POD: Your Fame Wall

What do you want to stand for or be about? What do you stand for now?

When you think about the way you show up in the world, who or what inspires you?

What would you put on your own Fame Wall? It might be pictures of others, but also could be relics or documents from your own life past, present or future.

What do I stand for?  I hope that other’s would say Christ.  I want my life to be a reflection of His.

I want to stand for honesty, integrity, compassion, and helping of those in need.  I want to be about family.  Those are the things that are most important to me.

I know sometimes I fail to stand for these things, to properly reflect those things which are most important to me. I put other things in front of God and family.  I don’t give them my best, but often the leftovers that should just be scrapped into the trash instead of shared.

I often look for the grey area of truth to manipulate things the way I want them to go.  A slighted truth may get what I want, but it is a lie of omission.  I find myself more and more seeing the truth of that statement, and catching myself backtracking because honesty, complete honesty, is definitely something I want to be about.

I feel frustrated instead of compassionate and selfish instead of helpful.  I should step back in these moments and take a moment to reflect on why I love serving others and how I would want others to help those I love.

fameThese failures in my stand, aren’t things that I am proud of, but it is the truth.

When I think about what inspires me to show up, it would be passionate people.  There is something about being around others who are passionate, even if it is not something I am compassionate about.  The energy of other’s causes me to show up.  It is contagious and empowering.  When others are excited about something, it is very easy for me to join in and show up to help.  However, if it is not something I am passionate about as well, I often will fizzle out if it is a longer term commitment if their passion level doesn’t remain high.

A compelling story also inspires me to show up.  I like to be involved in things that cause me to feel – whether a feel good story or a story that infuriates me.  I like to sink my teeth into a cause that helps others overcome or in advocating for change.  I am not likely to be inspired if it is not something that compels me personally.  I may feel the plight, and might even give to the cause, but I will not likely show up unless it is in line with what I am passionate about.

My fame wall would be filled with the people who have touched my life, people whose story I want to remember for the way it touched my life.  Jesus, Joseph, Ezekiel and Peter come to mind from the Bible.  Jane Addams and Sister Katherine McCauley from my profession.  A few of the single parents that I have worked with like Tristen, Heather, Madison, and Ashley who challenged me with their tenacity for life.  I would add the two young men who tugged at my heart welling up the passion to see the church rise up and be what God created us to be.  I would have a few simple momentums from my days at the state of families who impacted my life as much as they think I impacted theirs.  I would be amiss not to also have a few framed books that have altered the course of my life-giving me a fresh perspective like the Circle Maker, So Long Insecurity,  Honor’s Reward, The Sun Stands Still and Instinct.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

 

 

 

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POD: A pregnant pause

Today’s prompt is a two-parter. It seems simple but, trust me, it’s deep.

First, read the questions below. Then, take a pregnant pause. Take 5 minutes minimum; 15 if you have them.

During your pregnant pause, listen for answers to these four questions and write down what you receive. You are not allowed to edit, to censor, to think about or to even start assessing whether the answers are realistic, silly, feasible or fantasy. Just get them down.

  1. What I’d really like to say is ___________________________.
  2. What I really wish is ___________________________.
  3. What I’m scared to say is ___________________________.
  4. What it would be really fun to do is ___________________________.

Now answer this: How might you get out of your own way, starting now, in the context of these desires, wishes or self-repressions?

Sometimes, when you do this exercise, all you learn is that you really want some ice cream. But more often, when you do this exercise, you send out bolts of your powerful spirit and energy in the direction of the boldness, desire or creation you’ve expressed in your answers. And you kickstart an energy flow within yourself in that direction, too.

  • What I’d really like to say is how I truly feel inside, and yet I find this difficult to name what I can not see.
  • What I really wish is that I would be able to speak freely what I need and want from the depths of my soul.  Thus I have not been able to put this into words.
  • What I’m scared to say is that I need anything.  I was raised to be independent, and while I realize I am not, admitting that out loud has proven to be most difficult.
  • What it would be really fun to do is spin around in circles giving praise to the Lord for He is good.

I need to get out of my own way.  I know that emotions and feelings do not have to be hidden, but need to be expressed.  I am learning to do this, but just need to step back and let them go.  Not to control me, or label me, but to allow this portion that was made in God’s image to come forth.  To see what I have been blinded to, what I have felt necessary to suppress and express what I feel both in words and emotions.

I need to step back and quit worrying what others will think and speak and write what is in the depths of my soul.  To realize that it is a lie of the enemy that what I need and want is not worthy to be told, that I should somehow feel ashamed by the things that God has placed within me.  That I would somehow believe that others can just instinctly know, what I have not been able to admit myself is true insanity.  I must be willing to share what I want and what I need.

pauseThis goes back to what I wish, except that at times I do know what I want and yet remain silent.  At times I will share with God what I need, a fleece of sorts that He cares enough about me to bring it to happen.  Yet He has, time and time again.  And there are other times I hear that still small whisper “You have not, because you ask not.”  It is okay to need help, to want help, and to need others.  God created us to be together and to depend on Him.  He places people in our lives who have strengths where I have weaknesses, and it is okay to let them be a source a strength in my life.

Worshipping the Lord in spirit, I see myself dancing before the Lord, like David did.  Spinning around with hands wide open, singing praise to Him for all He has done.  Yet, I have not found the freedom yet to do this even in the privacy of my own prayer closet.  I yearn for this to the truth in my worship, not just the spirit.  I put limitation on my praise and suck the fun out of the worship that I long to give Him.  To allow the childlike praise to come from my heart and reach the Savior for whom I give it.

