Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Abi ponders Deb's book, Redeeming Sex

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Redeeming Sex, by the fabulous Debra Hirsch, is a book whose time has come. And it really is about time!

This book is one of those that everyone must read. Probably more than once. Then process it with someone else. Perhaps with one person, perhaps in a small group. Each of us have experienced books that cause us to shift. This is one of them. 

But be prepared for it to not be what you were expecting – whatever it is that you're expecting. Just let it be what it is and receive it as an unexpected gift.

Let me explain.

Bear with me while I explain, because it requires some back story.

I've recently been revisiting books by the late psychiatrist, M. Scott Peck. It never ceases to amaze me how profound they remain – and how differently they impact me each time I return. This winter my 19 year old son and I read through and processed Peck's first book, The Road Less Traveled. I filled a notebook with thoughts – the things I wanted to be sure to discuss with my son. He found it to be a very timely and profound experience and we had many hours of deep discussion.

Then I moved to a book Peck had written some ten years later, The Road Less Traveled and Beyond. I have said a number of times that the first chapter of this book alone is worth the price. It is about Thinking. He stated that he believed simplistic, disordered thinking was not only A problem, but THE problem in the world. I agreed when I first read it, and I agree even more now. Thinking is hard work. Those who are unwilling to embrace the work look for short cuts. Most short cuts end badly....

Peck said that even as a child he was prone to want to talk about things that no one wanted to talk about. That desire never left, for which I am sincerely grateful. His books have been full of things that everyone was thinking about but no one was talking about. He grew into a man who learned that life is difficult. In order to function well and overcome life's difficulties, he learned that discipline was the key. The career he chose required that one discipline he must hone into an art form was listening. And he found that most people responded more to being listened to than anything he might have to say to them. That's worth remembering....

Discipline was a tool belt consisting of four basic tools, said Peck. Each one of these tools is necessary to find one's way well in this challenging world of people and relationships and ideas. As I read through that first section on Discipline in Peck's first book, I was struck hard: I was not a disciplined person. I had some discipline. I knew how to work hard. I had a significant skill set. But I had a tendency to try to avoid some problems because of the emotional suffering that came with them. Peck said that this tendency is the primary basis for all human mental illness.

As I processed his “tools” I came to realize why my life has been so difficult. It was difficult because confronting and solving problems is painful. I don't like pain – things Peck identified as frustration, grief, sadness, loneliness, guilt, regret, anger, fear, anxiety, anguish and despair. I tend to want to avoid pain. But I stumbled over problems – and the pain they caused – that I was ill equipped to solve because I had not been consistent in the use of discipline's tools. How could that have happened? Somehow, I don't think I'm alone in this experience.

So, let's briefly identify these tools before I continue:
  1. Delaying gratification. Doing what must be done, especially those things that are very hard and not particularly enjoyable, actually is the least painful (in the long run) and allows us to get on with those things we want to do – the things that bring us joy. Procrastination is the anthesis of delaying gratification.
  2. Accepting responsibility. Having the courage to own our thoughts and actions – and the effect they have on other people and our relationships. Sometimes we try to accept responsibility for things that are not ours. Other times we project responsibility for our issues onto others. But if we don't learn how to consistently own our story, we move toward the disordered thinking that underpins mental illness.
  3. Dedication to the truth. My son and I were surprised by Peck's definition of a “white lie” as being truthful about what is said, while leaving out enough details so as to actually deceive by the withholding of truth. I think this is where “speaking the truth in love” comes into play. We need to speak to each other in ways that promote the best interest of the other. When we include or exclude things that are hurtful rather than helpful, we stray. Self-deception is the enemy here.
  4. Balancing (including bracketing). This is the discipline that disciplines discipline. This is where we check our preconceptions and biases. Where we set aside our first impressions in order to be able to listen fully to the other – to stand in their shoes and look out from their eyes. Where we look for context for the narrative, not just the facts. It is where cHesed enters as genuine affection, gracious response, and merciful initiative are extended toward the other.
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Well, after that long explanation of my context when I was reading Deb's book, I'm ready to share why I think her book is so important.

