31 March 2007

conversing around a bonfire in March!

Oh and food, too, of course we needed nourishment to sustain
us as we braved the elements.

That really sums up a great night!

29 March 2007


January marked the second annual winter retreat of my church. At this time we "launched" some small groups that would adopt a specific section of a neighborhood. Part of our task was to envision a way to impact and serve "our section."

What does it take to truly impact a neighborhood? I remember hearing a challenge that often churches do things for a neighborhood or even to a community, and they would be better served to do things with the community. I've engaged mostly in that former context. What does participating with the community look like? As a church, it seems our typical outreach plan demands hosting events or activities that require people coming to a church. Of course, and thankfully, there are exceptions to this.

I think we could do better.
But what does that look like? A seasoned author wrote, "What does the Lord require of you?"
And offers this response:
"to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God."

I'm wondering how that plays out. If our lives consist of sleeping, morning nourishment, transporting children places, or working, afternoon nourishment, more transport or other acitivity related to kids, or continued working, some type of evening nourishment possibly with the family, and then various evening activities, where does the justice, kindness, and humility come in? Can it simply occur throughout these other daily activities?
How do we develop and sustain relationships with that perspective in mind?
And then factor in church activity which often revolves around maintaining and "producing" Sunday gatherings, worship services, church school functions, etc.

It seems reasonable that the justice, kindness, and humility must be part of those activities, too.

But is that enough? Is there a different alignment required?

26 March 2007


Here's some things I'm pondering in my heart. What causes people to be so mean? Or why do they feel free to act and respond and interact in such mean ways?

In my current class I stumbled as I read the following:
"When I finish with job, I'm going to write a book on this topic, "Why are Christians so mean?" quotes Dallas Willard in his book, Renovation of the Heart. He goes on to say, "Christians are routinely taught by example and by word that it is more important to be right than it is to be Christlike. In fact, being right licenses you to be mean, and requires you to be righteously mean. You must be hard on people who are wrong, and especially if they are in positions of Christian leadership.

A fundamental mistake of much of the western church is that it takes as its goal to get as many people as possible ready to die and go to heaven. It aims to get people into heaven rather than to get heaven into people...People are then ready to die but clearly not ready to live."

I stumbled and choked a bit as I read because I see reflections of this statements steeped deep within my life. I'm recalling countless conversations (many within my family) where the need to be right trumps all else. I'd like to blame this on something other than my own choice, and there may be evidence to suggest it is a part of the dna of the denomination I'm part of, but the truth is, it still comes down to choice.

And so I'm settled here for the now, wondering how to live differently, wondering how to think differently (even if my tho'ts have been subconsious), wondering how to be Christlike even when others (or circumstances) may see wrong.

Can anyone relate? (always loving company for the Holy Spirit's convictions...)

23 March 2007


Watching life burst through the winter soil garners all shades of hope within my heart and spirit. I love this time of year. I can't wait for the buds on trees to roll out in every shade of green. Today's pictures are some signs of spring from today's walk with Jordan...
In other news, I completed my third week of work.
Time passes somewhat carelessly it seems in that I know I live each day,
but can't believe another week is done. Yesterday I was trained by another lovely lady, Chrissandra, at our Battle Creek office. It was my first visit to the cereal city and a gorgeous day for a drive.

Today I lunched with some people I used to work with.
It was hard.
I realized that I place so much value on relationships, and likely set expectations that are not very realistic.
My hope was to be true to God and His faithfulness and yet not pretend.
Those hopes did not prevent thoughts, emotions, and memories to flood my heart and spirit.
Forgiveness is such a process. I long to "be done" sometimes, but it's just not a simple on and off switch. A lot of you were praying, though. I could tell. Thanks!

20 March 2007


As people get to know me at my new job, they've often said, "oh, you're the new Katy."
Um, okay, yes, that's a way to look at it.

But, I'm not Katy. New, old, improved, seasoned, infant, or otherwise. She's been training me. She offers a plethora of experience and wisdom. I won't arrive there quickly (if??).

And we're different. She's leaving to be home with her five-month old baby. She's eager for that opportunity.

She also grieves.

Transitions. We need them. But we don't always want them.
It's hard to leave something that has offered life.

We might be plagued by questions:
What if there isn't life beyond this?
What if this is "as good as it gets?"
What if God really doesn't know what He's doing? (my questions, not Katy's)
Was this the right decision?
How do I know if I heard God's voice?

Strangely, rapidly, thankfully, I've gotten to know Katy's heart. I've met her kids. I heard her story.

But she's not working here anymore.

Do we understand the significance of these interactions when our lives naturally won't overlap again? Sigh. Probably not. But then, we're called to love. Not necessarily to understand.

Katy loves well. I am a grateful recipient.

pictured above: LeAnne, Katy, me, Pat. The GR SAU crew.

18 March 2007


We often recited this silly lil poem when i was young (and some of my family still does):

M r ducks
o s a r
cdedbd wings?

m r ducks!

Imagine my surprise when I see this very duck on my fence yesterday morning.
I wondered, really, how long she would stay
and what made the fence perch even slightly attractive.

and then, i saw him.

yes, the mallard was sitting below.

soon, she flew down beside him.
and then the two waddled under the fence,
out of my patio,
out of view.

Visit complete.

13 March 2007

losing my religion

This baffles me.
I'm unable to figure out how to keep the best of things.
I want to cling to the good of the way I was raised, including things I learned about God, the body of Christ, church as an establishment/organization.
But some of where I came from, and the particular beliefs and even more the practices of the denomination I grew up as part of, provoked much pain.
I become more and more aware of it as I "grow up."

A few years ago I participated in a prayer gathering where we spent significant time celebrating the good, and equally significant time repenting and asking God for forgiveness for some of the less good. It was excruciating at times. Honestly. But I'm appreciative of the experience and memory.

