Archive for the ‘Perspective’ Category

God gave you a gift of 86,400 seconds today. Have you used one to say thank you? ” — William Arthur Ward

 Photo by Liz Gray

I saw this caption in a travel magazine promoting  tourism of the country of Turkey.  I saw it and immediately thought:  I wish that was my original idea!

It’s not.  But the practice of the concept can be an original idea for you, for me, for all of us, starting now:   This very moment.

Stop multi-tasking for a second as you read this.  Think about this deeply.  Look around.  Are you inside or outside?  If you are inside, where are you?  At home?  At work?  On a mobile device in the great outdoors?   Take a panoramic mental snapshot of what’s around you:  Architecture, mementos, photographs, nature, security, landscapes, gifts, birds, business, people, stars, flowers, insects, sky, sunrise, clouds–signs of life abounds everywhere.   When you look at the world, what is it that you see?

Do you see beauty?  Do you see what God has created?  Even if it’s man made, did not God put the original idea, the skill set to craft, the desire to create, first in the mind of you or someone who thought I’m going to build this amazing bridge or paint this amazing portrait or mix compounds in a new way and create a cure.

We live in a distracted world.  For sure, we have inherited a problematic world that multiplies daily in terms of crisis and depth of despair.  The news sucks, people everywhere around us are sick and dying, we are overworked, underpaid, overstressed, and undernourished in every way—spiritually, physically, and emotionally.   We are slaves to too much technology.  We can’t keep up with our own self, much less anyone else.

How do you turn it off?  How do you silence all the chaos that surrounds you and ensuing drama in your head?  What is it that works for you?  Do you have something?

  • Supportive Friends
  • Faith
  • Prayers
  • Hope
  • Music
  • Art
  • Love of or for someone other than you

I hope you have one, two, or even all of the above!

      We can’t always change our circumstance in life.  That means there is only one thing we can change:

Our Perspective

      I don’t know about you, but when I look at the world, this is what I see:

Flowers, character lines on old faces, color, deliciousness, babies, painting, design, patterns, solutions, craft work, words, kindness, goodness, feats of wonder,  sculptures, melody, truth, beauty…….

On and on it goes.

Sometimes I complain, believe me I do!  But with faith and daily prayers, good friends who hold me accountable to truth I can live by, the symphony of music, and an attitude that is growing a little more each day in gratitude, I am discovering that God’s love for me is bigger than any problem or emotion.  I still don’t measure up to my ideal version of myself, but knowing God loves me despite my flaws (many) and forgives me despite my guilt (much) frees me from self-condemnation while at the same time humbles me that He still has even more blessing in store for me.

Faith as a belief is an essential partnership with God which allows you to focus less on you, more on God, less on circumstance, and more on acceptance of what is.  We can ride the wave, go with the flow, and bend like a willow tree.   Faith as a practice is not about appearing or trying to be perfect or fit a stereotype, but to be the real you as God intended in order to be at peace.   Quirky, funny, emotional, deep, driven, ridiculous…..whatever it is, just be YOU so you can get past all that and start tending to the needs of others.

May you step out today in courage and stop fighting that which you can’t control, start changing anything about yourself that you can and know you should, and may you have enough heart to look around and see beauty…..everywhere.  This is the confirmation that God sets in each of our hearts that whispers you too are loved. 

Ready?  One, two, three…..breathe in!  INHALE LOVE.  EXHALE.  GRATITUDE

MORE THOUGHTS ON FAITH AND GRATITUDE:

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Hebrews 11:1 (NKJV)

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”   Epicurus

“In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”  Elizabeth Gilbert “Eat, Pray, Love”

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”  A.A. Milne – “Winnie the Pooh”

 (Quotes from GoodReads)

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Stepping Stones      Once upon a time, I was subject to all sorts of stress and chaos.  That’s because for many years I was under the dominion of feelings, rather than acceptance of reality.  That’s not to say that feelings aren’t real or don’t count; they do.  I’m just saying it can’t be what guides you.

Thankfully wisdom eventually comes the longer one lives. So when I saw these rocks at a gift shop recently, and knowing nothing is a coincidence, a vision of truth settled over me.  It was as if a 12 step program (okay fourteen, but who’s counting?) for our emotions was suddenly available in summary form.   I thanked God for the instant wisdom and beauty He had provided.  So when you’re down and out, start by taking baby steps towards the power generated in just a few words worthy of being carved on rocks.  Meditate on them and then implement these action-steps and you will begin to leave drama behind and move towards peace, joy, and positive decisiveness.  Love is a decision, so take the steps necessary to love your life!

BreatheBefore you lash out or make a decision based on how you feel right now, just breathe.  It sounds simple, but it can be elusive when you’re hyperventilating on anger or extreme sadness.  Stop!  Get grounded.  Take a step back.  And just breathe.

ChangeThere are only two things you can change in life:  Your situation or your response.  It’s that simple.  If you can change your situation, by all means do.  Dump that toxic relationship, go back to school, decide to get out of debt,  get rid of that which is holding you back,  apply for that job you don’t think you’re qualified for anyway, go ahead and write that book you’ve been contemplating.

But what about the boss who chewed you out?  The spouse who abandoned you?  The grown child who never calls you?  And every other situation under the sun that falls under the category “unfair”?   There is only one thing you can do.  Change your attitude or response.  Besides you have to.  Why let what you can’t control destroy your well-being and sense of peace?   Acceptance of others and their flaws sets you free.  Putting up boundaries by saying, “I can’t talk to you until you calm down” or “I won’t allow you to speak to me like that” and then leaving a heated situation, shows that you are in control of your life and that you respect yourself to not allow others to disrespect you.  Remember you don’t have to be right all the time or have to convince others.  The goal is to be at peace!

ChoiceMy favorite advice on choice is this:  Choose your suffering.  Essentially that means don’t waste your suffering.  The Bible even states that “in this world, you will have trouble.”  And that is no lie!  You don’t get to the end without experiencing tragedy, abandonment, loss, hurt, sadness, anger, and unfairness.  Kind of like change, you have to make a decision.  Are you going to let that which you can’t control destroy you, or rest as the rock foundation that you build your testimony on, and become a source of inspiration to others, and even yourself.  You are stronger than you give yourself credit for.  Tap into that strength.

CourageDare to face the horrible truths in your life that you’d rather not:  You have a problem.  Deal with it.  Get help when necessary.  Tap into your faith.  Call on your friends.  Don’t go through the hard stuff alone.   As you get rid of toxic relationships outside of yourself, you’ll find it’s time once and for all to deal with the habits and hang-ups that keep you from reaching your full potential:  Insecurities, lack of confidence, bad or destructive habits, or fear of failure.    Attack each of these self-destroyers with all the tools in your toolbox:  Faith, family, friends, and above all a willingness to change.   Each step you take in the direction of courage builds momentum making each subsequent step a little bit easier than the one before.

Dance Put on the jamz and pump up the volume.  Life is too short to purposely not do things that can bring you happiness and joy.  Why settle for ho-hum washing the dishes and vacuuming the house when you can crank up your favorite music and dance the night away as you work!  As long as your multitasking, at least do it with joy.  Throw off those shoes and dance.  Grab a partner and surprise them with the joy of dance.

Dream Never give up your dreams.  Never!  What is that thing you’ve always longed to accomplish?  Write a song?  Start a new career in a totally different field?  Lose thirty pounds?  Then be like a Nike ad and just do it!  Start today!  You have to start sometime.  Don’t let excuses or lack of time be your reason why you didn’t fulfill your dreams.  A little today is better than none tomorrow and the day after that.  Slow progression is the key towards long-term results.  The key is to act with intent on your dreams.

Heal What is it you need in order to heal?  Professional help?  Spiritual guidance?  The compassion of a friend?  Then seek it and don’t be ashamed.  Perhaps you just need time.  That’s okay too.  Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, but it allows us time to get our head together and weave that which hurt us into the fabric of our being, so that we can step out in courage anyway.  You wouldn’t let an infection on your skin fester and get worse.  It’s essential  that which troubles your heart or your mind be healed as well.  Don’t let pride stop you from getting the healing you need.

LaughGo ahead; lighten up!  Laugh at your mistakes, it’s okay.  Don’t be wound so tight, you can’t allow yourself to be human.  Go to a funny movie with a friend!  It’s good therapy.   Become mindful of joy and learn to laugh.  Laugh lines are more attractive than worry lines anyway!

Organize– Get rid of excess.  Everyday pick a room, a drawer, a box to organize.  Stop buying that which you don’t need.  Put things away as you use them.  Remember that it’s more fun to do and to be in life than it is to haveExcess of things don’t make us happy; relationships do.  We don’t get to take our things with us.  The only commodity we truly have in life is time.  Time to enjoy our life, but more importantly time to make a difference in the lives of others.  When you are organized, you have more time to see friends, volunteer, and get out in God’s beautiful world and enjoy all there is to see and do.

Play You work hard.  Don’t deny yourself this essential ingredient in life.  Get a hobby.  Play a sport.   Play with your kids and your pets every day if you have them.   When you play, you’re apt to laugh and that is good medicine for the soul.  Definitely find ways to play!

RelaxSimilar to just breathe, this is the mechanism you need to calm your soul and soothe your spirit.  It sounds easy, but how many times do we deny ourselves the opportunity to just relax because everything else seems essential?   Reading a good book or watching a great movie or just taking a nap on a Saturday afternoon can totally change our perspective when we’re stressed.  If you never have time to relax, than go back to organize.  What things, commitments, or excess people do you need to purge in order to enjoy the necessary stepping stone of relaxation?

RememberRemember others who are suffering and you can be a blessing to.  Remember the good things in life that God has blessed you with and choose to save some of them.  Take pictures of the good things.  Make a family scrapbook.  Have a treasure trunk where you keep mementoes of happy events.  Remembering that which brings us joy and leaving behind that which causes us pain is a great way to have a fulfilling and joyous life.

Rest We can’t organize, relax, remember, play, work, heal, dance, laugh, make necessary changes, or even dream if we don’t first get enough rest.  We were designed to rest for a reason.  When we allow our mind and body to recharge, we are taking the first step to complete all the others.   Get on a schedule and get the rest you need.

TeachTeach others life lessons you’ve learned so far.  Mentoring others is a great way to make a difference.  Also be willing to be taughtHaving a teachable spirit is also a key to wisdom.  Try not to take all advice, even when unsolicited, as a means to control you, but perhaps as a kernel of truth worth mining.  Having a teachable attitude means accepting that we don’t necessarily know everything.  And that’s okay.

Okay, so that’s 14 stepping stones to lead you to a better life.  But there is one that was left out intentionally.  All these stones, pale in comparison to the solid rock foundation they rest upon: 

FaithThe people I’ve known in life that have it the most together mentally, physically, financially, and spiritually have a deep faith that is the bedrock upon which all else is built.  Having faith means you personally don’t have to have all the answers or be in control.  That’s because when God is in control, someone bigger than you is in charge.   You don’t have to know everything or be responsible for every outcome.  Faith steps in when people step out.  Faith is believing in someone or something bigger than yourself.  Faith is prayer.  Faith is active.  Faith is forgiving.  Faith allows us to love.  Faith is a conduit to all that is good in life Faith is more than a positive attitude, it is an assurance of things hoped for and not yet seen.   Sharpen your faith, and live the good life.

Coexist w Bono

How do you see the world?  As a place of never-ending beauty?  As a creation of someone or something so magnificent it defies words?  Is it a place of stark reality where evil lurks and people can be so cruel, you question the very existence of God because of the dark rivers coursing through our hearts?

The old cliché of, “Do you see the glass as half empty or do you see it as half full?” seems to be a relevant question today in our world as we hurl towards the point of singularity, blending man’s technology with our humanity.   We’re racing towards the future as we simultaneously entangle man’s evil desires with man’s good intentions to the point with every new technology.  We’re speeding to a place where lines of morality become so blurred,  we find it hard to even define, harder still to recognize that which is good and that which is evil.   All the while, our racing thoughts and fears, and living life at breakneck speed trying to keep up with technology blind us to the beauty that eternally surrounds us.

If I plug into media, I can get worked up pretty quickly about all that ails the world.  WARNING, WARNING—RED ALERT!!  I cry out in futility on Facebook, to the people in my family, to friends who’ll feign interest.   I get worked up over political issues and global issues that I totally have no control of, short of a prayer, and save possibly an occasional vote.

Diversity is so IN these days.  Our diversity of culture, lifestyle, and ethnicity is easy to celebrate.  But diversity of thought?  Religion?  Belief system?  Well, that’s a different matter.  It’s hard to accept others when their belief systems threaten ours, is perceived as evil, or is just plain misunderstood.  We rally for equality and fairness, and yet how can we have either, when we are individually created, complete with independent free will to choose our thoughts and destiny.  We want the world to just get along and live in harmony—as long as it’s our perception of harmony.    Believe as I believe we want to shout from the mountain tops.

We can’t.  I know this to be true just from living in my own family.  I want others to be affected by beauty, by poetry, by music, by nature to the degree that I am affected.  I want them to see the things that can bring me to my knees.  Maybe someday.   Not yet.  We are not on the same page.  It hurts so much sometimes.  We look at the world so differently.

But I anger easily–at injustice, at cruelty, or at anything that threatens my perception of freedom or security for me—or others.  I get so worked up and yet the same family members that miss what blows me away in terms of beauty or magnificence, also carry a peace that all will work out as it should.  Sometimes they live by a faith undefined better than I do with an absolute clearness of what I believe.

It’s so easy to want others to see the world as we see it.  We achieve joy and harmony when others  feel like we do, to quote a great Peter Frampton song.  Bliss. Yeah.  Easier said than done.

Easy in music.  Hard in life.

Maybe that’s why God gave us music.  Art.  Sunrises.  Symphonies.  Babies.  Paintings.  The Ocean.  Sculpture.   Mountains.  Dance.  Kisses in the rain.  Tears.  Pain.  Joy.

We’re like puzzle pieces that interlock, but at only one juncture, not all.  But when we find the one place that fits with one another and as we keep fitting the other side of ourselves with others, together we may solve the mystery of a broken people.   All of our jagged pieces if assembled properly have the potential to coexist.  But only if each individual wants it. 

  We are one.  We are not the same.   Definitely, not the same!  Can you show some love today to someone not like you?  Despite what drives you crazy about their beliefs?  Despite their apathy?  Despite their differences?    Are you courageous enough to attempt coexistence?  Even if you have to go first?

      Is your faith so fragile you can’t tolerate that others choose differently? 

     Is your love conditional and limiting, or is it found in a freedom which renders it limitless?

 

Giulia Muraglia FF

PHOTO CREDIT: GIULIA MURAGLIA

What’s your most treasured memory?  The first moment you met someone you love?  A place you stood?  The beginning of something or someone?  A sight forever memorized by your heart?  Perhaps words that were said, spoken, written, or sung that you can’t get out of your head, even if you try?

Time passes and we want to hold on to special memories.   Our material possessions and even our relationships roll in and out of our life like the tide, and most we let go and don’t even know they are gone until something way off in the future triggers a memory:

  • Oh yeah, I had a stuffed bear like that once
  • I haven’t heard this song in years!  It reminds me of….
  • I remember being here as a kid
  • I remember you…..
  • I couldn’t forget_____ if I tried

I recently took the most amazing vacation with my family.  It was six years in the making and our first and only trip as a complete family since my youngest was born seven years ago.   We saved.    We borrowed.  We coordinated work and school schedules for all.    We saw it all, did it all, ate it all, and savored it all.

Along the way I took the next biggest extension of me, beyond my pen; I brought my camera and lens.  Not just any lens, the best lens, a luxury lens I had rented for my best camera in order to preserve these precious memories for time immemorial.

I clicked.  I clicked again and again.  Every beautiful animal and dreamy landscape.  Every arrangement of family portraits you could imagine. Lots of impromptu stuff too.  All professional looking.  National Geographic doesn’t look this great I thought.

My husband snapped an amazing pic of me with a Great Horned owl swooping above my head as I blinked in awesome wonder as he swooped a silent cool breeze less than inch above my head. I couldn’t wait to see this one later.  I didn’t look now in order to conserve my battery  and to save it for “dessert” after our trip ended.  I took a photo of my young son’s beautiful face softly illuminated by the light of a single birthday candle.  I told my family, this is the BEST photo I’ve ever taken.

I clicked over twelve hundred images.  I had plans to make scrapbooks and a movie of our trip.  Sights, smells, foods, countries, animals, music, architecture—it was all there.  It was dreamy.  It was surreal.  It was to be my concrete reminder of who we were then–in a place called the future.

It was to be my memory when future time becomes unreliable, perhaps even cruel.

I’ve  always viewed pictures as an insurance policy to protect our memory from what our brain invariably experiences:

A slow fade

These pictures were to be my proof that heaven on earth almost exists.

Except that it doesn’t.

On the last night, my camera disappeared.  In a span of less than ten minutes.  It’s possible I misplaced it, but I tend to guard my camera tighter than the Royal Guard watches over the Queen.

Stolen memories.  All of them.

I cried for almost twenty four hours straight.  It was hard watching my family watch me as they grappled to understand why this hit me so hard.  I explained, it wasn’t just the value of the camera, or the fact I can’t get back time and recreate all this.  It’s more.

A part of me was taken too.  Artists are more closely connected to their work than you may think.  You pour your energy and your soul into what you love.  It may only be understood and meaningful to you. Still, it does have meaning.

But this is the twist:  The creation becomes larger than life.  The creation supersedes the creator.

This is the great lie.  All the grandeur and majesty of created things, be it in nature, or be it made by human hands, is not eternal.   Be it castles or mountains or birds or prey or even temporary people like me or even the pictures I snapped away–it doesn’t last.

It all fades away.

We can’t hold on no matter how tightly we try.  No matter how determined we are to remember.  Just like we can’t keep anything we love forever, we also can’t control that which isn’t ours to control.

Yes, I lost all my pictures this week.  I lost my best camera, the one that snapped the first seconds of life of my youngest son.  I lost my digital best friend, my shadow sister who hangs on my shoulder at every significant event.

But I didn’t lose my children.  Oh, how I didn’t lose what I actually love.  We live in world where evil exists and a silent enemy seeks to steal, kill, and destroy all that we hold dear.   This had to be my perspective as I had no other choice but to move forward–it’s the people in this moment, this sacred moment called now that is all we truly ever have. 

I still  mourn for the loss of precious memories, yes.  But there is something no thief, be it man or time can destroy:

  • My joy.
  •  My appreciation of beauty.
  •  My wanderlust to travel and understand the world way beyond my own.
  •  My love and zest for life.
  •  My compulsion to create and share.  
  • My soul memories.  
  • Me, and all that I love.

I know I won’t remember all the images.  But I will remember the essence of our amazing trip.

Time will pass and people will pass too.  Loss will keep meeting me at the intersection of  “unprepared for this.”   “Not expecting this” will keep colliding with “not yet.”   

Pain will continue to interrupt our plans and knock us out of orbit as we journey through life.

All that is beautiful  and lovely and inspiring and honorable and  good, as well as all that is crushing and cruel and unexpected and difficult will all diminish.

Everything on this side of the veil is a slow fade.  

See the beauty in your mind as you learn to let go in life and allow God to be in charge.

 

   Bridge   Happy New Year friends!  I hope your 2013 is off to a good start.  New Year’s is always the time when we reflect on our past year, size it up, and vow to make changes in our life.  Perhaps we’ll  try to improve our fortune or lot in life or alter our appearance.  Maybe we go for the real heavy lifting and try to repair or improve our character, or perhaps just our perspective.

