"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead..." Romans 1:20

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best "Recipe" Book

If you've ever had a meringue cookie you know that it is stiffly-beaten egg whites and sugar.  Once baked it puffs up into a shell full of air.  When I think of the Ego I think of being puffed up and full of air....in other words with no substance.  Alan Cohen defines the Ego as a "limited idea of self."  This has given me a whole new way of looking at Ego as I constantly do battle with my own.

Cohen addresses this thought in his year-end message in his daily meditations book, "A Daily Dose of Sanity."  He says he is often amazed at how far he's come in the previous year as he reviews his accomplishments.  He's amazed because during the year he did not feel he had done so.  He says the reason is because your Ego doesn't want you to think so...."It thrives on an illusory sense of being small, stuck, and powerless."  You'd think the Ego would want the opposite!  You'd think the Ego would want to be seen as all-powerful.  Once Cohen explained, however, that the Ego is in competition with our "higher knowing"--who we really are--I understood why Ego is our limited idea of ourselves.  If you think you are your Ego (small and powerless), you will not listen to your "higher knowing." Likewise, if you realize you are your "higher knowing," you won't listen to Ego.   Because, after all, who needs Ego when we have God?

God created each of us and put the "ingredients" into us that would be all we would ever need.  The problem is we can't access it unless our relationship to God is right.  Scripture is the "recipe" book to go to for an understanding of what it means to be right with God--how to get right and stay right (see Philippians 3:9)--and the Holy Spirit is God's gift to us to help us understand and to do all that we read.  One way to read the Bible is to use a daily tool such as this.  You can read the whole Bible in one year using one of these methods:  beginning to end; chronologically; as the books were written historically; by reading the New Testament first then the Old Testament; or by reading a passage from both the Old and New Testaments each day.  You can purchase Bibles that lay it out for you in different ways, also.  They often contain footnotes to enrich your understanding.  

Many years ago I read the whole Bible through in a year using the chronological method.  While I knew I would not retain everything I read, I did know that it was in my brain where I could access it with the Holy Spirit's help.  It gave me great comfort to know that this vital information was there.  If you have not read through the entire Bible, I would encourage you to make it your goal for 2014.  Like Cohen, you may not feel you are accomplishing much during the year, but wait until the end of the year--you'll be amazed!

Father, may your Word light my way through each day.

Link to scripture:  2 Timothy 3:16

Take action:
             
        

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Perfect Light


Star of Wonder...guide us to your Perfect Light....

http://www.rayfowler.org/2008/12/10/what-was-the-star-of-bethlehem/
Many have speculated on the phenomenon that caused the bright star over Bethlehem announcing the birth of Christ.  Whatever it was I believe we are to acknowledge it as a symbol of the Light that was entering the world with the birth of Jesus.  Scripture says He was born to die so that man might live.  

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Copycats


"God created all people to be originals, but we continue to be copies of others.  Too often we are preoccupied with trying to fit in, that we never stand out." --Myles Munroe

photo credit: http://www.funkyenglish.com/forum/topics/copycat

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Wonder



This time of year is filled with excitement and wonder as many children look forward to Santa's coming.  It has been a part of our culture for generations now.  I remember how torn I was when my children were little and how easy it was to give in to the Santa culture they were exposed to....and in the process the excitement and wonder of the true meaning of Christmas was missed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Changing Seasons


November is a month of change for me.  Besides being a month of Autumn when most of the leaves will fall off the trees in our area, it is the month of my birth as well as the month of my mother's death.  It will be 19 years this month since my mother passed and 63 years since she gave birth to me.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trust in the Lord

I learned something new today--how salmon are able to negotiate up and over waterfalls.  
                                   

Monday, October 28, 2013

Matching Funds


Organizations like International Rescue Committee (IRC) reach out to help refugees all over the world like these Syrian children in the above photo.  IRC sent me an e-mail telling me that if I donated money right now the Newman's Own Foundation would match my donation.  How could my heart refuse such an offer!  

