Sunday, October 31, 2010

big vision of youth

I took five 6th graders yesterday to the Rod Library on the UNI campus to remind them that they are capable of great things at a young age! This reminder came through the inspiration of hearing 6th grade Poet Ajla Dizdarevic of Waterloo, IA, read from her recently published book All Below my Window. Youth can make such a mark in this world!

Ajla, whose parents came to Iowa from Bosnia in the late 90's, is a very unpretentious, self-confident eleven year old young woman who started off her poetry reading by introducing herself as a black belt in Taekwondo, a guitar student, and a gal who loves the Beatles and Bob Dylan. She told the audience that her inspiration for poetry has come from many sources, one being her father's stories of war in Bosnia.

Ajla's story was told in our local newspaper last Wednesday at

Here's one of her poems that received an award in January:

"I See It, Too" by Ajla Dizdarevic

My head held high
I reach for the sky
With my Sisters and Brothers
With my Fathers and Mothers
I feel invincible as I hear this man say
"Why can't there be another way?"
My black skin tingles as I wonder why
The Blacks and Whites don't seem to try
To be friends together, and hold hands, too
I've seen some try, but only a few
They went to jail, but they didn't care
Some people just can't be scared
Like the man in front of me, making a speech
He's trying to say something, trying to teach
He says that we should unite, and all be friends
He says that would rid of the cold, cruel trends
He says we should not be judged by the color of our skin
he says that if these new ways were in effect, everyone would win
Including us

As I watch this man from high above,
I feel the power that he is emitting
He is saying that the ways they're treating us is a crime people
shouldn't be committing
As I hear the Man speak, I am watching from above
As I hear the Man speak, I am thinking about love
I am sitting upon my daddy's shoulder, watching from above

Someday, the Blacks and Whites will run together,
And take the wing
All because of the speech made by the Junior Martin Luther King

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Why a Christmas Store?

Why a Christmas Store this year rather than just giving gifts to those in need?

Bob Lupton, author of Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life says this in his book,

“Something seems to go wrong when one with valued resources attempts to distribute them to others in need. The transactions, no matter how compassionate, seem to go sour in the gut of both giver and recipient. A subtle, unintentional message slips through: “You have nothing of worth that I desire in return.” The giver remains protected by his one-up status while the recipient is exposed and vulnerable.”

“Betterment does for others; development enables others to do for themselves…betterment tends to erode dignity, while development strengthens capacity.”

This is at the core of why we've chosen to create a Christmas Store. Giving gifts...the haves to the have nots...does not often strengthen capacity nor does it build community. It seems, instead, to keep us separate from one another. The "haves" can feel good about themselves for their generosity, and the "have nots" can feel just a bit worse about themselves for not being able to provide.

I was thinking about this whole Christmas gift giving the other day as I was trying to imagine the difference it might make to allow a parent to shop and buy gifts for their children as opposed to someone handing them an armload of gifts. I tried to imagine a Christmas morning at our house if Mike and I purchased no gifts for our children, Sara and Nathan. A knock on our door and in walks our neighbors, the Martinson's, with a stack of amazing gifts for our kids. I wouldn't harbor any negative thoughts toward them...I would be grateful to them for blessing our family. But I would feel inadequate myself. A bit embarrassed and ashamed, perhaps. Personally, I believe we've gone way overboard as consumers at Christmastime (I include myself in this), but even with that being true, I think I would still like to be the one providing a gift for my child over a stranger doing so. What about you? What do you think?

And please know that I don't mean that there is never a place for giving a gift to someone in need. I think there definitely is a place for that. I, also, believe though, that we've often take the easy way out through charity giving which does nothing to strengthen relationship or empower people. I think we need to begin to think more critically about what will actually begin to help develop people and transform our communities.

classic Saturday

Paul Bunyan (1628-1688) wrote his two most famous works from an English prison. Locked up for twelve years for preaching without a license, he wrote Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners. When he was imprisoned again for six months because of his preaching, he wrote his most famous work, Pilgrim's Progress, a classic that is second only to the Bible in the number of copies sold since its first printing.

In an excerpt from Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, he writes about his call to press into and exercise his call and gift to preach.

"I began to see that the Holy Spirit never intended that people who had gifts and abilities should bury them in the earth, but rather, he commanded and stirred up such people to the exercise of their gift and sent out to work those who were able and ready. And so, although I was the most unworthy of all the saints, I set upon this work."

