Transforming My Life

one day at a time


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The Second Week of Advent – A God of Peace

319510714_6aa4f536cc_z-2Do you have something that you are facing now that is creating anxiety for you?  A situation, a conversation you need to have, unfinished business in your life, or something that you can’t control and you don’t know what to do?  Are you unclear which way to go, how to respond, trying to figure out what is the “right way”, the “wrong way” and afraid you will miss the signs or mess things up?  Me too.

I wanted to share a few quotes that really spoke to me from a newsletter I received from Rick Warren, (http://rickwarren.org)  pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and author of numerous books,  the most popular one, The Purpose Driven Life.

I need to remember these truths, take them in, and meditate on them.  I need to remember to take one day at a time with God and trust he will guide me.  We don’t need to work SO hard to figure things out.  

Rest in Him.  Peace in Him.  Be with Him.  

Hope you find these quotes as comforting as I do.  

From Daily Hope with Rick Warren….

Peter Lord used to say, “Ninety percent of what God wants to say to you is encouragement.” If all you ever hear from God is negative messages, something’s wrong. The wires have been crossed.  

If you feel overwhelmed or confused about a decision that you’re trying to make, you’re probably caught up in yourself and not God’s voice. The Bible says, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33a NIV). He is not the author of confusion. So if you’re feeling confused, guess what? It’s not God’s voice speaking in your life.

Satan wants to drive us compulsively, but God wants to draw us compassionately. Satan wants to take advantage of our compulsions and use them to drive our lives. But God is our Good Shepherd. He wants to draw us in toward himself and peace.

If you feel like God’s told you to do something but you have increasing anxiety because of it, then the wires are crossed. Something’s not right.

The Bible us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).

Peace, Grace and Happy and Holy Advent Season!!

Sheryl


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Stop Trying So Hard

poohquote1Stop what you’re doing.  Take a deep breath and then another.  Relax.  Take the time now to check in with yourself.  What are you feeling?  Where is your tension?  What are you telling yourself is going to happen?  Are you catastrophizing?   Stop.  It is all going to be okay. You have been running around too much today, your mind somewhere else. You do not need to take responsibility for so many things when they do not belong to you.  The fear and anxiety of what will happen if you lay them down.  I know.  It’s scary.  You can do it.  Turn them over.  That’s right, release them.  Surrender.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NLT)

All of these burdens are like boulders in our backpacks that we need to lay down.   Many of them have names.

Fear, Hurt, Anger, Disappointment, Shame, Betrayal, Scarcity…..

If we let them go, then what?  We may not get what we want, but maybe we will get what we need.  Can that be okay?   Maybe there is some plan or purpose we are unable to see.  The less we try to force our way, and our will, the more natural life flows and can fall gently into place.  If we will just allow it to.

It may feel like God has abandoned us.  He hasn’t.  He has been here all along.  He is working it out, in His way, in His time.  He knows.  He hears.  He cares.  So relax.  Take a deep breath.  And know….God wants you.

God, help me to trust enough to let go of the things that I am trying to control and bring my “boulders” and burdens to you.  Help me to believe and know that you love me more than I can imagine and you have me and my concerns in the palm of your hand. 

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

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Choose Beauty

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Look around you, no matter where you are there is something beautiful there.  Sometimes just by choosing to slow down when you are tired, stressed or upset changes how you perceive the world around you.

Allow yourself to sit down, to close your eyes, to breathe deeply.  Take 5 minutes, a half an hour or a half-day to rest.  No matter if it is a moment or an hour, give yourself the time you need to let go and breathe in the peace and replenishment that you need.  Ask for eyes to see and ears to hear, allowing your thoughts, prayers, and your whole being to choose, that, which is good.

Jesus asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51-52

If we desire to live with full hearts, we must learn to be still and pay attention to what our hearts need. We cannot be expected to give and give and give.  We will only find ourselves burned out, stressed out and resentful.  In order to give we must allow ourselves to receive.

Try practicing this palms up, palms down exercise from Jan Johnson’s book, Practicing The Presence of God.  (Meditation written by me).

Find a quiet place and make yourself comfortable.  Begin to become aware of your breath.  You can close your eyes if you like.  Sit with you palms down and as you breathe, reflect on what it is that you need to surrender today.  Are you tired?  Discouraged?  Do you find yourself weary and overwhelmed, not knowing how you are going to get everything done?  Maybe there an upsetting situation that you find yourself in, something out of your control?  As you continue to breathe imagine yourself releasing these burdens and worries to God, whatever they may be.  As you do this begin to turn your palms up and imagine releasing these to God.

