Teaching Our Children (Day 39)

We’re doing our best to model and teach our children the rising strong process and help them integrate it as a practice in their lives. Brené Brown.

Put these words of mine in your heart and soul… teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Moses (Deuteronomy 11)


In the past 40 days, I’ve heard about dozens of your personal ah-ha moments. Many of us have said something like this: The rising strong process is opening my eyes and changing everything; I wish I had learned this stuff years ago.

Your stories remind me of the importance of teaching our children the rising strong process and helping them integrate it as a practice in their lives.

My nest is empty now, and I have a passion for equipping parents, grandparents, foster parents, teachers, health care professionals and church leaders how to integrate the rising strong practices into their lives. From there, we all have the opportunity to teach these practices to our children, grands, fosters, students, patients and parishioners.

In chapter four of Rising Strong Brené writes: It often takes just a single brave person to change the trajectory of a family, or of any system, for that matter.

Furthermore, this one brave person does not have to have all the answers. They just need to show up, be vulnerable and practice rising strong in their own setting. Brené tells about her mother going to therapy and then showing the family how to take responsibility for their own feelings. That’s teaching the process to kids!

Who are your children, grandchildren, foster and adopted children? How could you model, and teach them, this process?

Would you like more information about attending a Daring Way™ intensive or retreat in 2020? Email me at daringway@crossroadscolorado.com. We’ll add you to the mailing list and make sure you receive the calendar of opportunities for parents (grands and fosters too!), educators, health care pros and faith community leaders.

Starter Prayer

LORD God, help me get started modeling and teaching rising strong with the young people in my life.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are now in week 6, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 11 of Rising Strong. The topic is the Revolution– keys learnings and writing a brave new ending.

Transforming Lives and Communities (Day 38)

All revolutions start with a new vision of what’s possible. Brené Brown.

For God, all things are possible. Jesus


In the opening paragraphs of Chapter 11, Brené explains why the Revolution is part-3 of the rising strong process:

Revolution might sound a little dramatic, but in this world, choosing authenticity and worthiness is an absolute act of resistance. Choosing to live and love with our whole hearts is an act of defiance. You’re going to confuse, piss off, and terrify lots of people—including yourself. One minute you’ll pray that the transformation stops, and the next minute you’ll pray that it never ends. You’ll also wonder how you can feel so brave and so afraid at the same time. At least that’s how I feel most of the time…brave, afraid, and very, very alive. Rising strong is the final piece of this transformation.

As we are nearing the end of 40 Days of Rising Strong, it’s time to ask the question: What is truly possible for me?

I encourage us to think about this question in two ways. First way: What is possible within me?

When a negative emotion takes hold of us and the first thought we have is, Why am I so bugged about this? Something’s up, and I need to go on a long prayer walk and figure this out, that’s when the uprising has started. That’s when you know you’ve integrated a new way of thinking. When you dig into your story rather than making one up, that’s when you know you’re in a revolution.

The second version of the question is: What is possible through me?

Having learned to rise strong from an emotional setback, in what ways will this affect your community? There is a saying: Transformed people transform people. The vision for rising strong is not only about personal transformation, it’s also about transforming our families, classrooms, faith communities, cities and nations.

Check out the section The Story Rumble At Work in Chapter 11. In this section Brené shares a list of questions her team works through whenever a hard moment presents itself. I find these questions can be used in any group settings where people work together, such as a family home! She also provides five guiding principles called The 5 Rs: This is How We Work.

Our willingness and ability to rumble during conflicts like a marital fight over money, a teen who has chosen scary friends, or a failed project at work will keep us from caving in and giving up in life’s most terrifying moments.

 I hope you feel empowered by the possibility of rising strong in the ordinary events of your life.

Starter Prayer

LORD God, give me a vision for what is possible. Give me courage to keep rising even when the people around me wish it would stop!

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are now in week 6, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 11 of Rising Strong. The topic is the Revolution– keys learnings and writing a brave new ending.

Rumbling for Peace (Day 37)

It doesn’t matter if your community is a parent-teacher organization or a Boy Scout troop or a neighborhood coalition, using our ability to navigate uncomfortable conversations, own our emotions, and rumble with our stories is how we build connection. Brené Brown.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Jesus (Matthew 5:9)


This weekend at Crossroads Church in northern CO, Pastor Ryan Howell challenged our community to live into the vocation of ‘peacemakers’. (I’ll post the link here as soon as the media team has it ready.)

Ryan shared that (according to Jesus) being a peacemaker is what marks one as a child of God.

Needless to say, Ryan pointed out that churches tend to focus on other markers of godliness such as beliefs, Bible knowledge, ways of worshiping and outward behavior. Somehow peacemaking is not a typical mission priority for Christian churches in our day.

But what if it were?

Even though I am a pastor, much of who I am and what I believe was forged in me through public classroom settings, which are a microcosm of the world. In the neighborhood schools, universities and grad school where I learned, ‘rumbling with our stories’ was encouraged. (The Rumble is part-2 of the rising strong process.)

We also had teachers who were good at facilitating the rumble and modeling respect in diverse settings. Even in seminary, we rumbled with competing theologies, differing ethics and new ways of interpreting scripture. The scholars, teachers, coaches and students in my classroom experiences shaped me more than any other influence.

The churches I have been a part of would have loved to play the role of lead influencer in my life, but they didn’t. Churches did influence my life, but mostly within the focused specialties of Bible teaching, worship, mobilizing volunteers for ministry projects and funding local and global mission.

The best thing the Church provided for my formation, was a place of belonging on the faith journey. But this belonging came at a cost—not much rumbling was allowed. Diversity of perspective was not welcomed if it crossed certain lines. And sadly, church leaders were not nearly as good at creating safe space for rumbling as were my classroom teachers. Church leaders typically don’t have the skills or experience necessary to teach the rumble, nor facilitate it, especially when people feel threatened and start reacting out of toxic emotions.

In Chapter 11 of Rising Strong, Brené Brown writes: What makes a college of social work a unique laboratory for rumbling is the expectation that we must have uncomfortable conversations if we’re going to work to empower people and change systems.

I’m waking up to the reality of how difficult it has been for me to bring rumbling topics from the diverse settings where I learned life into the settings of ‘sameness’ in the churches where I’ve led for 30+ years. Currently, I lead in a church where there is a reasonable amount of openness to the vocation of peacemaking. But as Ryan pointed out in the message on Sunday: Peacemaking comes with a cost. I have painful stories about the cost of rumbling, hence the cost of peacemaking. It seems like church people want peace, but most people do not know how to have uncomfortable conversations.

If a faith community is going to be a peacemaking community (empower people to change unjust systems), we will need to learn how to navigate uncomfortable conversations, own our emotions and rumble with our stories in order to build connection with each other and the world God loves. Although a church is a specific kind of community, the conversations we have should mirror the same conflicts that unsettle all groups—differences, fears, competing priorities and conflicting perspectives.

I’ve tried other pathways to being truly alive, and they always lead me back here. They lead me home to the Great Hope of my life: That God is on everyone’s side. No matter who you are or where you come from, you MORE-than-matter to God– you are essential to God; and you are an essential part of your community.

This reflection was long string of somewhat connected thoughts about The Revolution—part-3 of the rising strong process. (See chapter 11.)

Tomorrow we’ll look at how the ‘rumble that leads to peace’ can revolutionize our communities.

Starter Prayer

LORD God, lead me into the uncomfortable conversations that are a necessary part of peacemaking.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are now in week 6, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 11 of Rising Strong. The topic is the Revolution– keys learnings and writing a brave new ending.

When Process Becomes Practice (Day 36)

The Revolution begins when the process becomes practice. Brené Brown.

Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:9)


Years ago, one of my favorite Bible commentators wrote a book called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction. The title stuck with me as a life principle. Whenever I think about giving up on something that’s hard, I remember the concept the book title teaches: stay on a good journey long enough, and you’ll eventually end up where you want to be.

I hope your rising strong journey is something you stick with for a lifetime.

If we’re realistic, we won’t expect to be great at rising strong the first time we try it! The things we’re learning like: Living BIG, The Physics of Vulnerability, Integrity of Values and BRAVING Trust… are HARD to do. As we practice these skills, we will get better and better at rising strong.

