collaborate

A Story for the Overwhelmed Leader in Today’s Crisis

A sharp snap and the water washed into my face with the force of a summer hose. Stepping back, through unfocused eyes I saw the showerhead idling in the basket underneath, broken off. Turning the water off with an unsavory word, I commenced to redress and look for an extra showerhead I’d seen somewhere in the house. I punctuated my internal self-condemnation with stomps. Ashamed, I hoped my husband wouldn’t notice, but knew I’d have to tell him anyway. Avoiding the others in the house, I found and installed the new head then turned the water on to resume my escape to the privacy of the shower. Frustratingly, this one offered a weak stream that hardly tickled. I longed for the flagellating force of the old one. It would match my mood of recrimination better. Soon my tears flowed with the rivulets of water, and I faced the anger that was roiling inside.

I’d only made it to day twelve of the lockdown due to the threat of COVID19.

I was heartily disappointed with myself, angry that I couldn’t keep my peace longer. I’d increasingly felt trapped and imprisoned, not by the walls of my house (I took lots of walks and bike rides) but by the needs and anxieties of my family.

The first week I expended an enormous amount of energy to set and maintain a rhythm that would work for all of us, while being the constant, trustworthy presence for my daughter who was in the throes of anxiety-driven fury. Yesterday, I discovered that while I was immersed in one child’s needs, I’d missed guiding my quiet one through this turbulence and now she was suffering.

Noise was increasingly becoming intolerable for me, so when my mom started putting away the dishes I had to leave the room. I went up to my bedroom and found my husband there. I glared because I assumed he was going to take a nap, and I’d have to move again.

He was only putting on his socks.

Chagrined and dismayed with myself, I flopped into my chair, too riled to work. That’s when I thought a shower might help calm me.

As I sat in the shower, feeling all the pent up anger, voicing it in colorful language and hot breath to myself and God, I finally owned it. For a while, it was just raw and ugly. I was breathing hard, fierce and tense, my voice hoarse and vehement. All the energy inside me punctuated the air like shrapnel as the shower water washed it down the drain. But as the ferocity of feeling ebbed lower, I could start to listen for God.

In tandem we looked at my desires fueling my anger. I desperately wanted to have some space, to not be responsible for anyone else, and to live as I wished. The demands on me felt like too much. I felt selfish, a wimp, and sorely limited. I hated that such a small amount (in my estimation) overwhelmed me, and disappointed in my inability to remain positive and calm.

A huge desire rose in me to push everyone away so I could have space, even though I had carefully been taking breaks, getting exercise, spending time in prayer, practicing mindfulness, doing things I enjoy—all the things that help me take care of myself. Still I was sobbing on the floor of my shower after having broken the showerhead in anger! What was wrong with me?!

What’s wrong is that I want to be God. I want to be able to do it all—in this case it meant not devolving into the anxieties I felt around me (because I’m better than that, right?) I could accommodate my limitations to others and not bump up against my frailties. I could remain calm and balanced always, a constant supply of help to everyone. Truthfully, I was proud that I was not anxious like everyone else while dealing patiently and equitably with the tempers and whines of the kids.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. (Proverbs 16:18)

I did feel humiliated, but only before my ego, not God. He warmly and readily welcomed me, as if my shame, nakedness and disappointment were not cause for separation. I experienced Romans 8:39 personally:

Absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

I very much felt like he was opening his arm with a broad smile as he said, “There you are! I’ve been waiting for you!” Not a hint of recrimination, condemnation, or vengeance—he was not like a vengeful teenager wanting to bring an arrogant classmate down a peg or two. Rather, his was the glad welcome of a dear friend from whom I’d been separated. And only a dear friend is willing to meet you where you wallow.

As I sat in my vulnerability with him, he gently reminded me of various truths. The first was regarding how he’s put me together: I am steady during a crisis for everyone else, then fall apart once they’re all okay. This was part of what was happening.

