Hello Friday: Summer’s End

I’ve been living with Psalm 103:6 this week:

“The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.”

In the midst of the world’s chaos, I must remind myself often that the seemingly encapsulated moment I’m in is not the end of any story; that we are each being invited to join in working for all the oppressed, whatever our hands are given to do. For some it is the writing of powerful words that positively influence a culture’s thinking, and over time, behavior. May it be so.

Gilead.
It took me over a decade to get to it, a year to finally finish it. I’m quite sure Marilynne would not be disappointed–after all, she appreciates slow, careful thought. Once through and I am a devoted fan. She has written much more that’s worthy of your time and mine, but Gilead is the most famous of the trilogy telling the stories of those we come to love through the eyes of Jack Boughton, and “who were not finished with me!” (she says) at the end of the first of the three.

Here is a sampling of why I love what and how she writes:

“It seems to me people tend to forget that we are to love our enemies, not to satisfy some standard of righteousness but because God their Father loves them.”
― Marilynne RobinsonGilead

“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, everyone of them sufficient”
― Marilynne Robinson

“I’ve developed a great reputation for wisdom by ordering more books than I ever had time to read, and reading more books, by far, than I learned anything useful from, except, of course, that some very tedious gentlemen have written books.”
― Marilynne RobinsonGilead

Her understated manner, available for viewing on YouTube and with which I am now well acquainted, is equally engaging. I spent several dark hours this week following her story from Sandpoint, ID to Massachusetts to Iowa City, and a few points in between. I learned about the coveted Iowa Writer’s Workshop, a program in which she taught for 20 years which took me to other renowned writers and more books to read. (Tip: When you have a migraine, set your app preference to Autoplay and let ‘er roll.) The net effect was a return to a bit of fiction writing I had once dabbled in. Who knows…?)

Speaking of books, videos, etc. this podcast featuring Brene Brown and Jen Hatmaker is a delight–and a lot of Texas in one place! I’m not an early adopter–I was into Brene long before fame, and have shied away from jumping on the Jen-wagon. But seriously–even if it is hard to say “seriously” and “Jen” in the same sentence–it’s a great listen. And I have become a fan. If you get a chance, pick up Jen’s For the Love. Available to check out on Kindle if your book budget is a little thin by Summers’ end.

Boo with pear

The pears were picked in the orchard next door this week, also a signal that Summer is ending. So is “Back to School” which is all the buzz around here with lots of grands–from first grade through university. One cent composition books…multi-colored Sharpies…five dollar flash drives? Who can resist?!? Now that’s life-giving! 🙂

Finally, Fall planning is in full swing:

  • New pages for the ARC disc planner
  • September Formation start-up
  • October’s annual board meeting
  • A visit to a friend’s new home
  • Last push on the home renovation…maybe by Christmas!
Advertisements

Hello Friday: All In

Hello Friday is a look over my shoulder at the events of the past week. I notice what was life-giving and then share it with you, a week-ending examen. Maybe you’ll find something in it that brings you life, too; maybe even try your own.

A tornado ripped through our favorite beach getaway last year, a sleepy bay town on the picturesque Oregon Coast usually shielded from such trauma.

Whether we would join our grands and their parents this year was up in the air until the last minute when we decided, “we’re all in.” We would leave and return when they did; eat and sleep and play when and where they did; stay in the rented house together and be present for the entire six days. All of us, all of them, all in.

We skipped last year, opting for a different beach, but when we rounded the curve and saw “our” beach, inhaled the ocean air, I remembered the magic of the place. The green, translucent mug declaring in gold letters, “I come to the sea to breathe,” has survived several rounds of cupboard clearing. It’s still my fave. (I also remembered getting lost after dark in the state campground just up the road because I turned the wrong direction leaving the shower building…but, um, that’s a story for another time.

I’ve been reading Richard Rohr’s Divine Dance and Ian Cron’s Chasing Francis. Both books have a lot to say about Francis of Assisi and his way of living all in, and seem to be watering a thirst in my soul of which I wasn’t even aware.

I watched someone kite surfing (watch this!) for 30 minutes today. It made me wonder what would happen if I lived every day abandoned to the flow of God’s Love, Power and Goodness the way this surfer rode the ocean’s breakers, kite to the wind.

