Healthy Edible Flowers – Wonderful Addition to a Salad

Borage flowers

Borage flowers - great in salads

It is probably obvious that I am enjoying the garden at the moment.  We finally seem to have hit summer – while the rest of the country has been sweltering we have been having one of the coldest summers on record.  Anyhow the greens in the garden are wonderful and I just picked one of the biggest cauliflowers ever.  Looking for some colour to add to my salads too so thought that you would enjoy this video about edible flowers

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Growing an Autumn Garden – Its Time to Start

Hard to believe it but it is time to start your autumn vegetables. In fact it may already be too late to direct seed some vegetables so a trip to the nursery may also be required. I just watched this helpful video

Prayers for the Journey

Here is my weekly round up of facebook prayers

In this time of budget crisis

Be with all those who face cutbacks

Care for the vulnerable

Provide for the destitute

Fill those who are hungry with good things

___________________________________

God in this time of budget crisis

Be with those who make decisions

Speak through those who are wise

Silence those who are foolish

Help them decide with justice in mind

______________________________________

Praying in the midst of the budget crisis today:

God who offers abundance and plenty where we expect scarcity,

Provide for all those who are hungry and in need of food today.

God who lives amongst us, hear our prayer

______________________________________

Sit still in the presence of God
Look back with gratitude
Look forward with anticipation
trust in the One for whom all things are possible

_________________________________________

God we are like parched ground waiting for the rain to fall

We lift our faces in reverence looking for your touch

We lift our hands in praise with prayers rising from our lips

We lift our hearts in hope, faith rising within us

We are content to wait each day for your refreshment

____________________________________________

God we sit in the contentment of this moment

Knowing it holds all we need to find you

We sit with still hearts and welcome everything it offers

And be at peace, experience freedom, enter your rest

______________________________________________

Good time of brainstorming and listening to God today at our MSA retreat:

Small beginnings, hidden things, mustard seeds,

Planted in a place of darkness

May we seek and water them, nurturing into growth

A tree that the birds of the air come and nest in

_________________________________________________

Mustard Seed Associates staff retreat today & tomorrow. Starting with this prayer:

God we gather in this quiet place

To hear the prayers you have placed in our hearts

We come willing to listen to the silence

Alert and attentive to your voice speaking within us.

______________________________________________________

God help us today to embrace experience and not stuff

To hold onto you and not possessions

To rest in the presence of the living God

And see we need nothing else but you

______________________________________________________

Thinking of those killed in Norway this morning:

God today we mourn with those who mourn

Our hearts ache with those whose loved ones were killed

God have mercy on them

In the midst of despair may they find hope

In the midst of grief may the find your love

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Couldn’t resist this second prayer today:

God of a thousand names, Merciful, compassionate, faithful

God of infinite love, righteous, holy, trustworthy

God who provides in unexpected ways

You are beyond imagining and we praise you

___________________________________________

Budget Crisis/ Prayer Vigil

Budget Cris // Prayer Vigil

Budget Cris // Prayer Vigil

Yesterday I was asked by Holly Hight at Bread for the World to contribute a prayer for their Budget Crisis Prayer Vigil on Twitter and Facebook.  I don’t usually like to get involved in political issues but as I thought about it this morning I realized that it was too important for me not to.  It is also too important to restrict to a single prayer and so I have decided to write several Light for the Journey prayers throughout the day as I pause in my daily work to pray for this very grim situation.

As an Australian who has only recently become an American citizen I struggle with all that is going on.  The political posturing, the seeming indifference of the impact on both the poor and the middle class amazes me.  The lack of respect towards the president and some of the racial overtones to the vitriol that is flying also appalls me.

Do they realize I wonder that this has the potential to plunge not just this country’s economy but the whole global economy into a far worse recession than the one we are just coming out of?   And I can tell you that if that happens it will not be the crazy politicians who refuse to listen to reason that will suffer.  It is the poor and the vulnerable and more and more the middle class as well.   I have already posted 2 prayers this morning and will continue to do so throughout the day.

Bread for the World will live tweet the event using the hashtag #circleofprotection: http://www.twitter.com/bread4theworld So you might like to follow along there.  Here are my 2 prayers so far (which I forgot to add the hashtag to.)  If you like you can also add prayers to this post that I will make sure are reposted on twitter.  Blessings

God in this time of budget crisis
Be with those who make decisions
Speak through those who are wise
Silence those who are foolish
Help them decide with justice in mind

_________________________________________

God who offers abundance and plenty where we expect scarcity,
Provide for all those who are hungry and in need of food today.
God who lives amongst us, hear our prayer

________________________________________________

A tribute to John Stott.

