The Name Game

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1

Gracious God, help us to become masters of recognizing and regulating own emotions and thus a transforming presence in an anxious world. Amen


My colleague Ryan Howell is on Facebook Live, 10am weekdays, sharing a Daily Drop of Hope. This morning the topic was The Blame Game. I encourage you to join Ryan for a hopeful thoughts and actual Bible wisdom. (Sometimes the Bible is used to spread foolery—just sayin’.)

And now for my expertise on the Blame Game: I have thousands of stories of me using blame to discharge my own emotional discomfort. However, I have no actual video footage of me doing these childish things. And, since videos of people mercilessly blaming people are funny, I’ll borrow one from Brené Brown.

Here’s what we know about the blame game from researcher Brené Brown and the Daring Way™ community of helping professionals.

  1. We play it when we’re feeling hurt, frustrated, afraid. (Often it’s fear.)
  2. The antidote is to play the Name Game instead.

The Name Game is a little game you play with yourself when you have a blaming thought or say a blaming thing. The object of the Name Game is to graciously NAME a few things about yourself in an effort to stop the spiral and observe yourself truthfully. The payoff is peace, love and a little JOY.

Make no mistake the Name Game takes skill and courage. In order to win you need to:

  1. Name the feeling/emotion you are experiencing. (Here’s a list of core emotions; be aware that anger is what we consider a secondary emotion. It’s usually masking other emotions. Name the emotions that often show up as anger for you.)
  2. Name the place in your body where you physically feel discomfort. (Rapid pulse, dry mouth, constricted throat, racing heart, churning stomach, aching head, shaking hands, weak legs… Are we having fun yet?)
  3. Name the thoughts in your mind: (What thought loops occupy your mind; or what does your thought-process look/sound like when you’re playing the blame game?)

The Name Game is a hard alternative to blame, and it’s the only path to freedom when you get emotionally hooked. Naming your emotions and mental story lines is a way to become a transforming presence in yourself, your home and your workplace.

Spiritual Practice

Think about a time you blamed or were tempted to blame. Can you name what you were feeling?

Name the places in your body where you felt uncomfortable. And name the thoughts you were having when you blamed.

In this season, let’s be on the lookout for our own negative emotions, bodily discomfort and scary thoughts. AND! Let’s be watching out for fellow travelers who are having these experiences; and let’s show them some grace. Empathy means being able to feel what the other is feeling. Imagine what they might be feeling in their body and saying in their mind. Then say a prayer for the person and let it go!

Grace can take you places hustling can’t! (Liz Gilbert)

Have a blessed evening; and rest safely,

Katie

Take Courage

Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side. Later that night, the boat was pounded by the waves, and the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.When the disciples saw him, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matthew 14

Lord Jesus, who brings calm out of chaos: Help us recover our True Selves, that we might trust you with courageous and free hearts. Amen


The Bible tells a story about Jesus’s disciples being afraid during a storm. (A common childhood fear.) One evening after a long day of teaching and feeding a crowd, Jesus directed his friends to take their boat to the other side of a large lake. He then headed into the mountains for an evening of solitude. (A common practice among wise parents and servant leaders!)

At dawn he comes walking to them on the stormy lake. When they see him, they are terrified and telling themselves a catastrophic story—“Not only are we stuck in a violent storm, but a dark spirit is coming after us too!”

The disciples’ emotional reaction lines up with Brené Brown’s research on courage and human nature. When something bad happens to us, the brain immediately concocts a story to make sense out of the events. The story does NOT need to be true; in fact it’s usually untrue. Your brain is looking for the quickest explanation in an effort to protect yourself. This is why it’s so hard to stay grounded in faith when something scary is happening.

The disciples are frightened by the storm. They don’t quite trust Jesus, because they’re not yet convinced of God’s power to walk us through difficulty. Jesus explains to them that they have “hard hearts”—they are stuck thinking in the false and fearful categories of scarcity, victimization and self-protection.

It’s easy in this troubled world to forget that we are the children of God. When get overwhelmed, we fall prey to anxiety about scarcity and catastrophe.

Spiritual Practice:

Lent is a good time to remember who we are and what it means to be children of God and disciples of Christ. In the story, Jesus urges us, “Take courage! Don’t be afraid.” The story tells us that Spirit of Christ is more powerful than any threat– and able to calm any chaos. But this confidence can only happen in us when we are grounded in our true identity in Christ. Without access to your True Self, you cannot freely exercise faith when storms come. The opposite of freedom and well-being is fear and greed. But we have the option to choose!

For me, the best way to overcome fear is to stop and really feel it and say to myself, “I’m scared, but it’s only a feeling. Fear has no power; but God’s Love does!” When I don’t stop and talk to myself about fear, it spirals. When I stop, breath and confess my fear, I have the opportunity to remember God’s presence and receive Peace. This is not a perfect science, but it’s a good start.

As I’m typing this, the news is telling scary stories about the consequences of coronavirus in Italy. I’m glad we can practice some simple self-care wherever we are.

Have a blessed evening, and rest safely,

Katie

Simply Enough

Every generous act of giving comes from above. James, the brother of Jesus

Giving God, we are amazed by your creative generosity. Help us to trust and participate in your way of sharing and providing. Give us eyes to see who is being left out; and give us the courage to broaden our circles of care.   


Yesterday afternoon I made corned beef and cabbage. I couldn’t find a green cabbage, but I found a red one—good enough. I didn’t have large carrots, but Amy had a small bag of mini carrots—good enough. I was out of onions, and a neighbor gave me her two onions—simply enough.

This ordinary experience has me thinking about the way God moves provisions through people to overcome scarcity and create enough.

Remember the Jesus story where he has the disciples seat a hungry crowd on the green grass? Jesus and his team then create a meal out of next-to-nothing. The story is all about God overcoming scarcity. Everyone was invited to the table, and everyone was fed and satisfied—unlimited inclusion; unlimited food.

Contrast this with the Old Testament story of Joseph, his brothers and an Egyptian Pharaoh during a famine. Joseph tells his brothers to lie to Pharaoh and tell Pharaoh they are cattlemen rather than shepherds when they ask for food. Pharaoh controls the food supply; and he dislikes shepherds.

Walter Brueggemann comments: Pharaoh’s practice is quite ordinary. We are always sorting out people to see who qualifies for abundance, whether by race, class, gender, character, education, performance, or production. This is standard practice in every society. But Jesus is extraordinary. No norms of qualification. No questions asked. All are welcome! All are fed! Jesus’s extraordinary generosity contrasts with the ordinary outlook of Pharaoh.

Spiritual Practice:

Consider these things: With whom are you sharing these days? It matters not what you have nor what you need: It matters that we share. God moves resources through people. Period. If our table is open to everyone, our hands are extended for sharing and our hearts are humble for receiving… we simply will have enough.

With whom are you sharing these days? Who shares with you? Leave a comment and tell us about your circle of sharing and how you plan to expand it during our community-wide struggle with the spread of the coronavirus.

Have a blessed day and peaceful night,
Katie

A Daily Drop of Nature

The whole earth is filled with awe at your wonders;
    where morning dawns, where evening fades,
    you call forth songs of joy. Psalm 65

Creator God who is present in Jesus and every creature, forgive our small, cramped sense of life. During these unsettling days, draw us into your larger LOVE so that we might experience pure JOY.


In the past week of the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve watched an evolution of mindset and practices in my neighborhood. It’s good.

Saturday morning, I jogged down to the River’s Edge Natural Area. The route was oddly quiet—fewer walkers, runners and canine companions than usual. I started to wonder why my neighbors were missing their nature-time on a fairly mild weekend morning.

Only one car was in the parking lot. As I got closer, I could see a person asleep in the driver’s seat, and there was a sign was on the window. I was afraid to get close enough to read the sign, but I guessed it was someone letting us know—I’m not camping here; I’m just resting. Or, I’m homeless; Please let me sleep!

I left the person in peace and finished my circuit around the ponds. Still I saw no other exercisers. The lone car was still alone. Suddenly I panicked, “Has there been a big announcement that everyone should stay inside?” I checked my phone and saw nothing noteworthy.

Then I remembered how scrambled up my own morning routine has been for the past week. My appetite is weird. I’m turning on the news at odd times. I’m checking my phone. I’m having a hard time prioritizing work and domestic tasks… I imagine that we’re all in the same boat with shifting routines and some level of anxiety.

Fast forward to today, and the scene was much different. My exercise route was packed with people, children, and new dogs! I suspect the community is responding to the needs of our own souls. Mindful of the toll that uncertainty is taking of our emotional well-being, we’re looking for ways to experience some of life’s simple, healthy JOYS. Getting outside with pets and Framily (friends and fam) is one such JOY.

At times it’s almost impossible to enjoy God’s gifts, because we are understandably consumed with the dangers and responsibilities of life. Many days we miss God’s abundance in the rivers, mountains, singing birds and faithful dogs of the EVERY-day life. Too often, we miss the JOY of human Love. These things are not only free gifts; they are God’s healing gifts that reduce anxiety and bring hope.

Spiritual Practice:

When I can’t seem to remember what JOY feels like, I try to find one sweet thought from scripture or a book I’m reading. And then I spend some time outside in nature mediating on that thought. And if someone in my Framily wants to join me, I swap the meditation part for some companionship. Both experiences are powerful forms of prayer and healing.

While we’re in this struggle together, let’s get a daily drop of hope– from nature.

Have a blessed day and restful night,

Katie

Sleep and Play (Day 14)

If we want to live a Wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating sleep and play, and about letting go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self-worth. Brené Brown

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake. Psalm 23


In The Gifts of Imperfection, Brené Brown develops the Ten Guideposts for Wholehearted Living. #7 is Cultivating Play and Rest. In her research she found that the ‘oddballs’ she calls ‘the Wholehearted’ have a secret: They prioritize rest and fun in their lives.

The 23rd Psalm celebrates the same secret. The poet describes God as a wise shepherd who knows where the green pastures are from season to season. God leads us right to them. God also knows when it time to stop working and restore energy by a cool stream. God provides what we need in a way that is not only adequate– it’s generous.

From time to time I follow Brown’s advice and update my “ingredients for joy and meaning” list. Today, I’m going to make a fresh list of the specific conditions that are in place when everything feels good in my life. Then I’ll check that list against my to-do list and my list of goals. The results are always surprising.

What about you? It’s lunacy for us to head out on an adventure like Rising Strong without a deliberate life plan for rest and enjoyment. So how about it? Who will join me by making a list of your “ingredients for joy and meaning” in life?

Starter Prayer

LORD God, lead me on the right path for Wholehearted living. Help me integrate the hard work of Rising Strong with the gift of being well loved.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are well into week two, and heading into week three, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 4-5 of Rising Strong. The topics are: Reckoning with emotion, the rumble and Living BIG.