How to thrive after a midlife crisis

With my brother and sister and a birthday cake

With my brother and sister and a birthday cakeToday’s my birthday! I thank God for the gift of my life.

I don’t always recognize what a gift it is. Ten years ago, I asked, “What am I doing with my life?”

I was hungry to learn. I read self-improvement books from the library, one after the other. I don’t remember which author offered this idea, but it stuck with me:

A plant doesn’t grow by positive thoughts. It has to receive light and water while planted in good soil.

This thought made me realize that it wasn’t enough to change my attitude. I needed to change my environment. I applied—multiple times—and found a job at the University of Missouri. It has been my place to thrive professionally for the past ten years.

These are the five things that helped me over my mid-life crisis.

Lead yourself and learn

Become the leader of your own life; have a vision. Where do you want to be? It’s up to you to guide your life where you want it to go.

I wrote down a description of what I wanted to be—a PR specialist—and that is close to what I do today.

I furthered my education and got my master’s degree. My degree helped me professionally and personally. I made friends in grad school I treasure to this day.

Decide on your destination, and lead yourself there.

Keep your eye on where you want to be, not on what is stopping you

I explored my vision and kept my eye on it.

My years of riding lessons make for great life lessons. When you’re riding horses over jumps, you can’t look at the jump. You look where you want to go. If you look down at the jump, you won’t get over it. I can hear the yell of my riding instructor, “Why are you looking at the ground? Is that where you want to be? Eyes up! Look where you are going!”

Keep your eye on your destination. If you keep your eye on the obstacle, you will feel overcome by its size.

There is no obstacle you can’t find a way around. Keep your eyes up!

Feel everything

Change involves discomfort. It hurts to grow and let go of old attachments or familiar ways of living. There is no escape from our feelings if we want to come out the other side.

I believe God reaches us most easily when we are at our lowest and most broken. That’s when we realize how much we need God and others. As social creatures, we can never be independent. We have to live in love and in community. The past ten years tested me. I lost a high school friend and my brother to suicide, and my mother to lung cancer.

I let grief change me; I gave myself over to mourning. The feelings were a wall of cold water crashing on me. My skin felt numb and raw at the same time. My eyes hurt from too much crying; my lids were made of sandpaper. I could go from angry to melancholy to blank to hysterical laughter all in the same five minutes.

As I grieved, I prayed to God with an intensity that I wished would never end. I felt an answer in a new-found closeness to the holy presence. Christ healed my heart.

I believe you are never alone in your suffering. Peace will come. Hard times will change you for the good if you let them. Keep breathing.

Go for it

Go for what you want!

It might not turn out. I’ve had some failures! With failure, you have a story to tell. Failure is easier than regret.

I took a risk to try writing publicly in 2013 on this blog, now I’m a published author. Thank you, my beloved readers, for being a part of this adventure!

Nurture a heart of gratitude

“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

I give thanks for turning 45 today!

People complain about aging. I tell you, to be alive at any age is a blessing. When I think of my beloved ones who haven’t reached the age I am today, I know growing older is a blessing. We might gain an ache or two along with our wisdom, but life is precious, joyful and holy.

Have you noticed how older people appreciate the moments? There is such happiness in seeing the beauty of small things: a child’s smile, the way an iridescent blue fly drinks from a horse water trough, snuggling with your spouse in the morning before you have to get up, watching snow fall, playing string with a cat, the sound of waves on the beach.

May God bless me to be an old woman. I’m going to make a great one—puttering around to make hot tea with a small dog underfoot! I might stick my finger in my 80th birthday cake and help myself to the icing before it’s served…

Time to make your (mid) year resolutions!

Pixie pony

Ready, set, reset!

Pixie ponyI recently heard a thought-provoking speech in my Toastmaster’s club by a friend about her plan to make mid-year resolutions. She pointed out that many businesses have July 1 as the start of their fiscal year. It makes sense that now is a natural time to assess where we are and where we want to be by the time the holidays roll around. We still have a chance to make changes before 2014 goes down in history.

You might remember my New Year resolution. Have I met my goal? Yes! I sing every day. I make the space for it during my long commute. My husband and I drive in together, and we sing in the car. We take turns who sings flat and who sings sharp. Honk next time you see us, the Singing Howards!

On singing Simple Gifts every day, he says, “I love it. It’s bonding for us, and a nice reminder not to try so hard all the time.”

