Everyday Spirituality

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God is Light: Wordle

God is Light

 This is the time of year when ceativity reaches a peak. Decorating your house for Christmas allows all sorts of creative juices to flow…after all it’s Christmas and anything goes.

Wrapping paper in all colors and patterns…matching bows curled or looped…candles in every size, color, and fragrance imaginable…gifts that fit in the palm of your hand or on a finger to ones that defy being wrapped…visits with family (now I admit sometimes that really requires some creativity) what will we talk about???? Let’s see… “No” not that subject…”how about ____? “No that will never work.” So we end up resorting to polite frivolous small talk.

“Lke, what dessert are you having first?”

Oh my, Creativity is so much fun during the Christmas holidays!

So I want to offer you an opportunity to explore your creative side with Wordle. I used Wordle to create the picture at the top of this post.

Here are the directions:

First you type some text you would like to use. I used scirpture passages from the readings for this week.

Next you go to www.wordle.net

Click on the “CREATE  your own” button. Once there copy your selected text into the box or you can just type your text right in their box. 

Then click on GO button.

In seconds you will have created your very own Wordle “word cloud”. Now you may be excited with the results, but I encourage you to “play” with the many different options offered. At the top of your newly created wordle are some buttons; the color, font, and layout are the ones you should explore.

Find one you like and celebrate that you can be creative in many ways.

I believe creativity is inspired by God, who has certainly given us numerous examples of his wild creativity…just look at nature or the animal kingdom.

Show your children or grandchildren  Wordle and let them have some fun together.

Now I am going to create one with the names of everyone in my family. That will surely give us something to talk about…!!! I must make sure that I do not forget anyone’s name!

~Christmas Blessings~

May your life be overflowing with JOY…and generously sprinkled with FUN.

If you have any questions about Wordle just send me a message.

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World Labyrinth Day

As I am writing this post people in our central time zone are walking a labyrinth in solidarity of the celebration of World Labyrinth Day. The theme this year is “We Walk as One at 1”. So for 24 hours people around the globe are “Walking the Sacred Path” as Dr. Lauren Artress titled her book on the labyrinth.

I was introduced to the labyrinth several years ago at a conference. The more I experience the process of walking the labyrinth path the more I have come to cherish this time. Every time I am near a labyrinth I try to make the time to enter and surrender to the leading of the design. The walk is like no other; you can let your mind go and focus on your connection with the ground or the empty center. The beauty of the labyrinth is that you can just walk there are no choices to make no decisions to make. You just walk and let the path lead you. Sometimes you are near the outer edge sometimes you are near the center, sometimes there are long straight sections, sometimes there are sharp turns and curves. Along with these comes the awareness that you are headed into the very center. The emptiness of the center, the stillness of the center; where you can pause a while in peaceful surrender before you begin the journey out back into the world.

When you leave the center the way you look at things can be very different. You have allowed yourself to be silently led along the path. There is a sense, for me, of wellbeing. I think of the words spoken by Jesus, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” John  14: 6.

Walking the labyrinth can be a time of quiet solitude. A time to reflect on the Way to the heart of Jesus who is the center of our life.

I pray that when you have the opportunity to walk a labyrinth you will embrace it with an open heart and soul.

In a future post I will give some more information about the labyrinth like how it is different from a maze. A labyrinth is closely related to a spiral.

May you be Blessed…

Enjoy this finger labyrinth download.

http://www.labyrinthsociety.org/download-a-labyrinth

Heart Connection: Physical and Spiritual

 February is American Heart month which means take the time to focus on care of your heart. Keeping your heart healthy means you have to take some positive steps. Be proactive and educate yourself about the benefits of maintaining a healthy heart. This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the death of my father who died in 1990. He died of a massive heart attack after three weeks in intensive care. He was only 64 years old, young by today’s statistics.   

Taking care of your heart, as you know, means participating in some kind of physical activity…walking, jogging…running… or aerobic exercises. Have you thought about exercising your spiritual life as part of taking care of your heart? Taking care of your heart believe it or not does include nourishing you spiritual heart also.

