Feeds:
Posts
Comments

STORIES ABBA TOLD… BUYING ELEPHANTS

It was about 1990, shortly after my father died…he passed on March 4th…that I began to have regular conversations with God. Early in the morning before my sons stirred to grab the new day, I would sit and “talk” in the Spirit…I mostly talk at first and then I learned to listen. Actually, learning to listen was one of my major Spirit lessons. When I began blogging more than 10 years later, I referred to my lessons as “Spirit Whisperings”.

One morning, while complaining about the plight of my marriage…not an unusual situation since I was not in a healthy, loving marriage…the Father began telling me stories. The first story was about a young girl who lived in a forest in the company of her animal friends. It was an incredible experience “hearing” God spin wonderful tales to illustrate practical wisdom and insight. I’ll tell that story later. The following story was much more important…only because I have gotten the URGE to put it on paper and I MUST write it down.

In response to my dismay and confusion about the ending of my marriage to a nice Canadian French man who just would not work…never held a job for more than a couple years …actually not more than 6 months at a time…I went crying to my Father God and he told me this story.

   “My dear Princi,” He said in a soft, resonate voice, “Consider this:
There was once a young woman like yourself who watched with
consummate admiration women beautifully dressed in elegant silks of
royal blue, ermine yellow, ruby reds, teals and all shades of dazzling
color.   They had elephants who, like themselves, were arrayed with
majestic headdresses and back saddles and coverings of mind-dazzling
colors. Some of th women walked next to their elephants, some rode
high on their backs, some even  carried their elephants and then put
them down and climbed upon their backs. You were enthralled with
the beauty and majesty of such elegance and grace.”

“I’ll have my own elephant,” you decided and off to the elephant store
you went! You entered the elephant store, eyes wide and heart full of
expectation. “I’ll take that one,” you said pointing to a handsome white
elephant sitting quietly in the corner or the store. “But that one is lame,” exclaimed the store owner. “No problem,” you replied, “ I am strong and I can teach the elephant to walk.” You dropped your coins on the counter and picked up the heavy elephant. Carrying him out of the store, the elephant discovered the peanuts in your back pocket and began to happily munch on them.

You walked for quite a distance carrying your beautiful elephant. After a while, you tired and said to the elephant, “Elephant, you must get down. I’m too tired to carry you now.” The elephant slipped down from your shoulders and began to walk beside you. Day and night and another day passed and you turned to the elephant and asked, “I’m tired, Elephant. Bend down so I can climb onto your back and ride for a while.”

“Oh, no,” exclaimed the elephant with a quiver in his voice. “I’m much too lame…my legs hurt too much to have you ride me. I can’t carry you, yet. Actually, I was going to ask you to carry ME for a while.” So up on your shoulder Elephant climbed and off you went carry your beautiful companion.

Many days and nights passed and your became very tired once again. “Elephant,” you said. “You must climb down. I’m exhausted and cannot carry you any longer.” So down he came and quietly walked beside you for many more days and nights. Once again you asked, “Elephant, are you feeling strong enough to carry me now. I’m so very tired of walking.”

“Oh, no,” exclaimed the elephant with a fearful tone. “I’m afraid that I would stumble and fall if I had you on my back. I am not strong enough to carry you. My legs are weak and my back hurts. Actually, I really need you to carry me for a while. If you help me now, in time I will be strong and able to carry you.”

So, once again, Elephant climbed up on your shoulders and off you trotted. You walked for many days and nights and finally came to the crest of a hill. At the foot of the hill in a deep, lush valley, was a glowing crystal city. It glimmered of gold and emerald green…the light enveloped the sky and shimmered with promise. You turned to the elephant and said, “Elephant, I must leave you here and go on alone.”

“Why,” asked the elephant distressfully.

“Because you are heavy and I cannot carry you any longer. I must go on by myself.” And off you went leaving the elephant standing in the shadows behind you.

At the end of the story, I turned to my Abba Father and asked, “Why, Daddy, did I stay with the lame elephant for so long?”

“Because the nights were cold and the elephant was warm,” He replied.

“Then, Daddy, why did I buy a lame elephant in the first place?” I asked in confusion.

“Reach into your vest pocket, my Little Beth.” I reached into a pocket tucked deeply on the inside of my vest over my heart and pulled out a small leather pouch. I was amazed to see that it was filled with rubies, diamonds, gold and all manners of precious stones. All along all of these riches were within my reach.

“You didn’t take a COUNT of your worth, my precious little one,” said Abba warmly. “You did not know how truly valuable you are. That is why you bought a lame elephant. You could have had the best and the strongest if you would have only known your own self worth.”

Now, when I am feeling unsure, I put my hand over my heart and remember how precious I am to my Abba Father. I am comforted to remember that anything and all I need…my Abba Father has already provided for me…I remember how valuable I am because of Him.

Advertisements

What are the shadows in your life…regrets, anger, resentments?  You can feel shadows.   They cause you to feel tired, tense and apprehensive…they cause physical dis-ease and dis-comfort.

Jesus (Christ means “messenger”) came to teach us that God is Light and that there is “no shadow of turning” in Him.

(“This is the message we have heard from (Jesus) and declare to you:  God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”  1 John 1:4-6, NIV)

Shadows are based in doubt and unforgiveness…the things that create fear, anxiety, anger and confusion.  God calls us to turn away from our shadows and embrace His Light…to trust Him and embrace His unlimited power and authority, His love and faithfulness, His unwavering, ever present, ever healing Light.  God’s Light is unchanging power, love, forgiveness, mercy and grace.

You can physically feel Light…you are energized, relaxed, joyful and open to possibilities that attract the very thing that your heart desires.

Stop chasing shadows.   Acknowledge them…recognize the shadows for what they are…FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real).  As you meditate, see yourself physically turning around, away from the shadows, and facing Light. Choose to be in God’s presence and stand in His brilliant, healing Light.

Light and darkness cannot occupy the same space…so the shadows will completely disappear.
So…STOP CHASING SHADOWS!

Many of us have heard the parable of the farmer sowing seeds…”You reap what you sow, later than you sow, and more then you sow”.   Jesus tells the story of the farmer sowing seed and refers to our ability to absorb and produce fruit from the wisdom and unlimited potential…seeds…we have been given.   

Consider the process of forgiveness as that of the farmer who prepares his soil before casting his new seeds…clearing away the debris to create a rich environment for a new harvest.   He must take time and attention, lots of sweat, to till the land.  This is the hardest part of preparing the soil because he must diligently remove rocks and debris that would potentially keep the new seedlings from taking root.  The rocks…some small, some huge…represent the places within us that have hardened…bruised places that have calcified to “protect” us from further hurt.  The debris is the negative messages we keep repeating that cloud and clog our thinking.

God admonishes us to “not harden our hearts” because He knows that those hard places in our heart will impede our spiritual, psychological and emotional growth.   Cardiologists look for “silent” heart attacks by checking for “hard spots”…calcification of the heart tissue…which indicate silent ischemia that could lead to a fatal heart attack.   Identifying these hard places gives physicians the opportunity to help us extend life by treating the cause.

Forgiveness calls for letting go of the hurt…releasing the source of the pain that we protect with a hardened shell.   Like the farmer, we need to dig deep searching for all the hardened places and remove the stones, rocks and boulders.  It’s painful work to go to those places of disappointment, betrayal or abuse…for, as we remember, the pain becomes as fresh as it was the moment it happened.  We often feel that forgiving gives permission to others to hurt us, or that we somehow are condoning their behavior. 

I argued with God about this very point…why should I say it was okay by forgiving! “My little Beth,” He said. “Forgiveness is a way to release YOU from the pain.  When you forgive…let it go without judgment…you allow yourself to remember without feeling the pain.  Although you remember, it will not hurt you any longer.  Not only will it release you, but you will release the one who hurt you to be totally responsible for their own action.   By releasing them, they are free to turn to Me and be healed.” 

If you forgive but continue to feel the resentment, check the soil…there are still rocks and boulders lurking there.  Here’s the greatest boulder to remove… sometimes we need a CRANE to get this one out…asking for forgiveness!  Not only do we “accept an apology” from the other person either figuratively or literally, but we also ask the other person to forgive us for holding anger and resentment toward them…for holding them in darkness instead of in light. 

