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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Finding Refuge in the Lord…His Wings of Protection

But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk and not faint Isaiah 40:30

Just as Isaiah taught, those that wait upon the Lord shall find incredible assistance and protection. What does it mean to wait upon the Lord? Everyone can determine their own meaning but I believe that it is making the Lord a daily part of your life – through prayer, through meditation, through service to others…  I have found that there is a faith that comes and refuge – an inner peace that is abundantly given as I wait upon the Lord. It is a prize that comes with a price but it is a small price which is rewarded with great abundance!

God’s Wings
An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God’s wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno’s damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree.

Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he gently struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their dead mother’s wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and had gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that the toxic smoke would rise.

She could have flown to safety but refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat had scorched her small body, the mother had remained steadfast.

Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings would live.

“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.” – Psalm 91:4

Story shared from the following website: http://varietyreading.carlsguides.com/christian-stories/wings.php

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It is NOT the Things We Have…Where to Find Happiness

It is not the things we have that make us happy. It is what we feel... George Albert SmithHappiness Through Self Awareness

Are You Happy?

Once we meet our basic physical needs of food, shelter, and comfort our life becomes about maximizing happiness. The challenge is that we often get lost or turned around on our path. We end up seeking many things believing they will bring us to that emotional state we desire. We may get the things, but not the feeling we want. We become disappointed as people turn out not to be who we thought.  Relationships can become the source of emotional drama, insecurity and heartbreak.   Exciting careers lead to disappointment, disillusionment, and burnout. Others may work hard to accomplish their goals only to find that they feel empty and unfulfilled inside.

The Path to Happiness Crossroads

When you take time to evaluate the direction and priorities it may be wise to consider how your thoughts and beliefs affects your happiness.  We have been conditioned to focus on external factors and have missed the most important element in determining our happiness.  Your mind is filled with assumptions, beliefs, and expectations of what will make you happy. These have been collected over years, both consciously, and unconsciously. They affect and even determine our choices in a way that we may not be aware.  Hidden assumptions and false beliefs lead you down road to disappointment, frustration, and other emotional reactions.   Even the beliefs that you agreed to consciously in the past about what would make you happy might not be true any more. What made you happy when you were 20 may not do it for you at 30. What made you happy at 30 might not satisfy you in your 40’s.

We change, our world changes, and yet our mind so often tries to stay the same. People in a mid-life crisis let their mind resurrect an old dream of happiness and feeling from their youth.   Or rather the beliefs of their youth.  A relationship becomes unhappy or even abusive and the mind clings to the joy of the beginning days coated with fairy dust. The beliefs in the mind of hope keeps us trapped in loops of emotional drama and dissatisfaction. Only by clearing your mind of false beliefs and assumptions can we see ourselves and other people more clearly. By freeing ourselves from the limiting paradigms of old beliefs we have a new opportunity to make better choices.

It is Possible to Change How You Feel

Awareness of the mind and how to direct its thoughts, beliefs and emotions, opens new avenues of possibility. Your life becomes vastly different when you are the one directing your mind instead of letting it direct you

Change Your Core Beliefs and You Change Your Emotions

When you express love, acceptance, and respect, you create pleasant emotions within your self. When you express judgments, fear, jealousy, and anger you experience emotional chaos. The challenge is to master your emotional expression. You are the only one who can determine the thoughts you think, the words that come out of your mouth, and the emotions you create and express. The thoughts, choices and interpretations you make are determined by your core beliefs. When you change your core beliefs you change the interpretations you make, the thoughts you think, and the emotions you express. Changing core beliefs is the foundation for changing the emotional quality of your life.

The power to change your life and create happiness resides with you. No one else can change what you believe and what you express. But you don’t have to figure it out on your own.

Self Awareness is the Key to Change and Lasting Happiness

The first step in changing the way you create your life is self awareness. We can also call it mindfulness. You can not expect to change what you are not aware of. Self awareness or mindfulness provides the clarity to choose whether you express emotions of love or express emotions out of reactions of fear. Self awareness provides the possibility to catch your self in that moment prior to saying something destructive, or thinking and believing a negative thought. Self awareness is the means to identify your unconscious patterns and raise them in your consciousness so they can be changed. It is through self awareness that you identify and change the underlying core beliefs that drive destructive behaviors and create happiness.

Self Awareness is Different than Book Knowledge

Self Awareness is largely a function of perception and observation. It can not be learned like academic subjects that fill the mind with knowledge.  It can not be learned from books that give us more information to think about and has us noticing less about ourselves, and the world.  Increasing awareness has more to do with emptying the mind of the incessant chattering thoughts so we can see ourselves and life more clearly.

Change the False Beliefs in Your Mind

Emotional reactions usually stem from your assumptions about how life “ought to be” not from actual events. You create assumptions about people, relationships, business deals, and stocks you invest in. Your false assumptions (beliefs) become the set up to future emotional reactions. Awareness provides the presence of mind to see the assumptions and false beliefs before you invest in them. Clarity allows you to perceive what is really happening instead of following the false beliefs of your mind.

Stop the Emotional Roller Coaster of Reactions

When you no longer live by the false beliefs in your mind you no longer have unnecessary emotional reactions. You can get off the emotional roller coaster that has taken you for a ride. With practice you can choose in the moment not to believe what your mind is saying. This allows you to see the emotional roller coaster coming. You can step back from it and watch it go by without you. You are no longer a victim to the emotions that try to control your life.

Develop Personal Will Power

Having knowledge of a “personal belief” or behavior and a desire to change it is not always enough. Take the smoker who knows their behavior is destructive, wants to quit, but is unable to break the habit. You may have behaviors and emotional reactions that you have been unsuccessful in changing. In this case what is lacking is not just awareness but personal will power. Recovering and developing personal will power allows you to keep your commitments with yourself and others. This is true whether the change is about addictions, emotional reactions, exercise, eating, or relationship habits. One way to recover personal will power is by identifying and changing core beliefs.

When you dissolve a core belief you no longer commit your personal power to that conceptual idea, or spend your energy on emotional reactions. The result is that you have more personal power to break other habits. With awareness you can not only see new possibilities for your self and your relationships, you now have the personal power to make them happen. Changing false core beliefs is just one way to increase your personal power.

Change in your Relationships

By living your life with awareness you will change the way you communicate in your relationships. You will no longer express yourself through the emotional reactions that come from illusions in the mind. You will have the choice and the personal power to express yourself with love and respect. By changing the way you express yourself, people will change the way they respond to you. Relationships are where our false beliefs, emotional reactions, and lack of will power combine to cause the most emotional pain in our lives. Relationship is the area of people’s lives where they yearn for the most change. It is the area where mastering our expression of love can have a profound impact.

Self Mastery through Self Awareness

There are many ways to approach mastery over your life. All of them involve creating integrity in your mind, emotions, actions, and relationships. To accomplish this you will need to understand and have control over your core beliefs, and your expression of emotion. At first glance Self Mastery over your thoughts, beliefs, and your emotions might appear too challenging. However, consider the alternative is to let emotional reactions from false beliefs determine the direction of your life.

Today’s article was written by Gary van Warmerdam and is shared from the following website: https://pathwaytohappiness.com/

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Finding Happiness…Let the Sunshine In!

Keep your face to the sunshine and you will not see the shadows Helen KellerFinding Happiness: 11 Simple Ways to Get Your Smile Back

“Happiness is not something ready-made. It comes from your own actions.” ~The Dalai Lama

A while back my sister arrived for a family get-together and remarked, “Your mad laughter is missing. What’s happening?”

My mind trailed back to my childhood and teenage years and showed me images of a girl who could laugh easily, loudly, and madly.

Somewhere along the line I had lost my ability to laugh—truly laugh, with wonder and without worry.

At first I brushed it off because I didn’t even notice myself changing. The change was gradual, imperceptible.

I had come to take life too seriously.

As a child and teenager, I had disappointments. But as I think back, the hope for my future greatly outweighed my setbacks.

Of course, my future didn’t play out exactly as I’d imagined it would, and I encountered a series of disappointments.

My financial situation was far from great. My relationships went through turmoil and turbulence. I let them become set in stone and define my life.

I blamed myself for not being wise enough to make good decisions. I blamed myself for not being smart enough to catch my wrong decisions. I felt miserable. And then I blamed myself for feeling miserable, because strong people don’t waste time feeling miserable, do they?

I became angry and, even worse, I felt entitled to my anger. I felt horribly wronged. I directed my anger at people. I became less capable of experiencing joy, and therefore, giving it too.

Reading Tiny Buddha’s 365 Love Challenges emphasized for me how self-love is the beginning of the expression of love toward everyone else in our world. Still, it’s not always easy to be good to ourselves.

The inner critic is the most active when we need that voice to be appreciative and loving. Instead of spending more time understanding ourselves, we indulge in self-bashing, self-abuse, and harsh judgments about ourselves.

It takes some serious mindfulness and awareness to turn that around.

So, after a few more observations from people who thought I mattered enough to give me feedback about my attitude, I decided to observe my thoughts and myself.

I began to think of what made me feel better, and what helped me keep the feeling longer, so I could get my smile back.

After months of watching myself, I saw that a few things helped me consistently.

1. Being aware of physical and emotional triggers.

I started paying attention to my body. My health had a big effect on my mood, and vice versa. I starting eating what would calm my stomach and keep my body at ease.

Things like procrastinating made me feel bad about myself, so I kept up my schedule with greater caution. I also learned to avoid over-scheduling myself so I didn’t have things piling up, making me feel inefficient and inadequate.

Your body is constantly giving you signals even when you are trying hard to ignore it, so start paying attention.

2. Being aware of reactions.

I started focusing on the results rather than on the source of the problem. If things did not go as planned, I consciously avoided looking to fix the blame and looked at fixing the problem. I felt less overwhelmed and more in power. It also made me more approachable.

Develop the mindset to look for solutions, and avoid “if-only” thinking, since this only keeps you stuck.

3. Dressing up.

No matter how I felt, I always felt better when I got up and freshened up. Wearing well-fitted clothes, clothes that I liked, made me look better and, therefore, feel better about myself almost instantly.

There is a whole lot of science about dressing the part, so pick colors that will soothe and accentuate you own personality.

4. Following a ritual.

The simple act of following a ritual—any ritual—gave me a sense of stability and grounding.

Following a ritual that aligned with my beliefs and values made me calmer and more in control over other areas in my life.

I chose the ritual of mantra chanting before having my first meal in the morning, and that uplifted me immensely, giving me the assurance that I could change other areas of my life too.

5. Smiling more.

We smile when we’re happy, right? Wrong! Studies have shown that our external expressions act as a continual feedback loop reinforcing our internal emotions. So, smiling more even when we are unhappy gradually makes us feel happier.

True to this, smiling at strangers while standing in a queue or during a walk made me look beyond my world. To put it simply, it made me feel good, and I kept at it. Not to mention that smiling through a bad situation automatically seemed to defuse it.

Take time to do things that give you more scope for “happy-time,” like seeking the company of children, listening to music, dancing, cooking, reading, cleaning—anything that makes you feel like yourself.

6. Talking to somebody who loves you.

One afternoon, when I was recovering from an intense anger bout, my father called. I did everything I could to hide my anger from him. But during the conversation, he referred to an incident in my childhood and said, “You are always so childlike.”

It threw me off. Here I was, bashing myself for being angry and hurt, and feeling even more angry and hurt for not being able to control it, but a simple conversation with my father reminded me that I wasn’t always this way. The fact that he remembered it so fondly made me like myself. It made me want to let go and try again.

