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!

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)

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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

 

What Fills Your Soul? (#5 Wisdom Along the Way)

 

What Fills Your Soul?

Have you considered this question lately? Ever?

It could also be asked, what makes your heart sing?

Why is this even important?

Because, Dear One, You and Your Soul matter!

Sometimes I have needed permission to be good to myself. It has been easy for me to keep a hectic pace, do ‘good’ things for everyone and just be busy.

And some of this ‘serving others’ does fill my soul.

However, only when my soul is already in a filled up, healthy place, to begin with.

I am not saying you shouldn’t serve others if you are not filled up first. If you are human, you probably serve others in some way.

If you are female, you do serve others, usually a lot.

I am saying to sustain serving others requires that you recharge. And even if you don’t think you are in a ‘serving others’ place, we are all required to serve ourselves with good self care.

The best way I know how to do this is a Soul Filling Session!

What is a Soul Filling Session? I actually just made that up… but let’s delve a little deeper.

We all recharge in our own unique ways. When I am talking about Soul Filling, I am not only talking about physically rested, well nourished and healthy. I am talking something spiritual, sacred and soulful.

Whatever your belief system, most of us believe in a higher power, God, Jesus, Source etc…

I belong to a group of believers that agree our souls arrived here in this lifetime pure, perfect and unhindered. I also know that the journey of life has added struggle, lies and light dampening experience to every soul I have ever encountered.

The process of Soul Filling, for me, means to check out of my daily ‘to do’ list and check in to my sacred inner and outer space of being.

I am most Soul Present in:

Nature

Solitude

Beauty and

Quiet

This can look like being anywhere in nature, going for a walk outside, journaling in a peaceful setting, reading the Bible or a soul filling book, doing art in a room with a view, being anywhere in a natural setting  or even being home in a quiet, lovely space I have created for prayer or meditation. These places are where I check in with my soul.

These places may look very different for you. And that is perfectly incredible and awesome that you have found your own Soul Filling experience!

Questions I may ask myself:

  1. How am I?
  2. Am I operating from love? Or am I operating from duty, fear, people pleasing, need for approval, obligation or guilt?
  3. Am I believing a lie (or lies)? What is the truth?
  4. How does my body feel? Healthy, energized, rested and well? Or am I tense, sick, in pain, tired or stressed?
  5. Is my life currently aligned mostly with love, joy, peace or not? What about my relationships? My work? My home?

The answers to these questions give me clues. Even if I am in good places, but depleted, I know I need some Soul Filling.

My personal criteria for Soul Filling time/activities are:

  1. I end up feeling more love, more joy and more peace.
  2. I feel very connected to Jesus or my Source.
  3. My shoulders relax and my breathing becomes deep and unhindered.
  4. Hope increases.
  5. Strife leaves.

I urge you to spend some time thinking about what a personal Soul Filling Session might look like for you? Maybe even consider a few different scenarios. What if you only had 15 minutes? Or an hour? Maybe you can carve a weekend or a week to delve deep into filling your very precious Soul with what it most needs and desires.

What do you hear, see, feel when you ask, “What does a Soul Filling Session look like for me? What does my Soul most need?”

Sometimes my Soul desires solitude and nature. Other times my Soul needs to feel heard and understood by me or even someone near and dear to me. Frequently my Soul wants to check out of the daily routine and create, adventure or explore.

There is no right or wrong path to Soul Filling. The only wrong way would be to not do it at all.

This week for my Soul Filling I was able to intentionally carve out a number of time slots and various experiences. They ranged from five minutes to five hours. Here they are:

  1. I walked and prayed down a beautiful country road, lined with trees turning colors of Autumn with golden sunshine dripping through the canopy cover.
  2. I pondered the leaves gently falling from their Mother Tree to the Forest Floor.
  3. I lit a candle – earthy and herbal, turned on some quiet Jazz music and read Richard Rohr’s daily email meditation.
  4. I opened up my journal, did a free flowing – no judgement – cleanse of my thoughts, feelings, or observations – writing session. (I may have been bratty, bitchy, even ugly here – but I got it out from the inside of me).
  5. I practiced daily gratitude journaling.
  6. I lost myself in the creative practice of making art.
  7. I played with my dogs – outside, pondered the beauty of crisp fall days and smelled the flowers (literally).
  8. I escaped into a beautiful story wrapped in the pages of a book.
  9. I spent relational connection time with my wonderful husband.
  10. I chatted, at length, with some God girlfriends who fill my Soul.

I encourage YOU, Dear Heart, to discover and regularly visit Your Own Soul Filling Sessions.

And I would love to hear what they are!

The True You ( #4 Wisdom Along the Way)

 

You have just come across the most enchanting child.

This child is innocent, playful, curious and filled with joy. You are invited to join this child for a wondrous journey of exploration.

You clasp hands, feeling honored that this pure and bright little person trusts you and wants your companionship.

As you walk through a tall and misty forest you notice sounds and smells that you have forgotten to appreciate. The breeze is gently rustling through branches, birds are cavorting overhead and the earth smells fresh and musky at the same time. You breathe deeply. You are completely present and in the moment. Calm washes over you.

The child bends down and grabs a fallen feather, bright blue, glossy black and white. A small hand pulls you down to share this new found treasure. Your eyes meet.

Your gaze locks with this precious little one and you see your own eyes staring back at you.

This. Can’t. Be. You.

But it is.

Hot tears gather in your eyes. Your throat gets tight making it hard to swallow past the lump. Your chest painfully constricts. A tear escapes.

When did everything change? When did this innocence leave? When did you decide to put on masks to fit in? When did you squelch your dreams to meet other’s expectations? When did you adopt hard coping mechanisms to self protect?

When did you lose the Joyous Freedom of being the True You?

Do you know?

Somewhere along the path of life it seems we decide that there is a better way to be ourselves. Or circumstances dictate we retreat. We decide the True Me needs to hide, be protected, change, disappear, be quiet/louder/better… etc. But what if this is a Lie?

What if it is the True You that is the answer you have been longing for?

God only made one You.

One in 7.5 billion people.

This expression of YOU is unique and glorious because it is YOU!

So much of what we are called to do in our life time comes out of knowing our True self. Everyone seems to want to know their purpose. Everyone deeply wants to know they are okay.

“When you get your, ‘Who am I?’, question right, all of your, ‘What should I do?’ questions tend to take care of themselves.” -Richard Rohr, Falling Upward

When you ask the question, “Who am I?”, what is your answer?

Do you hear the voices of others, describing what you do in their lives? Do you hear tapes from your past, labeling you? Does your inner critic trump the loving voice of your spirit or of God?

Do you know what you truly like? Do you know what your love languages are? Do you know what you are good at? Do you know what your life’s purpose is? Do you know why your relationships work or don’t work? Do you know how others perceive you? Are you comfortable with yourself? Do you know what your strengths are? Do you know what your personality types are? Do you know if you are introverted or extroverted? Do you know your coping mechanisms? Do you know your conflict resolution style? Do you know how incredibly amazing YOU are?

If no one has ever encouraged you to go on this adventure, let me!

That cherished child we visited has gifts and talents and desires that are crying out to be set free and shared.

What if we take this on as an assignment?

There are SO many places to start. Taking the time for self exploration may be one of the most important things we ever do, whether alone; reading, praying, journaling or in in groups; intensives, retreats, counseling.

There are a load of free on line assessments to get you started. Some of my favorites are:

  • StrengthsFinder
  • DISC
  • Myers-Briggs
  • Enneagram
  • Love Languages
  • The 4 Tendencies

Look at the results. Buy the books. Sit with them. Journal about them. Do the assessments with a trusted friend. Pray about them. Ask your safe loved ones how they experience you. Be open to the answers you hear and the answers y0u discover.

Some clues for me that something is important for my soul include: physical responses like deeper breathing, shoulders relaxing or heart beating faster, sweaty palms. Sometimes, colors or words or smells stand out in a unique way. Other times a theme will start recurring in my life (I will see it everywhere!), like a certain phrase or Bible verse. 

Pay attention Dear Heart, God is always talking to us – through our bodies, through nature, through our experiences and through others.

This getting to the True You is a lifetime process. There are seasons and situations that cause us to dig deeper and others where we are more reflective or engaged in different areas of our life. They are both to be expected and embraced.

Just don’t ever quit becoming the TRUE YOU.

 

Photo Credit: danielle-cohen.com

YOU ARE A FREAKING MIRACLE! (#2 Wisdom Along the Way)

Dear Precious YOU,

Sometimes we forget who really are.

Or, maybe we never really knew.

Too much has happened.

We don’t have what it takes.

We’ve done too much harm.

We aren’t good enough.

We will never measure up.

We haven’t done enough.

In our mind we are broken, bad or beat down by the circumstances or choices of our lives.

I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is never too late to search for and accept a hand up, to dust off your knees, wipe the tears from your cheeks and discover the incredible creation that is YOU.

I am not talking false platitudes here.

You are a living, breathing, supernatural phenomenon!

Look at what YOU have been through.

Look at what YOU have survived!

You are still here.

That is NO accident.

Cloaking the hurt or shame with silence, anger, sarcasm or numbing may feel like the only safe option.

That is simply not true.

There is not a soul walking this planet who doesn’t have a tragedy in their story that would crack our hearts wide open. If we listened.

No one gets a free pass. No one has this thing called life all figured out. It may look that way from the outside, but trust me, beneath the surface we are all more alike than different.

This life walk were are on;

YOU can do it.

This knee buckling, heart breaking catastrophe;

YOU will get through it.

This dead end – brick wall – glass ceiling – mountain in front of you,

there is a WAY around or through it.

This thing called LIFE, we were never meant to do it alone.

Take this journey to YOU. Don’t stop. Get help. Don’t stop. Find a friend, a group, a church, a counselor. RELENTLESSLY search for those who lift you up, NOT those who commiserate with You.

The WORLD only gets ONE YOU.

