Clean

The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.  Marie Kondo

God of Creation, help us to adopt new health practices which enhance our lives and promote the safety and happiness of our homes and neighborhoods. Amen.


I’m super jazzed about a new term I just learned from a hog farmer: biosecurity.

Brad Greenway raises pigs on a farm near Mitchell, S.D., and the measures we are taking to stay germ-safe during this pandemic are things Brad always practices. When he arrives back at the farm after errands, he showers, puts on fresh clothes and wipes down the supplies he’s bringing into the barn. He says, “We’ve always tried to practice good biosecurity.”

I think back to the lessons I learned from my Grandmother in her kitchen. Being a farmer herself, she taught me things like: How to wash up the counters, carving knife and kitchen sink after cleaning and prepping a turkey or chicken for roasting. She had a utility sink near the back door and emphasized hand washing and scrubbing under one’s fingernails with a stiff brush, because “that’s where the germs can hide.” Baby diapers, sheets and towels were hung on the line to dry, because “the sunshine is a natural disinfectant.”

(I also have my own biosecurity theory: I think tequila kills germs in the throat and cures colds. Go ahead and laugh… as my kids do. It’s what I believe and for good reason:)

Spiritual Practice

This pandemic is a fantastic opportunity to develop new habits that protect our health.

My grandparents were fastidious about biosecurity because they raised crops and livestock and because their generation was fairly new to the germ theory of medicine. People in their neighborhood had died of trichinosis or salmonella.

What can we be fastidious about NOW? Handwashing for sure…

I spent a couple of weeks in Hong Kong ten years ago. SARS had converted the whole society to mask-wearing whenever a person is ill or susceptible to illness. Analysts credit Hong Kong’s health in this pandemic to mask wearing in the early days of the outbreak. If masks don’t help, the hyper-intelligent residents of Hong Kong would NOT have permanently converted to the practice. Masks help!

Vitamin D? Drinking ginger tea? Staying hydrated? These are all practices that enhance our biosecurity.

And still there is no shame in falling ill. Our best efforts cannot guaranty our safety. Farmer Brad’s storyteller remarks: Even stringent methods run up against natural limits. One is found in the pits beneath a hog farm, which gather the roughly 1.3 gallons of manure each hog produces a day. It’s clean, but it still smells. Pigs poop a lot.

Have a nice evening. Be sure to wash your hands and brush your teeth. The future of the universe depends on us and God!

Katie

Process

The Spirit of Christ is within us, inspiring creativity as a way of life. Ephesians 2

Creator God, why do I resist the creative process in my own life? Help me enjoy my life as a work in progress. Help me celebrate the creative process in other lives as well. Amen


It’s been almost three months since we moved into our newly remodeled house, and we’ve averaged a couple of big move-in chores per day ever since. First it was the beds, then the clothes, the kitchen and the furniture. Yesterday Dave finished the sprinkler system, and now he’s into earth-moving, manure and grass seed. Yippee! Today I’m washing summer blankets that smell like cardboard boxes. This evening we plan to hang some artwork. On second thought, I’m done working today, and the artwork will have to wait for tomorrow or next year.

Why is this move-in taking so long? Two good reasons: 1.) The world is experiencing a pandemic, some symptoms of which I pray are beginning to recede in your life. And speaking of life, 2.) I’m still trying to live mine—exercising, socializing with family, washing clothes, cooking for fun, working a meaningful job, watching movies, reading, expecting my first grandchild, and getting the travel trailer ready for a road trip to Montana. So truthfully, there will be little progress made on the yard or artwork until late-June.

And while it’s easy for us to feel behind or overwhelmed about the business of life, the important thing to remember is that EVERYTHING is ALWAYS a work in progress. Not because we are unable to finish something, but because life and work is a continual process. One who is unwilling to embrace this reality will never be happy and will spread their misery far and wide.

I hope this pandemic has helped you move closer to accepting process-orientation as a healthy state of life and not some kind of failure. Process-orientation is a term used by helping professionals who walk with people through challenging times. Therapists, life coaches and other guides are held accountable for allowing clients to evolve without the pressure to perform or reach the helper’s goals. Shouldn’t we extend the same grace to ourselves? If process-orientation is important in therapy, isn’t it important in everything?

Spiritual Practice

Right now, I’m looking at the evolving backyard. On the one hand it looks like a lot of dirt; and I can smell manure. On the other hand, it looks fresh and new and ready to get growing.

What is unfinished and evolving in your life? (That’s a trick question. The answer is: Everything!) Where are you in the process? And how can “behind” be reframed as “on the way?”

Take courage,
Katie

Change

See, I am doing a new thing! Isaiah 43:19

Major change is often said to be impossible unless the head of the [family or organization] is an active supporter. John P. Kotter

God of transformation. Help us recognize when it’s time to change. Give us courage to champion the move on behalf of those who look to us for guidance.