I think I'm not the only one who suffers with being inconsistently disciplined. I think it is a human problem. It is a problem with integrity – with the proper integration of spirituality and sexuality. And because humans have functioned within this particular disintegration for so very long, we have come to normalize it. We don't know we're blind because we think this is the way it is supposed to be.

Like Peck, Hirsch is someone who is comfortable talking about things most people aren't. She is like a fresh wind on a smoggy day. Deb has a way of taking normal things and hosing off the shame that has been applied to them. She sneaks past the watchful dragons of society – especially church society – and turns on the lights, chasing away specters of ignorance too long masquerading as truth.

Even though she doesn't use these terms, Deb has essentially asked us to pick up our tool belts and start using discipline's tools to help us learn to receive God's love, return God's love, and share God's love with one another. She is calling us to the tasks of discipleship as we live and walk in the Way of Jesus.

The tool that allows us to delay gratification has too often been misused – like using a wrench as a hammer. Even worse, when it comes to sexuality, it has too often been a matter of denying gratification. And this comes from not understanding the connection between spirituality and sexuality. Deb calls them two sides of the same coin. Perhaps I would say that sexuality and spirituality are like the wings of a bird – they have to work together if the bird is going to fly. Deb's words open the door of a cage that has kept so many birds cooped up for so long that they had forgotten they were ever meant to fly!

The tool that allows us to accept responsibility has been corroded with shame and guilt – bringing it out brings condemnation and dishonor from those who have forgotten that sanctification is a life-long journey of remembering that Jesus is our sanctification...we are accepted, we belong, because of what he did, not by what we have accomplished. Rather than always being ready to confess our sins one to another, we wear masks and hide behind pleasantries. Who are we trying to fool? Deb calls us to transparency and vulnerability so that forgiveness and restoration might arise.

The tool that allows us to be dedicated to the truth is too often blunted by ignorance. We are not really interested in what is true – just what is comfortable and consistent with what we already believe. Especially, what we have been told to believe by our leaders. We are discouraged from asking inconvenient questions and wrestling with our doubts and fears.

She asks us to stop telling white lies – to ourselves and to one another. Particularly, Deb asks us to stop lying about sin – that some sins are “worse” than others. That we call upon our courage and humility and take the plank out of our eye before we go after the speck in the eye of another. She calls us to stand in the sandals of Jesus and look at each other out of his eyes.

Finally, the tool that allows us to keep things in balance – to see things in the proper context – has been removed from many tool belts altogether! Preconceptions and biases and stereotypes combine with fears and outright misinformation to throw us off balance. All too often this is packaged as obedience, when it is more about power and control and order. Deb calls us to wade into the messiness and face our own fears about our own issues. Only then can we tackle our fears about others and allow the Spirit to show us how to love and accept them.

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Deb's transparency and vulnerability as she shares her story, and the stories of her family and friends, is almost as shocking as the details. And that's because she tells things just as they are – normal. She asks us to set aside what we might think “normal” is and stretch ourselves. Peck defines love as extending oneself for the spiritual growth of the self as well as the other. Hirsch provides fresh perspectives on many angles surrounding the issues of gender, sexual expression, marriage, celibacy – and what the church has thought about them through the centuries. Let's just say that not all of the church teachings have been consistent with the Scriptures, as seen through Hebraic lenses and the life and ministry of Jesus.

When I teach something that might be challenging or controversial, I ask those listening to not get derailed but set aside their disbelief long enough to listen deeply and understand what I'm actually saying. When they hear something that brings up questions, make a quick note of the thought or question – to discuss later, if needed. More often than not, the discipline of listening fully finds a way of answering those quickly scribbled questions. If not, at least it helps one ask the questions that remain with much more humility and openness.

I ask you to approach this thoughtful and humble and informative book with that same respect. Set aside what you think you know and let Deb take you deep inside her story. Let yourself feel what she shares so that empathy wells up in your heart, washes over your fears, and lets the perfect love of Jesus cast them out.

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Life is a wild ride. None of us get out of it alive. But it is meant to be filled with the most exquisite experiences of love and grace and mercy. This amazing book can help you get more of what God intends.

Be blessed,

Abi

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Abi and the February 2015 Synchroblog -- Renewal


The Links for the Synchroblog are up...but will be updated, so I'll be back to add more later!

