Thursday, July 2, 2015

A Compelling Invitation



Rest in God's love.

The only work you are required now to do is to
 give your most intense attention to His still, small voice within.
~ Madame Guyon ~
{1648 - 1717}

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone;
my hope comes from Him.
~  Psalm 62:5  ~

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

On Racism ::: Gleanings

I listen for a living.  

I sit very still and try to discern the bewilderment or pain beneath the stories, the sadness or horror tucked behind words uttered.  I hold up a mirror, so to speak, and offer a safe haven so another can look deep into her own soul and unearth and examine what is swirling in the hidden places, what keeps her wounded or stuck or overwhelmed with emotions that are causing harm.

We go there so that the healing streams can flow, cleanse, revive, rebuild.

The most meaningful conversations are a fluid dance between those who speak freeland those who listen well.
Not everybody gets to talk at once.  The resulting cacophony is non-productive.  Disrespectful.  And hurtful to those who need someone's full undivided attention.

The hard truth is that the older I get, the less I know and the fewer answers I offer with confidence.

Fast forward to today.  I'm choosing to be still and quiet because I yearn to learn.  Instead of yammering away, I offer the gift of listening intently with heart wide open as others speak of the evils of racism.  Click on the title of each offering below to absorb every single word.

It's that important.  For there is a strong wisdom flowing from these pens.  And hope.  Yes, I discern hope ...

For Those Who Are New to the Conversation ~ Deidra Riggs
'People are talking.  And they are angry.  Their anger is justified.  Maybe you're angry, too?  It wouldn't surprise me, that's for sure.

Maybe the shooting in Charleston was the event that finally made you say, "Hey.  I think I'd better add my voice to this conversation because I'm finding I actually have some thoughts and words and I am sick and tired of this foolishness!"  Maybe your conviction has outwitted your fear of being called a racist, or saying the wrong thing, or finding yourself in the middle of a confrontation.  Good ...'

My Children Aren't Colorblind and Either Are Yours ~ Lauren Casper
'The other night I peeked in my daughter's room to see how the bedtime routine was going with Daddy and to give her one more kiss.  I found them both laying in her bed, nose to nose, chatting and laughing.  I approached, wanting to be a part of the special moment.  Arsema popped her head up from the pillow with a big smile and said, "Mommy your arm is white, too!  My arm is brown and Mareto's arm is brown and Daddy's arm is white!!"  We laughed with her because for some reason she thought this was a hilarious thing ...'

When We Need to Lament ~ Alia Joy
'The sheet breaks loose from the gurney and the plastic mattress lurches up like a belch when I curl myself fetal.  I struggle to position myself away from my body.  To push my synapses away from muscle and bone and receptors and find solace in the quiet hush of a body without pain.  But the agony lives in me ...'

How does one escape what hurts from the inside out ...'

When I Am Embarrassed to Be White ~ Lisa Burgess
'It was Saturday morning, only days after the Charleston shootings.  As part of the Huntsville Dream Center, believers from different churches were spreading out in the community to celebrate fathers in the housing project, to mow grass for elderly widows, to hand out quarters in laundromats.

And to visit the lonely in nursing homes.  That's where I found myself.  I walked into ...'

Give Me Grace: Stand Up ~ Lisha Epperson
'I've sat in the space of no words this week.  I've felt hopeless and frustrated.  Shut up in a room of questions and so little light, so little love.  I haven't felt compelled to make nice with pretty words and the collective cheek we keep turning is raw and bruised.  It hurts.

What do you say to repeated attacks on the humanity of a people?  Racism is a sin like any other, it's the product of evil in the world and we haven't wiped it out.  This fresh wave of ugly is subtle and layered and ...'

Repenting of 'Colorblindness' ~ Rachel Held Evans
'In her groundbreaking book, "The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness," Michelle Alexander notes that "racial caste systems do not require racial hostility or overt bigotry to thrive.  They need only racial indifference ..."  Or, as Martin Luther King put it, they need only "sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

I ran headlong into my own "sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity" just two weeks ago when I gave a lecture for a writers conference ...'