I agree. I find the message of the song grounding. It acts an anchor for my spirit. My life now is a life in motion: fetching groceries, going or coming from work, running an errand or hurrying on my way to an activity. The song says if I stop, humble myself and look up to God, I am free. My self-importance fades. The little annoyances of life are mosquitoes brushed away. Have I gained true simplicity? Not yet…so I have to keep singing.

What resolution will you make that will feed your spirit? Pick one small adjustment to enrich your life. Here are some ideas.

  • Eat more nourishing food that what you usually do.
  • Connect with a friend every week.
  • Make a change in your home so it’s a more supportive space for you.
  • Find a special prayer and make it your own so you know it inside and out. (God hears you!)
  • Take regular walks.
  • Write ten reasons to be grateful.
  • Sing every day!
  • Get support for a dream. Start talking about it. Nurture it so it can grow stronger. (I have a pony, so I can say with authority that dreams do come true!)

Blessing

Gracious God, thank you for daily chances to change.
Give us willing spirits and strong arms to serve you.
Make them arms that give hugs.

Today let us feel your holy hand on our shoulder,
guiding us toward your purpose.

Tell me your thoughts!

What is your intention for the last half of the year?

Tell the truth…to yourself

The practice of compassionate honesty with yourself and God will give you peace and wholeness. Like confession in the Catholic faith, or taking an inventory in the fourth step of 12-step groups, the act of looking at yourself with a kind and neutral eye will free you.

Think of something important that happened to you. When you tell a story about it, do you leave out the complications and dead ends, the hurt feelings and the confusion, and focus only on the success? Do you portray yourself as friendly, knowledgeable, calm and in charge?

Clean version, messy version

Tim, Gen and JennySaturday I had the good fortune to go to dinner at the Claysville Store with some people I hold dear, Tim Carson, Jenny McGee and her husband Dave, my husband and my son. Over fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon, coleslaw and the best applesauce I’ve had in a long time, we traded stories about life before we knew one another. Did I mention the biscuits—and the chocolate banana cream pie?

Before I started in on how my husband and I met, my son asked, “What version are you going to tell, the cleaned-up one or the messy one?”

I laughed and said he would just have to wait and see.

When we tell our own stories, it’s easy to embellish who we were. We can make ourselves smarter, cleaner and stronger in the retelling. The cleaned-up version often makes us feel better. Why wouldn’t we slant our own stories in our favor?

Accept yourself, accept grace

Telling the truth about yourself and your experiences strengthens your well-being. How can God reach me if I’m caught up in myself?

Only in letting go of the good and the bad can I make space for grace, instead of grandiosity.

Honesty brings us closer.

You made a mistake? Accept yourself as human.

You had feelings of jealousy, anger, pettiness, lust, shame or fear that you wish you could deny? Accept yourself. Give your burden to God.

The truth is many times in my life I’ve seemed like a mess, a hairball looking for a drain to clog. The drain I clogged was the flow of love and positivity.

Through honesty to myself, to my journal and to God, I’m able to embrace all the parts of myself: the mess, the conflicting feelings and the memories.

I don’t always tell the messy stories. I have to choose my audience. But I tell the messy stories to the people I love.

So far, they haven’t rejected me. They might even love me more for it.

Blessing

Lord, give us courage to be real with you.
Give us strength to admit our weakness.

The real stories might be painful;
you can heal us.

The real stories might be messy;
you can clean us.

You make in us a new life.
Let’s rejoice and live it!

 

Tell me your thoughts!

What story do you have in your life that has two or more versions? (If you appreciate messy stories, keep an eye out on this blog for news about my upcoming poetry book, Turn. It’s in the final stages of editing and design right now!)

Where judges aren’t welcome

An early love for judges

One of my favorite judges, Judy Sheindlin. Photo courtesy of Susan Roberts.
One of my favorite judges, Judy Sheindlin. Photo courtesy of Susan Roberts.

I started watching judge shows in high school. While my parents divorced during the summer between my junior and senior year, I watched the Newlywed Game and Divorce Court—back to back—religiously.

In the game show, raunchy newlyweds flirted to win washing machines. In the court show, couples described messy failed relationships, pleading to the cool sophisticated judge who gave them clean outcomes that didn’t always make sense: he gets the washing machine, she gets the dryer. I took comfort in seeing someone in control above the brutal fighting; I myself was living in the fray.

