Tag Archives: Coaching

A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care

It was on fire, but not consumed...

 

I have the privilege of routinely teaching a local or teleclass version of  A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care.  Lay leaders and clergy from across the country have continued to shape this and bless it greatly through their own stories and wisdom.

After four years of teaching this course, I am still deeply moved by the Word’s promise and by the hope it stirs in attendees.  While the class in rooted in reflections on Romans 12 (especially vs. 1-2), the image of a “living sacrifice” or of a life aflame with love BUT NOT EXTINGUISHED have often led us to meditate on Moses and his encounter with the burning bush in Exodus 3.  Encounter with the Holy, with a new call, with a fiery vision that claimed Moses for work he could not imagine himself to be up for.  And we linger with the feeling of awe passed down through the ages: the attention-getting “I am who I am” is alive with creative Exodusing.  Then and now.  Beyond what and who we can imagine.  Alive with possibility.  A sustained and sustaining message.

This is what my clients and students want for their lives.  And what I want for mine.  Lives ablaze, lived fully and generously with grace.  Given to others and yet replenished by the enlivening Spirit.  Biblical PRINCIPLES help us to make choices which cultivate space for Divine renewal.  If this sounds like something you’d like support for in 2013, we’d love to have you join us on the “living well” journey.  Sign-up for the January 2013 class (Fridays at 8am) here.

 

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Love from the Center of Who You are…

“Love from the Center of Who You are.”   That’s Eugene Peterson’s marvelous paraphrase of Romans 12:9a in The Message. 

How do you hear this invitation in your season of life?

I hear it as a beacon of wisdom for conversations about “self” care.

My clients and I often reflect on natural connections between this great invitation and the wisdom of Don Miguel Ruiz in The Four Agreements. Indirectly, these great themes from TFA often show up on this Biblical “self” care series:

1. Be impeccable with your word.
2. Don’t take anything personally.
3. Don’t make assumptions.
4. Always do your best.

In my own life, I have discovered that if my current load of commitments, or my mindframe or approach to them, are hindrances to the above agreements, then I am in danger of damaging my “self”, relationships or commitments.

None of us are –or are called to be — PERFECT.  Yet we are invited to a quality of peace and integrity and abundance in our living and serving that I so often find sadly lacking in the realm of those of us called to serve.   Perhaps you have seen this too… there is so much suffering of anxiety, frustration, resentments and fear that accumulate if we are compulsively accruing the responsibilities we carry.  One way to relieve this suffering is to explore whether we have discerned well, or chosen freely, that which is on our plate.

My clients and students at Living Well Ministries, where I offer spiritual life coaching, are signing on to make shifts out of current unsustainable lives for the sake of “living well.”If you would like support for your reflections and actions for “self” care, we invite you to join this November teleclass. You will take away fresh insights and tools for making choices of sustainability (“a living sacrifice.”)
Registration cost of $85 includes one 30-minute coaching session. Order tickets via Eventbrite:
http://alivingsacrifice1112-efbevent.eventbrite.com/. Deadline: November 2.

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Let Us Give Thanks (A Poem for Thanksgiving)

The Fall puts me in the mood, always, to both rejoice in abundance and also vulnerably declare the deaths and failures of my and our collective Life.  This poem made smile in wonder at the glorious diversity of friends along the way, and remember our humanity as we stumble along the journey together.  

 

For children who are our second planting, and, though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away, may they forgive us our cultivation and fondly remember where their roots are.

Let us give thanks:

For generous friends…with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms;

For feisty friends as tart as apples;

For continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we had them;

For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible;

For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn — and the others — as plain as potatoes, and so good for you.

For funny friends, who are as silly as brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions;

For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who — like parsnips — can be counted on to see you through the long winter;

For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time, and young friends coming on as fast as radishes;

For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils, and hold us despite our blights, wilts, and witherings;

And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past, that have been harvested — but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter;

For all these we give thanks.

Source: the late Rev. Max Coots, who was Minister Emeritus of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Canton, New York. His passion for gardening yielded this beloved and much used meditation.