Researchers tell us to take care of your heart in addition to exercise we should eat well, not smoke, and manage stress. We can go to numerous resources like the American Heart Association and the American Institute of Stress for assistance.

Medical literature is now concluding that taking care of one’s spiritual life also takes care of one’s heart.

Psychiatrist Karl Menninger wrote in The Human Mind, “Love is the basic need of human nature, for without it, life is disrupted emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically.” He once gave a lecture on mental health and was answering questions from the audience. One of the people in the audience asked, “What would you advise a person to do if that person felt a nervous breakdown coming on? Consult a psychiatrist?” He replied, “Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need, and do something to help that person.” When we use the talents given to us by God we actually feel better. We all want to feel like we make a difference that our life has meaning. The ability to forgive also has a positive impact on the health of your heart. Carrying around bitterness and anger begins to eat away at you from the inside out. This burden on the heart may eventually compromise the health of your heart. Wow! Think about that for a moment…

Please pray with me right now as we say, 

“Dear Lord, please remove all bitterness,

 hurt, and anger from my heart.

I desire to have a healthy heart

filled with your pure love.”

David cries out in Psalm 51:12, “A clean heart create for me, God; renew in me a steadfast spirit.”

Lent is the perfect time to turn your attention to the care of your heart. Create space for love of those around you to deepen. Make the conscious effort to radiate love from the center of your being…your heart. Let the love begin deep inside your heart. Use this time to appreciate those you love and may have hurt or simply have taken for granted just because they are near.

 In Proverbs 4:23 “…guarding your heart, for in it are the sources of life.” These words caution us to protect our heart…why…because it holds within the ‘sources of life’.

St. Paul urges in his first letter to Timothy 4:7-8, “…train yourself for devotion, for; while physical training is of limited value, devotion is valuable in every respect, since it holds a promise of life both for the present and the future.”

Spend time in prayer during these next few weeks and reap the benefits of a healthier heart at the same time. Take these scripture verses into the quiet of your heart and allow them to enrich your soul.

Have a Blessed Day!

“Blank Pages” of 2010

~2010~

            The beginning of a new decade in this 21st Century; quite a mouthful to grab hold of…

As we reflect on yet another New Year’s Day consider the years of your life and how they compare to pages of a book. I recently came across an image of an open book. Not that unusual except that the facing pages were both blank. That is what the beginning of a new year is like in our lives. If you could, what would you write on those blank pages for 2010? I am not talking about New Year’s resolutions because they are always the same…followed by feeling bad about yourself when you do not accomplish what you so fervently desired.  We have a tendency in our house to hold on to magazines. You know how it is I want to read that article on “Growing an Herb Garden”, the recipe that you want to try because the picture looks sooo good. I cannot tell you how many magazines I have with folded pages never to be touched again…but saved. I think the magazine publishers’ just recycle the January issues because they always contain the same articles…how to become fit, healthy, and the latest exercises to trim everything from your ear lobes to your big toe. (More on that another time.)

Back to the blank pages of my book for 2010; I envision this book contains the pages of my life up to today. Written upon these previous pages are the past events of my life.

Pages that are dog-eared…

 pages that are soiled from being handled so many times…

missing pages that have been ripped out…

pages damp with tears…

pages decorated with flowers, smiley faces, and colorful rainbows…

pages with unfinished sentences…

 pages with edges tattered and torn…

pages with cherished memories…

pages with lessons learned…

pages yearning to be rewritten…

pages reread too many times to recall…

pages that are forgotten….

pages that are ignored…

pages that are musty…

pages that are dusty…

pages that are faded….

All pages of blessings some obvious some obscure.

The blank pages of this year hold hope and promise for better things to come.           

I invite you to join me and fill the blank pages of your book

in 2010 with moments of  Peace, Joy, and Love.

” Fester Within”

“Create in me a clean heart, O God.”

Until recently I never knew how literal and visual that verse could become.

