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Posted: August 26, 2012 in Control, God, Life's Storms
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From Designzzz.com   (Could not find name of artist—my apologies)

House of secrets;
Glassed in shame.
House of lies;
Bricked in pain.
Fear of abandonment,
The Devil’s gain.
Loss of control
Drives you insane.
Crisis comes,
Not a friend around.
Outside the voices judge you,
In your head condemnation resounds.
Paralyzed by spasmodic fear,
You blindly choose.
Knowing at the end of options
You exhaustively loose.
In the crowd,
You’re frightfully alone.
Outwardly smiling,
Yearning for home.
Home of your true heart,
Built on trust.
Painted with truth,
Not hidden by dust.
If you could just rest,
This heart of rust.
To lose all fear,
And reclaim the love.
Your forgotten birth right,
From your Father above.
Inside awaits redemption
Whose love heals all these scars.
Unchains your bright light,
And ignites the stars.
 
Liz Gray
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As a WordPress.Com blogger, I enjoy participating in the Weekly Photo Challenge.  This week’s theme is Urban.  Well, this scene is about as urban as it gets near the Theatre District in NYC…closer to Off Broadway than “On”. But you get the idea.

But as the current curator and sometime sommelier for u2areloved.com, allow me to submit this pic.  Here’s why!

In every pic, there is a hidden jewel.  And if you know me, or know the band I’m a bit smitten with, then you will see it.   Right there in the middle is Bono and U2 band mates reminding one that:

U2 360 Concert is in NYC on 07/20/11

Because like their song says, “Grace makes beauty out of ugly things.”

Kind of like the theme of this urban photo.

Kind of like the theme I’m trying to express on my site here.

Kind of like what God has done in my lifeHe taught me to see beauty, even in the stark things, the hard things,  this wretched truth of the life we sometimes live.

Show a little LOVE if you LIKE and LIKE the U2areloved blog here!!  Thanks friends.
New blog post coming soon!  Life’s been a bit crazy lately….

u2areloved

Liz

Sometimes it’s so hard to live in the now.  It’s so easy to stay stuck in what happened yesterday or what we either hope will happen tomorrow or what we fear may happen.   When I look back, I used to dwell more on negative events and conversations and stay there and it would cause all sorts of anxiety because of what may happen next in the future.  Conversations and events that never materialized were a constant companion, but not a very good friend.

But now I’m getting older and time is more precious.  If I’m going to rent space from the past or the future in my head, then it best be a good place.  I like to call it my happy place.  Indeed it is.

It’s sometimes accompanied by U2 music.  It might be one of their concerts.  More than likely it involves spending time with family and friends during the big and small moments that make life worth living.  You know these moments.  They are the ones that whisper to your soul:

Don’t forget this; try and remember every detail.

 Carve this memory in your heart; for it will warm you all your days.

     Funny thing is this:  It’s not the most extravagant place I’ve ever been.  It’s not the most famous person I’ve ever met.  It’s small.  It’s true.  Remember when Bono sings in “Miracle Drug” that, “Freedom has a scent, like the top of a newborn baby’s head.”

That’s it.   The memories of new life, or the beginning of an amazing journey, the moment that happens that you know from here out, everything is different, life is better, it’s richer, and it’s truer.  The moments that follow this one are enriched because they are defined by this one.

 

I think of walking and looking up at the tall redwoods of the Muir Woods north of San Francisco.  These trees are often thirty stories high, and they instantly shrink us as you walk their paths.  I think of wild horses that still run free when I stayed on Shackleford Banks off the coast of NC with my father when I was a little girl.  He built us a covered shelter out of drifted scraps of wood.

 

      I think of the homeless man on the corner I enjoy giving cookies to or a new shirt.  I don’t pity him, I only see him.  I see a soul who is worthy and smile because I know God sees him so much more.  I think of the sight of each of my children the first second I held them in my arms.  I will always believe in love at first sight.  Because it’s a repetitive theme, I know it’s true.

I dream of and for the future.   And sometimes I get a glimpse of events before they happen.  That’s a whole other story, but people that know me, know it’s true.    Call it a finely tuned sense of intuition, a gift, or a curse, I sometimes know before I know.  Both the good and the bad—shadows of the future come into view before the people or events that shape it will.  I’ve learned to appreciate it.    I can expect blessings and trials, but through both of them, I know I don’t walk alone.

When we start examining our hearts, it’s amazing what we find.  I think God is more likely to give us a “heads up” when we get honest with ourselves what hurts us, what inspires us, what delights us, what leads us to change, what challenges us and pushes us forward.   Before anything ever happens, do you first believe whatever happens, it will be used for your good, even if it is not good?   For that is freedom.

I always believe something is at work here, bigger than me, beckoning me to push through and go forward always.  To not look back and have faith even when the future seems so uncertain.   There will be hard times too, but I believe the God that took me this far, won’t abandon me later.

All we ever have is now, that’s why the cliché is true that it’s a gift called the present.  Every moment and event before this one lead you here.  Did you choose well?   There’s still time.   Tears, laughter, love, loss, abandonment, fulfillment, fear, grief, intensity, joy, hurt, love, disillusion,  ambition, passion—it’s all going to happen.  Maybe not today, but another time, another place.   Will you be ready?

Live ∞ Love ∞ Laugh ∞ Pray ∞ Listen to U2 ∞ Sing ∞ Trust ∞ Don’t Panic ∞ Feel ∞   Hear ∞ See ∞ 

∞  Ready?  GO!

When opportunity knocks a man still has to get up off his seat and open the door.  – Author Unknown

      Hello friends!  How’s life these days?  Are you living happy?  How is your dream coming along? Are you living true?   If not now, when?   Are you gonna wait forever?

Living true—what’s that you say?  Believe me; you’ll know it when you get there.  Living true is living life with passion and purpose but without checking reason at the door.   Doing what you absolutely love without causing harm to others is the passionate and purposeful life. Living true means losing the superficiality of status, or position, and focusing on what truly satisfies your soul.

Living true with passion and purpose requires a few things:

  • Time
  • Motivation
  • Discipline
  • Trusting Your Instincts
  • The Desire to Make a Mark
  • The Promise Not to Harm
  • Endurance
  • Faith

When I listen to U2’s music, I hear the sound of four band mates who have spent well over thirty years honing their craft, fulfilling the desire of their hearts, and bringing joy to millions of fans all over the world.  While growing their dream, they have also made an impact on the poorest among Earth’s citizens–people who most likely have never even heard of U2 or their music, but know the sound and sight of grace when it appears.

What is it about U2’s music that takes root in the hearts of so many?  What is it that connects U2’s fans to one another and to the band itself?  I’ll tell you what it is.  Bono said it:  The goal is soul!  When we pour our heart and soul into our craft, it resonates.  It plants roots, grows deep, and if watered with time and love, brings fruit.    As time passes, it gains momentum. 

Without a doubt, it takes time and discipline to create something uniquely yours and make your mark.   It’s possible, but it takes a lot of time.  The key is taking baby steps each day!  What is your dream?    I find most people have a dream, but it’s buried under the surface of responsibilities, obligations, insane schedules, and a series of distractions that compete for priority in our heart.

If you have gotten to know me, you also know I believe in God, a higher power in this universe who is also at work.  He created me with purpose.  God had a purpose in mind for me on the day I was born.    Once I found it, all I had to do was tap into it.    I had to decide.  I decided I wasn’t going to wait forever.  The time to do something about it was now!  Because now is all the time we ever really have!

Finding purpose is like meeting the love of your life.  I hope you are one of the lucky ones who get to do both.    Meeting the love of your life is phenomenal, but time changes each of us, and a person can only satisfy you so deeply, and if you’re not careful, you can become selfish in expecting them to satisfy you in a way they can’t.  We all age, change, move in and out with the tides with our feelings, and experience life differently.      Passion in relationships is a burning flame that keeps your desires and affection warm but it also threatens to consume you if you don’t pair it with purpose.  You can have a shared purpose, but it’s essential to also have your own purpose.

When purpose steps in, unrealistic expectation of others has to leave.   For this is the thing that you own!  You don’t need someone else’s permission, approval, or same level of desire in it to complete you.  You have this for you.  You desire the same for them.

I meet so many people who say they don’t have time to work on what they love, or even spend time trying to find it.  Guess what?  I felt the same way—until I did.

I still work and have a family.  You work on it as time allows.  You make time.  You give up the unnecessary.  It might be TV, time on Facebook, time on the phone.  You become more efficient at other tasks to free up time.   You learn to carve minutes for your passion at first, and then it turns to hours in a week.   Before long you realize these are the minutes that make you.   Soon you don’t find time for it; time finds you!

This majestic time becomes your sanctuary –this space where you think, dream, and create that which hasn’t existed up to now.    You focus on the craft and discipline first, and as you do the plans start to formulate for the next step whether it’s to take it to the next level, take it public or to market, or maybe just being brave enough to share it with even one other person.  You are taking the steps on the journey, but leaving the destination to God.

In U2’s song One, it resonates perhaps because it reminds us that we are indeed One, but we are not the same.  We are united in our humanity and our universal quest to be both free and loved, but we also have a dream to create or leave a mark that is unique to us.    Larry, Adam, Edge, and Bono are a perfect band of four brothers in total sync with one another musically and professionally, and yet off stage are completely their own person with unique lives that don’t resemble the other.  They create a shared passion, but they’re smart enough to have their own passions.

How have they lasted so many years?  By enduring–they put the needs of the team before the individual.  They tough it out through criticism, mistakes, and unpopular choices.  Sometimes they wait for their audience to evolve and appreciate prior works.   Yes they have managers, advisers, but ultimately they seem to connect to the souls of their fans and trust their instincts.  And instinct is the gift that helps our faith grow stronger.

Trust your instincts.  Find your passion—branch out and find your people!   You’re only a few mouse clicks away from finding your support group.    Make a little bit of time each day for that which you love.  Keep learning.   Respond in love and kindness to others as your journey.   Find grace inside the sound of what your heart is telling you to do.    “Don’t trade your dreams for some small change”.

You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus. 
- Mark Twain

“Spiritual Surrender” by Christopher Cuseo

      It’s these same themes I keep revisiting in writing and especially in life in general:

  • We don’t really have control; it’s always been an illusion
  • Acceptance is the only way out of darkness
  • There’s no such thing as coincidence

When we know this at our core, life gets easier.  Clarity comes into focus.  You start realizing every prior moment in your life was orchestrated in such a way to bring you to this one.  What will you do with it?   What will you do now?

Most people hit a point in life where they start asking the big questions:

  • Why am I here?
  • What is it that will make me truly happy?
  • Is this all there is?
  • Will I get the rough relationships smoothed out?
  • Will I obtain the desired relationship I don’t yet have?
  • Will I accomplish my goals professionally?
  • Will I have time to make my dreams come true?
  • Will I accomplish these things before my time runs out?
  • Externally, do I present myself to others the way I view myself?

       More than ever, we now live in a world of disconnect.  We find out about new babies, weddings, funerals, and news of the world and news of those we love by way of social media.  We respond in equal measure with our affirmations of LIKE or by hammering a few words out as a reply.  If we don’t respond, we can always feign ignorance.  We can pretend we didn’t see something we don’t want to know or deal with.  No one else is the wiser.

We disconnect from others, but more so, we like to disconnect from the discomfort of having to answer hard questions about our life.   We become too busy to find the answers.

    But are we living true?  Are we at peace?

There are two possibilities we receive when attempting to answer questions where the answer isn’t yet clearly revealed:

Anxiety or Acceptance

     Anxiety usually involves stewing, ruminating, playing a situation or conversation over and over in your head.  Rewind; play, repeat!   Each time it replays, new details emerge and our anger and our fears become embellished.  Before long we are living in non-truth.    I’m convinced at my core that is where our feelings of unworthy, unlovable, undeserving, unforgiveable, and our inability forgive or move on lie.  Yes, where they LIE.    We are created to live in peace and be at peace, but sometimes we live as if we are the main characters in M. Scott Peck’s People of the Lie.

    Acceptance is freedom!  It means giving up control of others or having to know the outcome of things.   Acceptance allows good to come into your life because you are open to it.  You’ll be free to notice beauty, goodness, love, and truth in the smallest of things in life.  You will realize that there are no coincidences, and that even bad moments can be used for good, if you can have proper perspective.  Positivity, wisdom, empathy, and love first start with acceptance of the way things actually are.

      Easy to say, but how do you transition from anxiety to acceptance?

Oh, if only it were easy.  This is life’s great journey.  There are thousands of books in the self-help section.  There are motivational speakers, there’s church and the Bible and other holy books.  There are therapists, psychiatrists, musicians, artists, and friends all who are happy to give you their two cents worth.

How do you usually first respond to challenges?

  • Emotionally–You immediately feel angry, hurt, or a strong need to defend your position.
  • Logically–You need to explain and rationalize and get to the bottom of why or what now.

Well, maybe the answer is spiritual in nature.  Sometimes the big questions do involve our faith—faith in God, faith in ourselves, and above all faith that God is actively involved in our lives and situations.   If we are courageous enough to believe that, than our need to control life and find justification in our feelings and responses diminishes.

We can just live aware of each moment.  We can take a step back and WAIT.  Wait before feeling or speaking or explaining.  We can wait for wisdom to show us the right way to respond.

Bono’s right when he sings “I’m not easy on my knees” in Love and Peace or Else.  In the next line he sings, “Here’s my heart, you can break it.  I need some release, release, release.”   Indeed!  Sometimes God allows things that crack our hard hearts of stone.  Those with tender hearts of glass are even more easily shattered.    The next part is up to us.   It’s our Moment of Surrender.

I hope you will able to surrender that which is hard, or hurtful, or defies explanation.   When we finally can surrender or let go, we are able to find the rhythm of our soul; we can live in peace and live true.   I’m convinced once we are able to surrender; we lose our chains.  Then we can then let God’s love and light in our life, and then live our life as mirrors by reflecting to others all we’ve been blessed with.

   Open your heart to the rhythm of yes.  Surrender.  You too are loved.

At the moment of surrender
I’m falling to my knees
I did not notice the passersby
And they did not notice me
I’ve been in every black hole
At the altar of a Dark star
My body’s now begging
Though it’s begging to get back
Begging to get back
To my heart
To the rhythm of my soul
To the rhythm of my consciousness
To the rhythm of yes
To be released from control

“Moment of Surrender” – U2

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blqa-3q-b38

(Also worth watching:  U2 – Moment of Surrender live at Rose Bowl on 4/06/2010)

 

 

WAR

Posted: August 1, 2012 in Christianity, U2, War, Wisdom
Tags: , , ,

War

Specialist Darrion Hicks – US Army

Broughton HS – Class of 2009

      I’m really upset about something.  A young man from my daughter’s high school returned home from Afghanistan this week.  Dead.  He came back in a casket.  He graduated two years before my daughter from the same high school with all the joy, promise, and expectation of a future that my daughter carries.  I didn’t know him.  I can’t stop thinking about him.

I admire his bravery and service.  I still believe it is the most courageous and noblest among us that choose to serve in the armed forces.  They serve because first they loved.

Still I’m so upset.  Musicians get it right before the rest of us sometimes.  I’m talking about war:

“War!  What is it good for?  Absolutely nothing!” shouts Edwin Starr with plenty of passion and soul enough in 1969 in his biggest hit “War” to protest the Vietnam War.

