Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Moving my blog

April 10, 2011

Soon, this blog will be moving.   After 5.5 years of blogging on free websites, I have decided to move to my own website. www.deepimprints.com

Why???

1.  Providing Resources.  After years of work, I feel that God is opening up my writing focus.  However, when I host my blog on wordpress.com, I cannot offer resources in the same way that I can on a self-hosted site.  On the new site, I will be able to offer ebooks, special offers, etc.

2.  Community.  This new site will give us a place to be a community online.  We will be able to share prayer requests, discuss bible study topics, etc.  You can enjoy the blog feed without becoming a member, but members can join conversations, share prayer requests, etc.

If you receive this blog via email, you will soon begin receiving Deep Imprints in the same manner.  You won’t need to do anything.  However, I hope you stop by and join the community as well.

Questions?  Comments?  Please let me know – all change can be difficult – it is harder when you do it in a vacuum without conversation.  Thank you for all the years many of you have listened, commented, and given me feedback – you are essential to my learning process, and I believe to the learning process of each other.  Again, thank you.

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Wriggle

July 10, 2010

I learned a new word today.  I’m reading Sheila Walsh’s new book “When a Woman Trusts God”.  She quotes John Cotton, a preacher in the Puritan times.  “As long as there’s a wriggle left in you, you’re not ready.”

At first, I thought maybe the spell check in her computer had missed a word – surely she meant ‘wiggle’, but then I wondered if ‘wriggle’ was the English form of ‘wiggle’; kind of like ‘theater and theatre’.  So, I googled the definition of wriggle.

Wriggle appears to be a combination of the words writhe and wiggle.  Here’s what I found:

 writhe: to move in a twisting or contorted motion, (especially when struggling); “The prisoner writhed in discomfort”; “The child tried to wriggle free from his aunt’s embrace”

Remember when you were little and you needed to ‘get the wiggles out’?  Or your mom would say ‘stop wiggling’, which seemed to be congruous with fidgeting.  Wriggling is when someone has you in a lock, and you are trying to get out.

Have you been wondering what has gone desperately wrong with your life? Does God have you in a lock?  Why?  Perhaps He has something great He wants to do, but first, you have to stop getting in the way. 

One of the biggest things I wonder about is whether I am supposed to do more, or do less.  Perhaps life is causing me problems because I’m not trying had enough.  Maybe, if I just work a little bit harder, I’ll reach that place that I can almost see – a plateau, a place to rest. 

On the other hand, I wonder if God has me in His palm, waiting for me to stop wriggling, so He can do His work through me.  This requires a different response.  It isn’t the opposite of trying harder, because that would be giving up.  To rest in God is to actively put my trust in Him and wait for His provision, His answers, His movement. 

That resting only seems to come after struggles.  Remember how Jacob wrestled with God?  Remember how Elijah reached the end of his rope and ran to God – essentially to turn in his resignation in person?  When we engage with God in His process, He changes us.  We get to see life more from His perspective and less from our own.  We become more like Him and less like ourselves.

My second daughter loves to make figurines from clay.  The clay starts out a lump.  Can you imagine being clay, knowing that you could be so much more, and wanting desperately to be a beautiful, useful object? 

First, you need someone to squash you, mush you, get all the stuff out of you until you are pliable.  Then, you get pulled and stretched, sometimes squashed back down and reworked.  Eventually, you look in the mirror, and you see a beautiful grey figurine.  “Yeah!   I’ve reached my goal!” you cry.  But you aren’t put on a shelf for display, you are put in the back room with  pieces of clay.  Then, someone comes and picks you up – at last!  Someone has recognized your beauty!  Alas, they put you in the kiln.  A horribly hot place that pulls all of the remaining moisture out of you.  This part requires you to remain very still, because the slightest movement can crack you.  So there you sit, suffocating of heat and dry as a desert.  Before too long, you begin to feel stronger.  You are actually becoming the figurine, instead of clay in the shape of a figurine!  The oven opens, someone sets you on a cooling tray.  Maybe now, they will realize your beauty!  Then, comes the glaze.  Glazes aren’t that pretty when they are put on.  The point of a glaze is what it does when it is heated.  So now, you are dripping with gunk, and sure that your goal was just a pipedream. 

“Yep, just a pipedream” you think, as they put you back into the fire.  Life must be about the process instead of the goal, you decide.  You begin to ride the waves of the process, just going through life one day at a time.  Occationally you wonder, “What happens if the next process is even worse?”  In defeat, you resign yourself to the process, hoping that things don’t get any worse.  Sitting there in the heat, this oven is becoming a quiet place, a place where you can reflect.  It is becoming a place of comfort. 

