Back on the Wagon…for when you’ve been away too long.

It’s been too long since I’ve haunted these pages.  I am sorry.  I do have reasons…good ones…but I promised consistency, didn’t I? And I love this place here that we’ve created together.  A place where I can turn raw sentiment into flowery words; where I can share the things God is teaching me;  where I can ask hard questions and maybe sometimes get answers, but most times just get support. Most of all, a place, where you can find these things too (I hope).  But I haven’t been around much lately….I kind of fell off the wagon, eh?

Charlie and me_ch 13

This is the wagon I hopped on…Captivating Heart 2013

This year’s Captivating Heart was the best yet.  Sixty women from 5 states joined us in Oklahoma for our second year.  We’ve already begun to plan our third- perhaps two events next year.  And, what I’ve found is that there is “Administrative Leader Cari” and “Creative Writer Cari”, but they don’t tend to inhabit the same time and space well.

I did have moments when God’s beauty was just so breathtaking that I wanted to pick up my pen and write…

Like this one…

All photo credits - Brandi Jones

All photo credits – Brandi Jones

and this one…

Photo credit Brandi Jones

Photo credit Brandi Jones

I have long wanted to capture in words what my heart has been learning in real time, but the words don’t come…and the time is short…and I’m real sorry ’bout that.  Now that I am exiting this very busy speaking season, I hope to experience a flurry of writing! I hope to regail you with wise (and maybe even some funny) stories.  So stay tuned…there is so much more to come!

New Life Ranch Chapel, Captivating Heart 2013. Photo credit Brandi Jones

New Life Ranch Chapel, Captivating Heart 2013. Photo credit Brandi Jones

 

Enjoying the fire pit at Captivating Heart 2013

Enjoying the fire pit at Captivating Heart 2013

 

 

Covenant Relationships- Grapes of Friendship

It starts simply.

Friendship, that is. I think folks try to make this complicated.  It’s not.

It’s sometimes scary.

It’s sometimes intimidating.

It’s sometimes really uncomfortable.

But it’s not complicated.  

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Forming a connection is as easy as eating one grape. I get this analogy from my chiropractor who introduced me to this concept several years ago as a way to describe the sure-fire, change-your-life strategy to change your life…gradual, step-wise change.

Yep, I said GRADUAL….which most generally translates to “takes time.”

So it goes like this- add one grape to your daily diet today, each day thereafter add another grape. (The diet advice is free 🙂 )

Today eat your cheeseburger and fries, but eat a grape first.  Tomorrow, eat two before your cheeseburger and fries; the next day three, and then four..until eventually you don’t have room or the desire to eat the greasy stuff anymore.  

Developing connection, a crucial step in the process of building covenant relationship, is like eating one grape.  Today a connection starts by a simple, “Me, too.” The hard part is speaking up- putting yourself out there and LITTLE BY LITTLE opening up to another human being.  Start with the ‘small talk’ and work your way into deep conversations.  It takes time to build deeply connected relationships, but they are so worth it.

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What? You, too? I thought I was the only one.’ “

– C.S. Lewis


Five Minute Friday- Goodbye

 

On Fridays around these parts we stop, drop, and write.

For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.

Won’t you join us?

Here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link backhere and invite others to join in.

3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

Today’s prompt is:  Goodbye

Ready? GO!

Today I say, “Goodbye.”

I say goodbye to words spoken out loud, to external processing, to kiddo belly laughs in the living room and begging puppy barks for apples sticky wrapped in peanut butter.  I say goodbye to television and Facebook, and *gasp* my cell phone.  I say goodbye to the neverending noise that I steep my life in.

But only for a little while….I’ll be back soon.

This afternoon, at 3 pm sharp, I will enter into a time of silence with 14 other retreatants.  For three days we will give each other the gift of a community of silence.  Silent, but not alone.

I am excited and I am TERRIFIED.

After all the hustle and bustle of the last two months and the deep community with my church last week, I am already feeling the effects of withdrawal…the sudden margin in my life has left me reeling…a little sad….and jones-ing for another hit of constant togetherness.

But today I say “goodbye” to my earthly community to say “hello” to my God.

I have spent intentional time in silence and prayer before, but never this long.  There are great things moving and swirling around me, and I desperately seek the center of God’s Will.  Will you pray for me this weekend?

STOP!

Listening to the Heart

3. I will listen for my friend’s heart more than her talk. I will not be afraid to listen to her struggles.

“As water reflects a face, so a man’s heart reflects the man.”

– Proverbs 27:19 (NIV)

 

Communication goes well beyond what we say with our words.

Research shows that when we are under stress, less than seven percent of our communication comes from our words. The rest of the communication cues we send out come from our tone (38%) and our body language (55%).

How often have you had a conversation with someone close to you and, despite the fact that everything she was saying to you was upbeat, you knew something was wrong? Did you know that our brains are set to scan systematically the people we talk with for visual, auditory and tactile cues to establish trustworthiness?  We automatically sense and register when someone’s words don’t match what the rest of that person is saying.

That’s because God created us to communicate through many more avenues than just the spoken word. Much of the meaning of our verbal communication is expressed beyond our words, through body language. Through our bodily posture, motion, countenance, gestures, tone and volume of voice, we express feelings that words may fail to reveal. Our eyes and ears are consistently scanning situations for incongruity between the words that are being spoken and the message that is being sent by the heart.

When you are listening to your friend, listen with more than your ears. Engage your eyes and other senses, and trust your intuition when you feel something is off. This part is not difficult. God designed us to connect to one another this way-to “click in” with each other and understand one another from a place beyond the physical – from our hearts. We each have this ability and do it every day.

The hard part, the part we run from, is the next step.

Once we sense this incongruity, we must reach beyond our safe cocoon of indifference to extend support to our friend. This can be as simple as asking “Are you ok?” and being prepared to hold your ground if floodgates open and emotional issues come up.

In her poem, “The Invitation,” Oriah Mountain Dreamer writes:

It doesn’t interest me who you know

Or how you came to be here.

I want to know if you will stand

In the center of the fire

With me

And not shrink back.

That sums it up, doesn’t it?

Are you willing to:

1) ask the question when you know the answer might take time to wade through,

and

2) stand at the center of the fire and not be afraid of what you might see when the mask comes off and someone’s heart is revealed?

Don’t be afraid to listen to your friend’s struggles.

Next time you are in conversation with a friend, ask her specifically, “What’s challenging you right now?” Don’t push, just listen and provide support unless and until she asks for help.

“The love of our neighbor in all its fullness simply means being able to say, ‘What are you going through?’”

– Simone Weil

The preceding was a excerpt from the book Living Life with Strings Attached.  

Loving the Church Remix

I originally posted this back in Oct of last year…it seems, however, the more people I talk to, the more discontent the neuvo-Christian world seems to be with the Church.  Do you want to know what I think God says about our discontent with the gossip in the next pew, or the number of hymns sung in the contemporary service, or the Bible passage that was preached on in the sermon this week? I think He says, “Go anyway. Love anyway. Connect anyway.” With that in mind, I think this is an appropriate repost… 

 “Loving the Church often seems close to impossible. Still, we must keep reminding ourselves that all people in the Church – whether powerful or powerless, conservative or progressive, tolerant or fanatic – belong to that long line of witnesses moving through this valley of tears, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, listening to the voice of their Lord, and eating together from the bread that keeps multiplying as it is shared. When we remember that, we may be able to say, “I love the Church, and I am glad to belong to it.

Loving the Church is our sacred duty. Without a true love for the Church, we cannot live in it in joy and peace. And without a true love for the Church, we cannot call people to it.” – Henri Nouwen

We are imperfect reflections of God’s love and grace.  Put a lot of us together in one body and the result can be A LOT of imperfection and A VERY LITTLE reflection of God.  But this is what we are called to.  To love, to be gracious, and to gather together- with all our good, bad and ugliness. When we are obedient to this duty, God takes all our strengths and weaknesses and uses them for His good, for His beauty.  It’s only together that we can truly reflect God’s grace and love.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

– Hebrews 10:25

Have you been forsaking the sacred duty of loving the Church? Do you have Church wounds that need to be healed? Can we pray for you?




Five Minute Friday- If You Met Me

“Got five minutes? Let’s write. Let’s write in shades of real and true and unscripted.
Let’s just write and not worry if it’s just right or not.”- Lisa-Jo

GO

If you met me, you might be taken aback by my propensity for hugging…even strangers…right away…I’m from the South, you know? I’d like to think it’s what we do.

We would sit and talk and I would gesture wildly with my hands (I do that when I get really excited…who am I kidding…I just do that.) You might even wonder (as most of my friends do at some point) if I could form sentences without waving my hands about erratically…ummmm….the answer is no.

If you met me we would talk about kids and life and crazy busy workdays and following dreams and living with passion. We would talk about offering every moment as worship worthy of God the Creator of the Universe and Lord of my life. We would talk about making deep connections and how to foster those in the age of Facebook and sitting safely behind a one-way window to the world.

If you met me you might love me, until I put my foot in my mouth or challenged you for an answer on some deeply held belief. I hope you would still love me after I offered a quirky apology for stepping on your heart.

If you met me I would try to understand and view the world through the same lens you do, if for just a little while….striving to understand the world from as many perspectives as possible while holding true to my own.

If you met me we would eat…something wildly healthy, of course, like gluten free vegan lasagna or quinoa with roasted brussel sprouts and pine nuts and then feast our senses on a decadent dessert made with rich chocolate…

If you met me, I pray you would tell me your story and you would hear mine…because that’s really what life is all about anyway.

STOP

I’m linking up with Lisa-Jo over at thegypsymama.com for    five-minute friday. Why don’t you join us? There’s a giveaway involved. 🙂

Loving the Church

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Loving the Church often seems close to impossible. Still, we must keep reminding ourselves that all people in the Church – whether powerful or powerless, conservative or progressive, tolerant or fanatic – belong to that long line of witnesses moving through this valley of tears, singing songs of praise and thanksgiving, listening to the voice of their Lord, and eating together from the bread that keeps multiplying as it is shared. When we remember that, we may be able to say, “I love the Church, and I am glad to belong to it.
Loving the Church is our sacred duty. Without a true love for the Church, we cannot live in it in joy and peace. And without a true love for the Church, we cannot call people to it.” – Henri Nouwen

 

We are imperfect reflections of God’s love and grace.  Put a lot of us together in one body and the result can be A LOT of imperfection and A VERY LITTLE reflection of God.  But this is what we are called to.  To love, to be gracious, and to gather together- with all our good, bad and ugliness. When we are obedient to this duty, God takes all our strengths and weaknesses and uses them for His good, for His beauty.  It’s only together that we can truly reflect God’s grace and love.

Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

– Hebrews 10:25

Have you been forsaking the sacred duty of loving the Church? Do you have Church wounds that need to be healed? Can we pray for you?