Category Archives: Uncategorized

So, I did a Thing…

So much has happened since I last wrote here. Some, you all know, as all our lives have changed over the past 18 months. Other happenings are private and for another time. We all have that tipping point. For me, seeing my precious grandson ‘mask up’ for his first day of school was that point. It was four in the morning, and I couldn’t sleep. Less than a few weeks before school started, the local school system caved to Health Department pressure and initiated a mask mandate. I found a place to order vinyl lettering for my Jeep.

UnMask Kids

Because I feel so strongly about this, I thought I would share my WHY.

First and foremost as a mother and a grandmother I inherently KNOW that children are not supposed to do life or school – masked. This is as rooted in me as my faith.

I believe YOU know this too, yet it’s deeply uncomfortable to go against the ‘rules,’ or not comply. I get that. We have been largely raised to avoid confrontation. But some things are worth overcoming. Protecting our children is one of those things worth fighting for.

It is time WE grow up and protect the children and their rights to be children; to be enjoyed, celebrated, taught, learned from, allowed to be free and loved, to grow up healthy.

Children are the most joyous, creative human beings on our planet. WE all need their expression as much as they need to express themselves and to be seen and heard. 

  • Can you imagine being in Kindergarten, trying to learn how to phonetically read while you and your teacher are masked? 
  • Can you imagine running in gym or on a playground, pumping your legs and arms, while your lungs are trying to suck in clean air through a mask?
  • Can you imagine trying to learn social signals and skills while you cannot see 2/3rds of someone’s face?

Masking our children, those that are not legally able to vote because they are underage, should NOT be a mandate of any government – local or federal. 

If it is a family choice, so be it, but CHOICE is the key word here.

Everyone says follow the science. You do understand that science is based on hypothesis, right? It’s like a real estate appraisal – it’s a professional’s opinion of value at a given date and time. And it changes. At least take a look at ‘science’ that comes to different conclusions.

How about we follow the common sense? 

FYI:  Most children (and their teachers) in Europe will not be wearing masks in school – based on ‘the science.’

These USA Mask Mandates are not requiring a certain mask that guarantees fresh air for our children’s developing brains OR zero transmission of biological material. Because there are not any. Heck you can just throw some string on any old material and the ‘mask police’ would consider you compliant. Where is the science in that?

We as adults, caretakers and those ushering in future generations, have a responsibility to all children. We cannot raise the next guardians of planet Earth in fear. We cannot teach compliance over freedom and health. We must love our children more than our comfort.

From some of my personal research from various sources:

A Mask Timeline…

February 5, 2020

As Covid-19 begins to spread across the globe, Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to the president, receives an email from a former senior US government official asking if she should wear a mask while traveling, as a precautionary measure.

He advises against it: “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out [the] virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”

February 28, 2020

“CDC does not currently recommend the use of face masks to help prevent novel #coronavirus,” the public health agency tweets.

February 29, 2020

Americans begin to panic-buy masks, greatly irritating the nation’s top health authorities. 

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus,” US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams tweets.

March 8, 2020

A month after the Trump administration declares a public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, Fauci says in an interview with 60 Minutes: “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.”

In keeping with longstanding CDC guidance, he stresses that masks should be reserved for healthcare providers and those who are ill. 

March 29, 2020

Doubling down on his previous remarks, Surgeon General Adams underscores that his office has “consistently recommended against the general public wearing masks as there is scant or conflicting evidence they benefit individual wearers in a meaningful way.”

March 31, 2020

In an article dunking on Donald Trump’s suggestion that Americans could wear scarves to shield their faces from Covid-19, NBC facetiously reports: “While the science behind whether masks can prevent a person from catching the coronavirus hasn’t changed (a mask does not help a healthy person avoid infection), public guidance may be shifting.” In the same article, the outlet stresses that there is “no scientific evidence that wearing face coverings would have a measurable impact on flattening the coronavirus curve.”

On the same day, CNN reports that Fauci supports “broadening” mask use among the general public, provided there are enough face coverings for healthcare workers.

“Because if, in fact, a person who may or may not be infected wants to prevent infecting somebody else, the best way to do that is with a mask. Perhaps that’s the way to go,” Fauci declares, in a bold U-turn from his previous position on the matter.

