Posted in Christian, Devotional, Encouragement, Life, Monastic, Spiritual Discipline

Yearning for God…intentionally

Prayer was a continuous way of life in the desert. It was intentionally cultivated until it became second nature. Prayer involved the hard work of learning a new language – the language of heaven. For the ascetic, prayer was not merely the speaking of words. It was the yearning for God, reaching out in hopeful openness to being touched by God. Prayer was for the Holy Spirit breathing through the inner spirit of the ascetic and returning to God with yearnings of intimacy. (Laura Swan, The Forgotten Desert Mothers; Sayings, Lives, and Stories of Early Christian Women [Paulist Press, 2001], 27)

I do not know where you are at today, nor do I know what your journey this last year had been like. For me, it has been a year of getting to know myself, of sitting in my “cell” and facing myself. And it has also been a year of intentionality, of yearning, of longing for God to breathe afresh and anew in my life – and He did not disappoint.

It has been a year of discovering that I am ridiculously in charge of my own life and that I alone bear the responsibility for its stewardship. It has been a year where I came to grips with the fact that there will always be circumstances that are out of my control and which have the power to shape me, if I chose.  It has been a year where I embraced the truth that I have choices. Moment by moment, day by day, month by month, I can choose how I will spend the gift of time and how I will react to the things going on around me.

The desert fathers and mothers, whose writings I have been reading since last summer, taught me that their intentional choices influenced their personal growth and their relationship with God. Prayer was “intentionally cultivated,” solitude was “intentionally cultivated,” yearning for God was “intentionally cultivated.” How they chose to live was intentional.

I think too often we give away our power and numb our senses which leaves us crippled and confused about who we are, what we are feeling, and what our soul yearns for. In some cases, we have allowed technology to become our master, telling us when to drink water, how many steps to take, what our heart rate it, and we wear our fitness devices as some sort of reminder that we want to be aware. But somehow in that wanting, we have stopped creating spaces for silence and solitude. We have stopped taking the time to be present to God and present to ourselves. And perhaps for some of us, if we are really honest, we have become expert runners who run from ourself and try to run from God.

So today,  if that’s you and you long for something different as I did last summer and still do, join me by reaching out your hands towards God and saying: “God, I yearn for you and you alone. I take back the power of choice to steward my own life, and I commit to intentionally cultivating the behaviours and thoughts that allow me to be present in life.”

A special note of thanks: Dear David, a soon-to-be-new-brother-in-Christ, thank you for courageously picking up your phone today and reaching out to a stranger (you happened to get me) to ask about how one becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ – you confirmed for me that this blog post matters. I hope you’ll call again and am praying for your wholehearted “yes” to Jesus.

Posted in Christian, Conversational Intelligence, Monastic, Resilience, Women, womeninleadership

7 Things to Strengthen the Soul of Your Leadership

Hello to all my faithful readers. I know that blogging is not my primary gifting, but I do enjoy sharing some helpful (or at least I think helpful) thoughts from time to time.

Last night, here at Horizon College, we held LEAD Women and it was my joy to share on some of the things that I’ve learned in the last couple of years. Things that have strengthened me, shaped me and helped me stand on a firmer foundation. And it is my hope for you as you read this, that there would be one thing that you could take away and utilize for strengthening who you are as a Christian leader – as persons sent from God and standing in his presence. (2 Cor. 2:17b)

My 7 things:

  1. Figure Out Who Your People Are. Kris Vallotton in his book Destined to Win: How to Embrace your God-Given Identity and Realize Your Kingdom Purpose talks about this important truth. Who are the kingdom-minded people that you resonate with? Who’s traveling with you? Who around you is creating space for you to use your gifts?
  2. Learn How to Self-Coach. “Change begins with the person who wants it,” says Marilee Adams in her book Change Your Questions Change Your Life. As I shared last night, it took me a long time to realize that leaders are “ridiculously in charge.” In fact, Dr. Henry Cloud in his book Boundaries for Leaders: Results, Relationships, and Being Ridiculously in Charge would say that leaders choose the “boundaries they allow to exist on their property.” Be a leader who seeks feedback, learns good processes, implements them, and grows the ability to lead yourself well. You are the hardest person you will ever lead!
  3. Try Something New. Sometimes we don’t realize that our patterns, though they once served us well, are no longer helping us get where we want to be. Here are some “new” things to try:
    • Switch up the Bible translation you’re using.
    • Write out a book of the Bible.
    • Do some reading from eras past. I’ve spent the last while reading some writings from the Desert Mothers and Fathers – so, so good! For me, this has enabled me to better understand the landscape of my own soul.
  4. Get Comfortable Talking About Mistakes. Our biggest learning comes from when we talk about and learn from our mistakes. Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, in their new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy say “to be resilient after failures, we have to learn from them. Most of the time we know this; we just don’t do it. We’re too insecure to admit mistakes to ourselves or too proud to admit them to others. Instead of opening up, we get defensive and shut down.” (pp 144-145) I am currently working with the Advancement Team here around this, and it is fascinating to be a part of a team that is growing in this area.
  5. Grow Your Conversational Intelligence. “Conversations have the power to change the brain,” says Judith E. Glaser in her book Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results. So much can change for us if we simply learn to communicate well. Be the leader that leads the way in this. Grow your strength and model/teach others how to grow theirs. Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High is another excellent resource that every leader should know about. If we don’t learn to “talk things out, we will act them out,” says the authors of CC.
  6. Stay Involved With Your Own Soul. You are in charge of your life. You are responsible for working hard, for stewarding your one life well, and for remaining in a “yes” posture to the work of the Spirit. No other person can do this for you – you need to own it. And let me say this: You are worth you getting to know!
  7. Cultivate Gratitude. Count your blessings; name them. This practice can be life transforming. One of the intentional ways that I am daily cultivating gratitude is by using the 5-Minute a Day Journal – it was well worth the financial investment.

 

May strength, grace, and resilience be yours in abundance.

Carmen

For fun: This is me and my “soul friend” Karin. She is a part of LEAD Women and brings our snacks each time we gather – I thank God for her!

If you’re in the Saskatoon area, LEAD Women meets June 19th from 7-9 at Horizon College & Seminary.

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