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re·new·al

rəˈn(y)o͞oəl/

noun

the replacing or repair of something that is worn out, run-down, or broken.


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The day after Epiphany, January 6, 2015, I picked up The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck, M.D. Something had triggered a thought from that book, and I went to the shelf to take a look. I'd read the whole book a few times over the past 30 years and have blogged here frequently on Peck over the past few years. 

But on January 7th, something made me start in the beginning and read the intro from the 25th anniversary edition (which I had decided to get on Kindle, so all the family's Kindle readers would be able to share)...and I just kept on going.

This was not going to be a reading bender, though.  I was going to process this. So I got out a notebook.  One of those One Subject Notebooks my teenagers use in school.  I was going to take notes.  Then I was going to condense "the main points" onto 3 x 5 cards.  This was serious.

What was serious was that I realized something that I just hadn't been able to see these past 30 years: I was not particularly disciplined.  I had bits of discipline. I was hard working. But I wasn't really disciplined.

I think it had something to do with general confusion surrounding the term.  Discipline had come to mean "punishment" somewhere along the way. Peck, however, defined it as the basic set of tools required for the task of problem solving. Without discipline--these four tools--we cannot solve anything.

I know I read the entire book, like two or three times.  I read these words. But I was not able to see or hear this.  I had plenty of other things that jumped out at me.  Maybe it was not time?  It certainly was time this go around!  [This, by the way, is why I am a firm believer in my Grandmother Kent's saying:  If it's worth reading once, it's worth reading 10 times.]

He goes on to say that the first problem is that confronting and solving problems is painful. Those feelings are uncomfortable.  Feelings like frustration, grief, sadness, loneliness, guilt, regret, anger, fear, anxiety, anguish, despair....

Problems, however, also call forth courage and wisdom.  They are catalysts for growth. They are part of the plan--not to hurt, injury or humiliate, but to challenge, stretch and inspire creativity.

Wise persons welcome problems--and their pain.

Peck believes that most of us are not wise...but we learn wisdom when we embrace the discipline pain can inspire. Embrace the pain.  See the problem. Engage the needed tools of discipline.  Learn and grow wiser!

But....

Somehow, there's always a "but" out there!

But fear of the pain leads to avoidance. Wishful thinking leads to procrastination as we hope that the problem will just go away if we ignore, forget, pretend...anything to get out of dealing with the problem and its pain, rather than suffer through the process in order to arrive at the solution.

Yeah, this is what Peck sees as the primary basis for all human mental illness...that tendency to avoid problems and the emotional suffering that goes with them.

And so I have begun a journey of renewal. Of going back and filling in for the things that I missed along the way.  For me that looks like understanding Discipline and forming it's four tools to my hand.

These tools, according to Peck, are:
  1. Delaying gratification.  Doing the hard parts first to get them out of the way, so that the rest of my time is more available to serendipity.
  2. Taking responsibility.  Owning my story and actions and the repercussions -- intended or not. This includes learning what is NOT my responsibility and NOT owning those things.
  3. Dedication to the truth.  Always embracing the truth rather than dodging the facts. Always. Being willing to follow the facts all the way to the end, no simplistic thinking. Taking full inventory of who I am and what my motives are and how my thoughts and actions line up and where my blind spots are.
  4. Balancing.  Keeping the bigger picture in mind. Stepping back and getting perspective. Bracketing out my presumptions and biases and prejudices and really listening to the other in order to understand and see things from their vantage point -- standing in their shoes and looking out from their eyes.
Yeah...I have not properly learned these lessons and these tools are not fully shaped in me.  But I'm on it now.  There is always time to work on important things.  Always.

Peck says that these tools and their development in children are the responsibility of parents. Sigh. Yes, I will agree.  And I have mourned the fact that we do not come with a parenting manual when our children are born.

But.

I have found one in the past two years that has ended my search for the right way. A way that is not full of guilt and shame and punishment and control. One that is full of love and grace and mercy. Yes, I would call it cHesed Parenting!  It is by Dr. Laura Markham and is called Peaceful Parenting, Happy Kids. I have had to process some significant grief as I mourn the fact that I did not have this book 20 years ago...and only am slightly assuaged by the fact that is was only published a few years ago.

