Archive for the 'Intentional Spirituality' Category



Thanks for NOT Answering my Prayer

do-not-enter-1243682I drove by the house we so desperately asked God to give us many years ago and uttered a quick prayer of thanks that He said NO. A YES would have resulted in different neighbors, school district and a whole new set of friends for the kids. Of course, that wasn’t the prayer on my lips then.

What if the job door I begged to open had flung wide instead of sealing shut? My day-to-day would have swallowed me up as I can see now how ill-suited I was for that position. Couldn’t see that then but He could. I love what I do and it was worth waiting for.

Looking way back over my shoulder, what if that long ago boy had called back and we started a relationship like I hoped at the time? Would I be with Tom now? I shudder to think of no. If I got a fat letter rather than a thin one for the college I prayed to get into? Which state would I live in and with who?

Cars, promotions, provision, even health all received a resounding NO at times. I tried so hard to twist God’s arm to avoid my one and only surgery but am so much stronger on many levels for going through with it.

Sometimes it feels like my life is just as shaped by unanswered prayers as the answered ones. I need to trust both.

Don’t worry, I’m still a big promoter of “Ask, Seek, Knock” and will continue to storm the gates with my long lists. After all, He invites us to do that. I didn’t say YES to everything my kids asked for either and though the protests were loud, I think I chose the better answer.

Hope for the best,

Tish

The Wait Is On! (again)

The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room

The list of things I am waiting for never seems to shorten. Sure, some items do come to pass but they are quickly replaced by new to-wait-for items. I know you live like that also as my clients and friends are always waiting for something too.

In my youth I really believed there would come a point in my later life when all things would be resolved. I hope I have a lot of “later” to go but somehow I think that is an urban myth.

Right now I am waiting for edits, a phone call, a certain resolution, an RSVP, an appointment, inspiration for a section of the book, and lunch. That’s just the practicals. On another level I’m waiting for many answered prayers, opportunities to speak and write, medical results, countless breakthroughs and in influx of good virtues.

Some waiting is fun like for a vacation or special event. A lot of it isn’t.

We lose a lot of time when we pause too long during the wait. I’m sure you’re familiar with the trail of thought…”As soon as ____ happens I will start ____ or do ___” and meanwhile a few years can slip by.

“Wait” is mentioned about 130 times in the Bible and often in reference to “Wait for the Lord” like “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14 Yup, working on that.

Another place I have underlined is: So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you? Sometimes I keep waiting for my “land” when God has already given it to me. You too?

This I have learned, waiting is normal not the absence of it so best get used to it and stop resisting.

What are you waiting for?

Hope for the best,

Tish

Rescue on the Highway

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Many years ago this month….

“Unpredictable” was the report on the gas gauge of the borrowed car but my friend, Debbie, and I were willing to take the chance. We were still learning our way around the Denver area but decided to head up the Valley Highway to attend a Bible study at the home of some new friends.

As you might have guessed, we were running late.

Barreling along with the flow of Friday evening rush hour traffic, I was behind the wheel as we were making up time and then it happened. Acceleration slipped into a chug and our speed went from 70 to 20 in what seemed like a few seconds. Trapped in the far left lane, we hardly had time to pray.

“We must be out of gas!” I remember shouting, “What do we do now?” In what seemed like an instant, all the previously clogged highway lanes opened up and we nearly slid onto the shoulder, scared but safe. Trying in vain to plot our next move, a glance in the rear view mirror let us know that a car had pulled up behind us and the driver was heading our way.

In his hand he carried a gas can.

Without saying a word to us, he walked right to our gas tank. Who was this guy? How did he know we were out of gas? Too stunned to get out of the car, as well as aware of the traffic whizzing by, we watched him steadily empty his can.

Before we could say thanks or offer to pay he was back in his car and simply, just gone. Debbie and I just sat there speechless for a few minutes then realized we needed to get off the shoulder. The highway opened up again for us as we merged back on and got to the Bible study with a few minutes to spare.

Two college students, one borrowed car running on fumes, Friday night rush hour on an unfamiliar road and God shows up.

We couldn’t stop talking about the story and even now, many years later, I remember every detail as it happened. Each replaying of that evening ends with the same question. Who was he? I may never know that answer for sure but I do know who sent him. c. Letitia Suk 2015

Hope for the Best,

Tish

Another story from that summer…My Permanent Revolution

The Advent Props

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As usual, Thanksgiving seemed to slide right into Advent and I was packing up the turkey platter while trying to remember where I stuck the Advent Wreath at the end of last year’s season.

Found it! Stuck inside were two little songbooks and an ornate candle snuffer.

The Advent season is usually full of holy moments as the veil between this reality and the eternal one seems to lift a bit during these four weeks. I wonder what glimpses of the holy I will see this year, can’t wait! But yet I must as Advent is all about waiting….

So I’ve gathered my small collection of Advent props to set the stage, props are a big deal for me (more on Props).

For the morning, just for me.

Readings: I change-up my morning readings for Advent and add a devotional. I often use Preparing for Jesus  but there are many to choose from. This year I’m enjoying Finding Messiah

Music: A few years ago someone sent me this Advent CD Music in Solitude which fills my living room each morning but only during Advent.

Calendars: My dear friend and neighbor slipped this little calendar in my mailbox and I open it in the morning. When our kids were small we used a larger version every night during our Advent time.

For the Evening, for whoever joins.

The Wreath: Can be an “official” Advent wreath available on-line or religious bookstores or a circle of candles. It all works.

Songbooks: We have little paper ones that date back to when our kids were little and still wear the marks and scribbles. We sing a carol to start the Advent time.

The Bible: For the daily Advent readings scroll down

The Advent Book The large full-color book with beautiful illustrations features 25 unique doors, each opening to reveal a picture and a segment of the Christmas story. The Advent Book

Christmas cards: We love to open them at this time and reminisce about the senders and pray a blessing for them. Send us one!

The Red Snuffer: Especially a craved item for the younger set as it is so fun to snuff the candles out!

Wondering how this all fits together? Celebrate Advent

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Hope for the Best,

Tish

Trusting in the Dark

Mark Twain Cave

Growing up 20 miles from Hannibal, Mo, I spent countless hours touring Mark Twain Cave. The legendary haunt of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn was a favorite setting for family gatherings and visiting friends. I used to joke that I could step in as a tour guide if needed.

Last weekend I took my grandson to visit the cave for his first time. It’s been a long time since I traipsed the cavern but nothing had changed, except the winery across the road.

As we got out of the car and headed for the ticket counter, I realized he hadn’t given a thought as to whether or not he would have to buy his own ticket, he knew I would take care of it.

Likewise, as we entered the labyrinth of twists and turns he blithely took the lead in our group only occasionally glancing back to make sure I was still there. We all put our trust in our high school-aged guide to take the right fork in the road for the forty-five minutes of walking the maze.

If you’ve ever been on a cave tour, you might remember the part where they turn out all the lights so you get a feel for the total blackness the early explorers felt. Even then, he seemed cool. He knew I was there and had no worries.

I wish I could trust God like that all the time. I have some “tickets” I wonder about getting paid. Often when I step out of my cozy comfort zone into something that feels underground and cold, like the cave, I look for every opportunity to escape instead of enjoying the tour and trusting the Guide.

When the darkness envelops I tend to panic rather than just wait for the light to come back. Easy to look at the “what-ifs” instead of appreciating the adventure.

I’ll be back to the cave, more grandchildren will want their turn too. I’ll be back to my own caves too, you just never know when the next tour will start. Good thing there is always a guide.

Hope for the Best,

Tish

No Ordinary Page

rose-of-sharon-794134-mThe pager went off in that sweet spot of the morning just as I was  coming out of slumber into the early light of dawn.

The caller was not a member of the hospital team but a loved one who asked if I might come in to sit with her a bit as her Mom has just died. Usually these requests come in from the staff so I was glad to have the initial conversation before I arrived.

Before we ended the call, she asked me what faith tradition I was from (that’s usually MY question.) When I responded there was a moment of silence before she responded:  “Please come, it doesn’t matter that we are of different faiths.”

I found her in the chapel, she wasn’t ready to go to the hospital room yet. She motioned for me to sit next to her and I complied then waited. She seemed to be running this meeting.

The tears flowed first then the words. Anguish, loss, pain, sadness, grief, then pride in the kind of life her Mom had modeled for her and anyone else who was watching. A smile broke through now and then.

While we huddled on the bench, a third person entered the tiny sanctuary and began morning prayers in yet a different faith tradition.  Something holy was going on in that chapel as we provided space and grace for one another.

One by one we left. The loved one was ready to walk with courage into her Mom’s room. I knew she would need another round of grace soon but she was strong in the moment. The most recent arrival put the prayer rug away and went back to his floor rounds. I sat and marveled at what just transpired and punched out and went home.

A tiny chapel full of faith. Why can’t it work so well in the rest of the world?

Hope for the Best,

Tish

Books for a Summer Morning

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Seen on Washington Island

Mug of tea in one hand, English muffin in the other and my basket of assorted reading slung over my arm, I head to the patio these summer mornings. In between greeting the neighbors and their dogs as they walk by my outdoor sanctuary, I pull out the books one by one and set the course of my day.

For the first time in many summers, I am not reading a Madeleine L’Engle work of non-fiction but instead, in between journal writing and listening to the audio Bible, I am enjoying three very different genres of books that are not usually on my must-read list. Curious?

  1. Sisterhood of Saints by my friend, Melanie Rigney. http://amzn.to/1lU9VP3 Although I am not Catholic, I draw inspiration and encouragement from these stories of women of faith in the page-a-day format.
  2. Hope for an Aching Heart, written by another friend, Margaret Nyman. http://amzn.to/1xSCTr5 I am also not a widow but walking along side of Margaret in these devotions spun out of her stories of  her husband’s death  has enriched my faith and empathy for my friends walking this journey.
  3. Travel Journal written by me 42 summers ago! I found this slim broken-spine little red journal in the back of the closet with all the other written memorabilia of my life so far. Remember my post The Night I Preached in Rome? This journal provides the rest of the story of that memorable summer in Italy. Each day I read the corresponding entry from the same date. This morning I recounted arriving in Bologna Italy and greeted by pizza and peaches served by a local church! Fascinating to “see” myself in that season of life.
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Morning books overlaying the journals.

The evening books will be a later post but stay tuned 🙂

What’s on your morning list?

Hope for the best,

Tish

The Night I Preached in Rome

Saw this briefly!

Saw this briefly!

Sunday at church, the Scripture reading for Communion was in Italian (different language each week to represent the diversity of the congregation) and the memories came flooding back.

22, just out of college, I spent the summer in Italy with a mission organization. This group was serious about sticking with the program and tourism was not encouraged in any way. Our team set up residence in a church basement floor for the month of July. I really don’t remember how we ate but don’t have any trouble recalling washing clothes by hand, using sinks in bars for “showers” and washing my hair in public fountains.

We all piled into a large truck (sitting on the floor!) and began to drive to Sicily. Out the window, I saw signs for Rome and so longed to stop but knew the driver would keep right on going as “we were not there for a vacation.”

Our well-loved team leader joined us from a recent trip to Israel and was in the back of the truck reading his Bible and came across Acts 23:11: “…Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.” He immediately shouted up to the driver, “Go to Rome!” and so we did!

A shampoo site

A shampoo site

We cruised by the Coliseum on the way to find a corner to gather a crowd and speak about the love and mercy of Jesus. As usual, that wasn’t hard to do. Our leader, fluent in Italian, always did the preaching but that evening he asked me to come up and tell my story while he translated.

For a few moments this impassioned girl from Quincy stood on a street corner in Rome and invited the large group of curious listeners to ask Jesus to transform their lives as I had done the summer before. My Permanent Revolution  I really don’t remember what else I said in my first sermon but the crowd responded well. Surreal doesn’t quite describe it.

