Making Myself Pray


It is not that I won’t…or that I don’t want to.  But my brain is always in so many other places.  The only successful way I have been able to pray is in sporatic little spurt bursts throughout my day, literally as the moment hits.

IMG_20130605_210510When someone asks me to pray for them, or when they are stuggling and I offer prayer, I have made it a habit to stop and pray right then for them.  (Because I used to forget altogether!)  And there is nothing worse then saying that you will pray for someone, and then not taking a moment to connect your heart with theirs and offer the energy and love only God can provide.

I have been struggling to try and strengthen my prayer life.  I have always admired people who could sit in silence and contemplation.  I am simply not that person…but I want a piece of that inaction!

I think I have found a solution!

My son gave me a journal with our family’s favorite verse, Jeremiah 29:11 on it.  I already have a journal and wanted to find a unique and special way to use this one.  Then one day, God whispered an idea…use it as a prayer book.  Instead of just making a list of people or causes to pray for, write out my prayers.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declared the Lord.  “Plans to prosper you…plans to give you hope and a future.” 
~Jeremiah 29:11

Each night, I sit and take a few deep contemplative breaths to calm my body and soul.  And I begin praying.  I write my prayers in the journal and am very specific.  I call by name my brothers and sisters and ask God to walk with them, heal them, or soften their hearts…whatever His will to be done.  The simple act of writing keeps my focus on His grace.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
~James 5:16

My youngest son made me a bookmark for Mother’s Day.  I have decided to use this special artistic creation to keep track of what day I am on in my prayer journal.  Each night when I open the journal, I pray for my oldest son.  When I remove the bookmark, I pray for my youngest son.  What blessings they both are in my life.

TIMG_20130605_210519he bookmark says:

My Mom is better than your Mom because she lets me have so much fun my head almost explodes.  My Mom is so nice when we go to Shoppers she lets me buy all the cookies they have.  She’s so cool she can bust out a rap anywhere anytime.  My Mom can produce a TV show faster than you can say onomatopoeia. My Mom’s so nice she bakes cakes every day for charity.  When my Mom walks outside the sun starts to shine and the birds start to chirp.  My Mom’s so smart she knows everything in the world.

Do you have an empty journal book sitting at home?  An old spiral notebook?  Make it a habit to spend time each day with God…I am sure there are people in your life who need your prayers.  ❤

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

What is the happiest age?


Tonight was the first night of my Human Development class (I am working for a MS in Pastoral Counseling at Loyola University Maryland) and we had some interesting conversation.

wb051432Our professor had us break up into groups to answer some questions.  The first of these questions was, “Which age do you think is the ‘best’ and why?”  She said she was purposefully ambiguous with this particular question, as we technically have an emotional age, a physical age, a birth age, etc.

One of my team members began the conversation saying she thought the mid-20s was the best, because people are still enjoying their youth, but are really beginning to find themselves.  Another stated that he had heard the 30s through the 40s were the least happy age.  We discussed how that could be because it is a large transition into “real” adulthood.

To me, looking back over my own life span, I felt like all of the ages were good.  All stages in my life had been met with struggle and with triumph…with tears and with laughter.

I figured if she was going to be ambiguous with her question, I was going to be ambiguous with my answer.  The “best” age, in my opinion, was NOW.  After all, I am smarter now than I have ever been, and I have a future to look forward to.

If we live in our past, thinking any of those times were the best or the worst, perhaps we are living with regrets, or living with the mindset that we are failing.  If we live in our dreams of the future (i.e. when I finally finish this degree, then  I will be happy, or when I finally win the lottery then I will be happy), then me miss so much of our lives.

Philosophically speaking, the past and the future do not exist.  Only the present does.  The past is the past and that is all it can ever be.  The future is not much more than a figment of our own imaginations, as there is no guarantee of a future for any of us.

Living in the present, in the NOW, is the greatest gift we can achieve, and it is the only way to find true happiness, no matter what circumstance envelops us in the now.  It is the greatest and happiest age, so enjoy it!

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.
 
 
 

Yay! A Matching Pair!


ashton sock boxI supposed you would have to know how chaotic our mornings can be sometimes.  There you go.

