My Life as a Dandelion

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Weedy and seedy, that’s me.

Not wedding bouquet material
But I adorn the heads of children
As milky fingered
They weave me into a crown
and regally wave to passers by

My husband’s name is William
Pronounced “Vill-helm” if we were properly German.
However we are not properly German
As evidenced by our butchering of our last name
Which we pronounce Weber.
Not Weeber, or Veber.

Vill-helm means helm of resolution
“You’re stubborn!” His mum chastised.
“Not stubborn! Resolute!” He countered.

Resolute
Stubborn
Like the dandelions proliferating in my backyard.
Mow em down
They spring up again.
Mow em down
They spring up again.

Like the old man in the Monty Python movie
“I”m not dead yet! Really I’m feeling quite fine!”
Or the soldier whose opponent systematically hacks off all his limbs.
“It’s only a flesh wound!” I cry.

It’s only a flesh wound.

Weedy and seedy.

How many of my companions
Have clutched me in their grasp,
Blowing their wishes into the receptive air?
Dreams and disappointments together
Tracing curlicues in flight?

They flutter and twirl
Land and curl
Their way into the receptive earth.

Don’t cry
It’s not dead.
It’s only a seed
Watch and wait for the unveiling
It will spring up again.

What are the Webers Up To! Resourcing Prayer Communities

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Prayer Truck is behind us, and now we are gearing up for the fall.  It’s going to be very full and rich!  We have over 15 part time interns in our 10 month Studies in New Monasticism Internship.  2 part time students from McMaster Divinity College.  We are running 2 cohorts of monthly group spiritual direction for women leaders, called Soul Sisters.  We’re expanding our prayer room hours so that we’re open whenever 541 Eatery and Exchange is open.  We’re beginning to explore the possibility of a Social Enterprise Business to run alongside GOHOP, and we’ve embarked on The Sustainability Project, which will be providing resources to front line justice workers to reduce burn out rates in the field.  Kirk is in the final stages of an amazing and creative upgrade to the GOHOP website.

Don’t worry, Kirk and I aren’t doing this all by ourselves.  We have a fantastic and ever growing team of gifted leaders that are working hard cultivating prayer, mission and justice in Hamilton.

As you may be aware, in addition to my local responsibilities with GOHOP, I stepped into a role with 24/7 International about a year ago. I am now serving on their global Boiler Room Team.  The function of the team is to cultivate the prayer communities and church plants that have sprung out of the 24/7 movement, helping provide structure, oversight and undergirding, developing training tracks for emergent leaders, and building national and international collaborations.

My area of responsibility is supporting and cultivating the New Monastic/House of Prayer communities affiliated 24/7, mostly in North America but also to some small degree in Europe and the UK.  I have monthly mentoring/spiritual direction with prayer community leaders via skype, and then annual “site visits” to their communities to offer support and to lend expertise.

Jill and the 24-7 Prayer Boiler Room Network Team - fantastic leaders from both sides of the pond!
Jill and the 24-7 Prayer Boiler Room Network Team – fantastic leaders from both sides of the pond!

Between my 24/7 responsibilities and my quarterly training in Chicago, with the Transforming Centre, I’m travelling a few days every month.  In September I will be in Charlotte, North Carolina as we formerly adopt 24/7 Charlotte into the movement.  And in October I will be in Hernhutt, Germany – home of the famous Moravian 100 year prayer meeting in the 1700’s and the birth of the first Protestant Missions movement.  Next stop is Salzburg, Austria where I will be doing a site visit of a 24/7 House of Prayer there.  Then it’s on to Vienna for 24/7’s Global Gathering.  I will be in leadership/oversight meetings with the Boiler Room Team, teaching workshops at the Gathering, as well as meeting with and doing consultations with New Monastic/House of Prayer leaders from all over the world.

A number of my expenses are being covered by 24/7, but I will still need to raise an additional $1500 – $2000 to meet my travel expense budget for 2015.  I’m also looking for folks who have an abundance of air miles/travel points who might be interested in helping me with some of my monthly flights.  Would you prayerfully consider partnering with me as I invest in the development of new leaders and young prayer communities?

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I just want to go back to Prayer Truck for a minute and tell a story.   Early one Monday morning in June I opened the truck for the first shift of the season.  As I did, a young man raced across the parking lot towards me.  “The prayer people!” he yelled, “Thank God!”  He sat with me for an hour and a half and shared his story.  He was a pimp, and in leadership in one of the local gangs, but crystal meth use was eating away at his life.  In the midst of all that, he was having encounters with God and wanted to talk about it.  He allowed me to pray for him, and even wrote some of his own prayers on the wall of the Prayer Truck, before he went on with his day.

It was amazing.

The scope of our ministry has increased, but really when it comes down to it, our work is all about helping an individual learn how to pray, how to open up conversation and communion with the God of the Universe who can (and often will) change everything.  Thanks everyone for all your love, your prayers, your partnership in the gospel.  Please pray for Kirk as he works hard to complete the website.  Pray for me for wisdom and discernment in my leadership, and that I could be fully present and fully loving not only towards Jesus, but towards those He puts in my path.

If you are interested in partnering with us, you can donate online at www.canadahelps.org (type GOHOP in their internal search engine), or send cheques made payable to GOHOP to Box 57022, Jackson Square, ON, L8P 4W9.  Email me at jill@gohop.ca for instructions regarding air miles/points.

The Fish with Fresh Eyes

Recently I heard a great story about three fish.

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One day two fish were swimming in the ocean.  A third fish swam up to them and gurgled “the water is lovely today, isn’t it?”

They smiled and nodded and the third fish swam on.  When it was out of sight, they turned to one another and asked,

“What’s water?”

Its easy to be unaware of our atmosphere, our surroundings, because we are immersed in it every day.  Changes in our spirits and in our communities often happen very slowly, in very small increments.  I’ve often said to city reachers that city transformation is not measured in months or years, but in decades.  Change takes time, and can be imperceptible as it happens.

That is why it is so valuable to have someone come visit from the outside, look at everything with a fresh set of eyes, and tell you what they see.

Andy Freemen, author of Punk Monk, did just that during the last week.  He came, he saw, and he shared with us what he saw God doing in our midst.  It was deeply encouraging and really strengthened the hearts of our team.  We feel energized to dig more deeply into the work that God has for us here in Hamilton, confident that God is at moving wonderfully amongst us.

Tomorrow, I get to do just the same thing that Andy did.  I’m flying to Charlotte, North Carolina to visit my friend Lisa Koons, who runs 24/7 Charlotte.

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Joined by USA 24-7 Leaders Joe Steinke and Dave Powers, we are going to hang out with her and her prayer community.

We’re gonna tell her how great the water is.  I can’t wait!

Seasons Changing

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Its summer. Finally! My tomatoes are growing, and Kirk is industriously expanding our garden beds. I’ve pruned my roses, just like my mother taught me, and I’m looking forward to the flourishing of new growth.

I (Jill) am in a bit of a change of season as well, as it pertains to my role with GOHOP. Over the last few years, God has assembled a “dream team,” a skilled and passionate cohort of leaders who long to see water levels of prayer rise across the city and justice roll like a mighty river on its streets.

Consequently, I find myself shifting into a more “Executive Director” type role, where the team is carrying much of the responsibility for GOHOP, and I serve them and make sure they have what they need. I get to spend more time developing strategic partnerships and using my “schmooze anointing” (as Kirk calls it), increasing our organizational capacities, leadership development, strategic planning and exploring the “growth edges” of where God is at work in GOHOP and in the city. I’m finding it very stimulating and exciting, and have the sense of “firing on all cylinders” in a way I haven’t experienced at work before. All that, my regular blogging on prayer, mission and justice at http://www.gohopchick.wordpress.com and making sure that I get several hours of prayer daily is keeping me happily occupied.

In addition, I have been increasingly stepping into a role of bringing encouragement and resource to other prayer community leaders. I have found that there is a felt need for someone outside your community, who “gets” what a House of Prayer or Urban Monastery is about and can understand the dynamics. A “soul friend” of sorts to communities and their leaders. Mostly I listen, pray, and sometimes help in discernment processes. Always I feel as enriched by the encounter as the one(s) I’m meeting with.