'He has told you, O man, what is good; 
and what does the LORD require of you
 but to do justice, and to love kindness, 
and to walk humbly with your God?'
~ Micah 6:8 ~

May our conversation as we gather around this table be an uplifting, encouraging, experience.
  I reserve the right to not publish comments that do not strive to bless others.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Choosing Light-Hearted Responses

I think it's fair to say that most of us are not good wait-ers.  

We're oh-so-prone to impatience, tapping jittery fingers on jam-packed shopping carts as we cool our heels in understaffed checkout lines.  We drum on padded steering wheels at red lights that seem unwilling to make that switch to green.  Or bide our time in some kind of outer office holding tank listening for our name to be called as we perch in uncomfortable seats.

Our blood pressure slowly ratchets up as aggravation creases our faces.  We mumble and grumble to ourselves ... or to whoever happens to be unfortunate enough to be nearby.

When we're right in the middle of a major crossroads, the waiting room can be an uneasy place to dwell as we spend our days with an eye out for phone calls, paperwork, emails ... all those responses, appointments, and decisions that are out of our control.

We do like to be in control, don't we.

and it's not a big stretch for 


to morph into 


and then make the easy leap to 


which only leads to the domino effect of




freaking out

As the man and I have been in the midst of this great big house selling / moving transition, I've needed to purposefully re-claim a few light-hearted responses to put to good use in the waiting room.  Because I haven't been at all interested in heading down that slippery slope that leads straight to freaking out.

Been there, done that.

Here's 5 stress-busters I've been re-learning in recent days ...

1.  Breathing ~ Stress leads to shallow breathing which only leads to more stress.  It's a vicious cycle.  So breathe with me, will ya'?  This simple little exercise lends itself to relaxation.  It works.

2.  Smiling ~ Not necessarily big toothy grins like our friend Alfred E. Neuman's here, but just a gentle upturn of the lips that keeps me from taking myself and my circumstances far too seriously.  Doing this reminds me that all will be well.  Muse on the beauty of this with me.

3.  Singing ~ Nothing formal or planned, mind you.  Just a simple launching into songs of thanksgiving or trust at the drop of a hat.  A few lines of an old childhood hymn lifts me straight up to the One who calms the storm.  I can't help but think He smiles as He hears a slightly off-key melody intertwined with my grateful heart.

4.  Walking ~ Once I hit the pavement, I truly enjoy finding that comfortable stride, feeling those muscles stretch, pushing myself to go just a bit further than last time.  It's getting out the door that's the challenge.  But it sure beats the alternatives, which often include mindless grazing in the kitchen and too much time wandering around online.

5.  Journaling ~  To stay sane, we have no choice but to unpack all that swirls and twirls in our heads.  Our family and friends get weary of our endless moaning and groaning, yet the need to process is strong and sure.  I know no better way to offload all that pulls at me than sitting still with God, sharing my heart just as it is, and releasing my very real emotions and concerns to the One who already knows what's going on in the craziness.  Here's a peak at some of my musings.

Friday, June 19, 2015

3 Things I Loved Most About House Church

We said good-bye to The Community at Creekside last Saturday night, the house church I helped birth back in the beginning of 2008.  This peaceful, rather unstructured worship setting has offered freedom and healing and joy to those who have done life with us along the way.

I was recently told that I've changed for the better in the process.  Less driven, less intense, less wounded.  

The Spirit has worked overtime to gentle and calm my soul.  House church's atmosphere has played a role in my healing and growth.  I'm grateful.

What I've loved most?

1.   No committees, no power plays, no posturing and maneuvering, no grappling for control.
After decades in administrative and leadership roles in the traditional church, the distinct lack of rigid hierarchical structure has been a true gift, a lovely relief, a healing stream.  Decisions were made easily, amicably, without alot of fanfare, wrangling, drama, or trauma.  

2.  Weekends morphed into a true sabbath rest.
The release of busyness started late Saturday afternoon in preparation for church at 7 pm.  And the sweet respite, the slower pace flowed right through Sunday evening, a sacred pause that let us recover from the week's pressures and prepared us well for the next five days. 

No alarms jangling to wake us up, no crazy running for the door early in the morning in our Sunday best.  No series of classes, meetings, and programs that we were expected to jam into our schedule.

Just a gently quiet weekend ebb and flow that we quickly embraced.  Sabbath rest at its finest.

3.  A growth in godly character, not numbers.
People sometimes ask me if the Community has grown.  They mean numerically, as in bodies attending.  No, it hasn't.  

And is this a perfect group of people?  Far from it.  We're all saved sinners, remember?

But I have seen a growth in character, the fruit of the Spirit's gentle wooing.  More grace extended.  Patience blooming into full fruition.  Kindness showing up on a regular basis.  A steadfast generosity eager to extend itself to those in need.  Faithful love that became evident in a myriad of ways.

I will miss this little community, Bob's deep insight into God's Word, Wayne and Lynn's joyous energy in leading us in worship.  I'm a bit scared to go back to a traditional church setting.  I've been burned a time or two before and the scars remain, still a bit tender to the touch.

But follow His lead we will, for we know He has a new place for us to call home.

I love you guys.  And last Saturday night, all your lavish expressions of love and affection were oh so gratefully received, soaked up into our just-a-bit overwhelmed souls. The memories of our joyful celebration of God's goodness will linger long after the tears have been forgotten.

And if you're reading this post in or around Poughkeepsie and don't have a church home?  There are a couple of vacant, very comfy seats that just might have your name on them ...




connecting with 
Kelly  .  Jennifer  .  Holley  .  Lyli

Monday, June 15, 2015

Honoring My Clients As I Close Up Shop

Truth be told, these have been rough weeks at the counseling office.  Tears have been shed, kind and tender tributes have been offered back and forth and back again.  Together, some clients and I have mapped out plans to continue our work over the phone and Skype after a bit of a break, while a few have been referred to other counselors.

And then there are those who are ready to take wings and soar.

On reflection, I'd say we've finished well.  And while it's fair to say that most of them are not exactly ecstatic about my leaving, I think they'd agree that we have worked hard at bringing this season of life together to a most satisfactory conclusion that has honored Christ.

Even if tears flowed freely from time to time with no embarrassment or shame.  From clients and counselor alike.

So instead of focusing on the now empty shelves in a half bare room and my very mixed feelings about this most difficult of transitions, I want to bring tribute to these incredible women of valor.  I hope that by the time you're done reading these words, you'll know why I'm passionate about what I do ... and why it's so hard to leave this place.


no one's immune from sitting in the counseling office
I've talked with clients from 14 - 84.  They've come from endless, fascinating cultures with the broadest array of experiences, challenges, and pain.  But no matter where they find themselves or how they spend their days or how much cash they've got in their pockets, whether they're people full of faith or those who shake their fist in God's face ... when all is said and done, life happens.  And absolutely no one is immune from emotional trauma, grief, unexpected events, family crises, or serious illness that can pull the rug right out from under us.    

it takes courage to come to counseling ... and to keep on coming
Let me put to rest the myth that people who go to counseling are weak.  It takes an inordinate amount of strength to admit you need to talk with a professional.  Tenacity to find the perfect fit with the counselor who has the proper training to match your needs ... and a true connection to your soul.  And raw faith and endless trust to allow that counselor to lead you through your stuff, week in and week out, so that you come out on the other end so much better than when you started.  

every wounded soul needs a healing team 
While counseling conversations are 1-1 and confidential, healing doesn't come in a vacuum.  Together, counselor and client create a healing team that comes alongside as she moves through the tough times.  Safe, caring family members and friends, experienced medical and legal professionals, ongoing support groups, effective community services, church resources, and online help all come into play.  We don't heal on our own.  We were created for community.

