Category: faith

Spiritual Growth – Common Misunderstandings

In my work as a Spiritual Director, people come to me with many misconceptions about God and Spiritual Growth. I’ll leave the misconceptions about God for another day, but I thought I’d set my pen to dispelling a few misconceptions about Spiritual Growth. I doing so, I hope you will try something new this week, make a small step towards greater Self-Knowledge. It is important to discuss our misconceptions, because many times they prevent us from even trying to grow.

1. I don’t have the time to work on this.

It isn’t about having time, it’s about making a commitment. Anything important is worth your time. At the very least 20 – 30 minutes a day in reflection allows space for the Holy Spirit to move. That is the point of many of Spiritual exercises – space, and pause. All with the goal of bringing something new to your heart and mind. One quick practice I have found helpful is the Centering Prayer; a fantastic method of being still, even if you have a limited amount of time. I have taught and written extensively about the Centering Prayer. Here is some more information that you might find helpful. It is a simple and ancient practice, and “Yes, there’s an app for that.”

2. It isn’t for everyone.

It is for everyone. It is often said, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” There are tools, books, systems, and methods that have stood the test of time. There are numerous resources that can be a benefit to anyone, at any point on their journey. The key is just to begin. Our lives are out of balance, seriously. We pride ourselves on how much information we can acquire, and spend countless hours, money and thoughts on our physical health. When do we give any attention to our souls? Once a week at church, if we attend. A moment to pray when something twinges at our insides. Being a Christian isn’t merely about the security of our salvation, that is the by-product. The whole point of the Christian life is to be made over into the image of Christ. To become like him more and more every day. This is for everyone.

3. It’s too difficult.

It feels difficult if you think YOU are the one responsible for your growth. Spiritual Growth is the unique work of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is the active agent of our faith, and, I feel, the most neglected member of the Trinity. He is the one Christ promised would be sent to us as the Comforter, a helper, who is tasked with teaching us all things and bringing to remembrance all that Christ taught. We are to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. You will be surprised at what will happen if you seek growth, and trust that the Holy Spirit will bring it to pass. In our separation from God we function as independent agents, but it was never intended to be so. We were created for dependence and our soul craves it.


In a few weeks, I will be launching my first online course. The focus will be on experiencing God through a greater awareness of one’s self. It is material I’ve used in many of my in-person courses and retreats. I’m thrilled to be offering it online. Subscribe to our mailing list to received more information as it becomes available.

Find PEACE, Grow Spiritually,

~ lisa

A Challenge to Find PEACE!

Well, in the United States, we’ve just experienced another “orderly and peaceful transfer of power” but was it? Really? I dunno, there is a lot of unrest, confusion, and violence happening all over the country.

I got a message from one of my followers. She asked “Lisa, how can we be at peace in this broken and disturbing world?” I’m with you Rebecca, this has been a troubling time. After some reflection, I decided to act on my belief in PEACE, it’s time to put something helpful out there, on the internet.

In February, I will be hosting a month-long conversation about peace; How to find it. What it is, and isn’t. I want to share some tools and tips, as well as some ideas, and perspectives on things I’ve thought a lot about.

To start the conversation, I want you to share your struggles to finding PEACE.

  • When is PEACE most elusive for you?
  • What situations present you the biggest challenge in finding PEACE?
  • What are your barriers in finding PEACE?

Leave me your responses here, or on my Facebook page, and I will answer via video. The first question, Rebecca’s, will be the first response. You can expect February 1st.

Go ahead, challenge me. I’ve been at this seeking PEACE stuff for some time, I dare you to bring me an issue that I cannot wrestle with and find PEACE, somewhere.

Is finding PEACE hard? Yes, it can be. Is it worth the struggle? Yes, it is. Do not underestimate the value of the struggle, it is evidence you will find an answer.

I look forward to answering your questions and finding PEACE together in February.

PAX

~ lisa

What is Your Legacy?

This idea of LEGACY, keeps circling back to me. It was on my mind during the 3-day weekend celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. and it kept bumping around in my thoughts during the recent Presidential Inauguration and the Women’s March the day after.

Have you ever thought of the legacy you’re leaving behind? I don’t think many of us do. I wonder if great political leaders think on this? Did Martin Luther King, Jr. realize the legacy he left us? I suppose he thought his dream of racial equality would endure, but I wonder what he would think about the redemption of his suffering almost 50 years after his death?

Years ago I had the opportunity to visit his burial site. A stately marble coffin sits dramatically amid a calm reflection pond at his Center for Nonviolent Social Change in Atlanta, Georgia. His headstone marked with: Free at last, Free at last, Thank God Almighty, I’m Free at Last. Powerful words he used in one of his famous speeches, but many people do not know that those words are lyrics from an old Negro Spiritual. I think much of the world has forgotten he was a Christian Pastor and his civil rights movement was motivated by Christian love, all part of his legacy to us.

