21 Quick Actions You Can Do Today to Simplify Your Life – Slow Your Home

Like many of us, I’m in the struggle. Slow and simple are not characteristics of my native habitat. Yet they are helpful–no, essential–in opening space for God, for others, for ourselves. Suggestions like these point me in that direction. 

Most are practical tasks that nudge the process forward. The piece finishes with a grace-filled framework. Enjoy…and implement. 

What would you add? [or eliminate… :)]

http://slowyourhome.com/21-quick-actions-simplify-life/#_a5y_p=5259893

Silencio!! My Prayer Following the November 8th Election

 The LORD is in his holy temple;

let all the earth be silent before him. (Habakkuk 2:20)

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My delightful Argentinian foreign language professor was fond of shouting this at the class when we got a little rowdy. It’s the single word that comes to mind each time I listen for the prayer God is praying in me, beginning in the wee hours of the morning following the contentious political campaign that reached its zenith on November 8, 2016.

Whether you are in ecstasy or lament following today’s national election in the US, You, too, may find silence to be tremendously restorative and redemptive at this moment in time. It’s the best gift I can offer.

Peace.
Gwen


What is the prayer you are hearing, God’s invitation to you?

Awareness: Day 17 of “31 Days” – Maybe I Just Need to Write For 4’s

#4 wooden coastersIt occurs to me after listening to Leigh Kramer on Tsh’s podcast, that maybe I just need to write for 4’s; that maybe nobody else has experienced the kind of discontent around their life with God that we/I have!

Whatever our deepest desire, it’s one of the ways God comes to us, calls us forward, causes to us to put our gifts into the world. For a ‘4,’ it’s often an unrequited longing that becomes a prayer expressing what another needs to say but can’t quite get in touch with. (Or maybe we 4’s just wish that were the case because we can’t bear to be left out, thus we create everyone else in our image so that we’re not alone!)

I googled “enneagram 4 blog” because I wanted some specific info on how 4’s tend to see things and found the little gem. I mostly found that we 4’s have a certain method and motivation and rhythm–or not!–even for blogging. Of course. I just hadn’t thought to reference it against the enneagram. Many things make more sense when run through the E-filter. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s simply a way to organize information about personality including thoughts, feelings, behavior and the like. It makes me both appreciate and lament the struggle and the celebration that is this life. In fact, it kind of makes me want to re-title this whole blog endeavor and start over–which is also very ‘4’.

What it mostly makes me aware of is why I have written only four, now, four (4!) days out of the 31-Day challenge. And that on this day, knowing my 4-ness helps me be okay with that. And I hope that on this day, wherever you are and whatever you find yourself doing, you’re okay with it–especially if you’re also a ‘4’. If you’re a ‘1’ it will be even harder–but you can do it! Just a little inside enneagram humor, which you can find out more about right here.

It’s no magic bullet, but almost. Discovering the why underneath what you and others do–or don’t, fosters empathy and graciousness. And God knows we could use a little more of that. Yes?

Awareness: Day 12 of “31 Days”

I’ve been immersed again in the wisdom that the enneagram offers (and apparently a lot more since it’s now Day 12!).

The Enneagram offers an awareness of the filters through which we see; how we view ourselves, experience God and interact with one another, for better and for worse.
Awareness at the capacity available to humans is a gift bestowed on no other creature. It is foundational to the understanding necessary for growing safe, loving relationships with God, ourselves and others.

Especially at this time of year, awareness travels a meaningful path.

  • Awareness with intent toward appreciation leads to gratitude.
  • Gratitude assumes a source.
  • Source points to “in the beginning.”

As a 4 on the E-gram, I’m not a fan of the church year’s Ordinary Time– or ordinary anything else, for that matter. In spite of it not being my natural habitat,  I’m learning through practicing awareness, to value the ordinary. 

October is the last of it and is a great build-up to Festival season. All Saints Day then November with its focus on gratitude. Thanksgiving, Christ the King Sunday then right into Advent. 

Yep, it’s here folks! Right around the corner. Almost time to untangle the tree lights.

