My seminary cohort, the group I have spent the last three years studying, conversing and sometimes arguing with (in love of course!), is busily preparing to go to Italy at the end of the month. We have been reading some books and repsonding to them:

Serving with Eyes Wide Open: doing short-term missions with cultural intelligence by David Livermore
The Road to Emmaus: pilgrimage as a way of life by Jim Forest
La Bella Figura: a field guide to the Italian mind by Beppe Severgnini

The book I’ve been ruminating over the most is the one on pilgrimage as a way of life. Basically, Forest encourages his readers to approach every day of their lives as a journey with Christ and toward Him, to anticipate meeting Christ in others in every moment, to live with a constant sense of awareness of God’s Presence. *sigh* I do not do this well. I tend to live by lists… I make them and I check things off. Laundry, check. Shopping, check. Pick songs for Sunday, check. Send emails, check. Set up babysitting, check. Dishes, check. Cleaning, check….

I am an extrovert for sure, and enjoy spending time with people; but I can be very task oriented and have probably been more so over the last three years as I added school to my already full life. After reading this book, I long to slow down and savor each moment (even if my hands are busy with household or church tasks). I want to notice things and notice people. I want to live with my eyes wide open so that I do not miss where Christ wants to meet me in another… even, perhaps, my children… especially my children! It sounds idealistic and impossible, yet does that make it a worthless pursuit? Something in me yearns for that kind of spiritual growth and formation. In one sense, I don’t care if I never reach the goal. The point is the journey.

For more information on our cohort trip to Italy, visit

A conversation with my unchurched neighbor

The phone rings.

“Kris Anne, it’s Jill. I just wanted to apologize again for not making it to your graduation party. I really wanted to be there, but I was still so sick. I hope it went well.”

“Oh my goodness, don’t even worry about it. I just hope you feel better soon! Is there anything I can do for you?”

“No… and I don’t even want you to pray for me. You know, I have this really religious friend who says we can ask God for anything because he’s our Father and we should be able to ask our fathers for anything no matter how trivial because they love and care for us. But I don’t buy that.”

“Hmmm…. why is that?”

“Well, if I’m sitting at the Black Jack table praying that I will win, that’s not right. That’s disrespectful to God. I only think it’s right to pray about severe health issues… not the little ones, but the big ones. You know, when I broke my foot and I was lying on the ground, I didn’t pray that God would heal it. I prayed that he would help me get through the pain. I don’t think life is supposed to be comfortable or easy. I believe God does miracles and can heal, but to ask him to help me get rich or relieve a little pain… it doesn’t seem right. You just got your MDiv, what do you think about all that?”

“I think your friend is right that God loves us like a Father and cares about our lives. But I also agree with you that praying to win at the gambling table isn’t right. And I think you are right on that life is not about our comfort or wealth… you’re amazing… I don’t know that I always remember that. But I’ve actually been stumped lately about praying over health issues. I prayed for my mom to be healed of cancer and to live, and God didn’t heal her on this side of heaven. For whatever reason, He didn’t do a miracle. I guess lately, I’ve been praying that whatever happens, God will shape me and mold me into a more godly woman. And when it comes to praying for others, I pray that whatever happens to them, God will give them inner peace and strength and reveal His Love to them… and that’s about as far as I get. I know God loves us and wants what is best for us, but He doesn’t always say yes to our prayers… and that’s difficult for me. I sometimes feel like, if He is just going to do what He’s going to, then why ask. I don’t know, Jill. I certainly don’t have all the answers.”

“Yeah. Would you pray for my sister, though? We don’t speak to each other, but I found out she has six nodes on her throat. They are testing them to see if they’re cancerous. Her life is so messed up; I don’t want her to die.”

“I’ll pray, Jill. I’ll certainly pray that God will show up with all His Fatherly love and surround all of you with grace. You’ve got a beautiful spirit, Jill. Let me know if you need anything else, ok?”

“I will.”
And now, I wonder how to pray… perhaps Jill knows better than I…