How did I get here? ...Hosting a website that offers spiritual practices?
Well, I suppose it goes back a ways. I grew up in a God-loving home. My family treasured the Bible and the church. After I left home, I continued my habit of going to church several times a week. But in college, I felt like I was always studying and was too busy to spend time with God outside of church. It didn't get any better when I graduated and joined the professional world with a fast-paced job. And it certainly didn't help that I found myself more discouraged than encouraged by the churches that we attended. I was withering spiritually.
Then, in 2001, my husband and I moved to the Chicago suburbs and started attending Willow. I found myself slowly coming back to life spiritually but still was not really spending time with God on my own. In 2008, God led me to start reading Dallas Willard and used his writing to get my attention. I realized that my daily life, as busy as it was with three young children, was completely futile without him really in it. So, I started carving out daily time for solitude, prayer, introspection, and other spiritual practices. Dallas Willard led to Frank Laubach, Letters by a Modern Mystic, and reintroduced me to Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God. Gradually, God started changing me inside. And what a difference it has made and continues to make. Before my life was numb, egotistical, self-centered, and prideful as I tried to control my world. Over time, God keeps showing me a better way. He is growing my trust in him, nurturing the beginning of this awesome freedom from being driven by the concern of what others think of me. I have been enjoying a wonderful tingly sensation of aliveness and of his presence. Through it all he has also been cultivating in me a hatred for superficial spirituality that had taken my life a captive prisoner.
Fast forward to the fall of 2017, I decided to go on my own private spiritual retreat at cottage in a neighboring town. I had been on several silent retreats before, both on my own and in groups, and was looking forward to it. As I prepared, I found that a book of mine, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (Adele Calhoun, 2005), had an agenda for spending a day alone with God, and so I decided to give it a try. In this process, it struck me that it would be great to give my friends who are all busy with work, life, families, volunteering, etc. a chance to experience a similar day. So, with that agenda as a starting point, I took the activities that I found most useful, added in some others, and created some based on the good work of Dallas Willard.
In 2018, I discovered Life Without Lack, (Dallas Willard, 2018). I was delighted to see the final chapter describe so eloquently what I had been clumsily trying to put into practice in my own life. He spoke of constantly turning your mind to God and meeting with him throughout the day. I wanted to share this with everyone I know, so I added it to the retreat as Part II.
In 2019 I was finally able to go through Teresa of Avila’s Interior Castle (recommended in Dallas Willard’s work), where I discovered a deeper version of Prayer of Recollection than I had practiced in the past. And what an incredible impact in transformation this has sparked in my journey. I heartily recommend this as a daily practice. Want to talk about it? Contact me. I am looking for companions on this journey.
At the start of 2020, I had a friend encourage me to build out my fledgling website with all of the spiritual practices and opportunities from the retreat. Given his support and encouragement, I dove in. As it turns out, God’s great timing was behind it all, as the sheltering in of 2020 has proven to be a good time to offer website practices, and not such a good time to offer retreats.
You will see, that I don’t come to you as an expert, but as a friend. I know that many people would like to have these kinds of experiences, but with full to overflowing lives, would find it difficult to arrange them for themselves. My hope and prayer is that you will find fuel and ideas for your own daily practices that God can use to keep transforming you and making your life better and better as we are fighting to live as Jesus taught; fighting the deceptive superficial spirituality that lulls us and robs us; fighting to make it REAL!