5/27/2023 0 Comments
Whose on your Council?
When I ask this question, I'm not talking about your organizations leadership or board.
This past week I read The Life Council by Laura Termaine in which the author describes the ten types of friends that can comprise your life in a way that bring abundance, wisdom, and discernment. She rightly states that you may not have all ten types of friends in your life at any given time and sometimes a friend can fit into several different seats on your life council.
But the main thesis is that we all need people in our life who we can go to and share our hearts. Which leads me to the question above - who's on your council?
For me it it's about having people that I can call on in life who can help me make decisions. I have my family, who are a source of wisdom, challenge, and encouragement. Mentors. Dear friends. Colleagues. My spiritual director and supervisor. The people I am currently in school with.
But those are just my people. Who are your people? And what gifts of discernment do they bring to your life?
5/13/2023 0 Comments
I am a keeper of lists. I have a list for each day, each week, each month, and so on. I find so much satisfaction in crossing items off the to-do list as they are completed and dreaming up what needs to be on the next list.
But when I don't complete a task, I highlight it. A big yellow streak serving as a reminder of what I still need to do.
Those highlighted marks mocked me this past week, and as the end of the week drew near, I realized that there was no way that everything was going to get done. I shared that with two of my dear friends and one in all of her wisdom said "If it doesn't get done, it will be okay."
It will be okay. The world isn't going to fall apart.
At those words, I realized that my to-do list has been more about proving something to myself than anything else. A source of validation in a world where that can be difficult to find.
So as I went to bed, list incomplete, I found myself saying, "80 percent is really good." Now, I didn't believe that right away, but I kept repeating it over and over again. Because it is true. My worth isn't based on a list and neither is yours. Our worth is simply based on our belovedness by the Holy.
What do you need to set aside in order to claim who you truly are as a child of God this week?
5/6/2023 0 Comments
A concept that I have been thinking about recently is a capacity cushion or the margin that we need in our lives in order to function best. (Hear more on the Three Associations Podcast - https://soundcloud.com/user-93...
I'm going to be the first to admit that this isn't something that I've been doing well with over the last few weeks. It has been the perfect storm of the expected and unexpected, which has led to little margin - and I feel it in my Spirit and my body.
I was leading a group about accountability this week and they asked me what I needed to be held to gentle and gracious accountability around and it is this. Creating space. Keeping space. Protecting space.
What margin do you need in your life and how do you make sure to honor it for the sake of your spirit?
4/29/2023 0 Comments
Where I Feel Alive
This past week, I met with my supervisor and was able to articulate some of the places where I feel most alive - spiritual direction is one of those places.
The reason for this aliveness to be both noticed and claimed is because in spiritual direction I am able to show up as myself, fully - not matter what had happened the day before, a week before, or even a month before. I am able to articulate an intention to seek God and to see the places where I saw the Spirit show up as well as where it is a bit fuzzier.
I wonder where the places are where you feel most alive? Have you taken time to explore why you feel that way? And what gift does that feeling offer you and the world?
4/22/2023 0 Comments
Ancient Ways for New People
One of the conversations I have over and over again at my job is about how to open up spaces for new people. Sometimes we get so caught up in how we perceive things or what we hope, want, or expect, that it prevents us from talking and acting in ways that are inviting.
This is especially true in the spiritual world.
We use words that aren't understandable and assume that everyone has had an experience like ours - and it just acts like a wall around the spiritual parts of our being.
But maybe we don't need new spaces for new people, but rather ancient spaces for new people. Ancient spaces like spiritual direction where we can show up fully as ourselves and reconnect with our spirits. Maybe we need spaces of grace that allow us to be fully unique and fully connected.
What are you looking for in a space that connects you deeply with your own being in an authentic and honest way?
4/15/2023 0 Comments
Stepping in It
This past week, I quite literally stepped in it - not once, but twice. The first time involved coming home after dark and retrieving my trash and recycling cans. Only I misstepped - and went right on into a pile of mud. Mud so deep that it claimed my shoe for a period of time.
Later, I was visiting someone in a nursing home and stepped in something again - something slippery on the floor that neither myself nor the nurse had noticed at the time.
Part of creating sacred spaces for holy listening is to yes, have someone listen to you. But more importantly, to me, it also gives you a companion to walk with you when you step in it. Or help you notice God when you are so deep in that you aren't sure where to turn. In that way, it is a gift.
Who is with you, dear friends, when you step in it?
4/6/2023 0 Comments
One of the things that makes my heart sing is to teach. It doesn't matter if it is an exercise class, spiritual direction program, or group in the church - I love the process of putting together material that touches people's spirits and transforms lives.
A few weeks ago, we launched a pilot program at the church I serve to help people be taught how to teach others. It sounds a lot more complicated than it is. It really is a time to dig deep and then live into what they learn in a way that companions others.
After the first week, I had one of the participants stop to talk to me about the book we are using first. It has some of the best stick-figure drawings I have ever seen in it! :) But more importantly, those stick-figure drawings speak about the beliefs that we can have about the Spirit that can give us false notions or understandings of the Divine.
Those things that we need to unlearn in order to step into love and wholeness.
I wonder what things you need to unlearn this day? What is some of the spiritual baggage that you are being invited to set down, in order to find the abounding and abiding nature of God with us.
4/2/2023 0 Comments
There are few words that we seem to avoid more as human beings than accountability. Maybe it's because of baggage we carry around about what we think accountability is or how it has made us feel in the past. Maybe it's for different reasons entirely.
But I can say that the more I use the word accountability, the more uncomfortable people seem to become.
In my church, we are talking about accountability with discipleship. And every time I explain it - it goes something like this. Who are the people who can gently hold you accountable to your goals? Asking you each week with an open heart how it is going and encourage you?
I have had many a conversation that ends in stunned silence - because this is not what folks imagined when I said the word accountability.
Or in my own life - I just had a friend text me to make sure that I was taking time to rest. Telling me that rest is good and to hold to my plan.
That was the accountability I needed.
Accountability is also a large part of spiritual direction. I know every month when I come that I am going to be asked how it is with my soul. And that gives me space to reflect and be honest and vulnerable.
What type of accountability are you searching for in your life? And what do you need to set aside in order to hold it gently?
3/25/2023 0 Comments
Quite a few months ago, I expanded what we offered in terms of spiritual direction to something I had never done before - short-term spiritual direction. What I was used to was the more traditional set up for spiritual direction - which is an on-going, monthly relationship. But something in my spirit stirred to try short-term spiritual direction for people with a particular question for discernment.
And I loved it.
This experiment gave me a way to intentionally sit with people for a short period of time to do deep listening together.
A few weeks ago, I was able to celebrate this with my supervisor - I took a risk and found a new expression for my passion.
What risk are you waiting to try next?
3/18/2023 0 Comments
Who Surrounds You?
This week someone in my congregation asked me a very sweet, but very important question: "Michelle, who surrounds you in this work?"
What this person was trying to get at - was life is hard. Work can be challenging. So how do I make sure that I am spiritually surrounded by people who uplift me (and challenge me!) when needed?
He was shocked when I started to list off my people - those who surround me. We started with groups like family and friends. But I also have a spiritual director. A discipleship group. Prayer partners.
Why so many folks? Because I believe in having a wide network of spiritual support. People I can turn to.
I wonder who surrounds you? Maybe it's not the same type of people or groups that I listed - but we aren't meant to go through this life alone. So who surrounds you, beloved?
Michelle is a Spiritual Director and End of Life Doula. She is the founder of Abide in the Spirit.
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