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Into the Woods: Solitude

"We all suffer, at times, from the effort to study something instead of living it.  Or from the effort to fix or advise rather than to listen and to hold....So often when we refuse to listen, we become obsessed with remaking the world in our own image, rather than opening the spirit within us to the spirit of what is." --Mark Nepo

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Why We Help Others

"There is a difference between helping someone because you will lose their love or some sense of your own image as a caring person, and helping someone because your impulse of heart moves you to their aid." --Mark Nepo

Monday, September 16, 2013

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Shadow

Barbara Fox's painting illustrates the use of shadows to give a painting depth and a sense of realism.        

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Enthusisasm

Enthusiasm:  (Greek) "en" (one with) "theos" (the divine).  Mark Nepo says enthusiasm cannot be willed or forced.  "It can only be felt after we immerse ourselves in life."  He likens our enthusiasm to "the sound of God moving through the harp of the soul" such as this aeolian harp whose strings are "plucked" by the wind....
               

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Into the Woods: Wildlife

"There, on the inner cliffs where humbled creatures meet to see what can't be seen and know what can't be known, we spread our arms like hawks to taste the ancient air." --Mark Nepo

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Into the Woods: Light

 "We cannot see light except in what it touches....until it hits a simple blade of grass or makes the web of a spider a golden patch of lace."--Mark Nepo

I love to walk in our woods when the sun is filtering through the leafy upper story of the trees....

Friday, June 7, 2013

Into the Woods: Wood Chips

It has been two months since our woods was cleared of the dead trees and brambles.  This pile of wood chips is still waiting for us to distribute in the play-yard....

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Into the Woods: Blossoms

This Phlox, which grows at the edge of our property in a small clearing in our woods, is about to bloom....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Into the Woods: Paths

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight."  Proverbs 3:5-6

We've been busy in the weeks since our woods were cleared of dead trees and unwanted bushes and brambles.  Our latest project has been to spread the mound of wood chips along the paths in our woods....

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Into the Woods: Cleaning Up the Mess

"Just as our only recourse to falling down is getting up, our only recourse to hurting others is to acknowledge what we've done and clean up the mess.  This is known as making amends, a simple yet enormous act of integrity that restores trust, and trust, afterall, is the soil that holds the roots of humankind." --Mark Nepo

....Because if you don't, this is what your life will eventually look like.....

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Into the Woods: Brambles

Bramble:  a prickly scrambling wild shrub of the rose family

This is one of our brambles in our woods that we did not have cleared because it provides a screen from the road behind it....

Friday, April 26, 2013

Into the Woods: Stumps

Stump:   the small projecting remnant of something that has been cut or broken off or worn away

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Into the Woods: Petrified Trees

"When we obey the feelings of hesitation and separation more powerfully than those of love, we start to experience numbness and depression.  This is when we start to live like statues, believing that all we can do is watch."

This made me think of several trees in our woods....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Into the Woods: Vines

We have a lot of English ivy in our woods.   It looks like we have an evergreen forest in the winter because of all the ivy climbing up the trees.  With our woods clean-up in full swing we've been going through and cutting and pulling off the ivy and other vines where we can....

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Into the Woods

After living on this plot of ground for 32 years we are finally able to do something about our patch of woods!  Over the decades the 40-foot pitch pine trees have been dying off one by one....

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Moving Day


Yesterday we helped our youngest son move into his own apartment--the first time for him not to be living under either our roof, a college dormitory, or in a room rented from a friend.  It was a momentous day!  I found this a fitting analogy of what this "Easter" weekend is all about--moving from one abode to another.

It began on Friday when Jesus was crucified for claiming to be the son of God.  In bearing witness to who He was and subjecting Himself to an earthly death because of it, he paid for our sin of "missing the mark".  He stood up and claimed what so many of us refuse to do--that we are of God.  At the source of all our sin (our missing the mark) is the fact that we disassociated ourselves from God and tried to make a go of it alone.

Saturday is all about the move.  For us it's leaving our sense of being the one in control and surrendering it to God.

Sunday is Resurrection Day--the day we wake up to being Alive in Christ.  The terminology used is "born again" because while we were born into earthly existence on the day we celebrate as our birthday, our spirit needs to be reborn into God's kingdom where we stand up and acknowledge who we belong to--really.



This morning I saw a fox run past my bedroom window...can you see it...the reddish blotch just to the right of the tree.  It's interesting to me that the caution tape is in the photo.  It's there because we're having a company coming next week to clear out all the dead trees in our woods and the tape is to show them they're not to clear anything on this side of it.  Luke 13:31-32 says, 

31At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”
32He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ 

The caution tape is a good reminder for those who will conclude this church Lenten season of reflection and renewal today and then not revisit it until next year.  They'll forget that Jesus reached his goal--Satan no longer has a hold on them and they are healed!  The warning is that we can too easily forget this so we must be diligent in remembering.  We are not in danger of losing it, but rather in forgetting it and acting then as if it never happened--our new birth....our move from our old life to our new life.  

In addition, the caution tape and the fact that the fox is on this side of the tape is a reminder of how we might try to keep God out of certain parts of our lives.  Instead, let us remember today and always, that we are not alone--that Christ is in us, and all of us belongs to Him.

Most of all, however, the caution tape is a reminder to those who have yet to believe.  Caution means "to take heed".  God gives us plenty of warnings to take precautions against eternal death.  He has provided the way to prevent eternal death, if we will just believe and accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

Father, thank you for never letting me go even when I could not feel you there.  I believe.  Help my unbelief.  

Link to scripture:  Mark 9:24

Take action: 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Listening

"The placeholder we call listening is merely the eyehole to the kaleidoscope...." --Mark Nepo, "Seven Thousand Ways to Listen"


I've just started reading Mark Nepo's new book--the one the above quote comes from.  His title was inspired by the fact that there are at least 7,000 known languages in use on this planet.  There are, metaphorically he reasoned, 7,000 ways to listen. 

I love the kaleidoscope imagery he used to show that listening opens up a whole new world to each one of us and as Nepo says,  "[It] stitches the world together."  

I don't think we give listening it's rightful importance.  I venture to say we use it, for the most part, to serve ourselves.  We listen when we want to learn something.  We listen when we want to be entertained.  But how often do we listen in order to connect?  In order to let the other person know we think they and what they have to say is important?  I'll be the first to admit that when someone is speaking to me I often will be thinking about what I plan to say as soon as they finish.  That's because I rarely get to speak in my talkative family and am eager to have my say as soon as I can.....but that's no excuse for not really listening to the other person.  I'm trying to do better because I know how much it means to me when I feel "heard".  

Throughout scripture God advises us to listen.  In fact, He merely whispers to Elijah.  That is a parenting technique I remember reading about....if you want to break the escalation of voices in the midst of a face-to-face disagreement, whisper.  It'll capture their attention and cause them to stop talking as they attempt to hear what you are saying.

Has God been whispering to you?  Have you been listening for His voice?  

Father, I want to be a better listener in order to connect with others.  Just like a kaleidoscope allows one to see things not as they usually appear, listening will enable me to "hear" things not being said, so that I might really connect with them.

Link to scripture:  1 Kings 19:12

Take action:  Be a Good Listener

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hide 'n Seek

by James Charles
Do you remember playing the game Hide and Go Seek?  I loved it as a child.  It could be played indoors on rainy days or out of doors, which was the most fun.  It was challenging and exciting.  The one chosen as "it" had to cover their eyes....


....while everyone else ran off to hide.  If you were hiding, the anticipation of being found was both nerve wracking and exciting.  The challenge of being well hidden was offset by the desire to be found so you could be "it" next.  If you were "it" the challenge was in locating your prey quickly because it meant you were good at finding, unless, of course, the findee was just poor at hiding.  All in all, it was an afternoon of good fun.

Now, as adults, however, it's not such a good skill--the hiding part, that is.  In today's Our Daily Bread devotional David McCasland notes that "When we have nothing to hide, we have nothing to fear."  This seemed like one of those "blanket" statements that couldn't possibly be true in every circumstance until I began thinking about all the scriptures, such as Isaiah 41:10 that begin "Fear not, for I am with you." It's only when we hide from God that we should have reason to fear because it's then we are truly bereft.  

There are plenty of scriptures, too, that tell us good things will happen if we will seek God, such as Matthew 6:33, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."  When we come out of hiding and become "it", the one who is seeking, what we will find, if it is God we seek, is everything we need.

Perhaps we should grow up and stop playing the game of Hide 'n Seek with God.  Instead, the new game should just be Seek 'n Find.  

Father, You promise us that if we will seek You, You shall be found.  That is a far more exciting endeavor than my childhood game of Hide 'n Seek.  

Link to scripture:  Jeremiah 29:13

Take action:  

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Letting Go


Mark Nepo uses the example of a monkey trap to illustrate how much more can happen if we go through life with our hands open.  A monkey trap is made by punching a hole in a coconut just large enough for a monkey to put its hand into, then placing a handful of rice inside so that when the monkey tries to remove its now fisted hand clutching the rice he can't.  His only escape is to open his hand and let the rice go.

Nepo says hearing this finally helped him to understand "the tense ritual of rejection that exists between my mother and me.  Like any child, I've always wanted her love and approval, but suddenly I realized that this has been my rice--the more it has not come, the tighter my grip.  My hunger for her love has been master of my reach, even in other relationships.  I have been a caught monkey, unwilling to let go."

He concludes, "The truth is that food is everywhere.  Though the stubborn monkey believes in its moment of hunger that there is no other food, it only has to let go for its life to unfold.  Our journey to love is no different.....For love is everywhere."

This is why I chose the picture of the monkey embracing the kitten, an unusual source of love for a monkey.  Once we realize that we're trying to limit our need for love by what WE think will satisfy it and instead open our hearts to the love that surrounds us, we will no longer be trapped by our appetites.  Instead we'll be open to the love that God provides in ways we'd otherwise miss. 

Is there something you need to let go of? 

Father, open my eyes, my hands, my heart to what You want to give me.  

Link to scripture:  Philippians 4:19

Take action:  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Envy

"Envy is the art of counting the other fellow's blessings instead of your own." --Alan Cohen

Cohen goes on to say, "Jealousy is really a disguised attack on oneself."  

I have never considered myself the jealous type.  I would always be happy for the other person when they were able to have a nicer "whatever" than I had.    Cohen says we should see the person you're envious of as "a harbinger of good for yourself."  He says they are showing us that if they can have something that good, so can we.  
Me - Age 8
I remember in third grade, when I was eight, wishing I could give a party for the whole class like Sonja did for Halloween that year, so I asked my mother if I could have an Easter party.  She agreed to a few friends, but not the whole class.  I remember feeling very pleased with how it turned out.  But, I also remember that Sonja got the lead of Cinderella in the school play that year.  I didn't do too badly because I was chosen as one of the girls who would attend the Ball.....until my mother became ill and couldn't make my costume which meant I had to be one of the serving girls, instead, and wear an apron.  Perhaps that WAS jealousy I felt.  And then for our social studies project her sugar cube igloo won first prize while my Sahara desert tent made from my Dad's old flannel pajama material was rather simple and plain and took no prize.  I KNOW that was jealousy I felt.  I remember thinking bad thoughts about her and may have even complained that she had to have had help from her mother to build it. 

I can see how jealousy is dependent on what you think of yourself.  Concerning the party, I was able to give my own party, and even though it wasn't on the same scale, I'd planned it myself and with my mother's help executed it to my 8-year-old self's satisfaction and felt rather good about it.  But when I wasn't able to wear a pretty costume in the play or make a fancy-looking project, I felt less of myself and therefore was envious of Sonja's success.  

So, it would seem feelings of envy can be a good thing if we use it for good.  It can either act as a catalyst to get us moving in the direction of making that same thing happen in our lives--not because the other person has it, but because it's worth having in its own right.   Or, it can show us where we need to work on our self-worth.  Self acceptance is a large part of that, realizing we do have limitations.  Not everyone is gifted with the same abilities.

If, however, we stew in the jealousy and allow it to become resentment it becomes harmful--not only to ourselves, but to our relationships.

Cohen says a good way to think of envy (N.V.) is as  New Vision.  He says the fact that I can recognize the good others have indicates I'm able to perceive good for myself which is the first step in obtaining it....IF I can reframe my envy as a sign of what I can and will have.  Here is my 8-year-old self "reframed"....rather fancy, if I do say so myself.