My internal judge and me today

Today chaos or insecurity triggers my internal judge who gives opinions on all aspects of my existence, including the way I pray and my creative process. It can get overwhelming. Instead of fortifying my self-image, the judge can become so destructive that nothing seems good enough.

This internal judge is almost certainly the voice that silences many people from writing at all. Before a song, story or prayer can be fully fleshed out, the judge squelches it.

A courtroom—not a mind or a private journal—is the perfect time and place for a judge. Judges make great editors, or list-makers for pros and cons, or researchers for the best washing machine. Much as I love them, judges don’t have a place in the early creative process.

Writing to deepen the spiritual experience

Spiritual writing is all about process. Results don’t matter. You only need to show up, put pen to paper and let the judge know you’ll call her later, if you need her. You won’t miss her. The divine presence will show love through ink and fiber, if you let it.

The practice of spiritual writing is a balm to heal and nourish my creative self. I face the water, put my hand in like a boat and let my work set sail. The spirit supplies the wind.

Upcoming Sunday School Class

As part of our church’s Christian Education hour, my friend, Resa Kerns, and I will offer a spiritual writing class 10 a.m. this Sunday, June 1, in the resource room (lower level) of Broadway Christian Church. It’s an 8-week class, and everyone is invited. Internal judges might tag along, but they won’t be listened to. In the space of spiritual writing, we will listen for God.

While I teach the class this summer, I will include some of my topics on this blog so you can follow along and try some writing on your own. No experience needed!

The pen is the path. As we write, we might be surprised by who travels with us.

Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” —Luke 24:31-32

Blessing

Lord, when there seems no escape
from our fumbling, our fears,
our frantic chasing of the next goal,
our harsh self-judgements,
bless us with acceptance.

Let’s practice devotion.

May we accept what is real
and rest in your kingdom.

Tell me your thoughts!

How much rule does the judge have in your mind? How much rule does God have?

Prayers the color of code blue

dandelionsHealth is the great equalizer. Whatever we strive for and however many material goods we amass, it all pales in the face of health problems.

Friday, I woke up with plans to clean the house and put in quarter round. After making myself hot coffee with eggs and toast, the sparkling dew on the spring grass distracted me. I left the kitchen table and took the dogs, Mercy and Cookie, outside. The dogs were content with my change of plans. They accept going outside anytime for any reason. God bless dogs with their moment-to-moment happiness.

I was in a mood of gratitude, feeling thankful for my family, my job and my animals. I marveled at the dandelions, yellow against the new grass. They didn’t seem like weeds, just little flowers hoping to become puffs and renew their kind. Do dandelions dream of their time on the wind? God bless the dandelions.

Inside, I started laundry and began to saw the quarter round. I do not see myself getting hired as a quarter round installer anytime soon, or, if I’m honest, ever. My miters left gaps large enough to stick dandelion stems in. I would call my hammering ability inclusive, as in, I included my thumb as well as the nails. God bless home improvement amateurs.

While I cheerfully bumbled about with hammers and saws, the phone rang. It was the high school. My son had some mild chest pain and due to his history, would need to get checked. I explained that I didn’t have a car, because he had one with him at school and my husband the other. I tried to reach my husband. No luck. The school called back and said my son was being driven home to me so I could take him to the ER, one school member driving my son in his own car while someone else followed to drive the administrator back. God bless small schools and caring school staff.

In the ER, everyone treated us with kindness and expertise. From the desk clerks to the nurses and doctors, we felt our son was in good hands. I texted five friends to pray for my son, and their immediate prayers eased the tightness of my bones. I felt them close to me. My ribs loosened to let me breathe again.

We waited for the cardiac test results and listened to the ER stories through the curtain, stories heard but not seen, heard but not completely understood. Ambulances brought in broken people, overdosed and injured. We heard a code blue and knew someone’s life was on the line.

We listened to a conversation about a child who used to come in the ER often but had died. He wouldn’t ever be back in. Through the curtain, we felt the collective missing of a boy we would never know, and somehow we missed him too.

A volunteer came by and offered us something to drink. The clear soda he brought cleared our minds. It grounded us in the simple act of being alive, swallowing something sweet.

The cardiac tests came back negative. My son was OK.

