Today's reading caught me by surprise. As I read through the bible verses, I began to reflect on my past experiences faith communities. As I read through the lesson, I prayed - Lord, what do you want me share?... Not THAT...?!
Here's the thing. That 'time with the nuns' I've been talking about had a really really dark side. I had gone to Canada to attend a private 'Christian' boarding school. Anglican. (sort of) It was led and administered by a community of people who were devoted to the school - they all lived and worked on the campus. On the surface it was an idyllic picture of Christian community.
The longer I stayed, and further involved I became though, I realized that the community part was pretty twisted. By the time I left, I understood that this well-meaning group of people had allowed themselves to devolve from community into cult. Lots twisted spiritual beliefs and outright lies. Really bad relationship practices. Lots of 'discipline' that was outright emotional abuse.
So... talk of 'community' can be tough for me. Over the years, the Father has worked on healing me from my wounds and brokenness related to living in a cult. Lots of lies to be renounced. Lots of love to receive and trust to rebuild.
Last year, I was invited to join a small group at Tri County Church - North Central Campus. And I loved the idea of it. But I was terrified. Because, in my experience, we're all just one bad idea away from spiritual and emotional abuse. ( That can become tangled up in some really awesome experiences and learning...)
Ugh. Talk about baggage.
Healthy fellowship with a group of Christians is a positive discipline (training) for me. I love being part of a small group, but sometimes it still scares me. I am so grateful to have developed deeper relationships and friendships - and to have been given another opportunity to "learn to respect and care for people who aren't exactly like me". (Without all the twisted stuff.)
If you struggle with relationship-building in your church, or don't even go to a church because of past wounds - I totally get you. Let me encourage you though - nothing replaces working through life with each other. Even when it's hard. Especially when it's a personal challenge.
Online is good for a season, zoom is a 'just for now' solution, but nothing replaces the rewards of trusting God and responding to the call to 'not forsake the assembling of ourselves' (just fancy words for - Y'all need to be together!). I'm praying for you if this is something you struggle with. If you don't struggle with it, hey, I'd appreciate any of the prayers you can throw at me and others like me.
You can find the lesson for today at She Read Truth - Fellowship
Back in the day of my living alongside the nuns, my family was a country away. There were phone calls of course, but the communication I most looked forward to was preceded by a call up to the front office, the secretaries' cubicle. She would hand me a rolled up piece of slightly filmy, almost slick paper that was sometimes still warm from the fax machine.
Yup. It was the 90's.
My dad, sitting at work in a huge converted factory building in Fall River, MA, surrounded by pounding tool and die press machines, would be thinking of me and write me a quick note. He was rather impatient, always highly efficient, and saw no reason to wait for the mail when he could just pass it through his fax machine and send up to me immediately.
I would treasure those letters, pouring over them, extracting every ounce of love, thought, wisdom, humor, and news that I could - much like a child sucking the last drops from a freezie pop on a hot summer day.
So should our 'study' of the Word of God go. Today's reading (see the link below) is a wonderful encouragement that we are here with a purpose and we can approach time with Jesus with intent and anticipation. "It's the relational knowing that makes study an act of worship and a discipline that truly and positively shapes us."
My prayer for you today is that the Father grants you an expectant heart and a grace-filled understanding as you read today's lesson on She Reads Truth: Study
Years ago, and another life it seems, I lived and worked alongside a cloister of nuns.
Within that community, my staunchly-Baptist-raised self was exposed to many new liturgical rhythms and spiritual discipline practices. I sang Gregorian chant, observed the daily offices, and spent many hours kneeling in a tiny chapel praying for requests sent in from around the world.
I developed a love for orthodox spiritual disciplines that have seen me through many difficult experiences in my life.
When I was asked to lead an online study beginning this month, we thought it was a completely different topic. And all through the previous week, my Bible readings and prayer time pointed me back to daily rhythms and disciplines of spiritual living. I was so delighted, and had a good chuckle, when we realized what the theme for this month was - our Father is so gentle and loving to prepare us for the journey He asks us to walk.
I am praying for each of you as we begin this study, especially if you are coming out of a faith tradition that may find liturgical practices and spiritual disciplines unfamiliar, that the Father will fill you with His Grace so that you can experience Him in a totally new, refreshing experience.
You can read this study along with me at: She Reads Truth - Living the New Life
If you follow me on social media, you've noticed that posts have been a bit... sporadic, post-COVID.
Now though, I'm in a full-out war with my scrolling, time-wasting, blood-pressure-increasing, social media self. If September was a month of weaning, October is cutting-the-cord.
Truthfully, while I feel SO MUCH better not engaging on social media, I do miss the interaction. I don't consider that a negative. That true sense of loneliness has encouraged me to pick up the phone, send the text, issue the invite, and reach out more to my local social sphere, with very positive results.
October then is my true month of renewal. I'm putting aside the excuses that resulted from the stress and uneasiness of our COVID spring/summer, and am praying through a month of renewed intention and focus on my good health - mental, physical, spiritual.
I don't know about you, but COVID was not kind to me in my many ways. Weight gain, depression, fear, anxiety, apathy, lethargy - all symptoms of a trauma response - have been chasing me around these past six months.
On the flip side, I was encouraged during our involuntary down-time to take stock of what my life needed to thrive. Thriving looks like this: plenty of sleep, simple food, time with Jesus, time with friends and family, lots of unscheduled time, and being outside.
October is my month to renew my mind, to renew my taste buds, my spirits, my body. I wanted to invite you to join me - so I've attached a blank copy of the checklist I'll be using to track my progress. There's something to encouraging and empowering about having a checklist, a way of tracking success, and being accountable for not living up to my goals.
Would you like to join me? Print out two copies of the file below, fill out your top 7 goals, and let's do this together. I'd love to hear from you if you do - drop me a comment below if you're in!
“By listening to each other’s complaints and formulating them against God, we help one another… We don’t always have to be at God’s side, defending him. By being taken seriously - not rejected, not toned down, not spiritualized - the complaint becomes an occasion for demonstrating God’s providence.”
p 54, Every Step an Arrival, Eugene Peterson
Everywhere I turn these days, a writer or preacher is expounding the importance of staying positive, speaking ‘pure, lovely, true’ words, ‘taking our thoughts captive’, and focusing on the good.
Let me just get this out of the way - they are RIGHT.
However, if I may… They are right when that is the next thing.
The first thing, I propose, is that we are honest. Down in the dirt, covered in mud, bloody, sweaty, gasping for breath, clutching our swords, leaning against a tree so that we don’t fall down - honest.
In our ‘now’ culture, there is little patience for the process. We want to hear someone’s testimony, clap as they share their ‘mountain top’ victory, and cheer as they stride up to the podium, sure and confident and clean and shining.
But first… First we have to do battle. First, it’s ugly. First, things are not okay.
And that’s just fine.
The bible is full of the ‘not okay’. Complaining. Accusing. Challenging. Whining. Arguing. Our loving Father makes sure that His story, OUR story, is full of the ‘before’. Just read the Psalms and you’ll get a pretty clear picture of the process of life - lots of verbal smackdowns and downright disrespectful-sounding accusations.
Here’s the thing. God is big enough for our anger. God is loving enough for our accusations. God is sure enough for our doubts. God wants a real relationship with us - not a whitewashed, good enough for Sunday, let’s be friends when I have my good clothes on friendship. A friendship of depth involves all the tough stuff. He’s not afraid of it.
Another important aspect of truth-speaking is this: when we commiserate with others, we enter their story. We share pain and validate experiences. This is true relationship. We do not do God a disservice when we agree that a situation seems hopeless, when we crawl into the hole and hold our friend, and cry. We do not dishonor God when we validate the unfairness, the bleakness, the pain, the injustice - when we validate another’s experience, when we trudge the muddy, cold, wet, miserable road of the valley alongside a comrade, we actually honor the God who said ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’
Our mission as followers of Jesus is embrace this life we are living now - even the complaining and the negative. Especially the complaining and the negative, because it is in that space where simply by offering our presence and validation we honor each other’s journeys and experiences. It is in THAT space that our relationships are cemented. Where trust is built. When we hold on, do not let go, and enter into each other’s trials, we show and experience the heart of Jesus.
I agree, let’s bring our thoughts back to the positive. Let’s encourage each other in the promises of God. Let’s strengthen each other with bible verses that speak of hope and victory. But first… First, let us honor the bigness of God and His true love by walking the valley, validating the pain, speaking the truth of what is NOW - and in doing so, prepare the way for miracles, provision, and love.
My life is in transition right now. Name it and it's happening here on my hill.
My son just turned 25... I mean 10. He turned 10.
Aging parents whose lives are shifting.
A sister has returned after years and years away overseas.
Business is in flux - clients coming and going with changing needs every week. (Hour... Minute... Hang on I need to go get the phone...)
Community is fluid - people coming in and going out of our life.
