What is worse than a fever? (& the cure)

What is worse than a fever? (& the cure)
Yesterday morning as I sat in my pajamas at our kitchen table, Luci Shaw's words hit my throbbing head like a hammer. She revealed my problem (it wasn't being wimpy...worse) was bigger than my fever as I wrote in my gratitude journal: Good health during our quick trip to beautiful Lake Tahoe with its surreal shades of blue and teal. I can easily slip into shame (as I think of friends who suffer far more serious illnesses) but I remember God doesn't condemn His children (Romans 8:1). He graciously allows for our humanity and our weaknesses, far more than we sometimes allow ourselves or others. Thankfully, Luci also reminded me what the cure is to my problem. Photo via CC/Flickr User: Victor "Imperceptibly and tenaciously, the desire for power attaches itself to us again and again. Control--the ability to determine our course of action, the upper hand in relationships, a certain predictability in planning the future [sigh...yes]. We're going to vacation in...Yes, I will certainly finish writing this book... Of course my health will be stabilized so that I can travel... to speak and lecture this fall. That's the way most of us think about the months to come."       - Luci Shaw, The Crime of Living Cautiously, 60 And what is the cure to our desire for power/control? "To risk relinquishment means to trust to the point of letting go this kind of certainty, to give up being in charge, to plan ahead but with a degree of flexibility, to let go of our cherished agenda [emphasis added]." - Luci Shaw (Oh, Lord, you know how I struggle to balance trustful planning with trusting flexibility.) Who is our example on what to do with power? Luci challenges us: "If we really enter into the meaning of the incarnation, we will understand that Jesus, throughout his life, gave his power way. The Gospels are full of powerful miracles performed by Jesus." Jesus gave His power away to help others. It was never about building fame, wealth, political power or praise for himself. Yet even as we strive for power to do good, Luci warns us: "[N]o matter what its motivation, human power may corrupt, and the struggle for personal power, or even power in behalf of a worthy objective, nearly always creates a conflict resulting in the destruction or disability of others." Id. at 61. Prayer: Dear God, Thank you for how Jesus modeled how to handle power without corruption. He said He only did what His Father God showed him and He relied on your power in his humanity. It is a mystery how Jesus was fully human and fully divine. Please give me the grace to daily yield my desire for control to you. Help me to hold power with an open hand. May Your Spirit of love control my thoughts, words and actions. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness when I fail. In Jesus' Name, Amen. Soul Stops Moment: Which of Luci's words hit you like a hammer? What helps you to hold power/control with an open hand? Thanks for being here. (I'm re-reading parts of Luci Shaw's The Crime of Living Cautiously: Hearing God's Call to Adventure, and I'm enjoying it.) Welcome, if this is your first time here, and you liked what you read, sign up for my e-mail list and receive my Soul Care Manifesto e-book, blog updates and other goodies. And thanks to everyone who took the time to share how my manifesto blessed them. Linking with encouraging and gifted friends: Barbie of The Weekend Brew and Kelli of Unforced Rhythms.I'm linking with these encouraging friends: Holley Gerth, Jennifer Dukes Lee,and Lyli Dunbar of Thought-Provoking Thursdays.  

You are more than....