This book.  It has saved my family...and my sanity.

As I have processed Peck's thoughts about discipline and how it is the responsibility of  the parents to first have it and then pass it on to their children, I mourned that I had passed what seemed like all the important deadlines for my children...even though I was searching for the path.

Added, then, to my work on building and shaping the Four Tools is the answer to the "how to parent" piece...and Dr. Laura reminds us frequently that it is never too late to be a better parent.  It is, however, much harder.

So be it.

I know all about hard.  As long as there is a path to peaceful and happy, I am totally ready for hard.

Bring. It. On.

This is the most important time of renewal I have entered.  I am grateful beyond words for this time and all the resources God has brought to me at just the right time and in just the right way.  I'm learning to lean into Their love and grace and mercy as I embrace The Great Dance of Perichoretic cHesed.

May this time of Lenten renewal be one of deep blessing and joy. May we all receive the peace of Jesus that our joy may be complete in Him.

Be blessed.

Abi

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This post is part of the February synchroblog “Renewal”

Abbie Waters – It is Well with My Soul

Done With Religion – Renewal

Mark Votova – 30 Ways the Church Can Find Renewal

Jeremy Myers – I am Dying … (So I Can Live Again)

Phil Lancanster – The Parable of the Classic Car

Susan Schiller – Renewal by Design

Glenn Hager – Repurposed

Wesley Rostoll – Why I no longer pray for revival

Clara Ogwuazor-Mbamalu – Renewal of the Spirit

K. W. Leslie – Those who wait on the Lord

Lisa Brown – Momma’s Kick Off Your Shoes and Stay For A While!

Jenom Makama – …Like An Antivirus

Leah – Renewal!



Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Abi's Ephiphany...9 Years Later

Nine years ago, I had an Ephiphany ephiphany...I had a vision on January 6, 2006, (with words, if that makes any sense) of a community I came to call CovenantClusters.  I had been trying to take a much needed nap (chronic exhaustion being the normal state of an elderly mother of three young boys). But instead of sleep, ideas -- actually, words -- intruded.  These words were so persistent that I asked God if I should get up and write them down.  I know it was God, because the boys all slept through the three hours I spend writing it down, very much like dictation...with drawings and everything! Over the next year, I worked it up into quite an interesting church planting proposal.

Fortunately, no one was interested it in.  Whew...dodged a bullet with that one!

Of course, at the time, I was disheartened...but over the years I have had the opportunity to learn and experience so many things that have changed just about everything concerning how I see the church. To have moved out earlier might have meant missing all of that...and probably would have meant an Epic Fail!

It is fascinating to me to see how that vision has changed so much while remaining unchanged over all these years. How I adore paradoxes.  ;^)   Most of the change has been related to changes in my perspective and perception, as my vision changed from church planting strategy to missional communitas fostering.  I also began to realize that the vision was not something that God wanted me to undertake, but was a glimpse of something that God wanted me to be able to recognize some day...something that They are working to bring together.

I don't know how many more years it will be until I bump into that awesome vision in real life, but I have plenty to do in the meantime...and both Perichoretic cHesed and Simple Living will be core components.

Today, when we remember the arrival of the Wise Men -- bringing precious gifts to honor and worship Father's Eternal Son Incarnate -- may we be reminded that we (all that we are and all that we have) are the precious gifts we are to bring to Jesus...and then relax as He leads us with gracious loving-kindness into The Great Dance.

This day.

Every day.

Special shoes not required.  ;^)

Expectantly,

Abi


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Abi Ponders Perichoretic cHesed...again!

My new Facebook friend, James Paul, asks great questions. I am wanting to learn to ask better questions myself so I appreciate hanging out with him on FB...this was the question he asked:

Flat Hierarchy

Are flat hierarchies tenable in the real world? The Superbowl XLVIII Champion Seattle Seahawks think so ... Danny O'Neil, Mike Salk and Dave Grosby discuss the outlier relationship between coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider. What are your thoughts regarding top-down vs. flat models of power distribution? Is consensus building worthwhile? What, if any, are the implications for the church? Leave a comment - let's have a conversation!

