Start looking up, not down.

It’s easy to get discouraged.  If I were brutally honest, I can go from okay to completely bummed out in a very short period of time if I am not vigilant in guarding my thoughts.

I literally need a hall monitor for my brain.

Here’s a trick I’ve learned: look up, not down.

Look up at the things you love, look up at the things you’ve been given, look up at every single positive and good thing that God has put in your path today: got up?  Great!  Remembered to brush your teeth?  Thank you God, that I have teeth to brush!  Showered? Thank you God, that I have adequate water in which to bathe – was the water hot?  Hallelujah!  Have a job to go (no matter what it is) where they pay you enough to afford food and shelter?  Lord, I am infinitely Blessed.

Feeling unloved or alone?  Look up…at the cross.  Don’t feel guilty, don’t feel sad.  Feel, instead, amazed that someone loved and valued you so much that He Gave Up His Life for yours.

(Yeah, okay.  I always get a little teary still.  I know I’m not worthy.  I know I didn’t deserve it.  And I’m still un-learning that God’s love has anything to do with what you’ve done or what you have.  That’s the human, broken down sinner mentality I’m learning to shake off in favor of the “yeah, I’m not perfect but God still loves me where I stand” one.)

We choose which way to look in every moment of the day – head and not the tail, heavens and not our feet.  Only one of those choices will keep us on the right path and help us to create everyday joy in our lives and appreciation for all that we are and have.  Yes, life is difficult at times.  We have challenges and crosses.  We can’t change anything but our own perspective and vision…but when we do, we have the power to transform our world.

Help me Lord, to always look up to keep life from pulling me down.

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Dancing for Sadness, Beauty for Ashes…please?

The love of God can turn our sadness to Dancing and our ashes to Beauty…I believe in fact that it will.  

But sometimes I feel like I have to sit with the sadness for a bit.  I don’t want to dwell here but I don’t want to be disingenuous either: sometime it sneaks up on me. 

Do you ever feel like that?

I’ve made the conscious decision to try living without the anti-anxiety and depression medication and really I can only do so because the dark places no longer have the hold on me that they did.  I can do it because I spend time focused on the positive and on getting healthier mind and spirit.

It’s a miracle in itself!  But sometimes, even in the face of gratitude and love and faith and even miracles, it seems, the sadness can creep in.  I’m not even sure altogether why.

Thank you God, that I can honor my emotions without letting them control me.  I look forward to the dancing.  Please take my care and concerns and those problems I cannot identify and change them into purposeful thoughts and actions.  I thank you for taking my loneliness and my fear, my failures and weakness and guilt and  wash it away so I can start again.  

I know I’m not the only one out there who sometimes needs help to see the colors past the black and white.  Help me to see like Renoir.  Amen.

  

Dropping my cross…and cussing.

I’ve been trying pretty hard this week to carry my cross like a good girl…and failing miserably.  Sometimes I get a few steps ahead but mostly I just keep tripping on it. 

My week has been crazy.  Dealing with medical issues, my son’s ear infection and hearing issues, going to the ER for something that was my own fault, being unable to use my own hand or work out, feeling behind at work …and finally today more medical news that while nothing serious is just super frustrating and brought me to tears.

None of what happened was earth-shattering, just a bunch of random disappointments and hurdles and the kinds of things that built up on one another, leaving me feeling sad and suffocated and stuck.

I kinda doubt Jesus dropped the F-bomb and cried like a baby when he met with bad news and obstacles…even if he wanted to do so.  It’s probably no huge  surprise that I am a far bigger whiny baby than the son of God. 

Some weeks just beat us down until we don’t want to get up. 

It is tempting to stay in that place.  It is tempting to wallow.  It is right there that we become most vulnerable to our own thoughts, and the light and faith feels a little dim in the shadow of the doubts that can creep in.  It’s a scary, isolating darkness that finds its way between the chinks between what we think and what we choose to try really hard to believe. 

It’s also tempting to try and push it off – distract ourselves from the thoughts, pretend we’re not feeling kind of awful or weak.  Personally I find on top of everything else that I feel shame for feeling so bad over things that I know to be small in the grand scheme.  

All of a sudden as I write this In my head I’m picturing Jesus sitting next to me on my stoop of sadness, cross propped up on the wall waiting with me.  He knows I’m weary; He’s patiently waiting there with me so I know I’m not alone. And He will be there beside me when I am ready to get back up.

Thank you God, for that vision that I swear wasn’t there a moment ago and didn’t exist until I started writing.  

  Thank you for allowing me to rest and be human and for your patience and love.

And thank you for my cross that is so tiny and the willingness to try again…

and in advance for forgiving me my weakness and my terrible potty mouth.  

Amen.

  

Awkward but Unashamed…

“Who do YOU say I am?”

I do not write about God much, though in truth I write about Him all the time.

I use other words.  For instance, when I say “Higher Power, Spirit, Universe etc.” what  I really mean is God.  When I say that I use affirmations, frequently those to me are really prayers.  When I say that I meditate, I’m really saying that I’m trying to shut up long enough for God to be able to talk to me.  (I fail miserably at this and wonder at times how God manages to get through at all.)

I try to write for my specific audience, and to put my thoughts into terms that will most likely reach them on some level.  Most of my writing is business writing, and geared toward life and career coaching.  I write a lot of articles for LinkedIn: all of them are really focused on career and personal development, positivity, creativity, faith and any of the more spiritual stuff I try and couch into other words…even if in my heart they all eventually come back to God.

Really, it all does…I mean, the big everything.  I’ve noticed, though, that if you start using  scary religious-sounding words, people tend to back away.  It’s intimidating.  It can be uncomfortable.  And without knowing your audience, it can be tremendously awkward.  I don’t know how I will be taken, or if people will see something that looks too “Jesus-y” and run if that’s not their thing or something they want to look at right now.

Lord knows I was one of those someone’s for a long time.

Half of the reason I started this blog was that I wanted the freedom to speak about Jesus, to talk about Mary, and to say that for me, whenever I am talking about that universal love or power, or the source of all creativity and goodness, I am talking about God…but it’s nice to be able to use the words.

For me it’s an inescapable conclusion that the source of everything and anything is a power more vast than my limited comprehension or understanding.  I don’t really care who you worship or what you call that power. I don’t care if you are a Buddhist or a Naturalist or a Catholic.  For me, those are just different hats attempting to imperfectly to fit the same thing.

I am not ashamed.  If anything, I am awkward.  And I really want to believe that too, though there is a part of me that feels some guilt that if I am not shouting from the rooftops “Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior” that maybe I am hiding.  Maybe I am pulling a Peter. Maybe I am denying Christ?

I hope to God I’m not. 

But I feel like if everything for me comes from God, I’ve got to believe some of the words I am using also then come from that source.  I’ve been given words.  I’ve been given ideas, and ways to express them.

I’d like to think God speaks to people where they are.  I’d like to think He can use me in the very same way to spread His message and to share love.  I’d like to believe that He too doesn’t much care about the verbiage so much as the ultimate opportunity to reach those that maybe feel a bit iffy about calling stuff “God” and back away from the big “JC.”

My God is way bigger than any names we can give him.  I have to believe my God is therefore way bigger than my awkwardness and my weakness and can use those too.

Dear Lord: Let me be authentic and honest.  Let me stand up in faith.  Work in my words, and help me to understand how better I can serve.  Make me brave.  Make me strong.  Take my fragility, and worry of being judged or misunderstood, and use it to Your Good, knowing I’m working hard every day to do better, and to be better.  Amen.

My Daily Bread (non-carb)

How do you start your day?

Mine for years started with a Panic Attack…and dread…and fear.  I would like there with my stomach clenching, pulling myself out of a nightmare typically, and trying to drag myself out of bed when in reality I wanted to hide under the covers.

