Sunday Sermons Episode 2

Jesus Saved Our Christmas Dinner I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas yesterday! In the spirit of the Christmas season, which just started according to the traditional liturgical calendar after all, I’m sharing a story of how Jesus saved my family’s Christmas dinner and what he has to say about choosing to go last. Just click the text anywhere and it will take you to … Continue reading Sunday Sermons Episode 2

Sunday Sermons Start Today!!! Check it out!

If you’re reading this right now, odds are excellent that you’ve followed The Upside Down World for quite a while. My audience is kind of small, but mighty. I’ve been writing here off and on for over a decade but at some point, I had to do a cost-benefit analysis for writing all these essays that weren’t getting the sort of eyes on them that … Continue reading Sunday Sermons Start Today!!! Check it out!

Sticky post

Time To Get the Party Started!

Who doesn’t love The Upside Down World? Well, people who haven’t heard of The Upside Down World, of course! And let’s face it, not nearly enough people have heard of The Upside Down World. Which I’m sure we can all agree needs to change. So how ’bouts we go ahead and change that? I’ve been hard at work behind the scenes creating all kinds of … Continue reading Time To Get the Party Started!

Want To Hear About the Time I Was on Moody Radio?

I was once offered a job simply on the basis of how I said my name. People sometimes stop me and ask if I sing. I had a teacher who let me into class without a late slip if I would say my name for the class. Such is the great power of my voice. Which I, of course, think is weird. If my voice … Continue reading Want To Hear About the Time I Was on Moody Radio?

Consistently Inconsistent Part Deux

You would not believe the problems I have had getting online the last two day. Seriously. If anyone would like to send me $400 to upgrade my internet, that would be so awesome. It took me about 4 hours to get ours working today. Yesterday, it just randomly fritzed out about 20 times. So, yeah. That kind of makes it hard to be consistent. We … Continue reading Consistently Inconsistent Part Deux

Join Me for Lent

When I was 14 I gave up swearing for Lent. And I actually broke the habit entirely for a few months. But that summer I got a job working in a hot, humid greenhouse with a bunch of crabby old ladies who smoked and swore all day long. I’m glad to report that the smoking didn’t rub off on me. I tried giving up swearing again for Lent the next year, but after a few days I decided that it didn’t really count as giving something up if you just kept doing it anyways. So I switched to chocolate. Which is just as well. I happen to love swearing and consider it a valuable life skill. (Recently I left a comment on a blog explaining why I have no problem being a swearing Christian and the first person who responded told me that I should take a logic class before deigning to speak again. He signed his name with his degrees behind it. It was quite amusing all around.)

So anyways, I no longer give things up for Lent, but I do often try to pick up a specific Christian discipline for the season. Now, I know that some of you come from church backgrounds where Christian discipline involves spiritual abuse and lots of meetings with the pastor. Rest assured, that’s not the sort of Christian discipline I’m talking about. Rather, Christian disciplines are simply specific practices which one engages in with the intent of deepening your faith life. It could be fasting, praying the Jesus prayer, engaging a spiritual director, using the book of common prayer, meditation or walking a prayer labyrinth to name just a few examples.

This year I’m going to be doing morning and evening offices through the season of lent – and I’d like to invite you to join me. For those of you who aren’t familiar, Daily offices or Divine hours as they are also known come out of monastic communities which structure their day around prayer services which take place at set hours each day. The practice is said to date back to the Apostles and comes out of the Jewish practice of saying prayers at set times. (For example, in the Book of Acts, Peter and John visit the temple for afternoon prayers. – Acts 3:1) Aside from monastic communities, the practice of “keeping the hours” as it’s sometimes called, is often associated with high church Episcopalians. But any Christian can use/do them. In case you were wondering.

Basically an office is a prayer service which includes prayers, readings from the psalms, scripture, maybe a meditation and a hymn. Some communities use the same prayers each day while changing the scripture readings each day. Others use different prayers or cycle through a set of prayers over the course of a week or month. If this all sounds confusing – it’s not. Unless you’re the poor soul charged with actually putting these services together. For those of us who are simply showing up to join in, it’s very easy. So easy, in fact, that you don’t even have to leave your house. Hell, you don’t even have to get off the computer! There are a variety of places which put up the day’s readings and prayers online. You can just read along at your own pace in your own time. Some even include audio files if you would like to listen or recite them out loud along with a prayer leader.

Of course, this may all sound a wee bit high churchy for some folks. And perhaps you’re wondering why you ought to do such a thing. Well, let me give you three reasons:

Continue reading “Join Me for Lent”

Spread the Joy – Enjoying the Hard Life

hardlifecoverBack in college I briefly dated a guy who taught me how to drive a stick shift. We borrowed my friend Romi’s little Ford Escort and drove around deserted back roads so I could practice. I was awful. My date was very sweet and patient but after several hours of me stalling at every stop and losing speed as I struggled to find the next gear and the occasional grinding, he finally said, “I don’t want to make you feel bad, but it seems like you should be catching on by now.”  Shortly after that, I dropped him off and drove back to my dorm without a single hitch. I never had another problem driving a stick shift after that night.

The story always makes me laugh because it’s so typically me. It’s like I have to make every mistake possible before I can figure out the right way to do things. And then I’m golden. The downside is it’s probably best to steer clear of me when I’m learning something new. The upside is that on the other end, I can tell you about any mistake a person can make and how to find your way out of it. And it’s in this spirit that I wrote The Upside Down World’s Guide to Enjoying the Hard Life.

If there’s a counter-productive, neurotic or unhealthy way to approach life, it was probably a habit of mine at some point in the past. In this book, I share 45 of my favorite ideas, practices and attitude adjustments which have allowed me to overcome my worst tendencies and enjoy my often difficult life. The essays are quick, easy to read, good humored and practical. No lectures or theological treatises. Just lots of ideas for how to be more mindful, self-compassionate, forgiving, happy, grateful and at ease with yourself, your life and the people in it. There’s even an index to help you find which essays to turn to when struggling with everything from anxiety to guilt to forgiveness to relationships and more. Continue reading “Spread the Joy – Enjoying the Hard Life”