Finding a Devotional for 2015

When I traveled I tore out the pages I needed and returned them to the book when I got home.
When I traveled I tore out the pages I needed and returned them to the book when I got home.

One of the challenges of following Christ for 40 years is a bad case of "been there, done that".  It is easy to start reading something about a Bible passage and check out because I have heard it before. I wanted to mix up my morning routine and figure out a devotional habit I could stick with all year. Will Schwalbe mentioned a devotional his dying mother had by her bedside: Daily Strengths for Daily Needs, by Mary Tileston. I bought it and every day I read another entry. I sustained the practice and I have just one entry left.

It has been short enough to make it impossible NOT to read everyday even though a lot of the entries are in old fashioned language that is hard to comprehend. Here is an example of one of four parts of December 27: "Whatever we are--high or lowly, learned or unlearned, married or single, in a full house or alone, charged with many affairs or dwelling in quietness--we have our daily round of work, our duties of affection, obedience, love, mercy, industry, and the like. And, that which makes one man to differ from another is not so much what things he does, as his manner of doing them." --Cardinal Henry Edward Manning.

I started searching for a replacement last week. Stephen Mattson mentioned Rob Bell's "What is the Bible?" found on Rob Bell's blog on Tumblr.  I checked it out and I love it. Posts are a perfect length. Enough to provide some inspiration or insight, not so much I have an time-limit excuse not to read. I have read 7 entries already because I love the perspectives.

If you are not part of the parallel universe of American Evangelical Church, Rob Bell is controversial. He wrote a terrific book called Love Wins that alienated him from the orthodox evangelical church. It must drive them crazy because he is a very gifted theologian, trained at Fuller Theological Seminary, and a great writer. He is a postmodern so he is approaching worship and following Christ differently. The main beef seems to be that he is not willing to condemn homosexuals to hell, or anyone really (hence Love Wins!).

I have read many Bible commentaries and devotions where I did not agree with everything the author wrote, so I do not mind exercising my discernment muscles. Plus I am more alienated from American Evangelicals and more aligned with Bell.

Most importantly it is reconnecting my intellect and my heart and the Holy Spirit.

Travel theme: Minimalist

Minimalism is not a lack of something. It’s simply the perfect amount of something.
— Nicholas Burroughs
New Zealand fern
New Zealand fern

What is enough? Answering this question has been key to maintaining my redesign this year. In 2011 I sold or gave away almost everything I owned to move to New Zealand. The move became a sabbatical, but the act of pruning my possessions and my obligations was life changing.

When I returned in 2012 I started a consulting firm with one client and worked about 20 hours a week. Gradually one client became two and the assignments for each client multiplied. There have been months where I have worked almost 160 hours. The money is great and I can always find ways to spend it or save it. However, I want my life to be in better balance than it was when I was a non-profit executive director. This means taking time to work on my own projects like this blog and riding my bike. Plus I travel about 8 weeks a year.

This requires knowing what is enough. Enough work. Enough money. Enough yarn. Enough books. Enough travel.

As a consultant who has to track my hours carefully, I have a tendency to monetize all of my time. Knowing what I need to make each month to pay my bills helps to lessen the temptation to work more than necessary.

The real point of pruning life of belongings and obligations is to make room for the things that really matter to you. And what if your work is what gives you your spark? Then being clear on the essentials will help to focus on your career goals.

Every end of year I spend some time reviewing the year, making goals for the next year. And since 2011 I try to glean my unneeded possessions. It is always easier as you put away your Christmas gifts to toss the items that are worn out or give away the items you have not used all year.

I do not harbor any anxiety as I do this, in part because I have practiced letting go of my stuff. And because I know the answer to the question: what is enough?

This blog post inspired by: http://wheresmybackpack.com/2014/12/26/travel-theme-minimalist/

Merry Christmas to All

Fiordland Crested Penguin  on west coast of South Island, New Zealand One of the many highlights of 2014 is viewing Fiordland Crested penguins at the Wilderness Lodge at Lake Moeraki on my most recent visit to New Zealand. I am thankful for many things in my very rich life. I hope this season provides an opportunity to count your blessings. I am counting 15 Fiordland Crested penguins among mine!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!