When Your Life is Under Construction


view of our backyard, early Summer, from the upper deck

I have been pondering the tension lately between between the image I project to the world about my life and what is ACTUALLY going on.

Every morning I stand at my kitchen sink, I see a variation of this view above. I often post the photos on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter, giving folks well, a certain kind of impression.

Some mornings the view looks like this:


(we’re a little nuts about birds)

or…..depending on the season, the scene outside my window might look like thisf983e-p1200391

or this


Our backyard is pie-shaped as our lot sits at the back of a cul-de-sac; lots of grass, shrubs, garden area, roses, trees and so on

Summer garden, obviously…..

If I cast my eyes in the right direction, looking OUT….I see beauty in every direction; that’s what I want to focus on.

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Just Because #21–Abide, My Friends

Part of a sporadic, usually-on-Thursdays series of just God’s Word and pictures, passages I’ve been soaking in.just because. You can see the other posts here.
“As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you
and you do not need anyone to teach you.
BUT as his anointing teaches you about all things AND 
as the anointing is real, not counterfeit–
just as it has taught you, remain in Him.”**   I John 2:27
**so you must abide–live, never to depart, 
rooted in Him, knit to Him. (Amplified)
“The teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit (what is commonly called illumination
does not involve revelation of new truth or the explanation of 
difficult passages of Scripture to our satisfaction.
Rather, it is the development of the capacity to appreciate and appropriate God’s truth already revealed–making the Bible meaningful in thought and daily living.
‘all things’–All things necessary to know for salvation and Christian living.” 
from the NIV Study Bible
all caps, bold, italics and underline are mine

DWELL–Retreat Announcement–Join Us?

I’ve been waiting to share this almost-a-secret for two months–ta da!

After last fall’s Abide writing retreat, which Kimberlee Conway Ireton and I both felt was a little glimmer of Heaven, we were very excited to hold another retreat. This one will be different, of course but we’re going to try to keep the same spirit of waiting on God and communing with one another that characterized ‘Abide.’

This September, we’ll be heading back to Grunewald Guild for a weekend of worship, writing, sharing, prayer, and community. Our desire is to create a quiet, relaxed retreat for women writers—space to write and create, to pray and worship, to connect at a heart level with other women writers, and enjoy the beauty of the natural world.
For those who want to be social, there will be plenty of time for connection over meals, over an art activity, and during the sessions. And for those who want to be quiet or alone, there will be lots of time to simply be (or write or hike or sleep)—we are intentionally keeping the retreat slow-paced and contemplative. We want you to come home refreshed and rested and energized for the work ahead.

Our theme for 2016 is ‘Dwell: How does Jesus live through our art?’

We dwell in Christ—and He in us. How then does He live through our art? Over the weekend we will prayerfully consider this question and explore a variety of possible answers.  

Our key Scriptures will focus on Christ indwelling us, and our dwelling in God. 

We’d like to spread wide our narrow embrace to encompass more—more possibility, more creativity, more beauty. More God. We hope and pray that this weekend, like last year’s retreat, will be the beginning of that wider embrace. If you’re interested in joining us, here’s everything you need to know:

WHAT: a weekend of worship, laughter (and maybe some tears), and camaraderie among women writers of faith. Kimberlee will facilitate lectio divina with our Scripture passage, plus a writing activity or two (at least one involving POETRY, of course.) There will perhaps be a guided writing time led by Jody as well.
WHO: YOU, we hope. (Well, and Kimberlee and I 🙂
WHEN Friday, September 9 – Sunday, September 11, 2016
We’ll start around 5 on Friday evening and finish up around noon on Sunday.
WHERE: Grunewald Guild (http://www.grunewaldguild.com/), near Leavenworth, WA

HOW MUCH $$: We have several options for lodging that affect the price. All prices include 5 meals (dinner Friday through brunch on Sunday).
Option 1: Shared room (one roommate): 
            $219 early bird (by March 1); $259 regular (after March 1)
Option 2: Private room (your own slice of silence): 
            $259 early bird (by March 1); $299 regular (after March 1)
Option 3: Dorm-style room (up to roomies; twin beds, 1 bathroom downstairs–rooms are above the Library) $159 early bird (by March 1); $199 regular (after March 1)
All shared and private rooms have a sink in the room. Toilet and showers are shared among all residents on a floor. Towels and bed linens are provided. (Toiletries are not.) Please note there are a limited number of private rooms and limited beds in the dorm. We’ll be handing them out on a first-come, first-served basis. For that matter, there are a limited number of shared rooms, too.
All meals are eaten communally in the Dining Hall in the Main Centrum Building.
We’ve got room for 20 people, friends, so get your registration in ASAP to reserve your spot!

How to sign up: Shoot me an email (heyjode70atyahoo dot com) with your ‘Yes’, along with your name, snail mail and email addresses, phone number, and room preference. I will be setting up a Paypal account this year, so payment will be easy.

Your spot is reserved once we’ve received your email 
AND your payment in full. 
(Keep that early bird deadline of March 1 in mind!)
Please prayerfully consider whether Dwell is a place that God would like to meet you.
It’s not for everyone, but maybe it’s for you?

If you’d like to read more about last year’s time together, 
here are some links from my blog, Three Way Light

Rethinking Writer’s Conferences, Accompanied by Angels

 Sometimes a big idea starts as a small nudge, a whisper you might ignore for the wildness of it all. You carry the dream of an idea around and wonder if someone else is hearing it, too. Then one day you jump in and ask, “Do you have a moment or two to talk about well, Something?”      
     And you make a date at the park, the one where the air show is practicing (’cause you forget when you pick the location the Blue Angels are in town) and you picnic anyway.
     And over tuna and chips you blurt out your “what would you think about????” to your bosom friend and she practically shouts (because of all that noise–remember the jets?), “Yes. I’ve been thinking that, too.!!”
      And you spill out your thoughts, scribbling fast on paper (because she has four children to manage–all you had to remember was your lunch and your journal) and the dream starts to take shape.What if we did something different? Not to go against the stream, but create our own current?
     What if we found a quiet place for writing and retreating and relationships where women of faith could be encouraged to live into their gifts as Jesus grows in them?
     What if, instead of all the ‘how-to’s we gave away what we know–and Who we know–and wove that into 3 days of writing and listening and practice–and REST?                                
     What would that look like?  What would we call it?  You dub it ‘Abide’ and now that it’s named, it’s really happening….and oh….Jesus, we expect you to show up, big time.

     You find the Holy Spirit had been speaking to you both—for many, many months–about the same word–Abide. Through the same Scripture passages–John 15.  And you talk about what that might look like–a session on Lectio Divina (a phrase you’ve never heard but want to know more about) and maybe practicing poetry–even pantoums.
     And you share your passion about Writing as a Spiritual Practice–just listening to Jesus in the woods with your journal and pen and some questions.
     Then you plan and you pay and pray and you meet and over many more lunches (noisy ones, there’s all these kids…) and you cry for the connection and the peace that God is bringing with the little band of 12 women God has put together.

     Then you ask for someone to help you lead the worship and one of the attendees is a stellar guitar player and you practice (more than once) and the glory comes down like a kiss from Heaven that says, “Yes!” again.

And you know Jesus is up to something. 
Something big. As big as the sky with the angels above the trees in the blue you can’t see the end of.

And you thank God for your friend Kimberlee.

And you tremble in your boots at the big God that whispered the nudge
in all it’s wild goodness.
And you fly.
After eighteen months of prayer and planning, 
my friend Kimberlee Conway Ireton and I are heading over to the 
Cascade Mountains in Washington this weekend for ABIDE.
This is our first writer’s retreat for women of faith,
a place of rest and relationship,
borne of a little dream from our big God.
You’ll come? Maybe next year?

When You Can’t see the Trees

There’s a danger in going back to visit a place you’ve grown up in–a chance for your psyche to experience a bit of a jolt when what you remember doesn’t line up with reality.

Actually, much of life is like that.

My husband and I recently returned from an 8-day trip to California, the majority of the time in Southern California where I was born and raised, attended school and was married.

We drove around the old haunts–the house my husband grew up in, the home I lived in when we had our first date (and he kissed me in his front seat while my sister stared out the window).

Then we drove over to my high school alma mater.

The school site looked like a war zone–a chain link fence encircled the entire property, mountains of dirt excavated and piled high, chunks of concrete stacked in jagged hills.
Oh. Well.  Things were clearly not as they used to be.

I hadn’t expected to see the construction (destruction?) going on but it certainly made sense–I graduated forty-five years ago–clearly the building was ready for repairs and renovation.

My husband’s approach to a fence has always been, “How can we get IN there?”
He suggested we try to drive around to the back of the school, “to take pictures,” he said.
I’d never been all the way around to the back of the school that I recall and had no idea how to get there.
He confidently drove our car across the parking lot, skirted the fences along the side and went right through the construction gate.

There we were.

The angle was odd–we stood at the back of the school’s demolished gathering area, the Quad, looking at the Snack Bar next to the cafeteria.  The dividers where we leaned over each other to purchase chips and milk, gave each other cuts in line and ogled the cool kids.

That was a long time ago.

The Quad itself–a grassy expanse with an ‘X’ of walkways intersecting it–was a torn-up mess.
I remember many an angst-ridden lunchtime sitting on the concrete benches there, agonizing over whether or not any of the popular kids would ever come sit down by me or I’d be left alone.

The memories were like reading a familiar chapter in a book I knew by heart.  The story was my own but the distance of time depleted the sting.  I was grateful for the years that had passed and the blessing of being a little older and wiser. A lot older.

What I did not remember were the jacaranda trees.  Two of them standing there tall against the sky, shading the buildings.  Jacarandas are enormous green structures laden with lace-like leaves and punctuated by lovely lavender flowers.  They are few and far between, usually planted in plazas, parks and old neighbors.

I am always stilled by their beauty now, noticing them as if for the first time.

Why did I not remember these remarkable trees from my teenage years?

No doubt I’d been too busy focusing on my little high school world–the boys, the clothes, the drama–ever to look up skyward and see them.  I had missed them even though they’d been there all along.

How many things do we miss because we’re not looking?

How many things do we miss because we’re not listening?

To paraphrase Scripture, I think I understand why Jesus said, 
“He who has ears to hear and eyes to see, let him understand.”

You can’t see if you’re not looking. You can’t hear if you’re not listening.

The world is a broken down mess and people are searching for answers–looking in all the wrong places when God is right in front of them. They just need to know where to look.

And Who to listen to.

I want to remember that, too. How about you?