After reading through a number of comments about mutuality and consensus building and collaboration, I chimed in with this:

Organizational Management is my corner, in degree and work experience. One of the most powerful experiences I had was during a management workshop, where we were divided up into group of four or five and given a list of 100 tasks that must be done to start an organization. We each had to work alone to put them in order -- what came first, etc., all the way to what was the last thing you go. It took a bit of time to get your head around all 100 items and think through the process.

After everyone was finished, the group was tasked with negotiating a group order. The kicker was that everyone had to agree. No one could sit out and no one could give in. Everyone had to share why they picked the order they did and be convinced that they were wrong or convince others that they were wrong in order to come to a true consensus of which steps should be taken in which order.

Then, once that process was finished -- which took about twice as long as our personal ones -- we were given the "correct" order. We "graded" our individual efforts and then our "collaborated" effort. The results were striking.

The group got 95 out of 100 in the correct order. I got 95 out of 100 in the correct order. The interesting thing was looking at the precise ones each missed.

The five choices I made that were wrong were catastrophic. Like, what I put at 45 should have been at 3 and so on. They would have been difficult to recover from. It's not always how much you get right, but the nature of what you get wrong, eh?

Well, the group's five errors were all just one place off. Like 4 and 5 were transposed, or 33 and 32, or 73 and 74. None of those were even remotely catastrophic. It took the group to see where my five were so far off (and I had the best stats of the group) and negotiate together to see why a different order was better. We had one quiet person -- with great intuition but not much confidence -- that we had to remind many times not to cave to peer pressure...and it was this person's ability to articulate why they thought the way they did -- and the requirement that the rest of us HAD to listen and consider -- that brought us to the better decision almost every time.

That's a long example, but it has been a powerful lessons to me, almost 24 years later.

When Jesus, Creator and Sustainer of ALL, chose to be first among equals, it was the most important (and regularly the least recognized) example he set.

And he is still to be first. He is the source, the head, the initiator...but he includes us in each step of the process. He leads...so that we can follow and exercise all our gifts together. If we don't follow, he doesn't fire us or punish us or have a tantrum of blame and guilt. Because, in the end, he knows that it is our participation that is the real point.

This is the reality of perichoretic hesed -- the interpenetration of selves with one will, without loss of self, that moves with gracious loving-kindness for the best interest of the other...this is the Great Dance of the Triune God into which Jesus has brought us through his life, death, resurrection and ascension.

Jesus said we are to call no man "Father", because we have one Father in Heaven -- so the prestige and iron rule of patriarchy was set aside.

Jesus said we are not to be called "Teacher" or "Lord", because he is both Lord and Teacher ... and after his ascension, he sent the Spirit to continue educating the human race concerning our adoption as joint heirs with Jesus. [It is a long process, because we are not always apt students, eh?]

Jesus said we are not to lord it over one another. We are to participate in the Perichoretic cHesed of God, so that we might see each other in that same light and learn to dance in that same manner together in all our dealings.

It is breath-takingly simple, but also the most difficult of things to do, because it seems so counter-intuitive to those who have come to rely on experts to tell them what to do, instead of using their gifts and brains and hands and feet and hearts to see and hear with the Spirit is teaching them...so that they might be able to share it with the rest of The Body of Christ.

It's simple. But it's not easy...at least not at the start. Not until you have experienced your own five single-point failures, and have learned about your own blind spots, and have embraced with your whole heart that every person has an important perspective to contribute...but Jesus, with the Spirit, is the quiet voice of the Truth that we must train our eyes to see and our ears to hear and our heart to resonate with and follow.

James asked where he might read more about Perichoretic cHesed...so this is what I said:

I started thinking about perichoresis from the early days of Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed blog, back in early 2007. There were pieces of it floating around in my mind, but always just out of focus. I played with it, but just had to wait. The number of times I blogged about "I'm getting ready to blog about perichoresis" is pretty funny.

My long study of cHesed took an interesting turn in June of 2009, when I met Wayne Jacobsen at a weekend retreat for my small house church...and we talked about cHesed a bit and he said I had the order wrong...that cHesed is not something we do, it is something that we receive from God. My whole world began to spin as I pondered how I had managed to miss that we are to live loved by God first and foremost before we can ever respond to that love appropriately -- either to Love God or to Love Others.