I had the opportunity to hear a friend share at a retreat. She used a word I had not heard used in a long time. It is a word that creates a vivid visual…A visual that is not a pretty picture; a visual that makes you want to say, “Yuck”. The word conjures up disease, infection, distortion, and just plain ugliness.

FESTER:

To be or become an increasing source of irritation or poisoning…

to inflame or infect…to generate pus.

 You may be wondering where I am going with these two seemingly disconnected things. But you see they all make sense to me because I was letting something fester inside of my heart. Oh I was asking God to create a clean heart inside of me alright, but he just did not seem to be responding. At least not in a way I could discern. So suddenly when I heard my friend use the word “fester” I finally got it. I got the picture of what had been happening within my heart. God wanted me to cleanse my own heart and he used the word “fester” to get my attention. He wanted me to notice what was truly occurring within my heart and take action.

 I remember one time when my brother had a really bad festered boil the size of a ping pong ball on his leg. It was really nasty, swollen, throbbing, and burning with the fever of infection. The only way you can rid yourself of this type of infection is to open it up and clean out the pus. Well with that in mind my first visual was to go to the person with whom I was angry and literally squirt the pus that was festering within my heart all over him. Wow! How visual is that?

Once you get the pus out then and only then can the healing begin and the fester will gradually shrink. With time your skin will return to its normal healthy state. I wanted my heart returned to its normal healthy state.

 I knew that I had to get rid of the pus in my heart; the sooner the better now that God had gotten my attention. I contemplated for weeks on the best way to “create this clean heart” free from the pus that was accumulating. I knew symbolically I had to confront the person and scrape out the anger, hurt, disappointment, and pain. So I gathered up my courage and went to this person…we had a good talk and I scraped out the “fester” that been accumulating there.

Now the healing I longed for is in progress and my heart is gradually returning to its healthy state. This cleansing and healing has also brought a new feeling of “lightness” to my heart.

If there is anything “festering” deep within your heart I invite you to take the necessary steps to “create a clean heart” for yourself. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

I did this for myself not for the other person although, I think he too benefited from our discussion.

Celebrate all that you are and the potential within…remove the “fester” within your heart today!

Make it a “Lemonade” Day!

No Man Is an Island: a Celebration of Independence

Independence synonymous with Freedom.
Fourth of July, the birthday of America; is a day to celebrate our independence from Britain.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president, was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence written in 1776.
Many states have chosen to name a city Independence. Here are a few…Missouri, Kentucky, California, Ohio, Michigan, Texas, Kansas, and Oregon.
Independence is also the name of an interface for modifying the new i-phone.
Independence is the name of a Beer brewing company in Texas.
Did you know we have a select committee in Washington, on Energy Independence and Global Warming established in 2007? This group discusses America’s dependence on oil and global warming. As a country we are examining the challenges of our goal for energy independence. I suspect this task will be, “A Long and Winding Road” as Paul McCartney so named his popular 1970 melancholy ballad, the Beatles last #1 single.

We are always looking for ways to be more independent. Early in our childhood we get a taste of independence as soon as we are able to crawl. Soon after we begin to walk there is such joy at our new found independence, although wobbly at first. But with practice, help, and determination we are soon running in the joy of our independence…our freedom. When my youngest son learned to walk at nine months he was everywhere and so proud of what he could accomplish. I remember walking was just the beginning for Chris then came the climbing. He had no fear of heights and as I discovered one day as I witnessed him scaling up the brick fireplace mantel. He continues to clothe himself with independence in his adult life today.
As a young adult my grandmother would let me drive when we were away from busy traffic in Galveston. There were not many cars on the road in Jamaica Beach and I could drive… slowly. That’s the thing about driving we cannot wait to get behind the wheel…and then what? Driving is seen as arriving at independence when you are young. The funny thing is after you pass the driving test you really do not know how to go anywhere. It is so ironic. The places you are most familiar with suddenly take on a very different feel as you realize you really do not know the directions. Being a passenger looking out the window is not the same as being behind the wheel.
I think independence comes with its share of uncertainty and fear or perhaps we could say adventure.
Continuing with driving for a minute…I have witnessed the sadness of many seniors when they can no longer drive. It is often perceived as a profound loss of their independence. There is something about walking out the door, getting behind the wheel of your car, and driving yourself to where YOU want to go.
Denis Waitley, a popular American author, said,

“The greatest gifts you can give your children are the roots of responsibility

and the wings of independence. “

I too believe along with independence comes great responsibility. The first blossom of independence is to only think of yourself. But we live in a world where independence without responsibility causes many problems. Consider just the crime rate in our neighborhoods alone.