Do you know your spiritual gifts? Are they being buried or exercised? How have you received confirmation that has helped you know your particular spiritual gifts?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

i heart youth art team


Fall has fallen into some very chilly temps the past three days. After 3 weeks of almost perfect mild fall days, we are now receiving a foretaste of winter on its way. Windy, cold, and people are now thinking coats.

One of Orchard's ministries, Route 55, has been collecting coats to share with Harvest Vineyard and others who will need coats this winter throughout our community. Today, some volunteers from that ministry ate lunch together and joined a few friends from Harvest to sort coats and prepare for a giveaway on Saturday. I love these opportunities to build relationships in our partnership with Harvest and to reach out together in our community.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I know and I don't know

What helps you to surrender yourself into the trustworthy hands of God? (and I mean transformational surrender...not just words.) What helps bring you clarity and peace in times of confusion and angst, when you're waiting on God?

For me, one process that has helped me a lot has been to journal two "I know" list and a "I don't know" list.

Lists like these helped me about six years ago when I was in the fog but knowing that I was in the middle of a call process from God. Lists like these help me navigate and discern as I prioritize what God wants me to be doing with my days this school year. Lists like these are helping me now as I try to navigate a complex relationship. I write out what I know to be true...emotions that I'm experiencing, observations that I'm making, impressions God is giving to me, words that people have spoken on the subject that have been sticking with me, Scripture that is convicting or speaking to me, questions that I know I'm asking, change that I know is needed, awareness and insights I'm gaining, etc...

And I write out a list of the angst and confusion that is making up the I don't know's. Questions that I'm asking, fears or hurts that I might not know how to get past, stumbling blocks or obstacles that seem unsolvable and stubborn, decisions I'm having trouble with, contradictions that I'm experiencing, forward movement that I don't know how to make except by the very grace and power of God.

These lists help me. They help me gain clarity. God uses them to help me pray and wait well, to know what He wants to teach me, to know what steps I might need to take, what I need to confess and repent of, and what I might need to release and accept. Try these lists sometime when you're in the midst of a season of unrest, decision making, or testing. These lists seem to help me to better live out this quote that you might also be familiar with, known as the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

Monday, October 25, 2010

worthy challenge

Richard Stearns and World Vision have provided a tremendous tool for families, small groups, churches in their Six Week Quest found at Check it out. The daily clicks offer a peek at the reality of many who suffer in our world, insight into God's heart for people, and compelling challenges for those with resources and heart to carry out His mission of compassion and justice in the world.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Youth Art Team Week #2 started off in chaos and craziness on Thursday as I tried to gather several of the students from the neighborhood for class, but ended with multiple visits from the Holy Spirit throughout our two hours together.

Sixteen of the seventeen youth were there (#17 had a band concert), and the group got to break in their new sketchbooks with watercolor drawings. They were awesome! During their time of free drawing, one of the adult facilitators asked the kids to journal a few short words or sentences about "What makes you YOU?" It was so excellent getting to hear what the youth wrote about themselves. "I am a sweet girl." "I am funny." "I like to play by myself." "I am a Christian."

Next, several civic leaders from our community came and allowed themselves to be interviewed by pairs of students. I love how God used Heidi, our instructor, to group the kids and adults. I sat with two of our boys who were perfectly paired up together with one another and with their interviewee, a twenty something boxer who boxes at the boxing club in the Walnut Neighborhood. It was a divine match with words of encouragement being spoken by the interviewee in such a way that I believe really inspired our young men.

I know also that at least in one other match, there was a strong connection between an interviewee and the teen interviewer. Possibly even such a strong connection that this teen will recall it as one of those rare "defining moments" in life. That's so powerful!!

What a beautiful picture to look around the room and see the young people empowered to lead these interviews. They really rose to the occasion with only a short amount of preparation and familiarity with one another. I think what I've found most profound in the two short weeks of Youth Art Team is that when you couple high expectations with plenty of support and structure, the youth are really reaching up there for the stars.

After the interviews, the team had a time to debrief with one another what they remembered most about their interviews and to paint again in their sketchbooks. As they painted, I shared a few insights from the Scripture where Jesus feeds the five thousand. I really see the truth in this Scripture being played out right in this Youth Art Team....when we offer to Jesus that which we have, He really does make much of it for the Kingdom of God.

