Archive for the ‘spirituality’ Tag

Retreated: 2 Things Learned This Week   Leave a comment

This week I retreated to a camp in Glen Rose, Texas, for three days of spiritual retreat. Going on a minimum 3 day spiritual retreat is a requirement for my ordination in the United Methodist Church. I had a lot of flexibility on how the retreat itself would go.

Inspired by the TED Talk I heard from “planet walker” John Francis, I decided to incorporate silence and not using a vehicle as part of my retreat.

Two things I learned in the process:

1. It is relatively easy to be silent when you’re by yourself, but it is a challenge to be around people without feeling pressured to say something. For most of my time away, I was on the camp by myself. I went for a long walks, I hiked through the forest, I spent time creating art and reading. I was quiet.

In the silence, I was able to rest. I was able to just be, just listen. I noticed things I might have overlooked – the smell of dew in the morning, the sound of deer as they scamper away, even the sound of a bird’s wings flapping. I ate when I was hungry and slept when I was tired.

On the few occasions I walked in to town, people were friendly and I felt compelled to speak. The person I talked to the longest, an elderly man in an antique store, seemed lonely. While a vow of silence seems like a noble idea, sometimes small talk is a compassionate act.

2. Sometimes I have to consciously choose to feel safe. One of the hardest parts about being by myself, especially as a petite female, was getting over feeling anxious about possible dangers. I had to let that fear go in order to feel at peace. The fears of unknown dangers, especially while walking alone at night in the dark, cluttered up my thoughts.

Once I made the conscious choice that I was going to feel safe, I could enjoy nature fully. I was able to pray and sing like no one could hear me. It was only then that I could fully experience God’s presence.

I think it’s worth mentioning that living in a culture that feels dangerous even if the dangers are not real makes spirituality more difficult. When I walk alone at night, a part of my brain is constantly on the lookout for possible attacks, alert for sudden movements around the corner. I cannot be the only woman who feels this way. It’s a bit heartbreaking to have to choose to feel safe. My hope is that by mentioning it we can all work together for more peace, working to create a culture of safety. (Maybe you were expecting me to learn something more profound, and I did learn other things – I spent a lot of time reading, studying, writing and creating. There will be more blog posts to come.)

“for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. ” 2 Timothy 1:7

Project 365: Day 100 Wholeness   Leave a comment

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I love Whole Foods grocery stores. There isn’t one near my house, so it’s a rare treat. I love walking the aisles surrounded by vibrant colors and aromas of natural, organic, healthy foods, most of which are foreign to me. Chia, flax, collard, gluten-free, vegan super foods with brands like Annie’s and Kathleen’s and Organic Pete’s. It almost feels like shopping in a foreign country’s market.

I’ve been focusing on the word “whole” a lot in my prayer life lately. Having been so broken for the last couple of years has made me appreciate the fullness, the vibrancy of Wholeness. I am so thankful to the God that restores my soul and makes me whole again.

From 1 Thessalonians 5:

“16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt 21 but test them all; hold on to what is good, 22 reject every kind of evil.

23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

Blessings,
Erin

Questions:
Do you have certain words that speak to your heart? What are they?

Students Doing Ministry   Leave a comment

I am teaching a class this week at the SMU Perkins School of Youth Ministry called “Giving Them the Keys – Creating a Student-Led Ministry Culture.”  The basic idea is that youth directors need to change the way they approach youth ministry altogether.  Instead of youth directors creating programs for youth to attend, youth should be using their gifts and talents for ministry themselves.  I believe students are fully capable and ready to do ministry and a youth director’s job should be to come alongside and coach youth into the youth’s own ministry.

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I am having an amazing experience teaching, but what’s even cooler is the email I received this week from a high school senior named Lara.  A little about her – Lara is one of the mentors in our pilot of Just One Starfish.  This means that once a week Lara volunteers an hour or so to be a mentor and just spend life together as a positive role model for an at-risk upper elementary school girl.  In her own right, Lara is a talented, amazing, wonderful young woman of God.

Lara is also one of the most talented young photographers I’ve ever met.  With this post, I’m giving you a sneak preview of one of the most beautiful photo shoots I’ve ever seen.  The model is Lara’s mentee with the “Just One Starfish” mentoring program.

I think you’ll agree – God is at work here transforming the lives of young people, one person at a time.

This just makes my heart smile and I had to share.