counseling's not a 1 hour a week deal  
A motivated client is not content with 1 hour of work a week.  An emphasis on caring for her body through healthy eating, exercise, rest, and a new work/life balance are all on the table.  Consulting with her doctor, taking needed medication as prescribed, and creating a space to meet with God on a regular basis are vital steps in moving ahead.  Those who follow up on assigned reading and journaling, who begin to set up wise boundaries and take concrete steps to reach their goals ... these are the ones who mend, who grow, who heal.

wounded healers emerge from painful places
God doesn't bring healing so we can simply wander off and put our feet up and be happy.  The goal is always to take the lessons learned and the strength and wisdom gathered to bring something of beautiful, healing substance to others.  To be so restored and so grateful and so wise that grace and hope can be offered to others who are broken ... that is when the client knows she's come full circle.


I honor you today, all who've invited me to sit and be present with you in the stark reality of your pain.  To leave no stone gently unturned as we've walked slowly but surely through the dark and scary places into the healing light and freedom that comes through Christ.  To banish the lies that have hindered, to discover the power of forgiveness, and embrace new ways of looking at life and relating to others well.  And ultimately, to claim the joyous potential of inviting our Redeemer to restore 'the years the locusts have eaten' {Joel 2:25}.  

Thank you for allowing me to champion your healing, pray you through each setback, speak the hard truth in love, and celebrate your victories.  When all is said and done, God is faithful and He is good.  

Anticipating what He has in store for us all ~

Friday, June 12, 2015

Gleanings = Shareworthy Reads

It's been exactly one year since the Gleanings segments made an appearance around here.  Since then, the sidebar's From Hither & Yon: Shareworthy Reads became the go-to place where I shared my most recent finds ... the stuff that enlarged our borders, refreshed our souls, lent an ah-HA moment, or caused laughter and / or tears to come bubbling forth..

The down side?  Tucked at the bottom of the sidebar, these gems weren't front and center for your consideration.  And the links would be replaced at a moment's notice by newer writings and you couldn't go back to re-access the ones that had been removed.

Gleanings has now morphed back into its rightful place, posts of their very own, whose links stay available to you long after newer reads arrive on the scene.  I hope these random shareworthy reads will spark the encouraging conversations that Creekside's becoming known for.  Or provide sustenance for your own personal reflection ... or maybe morph into discussion generators on your back porch, 'round your kitchen table, or on your social media sites.

"       "       "       "

Loving My Sister-Brother ~ Margaret Philbrick
'Over dinner one night, my sibling announced that he was becoming a woman.  And so began the greatest test of my faith ...'

The Camera: An Introvert's BFF ~ Jennifer Mattern @ Quiet Revolution
'Birthday parties.  Bar mitzvahs.  Graduations. Reunions.  Weddings.  The blank squares of my calendar disappear beneath scribbles of purple Sharpie ink.  Let's face it: social occasions happen ...'

How I'm Finding Freedom From Shame {A Three Step Process} ~ Lauren @Sobremesa Stories
'The first time I remember feeling shame, that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach, was in middle school.  I struggled in my relationships with girl friends, and remember one particular conversation with a girl friend who told me she didn't want me around when the boy she liked was there because I was "too much," and when I was my full self I was "obnoxious" ...

The Gentle Path to a Simpler Life ~ Courtney Carver @ Be More With Less
'It seems like life gets complicated overnight, but when you step back, it's clear that things usually build up slowly over months and years.  Maybe your life started out hopeful and carefree, and then in an effort to follow the rules, or the herd, or the path people thought you should be on, you went into debt, took a job you weren't crazy about, or ...'

When Your Apology Is Used Against You ~ Beth Steffaniak @ Messy Marriage
'It's never easy to make yourself vulnerable nor to lay your heart out on the table in a sincere and humble apology before the one person on earth who matters most - your spouse.  But what's worse is when your spouse uses your apology against you ...'

"       "       "       "

I'd love for you to share the links to your own best recent writing or reading in the comment section.  Do a little cut and paste, will ya?  'Cause this community just can't wait to get to know you better!

May your soul and body scoop up plenty of peace-fueled rest as you browse ~

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