And when I pull the lens back into the present,  all of a sudden, ordinary time is anything but. In fact…

  • a glance out the window at the brilliant Autumn hues
  • the joyful chaos of kids’ Fall sports
  • breathing the stimulating chill of morning’s air
  • monitoring weather reports for mountain pass travel 
  • sitting in a surgery waiting room
  • celebrating milestone birthdays

…all nudge me into full consciousness. I am reminded that the present moment is gift. I am alive. I am aware.

Awareness: Day 5 of “31 Days”

If I’m honesr, it’s days four AND five. But who’s counting, right? 

————-

One moment our small formation group was celebrating that we were back together after a break. The next, we were grieving news that the passing of someone we all love was imminent. Cancer treatment had been halted and family called.
The reality of what her absence would mean settled over us like a cup of strong coffee sobers a drunk. 

One shed tears, some had to speak their grief, another was uncharacteristically silent. 

Yet, rather than leaving us under a morose, dark cloud, we were graced with a gift that comes only through shared pain. 

Our misshapen circle in the sunlit living room seemed to grow smaller. It was as if connective tissue was being formed between chairs drawing us more tightly together.

In that instant, I became aware of how we are shaped by sorrow, formed by community. That trudging through dark places nurtures empathy and trust, moving us beyond ourselves as perhaps no other experience can.

Since we are not spared life’s difficult milestones, of which death is one, I find myself asking,  “Am I becoming the kind of person who can hold both the agony and the ecstasy, and be at peace trusting that God is present and at work in it all?” 

I am becoming increasingly aware that it is possible, even glimpse it from time to time. And so my prayer is, “May it be so”.

—————-

Where are you being asked to hold both joy and sorrow? How are you being formed by being in community?

Awareness: Day 3 of “31 Days”

It’s day three of the 31 Days of Blogging “craze,” if I can be so irreverent. If you’re looking for days one and two, don’t. I didn’t.

But, I promised myself I’d take on the challenge so I’m here, writing about Awareness. And now it’s late and I’m cranky, wondering where the time went, though I know full well. It has been filled with the stuff of life, stuff that I almost miss the chance to be grateful for when I’m not paying attention. Like…

  • savoring the smell of salsa crockpot chicken when I open the front door
  • Hobby Lobby exchanging the $10 can of spray that only worked thrice
  • the joy of watching a grand-girl in her first season of volleyball
  • arms that feel like jelly after a workout
  • time spent listening to a friend
  • showering in hot water for which I did not have to walk
  • how many reds there are in Fall–our burning bush, the sumac on the canal bank, the last of the geraniums
  • the pink and white cosmos that has taken over the garden
  • a covered patio on which to park my car–and Mr. S who cleared the space
  • time to study and a migraine that only threatened

So I pause at the end of this day making time for a moment of stillness, step out of the traffic, someone has said, and tell God thank you.

“Thank you for the nudge to notice, for leading me to gratitude, which leads to…to You.” 


Join me? What did you almost miss today today that you remembered in the stillness? For what are you grateful? Share in the comments.

Thoughts On Desire: Do you even KNOW what you’re fighting over?

Is anybody else confused about desire? On the one hand “God will give you the desires of your heart..” On the other, “The heart is deceitful…who can know it…” If you’ve been around the Christian faith for any length of time you’ve likely heard a sermon (or forty) about the tug-o-war between what I want vs. what God wants.

Digging into desire includes:

  • Opening to consider God’s dream of us–seeing
  • Recognizing where we presently resist invitations to freedom–suspicions
  • Looking at what has shaped us–self-awareness

Seeing
What if the more in touch with our desires we become, the closer we come to “knowing God’s will for our lives,” a Christian phrase that has caused many well-intentioned high school seniors ulcer-inducing anxiety which turns into  adult exhaustion?

What if we put some effort into becoming aware of what we want and responding to that, instead of making “God’s will” a mysterious code that only a lucky and smart few are able to crack? What if God’s will is inside us, not outside us? What if God’s will is less about what we do to be loved and more about our living into our identity as The Beloved? What if we paid better attention to what our hearts are already whispering to us? It is not the only factor in discernment, but it is a critical one.

