Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from 2010

The Power of a PAUSE

God and I have a history.

Over 35 years ago I decided that I wanted to follow Jesus in a tiny, little church in Southwestern Ohio. I'm quite certain that at eight years old, I didn't understand how my faith would be sustained as I continued to grow deeper roots. Jesus had captured my heart and I knew I wanted to give my life to following Him. I'm also quite certain that I don't fully understand all it means to give my life to Him today. Yet, I absolutely know that I do!

I tend to think in questions. The ones swirling around my mind now include:
What does it look like to fully give my life to Jesus?
What is required of me to follow hard after Him?
How can I best reveal God to this world I live in?

Jesus kept it pretty simple when he responded to a group of Pharisees. Here's how the encounter went... (Matthew 22:35-40)

One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" Jesu…

Detours

We've likely encountered a few detour signs along our way. We've been headed down the road and then realize the route we've chosen to follow to the intended destination is no longer an option.

I'm curious -- what's your normal response to detours?

I'd guess somewhere between annoyed by the inconvenience to enthusiastic about the potential for discovery.

In my case... I'm a girl who might be called the queen of spontaneous contingency plans. I've been known to go around the detour sign traveling a bit farther done the road to see if in deed the route is impassible - believing that I can surely find a route that is more expedient or at least adventurous. You know the kind -- I'm the one you see making my way around the detour sign in hopes of using my instincts and gut to find my way. You see in my mind I know where I want to go and I think I know the best way to get there.

Not only does this way of thinking hold true related to my road trips, I must a…

Extra Care and Unexpected Provision: Paths Part 5

I lift up my eyes to the hills- where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD , the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip- he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The LORD watches over you- the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm- he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121

Staying in the journey and on the path hasn't been easy -- especially this summer. There is no shortage of distractions, hindrances, and difficulties that propel me toward exhaustion, retreat and at times surrender.

On this day, even though the covering of the trees guarded the path from the scorching heat of the sun, things threatened to thwart my desire and resolve to keep traveling. Luckily before I headed down the path I made a quick stop at my c…

Paths You Can't Go Over: Part 4

Just ahead I notice the path goes under the road. There is a large circular opening, filled with darkness. I wasn't sure of where I was or where the tunnel would lead. As I slowly edged closer, I noticed the path outside the tunnel was well worn from the rushing water and from the footprints of other hikers. Many had stood in this place.

I wanted to head in, to make my way through. But, it was too dark and I could not see where it ended or what might be lurking inside. As I stood there, something deep inside of me knew I needed to make my way through this tunnel. The darkness was overwhelming and the unknown paralyzed me.

I edged closer to the opening and peaked inside, hesitantly yet longing to make my way through the darkness I caught a glimpse of the other end. Way out in the distance I could see a ray of light as the angle of the sun made it's way into the darkness. Although I could not see what was between the beginning and the end, there was hope as the lush, vibrant …

Diverging Paths: Part 3

I come upon two paths at the bottom of the hill. A well-trodden path with a strong, solid footing converges with a dangerous trench that has been carved out from the summer storms and water runoff. The trench is now mostly dry with only hints of the surge of water that has edged away the defining boundary between safe and dangerous.

I am struck by the proximity between these two very different paths -- how easy it would be to wander off the path and slip into the trench. The edge of the path has been eroding -- it is jagged, weakened -- if you were to walk to close your foot would likely slip and you would find that you have fallen into the trench.


In some ways following the unpredictable, potentially dangerous path is inviting and seems adventurous-- to traverse the worn, ragged dry creek bed -- but I sense the danger and it feels ominous. This two paths are really diverging paths.

di-verge (verb)

1. to move, lie, or extend in different directions from a common point; branch off.
2. to…

Paths with Purpose: Part 2

Further down the path I begin to ascend walking upon exposed roots. These roots provide almost perfectly spaced stairs allowing my feet to find secure footing as I inch my way up the hill. This is new territory and I am unsure what I may find at the summit. This is definitely different terrain.

