Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reading and Writing (no 'rithmetic)

Being an author is pretty time intensive. Funny thing, writing is connected to reading. Who knew? Researching sources, gathering material for writing queries, finding pictures for this blog all take time. It is worthwhile time because along the way I encounter these wonderful Divine appointments with people or their writings.

Recently I came across a piece that simply posed questions for us to think about and discuss. The point was, if you are tired of shallow connecting -- "Hi how are you?" "Fine" "Me too" "How are the kids? Work?" "Good" "me too" then taking time to pose any or all of these questions would likely take a conversation past the mundane to a little deeper connection.

Questions of Consequence:

1. What is hard for you?

2. What are your joys?

3. What do you hope for?

Going deeper with people is following Jesus. Think about His conversations. Of course He had perfect knowledge and perfect wisdom which we all lack. But I would say that taking the time, making the connection that we all crave at some level, honors the individual and it honors the Lord.

Try these questions out the next time you get to hang out with someone. Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Ready?

I am not ready. I want to be. I long to be ready at any moment, but I am distracted. I am distracted by the dishes, the laundry, the dust, the paperwork. I can’t seem to put a routine together because something or someone comes along the Way to change my plans.

Wait. Watch. Prepare. I want to be available to those in need of a good Word. I study. I pray. I wait. I watch. But still I don’t feel ready.

What gets in your Way of being ready? What are you getting ready for? This picture is simply a road sign but it struck me thinking about the paradigm of sharing our faith.

Peter, who walked and talked with Jesus along the Way, tells us to set apart Christ as Lord in our hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence.

We as followers along the Way are to live full of hope we walk in this world. We show hope in the Way we struggle, suffer loss, live daily and transparently before others. Jesus is the Way. If we follow His Way we see our paradigm set forth. It is not religion. That can distract us from the Way. Jesus shows us the Father, shows us Himself. If we watch carefully we will see how to follow Him along the Way.

This is faith walking. We don’t see Jesus face to face yet, but we have His Word, His promises and His presence through the Holy Spirit to help us along the Way. We have each other to come alongside in challenging times, if we are living transparently in our need.

Getting ready is a life long pursuit. Being ready just means being real with where we are along the Way. Keep setting apart Jesus Christ as Lord in your heart by moving yourself off the throne. Keep faith walking. Keep getting ready and you will be ready.

Join me?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Faith Walking


Do you ever stop to think about what it really means for you to "walk by faith"? I know that in different seasons of our lives we have more or less time to stop and ponder big ideas; I wasn't spending a lot of time in contemplation when I had babies to care for or when I worked more than full time like so many women whose work is outside and inside the home. Let's take a few minutes to think about faith walking together.

Our days are filled with "to do lists" of tasks that must be done and our focus is on them, not on things with eternal consequence. Yet if anything is important then everything can have importance in the realm of faith walking. The Message tells us that "the fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see."

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. So faith walking is daily. We go through the ups, the joys, the successes of our lives confident in our trust in the promises of God. We go through the downs, the sorrows, the loss of our lives confident in our trust in the promises of God. Wait a minute! Didn't I just say the same thing? Good for you for noticing.

Yes. Whether we are experiencing ups or downs, joys or sorrows, successes or loss, we can have confidence in the promises of God. I know this is true. Not only have I read about lives in Scripture but I have watched the lives of dear friends and have experienced first hand how faith walking looks.

Walking is active. You move. You used to be in one place, or circumstance, and you change and grow to another place. C.S. Lewis wrote of this movement in the Last Battle: as Aslan moves through the Doorway he turns and calls over his shoulder to those following him, "Come further up! Come further in!" This is the invitation Jesus offers us as we walk along the Way. Get to know Me more, walk with Me, talk with Me.

This is not an item on a to do list, it is the essence of our very life! Further up, further in! This is what faith walking is!

Come along the Way....

Friday, April 24, 2009

Friday Fun!

I don't know if you will find this photo as funny as I did when I took it last December, but it really struck my funny bone at the time.

Later when I was looking at it I thought maybe it was a little melancholy (or maybe I was feeling a little melancholy!)

How does this strike you today?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Perceptions

How do you like the new look of my blog? I have been struggling with the perception I had of the appearance of my layout; colors, size you know the details! It was too cut and paste and didn't really appeal to me. I kept hunting for how to make it more my own (for free of course!) Found a cute site (the link is in the upper left) that offers lots of fun backgrounds (thanks Penny!) and other goodies to customize your blog site. If you're blogging, check it out! Enough of the fluff!