In Chapter 11 Brené says that the Revolution begins when the process becomes practice.

How can you turn what you’re learning into regular practices? How can you, as Paul writes in Philippians, keep on doing the things that you have learned, received and heard?

Ideas for turning the process into practice:

  1. Read Chapter 11, The Revolution.
  2. Every day this week, review one of the small group discussion guides from the past five weeks. Pick one key learning from that guide to focus on that day.
  3. Keep the conversation going in your own soul. Try one of these:
    • Talk to God about that key learning.
    • Write about the learning in your journal.
    • Tell a friend or family member about the key learning.

Starter Prayer

LORD God, help me practice the key learnings from Rising Strong.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are now in week 6, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 11 of Rising Strong. The topic is the Revolution– keys learnings and writing a brave new ending.

Choosing New Thoughts (Day 35)

When we deny our stories and disengage from tough emotions, they don’t go away; instead, they own us, they define us. Our job is not to deny the story, but to defy the ending—to rise strong, recognize our story, and rumble with the truth until we get to a place where we think, Yes. This is what happened. This is my truth. And I will choose how this story ends. Brené Brown.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:8)


For the most part we get to choose how we use our minds. We are the director of our thoughts and perspectives. In doing so, we are influencing the stories of our lives.

How does this idea sit with you?

If you are a Christian with some Bible experience, you might be familiar with Philippians 4:8. If not, the concept is common sense: Focus your thoughts on things that are pleasant, good, just and worth passing on to others. What images does this conjure up for you? I typically picture simple blessings like my home, the beauty of creation, my neighborhood and church, my family members…

But today, I thought of something new. What if the next time something hard happens to me, I think about the rising strong process itself? What if I think about good things: like reckoning with my uncomfortable emotions; rumbling with the story instead of denying it; and the new learning that will revolutionize my life and help others?

What if I use my mind to explore how I’m feeling? What if I make generous assumptions about the people in this tough story? What if I put some thought into the boundaries that need to be in place in order for me to be consistently generous with these people? What if I think about my values and how they will help me in this tough arena? What if I use my mind to create a vision for a better ending?

I’m grateful for the simple list of good things I tend to think about when hard things happen; and maybe it’s time for that list to grow. Maybe God is calling me to a level of maturity that will change my life and influence others for the better.

My go-to list of happy thoughts has carried me through some pretty dark moments, and now it’s time to try branch out and try some new things.

What are some of your favorite, happy thoughts? What new focal points are you taking away from this Rising Strong read-along and group study?

Starter Prayer

LORD God, teach how to use my mind in ever-expanding ways.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are now in week 6, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 11 of Rising Strong. The topic is the Revolution– keys learnings and writing a brave new ending.

Just Breathe (Day 34)

Breath and mindfulness give us the awareness and space we need to make choices that are aligned with our values. Brené Brown

Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:6-7)


Church people used to have a saying: When in a fix, Philippians 4:6. It was a catch phrase to help us remember today’s verse. The idea was that when something bad or scary happens, remember to pray instead of worrying.

The catchy phrase trained me to talk to God more often, but talking-prayer didn’t entirely do the trick. Sometimes this method works, but it has limitations. Let me explain…

Anxiety has always been a way of life for human beings. In the ancient pagan world, most people were raised to worship many gods and goddesses—all of whom were potentially out to get you. In Paul’s day, even the Jews were afraid of God’s wrath. This is why Jesus labored to teach everyone a more truthful way of thinking about God—God as a good parent who is attentive, compassionate and helpful.

Here in Philippians, Paul is teaching on the same topic. He’s saying: With the Good God revealed in Christ Jesus, there is no guarantee against suffering, but we can be sure that God listens and will respond with loving help and care. Instead of worrying, pray. As you do, God will calm you down and protect your mind and heart from anxiety. This was a revolutionary thought for anyone afraid of God’s punishment, power or distance.

In chapter four of Rising Strong Brené Brown brings up the subject of “paying attention” to our anxious feelings and calming ourselves down. Another word for this in “mindfulness” and another idea for that is “meditation.”