Suspicions
Are you suspicious about the topic of desire? Perhaps it is warranted since we know that desire gone awry can lead us down nefarious paths.

But what if instead we put all that suspicious energy into the exciting prospect that God puts in us what he wants us to want, according to who God dreams of our becoming?

Self-Awareness
My recent trip to the cemetery made me think about what I want–but not, as you might assume, in the bucket-list sense of the word. It felt good to be there since it had been a while.

Dad’s marker reads, “Gone to Heaven; meet me there.” Beside it, Mom’s declares, “Beloved Wife, Mother and Grandmother.” Characteristic of headstones, they each capture some essence of a life but neither is comprehensive in scope.

I only lived in their home for my first eighteen years yet their influence left an indelible imprint that 40-plus years of marriage and a life independent of their authority did little to obscure.

For instance, my penchant for overthinking, and my appreciation for road trips and ranches comes from Dad while Mom left me with unparalleled expectations for grandmothering. I tried to love quilting and crafting because she did. Honest. It took some time (and a lot of unfinished projects!) to discover that those were her preferences. I am still discovering my own.

As I have grown in self-awareness, I have begun to understand why I have difficulty with knowing my own desires, or giving myself permission to have desires at all.

For example, Mom had a charming way of steering my younger self which was full of FOMO (fear of missing out). “Oh, no…you don’t want that,” she would say with a chuckle,  avoiding many a meltdown by gently whoosing away my childish requests as if they were nothing of substance to cause either of us a moment’s concern. And for the moment, they didn’t.

Such strategies work for petulant children, but over the long-term it becomes important to name one’s needs. The inability to do so can result in:

  • Paralysis in choosing
  • Fear of asking
  • Feelings of unworthiness
  • Holding too tightly to acquired possessions
  • Impacting every area of life from deciding on a career to shopping for shoes

Perhaps what you want and what God wants aren’t all that different. It just may take a little excavating. What awaits is the freedom of discovering that what God desires, God has already put in your heart.


How can you dig into your own desire?

Get curious. It may be buried deep. Ask God to show you what you want.

Notice what your heart is drawn toward. 

Pay attention and record it over the next week or so at the end of each day.

What do you notice in nature, scripture, spontaneous thought, snippets of engaging conversation, memories that randomly surface?

What might God be showing you about your desires though these moments?

How are you responding or resisting? Why?

  • Spend a few minutes in reflection at the end of the time
  • Note any common thread(s)
  • Talk to a trusted friend
  • Trust your desires to God

BONUS: 
Ruth Haley Barton of The Transforming Center does great work around the topic of desire. If any of this resonates with you, you can watch her talk about it here.

[Mom and Dad raised Boston Terriers. I had to include this photo which looks just like theirs. :)]

 

 

What I Want You to Know About My Silence | Addie Zierman

Addie writes my heart with her pen in this post. I hope you will read, thoughtfully, all of it. 

http://addiezierman.com/2016/07/14/what-i-want-you-to-know-about-my-silence/

Perks and Process: The Why and How of Memorizing

 

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Parroting with perfect 6-year-old Elizabethan elocution, I was rewarded with glowing approval.

“Blessed is the man”-or person, my dad astutely responded to my early gender sensitivities, “that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly…” (Psa. 1 KJV)

“And God is the redeemer of every situation…”

Someone said that to me once, a line I committed to memory and have never–well, sometimes–forgotten.

Mmm…Tasty!

Those same words, once sweet in my mouth, turned to gravel over time. The experience of having the Bible crammed down Continue reading

Why I Am Pro Choice

constitution_thumb_295_dark_gray_bg…agency is the “capacity of an entity…to act in any given environment.

I’ve been thinking these 3 things about agency recently and I like this definition from trusty Wikipedia. For some of us whose default setting is compliance, agency is a foreign concept. We agree in theory but have no skill in practice In fact, it needs some unpacking before we can grasp its meaning and allow it to be our lived experience. Continue reading