my dog's back so that as he careens down the trail in front of me, he can wipe out the webs at my face level.

What surprises me is that often, on our way back, we intercept a fresh web in the same place. And this time, instead of being frustrated, I am astonished...amazed...and in awe at these little multi-legged creatures who so quickly and tenaciously rebuild their web.

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Everyday Parables...Am I missing out???

A watched pot never boils.

A strained achilles, even when “watched” and attended too, takes an awfully long time to heal.

I am growing impatient and want to be done with the everyday parables of my achilles. Yet, here I am again,  frustrated that I will still miss out on two more weeks of softball to give space for my strained achilles to regain it's strength and mobility. I'd like to say that I'm learning patience, but...

This ongoing rehab and healing process continues to unearth things in me – things about both God and me. I'd much rather prefer to look at the flowers in the field and the birds in the air to learn more about my God and to soothe my worried soul. But it seems my summer assignment thus far (even in the context of the “do not worries” of Matthew 6 is to look at my achilles – without worry – and without fear of missing out. Yea, I know, “look at your achilles” is not in the Bible. And yet I continue to lean in - letting this pain lead me to better understand my God, my soul and the needs of my body.

What about God?

I love my chiropractor. She is fascinated and in awe of the human body and how everything connects and works together for optimal health – from what we eat to how we move and how we prepare to move and how we take care of ourselves after we move. As I lay on the table being ultra sounded or massaged or “adjusted” she teaches me...she, with a lilt of awe and with everyday language shares how the body works, what the body needs. And she prescribes and demonstrates treatments (exercises, supplements, stretches with frequency etc) to help me get better. Her awe fans the flame of my own. By stretching my gluts, I help my soleus, which helps my achilles. By doing heel drops I help the “sticky like” stuff that comes in to help hold/heal the little tears in my achilles to align more rightly instead of laying in a mess like globby pick-up-sticks. Vitamin C will help speed the results as well. I always leave the chiropractor feeling like I was listened to, attended to, and given both care and information to help me heal better. I am in awe and more aware of how amazing my body works each time I leave her office.

The last few times I've been injured (whiplash and sprained ankle) I knew I need to go to a doctor. But I chose to go to my chiropractic doctor because I know my primary care physician would take a short look, maybe touch my achilles to determine the level of pain and then tell me to R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compress, elevate). In other words she would tell me, as a life-time lay athlete, what I already know! She would then, perhaps, refer me out to a Physical Therapist or Sports Medicine specialist. Another doctor, another co-pay, another scheduling appointment to squeeze in.

I keep choosing to go to my chiropractor, though, because she doesn't merely tell me what I already know … she attends to my injury and teaches me how to care for myself to bring healing. For a whole hour I experience a hands on massage, electric stimulation, ultra sound, being adjusted or having her teach me new stretching or kinesio taping techniques. Actually, when I think about it – she is how I want God to be... experientially instructive, hands on concern and assistance with the parts of my body that are keeping me from living out fully and freely. Instead of just pontificating knowledge, writing a prescription and referring me out (all in 12 minutes or less), she pulls up her sleeves and companions me in my healing process.

I wonder if we see God like the general doctor (especially the ones constrained my today's health care industry and insurance standards). Why go to God when He only tells us what we already know (I should stop overeating, swearing, gossiping, and/or pray, care for the downtrodden, read my Bible more)? Why go to hear a “standard” prescription as a remedy (but not necessarily a cure), knowing that it might help for a while, but will probably not get to the core of the issue? If my doctor only has 12 minutes to spend with me, and then only to refer me out to other tests and procedures or specialists, I will, in the case of a more familiar injury like a sprained ankle or achilles, just google the answers myself and save a bunch of money.

Yea, if God were like that, I wouldn't want to go to Him either.

What am I learning about me?

I don't like resting. I am impatient. I want healing without so much hard work. I don't like being told what to do, but I like being shown what to do. I am determined to get better because sitting on the sidelines sucks. Health is not a place I want to skimp...a place I must continue to lean in and learn my body, my needs, what helps me stay focused, energized and hopefully, without ongoing injuries. My own impatience has slowed my healing process by trying to get back out there too early. I don't like waiting. Interesting, because I believe that I live a much more unhurried existence than most people I know. I have margin in my life. I have room for self-care. But this injury has unhurried me even more...(seriously Lord, even more slowly? I have to say “no” to even more things?) I cannot walk as fast, and it takes time to prepare for a walk, walk, stretch during the walk while I'm warmed-up, walk back home, do heel dips after my walk and ice, compress and elevate. It's summer time and though I can sit and look at the birds and flowers...I want to be frolicking. I'm missing out on hikes and tennis and even joining walking around this city I love.

It's  s o   d a  r n   s    l   o   w  ...

...but the journey (just ask the tortoise) is not about speed. I am not going to miss out.

“...don't you think God will attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving... Steep your life in God-reality, god initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your every day human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what god is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow (if you'll be well enough to play in the next game). God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” Matt 6: 31-34 The Message

Lord, grant me the grace to hear, see, feel the ways you are attending to my soul, in the same way the chiropractor attends to my body. Grant me the grace to continue to receive this injury as a gift, not as a curse. May I experience the reality that I am not missing out...help me to deal with the frustrations when they come. And thank you for making such amazingly complex and integrated bodies!

 

Everyday Parables: A simple blessing on the bases

My ongoing achilles saga.

Though I wish my achilles were all healed and I could frolic freely on tennis courts, in the woods and at the diamond, no such luck. I still am hobbling about being passed by people who have had multiple hip replacements! This has continued to be a frustrating time for me...one that I'm trying to receive as a gift, but one for which I struggle to be grateful. And yet in the midst...

During the game a few weeks ago, after I had re-torn my achilles sprinting to first base, I wasn't sure I could continue to play my normal position, second base. I had a need. Naturally, the true need I had was to sit out so as to quit re-injuring my achilles. But in the moment, already being one player short and perhaps being too prideful to take myself out of the game, I asked my sister-in-law, Callie, if I could switch with her – I'd play first base and she could play second. First has a lot of catching/stretching, but not a lot of movement otherwise. She said, “sure” and bravely stepped into a position that she'd never played before.

In between plays she was asking a ton of questions to me, our pitcher and the shortstop:

     “So do I need to tag someone on this base, or just touch the base?”

     “Do I run out to be a relay for the outfield?”

     “When do I cover 2nd and when does the shortstop cover second?”

     “How far off the bag should I stand?” Etc. Etc.

I didn't think much of it at the time, but later was so impressed by her willingness to care for me in this way. She stepped into an unknown place where she could potentially look/feel incompetent. She stepped in with total willingness to learn on the go. She was unafraid to ask questions and acted and reacted accordingly. She found herself flat on her bottom when a large man charged second plate and she was tossed the ball for the out. She kept a joyful attitude in the midst of the new.

I know she wouldn't think it was much, but in retrospect, it was so huge to me. I could have continued to suffer more by playing at second, but somehow my ability to express my need, and to have my sweet sis-in-law switch with me made me feel loved and taken care of. Indeed, she was a gift in the midst of my struggling with this injury. I am learning more and more that I not an island. This darned injury gifts me with the ability to learn how to receive...and isn't that the gist of kingdom living?

For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith -

and this is not from yourselves,

it is a gift of God - not as a result of works,

so that no one can boast. ~Eph 2:8-9

Leonard Sweet once wrote, “My greatest disability is my inability to receive.” And, yes. I am experiencing that almost daily during this injury. From a neighbor who helped take my “poopy” cat litter to the dumpster, to my sister-in-law who stepped into a new position so that I could have one where I could take a little bit better care of myself, to my friend's 15 year old who voluntarily pulled away from his video game to endure an un-gambol like pace to help me carry my guitar and cooler to my car.

Lord, grant me the grace to receive...to let my heart be humbled by my need and the kindnesses of others. Bless those who, without much thought and yet with deep kindness, have cared for me in little ways. Continue to open my heart to trust your love and care and to be grateful.