Find a way to do what you loved as a child

At my son’s recent field trip to a literary festival, one of the speakers said “the happiest adults are those, who find a way to do what they loved as a child.”

This caught my attention because after ten years of being a stay-at-home mom, I sent my baby to kindergarten this fall. I’m in a transition period of my life and open to possibilities of what to do next.

Yes, I love writing, and that’s where most of my drive is right now. But what did I love as a child? Building forts in the neighbor’s lilac bushes when they were in bloom, playing running bases in the front yard with my brothers, creek walking and riding bikes into town for cheese fries … none of those seem like good arrows pointing into the direction of a fruitful career.

But randomly this afternoon, I was flooded with a wonderful childhood memory, which makes me think I’m on track with my writing. I adored my silver-haired 6th grade English teacher Mrs. Obrien. She was a woman of great imagination, who brought each of us a tuppence from her annual trip to Ireland and dazzled us (or at least me) with tales of how she swam across an entire lake on vacation every summer. I also loved her dramatic re-enactments of classic literature – she was my favorite middle school teacher by far. 

More than anything, I loved how she’d have us write poetry by hand, then use colored pencils to decorate the page. I think it was my all-time favorite, most centering, even meditative, assignment in grade school.

In the past year, I’ve been surprised to find myself called to write mystical poetry. I absolutely love expressing my faith in this way and teaming it up with photography to illustrate the message – though it is hard work, it feels centering and satisfying to my soul. The creative wellspring is flowing.

BUT – I’ve been struggling to embrace this calling because I don’t think it’s a very practical thing to be doing, and I’m not very confident about sharing my work because I’m shy and prefer to be private with my faith.

The more I pray about it, the more I’m lead by God to continue writing and stretching my comfort zone by sharing it as much as possible. The writing has been a delight, the sharing a struggle.

Realizing this common thread back into my childhood regarding my love for poetry and images is reassuring somehow – at this point of stepping out on fath with my writing, it helps me trust that God created me for a purpose and this is part of it. He’s had this plan for me all along, and my job is to be obedient to His spirit like I have been for many years – this is just the next step in my journey, no big deal.

Psalm 139 13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

So what about you? Do you know what God created You to do? What did you love doing as a child? Could you carve out a little time to resurrect that part of yourself soon, just to see what happened? Comment below, and I’ll lift you in prayer to live a fulfilling, joyful life doing exactly what God created you to do. We’re all in this faith journey together. 

Related Scripture

Matthew 18: 3-4 3 “Truly I tell you, He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”

 

 

 

When you’re under pressure

One hundred miles beneath the surface of this planet,

it takes 2,200 degrees of heat

and 725,000 pounds of pressure

to forge a diamond,

which must be pushed up to the surface through volcanic eruptions

to finally be discovered and treasured by humans beings.

In our fast-paced society, it’s easy to forget our souls are like diamonds.

Our beauty is forged by fire in the depths of our being.

Whatever pressure you’re under right now,

keep the faith.

You’re not being destroyed!

You are being transformed from simple elements of the earth

into an eternally gorgeous creation,

which will be treasured by God forever.

 

Source for diamond statistics: http://www.dmia.net/diamonds-made-coal/

How to be bully proof

How can we protect ourselves from a world of criticism and cruelty?

I think the answer is simple: We need to be happy with who we are.

When we’re truly confident, for the most part, bullies leave us alone. And when they do choose to put us down, their insults pour off of us like water off a duck’s back without taking anything essential from our core of self esteem.

So how can we learn to be truly confident and happy with who we are, when we have so many flaws as human beings?

This answer is simple too: We need to put our confidence in the Lord.

As He showed us so perfectly on the cross, He forgives us all our shortcomings and affirms our dignity, even with all our imperfections. He loves us unconditionally and wants the best for us. He is our strength and our protection, our fortress and our shield.

Once we realize this and trust Him at the core of our being, we can become much more resilient in the face of criticism. Even when we are hurt by the cruelty of others, the more we trust in the Lord, the more quickly we can bounce back by reminding ourselves of our inherent worth as children of the One True King.

The saints are great examples of this. They were so full of God’s love, they were able to stand strong in faith through incredible trials, never losing their personal dignity or confidence in Christ.

Prayer
Lord, help us to realize our dignity as your your beloved children. Fill us with a sense of Your strength and Your unconditional love of us, so we can be immune to the harshness of the world we live in. Fill us with an unshakable sense of self worth, so we can represent You well and glorify You with our lives always, Amen.

Related scripture
Deuteronomy 31:6: “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you He will not fail you or forsake you.”

Journalling topic
Do you have areas of vulnerability, where people are able to frequently get under your skin and hurt your feelings?  How could Christ heal that area and fortify it with strength and protection, so you can be more resilient in the face of criticism? 

Life’s work

We need more brave souls,

who are willing to undertake the radical migration

from the safety of their heads

into the wilderness of their hearts.

Don’t worry,

I’m not advocating for you to lose your mind-

I just want you to know that thinking only travels so far.

There’s an ethereal world out there that we can’t plan for.

Right around the corner,

infinite landscapes exist …

luscious pathways of the soul lead to ever more.

You can’t even fathom the beauty until you step out the door,

and I want you to experience every drop of it.

I want you to bask in ray after ray of perfect love…

joy, connection, the Divine,

pristine sunshine …

and brokenness – it’s part of the deal.

Storms come,

and the fullness of life will break your heart.

If you want your spirit to soar,

you have to go beyond the ends of what you think your limits are.

The journey begins with a simple prayer –

Then, with every courageous yes

you’ll learn to follow grace like a treasure map.

www.uniteinprayer.org (71)

The hard part

Did you notice how violently the tractor pulverizes the soil before planting?

Before they can ever dream of feeding people,

seeds need a soft place to grow.

We want to nourish others with God’s love,

but we aren’t willing to be treated like He was.

It’s all part of the process.

www.uniteinprayer.org (54)

 

The Empathy Journey

beauty beyond brokenness

I prayed for wisdom and got sorrow instead.
Funny after all these years to finally realize
she was the best gift God could have given me at the time.
She followed me around like a puppy dog,
only she walked too slow and didn’t know how to play.
And believe me, she wasn’t cute or small …
She was nice enough, but I always felt like she was weighing me down with her lumbering gait …
I’m not sure why I didn’t have the heart to shake her off –
something in me felt the need to wait …
and wait and wait and wait, as patiently as I could
for her to catch up.
The thought of leaving her behind felt like an amputation –
I couldn’t abandon her,
but I loathed her at the same time …
I lamented missing all the fun because
by the time we got anywhere, the party was over,
or when we’d finally arrive, she weighed down the room,
and the crowd quickly dispersed …
Again and again, I was left alone with only her burdensome presence by my side.
So I finally surrendered and let her choose our path …
This is when the miracles started to happen –
She led me beside silent waters, sparkling and clean –
to quiet places of beauty I could have never found if I had stayed with the crowd.
She showed me natural wonders that whispered wake-up calls into the depths of my soul …
I started to trust her, and she never stopped amazing me.
I inched behind her up the skinniest, steepest trails I’d ever seen,
risking everything along stone-edged cliffs because it was worth it.
The views were pristine –
Majestic ravines of unspeakable purity energized something at the core of my being …
something essential that had been waiting patiently inside me for a very long time.
She led me into pitch black caverns, where there was nothing to do but pray
and learn to love the silence with her by my side.
In her own somber, winding way, she taught me to slow down and forgive, to let go –
to love more deeply from afar than I ever could up close-
She gave me space to make sense of things that had always troubled my soul,
which were the reasons I’d prayed for wisdom in the first place, all those years ago …

Even now, she calls me further along the treacherous winding road, and
and I will gladly follow her into the abyss of majesty, mercy and wonder,
wherever she leads.

The funny thing is now I’m the slow dog lumbering in sweetsad kindess,
looking up with peace-filled puppy dog eyes,
welcoming others to join me on the journey to the depths of reverence.
My heart smiles playfully,
imagining they probably think I’m just sadness.

Related scripture
John 16:20: “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.”

Reflection
Do you create space in your life to embrace the fullness of your emotional experiences? Or, do you find yourself doing anything to avoid feeling painful emotions in yourself and others? Can you make more room to open your heart to the fullness of empathy and compassion, in order to create a more authentic spiritual connection to God? It’s worth it, I promise!

Prayer
God bless anyone reading this to have the courage to embrace the fullness of their emotions on their journey toward authentic spirituality. Help us to avoid the temptation to skim through life on the surface level, missing the joys found in a deeper relationship with self, God and others.

Action Step
Take some time to read the psalms, and journal about the ways you can relate the feelings expressed in your own journey of faith. Did you know even Jesus read the Psalms in His youth? A life of faith isn’t easy, but it is worth it for the depth of peace Christ brings to the fullness of our human experience.

 

Your broken heart can be your breakthrough

 You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.
-John 16:20

Out of difficulties grow miracles.
-Jean de La Bruyère

Who longs for suffering? Only the saints. Rather than welcome sorrow, most of us would do anything to avoid it.

When pain sneaks into our hearts like a Trojan horse anyway, we may start to notice that others would do anything to avoid us because they’re as uncomfortable with our sadness as we would be with theirs.

This can complicate our grief with loneliness. When the deepest parts of our emotional experiences of are treated as untouchable by others, we can feel kind of like a leper must have in biblical times. We may be tempted to hide our pain with a happy face, but even if we manage to accomplish that, the sadness catches up with us in our quiet hours.

Anyone who has experienced grief knows that sorrow demands to be  experienced until it’s fully processed, no matter how unwelcome it is.

But paradoxically, Jesus declared “Blessed are those, who mourn.” So how can we experience the blessings Christ promised to us through our own sorrows, which ache in the very foundations of our being?

How can we begin to think like Saint Peter, who said “Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4 12-13)

Here area few ideas:

1-Forgive everyone
Whether we blame God, ourselves, a loved one or a stranger, if we want to experience the blessings of grief, we have to get in touch with any feelings of resentment we’re harboring and let go of them to grow in compassion and mercy.

2-Accept everything about the situation
When we are brave enough to experience the full reality of all of our heartache and allow ourselves to feel the depths of our sorrow, rather than avoid feelings through escapism and denial, we are able to grow stronger through the grief process.

3-Open your heart to others
We can choose to cultivate empathy by developing compassion for those, who are going through similar struggles, rather than focusing entirely on our own pain.

4-Choose gratitude for what you still have
We can  open up to grace by choosing to treasure what we still have or we can become bitter, due to what we’ve lost – it’s our choice.

5-Detach from the superficial
If we allow it to, a gut wrenching loss can help us gain a big picture perspective of what’s truly important in life, rather than sweating the small stuff.

6-Embrace the spiritual side of life
When we lose what’s most important to us on the physical plane, we can grow a deeper sense of spirituality through prayer and meditation, which can never be taken from us.

7-Cultivate resilience
It’s empowering to realize we can survive a loss and faith is really all we need.

8-Embrace humility
In experiencing the powerlessness of a tragedy, we can let go of illusions of control and more fully realize our dependence on God’s grace.

9-Expect more happiness than ever before 
Our faith promises resurrection after death, blessings out of burdens, but we need to have faith to stay open to receiving them.

10-Seek wisdom
If we open up to receiving grace through hard times, even we can begin to see and experience the gifts of suffering like the saints. It may even begin to seem desirable to us for spiritual growth, like it was for them(we are all called to sainthood after all).

These aren’t easy blessings to embrace! But they truly are gifts from God, which can be attained through suffering if we pray are way through it and have the courage to lean into our feelings instead of falling into the temptation to close our hearts.

Christianity isn’t an easy road, but as the Psalmist said “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted.” My prayer is that you can feel His loving presence, as you work to embrace whatever difficult life lessons you’re going through, so you can more fully experience the joy He has for you.

Are you in a process of grieving? Comment below, and we’ll pray you through this challenging time.