Category Archives: Spirituality

The only way to be a better person is to find your center, which can only be achieved by a constant awareness of and consistent growth of one’s spiritual being.

Chinese Finger Trap


Chinese Finger TrapWe all know those crazy little wicker-y things that we would get in birthday party loot bags as youth.  Chinese finger traps.  You would stick a finger into each side of the contraption and BAM!  You were stuck.  If you tried to pull your fingers to free them, the trap would tighten itself like a boa constrictor.  The more you tried to break free, the more it would constrict and hold captive your fingers.

The only way out of the terror was to LET GO.  Let it go loose and stop pulling so hard.  Put your fingers at ease and you could then gently break free.

I am not sure how my thought process was directed to Chinese finger traps…truly there is no telling.  Then I got to thinking…

In my many struggles lately I have found that the more I try to do to pick up the pieces of life or to fix what is broken, the more broken things seem to become.  I have a best friend who keeps reminding me to let God do the work and for me to sit still…that is something I have never been good at doing.  But it makes sense…like the Chinese finger traps.

The more I am pulling the strings of my life trying to put things back together, the tighter life seems to be constricting around me.  It is frustrating…overwhelming…disappointing…maddening!  (Just like those stupid little wicker-y torture contraptions!)

Let GoIt is my time, once again, to LET GO and LET GOD.  To surrender my intents to the will of God.  It is His plan anyways…not sure why I keep trying to take control.  It is my human habit to try and take control, especially when I feel like I have no control over anything around me.

But God has a plan for me (AND for YOU).  In order for me to be free of my own finger trap, I have to relax, have faith, and let go of my own futile efforts.  I have to let God take control.

When I relax in His spirit, His Divine Presence will come into my life and fill me.  The binds of my own traps will fall free from me and I will not feel constricted…I will feel free.

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Humbled…


humble-heartHumbled seems to be the word of the year.  In every way, humbled.

I must humble myself to write this now, after taking so long away.  And this entire year has been…well, horrifying and amazing.  No other way to describe it.

But I won’t make this a summary.  I am just humbled to God for his care, guidance and love.  I praise and thank him for his answered prayers; and for the pure love and joy lifting my soul…a sensation only God can provide.  In a year full of uncertainty, hardship, and mental chaos, God did provide.  He provided for me, and for Ashton.  He provided for us in so many ways…even when I had nothing to give back but my heart.

My soul is on fire for the Spirit.  I know I am not worthy, but I also know that God is working through me and for me and for those I love.  It is an amazing place to be…particularly when your world has been turned upside down over and over.  I am so grateful for all of the opportunities this year to come to God and surrender.  Surrender is humbling, but also can be mind blowing.  It is amazing the plans God has for us compared to our own attempts of imagining and dreaming.  Make no mistake: You must be open to the blessings and God’s guidance.  But when you are, it is powerful and life changing…no words to describe.

This is one of those moments of thankfulness.  A privileged moment of insight and clarity.

I have been having troubles with Ashton.  He has hit puberty and turned into a monster almost overnight.  He is making a hobby out of testing boundaries and joyfully expressing defiance.  I literally found myself on my knees two weeks ago.  On my knees to God, praying for some sort of help.  Some sort of guidance.  I am so ill equipped for dealing with a 12 year old son hitting puberty.  I don’t even know what is normal…I prayed fiercely for an answer.

Then in less than two weeks, my prayers are answered in multiple ways by multiple people from across the United States.  Now, I don’t mean that Ashton is fixed, and the problem is gone.  That is not what God is all about.  God is about helping us get through the difficult times in life.  He has sent some Angels to interfere and guide.  Some of the people have been part of my life forever.  Some are brand new popping into our lives like magic…out of thin air.  Some are helping and guiding me.  Some are helping and guiding Ashton.  It is like we are all of a sudden surrounded by God’s Angels.  I know there is no magic potion that will help Ashton, but I do know that God is helping.  If God is helping, I know Ashton is going to be okay, and so will I.  I know our Great Father will provide for us, both directly and indirectly through others.  God’s presence strengthens me in the present and helps me vision tomorrow with peace.

For this, I am completely humbled, amazed, and in awe.

