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.

Worthy of Love and Belonging (Day 32)

I define wholehearted living as engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am brave and worthy of love and belonging.” Brené Brown.

But our citizenship[l] is in heaven, and it is from there that we are expecting a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, by the power that also enables him to make all things subject to himself. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 20-21)


In Philippians 3, Paul is comparing and contrasting the power of God with the power of earthly rulers and systems. He is admitting that even faithful believers can get confused and put our faith in the world’s survival tactics. He is urging us to think of ourselves as ‘citizens of heaven’ instead. For Christ’s followers, the faith community (church) is a ‘colony of heaven’; and we are responsible for bringing God’s rule into our homes, churches and the spaces where we daily live.

Of course, we’re not very good at this! Plus, things often go wrong, and as Brené Brown puts it: You’re going to stumble, fall, and get your ass kicked. And sometimes we simply find ourselves weak and helpless, because our minds and bodies are subject to sickness, aging, fatigue and all that fun stuff.

Even if we have turned our lives over to the saving grace of a higher power (in the Christian sense, Christ Jesus), we still have climbing to do and falls to rise from. In the words of Robert Frost, I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep.

Nevertheless, we hope and trust that Christ Jesus himself will keep on transforming our hearts, life circumstances and relationships. And much of our hope is in the long game—that better days are coming when Christ will thoroughly transform creation.

I believe that the concept of ‘wholehearted living’, which came out of Brené Brown’s research, is similar to what Jesus called ‘choosing the narrow road that leads to life’. I also think it maps with Paul’s idea of ‘being transformed through the renewing of our minds’ rather than ‘conforming’ to the world’s ways.

In Rising Strong, Dr. Brown talks about living wholeheartedly from the starting place of worthiness. How does your faith in God (Christian or other) help you establish and maintain a sense of “worthiness” each day? What difference does “worthiness” make in your ability to live a brave and joyful life?

Starter Prayer

LORD God, help me begin and end each day grounded in worthiness.

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.

No Greater Threat (Day 31)

There is no greater threat to the critics and cynics and fearmongers than those of us who are willing to fall because we have learned how to rise. Brené Brown.

Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me, and observe those who live according to the example you have in us. For many live as enemies of the cross of Christ; I have often told you of them, and now I tell you even with tears. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:17-18)


The critics and cynics and fearmongers…

As we read the Apostle Paul, we see how he had people problems. Does anyone reading this have a people problem?? Think: controlling parent, angry teen, uncaring boss, competitive co-worker, mean teacher, emotionally detached partner, betrayal by a friend… Or what about a problem in our culture?  Corrupt politicians, mass incarceration, illiteracy, toxic social media, neighbors threatened with deportation…

Some people read today’s passage and assume Paul was calling everyone outside his group an enemy. To many vocal Christians in today’s world, an “enemy of Christ” would be anyone who does not share that Christian’s view of the Bible and brand of morality.

Paul was referring to something else entirely. Here’s the background: Philippi was a Roman Colony. And naturally the citizens of Phillipi resented some of the tactics used by Rome to keep the colonial citizens in line: Violence, control, unjust economic practices, ethnic persecution. And! The oldest trick in the book: “Bow down to our emperor, or off to jail you go.” Furthermore, Paul had trouble with people in his own religion—fundamentalists who were pushing a purity agenda over and against the actual Good News of Jesus.

So, Paul is sick and tired of the cynics, critics and fearmongers of the day. And he is beseeching his little group to discover (and use) their true power. Paul knows he has discovered the secret of contentment and actual influence, and he wants to empower his listeners to follow his example in dealing with both petty and life-threatening challenges while remaining hopeful and full of faith.

Chapter 11 of Rising Strong is about pulling together the key learnings of the rising strong process, and beginning to apply them faithfully. The chapter ends with The Manifesto of the Brave and Brokenhearted—a celebration of those who choose to work through life’s challenges with True Power. The manifesto is an apt summary of what Paul has in mind when he says, “imitate me and people who live out a good example.”

Tomorrow, we will continue into the high-point of Philippians, where Paul describes the place of belonging for everyone who chooses life along the Jesus Way.

Starter Prayer

LORD God, point me to the people worth imitating and following. Help me be a good example and lead the way for others.

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.

Life-giving Endings (Day 27)

What has to end or die so we can experience a rebirth in our relationships? Brené Brown.

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,  and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. The Apostle Paul (Philippians 3:10-11)


For me, today’s passage is the most personal and telling statement Paul makes in the Prison Letters. Paul wants to experience whole-life transformation, and he realizes that something must die in order for that to happen.

He realizes that Resurrection is a mystery, and he’s not sure how this will be accomplished. I suspect he is gazing at two horizons in his mind’s eye: Living in union with God now; and the assurance of safe passage through a physical death into eternal life with God.

I cherish Paul’s statement, because I have these longings myself. I want to know True Life today: healing, character transformation, JOY, freedom, creativity, Love and Wisdom… I want these goods in my heart, my home, our church, my workplace. I want a flourishing life in the kingdom of God with the family of God—NOW. And I want to see this Resurrection happening in the world, where individuals and groups of people are living in spiritual darkness, hunger, war, persecution, loneliness or exclusion in their earthly lives.

I also want to be a part of the ultimate Resurrection that God is accomplishing in all of creation and which is everlasting and beyond our dreams.

This understanding that something must die as a part of Resurrection is actually addressed by the author in Rising Strong. When she discusses Rumbling with Forgiveness, Dr. Brown frames ‘forgiveness’ as the process of healing from loss and experiencing new birth. I want to refer you to read this section in Chapter 7. Here are a few bites to whet your appetite:

“In order for forgiveness to happen, something has to die. If you make a choice to forgive, you have to face into the pain. You simply have to hurt.”

“The death or ending that forgiveness necessitates comes in many shapes and forms. We may need to bury our expectations or dreams. We may need to relinquish the power that comes with “being right” or put to rest the idea that we can do what’s in our hearts and still retain the support or approval of others.”

“So, forgiveness is not forgetting or walking away from accountability or condoning a hurtful act; it’s the process of taking back and healing our lives so we can truly live.”

After you read Rumbling with Forgiveness in Chapter 7, consider these questions:

  1. Where are you holding on too tight, because you are afraid of experiencing the pain and grief of letting go of an expectation (forgiveness)?
  2. What will you lose and grief if you let go of this expectation?
  3. What will be resurrected in your soul or relationships if you choose to walk through this grief?
  4. What expectation did God let go of when Christ Jesus came and died among us?
  5. How do you feel about this larger way of thinking about forgiveness?

Starter Prayer

LORD God, light the path of forgiveness before me. Help me make forgiveness a regular practice of rising strong.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are in week 4, of this 6-week study. The focus is Chapters 7-8 of Rising Strong. The topics are: Rumbling with difficult emotions and human need. Next week our discussion groups will focus on chapters 8-9.

Opponents (Day 11)

Living BIG [Boundaries, Integrity, Generosity] is saying: ‘Yes, I’m going to be generous in my assumptions and intentions while standing solidly in my integrity and being very clear about what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable. Brené Brown

Do not be intimidated by your opponents. Their influence will not last, and you are being saved. And this is God’s doing. For God has graciously granted you the privilege not only of believing in Christ, but of suffering for him as well—since you are having the same struggle that you saw I had and now hear that I still have. Phil 1: 27-30


“Don’t let him see you’re afraid. I have my walking stick, and we will pass by him quickly and confidently.”

My Grandma whispered these words to calm my fears as we set out on a country walk that would take us past a snarling dog. But I was afraid! I was seven years old, and that year our family dog had bitten the milkman. What might this wilder dog do to me?

Swallowing my feelings, I walked beside Grandma. My faith was tested when the dog charged up to us, stopped, sniffed and ran back to his porch. He was only curious. But had I screamed and cried and run away, he might have chased me.

“Don’t let your opponents intimidate you,” Paul tells the Philippians. Of course those who oppose our gospel values are not simply large dogs. Something sadder and more insidious is usually going on. From the first-century world of Paul and Jesus to our day, small-minded people have opposed the gospel.

When I say ‘opposed the gospel’ I’m not referring to certain religious values that might be opposed: like prayer in schools or keeping Muslims out of office. I’m referring to gospel values like compassion, empathy, respecting differences, generosity, kindness, freedom and wisdom.

These gospel values are topics that pervade all of Brené Brown’s research and teaching. In your world, an opponent might be a critical parent, an uncaring teacher, spiritually abusive clergy, disgruntled co-workers, school bullies or an oppressive social system like sexism or homophobia.

In the Rising Strong™ process we learn the skills to stand up to our opponents without becoming like them. In chapter six of Rising Strong you will learn about the skill of ‘Living BIG’ (Boundaries, Integrity and Generosity)

It is not enough to extend generosity of spirit to our opponents. Neither abusive systems of power nor petty selfishness will yield to your generosity. However! When you add clarity of values and boundary-keeping to your life skills, you will rise strong in the presence of your enemies.

Starter Prayer

LORD God, teach me how to Live BIG whenever someone or something threatens my gospel values. Help me discover my values and learn to cherish them and use them well.

Reading Focus for Rising Strong, by Brené Brown

We are heading into week two of this 6-week study. The focus for week two is Chapters 3-5 of Rising Strong. The topics are: Owning our stories, reckoning with emotion, and an introduction to the rumble.