Can't wait to see photos from this night at!

classic Saturday

I appreciate the writing of this week's devotional classic author, Isaac Penington (1617-1680). This short piece comes from his Letters on Spiritual Virtues and helps remind me of where to place my focus in a time of trial and pain.

"I know, dear heart, that your outward trials are painful and bitter. And I know also that the Lord is able to sustain you through them and make you able to stand your ground. O that you could dwell in the knowledge and sense of this: the Lord sees your sufferings with an eye of pity and is able to achieve some good through them. He is able to bring life and wisdom to you through your trials. He will one day give you dominion over that which grieves and afflicts you.

Therefore, do not be grieved at your situation or be discontented. Do not look at the difficulty of your condition, but instead, when the storm rages against you, look up to him who can give you patience and can lift your head over it all and cause you to grow. If the Lord did not help us with his mighty arm, how often would we fall! If God helps you in proportion to your problems, you should have no reason to complain, but rather, to bless his name.

God is exceedingly good and gracious and tenderhearted. He does not turn away from the affliction of his people in any way. This I share in tender love towards you, with breathings to our Father, that his pleasant plant may not be crushed in you by the foot of pride or violence, but instead, may overgrow it and flourish the more because of it."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update from partners in Haiti

Ps. 29: 1, 2 "Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness."

As we near the time for heading back to the States, we are so grateful for all that has happened this year. The earthquake and all of its pain, along with the joys and accomplishments that followed were all a part of this memorable year. In the name of both the US and the Haitian boards we want to thank you. We can't tell you in this letter all that has happened because of your prayers and support, but we would like to highlight some of the ministries. The Lord has done so many things. We can see His hands everywhere. It could not have happened without your commitment to UCI and Haiti.

We welcome Andre, Marie, Jamborite, and recently Sainpristo to the family of God. These former witchdoctors are turning their backs on their former way of life and trusting that God will sustain them. It's the same for all Christians. Continue to pray for Frank and Nelson, who while more open to talking about God, are still unwilling to take the step of faith required to give their lives to Christ.

Union Chretienne de Caiman, our primary school, is going very well. We are so pleased to have good Christian teachers and administrator. They are very serious about giving good quality, Christian education. We have been able to provide solid resources in the form of books, materials, and electives. Pray that the parents and children will be changed due to the school's ministry. And pray for endurance and patience for the teachers; any primary school teacher will tell you that is needed!

Praise the Lord for so many cement floor and new houses. It is awesome to know that this year and the years to come, these family won't have to live in the mud and worry about rats and parasites entering their houses through their dirt floors. We have also been able to build a church building for a neighboring community. This is something that UCI sees as an important part of ministry for the future. We would like all believers to have a place for worship.

Total cement floors completed: 146 Total houses completed: 10 Total churches completed by UCI: 3

You should see our drip irrigation garden and the gardens with the irrigation pumps. I hope my pictures do them justice. Saul is so good at doing agriculture that make sense and that has lasting value. We'll have lots of vegetables for the school and nutrition centers.

Our cassava mini-factory will be up this week. It is hard to explain how important cassava is to Haiti since it so different from what we have in the US. Suffice it to say, this tuber, also called manioc, grows very well in Haiti's dry and hot climate. It is what JeanJean grew up eating. But, due to the influence of imported food, cassava is not eaten as readily today. Cassava bread is also hard to make. But, this new machine will significantly decrease the time and effort it takes to make the bread. We will be buying the manioc locally from farmers. Our school's breakfast program will benefit from the cassava bread, too.

I just took the pictures of the kids in the nutrition centers for our Christmas gift give-away. They are looking so great. This year it went pretty well to get the kids to pose--some of them even smiled! I still have some kids that don't have sponsors for their Christmas gift. For the past 5 years I have done a Samaritan Purse-type Christmas gift. If anyone or church is interested in participating in this program, just let me know. I'll send you pictures of the kids and all the information of costs.

Thank you to all the teams that have come this past year and helped with the work. Because teams come, many more projects are done. Preaching the Word, VBS, prayer walks, clinics, construction and painting, relationship-building, and so much more were accomplished. Praise the Lord!

We hope to get a chance to talk to all of you in person while we are in the U.S. If you would like us to speak at your church, or at a small group, or just come over, let us know. We would love for it to happen, if possible.

