Do It @ Home on ThanksGiving!

It’s that time of year again.

You know the time! The four letter word ‘busy’ is how everyone is, when you ask how they are.

The mall Christmas decorations go up as soon as the trick or treaters go home. Today is officially 6 weeks until Christmas Morning. That would be 41 shopping days until little Johnny finds out if he can keep up with the Joneses – or not. Thanksgiving gets sandwiched between Halloween and Black Friday, shopping lists are made, dream holidays planned, credit cards get worn out and we step into the highest suicide rate of the year. Or not.

We actually have a choice in this.

Are we powerless victims to advertising? Or are we powerful believers in a redeeming, hope filled season? One where Jesus reigns?

Okay, honestly, I am mostly the powerful believer in a redeeming, hope filled, Jesus season with occasional tendencies toward powerless advertisement victim…Don’t judge me!

What are our options this year? How can we remain Christ centered? I could give you some lists (maybe next week).

How about one thing?

Is there one thing I could do to slow down, be thankful, remember who I am in Christ, stay focused on Jesus?

Yes. There. Is.

Communion.

Celebrate the Lord’s Supper at home. Start with Thanksgiving!

Recently, as I have been reading my bible, I have been hit with such a huge realization. Jesus didn’t go to ‘church.’ He didn’t ever tell people to go to ‘church.’ He didn’t have a ‘church’ building campaign. He didn’t tell us to build a ‘church.’ The word translated into ‘church’ in our bibles was the word ekklesia and it means ‘called out ones.’ It refers to people not buildings.

I am for the the local ‘church’ buildings – they provide an amazing service. But I also believe we should not depend on the local church to ‘do’ our walk with Jesus for us. I love sharing communion with other believers in a church service. I think it is a holy moment. It’s even better in your own home!

Jesus didn’t take communion in a ‘church’ building. Or a synagogue. Or a temple. He broke bread, in a home, with his twelve friends (11 if you don’t count Judas a friend). These are the guys He did life with.

This famous ‘Last Supper’ bread breaking was during the Passover meal. This  celebration was and is in remembrance of God’s deliverance of Israel. Jesus and the disciples were in someone’s home. In a guest room set up for this feast. For almost four hundred years after Christ’s resurrection, believers met in homes and shared communion in their own homes. (Mark 14:12-26, Matthew 26:17-30, Luke 22:7-23)

Some of my personal thoughts:

I think Jesus loved this! He broke bread and gave thanks as the risen Christ with the guys he met on the road to Emmaus! He loved being with people, enjoyed eating with them, feeding them (sometimes 5000 at a time)!

When I take Jesus with me when I am not in a ‘church’ building and place Him at the helm of my every day life – heaven smiles.

If we take communion at home in a biblical model (1 Corinthians 11:23-25):

1. We examine or test ourselves to see where our heart is at. What does this look like? I usually do this in a two step process:

(a)   Do I need to forgive anyone? Close your eyes and ask God. Did anyone come to mind? If so – forgive the person – out loud (whether you feel like it or not doesn’t matter – just do it). Release them from your expectations and ask God to bless them. 

(b)   Am I believing any lies? Close your eyes and ask God. Did you hear a lie you are believing? If so – ask God to forgive you for believing the lie and ask Him what the truth is.

2. We give thanks. Whatever this looks like for you. What are you thankful for?

3. We break the bread. Jesus did this and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” As you take a bite of bread remember what Jesus has done, who He is, how much He loves you.

4. We take the cup. Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this,  whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Drink from the cup (or a cup) and remember Jesus, consider the wonder of the new covenant – us, no longer separated from our Heavenly daddy!

It’s really that simple. And that beautiful. And that holy. In your own home. With your own family and or friends. Do it when you gather as a group or family in  remembrance and honor of our Lord Jesus. Do it at home! Often.

Jesus never intended communion to be reserved for a ‘church building’ or ‘church setting.’ Heck, there weren’t any when he walked the planet.

Jesus wants to walk with, commune with, love and laugh with, guide, counsel, protect and bless you 24/7! Invite Him to dinner! (Revelation 3:20)

We set a place for Him at our home. I believe He is with us and will show up on my doorstep for dinner!

Surrender (#7 Wisdom along the Way)

 

 

Surrender.

Do you balk at this word like I do?

Does it sound like defeat?

I didn’t pick this word to be my word of the year for 2019. I picked the words: Express YOUrself. Doesn’t that sound empowering? Trendy? Fun? And about time? Yes.

By the second week of January I knew that ‘Surrender‘ would be my year theme. Things were happening whether I liked them or not. I had no control over these externals – it was simply life happening, unfolding in front of me. Did I like this? No. I actually nicknamed it: my just fu** it year. My expectations flew out the window and I settled in for what would come. I probably pouted some ( I mean really, is it ever going to be my turn – What about me – etc…???).

Then, like the serendipity of the Pied Piper, ‘surrender‘ messages invited me into a merry little dance. My choice, would I dance? Or would I fight the flow?

I recalled the words of Jesus, “For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it.” (Mark 8:35)  aka Surrender

I turned on a Tony Robbins podcast. He was interviewing Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul. This book has sat on my to read list for over a year. The theme is surrender.

I read Richard Rohr’s daily meditation. January 12 was titled Awe and Surrender. This quote: “The spiritual journey is a constant interplay between moments of awe followed by a process of surrender to that moment.”

Years ago I read a book called Surrender to Motherhood. It helped me transition from childless to mother. I am eternally thankful.

Really – what do I truly have control over anyway? My own choices. What I do. What I say. How I react. What I think. How I feel. How I respond. What I choose. Who I am. Who I want to be. How I love.

I am completely seeing a theme here. My life is at this beautiful place that requires both my surrender AND my participation to Be Here Now.

Slowly, the goodness and familiarity of living life without all my expectations and judgements is seeping back in. Sigh.

A sacred space is opening back up deep inside me. I am breathing in life. I am here.

This opening isn’t necessarily about anything I expect to receive or come to me. It is more about allowing goodness to flow through me. It is internal and eternal instead of external.

I AM now JOYOUSLY anticipating each day of my SuRrendEr journey.

I AM SURRENDERING.

It is good.

I See You

I see you.

Isn’t that what we all long for?

To be seen for who we truly are?

To have the goodness and divine and holy called forth from deep within our soul?

What if we all took the time today to gaze deeply into the eyes of another human being and SEE them as God sees them – beautifully unique and wonderfully made?

Love YOUrself

We were ALL born creative beings.

When we tap into our God/divine given creativity we become more of our true soul selves. We become explorers, observers, adventurers. We become seekers of truth and solutions and processes.

We become lovers of ourselves and of others.

Everyone is creative.

If you don’t believe this, I challenge you to discover your truth. Who told you you were not creative? What experience squelched your bright and personal expression of YOU? Please consider that this might be the lie.

Take a moment. Breathe deep. Ask God the truth.

If you feel called to, share what you hear.

Love YOUrself!

Sorrow and Joy (Wisdom along the Way)

729A3031

The deep clenching painful chest emptiness that sneaks up and invites tears. A physical pain that feels like it could swallow me whole. I don’t know where this comes from or when it will appear. I just know it will.

Yet the freedom of allowing the pain surprisingly leads to release. As I embrace the ache and invite the sting of tears, I am lead out of the abyss.

This grief has been with me, maybe always. It is a deep and soulful cry for all that has been lost and all that is yet to be.

I don’t think this cavernous void will be filled in my lifetime.

My soul seeks heaven in the midst of this beautiful, messy, imperfect life.

By believing in the miraculous, wonder-full and joy-filled now and cradling the inexplicable heartache that seems to always linger beneath the surface, I am whole and present.

The peace, joy and knowing that there is more, a deeper truer story that I walk in, is my walk with Jesus.

You are Creative (#3 Wisdom along the Way)

We all have ‘those’ friends.

You know who I am talking about.

Creativity seems to drip from their pores, their home is a decorator’s masterpiece, they paint, they write, they show up at poetry open mike night, they taught themselves guitar and now write music for a major label, they dress soho bohemian gypsy (and it works), they travel for Art Retreats and everything they touch looks like it came out of a Style – Pro DIY magazine.

Obviously ‘they’ were born with the ‘creativity’ gene.

But what about the rest of us?

I honestly believe we are all born with the CREATIVITY gene. I think part of being human dictates that we are creators.

After all, are we not created in the image of our Creator?

Even the first verb in the Bible is ‘created’. I don’t think that was a coincidence. There are a myriad of other verbs that could have been chosen for Genesis 1:1.

For instance: in the beginning:

  • God worked really hard… or
  • God talked a lot about…, or
  • God had a meeting…., or
  • God studied and went to school… or
  • God waved a magic wand…

You get the idea.