Yesterday's post I talked about the idea of paradigms powering our perceptions. Our model or pattern affects how we look at something or someone. The big idea here is does your paradigm fully work for you? How do you perceive circumstances that you find yourself in right now? We have so many paradigms as I mentioned but the one I would really like to explore is faith. This paradigm is at work in your life even if you don't stop and take a look at it. Your model or pattern that was handed to you from your family affects your perceptions today. Big concepts like trust aren't always openly discussed in a family but what your parents showed you about faith and trust as a child has imprinted your paradigm and thus your perceptions about faith.

What you say you believe and what you demonstrate with your actions may not always line up and that is due to your paradigm. Do you find yourself fearful and you don't know why? Are you prone to worry and want to be done with that struggle? Look at the model you grew up with. The power of modeling for the learning process of children is well known: often something important is "caught" not "taught". The tendency toward fear may have been subtly modeled and you didn't even realize it. All is not lost! Paradigms and perceptions can be changed.

I will go so far as to say that your faith paradigm is the most important pattern for you to examine and align and realign throughout life. What we do and say is important; people close to us as well as those strangers we come across are watching how we interact. If you claim the name of Jesus, how you follow Him along the Way is THE most important paradigm to keep looking at. More on this later...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paradigms and Perceptions


Have you read this book? If you haven't I recommend it. Here's why: it is fiction, first and foremost. It deals with deep hurts that we all have even though we push them down or away. It gives you somethings to ponder and we all need to be thinking!

Here is a quote that made me stop reading and think about the depth of these words.

"Paradigms power perceptions and perceptions power emotions.
Most emotions are responses to perceptions--what you think is true about a given situation."

I want to unpack this statement a little. Paradigm--"an example that serves as a model or pattern, especially one that forms the basis of a methodology or theory" We all have models or patterns that we follow, and sometimes without even realizing what they are and how they impact us. Parenting, marriage, roles in the family, are all examples of paradigms that we have that we may not even think about.

So read that quote again, filling in a particular paradigm you have. Take time to think it through in how it affects your daily life. Does your paradigm have a positive affect on you and others? Does your paradigm need adjusting to be more effective for your life?

Now specifically look at the paradigm of your faith. Many people don't stop to think through what they believe and if what they believe lines up with how they live. Take some time to think about deep, eternal matters. I'd love to talk with you about your thoughts; no judgment, just open discussion.

Speaking of open--be open to reading the Shack. It is not doctrine, it's fiction. But I would go so far as to say it can be a tool to move your paradigms a little!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Quote from a certifiable genius

Did the title make you curious? Some quotes I collect are simple, some profound. This one is profound in its simplicity. I have to give finder's credit to my friend Susie who is a terrific quote hunter! (among many other skills she possesses)

3 Rules of Work

1. out of clutter, find simplicity

2. from discord, find harmony

3. in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity


Sounds like Henry Ford. Practical, grounded, straightforward, matter of fact. But its not Ford. Before I reveal the quotable individual, let's look closer at these three rules.

Each rule has a challenge in the first half and resolve in the second half: clutter, discord and difficulty are resolved in simplicity, harmony and opportunity. Not only can we make that word pair observation but look at what the rules are for--work. You might simply think rules for getting work done. That approach could be sufficient for appreciating these rules. But you can also look at each of these rules and see that in order to achieve the resolve it takes work; not just task oriented work but character forming work. These rules could be re-titled "3 Rules for Change" or "3 Rules for Growth". These rules are bigger than they seem at first glance!

Of course you might expect something profound in its simplicity from a certifiable genius~ Albert Einstein

Now go and apply these rules....

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Beauty That Matters is Always on the Inside

Hopefully you read my previous post which linked you to Susan Boyle's audition performance on the show Britain's Got Talent. Millions of people have viewed the YouTube posting. Today I want to share portions of a wonderful thought provoking article about Susan Boyle, titled "The Beauty That Matters is Always on the Inside" written by Colette Douglas Home in The Herald web issue 3439. The following excerpts are Reproduced with the permission of the Herald & Times Group

This small, brave soul took her courage in her hands to pitch at her one hope of having her singing talent recognised, and was greeted with a communal sneer. Courage could so easily have failed her.


She lived with her parents in a four-bedroom council house and, when her father died a decade ago, she cared for her mother and sang in the church choir.