Make time for your old friends, your parents, your friends’ parents, and siblings—anybody who has been a part of your past who sees the best in you.

7. Being kinder.

Formerly, I had the tendency to show indifference to people with whom I was angry (and not necessarily engage in a war of words or palpable anger). However, it still made me miserable, irrespective of whether they noticed it or not. When I consciously resisted the urge to be indifferent to them, I felt more in control.

A kind exchange has the power to set the tone for your day. Kindness is not restricted to a physical exchange; even a gentle conversation over the phone or a kind email made me significantly happier.

There are hundreds of studies to show that kindness can impact your brain in a powerful way and increase your feeling of connectedness.

8. Making that decision.

After accidentally discovering my passion for writing about three years ago, I continued to put up with a stressful job and kept putting off my plans to start doing something that filled my soul.

Making the decision to quit and re-focus wasn’t easy. But making up my mind and letting go felt like I was clearing stale clutter and starting afresh in my mind. I felt invigorated, though it was hard work.

If you are on the brink of a major decision, making it one way or the other will be a great emotional leveler.

9. Starting somewhere.

I kept putting off my plans because it was not yet there—in my mind. In short, I was afraid of showing my imperfect side to the world. In reality, I was only judging myself.

Waiting for the perfect time to start/launch something is a mistake we all make. Even nature took billions of years to be where it is today. And it will continue to evolve for billions of years from now. Then, why do we have to be perfect today?

10. Breaking the negative thought pattern.

Every time I felt angry with somebody, it was because I associated something negative with him or her.

I started consciously associating positive things with them, like remembering the skill they are really good at or the one time they helped me or somebody else, and the negativity seemed to melt away. Of course, it kept coming back, but the more I countered it with positive thoughts, the less power it seemed to have.

So, the next time you are really annoyed with somebody, try remembering a nice thing about him or her. It makes a world of difference.

11. Remembering that everyone is only human, and that includes yourself.

Forgiveness contributes greatly to our well-being, fulfillment, and happiness. There is really nobody in the world who hasn’t been hurt or let down by somebody they trusted, or at least wishes they had been treated differently.

Everyone—that includes yourself and the people that hurt you—is only standing at one single point in the huge learning curve of life, and our actions spring from what we are exposed to from that particular vantage point. Understanding this was a huge milestone for me in learning forgiveness.

To seriously learn forgiveness as a life skill, spend more time with kids. They are the only people who unerringly practice the art.

To sum it up, for renewed happiness: Invest in yourself, take time to understand yourself, be gentle to yourself, do the things you love and, most importantly, give yourself time to heal, no matter how much it hurts!

Today’s article was written by Devishobha Chandramouli and is shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/blog/finding-happiness-11-ways-get-your-smile-back/

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Overcoming Depression – Laugh A Little…or A Lot!

Laughter is the language of the soul Pablo NerudaWhy is it that so many adults get cranky? (I think too many think that it is not mature or responsible to laugh 🙁  )  Laughter is wonderful! It has the power to heal! When I was fighting depression, nothing made me feel better than a good laugh!

If your life seems to serious, make sure that you take time to laugh! There is no problem or illness (including depression) that is not made better by good humor and laughter! Play with a child or watch a funny comedy – whatever gets you laughing will do the trick! All relationships are strengthened by humor and laughter – laughter and smiling go hand in hand to make life more enjoyable!

I hope you have a wonderful weekend! Make sure to laugh! and…be sure to read today’s article and then figure out some way to bring more laughter into your life!:

Laughter Therapy…Laugh Your Way To Well Being

How Laughing Out Loud Promotes Health and Heals Disease

Everyone loves to laugh, but few people know how much truth is contained by the words “laughter is the best medicine.” The natural gift of laughter confers outstanding medicinal benefits. Laughter therapy can improve mental and physical well-being, and its therapeutic effects are even being applied towards the treatment of serious health conditions, including cancer.