In the beginning God CREATED the heavens and the earth. If we are made in the image of our Creator, We Are Creative.

SO if Creative is WHO WE ARE…why do so many of us shy away from calling upon our creativity?

I think Brene Brown nailed it for me. She speaks at length to this issue in her shame research: “85% of the men and women who I interviewed remembered an event in school that was so shaming, it changed how they thought of themselves for the rest of their lives. For fifty percent of that 85%, those shame wounds were around creativity…. Fifty percent of those people have art scars, creativity scars, and so we have to go back and unearth that.”

I can also add:

Things that other’s of influence have said to or about us. It could have been as simple as having an artist sibling, and the family saying that he or she is the creative one. Or as cruel as a classmate making fun of our art, singing, acting or writing ability – or really – any other risky attempts on our part.

We also make lousy agreements with ourself. Like: I don’t have time for creativity because I have too many real responsibilities, or creativity is for other people, or I tried that and didn’t like it or creativity is only for those who paint, write, sing, act etc….

Creativity requires that we make the Try.

Failure is inevitable if creativity is the goal. Yay Failure! That means we tried! I don’t think of failure as an end – only a step along the way to success.

Creativity is the act of tapping into our soul, trying something we have not before, and letting the mess happen! It is taking risks and quieting critical voices, including our own inner critic. Creativity requires that we let go of comparison.

Most of us need a safe place to practice our creativity. Once we become comfortable exploring our creative side and express it regularly, we can be more creative everywhere.

Creativity doesn’t just show up in the arts. All of industry needs creative ideas. Parenting requires creativity in wheel barrow loads every week. Do you cook, landscape, garden, speak, teach, get dressed everyday, work, learn? If you do any of these things YOU are tapping into your creativity gene.

Try this journaling activity:

1. Try this on. Say, out loud, “I am creative.” How did it feel?

2. How about sitting with the question in prayer or meditation, “Am I believing any lies about my creativity?” Write down what you hear.

3. Now ask in prayer or meditation, “What is the truth about my creativity?” Write down what you hear.

(Hint: If it is negative you can be pretty sure you are still tapping into lies. If it is positive, you can be pretty sure you are tapping into the truth)

One of my favorite books for delving into our Creative Nature is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I spent about 6 months going through the exercises in her book and I still do Morning Pages on a regular basis.

I also enjoy Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Tapping into ourselves as Creatives is usually a process. We have to sift through the junk that has been piled on, the poor self talk we may have adopted, our fear of trying and we must give up the practice of comparison.

It took me almost 50 years to call myself an artist and a writer, to truly embrace the creative process within me. It was worth every second of every year to be in this place of joyful freedom!

Do I still have doubts? Yes. But I don’t live there. Do I wish my art and writing were better? Heck yes AND that is why I do both everyday!

I encourage you to pick a creative endeavor  – something outside of your daily work – to explore. Just try it, with no judgement, like a toddler learning to walk. Embrace being a novice, smile and applaud your tries. Start small or big, but start! You already know that secret thing that you would like to try – photography, ballroom dancing, art journaling, painting, steel sculpture, jewelry making, pottery, belly dancing, glass blowing, furniture making, photo editing, the list truly is endless!

Here is your permission slip – print it. Fill it out. Keep it where you can See it. Do it!

____________________________(your name) has my permission to

explore her/his most awesome creativity gene through the act

of____________________________________________________ .

Much Love to You Dear One,

Barb

Taking Care of YOU (#11 Wisdom along the Way)

take great physical care of you.jpg

Ethics in Biomedical Medicine was one of my favorite elective classes when I was a university student. I was a business major and needed a few electives. This class fit perfectly into my schedule. Almost 30 years later, it remains one of the classes that made the biggest impact on my life and my health. The premise of the class was that, ultimately, I knew my body best and was responsible for my own wellness.

Thus started my journey of becoming healthy and taking responsibility for myself. By the way, I am still on that journey.

I am a questioner, a seeker and an experimenter when it comes to my health.

I think I have tried every diet under the sun, included this supplement, excluded this food group, lifted weights, aerobic exercised, endurance – HIIT – yoga trained, walked, jogged, ran and fasted. Yet, sadly, was not satisfied with my body. Or my health.

In my late twenties I inexplicably started putting on weight and suffered two miscarriages while trying to get pregnant with our third child. The miscarriages were devastating; the weight gain and low energy disheartening. I went to an overweight female PA who told me it wasn’t like I was obese, and to get used to weight gain and lower energy as I got older. Remember, I wasn’t even 30!

That horrible medical appointment sent me on a quest.

I knew my body wasn’t behaving normally for me. I researched, tried different doctors and finally landed on some possible solutions. I was diagnosed as hypothyroid. The month I started medication was the month I became pregnant with our third son. After our last child was born, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and later with adrenal fatigue. It seemed one thing after another was hitting me. And it probably didn’t help that I was practicing bulimic.

I had lived a lifetime of being the chubby girl, love doled out as food, not getting dessert when other kids did because of my weight, weigh-ins in our family kitchen and abuse of diet pills beginning in my very early teens. I lived knowing life would be so much better if I could just lose ‘X’ amount of pounds.

On this journey to wellness I began to realize some key ingredients to health.

  • There is Not a One Size fits all Diet or Exercise Plan.
  • There is Not  a Magic Pill that will make you: thin, beautiful, popular, accepted, successful or loved.

I don’t have to tell you how many billions of dollars are spent annually on diet, health, fitness, prescription medicine, sick days, etc… the numbers are staggering.

I will tell you that Spiritual health is what ultimately guided me toward true physical health. I needed to feel like I was worthy of taking care of and lovable no matter what my size or physical appearance. For me, only a relationship with God could do that. Realizing the the Creator of the Universe loved Me and called Me, ‘Child’ changed everything! That same Creator loves YOU and thinks YOU are over the top incredible, wonderful, worthy and amazing!

What if we moved our amazing bodies? Whether this starts as a walk around the neighborhood you live in or it is training for a 5K – Our bodies were made for MOVEMENT. Doing this out of joy instead of punishment, out of ‘could’ instead of ‘should’ changed exercise for me. Adding physical play outdoors or indoors is something we have available to us (hopscotch, tag, jump rope, disc golf, bag toss, hiking, kayaking, bowling, biking, racquetball, tennis, skiing, swimming – really the list is endless)

What if we looked in the mirror each day and picked one feature or ability of ourself that we were grateful for? At the same time we quit negative self talk…Example: Barb – Your skin looks glowing today! Look at the muscles on your upper arms – way to go Sunshine! Wink, thumbs up and air kiss… Instead of: Barb, your butt and thighs are too big, look at that extra fat and skin around your belly… Do you see the POWER in this?

What if we enjoyed food and were thankful for it? Take a cooking class. Buy a new cookbook – a gorgeous book full of photos. Purchase wholesome locally sourced food. Discover new ways to prepare life giving vegetables and fruits. Quit eating when we are full. Ask ourselves if we are truly hungry before stuffing a feeling along with salty, crunchy or sweet. Could we stop using food for numbing? If we are anxious, sad, lonely, hurt, angry, fearful, uncomfortable how about taking a walk or journaling to consider our feelings. Our feelings matter and we deserve to delve deep into them, instead of eating them. Our enjoyment of food matters also.  We need it for fuel AND it can also be a fulfilling part of being loving to ourselves and joyful each day.

What if we reinstated sitting at a beautifully set table (with friends, family or even alone) as a ritual of nourishment? We don’t have to be Martha Stewart here, but there is so much Soul Food that happens when we care about our surroundings! Light a candle, buy flowers for your table, use real plates and silverware, pour your water into a glass with ice and a slice of lemon, use a placemat. These rituals fill us up as much if not more than the wonderful food we serve. Be present and mind-FULL during eating.

What if we shed the negativity around our bodies, food, movement and lives? Can we suspend harsh judgements on ourselves? There are gazillions of dollars spent each year in marketing to make us feel ‘less than’… turn off your television, put an add blocker on your computer, listen to ad-free music, go on a media fast. Take a break from the nay-sayers and sabotaging people in your life. Send your self-critic on vacation. Acknowledge a negative feeling – but don’t partner with it or let it drive your actions. Be the boss of you. Dear guilt (fear, anxiety,etc..), you may not boss me anymore.

What if were relentless about our healthcare? Seriously, us looking out for us, is the best possible scenario. Find a health practitioner that partners with us, listens to us, hears us. I know healthcare is a hot topic these days. But even here – implementing the above five steps is such a huge movement toward wellness that this will seem easier. We can talk to our legislators. We can have an impact on health care. We can start at home, with ourselves, becoming more well and health conscious.