April 2, 2020

The CDC’s FAQ page about Covid-19 reads: “CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including Covid-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A face mask should be used by people who have Covid-19 and are showing symptoms.”

April 3, 2020

Americans are suddenly informed that face masks should actually be worn by just about everyone.

As cities across the United States begin to lock down, the CDC advises Americans to voluntarily don cloth face masks, purportedly in a data-backed bid to help halt the virus. President Trump explains that the new guidance is prompted by concerns that seemingly healthy people are transmitting the disease: “You don’t seem to have symptoms and it still gets transferred.”

More than a decade of established public health policy goes out the window: The public should mask up. But not with medical-grade respirators – those are reserved for healthcare workers. Instead, people are urged to don cloth masks, which can be made at home in accordance with FDA manufacturing protocols.

The Masked War against Asymptomatic Spread of a Respiratory Virus –  long regarded by the CDC as an unnecessary and futile endeavor – begins.

April 4, 2020

The CDC updates its FAQ page about Covid-19. Citing “new data about how Covid-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread Covid-19 illness in communities across the country,” the agency now recommends the use of cloth face coverings. They should be worn by “people older than 2 years of age in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” The CDC stresses that these new recommendations do not apply to people who are “unconscious.”

May – December 2020

At the direction of the CDC, state and local governments begin to impose mask mandates. ‘Karens’ do battle with mask-less grocery shoppers across the country. General chaos and deep paranoia ensue. 

Pro-maskers and anti-maskers are now in mortal combat over the Asymptomatic Question. A smorgasbord of studies examining Covid-19 transmission cause further mayhem: Some researchers claim that asymptomatic spread is nothing to sneeze at, while other scientists struggle to identify a single case of asymptomatic transmission. The World Health Organization says that asymptomatic transmission is “very rare,” but then backpedals and declares more data is needed.

An article in the British Medical Journal notes that the whole debate seems rather silly considering that PCR tests do not distinguish live virus and therefore cannot reliably identify “asymptomatic” individuals: “As things stand, a person who tests positive with any kind of test may or may not have an active infection with live virus, and may or may not be infectious.

February 10, 2021

The CDC publishes a study of its own claiming that two face masks – colloquially known as “double masking” – can reduce an individual’s exposure to coronavirus particles. 

However, the agency notes that the findings do not mean that Americans should wear two disposable masks at the same time. Instead, the data points to why “wearing a well-fitting mask is so important.”

Everyone is very impressed, but by now masks are not in fashion. Millions of vaccinated Americans, who’d been told that getting jabbed would give them unprecedented protection against Covid-19, begin to wonder why they are being nudged to put on another mask instead of being encouraged to take off the face-covering that they’re already wearing.

March 8, 2021

Finally: Fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks when meeting indoors with close friends and family who have also been jabbed, the CDC announces. Vaccinated individuals are still warned against traveling or gathering in large groups. 

April 27, 2021

The CDC says that fully vaccinated people can forgo masks at small outdoor gatherings. However, masks are still recommended when attending large outdoor events. Vaccinated individuals should also limit nursing home visits to “compassionate care situations.”

May 13, 2021

Americans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or adhere to social distancing rules indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the CDC announces. 

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky describes the policy shift as an “exciting and powerful moment.”

July 9, 2021

Fully vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings, the CDC says, in updated guidance for schools. 

July 21, 2021

Fauci tells CNBC that “the broad overall CDC recommendation is that if you are vaccinated, you are protected and you don’t need to wear a mask indoor or outdoors.” He then suggests that people living in areas with a “high level of transmission” should mask up anyway. 

“If you want to go the extra mile of safety, even though you are vaccinated, when you’re indoors, particularly in crowded places, you might want to consider wearing a mask,” he says, seconds after citing CDC guidance stating the exact opposite. 

July 27, 2021

Citing the spread of the more infectious Delta strain, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated Americans living in areas with “substantial or high transmission” of Covid-19 should once again resume wearing masks indoors. 

The agency also says that masks should be required of all staff and pupils at K-12 schools. Vaccinated individuals should wear face coverings when around family members who have compromised immune systems, or children who are too young to get the shot, the CDC further advises.

