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Posts Tagged ‘thoughts’

Are you tired of the drama and trauma???  Got enough of the “Shock and Awe”???
IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER!!!

The goal of FEAR and anxiety is to DIS-MEMBER us…the old “divide and conquer”!
You know the expressions:  lose your head, feel blown away, broken hearted, falling apart, cracked up…nervous breakdown, broken families and fractured friendships, etc., etc., etc.!  It’s exhausting!!!

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER…we are ALL AMERICANS…we’re still here and we’re STRONG!  True…OUR VOICES AND OUR VOTES MATTER.  BUT above all…as we not only believe IN God, but BELIEVE and TRUST GOD…OUR FAITH MAKES A DIFFERENCE!    My faith orientation is Christian, but I believe and honor all faith traditions that teach us that we are ONE with God and all creation.  As you read this and reflect on your own faith tradition, I invite you to join me in RE-MEMBERING!

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER that ONLY GOD IS GOD!!!
It’s time to remember God is the creator of all things seen and unseen!  We may call God by many names…Jehovah, Yahweh, Allah, Abba, Father/Mother God, God Within, Creative Power, the Source…but only God is God!
“Then Ezra prayed, “You alone are God. You have made the skies and the heavens, the earth and the seas, and everything in them. You preserve it all; and all the angels of heaven worship you.”
Nehemiah 9:6

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER…to be RE-CONNECTED TO THE ONENESS!
It’s time to remember that ONENESS is our ultimate heritage…to be reconnected by God’s Spirit to the “Whole-liness” that is our Spiritual birthright.  To come through all Spiritual traditions that teach and reflect the CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS that leads us into UNITY with God and each other.
“But this is the new agreement I will make with the (people who believe that “GOD IS REAL”), says the Lord: I will write my laws in their minds so that they will know what I want them to do without my even telling them, and these laws will be in their hearts so that they will want to obey them, and I will be their God and they shall be my people”.
Hebrews 8:10   Living Bible

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER… Our enemies are NOT of flesh and blood.
It’s time to remember that those “powers and principalities” thrive on FEAR and LIES!  People that embody those dis-membering “powers to divide” with the “principal intention to conquer” are seriously misled.  They need our HELP!
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Ephesians 6:12  Living Bible

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER…We CAN OVERCOME!!
It’s time to remember we are the temple of God’s Holy Spirit…God’s Spirit is in us! We CAN overcome by waking them up…PRAY THE HELL OUT OF THEM!  And we don’t need anger…ANGER is NOT our defender!!! PEACEFUL, GOD-CENTERED MINDFULNESS is our strength!  Prayer, Determination, Respect, UNITY and our favorite word when we were 2-years old…”NO“!!! “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”
1 John 4:4  New International Version

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER…to get “a-HEAD” above the insanity and the noise…to RE-NEW our FAITH to overcome fear.
It’s time to recognize that insanity is not JUST doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, but the insanity is NOT KNOWING WHAT TO BELIEVE which results in our doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result!
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track.”
Proverbs 3:5-12  The Message

And the promise from the Psalms of David … “Blessed is the one who puts their trust in God…they are settled in their minds that God is able to take care of them, and that’s why they are not afraid nor do they live in dread of what may happen.”

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER …to come to our SENSES!
It’s time to remember to CHOOSE…require that ONLY GOD’S WILL MATTER…to call God’s Will INTO FORM IN THE REALM OF OUR 5 SENSES! (Even Quantum physicists know this!) “Do not be afraid of them [or their hostile faces], For I am with you [always] to protect you and deliver you,” says the Lord.  “They will fight against you, but they will not [ultimately] prevail over you, for I am with you [always] to protect you and deliver you,” says the Lord.
Jeremiah 1:8-9  Amplified Bible 

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER…to come together in FAITH and LOVE!
It’s time to remember that FEAR IS USELESS, WHAT IS NEEDED IS TRUST…TRUST GOD!! Seek, knock, ask to be a part of the SOLUTION and trust God to lead us to reflect His Love into the world.
“Overhearing but ignoring what they said, Jesus said…Do not be seized with alarm and struck with fear; only keep on believing.”
Mark 5:36  Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER…to RE-NEW our thinking…RE-MIND OURSELVES of a HIGHER CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS!
It’s time to remember  SPIRITUAL TRUTH… that we are not just flesh and blood, but Spirit!  We live and are being transformed by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but be a new and different person with a fresh newness in all you do and think. Then you will learn from your own experience how (God’s) ways will really satisfy you.”
Romans 12:2  The Living Bible
 

IT’S TIME TO RE-MEMBER… to be RE-UNITED!
It’s time to remember we are one people, one nation, one Earth. We all desire the same thing…to be respected, to have purpose, to prosper and provide for our loved ones in a safe, just and nourishing environment.  It’s time to remember, to be reconnected to and unified by THE TWO MOST IMPORTANT COMMANDMENTS OF CHRIST…
Jesus replied,Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. The second most important is similar: ‘Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself.’
Matthew 22:36-39  The Living Bible

IT’S TIME!!!  REMEMBER…We’ve read the end of the Book…LOVE WINS!!

 

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The Sufi meditation practice of Dhikr is REMEMBRANCE of the NAMES OF GOD. 

 

         “In practice it is the recitation of Holy verses and Divine Names of God.  Angels are always in the state of remembrance of God.  Saints and holy people strive to remember God with every breath.  The more a person remembers God in every moment, the more they will find peace and satisfaction in their hears.  Remembrance uplifts the Spirit and Soul. The Prophet(s) said, ‘Allah has angles roaming the earth to find people who are in Remembrance of God.  When they find a circle of such people, they call each other and encompass them in layers up to the heaven.”

         In the practice of Remembrance of the Names of God, “as each of the 99 names of God, or Divine Qualities, is prayed or ecstatically chanted, these qualities are planted deeper within the heart until the heart begins to recognize them and resonate at their frequency.”

(source: starsonadarknight.com – “Sufi Stories, The People Who Remember”)

 

In our Christian tradition, we have many names of God which will be the same as or similar to the ones listed below.  As I meditate on each of these 99 names, I allow the name to bring other familiar name(s) and scriptures back to my remembrance…to get back in touch with, mediate on and embrace the deeper meaning and feelings they bring…and allow those feelings to settle deep in my core. This anchors me to my Spiritual Center and renews my mind…it restores my soul and raises my Spirit and thinking to Christ Consciousness.

 

For instance, the practice starts with “Allah – the Greatest Name”…that reminds me how Jesus called Yahweh “Abba”…”Daddy”. How incredibly powerful and deeply calming that Name is…to know that God is my Daddy, my Mother/Father God…that His authority, His unfathomable love for and protection of me is present NOW…constant and unchanging.  It reminds me that I BELONG to God!! That “if God is for me, who can be against me!”  And…God protects me as He would the pupil of His eye. (from Psalm 17:8);  also, The Lord is my Light and my Salvation—whom shall I fear or dread? The Lord is the Refuge and Stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?  (Psalm 27). 

 

Join me in this restorative, healing meditation…and share it!  We can begin a Circle of Remembrance. 

 

The 99 Beautiful Names of God:  

 

Allah (Abba) – The Greatest Name

 

1.   The All-Merciful

2.   The All-Beneficent

3.   The Absolute Ruler

4.   The Pure One

5.   The Source of Peace

6.   The Inspirer of Faith

7.   The Guardian

8.   The Victorious

9.   The Compeller

10.The Greatest

11.The Creator

12.The Maker of Order

13.The Shaper of Beauty

14.The Forgiving

15.   The Subduer

16.   The Giver of All

17.   The Sustainer

18.   The Opener

19.   The Knower of All

20.   The Constrictor

21.   The Reliever

22.   The Abaser

23.   The Exalter

24.   The Bestower of Honors

25.   The Humiliator

26.   The Hearer of All

27.   The Seer of All

28.   The Judge

29.   The Just

30.   The Subtle One

31.   The All-Aware

32.   The Forbearing

33.   The Magnificent

34.   The Forgiver and Hider of Faults

35.   The Rewarder of Thankfulness

36.   The Highest

37.   The Greatest

38.   The Preserver

39.   The Nourisher

40.   The Accounter

41.   The Mighty

42.   The Generous

43.   The Watchful One

44.   The Responder to Prayer

45.   The All-Comprehending

46.   The Perfectly Wise

47.   The Loving One

48.   The Majestic One

49.   The Resurrector

50.   The Witness

51.   The Truth

52.   The Trustee

53.   The Possessor of All Strength

54.   The Forceful One

55.   The Governor

56.   The Praised One

57.   The Appraiser

58.   The Originator

59.   The Restorer

60.   The Giver of Life

61.   The Taker of Life

62.   The Ever Living One

63.   The Self-Existing One

64.   The Finder

65.   The Glorious

66.   The Only One

67.   The One

68.   The Satisfier of All Needs

69.   The All Powerful

70.   The Creator of All Power

71.   The Expediter

72.   The Delayer

73.   The First

74.   The Last

75.   The Manifest One

76.   The Hidden One

77.   The Protecting Friend

78.   The Supreme One

79.   The Doer of Good

80.   The Guide to Repentance

81.   The Avenger

82.   The Forgiver

83.   The Clement

84.   The Owner of All

85.   The Lord of Majesty and Bounty

86.   The Equitable One

87.   The Gatherer

88.   The Rich One

89.   The Enricher

90.   The Preventer of Harm

91.   The Creator of the Harmful

92.   The Creator of Good

93.   The Light

94.   The Guide

95.   The Originator

96.   The Everlasting One

97.   The Inheritor of All

98.   The Righteous Teacher

99.The Patient One

          God is LOVE!

 

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In my devotional this morning, I came across a prior journal entry about “restoring my soul”.  “Write with me, Princi Beth.” The Spirit urged me to grab a pencil and start dialoguing…just write what you “hear” God (Daddy) saying.   I heard “restore” as “RE-STORE”!  I saw in my imagination a truck pulling up to a store with a large red sign “Going Out of Business” plastered over its door as workers busily lugged out boxes of goods to a moving truck.  The workers were stoned-faced, disgruntled, confused, frustrated as they emptied the building, leaving it baron and dark.     moving pic

ANGER emptied my “soul stores”…the STORES 0f My Innerbeing!   Frustration and disappointment packed up my “goods” with soured faces, while grief, anger and distrust hauled the boxes into the darkness of the awaiting truck.  My “stores” were being emptied…my “goods” to be left in the gloomy dark.  Lights out!!  Closed for business…(busy-ness)!!  Shelves are empty…heart is hardened.  Sounds like death…ugh!!

But, You, Daddy, reminded me…(re-MIND-ed me…changed my perspective by telling and teaching me the truth)…of Your promises:  “And I will give you the TREASURES OF DARKNESS and hidden riches of secret places” (Isaiah 45:3);  “…And be not grieved and depressed, for the JOY of the Lord is your strength and stronghold.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
You remind me that You, Father/Mother God, restore (RE-STORE) my soul!!  YOU, Holy One, turn the LIGHTS back on…YOU break open the hidden truck and bring out all my “goods” that had been whisked away.  YOU give me back the treasures of my soul that had been packed away and stashed in darkness.

I can see the workers’ sincere faces…Trust, Commitment and Constancy dig through the boxes to re-pack my goods; Compassion and … (“What do you see, Princi?”…I don’t know…this is hard work!!)  (I see…) Compassion and Forgiveness are at work cleaning the shelves and turning on Lights, rebuilding the storerooms!   Laughter, Holy Expectation and Outrageous Creativity are redesigning the layout. (“What do you see?”…Uh–I don’t have a word for it.) (“What does it FEEL like?” Your Holy Breath!)  Your Holy Breath breathes New Life…a refreshing, light breeze…a warm, comforting, nurturing sigh and the boxes begin to move themsleves back into the store.  All the goodness contained inside the boxes move into their places back on the shelves!!  grocery store

My Daily Bread shelves are full again of Your fresh, sweet Word!  Your Milk of Life fills the bright, clean coolers.  The Strong Meat of Your Truth lay needly and deeply in the lighted, cooled places.  Jars of “A Good Word – like Honeycomb” sit in deep rows in my “Healing” isle.  And the Fruit of Your Holy Spirit fill all the shelves of my fresh, renewed thinking.  Love and Joy tend my store, and TRUST stands guard at my door…(“Yeshua told the synagogue official, “Don’t be afraid, just keep trusting.” Mark 5:35 – Complete Jewish Bible)

I am at HOME again!   You, Father/Mother God, have RE-STORED my soul…and MORE TRUCKS ARE COMING!!!   Truly, the JOY of the Lord is my salvation!!  And, the Lord is my shepherd; I have everthing that I want and need!!! (A psalm of David: Adonai is my shepherd; I lack nothing. He has me lie down in grassy pastures, he leads me by quiet water, he restores my inner person.)

Thank you, Daddy!!!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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