I'm officially peri-menopausal complete with irregular hormones and body fluctuations. (Crazy. My husband just thinks I'm losing it. Can I get an 'Amen'?... Anyone?)
My husband's role is shifting from fun-dad to raising-a-man-dad.
Our family is still searching for fellowship in a community of believers.
My life is just one large 8-ball. Every day feels like someone shook it and is like, "Ooh! Let's see how she does with THIS!"
And in the middle of all that, God gives me this message:
"...God instructs [the farmer] and teaches him the right way. ...All this comes from the Lord Almighty, whose plan is wonderful, whose wisdom is magnificent..." Isaiah 28:29 NIV
A reminder that HE HAS A PLAN. Isaiah 28: 23-29 is about as plain as it gets: God has calculated what every. single. one. of. us. needs. And it's wonderful. More than wonderful, it's magnificent.
During today's conversation with my Father, He gave me some beautiful things to think about that I wanted to share:
1. Do not be distracted by the other plants in the garden and how the Master Gardener chooses to cultivate them. Do not lose sight of what is for YOU, today.
2. The BEST work we can do today is to pray:
4. Regardless of what is swirling in life, remember this TRUTH: God. Is. For. Me.
He has plans for us. Hope. A Future. Cling not to what seems to be slipping away, rather - cling to His promises.
Each day is an opportunity to trust Him to cultivate and create, focusing on what He has for us, this day.
God knows exactly what we need. He has crafted a cultivation plan for our life that takes into account everything we will ever need.
Friends, are you in a place of transition? Is life swirling around you? I encourage you, take a few minutes to be where you are at - and then offer it up, brush off the residue, and turn your eyes and heart upwards and mentally and literally raise your arms and say,
"Take it Father. Take it all. Make it beautiful."
And I believe that He will. He is.
Many Blessings Today,
"But is it hard to homeschool?..." the skeptical cashier asked me at the checkout counter.
"Girl," I replied, holding up my bag of newly-purchased astronaut ice cream and gesturing to the Air & Space Museum behind me, "This IS homeschooling!"
Probably my most favorite interaction of our day, we also enjoyed sharing some of our resources with an enthusiastic saxophonist and receiving a private concert; stopping to help tie the sneaker of a young woman with a baby strapped to her chest; chatting with a group of elderly Chinese men from Toronto who were huddled over their hot coffee; offering an encouraging word to a frustrated city worker; and complimenting a bag-checker. (I considered it a personal challenge to bring a smile to Mrs. Wilson's face. She was one tough lady!)
We left Williamsport at 6:00 am - phew, that's EARLY! I love that Trey and I are such seasoned travelers - we were up and out and at the bus in plenty of time.
When we arrived in D.C. we were a bit surprised to see the lines to the Air & Space Museums (all four of them) were about a 90 minute wait! So we moved right along.
While we were initially frustrated, we soon discovered that the most interesting items to Trey were all of the outdoor sculptures! We combed the National Mall for every garden and museum we could find that contained sculpture art. As the day progressed we narrowed down his interest to modern, abstract sculptures consisting of metal and glass.
As a homeschool mom, I was thrilled to follow as Trey walked through the sculptures, explaining them to me, reading the plaques, deciding what he liked and didn't like, and why, and then moving along.
I asked Trey to take the lead, and he took me from museum to museum. He actually had a better grasp of the city than I did, moving around with a confidence and sophistication that belied his inexperience. It was amazing to watch him navigate the streets and the lights and the traffic - and then inside the museums, navigate through the exhibits and mazes of halls.
At one point, I got us completely turned around and we had to go back around and start over. Trey patiently pulled me into a corner and quietly said, "Mom, I didn't want to embarrass you, but we're going the wrong way. We need to..." Seriously, it was a surreal moment. LOVED watching him blossom while I just longed for a quiet corner and a cup of tea!
Midway through our day, we were cold and tired and I saw the top of the botanical gardens in the distance. "I think that's a greenhouse! Let's go!" Trey loved the warm greenhouses and we sat quiet on a bench, his head in my lap for a quick catnap.
My food-truck falafel wrap was outstanding, unfortunately, Trey's palate has been spoiled by the homemade pretzels from the Amish food stands, so he wasn't as impressed with his food.
Eventually, with just an hour or so remaining, the lines shortened at the Air & Space Museum and we had a chance to go in. It was fun to wander around, but so full of people! We were both very tired, and ready for the day to end.
