Transition Time

Transition Time

al.paulTom and I have just returned from Evangelicals for Social Action’s 40th Anniversary celebration. Tom had the privilege of participating in an hilarious roast celebrating the retirement of Ron Sider, founder of ESA.

It was a delight to share vision with the new ESA presidents Al Tizon and Paul Alexander. They also reminded us that change especially on this scale, is both scary and filled with possibility and promise.

This is a time of change and transition for Mustard Seed Associates too, not on the same scale as in ESA, but change none less that can be scary as well as offering new possibility and promise.

  • Mustard Seed House is in transition
  • Mustard Seed Village is in transition
  • Mustard Seed Board is in transition.
It is an exciting but challenging time and we appreciate your prayers and support throughout these changes.

What’s Happening at the Mustard Seed Village?

The 22nd Celtic retreat is coming fast. This year’s program offers new and exciting opportunities that reflect some of our transitions. Inspired by St Brendan, our featured Irish saint, who sailed into new and unchartered waters in the 5th century, our retreat has us sailing into new waters and exploring new expressions of life and faith. Our theme, Celebrating the Newness, has taken on a prophetic edge not just in the development of the new youth program, but also as we work with collaborators Ryan Marsh and Kendra Long to reshape and strengthen our existing adult and children’s programs.

This retreat will feature a new and experimental program for youth 13-18 years. Led by Cindy Todd, this progam will invite participants to explore their God given creativity and reflect on ways it can be used to create new sustainable models for life and faith.

For all of us, the afternoon will provide many active ways to express our faith from painting a Celtic mural for our new building, to walking prayer trails and our labyrinth. We may also get to make solar cookers and build boats to journey with Brendan.

For those that spend the weekend we offer extended times for quiet reflection as well as great times of fellowship and fun interwoven with a rhythm of morning and evening prayer. In the afternoon we will also dedicate our new, though still unfinished building, celebrating another step forward for the Mustard Seed Village.

We are especially grateful for those of you who contributed to Graham Kerr’s appeal which helped us raise the beams and begin roof construction. If you want to contribute there is still time to do so.

What’s Happening at the Mustard Seed House?

The Mustard Seed House is changing too. At the end of May we said goodbye to Ricci and Eliacin and their kids Catie, Gabriel and Elias who have moved to a new house in Shoreline. They have been an important part of not just the Mustard Seed House community but of the MSA team in the last 7 years.

Ricci and Eliacin played central roles in helping us rethink MSA as a community based organization. Together we experimented with the Quaker discernment process and integrated it into the life of MSA. Together we experimented with morning and evening prayers, which became our first MSA publication Light for the Journey.

It was Eliacin who encouraged me to start blogging and helped us connect to new networks in the Pacific Northwest. Ricci and Catie facilitated the expansion of the Mustard Seed garden into the productive ministry it is today. Ricci’s work with the MSA publications Waiting for the LightPrayers of a Difference Sortand A Journey into Wholeness has been invaluable. Their presence will be missed though their friendship will continue.

carroccinoAt the beginning of June we welcomed Michael and Kristin Carrocino and their kids Mirella and Caedmon to the Mustard Seed community. We are enjoying getting to know each other and exploring ways that this new community can express the purposes of God’s kingdom together. Mirella has already planted her first garden and Kristen has begun editing A Journey into Wholeness. Michael started work at the beginning of July as the new curate at St Mark’s Cathedral.

What’s Happening with the MSA Board?

In the last year we have said goodbye to four Board members: Coe Hutchison, Shonnie Scott, Paul Stephenson and Jill Alyard Young. All have served faithfully for at least ten years but relocation and new commitments make ongoing participation challenging. They continue to participate in the broader circle of Mustard Seed Associates however, providing valuable encouragement, support and advice.

New Board members Jonathan and Jennifer Campbell, Neil Gavin and J.Paul Fridenmaker, are stirring us to reimagine new possibilities for how we carry out our goals and live into God’s purposes for us. We affirmed the already existing MSA vision and goals but began discussing new ways in which these might be expressed. We appreciate your prayers as we discern God’s will for us for the future.

What’s Happening with Cascadia?

