Advent Retreat Scheduled for my East Coast Friends

Advent Retreat

Christmas is for the world.

Advent is for Christians.

Christmas reminds the world that there is hope.

Advent reminds Christians that we carry the hope within us.

Why should I participate?
Before the holiday season ramps up, join Debby Bellingham at Wind Hill Farm, for a few hours of giving yourself the space to do what you long to/need to do, but your busy schedule may not allow. During our one day retreat we will spend some time with God, asking God to make our lives a dwelling place for the new born hope of the world.

In pondering Advent, we consider that the world is dark and needs light, and that we are dark and need light. We prepare our hearts to be the birthplace of the Child Christ, the one who brings light to our lives and through us light to our world.

Space is limited. Register by Nov. 29, 2017

Contact Debby Bellingham to register at 415 992-1087 or debbybellingham@gmail.com

When: December 2, 2017

Where: Wind Hill Farm 246 Willow Tree Road, Milton, NY

Time: 9am-3pm

Other: Lunch will be provided (let me know if you have any food issues)

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Foxes and their holes

Foxes and their holes

Jesus invites us to follow him and we respond. Here’s a look at one type of response.jean-blackmer-38927

As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’

This guy is so enthusiastic about following Jesus. He’s ready to give follower-ship all he’s got. He’s eager, quick and ready to make a promise and a commitment. Jesus, though, requires a realistic assessment of self and of one’s words. The young, the naive, the quick or emotional words of commitment and promise need to be awakened to what will be required in this relationship. It will not be easy, enthusiasm will not soften the rock you will have as your pillow. Jesus wants us to be open-eyed about the cost of this discipleship.

How many hearts are broken because an emotional promise was made that could not be kept once the fire of attraction died down?

Working as a youth ministries intern at my church is how I supported myself in college. My slightly older co-worker Mark and his wife Charlotte took a liking to me and invited me into their circle of affection. They were cool and they chose me. I felt pretty cool. 

One day they announced to me, rather casually I thought, that they had decided to love me unconditionally and then began to pour words of affirmation upon me. After this announcement, they would seek me out, their only objective was to tell me they loved me. 

This should make me happy, right? But it didn’t, instead It freaked me out. I felt smothered by their attention and began to withdraw. Where I used to be warm and receptive, I was now cool and elusive. I wasn’t purposefully pouring water on the flame of their love, I was just wounded and not able to handle such loving demonstrations. 

Not surprisingly, their love cooled. In retrospect, I give them a huge break, they were probably 24 years old, very good intended and very human. But when they let my reactions to their movements toward me modify the way they acted toward me, I became more convinced of the false truth I feared; I was not worthy of love. Their eager but faltering attempt to love as Christ loved, solidified my self-hatred. 

What if they would have just loved me?

I certainly am not without fault. After months of praying for the faltering marriage of a friend, I remembered Jesus’ explanation to his disciples that sometimes a situation needed more just just prayer, it needed prayer combined with fasting to be effective. So I earnestly promised my friend I would fast and pray for the healing of his marriage. Well, I didn’t. As Jesus said, “the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  Their marriage ended. And I felt slightly responsible about its demise.

Peter was one of those quick to declare guys. After the last supper, he promised he would follow Jesus wherever Jesus went, even lay down his life for him. Jesus knew him so well, Jesus knew Peter wouldn’t keep his promise. Jesus told him the truth about his fickle nature (Peter would deny Jesus three times before breakfast); and yet loved him to the end and beyond.

We need to own our desire and our lack; let our hearts be moved with zeal to follow Jesus and yet be acquainted with our inability to do it well. Jesus will not be surprised by our shortcomings. He prays for us and welcomes our attempts. When we fail, we fall, and with each failure, let us fall into the arms of God’s grace and begin again, wiser and more humbly.

Let the hot flame of love burn low, so its embers can sustain the heat necessary for warmth and provision.

Next time another possible response to Jesus’ invitation to follow him. See you then!

A sure way to get where you are headed!

annie-spratt-223429We all need a “Rule” to live by that supports our intentional life in the Lord; a guidepost that points us toward our destination, a map that would help us return to the path when we veer off course. I wrote one once and the first sentence of this rule reads, ”In order to learn to live and love like Jesus I must apprentice my life to the mentorship of Jesus.”

Will you join me in exploring this sentence, not just reading it? Let’s unpack it and see what help it holds our our journey toward God’s heart of love.

To learn – suggests we don’t know how to do it. There will be practice required. Like any new skill mistakes are inevitable. Remember learning to downhill ski? Plenty of bruises from that endeavor!