I've almost reached the end of this path, but notice a yellow item off to the left. My eyes are drawn to this object. This misplaced item. My curiousity gets the best of me and I make my way off the path to explore. As I reach down to move the leaves and debris I discover it is a girl's lacrosse ball. Why is it here? How did it get here?

I continue up the path still wondering about this lost ball. As I come to the opening at the top of the hill, peeking out from the cover of the trees and path, I realized this ball is evidence of a missed goal attempt. Just to the left of the opening and up a few more yards is a girl's lacrosse field.

How odd? I have just finished a…

A Day Away: Paths Part 1

Yesterday I spent the morning participating in a silent retreat at Fatima Retreat Center in Indianapolis. The grounds were fantastic... in the midst of the urban landscape I found 13 acres of wooded wonder. After a quick introduction and overview of the options available to us, I quickly headed out to see what was beyond the paved parking lot. Not sure where to begin I found a path that lead me away from the structure and confinement of the buildings and the other people.

The birds were singing -- they too had found this sanctuary a midst the concrete and pavement of the city. Their own secret place! As I walked along the path I came to a "T" -- my first decision. Which way should I go?

Up the path to the left or down the path to the right. I chose left -- making my way up the path. To the right of the path I discovered a gorge, a natural path carved through the hills. Years of rain and run off created this natural path cascading down and through the hills. At some points I …

Walking the Path Before Us

On my birthday back in January my mind and heart was anticipating what was ahead. If you look back to that post -- you'll see the questions that were swirling around:

Who do I want to be?
What do I dream will come true?
How do I want to be remembered?
How will I spend my time and energy?
What mark do I want to leave on the world?


I set out with two things on my heart:

I wanted to laugh more and enjoy the journey. (I can be a bit too serious!) AND

I wanted to celebrate those I love by pointing out the unique contributions they make in the world!

Funny, how I thought I would set out to accomplish these things. I'd make plans and begin working toward intentional acts of celebration and find moments where laughter came freely. In response to follow scripture the scripture:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12

So much for planning and arranging intentional acts -- what has transpired is being responsive and present in what life brings …

The Making of a Life

I've been wondering lately about what makes a life. Sure, it is the memories we make along the way with our families and our friends. It's the decisions we make and the promises we keep. This year I've officiated both weddings and funerals. I've stood beside a bride and groom -- and felt the anticipation and excitement of what lies ahead as they begin their journey as a married couple. I've also stood beside a casket of a dear aunt -- and felt the sadness at the loss of a treasured woman.

A wedding is a time and ceremony set aside for making vows and commitments in front of friends and family filled with anticipation and joy surrounding the possibilities of this union. A funeral, on the other hand, is a time and ceremony set aside for remembering and commemorating the life of a loved one. Funerals propel our hearts and minds to consider the life that has been lived. To look back and review the past often with a new perspective that helps us discern what we value mo…

Perspective - through the eyes of children

Yesterday, I spent an hour fishing with a "little" friend of mine. What I thought was just an opporunity to visit with my friend, Maggy and her mom was so much more. Off we went headed down the hill to a neighborhood pond with fishing poles and worms in hand. Luckily, Maggy's mom had all the tools we needed included a pair of gloves so we didn't have to touch the fish. She told us that it was best for the fish... but I am not convinced it was really more for me than the fish.

We tossed our lines in the water and literally in a minute or two we had our first bite. Wow! As we "wooed" the fish in -- calling them toward the bait, we giggled and told stories. We "screamed" as the fish flopped around wanting to be put back in their warm, murky water. We giggled like little girls. Maybe that was the point... laughing, giggling, and for me "acting" like these were the first fish I had ever seen or caught.

As I drove home, I smiled real…

SABBATH - Before or After?

I've always thought of resting after expending energy -- as a replenishment for what I had just experienced or endured. So, if I took a run then I'd rest once I had finished my run. Or if I had been really busy finishing up a project, I'd work really hard for an extended period of time THEN I'd rest and recooperate. And to some degree that is still true -- however...

I've been learning both from looking at SABBATH over the last several months and practicing SABBATH for the past couple of years -- that it really is more about a rhythm that prepares my heart, soul, and body for what lies ahead. When I am rested and my soul is replenished through time with God I am in a much better place to live well in whatever circumstance I find myself in.

Let me be very practical -- and literal. We've been facing some difficult family situations that are requiring a lot of emotional and physical energy. My point is this... if I were to have walked into this new challenge …

SABBATH: Play Week 4

Adulthood is mostly about getting things done. Past a certain age, our existence is consumed by obligation. So one of the first things to die in adults in playfulness.

Remember how much fun you had playing children's board games? This week take time to play. Even if it's just for an hour or half hour. Start slow. Find a park swing or read a fun magazine, or treat yourself to ice cream, or some other forbidden treat you haven't had since childhood.

Just do something for no purpose except to enjoy, spending time producing nothing but adrenaline, laughter and memories.

SABBATH: Attentiveness Week 3

ATTENTIVENESS
The devil distracts. God interrupts. And for some reason, we fall prey to the one and grow oblivious to the other.

Brother Lawrence found the most simple device for reversing this. In his small, wise book, The Practice of the Presence of God, he speaks about a companionship with Jesus that is without boundary--not in time, or place, or circumstance. Anywhere, everywhere, in anything, you can be with God. God wishes it and invites it and is present and available right now for it. The only thing missing is us.

How aware are you, right now, that Jesus is with you? Why don't you greet him, out lout or, if that's awkward, in your heart? A discipline of becoming present with God in season and out, in church and away, in crisis and routine, in ecstasy and heartache, in thrill and tedium.

Throughout your day, just keep saying hello.

SABBATH: Right Sizing God WEEK 2 (part 1)

This week we're stopping to set our heart right as we "right size" God.
The root idea of Sabbath – all living things thrive only by an ample measure of stillness. Stillness like rest, requires a settling of the heart, a calming of the spirit. Sabbath keeping requires two orientations.
1. One is God-ward.
2. The other is time-ward.

To keep Sabbath well--both as a day and attitude--we have to think clearly about God and freshly about time. We likely, at some, level, need to change our minds about both.

Unless we trust God's sovereignty, we won't dare risk Sabbath. And unless we receive time as abundance and gift, not as rations and burden, we'll never develop a capacity to savor Sabbath.

The first orientation for good Sabbath-keeping, the God ward one, takes practice, mostly through thankfulness. Thankfulness invites and acknowledges the presence of God until you are utterly convinced of his goodness and sovereignty, until he's bigger, and you find your rest…

SABBATH: Right Sizing Time WEEK 2 (part 2)

The world of the generous gets larger and larger; the world of the stingy gets smaller and smaller. Proverbs 11:24


"That's the irony; those who sanctify time and who give time away--who treat time as a gift and not possession--have time in abundance. Contrariwise, those who guard every minute, resent every interruption, ration every moment, never have enough. They're always late, always behind, always scrambling, always driven."
Mark Buchanan from his book, THE REST OF GOD.


Try this Practice:

Try this for a week, giving the gift of yourself first to God and then to others. Be generous with your time. Enter each day with a deep resolve to give your time away, even at times seemingly to squander it,for the sake of purposes beyond your own. Don't just give your time,but yourself--your attention, your affection, the gift of your curiosity and inquisitiveness. See how much time you really have.

Post by Dana Randall, co-leader Women of Grace course on The REST OF GOD

SABBATH - restoring your soul by restoring sabbath WEEK 1

Sabbath?

a time set aside for rest and restoration

Sabbath invites us to STOP. In that ceasing, fresh possibilities abound. We can shut our eyes, if we choose—this is one of Sabbath’s gifts, to relax without guilt. But there is also time enough to open our eyes, to learn again Jesus’ command to watch and pray. Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God

Sabbath is a a day or time period set aside for feasting, resting, worshiping, and play. But it is also a posture of the heart and practice we can choose to partake in.

Let's start with the heart. When we say sabbath is a posture of the heart, we mean it is a heart that is restful in the midst of the ups and downs of life while being attentive to the presence of God and others.

When we say practice, we mean sabbath is siezing opportunities throughout your day to slow down, stop working or focusing on accomplishing. It is both intentionally setting time aside in your day to experience sabbath while paying attention to your surroundings.…

Love without Fear!