The cancellation of the Cascadia CCSP program for September because of lack of students was a disappointment for all of us. We are passionate about the need for sustainability education for university students and believe that this program will still come into being but for the foreseeable future it is on the backburner. The indefinite postponement of CCSP Cascadia has planted new seeds, however. Some of these are already beginning to emerge as new partnerships and collaborative relationships.

View every MSA venture as a collaborative opportunity”, Jonathan Campbell encouraged at a recent Board retreat, and as we look to the future we sense that collaborative partnerships will be key to our ongoing development.

What’s Happening with the MSA web?

breath.prayer 3Tom and I have both just read The New Digital Ageby Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, a challenging book that some describe as a guide to the future. It talks about how technology is reshaping war, peace, freedom and people. It is also reshaping faith, spiritual practice and discipleship. This encourages us to realize that our new developments on the web are vital to our journey.

The popularity of prayers, like this new breath prayer and resources like this post on creating spiritual resilience, shows the vital need for connecting followers of Jesus to ongoing resources that ground us in our faith.

Drying LaundryThere is also a growing interest in resources like Andy Wade’s series, Intentionally Ordinarythat stir our imaginations encouraging us to create new possibilities for life and faith for the future. We ask for your continued prayers and support as we reshape these areas of our ministry.

Pray for us in transition time

  • Pray for the MSA team and Board as we work together to discern God’s purposes for MSA into the future
  • Pray for the ongoing construction of the Mustard Seed Village and the finances needed to complete it.
  • Pray for our upcoming Celtic Prayer retreat and the spiritual renewal of all who attend.
  • Pray for the reshaping of the MSA website and Godspace which will continue over the next few months
  • Pray for Tom as he works on his new book Join the Innovation Revolution.
We pray God’s richest blessing on all of you over this next month.

Are you ready to join Saint Patrick in the spiritual discipline of listening – by Tom Sine

Today’s Lenten post for the series  Return to Our Senses in Lent is written by my husband Tom Sine. Tom is a futurist, author, and chief hospitality guy for Mustard Seed Associates. It was first posted on the MSA website where Tom is now blogging each week.

Celtic cross -behind Abbey

In 1982 I took my first pilgrimage to Iona to experience the new discipline for me of listening for God in one of the holy places.  I got more than I bargained for.  I not only had a very deep experience of what Celtic Christians call “thin places” where the dimension between this world and the next becomes one.  As a result of that first pilgrimage I became acquainted with Patrick and a number of his friends and followers and it has radically changed my view of what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

At age 16 Patrick was kidnapped from his home in England and was taken by Irish traders as slave to Ireland. He was forced to care for sheep.  He learned about the people and Irish culture but being enslaved most importantly he learned a life of prayer was essential to his difficult life..  After 6 years he escaped and returned to his family. Then God called him to return to Ireland as a missionary. In three decades Patrick and his compatriots saw Ireland become largely converted to Christianity.  The Irish, Scots and English were introduced to much more of a whole life faith than was not common then or now.

What I have learned from Patrick, Columba, Hilda, Bridget and Cuthbert is that prayer is not 15 minute break in the day but prayer was intended to permeate all of life.  Celtic Christians had prayers for rising in the morning, prayers planting seeds in the day and prayers for banking fires at night. Celtic Christians not only were devoted to a life of prayer, but a love of God’s creation and a care for the poor.  I find younger Christians who are hungry for a more authentic whole life faith are often drawn to Celtic Christian faith.

If you would like to have a small taste of the Celtic faith join us for our annual Celtic Christian Prayer Retreat on Camano Island August 10th &11th.

As we head into the final days of the season of Lent and as we celebrate St. Patirck’s Day on Sunday… I invite you to join Saint Patrick and the many Celtic Saints in taking time to listen to our God by quietly repeating Patrick’s prayer and listen to what God might say to you.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left
Christ where I lie, Christ where I sit, Christ where I arise
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

Write me and let me know what you hear from God as you quietly read Patrick’s prayer and listen for God’s whispers to you.

Infused with the Breath of God – Andy Wade

Today’s post in the series Return to Our Senses in Lent comes from Andy Wade, communications coordinator at Mustard Seed Associates. Andy also wears a number of other hats. He was recently awarded the “Inspired Service and Action Award” from Gorge Ecumenical Ministries for his work with the homeless in Hood River. His pastoral ministry amongst those at the margins inspires us to new levels commitment in our own lives.


Peanuts circa 1954, Pig-Pen enters the comic strip in a cloud of dust. We don’t know his real name… “I haven’t got a name… people just call me things.” As the dust rises around him, Pig-Pen proudly announces he’s surrounded by the dust of ancient civilizations. He is as perceptive as he is dirty.

dustyLike Pig-Pen engulfed in a cloud of dust, I can’t seem to shake off the dust of Ash Wednesday. Enveloped in a cloud of dust, I’m forced to join him confessing, “You know what I am? I’m a dust magnet!”

Like the ancients, I am also surrounded by another cloud, a “great cloud of witnesses”. And like them, and like Pig-Pen’s seemingly ever-present dust-cloud, I must “lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)

I am a “dust magnet”. I am, we are, Pig-Pen.

Surrounded by this amazing cloud of witnesses, witnesses who share in our humanity, our brokenness, “and the sin that clings so closely”, Pig-Pen reminds me how closely related to the earth we are.

…then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Genesis 2:7-9

I’m etched into the story as I embrace the earth from which I’m formed. I am not God. And yet I’m fashioned in God’s image, the image of the Creator. These realities must be kept in tension. And it’s this tension that grounds us as we walk into the purposes of God. As Christine Sine reminds us, “it’s only in the place of deep contemplation that we often find the resources we need to really be activists.” So I embrace the dust that I am even as I breathe in the breath of God.

And what of this dust from which I am formed? Gazing into the beauty of creation, the imagination of God unleashed dazzles the senses. Yet like this Spirit-infused-dust, the God-painted creation is no longer what it was meant to be. We share the touch of God. We share also the brokenness brought on by humankind’s desire to usurp the place of God.

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Romans 8:19-23

It is out of these thoughts that this poem was born. It is also out of this contemplation that I wait, watch, anticipate the next steps in the unfolding imagination of God.

urn and ash

remember you are dust
and to dust you shall return
marked with ash of repentance
dust of mourning

confronted with our mortality
an urn filled with ash
poured out
scattered over water, earth

creation groans

expectantly waiting
painfully longing
for the full redemption
of this dust
infused with the breath of God

Encouraging Spirituality, Sustainability and Simplicity.

Igniting the Divine Spark

The Mustard Seed rule of life encourages spirituality, sustainability and simplicity and this year we invite you to join us in the exploration of these values.

Join Us For Lent

What are the ordinary everyday activities that make you feel close to God? Is it working in the garden, going for a run or washing the dishes. Lent is only two weeks away. It is a good season to reflect on what draws you into the loving presence of God and learn to nourish these experiences.

So get ready to return to your senses in Lent.

  1. If you live in the Seattle area, join us for a Lenten retreat and take time to reflect and refocus with us. Establish new spiritual disciplines for the season: February 16th at the Mustard Seed House.
  2. Contribute a post to the Godspace series Return to Our Senses in Lent.  We already have an exciting collection of posts ready and Kimberlee Conway Ireton is whetting our appetites with an ongoing series of articles on prayer. You might like to check out her latest contribution Eight Ways of Looking at Water 
  3. No matter where you are in the world you can join us in the study of Return to Our Senses and challenge your friends to participate too. The study guide can be downloaded free from the MSA website. The book itself is available at a special discount price ($15 for a single copy; $12 for 5 or more) until Easter. We hope you will share your experiences with us on Facebook or with a comment on one of the Lenten posts.

Join Us in Igniting the Divine Spark

MSA’s entrepreneurial business developer Cindy Todd has just been featured in this TED talk. Cindy’s business is featured by the last speaker, Jill Bamburg. starting at 01.03.50 We are excited to have her share her insights and expertise with us in the upcoming workshop Igniting the Divine Spark  March 16th at the Mustard Seed House.  Throughout February and March Cindy and others will post on the MSA blog about creative models that encourage sustainable, local business and the ways that God ignited the divine sparks that gave rise to these. Cindy’s workshop will be the culmination of this series. So sign up now for this exciting and instructive event.

April 19th and 20th the entire MSA team will join our friends at the Parish Collective and Seattle School for the Inhabit Conference – The Art of Parish Renewal which also focuses on themes of sustainability and simplicity. We hope that some of you can join us their too.

Join Us In Spirituality of Gardening

The garden is the place where spirituality, sustainability and simplicity connect for many of us. May 18th we hold our annual Spirituality of Gardening Seminar at the Mustard Seed House. This is based on our popular resource To Garden With God. If you do not live in the Seattle area perhaps you would like to get a group of garden enthusiasts together to share stories about your own interactions with God in the garden. If you do please let us know. And stay tuned for other locations that will host this seminar.

Join Us in Australia in June

For our Australian friends who would like to explore these themes in more detail, please consider joining us in Adelaide in June. Tom and I will teach an intensive: Reimagining Faith for Turbulent Times at Tabor College June 17 – 22. There is still space & time to sign up. We will also be in Melbourne and Sydney and would love to have some of our friends join us.

Join us Together with The Overflow Project

The Overflow Project  is an initiative committed to a new way of living, a way of living that breaks down the walls that divide rich and poor. Using a 50-Day Challenge, The Overflow Project helps individuals, groups and churches simplify their lives in order to give generously. Donated funds provide clean drinking water – a vital resource for community and economic development. This year MSA will partner with this important initiative and encourage all of us to simplify our lives, not just for 50 days but as a lifestyle.

Join Us for Our Annual Celtic Retreat.

Save the dates August 10th and 11th for our annual retreat at the site of the future Mustard Seed Village on Camano Island. Here are a couple of links to past retreats if you want to check it out. Celtic Retreat 2011 and from 2012: Celtic liturgy and Lectio Divina and Celtic retreat slide show 

There is much happening here at MSA and we are excited to be able to share these opportunities with you. I do hope that you will be able to join us at some of these events.  


Christmas Greeting From Tom and Christine Sine

Christmas greetings (c) Christine Sine

“And God himself will choose the sign… A frightened woman in her time… Will bear a son and name him well… God with us! O come, O come Emmanuel!”

These beautiful lyrics from the song the Oracles by Steve Bell words were the focus of our Advent II Homecoming party this last week, a time at which we remember not just the birth of a child two thousand years ago, but the promise of a new world coming in which justice will come for the poor and hope for the marginalized. Tom and I love this season of the year with its expectant promise of hope and fulfillment. Each morning we light our Advent candles, sit in their warm glow, and listen to Advent music while we eat breakfast. We finish with scripture reading and prayer.

This year held many celebrations and festivals for us. In June we headed to Australia for Christine’s mother’s 89th birthday. In July we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary and in August we celebrated together with many MSA friends, at our annual Celtic retreat, rejoicing at the beginning of our building for the Mustard Seed Village. The poles for our first classroom became the focal point for our fellowship In the afternoon their dedication drew us together again into our dreams and hopes for the future. We expect to have them in the ground and the concrete slab poured before the end of the year. This will house classes on sustainability as well as place for people to imagine and create new ways God can use their lives and communities to have an impact in the lives of others.

Celti Retreat 2012 - Dedicating the logs for our first Mustard Seed Village

Celti Retreat 2012 – Dedicating the logs for our first Mustard Seed Village

We also hosted a number of BBQs and other meals at the house, sharing hospitality with people from around the world and feasting from our bountiful garden produce. Tom’s Bacon and Tomato sandwiches are to die for.

Our participation in Wild Goose East in North Carolina, Wild Goose West in Oregon and Creative World Festival in British Columbia also gave ample opportunity for celebration. These festivals brought us together with a rich array of friends old and new, stirred our imaginations with inspiring talks and invited us to live out the kingdom in our everyday lives. More recently we celebrated with Mark and Lisa Scandrette and the Reimagine Tribe in San Francisco. We walked the streets where Tom grew up, reminiscing and soaking in the stories of how they are making a difference in the lives marginalized people in their city.

Return to our Senses - cover

My new book Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray is also part of the good news that God is still with us. It invites the reader to see prayer as far more than words. It introduces a rich array of experience that affirm God’s presence in every moment and in aspect of our lives. Today is the last day to order it from Amazon for a Christmas delivery, or download it for your kindle. This blog, Godspace which increasing focuses on how to reimagine prayer and spiritual practices for the future, continues to grow in popularity and is consistently listed in the top 100 Christian blog sites. The current Advent series has been particularly popular and enriching. I have certainly benefited from the posts and I hope you have too.