We never did fulfill my dream of going to the White House, but we did get a chance to see it from the bus on the way out of the city.
We've decided that we'll go back to Washington D.C. again, but we'll park the car outside the city and take public transit in. There is so much more we want to see!
It's been an exciting few weeks! As you can see, our new client is a plain (Amish) business. They are super excited to have an office/business manager, and built a brand new office at their facility to house us.
A fascinating combination of genius and humility, this business invited us in to provide a combination of coaching and business management. After an eye-opening conversation with our local area small business development center, (who were completely shocked when I explained what we were going to be doing, sharing with me that they have tried to break into the Amish community for years but can't make any inroads) I realized how unprecedented it is for an 'English' business to be invited into the Amish business community - not as a customer, but as a mentor, coach, and manager.
Each time we arrive, the owner's young son meets us with a smile and an enthusiastic 'Hi!'. He doesn't speak much English yet, (he'll learn when he begins school next year) so Trey is finding it challenging to communicate with him, but they do find ways to play together, and enjoy drawing on the lap white-boards we put in the toy basket in the office.
Many folks who aren't familiar with the Amish community would wonder how they can compete or at least keep up, in our fast paced, powered, digital world. Part of my role is to encourage this business to stay true to their community ideals and be mindful of the effect that skating too close to the line may have on their standing within the community. There are some businesses that regularly cross the lines set out by their community, encouraged by well-meaning, but ignorant English. From an anthropological view, major changes endanger an entire community's way of life for generations to come. From a community standpoint, families who regularly break the rules and cross the line can lose their connection in the community, and risk being disciplined or shunned. Mercy and forgiveness is a basic foundation in the Amish tradition, but repeated transgressions are met with increasingly strong reactions from leadership.
I was able to take this client is because he is an honest man looking for ways to grow and compete but not be dishonest to his family or his community. My standing in the community is affected by the clients I accept - so I have to be very mindful of PEMG's reputation as well.
What does all this mean on a practical level? Well, he doesn't use electricity. He does use batteries. The batteries are powered via solar or by an equine treadmill (that he designs, has built and sells!). The batteries are (as far as I am aware) only used for business, his wife would not use them for anything in the house. Even in business, the lines are firm - he can run the printer with the battery pack, and some equipment. He can power his mobile phone, but when I am not in the office, the phone stays in the phone shanty on the edge of the property. The electric tea kettle stays on my desk, and is used only by me, when I'm in the office.
We will be setting up cellular internet, but again, it's only for my use and will be put away when I am not in the office. Having an 'english office lady' as he calls me, has created some breathing room for this business. On a practical level, things get done faster, and he doesn't have to spend as much time returning phone calls!
Of course, when I answer the phone, many times people hang up! They aren't used to 1. a woman (gasp!) answering the phone, or 2. an 'english' voice. It was pretty funny yesterday when another Amish client of mine called in to the office. He was so confused! Once I explained to him what was going on, I could hear the wheels turning in his mind. This 'english office lady' idea is very new - and I anticipate a growing demand within the Amish community.
This places a huge burden on me to create a business model that provides excellent service minus any opinion or judgments of the Amish way of life. An opportunity like this is amazing - I feel as though every step of the PEMG journey has been preparing us for this next venture.
I am envisioning a new division at PEMG, utilizing virtual assistants, remote contractors, and office staff to provide the Amish community with access to information and services in a way that doesn't threaten their beliefs, ideals, or community structure.
What do you think? Questions? Thoughts?
For ten years I have cultivated my social media presence. Early on, I realized that I could either do 'picture perfect' snapshots of our life, or, I could present authenticity with a goal of extending love.
I erred on the side of authentic, and enjoyed re-connecting with friends from elementary school on up to my boarding school days. What a gift to have had a chance at a do-over in many respects. My early life was marred by my untreated attention deficit disorder, and all the resulting social faux pa's that came along with it! Eek!
From the business side, as Price English Marketing Group grew, I spent more and more time on social media, promoting client's products and services. Just when I would get a process in place, the algorithms would change and systems would update, and I'd have to start all over. Most of my clients are micro-businesses or small businesses with very tight budgets, so that added to the challenge of keeping up with multi-million dollar competitors. Managing both my personal social media accounts and client social media accounts was becoming an impossible task. It is apparent to me that I have to focus on client accounts over my own if I want to provide the best service possible.
In order to stay authentic, I need to quit social media and kiss instagram goodbye.
