"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

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: