Saturday, January 07, 2017

Thoughts and Mindfulness

Joyce Meyers talks about the mind being a battlefield.  Our thoughts can wage war against so many aspects of our lives then our emotions go right along wherever are thought are going and our peace flees to the hills.  The re-hashing of past events exhausts us as we try to ‘change’ outcomes that are no longer touchable and the playing out of possible scenarios, complete with dialogue, can take up much of our inner thought processes. Worry is our go-to meditation and every short-coming we have in our life is free game.

It is no wonder stress is one of the leading causes of illness, both physical and mental.  Our mind steeps in stress with thought after thought stealing our sleep and interrupting our wakefulness.

How can we slow these attacks?  How can we stop the onslaught of thought?

Mindfulness is one way.  Just the ceasing of multitasking and taking time to concentrate on one thing at a time, a unique or new way of thinking to some, can calm our minds.  This takes practice in our world today. (I noticed I have several tabs open on my computer right now!)  But being mindful of what we are doing…the one important thing we have in our hands…and concentrating on that one thing alone…can somehow close tabs of stress that interfere with peace of mind. 

I have made it a practice to wash dishes by hand two or three times a week just for mindfulness.  There is something soothing about warm, sudsy water and taking the time to gently, slowly wash…doing nothing else…that calms my mental bantering.  My dishwashing becomes a singular focus.  Wash, rinse, dry, put away.  Each movement is noticed. The weight of each dish is felt and experienced.  The movement of my hand to grasp, lift, wipe, and move is seen and acknowledged. If my mind wanders I quickly refocus back to the simple present task.  By the end of the chore, my mind has calmed of its back and forth thinking and my dishes are done!

If dishwashing isn’t your thing…or if it is stressful to you…find something simple that is enjoyable to you.  Suggestions:  weeding the garden, washing the car, painting, drawing, listening to music with your eyes closed…whatever it is needs to be a simple task requiring little decision making.  Concentrate on one action, color, or note at a time.  Slow your breathing and really look or listen to what you are mindful of.  Once that task is finished, take a deep breath, relax your shoulders, and call it ‘good’. 

Your mind will have had a rest. 

This is an active form of mindfulness.  It is focusing your mind on one thing for a short amount of time while engaging in just one thing.
Simple?  Yes and no.  It will be a struggle at times to focus on just one thing.  Your thoughts will want to wander into the future or past.  Keep them in the present. But when you notice them wandering, bring them gently back to your task.  And I emphasize gently.  This is not an exercise in perfection, but a practice of letting go.  Let any encroaching thoughts go, like blowing a feather away, and realize each time you do your mind becomes stronger in the area of mindfulness.  Mindfulness will become a gift to yourself as you become aware of an inner strength to let go of the battle in your mind whenever you choose…just by choosing one thing to focus on.

Breathe. Let the peace in your mind become a new normal.

Friday, September 23, 2011


When I was in 3rd grade, my friends and I played follow-the-leader. We would traipse through the house in a line following whoever was in front and mimicking every movement they did. We march through the kitchen, around tables and even over furniture, much to my mothers’ dismay, and consequently we would march out the door. The half-acre yard I lived on was even greater marching grounds. We marched around the many trees, shrubs, and flowers, around the swing set and lawn chairs, through our garden and my sand box all the time doing whatever the leader did: jump, run, walk like a duck, sing, spin or dance. We never felt lost, but we never knew where we would go next nor what we would be doing.

Nowadays, I am very dependent on following. What I mean is, I have no sense of direction. North is the front end of my car. Seriously! And without a map or good directions I easily get lost. I often drive around until I see a familiar landmark before I can get my bearings and get to my destination. And try as I might, I have never been able to overcome this directional handicap. I now plan my trips, even the ones across town, ahead of time. I think through the route I will take, and the turns I will make, and use a good map or googled directions.

Life is a journey. And we all are ‘following’ someone or something, doing what they do or following their directions. At times I even catch myself following myself! Now that’s a scary thought! But I do! I decide to eat wrong and follow myself to McDonalds. I decide to procrastinate and follow myself to the computer to Facebook instead of cleaning the kitchen. I decide to stay up late reading one more chapter or playing one more game and follow myself into a morning of grouchy coffee-drinking. Or I follow my haphazard, shoddy or uncaring attitude and literally run over friends and family with my opinions, looks, or actions. But even worse, I follow others in conversations of negative talking or gossip. Or worse yet, I LEAD them! Sometime I even follow my feelings, as silly as they are, and let them lead me into anger, resentment or depression.

Life is a journey. And if I am to become the person God made me to be, I must be very careful who or what I follow. One of the ministers at my church gave an illustration of what it was like to follow Jesus. Jason called a ‘volunteer’ from the congregation and asked them to follow him and do everything he did. He walked across the stage, down the steps, and proceeded to traipse around the auditorium (sound familiar?) and all the time the volunteer followed, not distantly, because he never knew which direction Jason would take at any given moment, but he followed as closely as he could so as not to miss a step or a turn. Jason had that person’s full attention but it really was a simple concept. The volunteer had just one job: Follow.

Becoming a disciple of Christ is a lifelong commitment to Following the Leader. I choose every day, every moment, whether to step where He steps, say what He says, act like He acts, or do what He does. It’s not hard to play follow the leader as long as I have my eyes ON the leader and DECIDE to follow. When I decide to follow, He even gives me HIS strength, ability and power to do it! Where it gets hard is looking around and fearing where He is leading: You mean I am going to forgive unfaithfulness? lying? abuse? Follow the Leader. He did it. You mean I have to endure pain and suffering? Follow the Leader. He did it. You mean I have to put up with ridicule and snarky attitudes? Follow the Leader. He did it. You mean I shouldn’t put up with gossip and negative talk? Follow the Leader. He didn’t.

Unlike the aimless game of Follow the Leader I played as a child, following Jesus has purpose. A purpose the world cannot give. I get to follow the Leader through overcoming all of those negatives to ultimately arrive at glorious high places, places of joy and peace, because my Spirit-infused life will grow strong enough to get there. These places are high above the problems of the world, and there I find a perspective that makes the following worth every step. I become strong enough to humbly and patiently forgive even the wrongest wrongs. I followed the Leader. He did that. I become strong enough to have joy in the middle of pain and suffering. I followed the Leader. He did that. I become strong enough to love my enemies. I followed the Leader. He did that. I become strong enough to stand up for justice and do good. I followed the Leader. He did that. I become kind, gentle, self-controlled just like Him, because I followed Him.

By the way, I am still on this journey. But I’m getting to be in those high places occasionally and it is so wonderful and worth it! Oh, and remember I have no sense of direction. I consult the road map constantly to make sure I am following closely. Studying the Word is my life GPS. But following Jesus is my simple job.

Wanna join me in Following the Leader?

Friday, September 02, 2011

I am Healed !!

Yesterday was great…and horrible. I started the day feeling truly wonderful for the first time since my back surgery. I went through my morning praising God for His healing and enjoying driving solo for the first time in 4 1/2 weeks. I didn’t go far. I didn’t ‘over-do’. At least I tried not to, but by afternoon the wonderful morning turned ugly and pain and fatigue overcame me. As I lay in bed wondering why, what the timeline for healing was, God when will I be normal again? I felt the mental and spiritual nudge to let it go. Leave it with God. So I did. But my prayer as I fell asleep that night was for God to heal me, (quickly!) so I could do whatever His will was for my life. I wasn’t getting any younger, after all, and if I were going to be of benefit to Him, I really needed to get on with this healing process.

Well, He answered my prayer this morning from three different readings.

The first is a daily Bible passage I start with just for meditation. Today’s was: Psalm 119:64 “O Lord, your unfailing love fills the earth; teach me your decrees.” Oh as I meditated on His unfailing love filling the earth to fullness, my desire for obedience grew with it! A God who loves His creation has only good in mind for His created. Obeying Him…oh yes! That is what I want to do! Show me your will so that I can follow and obey!

I know…doesn’t sound like much of an answer for healing….but just wait. There’s more.

My second reading started discussing how we can’t live apart from Jesus. “Oh,” my soul thought, “I truly can’t! Draw me closer to you Lord!” Sharon Jaymes’ devotional went on to discuss our confidence in God. I was pleading for that confidence in His will by this point!

Then it happened! His answer to my prayer for healing and doing His will in my life!

Get ready for this!

Sharon paraphrased 2 Corinthians 12:7-10:

I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
'My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness.'
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now that I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size-abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

Ummm….yeah….I may have put exclamation point at my statement above about my healing and doing His will, but honestly after reading this I was a bit miffed. Ok, God loves me through and through, inside and out, and I am willing to obey. Totally. I can’t live apart from Him and my confidence in Him is deep. Not perfect, but deep. But that whole living in weakness part? That is an answer to healing? And how can I do what God wants me to from flat on my back? Really, Lord? My emotional agreement with the Father took a nosedive.

But I have one more reading every morning, and my answer to healing was very, very clear.

Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Calling (I would highly recommend this to everyone!), is my last reading before I get up and going. Today’s short, intimate conversation from Jesus said,

“When you depend on Me continually, your whole perspective changes. You see miracles happening all around, while others see only natural occurrences and “coincidences.” You begin each day with joyful expectation, watching to see what I will do. You accept weakness as a gift from Me, knowing that My Power plugs in most readily to consecrated weakness. You keep your plans tentative, knowing that My plans are far superior. You consciously live, move, and have your being in Me, desiring that I live in you. I in you, and you in Me. This is the intimate adventure I offer you.”*

There it is. No falling on the floor and rising with full healing in my back and no pain. No great fanfare. Just a message from God!!!! Did you get that? The Creator of the universe spoke to ME! I am crying as I write this because I am so humbled that He would answer my prayer so completely and directly! I AM healed! My back still hurts? Yes. Walking is difficult? Yes. But God healed me where I needed healing – my spirit. I am in Christ and He is in me! My weakness becomes the very tool of His will in my life that can defeat satan! My plans are not His plans, but His plans are perfect and I want perfect plans. I have a Divine connection to eternity with this back problem and God will use it to His glory! As obstinate as I am, I cannot and will not call these separate readings “coincidences”. They are the answer to my prayer for healing. It is my choice to accept that answer and give Him praise…or not.

Praise God for my healing!!

*Young, Sarah (2004-10-12). Jesus Calling: Seeking Peace in His Presence (p. 257). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

‎July ‎21, ‎2011

Have you ever felt that what you are experiencing is totally yours, and yours, alone? That no one else in the world has ever been through what you are going through or gone through what you have gone through? Yeah, me too. But I am finding that if I open up and share with others, people come out of the woodwork with "Me too!" or "Yeah, I'm dealing with that same issue." Some give advice, others listen with an empathetic ear (I love those!), but it is truly amazing how small the world is in the 'hurting' area. Now don't get me wrong, I understand that circumstances really are different for everyone, and our personalities and how we approach and deal with situations differ greatly, but overall there really is nothing new on earth. And there are a lot of people hurting in silence because of satan's lie: You are the only one. You are alone in this and no one will want to hear your terrible story. Nothing could be further from the truth (he IS the father of lies after all!).

Now for the hard part (yeah, you just thought hurting was hard). Finding someone trusted to share your journey is...well...hard! Especially if you are ready to recover and get beyond the pain. Sure, there are people willing to listen and talk the problem to death, but help you move on? Not so much. Finding a true, confidential, friend that will not blab your problem to others or beat you over the head with it or add to it with all kinds of 'what ifs' and 'I know someone worse off because of a problem just like this', is like finding a needle in a hay field! At least that's what it feels like. There are some rare jewels out there, keep looking. But what to do right now?

Counseling. No I'm not speaking of paying the big bucks to someone who has a degree on their wall, although that is an option that is open and needed sometimes. I am talking of the Counselor that lives within us, and listening to His quite voice as He brings your problems before the Father of the universe. He knows your mind better that you do, and the really good thing is that He also knows the mind of the one who made you. So let Him talk. Listen in to what He says. Quiet your spirit and let the Spirit quiet you. He is the most confidential one that you will ever meet, and the wisest. All He requires is a willing spirit and for us to take the time to let Him change us.

Our Father has plans to bless us, not harm us, and He feels our pain deeply. Believe it. Remember it. Let Him take it, time and time again and don't give up until you have left it with him for good! Yes, others will understand your hurts and will have similar experiences to share. They may even be able to intercede with you to God and truly help because of their empathy. But honestly, the only true healer of our pain will be the one who made us. Take the time to tell Him. Then take some more time to listen, meditate and know that the Counselor is counseling.

If we paid an earthly counselor for a one hour session twice a week to get better, imagine what spending the same amount of time with God would do. That would only be about 15 minutes a day. Try it! And trust me when I say, it will be time well spent with a great friend who understands and can help.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

‎July ‎19, ‎2011

Today is July 19. There is nothing special about this day except I am writing. I truly have a desire to write, just always find other things to think about or do beside writing. There are times the thoughts come to me quickly, easily like someone or something is pouring them into my mind and then there are times I feel like I can't think a coherent thought for the life of me! Either way, I still have that desire to put down something. So today, I am writing. Following my heart or mind, whichever is in control of the writing process, and see where it may lead. I have given myself 15 minutes to put something on paper...err....screen and time is ticking.

I love my God. I love my life in Him. I love my sweet husband, Peter. These thoughts bring tears to my eyes. Why should I cry over love? Why are my emotions so deep that even slight whispers of a thought of my Lord brings a smile, and a picture of my Pete comes so easily to my mind followed by a wish to spend more and more time with him. My life, as broken and crazy as it is, is sweet with love.

There IS one love that saddens me. How little my love of other broken people is. I truly have a desire to reach others with comfort and encouragement, but fall so short when the time comes. I face many a person with a blank stare, either because I can't remember their name, or remember their circumstance, or haven't met them before and am afraid to. Fear. There's the word. I don't fear my husband, or my God as far as worrying about making a fool of myself in front of them. They already know how silly I am! But other people? I really don't trust myself to them. Not that I think they will do something bad, that's not it at all. It's that I will do something or say something that will make THEIR life worse. I do NOT want to add hurt to other people. We live in a world of hurt. But by not pushing through my fear and trying anyway, I can't encourage, comfort or love either.

So there it is. A big wall of fear. And how many times has my Lord, the one I love so much, how many times has he told me not to fear? Perfect love casts out fear, for heaven's sake! And I have seen how love casts out fear by living with my hubby...and our love is great, awesome, wonderful!...but not perfect. So to end today's writing, for my timer has gone off, my plan, my prayer, is to cast off the insecure fear of hurting others, throw off the burden of looking and acting perfect, and climb into God's perfect love, learn from my loving husband, and love others anyway. There! More to come later, I'm sure....‎

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Journey

I went on a journey today. With Jesus leading me, I went through eons of darkness to arrive at a dark, dark place where a mist hung over waters. There he showed me that I was there! A thought in the mind of God yet without form. The Spirit hovered over me, brooding, waiting, protecting.

Then at a right time, I began to move forward. As I did, Jesus spoke. He told me how He had prepared a time that was just right for me. He hated how awful the world was and how it would seem to eat me alive at time with its evil and sadness. I was made in such a way to feel this evil keenly and to feel this sadness deeply and He grieved for the pain I would have to suffer.

But as we neared my destination, He paused and wrapped a warm coat around me telling me it would keep me safe. To wear it and know His arms wrapped me and held me tightly to Him when the flesh world I would soon be thrust into, felt overwhelming. I didn't want to leave Him! But knew my time had come to be in His Kingdom and work whatever good there was for me to work.

We talked a bit longer, but as we did I saw Him get further and further from me. I reached frantically for Him and a tendril of light came whisping toward me, circled me, and flowed into me. I was overwhelmed with a feeling of great joy, and I praised the God on high, for my time of nothingness was over! and my time of purpose had come! The Lord was with me. The Kingdom inside me. His warriors around me. And I entered the light of the world wrapped in His coat of righteousness to face the life He had planned for me from the beginning of the world.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Fifth Dimension

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call The Twilight Zone.
—Rod Serling

I grew up watching the Twilight Zone. It terrified me. But I loved it anyway.

I remember two episodes clearly.

The first was about a woman whose world was being drawn toward the sun. As the world became hotter and hotter, trees would burst into flames and her clothes would become scantier (it was the 1960's after all). Just when I thought the world would burn up, she awakes only to find out that she had been very sick with a fever, and her real world was actually falling away from the sun and turning into ice.

The second was about a woman who enters a store and is abducted by mannequins. They tell her she is one of them and she must come back. In the end she realizes she actually IS a mannequin and joins them in a room filled with plastic people like her.

At the time, I always loved trying to figure out the mystery behind the story. Now I realize there was a message to of 'what is reality' and the other 'finding your true self'.

Sarah Young, in her devotional book, Jesus Calling, describes the true fifth dimension: 'one of openness to (God's) Presence. This dimension transcends the others, giving you glimpses of heaven while you still reside on earth'. She goes on to describe how God used to be able to walk with Adam and Eve in the garden and how He desires to walk with us in the gardens of our hearts where he now resides.

That idea brought forth scripture after scripture that describes a garden and God's desire for us to live there with him. Let me put together a Twilight Zone that I found.

My life has its struggles. Chaos rules. Confusion abounds. Finding the strength to face another day is so difficult...I want to stay in bed with the covers over my head. There's a great storm surrounding me with my head under the covers. I hear thunder! Crashing! Crying! Then silence.

I pull the covers away and find I am actually on a soft pallet in a lush green garden. Not too far away there is a table filled with fruit of all kinds and the smells of purity and peace are everywhere. The air is calm. Birds are singing. Then the most handsome man I have ever seen appears, takes me hand, leads me to the table and offers me a beautiful fruit he calls Life. "I have overcome your world of Chaos," he says. "You have tasted the other fruit on the table: Love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, and self control. Now is the time for you to try the fruit of the tree of Life."

As I taste the fruit He gives me, my eyes are opened to even greater awareness. Joy is overwhelming. I can't take my eyes off of His. They are filled with love just for me. I dance! I sing! I tell Him how wonderful He is and how my life will never be the same after awakening in His garden! He surrounds me with His arms and tells me He will never, ever, leave me alone. He will always be waiting for me in a secret place. A secret place is called Contentment. In the Contented garden, He will whisper loving words of peace that goes beyond anything I could ever see with my eyes or know with my mind. He explains how His hands will guide my hands to do unimaginable good for others and how He has planned my day before I ever awake. All I have to do is follow His quiet voice as He walks with me through whatever the day holds and His power will go ahead of me to show His glory in my life.

As I look down, I see I still have the fruit of Life in my hand. I thought I had eaten all of it but it was still whole. He explains that I will always have Life in my hands and can taste of it anytime I want. Further more, I can give this fruit to anyone else I want to so that they could taste of His garden and walk with Him. I thought of what others would think of me if I offered them this strange fruit. Would they laugh at me? and the garden started to fade. He reached for me but the covers were over my head again and I was hiding in my bed.

Crying, I thought of what a wonderful dream it had been. I wanted to go back so desperately! I put my hands to my eyes to wipe away the tears and realized there was something in them. A fruit. A strange, beautiful fruit. And with joy I took a big bite and listened..."I love you!"...and I followed the voice as He led me to share Life. His Life. In His secret garden He put in my heart.

There IS a fifth dimension.