Category: Uncategorized


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.


~ lisa

Next Christmas Give Yourself a Gift

Curious this week to visit a local bookseller and see an eye-catching journal type thing titled “Letters to Future Myself: Write Now, Read Later.” Very cleverly designed, it was a group of envelopes bound together in an actual book. Each envelope had instructions on it for writing different letters to yourself; “Where I want to go…” “These are my roots…” “It was an extraordinary day…” Once the letters are written you are to seal them in the envelopes and open sometime in the future. The title tag line said “a paper time capsule.” Priced at just under $15, it felt nice in my hands.

yourself-giftI didn’t end up buying the book. Although impressed by the idea, I was somewhat disappointed that I hadn’t created it, you see, I’ve used this concept of writing a “Letter to Yourself” for years; both in my retreats and with people I’ve mentored. The instructions for my letters are a little different; “Where am I today on my spiritual Journey…” or “What new discipline would I like adopt this season …” or “What I’ll do differently next Lent …”

Not having a cleverly produced book, I simply have the participants self-address an envelope and seal up their private letters. I have a special place at my workspace where I keep the letters and I mail them out a year later. It is a great exercise and one that never fails to surprise. It is amazing to read your own words, written to yourself, in your own handwriting. Hindsight is an interesting gift. Having that ability to reflect on how you were feeling, and compare it to how things actually unfolded.

I thought it would be fun to share this idea with you. We don’t need the clever journal, just some paper and an envelope.

Before you begin, take a minute and think on your hopes and aspirations for the next year. Think also on the uncertainties the next season will bring. Maybe you have fears and anxiety about an unresolved issue? Maybe something special is going to happen this year? Whatever is going on, capture your thoughts, ideas, and feelings as they are – today.

Now, as you write your letter to your future self, be encouraging.

Encouragement is important to our mindset and to inner peace. Deep within each of us is the desire to have someone say, “You’ll figure this out.” “You’ll get through this.” Be that person and say encouraging things to your future self.

Because we’re doing this virtually, I can’t offer to hold your letter at my desk until next year. So, I had a thought, as you clean up your Christmas decorations, tuck your “Letter to My Future Self” in a box. You’ll discover it next year around this time. I know you’ll find those encouraging words, from yourself, in your handwriting, a welcome gift.

Mine will begin something like this, Dear Future Lisa, Surely, 2017 won’t be as difficult as 2016! I know you’re worried about …

Drop me an email or leave a comment here if you’re going to write a letter to yourself. I’ll make a note in my calendar so that I’ll remember next year to ask you about it. If you’ve worked with me before, you know I will.

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

~ 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: 

A is for Attitude, not Aptitude

A is for Attitude

When I talk about Spiritual Growth I’m always surprised at how many people say they don’t possess the aptitude for this type of endeavor. Some say they’ve tried many “self-improvement” régimes already. Some will claim to be extroverted and don’t believe they could be quiet enough for introspection or growth. Many people think Spiritual Growth is too complex to be understood. That Spiritual Growth is better suited for people like Thomas Merton or Henri Nouwen. Wrong, wrong, and more wrong.

The truth is we are ALL on a spiritual journey. For some the journey is of change and growth, for others the journey is of sameness and eventual stagnation. The question is not are you able to grow spiritually, but do you want to grow spiritually?

Are you willing to try things outside your comfort zone? Are you willing to set aside your assumptions about yourself, and others? Are you willing to admit that you are not the source of all knowledge? … of all wisdom? Are you willing to let go and try something new in order to grow?

What is required for growth? A seed already contains within itself all the information needed to mature into a tree. Yet the seed needs something outside of itself for growth to actually occur; water, nourishment, and sunshine. These are things the seed cannot supply itself. It is the same for Spiritual Growth. Deep inside each of us we are already have all the information needed to grow into our true self. But for that self to grow it also must be supplied with things it does not have; water, nourishment, and sunshine … of a different type.

During April I plan to share a whole alphabet full of ideas, tips, and tools for the Spiritual Journey. I hope you’ll join me and try a few of my suggestions. Don’t be afraid, don’t judge your aptitude, simply adjust your attitude and begin.

It’s been almost 30 years since I made this type of adjustment in my own attitude about my Spiritual Journey. Paradoxically, I have experienced great freedom in admitting that I needed something else – something outside of myself. As I adjusted my attitude and tried new things, growth happened. Although the change has been dramatic, I haven’t become a different person. I’ve simply become more of who I always intended to be – me.

Thought prompts are intend to give you ideas that will help you reflect on your spiritual journey in new and fruitful ways.  Feel free to share your responses in the comment box below each post or send me an email.

Thought Prompts: A – Attitude, not Aptitude

  1. What efforts have you already attempted for growth in your Spiritual Journey? Did they produce growth? Why or why not?
  2. What are your thoughts about the idea of having a “true self”? Are you acquainted with this part of yourself?
  3. After spending a few minutes thinking on your spiritual journey thus far, what word or phrase would describe your current state? Share your word below in the comment section if you are inclined.In Spiritual Growth

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?

My Computer and My Mind


“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. 

the wood’s grain

crucifixSometimes in the fall, when the afternoon sunlight is just right you can see the grain of the wood in the body on the large crucifix over the altar at church. I marvel at how the grain matches the pattern of the muscles it fills; concentric shadows and layers repeat the shape. I wonder at how the wood feels about being used for such a precious form; conveying the love of God to those who look upon the image.

My modern mind mocks me for a minute; as if wood had feelings. Then I recall the psalm that reminds me that all creation praises God and shows forth the truth of him. Nature cannot help but convey God, for it has no free-will. It does what it was created to do.

I on the other hand struggle to know what I was created for.

My free-will gets in the way. The very gift of choice has the potential to prevent me from fulfilling all that God has intended me to become. I was created to be an image bearer; bearing his image to a lost and dying world. I want people to see the grain of my wood, the inner marks that are only visible when the surface is scratched, shaped or polished.

Lord, help me be open to your shaping so that when the light hits me just right others might see the concentric layers of what is inside me. Without you I am as shapeless as I am aimless, unbounded, out of control. Give me your shape. Mold me with a firm gentleness, so that I will know and others will see the very thing that gives me shape and animates me  – you.

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.