This morning, Ashton grumbled to the sock box and the next thing I heard was, “Ooh, already a sock.”  There was raw excitement in the way he said it.

“It’s gonna be a good day.” It seemed to be the underlying message of his comment.

Then, to make his day even better, he found a matching pair!  (He is usually too impatient to look long enough to find one.)

Yep, today is gonna be a good day!  🙂

***This is NOT to say Ashton has no socks.  On the contrary, he has a million of them.  I have delegated the chore of pairing his own socks to him.  🙂

I needed some sunshine today


I needed some sunshine today!

It has been one of those mornings where nothing seems to have gone right.  I woke up late, so Ashton missed his bus, and then I had to chase Cupcake around the parking lots this morning. 

So, when I pulled in to work and saw the full parking lots, I realized I was going to have to walk in from the “back 40” and there was no chance of being on time.  It was like God was telling me, no forcing me, to be in His light for a morning meditation while absorbing the healing light of our earthly sun.  I needed to pump up my heart rate and create some natural energy.  I needed to find a moment of peace and calm before continuing my day.

He even provided what I needed.  I realized I had my big scarf on and could wrap it around my wet head for protection against the Winnie-the-Pooh-like blistery winds.  I glanced over to the passenger seat of the van and saw the bottle of water from last night that I had not finished.  It was nice and cold from being in the car overnight, and would help if I began choking halfway up the hill (This kind of weather likes to play with my bronchial asthma).

No excuses.  Just a morning walk in the sunshine.  I so needed that!

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?

Pros vs. Cons: Am I failing myself?


Here I sit, weighing a list of Pros vs. Cons in my life overall.  What goals am I still focused on and what really is the big overall picture?

I know one thing…I have become an entirely different person from when this blog first began.  That person truly seems like a character from a movie I once saw.  That is how much transformation through suffering and joy has occurred.  It is astounding to look back just a few years.

Astounding.  Perhaps a bit overwhelming too.  Especially given the trials and tribulations within those few years…and the things we keep bottled in – within those few years.  Wow.

Hey, while you are going through those life epiphanies, throw in Masters Level courses in Pastoral Counseling.  It is like God is puppeteering my classes to help me and change me in so many different ways;  I am so “in awe” of its vastness…how can that not be life changing?

I survived my first year of divorce from 15 years of a good marriage (my anniversary was yesterday – Happy Halloween to you all as well).  And I am successfully providing my son with a home, opportunity, life and love.  (Relationships with BOTH sons are works in progress and continually ongoing in nature.)  I have reached a stable point of financial function which brings relief.

Not only do I have a job, but it is truly a good job.  It is a blessing.

Personally, Spiritually, internally, I am growing exponentially.  It is so hard to explain.  I have had open conversations with people that I would once have just bottled up and ultimately imploded over.  That is exponential…for me.

I have stood up for myself.

I have put down my foot and said, “no” when I needed to.

I have faced some of my own deep-running fears.

Again, exponential in the realm of personal growth…not so much in reality.  I am so emotionally overwhelmed with just BEING MYSELF that I lose track of people and events around me.

This is where the Cons are revealed.  I have to drop one of my classes, which has consequences of unknown proportions right now.

I gained more than my previously confessed 18 pounds.  It is more like 35 and I feel every bit of it (though I am unsure of the true number because I have yet to face the scale).  I don’t have any energy…or motivation.

I cannot seem to get to work on time to save my life…to the point that I need to address it and I don’t know how.  I have tried everything I know, including having sleep testing done.  There are other work related issues being addressed.

It truly seems as though whenever I have the focus and drive to succeed in one goal, I turn around and realize that everything else is falling behind.  Is the failure due to me?  Or is there breakdown in the system or framework?  Am I overthinking things?  Or am I becoming self-aware?

All kinds of other things still need to be addressed….yet I feel like a part of me needs to just chill out and relax (relaxing is MUCH different than hiding).

Recent reveations would reveal that I am infact an emotional eater.  So I no longer wonder, “Why am I sitting here eating a Cinnamon Bagel from Panera?”

I can only sigh.  “Ai, what a day I had today.”   ~Barbra Streisand as Fannie Brice in Funny Lady.  (An ironically symbolic comment.)