The simple act of believing we can make a difference in our wellness may be the biggest factor in our personal health.

I challenge us to one week of self kindness to ourselves! Let me know how it goes!

Choose Happy (#6 Wisdom Along the Way)

ONLY YOU CAN MAKE YOU HAPPY copy

 

Only YOU can make YOU HAPPY. For a long time I did not believe this.

My wonderful husband and I used to have a recurring fight.

It went something like this:

Me: You never…. or… You always… or…. If only You would…

Wonderful Husband: I can’t do anything to make you happy…

Do these words sound familiar to you? Maybe they aren’t in a marriage. Maybe they are in a parent-child, sibling, work, school or friend relationship. Maybe it’s an ongoing internal conversation with yourself.

Through a very long process I discovered an amazing truth: I am the only one who can make me Happy.

I was 35.

I didn’t say I was a quick learner.

I am not an expert on how this sad state of affairs came to be, or maybe I am. However, I am becoming an expert on how my happiness truly is up to me.

You see, for the longest time (35 years) I believed that other’s actions or circumstances dictated my happiness. Have you ever been there?

If only…then I could be happy…

When … blah blah blah …then I will be happy…

They should … so I can be happy…

I get it.

I used to live there.

I am here to tell you there is a better way.

Because really? Do you have control over another human’s actions, decisions, thought processes? Do you have control over circumstances outside of You?

Really, what can we control? Really? Truly? Honestly?

For me, I have decided I have enough of a job controlling me. Who I am and who I want to be IS totally up to me.

And just being honest here, I am not an easy job.

I can be: bratty, bitchy, controlling, judgmental, jealous, over emotional, angry, critical, whiney, needy, cranky  – all AT THE DROP OF A HAT!

I have a full time job managing me.

Do I really want to give you my power of happiness? Do I want to give a promotion, a salary, a number on a scale, a degree, a position, a relationship THE CONTROL of my happiness?

Unequivocally, my answer is NO! 

This was a decision I guess I didn’t even realize I could make, until I did.

What if I could be happy because I chose to? Despite my circumstances?

This was novel thinking for me.

Frankly it seemed counterintuitive.

Until I started practicing it!

I have met, listened to, seen and read of people in horrible circumstances who walk in personal contentment and happiness. They do not let circumstances or people steal their joy.

As difficult and as simple as their solution is  – here it is:

They choose happiness.

In spite of circumstances, people, externals  – they choose this high road of happiness.

When I first heard of this crazy practice I spoofed it. Sure, those folks with everything going right in their world can be happy. But they should try my life!

Then I looked deeper. Happiness was showing up in the most unlikely humans. These were parents that had lost children. Parents who had been dealt the hand of Downs Syndrome or Autism or childhood Leukemia in their lives. These were spouses that had suffered betrayal, affairs, divorce or the death of a spouse. These were people who had lost everything financially through bankruptcy, natural disaster, embezzlement or economic downturn. These were people who were suffering terminal illness or were losing loved ones from disease and sickness. These were survivors of abuse, addiction, neglect, war, famine and terrorism. Happiness was seeming to bloom in some of the most unlikely places.

Of course, I have seen the opposite also. Those dealt an unbearable hand in life that chose bitterness, martyrdom, victimhood  or hatred.

So, as true to myself, I set some parameters.

Here are some questions I ask myself:

  1. Is this something I have control over?
  2. Am I the boss of this situation?
  3. Is there any realistic action I can take to change this circumstance?
  4. Am I allowing someone else’s actions to dictate how I feel?
  5. Can I set a better boundary here – between this situation and me?

These are tough and real questions. I visit them often. I do not want to get sucked into someone else’s strife, issue or problem. I would rather be part of the solution. I know and have known tough circumstances. I can get stuck in the quagmire of despair or I can choose some happiness and levity along the way. Guess which one is more healthy and achieves better results?

And I still can choose my own happiness NO MATTER what is going on.

I am not saying that there is not a time for sadness, grief or anger. But I choose not to live there. I have agreed with myself that I can find happiness, even amongst grief and sorrow and mourning.

My, ‘how do you actually do this?’ goes like this:

I have to stay in a Soul Filled place of wellness. I have to take care of myself; my spiritual and physical needs. I need to be okay with me. And, I need to make the willful choice of happiness.

The Serenity Prayer comes to my mind:

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.

Seriously, WHY NOT CHOOSE HAPPY NOW?

 

Photo Credit: Danielle-cohen.com