The Light for the Journey prayer page also grows in popularity with the addition of inspiring new content from John Birch, Bonnie Harr ,  Micha Jazz and other contemplative activists. My growing desire is to provide a place where others can share the creative gifts God has given them. Both Godspace and Light for the Journey provide those opportunities. We will further expand the authorship of both these venues in the next year so if you are interested let me know or sign up for the Godspace writers group.

Tom’s good news is the beginning of a new book on imagination and innovation. It is designed to enable readers to discover creative new ways God can use their mustard seed to be a difference and make a difference in response to rapidly changing times.  He is also blogging about the ideas from the innovative edge on the MSA web site.

As we race towards a fiscal cliff in the US, a slowing global economy throughout our planet and continuing bloodshed and volatility in the Middle East… thank God there is good news! We can in these uncertain times share this good news by how we live and care for our vulnerable neighbors locally and globally. We want to hear your stories of innovative ways followers of Jesus in your community make a little difference in your community. Can you send us your stories so we share this good news with people throughout our global village too?

Our MSA Team and Board are involved in the very ambitious task of refocusing MSA as a center for Christian imagination and innovation…to help us all discover how we can become much more of God’s good news in these tough times.  We are so grateful to God for Cindy Todd and the innovation she brings to our small team and Andy Wade whose tireless work makes our ability to communicate with you possible. Our growing circle of supporters and volunteers are constantly blessing in the midst of all we do. Please consider joining us in this venture. Your year end donation to Mustard Seed Associates will help keep this blog and the other ministries of MSA alive.

  MSA is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization. All donations are tax deductible.

We wish you and yours a joyous Christmas and a new year filled by creative new ways to be a bit of God’s good news in times like these.

Tom & Christine Sine

Run With Purpose In Every Step

Celtic retreat 2012 Morning worship

Celtic retreat 2012 Morning worship

This morning I am preparing for our MSA staff retreat time this weekend. We will use the Quaker Discernment process and organic strategic planning to discern God’s future focus for our ministry. At core, our MSA team is a spiritual leadership community that discerns and implements the will of God for our organization. and these processes have become the keys to our development both as individuals and as an organization.

As we enter this retreat we know that we need to focus more acutely on what God is leading us into. We are in a time of growth and transition, grappling with issues of how to sustain our current ministry, launch CCSP Cascadia and build the Mustard Seed Village.  In this time constantly coming back to God to discern God’s will becomes more important than ever.

In preparation for this time I have looked back over previous discernment sessions to catch a sense of what God has said in the past and how well we have responded to those promptings. I have looked at our strengths and weaknesses, our successes and our failures, our joys and our challenges.

I have also looked back and been encouraged by what others have said about what MSA has meant in their lives. Most are drawn by the invitation to join a community that is journeying together towards God’s kingdom of peace, justice and abundance.  Shane Claiborne once told us that he thought we were great “cross pollinators” and others to have appreciated the connections we help them make to people and organizations they feel they can identify and hang with.

Others have told us that they appreciate our encouragement to reimagine life and faith and create new possibilities for how we live in every aspect of our life. Brian McLaren shared that through MSA he was given permission and encouragement to think new thoughts, dream new dreams and see the gospel in a fresh, new life-changing and world-changing light.

Others have appreciate the modelling of a simpler, more festive and hopefully more Christ centred way of life and our willingness to share openly the ongoing journey it involves us in, even when it reveals our warts and wrinkles. Added to this is an appreciation of the resources we develop to help move all of us in this direction.

So my question this morning is what draws you to this blog and the other aspects of MSA? What would you like to share that could help us focus the ministry of MSA? I would love to hear your thoughts and also appreciate your prayers for this weekend. 


MSA Imaginings

This morning we have an MSA Board meeting which made me realize that I have not posted our monthly MSA update for June.


“God instructs the heart, not by ideas but by pains and contradictions.”

omsc-art-009.jpg?w=300&h=179This wise quote by 18th century French mystic Jean Pierre de Caussade was sent to me a few weeks ago shortly after we heard that a grant application we hoped would support the start up of our Cascadia program, had been rejected. In the midst of our disappointment we found ourselves turning back to the heart of God in prayer, seeking wisdom and discernment.

One of our Board remarked,

“Mustard Seed Associates is about planting mustard seeds and this was certainly no mustard seed.”

