Make Room for You, for God and Rest

Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop Ovid

Everyone has a story.

All of us were once little boys and girls. We all have memories. 

Some happy. Some not.

Some we share. Yet, many more lay hidden in the secret pages of our heart.

So that we can be strong. So that we can be happy.  So that we can be free.

That’s what I thought, until one day, I stood at the cusp of a childhood dream about to come true.

I was going to write a book.

But as my pen hit the paper to capture those moments, they all came alive.

My memories were no longer stories I once told myself.

And I began reliving them.

Unexpected. Painful memories.

Trauma.

Anxiety.

Just a Visit

I was seven years tall.

I didn’t want to be afraid. It was supposed to be simple. Just a visit.

On the weekends, my father would come see my sister and me.  After the divorce.

I was supposed to climb into the car with the cracking vinyl seats, into the car with the peeling rooftop — of my daddy’s olive green Nova.  It smelled like old, dirty ashtrays, as I slid in the back.  It smelled sad and lonely.  But, I didn’t say anything.

I kept quiet as my little sister with chubby wrists and cherub-rose cheeks toddled in to sit beside me. I felt small and awkward, my hands on my lap and shoulders hunched over as my daddy turned around and smiled a little too widely, his eyes begging for me to smile back.

But, I didn’t know what to do. Because my momma said nothing about this visit.  Other than I better not take anything from him.  I better not come home with anything, other than what I left with that morning.

Which was nothing.

As we rode across town, across the train tracks, up and over the metal buildings and smokestacks of the old Del Monte cannery in Sunnyvale, everything stood eerily silent.  It was Saturday morning and everyone and everything was still in bed.  The streets rolled by empty, as I looked out the window and wondered where we were heading.

I still remember how big the Kay Bee toy store looked as my father tried to hold my hand walking through the parking lot. The square letters spelling K-a-y-B-e-e were suspended kid-tousled happy on the signage way up high.

Even though my little sister couldn’t read, she didn’t need to.  She was getting excited, her little feet hurrying ahead.

But, I knew better. Nothing ever came simple for me.

That day at the toy store ended up just as I had feared.  Not simple.

Who I Could Be

The journey of rest has been the same.  Not simple.

How do you rest when life is less than perfect — with stress marring the daily journey?

I’ve tried to find rest by making a safe place for myself, by putting myself to the side.

By problem solving.

By being strong.

By doing.

I wrestle my anxieties into action plans and check lists to shield myself from vulnerability. I was thankful, sincerely trusting God in what I could do — but missing out on who I could be — by trusting Him to rest.

Here I was, all grown up, mom of two beautiful boys, married to a loving husband.  Yet, I somehow came to believe  incorrectly that if I had faith in God, stress, doubt and pain couldn’t touch me.

Awaken Your Heart

It’s so much easier to take care of everyone, to tend to problems and everything else. It’s easier to be strong and not need or feel.

This is how I’ve lived my life. Fine and functioning.

Surviving.

But, deep inside, where no one knew — where I seldom ventured myself — I was weary. I longed for rest.

Soul rest.

Sometimes the deeper journey of faith is found by following your heart to rest.

Putting our hearts first — letting Jesus love us — is a deep, intimate journey of resting with him.

Make room for you.

Feed your soul.

Slow down.

Breathe.

As much as I longed for all this, I didn’t know how. Until Jesus took me on a  journey of faith to awaken my heart. To be real. To be known. To rest.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the day at the toy store would be our last visit together. My daddy and I.

Something New

As I journeyed through stories long forgotten, God was using all my broken pieces to make something beautiful.

Something new.

God transformed my brokenness into a story of discovery.

A story of rest. To find the things I somehow lost along the way.

Quiet.

Stillness.

Intimacy with God.

In that secret place where I dream dreams. Where I can just be me.

In my search for answers, I made an important discovery:  we all need spiritual whitespace.

Spiritual Whitespace

White space is used in art and design. It’s the space on a page left unmarked.

It’s not blank – it breathes beauty. It gives the eye a place to rest.

Without it, clutter takes over the page.

Just as beautiful art needs white space, our souls need spiritiual whitespace.  We need rest.

God, after all, is an Artist and we are his work of art.

My story is really everyone’s story. Everyone long to find a place to breathe –

to dream dreams,

to slow down,

feed their soul,

and be free.

To feel more deeply connected to God. And others.

Make Room For Your Story

Learning to make room for yourself to rest requires risk. It’s vulnerable to say, I can’t do it all. I need rest.

I eventually went on to complete writing my book about my journey to find rest.

As I uncovered my story, I am finding kindreds on this journey of rest. I realize I’m not so alone anymore.  

I think of Jesus. How He made room for you and me.

By living a beautiful, broken story of love. He told this story. By living it.

Sometimes the hardest stories to tell are the most beautiful.

Our stories are the greatest, most beautiful gifts we can offer: ourselves.

Take the journey of spiritual whitespace.

Uncover the stories deep in our souls, to create space in our hearts and in our schedules.

For beauty. For rest. For God.

So we can live a better story.

Today.

Today’s post was written by Bonnie Gray and is shared from the following website : https://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/bonnie-gray/make-room-for-your-story-for-god-and-for-rest.html

 

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The Power of Forgiveness…

He who cannot forgive breaks the bridge over which he himself must pass George Herbert

Zak Ebrahim was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1983 to an American mother and an Egyptian father, El Sayyid Nosair. When Zak was seven, his father assassinated Meir Kahane, the militant ultra-Orthodox, anti-Arab rabbi who founded the Jewish Defense League. While in prison, Nosair was found guilty in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing trial which killed six people and injured over 1,000 others. He was later convicted as one of the conspirators. Zak’s memoir The Terrorist’s Son charts his own personal journey from hatred to healing.

I remember my early childhood as a happy one although around the age of seven my father exposed me to a side of Islam  that few people  get to see.  In every religion, in every population,  you’ll find a small percentage of people  who hold such fervently beliefs  that they feel they must use any means necessary  to make others live as they do.

A few months prior to his arrest, my father sat me down and explained that  for the past few weekends, he and some friends  had been going to a shooting range on Long Island  for target practice. He told me I’d be going with him the next morning.  We arrived at Calverton Shooting Range,  and when I hit the target my uncle turned to the other men,  and in Arabic said, “Ibn abuh.” [Like father, like son].  Later I realized that they thought they saw in me the same destruction  my father was capable of.  These men were eventually convicted  of placing a van filled with 1,500 pounds of explosives  into the sub-level parking lot of the World Trade Center’s North Tower. These were the men I looked up to, whom I called ammu, which means uncle.

By the time I turned 19  I had already moved 20 times in my life  and that instability meant I found it hard to make friends. I kept my identity a secret  to avoid being targeted,  but even so, being the quiet, chubby new kid in class  was more than enough to get me repeatedly bullied. So for the most part, I spent my time at home.

Growing up around bigotry meant  I’d been raised to judge people  according to their race or religion. One of the first things  that challenged this way of thinking was during the 2000 presidential elections when I was taking part  in the National Youth Convention (a non-partisan organization) in Philadelphia.  Having been the victim of bullying for most of my life I chose to be part of a group that focused on youth violence. The members of our group came from many different walks of life and I soon discovered that one of the kids I’d befriended  was Jewish. I must admit I felt a sense of pride  in having been able to overcome a barrier  that for most of my life I had been led to believe  was insurmountable.

Another major turning point came when I found a summer job in  an amusement park. Most of my life I’d been taught  that homosexuality was a sin and by extension, therefore,  that all gay people were a negative influence.  When I ended up working with some of the gay performers  at a show there,  I soon discovered that many were the kindest,  least judgmental people I had ever met.  Having been bullied as a kid  created an immediate sense of empathy in me  toward the suffering of others.

Then there was, The Daily Show.  On a nightly basis, Jon Stewart forced me  to be intellectually honest with myself about my own bigotry  and helped me to realize that people’s race,  religion or sexual orientation  had nothing to do with the quality of their character.  Inspiration can often come from an unexpected place, and a Jewish comedian did more  to positively influence my worldview  than my own extremist father.

One day, I had a conversation with my mother  about how my worldview was starting to change  and she said something to me that I will hold dear to my heart  for as long as I live.  She looked at me with the weary eyes  of someone who had experienced  enough dogmatism to last a lifetime and said, ”I’m tired of hating people.”  In that instant, I realized how much negative energy  it takes to hold hatred inside of you.

Zak Ebrahim is not my real name.  I changed it when my family decided  to end our connection with my father  and start a new life.  But I speak out in the hope that perhaps someone someday  who is compelled to use violence  may hear my story and realize that there is a better way,  that although I was subjected  to a violent and intolerant ideology, I did not become fanaticized.  No matter how much the levels of violence you have experienced it doesn’t have to define your character because in all of us is the ability to change our paths.