Katie, a young friend of mine, wrote these three words on a ceramic plate she designed...
Love without Fear

I wonder about the combination of these three words.

I wonder about the power of loving and living this way.

Our longing to experience this type of love, this way of life is planted deep within our souls. Although we will never fully experience it on earth -- we sometimes within some relationships, catch a glimpse of the power and beauty of this way of loving. And for a moment see and experience the depth of God's love for us.

I think I caught a glimpse early this year as I spent a few days at the beach celebrating a dear friend's 45th birthday.

She gathered a handful of friends to celebrate the gift of life and the power of love. It looked a little like this:

Conversations flowing with ease
Laughter, free and spontaneous
Joy expressed around a dining room table
Gratitude for the gift of girlfriends

All these moments combined conveyed a bit of God's love and delight


Journaling & Devotional Reading #3

Using the devotional reading outline below, read and respond the following verse:

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from the old. Psalm 25:4-6 TNIV

Enjoy spending time with God as you savor the words of this Psalm.

Journaling & Devotional Reading #2

Read the following passage using the Lectio Divina practice noted above.

Here's a quick reminder to follow:

1. SILENCIO: Begin by quieting your heart and allowing yourself to become aware of God's presence.

2. LECTIO: Read the passage of scripture slowly and out loud. Listening for a word or phrase. Write down the word or phrase that stands out to you.

3. MEDITATIO: Read the passage a second time out loud, linger and listen for any places you sense God inviting you to explore.

4. ORATIO: Ask yourself, why this phrase or word? What might you need to explore. Ask God to open your eyes to more.

5. CONTEMPLATIO: Contemplate as you rest and wait with God allowing the words to sink deeply into your heart. Take some time to write down what you sense God is prompting in you and journal your thoughts and prayers.


Answer me quickly, O LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing lo…

Journaling & Devotional Reading #1

Journaling is a way of connecting with God as you become more aware and attentive to Him. Consider these words as you explore journaling as a spiritual practice:

OPEN my eyes so I can see what YOU show me of YOUR miracle-wonders. Psalm 119:18 The Message


There are lots of different approaches to journaling. But remember our purposes are about cultivating a deeper relationship with God as we grow to know him more.

Join me over the next several weeks as we take a look at a variety of ways of journaling and prompts to begin our writing. So, let's begin.

Our first step into journaling connects our writing to a portion of scripture.

Lectio Divina

In this journal practice, you'll be reading a portion of scripture as a way to enter into journaling. Think in terms of attending to Scripture not necessarily studying scripture. Sometimes we refer to this type of reading as "devotional reading" or "lectio divina". Essentially, reading and reflecting on scripture in this wa…

Journaling: A Way of Watching God at Work

Does the idea of journaling sound sweet or just give you sweaty palms?

SCROLL DOWN & ADD YOUR COMMENT AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST BY CLICKING ON comments below!
Open my eyes
so I can see what you show me
of your miracle-wonders.
Psalm 119:18The Message

Journaling is a way of;

paying attention to our lives, reflecting on God's presence and guidance, andcreating an ongoing record of our soul's journey into God. How To:
"There is no right way to journal. You don't need to journal every day or even every week. Find a rhythm of journaling that suits your phase and stage of life. If writing isn't your thing, make a journal of photos or drawings or articles. Assign key words or thoughts or themes to the entries. If you don't write well, remember that you don't need to write beautifully or use complete sentences. Journaling is a way for you to be with God and your thoughts, not an exercise in language arts. Tell the truth to God and to yourself as best you can. Review …

Where We Are

I love the beach. Everything about it. The smell of the salty air. The soothing sounds of the surf. The softness of the sand. The respite I experience while meandering around the shore. Although my soul feels peace and deeply connected with God while I'm there, I must fight against the idea that there is external positional peace.

My peace doesn't come from where I am. Gerald Locklin pens these words in his poem WHERE WE ARE... "there is always the anticipation of the change, the chance that what is wrong is the result of where you are." His words elude to the false belief that what is wrong or right in our lives is dependent on the external environment as opposed to the internal landscape of our soul.