Last night we learned that Cal State has canceled most in-person classes for the fall. I don’t recall it being mentioned, but certainly there will be no dorm life and no Greek life. There will be no rite of passage as tens of thousands of freshmen stream onto campus, buy books, rush houses and feel the exhilaration of independence when their parents drive away. There will be no music wafting from the open windows of practice studios—no marching band on the quad. No frisbee golf, no roommates, no study sessions in the libraries. There will be no office hours with faculty in the hollowed halls of learning.

These days I’m thinking about parents, grandparents and other leaders who are helping young people navigate change. It’s not just the parents of would-be college freshman. All leaders are under pressure to help our youth adapt and change to emerging realities in their educational and social lives.

A colleague of mine just explained his family’s innovative plan for a birthday party in the driveway. That’s the idea. There is no limit to the adaptive spirit of parents and educators these days.

John P. Kotter has been a mentor to me on the subject of accepting and leading change. His books help us understand why we resist change, even how the head of a household, group or org can sabotage the group’s ability to change and survive.

There is so much I could say on this subject, and it would be very fun to talk about it in a lively conversation with you.

Spiritual Practice

But here is my question for everyone who is in a position of responsibility—in a home, a workplace, a community. How can you help the group you lead accept necessary changes, adapt and thrive?

I know that’s a big question. I keep reading Kotter’s books to help me get better at this! But the question is first personal. Will you forgive the tough circumstance you’re in and lift your eyes to the opportunities inherent in change?

If your child can’t move into the dorms, can you champion the value of education in some other way? If the church facility isn’t open for worship services, can we champion the value of the church mission some other way? If we can’t fly in planes, can we champion the value of family vacation in some other way? If the wedding party or baby shower can’t happen the old way, how will it be wonderful in the new way?

Forgiveness and imagination are necessary components of change and growth. The last thing we want to do is be some log jam in another person’s evolution, especially a young person’s. Where am I holding on too tight?

Sleep peacefully,
Katie

Illness as a Messenger

May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.
John O’Donohue


Before I write about the hope of springtime, I want to say something about illness.

Illness is a messenger. When your body takes ill, it’s speaking. When a social illness erupts in a family, there is a message for the family leader/s. When a church or corporation turns toxic, it’s time to listen up big time. When a pandemic strikes the earth, there is an important message for her inhabitants.

And when it’s a pandemic, I can’t help but think the message is for the whole global community, rather than for a specific individual; although illness amidst pandemic speaks to individually infected people and families as well.

You may think I’m crazy for saying these things, but many of you know what I’m talking about. To soften the claim let me explain:

The message of illness is not a shaming or hurtful message. It’s always a sign of hope for your wellbeing. Your body has been created by God to care enough about you to speak up and help you heal. And so too, the earth that God created and loves always cares enough to speak to her inhabitants when we are hurting.

Everything I’ve just said is an oversimplification of a life principle, which is never straightforward and calls for careful interpretation.

Tonight, I just wanted to name it. To get it off my chest. To ask us to begin thinking about it. This pandemic is a messenger.

Spiritual Practice

To get us started thinking about the hopeful possibilities, here is a blessing from the late John O’Donohue, a poet, theologian and philosopher.

A Blessing for a Friend on the Arrival of Illness
by John O’Donohue


Now is the time of dark invitation
Beyond a frontier that you did not expect
Abruptly, your old life seems distant.
You barely noticed how each day opened
A path through fields never questioned,
Yet expected deep down to hold treasure.
Now your time on earth becomes full of threat;
Before your eyes your future shrinks.
You lived absorbed in the day to day,
So continuous with everything around you,
That you could forget you were separate;
Now this dark companion has come between you,
Distances have opened in your eyes,
You feel that against your will
A stranger has married your heart.
Nothing before has made you
Feel so isolated and lost.
When the reverberations of shock subside in you,
May grace come to restore you to balance.
May it shape a new space in your heart
To embrace this illness as a teacher
Who has come to open your life to new worlds.

May you find in yourself
A courageous hospitality
Towards what is difficult,
Painful and unknown.

May you use this illness
As a lantern to illuminate
The new qualities that will emerge in you.
May the fragile harvesting of this slow light
Help you to release whatever has become false in you.
May you trust this light to clear a path
Through all the fog of old unease and anxiety
Until you feel arising within you a tranquility
Profound enough to call the storm to stillness.
May you find the wisdom to listen to your illness:
Ask it why it came? Why it chose your friendship?
Where it wants to take you? What it wants you to know?
What quality of space it wants to create in you?
What you need to learn to become more fully yourself
That your presence may shine in the world.
May you keep faith with your body,
Learning to see it as a holy sanctuary
Which can bring this night-wound gradually
Towards the healing and freedom of dawn.