Now, with palms up, allow yourself to breathe in what  you need in this moment from God.

Could it be trust, faith, or a willingness to let go of something you are holding so tightly?  Imagine God lovely standing beside you taking your clenched fist, softly touching your hand and telling you,  “What is it you want me to do for you?”

Picture yourself receiving from God.  Imagine yourself receiving an overflow until your palms can’t contain it!

 “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20-12 The Message

 May we choose beauty for this day, in this moment.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

Please share with me if these meditations have spoken to you in any way. I would love to hear from you.


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A Thirsty Soul

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“Come, all you who are thirsty, 
 come to the waters; 
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! 
Come, buy wine and milk 
without money and without cost.

 Why spend money on what is not bread, 
and your labor on what does not satisfy? 
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, 
and you will delight in the richest of fare. (Isaiah 55:1-3)

In this moment I am SO thirsty.  I’m not talking about the panicky, “got to get a drink or I’ll pass out” thirsty (although, I  just filled up my glass for the third time because I’ve been running around all day not taking the time to take a drink) but rather the more subtle, whisper beckoning me to come, slow down and fill up my parched and weary soul.

I can be so aware of my need for water but ignore the signs of my thirsty soul.  When I say a thirsty soul I mean the parts of ourselves that need attention, care and filling up.  The parts of ourselves that are exhausted, weary and crying out that we have nothing left to give.

Dallas Willard put it well when he said, “Our soul is like the silent, invisible yet necessary Central Processing Unit (CPU) of our person.  Our soul and thus our soul’s health, is the driving force behind everything that matters.”

In the next series of blog posts I am going to be exploring this topic of caring for our soul.  Caring for your soul matters.  It affects how you feel, how you relate to others and the amount of joy and satisfaction you are going to experience in all areas of your life.  If we can become more aware of our soul’s cries, we can begin to give it more of what it needs.  We can choose to experience the richest of fare by having a deeper connection with ourselves, God and in our relationships.

I would love to hear what feeds your soul.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl


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No Shame On You

beautiful_nature_wallpaper_1920x1200“Love is patient” 1 Corinthians 13:4

 “Love never gives up” The Message Version

Most of us are familiar with the passage on love from 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.  We hear it used at weddings, funerals, and in sermons.  We see these sentiments on plaques and anniversary cards.  These words can be so cliché that we don’t take the time to ponder the impact they can have on how we relate to others and ourselves.

I was reminded the other day how impatient I can be with myself.  Arriving at a school field trip to the Des Plaines River with my 7th grade daughter,  I had not realized I needed to wear boots and jeans.  I began to beat myself up as they were sharing how muddy it was, that we needed to douse ourselves with insect repellant and to make sure to check for ticks.  When they began to tell us to look out for the poison ivy and oak,  my face felt flushed and my heart began to sink.  I looked at the other Mom’s as they turned and looked concerned at my athletic skirt and cute, new sporty shoes I had just purchased last week!   I was so embarrassed.  I was reading their minds, “Doesn’t she read the parents page?  What an air head!  What was she thinking? How irresponsible!  Wow, and I thought I was disorganized!”  All these critical voices were shouting at me.  I had to remind myself to fight the shame.  Thankfully my daughter’s friend’s Mom(I have always liked her and now I really like her!) ran me by her house to loan me a pair of boots and jeans.  I was so grateful I could have cried.  I was tempted to beat myself up and try to save face by repeating how stupid I felt, but I didn’t.  I reminded myself to be patient with my shortcomings, to practice self-love and acceptance.  I gave myself the grace to make mistakes and learn from them.

Shame is toxic and we are no match for shame on our own.  We need safe, compassionate others to be patient with us on this journey.  We need to give ourselves the love and grace we desperately need when we feel shame rearing its ugly head.  Those of us who grew up being held to a standard of perfection, where criticism lurked when we made mistakes, are especially vulnerable to these shaming messages.  I often have to remind myself to be conscious as I parent my own children to not shame them when I am tempted to do just that.

Today I will choose to be patient with myself,

To love myself,

 To accept myself,

Right where I am today,

I will give myself the freedom to make mistakes,

to make things right when I am wrong,

I will choose to love myself apart from the approval of others,

and commit to giving and receiving the gift of patience and grace towards my shortcomings,

imperfections and inadequacies, knowing who I am is more than enough.

Today I will be tender with myself.

Today I will give myself the grace, compassion and self-love that I deserve.