Then, I had been introduced to C. Baxter Kruger and his Perichoresis organization, but it was not the right time yet...until his book, The Shack Revisited, came out in the Fall of 2012. It was then that the other shoe began to drop -- both for getting perichoresis to focus in my mind, and for cHesed to be married to it. I had not seen, previously, that they are interconnected.

That's when I coined the term Perichoretic cHesed as the reality of the Triune God, into which Jesus has brought all of creation through the Incarnation of the Father's Eternal Son.

It is as though Perichoresis is the Music of the Great Dance (as it has been often called, and Baxter has a book called The Great Dance), whereas cHesed is the steps of the Dance itself. The melody calls forth the footwork, as it were.

* * * * * * *

So, there it is...the work on sharing Perichoretic cHesed begins in earnest.  I ran it past my Hebrew scholar cousin the other day and he thought it was on track. Not that I need approval, but it is nice to have every once in a while.

Of course, none of this will be new to those of you who have been hanging out in my wee purple corner of the interwebs, but I wanted to share the conversation with you.

Slowly but surely the concepts are beginning to gel well enough to be able to talk about them in a free-flowing manner.  This is good. It means it is making itself at home in my heart and mind.

Enough for today...off to do neurological exercises....

Be blessed!

Abi

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Abi and The Dones....

I have been following the Facebook page of Josh Packard, as well as his website concerning those he calls the dechurched. Yesterday and today he linked Facebook posts to the blog of John W. Hawthorne, where I read this blog post. It is important to go and read that post...or the rest of this post will not make as much sense as it should....

What follows is the comment I left on Josh's Facebook post:


Very well said. I do believe that there are a segment of the Dones who are done with institutional Church...and this article hits many of the reasons why. When I was growing up in Michigan, we had an old record called The Game of Life, which was essentially an audio of an announcer at an imaginary football game...where Jesus was the quarterback...and all the players were personifications of character. Think Paul Bunyon does Football.... While it was hysterically funny, I don't think it was intended to be.

We have been given the personification for the church, actually three:

It is a Family -- the family of the King. Kingdom life is family life. And Lord knows there are plenty of rules that have formed around family life. Part of the struggle has been the desire to continue to laminate the rules of patriarchy onto the Family of God...and many Dones are done with playing the patriarchy game.

The second is as Bride of Christ...and there are just as many rules about what is means to be a Bride -- ones that are a subset of patriarchy.

When half the population of the world (women) are regulated to the margins to the extent that they are in so many institutionalized manifestations of the Church, many of those women -- and their families -- find themselves unable to grow and exercise the gifts the Spirit has bestowed on the for the building up of the Body of Christ, which is the third one. It is no wonder that so many women find ministry opportunities outside the church in the social services area of communities and paracurch organizations, where the rules are less stringent because the immediate needs for workers are so high. Same applies to the mission field, where women are often embraced because there is such a high need for willing hands and feet.

Then there are some of us who have had to make a stand because we have sons who can't understand why Christians don't believe in equality.... I have embarked on a long road of providing a fresh vision of Church for the sake of my sons and their future families.

Finally, I come to the Body of Christ. If people really learned their physiology and considered the beauty and intricacy of the human body, perhaps they would see that there is another set of rules altogether that apply. But some do not see the body/soul/spirit as one whole...they see the body as parts. And when the Body of Christ moves to a mechanistic, utilitarian view, then parts are parts. If one part isn't working, just cut it out and transplant a fresh one. Or give it the latest drug (What? Side effects?!) to keep it under control.

As many of us have embraced alternatives to the professional medical institutions, ones which consider the patient in a holistic manner, we have been enlightened to how the Body of Christ has not been well cared for at the cellular level...

Well, I certainly didn't intent to wax on...but this struck some big nerves. I may have to do some pondering about this over at my wee blog later. Blessings!

There are a couple of typos in there, but I'm too tired to look for them...imperfection is important. ;^)

And I'm not done pondering this post...but I didn't want too much time to pass before sharing it here, just in case it is encouraging or interesting to any of my fellow journey mates.

