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I've joined the blogging team at Conversations Journal and my first post is online. Pop over and have a look at Elizabeth's Hidden Investment, a timely reflection through Mary's eyes as she and Joseph made their way toward Bethlehem for that first Christmas morning.
These past few weeks have brought big advances for Deeper Devotion and thus for my life. Several important initiatives have come to fruition, some of them after loads of work and anticipation. Therefore there is much to celebrate this month. Gray and cold it may be outside, but as I look back on all that has come together, my heart is celebrating. Join the celebration by commenting below or sending me an email.
As the celebration continues, I'm pleased to announce that I will offer an alternative location to my clients as of February.
Beginning in February 2011, I will work a small portion of my time out of the Eliagg Christian counseling practice located in Uithoorn. A meeting early this month with Rens Filius, the psychotherapist who leads this practice of psychologists, opened the door to this new development.
The timing is perfect for this. My clientelle is growing and my new brochure is in print. Working in this professional setting will make it feasible to meet with more Christian leaders, a group who naturally values soul care but often suffers from soul neglect.
My hopeful prayer is that the brochure will, in partnership with my website, communicate clearly the value of spiritual direction for the lives of both established and developing leaders.
You'll find the details for both locations on my Contact page.
Sunday was a lovely day at church. After inspiring worship and a brief sermon on prayer, I led the congregation in a guided prayer experience. During the communion and the worship which followed, I had the privilege to pray for individuals and my heart is still soaking in the hunger, openness and dependence upon God in which I shared. Sara asked me to post the texts so here's for you.
I feel like a proud mama.
After months of puzzling with how to express the heart of what I do on a single sheet of paper...
After weeks of pouring over the text ...
After days of envisioning and refining the design...
After an unexpected puzzle with the print process
and disciplining myself to keep waiting patiently...
It's a work of art to celebrate ... and to circulate.
The graphic design work was done by Jeff Plowman, a former Christian Associates colleague of mine. I highly value Jeff's creative instincts, and I think you'll agree that he has captured the heart of my ministry beautifully in this piece. He also lent his expertise as a design consultant for my website. Jeff is a church planter who supports himself with freelance graphic design projects. If you ever are interested in hiring Jeff for a project, I'd be happy to pass along his contact details to you.
Last month I was invited by my church's elder board to lead them in an evening on discernment. A new workshop was developed which I believe has the potential to meet a significant felt need in other churches as well. The task of discerning God's wisdom and leading is no easy task, for individuals or for groups. My workshop, Discernment: Deciding with God facilitates the recognition among leadership teams of the important role of deep and intentional listening--to God, to each other, and to one's own inner movements--as essential components to the discernment process.
Discernment is a common theme in spiritual direction and I've taken this as a prompter to deepen my knowledge. These new books are my current best picks to guide my process of going deeper:
Suzanne G. Farnham
Advance #1 The Dutch side of the website is finally 'up to snuff'. I've had help from many people along the way, dear friends and family who have lent their time to translate, spellcheck, tweak and translate some more. I am immensely grateful for each one of you.
The latest contributor is Melanie van Kooten of WriteMinds. Melanie has brought her translation expertise to the spiritual direction section of this site. She's expressed so well the difficult-to-convey nuances of the soul work which is at the heart of what I do. Melanie's effective and critical thinking has even benefitted the original English pages which are now tighter in response to her work. If you ever need an English to Dutch translator, I highly recommend Melanie to you!
Deeper Devotion will remain a predominantly English site, but I'm pleased to offer a Dutch side which contains all the important entry pages. On each English page which has a corresponding page in Dutch, you'll see a little Netherlands flag in the top right corner (and visa versa on the Dutch pages.) So if Dutch is your language of preference, head on over to the NL Home Page and click on the links which will lead you through.
Check back in the coming days as I unveil more reasons to celebrate.
Refresh Your Soul is in publication again. My re-envisioned e-letter was sent to subscribers yesterday. This edition focuses on the challenge of living in the present moment.
If you follow Refreshed! you've noticed my absence from this space recently. The past few weeks have held some rather deep journeying and it's taken some time for my experience to settle before I was ready to give it expression here.
I'm following a course on nurturing the contemplative and creative spirit, and it's stirring a whole lot in me. I've been challenged to embrace the 'fertile border spaces' of my life which, to quote the teacher of the course, are "those places and experiences that do not offer me easy answers, those fierce edges of life where things are not as clear-cut as I hope for them to be. There is beauty in the border spaces, those places of ambiguity and mystery." (Christine Valters Paintner)
I am a strong 'J' (judging) accoring to Myers-Briggs typology, which means I'm one who loves to have clarity and is uncomfortable with ambiguity. But God is challenging me to press into ambiguity and to be alert to the lessons it has to offer me. This is by no means comfortable but it is oh so valuable for my growth! continue reading (this post and a poem)
My brother and sister-in-law left this morning. Their visit with us was sweet. We treasured the days together and the chance to share our lives with them and to give them a taste of our country.
There's a sweetness too to normalcy and now we are grateful for the opportunity to pick up with our lives and responsibilities.
I'll definitely be blogging more often, so I hope you'll stop back soon.
|Elizabeth & Andrea||Sarah & Nick|
Gérard and I are still catching our breath in between family visits during this late summer. Our nephew Nick, whose company we enjoyed last summer, came back to share a week in Amsterdam with his delightful girlfriend, Sarah. Andrea, his sister, stopped by for a couple of weeks on the tail end of a summer adventure volunteering in Ghana, and their visits overlapped for a couple of days.
We sure enjoy the young people in our lives, and these smiles capture the delight of being together. Nick described sharing an evening around our table as a bit surreal. With the 3 of them arriving from 3 different continents, it really had a family reunion feel, and to enjoy that at our home was a treasure indeed.
We have a couple more weeks to catch our breath and tend to normal living before Nick and Andrea's parents arrive. The Atlantic seems to have grown narrower for our family, and we'll just keep on enjoying the benefits that brings.
Thursday is Foundations Group evening. In spite of the summer we've headed into the final leg of the course with a fabulous group of young Christians.
Last night Ank and I gathered our women together as we dove into the theme of Surrender. We had a pretty amazing discussion about how we're doing in this essential area of discipleship. What warmed my heart the most was their sincere desire to surrender, based in the knowledge of God's goodness and love. That was exactly what I, as the writer of this course, had hoped would be the case. I'm sure I was beaming from ear to ear as I affirmed their longings!
We considered what hinders our surrender and what fosters it, and the conversation moved toward trust. Trust fosters the willingness to surrender. And trust grows as we get to know God more, as we spend time with him so that we can see ourselves as he sees us.
The atmosphere of authentic sharing between women seeking God was beautiful and powerful.
In the wake of the evening, I'm wondering for myself ...
What might trust look like for you today?
Psalm 127 took a new twist for me this morning thanks to a footnote in the TNIV version. It seems really appropriate for those who are enjoying a slower-than-usual summer pace, whether that includes getting away or taking some time out from the usual pace.
Verse 2 says "In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat--for he grants sleep to those he loves." At times the final phrase has comforted me and at times it has confounded me. On the one hand, it reminds me that rest is valued by God and is a gift. On the other hand, at the times when I struggle to sleep, the promise seems unreachable offers little solace.
The footnote adds another slant to the Hebrew, for the verse can also read, "In vain you rise early and stay up late ... for while they sleep he provides for those he loves." That speaks real potential to me today.
The Lord, who 'builds the house' (verse 1) continues to work even while his children get their much-needed rest. I love that promise, and it encourages my heart today. The Sovereign Lord who never slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121) is at work on his children's behalf 24/7. That's not new to me, but it sure encourages my heart.
Tomorrow when I wake up I think I'll check in with the Lord with a view to discover what hidden provision he has worked while I've been off in dreamland.
I'm happy to announce a new development on my website. I've incorporated more functionality which allows you, my reader, to add your voice to this site. This is more than a simple 'add a comment' function. It goes beyond responding to what I've written, and allows you to add your own stories.
Here's how it works. Have you got a story to share about one of the topics I've written about? For example, have you journeyed through loss and would like to encourage others with what has helped you? Do you have a story to tell of choosing obedience and would like to reflect upon what taking this step has been like -- or tell a story of the reward that has followed? How about sharing your testimony of your spiritual eyes being opened, of how you moved from darkness to light? For each of these topics there's an opportunity for you to create your own page, and with ease.
Take a look at the pages I've linked above and the stories which have already been posted (scroll to the bottom). Then consider adding your own story. I'd love to hear your story, and I know others would too!
Marlous from our Faith Foundations group sent this last evening. It's so beautifully said that it merits posting here.
I've long found encouragement from knowing how gold is refined. When gold is boiled its impurities rise to the top as froth. It takes 7 times of being brought to the boiling point before no more froth appears, evidence that the refining process is complete. Here is a description of how silver undergoes the refiner's fire.
Malachi 3:3 says: He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver. This verse puzzled some women in a Bible study group and they wondered what this statement revealed about the character and nature of God. One of the women offered to find out and get back to the group at their next meeting.
That week the woman called a silversmith and made an appointment to watch him at work. She didn't mention anything about the reason for her interest beyond her curiosity about the process of refining silver. As she watched the silversmith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that, in refining silver, one needs to hold the metal in the middle of the fire where the flames are hottest to burn away all the impurities. The woman thought about God holding us in such a hot spot.
Then she thought again about the verse: He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. She asked the silversmith if it was true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eyes on the silver the entire time it was in the fire. If the silver was left a moment too long in the flames, it would be destroyed.
The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked, 'How do you know when the silver is fully refined?' He smiled at her and answered, 'Oh, that's easy--when I see my image in it.'
If today you are feeling the heat of the fire, remember that God has his eye on you and will keep watching you until he sees his image in you.
Click the link above to read further in this year's archive