Published Articles

Finding the Compass that is Within You

I have been on a continual journey of discernment about my own life and my work, as well as helping my clients do the same thing. While everyone has different circumstances to consider, the question remains for the same as I believe it is at the heart of the spiritual quest. In all aspects of my life, what really matters, what brings me joy and what brings me into the fullest expression of who I am?

This is a powerful question for sure but sometimes the work to explore deeper is hard. In the last 5 years I have had my share of very difficult life situations, health concerns and closing a business that was my dream. As many of us do, I would have liked to pretend to have blinders on or struggle against it rather than to face what was in front of me. It took me a long time, but when I finally stopped fighting what was happening in my life, I began to embrace a new idea; what if I did not have to fight it?

I had a major ankle surgery 9 months before my son’s out of state wedding, thinking I had allowed more than enough time for it to heal. It would mean not being able to put weight on it for 3 months, at the longest before starting physical therapy. Soon that time went from 3 months to 6 months and I was getting weaker by the day not able to do normal activities. I became depressed, anxious and got angry that this was happening. I was looking forward to be escorted down the aisle by my son at his wedding, but at month eight, and one month before the wedding, I still could not walk.  I decided that all this energy was taking away from being resourceful in finding a solution and finding a way to enjoy the wedding. I stopped the fight and took Inspired Action to come up with a creative way to work with what I had.

 

When difficult things happen, our first reaction is to fight back to defend or protect ourselves from what we perceive as a threat. Without even noticing we are doing it, we end up staying in the fight until we are too tired to continue or we just can’t do it anymore. When I decided to stop the fight. I realized that the very things that were hard and difficult, were really here to help me. It seemed like a radical thought to lay down my guns when I could not see a path forward than the one laid out for me.  However, I learned from going from victim to empowering myself, created an opening in my life circumstances where I could begin to ask questions. And for me that question was, what really matters?

The truth is, we are all players in our own lives and we live it according to what we value and believe.

Once we know what this is, we can begin to check it against the things that we do and say. But because we are all human and get off our center, our words and actions are not always in alignment. Sometimes we let the opinions of others have more value than our own, or we let our own fear scare us away.

To find what really matters we have to begin the search beyond the usual answers. We need to be able to challenge what we value and believe, to discover if it is based on our truth or someone else’s.  At your center is the place of heart or God that is within you. It is the place where who you are meets the outside world. It is also the place of wisdom that if you listen you can begin to discern what really matters to you. Once you have discovered it will act like the center point of the compass pointing the way to a more authentic life.

Blessings in your journey!

This was first published in the Savage Pacer on 7-14-18

 

The “Chicken” In Me!

This is part of a story that was published a few months ago in a book of Anthologies called, Watershed Moments, compiled by Kathryn M Holmes. It is a book of dramatic stories from people experiencing faith based changes in their life. I was asked if I would be willing to contribute two stories and here is the first one of those stories. 

As you read it, I hope it will prompt you to think about your own life and the experiences that have changed your perspective. If you would like to share, I would love to hear, and you can just reply to this email.  Enjoy!

Who knew that a chicken, a real live one, would prove to be a pivotal moment in my life? Of course there is more than simply the chicken, so the story goes like this…

The Minneapolis/St. Paul area synod and the Iringa Diocese of Tanzania, along with many other churches, are part of a internship called Bega Kwa Bega. This is Swahili for “Shoulder to Shoulder,” which is the basis for our working together; we work side by side. Our church had a partnership with this program for many years, and felt strongly that to have this kind of relationship it meant we had to visit Tanzania.

I was sitting in a pew listening to three women speak who had recently came back from their first-ever trip to visit this remote village. I knew in an instant that I would be on that next trip. Becasue my husband could see I knew that in every part of my body, he leaned over and said, ” You are going, and there is nothing I can do to stop you, right?” Yes, indeed, I was going even if I could not articulate why.

Here is where it gets interesting. I had never been out of the U.S. I’m not an adventurer. I don’t like to be out of my comfort zone. Now I’m going to a third-world country for three weeks? Oh, did I mention I did not have the money, and my family was not thrilled with this idea?

I sat around a table with eight others, who were also interested in going the next year, in order to hear the details of what this experience would be like. We heard about the roads we would travel on, the remoteness  of the village, the bathroom facilities or lack thereof, and what everyday like would be like once we got there. All if a sudden it sank in, and I got really frightened. As I voiced my concern, and admitted that I did not know if I could manage it, a good friend pit his thumbs under his arm pits and started to squawk like a chicken. I was horrified. My friend had confronted me on my fear – and in hindsight I am glad he did.

What would happen if we never get out of our comfort zones? Thank you, dear friend. My hope is we all have people who will do this for us.

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A Kind Response to Our world

As I sat down to write this article I couldn’t help but to think about how fast summer has gone by. I savored the memories about the wonderful family times and all the outdoor adventures we enjoyed but it also brought back into focus the violence, politics, terrorism and racism that has been in the news over the last three months.  In the midst of the fond memories, this was never far from my mind as I pondered by own response to it.

It is hard to understand the things that are happening in our world in the context of what we believe and what we know. The very nature of all that has happened has rattled our foundations. People are left to wonder what they could do or what role they might play in creating a greater or common good.

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What No Eye Has Seen, nor Ear Heard

I think most of us would agree that we are very happy to finally see warmer weather. It is the long awaited time of the year when our world comes back to life; a time of transition from winter into spring and the world seems filled with new life. This time of the year also reminds me of the new lives that are unfolding for our youth with rites of passage such as graduations and Confirmations; all of which signal the beginning of a new path or direction.

This past Sunday, 25 youth affirmed their faith in the rite of Confirmation at my church. It is a tradition that the students pick out a Bible verse to be read during the laying on of hands. Of those verses selected, there was one verse from 1 Corinthians 2:9 that really caught my attention. It is: “But as it is written, what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.

These students have their whole lives in front of them filled with promise and new adventures, but so do we.

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Focusing On the Quiet Within

A few weeks ago when Lent began, I began to hear people talk about what they might give up. Things like chocolate, coffee and other really yummy food items were at the top of the list. In a world focused on pleasure, giving up these goodies are a real sacrifice. I understand the intent is to parallel the Lenten journey and the sacrifice Jesus made for us.

But, I am wondering what if we could for the forty days of this journey, or the days reaming, be intently focused on being still to hear God’s voice speaking to us? Might we be able to discern the bigger questions that we carry into life each day?

As a small girl I would often go with my cousin and her dad to collect milk from farmers. We lived in a rural area and early in the morning while it was still dark, we would jump in his truck and collect the milk in large milk cans. It was a great time, the farmers always made a fuss over us and their wives gave us treats. The most wonderful part of this adventure is that I could take home a small amount of milk to my grandmother. She would wait for the heavy cream to rise to the top and I knew we would be having a dessert with lots of whipped cream that night!

This is an old process that came from a simpler time when there was more time to focus on what was important. The process of discernment is a lot like this process; it takes patience and paying attention. At the heart of our relationship with God, I believe we all have questions about purpose and God’s will for us.

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Wise Words

I just love when things happen at just the most opportune time. I was just about to begin a new blog posting when I quickly checked my email. A friend and workshop participant sent me this wonderful message and it was so good that I had to share it. Do you think this was an accident….me either!

My friend added to the end of this...and hope comes from God. Enjoy these wonderful words of wisdom!

The most destructive habit: Worry.
The greatest joy: Giving.
The greatest loss: Loss of self-respect.
The most satisfying work: Helping others.
The ugliest personality trait: Selfishness.
The most endangered species: Dedicated leaders.
Our greatest natural resource: Our youth.
The greatest “shot in the arm”: Encouragement.
The greatest problem to overcome: Fear.
The most effective sleeping pill: Peace of mind.
The most crippling disease: Excuses.
The most powerful force in life: Love.
The most incredible computer: The brain.
The worst thing to be without: Hope.
The deadliest weapon: The tongue.
The two most power-filled words: I can.
The greatest asset: Faith.
The most worthless emotion: Self-pity.
The most beautiful attire: A smile.
The most prized possession: Integrity.
The most contagious spirit: Enthusiasm.
Worry. Did you know this word is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word that means to strangle or to choke? People do literally worry themselves to death – or heart disease, high blood pressure, ulcers, nervous disorders and all sorts of other nasty conditions. Worry can destroy your peace of mind. The best remedy? Remember that tomorrow is a new day, full of promise. ~ Harvey McKay
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