HOW TO TRIGGER YOUR SACRED

 

 SACRED1

Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.

Proverbs 4:23, NIV

 

This is my sacred place. I am watching the clouds and the sun play tug of war across the sky and listening to the wind chimes right now, far from the impending and now constant flash floods. There’s a Yellow Swallowtail tormenting two squirrels resting in the high tree limbs. All is right in the world at this moment. It always this way here; this is a truly sacred place. What makes it so?

 

SACRED2The magic of the place is who I am when I’m in it. It seems to be the only place I can answer the question “ Who am I?” at its deepest level, apart from anything external, detached from the stories my mind furnishes to keep me busy, entertained and distracted.

 

I can still lose who I really am deep down at my deepest core at a moment’s notice. I can find myself lost in a loved one’s pain, a crisis I feel compelled to solve right now, or even doing something I love, if things aren’t falling together the way I had forecast. But, when I’m out here, time stops. I am in the certain presence of the eternal. All there is, is peace.

When God wants to show me something, there is nothing subtle about it. Every scripture or anything else I have picked up to read in the past few weeks has had to do with the heart, as the source of spiritual energy, literally our physical and spiritual force and source. I found the scriptures quoted in this blog all at once and by happenstance. For “ fun” I just happen to be reading, the untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer and Falling into Grace by Adyashanti. Both deal with this issue of who we are really, deep in our hearts and the power this knowledge and revelation can have in our and others’ lives.

The 6th chapter of the gospel of Matthew speaks of the Secret Place, as the seat of our united consciousness with God.

What if the Secret Place is simply the real me–the one God sees all the time? I love the word and the image “untethered.” In this special place, my heart is untethered to anything, anything external or any idea I’m telling myself about whom I think I am.

When I manage to drill down past all of the things and people I think I am or others think I am, all of the ambitions and fears, past resentments and sadness, there is my beating, beautiful heart, and God’s will siting perched in it, like a magnificently plumed bird, waiting to be seen and admired.

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I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.

Psalm 119:32, NIV

 

 

What else is there, really?  If your heart is open, life and light flow through it to you and others, making every place a sacred place. If it is closed, instead of a temple it becomes a prison cell, removed from all light.

Can you answer the question, “ who are you?” apart from who you parent, who you married, who your friends are, what your vocation is, what you look like, or used to look like?

Trigger the sacred by finding what ignites your heart. Where are you and what are you doing when time stands still (in a good way) and you are at peace? That is your heart’s trigger. It doesn’t have to be a place: it could be as small and as simple as a song, a poem, an affirmation, a prayer, a hope or dream.

Our best days are not behind us. We can ignite that flame any time.

© L E Kinzie

DON’T FEAR THE THRESHOLD!

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God has opened a lot of doors for me in my life. But, not a single one of these opportunities looked like a door at the time. They looked like failure. They looked like defeat. They looked like unbearable conflict and loss, eventually driving me from that particular situation to find something more peaceful. They looked like sudden physical limitations, springing from nowhere, that forced me to limit and change my focus. They always looked like crisis and change. And pain.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I see that these events that I perceived as horrible at the time, were answers to my own prayers for direction, deliverance and other things. They were thresholds.

My entire writing career resulted from being fired from a job as a lawyer. I had been charging down the legal path for decades at full tilt with success, which blinded me to the unpleasant changes happening in my life and my personality. Law is a great venue for believing the fantasy of control: if I just work harder and longer… what I want or what my client wants will be mine.

I had two very young children at the time. My daughter was 4 and my son was 2, and I never saw them. They were in bed when I went to work in the morning and in bed when I got home. Their father had to take care of almost everything, while I worked sometimes until 4 am answering e-mails, worked on holidays, worked on weekends. I was in pursuit of “ success’, and was going to crack this code, if I just worked harder.

One day, I was at work, of course, and I got a call from our nanny, frantic because she was at the hospital ER with my son, and they would not let her check him in. He had fallen down a flight of stone stairs. He was ok after some emergency surgery to put his teeth back in his mouth, and fortunately I was able to be there with him through this ordeal he doesn’t even remember.

This was a huge signpost that I missed. But, my subconscious was working on me. I did not want to give up being a parent to be a professional anything. My love for the job never really returned after that, and it was just a matter of time before my employer saw it. It was humiliating and painful and horribly unjustified I thought at the time. After all, who worked harder for these people?

It was merely a threshold God was asking me to go through. I began writing in journals to get my myriad emotions out. The emotions erupted in the form of poetry. It took all of these events for me to remember that I had originally wanted to write. I finally remembered that I had started writing poems at age ten.

God had returned me to who I really was, and I had fought him every step of the way.

I started a poetry blog, which led to a book, which led to this blog. I may have been a lawyer by trade, but in my heart, I was always an artist, with the soul of a poet. God had returned me to myself by erecting a threshold, and creating circumstances that urged me to walk through.

In retrospect, he was removing obstacles from my path, which a large portion of the time was I. My ambition. My will. My hunger for approval.

What a God! …Every God direction is road- tested. Everyone who runs to him makes it…You cleared the ground under me so my footing was firm.

Psalm 18, Message Version.

 

We don’t suffer because of what happens to us. We suffer because we struggle against it. That struggle is based on what our thoughts tell us about where we are versus where we should be. But our thoughts lie to us. All the time. Our minds lie to us, because we want our will instead of God’s, and we tell ourselves stories justifying it.

 

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

When it seems that I have tried everything and am beating my head against a brick wall, I am. There is no door there anymore. It’s scary, but all I need do is pray, look for the prompts, and take the next step in faith. It isn’t the end. It isn’t a death. It is only a threshold. Don’t fear the threshold; fear the cage that forms around us when we refuse to go through, struggling and fighting what is, and therefore, what could be.

 

YOUR WINTER IS OVER!

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I spent the better part of Easter Weekend digging in the dirt with my kids. It was glorious! We made the spring pilgrimage to Home Depot and Lowes and bought a cart full of vibrant blooms. One child graduated college in December, and the other is a sophomore in nursing school, so it had probably been a decade since we enjoyed this family pastime. Long enough for the soil to go completely fallow, for all of our ” curb appeal” shrubs and potted plants to have gone to the Great Nursery In the Sky. We had all been so busy with our lives; we didn’t notice how dead things were. So we raked, hoed, dug and brought in healthy soil. It came back to us, as if no time had passed. We were really working our bodies hard— quite joyfully we discovered, together. It was, in its way, a very holy celebration. We were ridding ourselves of all remnants of winter, and death, and planting the seeds of spring and summer. The very act of planting the seeds and blooms was an expression of faith in the future. mountainlaurels

 

We are all seed planters in some way, aren’t we?

In an interview with Meet The Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, “God is The God of Spring, renewal, birth, and growth– not winter and death.” While so much is complicated, that is a theological concept easy for me to focus upon.

So often, we don’t know what our next step should be. There is so much that is difficult, trying and confusing. But, we can help keep it simple.

All we can do is the next task that seems to present itself to our attention, having faith that it is, indeed, where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to be doing.

Dig, plant, water, and grow. It’s your time to bloom! Winter is over!

 

7 WAYS TO TAKE FLIGHT IN YOUR OWN LIFE

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 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you…

Lift up your eyes all around, and see

and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and exult.

Isaiah 60

 

Image supplied with permission by David Eyestone

 

Thank God my friends don’t treat me like I treat myself!

My friends somehow see the me I don’t see.

Why do so many of us find it so difficult to have compassion for ourselves?

Where do we get the idea that driving ourselves relentlessly towards perfection and flogging ourselves for our failings is the best way to go?

I had to finally break wide open to finally let up on myself and discover that gentleness works. The above quotation is the beginning of the cure for this spiritual malady because it stands in stark contrast to the lie at the root of it all: I AM NOT ENOUGH.

Here are some tools to take the weight off your wings:

 

1) Let yourself take off and soar and realize that the belief that it is wrong to do so, is lie #2. If a loving God created you, then hobbling yourself is denigrating something that God made and loves. Quit judging yourself. It isn’t your job. Fire your inner critic and run him or her out of town.

2) If it is true that nothing can separate us from our loving creator, it must also be true that there is no mistake I can make that will separate me from Him or the flight plan he has set out for me, and if that is true, then a host of wonderful things follow:

  1. a) There is no such thing as too late. There is no such thing as too old. There is no such thing as technologically obsolete. There is no such thing as too young or inexperienced. These things do not apply to your Plan. You can be what God wants you to be, because you already are. He doesn’t make mistakes.
  2. b) God loves me unconditionally and he made me. If that is true, then he has compassion on me. If that is true, then I am deserving of compassion and gentleness from everyone including myself. This concept was so alien to me; I had to teach myself how to do it, with the following exercise. This may seem ridiculous, but this daily practice has transformed me by teaching me compassion and love for myself: I face myself in the mirror every day, look myself directly in the eyes and say, Baby girl, God loves you and so do I. I see you. I hear you, and I will never let you down again.

In other words, I treat myself as a loving Higher Power would. If I was created by something divine, I have a purpose, and am worthy of love and affection and joy right now- not when I finally have mastered Everything.

3) Dare to suck and forge ahead. Redefine success as daily progress, not perfection. I haven’t seen Shakespeare’s first poem, but I bet it probably sucked. Those on their deathbeds regret the things they never dared to say or do, not the things not performed perfectly.

Remember the 10, 000 hour rule. I read a book recently that pointed out that behind each and every singular, supposedly unique success story like Bill Gates or Steve jobs was a common trait: each of these geniuses and stellar successes had spent 10,000 hours practicing and honing their craft before they reached critical mass. None was truly an overnight success story.

So keep going, keep practicing, keep singing, playing, writing or programming. It is impossible to fail as long as you are still learning, growing and trying.

Embrace joy instead of perfectionism. The two are almost mutually exclusive. Leave perfection for living saints, dead martyrs and maybe Martha Stewart. Psychotherapy is expensive and treating yourself like a machine will eventually require a major tune up.

4) Ask God instead of beating yourself up. Even if you don’t believe, ask God to change you, instead of using willpower to try and change yourself. In any event, it takes the fear out of your head, and puts it someplace where you can forget it, pause, and shift your attention to what is great in the present moment.

5) Want to be popular and well loved? The kindest thing you can do for your fellow man is be gentle with yourself. If we are rigid and unforgiving of ourselves, imagine how we might judge others. In any case, the constant ” I am an undeserving worm ” recitations are a pain to be around and, as the philosopher, Dr. Phil says, you teach people how to treat you.

6) The past is just a story we tell ourselves (from the movie, Her) The fact that you weren’t perfect in the past doesn’t mean that you aren’t exactly where you are supposed to be right now. Regret is premature. We don’t know how everything is going to work out. Miracles are the things that happen outside of your carefully prepared plan. Take a forensic look back on your life, looking for God’s breadcrumbs. How many “ mistakes’ and detours turned out to be blessed course-corrections?

7) If God never wastes a hurt, as I was told when I was in a great deal of pain, then maybe C.S. Lewis was right. Pain is the megaphone of God. Might as well ask, what is the gift or the lesson in this situation?

I will never be old enough to stop making mistakes, and if I look back with objectivity, those ” mistakes ” were the catalysts to growth, and a necessary change in direction. Labeling myself unkindly is libeling myself, because it isn’t true. Clipping my own wings, hurts me, doesn’t help anyone else and doesn’t glorify my Creator.

 

 

Do Christians Have Free Speech Today?

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I like to live life in the cracks, because that’s where the light comes in.

Leonard Cohen.

 

On this day in 2015, do we have more or less freedom to speak than 10 years ago, or even 2 years ago?  This Monday was Martin Luther King Day. Dr. King was a living example of the power of speech, particularly, the power and the right to use speech to protest injustices and inequality.

I can’t help but wonder if there is still freedom of speech when the thing spoken about happens to be religion. Do we still have the right to speak in protest of religious inequality or other practices? With Charlie Hedbo, we saw the dangers of freedom of speech about someone else’s religious beliefs. But, what about Christianity? Right here, today in America, a land that ridicules theocracies, do Christians really have free speech? Are Christians really allowed to speak honestly or even critically about their own religion without losing the moniker of “devout” or “faithful?”

The most common observation my non-Christian friends make about we Christians is that we don’t seem to practice tolerance or grace to each other or even like each other very much. Case in point: the YouTube uproar resulting from a Victoria Osteen sermon. A video clip from a sermon preached by Victoria Osteen seemingly saying, “ come to church for you and your own happiness” was played with a predictably vehement series of responses. She was called a heretic. I’m not surprised that some people vehemently disagreed with her. I even disagreed with some of what she was saying. But, what really caused me concern as a Christian was the vitriolic claims of heresy not because of what she said, but because she was a woman saying it. One YouTube commentator said she was a heretic because the Bible does not allow women to speak with authority over men. So, she was a heretic because she was a woman speaking in a church? 

Another case in point: Rob Bell. The Huffington Post recently ran a great article recounting what happened to him as a result of writing the best-selling book, Love Wins. It recounted how Mr. Bell fell from grace, lost his flock and had to completely re-invent himself after publishing the book. Fellow Christians labeled him a heretic. Heretic? Apparently, Christian commentators did not know what to label him; was he a Christian Universalist or something else? I’m wondering why that is important in a theology that stresses grace?

These two events happened before the cyber- attack pending the release of The Interview, and the subsequent attack on Charlie Hebdo. Where at first, I was concerned, now my blood is running cold.

 ~                                                                   ~

 I have a question or two. Do we find wonder, authenticity, or miracles in rigid dogma? I haven’t. I haven’t found compassion or tolerance resting there either. What about grace, the hallmark of Christianity? Doesn’t grace only occur when we fall short of the absolute rules and someone loves us, anyway? I have been unsuccessfully trying to be as perfect as Jesus all these years, and found these spiritual prizes in the cracks between the dicta, the dogma, the all or nothing commands.

When we decry any work or statement we don’t’ agree with as heresy, aren’t we limiting our own ability to speak out in the future?

Owe no one anything except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. Romans 13:8

Just saying:)

DIGITAL GOD

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He sits on the couch beside me

tending his Digital God.

She stops mid – word

heeding her Digital God.

I schedule my Tweets and Posts

to serve Him or Her,

fearing I’m not fast, witty or prolific enough.

I travel only at the Navigation Minion’s behest:

Siri is a power- lusting bitch.

She leads me to the middle of nowhere then, according to her whims, says, “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand that. Did you mean Istanbul?”

The Memo Pad barks its commands

and I spring into frenzy while

the owl outside succumbs to sleep.

I can see it now:

Death by To Do List

I am absolutely in love with Twitter. Nothing but death will part me from it. It stimulates my creativity and my intellect, and I love its brevity and immediacy. One can get involved and informed immediately. But I fight being a slave daily. Without the proper mindset, I become nothing more than the agent of my digital tools.  The  infinite totality of digital access (Facebook, YouTube, Reddit, Vine, and all of the others) makes me twitchy and affects my creativity. It says, Hurry Up. I’m never going to catch up- ever. .

It’s like the proverbial Lays potato chip: there is no such thing as viewing only one cat video or vacation photo from someone I met 10 years ago at a conference, at least not for me. I love that I can keep up with friends and family quickly on Facebook. Sometimes getting a window into someone else ‘s life is thought provoking, inspirational, and a blessing. But, it’s like quicksand.

image002As an artist, I need the digital media to get my works and myself out there, but, without balance or a limit, it stops me from creating. Ultimately, it’s what draws me closer to my higher power that must be my treasure and my priority, for, without that link to infinite intelligence, love and creativity, I will be dominated by external criteria ultimately having nothing to do with me. That divine link is sparked by the act of creating, even if no one sees the creation.

It makes me joyous, and that draws me into my ultimate creator’s arms.

So, I’m going on a digital diet. Not a complete fast, just a daily time limit for all things digital.:) If you need to get in touch with me, tweet or call. I’m running a little behind on my e mailJ (5000 unread messages).

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:21

 

 

 

DIG

THANKSGIVING DAY REBELLION?

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Thanksgiving Day is everywhere, but it isn’t.

I know this is a frantic time of year, and Commerce is King. But, can it not be king for this one day? Can we have one unadulterated, unaltered holiday? Can retail workers be re- assured of their humanity and value for this one day? They already work through the Christmas Holidays, every holiday, and every weekend. Can that be enough?

We all know it has gotten way out of hand. Forget the 12 days of Christmas! We now have the 60 days of Prozac. There is a daily Holiday Sale, beginning with Halloween.

Christmas ads and merchandise appear simultaneously with the Halloween costumes and candy and we become frantic at that moment without knowing why. None of us are happy to see this Holiday Creep, but it strikes us like a virulent virus, spreading from us to those we are in contact with. The hysteria lasts until every gift is bought and the Christmas turkey is nothing but a picked-clean carcass. During this period, Thanksgiving isn’t even mentioned except in conjunction with Christmas shopping.

Thanksgiving was the holiday that offended no one, except turkeys. Every person could understand the desirability of a day of reflection and Thanksgiving and participate. But, it has been watered- down beyond recognition. We need this one day, for family, food, football and the absence of a frantic frame of mind, to get ourselves ready for the holidays to come.

Can Thanksgiving Day please retain at least some of its original meaning; a day to pause, reflect on our blessings, enjoy our families and give Thanks? Can retailers not dictate the content and timetable for this one day?

~

Here is the thing: True Thanksgiving cannot be achieved while running full tilt. Hurry and competition is the enemy to an attitude of Thanksgiving, which requires calmness and reflection. I for one am sick of it.

Bravo to the brave retailers who are allowing their often underpaid employees to be with their families this one day.

Can we just be content with massive sloth, gluttony, family and football—the things I remember from my childhood Thanksgivings– without feeling compelled to engage in hand – to – hand combat with our neighbors to get Frozen Barbie?

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I never have nor ever will set foot in a retail establishment on Thanksgiving Day. I may not have many absolute limits, but this is one. I do not for one minute believe that closing for this one day is going to put any retailer in jeopardy, especially, with Black Friday coming the next day. I believe that giving us all – employees, and customers, a day off can only produce blessings. I understand not everyone feels this way. If you care to, join me in the rebellion.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN HEAVEN AND EARTH CONVERGE?

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The picture at left was the view from my balcony this weekend. The heavens appear to be literally touching the water, but it’s simply the vivid reflection of the clouds off the ridiculously clear water. Me being me, I immediately began wondering, do heaven and earth collide, and what would it look like if they did? I’m always reaching and looking towards Heaven and squinting really hard to see if I can get even a faint glimpse.

I think I now have a surprising answer. Yes, all the time, and it doesn’t look like what one would think.

I don’t know why I have to travel hundreds of miles away from my life to figure out things in my life, but apparently I do.

Because of my biblical training, steeped in Saints and martyrs, burning bushes and of course, Jesus’s example, I actually had it wrong. I thought a bridge between heaven and earth was huge, rare, probably involved the heavens literally opening and God saying something like, “ Hey, you! I’m right here!”

I now know differently. Heaven and earth collide all the time. All that is necessary is a small bridge between the two. I like to call it a Bridge to Marvel. Something that takes us, if even just for a moment, out of our worries, our fears, and ourselves and seems to direct us to focus towards a Benevolent Father long enough to notice he is there.

There was no cell service in the canyon, so I had 3 days where I was forced to pull my head out of my own purse long enough to see these amazing Bridges to Marvel happening with regularity. The first day without Twitter I was somewhat twitchy, but that sustained period of focus produced a multitude of these beautiful little bridges.

The first was the most annoying monarch butterfly in creation. Every time I got away to myself even for just 30 seconds to sit in the sun and reflect on something a speaker had said, she would show up. Not one for subtlety, it took about 10 times for me to figure it out. She would circle me and then go straight for my face, startling me. Every time. As if to say, “ Hey! I’m right here!”

My second bridge was a public one and everyone in the room at the time, knew it. God appearing in a grand flourish. The last night of the conference, there was a campfire where everyone gathered for friendship, and conversation. There were some great professional musicians there, who blessed us with their gifts. But, these musicians encouraged non- professionals to jump in. They used their considerable gifts to bolster and support people trying to escape their comfort zone. The last song of the night, a non- musician stepped up and started singing an old hymn. The guitarists joined in. Something happened. All of us, every last one of us, were pulled into the song and each other and everyone sang, harmonized, drummed and strummed. We all looked at each other like 6 year olds surveying their Halloween bounty. We could not believe it was happening, but it was. It was magnificent. It was reaching up to God and finding him.

My final bridge to marvel was in the person of my roommate. She was the closest thing to the embodiment of an angel as I’ve ever seen. Of course, she did not look like what I thought she would. She was in her late 70s, walked with great difficulty and was too tired to do the late night campfires. She had the most radiantly happy countenance. One day, she got up to sing a song about her son. In a clear, soft voice she sang of how she knew she would meet him again, for he had died of a brain tumor years ago. She sang it with that same radiant countenance. The next morning, she casually mentioned that the reason she could not join me in many of the conference activities was that she had been diagnosed with cancer for the third time. She supposed that the stress of being at her son’s hospital bedside for months on end and finally watching him die had been the culprit. Then she said, “ I’ve learned that we have to give praise anyway.” Boy, she taught me a thing or two that I still ponder and will for some time. She was a bridge to heaven. “Hey You! I’m right here, looking at you!”

So, for me it appears to be a matter of focus. If I can focus my awareness on seeing these Bridges to Marvel, they are everywhere, and if I can see a bridge, perhaps sometimes, I can be one. The hug I talked myself out of giving, the time I shrunk away from singing, speaking, dancing or loving, might have been someone’s bridge. Sometimes I am so stupid. I know that God works through people, but I try to pre- select whom he will work through. I don’t know much, but I do know that God isn’t looking for perfect people to be his reps. If that were the case, he wouldn’t have much human help would he?

FEAR, LIES AND TENDERNESS

 

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.

Martin Luther King Jr.

quail on ground

 

Fear’s relentless tentacles have been perhaps the most formidable force in my life: for good and for evil. Fear has given me amazing gifts and it has caused me to sabotage myself unmercifully. It has taught and given me probably more than any other thing. It has given me the opportunity to beg for and receive miracles. It’s also given me the gifts of seeing a lie for what it is and being tender with others and myself. Right now, I’m virtually eaten up by fear.

As October approaches, I always find myself more in the grip of those tentacles. My grandmother’s birthday was in October. She died a couple of years ago, but this time of year it feels like I’ve just lost her again and sends me into this monolithic fear of “ What or who that is precious to me will I lose next?”

Right now, at this moment, on this gorgeous fall morning, these are the things I am terrified of:

*Fear of REJECTION even by people I would and should reject, or people I don’t even know

*Fear of loss of a single person close to me, because I perceive those who appreciate me as an endangered species.

*Fear of the Headlines

*Fear of never –ending war

*Fears for my children’s safety and happiness in a progressively more chaotic world

*Fear of my parents losing their independence

*Fear I won’t be up to the task that God has put in front of me or that I won’t know what it is

*Fear of failure

*Fear Of Success

*Fear of someone saying, “Oh you’re the one who wrote that book I hate!”