The History of Healing with Laughter

Laughter therapy (or humor therapy, as it’s sometimes called) is the practice of intentionally initiating laughter to relieve physical or emotional stress and promote overall health and wellness. laughter therapy

As long ago as the 13th century, surgeons used humor to distract patients from pain. Norman Cousins, author of Anatomy of an Illness, first seriously undertook the scientific study of laughter’s healing impact. Cousins published his book in 1979 after he himself used humor to sustain himself through a grueling and prolonged battle with a serious disease.

Now, hospitals around the globe are incorporating laughter therapy programs into their practices. In India, laughing clubs — where participants meet each morning solely for the purpose of sharing a laugh — are gaining tremendous popularity. Laughter therapy is also taking hold in the West. The Pentagon has even begun training military families to use these techniques.

Some integrative cancer treatment centers, such as the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), are incorporating laughter therapy into their cancer treatment protocols. According to the CTCA, “Laughter is a natural medicine. It lifts our spirits and makes us feel happy. Laughter is a contagious emotion. It can bring people together. It can help us feel more alive and empowered.”

Studies show that laughter may significantly boost health in myriad ways. Just some of the functions of laughter include its ability to:

• Boost the immune system and circulatory system
• Enhance oxygen intake
• Stimulate the heart and lungs
• Relax muscles throughout the body
• Trigger the release of endorphins (the body’s natural painkillers)
• Ease digestion/soothe stomach aches
• Relieve pain
• Balance blood pressure
• Improve mental functions (i.e., alertness, memory, creativity)

In addition, the immediate pleasure we feel while laughing can offer surprisingly long-term benefits, including sustained improvement in overall attitude…relaxation…sleep…quality of life…social bonds and relationships…and well-being.

The Science of Laughter

Many of laughter’s positive effects are the result of the hormones laughter stimulates, called catecholamines. Catecholamines trigger the release of endorphins — the body’s natural “feel-good” chemicals, capable of reducing pain and stimulating elation.

Once your body is awash in this “happy juice,” you’ll automatically begin to feel more content and relaxed. According to a research team at Texas A&M University, each laugh relieves stress…reduces anxiety … lifts energy…and even cultivates hope. In fact, the team found that laughter therapy could lead to significant increases in hopefulness.

David H. Rosen, one of the researchers who carried out the study, told Science Daily that humor specifically fosters hope by blocking negative thoughts with positive ones. The positive emotions generated through humor can increase a person’s perceived ability to overcome an obstacle, an important psychological aspect of hope.

Children also benefit greatly from laughter. Researchers at UCLA did a study that showed that watching funny shows on TV improved children’s tolerance for pain.

In addition, a team from the University of Maryland found that those who watched funny movies compared to those who watched sad ones experienced increased blood flow — an important factor for health and healing.

You Don’t Have to Feel Like Laughing to Heal

Perhaps the best part of laughter therapy — other than how good it feels – is that even if you don’t feel like laughing, you can benefit. Luke Burbank, a National Public Radio reporter, addressed this question in an interview with Steve Wilson, the head of World Laughter Tour, a university-educated psychologist, and a “self-taught joyologist.”

According to Wilson, “All human beings have an original, authentic natural laughter.” His mission is to help us all access that laughter at any time. But, says Wilson, it doesn’t matter if you’re faking it. He and other professionals are convinced that the brain can’t tell if your laughter is legitimate or forced. The physical act of laughter — spontaneous or forced — is enough to relax your muscles…improve your digestion…normalize your heart rate…and enhance blood flow.

Besides, many who start out with a forced laugh find that they very quickly transition into authentic, joyful laughter, especially if they are laughing with others.

In the interests of optimal health, remember the words of e.e. cummings: “The most wasted of all days is one without laughter.”

Today’s article is shared from the following website: http://undergroundhealthreporter.com/laughter-therapy-well-being-and-health/

 

 

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