To live and love like Jesus – this is our goal, the end of our life, the target we aim for. Jesus is the model and the example of humanity perfected. The more we become like him, the closer we are to becoming who God created us to be. We need to learn to express the character of Jesus’ life and the quality of his love through our own unique and distinct personality and temperament.

Apprentice my life – An apprentice is one who, because she desires to learn a trade or skill, attaches herself to one who is a master at the trade so that she can acquire the needed skill and knowledge. We know what we want to know and we know we aren’t able to get what we want or need on our own. To be an apprentice requires a humble submission and an admission of two things: our desire and our lack.

Mentorship of Jesus – Jesus is the experienced and trusted expert at life and he has agreed to train us and advise us. He’s the source and the final authority. We submit to his life giving, and death defying instructions.

It’s like enlisting the the military and going through boot camp or like being a contestant on the biggest loser. We trust and submit to the experts in order to help us accomplish what we long for, but can’t bring about ourselves.

The opening sentence of the Mentored Life requires a response; a decision must be made, a commitment must be undertaken, a direction determined.

Are you willing to submit to Jesus’ mentorship and follow him and his teaching? Does this opening sentence to the Rule I wrote resonate with your heart?

In my next post we’ll talk about potential responses! Please stay in touch.

With you on the journey,

Debby

 

God’s healing found in the simple

ryan-moreno-99464.

Naaman the leprous Aramaeon, proudly refused to bathe in the water of the Jordan. His assistant chided him, “If you were asked to do something difficult you’d do it, why not something simple?”

Sometimes healing and progress in our spiritual life is not about performing the difficult, self-powered sacrifices and practices, it is about simply taking a bath in the stillness and grace of God’s presence. Enter the water today, float in the streams of grace, wash your wounded and diseased soul in the river of God’s tender mercy. That is enough. Amen.

Will you do the simple to receive healing and power today?

Wisdom’s promise of refreshment

Wisdom’s promise of refreshment

Wisdom speaks:

I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord’s property, in his inheritance. I have grown tall as a cedar in Lebanon, as a cypress on Mt. Hermon; I have grown tall as a palm in Engedi, as the rose bushes of Jericho; as a fine olive in the plain, as a plane tree I have grown tall.

Sirach 24:12-14

plane treejpegI have grown tall as a Plane tree

A tree that grows beside the water. It sheds its outer bark, the hebrew word means naked.

A responsive prayer:

May I grow beside the living water, staying close to the source of life for the refreshment of my soul. May I  live vulnerably, not hiding behind a veneer.

Wisdom’s promise of maturity

I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord’s property, in his inheritance.
I have grown tall as a cedar in Lebanon, as a cypress on Mt. Hermon; I have grown tall as a palm in Engedi, as the rose bushes of Jericho; as a fine olive in the plain, as a plane tree I have grown tall.
Sirach 24:12-14

olivetreejpegAn olive tree in the plain

is cultivated for its important fruit; it is slow to mature, so it requires peaceful conditions to let it grow. Fragrant, with a pleasing odor, is an emblem of prosperity, beauty and regions of privilege.

A responsive prayer:

May I produce important, valuable fruit, be patient with myself and with others, recognizing it takes time and peaceful conditions for my fruit to mature.

What would your response be?

Tomorrow we’ll look at Wisdom’s promise of refreshment.

 

Wisdom’s promise of restoration

I have taken root in a privileged people, in the Lord’s property, in his inheritance.
I have grown tall as a cedar in Lebanon, as a cypress on Mt. Hermon; I have grown tall as a palm in Engedi, as the rose bushes of Jericho; as a fine olive in the plain, as a plane tree I have grown tall.
Sirach 24:12-14

rose of jerichojpeg

Rosebushes in Jericho are also known as the Resurrection flower. For long periods, these ‘roses’ live in desert regions, growing and reproducing as any other plant until the environment no longer supports an adequate existence. When this happens they lose moisture and the drying branches curl inwards, forming a round ball. They retract their roots from the soil and allow the desert winds to carry them across the desert, until one day they arrive in a damp place where they can continue to grow and spread. The ball then expands again, opens flat on the ground and deposits its seeds, which germinate. Once watered, the dried-up looking young plants soon begin to bud. Even after 50 years without water the plant will resurrect.

A Responsive prayer:

May I trust the trust the dryness of my spirit is God’s readying me to move to a new place where his moisture will allow me to flourish.

Next we’ll look at Wisdom’s promise of maturity