God bless you all!!

JeanJean, Kristie and Tana and Kerri Mompremier

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

three kinds of churches

Arloa Sutter, in her book The Invisible writes about three kinds of churches:

"The first is the church that essentially ignores issues related to God's concern for the poor while focusing almost exclusively on personal evangelism and personal growth. I call it the personal piety church."

"The second type of church recognizes compassion and justice as important and forms a compassion committee or social concerns ministry as one of the many ministries within the life of the church. While this group represents legitimate issues, those who participate are a small minority within the church and often feel they need to compete with the other ministries of the church for significance. I call it the social justice committee church."

"I call the third type of church compassionate to the core. This is the church in which compassion, reconciliation, and justice are core values that permeate every aspect of church life...This is the church which the leadership has come to understand and embrace the centrality of God's heart for justice in their understanding of the good news of the gospel. Promoting both personal godliness and social justice is core to the church's mission, vision, and values. Leaders and members emphasize both in every aspect of church life. Spiritual disciplines include justice and compassion activities as well as personal Bible study and prayer."

Psalm 89:14 Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.

Where is your church on this 1-2-3 continuum? Where are you?

(Arloa's book is amazing. I'm going to buy it for several who sit on our Orchard-Harvest Partnership Team. I encourage you to read it. I've been lingering in the pages, and I highly recommend it to you.)

Monday, October 18, 2010

the order of the Kingdom

"The marginalized folks in the upside-down order of God remind those of us who think we know something that the pearls of great price are often hidden from the arrogant and proud. 'Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?'" (James 2:5) - Jimmy Dorrell

Picnic in the Park messes with me all the time. I arrange for folks from Orchard Hill to go and serve a meal, and I don't think I'm far off when I write that most of us from OHC believe we're giving of ourselves as we commit to serve in the park on a Sunday. And while it's true that we are, I encounter a more profound spiritual lesson each time on the receiving end, if indeed, I am willing to receive.

In what was the most beautiful fall day ever yesterday, I experienced the following:

-I listened as Jim, a member of Harvest, shared about when he journals each morning, he doesn't use "I" but "we" in his writing, as he knows God is with him all the time.
-We didn't have many adults there to play with kids yesterday, and I watched how the community responded to that: A group of boys grabbed a football and had a pick up game. Some smaller girls took a jumprope, and some of the park guests began swinging it for them.
- Perry and Thomas, two downtown friends, were there from start to finish yesterday helping to serve and already talking of 2011 PIP. Thomas said, "Six months will go by like five minutes.....I hope."
- Robin, who sometimes uses a very little girl voice and other times speaks with a deep masculine voice, told me that "We'll be seeing each other next summer if we're still around. Only Jesus knows, and it's all okay either way."
- Others shared their struggles from the week as they look for work, lost a loved one to the prison system, got evicted. And as OHC pulled the chuckwagon away at 1 p.m., I looked back, and there was this group of ragtag believers singing their hearts out in worship still. In no hurry on a beautiful day, their time of worship and play continued on.

My last thoughts as I left the park for the season were, "I have a lot to learn about life and faith, and I think God will teach me through friends like these right here in Lincoln Park."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

marathoners on a mission

It's race day! Iowans for Africa are about to run their 2nd marathon...last October in Chicago, and today in Des Moines, IA. A team of 135 will don their awesome race shirts in the colors of the Mozambique flag, and head out of the starting gate on this beautiful, crisp fall morning in Iowa.
The team is raising money for our partners in the Gorongoza Region of Mozambique to help build a school there. I hope you watch the outstanding video above that introduces you to friends in Mozambique and the marathon mission.

I ran the Chicago Marathon last fall when we ran for World Vision and raised over $40,000 for clean water wells in Africa. The 26.2 was an amazing, amazing experience, but to run to make a positive difference in others' lives was even more compelling.

Check out to learn more about our two years of marathon madness! And, Go Team! A couple hundred fans from church are heading to Des Moines, and they're even having an early morning worship service before the starting gun goes off! I'll be at our last Picnic in the Park for this season and we'll be sure to pray for the whole lot of you!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

classic Saturday

The featured author this week is Jean-Pierre de Caussade (1675-1751). According to authors of Devotional Classics, Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith, "two key phrases have become identified with de Caussade's name. The first, 'self-abandonment to divine providence' implies a dynamic surrender of ourselves to the will and the way of God. The second, 'the sacrament of the present moment,' awakens us to the requirement of doing our duty, whatever it may be, a carrying out of God's purposes for us not only this day, or this hour, but this minute, this very minute."

