The Journey Weekend begins…

I am mostly moved in to my room at Maranatha in Muskegon, Michigan until next Saturday. It is a place I have visited often and it feels a bit like coming home. The leaders for The Journey retreat come from all over the United States and there is a lot of hugging and reconnecting and I know that this community of people are people who will love me well this week and challenge me to grow.

Tonight in our small group we had to answer the question how has the Lord been working in your life the last six months?

I knew that for me it continues to be in the distinction to focus on wellness instead of weight loss. I remember when my focus was primarily on the scale and I could easily feel discouraged. As I committed to a life style change and focused on wellness, I have been faced with the reality that this journey to wellness is a journey of sacrifice. There is much I have had (continue to) change and I still am faced with many decisions every day as I seek to develop new habits and routines.

During the last 7 months, I am grateful to say I have shrunk in size and grown in faith. I seem to be more in tune with my own longing to hear and know God and I am taking new risks in my faith life as well. I am thankful that the question asked in small group tonight was not difficult for me to engage in. I know there have been seasons in my life where I would need to dig deep or try to make up an answer of how the Lord has been working….today I can say He is working and He isn’t finished with me yet!

Give till you have no more….

Or as I heard in my workout today…push to the point of failure. 

Everything in me wanted to quit on every exercise we did.

Carrying a 15 pound medicine ball over my head while running stairs was a test of endurance…and my endurance definitely failed me.

It is a different way of thinking…one I have to get used to and embrace in my every day living.

I am learning that I often have the thoughts of how to conserve to ensure I don’t empty out.

What would happen if I gave till I had no more more often?

What would I learn about God and His presence if I gave till I had no more?

What would I learn about my strength and character if I pushed myself to failure and believed that may be one of the best places to learn….

I believe I will be able to practice some of this in the next week at the Journey Seminar. Stay tuned… will likely read about it right here!

What next week holds…

As I have shared in the last few days, next week I will be leading at Open Hearts Ministry ( Journey Retreat. I will be blogging each day and am eager to share some of the many amazing moments that I will experience and be witness to. But let me first give some of those upcoming blogs a bit of context.

The intensity of the week is that we will be covering 12 sessions, normally done in a 12 week period at home, in five days.

The first four lessons take a look at The Road I’ve Traveled:

My Journey Begins

Responding to Another’s Journey

The Journey Back to My Story

The Journey of My Childhood

The next four lessons take a look at The Road I’m On…

My Journey with Shame

My Journey with Contempt

Relating to Others on my Journey

My Journey with Sexuality

The last four lessons take a look at The Road Ahead…

My Journey of Brokenness

My Journey of Returning

Disappointment on My Journey

My Journey of Redemption

And there you have it. Every time I participate, either as a participant or a leader, I learn, I am challenged, I am amazed at God’s Grace and presence, I am blessed.

As I write about this I am listening to stories of communities destroyed by tornado’s. The storms this season seem very intense in number and in the damage they leave behind. I am struck by how quickly life can change and how quickly we can lose all we cling to in our day-to-day. It is my hope and prayer that whatever your day holds, the predictable or the unpredictable, sickness or good health, employment and wealth or the constant question if you will have enough, that we will live in community with one another and continue to live with curiosity and interest of what we can give away….and then generously offer that to whomever is in our path!

Preparing to pour myself out…

I have been leading small groups with Open Hearts Ministry for almost 15 years. One thing I know, that no matter how prepared I go into the week, I will come home next week exhausted, empty and satisfied.

Starting Friday evening approx 35 leaders will spend the weekend together sorting through our own stories. We will take time to explore our dignity and where God is using our strengths. We will also explore our depravity and where we are hiding or even harming ourselves or others we are in relationship with. It is always a time that I enter with some excitement and anticipation. I long for honest feedback in my life and appreciate the invitation to live honestly in the presence of others. It comes with great risk as well as great reward. We all commit to one another to “stay in it” and to put words to the feelings of our heart. Please pray that I will enter our leaders weekend with a heart that is tender, willing to pour out and receive back . Pray that I will love myself and others with gentle Truth and abundant Grace. 

Come Monday morning, over 100 participants will begin to arrive. They will come with the same sense of anticipation and excitement not being sure of what to expect. They will journey to their hearts next week and be invited into the hearts of others. They will experience how to enter into the shame of their own hearts and others, they will experience how to discern between dignity and depravity, in their own life and others, and they will  learn what it means to name, grieve, celebrate and embrace the story of their own heart and the stories of others.

It is a week of amazing adventure and discovery….

It is a week of wild and relentless pursuit….

It is a week of floods of tears and shrieks of laughter…

It is a week of amazing connection with others who share similar longings, disappointments, joys and celebrations….

It is Holy Ground…and for that reason…I consider it a privilege to come home exhausted, empty and satisfied.

A Journey retreat….

Today I am thinking about how next Monday I will be at Maranatha in Muskegon Michigan. By this time next week we will have completed the first two sessions with my small group. I always look forward to leading at The Journey Retreat (previously SALTS) and seeing what I will witness in the stories of others and where God will challenge me to grow…

A Journey Retreat is an intense one week small group experience that invites you to live more fully and freely as the man or woman God designed you to be.

The front page of the manual reads like this…


to a healing journey …. an experience where you can explore your story and find your heart…

to a community of fellow travelers … people seeking to be real, to dream, to come alive….

to an environment of grace, truth and affirmation … a safe place to look at the past and discover the future…

to a fresh relationship with the Wounded Healer … A God who knows, cares and is intimately involved….

Come along with us on a journey of transformation.

I will be writing this week about The Journey Retreat and invite you to pray for me in different ways as I prepare to participate in leaders training over the weekend and lead a small group all of next week. . It is the place where I began to understand my story and embrace it fully. It was at this retreat, when I was a participant, that I began the Journey to My Heart…and I am still grateful, almost 15 years later.

Makes an Aunt’s heart proud….

Today I had the privilege to worship with Olivia, Noah, Sonta, Jean Marc, Andrew and Ryan. (and of course my parents, two brothers and two sister in-laws)

In moments like these, my heart is just so proud of the growing faith of my nieces and nephews. I often get to experience the expressions of faith with Janneke, Henry, Anne, Karolyn, Ellie, Peter and isaiah, but to experience it with my out-of-town” kids” was an extra special treat on Easter morning.

I am thankful for kids who love to sing (and can read music) and who worship with their whole hearts….

I am thankful for kids who listen well and can engage the teaching and Biblical truths….

I am thankful for kids who desire to grow in their faith….

I am thankful…

Just plain thankful!

A celebration is planned…

The guest list is complete.

Dad and Mom, Len and Marcia, Olivia, Noah, Sonta, Jean Marc, Nick, Jonna, Andrew, Ryan, Arlene, Dan, Janneke, Henry, Anne, Karolyn, Ellie, Suzi, Andy, Peter, Isaiah, Johanna, Aunt Dot, Aunt Anita, Uncle Bob, Hermie, Aunt Wilma, Uncle Adrian and Mike. Including me, there will be 32 people at Easter dinner for a full sit down meal. We will begin with coffee and treats, move to a glass of wine and some herring and crackers and cheese, and for dinner we will have two kinds of meats, sweet potatoes and cheesy potatoes, two salad options, cabbage, asparagus and corn, French silk pie, apple pie cake and eclair dessert. The food will be plentiful and the company delightful. The noise levels will be high at times but there will be silence when we offer Grace and the harmony will be beautiful when we close with singing Step by Step and Alleluia…

We will then have a hunt where the kids are teamed in groups of two and they will work together to find 30 pieces of candy hidden throughout the house. Some will find Jolly Ranchers while another team is searching for Laffy Taffy. It will be a fun challenge but in the end they know their prize will be waiting for them by Papa and he will tease them a bit and give it to them just because of who they are, not based on if they found all their candy!

And at the end of the day, we will be full and happy and maybe a bit tired….

And as the day draws to a close, the reason for our celebration remains. Christ’s resurrection is what draws us and what unites us. We will all return to our activities for the week and live out our day-to-day lives, but the invitation to live in relationship with Christ will remain with each of us every day!

