Processing Life 

Hi friends, 

My silence and inability to podcast or post blogs these last several weeks has been unavoidable. I apologize. 

My husband and I are yet again in another work/life transition. It’s my hope and prayer that we will get settled into our new life quickly so I can get back on my writing schedule. I appreciate all your prayers and patience as I continue to try to grow this budding ministry. 

Blessings Tamara

Living Life Lessons

ETERNAL GLORY


IN THE LIVING LIFE LESSONS COLUMN EACH MONTH I’M SHARING VARIOUS LESSONS GOD HAS TAUGHT ME. This story tells how i learned that god uses all my life experience for my good and for the good of others…

 

 

It was late in March 2006 — Houston, Texas. I had been in addiction recovery a little over a year and was soaking up God’s Word every chance I could. I listened to Joyce Meyer daily and had recently purchased an Amplified Bible to read along with her lessons.


On this particular day, I needed to take my mother, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, for a routine doctor appointment to update her prescriptions. 

I remember momma sitting on the exam table with her feet swinging, waiting for the doctor like a little kid. The diseases had her in a child like state, this was no longer my mother but a young girl in an old woman’s body. 

The elderly doctor made his way into the exam room. Having performed a brief examination of momma, he began making notes in her file. 
During these early recovery days I never left home without a Bible. So while I was waiting with mother, I opened up my new Amplified Bible to 2 Corinthians chapter 4. I was so taken by these verses, which I had never read before, that I had to read them aloud to momma. The doctor also paused and listened intently. 

(Please read the verses below aloud, slowly before you proceed.)

For all [these] things are [taking place] for your sake, so that the more grace (divine favor and spiritual blessing) extends to more and more people and multiplies through the many, the more thanksgiving may increase [and redound] to the glory of God.

Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.

For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!],

Since we consider and look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are visible are temporal (brief and fleeting), but the things that are invisible are deathless and everlasting. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (Amplified Bible)

Now think about where I was…

I had just come through what was probably the most difficult time of my life. I was in the early stages of recovery from multiple addictions, my family was scattered and dismembered, I had recently experienced jail time, and was pressing desperately into God for healing. You can read my life story here.  

Here with me this day were two elderly people, my mother and the doctor, who, no doubt, had each been through various turmoils in their long lives. 

After I finished reading the verses aloud, both momma and the doctor smiled and chuckled with a sense of satisfaction. It was a moment I will never forget.

This section of Scripture quickly became my Life Verse. Time and again I have drawn on it for strength. I am there yet again. God is taking me to a deeper level of holiness, but not without pain. Struggling through new areas of sobriety, He is peeling off more layers of the flesh that must be removed so I can live unencumbered by worldly desires and bondages. 

Paul’s words give me hope that these momentary trials are fleeting in the big scheme of eternity. If I will keep my eyes focused where they should be…

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:15-18 (NIV) 

JOIN THE CONVERSATION:: What are your momentary troubles today?

 
If you can’t see a screen below CLICK HERE for a beautiful Hillsong worship video.


Photo credit: gatordawg / 123RF Stock Photo

07.17.13

The 12 Steps of Humility :: LISTEN MORE THAN TALK

IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY.  WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.

 

The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St. Benedict 
 

THE NINTH STEP OF HUMILITY: A monk restrains [her] speech, not speaking until an answer is required.

Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut. ~ Proverbs 10-19 (MSG)

 






In a culture big on watching most of us don’t really know how to listen. Do you find yourself listening to friends or loved ones with virtually no eye contact or verbal responses while surfing email or social media on your smartphone? 

Turn listening into a living response rather than a cerebral activity. That means we may have to listen when we don’t want to. If we pick and choose we may miss an important message God is trying to bring us. Besides that, it all comes back to honoring Christ in the other. It’s basic Golden Rule behavior really.

To listen closely, with every fibre of our being, at every moment of the day, is one of the most difficult things in the world, and yet it is essential if we mean to find the God whom we are seeking.*


Benedictine spirituality calls us to listen to four things:

  • The Gospels.
  • The Rule.
  • Each other.
  • Life around us.


We won’t hear God through any of these unless we stop talking, typing or texting!

If we want to grow in grace, we must learn to talk less and listen more.** 

 
RESOURCES:
Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today by Joan Chittister
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chittister
A Guide to Living in the Truth: Saint Benedict’s Teaching on Humility by Michael Casey
Saint Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
The Rule of Saint Benedict edited by Timothy Fry

Monk Habits for Everyday People: Benedictine Spirituality for Protestants by Dennis Okholm**

Seeking God: The Way of St. Benedict by Esther de Waal*
 

Image credit: tuk69tuk / 123RF Stock Photo

09.03.14

Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred (Simon and Schuster)

Although I am still reading it, I wanted to share this wonder-filled book by Mark Nepo. With life affirming stories and lovely poems, Mark encourages us as we travel our human journey to not loose touch with the most sacred things in life. Beautifully suited for individual meditations or small group study. I highly recommend Seven Thousand Ways to Listen: Staying Close to What is Sacred by Mark Nepo!

 

RHW Podcast Episode 19

Relational Practices of Contemplative Spirituality

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode 19 of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Today we are talking about: The Relational Practices of Contemplative Spirituality: Connecting to God by Being Present with Others.

The Christian church body as a whole depends on relationships to maintain and grow in a healthy way. We lift each other up in times of worship and prayer, and learn together in times of study. But often we go about these activities almost on autopilot, so to speak.

What we are learning about in Contemplative spiritual practices is to be intentional about putting God at the center, before, and during our particular activities.

The Contemplative Relational Practices:

  • Worship
  • Holy Communion
  • Visiting sick or elderly
  • Volunteering
  • Listening

My work schedule right now doesn’t allow room for visitation or volunteering. So my favorite Contemplative Relational practices are worship and Holy Communion.

During Holy Communion, in the Catholic and Anglican traditions, the congregation comes to the front of the church and either stands or kneels around the altar as the priests or deacons distribute the Sacraments of the Lord’s Supper.

I love watching the procession of people coming forward and kneeling before the Lord’s table, gathering as a family to be nourished spiritually. It is such a sweet, reverential time of worship.

The subtitle today: Connecting with God by Being Present with Others is important to emphasize here. And the key word is Present. Again, our main focus in contemplative spirituality is keeping God at the center of our practices or activities. So when we are in community with the Body of Christ, fellowshipping with other believers, we honor Christ in them by being present to them while in their presence.

I encourage you the next time you engage in any of the Contemplative Relational practices: Holy Communion; Worship; Visitation; Volunteering; or simply Listening, make a special point to be more present to the Christ in others who are in your presence.

Thanks so much for joining me today on the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. I hope you have enjoyed our brief discussion of the Relational Practices of Contemplative Spirituality: Connecting to God by Being Present with Others. Please take a few minutes and check out the other columns and resources at ReachingHurtingWomen.com. I look forward to hearing from you. You can leave comments or questions below the show notes. Until next time may the grace and peace of God be yours.

Consequences

Counting the cost of pleasures.

 

Death’s station is at the entrance of pleasure. ~ The Rule of Benedict

It may sound radical to say that pleasures lead to death. But think about it. What are your favorite guilty pleasures? Food? Sex? Alcohol? Sleeping? Shopping?

Is it possible, that if you continued in your pleasurable habit unrestrained, that a death could be a result? Remember, the death we are talking about here isn’t always a physical death. But it could be.

In the quote above, Saint Benedict reminds us that all pleasure has consequences. Some are emotional, some are physical, some are spiritual and most are a combination of all three. We would do well to look ahead and consider the potential consequences of this particular pleasure we are about to indulge ourselves in. Sin is fun for a season but when the season ends there will be a bill to pay. What will you be paying with? Health problems, high debt, relationship issues… Is the cost worth it?

There is a way that appears to be right,
    but in the end it leads to death. ~ Proverbs 14:12

 

Image credit: dizanna / 123RF Stock Photo

Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder

Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive is one of the best contemporary, non religious books I’ve read in years! There is a wealth of health-full, life-full information here. I listened to the audio version on Audible.com which was read by Agape Stassinopoulos, Arianna’s sister. It was beautifully written, produced, and narrated. I highly recommend Thrive by Arianna Huffington!

RHW Podcast Episode 18

The Learning Practices of Contemplative Spirituality

Hi Friends! Welcome to Episode 18 of the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. My name is Tamara and I will be your host. Today we are talking about: The Learning Practices of Contemplative Spirituality: Connecting to God through Discovery and Intellectual Exploration.

 

The Learning Practices of Contemplative Spirituality include but aren’t limited to:

  • Reading the Bible
  • Studying Church History and Christian Doctrine
  • Having Inspirational/Theological Conversations
  • Reading Inspirational Books, Articles, Blogs
  • Reading the Writings of Saints, Church Fathers/Mothers

There is no shortage of resources available to us today when it comes to learning the things of God. The plethora of books, blogs and Bibles can almost be overwhelming. Over the years I’ve found myself consumed with collecting all kinds, types and categories of books, Bibles and blog articles.

More recently, I have become more intentional about the material I consume. While there are so many incredible books available to me, not all of them speak to the specific message I am focused on learning and teaching.

So I have decided that at this time, I am not reading anything that doesn’t help me toward my specific goals. The books, blogs, articles, podcasts, etc… must fit into the categories and themes on which I am focused:

Benedictine Spirituality; Humility; Addiction Recovery; Contemplative Spirituality; Monastic Spirituality.

Now I’m not suggesting that you stick to these categories for yourself. But you might want to take some time to evaluate what you are spending your valuable time on.

Are the books you’re reading beneficial to the season of life that you are in?

Are they helping prepare you for the upcoming season of life?

Life is short and our time flies by faster and faster each day. I for one have a lot I want to accomplish and I don’t need unnecessary information bogging me down. I want the words I am reading to be clearly aligned with the purpose that God has put on my heart.

Another benefit of being more topically focused is that it helps keep my space less cluttered. In the last couple of years I have given away at least 25 boxes of books. They were all wonderful books, but as I sorted them out in preparation for a move, I went through them based on the criteria I stated above. If a book wasn’t something I was sure I’d read again, or if it didn’t support my life/ministry focus, I needed to pass it on for someone else to enjoy and learn from. This has been a huge boost and relief for me! As a result, I waste less time browsing books/blogs/articles, I purchase fewer books and I don’t feel as overwhelmed. Now when I do read, I am able to be more present to God and the message He is trying to convey to my mind, heart and spirit. Which is exactly what we want in Contemplative Spiritual Practices: to be more present with God and His message for us in the midst of our learning practices.

When beginning your contemplative learning practice, start by setting your intentions. Take a moment to get your heart, mind and spirit centered on God. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to be with you in and through your learning practice.

We must make a point to stop before we start. Often times I am so excited about a new book that I just fly into it without giving thought to what God has for me in it. When we put God first in all our endeavors we are certain to be more fruitful.

Briefly, let’s talk about one of the Contemplative Learning Practices. I love reading Scripture and I’m fascinated with church history, and I engage in most of the practices on the list above, but my favorite right now is reading ancient and classic works of the church mothers and fathers. There is so much we can learn from those who have gone before us.

I find much of today’s contemporary Christian books, though they may be theologically and doctrinally sound, they are often written for commercial success rather than depth of learning. Richard Foster once recommended that we keeping our reading balanced, not just in topic, but in by the age of the as well. In other words, don’t just read older books or younger books. Balance your reading list with contemporary and classic books. I’ve been doing this for a while and it has been very helpful.

Take some time to evaluate your library and how you are spending your valuable time. Make sure that you are reading things that will help you pursue the dream that God has put on your heart. Prayerfully set your intentions before beginning your learning practice. I think you will find your experience will be much more enjoyable. 

Thanks so much for joining me today on the Reaching Hurting Women Podcast: A Contemplative Path of Recovery. Here we are learning new ways of coping with our daily struggles. I hope you have enjoyed our discussion on the Learning Practices of Contemplative Spirituality: Connecting to God through Discovery and Intellectual Exploration. Please take a few minutes and check out the other columns and resources at ReachingHurtingWomen.com. I look forward to hearing from you. You can leave comments or questions below the show notes. Until next time may the grace and peace of God be yours.

Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God (Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, 2007)

Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God by Sybil Mac Beth is a fresh new way to approach your prayer time. While invoking your creativity, you can contemplate on the issues, people, places and things that you are bringing to God. I have found this avenue of prayer to be relaxing yet inspirational all at the same time.