I. Was. Terrified. Of. Everything.  And mostly, I was terrified I wasn’t enough.

Some that know me from work, and more casually probably wouldn’t expect to see me curled up in the fetal position at the foot of my bed.  But I was, routinely and for years, so overcome with the monsters my own brain created of the world, that I couldn’t find my way out.  I would get up, I would try to do my job, try to be a great mom, and live my life, but internally and mentally, I was running from the negative thoughts that chased me through my day.

Mornings though, were always the worst…because all those fears chased me straight through my dreams into the terror of the day.  Mornings meant a full-on confrontation of everything that seemed bad and wrong and scary…and then trying to actually function.

My family didn’t understand it.  My friends tried to understand it…my husband definitely had no idea what the hell was wrong with me or what I was going through, except that whatever it was there was nothing he could really do to help.

It’s taken a lot of time to get here, years really,  but my mornings are different now.  I wake with purpose.  I have a plan.

I start with “Thank You.”  Thank you God, for the day, for watching me through the night, for setting me up for a good day and for watching over my children.  Thank you God that nothing today that happens I will not be able to handle.   I am strong.  I am worthy.  My God is more powerful than anything in front of me today.  My God has plans to prosper me and not to harm me.  Good things are coming.  I am loved.

Before I even get out of bed, I grab some water and my phone.  I immediately open something positive.  It can be an app (I have an app from “The Secret” with daily inspirational messages as well as a Joel Osteen daily app) or a podcast from Zig Ziglar.  It can be a video from my home parish church.  It can be listening to an audio book. I will search until I find something that resonates.   Sometimes it’s even a video of my kiddos.  Whatever it is, even if it is 2 minutes of my morning, it sets the tone for everything else.

Today, honestly, I needed an hour of God…but I know that hour will be repaid.

Here’s the thing.

My fears and worries still stalk me in my dreams, but not as often.  Still, even when they do, I stop.  I change directions.  I Declare.  God, you have the wheel.  Jesus, thank you for walking by my side. I may not see a way but you have a way.   Thank you for changing my heart.

My life is getting better every day.  Yes, I have my difficulties but I choose to give voice and to action to what is positive and what is good and what I can be and become and contribute.  I’m changing my words.  I’m choosing my thoughts.  Sometimes, I have to do it 10 times an hour to get myself on the right track or to even get through, but I am doing it.

Dear Jesus.  Thank you for my Daily Bread.  You’ve become it.  Amen.

Birth of a Believer

You would think it would take less than 43 years for someone who was raised Roman Catholic and attended 16 years of Catholic School to call themselves a Believer.

It didn’t.

I may have called myself a believer, but you can’t be a believer if you have no idea what believing actually feels like, or what it is or what it isn’t.  You can’t really consider yourself a believer until you make an active decision to ACT like a believer, to ACT in faith.

When I say I’m a Believer, let me be very clear:  I believe in God.  I believe in Jesus Christ.  I believe in the power of love and in the Universe.  I believe that we are meant for many and wonderful things.   I believe that break it down how you will via religion and dogma, but at the end of the day we’re all really in it for the same thing because we are all inextricably part of it.  I’m not here to argue semantics or rules, I’m here feeling it in my gut.

I’ve never wanted my faith so badly, nor worked so hard on a daily basis to change my own mind into one that could accept that life could be more, and that I am more than I know as a part of a grand whole.

I’ve been wanting so badly to write all of this: not wanting to push my views others but happy to share them as I hopefully start to model the things people more want to be.  I want to attract people with my writing and to help them find their own paths, believing it can be done.

This is a leap of faith for me.  I’m stepping out.  Hello World.  I am a Believer in God and in Jesus Christ and I believe that it is when I say that first that everything else can finally begin.  I am born a new person, with limitless potential.

Thank you Joel Osteen, Marianne Williamson, Jen Sincero, Rhonda Byrne, Zig Ziglar and C.S.Lewis for unknowingly and sometimes very grudgingly, leading me to a place of new wonder and gratitude for all that is in this wonderful world.