Thursday, February 20th
Friends call it HALT. Be careful when you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired because you'll make snap decisions that you may regret later. I found truth in that life tip, and adopted it. I've shared it with many, but I always added one more letter to the word. S. The same warning seemed important for me when I was sick. I'm a little less loving and kind when I'm sick. Chances are good that my first thought won't be about preserving my relationships when I'm running a fever. I seem to jump right to getting people out of my space.
So, the other day it happened. I got sick. Now, on this particular day I was feeling a close connection with God. He decided to use this opportunity to teach me something about myself that I'm not sure I wanted to know. I never saw it this way before. It was illness, and when I was coughing or burning up, I was a little less likely to control my tongue. It wasn't a personal fault, per se, it was a function of being under the weather. That's what I told myself. I warned those close to me. "Watch out when I'm sick. I lose my filter and say things I shouldn't." I have a few stories where I even boast about how far I went with someone, because after all, it wasn't my fault. I was sick. (Did you catch the key excuse? "It wasn't my fault." That's where the problem was. I had convinced myself it wasn't my fault, when in fact, there was work to do.)
What I saw that morning was ugly. In my quiet time with God, I saw self-pity. I was sick, and I felt sorry for myself. I wasn't in pity because of the illness, though. I was in pity because I haven't learned enough about self-love to slow down and take care of myself. No. That would rob me of some dysfunctional status that I've come to value. Maybe it's a martyr syndrome. Isn't that delightful? Maybe it's a competitive stance whereby I win simply because I drag myself through paces others would sleep through if they felt like I did. I haven't gotten the language to describe the pride and ego that drives this self-pity yet, but I know one thing. It ain't pretty to look at.
So, to all of you who have worked beside me on a sick day where I didn't call out, to my family who were subjected to my arrival at home after driving the worn body through the tasks at hand, and to anyone else who was on the receiving end of a monologue I may have called a conversation, I'm sorry. I'm still learning. Let's hope the next time I do better.
Thursday, February 13th
We talked about it. Right? You said one thing, and I replied. It went back and forth for a little bit. I think I had the last word, though. So, that means it went my way, right? I won the argument. Okay, so it wasn't really an argument. It was a discussion. But, I won, right? What do you mean, 'you can't win a discussion'? I know it wasn't a competition, so quit saying that. What I meant to say is that when we finished talking, you understood what I meant. At least, you said you did. Well, you implied it because you quit shaking your head and gave me that last look in the eye before you walked away. That's why I thought I won, I mean, that you understood. Now you're telling me you just gave up? So, this fight is still going? I mean, discussion. That's what I meant. Discussion. Wait! Where are you going? Wait! Let's talk about this.
Could you follow that banter? If so, it's time we talk about listening. ~wink~
Thursday, January 30th
I may look cute, but don't get fooled. I'm demanding. I want my way. I throw mental tantrums and make a mess of my work area. You better not touch my stuff. I think the world revolves around me, and get loud when I feel overlooked. I push myself to do more, and fight sleep when my body requires it. I get frustrated when simple gadgets don't do their jobs, or I don't get what I want right away, or when someone doesn't do it the way I would have done it.
Taking care of me is a full-time job. Wait! I think I figured it out. I'm a big baby! That's what it sounds like, right?
If that's the deal, maybe the answer is to nurture myself instead of push myself. Maybe I need a good book that promotes the mid-day nap. Maybe it's okay to eat what like and leave the rest. Maybe I need to play with my crayons. Maybe, just for a day, I can retreat to the child spirit where wonder and curiosity are the priorities, and there's nothing more important than a Lego tower or a banana popsicle.
Want to come with me just for a day? What have we got to lose, except all this unwanted stress?
Thursday, January 23rd
I was running scared. I was poised for survival, and the immediate threat didn't have long fangs or sharp claws. Instead, it was made up of various people, each one with an opinion of me. I was afraid of what other people thought.
The social instinct was placed inside us to ensure our success as a species. Let's face it, we need each other. If I had to depend on my own resources alone, life would be different. For example, I wouldn't be driving because I would never have come up with the design for the combustion engine. That guy was a genius. Thankfully, his creative brainpower was shared with others until a fellow named Benz put together a two-stroke version perfect for an automobile. And all I had to do was turn the key and learn to steer.
Barbara Streisand sang, "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world." I remember singing along with my mother, and thinking how true it was. I didn't realize that it described a part of human nature designed by creation to allow us to grow stronger by building on the experiences of one another. Another line in this tune depicts the downside of the social instinct when it warns about "letting our grown-up pride, hide all the need inside."
So, would it be strange if I told you I need you? Weirder still if I suggested that you need me? Because, in the end, that was the plan by Creation. We are here to help and encourage each other. Unfortunately, sometimes our instincts stray off the planned path, and we begin to think we are here to judge and admonish each other. Our species has gotten good at that. We can be quick-witted and sarcastic. We can wrap our criticism in humor hoping to disguise its sting. We can raise an eyebrow or do a double-take that shouts disapproval without the utterance of even one word. This social instinct can veer off-course and make us forget we are all peers to make us believe we are superior to another.
We all know the drill. Some will run when the arrows of judgment are directed at us. We run scared. Others bow up in challenge and sharpen our own intellectual weapons. We enter the contest with desire, hoping to be declared the winner. No matter which stance we take, this is certain: when out-of-sorts, the social instinct doesn't promote cooperation and shared purpose, but inflicts separation and injury.
Maybe that's why the holy men teach, "Judge not, lest you be judged." I think I'll practice that. I wish it came naturally like other instincts do. Or, did it before my ego got full-blown? Hmmm ...
Thursday, January 16th
It was years ago when I called her. It had been a rough night, and I could hardly wait until a decent hour. She answered on the first ring, and when I heard her voice, I began to sob. She spoke soothing words. I cried. She asked what was happening. I couldn't answer, my voice lost to the demands of my brokenness as my chaotic breathing matched my feelings. This went on for at least ten minutes.
Then, she said in a different tone, "Beth, what time did you get up today?" Thrown off by the change-up, I hesitated and quietly responded, "Six-thirty." She was quick in her response. "Well, call me back when you're spiritually awake, too." Click. She hung up on me!
Suddenly, the urgent matter that had ripped me to emotional shreds took a back seat to indignation. I was shocked at her behavior. And then it hit me, and a smile broke out on my previously tortured face. She had gotten through. I was wallowing in powerlessness, unable to find my way out because I hadn't connected with the Great Power.
I was blessed to trudge this path with Jean Sirianni. She gave me two gifts that day. First, she gave me the gift of her presence. In a world that can turn cold in a heartbeat, it is so comforting to know there are people that will always take your hand and walk with you. Jean was one of those people. The second gift she gave me that day was the gift of the present. That morning, when she changed her tone and subject, it jerked me back into the now where God lives. She dragged me into the present moment, kicking and screaming. I had gotten lost in regret, which lives in the past. It is a terrible place to dwell, because there is no power there. Change is no longer available in the past. I was dancing toward fear and worry, which live in the future. Again, change becomes an illusion when I live in the future. If I need spiritual power to help me accept or survive my painful now, I can't be playing in dread and apprehension. There is no help there, only mental wanderings into unreal places.
I have used the lesson of that morning throughout my life. I miss my friend, Jean. But she will never be truly gone while I am alive. Her lessons and experience have made me stronger and less fearful. She lives on in my heart.
Thursday, January 9th
If you were given the opportunity to share one idea with everyone in the world, what would it be? Those of you who know me well won't be surprised by to know that I have actually pondered that question and come up with my answer. It was years ago, but I must really believe it fully because each year when I ask myself that question, I still come up with the same words. I believe it to be my base Truth. On days when you may be feeling unsure, feel free to borrow my confidence. I don't know if that will bring you any solace or surety, but it may give you a starting point so that you will seek a steady base Truth for yourself. The promise is that you will find if only you seek. Enough chatter. Are you ready for the key thought that supercedes all others in this busy head? Here goes:
God is absolutely crazy about you.
Yep, of this I am certain. And I celebrate every day because of it.
Thursday, January 2nd
Blame it on the Bossa Nova. Those are the words to a song my older sister Joanne listened to when I was a kid. It had a quick tempo, and the lyrics claimed that everything that happened to the lady singing was the fault of a dance that put her under its magic spell. Hmmm . . .
Aren't there times you wish you could blame it on the Bossa Nova? But, alas, I have to be accountable for my actions, even when they aren't shining examples of the loving soul I long to be. With the busyness of the holiday season, I've found myself a bit short with others when pushed. I'd like to believe I'm not usually like that, but I realize that I sometimes bite. Well, maybe not bite, but I'll get a good growl in here and there.
If I were to place blame somewhere, it would be in the mirror. She's the one who isn't taking good care of herself. She's the one burning the candle at both ends. She's the one who isn't drinking enough water, sleeping through the night soundly, or stretching to make her healing hip feel ready to Bossa Nova.
Good thing I love her, and I'll choose to forgive and start again. Maybe tomorrow I'll do better. In the meantime, let me Google that song and see if I remember the rest of the words. I may even do the cha cha in my kitchen. ~wink~
Thursday, December 26th
What did you get? Remember when we were kids, and that was the first question friends would ask the day after Christmas? Gratefully, that has changed for me. Today, I am celebrating what I gave, because that's when I "get" the most.
I gave love. That's the biggest one. I gave laughter. I gave my focused presence. I gave gentle touch. I gave cookies made with the recipient in mind while the oven did its best. I gave my tone-deaf voice to sing and share favorite carols. I gave prayer when needed, even if not requested. I gave my authentic self - blemishes, talents, and desire to bring joy to others.
Christmas was great. I gave a whole bunch. How about you?
Thursday, December 19th
Would you kick a field goal on a first down? Or, would you try for the six points a couple more times before settling for the three?
If you don't watch football, you may not follow what I'm saying. Basically, I'm using a football metaphor to lead you into thinking about your own life. The bottom line is this: how dedicated are you to living your very fullest life? Do you take the easy way out even if there's the possibility of something better if you give it another try or two?
Mindful willingness as you peruse opportunities presented is key to good living. We've got to be alert to what's at stake. Sometimes, we sleepwalk through life, settling for less because it looks like an easier route.
Choose wisely, my friend. The life you are creating is your own.
Thursday, December 12th
Christmas is coming. I'm not sure about the geese getting fat, but there are sure a lot of cookies, candies and cakes to tempt me to that end. It's part and parcel of the season. Worse, I'm one of the worst offenders because I love to bake cookies to fill red and green tins in an effort to share my holiday cheer.
Moderation. That's the word of the week. Whether it's what I eat or how much I do to prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth, I must remember that I choose to be a human being ... not a human doing.
Moderation. Balance. Both are symptoms of self-respect. When I put it that way, I realize where the real workload is. It's then that I remember that the only driven part of Christmas should be the driven snow. Not the driven gift-wrapper, cookie-baker, party-planner, errand-runner also known as myself.
Maybe that's why the carolers sing, "God REST ye merry gentlemen ..."
Thursday, December 5th
Every once in a while, I make it my business. You get what I mean, because after all we have a phrase for it that we all recognize. "I make it my business to ..."
Usually, it's none of my business. I am often called to be a witness, not a participant. I'm still learning the art of not engaging. When I'm successful, there's less stress in my shoulders. Maybe that's because I'm not carrying the weight of the whole world like I used to.
This is big news for me. I have an incredible purpose. I am called to be a witness to the unfolding reality that surrounds me. I'm pretty sure my Higher Power will make it clear when I'm supposed to engage. (Do you think He'll sound trumpets, or is that passe?)
Thursday, November 21st
What are your talents? Do you use them regularly? Strangely enough, life seems easier when we do. When something comes to us naturally, it relieves us of the stress which often accompanies a task. Moreover, our gifts are usually just that - a special offering to the world that only we can give. They bless others.
One of the greatest football players of all time, Joe Namath, said it this way. "When you have confidence, you can have a lot of fun. And when you have fun, you can do amazing things."
It's the season of gratitude, and it's time for us to use our talents and have fun. The world needs amazing things. Let's get out there and do them!
Thursday, November 14th
One simple change. It's amazing how changing up one thing can give a whole new perspective to the day. It doesn't have to be a major change, either. Just trying one suggestion can rock my equilibrium. Just taste one strange food. Just listen to one person I usually zone out. Just ask God to be closer. Just make a decision to open my mind to the possibilities.