I see the spark still burning in your eye, in your heart. Fan that flame!

I know it’s scary. Because I did it and I do it.

The BRAVEST thing I ever did was find a good counselor (it was my third attempt by the way), share my truth, share the shame and the hurts and the story that had been my life. This was not a one week or a one month process. This took YEARS of work and tears and digging to resurrect HOPE in my life. AND every single day of the painful journey, I would do again, to get to this Peace-full, Hope-full and Joy-full place I now live.

The WISEST thing I ever did was ask Jesus to help me. I still do this everyday.

These steps began a 16 year healing journey, that I am still on.

Do whatever it takes!

YOU are worth WHATEVER IT TAKES! You are worth the sacrifice, pushing through the fear, taking the time, showing up, spending the money and making the effort!

YOU are More than OKAY!

YOU are More than ENOUGH!

YOU ARE A FREAKING MIRACLE!

I PROMISE!

 

 RESOURCES:

  • Celebrate Recovery (for hurts, habits and hang-ups/ not only addiction)
  • 12 Step Programs
  • New Life Ministries  newlife.com (counselor network and intensives)
  • Your Local Church
  • Your School’s Counseling Office
  • braveliving.com Soul Restoration
  • Your friend with the kind eyes and a big heart
  • Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
  • The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
  • You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
  • Captivating or Wild at Heart, by Stasi and John Eldredge

Photo Credit: danielle-cohen.com

Finding Faith (#1 Wisdom along the Way)

 

Faith, like a flower, starts with a seed.

A simple whisper at the beginning of time blossoms into surety and confidence in that which we know for sure.

It is not a stationary or stagnant arrival, but an unfurling along the pathways of our life.

Faith, as intangible as it may seem, becomes the sinew that holds us together on our journey.

This mystical, magical, supernatural gift of a soul to unwavering knowing, believing and being, seems to happen in a myriad of ways. For me, it’s been a journey.

Often we grow up listening to our parent’s or elder’s beliefs, faith or religion. Frequently these same things we subconsciously adopt or reject. But have we took them off the shelf of our mind and moved them into the personal realm of our heart and soul, as our own?

My Faith Journey has been gloriously messy.

In my late teens and early twenties I was very positive of my faith. I would have told you I was a Christian. I would have told you a hundred things I would never do. I would have told you a set of hard and fast rules I lived by. I had faith in myself and really, nothing else.

Then my first child was born. I took one look at that miraculous little human and truly knew for the first time in my life that God was absolutely real. With that realization a chain reaction began in my life. This new thing I now knew: that without a doubt there was God. What else did I truly, gut wrenchingly know?

I found out I didn’t know, as in really have Faith, regarding that many things or people or principles in my life.

I could parrot a lot of what I had been taught. But I didn’t own, at a soul level, many of my ‘for sures.’ Like, ‘for sure,’ I would never: divorce, lie, cheat, have an affair, declare bankruptcy, drink too much, over eat, let someone see me cry, hit my child, be depressed, scream in public, go out without make up on, go to the grocery store in pajamas, be homeless, not pay my bills, become overweight…Then there were my ‘rules’ such as: Perception is everything…We work hard and play hard…etc… Were these my faith?

I now know that those are not ‘things’ for me to have faith in. Plus I failed at most of them! My behaviors and personal rules have very little to do with my faith and everything to do with the outcome of what my faith is. But they are not my faith.

Faith is so much deeper than something I said about myself or something I did or did not do.

So I went on a Faith exploration mission.

Faith, for me, had to do with God. At least that was where I was grabbed. I had this deep seated, organic, earthy, ethereal, wondrous nagging to know more. Faith might grab your attention at a sunrise, or a tragedy or a symphony. Really, there is no telling where you may first hear the whisper of Faith, calling you.

I do believe that Faith does keep whispering until we hear. And when we do hear, Faith sings a siren’s song pulling us deeply into the quest for more.

Because my Faith quest had to do with God, I began reading the Bible (or at least trying to). It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, so I found a church that taught the Bible. Both were good. But they weren’t this Faith thing calling me. I visited other churches. I went on spiritual retreats all over the country. I began to hear the voice of God through the teachers and pastors and books and wind and rushing water and waves and silent misty mornings. I began to see God on mission trips, in the faces of homeless people and the faces of CEOs, in the beautiful deeds of selfless people and in the ravages of war torn countries, and in the rebirth of the land every Spring and every morning in the sunrise.

I met Jesus of Nazareth. Not only in doctrine and theology. Not only in church and the Bible. Not only in other people. Not only in the beauty of creation. Not only in my own family. But also in the quiet still small voice that whispered through my soul. In my dark places. In my pain and in my grief. In my wonder and in my joy. In the mystery of not being able to clearly define, describe or logically explain this divine presence that had overtook my life.

I had found Faith. My Faith lies in Jesus. I have Faith that Love is the answer.

My call to you is not a call to Jesus. That is not my job.

Instead, I encourage you to listen to the whispers calling you. Seek that which draws your soul into a larger story. Unearth the delight, comfort and joy of Faith on your journey.