Today I want to Go Home

sm-Tom-Sine

Today I just want to go home. I am missing Tom, I am missing our dog Bonnie and I am missing our “normal” life back in Seattle. I know I am in the right place but it is so hard sitting here watching my mother’s life slowly, oh so slowly, ebb away.

Yesterday I changed my airline tickets home, delaying my return for another 10 days. It might need to be delayed again. None of us know how long this dying will take and it is agony for all of us.

I am reminded of the words of the Psalmist:

Psalm 13

For the choir director: A psalm of David.

1 O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever?
How long will you look the other way?
2 How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?

3 Turn and answer me, O Lord my God!
Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
4 Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!”
Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.

5 But I trust in your unfailing love.
I will rejoice because you have rescued me.
6 I will sing to the Lord
because he is good to me.

When death hovers over a loved one like this the cry of all our hearts is – “how long”? but in the midst I still know that God’s love will never fail and I cling to that. I pray each morning and evening for God’s peace to rest on my mother and for God’s love to engulf her. I know your prayers are with me.

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Are You Ready for the Lenten Discipline of Coming out of Hiding by Tom Sine

Today’s post in the series Return to Our Senses in Lent is another written by my husband Tom Sine, futurist, author and hospitality guy here at the Mustard Seed House.

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Christine and I, and our golden retriever, Bonnie, just came back from one of our prayer retreats at a doggie friendly motel in Anacortes just north of Seattle.  It is a modest place with a little view of the water and a great walking trail.  Part of the discipline of our lives is to go on a prayer retreat 3 to 4 times a year…following the church calendar.

We usually spend two nights and come back on the third day.  Day one is always hard for me.  We start by reading back over 3 months of journals.  I find it always hard to see how little I have changed.  Day two is always a little easier as we seek to listen for a new sense of direction for our individual lives and for our lives as a couple.

Christine and I have found these times immensely valuable.  We encourage all couples and singles to find a friend and go on retreat at least twice a year.  In addition to reading scripture and our journals and spending time in prayer we often bring an inspirational book.  This year I read Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings  by Christine Valters Paintner.

It was just the book I needed for this Lenten retreat.  The author writes “The desert elders call us to a radical reclaiming of full responsibility for ourselves.” pp.46.  I have long believed that the major work of the Holy Spirit is to get us to come out of hiding and deal honestly with all our broken places.  God nailed me this past weekend regarding one of my real broken places.  I have with God’s help been working this issue for years.  But change in my life seems to come at glacial speed.

God’s prescription for me isn’t really that demanding.  It means taking time every day in addition to my time in scripture an prayer to re-discover how deeply loved I am by the creator God…in spite of all my broken places.

On those rare occasions when I can fully enter into God’s grace filled love for me at a very deep level then nothing can shake my tree.  In those deeply centered moments I can view my life and times of difficult encounters with a much fuller sense of both detachment and discernment.

As we are journeying through the final days of Lent, can you find even a couple hours on Sunday or some other evening to be present to God?  I encourage you to ask the Lord to not only show you those areas in your life that need some work, but also to ask God to show you how deeply he loves you.

Can you find two hours this Lent to transparently wait before God to receive both God’s correction and God’s deep love for you?  Will you write me this week and tell me how God is getting your ready to celebrate on that great Easter morn?

Are you ready for the Lenten discipline of celebrating those who have gone before by Tom Sine

Today’s post in the series Return to Our Senses in Lent comes from my husband Tom Sine, futurist, author and hospitality guy here at the Mustard Seed House.

“Ashes to ashes” are the words I heard again on Ash Wednesday last week as my pastor placed an ash cross on my forehead.  As I turn 77 this week I am much more aware of my mortality than I was a decade ago.

Christine Sine - Come to our SensesChristine led a very inspirational retreat called Return to Our Senses in Lent at our home a couple fo weeks ago with a few MSA friends.  It was during this session that I discovered a new way of reflecting on my own mortality… expressing my deep appreciation to God for family members, friends and mentors that have added so much to my life.