Today’s story was written by Zak Ebrahim and is shared from the following website: http://theforgivenessproject.com/stories/zak-ebrahim-usa/

 

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6 Tips to Living a Life with Purpose and Meaning

The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others Mahatma Gandhi6 tips to living a life with purpose and meaning

There is a Chinese saying that goes: “If you want happiness for an hour, take a nap. If you want happiness for a day, go fishing. If you want happiness for a year, inherit a fortune. If you want happiness for a lifetime, help somebody.” For centuries, the greatest thinkers have suggested the same thing: Happiness is found in helping others.

For it is in giving that we receive — Saint Francis of Assisi

The sole meaning of life is to serve humanity —Leo Tolstoy

 

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give — Winston Churchill

 

Making money is a happiness; making other people happy is a superhappiness — Nobel Peace Prize receipient Muhammad Yunus

 

Giving back is as good for you as it is for those you are helping, because giving gives you purpose. When you have a purpose-driven life, you’re a happier person — Goldie Hawn

And so we learn early: It is better to give than to receive. The venerable aphorism is drummed into our heads from our first slice of a shared birthday cake. But is there a deeper truth behind the truism?

The resounding answer is yes. Scientific research provides compelling data to support the anecdotal evidence that giving is a powerful pathway to personal growth and lasting happiness. Through fMRI technology, we now know that giving activates the same parts of the brain that are stimulated by food and sex. Experiments show evidence that altruism is hardwired in the brain—and it’s pleasurable. Helping others may just be the secret to living a life that is not only happier but also healthier, wealthier, more productive, and meaningful.

But it’s important to remember that giving doesn’t always feel great. The opposite could very well be true: Giving can make us feel depleted and taken advantage of. Here are some tips to that will help you give not until it hurts, but until it feels great:

1. Find your passion

Our passion should be the foundation for our giving. It is not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving. It’s only natural that we will care about this and not so much about that, and that’s OK. It should not be simply a matter of choosing the right thing, but also a matter of choosing what is right for us.

2. Give your time

The gift of time is often more valuable to the receiver and more satisfying for the giver than the gift of money. We don’t all have the same amount of money, but we all do have time on our hands, and can give some of this time to help others—whether that means we devote our lifetimes to service, or just give a few hours each day or a few days a year.

3. Give to organizations with transparent aims and results

According to Harvard scientist Michael Norton, “Giving to a cause that specifies what they’re going to do with your money leads to more happiness than giving to an umbrella cause where you’re not so sure where your money is going.”

4. Find ways to integrate your interests and skills with the needs of others

“Selfless giving, in the absence of self-preservation instincts, easily becomes overwhelming,” says Adam Grant, author of Give & Take. It is important to be “otherish,” which he defines as being willing to give more than you receive, but still keeping your own interests in sight.

5. Be proactive, not reactive

We have all felt the dread that comes from being cajoled into giving, such as when friends ask us to donate to their fundraisers. In these cases, we are more likely to give to avoid humiliation rather than out of generosity and concern. This type of giving doesn’t lead to a warm glow feeling; more likely it will lead to resentment. Instead we should set aside time, think about our options, and find the best charity for our values.

6. Don’t be guilt-tripped into giving

I don’t want to discourage people from giving to good causes just because that doesn’t always cheer us up. If we gave only to get something back each time we gave, what a dreadful, opportunistic world this would be! Yet if we are feeling guilt-tripped into giving, chances are we will not be very committed over time to the cause.

The key is to find the approach that fits us. When we do, then the more we give, the more we stand to gain purpose, meaning and happiness—all of the things that we look for in life but are so hard to find.

Today’s article was written by Jenny Santi and is shared from the following website: http://time.com/collection-post/4070299/secret-to-happiness/

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Trusting in God…

SHIPWRECKED

A “true” story that Billy Graham spoke about. It is about trusting God even when we can’t see what’s ahead for us.

There was a man who became shipwrecked on a deserted island years ago. He managed to build himself a hut to live in and with it stored the possessions he was able to salvage from his boat after it was wrecked.

He would watch every day for some sign of a ship or airplane passing by. He prayed to God for help. Some days he would get discouraged and wonder if he would ever get off that island, but still … he prayed.

One day he was on the other end of the island and noticed some smoke coming from the direction of his hut. He ran as fast as he could back to the hut and then he realized that his fears had come true. His hut and all his belongings were destroyed by a fire. All that was left was the smoke and rubble of it all.

He asked God why did this have to happen. He did not understand. Soon he would find out. Later that day a ship appeared on the horizon and soon landed on the island and rescued him. They told him that they were plotting a distinct course and noticed smoke off in the distance and thought the smoke was a signal for help.

It was a sign for much needed help and it was a sign from God that He was still in control and He would not forsake His beloved child even if there was a doubt or not.

Out of the ashes of this life we can build another day! We can have beauty for ashes.

Today’s inspiring story was shared from the following website: https://2jesus.org/inspstories/shipwrecked.html

 

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How to Find Inner Peace: 5 Timeless Thoughts

“He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”
Marcus Aurelius

“Possession of material riches, without inner peace, is like dying of thirst while bathing in a lake.”
Paramahansa Yogananda

Finding peace within is a wonderful but also a difficult thing. It is easy to go looking for it in the wrong places.

So here are 5 timeless thoughts to help guide you to the places where you can actually find it.

1. Simplify.

“The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.”
Peace Pilgrim

Making thing simpler has certainly brought a lot of inner peace to my life. So, a few of my favorite suggestions on how to simplify your life:

  • Use a limited to-do list. Only 2 or 3 of the most important things.
  • Set limits. Set limits for daily checking of inboxes. I do it only once a day. Set time limits for small decisions and make them within seconds after you have thought about them to avoid procrastination and overthinking. Set time limits for tasks such as 15 minutes each day for answering emails or for using Twitter. Set a limit for commitments and say no to be able to feel less stress and produce better results.
  • Remember to “keep things extremely simple”. I have written down that sentence on my white board and it is a daily and constant reminder that helps me when I lose my way.

2. Accept.

“Acceptance of others, their looks, their behaviors, their beliefs, bring you an inner peace and tranquility – instead of anger and resentment.”
Unknown

When you accept what is you stop feeding energy into resisting what is. You don’t make a problem more powerful and sticky in your mind. Instead, somewhat counter intuitively, when you accept what is it loses much of its power. It just is.

And you feel stillness inside. Now, accepting what is doesn’t mean to give up. It just means that you put yourself in a better position take action if necessary. Because now you can see more clearly, you can focus your energy towards what you want and take the appropriate action to change your situation.

3. Forgive.

“Inner peace can be reached only when we practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is letting go of the past, and is therefore the means for correcting our misperceptions.”
Gerald Jampolsky

By accepting what is it is much easier to let go of things and to forgive what has happened.

Forgiveness is important because as long as you don’t forgive someone you are linked to that person. Your thoughts will return to the person who wronged you and what s/he did over and over again. The emotional link between the two of you is so strong and inflicts much suffering in you and – as a result of your inner turmoil – most often in other people around you too.

When you forgive you do not only release the other person. You set yourself free too from all of that agony.

One thing to keep in mind is to not just forgive others but also yourself. By forgiving yourself – instead of resenting yourself for something you did a week or 10 years ago – you make the habit of forgiveness more and more of a natural part of you. And so forgiving others becomes easier too.

Also, what you think is a question of forgiving others you may sometimes – after some time and inner struggle – discover is just as much, if not more, about forgiving yourself rather than the other person.

4. Do what you enjoy.

“Never continue in a job you don’t enjoy. If you’re happy in what you’re doing, you’ll like yourself, you’ll have inner peace. And if you have that, along with physical health, you’ll have more success than you could possibly have imagined.”
Roger Caras

When you do what you enjoy there is a natural peace that arises within. You are in alignment with your outer world. This also leads to a lot more success than if you have a lot of inner turmoil and really don’t care that much for your work.

One of my favorite tips for finding things you enjoy or love doing is simply to explore life. To be curious and try things out and see what you think of them. This can bring many insights both about yourself and about how things really are when you do them rather than when they are just theories floating around in your head.

If you have read my ebook The 7 Timeless Habits of Happiness then you know that there is a whole chapter in it about finding and doing what you love with exercises and tips for further reading. So if you haven’t checked out the book yet, go to this page for instructions on how to get you own free copy.

5. Be careful with your inner peace.

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.”
St. Francis de Sales

By using the tips above and by living in the present moment you can find a lot more inner peace. Not only during days when things go as planned. But also on days when your world is upset and things aren’t so easy. On such days your inner peace will be very useful to help you make good decisions and to get things done. So be smart, stay calm and be careful with your inner peace.

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