Spiritually Speaking Blog

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Don’t Forget

During this busy season, more than ever we seem to be operating from lists – gift lists, grocery lists, social lists, etc. We don’t want to overlook any festive touch or special person. We are all terribly forgetful. None of us is immune. But as we are swept up into the overwhelming festivities, let us not forget the simplest of Christmas messages: that the Lord comes to us as a tiny helpless infant born in a lowly stable. Oh, come oh come, Emmanuel. Oh, come be “God with us”. He comes to find us, holding our hands reminding us of what really matters, and that we are not walking this road alone. We’re walking with the Lord who is right at our side. The Lord walks with us as a partner and mentor who want to see us succeed and who understand that it’s going to take us awhile. Now what more could we ask. After all, God is with us and for us! Let us drop whatever it is we are so busy about these days to accept this small seemingly insignificant birth. Let us not lose this unpretentious message searching for something massive and overwhelming. God is not demanding large lavish celebrations and enormous blinking light displays of faith this year. All God wants is to walk with us as a partner and friend. As a true friend and partner we trust God, talk to the Lord and listen to his tugs on our heartstrings. Talk to God about the real stuff of our lives because God cares more than anyone else…and God knows the way home... read more

The Story is “Ours to Write”

These days before Christmas are spent in many hours of preparation. We busy ourselves planning the many aspects of the holiday season – decorating trees, writing cards, cooking family recipes and gift shopping. Weeks, days and hours are spent in anticipation. But as high as the build up, so low is the let down. I think we all have experienced the dashed hopes and shattered expectations as we flip the calendar month to the New Year. But let’s remember that the celebration of Christmas is not the end of the season – it’s the beginning. It’s the linchpin for the rest of the year and the rest of our lives. Christmas merely prepares our hearts and minds showing us the way to find the Lord every day. This Christmas season brings us grace to see our surroundings with “new eyes”. Christmas doesn’t merely happen on the outside, but on the inside. When we have taken in the Christmas message, we now understand what is of REAL importance. We have prepared to choose what to see and what to ignore. The message of the holiday, “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men”, will help us see through all the contradictory surface data and into the hearts of others, recognizing them as brothers and friends. The Lord is dwelling here in our midst, where he has always been showing himself to each of us in diverse and subtle ways every day. Some of us will recognize his face and invite him inside because we have prepared our hearts and made them receptive. Some of us on the other hand, will see... read more

Are You a Miracle Seeker?

Tis the Season for merriment! Just look around at the decorations, carols, and parties, all building excitement. “Never forget that anticipation is an important part of life. Work’s important, family’s important, but without excitement, you have nothing. You’re cheating yourself if you refuse to enjoy what’s coming.” Nicholas Sparks We’ve all seen the bumper sticker: “Expect a miracle.” We need to anticipate the miracles that surround our daily lives, not only in this “month of merriment”! We need to build the joyful exuberance of hope and sing about the expectation of a miracle in the gift of another day. We need to be Miracles Seekers! Miracles Seekers anticipate each day. Before our feet even hit the ground, we ready our minds for another inspiring day. “Thank you, Lord, for another grand and glorious day.” Wonder fills our intellects with the potential of marvelous adventures God has planned. Anticipation of the yearning for something good to come acts as a powerful tool for happiness. Research shows us that more happiness comes from the anticipation and planning of the vacation than the actual trip itself. The study even determined that the benefits of napping in bringing down a person’s blood pressure are brought about beforehand merely by the anticipation of the nap rather than the actual siesta. Miracle Seekers adopt an attitude of intent: they want to see, expect to see, and intend to see everything working for the highest good during the day. Maintaining this attitude throughout the day will insure that you don’t get bogged down in the negativity of errands, meetings, appointments, and lengthy to-do lists. So as... read more

Lighting Your Way Through the Holiday Season

We are now in full “holiday mode” – planning, preparing and plotting how to make this celebration perfect. So much time and energy we expend chasing the “to do” list. We are so busy getting caught up in the hustle and bustle that we sometimes miss the best part. We see events, but don’t get their meaning; we hear the words, but don’t grasp their significance. We often stay stuck where we are and don’t grow. Think of all the wonderful things that happen to us every day: the sunrise, the freshness after a rain, the smell of a rose, a small kindness, laughter, a hug, a winter fire, a new idea, an old friend. We have so many lights to light our day teaching us that life is a blessing, and that our good God is with us for sure. So many lights that go unnoticed and unnamed. Sad things and hard things may also come into our daily lives. They too, have much to teach us. Our failures, our bodily pains, our pains of the spirit, our disappointments and our losses, our grieving and our weeping: these are part of all our lives and God does not shield us from their pain. But in each – no matter how terrible, is an invitation to life, an invitation from God to become more: more whole, more true, and more happy. And hidden there along with the invitation is always God’s promise to give us all the power and strength that are needed. But, too often we sleep through these messages. And their light does not lighten our darkness.... read more