How do we do that in our own lives, shed the "flesh" and cling to the new creation that we're becoming? How do we embrace the beauty but shake off the dead and even deadly extensions? Is it possible to truly live in the vision God has which includes His incredibly generous grace and mercy? How long, Lord?

Oh, this web reference is pretty interesting, too...if you care.

12 March 2007

conversations with Kate, chiefly on prayer

The dialogue went a bit like this:
"Auntie Diana, what do you do for your job exactly?"
Followed by a serious set of questions (and my subsequent answers), she seemed mostly satisfied.
"We were praying, you know, and, I didn't hear right away that you got the job," she accused, "but I knew you'd get it.
We were praying!"

Yes, dear Kate, your faith blesses and humbles me.
May we grow ever more like little children before you Abba.

In slightly less significant news, I don't know if you noticed, but I'm trying to rely less on others for pictures, since I have my own lil camera. So yesterday, when some friends and their kids came swimming at my house, I grabbed my camera with enthusiasm and anticipation. But, you'll have to check out Karen's tale, here (if this link works), because, unfortunately, she was the only one who snapped photos.

And then today, at my very church,
Julie hosted a fantastic shower for our friend Kathya. Unfortunately, I have no photos of the guest of honor. Sad!
But I do have a few of some other fine friends.
Including Jewels and her daughters!!

09 March 2007

two, four, one and other thoughts

God observes numbers and I think He likes them. At least, I'm keeping track of some numbers in my experience.

For instance:
Two months ago (monday was actually the anniversary),
my job was discontinued.
That very day (anniversary) I started my new job.

Four are the days of my new work week. At this point I "get" Fridays off.
What a gift.

One stands for the week of work that I've now completed.
One by one, day by day, He teaches me and heals my heart.
What about the lessons regarding identity? If not having an answer to the "what do you do" question provoked the demand to better understand my identity, where am I now? How do I continue living in to the identity as a beloved daughter of the King and not get swept up in the identity of my new job and the position I hold?

Years ago I read this book called the One Thing. It outlined the challenge of keeping God's mission, the one thing, as the motivation for everything.

There is a guy who seemed to get that and maintain a singular focus. He once commented something like this, "I only do what the Father wills me to do."
And later on, said if we believed in Him we could do all that He did and more.
It's quite a challenge to live in to.
But talk about an identity. Let it be so!

07 March 2007


I trained with Kati in Kalamazoo today.
She's one of my classmates in my spiritual formation master's program.
But even more than that, she was one of the people who let me know about "my" job. And so I get to thank her.
And today she showed me how she does it.
Although she didn't want to receive the compliment, she's a great teacher. She followed the "I'll do it, you watch" transition into the "you tell me, I'll cheer you on" type of method. (Whether she intentionally did this or not.) And it was helpful.
And fun.

And slightly overwhelming.
But then, there's tomorrow...

In other news, our friend La is converting to Judiasm. Or so it looks like from this picture as she tried on the hat Beth is making her. Silly, I know. But you look at the picture and decide.

04 March 2007


By God's gracious and generous provision, I start a new job tomorrow.
I'm excited.
I'm nervous.
I'm grieving.

But I've had the luxury of time in between these transitions.
Many people don't.
And although I'm not ready to say I've put my past experiences completely behind me, I am grateful for the moments to reflect, to grieve, to mourn, to wail, and to wait.

Oh to be certain, the luxury of waiting doesn't feel like luxury.
It's excruciating at moments.
There's a ton of energy exerted in waiting.

And, to be certain, my waiting isn't over.
But some things are being defined.
That definition, too, is a luxury.

In other news, my job requires that I commit to the organization's stance on alcohol.
There are varied opinions about alcohol in Christian circles. I grew up in a home where we drank wine on occasion. It wasn't a big deal. It wasn't ignored.
I enjoy a lively glass of wine with a good meal.
I relish a cold beer on a hot summer day.
Alas, some luxuries are to be sacrificed.
And so, I had a final glass Friday night.
Goodbye for now.

02 March 2007

grace in simplicity

The more I get to know myself, the more amazing it is that God has any compassion or inclination to allow me to spend time in His presence.

In the midst of reading and writing for "my" MA in Spiritual Formation and Leadership, we're required to practice certain disciplines. Because this is an online journey, we spend a ton of time posting reflections, and responding to other's postings. I love the diversity as we all react to things differently. This week, we studied the disciplines of Study and Simplicity. (FYI...Two great resources that we're using are: Richard Foster, Celebration of the Discipline, and Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun.)

Choices are offered to us each week as to what discipline we want to practice so I chose simplicity. I was imagining simplification in the arena of reducing things or activities. But here's the assignment on offer: "Ask God to help you speak the simple truth. Practice speaking simply--no double meanings or half truths that put you in the best light. Let this practice help you become aware of when you rationalize, deny, blame, and spin."

It did not take much time to "become aware."

Unfortunately, the awareness often occurred AFTER I had offered the excuse, rationalization, spin, etc.
I don't like these discoveries.

Something I read this week by Dallas Willard, became more and more clear as my awareness grew. Willard says, "Real spiritual need and change is on the inside, in the hidden area of the life that God sees and that we cannot even see in ourselves without his help. Indeed, we could not endure (emphasis mine) seeing our inner life as it really is." And then he throws out this line: "The possibility of denial and self-deception is something God has made accessible to us, in part to protect us until we begin to see Him."

It's a wonder we can stand ourselves, but then, to think the Holy One not only stands us, but offers us the gift of relationship and intimacy with Him??

I'm rubbish (as my Scottish friends would say).
But I'm additionally undone, utterly grateful, and irresistibly compelled to know this gracious and amazing God even more.