May you be granted the courage and vision
To work through passivity and self-pity,
To see the beauty you can harvest
From the riches of this dark invitation.

May you learn to receive it graciously,
And promise to learn swiftly
That it may leave you newborn,
Willing to dedicate your time to birth.

Sleep peacefully,
Katie

Losing Women

Daring greatly means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. Brené Brown


Every day we learn of a new loss to grieve in this season of change. Today I am grieving the loss of women. Rather than grieving alone, I’m reaching out for your help.

You and I were born into a male dominated world—a place when most of our power, influence and resources are controlled by men. I then attempted a career in a disproportionately male-dominated enterprise—spiritual leadership. Like you, I know our world, and my own job, like the back of my hand.

I also raised a family of four little women in this world. The Martinez women are now in the workforce observing these things for themselves and kicking my butt.

Gender bias has produced pain and grief in our lives. How could it not? Scaling walls, getting tired, falling from heights and rolling backwards down hills are not anyone’s vision of an exhilarating career. To be fair, there have been some satisfying moments of pure survival, navigating change successfully and living by grace.

We’ve long known that even when women are technically welcome and wanted in their chosen field, there is a high cost. Men bear a far smaller share of this cost burden. By and large, men have more resources to run their homes and care for their children while they work from home, travel or office-away.

Dear Peacemakers, here is our new loss: The pandemic is causing a caregiving crisis. Melinda Gates explained on NBC last week: “If we’re going to look at re-opening our economy, we have to take care of our most essential workers,” she says. “Eighty-five percent of nurses are women. And yet, who is the primary caregiver at home? Women. Who is the primary one for educating the kids? Women.”

She explains that when caregiving disproportionately falls on women, it makes it hard for them to do their jobs, leading to a loss of income for some women who end up taking a break from work or leaving the workforce altogether.

I know from my friends, family and neighbors that our women with children or aging parents are struggling under the burden of disproportionate caregiving. We are losing women.

One loss is the emotional vitality of our sisters, NOW. The next loss will be to watch our progress away from gender bias diminished. The next loss will the wellbeing of our world, homes, relationships and workplaces. The world needs women who are fully alive, leading strong and loving our neighbors well.

Spiritual Practice

Will you open your mind and learn about this scary topic with me?

As a starting point, will you read this short article with short video from Secretary-General António Guterres speaking at a meeting of the United Nations? I like it because it is plain spoken, caring and true.

And sisters: Please enjoy this mother’s day blessing spoken by Wendy Howell to my church in northern Colorado.

What can you do to help shoulder some domestic load for a woman or mother today?

Where women thrive, the world thrives. A rising tide floats all boats.

Have a blessed evening,
Katie

Teachers

Whoever welcomes a child, welcomes me. Jesus

Lord God who created the vocation of teaching, shower your servants with grace and peace, and give them the desires of their hearts. Amen


This week, the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the class of 2020. On Monday, we stared into the face of being chosen, and yesterday I shared an open letter to Amy and the class of 2020. Today, I’m thinking about how much our grads will miss their teachers.

In honor or teacher appreciation week our Crossroads Family Ministry Team had a poignant conversation with Kim Terry, an elementary school teacher who also volunteers with Crossroads Kids. The team asked Kim a couple of questions, and her answers explain why the student-teacher relationship is so important.

1. What is one of the most rewarding things about teaching? Why do you do it?

There are so many things that make it rewarding! In my 18 years I have always worked with primary students, kindergarten- second grade. Seeing their daily excitement about new things and the energy they bring every day is so fun!

I have chosen in my career to always work at Title schools usually in low income areas. I find the partnership with families to be one of my favorite things. Most parents want better for their kids than the path they had and want to support you as they can. My current school is a social emotional elementary school here in Loveland that contains many kids from trauma. I chose this school because I truly want to make a difference and be an advocate for all students. I know that they cannot feel safe or successful at school if their basic needs are not met. I have extra food, clothing, toys, toiletries, etc. to pass out as needed.

It also has warms my heart that my passion to work in this field with this population and trickled down into my own kids’ heart. They happily help out and seeing their eyes opened to differences with empathy, not judgement, is a true blessing. 

2. What have you noticed families need during these COVID-19 times, and how have you seen educators help meet those needs?

As I mentioned earlier that many of these families need to feel safe and secure before they can even imagine trying to complete any school work at home. The struggle of dealing with job loss, no income, no food, and even in some cases no place to live has made completing school virtually near impossible.

It is tough to even try to make it an equitable experience. I have seen educators getting very creative with trying to reach families with a variety of communication tools, regular check-ins, working into the evening to help students because they just can’t figure it out during the day, and so much more. There have been yard signs delivered in front yards, food bags delivered on porches, and books with fun activities, just cause, dropped off. We LOVE our students and miss them tremendously.