Be blessed!

Abi

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Abi's New Year's Eve Reflections

A Facebook post by Sarah Bessey asked for a word or phrase to sum up the year.  What popped into my head was:  Preserved to Persevere.

These were the words whispered into my heart earlier this year when I pondered the reason for so many horrific injuries, accidents and trauma visited on me (any my family) over the past 20 years, with an emphasis on the past five.

I had been preserved.

In the face of so many times when I could have been lost -- or more severely injured -- Death had been turned away.  No.  It is not her time...not yet.

Why?

We rarely find an acceptable answer for the "Why?" question...I had learned that lesson over the years from my Patron Saint:  Job.  This year was so hard I found myself back there...wondering why.  And the Spirit answered.

I had been preserved.

You will have heard me say "privilege is always given for a purpose" many times. So I wondered what purpose there was in the continued privilege of walking on this side of Kingdom Life.

I had been preserved to persevere.

There is to be no giving up or giving in....

Interestingly, I finished the year reading an amazing book. Neurological issues have severely limited my ability to read these past five years, so I knew this was a gift.  I read "Unbroken" by Laura Hillenbrand.  I totally recommend this book. But this story had been told from another angle. Louis Zamperini had written his autobiography earlier.  He talked about two things:  never give up and never give in.

Louis Zamperini knew what it meant to be preserved to persevere.

My wee story is nothing compared with his. What a remarkable man. But I think, if we will have eyes that see, that each of us can see how we have been preserved to persevere. Whatever obstacles are thrown in our path, we find a way to not give up or give in. But is not not easy and it is done one step at a time. In the moment, we can't see a way forward...but somehow we take one more step....

One step at a time, I have arrived at the end of this year. Tomorrow will bring 2015...and I do not know what the journey will look like.

But I will put my hand in the hand of God, every day. And Father, Son and Spirit will be to me better than light and safer than a known way.  Seven New Year's Eves now since that post...and still so much darkness. But I will persevere. And, even though it is clear that I knew I was not alone seven years ago, I have such a deeper sense of God's presence...of my participation in The Great Dance.

I will persevere...one day at a time...with 2015 being a bit of a 12 Step dance, I think. ;^)

Be blessed!

Abi

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Abi's Advent -- Week One

...so, I was gone Sunday through Friday night late for the entire first week of Advent...the week where we talk about longing...longing for the Savior to come and make things right, bringing justice and righteousness.

I spent this week longing as well.  Longing for this week of intensive neurological therapy to restore balance to my battered brain.  It was a lot of work, but the good news is that the wonderful team at NW Functional Neurology were, effectively, able to reboot my brain and restore balance.

The bad news is that my newly-balanced pathways are not solid enough yet to withstand the waves of stress that wash over my brain day in and day out...and so I must work through my set of nine exercises three to five times a day...and make these fragile pathways solid from repetition...and more repetition. And I have to find a way to reduce the stress.

There is no one in my home who is particularly interested in this essential task before me, much less eager to help me -- either with the exercises or with the reduction of stressors.

...just me -- and Jesus and Papa and Grandmother, that is.  Somehow, it is time to make this foursome the true Reality in all aspects of my life...every day...all day long.  Yes, I would like to have my family help, encourage and care for me. But that's just not what's happening right now. It makes me very, very sad and lonely to own that reality.  But it is, as they say, what it is.

And so I have had a very intense sense of longing this week...longing for the Primary Family of Father, Son and Spirit to take their rightful place in my heart this Advent...to dull the ache of expectation and replace it with the healing balm of expectancy. 

All. Will. Be. Well.  [Always makes me think of that recurring theme from Shakespeare In Love:  It will all work out in the end.  How?  I don't know, it's a mystery.]  Embrace the mystery....

As Advent cycles around again this year, I am a completely different person than I was last year...and every year before. I am grateful for all that I have learned and all the ways I have grown.  I believe that this was the year and the time for this work to be accomplished with my very purple, broken brain...and I trust that Jesus will walk with me through the therapy.

So...just had to get this first post of Advent in before midnight, when the Second Sunday of Advent begins.

Whew!

Blessings on you....

Abi