Father, above all else I want a content heart, but thank you for showing me that desiring more is not always a bad thing if it helps me to grow or enables me to help others.

Link to scripture:  Philippians 4:8

Take action:  Reframing Thoughts


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Determination

This is a tale of determination and how God uses it to help us fulfill the desires of our heart...
The day before yesterday I started on a writing project and was using this pencil to make notes.  At the end of the day I could not find it.  I looked under everything on top of my desk, on the floor, even in the drawers in the desk.  I was completely flummoxed....and frustrated.  It wasn't that I didn't have more pencils, it was "how in the world could I have lost it?!"  The eraser on top surely would have kept it from rolling away too far.  The search left me feeling frustrated so I eventually gave up and got a new pencil.

Then yesterday I was trying to close one of the drawers in the filing cabinet next to my desk when it would not move.  This drawer has a history of losing it's wooden rail so I knew what to do....
I had to go get the flashlight and hammer (more frustration for the interruption in working on my project), get down on my knees, place the flashlight so it would shine on the staple holes, I had to position the staples into the holes with one hand and hammer with the other while in a very small space.  Finally!  Success!  I stood up, grabbed hold of the drawer to put it back in and look what I found....
How in the world did it end up in THAT drawer?!

I was quick to understand what God was wanting me to really see in all this.  It was so obvious!  I often get frustrated when things don't go the way I want/think they should.  My determination to complete some goal is very strong and I will expend a lot of effort sometimes to achieve it.  But when I still don't meet with success I usually come away feeling defeated.  What I learned yesterday is that sometimes, in order to get what we want, we have to attend to what is right in front us....find the right tools, then get down on our knees and take care of matters that have nothing to do with our goal.....and in the process discover the very thing we were looking for.

Now....I wonder where that long-ago photograph is hiding that I need for my project?!

Father, thank you for this object lesson to remind me that I am not alone in achieving the goals You have in mind for me.  I just need to put my hand in Your Hand and You will take care of the rest.

Link to scripture:  Psalm 37:4

Take action:         

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Half-Hearted

The best way to draw a heart is to fold the paper in half, draw half a heart, then cut it out....
VOILA!
This works great for making Valentines, but it's not what God wants when you've asked Him into your heart.  

There is an adage that goes like this, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well (or right)."  Another way to say this is, "Anything that is worth doing is worth doing with a whole heart, mind, and body" because that is what it will take to do it right.  Alan Cohen (A Daily Dose of Sanity) refers to this as integrity.  It's when what you're doing on the outside matches what you are on the inside.  If our bodies are doing one thing and our hearts are elsewhere, we'll never give our full attention to what we are doing.  It will be half-hearted and therefore not be the best we're capable of.  Whether it's your job or your relationships, or anything else you are doing, if you are not totally present in the moment when you are with that job or that person, you will not only be cheating them, but also yourself.

Cohen talks about admiring people who live unapologetically.  He may not always admire what they do with their lives, but the very fact that they do what they do wholeheartedly shows integrity--and that IS to be admired.

Father, You ask me to love You with all of my heart, all of my soul, all of my mind, and all of my strength.  It is the only way I can be fully present in my relationship with You.  It is the only way that I can fully experience Your L♡ve.

Link to scripture: Mark 12:30

Take action: How to Love God with All Your Heart

Monday, February 11, 2013

Simplicity


Simplicity: Straightforwardness, ease, easiness, simpleness, effortless.  -- on-line dictionary



I took this photo yesterday through my front room window.  We'd seen a deer limping through the clearing on our property last week, so I wondered if this might be it.  When I went outside to get a closer look she got up and jumped over the two-foot-high fencing we have in place to keep our dog in the yard....


I've always thought to live "simply" meant you got rid of all your clutter.  Mark Nepo has given me a new way to think of simplicity in today's reading in "The Book of Awakening".  He asks this question, "What does it mean to be simple?"  He says the act of simplicity is the act "of living directly, which is that things appear, at last, as they really are."

He uses animals and nature as examples:  "The leopard trying to scale the mountain strains and shows its effort....The wave mounting toward shore saves nothing as it bows and spreads itself over and over against a shore that openly crumbles...."  And the deer in my yard "acted simply" when she reacted to my coming out of the house by getting up on her three good legs and "high-tailing" it out of there because she's learned not to trust the human scent.