If you’re a U2 fan, it’s almost impossible not to be affected by “Ava Maria” sung by Bono and the great Italian opera tenor Luciano Pavarotti.   With artistic liberty and lyrical beauty they added some American lyrics.  But this verse is unmistakable as its truth is quietly sung:

And strength is not without humility
Its weakness, an untreatable disease
And war is always the choice
Of the chosen who will not have to fight

      I think about this more and more these days.  I’m a fairly conservative person. I’m also Christian in my beliefs.  But you know what?  I don’t like the casualties and destruction of war any more than my liberal, apolitical, independent, Buddhist, New Age, Agnostic, Atheist, Christian, or nearly any other “classification” of friends does.  In all my years, I haven’t met someone that says, “Yep, we need more dead people to bring about peace.”

I struggle internally as I try to understand what those in power have people fighting for.  Certainly I understand the need to defend one’s self, family, or territory when attacked.  Every person yearns to be free to choose their destiny and their beliefs in a land they can call their own.   Which provocations do we respond to and how?

It’s true; soldiers who fight on the front lines are never the ones in power that cause it to be so.  Politicians from all sides justify war to keep us safe.   And don’t forget:  War is big business.  No one can deny that war creates jobs and lots of money.   But for who?   At what cost?

Are wars just a land grab?  An unquenchable thirst for power?    Are they ever justified in the name of defense of freedom?     We could argue yes, and maybe no, to all of above—all with different view points.

Those of us who are still free, in our limited understanding, try to make sense of issues regarding politics, history, economics and vote our conscience in our quest to be both safe and free.    All the while, we know, the person we pick can guarantee neither.

Those in bondage of the evils of dictatorship have even more reason to fight for their freedom and security and are equipped even less to do so.  For those that seek to oppress ensure that the innocent and powerless are unable to do so.

Flip on the news on any given night and see entire towns bombed out, with women and children in tattered clothes searching for crumbs, a brick, a blanket, anything at all essential to their survival.    Syria comes to mind these days, and we a world away feel powerless, and we chase the bad images away.  Some of us pray.  Some of us do nothing but forget about it.  Some of us get angry and become activists.  Even our responses can divide us when we don’t agree with the responses of others we know.  Without even being aware, the war seeps in and expands.

 We are at war in the world, because first we are at war within.   As a Christian, I find this verse most sobering indeed:

What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask GodJames 4:1

    Desire is such a motivating force in our lives.  It propels us forward with our goals.  But when we covet something in such a way that we have to have what does not belong to us or is not intended for us, it will destroy us.   If not yourself, it will destroy that which you covet, if obtained by force.

We spend our lives tripping over ourselves because we can’t get other people to say what we want, do what we want, or be who we want them to be.  If they would just submit to our desire or demands, we could all live in peace we think.  At the very least, understand that we are right!    So we quarrel, then we fight, and taken to extremes– we kill.

The war within has been going on since the dawn of time.  If not harnessed and redirected, it will seep outward until we have a full blown sickness.

I’m not a preacher, but sometimes I’m accused of trying to preach.  If so, I apologize because I’m a lousy example of that which I profess to believe.  But believe it I do.  And strive for it I will.  Because I do believe this:

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matt: 5:9)

God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble. (Prov. 3:34)

     I’m getting older and the small things in life aren’t worth fighting over.  The big things are out of my control anyway and I can’t seem to resolve those through people anyway.    I can only control me—my thoughts, my desires, my actions.  Oh sure, I trip about a dozen times a day, but I’m remembering more than I’m forgetting and for that I’m grateful.

If I could stop war and change the world, believe me I would. I can’t. You can’t either.  We can only fix ourselves.  And with all humility and a touch of humor I humbly beg you—PLEASE DO!

And for U2 fans, a little bit of U2 wisdom here:

Lay down
Lay down your guns
All your daughters of Zion
All your Abraham sons
I don’t know if I can make it
I’m not easy on my knees
Here’s my heart and you can break it
I need some release, release, release

From “Love and Peace or Else” – U2

For Specialist Darrion Hicks and His Family:  

I salute you and thank you for your service. 
May God bless you and your family eternally. 
I cherish freedom and life each day because your courage went before me.  
Rest in peace.

PRESS PLAY:  A SONG TRIBUTE FOR DARION: