Discernment

A Divine Discontent

One winter a number of years ago, I was filled with a deep discontent and longing whose aim I could not identify. After several weeks of being close to despair, it slowly came to me that I was fed up with prayer as I knew it. I didn’t want to pray anymore to my concept of God—I wanted to experience God himself.

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Finding the Feast

I’m a closet hagiographer.

I know that sounds either like I’m admitting some deep, dark secret, or I have a hair ball, but I promise it’s neither. Hagiography is the study of the lives of the saints across the ages.

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Listen To The Birds

Moses’ father took him to herd goats,

taught him ways of the wild.

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God’s Ways With My Wandering

“Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.”

That old hymn expresses my desire for always being attentive to my Father, His Son and Spirit—who I also am consistently wandering away from. Yet they are always “there” for me, graciously giving me “my space”, and mostly just waiting quietly for me to grow sick of going it alone, occasionally whispering or even rarely shouting when needed, in unceasing hope of my return.

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Choices

In a given week as I sit one on one with various leaders, I hear many stories of desolation and consolation. It’s always amazing to me how a string of spiritual direction sessions can be so varied. However, each story is a genuine reminder to me of how unique these individuals are in the sight of God.

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Mountains and Valleys

C. S. Lewis in his well-loved novel, The Screwtape Letters, poignantly describes the strenuous mystery of human spirituality. He does this by way of the character, Screwtape, a senior demon that offers the following advice to his demon-in-training nephew, Wormwood:

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Relief From Guilt

Many people think guilt is God’s way of motivating us to behave better. Not until I heard Dallas Willard make the blanket statement that “Guilt never helps” did I realize guilt just makes people hopeless.  It fixes my eyes on me (what I’ve done wrong) moves me away from God.

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The Sea of Doing Too Much

I am learning that I am probably headed away from God when I am not taking care of my “SELF”. I met with my therapist last week. I’m officially living in the “m” word (menopause!) and I am grateful for her stabilizing influence on this sea of “change”.

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Pen And Paper Discernment

Journaling is my most valuable ally in the discernment process. Time and again I’ve gained clarity about the movements in my soul and my interaction with the world by engaging in reflective writing. Not long ago I attended a conference aimed at healing deep-seated pain. One evening I felt a strong urge to write, although I was unsure about what needed to be expressed. Sitting on my bed in a tiny monastery-sized room, I opened my laptop and, tentatively at first, typed What can I say which might capture what is swimming around in my heart?

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Discipline or Celebrate?

The assignment for this month is to blog about “discernment of [my] movements toward and away from God.” This is interesting and a bit challenging for me because lately, I’ve been trying to sort out if things I’ve been repenting of are in fact personality traits, things that are hard-wired into me, and not chosen actions (or inactions). Or in other words, if I behave a certain way or respond to a situation because of the way my personality is, do I need to repent of those traits or simply work to train and discipline them? Or celebrate them?

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