God bless us to always taste the sweetness of life, whether surrounded by weeds, sloppily sawn quarter round or a curtain in the ER.

Blessing

Lord, bless our eyes to see beauty
in both hospital waiting rooms and
spring mornings.
Seven days of the week our lives belong
to you.

Don’t let us turn our backs to what
you offer:
experiences to know you,
chances to pray and
chances to ask for prayers.

The end of our days belongs to you.
Before we return, remind us to relish
the sweetness of now.

Oh! The sweetness of now when
we taste it.

 

Tell me your thoughts!

Have you had a day that turned out differently than you expected? Who can you ask for prayers when you’re worried?

Lessons from Easter morning

The father and his college-aged son led us in Easter hymns. Our songs joined with the bird songs. At 7 a.m., the sun was easing its way over the tree line. The father played guitar. His experienced voice rang out warm in the cool morning air.

“Christ is risen,” said the pastor.

“He is risen indeed,” we affirmed.

The congregation was a mix of ages and stories. Some of us had visible scars. Some were grouped in families while others came by themselves. We all sat together on wooden benches in a semi-circle around a simple cross. On the bench in front of us, a young mother rearranged a fuzzy smiling monkey blanket around her young boy in his pajamas. He leaned on her. His older brother put his arm around him to add a little warmth.

During communion, the father played the keyboard while the deacons passed a wooden tray of small cups of juice and bread. I tore a piece off of the loaf. I held my cup.

The congregation was served and the deacons returned to the front. The son tore off a piece from the loaf and gently placed it on the keyboard along with a cup for his father. He looked after the one who was giving to us. Who do you know who is always giving? Show kindness to the kind—the selfless ones who look after others—so they can keep up their work of softening the world. Tear off a piece of bread for them. Give juice to those bringing music to our day.

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, bought spices, so that they might come and anoint him. Very early on the first day of the week, they came to the tomb when the sun had risen. They were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” Looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled away, although it was extremely large. –Mark 16:1-4

We usually attend a service of hundreds indoors, a rich and triumphant worship in an expansive space. For Easter, I like the sunrise service outside. I feel humble, exposed to the elements while nestled in the intimacy of a small group.

It’s easy to imagine being Mary, worrying about who would roll the stone back. I think about the hurried walk to the tomb, early in the morning, maybe a morning like this one. The spices waft on the air from the bag in my hand, swinging as I walk. The repetitive thought start to wears a rut in my mind, “Who will roll the stone back?”

I focus on the future tasks I have to perform. How will the meeting go? Will this situation work out? Will these bills ever end? Will his health get better? Will it get easier?

How many times do we worry about who will roll the stone back?

The truth is God will bless us a thousand times before we die. God will work in our lives and exceed our positive—and negative—imagination no matter how we fuss. God knows children fuss, and we are yet children.

Do not worry about the stone.

Christ is risen.

Blessing

Lord, what are we that
you love us so?

Take the stone out of our mind.
Fill our thoughts with your hope.
Let us live as Easter people,
in your extravagance

Alleluia!

Tell me your thoughts!

What stood out to you about Easter this year? What have you worried about that turned out to be different than you thought? Who will you spoil this week?

PS-new blog design! Thanks for all the feedback!

What I’m learning about facing my dog’s death

Portrait of Mercy

Portrait of MercyA stray on the edge of starvation, she slept with her body pressed against the chain link door of the kennel. Dogs barked, children yipped at the sight of the dogs barking and the parents followed the children, their heavy sighs seen but not heard from being drowned out. Such a tumultuous place and the spotted white dog slept.

I stopped at the door. “Look at this one,” I called to my family. “She looks nice.”

It was the beginning. We didn’t know it. Beginnings can be so subtle that they are as quiet as a sleeping dog in a kennel of 80 others barking on a Saturday morning.

We took her home

My seven-year-old son named her. “We should call her Mercy,” he said. “Because that is what we’re showing her.”

Her name quickly changed to Merfect. Companionable, she is loyal, friendly and tender, always happy to meet new friends.

“Mercy is the best thing we’ve got going,” we say.

She is such a good dog she even went to church

mercy-with-boysWe needed a dog to promote our annual pet blessing event last fall. With her calm patient manner, Mercy was the merfect choice. She walked up the aisle with a wag. We gathered beneath the cross for the children’s moment at the front of church.