Those of us who knew Richard Twiss  were shocked by his unexpected death while attending the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC.  We pray for the huge loss Richard’s death will have particularly for his family.  Those of us who knew him are deeply grateful for his life of service to Christ and his strong prophetic voice to call us all out of the values of the dominant culture to embrace a more biblical faith.

I start every morning by inviting the great family beginning with Abraham and Sarah to join me in my prayers.  On Saturday at our Lenten Retreat I focused on my mortality by giving thanks for family, friends and mentors that have joined that great family.  I started by expressing my deep gratitude for my dear parents Tom whom I lost in 1990 and Katherine in 1995.  My hardest loss was my son Clint in 2006. But I still celebrate his good life and memories of camping at Baker Lake and touring the UK.

In the last 5 years I also lost two of my most significant mentors from my student days at Cascade College in the 50s…Grace and Lee Nash.  Grace helped a young man who had little prospect of succeeding in college get his life organized.  Lee was so affirming as I became an author and so gracious when I fell on my face.

Edward Lindeman came as President to Whitworth College in 1970 as I arrived in Seattle to start my doctorate at the University of Washington.  He was easily the most creative college educator I ever met.  He had headed the Apollo Space Craft Project and mentored me researching and writing about the future.

Frank Herbert author of the Dune series was the first professor in my doctoral program at the UW in 1971 in a course on Utopia and Dystopia.  We continued to be friends and he was a valued mentor in my life and writing after he and Beverly moved to Port Townsend to create what he called a high level of “techno-peasantry.”

Just a few weeks ago I joined hundreds of people in the most multi-cultural event I have ever attended in Seattle as we celebrated the life of Cal Uomoto.  I had known Cal since the early 70s .  I can’t remember having a friend that was a more self effacing servant of Jesus than Cal.  Over his lifetime thousands of refugees from all over the planet experienced his care and hospitality.

As you reflect on your own mortality during this season of Lent will you write and tell me some of those whose lives you are celebrating?

Are You Ready For the Spiritual Discipline of Gratitude – Tom Sine

Today’s post in the series Return to Our Senses in Lent, is written by my husband Tom Sine.


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Last week we ask you: are you ready for the spiritual discipline of daily laughter? We encouraged you to join Ted and Company in learning to laugh at our own foibles every day so we could learn to live without taking ourselves too seriously.

This week we are urging you to consider adopting an attitude of gratitude.  It is all too easy for all of us to focus more on what’s going wrong than what we have to give thanks for. When I used to work for World Concern in Haiti in the early 80s I used return home to Seattle feeling very embarrassed about my petty complaints Sometimes I was able to go an entire week without complaining about the weather, driving conditions or some of my difficult friends. An amazing miracle!

As we enter the season of Lent I urge you not only to reflect on your shortcomings but to fast from verbalizing complaints for a whole week. Any time you are tempted to complain stop and give expression to something your grateful for. Research actually indicates that people who express more gratitude are significantly happier than those who are given to complaining about their situations.

I can still remember how proud I was of my dad during his repeated times in the hospital for several serious ailments during his final years. I never heard him complain once. Instead when I would ask him how he was he would say “I am always all right!”

As you can see from the picture Christine and I plus our dog Bonnie have a great deal to be grateful for. Friday we arrived at our 40 acre site on Camano Island for the Mustard Seed Village only to make a stunning discovery. As you can see our construction team has just poured the foundation and erected eight poles for the first building in the Mustard Seed Village.  As you can imagine we had little difficulty in expressing our genuine gratitude to God for all of those who contributed to this new beginning.

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But were also grateful for the opportunity to finish what we have started.  We are grateful for the opportunity to join with others in bringing a road and power to the site as well as constructing a sustainable septic system and putting a pump on our well. We are grateful that this new facility will enable us to start hosting gatherings on the land to help people learn to live more innovatively, sustainably and festively in these uncertain times.

Write me this week and let me know if you are able to replace words of complaint with words of gratitude for the entire first week of Lent. Also write me if you’d like to join many others who are helping us make the Mustard Seed Village a center for Christian imagination and celebration.

Resources for Lent 2013

carbon fast via anieszkabanks.blogspot.com

carbon fast via anieszkabanks.blogspot.com

Each year around this time I like to update my Lenten resources. Last year I posts two lists of resources

Resources for Lent 2012

And More Resources for Lent from the Episcopal Church

This year in keeping with our Lenten Theme – Return to Our Senses in Lent I decided to post practical suggestions for Lent that help us to integrate our prayer practices and our everyday life. I am excited at the suggestions people are sending me.

A United Methodist Pastor serving in north central Pennsylvania shared her newest spiritual discipline with me.

Several months ago I felt that I needed to give up internet, especially email and facebook on my Sabbath day. Then when doing a mini-series on Sabbath keeping at church after reading Gift of Rest by Sen. Lieberman, I realized that I needed to add phone calls to that. Sometimes it is difficult to avoid phone calls, emergencies and such but overall I recommend this type of fast. It is not easy. I can think of lots of reasons each week to go online but do my best to avoid it. I shared the commitment with my congregations, adding of course that if they were on the phone and said a spouse was having a heart attack or something like that I would surely pick up and make the visit. I have been amazed at my colleagues and parishioners who respect this fast, even my boss:)

And on the MSA blog my husband Tom has suggested embracing a new discipline of daily laughter.

Ann Voskamp also has a great idea for a family repentance box which she posted a couple of years ago.

If you are like me and looking for disciplines that help us to focus outwardly on the challenges our world faces you might like to consider these resources. I have focused on two challenges I am passionate about – climate change and poverty.

The Oil Lamp  has shared several helpful links to sites that suggest ways to incorporate a carbon fast into your Lenten practices. I particularly enjoyed this link recommended by Archbishop Thabo Magkoba, convenor of the Anglican Environmental Network in South Africa: A Carbon Fast for Lent. They also have some good basic suggestions for a carbon fast here.

Earth Ministry’s LeAnne Beres wrote this helpful article about taking a Carbon fast a couple of years ago which includes links to other great resources.

You might also like to check out these resources for praying for the vulnerable and hungry during Lent.

The ELCA has a great World Hunger Lenten Series available – lots of good information and suggestions. They go for a $3/day diet – probably more doable today then the $2/day we have always attempted.

Bread for the World always produces wonderful resources that challenge us to face the issues of hunger. This year they have worked in collaboration with Women of Faith for the 1,000 Days Movement to develop a series of Lenten activities around the theme of Maternal and Child Nutrition in the 1,000 day window between pregnancy and a child’s second birthday. Check out what is be available here

Episcopal Relief and Development has chosen the alleviation of hunger for the theme of their Lenten Meditations this year too. They are available in both English and Spanish and can be downloaded for free.

And please keep contributing your own suggestions for Lenten practices that help bring faith and life together.

Let the Newness Emerge – MSA Imaginings January 2013

Photo by Nick Lipinski

Photo by Nick Lipinski

God as this new year dawns,

May we take time to see the newness you are giving birth to.

May we not be blinded by the darkness that consumes our world.

Or consumed by the fear that paralyzes our actions.

May we remember,

Out of winter’s darkness you bring forth light,

Out of winter’s death you give birth to new life.

From New Year’s Prayer 

This prayer reflects much of the hope and despair we felt at the end of last year. The hope and promise of Christ’s return was tainted by the horror of Sandy Hook and the uncertainty of the world economy.  As we look to the future however, we find hope and promise in the new things God is giving birth to. We look forward, not just to personal change, but to a future in which society is transformed and healing finally comes for the broken, justice for the poor, peace for the nations and restoration to creation

In a volatility and uncertainty world we too need to allow the spirit of God to stir our imaginations and encourage the newness of God to emerge. We need fresh ways to strengthen our faith and equip us to be God’s compassionate response in our communities and around the globe.

Return to Our Senses in Lent

Newness must begin with our faith Our volatile world calls for new forms of prayer and spiritual disciplines that weave intimacy with God into every aspect of life encouraging us to reach out with compassion and love. Lent which begins February 13th, is a season to reflect and refocus our faith. It is a time to ask ourselves: How do I need to change to be a more effective follower of Christ in the future? As was mentioned yesterday, this will be the focus of our Lenten disciplines this year and we hope that you will join us.

  1. We have just completed a study guide for Return to Our Senses: Reimagining How We Pray and invite you to participate in a Lenten study that will draw you closer to God and equip you to respond in compassion and love to God’s needy world. The guide can be downloaded free and Return to Our Senses will be available at a special discounted price to facilitate its use.
  2. This will also be the theme for the Godspace Lenten series. The daily reflections and activities throughout the season will complement the resources in Return to Our Senses. We hope you will accept the challenge and use them to develop new disciplines that equip you to respond to God’s needy world. Or perhaps you would like to join the Godspace writing community and contribute your own approaches to innovative, experiential prayer. Our insights can inspire each other to new levels of commitment.
  3. February 16th I will facilitate a Lenten retreat at the Mustard Seed House here in Seattle. We invite you to join us in a time of reflection and refocusing. Allow new forms of prayer to be woven into your life so that you can become all that God intends you to be.  

Igniting the Divine Spark

The second place newness needs to emerge is in the unleashing of our creativity. Our God is a god of unlimited imagination and has placed the divine spark of that creativity within each of us. To provide for ourselves and continue to be generous to those at the margins we need new economic initiatives. Cindy Todd continues to inspire us with the creative business model on which Snohomish Soap is founded. And it is not just us who are inspired. She was featured this last month in Puget Sound Co-operative’s news, and at the end of the month her model will be touted in a TED talk as one of the new and innovative business models for the future.

Throughout February and March Cindy and others will post on the MSA blog about creative business models and the ways that God ignited the divine sparks that gave rise to these. March 16th this will culminate in a workshop Cindy will facilitate at the Mustard Seed House entitled Igniting the Divine Spark. So save the date. This will be an exciting and instructive event.

Unleashing our Imaginations

It is not just in economic provision that God wants to unleash creativity. My husband Tom is busily engaged in research for a new book on creativity and imagination, exploring ways to move from Biblical vision to new design for church, ministry, housing, simplification and sustainable living. He is excited about how God is stirring the imagination and creativity of ordinary people to advance God’s purposes and engages the challenges or our turbulent world.

God is doing something new in our midst and we ask you to help us connect to those at the creative edge. If you know of imaginative business models, ministries, churches or approaches to housing please let Tom know. These will continue to fuel his weekly blog posts so check the MSA blog regularly for new insights.

Teaching in Australia

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 be teaching an intensive: Reimagining Faith for Turbulent Times at Tabor College in Adelaide Australia in June 2013. Still room & time to sign up. We would love to have some of our friends join us.

Not All That Emerges is New.

Please continue to pray for the launch of Cascadia/CCSP in September this year and let your friends know. It is time for students to sign up and we need your help in getting the word out.

Join MSA Board member Mary De Jong:

For a retreat at the Whidbey Institute in Chinook March 8-10.

For a pilgrimage to Iona off the west coast of Scotland, May 12-20.

Dates you might be interested in:

Return to Our Senses in Lent – Retreat at the Mustard Seed House February 16th

Igniting the Divine Spark – workshop with Cindy Todd at the Mustard Seed House March 16th.

We appreciate your prayers and support as we move into the newness that is emerging.

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