Victory

Death has been swallowed up in victory. 1 Corinthians 15

God of new life, heal us from our fear of death, that we may no longer participate in the deathly swirl of greed and violence. Give us liberty to do your good work in the world. Amen. (Walter Brueggemann)


Did you know Easter is just getting started? We are only now finishing the first of seven weeks! Just as there are 12 traditional days of Christmas for me to unwind in the midwinter quiet and light, so too I have seven weeks of Easter sunshine.

In this Covid-19 crisis, I’m thinking more about the serious side of Easter than the straight-up sunny side. Perhaps in Aprils-past, I’ve not fully appreciated Easter’s power over death, nor thought too much about my role in the ongoing mystery of overcoming death in every-day life. I’m sure I still don’t get it, but I am a little more aware today.

In 1 Corinthians 15:51-58 Paul makes a powerful Easter statement followed by an imperative call to action: Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

Walter Brueggemann comments: Paul’s claim does not announce that we will not die. It announces, rather, that we do not need to live our lives in response to the power and sting of death that wants to negate our life, because death has been disarmed of its power to hurt us. This is defining news for us because we live in a society that is largely propelled by the fear of death. The outcome of that fear is anxiety, greed, and violence, all grounded in an elemental fear of scarcity; death specializes in scarcity and parsimony. (I looked up “parsimony”; it means tight-fistedness.)

Here is the JOY for those whose hearts are renovated in Christ’s Love: Though we are fighting a threatening disease, and though there is fear-driven anxiety, greed and violence in our society, those forces are obsolete and irrelevant to your life. Why? Because such a negative spirit has lost all its authority over your actual/real life in Christ.

Because of this Good News, Paul turns the corner with “therefore”: Be steady and constant without anxiety; Above all, excel in your performance of God’s work.

Spiritual Practice

I realize this Easter lesson adds responsibility to our lives. It’s not the typical way of thinking about Easter freedom. But where else will we go with our thoughts? This is the actual Message of Life. You carry in your very body, and within your household, and in your relationships, Christ’s Presence, which cannot be negated by anything going on in the world around you.

This Easter Friday reflect on your importance in the ongoing Easter story. How can you be hope and life to some part of the human family this weekend?

Come Monday, we get to keep learning Easter.

Blessings,
Katie

Mindfulness

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is… Set your minds on things above… For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3

Easter Thursday Prayer: Christ who shelters and nurtures my True Life, renovate my thoughts and heal my heart. Help me experience the JOY of being in this ONE moment.  


(This week the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the courage-building skills of rising strong. It’s my way of staying in the Easter Spirit for the whole week!)

Yesterday, I forgot to write the Evening Drop of Hope. This happened because I was practicing mindfulness. Having started the week with a mindful Monday, I was planning to practice being in the NOW all week long! So, moving from afternoon tasks into the evening hours, I made the mental commitment to pay attention to my cooking and my housemates. I wasn’t going to let media, or the worries of the workday, take over my head. In the course of paying attention to my inner life, I dropped a task that matters.

This happens to me a lot. There seems to be a tradeoff between present moment awareness and getting my stuff done! If you have figured out how to have it both ways, please do share!

In any case, this little drop of hope is dedicated to the art of mindfulness, which you now know I am NOT qualified to teach.

What is mindfulness?

The definition of mindfulness I carry around with me comes from the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley.

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judging them—without believing, for instance, that there’s a “right” or “wrong” way to think or feel in a given moment. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune in to what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

Colossians 3:1-3 is my theme verse for mindfulness. (See above.)

Spiritual Practice

In order to practice mindfulness, I try to do a couple of elementary things that we teach in the Daring Way™.

First, I write myself a permission slip. For instance: “Permission to make dinner while only making dinner.” Or, “Permission to have fun with my housemates without squeezing in one last workday task.” If I’m feeling some stress, I might write this permission slip on a Post-It Note and physically place it in my space. Elementary, my dear!

The other elementary thing I do is pay attention to my breathing. Having decided to re-focus on the NOW, and having written a permission slip, I pay attention to what I’m feeling in my body. If I’m not relaxed and able to enjoy myself, I know that something is UP. The best way I know to pay attention to deeper truths in my body is to focus on my breathing. I’m currently favoring a breathing practiced called Ujjayi Pranayama used in various types of therapeutic Yoga. Here’s a short video, if you want to try it out.

I feel a little self-conscious recommending practices that might cause you to be less productive in the short-term. I’m also pretty hopeful that in the long run, we’ll be more creative and whole if we find mindfulness.

Love you!
Katie

Hopefulness

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn,
    your vindication like the noonday sun.
Psalm 37

Easter Tuesday Prayer: God of all futures, give us the tenacity to hope, that we may not give in to fear, despair, or cynicism. Amen.


(This week the evening drop of hope is dedicated to the courage-building skills of rising strong. It’s my way of staying in the Easter Spirit for the whole week!)

