Wednesday, March 2, 2016

not a morning pray-er :: reflection

I struggle in finding a consistent time to pray. I have tried many times to be a morning pray-er...it is unsuccessful.  When I am not consistent in it, I begin to feel as if I am failing at prayer.  This has been devastating to me as I truly want to turn to God in prayer the right way.  In the past I have found myself discouraged because of my inability to wake up in the morning and start my day, every day, with prayer.  This week I have been reading through Roberta C Bondi's book 'To Pray & To Love.' As I read through her chapter on how we approach prayer, I was drawn to her statement that "prayer is an expression of each person's relationship to God" and because of this, "there is no one right way to pray."  It is ok that I am not a morning prayer.  I felt freed by Bondi's idea that "we need to cultivate the discipline of giving up violence to the self in exchange for God's gentleness" and when we do, we will see our prayer relationship grow exponentially.  As I accept that my prayer life is not going to look like anyone else's, I am able to fully engage in the relationship God calls me to.  As Abba Poemen tells us, just like a slow and steady drip of water can wear away at a stone, a slow and steady prayer life will wear away at the hardness of our heart and allow God further and further into our being.

My life is noisy. Two children and 800 square feet of living space; Music playing, TV on, children singing, children arguing, rooster crowing, neighbors working on cars, children drumming, humming, buzzing, cars, podcasts and phone ringing.  This noise makes silence seem impossible.  In my search for silence with God I have found that either late at night, walks outside or alone in the bath are the places I can have quiet.  Even then, that is not always the case.  The other day I went for a walk and half way through my children joined me on their bikes unexpectedly.  Silence was gone.  As much as I love my family, the constant noice they produce makes the search for times of silence an ongoing process.  What I have realized about this process is that as I am searching for silence to hear God, I am searching with God.  When my children come into the bathroom to exclaim some very important thing or try and get me to break up an argument all while I am trying to find silence with God in the tub, or when I am out on a walk and 15 minutes in they come riding up behind me on their bikes all smiles and giggles and shouting...God is with me and when he sees them he is not angry because my time with him was cut short.  Rather, he is generous and loving and kind.  He knows I will be back. 

I encourage you to find your prayer time with God, wherever it may be and whatever it may look like.  Do not compare it to someone else.  Your prayer relationship with God will be just as unique as God has created you to be and therefore, unlike anyone else's.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

culturally sensitive minister :: reflections

Wow! That is what I can say about the last few months.  I am 3 weeks into my second semester and I can barely believe it.  In the last five months I have read 8 academic books and numerous articles and papers that have pushed me to explore so many ideas about myself and about God. Currently, as part of my Personal Transformation class, we have been reading a lot about what it means to be a culturally sensitive minister.  

Now I am not a Minister as the noun is sometimes defined since I am not employed by a church. However, I do minister. (I emphasize greatly that I do not give less importance to the lower case m that I use here.)   Recently I was required to address the question of how I would evaluate myself as a culturally sensitive minister.  I had to really dig into how this applies to my current setting.  What I discovered is that I interact with a culture completely different from my own on a daily basis.  

As a mother of a 7th grade daughter, I am finding that being culturally sensitive is vital in my interactions with her.  As I work towards identifying with her culture, I have to remember what it was like to be her age while also accepting the many aspects of her culture that are different from what I experienced.  Without security in God’s love for me and for her, it would be impossible for me to exhibit this sensitivity. Each opportunity I have with her to listen and love her fully as the being God created her to be, means that I need to let go of my own will for her and embrace God’s will for her life. This is an ongoing process and I do not always get it right.  Sometimes my own reactionary will power strikes before I can lovingly evaluate in a culturally sensitive way.  My daughter and I are both works in progress and I cherish the opportunity God has given me to become a more culturally sensitive minister through my relationship with her.

I would encourage you all to look into how you minister within your life and the opportunities you have to be culturally sensitive. As you explore this, you may realize that you interact daily with cultures you had not previously identified and what an amazing opportunity this will open up to you.


Monday, July 27, 2015

reading in the 2nd quarter :: literature

With graduate work just around the corner, I have been taking advantage of any spare moments I have to read some novels.  I have been loving the time spent reading and hope to get in quite a few more before September when my first classes start.


GEMINI by Carol Cassella

*** Had you asked me prior to reading this if I would enjoy novels with plots driven by medically related topics I would probably have said no.  I would have been wrong.  This book was amazing!  Taking place in areas where I grew up and currently live was an added bonus.  Carol does a great job of keeping the reader on their toes as she weaves them through the lives of complex characters who are discovering themselves at the same time the reader is.  I would highly recommend this book. 



ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr

*** How lucky am I to read two books in a row that are completely stellar yet so very different from one another. There is so much in this world we cannot see, either because of physical impairment or influential forces steering us.  In All The Light We Cannot See, we are given glimpses into the lives of two young kids as they come of age in countries ravaged by war.  Anthony Doerr does an exquisite job in developing characters that grab a hold of your emotions and become familial in every aspect. I found myself carrying this book with me everywhere so I wouldn't miss an opportunity to read a little more. A great WWII era novel you won't want to miss.