Its true, we have always excelled at networking, collaboration and the planting and nourishing of small kingdom seeds that grow and produce fruit. Many of you are examples of that kingdom fruit.

This does seem to be a time of contradictions for us at Mustard Seed Associates. On one hand God is blessing us in amazing ways and we have much to celebrate. Plans are completed and we are moving forward with the first building of the Mustard Seed Village. Construction should begin shortly.

Jeff Johnson at

Cindy Todd is making amazing connections in the Stanwood/ Camano area and has been asked to co-chair the education for Port Susan food and farming center. Our annual Celtic retreat on Camano Island August 17-19 is shaping up to be the best ever. Our theme is gratitude and thanksgiving. Internationally known musician Jeff Johnson will provide music with a special Selah service in the evening.

CCSP/Cascadia is definitely sparking the interest of Christian Colleges and Universities across North America and we have a growing list of those who plan to add it to their semester away options. George Fox University recently added it to their options of semester away programs. We see the coming year as an opportunity to build our team and prepare for a better launch. Over the summer, Tom and I will participate inWild Goose Festival in Shakora Hills NCWild Goose West in Corvalis OR and the Creative World Festival in British Columbia. We would love to spend time with those of you who are also at these events.

MSA seeks to stir imagine and encourage creativity. We add daily to resources at Godspace and MSAimagine that inspire and encourage many to reimagine their lifestyles and faith observances. Andy Wade’s latest article Creepy Community is both thought provoking and instructive. We want to expand these resources and need your collaboration to connect us to other creative possibilities and inspiring stories. Where do wateryou see the kingdom emerging in creative and imaginative ways? Where do you see God’s mustard seeds emerging like The Overflow Project– small and seemingly insignificant but making a kingdom difference. How could we reimagine our lives to more authentically live into God’s kingdom ways? Post on our facebook page or email us with suggestions for articles or communities and ministries to highlight.

We have a remarkable team at MSA. Most are volunteers. Our architect David Vandervort has generously given time and resource over many years to the Mustard Seed Village project. Douglas Woods moved his family up to Seattle from California ten years ago because of his vision for this project. Dr. Forrest Inslee contributed numerous hours to the development of the Cascadia/CCSP curriculum. Tom and I receive no salary and Andy Wade and Cindy Todd contribute far beyond their part time salaries. Ryan and Jessica Weemhoff who will be our program directors for the Cascadia/CCSP program will volunteer over this next year to help provide new and exciting opportunities for future students.

We are privileged stewards of what God has given us but we need your help to establish what we believe God is giving birth to. Together we can make a huge difference in God’s world.

Please plant a mustard seed today and help us bring this dream into being. Your gift of $10; $15; $25 or more will enable us to support the growing work of Mustard Seed Associates. Your monthly pledge of $10; $15; $25 or more would enable us to see the Mustard Seed Village move from dream to reality.  Various options to support MSA can be found HERE

Salvation in the Neighbourhood – Creative Ideas from the Parish Collective.

The Inhabit conference which the entire MSA team attended this last weekend was one of the best conferences I have been at for a long time. So many creative and committed Christians gathered in one place inspiring each other with how they have seen their neighbourhoods transformed. Many of us are being stretched in our faith and life practices as we grapple with what it means to be the shalom of God in our communities.

I have been following with great interest the continuing conversations and story sharing that is occurring on the Inhabit Connect facebook group too. To encouraging to hear about the ways that God is planting mustard seeds that are growing and producing fruit.

I particularly enjoyed this video by Paul Sparks this morning. Do listen to the whole video – the end of the interview is particularly inspiring.


And this is a great article by Craig Goodwin over in Spokane – hope to have him over for a conversation at the Mustard Seed House some time


This one is very close to my heart as I strongly believe that we need to encourage our urban centres to become more self sustaining. it is an inspiring and imaginative way to use an old warehouse in Chicago


A great website worth exploring – the work of Candy Chang an artist, designer, and urban planner who explores making cities more comfortable and contemplative places.

And finally a story about a church helping to develop a grocery co-op in an impoverished community.

Learning to be the presence of God is part of what salvation is all about. God desires wholeness not just for us as individuals but for the entire human race as a community. And people like those who attended the Inhabit conference are busy planting seeds and light beacons that are quietly transforming our world.


Its Winter But Spring IS Coming

A couple of days ago I wrote this post Weathering the Winter Storms – Lessons for the Soul. reflecting on what I have learned from the winter storms. I love the ways that God speaks to us through the seasons of the year. This post formed the foundations for the latest MSA Happenings which I thought you might appreciate.

The description of what happens in trees during winter has resonated in my soul this week as I feel MSA is in a waiting, strengthening season. It is as though God has set buds for next year’s growth and we desperately want to see them spring into life, but God is saying, not yet, wait for the lengthening of days and the warming of the air. In the mean time put down deeper roots and strengthen your framework. Allow your roots to grow down to the deep water you will need for the coming summer and enjoy the peace of a world at rest.

Roots Going Down Deep

Mustard Seed Associates is going through huge transitions at the moment. Our Seattle team is growing and soon we will begin to develop the Mustard Seed Village community. Our Board is also changing as we grapple with the new skills needed to grow us into the future. These transitions have encouraged us to revisit our MSA foundations, refresh our vision of God’s kingdom purposes.

We are at core a spiritual community

This has reaffirm our belief that we are at core a spiritual community that discerns and implements God’s will for our organization. We believe that everything we do should flow out of our involvement together as community. The kind of creativity and innovation we want to encourage, that enables us to create new ways to advance God’s kingdom purposes and engage tomorrow’s challenges, occurs best in and through community. Much of what I have learned is expressed in my recent blog series: Leading Spiritually

Tom is also blogging about community on the MSA website. As he stated in last week’s post I am deeply concerned that too many of us miss new possibilities for community because we don’t pay attention to “times like these.” Check it out here

Our garden community is putting down roots too and we invite you to be a part of it. Each Friday and the 3rd Saturday of each month will be community garden days. If you live in Seattle and would like to join us at the Mustard Seed House please let me know. Or contact us if you want us to start your lettuce, tomatoes, squash, basil or other vegetables. Proceeds from sales will go towards starting the Mustard Seed Village community garden.

There are other ways in which we hope to put down deeper community roots in the coming weeks too. We need to grow our circle of friends and supporters. If you know people anywhere in the world who are interested in sustainability, community or creativity that would resonate with the MSA message we would like to meet them.

We are a networking hub 

MSA also provides a networking hub for many expressions of faith and community, a place to share and cross pollinate ideas. We are working to strengthen this networking capacity. We will hold several small networking gatherings at the Mustard Seed House this year. Cindy Todd and Andrew Wade will man a Mustard Seed booth at the Justice Conference in Portland February 24 & 25 Tom and I will collaborate with the Parish Collective and the Seattle School for the Inhabit Conference.  April 20 & 21 and all of us hope to attend the Wild Goose Festival in South Carolina June 21 – 24.

Buds in Waiting

So what are the buds in waiting that will not emerge until the spring? First our initial cohort for the Pacific Sustainability semester has been delayed until January 2013. We still expect to bring our program director and  community facilitator on staff in July of this year. However this program will require the building of community networks and connections that need months of preparation. We are also still waiting for the final approval from colleges and universities that are potential recruiting grounds for students.

Second we have decided to delay the launch of our ezine Imagine That. We want to provide a tool that will help launch creativity and innovation in the MSA network as well as share examples of how God has already unleashed creativity in our midst. However we realize that with our current commitments, this would stretch our existing resources too thinly.

Building Resilience – Adding to the Team

We continue to grow the MSA team. We are currently looking for a volunteer with administrative skills to work as my assistant helping with research, writing and web communications.This position will provide an opportunity for the volunteer to assist in publishing articles, blog posts and possibly a book on spiritual practices. There will also be opportunity to assist in events and meet collaborators from around the world. If you are interested I would love to hear from you.

We also have a summer internship position available. Duties would include organizing, marketing and coordinating our annual Celtic retreat at the Mustard Seed Village site. If you or someone you know might be interested please contact us.

In our discernment time during our MSA team meeting this week we sensed that God is at work below the surface, getting ready to grow the seeds and preparing to bring new life to those waiting buds. We appreciate your prayers as we solidify our foundations and press forward to discern and implement God’s will for us as an organization.

Saying Goodbye to a Wonderful Year

Tom and I are just back from our quarterly retreat. As part of the framework for my reflection I have been reading Ruth Hayley Barton’s book Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership. I was particularly struck by her thoughts on taking time to draw aside in order to notice the presence of God in the present moment – what she likens to Moses drawing aside to examine the burning bush and discovering that he is in the holy presence of God.

Learning to live in the present moment, being grateful for what it holds and giving thanks for how God has created, it is an art that draws us close into the presence of God. This enabled me to recognize the presence of God not just in the moment but in the whole of the year that has passed. And so I find myself kneeling in awe and reverence at the privilege of co-creating with the living God.

As we race towards 2012, Tom and I and the growing Mustard Seed team are overwhelmed by the generosity of God and the many good friends God has given us. This has been an incredible year for us and we have much to celebrate.

We have much to celebrate this Year

  • We began the year by launching our new website, which has enabled us to expand our written and video resources and begin publishing ebooks.
  •  It has even encouraged Tom to start blogging, and he now contributes a weeklymustardseedconspiracy post.  Our recent publications, Waiting for the Light: a devotional for Advent and Christmas and the video Lord Jesus Christ, Draw Close, have been particularly popular and are being used by many to prepare both for the coming of Jesus and for the in-breaking of God’s new creation all over the world.
  •  Godspace continues to blossom as a site for spiritual resources and I appreciate your comments and help in . This year we had over 200,000 visitors and were listed by some as one of the top 100 Christian blogs.  The most popular series was “Tools for Prayer”.
  • The daily facebook prayers are also growing in popularity as more and more people seek to connect daily to God through their internet interactions.

Camas Garden 2011

  • We facilitated four Spirituality of Gardening seminars, a brainstorming session on Recession Readiness, and several small networking gatherings at the Mustard Seed House. We had the joy of sharing new ways to serve God in changing times with friends including those at Goshen College and AMBS in March, the Inhabit Conference in April, the Overseas Ministry Study Center in May, the Wild Goose Festival and Reformed Church Educators in June, and the Mennonite Laurelville Center in August. We also held creativity workshops at several churches, including Kent Covenant and Sanctuary Christian Reformed Church in Seattle.
  •  In August we held our 20th Annual Celtic Retreat, a milestone event that marked a new phase of the development for the Mustard Seed Village. Shortly after, we received an anonymous donation of $25,000 as a matching grant for the first building, and other friends responded to the challenge. Pole Barn imageWith $50,0000 raised we are still praying for the remaining $35,000 to build this pole barn classroom. Our gifted architect and friend David Vandervort is working on the plans, and construction will take place over the summer next year. Last week Tom and I gifted the first five-acre parcel of our 40 acres on Camano Island, valued at $120,000, to Mustard Seed Associates for this purpose.
  •  Last week Forrest Inslee, who heads curriculum design for our upcoming Sustainability Semester Away program, secured approval for accreditation by Northwest University here in the Seattle area. Our partners at Creation Care Study Program  ( are circulating our curriculum proposal to the 30 Christian colleges they work with for approval.
  • If God continues to bless, we will launch the Pacific NW Sustainability Semester next September. What makes it distinctive is that students learn not only about environmental and other global challenges likely to confront us in the coming decade, they will also learn about new community-based ways of living that are more sustainable environmentally and economically. They will also learn how they can work with others in these turbulent times to create new sustainable local neighborhoods.
  • We are so grateful for our growing MSA team… Cindy Todd, Andy Wade, Forrest Inslee and Ricci Kilmer. We are also grateful for our generous MSA boardMSA Bursting and friends like Lindsay, Crickette, James, Nancy and Dennis who volunteer their time to keep MSA moving forward. Our most desperate current need is for a part-time administrative assistant for the MSA office.
  • We have shared hospitality and food from our garden at the Mustard Seed House with friends from Australia, New Zealand, the U.K., Africa, Canada and the U.S.
  • The MSA team celebrated its own milestones this year. I celebrated my 60th, Tom his 75th, and Andy Wade his 50th birthday. We are grateful for God’s mercy and grace as we seek to grow our ministry and journey with Jesus Christ in these troubled times.

We wish you and yours a new year filled with compassion for the growing numbers of our neighbors locally and globally that are likely to be impacted by both the growing economic troubles in Europe and climate change everywhere.