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February 2024 Newsletter

Updated: Mar 11

 An Overwhelming Life.

A Lenten Reflection


Life is overwhelming.

Maybe. Or,

do we build lives that are overwhelming,

when they don’t have to be? 


When my mother was first diagnosed with “Alzheimer’s like dementia” she told my father they needed to move. Though they’d designed their home so they could age in place – it was too much. My Dad suggested they just close the doors to rooms they didn’t use. Mom disagreed: "I know there’s something behind those doors. I can’t keep track of it in my head. I need to see –less. Be surrounded by—less.”

So, they downsized and moved.


Our physical possessions take up space, not just in our homes, but in our minds. We know there's stuff in our closets, under the beds, in the boxes in the basement, attic and garage. We see the furniture, books, clothes, and all the other stuff. We know need to keep things clean and well maintained and the more stuff we have, the more time and space that takes.


My husband and I are in the downsizing phase of life. Our next home will likely be half the size of our current one. It’s tempting to keep all our stuff. So many memories are caught up in each piece. It’s tempting to, like the poet Mary Oliver did, put it in storage. Then I’d always know where it was and I could go get something when I missed it, or needed it.  Maybe I’d do that, Mary Oliver didn’t.


I rented a storage

space. And filled it. Years passed.

Occasionally I went there and looked in,

but nothing happened, not a single

twinge of the heart.


Ultimately, Mary had it all hauled away to be burned. She said she felt like a donkey whose burden had been lifted.  Getting rid of the stuff, emptying her mind of the mental space it was taking up, made room for love.


Make a beautiful fire!

More room in your heart for love,

for the trees, for the birds who own

nothing—the reason they can fly.


For my mother, seeing fewer things, fewer doors to rooms full of stuff, meant less anxiety.  I don’t know what it will mean for my husband and I. I don’t know what it would mean for you. But, I'm looking forward to having more room for love – and maybe even to the feeling of flight.


“Storage” Published 2020 by Penguin Books in Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver (p. 7) Copyright 2017 by NW Orchard LLC. First published in Felicity, 2015

"Like it or not, in the consumerist world of mainstream American culture, most of us participate in "business" every day and, like the fish in the bowl not being aware of the water, most tend to think in business terms too. Many times I have been told "the church needs to run more like a business!"

To find out how Pr Mike responds to this statement you'll have to click the blog button below! There's also a free resource that will increase your church/business translation skills.

Want to know the bane and blessing of working with an editor?


They point out the obvious.


As I hope you know by now, I’m working on turning the workshop version of How come I didn’t hear about that? Communication Skills that Work into a DIY workbook.  I want congregational leaders to understand why some of their folks don’t hear the announcements, or read the newsletter. I want leaders to learn about and practice using a communication strategy that helps people hear and engage! AND I want them to be able to do all of this without me.


So I wrote up a workbook version of the workshop. It's full of solid communication principles and opportunities to practice using the new learning in your context. It has graphics and directions -- it's lovely! I sent it off to my editor, Beth Gaede.


She did not love it. Not yet, anyway. Beth had MANY comments and about a BZILLION red corrections. Of course, she's right (an annoying truth about her). I'm working on all of them, but I need your help on a couple.  Here they are – not in her words.


1) The title is How come I didn’t hear about that? Communications skills that work – BUT the folks who say “How come I didn’t hear about that?” are not the audience of this resource. They are not the ones who have to overcome this problem. Your title should address your audience.  


2) AND, this resource is not a bunch of skills or tools, it’s a strategy based on solid communications principles. 


Yeh --- so I guess I need a new title.


I have some ideas and I’d like your feedback, ESPECIALLY if you attended one of the workshops (zoom or in-person) on which the workbook is based.


Click the button below to see my new ideas for a title -- and vote for your favorite! PLEASE!!!!!

The time for pre-orders has ended. Thank you to everyone who took advantage of that offer!


DIY Workbook version with brand new title will launch in mid-March. Don't worry, you won't miss it -- I'll send a special email when it's ready.


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