Friday, November 12, 2010

Fasting in Midst of It

I haven't fasted for awhile but felt called last week to get on it. I was worried at first that I was just fasting because I secretly wanted to lose a whole bunch of weight. There, I've said it. But fortunately, during the first three days, I wasn't miserable which is usually a sign for me that God has got my back. Yay God.

This all started because of my other blog, where I am much more regimented and reliable, Meditations from Zion, where I post almost daily as part of my devotional practice. I am doing a very slow walk through the New Testament and responding to verses that capture my imagination. I'm into my third year and I've only reached Ephesians. Anyway, it was somewhere in the 4th chapter that I started feeling uncomfortable with my relationship with the Holy Spirit. And by the time I got to verses 29 and 30 where it talks about "Grieving the Holy Spirit," I was downright despondent.

My quick mouth and harsh words are out of control, just like my eating and just about every other way I relate to my 3D world. The fast was the only way I could think to slow things down. But truly, what I really need is a silent retreat alone or maybe a dose of the All Saints Convent where they give regular folks a place to be quiet. I used to go there all the time. I'm kind of sad I've lost that habit. (mildly funny choice of word there)

All right, so here I am at Day 6 of my fast and I can't say I have a lot to show for it. I've tried to rein in my talking and that's been only slightly successful (at least I didn't blow up at some of the things my teenagers have been saying to me . . . or not saying). And perhaps I haven't zinged anyone or shared any delicious gossip. But truly, have my words been a balm to anyone? That would be the goal.

I think I'm spending too much time in my daily routine with the addition of not eating. That's not how it's supposed to go. Tomorrow I have to work, so I can't do much there. And in the evening, I have to attend a reception and watch everyone eat and drink and try NOT to engage anyone in the "you're what? you're fasting? Why?" etc. But perhaps on Sunday I could do a little road trip just to get away from everything. Take my journal and my heart and look for the God of my heart.

Because that is the point. I think my every day life has done a really good job of clouding my reach inside. My spirit/soul self has one life and my outer self is living another life altogether. We need to merge, connect, create a network, get on Facebook . . . something! We hardly know each other. It's time.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Returning to the Fire

I'm not sure how to get myself back to the conversation I started here with myself. I have put so much energy into the Meditations and Library Looney, that I haven't felt as compelled to write here. I remember thinking that each blog would fill a particular writing need . . . where is that place today? Where is the fire?

There is the writing process itself. I don't have much of a forum for that. I also don't know much, stumbling along from day to day. I keep churning out words. It's humiliating sometimes. But I am determined to keep writing. That has to be the biggest hurdle of all.

Where else is there fire?

There is a deep refining process going on now our children who have reached their late teens. These years are proving much more difficult than I expected, particularly with one kid unstable emotionally, one unpredictably pushing at the envelope of the law, and the other choosing a non-academic future. Their roads feel long and filled with rocks and potholes. I want to go out there and smooth the way, but there is less and less I can do. Can I allow them to just be? Can I allow them to fall and fail? I may have no choice. That's not the way I thought things would go. I'm fighting the disappointment cloud that loves to hang over my head.

And lastly, there is the fire that is my struggle with church. Do we stay where we have been for twenty years or more? What should keep us there? Where else? There is no emergent group nearby. There is no Renovare group nearby. There is just more church. A friend challenged me to consider non-affiliating all together, to take more of a "God journey" that would be built on relationships and then see what might happen from there. If it was just me, I might be able to try it, but what do these teens of mine need? What does Mike want? I don't know. I just don't know. Lots of questions with few answers.

Oh yeah, there's plenty of fire. There's also plenty of dross.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Check out my shelves

Hi irmgardebrown,

I'm just getting started and moving my reads to this site. How do you like it? fire&

- Irmbrown


"Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." -- Groucho Marx

Goodreads is a community for book lovers. It's a great way to get book recommendations from your friends and others. You can keep a list of books to read, join book clubs, and even take the never-ending book trivia quiz.

To opt-out of future invites to Goodreads please click here.

This email was sent by request to

Saturday, November 14, 2009

In or Out?

It's amazing how a point of view can change after all. I used to think that these things were more rooted and inflexible. But I see myself changing each month... each year, my faith morphing, my love of Christ becoming more enduring, more challenging.

For anyone who has read any of my posts over the last year, you know I have been examining and reading lots of books, articles, and posts that have been emanating from the Emergent church movement. The emergents are really a disorderly crew whose spokespeople are self-appointed and express themselves differently, depending on their bent toward writing, speaking or performing. In some ways, it makes it more difficult to corral their points of view... everyone putting emphasis on those areas most important to them.

Most recently, I just finished Take Our Bread by Sara Miles. This is not the type of book I would have read a few years ago. Just by nature of the fact that she is a lesbian would have turned me off and away from her material. But then I also would have missed her love for Christ and the description of her work with the poor and the beautiful way she expresses Christ as the Bread of Life. Sara Miles is walking an authentic life. She is true to herself and her Lord.