As a person and a spiritual director, I am convinced that in Philippians 4:6 Paul is encouraging more than simply “talking prayer.” I believe in talking prayer! I also believe that some form of quiet-minded prayer is a necessary part of prayer in general. Until we learn some form of meditative prayer, I’m afraid we will always struggle with anxious thoughts.

In chapter four Brené explains the concept of mindfulness and makes several recommendations for practice. I’ll summarize them here and add a few of my own.

  1. Breath Practice. I’ve tried all kinds. Brené recommends “tactical breathing” as practiced by first responders. Read about it in Chapter Four. I mostly use a practice I learned in Svaroopa Yoga, which is a kind of therapeutic yoga.
  2. Silence. I sit in 5-10 minutes of prayerful silence each morning as soon as I finish my spiritual reading and before I plan my day or go outside to workout.
  3. Walking or running outdoors. Being in nature and moving rhythmically will change you at the molecular and spiritual level.
  4. Centering Prayer. This one is a life commitment, and it will revolutionize everything about your life. It comes out of Ignatian spirituality, which is Christian. There are numerous ways to learn and practice Centering Prayer– books, retreats, groups and with a spiritual director. If you read, Open Mind, Open Heart by Father Thomas Keating is a good place to start.

Would you like to learn more about mindfulness, breath practice, meditation or centering prayer? If so, post your questions as a comment to this thread. I am passionate about this topic, and I’d love to help you learn more.

Starter Prayer

LORD God, teach me new ways to pray.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are now in week 5, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 9-10 of Rising Strong. The topics are: rumbling with failure and self-worth.

Let JOY Live (Day 33)

JOY is the most vulnerable emotion we experience. Brené Brown

Celebrate joyfully in the Lord, all the time. I’ll say it again: celebrate! Let everybody know how gentle and gracious you are. The Lord is near. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:4-5)


Over decades of research, Dr. Brené Brown has discovered that vulnerability is not weakness—in fact, it is the source of human strength. This aligns with what the Apostle Paul discovered in his own spiritual journey. Paul talks about his weaknesses and how human vulnerability is actually the pathway for union with God as well as our most blissful experiences of love, creativity, JOY and belonging.

Dr. Brown also found that JOY is the most vulnerable emotion we experience. No wonder Paul urges his community to be vulnerable and let JOY roam free. The ability to do so is key to spiritual transformation.

According to Brown’s research, 90% of us have a type of “armor” we use to protect us from the powerful emotion of JOY. She calls it “foreboding joy.”

Since JOY is the most vulnerable emotion we experience, if we are not emotionally capable of tolerating joy, we try to protect our hearts by “dress rehearsing tragedy.” That is, imagining something bad is going to happen, when in fact, nothing is wrong.

It happened to me often when my girls were little. Five of us would be piled up on our king-sized bed for story time, my newborn baby snuggling in a proud sister’s arms. Then suddenly a dark feeling would wash over me: What if one of them dies?

‘Foreboding joy’ still happens to me these days. I’ll wake up in the morning and think: I’m so excited about our house remodel, the church is thriving, our parents are doing well… This can’t last. What hard thing is going to happen next?

“What wrong with that?” you say. “I do it all the time, and I think I should! It’s one of the ways I stay realistic and ready for life’s hardships.”

Well, during her research, Brené Brown met people who don’t rehearse tragedy. These people had profound capacity for JOY. When something glorious was happening to them, they felt happy. Instead of practicing disaster, they use JOY as a gentle reminder to practice gratitude. These same people do very well when hardship hits. They have strong skills in empathy, practicing values, withstanding criticism, rumbling with their tough stories and Rising Strong after a setback.

One more thought: How many of us use “foreboding joy” to control others? Parents, maybe you’re afraid that celebrating your child’s success today will cause them to stop trying hard tomorrow. Or at work, do you ever withhold a celebration, because you want the team to keep on improving their performance?  

The capacity to be joyful without engaging in self-protection is exactly what Paul is encouraging here in Philippians Chapter 4. He is urging us to fully feel our JOY and celebrate with others.

How would today be different for you if you let JOY roam free in your heart and home and workplace?

Starter Prayer

LORD God, make me brave enough to be joyful.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are now in week 5, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 9-10 of Rising Strong. The topics are: rumbling with failure and self-worth.