You are more than....
Who are you? Who am I? Seventy-plus year old Jean Fleming shares these insights: Photo via CC/Flickr User: Pedro Travassos "I am more than my parents' child, my husband's wife, my children's mother. My accomplishments don't define me: neither do my failures. I am more than my body and more than my intellect, my body type, my contribution. I am more than I know."        -Jean Fleming, Pursue the Intentional Life, 77 What struck me from Jean's words: "I am more than I know." Prayer by Jean Fleming: "Lord God, Tell me who I am. Then, once You've told me, please give me grace to take it in and live in that reality... You say that I am precious in Your sight (see Isaiah 43:4), that my old life is gone and that a new life has begun (see 2 Corinthians 5:17), that You chose me to belong to You before You created the world (see Ephesians 1:4). You love me and care for me as an individual, but You have also placed me into a family, a body, a kingdom. ... I am blessed in Christ to have both an individual identity and a corporate identity." - From Pursue the Intentional Life, 77 Soul Stops Moment: What part of Jean's prayer or quote spoke to you? May I invite you to focus on whatever spoke the most to you, this coming week... maybe write it on a note card and tape it where you can see it or set it up as a daily reminder on your phone or laptop. We become what we focus on. I am very grateful God chose me because of His love, and not because I deserve it. I could never earn God's love. So I'm learning to receive it, rest in it and allow God to shape my identity. Thanks for being here. I will be offline for several days. Look forward to reconnecting later. Linking with encouraging and gifted friends: Barbie of The Weekend Brew and Sandra of Still Saturday.

Visiting Alcatraz

Visiting Alcatraz
Here's the teaser for my monthly guest post at Tweetspeak Poetry. Tweetspeak’s virtual Literary Tours take us to destinations of all kinds, finding inspiration in places such as art museums, libraries, and natural settings. Today, we visit Alcatraz. ______________________ On an unusually sunny spring day in San Francisco, we ride a ferry to “The Rock,” the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. It closed in May 1963, so these days only tourists and locals visit the island. As we near, I’m struck by the number of buildings. I forgot prison staff, such as correctional officers and their families, also lived here. Children once played on one end of the island and rode a ferry to San Francisco to attend school. Once we land, we wind up a steep hill to reach the Cell House, where most of the prisoners lived. We pick up our audio tour equipment and stand outside cell numbers 404 and 403, where we learn how six convicts, led by Bernie Coy, held William Miller and five other officers as hostages for two days in an escape attempt known as The Battle of Alcatraz (1946). A large black-and-white photograph of slain officer William Miller in his cap and uniform in one of the cells commemorates his foresight and courage. The escape failed because Officer Miller hid the Rec Yard key in the cell’s toilet. Hope to see you at Tweetspeak Poetry. P.S. Thanks for reading at Tweetspeak Poetry. Featured image of photo of stairs by Nicolas Vollmer. Used with permission. Post by Dolly Lee.

My journey toward unconditional love

My journey toward unconditional love
My husband and I had been married less than a year. If someone had painted our emotional landscape as we stood face-to-face in the dining room, it would have been red like lava. I don't recall what triggered our disagreement - over 22 years ago.(*) But I do remember how I felt when he looked and spoke to me in a tone equivalent to eyes rolled back in irritation and judgment. (Thankfully, this was a rare event.) Photo via Creative Commons: David Cooper Maybe I was oversensitive, but I believe maintaining respect in a relationship is crucial for a marriage's long-term health. Disrespect in small ways eventually mushrooms into disrespect in large ways and erosion of a relationship. It is easier to pull out one weed than to let it sow seed and destroy a garden. Before I could silence myself, I told him, in a voice steadier than I felt: I didn't appreciate what he said and besides, I perform some tasks better than him but I don't speak to him that way. Surprise registered in his eyes and he quickly apologized. Now I was surprised. Love isn't too proud to say "I'm sorry." Our exchange taught me I could disagree, speak up for myself and he wouldn't become manic-defensive. He could handle my feelings when I calmly spoke truth. When we dated, we had disagreements, but this was the first time we disagreed in this way. (We're not the only ones who go through a, shall we say, transition, between dating and married life. Right?) He loved me enough to care how I felt. He didn't tell me I was too sensitive. And he didn't justify his behavior. Unconditional love accepts its beloved's feelings and tries to understand. My husband put skin on God's desire to know all of me - even the angry and petty parts. My husband's love enabled me to risk honesty with God and discover His unconditional love and acceptance in deepening ways. I can trust God's intentions toward me are good. So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing himself to the worst by sending his own Son, is there anything else he wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?- Romans 8:31-32 (MSG) Likewise, I trust my husband's heart toward me is good because he has shown me again and again by his actions. Unconditional love wants what is best for its beloved. Unconditional love sacrifices. Over the years I have seen my husband sacrifice time and energy to listen to me process events. I am an external processor. He is a tunnel thinker so I wait for him to internally process before he replies. And I'm learning how loving my husband means loving him in his love language, even if isn't mine. I stretch to do what doesn't come naturally to me so my husband feels loved. And likewise he for me. (We don't have a perfect marriage. And we fail each other enough so we practice forgiveness and grace.) Unconditional love never stops studying one's beloved so one can become an expert on one's beloved. I'm still learning what unconditional love looks like. I tear down misconceptions as they become visible to me. Outside of God, my husband has shown me the closest thing to unconditional love by his faithful devotion to me through infertility, joblessness, postpartum depression, PTSD, bad hair days and morning dragon breath. And his unfettered delight whenever I succeed. Unconditional love weeps with you when you weep, and unconditional love rejoices with you when you rejoice. Twenty-two years later, we try to tend daily the flower of our marriage in love's garden. We pull weeds. We water. And we try to daily drink of the Living Water and root in the soil of God's love. Left to ourselves, our love will wilt. But when we connect with God, the source of unconditional love, we bloom. Soul Stops Moment: Who or what comes to mind when you hear "unconditional love"? How have you experienced God's unconditional love? The talented and kind Emily Wierenga wrote a beautiful memoir, Atlas Girl, about love, loss and learning that spans continents. All proceeds from the sale of her book will benefit the Ugandan women and children helped by The Lulu Tree. Emily T. Wierenga, award-winning journalist and author of 4 books, has released her first memoir, Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look. They say the book is like “Girl Meets God” meets “Wild” meets “Eat, Pray, Love.” I say the book is inspiring. You can grab a copy here. P.S.  I am almost done reading Atlas Girl and I love it. * As a fact-check, I ran this post by my husband and he agreed. Subscribers, to watch a trailer for The Atlas Girl, link here.   Also linking with gracious Kelli of Unforced Rythms  

Five Minute Fridays: Release

Five Minute Fridays: Release
It's time for five minutes of unedited writing (although I correct typos) where we let our fingers fly over the keyboard with other writers. Photo via Creative Commons User: Robb North Start. Freedom calls me and I hear its song. Set me free from the chains that bind and keep me fettered to these lies. You hold the key to your release, because the truth shall set you free. Jesus said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. Set me free from the chains of unbelief. Help me to see I can choose to believe and I can be free. Let me live like the free because I am free from condemnation (Rom. 8:1) and I am free from the power of sin and death. The truth is God lives within me, the hope of glory...such a big Truth...help me God to live it out in my daily life as I hug my daughter, as I greet a neighbor, when I give to help another... It is all a gift and I am free. I am released. No more chains. No more fear. Let me live in the light of your Love and in the light of Your Loving gaze toward me. Release. No more worrying because you say to release all my worries to you. To believe You are always with me and I don't ever have to face a problem alone in my limited strength. I am released from trying to be perfect and to have everything in control so no ball ever falls. I am free. Stop. Dear friend, I am praying today for a spirit of true release and freedom upon you and upon me. May we experience in ever greater measure the freedom that Christ died to give us. A freedom to be all He lovingly created us to be. A freedom to choose love and forgiveness - again and again. May you experience the joy of true freedom this weekend. Welcome, if this is your first time here, and you liked what you read, sign up for my e-mail list and receive my Soul Care Manifesto e-book, blog updates and other goodies. And thanks to everyone who took the time to share how my manifesto spoke to them. Please visit encouraging Lisa-Jo Baker, the creative mastermind behind 5 minutes of unedited writing based on a word prompt, which she picks weekly. You can link up and/or enjoy reading posts by the wonderful FMF community.