A paragraph from de Caussade's The Sacrament of the Present Moment:

"Every moment, and in respect of everything, souls must say, like St. Paul, "Lord what should I do?" Let me do everything you wish. The Spirit wants one thing, the body another, but Lord, I wish only to do your divine will. Supplication, intercession, mental or vocal prayer, action or silence, faith or wisdom, particular sacraments or general grace, all these, Lord, are nothing, for your purpose is the true and only virtue in all things. It alone, and nothing else, however sublime or exalted, is the object of my devotion since the purpose of grace is the perfection of the heart, not of the mind."

Question offered at the end of this selection:

"'We must offer no resistance and blindly abandon ourselves to his divine will in perfect trust,' writes de Caussade. Which do you find more difficult: discerning God's will or doing it?"

Friday, October 15, 2010

Youth Art Team

Check this out:

So excited that my daughter, Sara, is on this team, and that I get to be one of the adult facilitators over the next six weeks. The team will be participating in the Heart Project (see post below), and will be selling their created art for the school in Haiti.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

the heart project

Calling all artisans! Midway through July, I received a phone call from a young woman who was about to head off to college in Missouri, but who had recently heard a whisper from God that she couldn't ignore. Megan contacted me for coffee, and she spoke with passion of hosting an art show in which any proceeds from the art sale would go toward one of our church's initiatives to fight poverty. She shared the dream, we prayed, we explored the idea further together. And this is how such a whisper is playing out:

The Heart Project Art Show.....Saturday, November 20, 4-8 p.m.
at Orchard Hill Church. Live coffeehouse.....tables of creative goodness offered by local artisans who want to offer their handcrafted work to help make a difference in the world.

The difference? Our friends, the Mompremiers, in Haiti, have recently opened a school in their village. I'll post more about that in upcoming days. Proceeds from the Heart Project will go to help equip the school and teachers. A huge blessing in all of this: JeanJean, Kristie, Tana, and Kerri Mompremier will be in the States in November, and they're coming to be a part of the Heart Project Art Show! And even better, they're bringing a great selection of art created by friends in their village area. Take a look at some of the Haitian art work that will be for sale across the top of this post...paintings, bags, dolls, jewelry....sales from the Haitian art will benefit 15 local Haitian families. What a great way to empower people and celebrate the artistic gifts that God has given many!

Want to be a part? We are still looking for vendors...whether you'd like to sell one piece or can register at . Look for "the heart project" at the bottom of the home page.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Christmas Store

We're first time planning for "A Christmas Store" this year. In the past, the Orchard Hill Church Congregation has previously given gifts for moms at House of Hope or Christmas boxes for every family at Longfellow Elementary, the school where we partnered in Waterloo before it was closed. Families from our congregation- a predominately upper-middle class demographic- often look for ways to give at Christmas, and providing gifts to those in need has been a part of our congregation's history at Christmas.

This year, we're trying something different. Bob Lupton's quotes from Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life have caused us to pause and consider how our giving might help build capacity and community rather than diminish people. Take a read:

“Something seems to go wrong when one with valued resources attempts to distribute them to others in need. The transactions, no matter how compassionate, seem to go sour in the gut of both giver and recipient. A subtle, unintentional message slips through: “You have nothing of worth that I desire in return.” The giver remains protected by his one-up status while the recipient is exposed and vulnerable.” P. 26

“Perhaps the deepest poverty of all is to have nothing of value to offer in exchange. Charity that fosters such poverty must be challenged. We know from 40 years of failed social policy that welfare depletes self-esteem while honorable work produces dignity. We know that reciprocity builds mutual respect while one-way giving brews contempt.” P. 27

“Betterment does for others; development enables others to do for themselves…betterment tends to erode dignity, while development strengthens capacity.”