Also, in September I start school! I’ve been accepted into a part time leadership development program called “The Transforming Community”, and over the next 2 years I will be commuting to Chicago for a series of 9 leadership retreats, and will have distance learning in between.

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Kirk continues to enjoy chef-ing and hosting our Spaghetti Tuesday nights, serving at the Salvation Army Soup truck, and web developing. He’s counting down the days until Prayer Truck – his favorite time of year! We had fun as a couple going on two ministry trips together – to the Stockbridge Boiler Room in Grand Rapids Michigan, and then up to the Quebec House of Prayer in Sherbrooke, stopping at many Houses of Prayer on the way!

Resourcing the Movement
I (Jill) was trying to think about how we would finance the increased expenses around my going to school and travelling more for work. Should I get a part time job? So I asked the Lord for $400 worth of speaking engagements each month, and so far He has answered! Let me know if you would like me to come teach about prayer, mission, justice, intentional community, spiritual formation, or radical hospitality.

Drafting a Rule of Life

I’m in the process of coming up with a personal Rule of Life.

A Rule, you say? What is that?

A Rule is a set of commitments an practices that monastics have, through the ages, set in place to help shape their individual and communal lives. The most famous of these is the Rule of St. Benedict, which has shaped monasticism for hundreds of years, and presently is being explored by new monastics of all stripes.

The idea of a Rule, as Steven Covey would say, is to “begin with the end in mind”. What is the desired outcome? What do I want to grow towards?

That’s where I pull out my handy dandy mission statement, that I formulated carefully and prayerfully many years ago.

My life will be characterized by the presence, the personality, and the purposes of God.

I love how I put WILL in there, hehe. A bold declaration of faith for something that without the grace of God, I absolutely cannot achieve.

So if that is the end, what are the train tracks that will get me there? Spiritual disciples, says Richard Foster, are a means to grace. It is through these practices that we make space in our life for God to do the things we cannot, in and through us. So I began by actually looking at what practices were already present in my life. Here is what I came up with so far.

– 2 days off a week, in a row. One of them being a Sabbath, a day of rest, communion with God and my family. I don’t always get 2, but I always take at least one day of rest. And in rest I aim for re-creation, not vacate-ion (more about that in an upcoming blog).

– early morning with the Lord. I’m a morning person, so it makes sense to me to give Him my best time of day. Time varies as to how soon I have to go to work, but it’s usually 1-2 hours.

– daily devotional reading. Listening with my heart, ready to be transformed.

– daily journaling. I always write three pages a day in my journal. Prayers, thoughts, recording things God says to me, looking back over the previous day to see where I saw God at work.

– attending to the song in my spirit when I wake up in the morning, and making it my breathing prayer for the day. For quite some time now, years even, I’ve woken up with the snatch of a song in my heart. If I spend time on it, and linger on it, it becomes a place of communion with Jesus. Today the chorus is “let heaven come”. Not sure exactly what is happening, but my best guess is that the Holy Spirit inside me is always worshipping and interceding, and is inviting me to join Him.

– in my morning times I take 5-30 minutes (depending on how much time is available and on my level of distractibility) in silent Christian meditation. Quietly setting my soul before him, most often meditating on a scripture passage.

– accountability. I meet with my pastor one on one every month, and my spiritual director as well. It’s a great place to confess sin and explore heart dynamics that nurture or quench the life of the Spirit inside me. Also Kirk and I, from the beginning of our marriage, have had a good natured competition to see who can repent first when we wrong each other.

– weekly puttering. As I’ve blogged before, I count puttering as a spiritual discipline. There is something deeply good and soul clarifying about working in solitude and quietly with your hands. Gardening, baking, cooking and cleaning are my favorite puttering choices.

– generosity. Giving freely and sometimes extravagantly, if we are feeling brave.

– gratitude, honesty, and fidelity. I want to be grateful, not grumbling. I want to tell the truth, and I want to keep committments.

Anyways, that’s my first draft. I will continue to work on it, and take it to my pastor and spiritual director to get their feedback as well.

The bottom line is, I want my life to be structured in such a way to put me in the path of oncoming grace. And as a leader of a prayer community, I have a responsibility not only to myself, but also to my community, to allow God to conform me into the image of His Son, and to shape me into a House of Prayer.

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Your Voice is Sweet, and Your Face is Lovely

A wise man once said to me, “put us in the right situation, and we are all insecure!”

My right situation?

I found myself teaching at Bob Ekblad’s ministry, Tierra Nueva in Washington State.  After his visit with us in January, Bob invited me to come visit next time I was on the West Coast, and teach his team about intercessory prayer.  I really wanted Bob to meet Aaron White, the leader of the 614 community in Vancouver, our sister prayer and missions community through 24/7 prayer, so I invited Aaron along for the ride.

“Sure!” he said.

Which meant when it was time to teach, I had to teach in front of him.  And Bob.  Both of whom I considered vastly superior in intellect, gifting, and experience.  Both of whom had been my teachers, and who had shaped my growth and spiritual formation in significant ways.

Insecure?

You bet I was!

So I gave myself a talking to.

“Self, you need to get over yourself!  It’s not about you!”

Not massively inspiring.

Fortunately, Jesus gave me a talking to as well.

“Jill, let me see your face, let me hear your voice.  Your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.”

So I let Him hear my voice.  I shared my story, and tried to be a faithful witness to what He’s done in my life and in GOHOP.

A few days later I found out that I had to speak at the House of Prayer National Summit.

In front of Kirk Bennett, a senior leader from the House of Prayer in Kansas City.

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Whom I considered vastly superior in intellect, revelation, gifting and experience.  Who had been my teacher, and who had shaped my growth and spiritual formation in significant ways.

You would think because of the revelation I had the week before, I would have felt bold and confident!

Aaaaaaaaand?

Nope, not one bit.

Insecure?

You bet.

I also felt insecure because GOHOP is a mutant House of Prayer.  We’ve grafted in DNA from several prayer streams, including Benedictine spirituality and the 24/7 Prayer.com folks.  Which means that we don’t look like a typical (is there such a thing?) “HOP”, and I don’t sound like a typical HOP leader (Not sure there’s such a thing as that either).  Did I have anything relevant to say even?

Fortunately, Jesus gave me a talking to again.

“Jill, let me see your face, let me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely!”

My heart was re-oriented.  Away from self consciousness and insecurity.

He wanted to hear my voice.

So up on the platform I spoke to Him.  As my offering, my obedience, and my worship.

And He released this amazing, supernatural sweetness in our midst.

His voice changes everything.  I love His kindness…..  His tender invitations invigorate our hearts.

 

Quebec House of Prayer: Strategic Partnerships Bringing Strength to the House

I visit QHOP once or twice a year. It’s fun to see leaps in growth when you drop in regularly, but periodically. There is definitely an increase in folks in the prayer room, and a decrease in the average age.

“Why is that?” I wanted to know.

When Brian and Tanya Allatt started QHOP, they initially attracted people like them.

“Middle aged!” they grinned.

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Sherbrooke is a college town, and they wanted to draw younger people into the prayer room, so they invested in bringing a young man, Mitch, on staff. Mitch’s job? Worship and prayer and making connections with twenty-something believers in the city.

Their investment has brought good returns, and now QHOP is drawing a younger crowd.

The other thing Brian and Tanya did was formalize a partnership with Iris Ministries. Very bravely, they took their family of four children to Mozambique to Heidi Baker’s school there. They survived rats and all manner of creepy crawlies. The friendships and connections they made the have brought prayer missionaries from all sorts of far flung nations to roost and nest like sparrows near the altar of The Lord.

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The QHOP gang

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Bringing the glory..

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O look, Jesus is coming!

I always say, work your strengths and staff your weaknesses. The Allatts have reached beyond themselves in some strategic alliances, and for QHOP, its paying off.
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