How do I get out of my own way?  How do I let go of false expectations and rules of the past that never served to begin with?  How do I open my mouth and speak what my heart still does not fully acknowledge?  One word – choice.  I have the ability to choose to let go of these past restrictions and walk freely in what God designed me to be.  He wants me to have the desires of my heart.  He wants me to ask, sot hat it can be given to me.  He wants me to know myself and be known by others as He knows me.  He wants me to praise Him fully and freely for all that He is and all He has done.  It is a choice, will I give myself pause to make it?

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD: The Spirit of 2017

First, write a summary of your 2017 so far in 100 words. Not 2017 politics or what you read on Facebook, but your personal and professional life in 2017. High level. Short. And, this time, factual.

Now: circle or bold one word that feels like something you would be delighted to bring into or increase in 2018.

Write about this, with the rest of your words and time today:

What is the spirit of this word? What is the flavor or direction of the energy that sparks in you around this word and what it represents? How does it feel in your body? In your heart? What do you love about how it makes you feel?

What about the spirit or energy of this word do you want to bring into 2018?

And what will that look like? What will you do more of or less of? Who will you spend your time with? What will you learn or adventure into? What will you think about and do for fun?

 

2017 has been an amazing year.  I traveled outside the country for the first time and took a cruise. I had a new grand baby.  I got a  more in touch with myself emotionally and spiritually.  I engaged in more learning through reading and listening to books.  I have connected more with other people and developed relationships with people who greatly enrich my life.   I have continued to use my training, skills and talents to help others both through a career I love and volunteering in my community. I have drawn closer to God and let Him shine more through my life.

engageEngaged, that is the word that encompasses the Spirit of 2017 and what I would like to continue to carry into this next year.  Being engaged makes me feel alive, full of joy, at peace, and challenged all at the same time.  It makes feel connected and useful.  When I am engaged there is an energy that permits so much growth and creativity in the moment that any feelings of weariness and doubt fade.

I want to engage in living life in 2018, moving towards the goals and dreams I have instead of just allowing life to pass me by.  In order to do this I need to engage in defining what I want and then focus on taking steps towards those goals. I have to be willing to step back from things that do not draw me closer to those goals.  I have to risk engaging with new people and stepping out of where I am comfortable to pursue the higher calling of my dreams.  I want to open myself up to people and perspective through books, seminars, trainings and other medias to help me grow and learn new things.

I want to be engaged with my husband during our time together, intentionally growing closer and pursuing life together.  I want to focus on the quality of out time together, not just seek the quantity that may leave both of us drained.  I want to engage with my children when we are talking or together. I want to both pour into their lives and draw from the energy, creativity and passion they each have.  I want to engage in life with them.  I want to engage with my grandchildren.  I don’t want them to just come to Mimi’s house to have dinner or spend the night.  I want to engage in our time together, connect with them where they are and create lasting memories and traditions.

I want to engage in traveling.  I want to see the world in person, and engage with the people in different communities and cultures.  I want to see the world through the lives of others and open myself up to learning new things.  I am already looking at the next place to go.  I want to experience the world around me, not just afar but locally too.

I want to engage with my emotions.  This has been a several year journey, but I want to integrate my emotions with who I truly am.  I want to feel free to express emotions and be vulnerable, not with everyone, but with anyone I need to.  I want to be able to identify emotions, learn from them, and release them.  I want others to feel comfortable sharing their emotions and know that while I will not take them on, I am empathetic to where they are.

I want to engage in connecting more with others.  I don’t just want to know someone’s name, I want to take the time to get to really know others.  I want to develop deeper friendships with those that I have in my life, people who I have kept at arm’s length for whatever reasons.  I want to learn more about the people who I am doing life with.  I want to make new connections with people who I am supposed to help on their journey or who are supposed to help me on mine.

I want to continue to engage in growth in my career.  I want to know that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing, where I am suppose to be doing it, and to the best that I can be doing it.  I want to continue to help others – both personally and professionally in their own growth.  I want to expand my influence, and yet be more focused in that influence.

Most of all I want to engage more with God.  I want my life to reflect the grace and mercy that He has shown to me.  I want to walk out the love that He has given to me.  I want to be His hands and feet in the world around me.  I want others to be drawn to Him by my passion and His presence in me.  I want to know Him more and I want to know that I am known by Him more.  I want to hear His voice above anyone else.  I want all that He has for me, and to be all that He created me to be in the year to come.

Engage, it is such a broad word.  Yet it really does encompass the spirit of 2017 and where I want to continue to bring focus in 2018.  I want to engage in ever area of my life so that I can live life to the fullest.  I don’t want 2018 to just slip by like another year, I want it to be focused and I want to engage in every part of life through it.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD: Whose “stuff” are you allowing to inhabit you?

Here’s your prompt. This Challenge will hold space for you to shed and prep and prime for a miraculous, expansive 2018. But here’s something to sit with (and write about), as we get started:

What things that (a) belong to someone else and (b) no longer serve you are you allowing to inhabit:

  1. Your physical space
  2. Your head space, or
  3. Your heart space?

Are you holding on to someone else’s belongings?

Someone else’s fears? Someone’s limited beliefs about what is possible, in the world or for you specifically?

Someone else’s words that you heard as a child?

Are you holding onto worries about another grown-up person’s actions and the consequences in their own life? Can you envision letting them worry about themselves?

What is it? Whose are they? Most importantly, are you ready to give them up? What will that look like? And what are you prepared to do in commitment to yourself, if others push back when you release what doesn’t belong to or serve you?

Physical Space

I am one of those people who continually purge.  I do not like to hold on to things unless that have purpose or true sentimental value.  I recently donated my book collection, which was the last thing I was really holding on to.  I have a few left to read, and as I finish them, I just pass them along. I still have to finish going through the storage shed, but I hope to conquer that when spring comes and it is a little warmer.

When my mother passed away, we went through everything within a week of her death.  We distributed her belongings and pictures and donated everything that no one claimed.  I know they recommend waiting, but it wasn’t needed.  Two years have almost passed, and I haven’t looked for a thing or regretted the decision.

As my youngest daughter moved out a few months back, we took the opportunity to clean out closets and areas that were still holding things that belonged to our children.  I know my daughter took it personal that as she moved out we were ridding home of things that had been collecting dust for at least two years.  It wasn’t, the timing just worked.   I know there is also a trunk in the garage that holds treasures from when I was a child and from when my children were growing up.  I need to just give it to them, but I want my children to treasure those things like I did for them when I put it away.  But this year may be the year I give up that idea too and let them do with the things what they like.

potentialHead Space

This year I have spent the year realizing that I have allowed many thoughts of the past, labels that I have taken on, and lies of the enemy to my soul take up residence in my head.  These thoughts have been playing on repeat at a volume that often drowns out everything else.  Thoughts that have taken up space, that was never meant to be occupied by them.

I have listened to thoughts of past failures, as if they define my current status.  I have heard the insecurities scream out, drowning out the strengths that usually dominate my life.  I have spoken the labels over myself that I would generally not allow someone else to speak over me or themselves without a challenge to the label.  I have taken the lies of the enemy and allowed him to run them through my head without so much as a roadblock for so long that I no longer recognized them as lies.

I wish I could say that identifying those thoughts has made me evict them from the space they occupy.  Some days I am able to stop the thoughts and replace them with the Word of Truth.  Those days are victories.  There are still many days where I allow these thought to occupy too much time and space.  I am ready to give these thoughts up and allow myself the grace to walk out their final evictions.

Heart space

I have lived most of my life in denial of my emotions, except anger.  As a young child my emotions were mostly ignored.  A benefit of this, is that I generally do not take on other’s emotions.  However, as an adult, I am realizing the amount of personal baggage that I carry from not processing those emotions along the way.  I have spent the past three years trying to uncover the emotional baggage that I have and free myself from it.  Realizing that much of the things I believe as an adult came from false information perceived by my childhood self.  Emotional baggage that no one helped me unpack.

As I learn to release emotions in the moment, truly allowing myself to feel whatever I am feeling, I find freedom that I have not experienced before.  It still takes a lot of down time to let myself process what I am feeling.  Every now and then I find myself allowing things to just come out without need of processing.  I can identify the emotion and what is behind in and just be in that moment.

I am still letting go of old feelings and each day I become more open to letting go.  Letting go of feelings that have been hidden behind walls that I didn’t know existed.  Feelings that have been buried for fear of rejection, shame, or judgement are being dug up, addressed and thrown into the let it go pile.  Sometimes feelings unpack when I least expect it.  Feelings get triggered by a comment from something I am reading or talking to.  I have been taken aback when feelings surface in a connection of soul as I am helping someone else.  I find that it is hard for those who know me well to deal with the emotions that I usually hide.  Not that they don’t try to support, it just throws them off guard as the emotional side is rarely something I have shared.   I am realizing though that I can not be true to the work inside of me and be who others expect me to be.

I know there is probably more “stuff” that I am allowing to inhabit me.  I realized some time ago that I have to deal with the stuff in front of me first. If I try to change everything at once, I will become overwhelmed and remain frozen in fear, or worse run in the other direction.  I find that it is better to fight the fear of letting go of the stuff in my life, one piece at a time.  Each piece I release, brings me one step closer to being at peace with the person I am meant to be.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD: Conversations with Yoursel(ves)

As we reflect on our lives, it’s common to question what advice you might give your younger self.  Today, I’d like us to take a different angle on this conversation. First, sit still for 3 or 4 minutes5 if you can. Just let your mind go quiet.

Then, write about thiswithout any editing or censorship at all. Just let the words flow on the page, in bullets or fragments or whatever:

  1. What questions do you have for your Younger Self? What does your Younger Self want to remind you?
  2. What questions do you have for your Older Self, a version of you 10 or 20 years in the future? What does your Older Self want you to know?

Release any internal resistance to this exercise by understanding that it’s just a vehicle for letting your Inner Wisdom out, letting it know that you respect it, that you invite it and that you value it right now, whether or not you have before.

I had to spend a few day pondering these questions.  And even now I am not certain that I really like what I came up with.  Yet, in part that is why I would ask the questions so I suppose it is accurate to think that I really do want to know these things.

carefreeTo my younger self, I want to know when I decided it was not okay to be fun and carefree.  When I think back to my childhood and teenage years, I was very free-spirited and spontaneous.  I never met a dare I wouldn’t attempt, even if it got me into trouble sometimes.  I didn’t know a stranger, and had no problem making anyone a friend.  I was the kid who would ride down the steep hill on a skateboard with nowhere to go and no way to really stop if a car came suddenly.  I enjoyed coloring, writing poetry, skits and short stories and reading books.  I loved to walk in the fields and pick strawberries and blackberries.  I loved to jump off the cliffs at the lake.   I was never “sporty” but I loved to walk and swim just for fun.   I loved to just pop in and visit and have visitors pop in on me, sometimes at all hours of the night to just to hang out.  I didn’t have to schedule every minute of my day, week, and month.   Where did that go?  How can I get it back?  I need you to remind me as I miss that part of myself even as much as I desire the structure and quietness that I surround myself with now.

