Tag Archives: Reflections

Wholehearted Trust

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

and do not rely on your own insight.

In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make straight your paths.

~Proverbs 3:5-6 

I began February reflecting on these seemingly straightforward verses from the book of Proverbs. However, my times of reflection soon began to feel like a wrestling match. As March begins, I will continue to wonder what wholehearted trust in the Lord really looks and feels like. For now, I am grateful that I can share a few things I have learned.

Wrestling with God offers the space to authentically assess the fullness of our trust in the Lord. How much of “all your heart” is really trusting in the Lord…a quarter…a third…a half? With greater self-awareness, trust untangles our seemingly good intentions and insights so that the Lord’s straight path is recognizable.

Trust invites us to acknowledge that wrestling is part of our everyday life with God. And within that trust there is faith that at just the right moments, the Lord will lovingly come and lift us up off the proverbial mat of doubt and discouragement.

Love…always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. ~1Corinthians 13:7

Finally, trusting in the Lord’s deep and abiding love is an each-new-day endeavor that offers us renewed hope to share with others.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. ~Romans 15:13

If you are a spiritual director, how is your trust in the Lord helping you listen lovingly and hopefully to others. 

If you are in spiritual direction, how can your practice of spiritual direction help you trust in the Lord’s love for you?

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Fresh Relational Wisdom and an Article

These are the wise sayings of Solomon,

    David’s son, Israel’s king—

Written down so we’ll know how to live well and right,

    to understand what life means and where it’s going;

A manual for living,

    for learning what’s right and just and fair;

To teach the inexperienced the ropes

    and give our young people a grasp on reality.

There’s something here also for seasoned men and women,

    still a thing or two for the experienced to learn—

Fresh wisdom to probe and penetrate,

    the rhymes and reasons of wise men and women.

Proverbs 1:1-6 (MSG)

At the end of last year, I was asked to write an article about how to heal broken relationships. This request led me to consider the health of my own relationships, past and present, and to wonder if I had any wisdom to share.

These first verses of Proverbs were a reminder that we all have experiences with God that move us beyond our own knowledge and understanding to living wisely with a firmer grasp on reality. Moreover, I recognized that to write this article I needed fresh relational wisdom to probe and penetrate the rhymes and reasons of my heart and soul. 

Every generation from the time of the Exodus has needed God’s fresh wisdom to resolve the conflicts before them. Irv Cross, a professional football player who went on to be the first black sport analyst on national television, wrote in his biography, There hasn’t been one problem I’ve ever had that wasn’t addressed in the Bible. To me, to solve any issue, you turn to Jesus Christ1

So I turned to the scriptures and the experiences with God that I and others have had to write the following article. It was and is my hope that it offers you relational insight and inspiration. 

1 Irv Cross with Clifton Brown, Bearing the Cross: My Inspiring Journey from Poverty to the NFL and Sports Television (New York: Sports Publishing, 2017), 45, Kindle. 

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Simply Begin Again

As always, a new year begins again. And I am still reflecting on one particular Christmas letter. Initially, I was caught off guard by the authenticity of the young woman I met several years ago and spent time with before she moved to another state. Moreover, I am inclined to keep her letter at the ready to receive the gift of inspiration for my own practice of what the apostle Paul’s encourages in three short verses of 1st Thessalonians:

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. vs.16-18

The following is a portion of the letter (I left out their names and the place). I invite you to consider how you would adjust to unfamiliar living circumstances.

We are entering our 4th year of living here! I still rely way too much on GPS to get around, and I am constantly surprised when I make it to my intended destination! (Honestly, this happened in California too! HaHa!) The weather still keeps us guessing daily, but the predictability of the season changes is just so magical to us. The crisp winters, the awakening of spring, lush green summers, and my favorite – the colors of fall! Seriously, it looks like the most amazing confetti when the leaves hit the ground! I sound just like a travel brochure don’t I!!?!…We do miss everyone in California, but I guess you can say we really have hit our stride this past year. Isn’t it amazing how life can surprise you like that? In 2020 we actually didn’t think we would last another year here. We realized that our original vision of what our life would be like here did not match reality. This was a hard realization, but we both decided we were going to change our thinking and adopt an “attitude of gratitude” for our space and surroundings. Well, here we are Happier!