Maybe you too have written your resolution(s) on paper with measurable objective goals such as losing ten pounds by a certain date, or make partner at the firm this year, or finish the book you are writing, or train for and run a marathon before year’s end.  Perhaps you’ve sworn off making resolutions, so this time next year you won’t need to remember what you didn’t achieve that which you set out to.  You won’t have to be disappointed by the critic who resides in your head.

I find myself in both categories.  I do intend to make certain changes each year.  I even write some goals down.  But by year’s end I am often hard-pressed to find the original list of goals.  That’s because I’m a revisionist.  Perhaps a bit flighty.  Scattered.  Changeable.  Distractible.  Priorities shift in my life seemingly the way the wind changes direction.

What do you wish for, just for you?  Seriously, what is it that you most want to do different in your life, or attract towards your life?  Someone?  Something?   Do you want more or less of the status quo?  Do you want to do something radically different?  Do you want to savor and hold on to your security and/or contentment?   If you were given only one more year, how would you live?

When one thinks of the sad news of this year such as the massacres of innocent children and people in both Connecticut and Colorado, it doesn’t take long to realize we walk but a thin thread.  Our lives are not only precious, they are sacred.  Who’s to say when our last day will be?  Only God knows.

I generally tend to focus on the positive in life, but that’s not to say I never complain.  I certainly do.  I make lots of intention lists and to do lists, and succeed much more on daily tasks then I do in general life goals.  If I could resolve to do one thing, it would be simply this: To bridge the gap between what I INTEND to do, with what I ACTUALLY do

      So this year, my goal is to live life more IN FOCUS.  Focus on INTENTION with INTENSITY until it becomes ACTUAL REALITY!

It’s not enough for me to say I want to bring a meal to someone soon; I NEED TO DO IT.

It’s no longer acceptable for me to say, I hope to get to the gym soon; I NEED TO DO IT.

I can’t complain about that which I don’t agree with in the world, I must speak, write, act—I NEED TO DO IT!

I mustn’t just say I’m grateful for so much that I have been blessed with, I NEED TO LIVE MY LIFE as a response, a testimony or an exclamation mark if you will, that life is good, God is good, and TRUTH and LOVE are the antidote to all that is wrong in the world.  TRUTH spoken in LOVE and LOVE SPOKEN TRULY can bridge what is divided in two, or hundreds of thousands for that matter, and be united into one.  One love. 

One.  We are one, but we are not the same.  Can we all find common ground in our humanity, our faith, our music, our beliefs, and our heart’s desire to become more selfless and less selfish?  Can we learn to seek ways to cherish and nurture life, rather than injure and destroy it, starting with the words you say?

FOCUS.  INTENTION.  LOVE.

Love is a temple.  Love the higher law.  And this is a sacred honor:  We get to carry each other.

Who will you lift up?  Whose burdens will you shoulder?  What risks will you take as you pour love from your heart?

It’s New Year’s Day.  I will begin again.  What say you?

May you too resolve to be all that God designed you to be this year.  Happy New Year!

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  Galatians 6:2


NEW YEAR’S DAY – U2

The Eyes Have it

Who is the color in your world?  Who is your found when you have all but lost your way?   Have you ever been under a spell?    Some might call it infatuation.   Others might say it’s just a crush.  Maybe it’s an addiction.  What is this strange affliction?

Your brain will tell you it’s impossible to last.  Your heart will deny this and just nervously laugh.    Words like forever and always follow words like love and be with and follow.  Who has the capacity to change you?   Who changes your direction?

Who leaves you tangled and blue?   Who lies to you as smooth as silk but cuts your heart like glass?    Who blows in and out of your life like the breeze? Who (or what) do you remember when you try to forget?  Who’s more alive then instead of now?   Watch for the subtle soul stealer who charms with a word, mesmerizes with beauty, or drops anchor with a memory, all unleashing a torrent of feeling?  Who haunts you?

Life.  It’s a mystery.  Do we master our fate with our mind, or helplessly submit to the choices of our heart? (Isn’t that biology?)   Maybe we’re all drifters, tossing and turning between possibility and stability.  Right and wrong.   Deception and deliverance.  Past and future.  Life and death.  Fear and faith.

Are you singing praises today?  Or are you singing the blues?

Wherever life’s journey takes you, tread and choose carefully.   And may your heart be filled and continually replenished with all that cannot be taken away, even if you give it all away for free.

Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.  Psalm 16:1

And I feel
Like I’m slowly, slowly, slowly slipping under
And I feel
Like I’m holding onto nothing…..

So goes the lyrics in U2’s Lemon.

My question to you is this:  What do you do when you are slowly slipping under?  Where do you go?  How do you cope?    It comes down to this:  What drives you?

What drives you when you’re happy and content?  More importantly what drives you when you are not?   What do you do when life goes sour?

The truth is, life really is one big fruit salad.  It’s not always topped with cherries or strawberries.  Sometimes it’s the pits.  Sometimes life gives you lemons.

Those pesky things in life you can’t control in life (namely people and situations) sure are hard to swallow sometimes aren’t they?

Do you throw back stones?  Do you make lemonade from life’s lemons?  Or do you choke on the bitterness?

We don’t always get to choose our suffering, only our response.  We don’t get to take the shortcut –that is the long way around.  No, we are called to pass through.

Sometimes the suffering of others causes us to suffer.  As if we didn’t have our own sea of sorrows we frequently wade in, sometimes we are called to go deep with a friend or loved one into their own private ocean.  It’s hell.  But it’s good.  If you remember this:

I’ve got your back.

Are you still afloat?  Then you are not alone.

You can even be the life preserver for someone else when they are sinking.  You can be the sunshine in their dark world.  You can do what you don’t think you are strong enough to do.    You can go where you don’t want to go and see what you’d rather not.  You can think clear enough to do what is called for here.

And I feel
Like I’m drifting, drifting, drifting from the shore
And I feel
Like I’m swimming out to her

     Yes, you have to leave your comfort zone if you’re going to be in the rescue business.  You have to leave all that’s familiar even if you’re going to allow yourself to be saved.

Midnight is where the day begins
Lemon
See through in the sunlight

     Chaos and confusion randomly can surround us and seat themselves comfortably in our relatively stable world.  These terrorist twins sometimes just show up unannounced and uninvited.

We’ll have to walk through the dark scary woods to reach sunrise sometimes.   We carry our fear with us as we journey far into the darkness.  Can you feel it?

You are not alone.

At the edge of the horizon of darkness, a crack of light appears.   

Lemon
She is the dreamer
She’s imagination

She had heaven
Through the light projected
He can see himself up close

She wore lemon

      Sometimes we are called to be the light in other people’s dark world.   Sunlight is such a great disinfectant.  Whose light are you called to be today?  Lemon or lemonade?    Choose well.

When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah 43:2

Partial Lyrics above are from U2 “Lemon”

Photo by Beautelle

    

 

 


It happened.  That thing you hoped wouldn’t.  You know, that thing you had no control of.

In writing and in life, I keep coming back to this theme:  We are not in control. 

Words are flowing out like
endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe

       First the tears fall down your cheeks.  Tiny pools of sorrow dampen the floor.

Pools of sorrow waves of joy
are drifting thorough my open mind
Possessing and caressing me

      There was nothing more you could do.  You did your part.  You did all you could.  The rest is up to God.  You still believe God, don’t you?    Yes?  Good.  Then there is no problem here.

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Still, it’s not fair!  Your spirit rebels.  I’ve got this, my child.  It’s not right.  You cry out because you’re hurting.  I’ve got this.  Let it go.  Do you trust me?

So you cry.  You cry until you feel dry.  There are no more words left to say.   This was never about you and what you wanted.  It falls under the category Higher Purposes.    My ways are higher than your ways you recall.  My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.

 Truth seeps in.  Doubts sit down for a while.  Cracks of light break through your tears given sufficient time to fall.  Your heart fell into darkness momentarily, but the light is slipping in and the dark is being forced to flee.

Images of broken light which
dance before me like a million eyes
That call me on and on across the universe

I’m not sure I understand this at all God.  You don’t have to.  You just have to let go and trust me. 

Thoughts meander like a
restless wind inside a letter box
they tumble blindly as
they make their way across the universe

I can’t think this one through.  I can’t find the reason to this one question:  Why?

You don’t have to have all the answers if you trust in Me.

Fine then.  I’m trusting You!  I’m stepping out in faith.  I’m leaving the comfort of my sorrows. 

Choose to be joyful.  Be grateful.  Be a light to others.

Sounds of laughter shades of life
are ringing through my open ears
exciting and inviting me
Limitless undying love which
shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe

Several increments of time later:  You’re right.  I think I’m going to make it.  Even with scars, I’m going to be okay.

Indeed you will my child; indeed you will.

Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world

Something’s gonna change my world

Lyrics to “Across the Universe”  (center text) – The Beatles

 

There’s crack in everything; that’s how the light get in. – Leonard Cohen

“Maybe you have to know the darkness before you can appreciate the light.” – Madeleine L’Engle

Step into the confessional booth with me, will you?  I want to tell you a little secret, but shhhh!  Don’t tell anyone.

(Me whispering): I may be the only woman on the planet that will tell you this, but I have NOT read that book everyone is talking about.

It’s true.   Other friends have already informed me it’s ripe with never-in-real-life characters and plot, seasoned with weak writing, full of mental diagrams of how to have pretzel-twisting, mind-blowing, well you know.    The thing is I’m so past that.  I mean really, really long past.  Not as in a thing of the past, but in a girl, I’m so over it kind of way.   I’m past the point in my life, where that would be the Mount Everest not yet scaled, the utter pinnacle of exquisite satisfaction.

Ask anyone who’s been married long enough, or been around the block a few times too many, you will find something in common:  Your appetite changes.  Translation:  You grow up.  You mature.  You want connection not sex.  You want time to be SLOW and not rushed.  You want endurance, not intensity.  You want real not surreal.  You want relationship not temporary satisfaction. 

As I draw nearer to the half-century mark (just thinking fifty years seems surreal to even write) I find what I obsess most over is: hanging on.  Hanging on to love, people, relationships, memories, these are the precious jewels that we accidentally let fall through our hands like sifting sand in our vain attempts to manage our own lives more efficiently.

I’m at that precarious stage of life when I often don’t see my friends for long stretches of time, except sadly, when it’s time to go to another parent’s funeral.   I buy sympathy cards by the box now, instead of on occasion.   Sadder still, is going to the funeral of friends my age.   Recently, I found my high school actually has a Facebook page simply titled Angels beside the name of my school.  Scrolling through it was humbling, as I am keenly aware the time to realize my dreams and the things I want to accomplish may be on the shorter end of the gauge than longer.

Then I thought about it.  Maybe life has never been totally about accomplishing our goals and dreams.  Not that we shouldn’t have them, but maybe it’s so much more.  Maybe it’s about the life and dreams God had planned for us from the day we were born.    Maybe it’s about the kind of person He is molding us in to, and not the profession or ambitions that we define as who we are or wish to become.

If you’re like me, you may feel like life and our over-crammed daily schedule is whizzing by at breakneck speed.  Technology has amplified the affect.  With exponential forms of electronic communication to reach, inform, pester, entertain, beg , or demand us,  it sometimes feels like it’s changed us to that which we were never designed to be:  Too busy to connect.

So I’m working on consolidating my life a bit.  Organize the photos.  Purchase only the essential.  Spend less time on Facebook and more actual Face Time with those I love and am actually friends with.

Above all I pray.  As I get older, maybe it’s the natural order of things, but I find I pray more.  I need to pray more.  I want to pray more.    I actually love to pray more.

Life is so short.  Some dreams come true and others don’t for all of us.    Still, if you’re here—well, then you’ve got a lot to be grateful for.  That’s reason enough to pray.  But if you’re suffering, that’s even more reason, because God wants to use it to make you better, stronger, kinder, smarter, healed and whole, or something else yet defined.    You don’t always get to choose your suffering, only your response to it.

Love those you have left in your left.  Make necessary repairs.    Think of all you have to be thankful for.   And pray.

Pray because our God is awesome!  Pray because He wants to bless you.  Pray because you need Him to reveal something about that which is causing you pain.  Pray because you need to know.  Pray for others.  Pray because once you actually start to count your blessings, you realize it’s not only more than you can count, it’s so much more than you deserve.    Pray because you don’t have to know it all or control it all.  Pray because you are alive and you still can.

Mick Jagger sang “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction” until he publicly claimed he hoped he never had to sing it again.  Apparently the repetition of singing it failed to sustain satisfaction despite the royalties it provided.  Paul Simon reminds us in his clever song there really is at least fifty ways to leave your lover; another testimony that relational satisfaction is often temporal.

My only conclusion?  Fifty Shades is cotton candy compared to The Real Thing.   Fleshly desires or eternal?  Happy for now or satisfied forever?   Pick one.

So we cry out, whisper, or silently say our prayers.  And we wait, oh how we wait–trusting that God has heard us, all the while believing He is good and in control and that He loves us.    We step out in trust blindly walking by faith, knowing we don’t have to know it all, have it all, do it all, or be that which we can’t be.

We may spend periods of our life in solitude, but we are never alone.  We are indeed richly loved.  And that’s a mind-blowing connection and lasting satisfaction, we can joyfully hold on to.

And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.  Isaiah 58:11 (ESV)

What is it about a beach sunrise that trumps a regular sunrise?  Yesterday morning I had my feet propped up on a deck rail, a warm coffee in my hand, two sweet dogs laying by my side, and watching the ocean on the horizon.

Such sweet relief!   Our souls often feel weathered due to the storms we’re forced to endure. We learn:

Change is the only constant we navigate by

Waves continuously change and crash, but the sea and the mysterious laws that govern it are eternally constant. I sat there vaguely pondering  this, but mostly I was trance like in a state of non-thought.

Then my dear friend of twenty years came out with a plate of delicious fresh garden tomatoes grown with the help of her hands and love for gardening.  We sipped our coffee as we watched the sea.  “Look!” she said.  “Dolphins!”    A pair of dolphins were swimming just past the waves’ breaking  point parallel to the shore line.

I rarely stay at such quiet beaches, so I had yet to see dolphins at sunrise.  I’ve hoped for it on many trips, but never got to see them with my own eyes–until yesterday.

It’s real, I thought.  I never saw dolphins swim at sunrise before, not because they didn’t exist or I wasn’t looking hard enough, but because it wasn’t my time to see.  Prayers are answered in God’s time, not ours.

There is nothing like the ocean that seems to settle our faith and our doubts between the temporary and the eternal  like watching the ocean for an extended period of time.  Our soul is soothed as we watch the ocean free from life’s pressures, distractions, noise, and rampant thoughts that compete for our attention.    Ah, to just watch the ocean with a truly open mind, and without awareness of time passing.