I feel nostalgic every time I walk on the campuses where I once attended school. There is Lincoln Elementary, Conrad Ball Jr. High, Loveland High School, CU Boulder, Colorado State University (Yes, I am both a Buff and a Ram), and North Park Seminary in Chicago. When I’m able, I like to go into the buildings or walk the grounds. My mind is filled with pictures of the teachers, coaches and administrators who invested in me and cared about me.

Spiritual Practice

Graduation from high school or college is a jarring change for most people. And in this Covid-19 reality there are fewer festivities and rituals to soften the transition and prepare the young adult to let go– especially of treasured relationships with teachers who have invested so much in their lives.

There are a few days left in teacher appreciation week. Let’s find a way to acknowledge the value of our teachers as the difficult losses of our grads. We can hold them in our prayers, celebrate them in our social media feeds, send them a card or shoot them a text. Let’s not get hung up on making it perfect. Find a way to reach out and just do it!

Cheers to the teachers and the grads who love them!
Katie

Global

Go into all the world and share God’s Love with every creature. Mark 16

God who is able to open the eyes of our hearts: Give our graduates the special ability to share their compassion and talents during these trying times. Amen


This week’s evening drop of hope is dedicated to the class of 2020. Yesterday I wrote about the reality of being chosen. Today I’m thinking about the significance of global compassion within our graduates.

My youngest daughter Amy graduated from CU in December—not quite the class of 2020, but close enough! So, here’s an open letter to Amy. Some of these ideas are inspired by a recent editorial written by Melinda and Bill Gates.

Dear Amy: Your grandparents were just coming of age at the end of WW2—over 70 years ago. In 1947, then Secretary of State George C. Marshall gave the commencement address at Harvard University. He urged the graduates to rise above their own comfort and security and assist our European neighbors despite being “distant from the troubled areas of the Earth.”

About that time, your Grandfather Eusebio Martinez was your age and living with his Mexican, immigrant family in north Denver. Grandpa Chepo was deployed under the Marshall Plan and served with the U.S. Army near Munich. It was there that he met a 19-year-old Bavarian villager, Anna Höecker.

Your grandparents fell in love in war-torn Germany where Chepo was serving the vision of the Marshall Plan. This strategy, which helped Western Europe recover, also spurred a turning point in history from global war to an era of peace and prosperity.

Today in 2020, we again face mass suffering and uncertainty. Again, groups will need to work together to recover and rebuild. Only now, we look to a generation of young adults who are extremely tuned in to the world. Unlike the Harvard grads of 1947, you are well acquainted with what is happening all over the globe! You’ve been online since you were toddlers. You consume popular culture from near and far. Your thinking has been shaped by a multiplicity of mentors who speak various languages. You have access to the truth about our cruelest problems such as racism, economic injustice, mass incarceration and hunger.

I am hopeful, because your access to cross cultural information and experiences has made you exceptionally compassionate and aware. You know that you are inextricably connected to the whole human family—across generations, ethnicities and access to resources. There is no limit to how you might serve humanity well—public service, teaching, writing, parenting, researching, healing, feeding…

It’s true. You’re entering the workforce in a time of global suffering. For some time, you and your peers will grieve the loss of rituals and rites of passage like grad parties, family memorials, weddings and birthday celebrations. Your sister Anne will give birth to your nephew, and there will be no baby shower– perhaps not even a hospital or home visit. These are big deals that will change us forever.

You and your peers have a hike ahead of you. So, don’t accept any pressure to answer the big questions about jobs, housing plans or graduate school on anyone’s timeline but your own. There are so many ways you can use your voice and share your talents, wherever you are. Oswald Chambers said that prayer is the highest form of social justice. Jesus said that sharing food and water with the hungry and thirsty proves that one is close to God.

The willingness to connect and serve the world led your grandparents to overcome global tragedy and create a better world. Now it’s our turn. The same spirit that empowered Jesus is still healing the world from generation to generation. I treasure every moment we have to love and serve together. Love, Mom.

Spiritual Practice

Friends: If you have endured this mercilessly long post, will you also join me in serving the class of 2020? When we write out our graduation cards, can we do the following?

  • Empathize with the graduate. It must be terribly disappointing and weird to miss the rituals and festivals of graduation.
  • Affirm the graduate. Graduations mark a very special passage from one stage of life and learning to the next. The world needs brave and brokenhearted young adults more now than ever. “We have the highest confidence in your talents and your courageous heart, and we can’t wait to see what you teach the world in the next decade and beyond!”

If you live with a graduate, please affirm them NOW. Say, “Word on the street is that you and your class are going to be a very special influence in the next decade. I’m not sure what that will look like, but I can’t wait to see how it turns out.”

God bless you, and please encourage a graduate this week!
Katie