To my older self, I ask “What do you want to leave behind, to be remembered for, and to have carried on after you are gone?”  I realize that life is shorter than we think and that without intentional action on my part now, the things that I accomplish will have little lasting value.  Am I really spending time on what matters?  Am I making the memories with those who matter most?  Am I using my skills and talents now for what I want to accomplish or am I just floating along without effort because I don’t want to risk anything.  I can not wait twenty years to start building what I want to be able to look back on when I am older.  I need to start now.  What does that look like?  What steps do I need to take now to get where I want to be?

I think I ask these two questions because I want to enjoy life to the fullest.  I want to be intentional, but also have fun living.  I want to find the voice that has been silenced and begin living the life I want to remember.  To quote Dead Poet Society (1989)

Mr. Keating: “You must strive to find your own voice. Because the longer you wait to begin, the less likely you are to find it at all. Thoreau said, ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.’ Don’t be resigned to that. Break out!”

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD: Lessons from a can’t-get-it-wrong life

  • What single person or being has been the greatest teacher of your entire life? Describe the lesson.
  • What single experience has been the most impactful learning experience of your entire life? Describe the lesson.
  • What was the most powerful lesson you learned this year? Write about why you so value it and how it has left you transformed.

Write all about it.

Trying to narrow down my greatest teacher in my life is a hard one, as I try to learn from everyone that I come in contact with.  So if I have to narrow it down, it is God because He created them all.  The lesson that resounds is two-fold.  Everyone, no matter how rich or poor, how young or old,  how educated or uneducated, how naïve or how profound, regardless of culture or gender, has something to offer to the person next to them.  And no experience is ever wasted.

This has been great to know in my life, because I work with people all the time.  Some I thoroughly enjoy being around, and others grate on my nerves.  Either way, if I open myself of up to what they might be teach me, the encounter is so much more engaging and enriching.  It might be an introduction to something I have never come across before like a concept, book, or movie that opens me up for deeper learning.  It might be a perspective that I have never considered before.

Reminding myself that nothing is ever wasted, helps me turn my focus on the lesson to be learned and off of difficult circumstances.  I have recently been introduced to the idea of growth mindset made popular by Carolyn Dweck.  In short this is the idea that our basic abilities and talents are not fixed, but that they can grow through dedication and hard work.  Yet from all her research, this idea was originally found in the Bible.

Romans 5:3-4  We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.

And

James 1:3-4  For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

lessonsvery experience, if we are open to it has something to teach us.  If I have a “fixed mindset” as Carolyn Dweck talks about, I will continue traveling around the same mountain over and over again.  However, if I am open to growing through an experience I can continue to grow and develop into what God created me to be.

To be honest, in all my training professionally, I have not found a single lesson that can’t somehow be tied back to the greatest teacher in my life.  As scriptures say, there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  God is the greatest and most original teacher.

The experience that has been the most impactful learning experience of my life would have to be when I decided to truly surrender my life to Christ.  I would like to say that happened at salvation or when I rededicated my life to Christ, but it was much later than that in my walk with God.  Up until that point, I knew I would make in to heaven, but if I am honest I probably drove more people away from God than I did share Him with them.

Learning that I had to surrender my will, and along with it all the control I thought I had, was a difficult lesson to walk out.  I had to learn who I was in Christ and that my identity didn’t come from what power I thought I had, but from His power within me.  I had to learn to temper the anger within me, and let His peace, love and joy radiate out of me.  I had to learn to put other’s needs first and that it wasn’t all about me.

I admit there are still areas that God is showing me I haven’t surrendered.  In his revealing those areas to me, I see His grace and mercy.  I get a deeper revelation of where He is taking me and who He is making me to be.  I look back at that moment when I decided to surrender, and I see a different person looking back in the mirror.  I see a transformation that could have only come through Him.

The most powerful lesson I have learned this year is the importance of being intentional.  There were many things I learned this year, but all of them boil down to my choice to being intentional in my actions.  Many things may happen by accident, and many things may happen to me at the hand of others, but I am in control of what I do in response to accidents, others, and the things I want.

If I do not chose to be intentional with the lessons I learn, I will lose them.  If I am not intentional with the care that I need, I will run myself ragged and become of little use to those I am wanting to help. If I do not choose to be intentional with the dreams I have, I will see them come to pass.  If I am not intentional with the goals I set, then I will never achieve them.  If I want something, it will not come with wishful thinking, but with intentional steps to obtain it.

This powerful lesson has been one that I have to intentionally apply to every area of my life.  Learning to take time for myself, to rest and reflect helped me realize how much I needed to refresh myself.  Learning to be intentional with learning, has opened me up to reading and listening to books that I wouldn’t have taken time to open because of the investment of time needed to complete.  It has helped me be intentional in the goals I set, and taking steps to achieve them beyond the resolutions of the new year.  Being intentional in building relationships with those around me, has shown me how much I have closed myself off from others.  Being intentional with my feelings, has opened my heart to the comfort of God.  I am still learning, but being intentional will be my focus in the year ahead.

There are things I can’t get wrong in my life, because it is not over.  Mistakes I make are teachers.  Lessons I learn lead to new areas to explore about myself and the world around me.  The people I meet each day, bring me new perspectives.  I continue to learn more about God and more about who He designed me to be .  I have learned to be intentional with anything that is worth pursuing.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD: Yes Day For You

Here’s your prompt:

Think about the last time you got a bolt of inspiration, an idea so delightful it felt good, in the center of your body.