I AM SO GRATEFUL for friend Margaret Shaklee’s reading of the poem at last night’s interfaith Harvest Fest event here in Chicago.   I found it today at this blog: http://www.shockinglydelicious.com/let-us-give-thanks-a-poem-for-thanksgiving/.  This poem reminded me of the delicious diversity of people in my life. As I serve my clients through spiritual life coaching, spiritual practices like gratitude exercises are extremely important, as is the carving out of TIME to spend with our friends and time to forge new friendships.  When we place our attention on possibility, we never lack for what we need.

 

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You Can Cultivate Freedom

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist.

 

 PRACTICING THIS FREEDOM IS TRULY LIVING WELL!

 

My life as a disciple, partner, coach and minister has been changed by the principles of Energy Leadership.  At the heart of it is the reality that how we think about ourselves and the world (our consciousness) can be fueled by relatively more catabolic or anabolic thoughts.  These seven levels of energy lead to varying understandable emotional response, and can thus create a smaller or larger range of experiences in this world.  By exploring and removing our energy blocks, we make room for the natural inflow of MORE energy (spirit, I would say).  Thus, we experience and shape more peace, joy, productivity, objectivity, and compassionate connection.

As a minister and life coach I am dedicated to supporting the most grounding PRACTICES for my clients and students.  Helping with the daily practice of cultivating freedom in relationship to their thoughts and emotions is a wonderful, wonderful privilege.   I think that this is related to what some evangelical churches do well, and many mainline churches do poorly.  The mainline social gospel tradition has a much wiser grasp on the societal obstacles to justice and opportunity that we have created (“systemic ills”).  And, my heart is sometimes heavy that we lack a compelling vision of the intersection of individual freedom and responsibility with the social transformation we seek.  This model is a very promising tool for holding these two truths together for the sake of lasting change.

Created by Dr. Bruce D. Schneider, this is undergirding of the coaching philosophy of The Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC).  After my previous pastorate at Grace Baptist Church, I completed this coaching program when  I launched Living Well Ministries in 2008.  I count it as one of the most nourishing and challenging blessings of my life, and am proud to serve with thousands of peers across the world who share this “toolbox” for the good of others and fulfill their own callings.

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Forgiveness Changes Reality

“As I strove to forgive everyone involved, I could see the evidence of the injury receding.” –Sarah G. Hyatt in “The Science of Seeing the Real You” (Christian Science Sentinel, May 5, 2008)

What could this possibly mean?

It reminds me of the teachings in The Course in Miracles about forgiveness REALLY and ACTUALLY reversing the cause and effect scripts in our mind.

What could this possibly mean?

Sensitive stuff, and I don’t want to overstate it. If it’s a new concept to you, I really want to share the GIFT in the insight.  So if it’s challenging language, let’s take it slowly.

Basically, in my very very ACIM layperson’s terms:

Forgiveness is what enables us to live in the PRESENT.  As we proceed on the forgiving spiritual path, we grow in our ability to resist attributing our present well-being chiefly to the PAST choices we’ve made or others have made (a decade or a minute ago).

It’s in this way, that we mean that evidence of injury can recede.  I do NOT mean that we are not changed and shaped by the nexus of choices and experiences that we and others make.  Like Jacob limping away from a Divine battle or Jesus, after the resurrection, showing his scars… we may be very aware of the ways today that our thoughts and  habits reflect past experiences.  Indeed, we are embedded and interconnected with one another.  That’s the beauty of being this amazing complex and wabi sabi world of which we are a part.  Our unique present constitution is what helps us have experiences of being distinct and in process!

So, it’s not that we are not influenced but it IS about experiencing healing —  a sense of release of the ego’s lies about cause and effect.  “The evidence of injury that recedes” is simply that script about being the injured one, the victim, if that script clings mercilessly to blame and judgement about the causes and causers.  It is not the scars that go away, but our fixation on them.

Attendees of the upcoming Forgive for Life Institute (Winter 2013) will go more deeply into the Course’s teachings about forgiveness.  My current clients and students are developing more and more life-giving Energy Leadership skills.  We uncover new joys every day as we work with each other on discovering true healing and true power.  And, we are changing the “realities” of selfish scarcity, excuses, blame, and deferment which keep so many of us from our passion and our present.