“One-way mercy ministry, as kindhearted as the giver may be and as well intentioned, is an unmistakable form of put-down. On the other hand, everyone loves to engage in the process of exchange. Everyone loves to find a bargain. There is something life affirming when someone comes to the bargaining table with a resource to barter. The playing field is leveled. The eyeing of each other’s commodity takes place from both sides of the bargaining table. Both sides have a choice; both sides weigh the worth of the other’s commodity. A deal is struck and an exchange is made. And remarkably, both parties leave the encounter feeling like they have gained more value than they brought.” P.43

“The Kingdom reserves a special place for the poor and for those who show compassion toward the poor. But how we demonstrate our compassion has everything to do with whether or not the poor actually feel valued. This is very good news indeed to Kingdom-minded people who are also bargain hunters, entrepreneurs, wheeler-dealers and creative types who know the magic of exchange. Ours is the unique opportunity to use our know-how and our creative energies to design methods of exchange that enable those with little as well as those with much to come to the table, participate in the excitement of making a deal and leave satisfied. With dignity.” P.47

So, we are in the middle of planning a store in which new gift items given by the congregation will be priced at a big discount and allow parents the dignity and the choice of shopping for their own children this Christmas! The money generated will then go to the Boys n' Girls Club and the schools attended by the shoppers' children. The store will be hosted at the Boys n' Girls Club in the Walnut Neighborhood, and we're looking forward to this opportunity to connect with the community through this store.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

open our eyes

WE International ( brought Sara Groves to town Friday night as a finale to a week of activities on the UNI campus that brought awareness about human trafficking and modern day slavery.

There are an estimated 27-30 million modern day slaves around the slaves, forced labor....unimaginable.

You can check out the following sites as well to learn more: or

Saturday, October 9, 2010

want an "outsider's view"?

I just finished a thought-provoking book entitled Jim and Casper Go to Church. Jim Henderson, a pastor from Seattle, and Matt Casper, an atheist from California, form a friendship as they visit 12 churches together in order to get Casper's critique and write a book together.

They head off to Willow Creek, Mosaic, The Dream Center, the Potter's House, Lakewood, Imago Dei, Mars Hill Seattle, Saddleback, The Bridge, a house church of a friend, First Presbyterian in a Chicago suburb, and Lawndale. The conversation is intriguing, and it's worth reading for church leaders who wish to reflect on how effective their way of "doing church" is in making disciples who follow Christ's teachings in this world.

classic Saturday

Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), in his writing entitled Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, defines consolation and desolation and how to deal with periods of desolation in our lives.

"I call it consolation when the soul is aroused by an interior movement which causes it to be inflamed with love of its Creator and Lord and consequently can love no created thing in this world for its own sake, but only in the Creator of all things. It is likewise consolation when one sheds tears inspired by love of the Lord, whether it be sorrow for sins or because of the Passion of the Christ our Lord, or for any other reason that is directly connected to his service and praise. Finally, I call consolation any increase of faith, hope, and charity and any interior joy that calls and attracts to heavenly things, and to the salvation of one's soul, inspiring it with peace and quiet in Christ our Lord.

I call desolation all this is contrary to the third rule, as darkness of the soul, turmoil of the mind, inclination to low and earthly things, restlessness resulting from many disturbances and temptations which leads to loss of faith, loss of hope, loss of love. It is also desolation when a soul finds itself completely apathetic, tepid, sad, and separated as it were, from its Creator and Lord."

Ignatius tells us to fight the enemy of desolation by
-standing firm in perseverance and patiently waiting for the return of consolation
-using the sufficient grace given us by God and seeking Him for strength
-having courage and taking flight from temptation
-openly and honestly sharing our periods of desolation with a spiritual friend

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I bought the cd's of John Perkin's morning Bible Studies at the CCDA conference in Chicago so that I might re-listen to them. Only Dr. Perkins can get away with things like a 25 minute introduction or a number of diversions from the main theme of his talk. He speaks with such spiritual authority that he can divert as often as he likes and still keep an audience rapt with attention. Anyway, two things he repeated several times this year in his speaking-

1. The will of God is everything. The will of God is good for everybody, for all of society. He admonishes us to listen in prayer and to be in the Word so that we might know the will of God and obey His will. He confronts the Church today with the hard truth that many are just seeking God to bless them as they do their own will on earth.

2. The Christian life is to be a continuation of the life of Christ on earth. The Church is to be his body, his hands, his feet, his love, his voice on the earth. Christ's life lived through us doing Christ's redemptive work on earth.

