Transforming My Life

one day at a time


Leave a comment

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

Choose Beauty

2 Comments

5834-3

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.


Leave a comment

Growing our Souls through Loss

Lone Maple Tree

“Loss.  It’s a word that many of us fear and few of us can evade.  The experience of loss does not have to be the defining moment of our lives.  Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss.  It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us.”  Jerry Sittser

All of us have suffered loss at one time or another.  The loss of spouse, children, parents, job, health, marriage, childhood or any other kind  impacts us in ways that we never could have imagined. Many of us are living with the after-effects of profound trauma or the loss of innocence that has left our lives forever changed.  The world can look dark and without hope.  I experienced the loss of my Father at the age of ten.  In the blink of an eye, a tragic accident claimed my Dad’s life with my entire family in the car.  It not only changed my family, but how I viewed everything.  Tragedy forced me to grow up overnight.  No longer a carefree kid, I  faced the reality that bad things can happen in an instant.  While I can still struggle with the fear of bad things happening everyday, I also believe that out of  grief and loss, we can experience incredible healing and transformation.  I am loving the book, A Grace Disguised, by Jerry Sittser. It has touched me profoundly and is unlike any other book on grief that I have read.  It addresses the topic of how a soul can grow through loss and pain and begin a new life – “a life marked by spiritual depth, joy and compassion and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings..”

“Many people are destroyed by loss because, learning what could have been but failed to be, they choose to wallow in guilt and regret, to become bitter in spirit, or to fall into despair.  While nothing they can do will reverse the loss, it is not true that there is nothing they can do to change.  The difference between despair and hope, bitterness and forgiveness, hatred and love, and stagnation and vitality lies in the decision we make about what to do in the face of regrets over an unchangeable and painful past.  We cannot change the situation but we can allow the situation to change us.  We exacerbate our suffering needlessly when we allow one loss to lead to another.  That causes gradual destruction of the soul.”

“God’s forgiveness will show us that he wants to take our losses and somehow bring them back upon us in the form of a blessing.  This work of grace will not erase the loss or alter its consequences.  Grace cannot change the moral order.  What is bad will always be bad.  But grace will bring good out of a bad situation; it will take an evil and somehow turn it into something that results in good.  That is what God accomplished through the crucifixion.  He turned the evil of an unjust murder into the good of salvation.  God can do the same for us as well.  We will not be delivered from suffering, but with God’s help we can be transformed by it.”

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl


Leave a comment

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

 

 


Leave a comment

If we were to change the world….

Blue-Nature-wallpaper

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.


Leave a comment

The Pharisee in Me

stones
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


2 Comments

Trying Too Hard

River : Morning river landscape

I am reading a wonderful book right now, Enjoying the Presence of God, by Jan Johnson. It feels like I am taking a drink of cold water when I read it.  I feel the tension in my body relax and I feel more connected to myself and God.  Here are a few words from Jan that touched me.

“I remember the time my quiet time died.  After gathering all my devotional props, I settled into a terrible emptiness.  I needed God as I had never needed Him before, but my regimented prayers were puny containers for my anguish.”

She talks about trying to please God from a place of perfectionism and being a doer.  She talks about wrestling with God, allowing herself to tell God how angry and disappointed she is at how her life is turning out.  How often I have lived my life from a place of trying too hard, working to earn God’s love, believing if only I could do enough, be enough then I would feel loved and accepted by God.  She goes on to talk about the ache of her marriage not being what she had hoped it would be……She shares these words…..

“How would I survive life without someone to love me?  How could I connect with God so that no matter what happened to me, I would believe that God still loved me and valued me?  What would replace these sterile lists so I could sink my teeth into a God who would satisfy my neediness?”

Here comes the cool drink of water, she goes on to say…

“I began a journey that looks as though it will take my entire life:  to relish being God’s much-loved child instead of trying to be wonderful; to accept my inability to control people and circumstances and surrender them to God.  I switched roles:  I chose to be the defeated prodigal son who”came to himself” instead of the dutiful older brother looking for rewards.  I decided to head home to the Parent who loves me no matter what – even when I fail.”

God, help me, help us, to rest in these truths.  Help us to believe that You love each one of us, just as we are, broken, needy, desperate to know we are loved and valued not for what we do, but for who we really are – all prodigals in one way or another.  Forgive me for all the times I would rather be wonderful than be in relationship with You. Sometimes I believe it is a popularity contest and I’m not in it.  Help me to believe that You are delighted when we just talk to You and help us to know that it is not about having the “right formula”.  Help me when I am always working, trying too hard to get it right, be right and miss out on the peace and joy you want to give me in just “being”.  Help me to slow down daily in the midst of my busyiness and see You in all the little details of my life.  Amen.