Interested in more for your life?  Check out upcoming events or coaching at Living Well Ministries.  I serve people around the country who are ready to leave behind the beliefs and habits which keep them from living well in the present.  Together, we discover the Living Well that nourishes us as we “love from the Center of who we are” (Romans 12:9a).

 

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Living Well on the Rainbow Journey

In preparing for the blessed opportunity to be with PFLAG-Chicago on July 15, I was so mindful of the long journey I’ve taken.   It feels more like concentric rings on a tree than a journey through strangely disparate lands, though.

A fundamentalist Baptist childhood

a graced evangelical college chapter (laced with the pain of the closet)

the finding of sanctuary and healing as a young adult lesbian in an intimate LGBT-welcoming church (Grace Baptist Church)

the journey of ministry call and the fires of social justice awakening at Chicago Theological Seminary

a season of pastoral leadership that brought new rhythms of wellness and passion for personal and community health

(including spiritual paths and places!)

new paradigm shifts that make peace and prosperity a reality, and call me to build yet more bridges.

 

What is the impact of all of this?

More than ever, I know that my part to play in justice-making is more of a healing and bridge-building role than an activist’s battle strategy.

I look around at the volatility of our times and the fervent opponents to diversity and solidarity.  What I see and feel is the brokenness we all share in the web of the Ego: fear, insecurity, anger, aversion, enmity.  No prejudice which would withhold safety or equality from other groups is VALID, and must be challenged and overturned.  But I trust more than ever this Knowing:  ALL EMOTIONS ARE VALID.  (By valid, I simply mean that people are having whatever experience they are choosing to have, and it is not my place to judge these difficult feelings.)  While we do the necessary work to persuade, and to “lobby” and to convince minds and to gain votes for the sake of more just laws, we can either hold a transcendent and redemptive hope for all (New Creation) or simply replay the unsustainable script Winner Takes All with its short-term gains.

The social and political opponents  of LGBT diversity, or transracial solidarity, are caught in the grips of age-old fears of difference and projections of blame and anger that the New Testament might call “the flesh.”  But I am letting go of the battle mindset that “spirit” opposes “flesh.  The Rainbow Journey has taught me that this idea does great internal damage to our personal spirituality and integrity.  And, how often do we make our group out to be the ones who need to battle those “Others!”

Time and time again, when I’ve set a different course and nurtured a different energy, I’ve found that hearts and minds of opponents open up to new encounters and relationships.  People long for a little respect and dignity; our brothers and sisters who are most afraid and angry, who are most caught up in emotional and social barriers or violence, need the healing presence of bridge-builders who genuinely care for their pain and can honor their authentic desires for Good.  It is only then that ideas about the Good, or how to live out the Good, can be reexamined and let go where they are found to be  limiting our God.

I most certainly have not “arrived” in my own struggles to occupy such a place.  But I am a product of these multiple communities and hold them all, somehow, inside me.  I have made peace with that. And I am more convinced than ever that spiritually speaking this is the KEY to “living well.”  In my living, coaching and teaching I am focusing on personal transformation and healing.  As LGBT folks and allies work on forgiveness, coming our, self-care or faith transitions, they find that the more self-compassion and acceptance we experience the less enmeshed in enmity we need to feel.  It is only from this place of spiritual freedom and equanimity that we can truly be the creative change agents that our world so desperately needs.

 

 

 

 

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A Future Not Our Own

This poem-prayer, often attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, helps me to remember and to teach a certain kind of stillness which is not passivity, a vision which avoids being ungrounded in the present.  Oh, how we all need to be reminded of the Master Builder, to think and to pray and to walk with the One who holds the future.  My clients who are leaders of any kind, especially clergy and activists working hard to make a difference in this world, especially often need to be nourished — and CHALLENGED — by these words.  I dedicate this to them, and to the older adults whom I will serve as guest preacher this Sunday.

I learned recently that Romero never spoke these words, yet they live on as Word spoken by his life.  In my sermon for Sunday (Pentecost/Memorial Day), I hope to do justice to and with this sacred text and the words of hope in Hebrews 11-12.