If you want to listen to John Perkins, you can go to and find some of his Bible studies from past conferences to download. He's a modern day prophet and a man whom God has made into a great leader.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

porch ponderings

I spent a few hours yesterday on porches and in living rooms in the Walnut neighborhood. I'm still the "white lady who visits", named so by Dominisha, an eight year old who is the neighborhood's youngest community organizer.

Two things strike me everytime I spend time in conversation with Walnut neighbors. First, I am so appreciative of the willingness they show to welcome me in and engage in unhurried conversation. Miss Vicki, the eldest and longest living resident in the neighborhood, always has a smile and a story for me, and yesterday she insisted I share an ice cream sandwich with her on her porch. She tells me stories of her family and stories of the neighborhood, and I marvel every time that she would be so kind as to invite me into her life. She'd like to make me gumbo next time I stop, so she told me to give her notice. This marks me so. To share the gift of time with one another is not such a common happening anymore, and as I sit with her, I make mental notes of how powerful and transformative listening, sharing, and neighboring are.

Secondly, I am struck by how important it is for me to spend time with people who are different than myself. People who have different backgrounds and life experiences. My framework...understanding...lens....gets challenged every single time. I'm not reading books or sitting around a table with people like me trying to problem solve or give trite answers to complex problems. But issues become faces, people, God's creations, who have lives and families and stories. I almost always encounter Jesus in these settings, and those porch moments give me little insights into the life of following him.

Monday, October 4, 2010

things i do and things i don't do

A friend emailed me a link the other day that shared part of a chapter from Shauna Niequist's book Bittersweet. (

In the excerpt, Shauna writes an "I do" list that describes that which she is willing to do in order to live into her life's passions and calling, and then she asks the all important question, "What am I willing not to do in order to do these things which I believe in?"

God wants to order our lives which will require some discernment and discipline in our lives both in the "do" category, but also in the "lose this" department in order to make space for those important do's.

I haven't actually written the lists, but I've been thinking about them and doing some of this over the past years in order to be able to focus my life better. I've discovered two things about this process. You have to ruthlessly stay on top of the sorting...kind of like laundry...opportunities/options pile up continuously, and so the "I do" and "I don't do" must be sorted continuously. The other learning is that some things are easy to do and not to do, and others are SO hard!

I do read books, lots of them. I find this important to do and very easy. I don't watch television. I find this very easy not to do. If only our whole "things I do" and "things I do not do" lists were this natural and easy, but there is discipline and the grace of God needed for many items on my lists. I believe in exercise, but it takes a lot more work for me to keep it on my "things I actually do" list and not just on my "things I want to do" list.

How about you...have you ever considered your values, passion, calling and made these lists of things I do and things I don't do?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

view from world's window

Yesterday, my daughter and I had to run to Main Street in Cedar Falls, so we decided to take a quick walk-through one of our favorite stores, World's Window. World's Window is a fair trade non-profit store, staffed by volunteers and dedicated to their mission, which is:

To serve as a market place for international handicrafts made by needy artisans from 35 developing countries.
To help the artisans gain a life of dignity for themselves and their families.
To use educational programs to increase awareness of health, welfare, and environmental issues in third world countries.
To promote inter-cultural understanding, peace, justice, and economic development.

Fair trade is so powerful because it offers respect for the hard work of talented people. It provides a sustainable way of life for developing communities. It is anti-slavery, anti-child labor. It supports the conservation of the environment, and fair trade empowers women and minorities.

Consider fair trade this year as you think about Christmas purchases. Here are a few website links:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

classic Saturday

George Fox (1624-1691) became the founder and most prominent leader of the Quakers. "His famous Journals reveals a bold and passionate, even prophetic, man who acted with the certainty of one who knows God firsthand, not by hearsay. He was quick to confront those who 'did not possess what they professed.'"

This taken from The Letters of George Fox:

"My little children in the Lord God Almighty, this is my joy that you all be ordered and guided by the mighty power of God. Know that Voice that speaks, the sound of the words, and the power of them. For words without power destroy the simplicity, bring up into a form and out of obedience of the Truth. Therefore, walk in the power of the Truth that the name of the Lord God may be glorified among you, his renown may be seen in you and among you, and all the world may be astonished, and the Lord admired in the ordering of his people who are guided by his wisdom."

Christians should live in such a way, both individually and in Christian community, that the world takes notice and is drawn to the light of Christ. What essentials make up such a life and community?