See God has planted the seed of eternity in every man’s heart.  It’s hard not to love the sea whose every breaking wave crashes onto shore, only to return softly back to itself.    From a distance it’s so beautiful.  But if you are standing at the waves’ breaking point, all you hear is loudness and feel its fury.  You certainly feel the power if you attempt to stand there.  Fixing your feet here is impossible.  But a few yards ahead or behind the breaking point, all is calm.

Our lives are exactly like that.  The storms come.   The circumstances come in bulk and threaten to pull us under.  We are standing at the breaking point where it’s loud, and we’re unsteady on our feet.  We see the shore and we see the horizon, but in the midst of the breaking point’s fury, we can’t seem to move further out to sea or return to shore.

Yes, viewing the ocean from the distance of being across the street, I had a wider and quieter view then when lying on the sand only a few feet from where the tide comes in.  I look at the sea from this distance and feel nothing but peace from the top of my head to the tips of my toes still sugared in bits of yesterday’s sand.  All is well with the world—or at least, in this moment, in mine.

Yet I know this same sea has blanketed fury on coastal cities in time past.  It’s destroyed property and taken lives.  Untold thousands have drawn their last breath of air before succumbing to the ocean’s depths.    Boats and ships sink.  Storms come.  People drown.   My worst sea nightmare would be of being stranded in a life boat, dying of thirst, yet wondering if I’d be rescued.

Yesterday I watched dolphins swim across the ocean.  Somewhere else in the world, in this very same sea, somebody else was on a sinking boat fighting to stay alive.  At their moment of peril, did dolphins cease to exist?  While I marveled at the magnificence of dolphins, did I not care for the person struggling in the sea just because I didn’t see them or know of it?

Our circumstances, perspectives, beliefs, and geography separate us, yet we are still united in our humanity.  When one suffers, humanity suffers even when others are not aware.  Thankfully, God sees the big picture of our lives with an ultra-wide angle lens—a perspective we can’t conceive.  It is not constrained by width or depth or time.   God is able to see both these moments, and every moment and every one.

I want to have and maintain peace like I did yesterday morning.  Can we have daily peace, even though there is continual chaos in the world, even in our own lives? If so, how God?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.  James 1:5-8

This is one of the hardest and truest bible verses to me.  We are told that it is our doubts that blow our lives all around, sometimes to bits!  Our circumstances and our emotions toss us in such a way we can’t find True North, we can’t navigate our way home.   We get pulled between other peoples’ words to us and expectations of us and our feelings towards it all.   We don’t find solutions, because we don’t believe we will.

We get tossed by each event that threatens to overtake us, simply because we’re out of control.  We already know that in many circumstances, the control was never ours to possess anyway.    Still we fight the Captain of our soul for command of the wheel.  Sometimes our own mutiny is the real cause of our undoing.

It’s been said that seeing is believing.  But the real truth is believing is seeing. 

Would I have believed in dolphins had I never seen them at sunrise yesterday?  Of course!  I’ve known dozens of people who have already seen them; I’d seen them on TV and pictures.  That’s a no-brainer.  Everyone knows dolphins exist.

But God?  That’s another matter.  It can be hard to either believe God exists or that He actually is good or cares for you or the world that you live in.  How could God care or be good when there are storms such as wars, disease, famine , poverty, injustice,  and cruelty inflicted on living beings that God breathed life into in the first place?  Are those people or creatures less valuable to God then we are?  Of course not!  Then why?

WHY is the question we don’t have the luxury of asking.  When we do, our brain is limited in the answers it provides.  We can’t find rationale for pain or unfairness; our limited explanations don’t satisfy.   That dissatisfaction breeds doubt, and the cycle of being tossed about commences.

WHY is the universal question whose answer is like the sea.  It rises up, and then rolls back out.  We think we almost know sometimes; we think we have our lives figured out.    Then the storms come.

We have to trust in our faith that assures WHO, and not the knowledge that seeks to explain WHY.  Don’t allow waves of doubt to take your truth back to sea.

Man tries to explain his life and events, and the most brilliant, pedigreed people still fail miserably.   Life is a mystery.   The question is can you be at peace and NOT have answers sometimes?

I hope so.  That’s faith—being comfortable in not knowing the outcome or why.   If we can choose to live our lives as mirrors, so that our words and deeds reflect  light and love, rather than a telescope that tries to see and explain time and circumstance—that’s visionIf we can choose to love God and believe he exists, even though life isn’t fair, that’s true freedom.  Doing these things diminishes doubts, until they eventually die.

We don’t get to choose the location, timing, or severity of our storms.  We only can decide on who is in charge of our ship that sails over every breaking wave.  Choose well so that you can navigate safely.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

 

Every breaking wave
On the shore
Tells  the next one there’ll be one more

I don’t know if I’m that strong
I don’t know if I’m that strong
Don’t know if I’m that strong
To be somebody
To need someone……….

……..The waves know
We’re on the rocks
Drowning is no sin

You know
That my heart
Is the same place yours has been

(Partial Lyrics—U2 –Every Breaking Wave)