Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Spiritual Disciplines

Discipline is one of the Spiritual habits that strengthens and deepens our relationship with God.

Since I'm not working and neither is my husband, I have had difficulty with my normally well disciplined habits. For instance, I wanted to be more faithful to writing my blog, but I haven't written since August. Time just marches on and I have procrastinated. The reason I finally am writing today: my husband went to church to help some men build a ramp for a disabled person.

When he is home, I find it more difficult to spend my alone time. We are enjoying this time together, yet, with the economic downturn, he has not been able to find a job. I'm so glad he decided to join this group of men and do something productive.

The idea of getting up everyday and not having a purpose to get us going is hard to adjust to. I've always been a person who wanted to make a difference. He, too, likes to reach out and be productive. In retirement, we have not quite found our focus. I'm sure we will eventually.

Another discipline that I have struggled with is eating, but having a more seditary life makes this an even greater challenge. In the last year, I had knee surgery. During the time for diagnosing the problem and then waiting for surgery and recovery, I have gained significant weight and am having trouble losing it.

My hunger is for God's direction and guidance, but I have too often turned to food for comfort.

I learned this lesson earlier in my life and lost about 30 lbs. I hope I can regain the discipline to do it again. I know in my heart and mind this is the problem. Yet, having too much time on my hands, I've been unable to do the necessary discipline of my habits.

I know that God can and will help me, but I must do my part. God can change us, but we must be willing to yield to him. I pray for God's strength to control my choices. I pray for help in my surrender to the one who has always given me hope and strength as well as amazing love.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I've always been on the sidelines politically. All of the negative sparring usually sickens me to the point I stop listening. But this year I was intrigued by the newcomber on the political horizon, Barack Obama.

I wanted to learn more about him, so I picked up a copy of The Audacity of Hope. I was moved by his positive ideas about change. I was also, glad to see we might have a man of real integrity and compassion in the White House with him elected.

In recent months, besides reading Obama's book, I've read Madeline Albright's book The Mighty and the Almighty, Jack Cafferty's book, It's Getting Ugly Out There, and Nancy Pelosi's book, Know Your Power.

These reads reinforced what I was thinking about President Bush's leadership. We are in a state of crisis in our country and we need someone who can turn us in a better direction. We need someone who respects the Constitution and the people being served. We need someone who doesn't think he is the decider. We need someone who can draw the best minds together and make decisions based on the wisdom of many. No single person or trio of people have the answers to the many issues that need attention to turn our country around.

I'm praying for this ticket to win and give us a chance to reclaim our pride in our country to operate as a real democracy for the people and by the people. When I turn on the tube to hear the president, I will listen eagerly to where we are going instead of cringing about where he has decided to take us.

I pray that many people like me who have stayed on the sidelines will listen and act. We must respond now or we are part of the reason. We have not lived up to being the people. We have allowed too long someone to be the decider who doesn't care for our needs.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Held in God's Hands

In times of waiting day after day for news expected, it can seem like an eternity. Each day we arise with the hope that today will be the day the news will come. Each day that passes makes the waiting harder. It is a little like being pregnant. The due date will arrive. But our anticipation is so great, we feel like time is standing still.

Of course, time does not stand still. Our waiting is but a blimp in God's time. The Scriptures say so much that remind us of God's timing and economy which is so much greater than ours. I am grateful for the words recorded there that give us strength in these times. Going to the Scripture gives me great comfort and reframes my understanding about the status of each day.

One day at a time is the best advice someone gave me once. Most of the things we worry about never even happen and our worry accopmlishes nothing but our own stress. I keep thinking I have learned that lesson only to find myself right back in school again.

In the mean time God holds me in a Divne embrace. Someone recently gave me a wooden carving of God holding a head in the palm of his hand, but that carving should depict God's hand much larger for God holds many in that hand. We are too small to imagine the greatness of God's hand.

Friday, June 27, 2008

5-Day Spiritual Formation Academy

I just returned from my fourth experience of a 5-Day Academy. This retreat is an opportunity for those seeking to deepen their relationship with God. We met at a retreat center near Bloomington, IN, in the Brown County area. There are no cell towers. You can totally disconnect from the world for healing and spiritual formation. The academy is sponsored by The Upper Room.

There are two faculty who speak each day. The faculty for this academy were Sister Kathleen Flood and Rev. Glandion Carney. Sister Kathleen was our morning speaker and Glandion was our afternoon speaker. Both have served as faculty for several academies.

The rhythm 0f the day is one that encourages spiritual formation, time for forming your relationship with God. The day begins with morning prayer for the community. Then breakfast and the morning session begins at 9:00 am. The first speaker presents information and thoughts that the attendee will ponder for the next hour in quiet. The community returns for an open discussion and sharing around what thoughts bubbled up in the quiet reflection time.

The afternoon is outlined similarly followed by worship and an evening meal. There are a number of evening options throughtout the week. One night is a healing service. We are all wounded in a number of ways and concerned for others who are wounded. This service offers time for prayer and annointing for healing.

It is an extraordinary experience.

One additional component is the covenant groups that meet for sharing and support. This gives people a chance to experience Christian conferencing. The community and groups become close because of the intimate sharing and the confidencial nature of the group.

To learn more about the 5-Day Academy go to http://www.upperroom.com/

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Waiting for God Again

It seems that much of my life over recent years has been spent waiting to see what God will do next in my life. It has always worked out so well when I have waited.Great opportunities have come my way.

Our most recent wait has involved my husband's retirement from the Air force. In June, he turns 60, which is the age that is determined for retirement from the Air force. He has been
on a temporary assignment at MacDill AFB since last September. The whole time there has been speculation that he might continue to work in a civilian position at MacDill.

I resigned my position as an associate pastor in Carmel to be with him. We are anxious to move into the new leg of the journey, but time seems to be creeping and no signs of exactly what is on the horizon. There are hints, but no signs with specific information. So we continue the journey plodding along slowly much like the turtle in the race with the hare. Everyone around us seems to be hares and we are turtles.

God took care of the turtle by building a shell around it to protect its sluggish body. From the many hares whizzing by and perhaps stepping on them, the turtles survive.

There is much to be said for the slow pace and the time you have to sort out life. We learn that many of the things we thought we were so attached to are not really as important. The big house, the furniture, and comforts of home can easily be replaced. What cannot be replaced is the people we love and with whom we enjoy sharing our life experience.

God's timing is perfect! I trust in this because I have experiencd it over and over again.
So for now, I thank God for the shell he's provided us and we trudge along in hope that comes from our God who created us and desires the best for us. I hope I'm learning a lesson wearing the shoes of the turtle.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Connecting to others through and for God

As I'm leaving to join my husband in another state, there was one last person I wanted to see before I left. She called this morning to cancel our time together because she had mistaken when a doctor appoinment was.

I'm disappoined not to see her again before I leave. She has been a wonderful inspiration to me and others as well. Her story is like many others. Her connection to God was the last thing she was thinking of as she grew up in a home with two alcholic parents. She had taken charge of running her world without them. Then they sobered up and she had to give up her control. She continued, after entering the world, to be in charge of her life. Funny thing is she found out being in charge of her own llife was leading her to disaster in every part of life.

One day she finally fell to the floor to seek God's help and began to pray. I met her shortly after that happened and we have been on the journey together for four years. She is an amazing witness for God's forgiveness and love. She was like a sponge ready to soak up any drop of water that would draw her closer to God. i provided resources and we had many long talks, but it was God doing the work. We were connected by God's love for us and God used us to bless one another.

When we find these special relationships we want to hold on, but they are like holding sand as it passes through your fingers. We will always have the gift of that special connection, but we move on to allow God to connect and use us in the lives of others.

God knows our need for connectedness. I wonder who he will bring into my life as I plunge into the unknown waters of a new community. God is always before me blessing me before I can know.

God is always before you blessing you as you go. Why not get connected!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

April 22, 2008

I'm coming to the end of a chapter in my life and await a new beginning on my journey. The past four years I have served as Pastor of spiritual formation at a large church in the Metropolitan area of Indianapolis. Due to changes in my husband's job, and uncertainty of what comes next for us, I took a three month leave of absence and have resigned that position since we are still unable to make a commiment about where we will be.

On Sunday, the church held a reception for me. It was wonderful to hear that I had been missed. Many expressed their appreciation for my service. Many said, " I will never forget when you...."
Then I came home and opened card after card with similar comments.

A wonderful day! It was sort of like being at your funeral; except I woke up on Monday with the blank page of a new chapter staring me in the face. I look forward to traveling back to Florida this week to be with my husband. I've been cleaning out my office, seeing old friends, and my grandchildren. I'm ready to be back with my husband.

My husband will retire from the Air Force in June. We are not entirely ready to retire permanently. He'd like to work a few more years and I really want to continue to serve in ministry. The question is how and where. I continue to pose those questions to God and I feel like I'm holding with music palying in my ear. A pleasant sound, unless what you really want is an answer as to where I go from here.