Category: thoughts

It’s Not Even Thanksgiving!

Over the summer I took on a part-time retail job. The benefits are great, and honestly, I’m enjoying the diverse nature of humanity that crosses my register. I haven’t worked retail since I was a teenager. I’m having fun.

Working retail has also forced me to deal with something – the all too early push of the holiday season. In my shop we put up a quaint recycled cardboard Christmas tree on Halloween! November 1, we were selling Christmas Tree ornaments and yummy treats destined gifts for teachers and stockings.

Our Pandora playlist hasn’t served up any Christmas songs – yet – but I’m sure it won’t be long before it does. Through this all, I’ve been musing

“What if I let Christmas come early?”

What if I let go of my judgmental seasonal attitude and embraced on onslaught of Holiday commercialism geared toward my world? What if I let Christmas come early?

I guess there are theological implications for an early Christmas, and the dangers of not being prepared. But, what is wrong with anticipating the joyous birth of Christ a month [or two] earlier?

Historically, we all moved into Christmas together through the “Advent” season, giving proper attention to all the “in-between” thoughts and implications. But now we live in a world saturated with immediate gratification, all that “waiting stuff” is seen as passé. Even to many Christians.

Can we force waiting on a culture that doesn’t see the value in it? Probably not. And still I wonder, can we do both? Can we enjoy the earliness and still appreciate the value in waiting?

I’m not sure, but I’m going to give it a try.

I looked at the calendar this morning, and it’s only SIX weeks until Christmas is here.

So, I’ve decided to set aside my cranky desires for the world around me to WAIT until the proper time to celebrate Christmas.

I’m going to adopt a cheerful attitude.

I’m going to say, “Merry Christmas” as soon as I hear the first Christmas carol over Pandora.

I’m going to be thankful that I still live in a world where I can celebrate the birth of Christ in an open and public way.

Want to join me in this experiment?  I think it will be interesting to discover what happens.



Happy Feast Day of St. Benedict

I’m a huge fan of St. Benedict! That’s a picture of me in front of the ancient arch way of his Abbey in Montecassino, Italy. I visited in 2006. It was amazing. Their website is amazing too:

I’ve studied and tried to live by the tenants of Benedictine Spirituality for over 13 years. It has changed me, my understanding of God’s expansiveness, and finely tuned my awareness of His constant presence.

His famous “Rule” became the foundation of western monastic life. Based on the teachings found in the Gospels, it is still a powerful code of living.

“Listen,” is the first word of the Rule. Listening is a lost art in this age of information. We think we listen, we certainly “hear” a lot of stuff, but hearing isn’t listening.

We need to spend more time listening to God, to one another, and to our own inner voice. I believe that listening is the beginning of humility. Take a minute a think on that idea … a simple idea for a complex time.

To celebrate his special day, I thought I’d come clean about the beginnings of my association with the Benedictine way of life. If you’re curious, you can read more here. Confessions of a Benedictine Oblate.

Last week I received confirmation that in 2018, I will be leading two weekend retreats and three Saturday retreats at St. Andrew’s Benedictine Abbey in Valyermo, California. More information to be released on that in September. I hope you’ll find some time to join me in this amazing place.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Benedictine Way of life, I’ve got some great book recommendations here.

I hope you are enjoying your summer, it sure is beautiful outside. Keep your eyes up and your ears open, God longs to speak with you.

~ lisa

Threadbare Words – LOVE

My earliest memory of the word LOVE, is listening to my mother sing along with singer/song writer, Jackie DeShannon. “What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. It the only thing that there’s just too little of. What the world needs now, is love, sweet love. No, not just for some, but for everyone.”

This song, released in the mid-60s, was a plea for something that was missing in the culture –love. The United States had just become involved in the Vietnam War, then Robert Kennedy was assassinated. This song became a sort of audio vigil for a country shaken by political violence. A Los Angeles radio station played the song again and again for over 24 hours. It was an old-school “social media” instrument that pulled a mourning country together.

That tragedy, and a whole generation, confronted our country for its lack of love. I believe we still need to be confronted for our lack of love, because the whole world is crying out for want of it!

Not the mushy, emotional, thing we think is love. The thing that demands, “Be this way, or that way. Be what I need, so I can love you.” No, what the world needs is real love, love that has no demands, makes no claims, and is marked by an outward focus.

The meaning of real love, or agapé, as the Greeks called it, encompasses the attributes of acceptance, equality, tolerance, and respect, yet is uniquely focused on the other. Love does not demand these things for itself, it extends them to the other. In its highest expression, true love is selfless love.

Thinking more about the needs of the other person elicits a change in me. As I begin to release my expectations of who the other person should be, accepting them as they are, I am able to really love them.

After all, this is how I want to be loved, as I am. Isn’t this the way God loves us? With. Out. Condition.

Yes, we should always strive to be the best version of ourselves, but love needs to be expressed along that process. The greatest gift you can give someone is to love them as they are, not as you think they should be.

Everyone loses as we continue to tout the importance of personal preferences, and promote the good of the individual, over the good of the whole.

What the world needs now is love, sweet love. But love that is extended, through acceptance, equality, tolerance, and respect. And this love is not just for some, but for everyone.

Threadbare Words is a series of pieces exploring thin, worn-out words. The idea is to examine their real meaning, consider their overuse and, finally take a fresh look at them through the filter of a 21st century mind to discern if they’re still relevant.

If you are enjoying this series, please spread the love, and share on your social media channels with the links below.

Threadbare Words

I don’t know about you, but I think we overuse many “spiritual words.” Words like HOLY, JOY, or BLESSED.

In attempts to demonstrate our faith, we’ve depended on spiritual jargon to tell who we are and what we believe.

With overuse, so many of those words have lost their power, and honestly, most people don’t really know what they mean anymore.

In May, I’d like to take those thin, worn-out words and see if we can put new flesh on them.

I want to examine their real meaning, consider their overuse and, finally take a fresh look at them through the filter of a 21st century mind to discern if they’re still relevant.

I think I’ll begin with the word HOPE.

Email me a word you’d like me to explore! Or jump on over to my Facebook page and join the conversation:

Stop Dismissing Your Struggles

In my work as a Spiritual Director, I am trusted with the details of people’s struggles. I am often surprised when I hear people dismiss their struggles by saying:

“Oh, first world problems.”

I’m not sure why this term applies. I mean, okay, really if you’re just complaining about something trivial, I get it. But, often there is more going on beneath the surface and it’s really best not to dismiss it.

Third world people may struggle for the want of clean water or a simple medication to fight an infection. First world people may struggle to find balance with a corporate work load, to be attentive to their family or friends.

On a scale where, one suffering is compared to another suffering, there is a level of severity that can be measured, yet stripped of this measure BOTH struggles touch something internally. Both struggles have value in their context. Both struggles are catalysts for seeking and trusting God.

Let’s compare two Gospel stories where Christ encounters people with struggles: the woman with the issue of blood, and the rich young ruler. These could be seen as third world, and first world, problems.

The woman is weak and an outcast. Anyone who has contact with her becomes “unclean.” Her chronic bleeding isolates her from community life and worship.

The rich young ruler, on the other hand, follows the Law and lives in comfort. Yet, he is uncertain that his life choices will bring about eternal life.

Her plea to Christ, “My life is unbearable! Heal me!”

His plea to Christ, “My life is unbearable! Give me assurance of eternal life!”

What is Christ’s response to the woman? He commends her courage and the risks she took in seeking an answer to her struggle. Then Christ heals her. “My daughter, your faith has restored you to health, go in peace.”

What is Christ’s response to the rich young man? Does he judge him and chastise his struggle? “Young man, get over it! First world problems! Suck it up and be grateful? You know I just healed a woman in the next town who has been bleeding for 12 years. Who are you to complain and moan about your self-centered, inner yearnings for the assurance of your salvation?”

No, Christ does not minimize or pass judgment on the young man’s struggle. He does not compare the severity of his pain to the pain of others. No, Christ meets this young man where he finds him. He treats him with dignity and validates his pain. Then, in love, Christ provides an answer to the young man’s struggle. Perhaps not the answer he was hoping for, but an answer none the less.

We all hurt the same. If you dismiss your pain, you also dismiss the power of the Holy Spirit to work in it, to strengthen you internally. Don’t wallow in self-pity, allow God to use whatever struggle you have to help you understand yourself and move you forward on your journey.

We are eternal beings working out eternal longings. In this life, the irritating agent of our struggles maybe as different as the desire for clean water, or the desire for confidence in life choices, but all your struggles will work for your good, if you let them.

Do you need some help moving past a struggle? Spiritual Direction can help with this movement. Click here to learn more about Spiritual Direction and how it can help you. 


Superbowl Predictions

Superbowl LI is coming and many experts are making their predictions. As an expert in my field, spiritual growth, I want to offer my prediction as well.*

The Patriots are favored to win. How could they not be, as their quarterback is a four-time Superbowl winner. However, I’m going with the Atlanta Falcons. It’s a matter of loyalties, well, the loyalties of the team mascots, I mean.

Patriots are defined as a group, loyal to their country. They will vigorously support it and are prepared to defend it against enemies. Generally speaking Patriots are tied to land, it’s about a connection to something they’re a part of. Their association speaks of familial and historical connections.

Falcons are predatory birds, loyal to their trainer or “Falconer” as they are called. These birds are taught to hunt and are one of the fastest birds in flight, being timed at speeds over 200 MPH. They aren’t picky eaters, if they can see prey, and catch the prey, they will eat it, whatever it is.

The word Patriot has its roots in the Greek word for father, patēr. So the word, Patriot, actually makes a connection to something of the father, as in the “Fatherland.”

The real name of the Atlanta mascot is Falco Peregrinus – which is what falconers call them, peregrines. The word peregrine, found in Middle English from Latin, per- ‘through’ + ‘ager ‘field.’ As in traveling through a field, or wandering, a pilgrim.

Although Patriots show allegiance to a land in relation to the Father, selecting them to win is tempting, but I must go with the underdogs, the Falco Peregrinus.

A patriotic loyalty to one’s country is important, but like the Falcon, my loyalty belongs to one Person, not a country. I am not tied to the things of this world, I am just passing through.

Enjoy your Sunday,

~ lisa

* Please note, during your reading of this prediction be advised that, gambling is an entertainment vehicle, and with it carries a certain degree of financial risk. One should be aware of this risk, and govern themselves accordingly.
Thank You.

Enjoy this slow-motion video clip of a peregrine in flight from BBC Earth Unplugged.

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.


~ 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 

New Season of Being Loved

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?

blue into gold

blue-gold-cropI have often marveled at how both gold and blue can exist in the same sky. Anytime I have attempted to replicate this mystery with watercolors, my blues mix with the gold and annoying green invades the space.

I feel like I need lines to keep the hues apart. No green invading, merely the gold transitioning into blue. I’m not sure how God keeps the colors from mixing in the evening sky, probably there’s a scientific explanation … but could it simply be — he needed no lines, no limits for his work. He can do whatever he likes. He isn’t limited like I am attempting to prevent green when blue touches gold. And I wonder, is his work in my life like this too?

I struggle to replicate (poorly) what he produces with ease. I seek lines and boundaries for influences that would bring an undesired result into my life. He is able to achieve perfection with those undesired influences and it appears, without the struggle. There are no boundaries for him.

Perhaps then I am to watch, and be a part of his perfection and not attempt to copy it. I struggle to control, perhaps I should just reflect. Perhaps the issue is the materials I’m using, perhaps he’s just God and I am not.

God Works in His Time

pocket-watch“God works in His time” the priest declared, yet I will add to his declaration –

“God works outside of time.”

Our clocks and expectations mean little or nothing to him.

God is not constrained by time or our expectations.

The truth is – our prayers and pleadings are for us.

They whittle at our stubborn hearts, breaking down our obstinate wills into small, dust like particles, so that eventually there is nothing left to desire, but only what God desires. And although his desires are often “best” they are often the most painful things to accept.

Although the assertion “God works in his time” may bring us a measure of comfort, it is a small consolation.

The real comfort comes in embracing the truth – “God works.”

… from the Cloud of Unknowing

God, the Master of time never gives the future.
He only gives the present, moment by moment.
For this is the law of the created order
and God will not contradict himself in His creation.
Time is for man, not man for time.