What was that? When was that? What were you doing when it hit you?

What would a Yes Day for You look like, in your ideal world?

What might *tomorrow* look like, if you decided to inject it with a little bit of Yes Day for You flavor, without blowing up your life?

 

Although I don’t all it “Yes Day”, over the past four years I have learned to go with the flow, to take time for myself, and with myself, and to try to tap into the creativity when it comes.   It often means taking some time to get alone with my thoughts – this past year I have found the joy of hammocking and riding on the back of my husband’s motorcycle are great places for this.  Sometimes it happens on a drive or when I am sitting in prayer.  Sometimes that means just jotting down a few sentences until I really have time in my schedule to ponder deeper on a thought – time that I am often still trying to find.

Sometimes that creativity comes in the form of a mental conversation that I need to have with another.  When I am obedient to that thought, great things happen in the life of others.  Sometimes it is just a change in perspective or focus.  Other times it may stop them from doing something they will later regret.  I am most honored when God uses me to speak into the lives of others like this.  To literally see doors open whether in the mind, spirit or natural for others brings me great joys.  I find that in these times, generally I can not repeat the words of wisdom that have flown.  I suppose because I am just a tool, and they were never my words or thoughts to begin with.

Other times it comes in the form of a thought so heavy that I need to get it out for fear I will explode under the weight of it.  Usually in terms of something that I need to take time to create – a blog, a book idea, a training idea, or plan.  I keep Evernote files for these ideas so that I can continue to work on them.  I am not as faithful to go back to these as I need to be though.  Time is never on my side when it comes to thinking about these life matters.  I need to learn to be intentional to make time to return and knock these things out.  With no deadline, it is hard for me to carve out the time when I already have so many demands.

liveA true “Yes day” for me, where I could dictate the time would be filled with warm weather, the sound of rolling waves, friends and family, activity, and a quiet time for prayer and reflection.  It’s 28 degrees outside and the nearest body of water has no rolling waves this time of year, generally the waves come at the cost of noisy speed boats on a good day.  So today is not my Yes, day.  And if I lived in the warm climate near the ocean, I hope that I would not take it for granted like I often do my natural outdoor surroundings and sounds.

Being around family and friends both relaxes me and energizes me depending on the conversations and events.  Sometimes my deepest thoughts come from a challenge to a thought or deep held belief when conversing with my two younger children or friends.  Or I will be watching something with my husband or grandchildren and draw correlation in my mind that sparks creativity and a deeper revelation.  And sometimes just the energy from being with family and friends draws me to a safe spot where I can feel free to just get creative.

I enjoy being active, but admit that this is the easiest one for me to make excuses for – I don’t like the cold, I am not generally a morning person, it is generally getting dark when I get home, and I need to relax, not get my heart pumping.  When I do make time for walking, yoga, swimming, and weights I feel so much more alive.  I have more energy for the day and more grounded as I go through things.

I find much of my creative time comes from quiet times with God, when I am meditating on His Word, digging for deeper truths, praying out my heart or journaling from the soul.  I know that God is creative, and I was made in His image.  I may not be able to create in every way He does, but He has shown me the creative power of my words when given to Him.

I have been trying to give myself a little of this time each day.  Right now, the only one I take time for daily is time with God.  It is something that I have been disciplined to do over the past decade and have been faithful to do.  I can see the benefits personally and in the overflow of my life from this time.  I can also tell if I miss a day for some reason.  It took me time to find the best time for this, which I have found for the past two years has been first thing in the morning.  And if I am really lucky, I can sneak in a little more time at the end of the day.  This just primes my mind for a creative day at work ministering to others.

The thing I find most hard about part of my yes day being with others, is that just because it is my yes day, doesn’t mean I am part of theirs.  This is something that I have had to really keep in mind as I try to make it a point to spend time with friends and family at least once or twice a week, intentionally.  I work an opposite shift from my husband, so I try to keep Friday and Saturday with him.  We generally keep two of our grandchildren on Saturday evenings.  I love playing during the evening with them, cuddling up for a movie as they go to sleep and visiting with them on the way to and from church.  My son calls or face times me a least once most week as he lives out-of-state.  And I try to do something with my daughters monthly, or as often as we can with their busy schedules.  We also try to do Sunday night dinners, although there seems to be more distractions that connecting a lot.  And I try to connect with friends two to three times a week, whether by phone or in person.  It helps that a lot of my friends I see at church and work or where I volunteer.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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United We Thrive, Divided We Fail

Tonight my pastor decided to do something different.  Wednesday nights we have corporate prayer and usually anyone who fells lead to pray can get up and well, pray.  Tonight he laid out some scriptures, on three pieces of paper at the pulpit.  He wanted to help focus the prayer and give us some  direction from the Word.

Great idea, except for I am not a script person.  He wasn’t asking for us to just pray the scripture and sit down, but to pray it out.  I am a planner, God and I spend a lot of time talking before I will walk up in a corporate prayer meeting.  I need to have an opening line at least, I bargain. What do I do when I feel prompted but I have no idea what I’m walking in to?  I resist.  A lot.  And then I usually give in, especially if I know it is a “God thing.”

So I walked up to the pulpit and skimmed over the scriptures.  We were praying on unity.  Let me pause and just say, I have hUnitedad a definite block on unity recently.  I haven’t felt unity with anyone.  I have been feeling isolated.  I have been feeling left out.  I have been feeling like I don’t belong.  No one cares.  No one really understands.  Not just one place, but most every place.  I know it is my own pride and insecurity wrapped up in a neat bow from the enemy to help steal my joy and peace.  I have played right into it, and let it help me to continue isolating myself.