I love kaleidescopes. One simple twist and the whole picture changes. It can be so easy to make things different when I'm feeling out of sorts. Popping out of bed fifteen minutes earlier to stretch, or journal, or have a coffee out back and really listen to the birds. One decision to set the alarm for a different time than the usual, and suddenly, I am connected again. One simple change.
Let's go for it today. Just one change. C'mon. What have we got to lose? Pinky swear?
Thursday, November 7th
Each choice makes a difference. It creates my reality. What prompts the choice? Is it the situation? The person with whom I'm dealing? Or, am I true to myself, allowing the choice to support my character and further my relationship with God? Seems like it should be easy to answer, but when given that list of possibilities, I sometimes have to blush.
Did you ever have an old behavior sneak back into your life? Maybe it's smoking, overeating, or binging on video games or TV. It promises relief from stress, but it lies to you. After engaging, you always feel worse. But you fall into the habitual cycle of temptation, recurrence of action, remorse, and solemn vow to make better choices. You start to live on a hamster wheel of repeated offenses. What could be the cause? Though some habits can morph into addiction, others are simply the result of not being present enough to make a better choice. Stress, fatigue, emotional upset and isolation may be so overwhelming that you start to sleepwalk through life. Choice is eliminated as sloth and numbness settle for whatever looks easiest.
The solution lies in becoming mindful. I've found that a few simple words remind me to make a choice that will support my character and allow me to live into all that God had in mind for me to be. What are the words? I'm not sure it matters. They only have to make sense to the one who utters them, and act as a reminder to return to the present moment. They may be a call out to God, a phrase that has meaning, or the name of a person who counts on you. In reality, your true nature wants you to do well, and it will support that end no matter what the words you utter. God wants you to succeed, too. Why not ask for some supernatural assistance?
We only get one shot at life. Let's create a great legacy, one mindful choice at a time!
Thursday, October 24th
Most of us have been there. I pulled into the parking lot and my emotions felt like they were being strangled. I put the car in park and closed my eyes. Breathing in slowly, I started the self-talk that would get me through the pain. Why did this feeling always overtake me when I came to this place?
Human beings were created for community, just like wolves were created for packs and birds for flocks. When we feel we don't belong somewhere, it can be overwhelming. Worse, old painful feelings can gang up on us and join the new ones. Historic personalities can come back to life in our minds, and a survival default mode can kick in. We become invisible. Or we throw a tantrum. Or we run away. Or . . . what pattern do you rely on for relief?
The reality is that without communication, the discomfort won't subside. We need to use our words to let others know that we're disconnected. "When you criticize me in public, I feel embarrassed, so I shut down." "When you fail to recognize me when I say hello to you, I feel unimportant." "When you jump to believe the worst of me, I feel that my hard work is in vain."
It will be hard to speak your Truth, at first. Your voice may shake. Sometimes, speaking your Truth will remove more than the discomfort, and the dysfunctional relationship will fall by the wayside. That may seem scary, but with time it will feel like a suitable resolution. Better yet, by speaking up for yourself, you will begin to respect others and know when it's appropriate to hold your tongue or weigh in on a situation. You will become a better communicator.
Relationship is hard for many of us. But without honest communication, relationship is impossible. Feelings are hurt, spirits are broken, and discord becomes a way of life. Eventually, you'll find yourself sitting in a parking lot wishing you didn't have to go inside. Wait. Isn't that where we started?
Speak your Truth, even if your voice shakes.
Thursday, October 17th
What are the three most life-changing words that can be spoken? For years, I would have argued that they were "I love you." When a person says that to another, it shouts value and comfort. Certainly, that is life-changing, right?
I was wrong. I remember saying them, and when I did, my whole life changed. "I need help." Three little words spoken into a dark night, and once they were spoken, support came. Initially, it came from God, and though I recall the experience, it is still hard to put into words. Then, the people started to show up. I'm not sure how they knew, but they appeared sharing their experience, strength and hope with me. The dark night ended with the weeping and fear. It wasn't long before I found joy in the morning. To this day, the joy persists.
If you're struggling, remember the three words that can make it change. Mean them when you say them. And then, watch out. The Calvary is on it's way.
Thursday, September 26th
People need us. They look forward to our coming together with them. Someti
mes, there are tasks to be done. Sometimes, however, they just need someone to hear them. Listening is becoming a lost art in this world of technology and busy schedules. No advice. No solutions. No interference, just a head nod and eye contact while the person unloads.
Grateful to have learned that lesson. Grateful to have others around me who have, too.
Thursday, September 12th, 2019
We lived through it again. Every year on September 11th, our country mourns the loss and destruction of the attack. We come together as a country, and we know unity in a new light.
It's important to know that there are others who understand your pain. Pain brings us together because we all hate the feeling of powerlessness that comes with it. When pain erupts, it carries a modicum of chaos that causes unrest. When others experience the same pain, it somehow softens the blow as we see understanding in another person's eyes. It helps to share the burden. The unity it brings transcends station or belief. We are one in our brokenness.
September 12th is just as important as it's predecessor. It was the day we all came together and cried, "We are one!" It's the day complacent Americans remembered their national inheritance and realized how grateful they are to live in the Home of the Free. The attack spurred us to alertness and thankfulness. May we never lose that stance again.
Thursday, September 5th, 2019
Waiting changes things. I saw it happen this week. Last Friday, my town was packing up for the possible landfall of a Category 5 hurricane. It's western track had it heading straight for us. Home Depot was buzzing, especially in the plywood department where truckloads of product were purchased and applied to local residential windows. The grocery store was devoid of water bottles, and there were plastic bags over gas pumps telling would-be customers that the station was sold out.
We had time to prepare, and we did. Then, came the waiting game. Our brothers in the Bahamas took the brunt of the 185 mph winds when it happened. The storm stopped moving. It stalled. We watched the Weather Channel reporters try to explain what would happen next, predicting a northern turn that might get us out of the path of devastation, but instead it just sat there. And, we got bored. We went from high adrenaline and sweaty palms to irritating neck tension and digestive ailments from all the junk food we were eating. Still, the storm stayed stationary, and we morphed into complacent annoyance, and when the steering winds finally turned it away from us, we felt a bit duped instead of radically jubilant. All that preparation would be for naught, and our relief was intermixed with a strange feeling of being cheated.