For I am a child of God and

I am loved.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

 

 


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The Power of Relationships

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I love this picture!  I feel happy just looking at it.  Here we are in Wisconsin at the Door County Half Marathon and 5K just a week ago.  I am  in the front row in the pick jacket with the hat with the braids hanging down. You would never know how cold it is because everyone has their jackets off to display our Center for Christian Life t- shirts from our race in December.  I however, was freezing my buns off and wasn’t about to take off my jacket!

When I think about how much I love being a part of this group, it is hard for me to believe how resistant I was to joining. Friends kept at me to come but it took me several years to even consider the idea.   I historically have thought of myself as someone who has a lot of people in my life.  I have been in many groups over the years – growth groups and a Mom’s group.  I have led groups, been in Bible study groups, church groups, and school groups.  This group was different.   I was scared to join this group.  Running brings up a lot for me – insecurities, negative voices and middle school gym class baggage.

I ran my first half marathon about 8 years ago.  I totally trained alone. I didn’t even plan on running it with anyone.  Thankfully I ran into a woman I knew moments before the race started.  Agreeing we would go ahead if one of us felt stronger, I ran the last 3 miles by myself.  Faced with the prospect of joining a running group meant I needed to allow myself to be vulnerable.  What if I couldn’t keep up?  What if I was the last one running way behind?  When running alone, I was able to avoid these questions.  I would need to be open to facing my limiting voices and pushing through the fear to be with others in an area that I did not feel strong.  I also needed to be willing to be last, if that was where I was.  My value and worth is not in how fast or strong I am.  What matters is that I am in the race to learn, grow and challenge myself to dig deeper.

Running is a perfect metaphor for how I live in my life.  I am choosing to believe I am able to do more than I think I can.   Rather than finding I can’t keep up with the other women, I have found that I can keep up with most of the women.  Running with others helps me run faster than when I run alone.  When I am slower, I can ask for others to run with me.  Much to my surprise, I have discovered that others who are faster than me actually want to run with me, just to be with me.  I am stronger than I think I am.  When those voices are yelling at me, “You are weak. You can’t do it!”  I am learning that with others encouraging me, I can press on to do above and beyond what I think I can.  When those voices are shouting, “Quit!  Your knee hurts. Your back aches!”  or “You are not as young as you use to be!”  I am learning to tell the difference between pain where I need to stop and listen to my body and pain that I need to feel and keep going because that is the pain that will stretch and grow me.

486805_10200885304997958_1447418013_nHere is a picture of me at the 6-mile marker.  I am elated!  You would never know by the look on my face that my knee and back are hurting.  The pain is so much sweeter when I have others standing on the sidelines cheering me on, silencing those inner voices that tell me that I am alone.  You would never know that a mile later I would be crying.  The good kind of crying – grateful for my life, my family and the gift to run and push through my limiting voices.

I am so thankful that I pushed through my resistance and decided to become a part of this community.   A community that encourages and supports each other to grow and become stronger, to fight through limiting beliefs and become more than you ever thought you could be.  Running is indeed a great metaphor for my life.  I need relationships that are life giving.  I need to have others who are for me,  on the sidelines cheering, because with others I can accomplish so much more than I think I can.  With others, I can live the abundant life that I desire and was meant to live.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl


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If we were to change the world….

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If we will awaken to the possibilities of new life, we will open our hearts to a greater understanding of who we are.

If we will open our hearts to a greater understanding of who we are, we will experience the false self we are up against.

If we are willing to experience the false self we are up against, we will choose to take the journey towards humility or not.

If we choose to take the journey towards humility, we will hunger for grace and truth.

If we hunger for grace and truth, we will learn to love ourselves.

If we will learn to love ourselves, we will be willing to surrender to all that holds us captive.

If we are willing to surrender to all that holds us captive, we will be willing to release our fears of abandonment and trauma.

If we are willing to release our fears of abandonment and trauma, we will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding.

If we experience a peace that surpasses all understanding, we will  be touched by God.

If we are touched by God, we will realize we are not alone.

If we will realize we are not alone, we will learn to love.

If we will learn to love, we will desire God’s will.

If we desire God’s will, we will be transformed.

If we are transformed, we will change the world.

If we change the world, the world will return to God.

May we all have the courage.

Grace and Peace.

Sheryl

Concept of this poem taken from the book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, written by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.  I changed the words to fit for me based on the poem, The Stages of the Work.


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The Pharisee in Me

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Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10

It is time to stop believing that God loves us for what we do, rather than for who we are. We do not need to be somebody different or get our lives all together in order to be lovable, accepted and matter to God.