I thought I had gotten a handle on it.  Notice I said “I got.” well this week I learned, “I ain’t got a handle on nothing.”  The lack of unity I was feeling had me so frustrated that I was ready to quite my job.  A job I love, am passionate about, getting to use my education to help others, in a Christian environment, ministering to people in need, helping connect them with the resources they need to move them to the next place in life.  This is what insecurity does, it turns our focus on the wrong things instead of letting us look at the blessings all around us.

So that was my week, well probably month leading up to this prayer meeting.  I had already sat in my chair with tears in my eyes telling God, “Yes, I know this was what I needed tonight.  Yes, I repent, please forgive me.  Yes, I see I am part of the problem.” This before the prompting to get up and pray.  I squirmed and looked up something on unity in my phone.  I realized I wanted to share this with my cohorts.  Many although not all are also believers, and so we should have unity and be working together.

So I stood there microphone in my hand looking at the words on the page. I kept feeling led back to a particular scripture.  I wanted to avoid it, and I certainly didn’t want to pray it.  “Hello God, didn’t we just have this conversation. I am not the one that should pray about this one.  I have struggled with it all week.  Let’s just pray the next one on the page.”  A simple “No. This one.”

Romans 12:16 (NIV)  Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

I realized that if I am struggling with this, others probably feel it too.  There is a reason that this is the scripture the Holy Spirit drew me to.  So I let go of the block.  I let go of the resistance.  I was obedient, and prayed what was on my heart.  Then my attention was drawn to another scripture passage on the page, and another.  I felt free to read from the script and pray from the heart.  As I sat down, I felt the desire to write.

God called His people to live in harmony with one another.  There may not have been all the denominations that we have now, but there were different sects of believers.  There were varying religious beliefs that were already in play and already caused heated debates and division.  There were possibly as many cultures, but I think this was referring to the Jewish Christians getting along with the Gentile Christians.  It was the clean versus the unclean.  The circumcised versus the uncircumcised.  The chosen people versus the unchosen.

God said “live in harmony with one another.”  So, how do we do it?  I am so thankful that as Christian’s we have the Holy Spirit to teach us, guide us and direct us.

The scripture says “Don’t be proud.”  Pride is focused on me and what I can do.  It looks at “my” accomplishments.  It compares what I am doing to what others are or are not doing.  In the middle of pride, is “I.”  The problem with being “I-focused.” is that there is no one to be unified with.  You can’t be “I-focused” and “God-focused” at the same time.  You can’t be “I-focused”, and focus on others at the same time.

God called us to be in unity with one another.    Others should encourage you in your accomplishments and a job well done, but if you have already patted yourself on the back there is no need for anyone else too.  If we are seeking glory, we are not giving glory to God.  He tells us to humble ourselves, and He will lift us up in due season.  Unity with others begins with unity with God and humbling our self.

God’s next direction was to be willing to associate with people of low positons.  Consider the lowly position of those who pick up community trash.  You might not notice if your trash didn’t get picked up for a week or two, but imagine going four months without your trash being pick up as several communities did during the strikes of 1968.  Then add everyone in your community’s trash.  Then add the summer heat to that trash.  It quickly makes you appreciate that job your thankful you don’t have to do every time your get behind the dump truck.

I have had the opportunity to work with the wealthiest people and the poorest people in our community.  I have sat under some of the most anointed people, and I have sat with some of the ungodliness people.  I have been with some of the most educated and some of the least educated.  I know that I have learned something from them all.  Each person on a team, in a church, in a community has something to offer.  When we live in unity with each other, we value what each person contributes – great or small.

His next instruction was, “Do not be conceited”.  When I was younger I had a favorite saying “I’m not conceited.  Just convinced.”  I was very vain and egotistical.  We all like to think that our way is the right way.  We like to think others should do things like we do them and should have the same goals and results as we do.  The problem is that most of us think like that and the only way that thinking  can happen – is if we are in unity with one another.

God gave each of us different talents and abilities.  He gave us different personalities and different thought processes.  He gave us strengths.  However, we also all have weaknesses.  All of these things work together when we are in unity.  We can bounce ideas off others and come up with the perfect plan.  We can turn an assignment that drains us over to someone who will find energy in it.  We can draw from other’s strengths and they can help cover each other’s weaknesses.  That is what working in unity looks like.

Colossians 3:14 gives us one other direction.  And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.  Put on love.  Love is what keeps us in unity.  Not the love of the world (although we need to have love for the people in the world), but the love of God.  God saysLove is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.


If we have to put on love, that means it is a choice.  There was a morning devotion not to long ago where we were encouraged to do just this, to put on love.  To ask ourselves, am I being patient with my coworker?  Am I being kind?  Am I envious of another? Am I boasting to others?  Am I being proud? Am I dishonoring others? Am I self-seeking?  Am I being easily angered?  Am I keeping score of wrongs? Am I happy when someone else gets in trouble?  Am I happy when the truth is brought forth?  Am I protective of all my coworkers?  Am I trusting of my coworkers?  Do I pour hope into my coworkers?  Do I work beside them in the tough times until the job is done?  That is what unity does, it puts on God’s love.  When we put on this mindset, we thrive.  If we remain divided, we ultimately fail.

Walking in unity with others is not easy, but it is possible.  It is also a choice, but a choice that benefits us and those around us with good and pleasant things.  I leave you with a thought from Sister Katherine McAuley

The blessing of unity still dwells amongst us and oh what a blessing, it should make all else pass into nothing….This is indeed the true spirit of Mercy flowing on us…Katherine McAuley.

 

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POD: Your 2017 Headlines That Aren’t Fit to Print

We must keep in mind that our brains alert to bad news 5 or 6 times as much as good. So the media outlets that want our attention often take the tactic of printing the bad to get as much mindshare as they can.

That doesn’t mean that the bad news you see is the whole story.

Reflect on your 2017. Write today about all the great news that took place in your own life this year.

Write about your personal wins, your personal a-ha moments. Write about any growth experiences, mindset shifts or transformations you had or started. Write about times you found $100 in your pocket or someone blessed you with a gift. Write about new people you loved and new things you learned. New places you went and new experiences you tried.

Even just write about individual, seemingly unimportant moments of connection or resonance you experienced. That time you held hands with your sweetheart in the stillness of the park. The hundreds of times your dogs blessed you with their company. Write about the times your feet took steps and all those mornings your eyes opened.

Think back and try to remember any times in 2017 that you experienced pronoia: evidence that perhaps the whole universe is actually conspiring to bless you. Write about them. Write about blessings and miracles, big and small.

If it’s hard to get this going, it might help if you start out super, super general, looking around you and seeing what you appreciate in your immediate physical body and physical surroundings. Then zoom out. Once you get going, you might be tempted not to stop.

I wish I had the ability to put into print all the headlines that aren’t fit for print this year.  Due to privacy laws, they aren’t legal for me to share.  I am blessed to be on the frontline as a witness to miracles and transformations in the lives of so many people.  To see people healed, relationships reconciled and people restored is a blessing that I am honored to witness regularly.  Although my life is blessed, these are the stories I would share to bring encouragement and hope to so many.

The headline of my life for 2017 would be “A Touch of Grace.” The biggest headline would have to be welcoming my son’s first child into the world in July.  Although I wasn’t able to be there for his birth, I was able to go and spend a few days with them shortly after his birth.  There is something special about watching your child take care of his wife and child.  Although I am no naïve to think he is always as attentive as he was during my visit, it was nice to know he knows how to be a spouse and father.  I know that is God’s grace covered him, because his example from both parents growing up was less than attentive on either front.

We became empty nesters for the first time in our married life.  This has been a little bit of a bitter-sweet blessing.  My daughter would tell you that I started the countdown her second year of high-school.  When the kids started working outside the home, I got used to the quiet time after work since they would go to work after school or out with friends when off and found I REALLY enjoy it.  I admit it would annoy me to have the mess to clean up when I didn’t see anyone and the financial responsibility when I didn’t see anyone except once a week, if I was lucky for family dinner on Sundays.  So I was looking forward to empty nest.  But now that they are all moved out, I sometimes miss the noise, the mess (although my husband does his best in this area) and our random talks or debates and arguments as my husband thinks of them.  It is a blessing to know that despite my failures as a parent, God’s grace launched all my children successfully into adulthood.

I fulfilled three travel firsts this year with the love of my life.  I finally made it to New Orleans.  We took our first cruise.  And it was my first time out of the country, since technically Puerto Rico is a territory of the United States.  We had such a wonderful time together.  It was nice to not only get away, but to check some things off my bucket list.  I especially enjoyed disconnecting, as we intentionally did not have internet except one 24 hour period and a short time at one of the ports during our cruise.  It is a quick reality of how much time I waste on social media.  It was nice to just sit and enjoy my husband’s companionship, try new foods, and explore new places.  We toured the streets of New Orleans on foot and then by bicycled carriage.  We took a bamboo raft float down the river in Jamaica.  We went kayaking and snorkeling in the ocean at Cayman Islands.  Then enjoyed a relaxing afternoon at an all-inclusive private beach in Cozumel.  God’s favor was with us for perfect weather and safety on our adventure.

newsAs big as the major blessing in my life are, it is in the small things that I find God’s greatest blessings so to list a few:

  1. I love my husband.  We celebrated 18 years of marriage and twenty-six years of knowing each other.  He is a great provider.  He has a big heart and is learning to show it more.  He still puts up with me – and that is truly a testimony of God’s grace!
  2. My oldest daughter was promoted in her business and won an all expense trip to the Dominican Republic, which just happened to fall on her 25th birthday weekend.
  3. My son has a beautiful family, and although he lives almost a 1,000 miles away he has a good job for a good employer, is part of a church family where he feels connected and is going to college to further his education (and it is being paid for!).
  4. My youngest daughter moved out on her own.  She changed positions in her job and is working on her education, and has recently started pursuing her relationship with God as a priority.  She has had several course changing epiphanies this year.
  5. My family – self, spouse, children, and grandchildren are all healthy.
  6. My grandson got potty trained.
  7. My granddaughter learned to write all her letters, she can spell a lot of words, is learning phonics, and additions.  Hopefully she won’t be too bored when she gets to kindergarten next fall as that could spell disaster.
  8. I attend church with an amazing pastors that I love who challenge us to grow in God.  We have a focus of igniting our passion for God, knowing our position in Him, and pursuing His passion for people in the passion He has given to us.
  9. I really love the people I attend church with and have enjoyed worshipping and serving alongside them this year.
  10. We got moved into our new church building. The process took longer than we thought it would, but God’s hand was on it all the way.
  11. We have the most amazing children’s ministry.  I love how much my grandchildren love to go to church now and how they can tell me the stories that they are learning.  They look forward to church instead of crying at drop-off when they are will me.
  12. I have a job that I love, that pays the bills, and lets me help other people and use the education that I have.
  13. I have an amazing team of coworkers, even on days they drive me crazy (I know I drive them nuts too!)
  14. I get to meet amazing people who inspire and challenge me every day.
  15. I have been blessed with the opportunity to pour into other social workers providing supervision for two working on their LCSW and two who are working on their MSW degrees this year.
  16. We have enough to meet our needs, some desires, and pay it forward.  Although at times it is easy to focus on what I want and don’t have, we met people living on less than $50 a week while we were traveling.  I know we are blessed.
  17. I have some amazing friends in my life who encourage me, support me, challenge me, believe in me and let me speak into their life too.
  18. I have more than my basic needs taken care of daily – I have a roof over my head, clothes in the closet, food in the cupboard, vehicles in the driveway
  19. I have pursued my passion of writing a lot more this year.  This means I have taken time to get quiet and let my creativity surface.  I am blessed that God has given me this outlet.
  20. I got in touch with my emotions more this year.  A lot of it has been in writing, but I am learning to be more expressive.
  21. I have taken time to relax. I have this wonderful little hammock in my backyard and motorcycle in the garage, both provide me with relaxation and sun.
  22. I got to see all my siblings together for Thanksgiving, along with all my children and grandchildren.
  23. I reconciled with my grandmother after twenty years and reconnected with my aunt also.
  24. I am alive.
  25. I am saved by God’s grace.

I could continue on listing blessing, too numerous to count for this year.  I am overwhelmed by the touch of God’s grace on my life.  Every one of us, if we take the time to stop and reflect has blessings that are overflowing in our life.  I admit that today was not a day I wanted to reflect on blessing.  I have enjoyed two pity party gripe sessions today and was cranky most of the afternoon.  I cried on the way home.  Yet pausing to reflect on God’s goodness has changed my perspective and emotions for the better.  It only takes changing your focus to change your perspective.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

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POD: Paradoxes—Hiding and Holding On

Years ago, I read a book called Hiding from Love. I honestly don’t remember a ton about the book itself. But I do recall being fascinated by the paradox that we frequently, through our patterns and behaviors, hide from the very thing that we most want and most universally long for: love.

For today’s prompt, reflect on 2017 thus far and write out what comes to your mind in response to these four questions:

  1. Are there any deep desires or longings you have, but have been avoiding, hiding or running from?
  2. Are there any deep fears or anxieties you have, that you have been holding onto, staying involved in or attached to?
  3. Are there any desires or longings you stopped hiding from this year?
  4. Are there any fears or anxieties you released this year?

Tell your Pages all about it.

I realized this year that one of my deepest desires is to be known.  I have always thought my life was an open book, but really I am just a well read book cover.  People know the highlights of the story, but I don’t let others delve into the story and experience my life.  I don’t let others engage so much that they can walk alongside, to feel, and experience the story unfold.

The biggest battle I have with being known is that I am not sure that I know who I really am.  I have hidden myself so long in who others need me to be and what I do, that I don’t really know who I am.  Ask me roles, and I can play them.  Ask me tasks, and I can do them.  Ask me who I am, and right now my answer would be “I am lost.”

I am looking to be found, yet I am avoiding the search.  I am running because I am not sure that I can face who I am.  And yet at the core of my soul, I long to know and be known.

Scriptures tell me “God knows me.”  Most of the time I avoid seeking to know who I am.  I want the “being known” with no effort on my part.  I don’t want to be vulnerable with myself, let alone others or God.  Although I know He knows, I like to think His eyes are turned away from me more than they are too me.  When I pause and really seek God to show me who I am, the picture is vastly different from what I imagine.  I focus my attention on faults and shortcomings, He focuses on who He made me to be.  It overwhelms me.

KnownbyGodI often stop the search because I don’t know how to experience the fullness of His love.  I find it hard to accept that He knows things I can not fathom about myself.  I find myself running because my focus shows how much I miss.  I am okay hearing Him correct and discipline me, because I am so focused on the “do” failures.  This becomes a task I can complete to fix myself .  I am still trying to earn what He has already given.     When He speaks to me about what I am, I shrink back.  I can not see myself through His eyes and maintain my own view.

As much as I long to be known, my deepest fear and anxiety is that who I am is not enough.  I can hide behind playing a role to meet the needs of others.  I can hide behind the busyness of productivity.  Working to earn people s’ praises and acceptance I can hold on to my insecurities.  I can stay attached to my work’s mentality.

I am not sure what I was doing earlier this week, when I realized that so much of what I do is tied to other’s expectations and the desire to earn approval.  My mind went to taking care of my mother in the last few months of her life. I wasn’t necessarily doing anything other than sitting by her side.  I felt that nudge of pain that part of my diligence was tied to a promise made twenty years earlier when my father died that we (my siblings and I) would take care of my mother.

I have been praying that God would search my heart and show me hidden motives.  A ping of guilt and shame rushed through my body.  Even in her death, I was working for acceptance.  I wanted to be enough.  I don’t regret a moment I spent with my mother.  I would do it all again.  Yet maybe I did have a hidden motive even if it wasn’t my only motive.

It is a work in progress, but I am trying to stop hiding.  I am trying to let myself be known, even as I discover who I am for myself.  I am trying to let go of insecurities and work’s mentality and allow myself to be known and loved by those who want to and will.  I know that not everyone will want to know me.  Not everyone will love me, or even like me.  Some people will want me to stay in the work’s mentality for their benefit. That is okay, because some people will want to know, love me, like me and accept me. God is ready for me to stop hiding and start holding on to Him.  He is ready for me to know who I am in Him and allow others to know who He is in me.

This post is prompted by Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s 30 Day Writing Challenge for Conscious Leaders.

 

 

 

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