Waiting is hard, especially when the initial set-up includes strong emotions like fear of the unknown and emotional or financial insecurity. Then comes the hangover, because our brain chemistry had an overload of peptides that wore us out. With the down-time, we come back to ourselves, and are filled with incredible gratitude followed by sympathy and empathy for those not as fortunate.
Waiting. Why is it so hard to stay mindful when things are delayed?
Thursday, August 29th
(from a writing in August of 2013)
Why is it so difficult to receive the gift of discernment?
I believe there is another step in the process. Just as faith can lead to trust, I believe that awareness can lead to discernment. Without awareness, my brain becomes hyper-focused and I can’t seem to get out of my own way. When I have the moment of clarity I call awareness, however, I am pulled to a higher spiritual level where I can see around my self-centered fears. Awareness seems to be the precursor to discernment, which involves fusing my limited views to the boundless concepts of God. With awareness in place, I can ask the Higher Power to direct my thinking. Freed from the bondage of ego, I move into discernment where I can clearly see the next right thing. Until then, I am living life in a haze of self-importance, and my thoughts, feelings, and behaviors remain distorted. I forget that I am part and parcel of the whole. I forget I am connected to all of Life, including that which is known as Higher Power.
Just for today, I pray for the awareness that leads to my ability to break through faulty perceptions. Please God, let me see my part so that I might discover the incredible truths and opportunities right in front of me. Merge my thoughts with Yours that I might better impact the world. Amen.
Thursday, August 22nd
I didn't know it that I was doing it. I had done it so many times before, it just seemed natural. But, it's not natural. Isolation has never been natural. Man was born to live in a tribe. We are instinctively wired for community. When we reject that stance, something is amiss.
Years ago, my friend Michael gave me a piece of information about the lone wolf. For years, I thought the lone wolf was the symbol of strength and power. I pictured that wolf howling at the moon expressing his dominance. But, Michael's report explained that although Native Americans revere the wolf, they will kill a lone wolf. Why? When a wolf breaks with his pack, he's gone rogue. His behavior won't be predictable or sound.
I'm the same way. When I get overburdened or exhausted, I pull away from others. Instead of leaning on them for support, I put on my defiant posture, cross my arms and make the "don't mess with me" face. On a good day, I'll realize I'm doing it. I'll drop my arms, say a quick prayer, and force myself to engage with another person. Usually, once I take these actions, I begin to feel better immediately. I need other people, especially when I'm broken.
I'm so grateful I know that now. Better yet, I'm overjoyed that I know that loneliness is a choice. And when I make the wrong choice, I can choose again.
Thursday, August 15th
When I overdo it, I get irritable. Irritation may mean that my body, soul and spirit are trying to tell me to take it easy. Instead of resting, I tend to gun my inner-engine, determined to accomplish one more thing. When I get on a roll, I become numb to my discomfort, focused on the goal. I become a human doing instead of a human being, and my muscles and emotions begin to complain like a two-year old child.
I'm not easily irritated when my self-care is intact. I'm gentle with others, and with myself. I recognize stress when it looks me in the eye, and I manage it and then allow time to recover. When I'm looking out for my best interest, I'm fun to be around. I joke and giggle, trying to engage with those around me for some light-hearted interaction.
I wonder why I stray into the driven pattern? Maybe, somewhere long ago, I came to believe that my value is measured by my achievements. Today, when I challenge that false belief, I can see where it has stolen moments of my life that I can never replace. I want it to stop. I want to be healthier. I want a new way of thinking.
And, as I speak that out loud in prayer, God smiles and begins the work of transformation. He's got this. My desire for wholeness is the prayer. I will live to be transformed by the renewal of my mind. God said so, and I believe it.
Thursday, August 8th
Years ago, I had a friend who was convinced he could teach me to be a better golfer. I come from a family of golf-loving brothers, but I never took to the links with dedication. My buddy broke down my golf swing into six parts, and showed me repeatedly how mastery of these six elements could bring me to my A game, or at least to a place of less embarrassment next time I held a club.
I focused. I listened to his words. I understood the premise of why each of the six parts were important to the final blast of the ball. I tried it. I concentrated. I worked my wrists, arm extensions and shoulders in unison. I followed through. My foot turned out at the end of the swing. Wait, did I get my hips right, because that really lends power to the shot or allows it to be gently directed? Ohmigosh! I forgot about my head! So, I started again. I spent an afternoon with my well-meaning buddy, but sadly, our interaction made me give up golf.
You see, I was suffering from paralysis through analysis. I had broken down this exciting game to a point where I no longer enjoyed it. I just wanted it to stop.
Have you ever done that with a relationship issue? You think you can break it down and see where it went off-track. In your desire to correct, you overanalyze and separate even more as you study nuances, trying to disect the bond to see where it slid off-track. I've been there, my friend. What I've discovered is that overthinking a thing can bring me to a place where I can no longer act authentically. There's no fluidity in my interactions. They become unnatural. Sometimes, I freeze. Paralysis through analysis. And the one I'm trying to connect with drifts farther away.
It's hard to stop an active mind that desires resolution. So, I ask for help. I pray. I seek out a confidante that will listen and nod, allowing me to blow the junk out of my busy brain. Then, I look at my part. After all, that's the only part I can affect. If I see blemishes in my behavior, I ask God to remove them and help me become open and willing to love unconditionally. The process is slow, but most times, the relationship improves.
Paralysis through analysis. It's not for everyone. It may never make you better at the game of life.
Thursday, August 1st
What does it mean to make a decision? Does it mean you take action? Or, is a decision made in the head, and it only comes to pass if the heart gets onboard?
Thursday, July 25th
Does God have your back? I was talking to a friend of mine today, and she said that to me. I challenged her. If God's got your back, that's great support. He's holding you up while you try to get the thing done that seems so demanding.
What would happen if you actually gave God the whole thing in surrender? What if you had God's back? What if you let God do for you what you can't do for yourself? Would that alleviate stress and allow you to get some sleep at night?
Surrender seems difficult until we realize that we are powerless over so many of the things that worry us. Since we can't affect change on our own, why don't we turn it over to the One Who has all power? I mean, doesn't that make sense? Then, we can go about our business doing the best we can with what we have to offer. We let go of the part that is out of our control, and we can begin the process of learning to trust. The more we let go and let God, the better our chance at developing a track record that proves He is faithful.
With a track record like that, we experience more joy and less anxiety. We can give up our role of Atlas, and put the world down at long last.
Thursday, July 18th
What if holiness was like any other law of the universe? We never consider stepping off a building, because we believe in the law of gravity. We can't outwit it. We live with it, knowing the limitations it creates.
Recently, in my quiet time with the Higher Power, I've come to realize that holiness is like this. Perhaps, a lot of the "smiting" I heard God did was in reality the consequence of those who got too close to His holiness without a Mediator. Maybe it's like standing next to fire without bunker gear. You just can't survive it. Like fire, we must carefully consider how to interact with the energetic power of holiness because it is beyond human subsistence. Its properties are such that it invokes reverance and care. Those who have endured its proximity have always had supernatural assistance.
Why does any of this matter? Well, the misunderstanding of the law of holiness may have led many to misunderstand the Creator. Thinking Him to be punitive and harsh, they've responded with fear and denial instead of with respect and awe. We respect gravity. We don't even question its authority. Maybe some of us need to give God that consideration.
Maybe He really is good.
Thursday, July 11th
"Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday."
I remembered that little quip from my teenage years, and I thought I'd ask you, "So, was it as bad as you thought it would be?"
Weird, isn't it? It usually is way worse in my mind than what actually happens in my life. Worry. Maybe it's really a waste of time.
Thursday, July 4th
Should we talk about freedom just because it's the Fourth of July? Instead of focusing on our country, let's look at heart and spirit. Are you free?
Sometimes, the thing that keeps me from freedom is lack of forgiveness. It hides out, so I don't always see what it is. I justify. I strategically recall the event so that mine is the only perspective that matters. Eventually, I convince myself that how I remember it is how it went down. Then, I become even MORE right and you become even MORE wrong. The separation between us grows with the distortion. I tie my heart and spirit up with chains of self-righteousness and I can't move out of my own way. My world becomes smaller and I convince myself that's what I want. I want to be right. Bottom line.
When I was a kid, we sang a patriotic song in school that said, "Freedom isn't free. Freedom isn't free. You gotta pay a price, you gotta sacrifice for your liberty." Maybe that's true here, too. I have to sacrifice. What a bummer. I have to lay my ego on the chopping block and be ready to feel pain. Even so, this pain will be short-lived versus the other kind that comes from wearing chains and living in restriction. Restrictive pain lingers and eventually turns into paralysis. That affects other movements, and other relationships.
For today, I will live by a different set of principles. I choose forgiveness, acceptance and love as my banner. I will suffer for this choice from time to time, but I will always know freedom in heart in spirit. Momentary sacrifices will pay off in the long-run and I will know peace of mind and Truth as companions.
Thursday, June 27th
Recipes must be followed if you want a consistent product. This is true in life, as well as in any kitchen. What you put in decides how it turns out. If you are looking for a tasty, delicious life, make sure the ingredients are fresh. Measure so that you don't skimp on the part that makes the flavor pop. Heat it up so it comes together, and cool it off so it can rest. Best of all, share it with all those around. When you do it right, their mouths will water in anticipation. (That's called attraction. They want what you have.)
Get out there and cook up some quality living! Before you know it, people will be making reservations to share in your success.
Thursday, June 20th
When ego calls the shots, I'm in it alone. Too proud to admit weakness, I muddle through, struggling, stressed and strained. The end of the day comes to a broken body, busy mind, and quiet spirit. I fall into bed like a overworked beast, hoping my mind will shut up so my body gets some rest. Unlikely.
When authenticity orders the day, I know my place is with others willing to contribute. Humble enough to ask for help, I share the burden, focused, team-minded, and laughing. The end of day comes with hugs to soothe tired muscles, words to encourage, and a spirit of gratitude. I climb into bed and thank God for the gift of community. I rest, knowing that if I need more help tomorrow, it will be available.
If it were up to you, which would you leave in charge of your life? Ego or authenticity?
Thursday, June 13th
Who do you talk to when you are coming into new understanding? I am blessed to have friends who are seeking new inroads to their relationship with God, and it is such a delight to pour a cup of coffee and spill my beans. They listen with intent, and comment with careful consideration. Yes, our chatter spreads and we discuss our lives, our hurts, our hopes and what has made us laugh recently. Even though it may be weeks or even months between our chats, it's always the same. It takes about thirty seconds to pick up where we left off, and the time flies before we hug and say goodbye. These friends aren't necessarily part of my daily ins and outs, but they are a HUGE part of my life. I am so grateful that we found each other, and that I was open enough to let them in. They encourage me. They edify me. They lift me up in prayer. Best of all, they love me.
Thanks, God, for these putting these people on my path. Bless them real good. Amen.
Thursday, June 6th
Overload. We get there. Too much. Too frequently. Too demanding. We'll get through it this time, but it will show its ugly head again. It's a regular visitor and it gets really old. Overload. Sometimes, it brings its twin - overwhelm. When they come together, we feel physical and emotional exhaustion.
There is One who told us to how to rest. At the very least, work hard for six days and take the seventh off for rest. Do you work diligently, meeting the needs presented, but when you get tired, separate yourself for a time and rest. Go to the well when you're thirsty. Take a nap during a tempest if you're tired. Follow these footsteps and you'll be able to meet the needs of your busy life.
Better yet, you'll practice the part that is hardest for many of us. Why is it so easy to love our neighbor, but so difficult to love ourselves? Resting is a self-care measure that many of us deny ourselves.
Give it a go. Take a breather and just be. It is then that we can hear the still, small voice that reminds us we've got back up.
Thursday, May 23rd
“There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God's favor was on him.” – Luke 2:40, NLT
Have you ever wondered how Prince Charming got his name? Did he live a “charmed” life, and therefore, he called himself by a moniker that best described his youth?
You may have done the same thing, only your childhood was painful. You wondered if you had any value because you felt overlooked and unimportant. So, you’ve dubbed yourself “Worthless”. To this day, you long for connection, but you have no idea how to allow it in your life. The possibility of being hurt again keeps you heavily insulated and when listing the people you trust on one hand, you find you have extra fingers. You want to trust, but you get afraid.
There’s Good News that can break through this hard shell you’ve developed to protect yourself, if only you’ll give it a chance. Ready? You have favor with God. Don’t scoff. It’s true. God is absolutely crazy about you. Run to Him and let His healing love begin its work. It doesn’t matter if you believe in Him fully. He believes in you fully. And, in the end, that’s all that matters.
Give it a shot. What have you got to lose, except a pile of loneliness?
Thursday, May 16th
How can it be? Is it possible that I got so busy in life that I forgot to notice the things that are around me every day? I have purple and yellow flowers growing up the fence in my backyard. They've obviously been there for a long time, because their vines are dense and strong. The pops of color scream "notice my beauty!" Yet, busy at the sink or in my head, I overlooked them.
What about the people in my life? Have I ever been so busy that I "overlooked" someone dear to me because I was busy at a task or in my head? Sadly, I have to admit that I have. Here, I was given someone to love me by God Himself, and I overlooked the gift because I was on the merry-go-round of busyness. Sometimes, they gave up or moved on. Hopefully, they didn't waste a minute worrying about their importance to me, because that was never the issue. It's my cluttered mind that leads me away from them, never their worthiness.
Learn from me. Look around you. Beauty awaits your focus. Relationship calls out with love. It's only the unconscious mind that loses the magical moment of right now. Unfortunately, along with that moment, we can lose so much more.
Let's make a pact to start paying attention to Life. After all, we can never get back a moment we surrender to stress, worry or pretentious planning. Go pet the dog. Go hug your family. Go look at your yard. What gifts are right in front of you now? Go enjoy them. That's what I'm going to do.
Here, Rooney! Want to play tug-of-war?
Thursday, May 9th
Do you know what is enough? Is it a hard call with certain things? Ice cream? Wine? Tasks? Shoes?
Many of us have our "go-to" activities that we believe are self-indulgent, but they are actually self-sabotaging. We think we'll be soothed by the sweets, the drink, the accomplishments, or the purchases, but in the end we lose out. We lose our health, our relationships, and our financial stability. Still, when challenged by strong emotion, our default settings steer us to the same behavior that promises relief. Eating, drinking, doing, spending. There are other patterns, too. But, under each of them is often an underlying false belief.
What am I really reaching for? Is it another mouthful, sip, achievement, or purchase? Or am I trying to fill a break in my thinking that screams at me, "You are NOT enough!" With that as the backdrop, I try to use anything that will fill the hole or at least get me to a point of numbness where I don't have to feel the pain. Unfortunately, the aftermath of acting out is an even lower feeling of unworthiness. I am fat, drunk, overworked or broke. None of it fixed the break.
If you struggle with the pains of uncertainty about your worth, let me tell you what I learned. I am enough. I was designed by the Master of the Universe with specific gifts and talents to create an abundant life. I am loved. This Truth comes from seeking. I sought solution, and I found my place in this big world. I have identity, purpose and power. I am God's kid, and I can effect change, manifest goodness, and bring His intention to pass when I am in right spiritual condition.
And I have good news. So can you. Why don't you give it a shot? Instead of reaching for the Ben & Jerry's, why don't you ask for help? Ask for your Divine hook-up. I guarantee it's sweeter than your favorite flavor. It brings real peace, not the foggy buzz from Cabernet. It produces a stronger sense of accomplishment than any task on your list. It doesn't drain your bank account and fill your house with unnecessary attempts to feel substantial. It's real. It's fulfilling. It's great to share. And it's yours for the asking. Go for it.
Thursday, May 2nd
Are you irresistible? Do you attract others?
If not, check out your purpose in life. If you've chosen a drive for accomplishment, a victim story of woe, or any other tenet on which to base your life, chances are good that you often find yourself standing alone.
What if you decided to love others as you love yourself? Give it a go. The life you rock will be EVERYONE'S!
Thursday, April 25th
What does it take for you to declare a victory? Does it have to be a winner-take-all situation or are you able to celebrate small developments fated to get you to your destination eventually? Is victory about accomplishment or advancement?
Ten days ago, I fell down and broke my left hip. I was immediately powerless over my life. I was forced into a position where I had to ask for help, when I prefer to be self-sufficient. I was forced to follow directions, when I prefer to shout orders. I was unable to accomplish simple tasks, when I usually knock out four or five before I leave the house at 7:30am. So, how has this experience changed my perspective on victory?
Today, it is a great victory that I got outside to enjoy the weather. It was a win that I could go to the restroom unsupervised. It was a conquest that the third set of weighted leg lifts didn't make me cry. Victory, my friends, has never tasted sweeter. Small increases, daily disciplines, and persevering through circumstances I would have never chosen is teaching me gratitude, acceptance and self-love.
I am rocking this Universe!
Thursday, April 11th
It was a difficult week for a lot of folks. Hanging out with a group of them, there seemed to be a shadow over everyone. Some faced illness, others family issues. Some just didn't want to get out of bed, and they weren't really sure why.
It's hard when the collective energy of a generally upbeat group swings to the low side. There's usually one among us that can get things going with a good story or a snide comment aimed at making light. Not this week. Even the trailblazers were sullen, as if their maps were headed nowhere.
Then, it happened. One person cracked a joke and it was as if the dark energy monster quit holding his breath to giggle. Suddenly, smiles began to appear, and it was as if clarity had returned to the crowd. Hope floated through the window on the winds of laughter.
Is there a cosmic reset button on this planet? I'm not sure, but if there is, I believe it gets pushed when comedy replaces tragedy and we are connected in chuckles and snickers. Maybe the cackle is like a rooster reminding us to wake up and be present in the moment.
Thursday, April 4th
It can be hard to say you’re sorry, but not saying it can make it harder longer. Remember, we are meant to treat others as we want to be treated. When someone steps up and apologizes to me, it makes me feel connected to them. The hurt doesn’t always leave right away, but their desire for closeness begins the healing process. When they tell me they’re sorry, I become aware of my value. They put my feelings first, even if they were afraid.
Thinking about how it feels to receive an apology makes it easier for me to make one. The lyrics of a song speak to this frame of mind.
”I never meant to hurt you, I must have lost my way. Please forgive the words of a heart, a heart that hides it’s face. I never meant to hurt you, I only meant to love you it’s true. And when I saw you crying, I cried, too.”
That’s enough. I’m readY. Gotta’ go make it right with someone. How about you?
Thursday, March 28th
What does it mean to be rescued? When I was a child, there was a terrible tragedy one summer on Lake Michigan where we were vacationing. Two of my siblings and two of their friends went out for a swim when they were captured by an undertow. My dad and second cousin (who was visiting from Ireland) went after them and made a human chain whereby each of the teens was passed in until they made it to shore. Sadly, my dad and my cousin disappeared after their valiant rescue. My father made it. Blue from exposure and lack of oxygen, he was revived. My cousin Sean perished in this drama.
Maybe your rescue wasn't like that of my siblings. Perhaps, you weren't at the hands of death due to drowning, fire or natural catastrophe. Nonetheless, many of us know what it means to be rescued. Hitting an emotional bottom where we were closer to death than we'd like to report, we aren't sure how we would have made it had rescue not been provided. Some reading this have known the fear of loss, whether it was a loved one or our will to live that was taken.
It could have been a friend who took an interest and offered support. It could have been a new understanding that was shared, and the light of reason shined suddenly on the previously dark vista. Maybe the family rallied and demanded change, and though rescue started as a force-feeding of hope, it eventually blossomed into a healthy habit that allowed us to return to know our purpose. Maybe your deliverance came in the quiet night when you called out to a Higher Power, challenging proof of His existence if you were to continue. Rescue takes many different forms. What is incredible is that it happens. And, it has happened to many of us. That could be why we're here to read this blog.
Look around you. Is someone floundering? Has someone been pulled under by a tide of overwhelming life events? Those who have been rescued will often become rescuers themselves. It's a beautiful Truth, almost like paying back the one who saved us. Reach out. The one in need is only an arm's length away. Give back generously what you may have received falteringly. That, my friend, is God's desire. Let's love one another.
Thursday, March 21st
A friend gave me a book to read. That's usually telling. When someone has a good read that speaks their language, it generally hits me right in the heart. This time I was blessed. It was a short one that I could read in one sitting. I like those ones. The author wants to deliver one important message, and pads it just enough to make you feel like you had to dig a little bit.
This one is called Cosmic Christmas by Max Lucado, and my friend Lorraine asked me to read it. When I received the book, I remembered it. I had read it years before. The message is one I always need to hear. God is absolutely crazy about me.
Anyway, that's it for today. I just want to go sit in the glow of this incredible reality. I am loved. I am cherished. I am chosen. This is most likely the best news in the world. When I consider it mindfully, I believe it wholly. Funny, when the distractions of life butt in, as they so often do, this is one of the first things I forget. Gratefully, I have friends like Lorraine who ask me to take the time to remember.
I'm the beloved of Creation. I belong here. Ain't that the bomb?
Thursday, March 14th
We've all heard of "seeing the light", but what does it really mean?
It's simple, if you think about it. We were standing in a dark place unsure of where to go, and suddenly, a way appears with the appearance of light. The darkness is pierced, and we can see a path where there once was none.
There is great joy in seeing the light. It brings immediate hope and possibility. We can take action when we thought we were stuck for good. But, will we?
When God shines a light on your circumstances, make a move. It is an invitation to better things. The light may show up as a person saying just the right thing, a circumstance that answers a troubling question, or an instance where situations aligned for your benefit. These are no small miracles. Somewhere, in the unseen, the angels are dancing. (If they're Irish angels, they're doing a jig for St. Paddy's Day!)
Join their celebration and move forward. Clearly, God is on your side and making a way. Seize your moment.
Thursday, March 7th
There are people who long to hear you tell them how much you love them. They might not know it, but your love is one of the foundational truths of their lives. When they're with you, they feel secure and confident. They know their value, because it is mirrored back to them in your eyes. They trust you with their hearts.
You know who they are. Get going. Tell them. Reach out and make their day. They may be 1500 miles away or across town, but your love call will be the highlight of their day. Maybe you won't get through. Maybe you'll have to leave a message. Have it ready, just in case. Make it memorable. Let them hear the joy you feel connecting with them.
There are people who long to hear you tell them how much you love them. Make their day.
Thursday, February 28th
What did you learn when you were little? Some of the lessons were keepers. Others, you should have tossed. Unfortunately, some of them became the foundation on which you built your life, and that's why you sometimes feel like you're standing on shaky ground.
There was a little girl in kindergarten that loved school because it meant finding new friends. During a drawing class, she learned that her artwork was superior when the teacher made mention of it. What should have been a moment to celebrate became a moment of shame. The other kids didn't like the inference that their art projects were inferior. The youngster learned the lesson. To have friends, you can't outshine the masses. So, she tucked her talent away and only let it shine when she was alone. She vowed to be average so that she'd be part of the crowd. Forty years later, she still hides her light under a bushel, but at this point it's an unconscious habit. She wonders why she never excels in her own projects but can help anyone else find their sweet spot when she assists.
This woman is operating under an unchallenged and unexamined false belief. She has wasted years of her life struggling to be average when she was born to be exceptional. We are the losers. The imaginings in her beautiful mind were never allowed to be expressed through her wonderful creativity. Instead, she punched a clock and delivered what was expected.
What faulty decisions have become habitual for you? Do you ever feel that you lack purpose? Do you wonder if your life has meaning? If these questions cross your mind from time to time, think back on what you suppressed and give it another shot. Let your light shine for all to see. Be the incredible, talented individual God had in mind when He created you. And, get ready! Passion will rise and life will explode with meaning and possibilities.
We are so ready. Bring it on!
Thursday, February 21st
It's been tough lately. I want to be happy all the time, but when I'm alone, I'm sad. Feelings. They crop up in response to life's circumstances that spark old memories or future fears. Don't get me wrong. There are those that occur just because of the present moment. They can be heavy, too, depending upon what triggered the emotion. But, usually when I am overrun with feelings it's because I took what I felt today and added history or expectation. Then, I get overwhelmed.
That's a big word - overwhelm. Clearly, the preposition "over" means above, or higher so that one thing covers the other. I get it. But I wasn't so sure what the root of the word, "whelm", meant, so I looked it up. "To cover or engulf completely, usually with a disastrous effect." Wow! No wonder being overwhelmed is extreme. It means to get covered twice. In my imagination, I saw myself digging out of these heavy emotions because I got a double portion of covering holding me down.
I grew up in the Windy City. I remember a time when I was a kid when we got a huge portion of snow. I think it was a foot and a half of the white stuff. We were sent out to shovel, and it was a challenge I still recall. The next day, we got another two feet of snow! Can you imagine if we hadn't removed the first day's accumulation? It would have been almost as tall as we were. We had neighbors struggling with the two-day buildup, and after we finished our walkway and drive we went over to help them clear their pathways.
Emotions are like snowfalls. I need to deal with them daily and not let them accumulate. When I allow a busy day's demands to preclude me from feeling the tragedies that occur, feelings amass. I get overwhelmed. I need to take the time to "shovel through" the pain and hurt each day. For me, this usually means a bit of solitude so that I can feel the Comforter come and help me clear a pathway. I'm so grateful I know the One who assists me when the hurts collect in drifts and render me helpless. By the way, that relationship is available to anyone who asks.
I'm so grateful I don't have to shovel alone. Feelings can be so heavy.
Thursday, February 14th
If I tell you that I love you, what will that mean? Will it mean that I won't get irritated? Because love is patient. Will it mean that I won't make sarcastic comments to you? Because love is kind. If you get to travel the world or buy a new car, does it mean I won't begrudge you? Love does not envy. When I tell you that I love you, does it mean I'll never have to "talk myself up" to make you like me? Love doesn't boast, and it isn't proud. If I really love you, I won't try to get my own way, it will take a lot to get me mad, and I won't always point out your weaknesses. I won't be secretly happy when your winning streak fails, but I'll sing of your worthiness and value. I'll stand up for you, I'll believe in you, I'll wish the best for you, and I'll do these things for as long as I'm breathing.
You see, love never fails.
How I wish I could say it more easily and mean it every time. I would tell you. I would tell everyone I meet. But, it wouldn't be totally truthful at this writing.
Would it be appropriate to say, "It's Valentine's Day, and I want to love you." It might not give you the warm fuzzies, but I bet it would make God smile.
Thursday, February 7th
In my dream, there was a huge cord that threatened. It was holding something good back, but I couldn't break it. Then, there was a huge pair of scissors opened wide. Slowly, words appeared on each of the blades of the scissors. The top one read MY WILL. The bottom read GOD'S WILL. As these two blades came together with force, the cord was cut and freedom was
In the groggy moment I understood. Only when my will bends to meet God's will can I cut through the strings that bind me. Now, remembering the scissors is my prayer.
Thursday, January 31st
What do you believe? I want to list a whole series of wonderful Truths, but unfortunately I am finding that though I have faith, I sometimes lack belief. I'm coming into the understanding that these two words are very different.
I remember hearing that all things are possible for one who believes. So, why do I struggle with the same issues over and over? Why am I unable to exert my will to overcome habits that are injurious to me?
There's a story about a boy who needed to be healed, but the spiritual men there couldn't affect the change. The Master came, and the child was made whole. The disciples asked why they couldn't do it. The answer given was that difficult cases required serious prayer.
Could it be that simple? Does prayer promote belief? Does hanging out with God make you holy? Wholly? Hmmm . . . I'm going to have to think about this one. Or, maybe I should just up my prayer life and watch what happens.
What would you do?
Thursday, January 24th
A blue heron took flight, and I witnessed it pull it's long neck in and spread it's wide wings. Meanwhile, on land, three huge wood storks huddled together because the wind was fierce. I heard a noise, and looked at a tall palm where a red-headed woodpecker was banging bugs, getting a meal in before retiring to a warmer spot to wait out the chilly evening. I got into my car to head home, and the sun slipped a bit lower in the sky, pouring orange and pink hues as far as I could see.
My God is an artist, and I am His audience. Each day I find delight in the mundane. There was a time when I wasn't mindful of this glory, and I missed it. I forgot to delight in the gift of this beautiful planet.
Thursday, January 17th
Someone suggested that it would be crazy if my company offered me health insurance, yet I paid for all my medical bills out of pocket. I thought about the statement. I agreed.
Then, they asked me why I don't utilize all the benefits offered to me by my Higher Power. There are promises galore, but I don't cash in on many of them. Is it possible to consider that there is a God who offers me Love, and with it healing, compassion, hope, faith, miracles and provision? Why haven't I claimed my benefits?
Interesting. I'd write more, but I have some paperwork to which I need to attend. Journaling helps me organize the chaos in my head. I'm going to create my ledger, and claim my allowances. It's crazy not to use everything I have coming to me.
How about you? Have you used all the supernatural benefits God promised you?
Thursday, January 10th
Keep it simple. They say that, but I realize I haven't been doing that for a long time. Maybe I think complication is something that means maturity. Maybe, the call to keep it simple is a call to return to the child spirit, with its ability to be swallowed up in awe and wonder easily.
When I was a child, I was delighted with vanilla ice cream. As I grew, I added caramel. And hot fudge. And whipped cream. And nuts. And a cherry, for good measure. I complicated the whole treat.
Simple may be better. In the case of ice cream, it's better for my health and my pocketbook. With my view of the world, it creates less drama and allows me to carry a lighter load.
Doesn't that sound good?
Thursday, January 3rd
What does starting a new year mean to you? Is it a reset button for your financial affairs? Is it the opportunity to reorganize your life, swearing off things that didn't work in the last twelve months and promising not to repeat mindless behaviors? Is it a list of resolutions guaranteed to be put on a back shelf by next Monday? Or, is it just another season for you?
New is a good word. It brings hope as well as challenge. It promises perspectives not yet employed, and thought processes not yet considered. A new year honors the human need to mark time. Hopefully, you are embracing your new year with enthusiasm.
Maybe you're too tired to embrace anything. This season is about more work: taking down a tree without breaking the ornaments, cleaning the kitchen after unbridled food fiascos by everyone in the household, and tying up the books so the tax man will make an appointment with you. If this rings true, just remember the power of choice. The above sentences are mindsets that can be changed if you choose. YOU get to pick your view on life. You can start your day, or your year, over anytime you choose.
Start first thing in the morning. Bless your day and your activities. Ask for what you need to make it easier. There is a Source Power into which you can tap. Don't be afraid. Ask. The year ahead will be built one day at a time. Ask daily, and then act. Just watch the energy and effort translate to great fruit on the tree of your life.