Heads down, masks up

So there you have it. As this modest historical survey demonstrates, the CDC, Fauci, and the entire US medical establishment have shown tremendous bravery as they diligently pursue this week’s rendition of The Science. Evidence can change over time. But only with masks does it seem to turn on a dime. 

Americans live in the best of all possible masked worlds, and they have Anthony Fauci and the CDC to thank for it. 

Timeline from https://www.rt.com/op-ed/530567-cdc-fauci-covid-mask-guidance-history/

Articles Regarding Face Mask Efficacy that you probably have not seen on main stream media:

https://wmbriggs.com/post/37172/   Why kids should should not be wearing masks and how to calm those that think they should.

https://www.city-journal.org/masking-children-unnecessary-and-harmful

https://nypost.com/2021/08/01/masking-kids-and-closing-schools-is-irrational-child-abuse/

https://followthemaskscience.com/

From a blog post by Dr. Jockers (drjockers.com), Face Masks. What Does the Science Really Say:

From this article:  A 2006 study has found that just 20 minutes of wearing a close-fitting mask compromised breathing due to re-breathing. This can impair both cognitive and psychomotor abilities. A 2013 study has found that masks can lead to rebreathing causing fatigue, headaches, and weakness. Headaches associated with N95 face masks are fairly common. According to a 2008 study, even surgical face masks can lead to deoxygenation. A 2011 study, wearing a mask can increase anxiety, elevated stress hormones, panic attacks, and false suffocation signals due to reduced breathing.

AND

The Effects of Face Masks on Psychological Well-Being

Face masks not only impact our physiological well-being but our psychological well-being as well. According to a 2014 study, seeing faces is critical for us to feel safe, to feel connected, and to communicate. Once we see masks, we cannot read other people which may lead to a fear response. Many of us associate masks with danger, threat, and fear. This is something we have learned throughout our lives and through generations.

This fear is in our subconscious and can be an automatic trigger that is hard to control even if we know that people in protective face masks are not dangerous. For children, the psychological impact of face masks can be particularly problematic. According to a 2020 study has also shown that the pandemic and social isolation have already affected our children’s well-being. 

Our psychological response to face masks is also deeply connected to our physiology. Our body’s physiological experiences and reactions can activate psychological stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and fear. A 2005 found study has discovered that wearing a face mask may make breathing difficult which increases stress and over-stimulates our flight-or-fight system. Research has also shown that this abnormal stress due to wearing a mask and reducing your ability to breathe actually lowers your immune system as well (32). *This article provides solutions to boost immunity and health and sights its sources of information (unlike much of the information found on main stream media).

From this article: Summary: Children do not readily acquire SARS-CoV-2 (very low risk), spread it to other children or teachers, or endanger parents or others at home. This is the settled science. In the rare cases where a child contracts Covid virus it is very unusual for the child to get severely ill or die. Masking can do positive harm to children – as it can to some adults. But the cost benefit analysis is entirely different for adults and children – particularly younger children. Whatever arguments there may be for consenting adults – children should not be required to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Of course, zero risk is not attainable – with or without masks, vaccines, therapeutics, distancing or anything else medicine may develop or government agencies may impose. 

There is SO much More information available. Please don’t take my word for it – Search For Yourself!

Some tips: See who is banned from social media platforms and why? Censorship has never fostered quality debate. Try DuckDuckGo or an internet browser other than Google and be amazed at the different results that show up. Talk to people that believe differently than you – ask them to show you what they are basing their belief on (the laws, the research, the actual visit they made to their local hospital, etc.). Don’t discount the death of loved ones, but remember that we are all terminal. Do you want to raise our kids in fear of death or joy of life?

 I challenge you to stand up and protect all children, the children in your life and those around you. Take the extra time, look at different sources of information, do your own research, draw your own conclusions. 

YOU are NOT being a Good Citizen by simply listening to the government or the media and complying – life is more nuanced than that. 

REMEMBER: WE the People ARE supposed to be the government. This is no longer true in America. Our most precious resource: THE CHILDREN are at risk. It is far past time for us to stand together, protect and UNMASK the Kids and help save their future!

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)

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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.

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

 

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

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Live Better Stories

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Okay, this advice came on the packing paper for a new pair of shoes. And I couldn’t resist adding it to my current art project!

This year I am choosing to live a better story!

After all, one of the best parts of being human is our ability to choose. A better story for me might be stepping more into the abundant life that is always available.

My friend, Jesus, might say, “Life to the full.”

Yes. That’s part of my better story!

Who Do You Say I Am?

Morning Glory

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the son of the living God. And Jesus answered him, Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:15-18)

Who do you say I am?

What  a big and loaded question!

For many years I assumed that the whole point of these couple verses was that Peter proclaimed Jesus as The Christ, the Messiah, whom the people had been waiting for.

And that is a major point.

Who I think and say Jesus is, defines me. I grow daily in knowing, loving and following HIM.

What if there is more?

Way more?

One thing I am learning is that: I don’t know what I don’t know.

Another thing I am learning is that in Walking with Jesus, there is always MORE.

As I was reading the above verses from the book of Matthew a number of things jumped off the page at me.

First, Jesus said some amazing things. Blessed are you Simon Bar-Jonah.” Not because Peter had the right answer. Not because Peter knew that Jesus was the savior of the whole planet. But Jesus said that Peter was blessed ‘for flesh and blood(man) has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.’ 

Peter was blessed because The Father in heaven revealed who Christ is? Or Peter was blessed because a person didn’t reveal Christ to him, but God did? Or Peter was blessed because he was in the presence of the living God and walking with HIM and realized it? Or Peter had a direct connection to the Father and acted from that?

I don’t know about you, but I am pretty sure I first confessed Christ because someone – a person – told me about HIM. Of course I also believe that the Spirit of God was at work in that choice.

How many times have I just listened to someone else’s interpretation of God’s Word? I AM NOT saying that it is wrong to listen to teaching. Instead I am suggesting that teaching should be my invitation to seek HIM out for myself.

What if I had known to listen to the voice of my Father in heaven and hear from HIM? I am not even sure I thought that was possible. I mean really? HE would talk to me? Really? The God of the universe would take time out of HIS mega-importance to talk to me?

Yes! HE did, HE does and HE will.

I am not saying that I hear an audible voice booming from the heavens. Even in the Bible, God doesn’t always speak that way. Sometimes HE used burning bushes, angels, prophets, wind,  a donkey. HIS voice whispers through creation to all of us. HE speaks in dreams. HE gave us Holy Spirit to constantly converse with us. HE is always speaking.

I have not always been listening.

Jesus says that Peter is blessed for hearing from God. Listening to God instead of man. Choosing to repeat what God said, instead of what man said.

A knowing that comes from hearing the voice of God, as Peter did, is foundational to walking with Jesus.

The verses only get better! Next Jesus says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.”

I really like that Jesus will build His church. Not, ‘Peter now you will build my church.’ Do you think we hear it that way sometimes?

How often do we assume that we are to do God’s part instead of our part? In these verses our part is to hear from our Father in Heaven and His part is to build the church. A little backwards from how we sometimes attack executing our faith?

We also have to look at the word ‘church.’ This word in Greek is ekklesia AND IT IS NOT A BUILDING. It is a group of people, specifically ‘the called out ones.’ It was not a religious or spiritual term. The purpose of an ekklesia was to ‘call people out’ or ‘summon them’ to assemble or to congregate in a public place primarily to deal with civil, political or military matters – not religious matters!* Not how I used to think of the ‘church.’ (Maybe we really can change the world!)

This ekklesia, Jesus said, He will build. And the foundation – the rock – was Peter, a person that heard from heaven.

And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.This is the comfort and protection and peace that I walk in daily. These are Jesus’s words. The word.

The gates of hell cannot prevail against a people, called out by Jesus, that hear from the Father in heaven.

A Prayer to hear God’s Voice:

Father God, I long to hear your voice. Please speak to me. Teach me your ways. Reveal to me who YOU are.

Now, listen. God longs for you!

*ReOrient, Kevin Weaver, pp187

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Faith, Hope and Love

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.(1 Corinthians 13:13)

LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

Love one another. Love covers a multitude of sins. God is love. Love God and Love People.

Love is a verb. Love is an action. LOVE IS A CHOICE not a feeling (but it can feel great)!

Love. Keep your LOVE ON!

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(Mixed Media – plaster on gesso board. Acrylic, gesso, coffee, stabilo pencil and antique hymnal collage element)