He also gave me the experience of the truth of forgiveness. It washed over me like the soft rain from the showerhead as I confessed my desire and efforts to be god. Confessing my dislike and rejection of my own limitations and needs, I ended with deep, glad breaths for who God is and who I am with him. I felt resurrected, and the rest of my day evidenced this. The Kimberley who stalked into the shower to hide came out a truer Kimberley ready to give.

I tell my story because perhaps the toll of leading and caring for others has taxed you beyond what you can bear. Maybe you are hitting, or are past, your limits, and the you who is showing up is not who you wish to be sharing. She keeps threatening to take center stage, and it’s harder to push her off to the wings. She refuses to remain the understudy. Her tenacity is flummoxing you more and more.

It’s time to look her square in the eyes and take her seriously. God does. He’s already there with her in the wings, waiting for you.

This is the astonishing welcome of the good news of Jesus. Not that we welcomed him, but that he welcomes us. Every actor within—the ones we approve of and the ones we don’t—is held in his embrace as one. He brings our wholeness to us. And in our limited, but wholehearted, ways, we can then collaborate with him in welcoming wholeness in our world.

 

Posted by k2mulder in Encouragement, 4 comments

Sabbath: A Foothold of Grace

The magnitude of our responsibilities and breadth of our busy-ness often leave us short of breath. I’ve heard recently that we make 35,000 decisions a day! (Thanks, Emily P. Freeman, for that astonishing tidbit!) I will not regale you with a list of how busy we all are, for you know your particulars. In scaling our mountains, we need footholds, niches in the immovable rock face, somewhere to pause, hot-faced and trembling for some deep oxygen before moving on. Our lives depend on it.

How better than to settle our lives on him on whom we depend? God created us, and he created the spaces for us to inhabit. The creation account in Genesis 1 is of God establishing boundaries and shaping spaces so that all life can flourish in each their given niche. First the spaces, then us to fit our niche. In our arrogance, we cling to the mandate to rule over creation in Genesis 1:26, forgetting that in order to fulfill this mandate, God and his order of the world precedes us. We are placed within that order, not over it. We easily usurp God when we think we can do it all, or have to do it all. When God first made us, he didn’t make us slaves to scurry at his bidding with no rights or place to call our own. He made us to walk with him, in his created order, ruling with blessing as we image him. He didn’t say, “Now, go impress me with what you can accomplish!” He said, paraphrasing Genesis 2:15-17 and 3:8, “Tend this space, feast, and walk with me in the garden.”

God foreknew what we specifically would need to flourish, and intentionally created that for us. This extends beyond our spatial domain, the earth and geography, and includes the temporal domain. There are limits on the length of our lives, the length of our days, and he established in the created order the rhythm of six days of work, one day of rest. You could say that it is even part of his essence, certainly important enough for him to model for us. “The Sabbath was created for humankind, not humankind for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27, NIV) The Sabbath is gift, made to bless us, but not be controlled by us. We are not God’s gift to rule over the Sabbath. When Jesus spoke these words, he was teaching the legalistic leaders that they were not honoring God with their strident Sabbath. As they controlled every possible outcome with their regulations, they made the Sabbath a jail rather than a spacious, life-giving space. There are people and churches today that do the same. If this is your experience, hear the invitation of Jesus to enter a restful Sabbath, one that delights you as you rest in his goodness. (I would love to hear from you if this is your experience and help you enter the gift of Sabbath.)

But most of us (in Western Christianity today), have the opposite problem of not knowing and valuing God’s established rhythm of life. In that Mark 2 passage, the Pharisees are upset that Jesus’ disciples gleaned a bit of grain as they passed through some fields, hungry from their travels. We are not gleaning out of hunger, but getting up at 5 a.m. to mount our combines and thresh every inch of wheat before the sun goes down again. This goes for our ministry, even. In Matthew 9:35-38, Jesus is busy teaching, preaching, and healing. He talks to his disciples about the busy-ness of ministry. He doesn’t tell them to get moving and help him out, but to “Ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.” His message honors their limits, establishes a deeper dependence on God, and invites others into the collaboration of working with God and each other. Many hands make light work! The creation of his kingdom mirrors the creation of the universe: God is the originator, we have space and a job to do within it that is limited, and those very limits engender a proper dependence and collaboration which results in multiplication!

When we acknowledge and value the space and limits he’s given us, we “make space” for God. We can no better create space than we can create the universe. But we can inhabit our space humbly and wisely, thus not abusing the precious life God has given us but welcoming and cherishing it enough to take care of it.

Take comfort that in the exertion of your life, there are God-given footholds. The Sabbath is a temporal foothold where we rest our weight on God’s provision in deep trust. If you are not in the habit of taking Sabbaths, it can feel very scary indeed to push all the work to the other six days! But this is the first step in clearing our paths of gravel to find the solid rock underneath. The natural formations undergirding our lives are firm, we just aren’t used to walking on them. As we become more familiar with them, we find we are no longer trying to shape the rock, but we are able to work with it, trusting its support, and moving with greater ease.

This is just the beginning of a conversation, and I’d love to hear about your experiences with Sabbath, your questions, and to encourage each other not to make space for God, but honor the space he’s given us. What does that look like in your life? Leave your comments below!

If you’d like to go more in-depth, find examples of Sabbath, wrangle with the many questions that arise around it, I recommend these books:

Sabbath Keeping, by Lynne M. Baab

Sacred Rhythms, by Ruth Haley Barton (especially chapter 8 on Sabbath)

 

 

 

 

Posted by k2mulder in Humility, Spiritual Formation, 2 comments

New Year, New Website, New Offerings

Welcome to the new year and a new space here on the internet! I’ve crafted this new website to better reflect my heart, which is to serve your soul’s needs as you serve in Jesus’ name all around the world. As you can see, I’ve changed the name of my site to www.kimberleymulder.com (which was always the address) and encapsulated my intent in the tagline “Sustaining your soul as you serve.”

Everything I do here is a companioning with God and you so that you are more deeply rooted in Jesus. The deeper and better connected we are with the creator, lover, and sustainer of our lives, the more steady, effective, and broad is our reach as we live authentic, missional lives. Jesus says in John 10:10 that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.” Too many followers of Christ suffer a full (busy) life that is poor in peace, hope, and joy. But Jesus truly desires us to live abundant, satisfying lives with him. Join me as we make space together to unwrap the gift of our abundant lives and learn how to live them as he leads.

You will see that I have three main sections: Sip, Steep, and Strengthen. “Sip” is where I write mini-reflections, share insights and other soul-sustaining thoughts. These are posted almost daily on Instagram and Facebook. Follow me there to take your daily sips.

Then in “Steep” I am continuing my blog posts because the overwhelming response I got from the survey earlier this month (thank you so much for doing that!) was that you want them. This is where I offer longer forays into inspirations, meditations, and ideas. I will often teach or give examples and guidance on practices that will help your spirit grow. A few things converged for me in discerning how many posts to offer a month. The first is that the Lord has been impressing on me to collaborate with others. The second is that you, my readers, are evenly split between wanting weekly and monthly posts. And lastly, I’m still in seminary, and need time to delve into the next part of what I will be offering all of you (more on that in a moment). So, the second Saturday of each month I will be posting my own posts, and the fourth Saturday of each month I will have a guest blogger for you! These are people who have written books, have ministries, and are also passionate about keeping you, the body of Christ, healthy and connected with the head, Jesus. Next week, coinciding with the giveaway I’m doing as I unveil this new space, we have Michelle DeRusha who just released, on January 1, her book True You: Letting Your False Self Go to Uncover the Person God Created

That brings me to the giveaway! I will be opening it on Thursday, January 24 and will draw the winner on Thursday, January 31. To enter, follow me on Instagram or Facebook and watch for the posts that week. The directions will be there. It has an “Oregon” theme because I go to Portland Seminary, Michelle was inspired for the metaphor that structures her book by the Japanese maple tree at the Portland Japanese Garden, and I contribute to www.anchoredvoices.com which is mostly made up of contributors from Oregon. The giveaway includes a copy of Michelle’s book, True You, a blue leather-bound journal, and a bar of “Crater Lake” handmade natural soap with essential oils from www.elementtoiletryco.com which is my fellow blogger’s company.

Back to my new website offerings: I’ve added a Resource page on which I share devotionals, books, podcasts, and other helpful material for your spiritual formation. I will add more as I continue to learn more so check back every so often for your next step on this journey with Jesus!

Lastly, my section called “Strengthen” is not up and running yet. You all were clear on the next thing you’d like to receive from me, and that’s guided meditations. As I’ve prayed and considered how best to do this, it seems that a podcast is the best way, so I’ve been diving deep into how to do that and what shape that will take. I would love to have that up by the end of February, although I suspect that might be a tad bit ambitious! I will keep you all in the loop on the progress, so keep on the lookout for it. I am excited to do this!

For the next seven months I will focus all of the posts and podcasts (when I get them up and running) on the following themes:

February — Beloved

March — Making Space for God

April — Savor

May — Linger

June through July — Series on Hearing God

I pray that you will find these changes helpful to root and strengthen your relationship with Jesus, and that you will find your service and ministry is focused and effective. As always, I love to hear from you, how God is touching you and those you serve, and for any ways I could help sustain your soul—just email me at kimberley@kimberleymulder.com. Grace and peace to you all in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Kimberley

Posted by k2mulder in Giveaways, New Website, 0 comments

Collaborate

Sometimes like tripping over toys in the dark, sometimes like rediscovering a forgotten favorite scarf, I keep coming upon a word God has been speaking to me: Collaborate.

I don’t know the shape of it yet. I don’t know the extent, nor the connections. I just know that this is his heart as he lays it on mine softly or suddenly. I’ve learned to pay attention at these tripping points, these discovery points. For what’s newly unearthed in my life is generally the result of God’s purpose answering prayer.

It’s taking a concerted, long-term effort on God’s part to coax my heart into growth in this, but he has brought me to a budding point where I am not only ready to welcome it, but hopeful and joyful for what he is working in and through me, and us. It is Jesus’ heart not just to bring his kingdom, but to collaborate with us and amongst us as we inhabit it and it inhabits us! My personal unfurling can only happen in the unfurling of life in the entire garden.

collaborate

Photo by Kimberley Mulder

In this post, I invite you to collaborate with me as I continue to work on new materials that will serve your soul’s life well. I am redesigning my website to relaunch in January so that I can help your soul thrive. Would you help me help you by taking five minutes and answering my eight-question survey? Here’s the link: Blog Revamp Survey

To this end, this enlivening and enlarging of God’s community, I want to offer you a few things that might collaborate with what he’s working in your life. These are creative offerings of others that have blessed and challenged me.

First is a song our worship leaders at church led that filled my heart with such awe and joy—raw and deep theology that speaks life into our ontology! I don’t have a link to the thrilling duo at our church, but here’s Hillsong’s excellent video:

Second is a blog that one of my pastors writes as she and her daughter live out the aching reality of autoimmune diseases with hearts and souls aflame with desire to serve the Lord. Deep truth, real struggle, witty humor, and honest hearts, these ladies are a joy and testimony at the Functionalish Blog. She microblogs on instagram, too, so follow her @functionalish.

Lastly, here’s a short podcast on collaboration from one of my favorite people, Emily P. Freeman. Her podcast is a refreshing, life-giving, gently reorienting oasis. Here’s the link to “The Next Right Thing, Episode 49: Collaborate.”

 

Posted by k2mulder in Community, 0 comments