The truth is we are all dependent on one another…I am reminded of another old song…”No Man is an Island”.

So as we celebrate this Independence Day appreciate those around you and “Make it a Lemonade Day”!

Fresh Squeezed Inspiration

My sister and I are on a health kick to minimize our mid section…our tummy. Part of our daily preparations consist in making this special drink…well it’s just water. Ok maybe not just “water”. This water right from the faucet is doctored up with some lemon, cucumbers, ginger root, and 12 mint leaves. After letting this concotion infuse the water overnight and you have a refreshing tasty drink. The editor-in-chief of Prevention’s Flat Belly Diet book calls this “Sassy” water. The idea is to remind you that things are going to be different when you begin this new eating plan.

So every night as I am preparing my pitcher of “Sassy” water I slice one fresh lemon. I seem to see metaphors with so many routine , everyday tasks. So what can you do with a lemon metaphor?  Lemons are brilliant yellow; a color that is happy, bright, vibrant. Why do think happy faces are yellow? It’s the color of happiness. 

How many natural yellow things can you think of? Sometimes an artist will use yellow to depict the rays of sunshine. I feel happier on a sunny day. How about you?

A lemon has quite a few seeds for such a small piece of fruit, a thick textured outer covering, inside the pulp sections divided by membranes, and not to mention the juice. A versatile yellow fruit that fits snugly in the palm of your hand.

These individual sections contained within a lemon remind me of all the different rolls of my life…woman, daughter, sister, wife, daughter in law, aunt, sister in law, friend, neighbor, teacher, writer, lover.  The lemon I cut tonight had 12 sections..wow…I am one of 12 children. All of these rolls are a part of who I am just as the sections are part of the lemon. The seeds are scattered throughout the sections of the lemon. The seeds of my life are also scattered throughout, not isolated to any one section.

Living in the south where it can get very hot; a tall glass of lemonade can be a welcome refreshment. While we have instant lemonade drink mix today nothing can compare to the flavor of fresh homemade lemonade.

In order to make lemonade you must squeeze and rip up the inside of the lemon. Then and only then can you release what you are seeking…the juice. The lemon juice alone does not by itself make the refreshing drink we can enjoy.  You must add water and some sort of sweetener like sugar.

Certainly when you are making fresh lemonade the seeds and most of the pulp are discarded. In order to make fresh lemonade in our daily lives we too must discard the seeds and much of the pulp. I’ve found that it can take great courage to discard the seeds and then the pulp of our lives. Many times I have been reluctant to discard just the seeds in my life not to mention the pulp. How blind and unaware I have been of the wonderful “lemonade” I could make with my life if only I could let go of the seeds. Those things not necessary for “lemonade”, but held on to, are hard to find.

Sometimes God makes the ultimate lemonade with our life by bringing us home to Him. Bringing us home to share in the eternal Glory with all those who have gone before us. Taking care of all the seeds of our life and transforming our very pulp into more than we could ever imagine. I wonder if we will see color in heaven.

Other times we are challenged with the task of taking the lemons including the seeds and making our own lemonade. Cutting the lemon and painfully squeezing out the precious juice. Making our own lemonade is not just for ourselves but to refresh those around us too. I hope that I have been lemonade for others without my knowledge. The anonymous refreshing lemonade!

Only you know how to make it a “lemonade day”.

I look forward to hearing your comments and stories about making it a “lemonade day”.

Sharon

Faith Twins