A few days ago, I participated in a book discussion group that is an outgrowth of our church reading and discussing The Relationship Principles of Jesus by Tom Holladay in small groups. I would not say this is the most challenging book I've ever read... far from it. But the discussion that came out of the chapters about judging was very interesting and unfortunately, very revealing. One of the participants talked at length about his view of "non-judging" being represented by two concentric circles.... those who are "following the will of God... even poorly" are within the inner circle and less likely to judge while those who are willfully "not following the will of God" are outside. (It almost felt like Project Runway, either you are "in" or you are "out.")

How can anyone talk about "in" and "out" or following the will of God as a black & white experience and not believe this would end up being a judgmental practice.... even if done with "love."

Personally, I can no longer operate this way. If anything, I think we are all "out." We all fail; we all sin and fall out of the will of God daily.

Our pastor explained judging as making an assessment and along with it thinking less (or more) of the other person. If we say someone is either "in" or "out" ... isn't that automatically saying they are less?

I think the trap lies in thinking one sin is more sinful than another. But I don't see that in Jesus. Nor do I see it in Paul, even though he makes lists of sins. But there is still scripture that trumps them all: "...There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. [Romans 3:22b-23]

In the center of those concentric circles is only Christ Jesus and we are all drawn to the magnet of his love: some days we are closer to Him than on other days. But He is always drawing us nearer ... nearer by God to thee.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Adapting to Loving Others

Just saw Adaptation (the movie) again with Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep. I liked it so much more this time than the last time. So here's the line to remember: "It's more important who you love than who loves you."

The only time that is not true is in the things of God. God loving me is supremely important... but here's the trick: God's love is unconditional.

Historically, I have judged the quality of those loving me (all the non-gods). And most of those have been found wanting. I'm sorry, truly... globally sorry. And so, tonight, I release you all. Love me or love me not.

I can only own my own feelings, my own intent, my own motives. God will not love me more because I love God. Jesus will not love me more because I love Him. You will not love me more either. I can't make you love me. I can't be who you need me to be. I can't be who you want me to be. And you can't do any better for me. In fact, the key is for me to love you anyway. That's all.

It's fresh and real tonight. What will I remember tomorrow? May this moment stretch into the morning.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Emergent Fracturing

Well, here's an interesting blog post by Mark Sayers... The Emerging Missional Church Fractures into Mini Movements. Sigh. It's a good overview... but not too encouraging for a newbie who is trying to find her way. Nonetheless, it's important part of the canon.

I'm trying to think how I got to this point. I guess it all started with Phyllis Tickle: her books and thoughts seemed so clear and sound. And the issue she raises, this question of "authority" is affecting this current "fracturing" for sure. I think all of these fractures that Sayers talks about are just flavors, some more appealing to one group than another. He is right about one thing, it is quite similar to fractured protestantism in the form of denominations.

I think back to the beginnings of the charismatic movement (dates me) ... different flavors that developed and warped pretty quickly (is 20 years quick?). And then, aspects of it just got absorbed into local churches. Oh, originally, there were these little pockets and para-church organizations that grew and expanded out by "providing a place" for those hand-raisers to do their thing in a group setting and still attend their "home church." Oh how we prayed that the Holy Spirit would "show up" in our "dead" churches ... or some such foolishness. We all talked that way.

Now, many of these para-church organizations are struggling because those unmet needs are getting met in former "mainline" churches or mega churches.

Will the emergent movement and "emergent worship" do the same? Will it grow in small groups... pods... or cells... and as more people get a taste for it, be brought into the "mainline" churches or mega churches?

I can just see it now... the Emergent Sunday School class. LOL.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Marking the Day

Today we went to Lily's follow-up appointment for her bone scan. The news was good, although she must have a cat scan next, the doctor believes what they are seeing is benign. He is expecting the scan to verify his diagnosis. Thanks be to God.

Over the past two weeks, I have felt so helpless as we moved toward this day. I didn't want to worry needlessly or become anxious and so I took the only action I felt I could take: I fasted. It was a good fast and I am grateful for these 12 days of centering down and seeking God's unfailing love. Today I broke my fast and I am content in the embrace of God's promises.

Secondly, today, I reached the end of my first year's commitment/effort of keeping a daily devotion. I was not 100% successful at all, nonetheless, I kept at it. I marked my time and days. Tomorrow I begin my second year. For me, this is an important exercise in spiritual discipline and a responsibility to those who have shared in my bible studies.

And lastly, although it is not about an ending or a beginning, I have really embraced a second discipline of writing every day, first my morning meditations and last, before bedtime, my manuscript. This writing time is bringing me great personal joy and fulfillment. In the midst of it all, I can say, I am happy.

And so, I mark this day because I want to remember.