Nepo goes on to say, "Only humans say one thing and mean another.  Only we go one way and wish we were somewhere else."  He ends his entry with this meditation:

  • Breathe slowly and recall a time when things were direct and uncomplicated.
  • Keep breathing slowly and recall a time when things were indirect and a burden.
  • As you inhale, feel the burden.
  • As you exhale, feel the simplicity.
  • What did the burden take from you?
  • What did the simplicity awaken in you?

Is there something in your life that feels like a burden?  Perhaps you are saying or telling yourself one thing while meaning or doing something entirely different.  What might you do to "uncomplicate" the situation?  In other words, what would you have to do to match your thoughts/intentions about something with what you are actually doing?  How would a straightforward approach make a difference?

Decluttering is still a good idea.  It can help to uncomplicate your life so that you CAN live more simply, at least in your "day-to-day operations".  But unless/until you start saying what you mean and meaning what you say, your life itself will continue to be complicated and therefore burdensome.

Father, You have said your yoke is easy and your burden is light, but we somehow miss the fact that we must first take on your yoke before the burden can become light, and having done that realize that we must be honest in all our dealings...first with ourselves and You, and then to live truthfully.

Link to scripture:  Matthew 11:30

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Loneliness



You're heard the expression "alone in a crowd" I'm sure.  I think that might be a good, short definition of what it means to feel lonely.  To just be alone, however, is entirely different.  It's something we should all strive to obtain from time to time.  Henry David Thoreau spent 2 years in a cabin by Walden Pond.  He made sojourns into town often and had visitors, so his experiment was not about being totally without social interaction.  It had more to do with discovering more about himself.  

Mark Nepo, in his book "The Book of Awakening" writes there are two basic ways to feel the fullness of life:  our love of life and our love of each other.  He says, "It's like taking the path of our aloneness deep enough through the woods so we can reach that unspoiled clearing."  He says an obstacle to this is "the hesitancy that keeps us from being either fully alone with life or fully alone with each other.  Being half anywhere is the true beginning of loneliness."  The reason so many don't want to "be by themselves" is because they don't want to "be with themselves".   What's interesting is, then why would they think anyone else would want to be with them?  Unfortunately, too often people do eventually realize this and become hermits as a result.  Hiding away is not the solution, however.

Alan Cohen has a response to this dilemma in his book "A Daily Dose of Sanity".  He writes, "If you enter a relationship to offset loneliness, the relationship will only intensify your loneliness.  If you bring wholeness to your relationship, you will feel even more whole."  The key, then, is to take that path of aloneness Mark Nepo speaks of that leads you to the unspoiled clearing--your Soul.  That is who you really are, and I can assure you there really is a lovely person who resides there.  It's your original self--the self that was born an innocent baby before life happened.  He/she is still there.  It's where God resides, waiting patiently for you to return and claim your birthright that Jesus Christ paved the way for.  

Cohen concludes by encouraging us to "fall in love, marry and create a relationship that makes your heart sing.  Just remember that it is your own self you are searching for."

Father, help me to remember that my relationships are not meant to complete me.  Only in returning to You can I find my wholeness.

Link to scripture:  Colossians 2:9-10

Take action:  Six Reasons You Should Spend More Time Alone

Monday, February 4, 2013

True Colors


When we speak of a person's true colors we often are referring to who the person reveals him/herself to be under stress.  He/she may usually appear to be a sweet and loving person, but under certain circumstances he/she turns mean and spiteful.  Recently, however, I've started to see this "who we really are" in a totally different light.

It's sort of like the colorful leaves in the photo above.  We say we're looking forward to the leaves in autumn turning yellow or orange or red, depending on the type of tree, when in reality small amounts of these colors were there all along.  It's the green that appears in the Spring and Summer that is the true "turning".  With warmer weather and more sunlight, leaves produce chlorophyll which then covers these individual "true colors" with a generic green.  

In my last post I talked about our righteousness being found in Christ, and because we're made in God's image our problem isn't what's in us, but what obstructs the good from coming forth.  Therefore, our True Colors are God-like.  Anything else is the fraudulent person.  Who you sometimes are--angry, unreasonable, unkind, etc.--is not who you really are.  Who you really are--your true colors--is a child of God--gentle, reasonable, kind, etc.

Here is another way to say it.  Mark Nepo reminds us that "Whatever our gifts or wounds or life situation....the core issues of our lives will not go away....There exists for each life on Earth a set of inner doors that no one can go through for us."  He says no matter what we do in life--he calls those things worthy distractions--"the last threshold we didn't cross within will be there waiting.....the very core issues we avoid return, sometimes with different faces, but still, we are brought full circle, to them, again and again." He writes about "struggling to adulthood with a domineering and critical mother."  He said it made him seek approval and fear rejection in all his other relationships until he finally realized, "I was destined to repeat the pain of rejection, no matter how skillfully I handled it, until I opened the door of self-worth."

Self-worth.  Going back to the beginning of this post I talked about our true colors actually being the good in us--our God-likeness.  If we could get this one issue settled--the inner door Nepo refers to--we would not "change colors" when someone treats us unfairly, badly, or even worse, ignores us.  Instead, we'd be able to recognize the fact that the other person is actually projecting their own lack of self-worth onto us.  It's not a conscious effort on their part, but rather a futile attempt to establish their own self-worth.  

But here's the thing....running someone else down will not make you feel better in the long run.  Someone else is going to come along to bring up this issue again (your low self-esteem) and in the meantime you are alienating yourself from other people which only serves to perpetuate your low self-esteem.

So, what's a person to do?  First, you really must settle this issue about who you really are?  If you don't believe you're worthy of love (not only from others but yourself), then you need to ferret out why you feel that way.  I have found it helpful to journal every day.  It's where I can be totally honest about what I think and feel.  Often that is enough to help me see the truth about my worth and realize where I first began to doubt it.  

I also recommend reading a daily devotional type of book where other people who struggle with this issue share what has worked for them.  The Bible is a wonderful resource, but sometimes it is helpful to have a contemporary example based on Biblical truth.  

Ultimately, it's the relationship you establish with the God within--the Holy Spirit--the Christ now in you--whatever name you want to call this true self that resides in your Soul--your Source of worthiness and the help to realize it.  

Father, Jesus prayed that you would send the Comforter to help and guide us--the Holy Spirit.  Our worth was redeemed and guaranteed.  May I, we, live as though it is real--for it is!

Link to scripture:  http://niv.scripturetext.com/john/14.htm

Take action:

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Breath of God


"The real and lasting practice for each of us is to remove what obstructs us so we can be who we are, holding nothing back." --Mark Nepo

Scripture tells us that the hope of our glory is Christ in us (Col. 1:27).  Myles Munroe in his book, "365 Days to Understanding, Releasing and Maximizing Your Potential" says that because Christ is already in us, "Our task is not to get Christ into us, but out of us."  This brought to mind a well....
This pump handle (which is no longer attached to a well) was once used to draw water from a well.  I remember using such a pump at my greatgrandparents' house in the 1950's.  It was their only means of water and it was located on the back porch.  Their very sustenance depended on getting that water out of the well and into their buckets so they could drink, cook, and wash.  

When Jesus visited the well in Samaria he told the woman that He was the living water (John 4).  He told her that the water that He gives will become in her a spring of water welling up to eternal life.  This is what Munroe is talking about....letting that water, which is welling up in us, out.  As Mark Nepo puts it, we need to remove what obstructs us from being who we are--vessels of God's love.  We are made in the image of God.  When we accept the gift of salvation, we receive Christ into us, our hope of heaven.  We are therefore Christ-like--we are in His "image" which means "the essence of the being."  Even when we fall far short, it does not change who we really are.  

Too often I think we let our failure at appearing Christ-like define who we think we are.  This is a defeatist attitude.  Instead, how much better it would be to seek to learn what is obstructing the natural flow, the welling-up of the living water that is in us.

This morning Ken pointed out to me that I breathe twice as fast as he does, even in sleep.  I know this to be true because I tend to breathe shallowly and therefore have to work twice as hard to get the oxygen I need.  Breath is such a fundamental element of life just as water is.  I realized that if I were to pay attention to my breath and exhale fully with each breath, I'd automatically breathe in fully.  The obstacle to my exhaling fully has always been my shallow breathing.  Just like the obstacle to being fully who I am is like that pump no longer attached to the well, I need only make sure the pipe is extended into the well and attached to the pump.  

Perhaps I have the pump sitting out in my garden as decoration?  Or might it be attached to something that looks like a well, but instead is merely a dry hole?  As I breathe deeply drawing in oxygen, I'll ponder this question and see what answers bubble up from my well of living water.

Father, slow my breathing down so that I may partake of your living water--the breath of life, Your Spirit.

Link to scripture: http://mlbible.com/job/32-8.htm

Take action:  


Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Way of Love


  1. ♫Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
    Thou art the Potter, I am the clay.
    Mold me and make me after Thy will,
    While I am waiting, yielded and still.♫



  1. ♫Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
    Search me and try me, Master, today!
    Whiter than snow, Lord, wash me just now,
    As in Thy presence humbly I bow.♫

  2. ♫Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
    Wounded and weary, help me, I pray!
    Power, all power, surely is Thine!
    Touch me and heal me, Savior divine.♫



    ♫Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
    Hold o’er my being absolute sway!
    Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
    Christ only, always, living in me.♫



  3. Father, it's not about following the rules.  It's about letting You into my life at all levels at all times.  It is Your Way--the way of Love--that I desire and in order to follow in the path you've prepared for me I must relinquish my way.  In this I ask for help.

    Link to scripture:  http://bible.cc/john/15-4.htm

    Take action:  Abide in Christ

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Unity


"We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths –- that all of us are created equal –- is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth." --President Barack Obama, 2013 Inaugural Address

I found President Obama's speech yesterday to be very inspiring and it was hard to pick a passage I wanted to highlight.  This morning, however, when I read the day's passage in Mark Nepo's "The Book of Awakening" I realized it would be on the theme of unity.  Nepo states, "Everything that divides and separates removes us from what is sacred, and so weakens our chances for joy."

President Obama reminded us of the "We" when it comes to the people of this country....."We" as opposed to "us" or "them".  The pursuit of happiness (joy) the Declaration of Independence hoped to make possible is dependent on the "We the People" as stated in the Constitution, "We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."  Furthermore, the Declaration of Independence states that "We" are created equal....."our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth." 

I'd like to state this idea of unity in a different way.  It is a well-known fact that people will often come together against a common enemy such as when We, the people of the United States, fought in WWII "alongside" Communists in order to defeat Nazis.  In that vein, I say it's time we start seeing our problems as the common enemy and not each other.  When President Obama said, "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate" I was cheering right along with the assembled crowd.  Nepo put it this way, "....realize there are no wrong turns, only unexpected paths" when it comes to finding peace, living peace, and being restored to our original Oneness--humans made in the image of God.


President Obama illustrated this point by reminding us we have made friends with former enemies.  He said, " We are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war; who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends -- and we must carry those lessons into this time as well."

I stand with our President, with my prayers and my intentions, to seek to solve the problems in our society, our country, our world with a renewed attitude of the Oneness that has always existed....the Oneness on which our country was founded....We the People....dedicated to the preservation of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness....for all.

Whether or not you agree with the programs and policies this Administration is attempting to institute, we should all come together to debate, respectfully, the issues at hand--not letting our personal preferences or beliefs to cause us to take sides before the discussion even begins.  We must acknowledge that sometimes what looks like a wrong turn is merely an unexpected path to the right path.  As a Christian I'm of the belief that God is ultimately in control, and my heart, when given over fully to God, will guide me in what I do and say.  It's not my place to judge others for their behavior or beliefs.  Even the outcome is not up to me.  My job is to love my fellow man, no matter what.

Father, my pledge of allegiance is to You, first and foremost.  I thank you for placing me in a country that allows me to do so.  May I always exercise that freedom with love and respect for my fellow humans, no matter what.

Link to scripture: http://niv.scripturetext.com/colossians/3-12.htm

Take action: Pledge for Unity