Thanks to Dan Clendenin for his terrific site, Journey with Jesus, where I found this text and background.  This is an excerpt from his page:

 

In memory of Oscar Romero (1917–1980)

A Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view.
The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of
saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession
brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one
day will grow. We water the seeds already planted
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of
liberation in realizing this.
This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s
grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results, but that is the
difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not
messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

From Xavarian Missionaries:

Oscar A. Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, in El Salvador, was assassinated on March 24, 1980, while celebrating Mass in a small chapel in a cancer hospital where he lived. He had always been close to his people, preached a prophetic gospel, denouncing the injustice in his country and supporting the development of popular and mass organizations. He became the voice of the Salvadoran people when all other channels of expression had been crushed by the repression.

This prayer was composed by Bishop Ken Untener of Saginaw, drafted for a homily by Card. John Dearden in Nov. 1979 for a celebration of departed priests. As a reflection on the anniversary of the martyrdom of Bishop Romero, Bishop Untener included it in a reflection titled “The mystery of the Romero Prayer.” The mystery is that the words of the prayer are attributed to Oscar Romero, but they were never spoken by him.

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A Rainbow GPS (God Placement System)

I have the fabulous honor of attending a teleseminar series on transformational writing this week.  One of Christine Kloser’s top-notch guests is Lisa Nichols, author of No Matter What.    She took my breath away- such a spirited blend of glorious charisma and authentic humility.   Find out more at http://motivatingthemasses.com/.

One thing I continue to find on this “living well” journey… I am surrounded by amazing peers and mentors who support my desire for personal transformation and commitment to being excellent in my service of others.    Nichols introduced me to the phrase “God Placement System,” and I’ve really been taking that in.  I am aware that often in this life we find ourselves needing to trust that the GPS is working properly.  Sometimes our preconceived notions point us in other directions.  And sometimes others might challenge our GPS readings.

Most of my LGBT clients, students and readers across the country know what it is to doubt their GPS. And, to have others doubt their GPS.  One of the richest blessings of any faith journey is to have been tested by such doubt.  This refines us  and our ability to discern which voice is truly God’s, that voice which is truly life-giving.  We are a gift to Christ’s church precisely because we have challenged the idolatries of traditional norms and dared to trust that tradition is not God.

We can move through times of confusion and challenge with a graceful power if we depend on the unconditional love of the Holy Spirit to guide us.  As we move into the season of Pentecost and Pride this June, I will be meditating here especially on the scriptures and lessons which have nourished my journey as a lesbian Christian pastor and coach.

Are there theme or texts you would especially like to examine together?  Let me know, and we’ll grapple with that together.

 

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Filling Up and Letting Go…

I am experiencing an abundant Lent, awash in cleansing self-examination and Holy Spirit’s grace and vision.  For years my compass text for Lent has been Isaiah 55, which beckons us to graced inquiry, trust, and joy.  Some tough things are going on for me right now, what Joyce Rupp describes as wilderness-imposed growth.  Yet I take refuge in this Word, and the community and path to which it points:

Ho, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without price.
2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,
and your labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good,
and delight yourselves in rich food.
3 Incline your ear, and come to me;
listen, so that you may live.
I will make with you an everlasting covenant,
my steadfast, sure love for David.
4 See, I made him a witness to the peoples,
a leader and commander for the peoples.
5 See, you shall call nations that you do not know,
and nations that do not know you shall run to you,
because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel,
for he has glorified you.
6 Seek the Lord while God may be found,
call upon God while God is near;
7 let the wicked forsake their way,
and the unrighteous their thoughts;
let them return to the Lord, that God may have mercy on them,
and to our God, for abundant pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return there until they have watered the earth,
making it bring forth and sprout,
giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11 so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
it shall not return to me empty,
but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
and succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12 For you shall go out in joy,
and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
shall burst into song,
and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

 

 

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A Spirituality of Subtraction

The medieval mystic Meister Eckhardt said the spiritual life has much more to do with subtraction than with addition. Yet Christians today are involved in a spirituality of addition. Consumer culture wants us to have more. God wants us to let go.

— Richard Rohr

Check out more wonderful Lenten nourishment from Rohr.

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