Then the door opens again.  Now you are placed on another drying shelf…and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror – you can hardly believe your eyes.  You are no longer clay.  You are no longer a drab piece of potter.  You no longer look like a child’s project, dripping with goo.  Now you have become that object you dreamt of.  Suddenly the process makes sense. 

The fact is that we can’t become an object of beauty on our own.  We can’t become ministers on our own.  It really is the process of life that sheds us of self and turns us into what God intended us to be.  Wriggling is part of the molding process, I think.  It comes right before the kiln.

Striving or Living?

June 2, 2010

Today I’m letting you into my thoughts – and they are a bit random.

I’ve noticed a dicotomy in myself lately – my “wanter” isn’t working so well.  I want to curl up with a book, watch a tv show, etc. AND I want to prepare a sermon, update our website (www.theclosenetfamily.com).

Since I work full time and commute, I don’t have enough hours to do everything.  I would never want to be striving for striving’s sake – I want to only do what is helpful to God’s purposes for my life.  Yet sometimes I just want to relax and do nothing.

This is what I am discovering – “work” is what takes energy away from me.  Sometimes that work can be as simple as reading a book.  Sometimes it is truly relaxing to sit, write, and think.  Striving seems to be connected with doing – am I “doing work” when I was called to sit?  Am I “doing relaxation” when I was called to work?  In both cases, I am being drained without being replenished.  However, if I listen to the Holy Spirit, who teaches, guides and corrects, I find that work is a joy and relaxation is replenishing.

This week, I am working through my ‘to do’ list – not as a striving thing, but with joy.  I love to see God get things done. 

Paul said “it is no longer I, but Christ that lives in me”.  I understand that.  Why fight the battle of self when we can let the Holy Spirit be in charge?  It makes life a lot easier to listen and learn and do under His guidance. 

Christ said – “I came that you might have life, and life to the full”.  Think about a plant that has life – is it flourishing or wilting?

So we come to this – are you wilting?  The Holy Spirit can guide you to replenishment.  What you need might be work, and it might be play – but it will definately be good.

Charley’s Aunt at Taproot Theatre

May 16, 2010

photo by Erik Stuhaug

The joy of the theatre is made more intense by a well written script and superior actors. 

Occasionally, you find a play where the chemistry just comes together and you have a masterpiece.

That is what you will find, as you wisk back in time to enjoy Charley’s Aunt at Taproot Theatre.

This story, originally written in 1892, is about three college gents, and their hijinks surrounding their lovelives.  As the plot thickens, our gents throw one of their friends (who has a love for the theatre) into the role of their aunt – only to have him become the love interest of every older man on the set.

Steve West did a tremendous job playing Lord Fancourt Babberly, who in turn played Charley’s Aunt – from Brazil – where the nuts come from.  His ability to play a role within a role was delightful.  He held both roles with such an agility – impressive.

Don Brady is a consummate actor.  He nearly stole the show.  How does a man be a butler to spoiled college lads?  With humor, it would seem.  In many ways, the butler, Brassett, is the eye of the audience, and therefore the one we identify with as we watch the play.  Brady does an excellent job of increasing the breadth of the role, and adding humor every time he is on stage.  He is truly a 100% actor.

Anne Kennedy is back, as Charlie’s love interest (Kitty).  I found that Anne did a great job with this role, not only playing the easy role of a pouty ward, but also a young girl with hopes and dreams, willing to take on the world, and an assertive woman with her own take on life.  Kitty came across as a fully-rounded person, and I think it was due primarily to Anne’s great acting.

photo by Erik Stuhaug

Samie Detzer and Emily Fairbrook play the other two young ladies, both with lesser roles, but both played them with grace and intelligence. These characters would have been easy to just play monodimensionally, but this wasn’t the case.  Every actor did a fantastic job becoming the part and understanding the different parts of the personality that make up the whole.

llysa Holland plays the real Charlie’s Aunt.  One of the highlights of this play is the ability for the actors to “think” outloud to the audience while the other characters remained oblivious.  This was particularly fun in the characters of Charlie’s Aunt and Brassett.  Llysa is a beautiful woman who brings dignity and poise to the role.

Two of my favorite actors – Andrew Litzky and  Nolan Palmer are the older gents who vie for Charlie’s Aunt’s attention.   This was a new role for Andrew, and it was fun to watch him stretch is acting – particularly in the physical acting realm.  When great actors take the stage, it is obvious – these two were obvious.  Superb.