Many of you have probably already heard that John Stott died yesterday

The Reverend John Stott, who died on July 27 aged 90, was one of the most influential clergymen of the 20th century; indeed in 2005 Time magazine declared him to be one of the 100 most influential people in the world.  read the Telegraph report here

He was certainly one of the most influential people in my life, helping me to expand and deepen my understanding of faith.  I first read his works in my early 20s and continued to find his writing challenging and provocative throughout my life.  I well remember one time he spoke here in Seattle saying –

The answers we get depend on the questions we ask… reading the bible in new contexts and new cultures should always challenge us to ask new questions and find new fresh answers from the bible.

John was probably one of the first people who challenged me to think outside the box of traditional conservative Christian faith.  His perspectives and understanding have always encouraged and guided me.  he will be sorely missed by many of us

Catalysts for God-Inspired Change in a Turbulent World – We Can Make the World A Better Place

We can make the world a better place

Shouting Jubilee and Shalom

The MSA team has just completed two very successful but draining days of planning.  We have talked a lot about Jubilee and our desire to enable followers of Christ to dream new dreams and reimagine how to live and serve God in a changing world with the wonderful shalom future of God in mind.  It seems such an appropriate time to do this as the US government moves relentlessly towards a precipice that could put the whole world wide economy in jeopardy.

How do we live in these challenging times, remaining faithful to God’s call to bring freedom and liberation for all who are oppressed and marginalized?  It is easy to feel overwhelmed not just by the chaos of our times but by the magnitude of the problems around us – climate change, rising joblessness, economic chaos, droughts, floods, starvation, sex trafficking, massacres in Norway – the horrors confront us at every turn and we want to disengage.

Becoming world changers does not start with becoming crusaders.  In fact it is my experience that if we start there we often end up with a worse problem than we started with.

Becoming world changers begins in the place of prayer – not just intercessory prayer where we lift the heartache of our world before God but contemplative prayer where sit in the presence of God sensing God’s heartache and reaching in to the compassion and love that resides only in God’s deepest heart.  Without this we will never sustain ourselves or others sufficiently to respond to the challenging and horrific needs that fill our world.  Our ability to enter into the reality of God’s new world of abundance and wholeness for all only comes when we have given voice to the deep pain and anguish in our hearts.  It is our screams of horror, our tears of anguished repentance and our deep heart centred compassion towards those who have suffered that makes it possible for us to respond and reach out to strangers as though they were our closest friends.

 

However we will never become world changers if we spend all our lives sitting in a quiet secluded place weeping for the world.  Contemplation requires active engagement.  It frees our hearts and our minds to look beyond ourselves and our own desires and infuse all our actions with love and compassion.  It enables us to lay down our own self centred lives and desires for personal significance so that we can be truly open to the spirit of God acting in and through us.

In all that we face in our turbulent, dysfunctional world at the present time we need to remember that though we feel we have lost control, God has not.  We don’t need to ask why but rather what can I do in order to bring glimpses of God’s new world into being?  What is God already doing and how can I become a part of it?

Often the moves of God that are transforming our world really do appear as hidden mustard seeds planted in dark places.  And often they sprout and grow before we even realize that something has changed.  So look around you today and see where God is at work.  Join in and together we can transform our world.

Sit in the contentment of the moment – Pray with us

This morning I wrote this prayer during my morning meditations.

God we sit in the contentment of this moment,
Knowing it holds all we need to find you,
We sit with still hearts and quiet minds to welcome everything it offers,
May we be at peace, experience freedom and enter your rest.

it seemed like a great sentiment to start the day with especially as we are on retreat with the MSA team.  It was a way to help me focus.  But it wasn’t long before my equilibrium fragmented.  Someone blew a fuse that disconnected the internet and panic, panic we couldn’t figure it out at first.  Now I am back on line but the contentment of the moment that I had experienced earlier in the morning has definitely gone.  How to regain that I was wondering.  Our team meets again in 20 minutes and I feel the need to be centered and attentive to God.