Raw Faith


This week I watched a really heartfelt documentary called Raw Faith.  Marilyn (read below) made some amazing statements that I think describe the kind of woman I am and want to be.  She is very insightful, and has learned to turn the struggles of her life into love and help for others.

raw faithRaw Faith is an intimate and revealing documentary that follows two years in the private life of Marilyn Sewell, an outspoken and socially progressive Unitarian minister who has re-energized her Portland community.
While serving a community that relies on her for wisdom and advice (on both personal and ethical issues), Marilyn struggles quietly with decisions about her own future. As she seeks to reconcile the commitments of her profession with a longing for intimacy and love, childhood memories of mental illness and alcoholism come back to the surface – and must be dealt with before she can move forward.

As Marilyn’s life unfolds in front of the camera (in real time), she shares her journey with remarkable candor, humor and increasing wisdom, ultimately leading her to an unexpected revelation of faith and love in all of its guises.

Some of the quotes from Marilyn Sewell, former Unitarian Minister:

I’m not there to fix him; I’m not there to help him in any way.  I’m not a doctor or social worker.  I’m there to be with – to provide an opening for him to be precisely who he is and to be accepted for precisely who he is.  That’s very powerful

The most powerful thing we can bring to anyone in any situation is our full presence.

Sometimes when people come in with very terrible, sad stories, and they do, I sometimes find myself smiling.  Sometimes people will be taken aback and they’ll say “Well I just said something that seems to me pretty sad, so why are you smiling?” And sometimes I’ve had to say, “Because I find you so beautiful right now.  Because I know we all suffer and that we all are going to go through hard times.  And right now you’re going through your very hard time but all of us do that and you’re doing that so honestly and so beautifully and so truthfully. So when I see truth and honesty the way I see in your face and in your tears, it really makes me happy.

Check her out for yourself

This is Our Time


this is our timeI  watched a really good movie last night. Actually, the movie was okay, but I picked up a message in it. Movie is called “This is Our Time” and it is a Spiritual movie on Netflix. The message was about God having purpose for each of us…

It was about 5 friends who graduate college. 4 go off and begin their lives in big ways, 2 of which become missionaries to lepars in India.
 
The 5th guy, who stays behind to work in his Dad’s restaurant because he was not accepted into Grad school, feels like God has forgotten him. When he consults with a former college professor, the professor explains to him that God’s plan is not about DOING…it is about BEING. 
 
Being?  Somehow, that really sat with me for awhile.  In my own life, I have been so worried about not “doing” enough lately.  In fact, our family is planning a new ministry project, because I felt like God was calling me to “do” more (I still feel he is, but in my mind it was because I am not doing enough).  Doing…it is a noble effort, but in the end, God has a plan for who we are to BE.  Think of all of the people who go to church each week, but never BEcome children of His word and receivers of His great love.  They spend their life doing, without ever being who God truly wants them to be.
 
We are to BE the beacon of God’s light for those in trouble to see.  We are to be loving, caring, and patient followers of His word and truth.  We are to be gentle and kind to those in need.  God simply wants us to be His child. 
 
Ultimately, this “throwaway guy” ends up being the one who holds everyone together when one of the 5 friends dies.  He was the friend who could always bring them all back together…because that is the person he was, not because it was something he felt he had to “do”.
 
He is reminded that God’s purpose is not for us to do. I mean, yes, we do things to help people, etc. But even when we do not feel active in His ministry, we are still living His purpose.  If you want to know what it is to BE God’s child, email me.
 
 
 

A Beautiful Survivor of Life


Her post captured my attention, not my sight, but my full-bodied attention.  “Sober for 30 days.”  I just had to contact her…(little did I know she would become my newest Angel.)  Her honesty spoke the words that my heart needed to hear, right when I needed it most.

My Angel reminded me that each day is a new start, and to not feel like a tragic failure when a setback comes.  Her personal struggles (through family relationships; her own identity and personality; and with the addictions that have helped her “cope” through it all), inspired me very deeply.  I would like to share some of her survival tidbits, lent to me in my own time of despair:

It is literally one day at a time.  (Sometimes seems like moment by moment)

It gets easier. and you realize how much life is better and easier.

It’s hard, but I believe in myself.

<When you need help with any of life’s problems,> find a good psychiatrist (counselor) and be honest with them and yourself.

Once we’re honest with ourselves our recovery begins.