Last, we have Eric Riedmann, friend of Charlie, and Josh Smyth, Charlie. I don’t think these roles were particularly stretching for these actors, but both were played well, drawing the audience into the predicament, and being incredibly great backdrop characters for their friend, dressed in drag. 

One other thing I want to bring to your attention is how awesome the new set at Taproot is.  Seriously, it is worth the trip just to see how they have transformed their set.  It is versatile, artistic, creative – tantalizing in its new ability to create a scene.

I hope you get a chance for a night out at Taproot – you will enjoy it.  You can purchase your tickets at their website.

Why I love middle and late adapters

April 29, 2010

Early adapters only need to see and hear a plan of action that coincides with the cry of their heart.  They are then willing to throw themselves into the work and help push the cause forward.  Every leader loves and needs early adapters on their team.   However, a good team is made of up a mixture of personalities.  Not everybody is so quick to jump on board

Middle adapters need to see a clear path from what is to what will be.  For this group of individuals, a clear plan of action is important.  They need to understand the problem, as well as the solution. This group is only resistant to needless change.  Therefore, it is important to spend time explaining the problem, as well as how the solution will improve results.  You need to know what it is you want to do, why it needs to be done, and how you plan to get there.  When you can show a clear plan of action, middle adapters will be on board.

Late adapters need to understand the connection from what was to what will be.  This group relates on a much different level.  To understand them with compassion, consider a railroad.  No matter what you do, your engine is going to go where the tracks go.  People who are late adapters have a very strong railway system in their heads.  In order to help them adapt to change, you have to discover where they have been and connect that to what will be.  In this way, you add a switch to their railway system and provide them with the tools and capability to move to the new track.

Let’s say you want to change the color of your sanctuary.

Early adapters will be on board the minute you mention it.

Middle adapters will need to understand how you plan to choose the new color, and make sure that you have a process in place.

With Late adapters, it might be best to lead with questions.  Ask them about the last renovation. Help them remember why they did all that hard work. Take them into the sanctuary when it’s not full of people, and let them really look at the chipped, discolored paint.  They have always wanted the sanctuary to look nice.  Then realizing that there might be a need for a new paint job, send them on a foray to the paint store to discover what colors say about a building and report back what they found.  Do certain colors help people stay awake and alert?  Are some colors more warm and inviting than others?  (Be careful about the sort of questions, making sure you make it clear that the ultimate decision is in someone else’s hands because their railroad tracks are pretty much cemented, and if they decide on a paint color, they will wrestle anyone to the ground for it.)  When your ‘research team’ is done with their project, they will not only be in full support of a color change, they will most likely have procured the funding.

True, this is perhaps a bit of an easy thing.  The fact remains that the deeper the emotional attachment is, the harder the change will be.  Just try moving a teen across the country, or similar involuntary transitions, later in life.  The key to helping people who are reluctant to change is to identify their emotional barriers, and address them.  Find ways that the new situation will address their concerns and even meet their needs.  Late adapters will be your strongest supporters if you will cultivate those relationships and take the time to respect their views.

Truthfully, middle and late adapters are a great gift.  They cause us to review our plans from every angle so that by the time we have everyone on board, we are ready to go forward, avoiding flaws and obstacles we would have missed otherwise.

My Focus

April 6, 2010

Today I wrote in a bio that my teaching focus is: “to help people know and serve God through ordinary opportunities while maintaining focus and balance through life’s tumultuous twists and turns.”

I kind of surprised myself.  It came out so easily.  I want people to know God better.  He is real.  He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.  Knowing Him makes life easier – even the hard parts.

A relationship with God isn’t built so much through monumental tasks and events.  It is built through the ordinary times.  Pastor George used to quote “a long obedience in the same direction,” which as best as I can tell is a quote of Eugene Peterson.  Most of our temptations to not follow God happen in the dull times.  We just get bored, tired, lonely and search for something to fill the hole.  We forget God, we lose focus.

Some people seem to be naturally balanced.  Others have to work on it. 

Many of us have learned the importance of keeping life in balance and God in our focus.  It is just about as easy as Peter walking on the water.  And just about as dangerous too.  A balanced life focused on God is not easy, nor is it boring, but it is rewarding.

When tornadoes hit, only those who have been practicing can continue to walk on the water.

God’s Reflexology

April 3, 2010

There is a theory of reflexology where you find a hot spot, a point that hurts, and apply pressure until the pain goes away.

My shoulder has been completely out of whack, and one of the many therapies we are using on it is reflexology.  As I was being tortured… uh, fixed (<grin> and yes, the help is helping – thank you to Wes and Glen), I had a bit of an epiphany.

There are times in our lives where everything just stinks.  Pain, I’m speaking now of psychological, emotional, even spiritual pain caused by difficult times, seems to roll in waves, sometimes even cascading in an ever increasing crescendo. 

As I sat, waiting for my arm muscles to relax, I had a picture of the hand of God on my life – his finger poised on just the thing that needed to be fixed.  The presence of his hand causes a cascading pain, but the results will be that when the hand is removed, what was previously out of place will be righted, and my life will flow with greater energy and less friction.

God told Israel that He would be their God and that He would mold them.  We can trust Him to mold us.  Submitting to His molding is, well, painful – who wants to be squished, flattened and squashed?  But clay, without someone to mold it, remains a lump.  Submitting to God’s molding and letting Him teach me through the ordinary, sometimes painful, parts of life is preferable to refusing to budge and remaining a rocky lump of clay.

Here Burns My Candle by Liz Curtis Higgs

March 25, 2010

My friends have been reading Liz Curtis Higgs for years.  When she wrote Bad Girls of the Bible, I almost took time out from my studies to check it out…almost.

So it happens that Ms. Higg’s 27th book, Here Burns My Candle is a first for me.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, and frankly was afraid I would be disappointed.  Quite the contrary.  I found a woman of intelligence and wit who can not only spin words, but entwine the emotions.  If you haven’t read Ms. Higgs before, let me give you a hint – she isn’t just a regular writer.

With an ability to look for the story that develops biblical characters, she then takes that and transforms it into a period piece (not necessarily in a biblical period) that is incredibly well researched.  Here Burns My Candle takes us to Scotland in the Fall of 1745, supposing what the developing relationship between Ruth and Naomi might have been like before and up to Ruth’s decision to follow Naomi and Naomi’s God.

Want to know more?  The publisher had prepared a Youtube video that gives you a glimpse into the book.  Click here to see the trailer.

Do I recommend this book?  Yes!  I couldn’t put this one down – it is thick (think heavy), but I still carried to work and back.  It was really a great read.

Want to buy the book?  You can purchase it from Waterbrook Multnomah, the publisher who was so kind as to provide a copy so I could review it.

The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhahn

January 13, 2010

A couple years ago, someone told me that I needed to read Mars and Venus in the Workplace by John Gray.  I desperately needed the information, so I tried for two months or more.  I don’t think I ever got past page 25.  The reason?  I had no idea.  It wasn’t until I began reading The Male Factor that I realized the real problem was that John Gray is a man, and I needed someone who spoke female to explain things to me.

Finally, that book has arrived.  Shaunti Feldhahn has written a FABULOUS book.  I have carried this book with me for the last two weeks, reading it on the bus, on break – it is perfect to help us girls learn to speak guy.

If you are like me, you want to be effective and learn as many skills as possible to be the best at what God has called you to be.    If you were to go to another country, you would learn that language and how to communicate with their nuances.  Cross cultural communication has many facets – there are aspects of the male-female communication bridge that bear a resemblance.  

Let’s face it – men and women have different brain structures.   Although we each bring incredible strengths to the marketplace, sometimes our different brain structures make communication … interesting.  The Male Factor will help you learn to communicate so that the men you work with are hearing what you mean to say.

Want to buy the book?  Check out the publisher’s website.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

The One-Day Way by Chantel Hobbs

January 2, 2010

Are you again starting the New Year with a list of goals?

Are many of the goals on that list the same as last year?

Is that a little bit frustrating?

This might just be the book for you.  The One Day Way is really a mind-set book.  Chantel Hobbs lost about 200 pounds and kept it off.  She is now a personal trainer/coach, and has written a series of books designed to help you change the way you change you life.

Most of us follow a pattern of change.  We make a resolution, follow it for a while, fall ‘off the wagon’, feel defeated, and forget about it.  Chantel’s approach could be paralleled with the verse “forgetting what lies behind, pressing forward to what lies ahead”.  Chantel encourages you to set up a structure for living, and focus only on today – not yesterday, not next month, Today. 

The first 2/3 of this book are about fixing your brain to work in this new way.  The last 1/3 is full of tools for weight loss.

If you are looking for a personal companion to help you meet your New Year’s Resolution, The One-Day Way looks like it will help.

You can buy it on Amazon, or from the Publisher.

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.