OXYGEN by Carol Cassella

** I couldn't help myself. Picking this up in June at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island at a local author's event I was excited to get started on it.  The book really was great.  I loved how it analyzed the medical profession and the aspects of it that are driven by the corporate world rather than patient or employee care.  That said, I was disappointed with how abrupt the end was.  Carol Cassella spent the first 5/6 of the book developing amazing characters and a succulent plot line, then brought it all to a conclusion so quickly at the end I left with a slight disappointment. I wanted it to last longer.

RUBY by Cynthia Bond

* / ***  Completely torn is how I am currently feeling as I attempt to decide how to rate this book.  The literary abilities of the author shine through. From the characters to the setting, Cynthia Bond did an amazing job at pulling her reader into a world that they otherwise would never see.  However, the novel is dark.  I find myself having difficulties deciding what to say about a book that ultimately made me feel a little sick while I was reading it.  The grisly rape and murder of a young child living in a home filled with young early elementary age girls that were sold out for sexual favors and fantasies to older men....just one of the many difficult character developments that filled the pages. I have to leave it to you, the reader, to decide if this is a book you will embark upon. If you do choose to pick this book up and read it, you are sure to be captivated by the literary skill of the writer. However, be aware there are many difficult passages and themes and please share your thoughts as a comment to this post.  I would love to hear what you thought.


MAN AND BOY by Tony Parsons

** Sometimes in life tough situations cause us to re-evaluate where we are at and what we are doing.  This story follows a man who makes choices in his life that prompt him to have to make some grown up decisions. The main character did not pull you in to root for him, but rather continued to make comments that almost push you away.  Then, just when you have almost given up on him every redeeming himself, you start to see the pieces falling together.  What I realized half way through reading this was that it was real life. This book allows us a glimpse into a man's life as he faces the repercussions of choices made because of his inner demons while also letting us witness his self revelation and redemption. A British book, there is some word usage that an American may not be familiar with but I did not find this hindering in any way.  I did short this book a star because of the excessive use of the 'F' word.


A YEAR OF BIBLICAL WOMANHOOD by Rachel Held Evans

*** What fun!  A great read.  Humorous and also educational.  The reader follows Rachel's struggles and triumphs as she maneuvers through a year of living out 'Biblical Womanhood.'  I myself loved her references to scripture and how different scriptures have been pulled out of context to suit the desires of specific organizations or denominations while yet others seem to have been forgotten.  While reading in the evenings, I found myself sharing the humorous stories throughout the book with my husband; he couldn't help but chuckle.  I encourage all to read this eye opening narration of Rachel's year of biblical womanhood.


 THE INVISIBLE GIRLS by Sarah Thebarge

*** A simple life experience shared by the woman who experienced it.  At times saddening, but also uplifting and encouraging as you walk along with Sarah as she puts love first by stepping out of her comfort zone to show compassion to a woman and her children.  This book reassures the reader that we also can take the step to help another even when it seems impossible.  This book reminds me of a quote I read recently by Scott Harrison. Scott states, "For me, charity is practical. It's sometimes easy, more often inconvenient, but always necessary....Charity is singular and achievable." This book is a great reminder to all that read it of this fact. It is not a difficult read and flows pretty quickly once started.



I have picked up a classic novel to read that never made it to my reading lists in High School. Be watching for my next post on the books we are reading and I hope to include a review of CATCH 22 by Joseph Heller as well as some input from the girls. If you are looking for some great places to pick up a book, I recommend the following:

Liberty Bay Books in Poulsbo, WA
Eagle Harbor Books in Bainbridge Island, WA
Kitsap Regional Libraries (locations all throughout Kitsap)


Thursday, July 23, 2015

graduate school :: reflections

For over a decade I have contemplated graduate school, always shying away from it because I wasn't sure what degree to focus on, why I would be doing it or how to justify the cost and time that it would require.  Coming upon a program through George Fox University I started to think maybe, just maybe I could hear God guiding me in a specific direction.  The more I researched the program, the more I realized that God has been calling me in a specific direction for decades; being raised on the Olympic Peninsula, years of gardening, my work with teenagers, years of scripture study and so much more. This last fall I decided that I should just take one step at a time, not looking too far into the future about how it would all work out. Rather, I would just take each step as I felt God was leading me.

Having decided that I would let God guide this process, I focused on doing my part at each step. The process had changed quite a bit since 1995 when I was applying to colleges for my BA degree. Filling out the online forms (last time I did this I used a typewriter) and gathering my transcripts (which I must admit were not stellar) began to build worry within me. How would I ever be accepted? What did I have to offer? Why was I doing this again? As I looked over the questions I was to build my essay upon, more and more doubt and fear crept into my subconscious.  I continued to move forward though. I continued to take the steps even though anxiety welled up within me and fear would try to take over. With only my essay left to turn in, I sat for many nights looking over, reading and rereading, analyzing and postponing.   Finally sending them off with a prayer that God would continue to guide me on this path I was on.

A phone interview completed, acceptance phone call, email and letter received, enrollment fee paid, digital orientation completed, and registration done. I am a graduate student. Holy Cow!

The process was not without stress or anxiety. I am not sure what about it caused me to feel all tied up in knots. Fear was not going to be in control of my life. God has blessed us with the amazing gift of this mortal life and I was not going to squander it and waste time in fear. I was going to grab hold of it, celebrate it and continue to learn and grow always. This is quite the adventure I am embarking upon and I am so excited for where it is taking me and not only what I am and will be learning but what my children will be learning through me as I grab hold of this opportunity and celebrate it.

Thank you to everyone who has believed in me and continues to encourage me in this. I am ready.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

a little reading in the new year :: literature

The New Year started off with a few good books.  It felt so good to sit down with a hot cup of coffee and fall in love with reading all over again.  Here is the selection from my book shelf that has kept me busy the last few months.
 
ORPHAN TRAIN by Christina Baker Kline
 
*** I loved this book.  Transporting me to another time when children were not precious cargo to be cherished and loved but rather property to be used at whim.  It is also the story of a young girl who endures extreme sorrow, brutality and despair but also experiences love, kindness and peace. I encourage everyone to pick up this book and throw themselves into a piece of literature that will definitely leave its mark.
 

 
WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty
 
*** Not like any book I have ever read. I very much enjoyed the twists and turns that it took and that I wasn't able to just guess what the next thing was. We are met with many obstacles in our lives that take us down paths we never would have expected.  This is a story about some of those.
 
 
A MILLION MILES IN A THOUSAND YEARS by Donald Miller
 
** Have you ever looked at your life and wondered what your story was? If so, this is the book for you.  I loved how Donald shared learning about creating a story in his life and I look forward to moving in a direction with my life that welcomes adventures that help me to create a great story.
 
 
A MILLION WAYS HOME by Dianna Dorisi Winget
(reviewed by Olyvia Young)
 
*** This book follows the main character, Poppy, as she suffers great loss, frightening events and ultimately great friendship. I encourage other 5th-7th graders to read this book.
 

WILDWOOD by Colin Meloy
 
*** The girls and I thoroughly enjoyed the first book in the Wildwood Chronicles and are 1/3 of the way through the second book.  I am not usually a fan of fantasy fiction, but find myself excited for the next time we will get to cuddle up and read a few more chapters.  A series full of adventure, secrets, imagination and friendship. I would suggest this series to anyone looking for literary adventures. There are some situations that may be difficult for younger grade school kids to understand and may require explanation.  I would not recommend this series to any children below 4th grade and for some that may even be too young.  Definitely a book to read with your grade school children and not leave them to read by themselves. There are some situations that offer up a great opportunity for discussion with older children.  I look forward to where the 2nd and 3rd book take us on this amazing adventure that is Wildwood. 




Tuesday, December 9, 2014

saving ceecee honeycutt by beth hoffman :: literature

Confession . . . when I first picked up this book I was almost positive I wasn't going to like it.  I let it sit and collect dust on my book shelf for almost 2 years before I finally picked it up because of a lack of anything else to read at that moment. I should have picked it up sooner.  Amazing story.  Beautiful! Nothing like what I thought it would be about.  I know...don't judge a book by its cover. ;) 

It really was a great story though. A story of sadness, struggle, 2nd chances and blessings. We are introduced to a young girl and follow her through a period of her life that would discourage many and at times gets her down. Ultimately, however, we get to see the connections she makes with those around her and how those connections save her.

*** Pick it up. Read it. Let me know what you thought.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

i am malala by malala yousafzai :: literature

My daughter recently came home from school very excited to read a book about a young woman from the other side of the world.  Since she was deep into reading Around the World in 80 Days for her English class I decided to read it first.  I am so glad I did.  It was the perfect peak into the heart of a child living in a completely different reality than my children or even than how I was raised.  Fighting against atrocities I would never have to experience under circumstances I can hardly even imagine.  We should all take the chance to learn what we can about those living in different circumstances than ourselves.  Malala was a young girl, daughter of a school owner/teacher, living in the Swat valley of current Pakistan.  The story follows her as she fights for the education of young girls just like her, gets shot in the face by the Taliban for this very same fight and what happens after she is shot. 

 
 

*** I would highly recommend this piece of literature to all. There are names that may be difficult to pronounce for some readers and although not a difficult read in writing style, content can be discouraging as you read about the horrible things that Malala, her friends, her family and the citizens of her country were facing everyday.  You can purchase your own copy here or I encourage you to search it out at your local library.  Olyvia will be reading it soon and I will share her thoughts on this post at that time.