I am amazed by this couple’s year long adoption of an “attitude of gratitude.” Most often I create a long list for whom and what I have deep gratitude. But this couple was grateful for one thing all year: the space and surroundings of their new home. It was intentional. It was life-giving. And like any spiritual practice, I am sure they had to do as Benedict of Nursia reminds us:

Always we begin again. 

This is a new way to begin again. Simplifying the practice of gratitude by giving thanks for one “thing” at a time be it a person, place, thing or even a pandemic can be life-giving. And I am convinced it includes being generous and gracious with ourselves to “always begin again” with the hope that we will be happier and even rejoicing always!

If you are a spiritual director or in spiritual direction, consider how simplifying gratitude might be incorporated into your spiritual directions sessions?

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“being” not “doing”

Late last night, I couldn’t sleep. As I was processing some of what was going on in my life, I thought about the conversation Jesus had with a rich young man. At midnight I got up and started reading Matthew 19:16-28. I realized the young man wanted Jesus to tell him what “to do,” but Jesus was, in fact, inviting the young man into a whole new way of “being” not “doing”.

I find myself missing motherhood. In this role, I knew what I had to do…laundry, baking, making dinner at lunchtime because there would be no other time after school and even planning birthday parties. (Did you notice the list did not include cleaning?) Now, I am simply being a mother but from afar.

By one o’clock, I realized I was struggling with the fear of leaving the familiar. It seemed to me the rich young man knew how to be rich but wasn’t sure how to follow Jesus. I have to confess, I am more familiar with how “to mother” than how to be a mother. And if I am honest with myself, like the rich young man, I am more familiar with how to do the right and good things rather than how to be a true follower of Jesus.

Before I finally went to bed, I prayed…
Lord, thank you for graciously inviting me into a whole new way of “being.” Amen and amen.

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Easter-people

Through the years, I have heard pastors describe believers as “Easter-People.” I have read devotions in which I am described as an “Easter-person.” But what exactly does that mean? In terms of the Church calendar Easter is not just a day; Eastertide is the fifty days between Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. So am I now an Easter-person who will become Pentecost-person soon? Labels can be tricky.

Today as I was reading in the Psalms, I stopped when I came these words: “The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!” These are Easter words! King David wasn’t an “Easter-person” as we are. He lived before the time of Christ…before Easter! But Easter words were part of his prayer life and I would guess part of his vocabulary.

Being labeled an “Easter-person” isn’t a bad thing; I know I am in good company. But more than anything I want to be a person who uses Easter words regularly and prayerfully. No matter when they lived or will live, Easter-people believe in their hearts and proclaim with the mouths as King David did:

“The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock! Exalted be God my Savior!”
~Psalm 18:4

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Holy Week

On Palm Sunday we begin our journey with the one who comes in the name of the Lord; and his steadfast love guides us into a deeper understanding of what it means to not be given over to death we deserve. By marvelous grace, we enter the gates of righteousness because the stone the builders rejected becomes the chief cornerstone of our lives. It is marvelous in our eyes, a day to rejoice and be glad in. Easter Sunday invites our hearts to give thanks to The Lord for he is good and his steadfast love endures forever.
~reflections from Psalm 118

Blessings on your journey to Easter…

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A Sojourner

Recently, I was at the San Francisco airport waiting for a friend returning from a trip to Bali. After confirming the China Airlines flight from Taipei had landed and was in customs, I stood in the international terminal loitering with lots of other people for a long time. There was no mass exodus of sojourners coming through customs. One by one, weary travelers arrived at the gate excited to soon depart again, with people delighted to see them.

Watching all these comings and goings, made me think of this verse:

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and give ear to my cry
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest like all my fathers.
~Psalm 39:12

There is a loneliness that settles into the soul. It comes not from simply standing all alone, but from stopping long enough to realize that our lives are filled with dear ones making arrivals and departures all the time. We weep for them. And if we’re truly attentive to our grief, we ask The Lord to bring us the peace we so desire.

For me that peace comes when I wait like I did at Gate A. As I finally give voice to the cries of my heart and surrender my soul to the comings and goings of joy and sorrow, I recognize that I am a sojourner also. Each day I am invited to be God’s guest on this spiritual journey. I must confess I am not always thrilled with the destinations, but I am grateful that God is with me every step of the way. I am not traveling alone. Neither are you!

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