Silence – Part 1

 “We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness.  God is the friend of silence.  See how nature – trees, flowers, grass – grows in silence: see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.”

Mother Teresa

Nature's Quiet Beauty

Nature’s Quiet Beauty

I’ve previously mentioned my conversion from New Year’s Resolutions to New Year’s Goals to the My One Word Revolution that began last year when I chose the word “Grace.”  The idea behind choosing one word is to pray about a word God leads you to by keeping in mind the kind of person you want to become and the characteristics that kind of person possesses.  If several words come to mind, choose just one that encapsulates them all the best.

Desiring to become better in an area of life that has plagued us in the past is a good thing.  However, when I made New Year’s Resolutions to change said areas, it was a rare occasion that I made it through January without “blowing it.”  And once I blew it, life reverted back to the comfortable, well-worn path of old behaviors, with the feeling of failure added to the mix.

Choosing one word to focus on, knowing I can start over at any time during the year, the month, or even the day, and start over as many times as is required, cements characteristic changes into place.  Even cement can crack, however, so a full year to practice living the principles surrounding the word God has led me to through prayer works perfectly.

2013 was a year I desired to explore Grace–living it, accepting it, and extending it to others.  I “blew it” numerous times over the course of the year, but that word, one that is pure and pleasing to God, remained engraved on my mind and in my heart, so that when I strayed from living through grace, it reminded me to do an about face and turn it around, doing whatever was needed to correct the behavior.  While I’m far from having perfecting living through and extending grace to others, I’m much better than I was when I started, and I’m okay with that.  Because for me it’s all about progress, not perfection.

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Another component of the movement that I’ve incorporated as well includes choosing a bible verse that correspond to the chosen word.  I chose two last year and again this year.  Rehearsing the verses daily brings clarity and focus daily on the one chosen word.  I create cards on my computer with my one word as well as the chosen bible verses, in a fun and colorful font, and keep one at my desk at work, one by my bed to read first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening, and one in my car.

It’s much easier to focus on one word that signifies who I want to become than try to remember a list of resolutions to change things I want to leave behind.

If you make the choice to join the movement, or if you’ve been participating already, I would love to hear the word you’ve chosen for 2014, and why.

Wishing you all a safe and blessed New Year filled with His presence and peace.

Merry Christmas

Nativity

May be the peace of Christ be with you as you celebrate this day, the birth of our Savior, with family, encircle you in comfort if you’re spending a quiet day alone, and fill all of our hearts with gratitude for those in the military who cannot be with their loved ones, and to the loved ones left here with an empty place at their table as their brave soldier honorably serves our country.

Merry Christmas from our family to each and every one of yours.  May you each see the beauty and magic of this special day in your life every day all the year through.

All is Grace.

Two for the Price of One

Two quotes struck me as so profound today that I couldn’t choose between them…therefore, both follow:

Benjamin Franklin

“How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, His precepts!”
― Benjamin Franklin

Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (mu...

 

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before!  What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”

―     Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

 

 

 

 

All is Grace.

Pet Therapy

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Man’s best friend.

While this may seem to be a bit off-topic from what I typically write about, it ties into well-rounded health, peace and happiness.

If you own a pet–or if a pet owns you, as is the case in my house–it’s easy to see why there are careers in pet therapy, facilitating healing through the love of animals.  Not only do animals make us happy, they can make us healthier.

Studies have shown that animals can help with depression, anxiety, fatigue, aid in the healing process and coping skills from mental health illnesses, heart disease, and even cancer.

They’re known to help and bring comfort to hospital patients, victims of crime, and military vets.

As for me personally, coming home at the end of the day to find my little Pomeranian anxiously jumping on her hind legs as I come through the door, nothing but sheer excitement to see me, brightens my mood from the most difficult day.  It can lift a fifty pound boulder right off my shoulders and crush it to a pile of silky sand at my feet.

Ninety-nine percent of the time I make it a point to come home on my lunch hour as well. Yes, to let her go outside to do her “thing,” observe and explore the back yard, and get some fresh air, but equally for a shot, my “fix” of the pure joy she brings to me.

It’s on those mental health days I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that snuggling under a blanket, good book in hand, and cuddling with Roxie, who is overjoyed with having me home, giving me kisses and unconditional love that only animals have a way of giving just perfectly, that heals and strengthens my heart and mind.

She sees me at my ugliest, physically and emotionally, and loves me anyway. Complete acceptance and forgiveness. Her enthusiasm for morning play as she bounces and buries her nose beneath the covers, burrowing her way across the bed like a groundhog, brings that first smile to my face to start my day.

In the midst of a bad day, I’ve never been able to not “turn that frown upside down” and smile when an email pops up with pictures of animals and babies.

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A heart can’t resist smiling, tensions easing, gratitude bubbling to the surface, when we see the innocence and feel the peace from such pure love. The kind of love God knows we crave.  And the kind of love that He provides through His wonderful creations, finding joy when His children are filled with joy.  Amazing God.

All is Grace.

Serenity Through Acceptance

Serenity Prayer

It never ceases to amaze me what circumstances God can–and does–use to speak to His children.  For instance, He spoke to me the other morning through my impatience with another’s lack of willingness to try to understand and accept yet another.  Confused?  Allow me to explain…

A dear friend has an ongoing internal struggle with what he feels is the absence of his parents’ acceptance.  It doesn’t matter what he does or what his children accomplish, he feels as though he’s always living in the shadow of his brother and his brother’s family.  Try as he may, and he tries desperately, he cannot get what he’s needing from them.  In fact, more than needing, but rather craving.

It wasn’t long ago that I felt like the black sheep of my family as well, and in fact, had for most of my life.  It wasn’t until I learned serenity and peace come through acceptance, that I was able to let go and see my role in the play.  In fact, it was the lead role.   While I spent endless years feeling sorry for myself because I was “misunderstood,” and “not accepted for who I was,” all it did was make the chip on my shoulder–and in my attitude– that much heavier, driving those who loved me further away while I acted unlovable.

God let me know that I wasn’t trying to understand and accept them as they were, either.  I was expecting from others what I wasn’t willing to give.  He taught me that I cannot change anyone else, but only accept and love them.  I can, however, change my attitude and perspective.  And He gave me the wisdom to know the difference.

When God gave me the wisdom and the strength to let go of that burden and give it to Him, I felt a freedom I had never known.

So I thought I had figured it out and I was good to go.  But God wasn’t done teaching me the full lesson yet.  Either that or I’m a slow learner. 🙂

The other morning, when I found myself frustrated yet again with my friend who continues to struggle for something he may likely never receive, God showed me I still wasn’t practicing acceptance.  I wanted my friend to feel something other than what he was feeling, and that wasn’t fair.  Who was I to expect him to feel what I thought he should be feeling?

God told me I don’t have a right to expect anyone to be anything other than who they are.

It’s better to lovingly meet people where they are, as they are, and pray for God to bring them peace how He sees fit.  After all, He is our Creator.  He knows what each of us needs better than any of us can begin to understand.

Since my friend’s parents haven’t always been this way, changing as they age, as we all will, I pray he can meet them where they are, as they are, realizing they aren’t the parents of his youth, and likely won’t ever be again.  I pray he can stop expecting what they cannot give, and appreciate what they can–and have given.

Serenity prayer?

I’ve learned that when I spend time with my heavenly Father, truly listening to Him rather than speaking at Him, is when I learn the greatest lessons.  I pray my friend can learn why he’s needing the acceptance and validation from outside, when he has everything he needs from the Father of all.

I’ve learned to try enjoy another in peace rather than struggle to change them, for it isn’t my place to change another or expect anything from another, but only to love. I pray he finds that same peace.

I wish I could say I’m successful all of the time, but that would be far from the truth.  But since God has shown me what is best for me to do, it’s my job to work at it.  As I once heard, God will move mountains, but he expects us to bring a shovel.

I pray God continues to use every opportunity to teach me lessons that lead me closer to Him.

We are all a gift and blessing to one another.  I pray we not be dissatisfied with the gifts He gives, but appreciate them.

All is Grace.