My parents have modeled to us that we are given much and have much to share. It feels right that the table is a wonderful mix of family and friends. Thank you to my Dad and Mom for teaching us the importance of celebrating and opening our hearts and homes…

Happy Easter….may it be a day of celebration and a year of continued discovery ~ discovering more every day what it means to live in a deep friendship with the Jesus who died for our sins and rose from the dead to live in relationship with us!

Hallelujah what a Savior!

Good Friday…

Were you there when they nailed Him to the cross….Man of sorrows what a name…When I survey the wondrous Cross…Oh Sacred Head now wounded…Broken and Beautiful…And can it be…come ye sinners poor and needy…Just as I am…Nothing but the blood…Rock of Ages…The Old Rugged Cross…What wondrous love is this…Hallelujah what a Savior

Such powerful songs that leave me with a true sense of what Good Friday holds…

They are songs that remind me of the ache and the sacrifice, the cry of a soul and brevity of my sin…I find great depth in the music of Good Friday. It resonates in my heart and I can sing the words from memory…

And then I turn to reflect on Jesus on the cross. I found the following helpful in directing my thoughts today….

By all accounts Jesus didn’t do a lot of talking on the cross. He was silent during the hours he hung there, except for a very few words. But these Seven Last Words provide a window into Jesus’ soul, a way to understand what is ultimately important to this One who is dying on the cross.

These Words reveal his incredible love, his determination, his humanness as well as his divinity, his intimate relationship with his Father, and finally his trust.

1. Father, Forgive Them (Luke 23:34)

2. This Day You Will Be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23:43)

3. Woman, Behold Your Son (John 19:26-27)

4. My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Mark 15:34)

5. I Thirst (John 19:28)

6. It Is Finished (John 19:30)

7. Father, Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit (Luke 23:46)

And as this day draws to a close, it seems appropriate that it is dark and stormy. That the wind and the thunder and the rain fit with what we commemorate today. I am thankful for Christ’s death on the cross. It offers me a purpose for living and an eternal hope in a world that is hard to understand sometimes. I am thankful that the story doesn’t end on the cross, but that Sunday’s coming and Because He lives…I can face tomorrow!

Hallelujah….what a Savior!

It sure has been gray…

The weather has been cold and gray and the sun seems almost non-existent, until today that is. I have been struck how this gray weather makes me feel so frumpy and blah. I am keenly aware of the lack of sunshine and cooler weather and find myself impatiently waiting for Spring.

And yet tonight when I was outside with Dutch, I glanced around and saw that my lilac bush is budding, my daffodils are blooming, my tulips are emerging and my grass is green.

I wondered when all this occurred?

Surely not in the gray, wet, cold weather of the last week!

Perhaps I need to take time to find the beauty on the days I am choosing not to see it.

Perhaps I need to take time to remember that growth, both in nature and in life, occurs during some of the gray times.

Perhaps I need to remember that God is creative and invites me to find His magnificent work in different places everyday.

Perhaps I will choose a new attitude on gray, windy and cold days….

Perhaps I will find some color if I open my eyes to see it!

Five is Fabulous….

Happy Happy Happy 5th Birthday to my fun-loving nephew Isaiah Edward.

Isaiah is a delightful boy who is such fun to converse with. He continues to grow more in confidence and has growing knowledge and curiosity about life. Isaiah has a real tender heart and very sensitive spirit. He articulates clearly when he thinks you have spoken to him in a very mean voice. I have learned to be careful with my voice inflection since he quickly fears he may be getting yelled at. Isaiah knows how to start wonderful conversations and has taken a real interest in the Burmese family(refugee’s from Burma) and understands in an amazing five-year old way about the story of their coming to America.

Isaiah is happy and has a great belly laugh. He loves to be goofy and when he is in a snuggling mood, there is no better snuggler. He adores his big brother and looks out for his little sister. He loves animals and is becoming quite a sportsman. He has a growing curiosity about God and has a faith that is anchored and solid. He is a faithful in his prayers and has a heart for others.

Isaiah Edward, also known as Eddie….i know that your whole family is delighted that you our ours. We look forward to watching you grow in stature and faith. You are wonderfully liked and deeply loved.

Happy Happy Happy 5th Birthday!

Love Aunt Trish

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