In moments like this it is always easy to get stressed out (at least for me) but I realize too that it is more important than anything to sit quietly in the presence of God and just rest in the stillness of the moment – so guess what – the start of our retreat this morning will be some quiet moments of reflection and centering all our hearts on God

We would appreciate your prayers at this time.  We are brainstorming about the next 2 -3 years and we need God’s wisdom and discernment as we move forward.

Life in a two-beat rhythm – by Lynne Baab

The posts for Worshipping God in the Real World have been few and far between lately.  Hmm I wonder if that is a symptom of something?  But more of that later.  Today we have another post from Lynne Baab the author of the recently released Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World, as well as numerous other books including Sabbath Keeping and Reaching Out in a Networked World. Visit her website for articles she has written and information about her books. Lynne is a Presbyterian Church (USA) minister, currently a lecturer in pastoral theology in Dunedin, New Zealand.

Walking the labyrinth - Celtic retreat 2010

Walking the labyrinth - Celtic retreat 2010

Have you ever walked a labyrinth? I’ve done it maybe a dozen times, and several of those times I have had a pressing issue that I wanted to pray about. My pattern in those times is to pray my desires on the way in, then stand restfully at the center for a few moments, enjoying God’s peace. On the way out I pray in a different way, sometimes expressing my willingness for God’s desires about the issues. I might ask God to open me to unexpected answers to my prayers or I might simply thank God for the fact that the issue is now firmly in God’s hands, no longer in my own. On one occasion , which I have been pondering recently, that movement in (focused on my own desires) and the movement out (expressing my willingness for God’s future) prepared me for a major life change.

That movement in/movement out pattern can be helpful in many everyday prayer situations. One way to engage in breath prayer is to breathe out our worries and struggles into God’s presence, one at a time with each breath out. Then with each breath in, to imagine ourselves breathing in God’s peace and love.

Another way involves praying while walking. As a young mom I used to hire a high school girl to come over after school a few days a week so I could get out for a walk. I had a two-mile route. I walked through our neighborhood to a lake, then took the path along the lake toward an aqua theater. At the aqua theater, I would turn around and walk home.

In the first half of the walk, I would think about the things I was worried and preoccupied about. When I reached the lake, I imagined Jesus in the boat on the lake, and I handed him each of those worries one by one as I walked on the path beside the lake.

At the aqua theater I turned around, and my prayers changed. At that point I might simply enjoy the birds and trees and water, thanking God for the beauty of the creation. Or I might pray thankfulness prayers, focusing particularly on the gift of God’s peace that comes when we hand over all our needs. I might pray intercessory prayers for needs in the world. Whatever I prayed on the way back came from the deep sense of rest and confidence that flows out of giving our concerns to God and knowing God is capable of dealing with them.

Any back-and-forth walk can be an opportunity to pray in this way. A short walk down the hall at work to photocopy a document can be an opportunity to hand our concerns over to God on the way there, then rest in God’s peace on the way back. A bike or car trip to run an errand can function the same way with prayers about needs and concerns on the way and prayers focused on thankfulness on the way back. The primordial rhythm of our breath teaches us life in a two-beat rhythm, and we can draw on those two beats in a variety of ways in our everyday prayers. The trick is to make it a pattern or a habit, so we get used to the idea that the first half of the journey is an invitation to hand over our worries to God, and the second half is a time to rest in God’s goodness to us.

 

 

 

 

 

The Tree of Contemplative Practices

This has been a very good contemplative weekend for me, in spite of an overwhelming feeling of busyness and the need to get my life back into God’s rhythm. At church yesterday I felt as though the scriptures that were read have been written just for me.   First in 1 Kings 3:4-12 God’s approval of Solomon for seeking a discerning mind resonated with my own desire to seek God’s wisdom in all my challenging daily decisions at the moment.

Then the gospel portion – Matthew 13: 31-33, the story of the mustard seed, the theme of our organization.  I have been struggling over the last couple of weeks because we have seen very little finance come in as yet for the first steps of the Mustard Seed Village.  Just enough to clear the land for the first building.  Not what I had hoped for, but as I read the scripture yesterday I realized that this is God’s mustard seed beginning and rather than getting frustrated with my own unfulfilled expectations I need to thank God for the provision and live in faith in hope of the fulfillment.

Then I read Romans 8:26-39 which ends with that wonderful reminder that “nothing can separate us from the love of God.”  When we seek to discern God’s ways and accept with gratitude and excitement the mustard seeds that God plants in our hearts nothing can separate us from God’s love.  What a wonderful, renewing and faith building thought.

Having spent so much time in contemplation yesterday, I was delighted to discover this Tree of Contemplation which graphically explains the many different ways we can enter into contemplative prayer.  Thanks to Jessica Mokrzcki who blogs at Ascending the Hills for making me aware of this.  For more about contemplative practices and this diagram visit The Tree of Contemplative Practices  at The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society .  Contemplation is an important part of many religious traditions.  It has always been an important part of the Christian tradition though this is more obvious in the Catholic and Orthodox traditions than it is in the Protestant.  However along with many of my friends I have over the last few years found my faith to be enriched and strengthened by the use of such practices and would heartily recommend exploring them.

Tree of Contemplative Practices

Tree of Contemplative practices © The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society Concept & design by Maia Duerr; illustration by Carrie Bergman

Great Update From Tracy Howe Wispelwey at the The Restoration Project

Hold on to Love by Tracy Howe Wispelwey

Hold on to Love by Tracy Howe Wispelwey

I have just been listening to some of the beautiful songs from Tracy’s latest album Hold On To Love .  I love the prophetic and challenging lyrics that Tracy shares and thought that you might appreciate this update from her .  She is a voice well worth listening to if you have not yet discovered her music.  I am also impressed with the buy now name your price policy.  All her albums are available for a donation rather than a set price.  God bless you Tracy as you head to Colombia

Off to Colombia…
I can’t believe we are heading into the end of July.  What a full summer it has already been between Costa Rica, Wild Goose and continuing to share and promote the album Hold On To Love.  Thank you so much for all of your support and help.  We are happy to announce that with the successful launch of the CD there is no longer a minimum donation to download the album from our store!  We also posted the project on noisetrade.com and have already seen it swirl into different musical circles, including being featured on Música Cristiana Moderna (Barcelona, Spain) and Cultuur Shock(Belgium).  We ran it all through Google translator and it looks good…we think.

Now I am getting ready for a 5 week tour of sorts, through Colombia, Costa Rica and other parts of Central America.  Nothing glamorous.  Probably no big crowds… just building relationship with some other amazing artists – learning more about community and life in Latin America – singing in people’s houses and maybe writing some new songs.  I know this trip will lead to some exciting long term creative partnership and I am also helping to develop a website and online collaboration space for an incredible network of artists…which I look forward to telling you much more about as time goes on.  In the mean time, thanks for staying connected.  Here are some more fun things I hope you get the chance to check out:

Videos from Alter Video Magazine

Travis Reed is a film maker and visual liturgist who has used many Restoration Project songs for his videos at The Work of The People.  He recently sent me this picture from Joplin, MO with a note that said, “Your music was playing in my head while I was standing here on the Joplin corner.”

Later when we caught up at Wild Goose festival, he told me how the possibility of music in this wreckage made him think of my music.  I love hearing the way my songs and music speak to people.  It is a gift!  Travis spoke to me ad edited some of the content for Alter Video Magazine.

We spoke for a couple of hours probably, but here is a 2 minute video on art, spirituality and justice, and here is a longer video with some bigger thoughts about worship and creativity and some of my story.  I also recommend the videos with David Wilcox and Brian McLaren.  David Wilcox was one of my first songwriting inspirations and he covered the song Atheist a few years back from Songs For a Revolution of Hope.

More Awesome Reviews for Hold On To Love!

Thank you to everyone who has posted a review on iTunes!  We have moved to the top of search engines because of all the buzz and positive responses.  More reviews alwasy help too so please stop by the iTunes page and continue to share the music with others!  Here are some more great reviews:

Christianity Today:  “Imagine Ani DiFranco doing worship backed alternately by the ambient Hammock and Middle Eastern and African instrumentalists.”  Read more…

Resurrection Life Blog:  “Dig deep and find some great new stuff going on here.” Read More…

Free Music Blog:  “I urge you to download this album. I was hooked, after just listening to track one.” Read More…

Seth is actually already in Colombia working with some incredible people.  He will write and share much more when he returns in August and you will see the twitter and facebook feeds move again (I just can’t seem to keep up with it).  But as alwasy, here are the links on the facebook and the twitter!

“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.”
Thomas Merton (1915 – 1968)