Today, the debate over public health versus economic freedom is raging in the news. The president claims he has absolute authority to decide when we can safely open schools and public spaces. The state governors say, “Not so fast.” Well, no matter who gets to decide, you and I won’t have much of a say.

When your future is at the mercy of government decision makers, where do you find hope?

Since 2014, the church where I lead has had a motto: Hope is Here. The motto has at least three meanings: 1.) Our church family embodies a deep sense of hopefulness; 2.) The Spirit of Christ brings Hope, and Christ is in everything; 3.) Because the Spirit of Christ is in us, Hope is with us when we gather, and hope goes with us when we’re scattered into the community.

What is Hope?

Brené Brown writes that “Hope is a function of struggle.” So, it makes sense that our church rose into this character of hopefulness through some painful struggles. It also makes sense that Crossroads is influencing individuals and families with Hope during the painful struggle of Covid-19.

Next to Love and Belonging, we want those we love to have a deep sense of hopefulness.

This evening, I want to offer us a way to foster hopefulness in our personal lives—NOW.

Before learning about C.R. Snyder’s research on hope, I thought hope was a feeling of possibility; and as a theologian I had all kinds of Bible material on the topic. But according to Snyder, hope isn’t an emotion; it’s a way of thinking about something. Emotional literacy plays a supporting role, but hope is really a style of directing the mind, which involves goals, pathways and agency.

According to Snyder, hope happens when:

  1. We have the ability to set realistic goals (I know where I want to go).
  2. We are able to figure out how to move toward those goals, including the ability to stay flexible and develop alternative routes (I know how to get there, I’m persistent, and I can tolerate disappointment and try again).
  3. We believe in ourselves (I can do this!).

HOPE as a Spiritual Practice:

I realize every person’s situation is different today. While one medical worker wonders when she will hold her baby again, a fellow parent on the same block wonders when he will walk his child to the school bus stop, or receive a paycheck, again. The intensity of longing and wondering puts the squeeze on the hopefulness of both parents.

No matter what you hope for, do yourself a favor and meditate your way through Snyder’s pathway and your situation. 1.) Envision meeting your goal and talk to God about the worthiness of what you hope for. 2.) Admit, “God I don’t have the power to control the outcome; but I am brave enough to commit and persist through the twists and turns of my situation (Read Psalm 37). 3.) Finally, remind yourself of a time in the past when you faced uncertainty and persisted. Say, “I’ve done it before; I can do this again.”

Is this a formula for hopefulness? Not really. It’s a spiritual practice that trains the mind and transforms the self. I offer it to us, because I’m passionate about us learning HOW to hope in life-changing ways.

Rest well and take JOY,
Katie

Divine

God has given something very great and wonderful… you are able to share the divine nature!  2 Peter 1:4

LORD God, give me the courage to learn more about my own nature: my thoughts, my emotions and my reactions. And help me overcome the human tendency to avoid this topic altogether. Amen


The core “good news” (gospel) of the Christian faith is the promise of whole-life transformation. It’s well stated in 2 Peter 1:4: God has given something very great and wonderful… you are able to share the divine nature!

And how divine do you feel? Me? Not so much!

Have you ever bolted from a family argument and distanced yourself from others for the rest of the day? Have you ever been harsh with a toddler? And at work, do you ever feel overlooked in a meeting and start over-functioning or shutting down? Do you know anyone who bottled their feelings, and then ended their marriage with an affair? Is anyone here on a quest for validation from parents or the boss, and you are numbing the pain with over-spending or alcohol?

We all struggle with negative emotions and bad behavior. And in these days of COVID-19 we’re under a lot of relational pressure

There is a huge gap between the divine life modeled by Jesus and the way we sometimes treat one another and ourselves. And this mistreatment is almost always a matter of offloading our own emotional discomfort onto other people. Offloading occurs at the interpersonal level and the societal level. Offloading hurt is the source of most relational stress– everything from marital conflict and sibling rivalry to racism, sexism, mass incarceration and war.

[When hurt] is left unchecked, it festers, grows, and leads to behaviors that are completely out of line with whom we want to be, and thinking that can sabotage our relationships and careers. Brené Brown.

Spiritual Practice

Check out these six ways we offload our hurt onto others. Where do you see yourself in these descriptions?

Read 2 Peter 1:4 and the starter prayer at the top of this post. Breathe deeply and thank God for the Hope that you are becoming more like Jesus with every step you take on the journey of life.

Self-observation is an essential component of healing and transformation. This step is a powerful beginning to your next experience with growth and courage.

Rest well,
Katie

The Art Of Thanksgiving

May you be made strong with God’s strength.
And have True Power and be prepared
to endure all things with patience.
And may you learn the Art of Thanksgiving
from the God who has promised you
inheritance as the children of light.

(Adapted from Colossians Chapter 1)


Every spring our family would hold our breath as the goslings and their parents migrated from the ponds near our home to the larger lake across the road.

The fuzzy yellow babes would toddle behind their parents through dangerous territory. They had to cross streets and make their way through yards where dogs and cats were watching. When the processional began, our own young daughters would work together, securing the neighborhood predators and summoning their father to direct traffic.

Fortunately, the geese always reached their destination safely. And we were amazed at the parents’ confidence as they led their vulnerable families through potential hazards and on to the real world where they would grow to maturity.

Today, I feel a little like Mother Goose. I’ve just facilitated my first 40 Days of Rising Strong group experience. I’ve heard your encouraging stories and over-heard your brave conversations. We’ve been able to discuss, and even practice, the rising strong process with friends on the same journey. And now it’s time to cross the road and walk into some challenging environments.

The holiday season will be rife with all familiar stressors and emotional triggers. We will be with some people who have never heard of the Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted or reckoning with emotion or the story rumble. This is going to be quite a challenge. How will we hold on to our divine dignity while honoring the dignity of others?

The mother goose used her natural instincts to get her family safely to the other side. Unfortunately, our natural human instincts aren’t as effective. We are more complicated creatures; we have emotional wounds and flaws. We need our rising strong practices, and we need to employ them as spiritual practices—inviting God into the practice itself.

As Christ followers who have learned to rise, we have newfound wisdom to understand what is happening to us and how we can co-operate with the divine life that is gently working and growing within us.

We can nurture this process with prayer and awareness.

Today, I am meditating on Paul’s prayer for wisdom and thanksgiving in Colossians 1. The phrase that is speaking to me is: Learn the Art of Thanksgiving from the God who has promised you inheritance as the children of light.

Sometimes I don’t feel like a thankful child of light. When my feelings get the best of me and I say or do something to aggravate a relational dynamic, I want to remember that God is working in me to transform me into a shining light.

I hope you will join me and keep Paul’s prayer close this week. And I encourage us to review the rising strong practices. You pick two! Pick one that you are good at, and pick one you suck at! Then practice these two with reckless abandon on Thanksgiving Day. I’ve chosen: 1.) Believing that people are doing the best they can and 2.) Choosing courage over comfort.

If anyone is up for it, I would love to hear your questions and wisdoms in the comments section on this blog.

I’m Thankful for You! Katie

Starter Prayer

LORD God, give me True Power and teach me the Art of Thanksgiving.

Can Do (Day 40)

Showing up is our power.
Story is our way home.
Truth is our song.
We are the brave and brokenhearted.
We are rising strong. Brené Brown

I’ve been having a great celebration in the Lord because your concern for me has once again burst into flower. I’m not talking about lacking anything. I’ve learnt to be content with what I have. I know how to do without, and I know how to cope with plenty. In every possible situation I’ve learned the hidden secret of being full and hungry, of having plenty and going without, and it’s this: I have strength for everything in the one who gives me power. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 4:10-13)


The Rising strong process is largely about finding our True Power. Throughout Rising Strong, Brené Brown explains how the brain works and how human beings tend to react to uncomfortable feelings by using false power. Some of us over-function: I won’t feel; I will do; I don’t need help, I help. Others under-function: I won’t function, I will fall apart. I don’t help, I need help. Some people lash out when they’re hurting. Other people distance themselves. Every personality has a style of misusing power.

The Book of Philippians is the Apostle Paul’s ‘thank you note’ to a group of friends who helped him survive prison. They sent financial gifts and visitors. The Philippian group had also received a great deal from Paul in the form of spiritual leadership and teaching. In essence Paul and his friends had formed a mutually supportive relationship of giving and receiving. They trusted one another. Each partner was willing to be vulnerable with the other in times of need. Each was empathetic with the other in the face down moments—coming alongside without judgment.

The friendship illustrated throughout the letter, is a beautiful example of rising strong in action—of finding God’s power in ourselves and others.

This rising strong life is counterintuitive and somewhat rare. In the next and (and final) paragraph of Philippians 4, Paul mentions that “no other church shared with me in this manner of giving and receiving.” Apparently, the Philippians were practicing the ‘physics of vulnerability’ quite well, and Paul was commending them for it. He was also modeling the vulnerability of giving and receiving.

When we begin spiritual practices like receiving help, Living BIG, integrity of values, BRAVING Trust or feeling JOY, they feel unnatural. And yet, I’m convinced that these practices are, as Paul puts it, the “hidden secret” for contentment.

Our lives will be utterly different when we learn the secret of contentment—living in the power of vulnerability, which is only possible because Christ gives us grace.

It is possible for all of us to become brave with our lives every day. Once we have fallen in the service of being brave, and once we have experienced the power of vulnerability, we are able to continue living moment by moment, rising strong.

Starter Prayer

LORD God, teach me the hidden secret of contentment and strength, which comes from Christ‘s power working in me.

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.

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.