I want to be like Jesus, not like a Pharisee.  The definition of a Pharisee is a self-righteous person; a hypocrite. And I know a lot about being a Pharisee.

When I came to Christ(as the saying goes), I would sit in church and think about how good I had become.  I was doing the Christian life “right”.  I cringe to think about my self-righteousness, superiority and how judgmental I can be (I wanted to say was but I had to cross it out).   I am aware that I can have this unspoken agreement with God that if I do everything “right” He will bless me.

Over time, God has gotten my attention in some pretty painful ways and I have been forced to realize how truly broken I am. It is here that I have experienced His mercy and grace. It is from a place of brokenness where I have surprisingly found myself blessed. As I experience His unconditional love and acceptance I am learning what it really means to love others.  This is what I believe it means to be a grace giver, the more I am able to have grace for myself, the more I am able to show grace to others. I am learning that I am lovable with all my flaws, mistakes and failures.  It is here that I become deeply human and loved by God.

I don’t want to miss out on the freedom Jesus brings and the relationship He wants to have with me.  It doesn’t matter what we have done or not done.  Jesus invites each of us to come out of hiding and embrace the life He has to offer. From this place, we are free to share our pain, hurts, and shame.  If we are courageous enough to find others who are on the same path, we begin to discover we are not alone.  We begin to open up and share the shame deep within us that feels flawed, less than, and unlovable.   It is here that we realize Jesus will meet us right where we are.  It is here we are set free to experience the abundant life that He came to give us.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl


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My prayer for this day

IMG_0393“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents.  Mostly what God does is love you.  Keep company with Him and learn a life of love.  Observe how Christ loved us.  His love was not cautious but extravagant.  He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of Himself to us.  Love like that!”  Ephesians 5:1-2 The Message

My prayer for this day…..

Today, trust that you are right where you need to be.  Practice living each moment believing that God loves you.  Not only does He love you, but He loves you just as you are TODAY.  And not only does He love you, but He loves you extravagantly!   He does not want you to be anybody else but who YOU are.  He does not want you to be more like somebody else who you are constantly comparing yourself to.  You do not need to be  be smarter, or more successful(however you define success) then you are right now, this very moment.  You are loved.  You are accepted.  You are enough.

Accept what is good in your life today .  Maybe it is a good cup of coffee, a smile, a kind look, or  a young child laughing, free to be.  Give yourself grace.  Speak to yourself like you would speak to a friend who you dearly love.  So much of the time, I speak to myself in a way that I would never speak to someone else, let alone an enemy.

Hold things loosely.  You do not need to fret and worry about what someone else is doing or not doing.  Be.  Be the best You today that you can be.

Live today and everyday giving that which you want to receive.  Grace, forgiveness, acceptance and love.  When we do this, we loose the drama, the poor me.  When we do this, we move from if only, to how can I love today.  We get outside of ourselves and choose instead to see all that is available to us in the simplicity of life.

Practice today, looking for God and the ways He shows up.  Practice today looking for how God wants to show you how much He loves you.

Grace and peace,

Sheryl


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The Power of Gratitude

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“Say thank you, until you mean it.  Thank God, and the universe for everyone and everything sent your way.  Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”  Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go

I am working on practicing gratitude in my life.  It is easy for me to get focused on what is not right in my life, what needs “fixing”.   I  wring my hands and think, oh if only this was different, if only I was better at…., if only they would change.   I can look at my own life and be disappointed and disillusioned with choices I have made, messy and broken relationships and what is not the way I want it to be.

Then I remind myself, oh yes, gratitude….Really?  Do I have to be grateful for this?  Ugh.  I don’t want to.  Misery can feel so comforting to me at times.  I can feel so helpless and powerful all at the same time when I am stuck in this place of self pity.  But it is not kind.  I am learning to be kind to myself.  Gentle with myself.  To show myself grace and compassion.  Trust.  Let go.  Learn.  Grow.  Make the changes I need to make for myself.   And stop looking to change someone else in order to feel okay.  This is a process.  This process takes time.  One day at a time.  One moment at a time.   I can choose to accept and love myself  just the way I am.  I am beautiful, just the way I am.  Being real and broken is a beautiful thing.  The lessons God wants to teach me I am convinced I would not learn any other way.  And if I could choose another path I am not so sure I would  like that way either.

I choose today to be grateful.  To live this one day to the best of my ability.  To love, accept and be kind to myself and to practice extending the same grace to others.  To change what I can and trust God for the rest.  Embrace today, be grateful today, and love.

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen.