Thrive

Two Books, One “Problem”

So a couple weeks ago I mentioned the nonfiction book Godspace. I’ve also been reading Thrive and it has been interesting to me how many overlapping themes both books have covered. The two books are written from two very different perspectives with different goals and in many ways are not the same at all.

Thrive

The author of Thrive is the cofounder of the Huffington Post and a highly successful business women in today’s culture. She was inspired to write this book asking us to consider (and re-consider) our culture’s definition of success and the impact it has on our “true” success. She explores an alternative definition, success based on more than money and power, encouraging readers to get sleep, unplug, and give to others. 

Same Difference

Here is one common theme – the importance of self-care, as distinguished and equally necessary to pouring out. The question: How do we define success?

Both authors shared from both their experience of culture and their own personal lives. Both were passionate about what they wrote and backed up their stories and ideas with outside perspectives.

A Second Revolution

I enjoyed the many and diverse quotes sprinkled throughout Thrive, including those of a more classical tradition. Huffington is of Greek ancestry and also shares about the important people in her life, especially her mother, sister and daughters. She says that it is going to be the WOMEN in our world who primarily lead the revolution for us to SLOW DOWN and to REDEFINE what really matters. She suggests that the first women’s liberation movement was just that – the “first” – and that now a second is needed.

Recommend

I did not agree with everything Huffington wrote, but I found her writing intelligent, her perspective on culture spot on and her candor refreshing. If you are looking for a perspective that challenges the status quo (and simultaneously reflects everything about it), give this book a read. The questions raised in both books are good ones, even if the solutions are only partially shared.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the ideas discussed in either book!!

Opinions, part 2

I wrote Opinions, part 1 because people’s opinions have felt weighty lately. People’s voices have felt louder than they should, in a way that they haven’t since that dismantling years ago. I wonder what God is up to.

One thing I learned before was that feeling as I am now was an indicator that I needed to withdraw from people and spend time with my Father. I learned that his voice was easier to discern in the quiet, and I grew to love the silence and the stillness. I learned how to fight to preserve this time as necessary for my soul. As a way to refuel so that I would be equipped to love others.

Something interesting happened as I began to experience freedom from the weight of people’s opinions. I became less self-trusting, and more self-confident at the same time. I knew my tendency, and as I spent time listening to God, I was more sure of how to listen and respond to people. I was able to wade through opportunities with freedom, confidence and joy.

When Jeremy and I got married, our separate, large communities began to feel like more than we could keep up with and we similarly felt the need to withdraw. We needed to spend time together and with the Father, building a foundation. Looking back, I feel like it was a gift, almost like the Father covered my ears with his hands so I didn’t even have the option of discerning opportunities.

As we have been drawn back into shared community more recently, I have felt the din of the crowd growing louder. And not just in community, but everywhere – at work, with family, old friends, new neighbors. My instinct is to withdraw, to assume I must have forgotten to spend time with my Father. I must need some quiet.

But I feel Him calling me into something different this time, and I’m perplexed. Am I hearing Him right? I feel like He is asking me to listen, to engage, to hear them. To be sure enough that He is leading me that I’m able to wade through opportunities and to discern to what and in what way to respond.

I don’t like it! I’m afraid I will give people’s opinions too much weight. That their voices will drown out His, and that I will be back on the roller coaster. It’s not that I haven’t struggled with this since, I have, I do. It’s something I keep coming back too, but now it almost feels like He is asking me to “get on board” and trust that He will be with me.

I wonder if He is reminding me of my struggle, making it feel fresh, so that I can relate to some women in my life who are learning similar lessons now. I wonder if it’s so I can right about it so others can read it. Or I wonder if it is His voice at all…

Am I trying to do more than He is calling me to? Am I doing what others want? What I want? What He wants? Or is all this simply a reminder to seek Him…

P.S. As mentioned last week, I wrote this post awhile back, and at the time was feeling “in the thick of it.” More recently, particularly, the last month or so, I’ve felt the call  to rest once again and enjoyed opportunity to do so. Interesting how God works, isn’t it? 

Opinions

I wrote this post last winter about circumstances which took place 6-8 years ago.

For most of my life, I have cared TOO MUCH about what other people were thinking of me. First, I made assumptions that I knew what they were thinking or that they were thinking of me, and secondly, I assumed (most of) these thoughts were critical. Maybe these assumptions reflect more what I was thinking of others than any accuracy of others’ thoughts!

I came face-to-face with my own approval addiction at age 27, and it was a dismantling that I found devastating. I began to see, for the first time, how my thoughts were my choice and how I was continually choosing to give people more weight than they could handle. My expectations were high, and while I had always ridden a roller coaster in light of my performance and others’ approval (or lack thereof), I began to see that I was choosing to “get on board.” I also began to experience a lack of approval from many different directions all at the same time.

I entered what I would say was possibly a bit of depression. I stopped caring about everything and didn’t know who I was anymore. During this time, I moved into my pastor’s family’s basement because I knew I needed people to speak truth to me. It was mostly awful… until it wasn’t.

My family was worried about me because they didn’t understand how someone who had always known she was a sinner could suddenly be discouraged by it. What had changed? Why was I dwelling on the bad news when there was more to the story? But you see, the good news isn’t really good until you know how desperately you need it.

As I began to experience the depth of my sin for the first time, I felt its’ despair, heaviness, hopelessness. I knew grace was undeserved, and I was in the midst of experiencing my sin being “worse than I knew.” All during this time, my pastor’s family and others around me spoke truth. I heard what they were saying and I watched how they lived.

They didn’t care for people in the way that I had always perceived care. They weren’t warm, placating or affectionate. In short, they weren’t trying to “make me feel better!” But I knew they cared about my soul. Like in a deep, “I-don’t-even-know-if-I-want-people-to-care-about-me-that-much” kind of way. It was uncomfortable, frustrating, and frightening because it challenged everything I knew.

I also made some dear friends during this time because unbeknownst to us, we were experiencing the same dismantling of our worlds. They were the ones who were in the trenches beside me, trying to make sense of what was happening. Together, we were trying to find ourselves, or perhaps trying not to lose ourselves.

It took a couple of years, this process of my kingdom crashing down and God’s truth actually becoming good news. I’m not exactly sure how or when it happened, but I know that it did, and I know that people were part of the process. A few years later, I visited a handful of people who I wanted to thank for their role in my process, and I was able to declare: God is good! and really mean it.

GodSpace

One of my favorite authors has a new book out!

I was especially pumped about GodSpace before reading it because it promised to include topics that Keri Wyatt Kent has written about previously, in books which have challenged and encouraged me, while expanding in new directions.

Topics such as: Sabbath, Hospitality, Worship, Simplicity, Gratitude, Generosity, and Critical Thinking.

I was especially curious to see the big picture of how creating space for God connects to each of these topics from her perspective – years spent living and writing – knowing that I am particularly passionate about this concept and some of it’s implications.

I started reading GodSpace over the break, and I have not been disappointed!

It reaffirmed ideas I’m particularly passionate about in ways that encourage me to pursue living, reading and writing in a way that is unique to me. It also fleshed out inherent challenges in each of the topics presented, many of which I have or am wrestling with, and thus, also serves as a reminder that all of life is a journey. I appreciated hearing from someone who agrees spiritual practices are worth writing about, and who has gifts that are both similar and distinct from mine.

Highly recommend!

That’s a (Rest) wrap!

Last week wrapped up our series on Rest. If you missed a week, here are all of the posts in one place for your convenience.

How was this topic for you? Share with us what has been encouraging, challenging, etc.

Spirit-led Sabbath (Ch. 7)

You’ve heard the phrase “Love God, Love people”? This final chapter of the book Rest reminded me of that concept. It’s entitled “Prayer,” and I interpreted the big picture idea as “let the Spirit superintend Sabbath.” After all, anything we do without Him can’t be about Him.

In what ways is God calling you to connect regularly with Himself?

Where is He reminding you that you are part of a people?

Sabbath is an opportunity to let go of whatever our cares are – work, movement, noise, others, self – and to remember that God is in charge of all of it. Makes sense that to be led about anything spiritual, we first seek the Spirit. Pray to the Lord of the Sabbath about how He wants you to use each and every day He gives, and then praying about how He wants you to use the Sabbath will be a natural overflow.

I challenge us to do that every day, and see if rest comes because I think one question practicing Sabbath asks us is:

Will we trust the one who is Rest to provide rest when we need it?

Will we trust Him enough to not do “whatever we could do” and to instead just be ourselves, however that looks for us?

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 7 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. If you enjoyed this series, you might also enjoy Keri’s book Breathe.

 

 

Two Women on Ministry & Culture

Hey Ladies.

I wanted to share two resources with you today.

One, if you or someone you know leads a small team and would like to hear from everyone about their experience this past year this questionnaire from Beth Moore may be helpful.

 Use it, adapt it, share it.

Then read this:

Two, this is a great article from Ann Voskamp about standing strong as women in the midst of a comparative culture.

 

Rest can mean fun too! (Ch. 6)

What comes to mind when you hear the word “rest“?

I’ve noticed when I use the word “rest,” some people think I mean “be bored, do nothing.” One thing I love about this Rest book is that it shows a variety of aspects of what rest looks like. It might surprise to know this chapter is all about playing.

A key part of resting is recreating, and this can be good for your body and mind. Kent describes two Greek words for time which is interesting because we only have one! I found the distinction helpful as she asks what are those things you do that make you lose track of time. That idea is separate from recording what time has passed. Kind of like the difference between a historical timeline and an artist spending an afternoon on an unexpected project.

Another aspect of this book I appreciate is that it is practical. Kent encourages us to consider finances and seasons as we make decisions about Sabbath. What might “play” look like for you right now as we transition from fall to winter?

Which activities do you personally find enjoyable in a soul refreshing way?

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 6 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 7  !

Giving

There are so many opportunities to give this time of year.

How do you decide what and to whom to give?

I long to be generous, yet also a good steward.

2 Corinthians 9:7 says “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart”

There is beauty in that – we all care about different things.

There is challenge in that – none of us can rely on our hearts to be pure.

How can we help each other dialogue about giving? What are some organizations you’d like to invite others into? Perhaps some ways you can give that require more time or service than money? What are your favorite gifts to give? to receive?

 

 

Pause & Breathe! (Ch. 5)

So we’ve talked quite a bit about the idea of a weekly rhythm, but Chapter 5 focuses more on how each day connects to that idea. What are your daily rhythms?  Where are the moments that you feel anxious?

Sometimes, as people, Kent reminds us that we need to pause and intentionally breath. I have seen this in a few places around me lately and it’s kind of amazing how much that simple act can have on a moment. Have you ever found yourself having a stressful day at the office, or in the middle of a yoga pose, when suddenly you realize you forgot to breath? Or at least to breath deeply in a way that is unhurried, unrushed.

I love this reminder because it is so do-able! Wherever you are, whenever you need to, you are free to stop at least for one, two, three deep breaths. Close your eyes, and then see if the situation looks different.

In preschool last week, we talked about what to do when we are feeling sad, angry, etc. The idea of placing your hand on your stomach, telling your body to calm down, breathing deeply and counting out loud was a great reminder for teachers as well as students. Sometimes we just need permission to pause.

Kent also discusses how Sabbath can be a break from the constant go of our world. Technology, people, traffic, all of our lives are full of competing cares. Do you ever just want to touch home base in the middle of a day or week? Like if you could just go home for 30 minutes you know you’d think clearer and enjoy the rest of the day or week more fully?

Kent says “Sabbath-keeping is deeply connected to our homes.” What about that makes you smile? What about that is challenging?

Are you starting to have some ideas about how to add more rest to your days and weeks? What are strategies you have that work well? What are ones you’ve tried that flopped?

If you are curious to learn more, read chapter 5 of Keri Wyatt Kent’s book Rest, available here. Join us next week for chapter 6 !