His story is marked with a strong commitment to non-violence amid horribly violent acts, that ultimately resulted in his murder. As I reflect on his story, some parts are too difficult to imagine. Those close to him felt he knew he wouldn’t live long. I cannot imagine the inner turmoil he must have struggled with.

We all have difficult parts of our story that can inspire others, perhaps not as dramatic as Dr. King’s, but still important. If our stories aren’t shared, the lessons aren’t shared. We must be able to see how our stories plays-out in the larger story of “us.” A big part of this, is knowing yourself, knowing the role you’re playing; the good, the bad and the ugly. What is the story of your life? What is the legacy you’re leaving behind? What struggles have you overcome? What commitments have you made? Have you fought for what is important to you?

If this sparks your imagination, I want to suggest a few books that I have found helpful in my own journey to knowing myself better and telling my story.

The first book, written by Vinita Hampton Wright is The Soul Tells a Story: Engaging Creativity with Spirituality in the Writing Life Designed as a type of creative devotional for writers, the reader is taken to new places of self-discovery and ultimately, God-discovery. Each chapter concludes with “Exercises for a Writer’s Formation.” I found it challenging and well written.

The other book was assigned to me in grad school. Although required reading, I found it helpful as I unraveled some of my childhood assumptions about myself. I suppose that was the professor’s goal. Reclaiming Your Story: Family History and Spiritual Growth by Merle L. Jordan, examines and then skillfully breaks down the tension between the authority of one’s family structure, and Divine authority. There are thoughts for contemplation included in each section. The final chapter entitled, “Renewing Your Spirit by Reauthoring your Childhood Story” maps out an exhaustive list of quasi-therapeutic writing projects.

Don’t be afraid to tell your story. Our stories are the seeds of inspiration for others. I’d love to hear your thoughts and encourage you to tell your story, your legacy. Leave a comment below, or message me on Facebook.

PAX

~ lisa


Here is a collection of Dr. King’s thoughts, in his own words, a beautiful little gem that I’ve had on my bookshelf for over 35 years: The Words of Martin Luther King, Jr.: Second Edition by King, Martin Luther, III, King, Coretta Scott 

#CleanOffYourDeskDay

cleanoffyourdeskdayObserved the second Monday of January, National Clean Off Your Desk Day gives you an opportunity to begin the new year with a clean and organized workspace. Promoters insist that “Having your workspace uncluttered, organized, refreshed and clean will help you work more efficiently and give you a sense of serenity.”

My desk is always a mess, yet, I know where things are. I have piles for different types of work that is grouped by theme; a pile for bills, a pile for taxes, a pile for things to read … so that when I have to deal with an issue, I know which pile to go to. A whole day to clean things off, well … that takes time, and besides I’m proud to boast I have a high “clutter tolerance.”

Although I CAN work this way, I know it isn’t best. When I do take the time to organize my desk, pick up the trash, and move the piles into folders or file drawers it does make things easier. I hate to admit it; but the clutter does impair my productivity.

My soul is the same way; over time, my inner space gets cluttered with unfinished thoughts and situations. Emotional piles of stuff laying all around. I can push through, insisting I’m fine, but this never leads to serenity. No, just like I must take time to clean off my workspace, I need to take time clean up my inner space, to think on things, journal about my feelings, and find some closure or direction.

I have discovered that I don’t have a high “emotional clutter tolerance.” I need regular times of retreat to sort through my internal piles of stuff. In the solitude, I am able to move forward through my inner untidiness.

I use a visual exercise for this type of uncluttering. It’s called “Reflection – Organizing the Past Year” Designed for a retreat, I’ve modified it for use during a simple one-hour time of reflection. As you work the exercise you will create a tangible representation of the past year, getting to organize the piles of your own emotional stuff. I’d love to share it with you. Subscribe to my site by clicking here, and I’ll send it over.

So, my friends, here’s to a new year, full of fresh beginnings. Take the time not only to clean up your workspace but more importantly, make time to uncluttered your heart too.

PAX

~ lisa

Resolve, Yes. But Something More is Needed!

Ok, it’s that time. Time for looking back and figuring out how we’re going to do this thing called life – better. We’ve collectively said we’ll join a gym, eat differently, or give up a bad habit, but we all know how that’s going to end. Experts say that most New Year’s Resolutions will be abandoned by the 17th of January, “Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution Day.”   There’s even a hashtag:  #ditchyournewyearsresolutionday

I don’t buy into the argument that you shouldn’t make a New Year’s Resolution simply because you’ll most likely fail. I think resolutions are good, and self-reflection is a key element of Spiritual Growth. The impulse to make a resolution is right, but something more is needed; a way to make the resolution work! I believe it is a matter of moving those resolutions from the subjective “desire realm” into the objective “reality realm.”

I have adopted living by a Rule of Life as a means to integrate my desires into reality. The idea of a Rule of Life is a very old Christian tradition. The word RULE originally comes from the monastic tradition, and is used to outline a code of life that members of a community agree to follow. Comparing the two words might shed some light on why I think a Rule of Life is helpful.

Resolution, n.
A trait of being resolute. Finding a solution to a problem. A decision to do something or to behave in a certain manner. (Sound familiar?)

Rule, n. 
A principle or condition that customarily governs behavior. Something regarded as a normative example. Prescribed guide for conduct or action.

A rule makes something customary, a resolution is simply making a decision.

Let me give you an example so you can see how I put the principle of Rule of Life into play with something very ordinary. I have always loved my cell phones, and use them a lot. I also drop my cell phones, a lot. About a year ago, I finally purchased one of the biggest, fastest, and most powerful cell phones they make … and yes, I dropped it. I was walking to the car hurriedly and I dropped it, and then I kicked it under the car. I was so furious at myself. It cost a ton of money to fix, and it was very aggravating.

I thought “I must find a way to prevent this from ever happening again.” But, just having the desire NOT to drop my cell phone wasn’t enough. So, I made a rule for myself.

NEVER carry your cell phone in your hand.

It didn’t take me long to keep the rule, because it became part of how I operate. It’s been a long time since I’ve dropped my cell phone, because I never carry it anymore. It is either in my purse or a pocket or tucked away on my person somewhere.

throughwindowHaving a Rule objectifies things. You follow the Rule whether you feel like it or not. There is a Rule that I must stop at all red lights, so I do. There is a Rule that I must wait in line at the grocery store, so I do. I have made a Rule that I don’t carry my cell phone, so I don’t.

We can take the subjective desires behind our New Year’s Resolutions and incorporate them, objectively, into our Rule of Life. I’ve desired more peace in my life, so one thing I’m adding to my Rule of Life this year is to observe a 24-hour period of silence on the first Friday of each month.

Creating a rule isn’t difficult, there are many resources.  I have led many people through the process. Through the years, I have designed a simple worksheet that walks you through the steps. Click here to subscribe to our email list, and I’ll send it to you.

Here’s to a new year, full of new rules to follow – objectify your desires, and you’ll have better results bringing your resolutions to life.

pax,

~ lisa

 

Making Time for PEACE

img_3976So, I’ve been laid off from my job, we’re in full holiday swing, I literally have a hundred things to tend to, so what do I do?

I go on a retreat.

Life has never been as busy as it is now. We thrive on multi-tasking and seek distractions from our distractions. Yet, with all our activities, are we really satisfied? There still seems to be something missing. A longing for something we cannot attain. I think the answer lies in stillness and solitude, and that’s why I retreat.

I’m reminded of the timeless story of Elijah experiencing the presence of God. Beginning in 1 Kings 19:10, God calls out, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Many people think Elijah was seeking God, yet Elijah was hiding, deathly afraid, in an overwhelming situation of great anxiety.

He is told, “Go out there and stand on the mountain before Yahweh.” Elijah then experiences a succession of terrifying events; a mighty wind, an earthquake, and fire. But, Elijah discovers the voice of God is not in all these loud and impressive displays of power. No, the voice of God came as the “sound of a gentle breeze.”

In a world full of distractions, we can hear the quiet voice of God, like Elijah did – but it takes practice. I don’t retreat to escape the world, I retreat to practice listening. So, when I return to the world, I have a greater attunement to God’s voice and to others. I realize not everyone has the luxury of retreating, especially during the holidays, but there are things that one can do to quiet the chaos.

I’ve created a list of my top TEN ideas to finding PEACE this holiday season. I’d love to share this list with you. Click here to submit your email and I’ll send you a copy.

Commit to making a retreat this year!! Even when it makes no sense to do so …

Keep seeking PEACE, it’s there to be found

pax
~ lisa


For information on retreat locations in southern California visit my page “Thin Places.” 
Here is a link to an online national directory of retreat locations: www.retreatfinder.com 

New Season of Being Loved

image#Lent2016
The season arrived a little earlier this year, but I always welcome the discipline of the 40 day journey. Every year I get to “restart” my routines and habits.

This year I’m giving up self-critique. Going to turn my eyes outward and SEE the love and mercy that God is always extending to me.

Heard someone say “We’re better able to love others when we let God love us.” Think I’ll give that a try for the next 40 days.

What are you giving up?

My Computer and My Mind

image‪#‎cleanoutyourcomputerday‬

“Observed on the second Monday in February, this day is set aside to take some time out of your busy schedule to do needed care on your computers.”

I say how about a national day set aside to do needed care in your mind? Our minds, like computers, get clogged up with old files and memories that cause us to stay stuck in the past. We obsess over things we cannot change. Just like my computer, my mind holds on to unused files and programs that clog my memory and distract me.

I’m taking a few minutes today to clear out useless information and memories that are barriers in my pursuit of peace.