Top Ten Mediation Tips from Micha Jazz At Peaceworks.

group hug

Making peace with Micha Jazz and other members of the MSA international circle

Tom and I have just returned from a 5 day whirlwind trip to the East Coast working with Mennonites at Laurelville Mennonite Center, Renewal and Creation Care Study Program. I am still a little jetlagged as we arrived home at 1 am so I was delighted to discover a link to this great article on mediation written by our good friend Micha Jazz (aka Mike Morris) at Peaceworks. Conflict between people is a huge challenge for most Christian organizations contributed to by the continual stress that we work under. Also probably because we have just been working with people from a peace church perspective, I thought that this would make a great post for this morning. It was originally posted as Ten Top Mediation Tips on Peaceworks blog.

Micha has been be a part of the international circle of MSA for more years than we care to mention. He is also one of the founders together with Chris Seaton, of Peaceworks. Micha is an experienced CEDR accredited mediator (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution), an accredited workplace mediator, and a Recognised Member of the College of Mediators.

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Peaceworks’ Ten Top Mediation Tips 

1.      Always plan to have difficult conversations. Mediation provides a safe, confidential environment with adequate refreshments, to help everyone achieve their best.

2.      Take time ahead of the mediation to find the words to describe what you feel, why you feel the way you do and what you would like as an outcome. Your feelings and preferences are important and everyone wants to listen and discover what they are. You might feel upset, angry, disappointed, confused – mediation offers you the chance to say that, and to state what you want.

3.      Picture your future. How you would like things to be in 6 months time. This helps to see that there is a future beyond the mediation. The pain does not need to last forever. What will the next six months be like if there is no change? This mediation is important!

4.      As you consider what you want and what the future might look like, remember to be realistic. Mediations work best when everyone agrees a realistic, achievable and measurable agreement. Things will certainly feel and look a lot different if a clear agreement is achieved. So take time to build that agreement in the mediation. Do not rush.

5.      As far as you can, be very specific about issues and deal with each of them in turn. Once issues are clearly identified, there is a means for effectively and creatively dealing with the conflict.

6.      Work with the mediator to create a climate in which matters can be agreed and deals can be done; this may involve ‘turning the other cheek’ and ‘biting your lip’. Later, you will be glad you did.

7.      If there are difficulties be honest about them. There is ample opportunity to have a private meeting with the mediator and talk through your anxieties freely and confidentially. The mediator is there to support you throughout do your best.

8.      If you need to resolve financial issues, be sure you have details of the numbers involved and any paperwork that support your verbal claims. Confusion over data will always produce confusion within the process. If numbers intimidate you, request some help ahead of the mediation.

9.      Do not rely on ‘bar room’ advice as to what you ‘should’ walk away with! However well meant, it is likely to be unhelpful, and does not enjoy the benefit of the other party’s feelings and requests. What they say may have a positive impact on you. Remember, this is your dispute and you have the power to resolve it.

10.   Respect and be kind to yourself throughout. This is a mature and creative way to deal with conflict, and one that is increasingly promoted by the legal profession, HR departments, commercial companies etc. worldwide. You are at the cutting edge of the new way to deal with conflict effectively. How smart is that?

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Stock Volatility as a Risk for Heart Disease

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stock market causes chaos to our hearts

Now this is interesting though not surprising – investing in the stock market can be bad for our health.  Makes me think of Matthew 6:21 Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.

The volatility of financial markets may cause substantial emotional and physical stress among investors. We hypothesize that this may have adverse effects on cardiovascular health. …..

Daily death and stock performance data were collected from the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention and SSE, respectively. Data were analysed with over-dispersed generalized linear Poisson models, controlling for long-term and seasonal trends of CHD mortality, day of the week, Indexclosing value, weather conditions, and air pollution levels. We observed a U-shaped relationship between theIndex change and CHD deaths: both rising and falling of the Index were associated with more deaths and the fewest deaths coincided with little or no change of the index. We also examined the absolute daily change of theIndex in relation to CHD deaths: in a 1-day lag model, each 100-point change of the Index corresponded to 5.17% (95% confidence interval: 1.71, 8.63%) increase in CHD deaths. Further analysis showed that the association was stronger for out-of-hospital CHD death than for in-hospital death.
Conclusion We found that CHD deaths fluctuated with daily stock changes in Shanghai, suggesting that stock volatility may adversely affect cardiovascular health.  read the entire article

A Manifesto for Slow Communication

This morning at our Tabor College class here in Adelaide we are talking about the pressures that distract our lives.  I began with a devotional juxtaposing the version of Psalm 23 (antithesis) which I know I have quoted before and the real Psalm 23.  We are more and more concerned about how the increasing rate of communication and modern life is shaping us and our faith in ways that we do not even recognize.  Above all our increasing busyness makes it very difficult for us to relax, listen and discern the voice of God.

Interestingly we also came across this article from the Wall Street Journal August 21 Not So fast, which heightens some of these concerns.  The article is adapted from John freeman’s book The Tyranny of E-Mail. It has been a great article for me to reflect on as I have been sharing more about the fact that we are far more effective as God’s people when we take the time to slow down and listen to God.

The speed at which we do something—anything—changes our experience of it. Words and communication are not immune to this fundamental truth. The faster we talk and chat and type over tools such as email and text messages, the more our com munication will resemble traveling at great speed. Bumped and jostled, queasy from the constant ocular and muscular adjust ments our body must make to keep up, we will live in a constant state of digital jet lag.

read the entire article

So read the article, read through Psalm 23 Antithesis then read through the real Psalm 23, rest, relax and spend some time listening to God.  If you don’t have time to listen I can tell you there is something wrong with your life.  Let me know what God is saying to you in the midst of this.

The clock is my dictator I shall not rest

It makes me lie down only when exhausted

It leads me to deep depression, it hounds my soul

It leads me in circles of frenzy for activity’s sake

Even though I run from task to task, I will never get it all done for my ideal is with me

Deadlines & my need for approval, they drive me

They demand performance from me beyond the limits of my schedule

They anoint my head with migraines my in-basket overflows

Surely fatigue and time pressure shall follow me all the days of my life

And I will dwell in the bonds of frustration forever

(Marcia Hornok)


Maybe Religion is the Answer Claims Atheist Scientist

Late yesterday afternoon I took a break from my usual activities and followed some of the fun and interesting links that I had come across in the last few days.  Yes that is the kind of thing that I do for relaxation.

Most of them explore different aspects of autumn (sorry to my readers in the Southern hemisphere for whom this may have little relevance).  However the first article about the place that Christians can play in addressing climate change was really caught my attention.  i sent it out on twitter but because of the interest decided to add it as part of this blog post too.

Anyhow I have come across some other great articles too that are more entertaining about the environment that I wanted to share with you so thought that I would lump them all together in one blog post.

Maybe Religion is the Answer Claims Atheist Scientist

12 Cheap and Simple Ways to Experience Autumn

Five Models For Free Fruit

The Call of the Wild Foods

Adventures in Urban Foraging

Enjoy the articles and get out and enjoy the autumn too.  Or the spring if you live Down Under.

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Twitter as a Spiritual Practice.

The July MSA Seed Sampler was published today.  Its topic is Writing as a Spiritual Practice and there are several articles that I wanted to share with you over the next few years as an introduction to the summer series What is a Spiritual Practice.

Gerard and Chrissie Kelly

Gerard and Chrissie Kelly

The first article is by Gerard Kelly the founder of the Bless Network with his wife Chrissie who live in the Netherlands, where he is Senior Pastor of Crossroads Amsterdam, a church of 40 nationalities. Gerard is an incredible poet and has blogged some of his poems at Spoken Worship more recently he has shared some of his verses through twitter under the name twitturgies.  I have wanted to publish this article on my blog ever since Gerard sent it to me but knew that I needed to curb my impatience until it came out in the Seed Sampler.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I did

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As reported in London’s Independent and around the world, Ireland’s top Catholic Cardinal Sean Bray has urged his flock to use Twitter as a means of prayer. In a speech in honour of the late Father Patrick Peyton, the Priest famous for coining the phrase “the family that prays together stays together,” Cardinal Bray insists that a new movement of prayer can arise using new technology and social networks.

Publicity-seeking hype, or a genuine call to prayer? Can social networks genuinely become part of spiritual discipline in the 21st Century?

My own experiment with prayer on Twitter would suggest that they well might. At the end of February this year, I was reflecting on what value Twitter might have in my own life. It was just days after the Amsterdam air incident, when a Turkish jet crash-landed in a field a few kilometers from my home. Many people from our church community were involved in the rescue efforts and in treating the victims as they were rushed to local hospitals. And many others were astounded by the speed at which Twitter users were able to inform others of the crash. This was a week in which Twitter, in more ways than one, got everybody talking. And it got me thinking. Two things happened to me as a result. The first was a prayer that rose in my heart: “This day, Lord, be born in me. This day teach. This day heal. This day win, in death, surprising prizes. This day rise, this day rise in me.”

The second was a word: Twitturgies. Why not use Twitter as a means of prayer, all the time accepting the constraints of communication in less than 140 characters? In essence I simply took the Twitter question “What are you doing?” and translated it as “What are you praying?” taking the prayers I was praying in any case and crafting them into personal liturgies.

Two hundred and twenty-four Twitturgies later, the result has been an unexpected change in my own life of prayer. Others have expressed appreciation for the prayers they have received on Twitter, but the real benefits have been in my own spirituality. By allowing my commitment to Twitturgies to force upon me the regular question, “What are you praying?” the practice of writing Twitturgies has blown a fresh breeze through my prayers.

There are three key ways in which this has really helped me: Firstly, it has empowered me to pray frequent, short prayers, peppering my day with snatched moments of prayer, rather than waiting for the rare occasions when I can spend focused hours praying. I still seek out those times when I can, but I am praying more overall by adding these shorter prayers. I don’t update Twitturgies at fixed times, but they are often early-morning or late-evening “tweets,” with whatever opportunities I can find in between to use my computer or phone to pray.

Secondly, the forced constraint of 140 characters brings incredible focus to my prayers. On many occasions I have been surprised by the clarity that emerges. Twitturgies are shared with others, so they have to be interesting, accessible, and easy to understand—criteria that should be perhaps applied to prayer more often. Twitter posts are the new Haiku, and as the Japanese have known for centuries, the constraints of form do not stifle creativity: they give it depth. The challenge of expressing heartfelt prayers in such short sentences has been a new discipline in itself.

Lastly, the practice has made me newly conscious of my own prayers and longings. My aim is that Twitturgies be authentic—that is, that they genuinely reflect something I am praying about. They are prayers, not poems as such. I have to ask myself, “What do I want to say to God right at this moment?” “What is on my heart today?” The questions become part of the discipline. The result of this is that I am both a reader and a writer of Twitturgies; the construction of these prayers speaks to my heart also. And because they are short and sharp, they capture very succinctly what is going on in my soul at a given moment. I archive all the prayers so they are also a kind of spiritual journal. I can look back over a day, or a series of days, and see a pattern in the prayers that have emerged. “Reading” this pattern against the events of that day or days helps me to reflect on my own spiritual journey more deeply.

Twitter has become, for me, a vital part of my prayer life. Because it is intended to be a mobile medium (I write as often from my phone as from my laptop), it is a go-anywhere prayerbook. I have prayed “twitturgically” in between appointments, walking home from the office, during a coffee break, in a worship service, and in the last moments before sleep. Perhaps Twitter can become a kind of technological breath-prayer, a “pray without ceasing” application for any of us.

OnLine Segregation: The New Form of Discrimination?

In light of the thoughts expressed in my last post I thought that you might appreciate this article from Sojo.net  The New Digital Divide by Andrew Sears of TechMission

As more people get online, they are encountering another type of digital divide: the online segregation of Christians. … You can see a similar segregation reflected in profiles of Christians on online social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace; most people will have friends with backgrounds similar to their own. If everyone links to people they know, the result is that a disproportionate number of resourced individuals and ministries will link to each other, while ministries serving under-resourced communities are stuck in a virtual ghetto. The rich link to the rich, while the poor link to the poor.  Read more

Perhaps one of the other places we need to consider connecting in new ways over the Christmas season is over the internet.  How could you increase your connection to people of other cultures and backgrounds at this season and so increase your understanding of God’s international community.

Back From Down Under

Tom & I arrived back from Australia on Saturday. At least my body is back but for some reason I still feel as though my mind is only halfway across the Pacific. It is great to return to spring time in the Pacific Northwest. The daffodils are still out and the tulips and flowering trees are bursting into bloom. I must confess however that I am a little overwhelmed by the 80 tomato plants that are rapidly taking over my front porch. Wish i could send some to my friends scattered around the world.

We had a great trip (more of that later when the cotton wool gets out of my brain) and much has happened while we were away. The Other Journal published my article on Why We Live In Community. Here is a brief exerpt.

At the core of our small Mustard Seed House community and of its parent organization Mustard Seed Associates, is our belief in this wild hope of the resurrection and our vision of God’s eternal world as a place in which all of creation is restored and made whole. Through the redemptive work of Christ, one day together with sisters and brothers of every culture, from every age we believe we will be made whole and live together in the love, joy, and mutual concern for God’s original creation. Read the entire article

I also have an article published in the British magazine The Bible in Transmission. This one is entitled Living Into God’s Shalom World

The spiritual rhythms we need for healthy living have been severely disrupted and we haven’t even noticed: ‘Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car you are still paying for, in order to get to the job that you need so you can pay for the clothes, car and the house that you leave empty all day in order to afford to live in it.’ Read the entire article

It looks as though someone was busy while I was gone.