A dozen small children gathered around her. A toddler kept touching her eye while another tugged her ear. A boy fascinated with her wagging stub tail tried to hold it. She accepted all the clumsy pats as the show of affection they were.

For ten years, Mercy has greeted us. A docile dog of little demands and much affection, she is as easy as sitting outside on a sunny spring day. Her mouth is so soft that she once caught a sparrow. When we told her “drop!” she opened her mouth and the bird flew out unharmed.

This week, her doctor told me that she has cancer. I hung up the phone and prayed the Lord’s Prayer. I reached out to friends. In grace, prayer and community, I felt God’s holy hand of comfort. I know I will be sad, but I will not be alone. I will not avoid my grieving. It is proof of love, proof of life.

Grief honors the beloved

This might be her last spring. I don’t know if she’ll live to see the pet blessing in the fall. This is the end. We know it. I hope it will be a quiet ending, quiet as a sleeping dog surrounded by the ones who care about her.

I will treasure her as long as she is with us. I will love her after she passes from this life. I will remember her as Merfect, the stray who made a home in my heart, the dog who made my home more welcoming.

Blessing

Mercy with Chase the catLord, thank you for the blessing
of animals in their feathers and fur,
bright eyes and open faces.

Let us care for the wanderers,
the neglected, the abused by cruel hands.
Make our hands kind,
make us the good stewards
you ask us to be.

Above all, let us love as dogs love,

As if each reunion is the best,
as if each homecoming matters.

Tell me your thoughts!

Have you had a beginning or ending recently? Do you have a story of an animal who welcomes you home? How has grace touched your life this week?

The importance of rituals

crystal

crystal

Giving thanks

Spiritual rituals provide a strong structure to form our lives. They break up the relentless flow of days so certain acts are set apart as worthy of our attention and devotion.

In good times, they define who we are. By saying grace before a meal, I replenish my well of gratitude. Instead of thoughts of traffic or hassles, I give thanks. This ritual changes the flow of my thinking and prepares me to eat with more reverence.

Rituals meet spiritual needs when our individual strength fails. In crisis, I know to pray where before I might have wilted from pressure or coped through self-destructive ways.

People say rituals can seem empty. I counter that it is our job to be present. It is never about the glint of gold or careful embroidery. Our life force—our caring intention—makes rituals powerful. Without our mindful focus, any ritual will seem empty, no matter how ancient or lavish it is.

Breaking bread

Serving as a deacon in church, I had the opportunity to take communion to the local assisted care homes. If you want to feel young, spend a morning with women in their 90s! They had such an illuminating perspective on life after nearly a century of experience. I felt like a pipsqueak practically just out of the egg while talking with them.

One woman had difficulty seeing and hearing which made it problematic for her to engage. She had limited ways of interacting with the world. Phones were an impossibility. She couldn’t watch TV because it didn’t make sense to her. She couldn’t read or listen to audiobooks. The elder and I did the best we could, but it was difficult to have a conversation with her.

We asked if she wanted to take communion. She said yes. We took out the bread and juice. As the elder began to read the words of institution, the aging woman’s eyes took on a new light. She began to repeat the words with surprising vigor and enthusiasm. She knew them by heart. “In remembrance of me,” she said. She nodded. The ritual awoken and comforted her. She repeated, “Do this in remembrance of me. Yes, that’s right.”

She took communion with her full self, present to the mystery that transcends our physical bodies of earthly limitations.

Going forth

The nourishing rituals you invest in now will serve you your whole life, even after your eyes and ears fail you. Consider which rituals are meaningful to you, and practice them with your whole heart. Be mindful and present; you provide the fuel that makes the motor of rituals run.

  • Say grace at mealtime
  • Receive ashes as a symbol of mortality
  • Take bread and wine as communion
  • Wear a cross or other symbol of your faith
  • Light a candle in memory of a loved one
  • Pray for the comfort of others
  • Kneel while praying

Blessing

Lord, bless us with your presence
in all our spiritual practices.

Help us learn your ways while
we are strong so
we know your ways by heart
when we grow weak.

May we find courage to commit
to rituals that define and shape us:

To do this in remembrance of you

not from mindless habit but
with eager anticipation,
earnest longing
and true love.

Tell me your thoughts!

Which rituals help to strengthen your faith? Can you remember a ritual that you were caught up in?