It wasn’t all romance and reflection– there were two-year-old twins in the cottage and more “hangry” kids ranging from six to thirteen. That’s a lot of cereal, tuna and chips! And lots of sand, wet towels and sunburn–with plenty of screen time thrown in. Salted caramel ice cream (nooooo!) was less than a block away and the beach, just four.

Can you ask for more? Yes. Yes, you can. Awareness. Awareness that it is all gift, lavished on us as abundantly as the water that fills the sea. The gift of:

  • My daughter’s belly-laugh over Jen Hatmaker’s latest book, Of Mess and Moxie
  • Running down the sidewalk to take in one more effusive sunset
  • Fragrant morning coffee at Bread and Ocean
  • Sticky hands in mine helping littles across the street–fourth day on the same jawbreaker notwithstanding…
  • Snuggled next to Mr S watching Lion on the Kindle late into the night
  • Petting EVERY dog on EVERY leash–and they are legion

Equally life-giving was a quick day trip to visit another family campsite.

PNW: Grownups’ playground

Good eats and glamour

Our favorite meat market

New to me: Kombucha…Yumm!

Finally, on Wednesday, Genesis 28 gave me this phrase:

“Surely the Lord was in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

And you? What has given you life this week? Where was the Lord in your places?

The End.

Hello Friday: Summer’s Endings, New Beginnings

Hello Friday is a look over my shoulder at the events of the past week. I notice what was life-giving and then share it with you, a week-ending examen. Maybe you’ll find something in it that brings you life, too; maybe even try your own.

  • “The Beast” is progressing! I’ve been walking Lewis most mornings. He is more mystery than manners at this point, but he raised the bar for himself this week by demonstrating his ability to wait quietly while I unleashed him upon our return so he could rejoin Boo in their kennel (which we moved to the nut grove when the temperatures soared to sustained triple digits). Otherwise, his norm is to spasm a little too enthusiastically at the door. It’s good to be winning the courtesy contest, if even a teeny bit. (And speaking of courtesy, photo by Mr. S)

Woman standing next to large white dog, holding leash

  • The classic definition of stress is being presented with a challenge one feels they haven’t the resources to meet. My pastor preached on it a few messages ago in a sermon titled, When God Asks Too Much. I listened to it again this week. If you feel like God is stressing you out by asking more than you feel you have the resources to meet, this one’s for you. Stick in your ear buds and take your beast for a 25 minute walk or push back the recliner and rest (audio is messy for first 30 secs; fine after that).
  • I spent a few delicious hours in a mountain retreat with a friend. Our lives are busy these days; in many ways, not our own. But we found a date when the white space on our calendars synced, and squeezed in a few hours to meet and catch up–reminisce, share current status, look forward, laugh, lament, and listen–deeply. Feeling oh-so-grateful.

Green chair by window

And I came away with a new resource to recommend: Seeking God’s Face.

I’ve talked before about my favorite Blue Book, A Guide to Prayer For Ministers and Other Servants. This one may bump it to second. Another prayer-book, but with some brilliant features:

  1. 15 years of actual dates in a little box at the top of each page. I don’t have to know where I am in the Christian year as long as I can remember (or find…) today’s date! It does ALL the thinking. You’re welcome.
  2. No second book needed, includes all scripture text.
  3. Prayers are in accessible, meaningful language that facilitates integration of spiritual thought with current, lived experience.
  4. Eugene Peterson’s thoughtful Forward.
  5. Format that engages both heart and mind.

Yes. It’s that good.

  • Though I am ambivalent about this one, there is life here. My tongue-in-cheek critique of Beth Moore’s book, Get Out of That Pit, had more to say about the condition of my own soul than it did about her authorship. I ended up recommending the book, but also telling the truth about what were, for me, its less-than-glowing aspects. Unflattering truths are hard for me to speak, but it felt good to do so honestly…if I’m honest. My spiritual director suggests God may be inviting me to move beyond my fear of approval by “growing a pair”–which you may or may not approve of my saying. Sorry…I’m practicing.
  • I transported a couple of family teens and their seven over-stuffed bags, water bottles in hand, to catch their ride to the hospital 2 1/2  hours away where a family member is recovering from a heart transplant.flowered design water bottle

 It felt like summer camp drop-off day with my own then-teen girls. I’ve been going through old pictures this week, trying to “minimize” (which is apparently more fashionable to be doing than old-fashioned “down-sizing” was, or “throwing away junk” was for generations prior). Anyway, I’m doing IT and found THIS. The one on the far right is celebrating a 16th wedding anniversary today! Mamas, don’t blink.

Mom and 3 children sitting on brown couch

  • I ran into a music buddy at the home improvement store on the weekend. “Keeping up your chops, aren’t you?” he said. I had to confess I wasn’t, but it reminded me that for a week or two I had felt an impulse toward playing once again, which has been absent for a time. On Monday, I found myself singing: (I know…ancient…)

You are the rock of my salvation.
You are the strength of my life.
You are my hope and my inspiration.
Lord unto You will I cry.
I believe in you, believe in you.
For your faithful love to me.
You have been my help
in time of need.
Lord unto You will I cleave. (Maranatha! Music)

  • This is a good place to mention that the week ended with this coming across from Gretchen Rubin about new beginnings. She’s good for me.

Podcast 129: September Is the Other January, the Fun of Post-It Notes, and What “They” Think.

  • And last, the week ended on a high note having lunch with a treasured friend, nurturing a valuable relationship.

Plate with slice of lemon, takeout box and restaurant check folder lying on table.

  • I’ve been thinking a lot about obedience as cooperation. I love and live  better when I remember that “trust and obey” just means I’m cooperating with Some-thing/-one good beyond myself. And it’s easier to trust when you believe that Someone has your best in mind. Thus, these words have been chock full of meaning this week:

The Lord is trustworthy in all his promises and faithful in all he does. Psalm 145:13b.


What are you letting go of as summer comes to a close? And what promise might those endings hold?

Blessings, G

Hello Friday: Streams of Living Water

Today’s post is a quick hello, hoping to inspire you to notice from whence your own streams flow.

In preparation for Fall startup of CFDM’s Formation 2 program, I’m studying for a presentation on what Richard Foster has termed “streams,” the six major traditions of the Christian faith beginning with the resurrection of Christ, and reading his (Foster’s) book, Streams of Living Water. The only ‘D’ I earned as a student was in History so the irony that I’m not only fascinated by, but deign to teach on, this particular history is not lost on me! As with many of Richard’s writings, his most compelling words are in his explaining why he writes on the topic at hand, or why he recommends the work of another. Such is the case here–he had me at “Introduction.”

I’ve spent a lot of time focused on the state of my physical body this past week. Marta Taylor,  Erin Knight, Corey Schuler have done a fabulous job with the Chronic Headache and Migraine Summit, putting together a panel of speakers to teach on various aspects of cause, management and in some cases, extinction. It has been life-giving.

I had lunch with a friend I’ve not spent time with in years. Honestly, she took the initiative, not me. We sat together at my humble, DIY bar over a simple chicken salad and kombucha where we shared hearts and got reacquainted. How easily we isolate ourselves, limiting the possibility of transformation taking place in others just as it is for us–if we remain open to discovery. Hidden gifts might be waiting that are otherwise missed.

Family has been especially meaningful this week, as our nephew has undergone a second heart transplant. It’s a complex tension, as we hold both his recovery and the donor’s loved ones in prayer. At 17, parents and siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends have rallied to support in so many ways:

People in hospital waiting room

  • Prayer, prayer and more prayer
  • Interrupting vacation plans to get to the hospital in time for the procedure
  • Several people traveling hours to be with family in the waiting room
  • Extended stays nearby to be available
  • Stocking and transporting the camp trailer for family to stay in during the weeks of recovery
  • Posting on social media
  • Artists and friends contributing gifts of prayer and beauty
  • Donating vacation time to supervise siblings and run errands

And in the midst of it, I treasure the overnighter with my ten-year-old granddaughter and an afternoon spent at the library, lunch and shopping with the thirteen-ager; the impromptu drive with another to the pet store (30 minutes away to return the ill chameleon he gave her for their first anniversary–he loves her THAT much); good conversation over dinner with Mr. S; yoga twice this week to stretch and tone and tame an over-active mind.

All of these have been streams of living water to me this week, reminding me that:

  • Life is a gift
  • We are invited to step in fully
  • Difficult times are inevitable
  • We are not alone

As this week of summer days winds to a close, may you be mindful of the Source of Life from which streams of living water flow to you, the moments and experiences that have nourished you these past few days. (If you’re in a dark time–I have been–you may have to work at it…!) May that lead you toward peace, shalom, which is to say in Hebrew, wholeness.