In All Things Give Thanks

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I think the real reason is because Thanksgiving is a simple gathering of loved ones counting their blessings. No gifts, no cards, no extensive build up to the day, merely a day set aside to be grateful. How refreshing! In all the hubbub of the season we sometimes lose sight of the meaning and the why of the holiday. But on this special day, we find peace and blessings amid the chaos with family and friends. So as we gather around the table, let’s remember that we are too blessed to be stressed. Here’s a simple Grace that your family might use that captures the reason for the season! Thanksgiving Grace (all join hands and) This is a day for thanks. A day in which we see or hear or feel the wonders of the other moments of the year. This is a day for time. A day in which we think of pasts that make our present rich and bountiful. This is a day for joy. A day in which we share a gift of laughter, warm and gentle as a smile. Above all, this is a day for peace. So let us touch each other and know that we are one. For these and other blessings, we thank Thee, God. (Daniel Roselle from Graces by June Cotner   Wishing you and your families all the love, light, and laughter of this special day of gratitude. Thanks so much for your support and... read more

Two “Musts” for Thanksgiving

If next month is the time to be “merry”, this is the month to be grateful. Gratitude, being the lynchpin for a happy life, is the official celebration kicking off this holiday season. We don’t build a happy life being grateful during the Thanksgiving holiday or when things seem to be going well. We must develop a “habit” of appreciation throughout each day and each event no matter how we evaluate the situation. To encourage this practice of appreciation we must remember: “Gratitude turns what we have into enough.” – Author Unknown Here are two powerful exercises you can do to build your gratitude into an everyday practice. 1 ) List building. Making a list is a powerful tool. Think, meditate and let yourself be caught up in the emotion of appreciation recalling events in your life. Here are a few list-builder ideas to help kick start a disposition of thankfulness. Be sure to identify by name and mentally thank each blessing. -5 most important days in your life. -5 most influential people in your life -5 talents that you have -5 loved ones who bring you joy -5 hardships that you have overcome -5 most important lessons that you’ve learned Being able to name and identify all things as “blessings” will open our eyes to the miracles of every day. 2) Instead of counting sheep to help you fall asleep, try thanking the Shepard for the many gifts that you enjoy. But here’s the kicker: count your blessings in alphabetical order! Not only does this build thankfulness but also tires you out putting you to sleep with a grateful heart... read more

Doing Your Best?

Recently I ran across a question posted on a FB page, “How do you know that you are doing your best?” One of the respondents wrote that a good nights sleep was an indicator. I used to measure my goodness by the number of thank you notes that I received! Some people judge their “best” by what others think of them, “Did I get a good evaluation?” In the end it’s not the opinion of others by which we are judged, it’s God’s review that counts. Remember the parable of the Talents? The Master entrusts a certain number of talents to his servants and expects a return. The parable teaches us that God has endowed us with certain gifts and talents and expects a ROI (Return On Investment). How did you spend your time? How did you use your talents? How did you make the world a better place? Besides giving us the talents, God also gives us the opportunities to use these talents. I call them G-vites. As each situation in life presents itself, we can respond with one of two choices. We can accept the invitation to change, give, evolve and move deeper into the human experience to meet God. Or we can remain on the sidelines in the safety of the status quo, afraid to risk, afraid to invest our talents and time. God gives us many chances to invest using our abilities. God is inviting us to step up to the plate employing our God-given talents. Leaving our comfort zones we can venture into bravery, compassion, honesty, perseverance, hope, resilience, forgiveness, patience, faith, gratitude and... read more

Formula For a Life of Happiness

Do you get confused with the pressures of everyday life – family responsibilities, work overload, social obligations, and the growing worldly tensions? Many times I feel my head spinning. Numerous factors pull us away from our real purpose of this earthly journey. Sometimes we just don’t “get it”! How often do we have the best of intentions to have a wonderful day or meaningful life, and before we know it we have gotten lost, distracted, or confused and end up bungling the job. God knows this about us. Without God’s help we are never going to get the point of life, never going to “get it together”. But God is never going to leave us floundering. To make sure that we don’t miss the point of this life, God gave us the teachings of Jesus to use as our foundation, the “never-fail principle”.   His whole teaching boils down to two points. First if you want to be happy, love your neighbor as you love yourself. It’s the only way of living that brings happiness and ensures that we “get it” the real meaning of “why” we are here. This seems like a paradox: we get a life by giving life. We get love and happiness by loving others and reaching out to make others happy. This is the true and lasting happiness that doesn’t leave us, even in the face of trail and tragedy.   The second point is that if we want to be happy, and are willing to do all the tough things that real love requires, we have to stay connected to God, the source of... read more

The Pain That Just Won’t Quit

In each of our homes, Joe and I have proudly flown the American flag. Following the protocol we lowered the flag to half-staff to honor the loss of life in the tragic shooting in Las Vegas. After two weeks we raised “Old Glory” to full height to symbolically get back to “normal”. But we, and especially the families who suffered these horrendous losses will never get back to “normal.” Grief weighs heavily on us. Even time fails to heal some grief. We can carry a huge hole in our hearts at the loss of family members or close friends. The sorrow can form deep scars. Grief is a part of the human condition. But in order to avoid losing ourselves in grief, we need to put adversity in its proper perspective. Father Richard Rhor, from the Center for Action and Contemplation commented in a conference that grief is a powerful portal into the soul’s work and transformation. He explained that grief is a time for waiting in the darkness for wisdom and hope. To get to this “wisdom and hope”, which seems like a total impossibility, a person works through the defined steps in the grieving process. According to Elisabeth Kubler-Ross these five steps are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. We as humans are all dealing with grief at some time in our lives, never knowing quite when. Progressing through these five steps takes time. There is no order, or time limit on each step and no guarantee when a person will finally find peace and acceptance. The only people who think there’s a time limit for... read more