My TLC JourneyBeth Whartnaby, TLC Cohort V
I love this time of year – squeezing the warmth out of the long days of waning summer. I also love this time of year because I can spot the occasional burnished tree, the early birds whose leaves begin to turn long before the calendar tells us autumn is here. Soon we will smell the change of seasons in the crisp air. Earthy leaves, smoky campfires, and freshly scrubbed kids in new shoes, with bouncing backpacks. It’s a season ripe with possibility and promise, bursting with potential.
Of all the newness this season brings, however, to me the blank notebook is the sweetest. Snow white sheets of opportunity – the unwritten story, full of breadth and depth, waiting to be awakened and finely crafted. This is you and me. We are the paper. And thankfully, our merciful, loving Father is the pen. Not just a dime-a-dozen hotel room Bic, but a beautiful, costly fountain pen, poised with purposeful plans for splendor and grace to flow across the pages of our lives, bringing joy to our hearts and glory to his name. Our God is the Ancient of Days, the Alpha and the Omega, with no beginning and no end. He is also the God of new. New plans. New purpose. New story. New you and new me. How will he compose you this season? What will he add to the unique story of your life he has been authoring all these years? How will God draw you into a deeper, more intimate relationship with himself, with your own soul, and with others?
I encourage you to consider embarking on a new journey with God through the TLC Cohort VI beginning in September.
TLC Cohort V was life-changing for me. I began in 2020 when transitions were happening in my life that involved loss, grief, and lots of questions, but also provided space to explore what these changes might mean and where God might be leading me. Upon completion of the program, I struggled to distill what I had learned into a short “elevator speech.” It has proven to be an impossibility! To do it any justice we would have to sit down over a cup of coffee (which I am happy to do!). But I will try to compress my experience into a few sentences.
For me, completing the program meant walking away with a suitcase full of listening skills to practice in life and in ministry – skills to help me listen deeply to God, to myself, and to others, to continue to grow in and develop as time goes by. Fundamental to these skills, though, the bedrock of the program for me, was the spiritual formation aspect. As I try to put into words what this journey of growth “felt” like over time, I am reminded of the process of stretching and folding sourdough bread dough. Lifting, pulling, folding deeper in, then turning and doing it again, and again – a kneading or readying of the soul to receive whatever God intended. Stretching, expanding, deepening, strengthening – and then allowing all the good stuff to ferment.
By studying various spiritual growth models and ancient practices I gained a deeper understanding of spiritual growth as a loving and gentle invitation from a patient and orderly God – as a gift. Spiritual formation is a beautiful and intricate lifelong pilgrimage toward the heart of God. He invites us into a journey, an intimate journey, an adventure of dark and light, twists and turns, joy and sorrow, work and rest. A journey of discovery. This journey of spiritual growth requires us to grow in our ability to rest securely in the mystery of God while stepping out confidently with the God we know. To trust God with our next steps, and with the next step of whomever we walk beside.
My two-year TLC journey began from a place of sadness and loss and ended in a place of peace and expectancy. Barbara Brown Taylor wrote, “the new moon is always being fashioned in the dark.” God is working where we cannot see, doing what we cannot yet imagine, for reasons we may or may not ever know. Because of TLC I am much more at peace waiting and resting in this truth, responding to God’s invitation to enjoy the journey.
I wonder what you might discover about God and about yourself through TLC. What does the next chapter in the book of your life look like?
There are a few spots still open in the next TLC Cohort. Classes begin September 7th. You can find more information about the class schedule and the application online or email [email protected] for more information.
Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19