It was an unglamorous existence. She wasn't the glamorous type - and being a carer isn't a glamorous life, as the hundreds of thousands who do that most valuable of jobs will testify. Even those who start out with a beauty routine and an interest in clothes find themselves reverting to the practicality of a tracksuit and trainers. Fitness plans get interrupted and then abandoned. Weight creeps on. Carers don't often get invited to sparkling dinner parties or glitzy receptions, so smart clothes rarely make it off the hanger.

Then, when a special occasion comes along, they might reach, as Susan did, for the frock they bought for a nephew's wedding. They might, as she did, compound the felony of choosing a colour at odds with her skin tone and an unflattering shape with home-chopped hair, bushy eyebrows and a face without a hint of make-up. But it is often evidence of a life lived selflessly; of a person so focused on the needs of another that they have lost sight of themselves. Is that a cause for derision or a reason for congratulation? Would her time have been better spent slimming and exercising, plucking and waxing, bleaching and botoxing? Would that have made her voice any sweeter?

Susan Boyle's mother encouraged her to sing. She wanted her to enter Britain's Got Talent. But the shy Susan hasn't been able to sing at all since her mother's death two years ago. She wasn't sure how her voice would emerge after so long a silence. Happily, it survived its rest.

If you'd like to read Ms. Home's wonderful article go here

I hope Susan receives further opportunities to sing. She has earned them by virtue of her talent. But my question to us all is what talents have we not brought out to be seen for lack of opportunity or even more, the fear of ridicule? Perhaps the courage Susan displayed can spur each of us on to love and good deeds, knowing that what truly matters is the beauty on the inside
that is always seen by our audience of One.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Little Things


My dear friend Debbi made this yard art stone for me many years ago. Doesn't it look lovely nestled in among those tiny green plants?

I have left them there although I normally pull them all out. That's because they are weeds in my garden bed! My quote for today is one I love as a gardener:

What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson, Fortune of the Republic, 1878.

I don't just love this quote for the chance to rationalize leaving the weeds but it makes me think too.
I just have to wonder what is valuable to God that I over look as little and unnecessary? What may I have cleared out of the Way that really has virtue not yet discovered?


Friday, April 17, 2009

Musings

I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses....

I don't know your habits, but I know mine: the ones I have and the ones that I am trying to form and reform.  One habit that I love is rising earlier than the rest of my family to enjoy the quiet in the house alone with my coffee and my Lord.  After daylight savings we sometimes walk through the garden looking at the new shoots of seedlings or the flowers in bud.  Hearing the birds waking up as the sun rises is so calming to my spirit.  The songs of the house finches who nest in our jasmine have such a lilting melody and I find myself imagining their conversation with their Creator as I eavesdrop.  

As I walk or stand staring at a bird or plant I allow my mind to flit like the birds; the needs of my family come to mind; my husband's need for work, our oldest's desire for a summer job keeping him away from home again, our youngest's sports plans.  I think of the uncertainty that surrounds so many people's lives in Sri Lanka, in Uganda and here in the States.  I allow my mind to rest in the knowledge that God is already in the unknown of my future and it is completely known to Him. I remind myself of the many times He has shown up in my present, proof enough of His promise to never leave me or forget me.

Giving my mind and heart time to bring thoughts and fears to the surface also gives the Lord space to show up in my present with His comforting Word reminding me that He leads me beside still waters.  I am able to hand over the fear of the unknown to His capable hands as He walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am His own....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Inspiration

"It is never too late to become what you might have been" George Eliot

I mentioned earlier that I love to collect quotes; I find inspiration through the written word. But inspiration comes in lots of forms: sights, sounds and memories can all play a part in inspiring us to change and grow. The quote above comes from a Mary Engelbreit picture I have framed. I look at it to remind myself that the new skills I want to learn are not beyond my reach; I look at it to see that the things I already know and love can be made use of in new ways.

This has been an inspirational week for me: I spent time pondering my own question "what difference does the Resurrection make?" ( a lot! more on that later); I had tea with a dear friend and her very inspiring mother; I am writing and writing and writing some more!

But the greatest inspiration came with the third reference in as many days to this wonderful, plain woman who had a dream to sing on a big stage. Check this out and let me know what you are now inspired to do!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stress


My dear husband left the following quote near the coffee pot one morning:

"Caffeine is for people who think they are not hyper and irritable enough on their own."

I just don't know what was he trying to tell me!

Have a laugh and hopefully a stressed - less day!

Monday, April 13, 2009

What Difference Does it Make?

Most of you reading this celebrated Easter yesterday. There are those I know too that didn't. What difference does it make? Really? You may have gone to church yesterday, gotten together with family and/or friends to share a meal and even perhaps talked about the message you heard. But what difference does that message make in your life today? Monday?