Then we started talking about our families and growing up.  She grew up with a mother who suffered from mental illness* and told me how hard it was sometimes to cope with – as a family.  During a formative time in my life, her mother was like my second mother and I see some of her qualities in who I am today, even (I could not wait to have a brood of children and dress them all up for Church on Sundays!!!).  I adored her, even when she was “stressed.”  In fact, in my opinion, she made raising four children in the midst of a great deal of physical illness look easy.  For my Angel, her perspective was much different than mine, and after our tear-filled talk, I realized:

 We are ALL beautiful survivors of life.

We often forget to look at the beauty and love and goodness within a person, and instead form perceptions and attitudes that allow us to cope with their behaviors instead…even when it is family or someone very dear to us.  We forget that it is our differences and inequalities that often make us beautiful and unique, and that beneath it all, we are worthy of love and acceptance.  We all survive life in our own ways, no matter what people can find to judge us about (fat, skinny, dumb, nerdy, “red and yellow, black and white,” gay, and so on…)

Be yourself…you are a beautiful survivor of life (and all of the crap it dumps on us!)

*Let me just say this now, I DESPISE the term “mental illness.”  The connotation is horrible, but at this time, I don’t have a better descriptive word (give me a few more semesters in college).  🙂

“Get good at failing”


Wise advice from a dear friend of mine.  And, no, it doesn’t mean “try” to fail.  It is much simpler and much deeper than that.

Getting good at failing – to me – means accepting that I am human and will make mistakes.  If there are consequences, we need to face them bravely and move on.

My definition of mistakes is VERY broad.  Any mistakes, people, we all make them.  From ignoring the truth of those around you to forgetting to get bread at the store.  Anything that “one” deems is a mistake, in their own perception of life, no matter how trivial it might be (as it probably leads to something much deeper).

Mistakes are an opportunity to see how things could have been done differently.  It is a chance to begin again.  How I deal with my own failures, no matter how big or small, must ultimately be acknowledged, accepted and left behind.  I guess in a poetic way, it would be fighting and defending for my own future.

My nephew’s sweet Halloween smile! So full of joy!

If I just pick my head up and move on, without getting caught up emotionally in the concept of failure..just get up and try again.  Deep inside, I know I am not built of failure or I would not be where I am.  I have survived and will continue to do so.

So, why not just get up and try again when I fall on my butt.  Which reminds me of my sweet baby nephew.  He is such a beautiful boy.  He is now running, but he went through a trial of falling and getting back up.  He did not allow the pure awesomeness of opportunites that walking would lead to.  He just knew he didn’t want to keep crawling for the rest of his life.  It is an innate part of us as humans.

Sometimes it can be that simple.

The outcomes in my life are bound to my much different then they have been.  What do you think?

The Study of Happiness


The Happy Movie is awesome!

I just watched the most eye-opening documentary – “Happy” – on the study of happiness (aka positive psychology for those who care). There were some amazingly simple and fundamental points made within the nearly two hours of information. Sounds boring, but really, it was awesome.  Just understanding that happiness is something that exists within each of us and that bonds us, is truly compelling.

It kind of reminds me of the simplicity of togetherness that we all seek.  Good movie, check it out!

I know the full movie is available on netflix, and there is a clip of it available below (and no, I am not getting paid to promote it or anything…it just added a new perspective through my journey!)

Film – The Happy Movie | The Happy Movie.

Let Go and Let God…


Long ago, at a previous job, I had a friend (one of My Angels) who battled lots of difficult pains and struggles, one of which was addiction.  Now, before you jump the boat and immediately begin defining her addiction, I want you to take a step back and just look at addiction for the sake of what it is: addiction.  Many of us have chemical addictions to caffeine.  Um…hello to all of you who sleep in “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” jammies!  An addiction is an addiction, whether it is emotional, chemical or whatever.  Period.  Let’s move on.

I watched my friend struggle her addictions, sometimes on a moment by moment basis.  I was able to see within her spirit the desire to continue on.  The fight to keep on fighting.  The defeats that she sometimes crawled through.  From her perspective, she only saw the failures and mistakes she made each day.  From my perspective, How, I didn’t know.  Then one day she shared with me.

Every morning, she would get up early and give her day to God.  She would ask God to carry her burdens for the day and guide her actions and thoughts.  She described to me the sense of peace that would help her through the day.

We are all human beings, and capable of failure, setback and burnout among many other things.  Sometimes it is hard to accept our humanness.  The worries and anxieties of everyone’s expectations (including your own) overwhelm you.  They sure worry me.  Now, in the mornings, I open my morning with prayer and thanksgiving to God.  I pray for strength to get through the day, and for the wisdom to make good decisions and be good help to many.

I challenge you to try the same…Each morning, spend a few minutes and pray.  Give your day to God.

Each and every morning,

I give my concerns to You, God.

I acknowledge my weaknesses.

Please guide my hands,

And my decisions,

And my perspectives,

And my compassion.

I ask that You work through me.

Love and inspire others through me.

I will listen for Your voice.

And I will know,

The richness of Your Love,

And Jesus’ Sacrifice,

And how the Holy Spirit lives within us.

I will listen for your voice.

Amen.

Unreachable


Wow.  I survived.  By the sweet grace of God, I survived Thursday night.  I cannot even begin to explain.

I know that I woke up on Friday morning still grumpy, bags under my eyes, hating life in general.  I felt as if I had survived an exorcism.  I had just faced my life’s issues…my demons, if you will.  All of the parts of me that hide away, as well as how my decisions do effect and have effected my family, everyone around me, and myself.  How I truly feel like I had let everyone down.  Then couple that with a family counseling class that has forced me to look at my family on paper and notice patterns and blah blah blah.

Point is…I came to direct terms with the very real fact: I am broken.  We all are.  We are all victims of the behaviors of others, and we all take turns victimizing one another, whether we know it or not.  It is human nature.  It is inevitable.

God had given me all of these miraculous blessings in my life and I had hurt them all and was not as grateful as I could have been.  I took a lot of true blessings for granted.  I felt such shame and unworthiness.

Then, this song played…

The words spoke everything I was thinking and feeling.  The overwhelming sense of peace began to bring reassurance and comfort, love and protection.  All of my human fears vanished and once again I felt the truest of truth, I felt God within my soul.  I knew we would be okay if I just stayed focused on His guidance.  When I am weak, He will give me strength.

Not only did the blessings continue to pour down on us, but the awareness of God’s great and abundant love became ever so clear again.  I had been missing that sense of fullness and faith.

Yes, Uncle T., I heard your message, Let go and Let God.  It is easier said than done, AND it is necessary.  When you turn your life over to God and allow Him to work through you, He will provide for you.

It is simply amazing.

Broken


ImageAs I sit here, tears are falling down my face.  It seems as though all I have done lately is apologize for not being good enough, quick enough, right enough, smart enough, skinny enough, early enough.  It seems as though I cannot meet any goals or responsibilities or expectations.  I don’t even know if the expectations are my own or not.  All I know is that my head is swimming and I want to go to bed.

But I can’t.

I have to face all of the fears and failures, real or not, but I don’t know how.  I am trying all kinds of methods, but nothing “works fast enough.”

How do I grab all of the pieces of my life and put them together again?  How do I escape the daily dread of letting my family down or letting others down?  Of letting myself down?

I mean, anyone else’s life, and I would have no problem helping them come up with a plan of action and get organized, but when it is my own, I am clueless.  I don’t know where to begin.

How do I successfully mesh together a plan for financial stability and responsibility, for physical health and fitness, for educational growth and future opportunity and security, for successful work habits and development, AND find time to be a good mommy?  I am always letting someone down.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to go back for a Masters degree!  I must have been out of my ever-loving mind to think I could pull it off when I had yet to get in order the current issues of my life.

How do you move past the pain without first having to recognize it for what it is, and either accept it for fix it?  How do I face the hurt about certain situations, knowing there is no immediate solution?  How do I escape the deep sense of longing and loss?.

How do you move past the fear that paralyzes your every move?  Fear of what, you ask?  Just plain fear.  Fear of everything…failure, loss, pain, hurt, unintentionally hurting others, of not being loved, of not loving enough, of being alone, of not being enough.  Fear of actually living life.  Fear of being who I really am.  Fear of judgement.  Fear of being called crazy.  Fear of EVERYTHING!

How do I face the fullness of the consequences for my decisions in life, particularly over the past three years.  No, there is not a lot I would change, but the consequences are killing me!  I know I put myself here, and I know that it is nobody’s fault but my own.  REGARDLESS of how I got here, I am here, and I don’t know how to move forward.

I pray, don’t worry about that.  I do.  And even though I know my God is a kind and loving God, I still feel I don’t deserve the blessings He has graced in my life NOW, what makes me think I am worth more of His mercy and love?  I have messed up everything He has provided.  Over and over.

I am on my knees with tears in my eyes asking for guidance.  God, please fill my brokenness, because I don’t know how…