Examining Relationships...

With whom do I have the closest relationships? What connections are those relationships based on? How can I re-evaluate the depth of particular relationships to know where to put my energies? These are some of the questions I asked myself while sitting in on a course called, Your CrossRoads. Working with a non-profit for much of my career, I had considered literally hundreds of people to be friends. A belief is that the mission is held together by relationships and shared ethos. Consequently, I had almost no mental map to differentiate various relationships. However, when I left the group, it became more obvious who were my friends and who were relationships of convenience. True friends follow you in life; friendships of convenience or circumstance fade away. Now a couple of years out, I find myself thinking about my relationships and considering the differences between friends, acquaintances and colleagues. There are differences. In her CrossRoads course, creator Victoria Jeffs challenges participants to identify the foundations important to healthy relationships. The model helped me identify how I relate to various people in my life. The foundational pillars are touch points we have in common with others. Upon examination, I found that my closest friendships are with those people I share several touch points. They are: Intellect Emotion Social Spiritual Financial Physical Cultural Some people are in our lives due to circumstances. These include family members, work colleagues, and others we know through various groups in which we participate. The close relationships in our lives are those we have invited in. Like me, you can use the seven pillars to examine your closest relationships. This simple exercise can help you identify what aspects of those relationships are healthy and also what are unhealthy. Healthy relationships are life-giving....

Who Was St. Patrick?

Who was Saint Patrick, the patron saint of the Irish whose name represents all things green? Because of the holiday—St. Patrick’s Day, celebrated every March 17th—you might think this historical figure was an Irishman who drank green beer. In fact, neither is true. Saint Patrick was actually born in Scotland or Wales to parents who were Romans living as colonial bureaucrats in Britain! Born around 385, Patrick is surely to have drunk beer, or ale as it was called then. People drank a lot of beer back then because it was cleaner than water (that could give you nasty parasites and diseases). But as everybody knows, ale is more of a meal in a glass, and generally much darker than the standard pilsners and lagers from my Germanic ancestors and other Europeans. I don’t think they had green food coloring then; making beer (and rivers) green is an Irish-American invention meant to celebrate ethnicity. Patrick would have grown up with some privilege, as his parents worked for Roman occupiers. However, in his teens, a raiding party (that’s what they did back then) invaded and kidnapped Patrick off to Ireland, where he was made to heard sheep. It was as a slave in Ireland that he encountered God. There is nothing like captivity or other unpleasant circumstances to get you on your knees. He later wrote, “The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was roused, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same…I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.” After about six years...

Lent

Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, 40 days in the Christian church calendar preceding Easter. Perhaps you think of Lent as a morbid time when we all have to get super serious, give up stuff, and consider how terrible we are. It is like that for many. But it doesn’t have to be like that for you. I offer some suggestions that may help you think about and engage in Lent differently this year. Every religion has seasons of penitence and reflection. That is good for the soul. But perhaps your soul needs watering. Maybe you’ve been in a dessert for way too long; your grass is withered and you need refreshment. Maybe you just feel distant, not only from God, but from your true self. Or perhaps you know it’s just time to step back a bit and reflect on things that matter. As Richard Rohr wrote in his introduction to Wondrous Encounters: Scripture for Lent: “There are two moments that matter. One is when you know that your one and only life is absolutely valuable and alive. The other is when you know your life, as presently lived, is entirely pointless and empty. You need both of them to keep you going in the right direction. Lent is about both.” Rohr offers the idea that Lent can be a time to be fully known. “Allow yourself to be fully known,” he wrote, “and you will know what you need to know.” Or as social reformer and Saint, Teresa of Avila, wrote in the 16th century: “We find God in ourselves, and we find ourselves in God.” I invite you to set aside this season for reflection, to be known, and to bask in the love of The Divine. After all, that is...

Perception Checking

We think we see the world as it is. But we actually see it through our limited perceptions and stories we construct to explain it. We develop narratives about who we are, who other people are, and what events and communication mean. We’re on a constant quest to explain things to ourselves. Each of us was raised differently, had vastly different experiences, came from different cultures and were exposed to different kinds of information, so we all created our thinking patterns separately and distinctly. No wonder we have such a hard time understanding each other. “How could you POSSIBLY think THAT!?” we often ask. We forget we have limited perceptions, and over-trust our impressions. Even the Bible points this out, saying we only see as if looking at a reflection and knowing in part.* That is why ten people can witness a crime and all report a different story. It’s also why ten million people can watch the same television event and all have a distinct experience. It helps if we break down the process into a simple model: We are stimulated through our senses. What we observe (notice) is selectively based on what grabs our attention, meets a need, or is enjoyable. We then organize what we have sensed into thinking structures that make sense to us. Swiss developmental psychologist, Jean Piaget, called these knowledge or mental schemata that we developed from our unique experiences and what sociologists, Berger and Luckmann, called social construction.** After that we interpret; we assign meaning to what we sensed.  We confuse these stages, especially observation and interpretation. I understand how challenging this can be, especially in relationships. I have a good friend who is very different than me. We see the world in vastly different ways, and we...

How are you doing?

We are about to complete the first month of 2017. That’s right, we’re almost 1/12 through the new year already! It’s a great time to measure our initial progress. I set a few large goals for this year. Did you? How are you doing on them? Are you winning at some and have room to improve others? Well beating yourself up won’t do any good. Do y need to adjust some actual goals or do you need to alter your approach? I challenge to you ask yourself: Which goals have you achieved? Tell somebody of your accomplishments! Pat yourself on the back. Which goals are still in process? Are you making progress on them? Which goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps your goals weren’t SMART enough. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Is it possible you’re not focusing on the right areas for now? (Click on Rate Your Life to see if you’re putting energy into the parts of your life that need the most attention now.) Success is not just about accomplishing all your goals, but also seeing where you need to adjust, setting new goals, or tweaking your approach.  Don’t beat yourself up for your failures. Rather focus on your accomplishments and make adjustments to continue moving forward. It’s not too late. After all, you still have 11/12 of the year...

049: Planting God Oct12

049: Planting God

https://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/medeor.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/49-Planting-God-with-Derek-Schoenhoff.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 52:02 — 47.6MB)Derek Schoenhoff talks about his just-released book, Planting God, an attempt to make God more accessible to everyone. Dedicated to rethinking stereotypical concepts of God, many of which are inconsistent with the bible and nature, Derek loves to talk about the nature and character of God, reconciliation, and the future of the church. His fun and simple approach to difficult issues make him relevant for all generations. Check out the website PlantingGod.com for more information about the book. The book is available at in various formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other...

048: Brave Dames & Wimpettes Sep12

048: Brave Dames & Wimpettes...

https://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/medeor.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/48-Brve-Dames-Wimpettes-with-JB-91216-4.21-PM.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 27:37 — 25.3MB)A conversation with Jeannette Slater about how men and women communicate and are perceived differently. The episode touches on cultural expectations, social constructs of what is means to be a man & woman, understanding the sexes and being who you are. A timely episode as the U.S. struggles to understand and like its first female presidential candidate. Resources mentioned: Powell, John. (1995). Why Am I Afraid to Tell You Who I Am? Insights into Personal Growth Isaacs, Susan. (1999). Brave Dames and Wimpettes: What Women Are Really Doing on Page and Screen Landa Cope on The Unveiled Image of God: Privilege Walk (What is...

047: Gratitude Aug21

047: Gratitude

https://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/medeor.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/47-Gratitude-with-Jeannette-.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 25:38 — 23.5MB)Jeannette Slater & Dr. Deb discuss a cure to many ills and stresses: gratitude! The episode is full of reminders and perspective that we often lose as we experience everyday life. Jeannette read Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life by Arrien Angeles, internalized it and added her own reflections and experiences to discuss this important topic.   Check out Angeles books and try using the table above for a self-reflective exercise. Angeles Arrien. (2013). Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life Angeles Arrien. (2013). Living in Gratitude: Mastering the Art of Giving Thanks Every Day, A Month-by-Month Guide Angeles Arrien. (2006). The Second Half of Life: Opening the Eight Gates of...

046: Muslims where you live Aug01

046: Muslims where you live...

https://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/medeor.co/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/46-Muslims-with-Ibrahim.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 38:20 — 35.1MB)In this episode, Dr. Deb has a candid conversation about Muslims with Egyptian, Ibrahim. Are they all terrorists? How can we inform our perspective and deal with our fears about Middle Eastern immigrants? What is Islam really like? What is a typical Muslim like? How might we be more welcoming and more Christ-like in how we treat our Muslim immigrant...

045: Jesus was a Middle Eastern Refugee & other uncomfortable truths Jul19

045: Jesus was a Middle Eastern Refugee & other uncomfortable truths...

http://media.blubrry.com/gcoyl/p/media.medeor.co/gcoyl/45-Jesus_was_a_Middle_Eastern_Refugee_other_uncomfortable_truths.mp3Podcast: Play in new window | Download (Duration: 45:21 — 41.5MB)In a time when Islam and refugees are in the news every day, it’s helpful to get another perspective from someone on the inside. Vicki Witte works with refugees, helping them learn English and adjust to life in the U.S. She is a wonderful example of the power of volunteerism and how even small efforts can make huge differences in the lives of our new neighbors. She describes the history of migration in biblical times and the new opportunities we have to welcome the strangers in our towns. Be sure to visit Vicki’s blog by clicking here. Click here to make a donation in support of the...

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