Each morning, we awaken and step into our day. Some days feel safely within our control. We march in with our to do list and schedules confident at the end of the day we will have accomplished much. Other days are more loosely held with options and time for wandering a …

Journaling-- helping to see more clearly.

Mindy Caliguire speaks to the use of journaling as a key spiritual practice. In this video, Mindy speaks to the benefits of journaling as a means of solving problems.

For me, journaling is one way I check in with the state of my soul. It helps me take stock of where I am, what I am thinking, what I am feeling, and reminds me of where I want to be headed and mostly of who I want to be. Often, I begin by brining my thoughts and feelings to the surface -- then begin inviting God to shine a light on what and where he would like for me to focus my attention. Sometimes my entry finishes with an "aha moment" where I clearly see something and sometimes my entry finishes with a prayer that simply says... Lord, help me... Either way I know I've been with God as he reminds me that he cares about me and understands the very things I wonder about.

Want to know more about journaling? Grace Community Church in Noblesville, Indiana will be hosting a morning retreat on journaling…

A Canary and Your Soul

What does a canary have to do with the health of your soul?

Great question. One of the earliest systems for coal miners to detect poisonous gas included these little creatures. The system was rather low-tech and not very animal friendly, sorry. Keep in mind, canaries are very sensitive to carbon monoxide and other dangerous gases that can be found in a mine.

Here's how it worked. Coal miners would take a caged canary into the mine with them. As long as the air quality was good, the canary would chirp and sing all day long. However, when hazardous gases were present, the canary would begin to have trouble breathing and start to sway awkwardly on their perch. This abnormal behavior was a warning for the coal miner to leave the pit.

Again, what's this have to do with my soul?

A canary was used as a warning signal that the coal miner was in danger.

So, here's the connection. What warning signal can you point to that indicates something is not quite right in your soul?

Is it y…

16,425 days and counting... my lifetime so far.

Today, I've been around 16,425 days(not counting leap years).

Besides being the beginning of a new decade and now it's my birthday... I'm in one of those pondering moods where my mind wanders around asking questions.

Who do I want to be?
What do I dream will come true?
How do I want to be remembered?
How will I spend my time and energy?
What mark do I want to leave on the world?


For now, I am thinking two things...

I want to laugh more and enjoy the journey. (I can be a bit too serious!) AND

I want to celebrate those I love by pointing out the unique contributions they make in the world!

Hopefully, along the way people might notice a bit of Jesus in me.

What are you hoping for in the days to ahead?



Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Straightening the hallway closet....

Well, today is the day. I am digging into the hallway closet. The one that gathers all the things that we don't want to carry upstairs to our bedrooms or downstairs to the basement. Those things that we are not quite sure can be thrown away. Those things that we just can't quite let go of.

As I sorted through the contents, I found evidence of our life. Pictures I had be given by my mother of family members from earlier decades. Mementos of my childhood. I found more recent items from our summer outings watching Calvin, our oldest son, as he pitched in a summer collegiate baseball league. I found hats and gloves we had rushed to put on to play in the snow a few weeks ago. All of these items reminded me of snapshots of our combined life as the Gunter family.

I also found a bag full items that needed to be thrown away as well as things that we've outgrown. As I sorted through the contents, I was able to gather the cookbooks that had accumulated in the kitchen back on the shel…
good morning! thanks god for the beauty surrounding us. nice choice of blue sky this morning with the compliment of the orange sunrise and wispy clouds. nicely done and thanks!

Opening To God

Through prayer, scripture reading, worship and other spiritual disciplines, ordinary humans who seek to know God and his desires are opening themselves to the story of God being carried forward in and through them.

As we step into 2010...

How will you live with intention?

Will you set aside time to be with God, to listen to his heart, to respond to his promptings?

Will you invite others into your journey with God, encouraging them along the way?

For me, I picked up a daily devotional by Philip Yancey called Grace Notes. I am planning to begin my days with a short reading from this book.

I am counting on God to have much to say and much to do in and through ordinary people, just like you and me, these next ten years!

So, what's your intention this year?