*Fear of my To Do list- that it might one day come out the victor in a battle for survival

*Fear of my crows’ feet

*Fear of being single

*Fear of being married

*Inexplicable fear of cheerleaders and Arbonne saleswomen

 

Each and every fear is shrink- wrapped in a lie. The wrap itself is elegant and beautiful. The lie is often more palatable than the truth, because it requires much less effort and offers the illusion of safety.

At the root of all of these fears are different tentacles of the same lie:

“I am in this world alone. I have to carry it all myself. There is no one out there as bad/ messed up/ crazy/ fill in the blank/ as me. I can’t communicate honestly what is important to me or I will drive them away. There is no one up there listening.”

Here’s a doozy of a lie I am half- believing right now. I’m sitting here fighting a lie floating around in my head that says, for all of my time spiritual seeking and asking God to remove my fears, I shouldn’t have them any more. Here’s another lie: How can I minister to and help those hurt by their religion and seeking to regain their spirituality, if I don’t 100 percent have it all together? I shouldn’t have any fears. This is the aforementioned “ I have to carry it all alone” lie.

If I believe this lie, I become nothing but a goalie. Every communication and action I take is from a defensive posture.

Self- defense and justification make my message disappear. I have to ward off real or imaginary attacks to my credibility or right to belong instead of reaching out or just reaching others. If I listen too my fears and let them drive my communications with others, I’m intimidated by everyone. That’s no way to love someone, help someone or minister to anyone.

Fear has taught me not to be the goalie.

~

Of course, the remedy to fear is trust. Fear, lies and trust are all inextricably intertwined in every situation. Every fear is an opportunity to trust myself, trust others and trust the One who made us, or trust the lie. That sounds hackneyed and trite because it is NOT that simple. We can’t berate or will ourselves into trusting. The only way we can ease ourselves into trust of an uncertain future, others, ourselves and God is tenderness.

~

When I was around 9, my grandparents took my brother and I to Hawaii. We stayed on Maui and went to every beach there. The waves were huge and not like anything we had ever seen on our Texas coast. My grandmother, who must have been around 55 years old at the time, plunged into the waves with each of us in hand and proceeded to teach us how to body -surf. She taught us courage and joy in the face of fear without ever saying a word.

I was recently on the Texas coast by myself for a time of prayer and getting my head together.

Every day, I went body surfing for several hours and I felt my grandmother with me every single time. Needless to say, I felt God with me every single time too.

Each time I approached the waves (there had been a storm, so there actually were some) I didn’t know how it would turn out. I had to assume that someone or something would carry me. I was out there by myself, so there really was no alternative, and every time, I was tenderly and warmly carried.

Trust and tenderness are like that for me. I don’t have to chart a course; it won’t work anyway. I need to be tender with my fears and myself while I ask for courage and gradually see the lies for what they are.

I have finally figured out, God is not going to remove all of my fears, so I have stopped berating myself for not being perfect and I have finally figured out that is the biggest gift of all. God is tenderly helping me teach myself trust through the gift of answered prayers, and by showing me that I am not separate or alone.

I have a tribe of people hand- picked by God who like me and are there for me. We all have a tribe and our tribe is bigger than we think.

Without fear, I have no opportunity to experience the grace of God’s protection and many answered prayers. I would not have the opportunity to develop my strength in facing unbelievable odds. I would not have been forced to seek my higher power, fall to my knees and yell, ” HELP! I don’t know what I’m doing here!” and received more confirmations than I can count that

 Someone is listening up there, and he’s saying,

It’s on its way, open your hands! Yes, I’m listening. Do you trust me now?

 

Totally worth it.

God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefor we will not fear…

Be still and know that I am God…The Lord of Hosts is with us.

Psalm 46

 

 

6 REASONS NON-MILLENIALS ARE LOSING THEIR RELIGION

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In response to all of the press devoted to the Flight of the Millenials, someone asked,

“ Why doesn’t someone write about the rest of us?”

I thought it was a great idea, because one of the things I discovered in writing my book was there are very few differences between them and us when it comes to shaking up our faith. In fact there is no “us” and “ them.” We start out in different places but end up in the same place, with one key difference, and that makes me sad.

Unlike the Millenials, my generation is used to and for the most part wants to be part of a physical church- It just doesn’t seem that the Church wants us very much. All of the examples below are simply different heads of the same beast. What follows are a few suggestions very lovingly and humbly submitted by one who was formerly a member of this Lost Tribe, in case anyone is interesting in getting us back

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1) WE ALREADY BELIEVE. Please stop trying to convert us.

Just as we are overjoyed when a loved one quits smoking, we are overjoyed when a new believer is born- but that isn’t necessarily an invitation to tell us how to live. Maybe it is, but please wait for the invitation.

2) WE ARE FED UP WITH McCHURCH. Hey, it has taken us a lifetime to discover and love who we are as unique creations of a Creator who loves us, not despite those unique qualities, but because of them. We are not going to be put back in the pre- fab box. The non- denominational church movement occurred in our generation because people got fed up with church rules that had nothing to do with spiritual concerns. People who challenged Biblical interpretations previously carved in stone sparked the emergent church phenomenon in our generation. This is who we are. We don’t want our church to look or act like IBM or McDonalds. We want it to be sacred and special.

3) WE ARE MORE THAN MOTHERS AND WIVES, if you will only let us be.

Women seem to have a fundamentally different experience of religion than men and, in a disproportionate number of instances, it is less than pleasant. There is a cultural overlay of discrimination that is often confused with or even intertwined with religion resulting in women experiencing different things. I have literally lost count of the number of women I have talked to while writing or as a result of writing the book, who have overcome sexual bias to arrive at the top of their fields and become leaders in their community only to be invisible in their churches. They are encouraged to serve while their male counterparts are encouraged to lead. The Bible may call to serve, but each according to his gifts. We have the gifts of prophesy, healing, teaching, discipleship and yes, ministry- not just the ability to nurture. Please see us.

4) WE HAVE GIVEN/ VOLUNTEERED TIL IT NOT ONLY HURTS, BUT HAS EITHER BECOME A CODEPENDENT COMPULSION OR A SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL EXHAUSTION. Please do not make us feel like we are not enough for having human limitations that we have learned to respect. We have had to teach ourselves that we are valuable for our compassion, wisdom and experience in and of themselves. We wish you felt the same way.

5) WE KNOW WHO WE ARE. This may seem trite, but it is anything but trivial for so many of us who grew up with the God of the Smite Button and have had to battle with ourselves and our religion to finally be who we really are. We have walked that long, dark night of the soul, when only God answers, and have found that He is enough for us and we are enough for Him. If it’s a choice between Him and you, you know whom we are going to choose.

 

5(a) PLEASE DON’T TELL US WE ARE BAD CHRISTIANS IF WE ATTEND A CHURCH OTHER THAN YOURS. It abrogates our free will and implies a reciprocal loyalty that is not there. Religious consumerism was born in our generation: it’s a little late to put that genie back in the bottle. We have watched what happened to friends who tried to institute reforms and were broken against rigid church doctrine. So many of us continued to attend churches that hurt us spiritually out of a misguided sense of loyalty, that the discovery of options in this area is very precious and sacred.

5(b) ARTISTIC TALENT HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE.

An artist is an artist is an artist. It’s how we express our spirituality and hopefully inspire others. Emotionally moving art sneaks up on the soul by going through the heart instead of the mind. Please don’t funnel us into “leadership” and understand that we are already leading in our way.

 

 

6) WE ARE TIRED.

We have already spent decades on the perfectionism merry go round and have figured out it doesn’t get us into heaven. It just gets us a prescription for Prozac. Please don’t judge our insides by how our outsides may appear. We are sick of trying to be a perfect somebody else. We want to be the real us.