Annually, I have taken a short personal social media break, and found it to be restful, but this year, I actually stepped away from my clients as well and took a leave of absence. My experiences have led me to the conclusion that in order stay authentic, I need to quit social media and kiss instagram goodbye.
Why I am Quitting Social Media:
1. I can invest my time in me, my family, my personal relationships, OR, I can invest in social media. Realistically, I can not invest fully in my life AND social media.
2. Social media leads to me compromising my personal integrity. My goal in all interactions is to be loving. Especially in the last year or two, I found myself being backed into a corner of either being honest about my personal beliefs or staying silent.
3. I need to spend more time enjoying each moment - rather than trying to catch it on camera. At the perfect angle, in the perfect light... You've been there, you know what I mean. (Let's take that candid shot again! ...and again... Wait, one more time, we almost have it!...)
4. As I simplify and de-clutter my physical space, I also want to de-clutter the information, opinions, and 'news' that comes into my brain as well. The psychological 'noise' of social media input is depressing, anxiety-filled, overwhelming, and exhausting.
5. Social media is a natural comparison trap, and even as I am aware not to be sucked in, it siphons precious energy and spiritual awareness away from more important aspects of my life.
Just as our cluttered homes can have a negative impact on our emotions, the psychological 'noise' of social media input can be depressing, anxiety-filled, overwhelming, and exhausting .
6. My top reason? I need to get out of the way.
For years I have shared my faith journey on social media as a way to encourage others and bring light to a world that needs to know they are cherished, valued, and loved by the God who created them and the Savior who died for them.
But am I encouraging my friends and acquaintances to experience God for themselves, or are they too busy reading my social media posts and looking at my photos?
For the most part, I no longer read development or improvement books. I just don't have time to do that AND read my bible, journal, pray, and listen. Even now, as I am enjoying a book by Susie Larson (who I LOVE) I am constantly being reminded that it is more important to read my bible than it is to read Susie.
So, my last reason for quitting social media and kissing instagram goodbye is because I want to model what it looks like to focus on building a real relationship with Jesus - and it only comes from reading the bible and praying and silence and other very personal activities that are unique to each of us.
Am I reading ABOUT God, or am I EXPERIENCING God?....
I still have some pages on facebook that I administer, so I'll be on once in a while. My internet 'reach' will be limited to my blogging, my Google+ photos and the Real Life w/Roz google community, and email.
Are you still here?? Wow, thanks for hanging in there. Here's my last thought. I'm going to call it. I think that in the years to come, we are going to see more and more folks like me, who for varying personal reasons step away from the madness of social media. What used to be community has in many ways turned into a business - for our data, for our details, for our full psychological profiles - and I think this next generation is going to be far too savvy (and exhausted!) to allow it to continue.
I'd like to leave you with this anecdote that encapsulates every reason I have for appreciating social media, but also for quitting. Dale and I have never met. We connected on facebook through a mutual acquaintance, and after years of waving 'hello' online, last week she sent me a random private message to tell me she was in town.
'Come over!' I wrote to her. 'I want to pray with you.' And she did. We sat at my kitchen table, with my mom, and we talked and prayed. She shared a book with me, and I shared one with her. When she left, I thought to myself - 'That was far more rewarding than any facebook entry, any blog post, any 'comment' I have ever written.'
The invitation is always there my friends - come over. I want to pray with you. Talk to you. Listen to you. Share a cup of tea.
I am quitting social media and kissing instagram goodbye because I want to be fully present in my life.
'Come over. I want to pray with you.'
There is a lot to be said for a fresh start. I've been taking trips down memory lane, rereading content from previous posts. You can wander around there as well, just head over to the Season 1 Content section. It's not organized incredibly well, but on a rainy Saturday, it may be worth your time!
That said, welcome back! So, here's the skinny: The past few years I have been focusing my writing on Facebook - mostly on my personal page. It's been rewarding, fun, and busy. These days, as my life requires more structure and less time on the computer, I have been praying about how to keep in touch with all my favorite people, share my thoughts, and continue with sharing Jesus' love: in a way that doesn't suck up hours of my day.
So we're headed back to blogging! You can count on at least one new post from me each week, and I'll publish it onto my facebook page: Real Life w/Roz . I was experimenting with an Instagram account, but you know what? I'm not selling anything, and while I love the idea of Instagram, I'm trying to simplify, ya know?
Want to see pics from our life? Head over to our new Google Community - I'll be adding photos there instead of Facebook.
Bottom line: Blog and Google. I feel a bit... skinnier! In the social media sense anyway.
So... We'll talk soon. Love you!