Kids are home from school this week, you may have the week off yourself. Activities fill your day but what difference does Jesus' sacrifice for you, for me, really make today?

When you go through the day today, doing whatever it is you do, ponder that question, okay?

What difference does it make?

Let me know; I have some ideas for me, but I want to hear from you....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Sunrise


This photo is a striking image of a sunrise over Jerusalem. The photographer captured beautiful lighting; do you see an image within the light?

Hope you have a joyous celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus with your family today!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Images

What can an image do?





Bring serenity?














Inspire to greatness?



















Cause fear?








What does this image do?



Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New Ways

We do not think ourselves into a new way of living.
We live ourselves into a new way of thinking.
Without action and lifestyle decisions,
Without concrete practices,
Words are dangerous and largely illusory.
Richard Rohr

This is a quote worth pondering. It seems to illustrate the cart before the horse concept that many of us have employed when trying to make change happen in our lives. I don't know about you, but I have thought things through so many times that time to act on the "thing" has passed! I can over analyze different ways of doing something before actually trying. I can think myself out of taking any action at all. The thought process becomes the end rather than the beginning!

Rohr challenges us to put thought to action and not leave the thought without commitment. How many times have we shared the sentiment with Scarlett O'Hara, "I won't think about that today, I'll think about that tomorrow. for tomorrow is another day!" Or "I'll get around to it one of these days"? No change takes place with postponed action.

We are not being true to ourselves if we say we are going to make a change in our behavior and don't act on it. I think Richard Rohr is challenging each of us to change our behavior to line up with our thoughts and beliefs. That is no small challenge either! Just when I have taken action in one area of my life, a new area in need of change calls out for attention! Two steps forward, three steps back! This can be so overwhelming!

How do you handle the disconnect between desire to change and lack of action? What do you do to move toward being authentic?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Quotations and the Power of Words

I have been a wordsmith longer than I've known what a wordsmith was. I love writing, reading, listening to speeches, talking, collecting quotes of famous and anonymous authors. I love the sound of words, the rhythm of language, the way dialects use inflections differently by regions. Unfortunately after all these years, I am still monolingual. I did study French for five consecutive years in high school and college; learned to read French literature and poetry in french and I even began dreaming in French which linguists say indicates the shift to bilingualism. But alas, that knowledge/skill has been stored in brain cells I do not access. But I digress.

I mentioned collecting quotes. For some thirty-seven years I have jotted lines from songs, poems, portions of dialog from classic literature, scriptures and speeches into assorted blank books. I have memorized and integrated many of the quotes into the fiber of my being; they have influenced how I think about and view reality. Most quotes I collect are there to inspire me to change. Change? Why change? What's wrong with how things are?

From a very young age I began to see that the world around me was not staying the same. Houses changed, schools changed, number of family members changed with birth and death, even friends changed. I struggled (still struggle) with the concept; tried lots of ways to control change but to no avail. So I learned to embrace change. "Change is good!" I remind myself when another change is brought my way.

This new blog is about dealing with change. It happens to all of us in a variety of ways; some big, some small. I would love to hear how you cope, what skills you have learned in the face of change. I hope to inspire us with quotes; words to ponder and perhaps live by. The power of words is immense. Words can heal or hurt. They express love, inspire to greatness, and comfort in times of loss.

What change has come your way of late? How have you dealt with it? What words do you have to share?

Yours Along the Way,
Lisa

The Definition of Success

I was talking with Kathy, my life coach, about what my definition of success is. Success is an interesting word; I really think it is relative to your cultural frame of reference. Most of you reading this have grown up in the culture of the USA. Because of our frame of reference I can make the statement that we have an agreed upon or at least assumed definition of what a success is in America. Without a doubt the definition of success we are aiming for in the USA looks at the external circumstances of a person; wealth, prestige, possessions, accomplishments.

Have you ever thought what you aim for? This topic of discussion came up because all the adults in our household are currently unemployed. Yes, the international economic down turn hit home here in January. Things are getting tougher, but in the midst of this change, I have been looking into topics that define the essentials, and not having an easy way to fix our circumstances have caused me to look in, look out and look up.

I have an anonymous quote that defines success in a way that I agree with:

To laugh often and much;

To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;

To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;

To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;

To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition;

To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.

This is to have succeeded.

How does this line up with your definition of success? Are you there or can you still move forward toward this goal?

By the way, if you know the author of this quote, please let me know!
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