After that one meeting, we all piled back in the truck and drove all night to our next location. Funny how that experience stands out far more than any Roman ruin we might have seen.

I still do a lot of standing on the corner so to speak and talking about Jesus…I am not the same young girl anymore but he hasn’t changed a bit.

Hope for the Best,

Tish

Jesus-Film Buff

Son of GodJesus movies always get me. I grew up on Cecil B. de Mille  classics but saw my first Jesus movie in 1965, “The Greatest Story Ever Told.” I think it was a flop at the box office but very impactful for me. While all my girlfriends were eager to get back to the lobby to check out the social scene, I sat weeping in my seat riveted by what I had just seen. The visuals brought the story to life in a way and touched me in a way the written word had not reached. I think I have seen most of the Jesus movies since then.

So yesterday I took myself to see the “Son of God” movie before it left the theaters. Like many of you, I saw the Bible Miniseries last year and  liked it. I know this was a spin-off of sorts but also knew my history with Jesus movies and decided to add this to my list.

Seven of us sat in the darkened seats and the opening narration, “In the Beginning was the Word…” melted me once again. Of course, there were no surprises in the script, no spoiler alerts ahead. I still sat mesmerized by the familiar story and seemed glued to my seat in the end. In fact, they turned the lights up and came in to sweep and five of us just sat there not moving.

Jesus movies might not be your style and no judgment here if you don’t want to see the film. I do urge you to find the setting that is effective for going deeper with your own faith journey. Worship? Nature? Community? Quiet? I like all those too but will definitely show up when the next Jesus film comes out.

I’m checking out “Noah” next. How about you?

Hope for the Best,

Tish

PS For a related post check out Hollywood Holy Week

Six Steps to a New You

stars-1064313-mCan’t you just see that on a magazine cover?  Actually you probably have!  Magazines sell hope and personal transformation is always in style.

Here are the six steps I will be presenting to a group of women on Tuesday night ….unless I get snowed-out again like last month.

Sit in on this Cliff Notes version as I get ready to speak….

1.  Take the “before” shot.  All improvement projects whether bodies or kitchens start with the “before” picture.  We all say “fine’ when someone asks us how we are but where are you at, really? Most of us feel stuck somewhere.  Spiritually, a lot of us are bone dry weary over worries about money, family relationships, health issues, job concerns, etc.  Every journey starts with knowing the “current location.”

2.  Clean out the closets. Fashion rules say for every new thing you bring in, something old needs to get discarded. What are you ready to get rid of to make room for the NEW?  Are you holding on to stuff that gets in the way of moving forward? Of course you are, me too!  Pretend you’ve got a mental dumpster, what would you like to throw in it?

3.  Go shopping.  Start brainstorming about how your life could be different.  What if….?  What are some hidden dreams?  Say them out loud.  What if you just started saying YES?

4.  Try everything on.  Just because something looks good on the rack doesn’t mean it will look good on you but you won’t know unless you give it a chance. You don’t have to give up dairy for the rest of your life, how about until Monday? You could try a workshop instead of signing up for a class. YouVersion Bible app offers short studies of 3-5 days to try out that style of reading before committing to a long plan.

5.  Pay with cash.  Renewal is not free.  Yes God does give to us freely but it will cost us something to take it.  Like time.  Getting up early to connect with God is going to cost sleep.  Spending an evening at a small group will cost you your TV or Facebook time. Financial advisors encourage us to buy with cash so we feel it more and spend wisely.  It probably won’t work to add a few new spiritual practices and assume nothing will change in our lifestyle.  Are you willing to pay for renewal with time?

6.  Take the “after” shot: Enjoy the new look.  Ever just get your hair cut and hope you run into someone?  Renewal feels like that on the inside.  Fresh, clear, full of excitement and hope. Revel in it and spread the word.  When we find a new restaurant, we tell our friends.  Be so bold about sharing what is working to bring you to a new open place.

Hope for the best,

Tish

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