“WHAT?” you say!  “Ask their forgiveness for my saying and feeling they were wrong for hurting me?  But, they WERE wrong to hurt me.”  Abba says that forgiveness is not about right and wrong…it’s about letting go.  “Judge not lest you be judged” is the spiritual law.  It’s not about whether they were right or wrong…it’s about being hurt and being willing to let it go.  We mistakenly believe that holding on to the hurt will somehow protect us from being hurt again.   All it does is keep us in a dark space and in pain.  Forgiving the other person releases YOU by letting go of the pain and anger.  Holding on the pain and anger is akin to “eating the poison and hoping the rat dies.”   

The very action of ASKING for forgiveness from the other person for holding negative feelings toward them sets a spiritual force into action that heals you by breaking the negative bond and energy between you and the other person.  You know that you are truly released because you can now feel compassion for the other person…again, not right or wrong, just empathy.  The debris of negative thought is automatically cleared away by thoughts and affirmations of compassion and release.  You can breathe again!

This message from Abba was confirmed in a sermon on forgiveness by Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries.  Here are some notes I made from his message:
1.  Reflect on how God has forgiven you …remember specific events.
2.  Acknowledge…and be honest… about your anger, pain, and resentment toward others or even God.  Be specific about the person and the action.
3.  Let God know that you truly want to let go of your anger, but that you don’t know how.
4.  Ask God to enable you to forgive from your heart.
5.  Proclaim “By my will and the power of the Holy Spirit I forgive.”
6.  Tell the other person, “I have not had a right spirit or attitude toward you.  I ask you to forgive me for holding wrongful anger and resentment toward you.”
7.  When you get free….it sets the other person free.  You’ll know you’re free:
 –   Your harsh feelings will be replaced with compassion
 –   You can accept them for who they are
 –   You will thank God for allowing this to happen to teach you about God’s  awesome and powerful grace

Dr. Stanley concludes that “When your heart returns to the spiritual state of compassion and grace”…in line with the farmer parable…you are now open and free to receive.  Your “soil” is now ready to be prepped to receive new, fresh seed…the unlimited possibility that is your future and higher hope.

Once the farmer has removed the rocks and debris from the soil, he sifts it to let it breathe…remember, in holy writings “breath” is the Holy Spirit of God.  Once we forgive we breathe the breath of God and rest on His promises.  The farmer is now ready to add nutrients and natural materials that will enrich the soil and create a healthy environment for new seedlings to grow to rich fullness. 

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are three of the most essential nutrients that a plant needs to grow…just as Faith, Hope and Love are the most essential nutrients for spiritual growth!  Potassium occurs abundantly in nature, being the 7th most common element in the earth’s crust.  Potash is added to the soil and plays an important role in helping plants to absorb potassium required to thrive.  It is a key ingredient in fertilizers that enhances water retention of plants, increases crop yields and plants’ disease resistance.   Consider that “water” is often referred to in the holy writings to indicate the renewal, restoration, and refreshing of our souls characteristic of the work of the Holy Spirit.  Our connection to the Holy Spirit…like potash to essential soil nutrients…allows us to absorb the wisdom and love that are essential to our spiritual and physical growth.  It also makes us more “dis-ease resistant”.

Peat Moss such as Canadian sphagnum moss, a soil aerator, gives new seed a better environment to begin the growth cycle.  Peat moss is a soil amendment made from partially decomposed sphagnum moss.  It is absorbent like a sponge, and although it does not contain nutrients, it holds nutrients present in the soil until plants need them.  It is the only soil amendment that helps soil achieve the proper balance of air and water, and also helps loosen dense soil and add density to sandy soil.  Sound familiar?  The Word of God is constantly available to us and the Holy Spirit makes all wisdom, light and understanding available to us as we need it…guiding us and teaching us.
 
Adding lime to the soil balances the pH keeping the soil within the healthy pH range of 6.0 to 6.9.  All foods needed for the seed’s growth are available in the amended soil in soluble form.  Bacteria thrive and do their vital work to unlock these nutrients and make them available to the seed when the soil has the correct pH range.  Also, certain potential poisons, such as aluminum, are locked up so they cannot injure plant roots.  When we trust God and act upon His teachings, our faith balances our lives and protects us from the poison of fear, anxiety and confusion.

Of course, the most important natural additive is manure.  In other words…”shit happens” may be one of the most important ingredients to spur spiritual growth.
“Crap”…as we often refer to it…actually enriches the soil with essential bacteria necessary to unlock vital nutrients.   Life’s “crap” demands that we choose to either trust God or NOT!  It’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.   It’s the CROSS…the place at which we choose to walk by faith or run by sight…to either follow the will and guidance of God or follow the demands of our self-serving ego to shriek, panic, stand like a doe in headlights or turn and beat it the other way.   When Christ challenges us to pick up our cross and follow him, he is inviting us to follow Him through that cross-point to the ever-higher, exalting consciousness of God.  It’s through those hardships…trusting and following God, experiencing His faithfulness and miracles for ourselves…that we rise to a deeper, more intimate relationship with God.  The powerful and personal experiences of God’s presence in times of “crap” cultivate and strengthen our faith and character.

It’s spring…not by a calendar, but by choice.   The springtime of our souls is an invitation to emotional freedom and spiritual prosperity.   God has awesomely and abundantly enriched our lives with the gifts he tucked deep inside each of us…like the promises of fruitfulness hidden inside a seed.   What is your freedom and joy worth?  How are old hurts and anger serving your life?  Are you mistaking them as your protection…a rock that can be a weapon or a wall to protect you?  Or have those rocks become your stumbling block…something you’re banging your head against… and a wall that locks you in?  How much more peace will you have in your life if you till your soil and remove those rocks and plant the new seed of a richer hope?

Choose to forgive.   Choose to allow the debris of negative thought to be automatically cleared away by thoughts and affirmations of compassion and release.  Choose to breathe again and know joy!

I heard an awesome marriage counselor once say as his farewell greeting, “Stay in love!”   “Easy for him to say!” I muffed!  Staying in love is a great idea, but it’s hard work in reality…unless you understand what it really means to “stay” in love. 

Dr. Bruce Lipton introduced an interesting concept in his book, The Biology of Belief.   As a research scientist, Dr. Lipton explored the manipulation of DNA in petri dishes and, using identical stem cells, found that he could differentiate the cells  simply by changing the MEDIUM!   In certain mediums stem cells would form skin, while in other mediums the identical stem cell would form bone or other specific organs.   And it was based on the RNA in the cell…the PERCEPTORS…rather than the DNA…the blue print (or plan, you could say) for growth and life.

Fascinating!!  Just imagine…you and I…and the entire human race…are a collection of cells growing, changing, reforming, dying and, just as with the stem cells, we grow, change, die and reform daily based on our “medium”….our spiritual, physical, mental and emotional environment.    Dr. Lipton noted that when the cells perceived a toxic medium or environment they retracted and slowed their growth, but in a HAPPY medium or environment, they grew rapidly, unincombered…not only thriving, but prospering.    Key to this is process is PERCEPTION!   Like the stem cells, the RNA perceived and interpreted the medium and sent messages to the DNA to arrange or re-arrange the building blueprint.    How we perceive our environment…spiritually, emotionally, psychologically… determines how we grow.

So…is it possible that STAYING IN LOVE has to do with creating a “HAPPY MEDIUM”?   There may be more to that flippant adage than we realize.   From that perspective take a look at yourself…How is your MEDIUM??  What kind of medium/environment are you living in at work, at home, with family or friends, in your community?   How many times have you sought to find a “happy medium” when you and your significant other had a verbal tussle, or you and your sophomoric teenager or stressed out co-worker got into a spat?   How toxic is YOUR medium…or how HAPPY?   What are YOU doing to create a more prosperous, happy environment for those around you?    

We must intentionally create a “happy medium“, to seek and focus on the solutions…the “win-wins” in our daily interactions…a medium that provides the environment  for positive change and growth.   A “happy medium” calls for honesty, trust, a willingness to listen with the intention to understand,  respect  for self and others, and mutual caring about  the emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of the people in our lives.   If we perceive that we are in a toxic relationship…feel unloved, criticized and indangered…we retract and defend.   Conversely, if  we perceive that we are in relationship with someone who is trustworthy, respected and respectful, caring, genuine, and safe we are free to change, expand and grow. 

THAT’S LOVE!   Love is a decision, not a feeling.   When we decide to love we seek a happy medium with the people who are important in our lives.   (Just think back to when you were courting and first fell in love…ANY restaurant would do if it meant you could be together!!)   We seek to  know and be known by people we trust and respect…true intimacy–no hiding or secrecy…to listen and reflect even in times of struggle.    We give and receive affirmation and encouragement because we desire to understand and stay in our LOVE medium.

So I, too, say in parting…Choose a HAPPY MEDIUM…”Stay in LOVE.”

Feeling under pressure?   Getting squeezed…that “between a rock and a hard place” experience?   Test your wine…or maybe your “whine”.   

Lent is coming to an end.  As in years past, I gave us COMPLAINING  instead of the ususal cookies, alcohol, and meat stuff.  Instead of complaining, I vowed to just say “I’m glad it happended this way…something good will come out of this.”  It always results in amazing experiences.  Out of some of the worst situations, I have seen unexpected good emerge.  Quantum physics gurus would probably say it was because I had shifted my focus from the negative expressed through complaining to unlimited positive possibility expressed through gratitude.  Christian scripture says “God will work all things to our good for those who are called to his purpose.”  Okay…I game for that! 

Well, this year’s Lenten experience of “gratitude in lieu of complaining” has been a real test!  Major challenges came out of the woodwork!    Every area of my life seemed to be tested…my health, my business, my marriage and our finances, and my sanity!!   And, after all was said and done, I’m glad it happended that way.  Something wonderful is emerging from all the challenges.   I haven’t seen it completely, but I can feel it coming.  

But it made me aware that dealing with life’s challenges is like winemaking.  Applying PRESSURE is one of the most important parts of the process. 

Old mental pictures pop up from “I Love Lucy”…Lucille Ball dressed in peasant clothes tromping  and flopping around in a huge wooden wine vat crushing grapes with her bare feet…slipping, falling, doing the Lucy shuffle. 

Pressure is needed to squeeze out the very essence of the grape…to express the flavor of the wine.  When the grape is immature, the juice is sharp and bitter.   The longer the grape continues to mature on the vine being nourished by the roots, the rain and and sun, when it  is pressed, its juice is more mellow, strong, deep and rich.  But, when the grape stays on the vine through the winter…the brutal cold and frost…the TOUGH times…when it is pressed, its wine is SWEET.   Its sweetness is the most valuable wine in the cellar, often being priced ten times higher than any other wine.

So…check your wine.  When you are being pressed…what are you expressing?   What flavor is your WHINE?  

Bitter…and angry?   Mellow?  Sweet?   
To mature you have to stay on the vine…keep the faith…stay connected to and nourished by your spiritual source.  Choose to express gratitude instead of complaining and allow your wine to mellow.   When times get unbearably hard…that brutal harshness of the winters of our lives…remember that it takes going through the winter to make your wine SWEET and priceless.

It’s Lent!  The usual response is to give up something you absolutely LUST for throughout the year…sweets, meat, strong drink.  That’s all fine and good.  But, I’ve taken another tact.  When my now-adult children were kids, I encouraged them to give up something that was less tangible…a bad habit!   The idea is to give up something negative and replace it with something positive.   Hopefully, the experience will allow more positive behaviors to become engrained as a new habit…one that will edify, encourage and inspire new character! 

To demonstrate to my kids, I chose to give up COMPLAINING and replace it with GRATITUDE!   It’s twenty-some years later and I’m still giving up complaining for Lent.    Unfortunately, I still seem to have complaining to give up every year, but it always results in fascinating experiences…actually…miracles of a sort.  One year my husband and I down-sized from a 5,000 square foot home to a 1,400 square foot apartment.  That was a MAJOR challenge…moving without complaining.  I realized how important it was to INTENTIONALLY replace complaining with gratitude.  It’s not enough to just let go of something…you have to intentionally grab hold of something SPECIFIC!  I had lots of practice catching myself in the middle of a juicy whine, pausing and just saying “Thank you, God, that this is happening the way it is.”    Or, whipping out a “Something good is going to come out of this…thank you, Lord!”

A couple years later, we were making another move to gain more storage space.  We found a lovely apartment complex nestled among  well-treed, rolling green hills with babbling brooks.  We spent weeks getting everything packed for the movers and two days before the big move, began trekking bags and boxes to the new apartment.     The night before the movers were scheduled to deliver the big stuff, I carried boxes down to the lower level family room and stepped into 4 inches of water!   After grabbing the “oh SH…” out of the air and stuffing it back into my mouth, I declared that this was a “good thing”.  Three hours and four intentionally congenial, “non-complaining-conversations -with-management” later, we were on our way to another apartment within the complex.  I kept saying “it’s a good thing that this happened this way.”  And it actually WAS!  They moved us to a much better location…quieter, more private with a fabulous view of hills, trees and brooks!  We even had a herd of deer that visited us several days a week.  Our two Welsh Corgis were on “deer watch” every night for doggie entertainment!

Of course, life has given me far more potentially devastating challenges to face with gratitude…job losses, health issues and a major family crisis.   And, in every case, focusing on gratitude in spite of the disappointment, pain or fear, we experienced awesome results.  So I’m grateful for the season of Lent.   Once again I can choose to recognize complaining and practice conscious, intentional gratitude.   Scripture instructs us to “give thanks for all things.”   It’s amazing how gratitude allows unexpected blessings to pour in!!   Thank you, God!

A quick correction to my earlier story about…ANTs: it’s  Always Negative Thinking (not Thoughts).42-17098456

It’s amazing how much I have learned about ANTs, and also quite amazing how much I’ve become aware of how infested my thinking has been!  I refer to my negative thinking as “ANT Matilda”.  She has a terrible habit of shouting!!!  I had begun learning how to talk back to ANT Matilda, but I felt there had to be a better way to shut her down.  So, needless to say, when several articles about getting rid of ANTs came to my attention over the last four months, they peaked my interest.

Also, incredibly enough, I continued to battle with the REAL 6-legged creatures…ants do have 6 legs, right???…throughout the summer!  As I sat working on my computer, I noticed a steady stream of small black ants wandering along the window seal next to my desk.   At first, I shooed the little creatures along their way and back through the slender crevices in the window that allow their entrance.  After a while, however, I began to SMASH them!  What a nuisance!!! 

Around the same time, I was continuing to listen to Dr. Amen, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life” as he lectured on how to “KILL the ANTs (Always Negative Thinking)” by talking back to the ANTs.  I used his technique with one of my coaching clients with great success!  She, too, was becoming quite adept at talking back to her “ANT Peggy” and gaining confidence listening to her PETs…Positive Energizing Thoughts…more on PETs that later! 

Dr. Amen suggests that by identifying the TYPE of ANT and defying the negative thought with positive affirmations, we actually can change the chemical pathways in the brain and STOP the ANTs from traversing their usual terrorizing trails.   Recognizing that the ANTs do not tell the truth, we  can actually ERASE the old negative pathways by CLEANSING them with TRUTH!   How about that!!!

The light went on and the great AHA! arose…that might work for my little 6-legged creatures, too!!  So, off to the laundry room I scampered and donned a few drops of laundry detergent, a cap of water and an eyedropper.  As the little buggers scurried across the window seal, I dabbed them with a drop of detergent water.  Dead in their tracks!  Every time!!!  So, using the dropper, I poured a small amount of the cleanser into the window track and along the edge of the window seal.  A couple days of doing that diligently, and VOILE’!  It was like magic!!  NO MORE ANTS!  I had erased their trail and nothing but sunshine was now streaming through that window!

As for my own “ANT Matilda”, I began to use the “detergent” of AFFIRMATIONS.  As Dr. Amen directed, I began to WRITE DOWN the negative thought, the TYPE of ANT (following his instructions) that that negative thought was, and THE TRUTH…the AFFIRMATION that effectively KILLED THE ANT and erased the pathway. 

It has taken more than just a couple of days, but I am becoming much more acute at recognizing the ANTs in my life, naming them for what they are, and talking back to them to shut them down.  More importantly, I am gratefully gaining PETs which strengthen my confidence and self esteem, heal my relationships and give me PEACE OF MIND!!