Two blessings for your week

woods

woodsI wrote these two blessings during my spiritual writing mini workshop at the women’s retreat last month. They are raw and unedited. I offer them to you with the hope that they will nourish you during your Lenten journey.

May your purpose continue to be revealed, and may your heart feel strengthened as Easter nears.

Blessings

God, come bless me in this circle of prayerful women.
Bless my pen.
Bless this day of unmatched socks and warm sun through the window
on my neck.

In this ink—your guidance.
On this page—your forgiving nature.

God, you’ve never been an editor.
You put it all on the forest floor—
dead leaves, broken branches,
squirrels who fight.

Your way is messy.

I am too attached to periods and
line breaks and
let’s make the language clean

Your language, Lord, is happiness.
You always seem to be running toward me.
When did I get caught up in reading signs
about what was allowed?
You are always giving me permission
to run

to run

to run across the page

******************************************

May the Lord bless these women gathered
in the holy act of opening to words
opening to the Word
who was
before the first person spoke and
a great star broke

Lord, bless us in our twingey places and rattly worries.
Bless us in our worm-filled yards and birdfeeders.
All the places we seek life.
All the ways we seek each other.

I wanted to climb every fence for you
and not little fences but
the metal razor wire.

I know we put you far away.
I know we make you sit alone,
laying without clothing,
with hunger, Lord.

Yet you bless us in noise and trash cans.
All the while you bless the trash
because it doesn’t seem like trash to you.

You don’t call it trash.

That’s our word.

You, who broke open the first star and
saw no trash—
only the holy

Tell me your thoughts!

Do you ever feel unworthy of God’s love and forgiveness? What helps you to stay grounded in your faith when life gets hectic?

Comfortable feet (post-retreat thoughts)

Golden light on the field

Golden light on the fieldThanks to the gracious and loving women at the retreat last weekend, I had a great time. Here are a few reflections on what I learned (or what I was reminded of).

A day and a half is only a taste of relaxation.

Productivity and patience don’t seem like natural partners. I noticed my impatience especially during silent time.

Being productive is a driving force in my daily life. My mind flows like a garden hose turned on full. It’s not something I can turn off. So much pressure! My days are filled with lists of to-dos based on requests from others. During silent time, I decided to color a mandala. I found myself hurrying to get the shapes colored in. I felt the pressure of meeting the goal to get it all filled in more than I took pleasure from the act of putting colored pencil to paper.

I had the same struggle with walking through the labyrinth with a friend. We ended up having rich and fun experience: laughing, crying and opening our hearts to each other. But in the beginning, all I could think was, This thing is going to take forever! I focused on the goal of getting through, instead of being present to the experience. Last time I checked, there are no labyrinth races! But if there were, I could see myself as a competitor. 😀

Spirituality needs to be something I relax into, rather than something I accomplish. No fist-pumping allowed after prayer and Bible devotion with a cry of, “Yes! I won spirituality today!”

I’m going to need more than a day and a half to change my ways—and make some adjustments in my life—to find inner peace. Something to think about as I consider my Lenten practices (Ash Wednesday is next week).

Pray with other people to sustain your faith.

Whether in our daily worship or small group, praying with others buoys me up. There are losses, heartbreaks, betrayals and evil in the world ready to tear us down. Prayer boosts the system. If life is going smoothly, it prepares us for tough times ahead. If life is rough, it soothes us to lay our burdens down. All my worries, my tendency to push myself too hard, my impatience, my stuck places that lack flexibility: I gave these weaknesses to the Lord.

Write with other people to nourish your imagination.

During our creative hours, I offered a mini writing workshop. What a delight to sit in a circle with imaginative women and move our pens across paper today! Taking a solitary act like writing and make it into a spiritual practice in community was powerful and strengthening. I read poetry and used some of my favorite books on writing. Drop me a note if you’re interested in the books I used.

Get comfortable. Start with your feet.

A day spent in slippers is a day well spent. Amen!

Blessing

Gracious God, bless us in the many ways we make community:
whether at a church retreat, Toastmasters meeting or bowling league.
Keep us turning away from our self-centeredness and always
back to you, back to service.
You are not impressed.
We have nothing to prove to you;
you’ve already given us your gifts of peace, forgiveness and
perfect love.

Tell me your thoughts!

Is there a place you push yourself too hard? What are you considering as a change to bring more quiet into your life? Will you do something for Lent?