Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Making Things New Again

Blessings on your New Year as God does a new thing in our midst, releasing us from mistakes and errors of the past and setting us firmly in a clear bright hope for the future. It's our task to hold to the fresh vision of peace, love, and light in this New Year. I'm glad I'm your sister in this wonderful, love-filled effort! Happy New Year, everyone! :) k

Wednesday, December 25, 2002

Silent Night

The snow has been falling for hours here in Indianapolis. It's five minutes til midnight and a quiet blanket of white covers the streets, lawns, and cars. Outside with my dog Georgie a few minute ago, I heard only the sound of the snowflakes falling and Georgie snuffling through the deep snow. Inside, the kids had hot chocolate and are now tucked in bed. All is well, all is peace, all is calm.

I'm so thankful for these perfect moments of quiet contemplation, when I can hear in my heart the words of the angel...for unto *you* is born this day. Thank you, God, for your gift of yourself to us, today and everyday. May we each, in the way you open for us, continue to extend your gift to others.

Merry Christmas, everyone. May God bless you with a special understanding of his love today. :) k

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

A Humbling Thought

This afternoon, as I was rushing like mad to finish a chapter so that I could turn it in as "done" on my 5:00pm report to the publisher, a thought was given to me quietly, gently, like a valentine that was sure to make an impact. The thought was "Don't *look* good; *do* good." I didn't ask for this thought (except perhaps in that continuous prayer I send out asking God to see my heart and remove any obstacles that keep me away from him).

Don't look good; do good.

Suddenly I saw myself clearly in a not-so-flattering light. I was working hard, but what was my motivation? To do the work well and honor my deadline, or to avoid looking bad to the publisher? I had to admit to myself (yes, and to you) that my motivation was that of a child: I didn't want the publisher to be unhappy about work I felt I should have finished earlier.

I could launch into a long diatribe about how our power systems (adult-child; teacher-student; boss-employee; law-citizen; pastor-flock) encourage division, judgment, and hiding by giving the majority of power to one and little or none to the other. When we feel we are in positions of lesser power, we feel vulnerable; we put on our fig leaves and try to hide. Smiling and "looking good" becomes really important, because we want those in power to approve of us (or at least leave us alone).

Equality felt and applied gives us the freedom to be honest, to tell people truthfully the way things are and how we see it. We can share our truth without fear or hiding. We can cooperate to make sense of situations and work together to resolve problems (even late chapters). It seems a much better and healthier (and God-like) approach to me. I want to focus on being an adult child of God, equal and safe with all other children of God on this globe. And I want to *do* good in my work and throughout my life, whether or not I *look* good doing it.

Blessings on your day! :) k

Tuesday, December 17, 2002

Getting Over "Otherness"

I read an interesting article today about a young boy with a beautiful voice. He sang like an angel at home, in his room, by himself. He loved singing and felt loved, singing. But when he stepped in front of someone else--whether that someone was his parents, his class, his church, or an audience--his heart beat loudly, his breathing became shallow, he broke out in a sweat, and his voice tightened into a sound so thin it was barely a squeak. The beautiful, joyful song strangled in his throat because of his fear of the judgment of others. His gift was lost to everyone--to the boy, to the audience, and to the world--because he became painfully aware of his "otherness" and felt those hearing him would listen with ears tuned to judgment instead of love.

What would the world look (or sound) like if we were absolutely sure that we would receive complete acceptance each time we tried something new? What if our ideas were welcomed and loved and listened to, simply because they came from us, the children of God? The next time I'm scared to share something of myself, I'm going to do it anyway, just to begin to chip away at this illusion of Otherness. I'll do it for you, and for me. Because each choice we make, remembering Love, brings us together a little more. :) k

Thursday, December 12, 2002

Letting Prayers Fly

This has been a busy month for prayer so far. Lots of people sick--some seriously, some not--many people hurting; others struggling with depression around the holidays, or dreading change, or stuck in a rut. Another friend is in danger of losing her house because of financial problems; yet another quit her job after a huge internal struggle and is taking some time off for mental and spiritual housecleaning.

But sometimes when the prayer needs are many I forget something important. I begin to feel burdened and worried. I start a kind of "hand-wringing prayer," in which I plead with God to lighten the burdens of the people on my heart. But when I wring my hands and carry the burden with me, I have not left the need in God's lap. If I'm still carrying the worry for my friend and her financial situation, pleading with God throughout the day to please do something, I am assuming either (1) that he has not heard me, or (2) he for some reason doesn't want to help her and needs my prodding in order to act. I know that both of these things are impossible--God hears our every prayer and he works all things together for our good. (And he certainly doesn't need me to play Moses and try to talk him into something other than what he thinks is best.) When I focus on my worry instead of his grace, my prayers never get higher than my ceiling, because I won't let them go.

Our lives are created in partnership with God--every moment, every breath, every thought. We can never be apart from him. We can be unaware of our oneness with him and with each other, but never separated from it. When I focus on God's love and life--in my friends who are sick, or in financial need, or under stress--I know that he is more than able to heal, solve, move, and act in their lives and in the lives of all those they love. What is there to worry about? I'm going to trust those prayers and let 'em fly. :) k

Monday, December 09, 2002

Wishing Us a Less Materialistic Holiday

I read something in the paper this morning that said that 84 percent of Americans would rather make the holidays less materialistic. I think that's a wonderful number! If you lessen materialism, you make more room for spirit. And the fact that so many people (according to this survey) are even thinking about opening their hearts in lieu of their checkbooks is something to sing about. In fact, I wrote an article on this very thing last month for DisciplesWorld magazine. I've just added it in the Recent Articles section on the Practical ~faith~ page. So come visit and take a look if you'd like some ideas on gifts that cost you nothing but give you everything.

Wishing us all LOTS of Christmas spirit this year! :) k

Saturday, December 07, 2002

Laugh of the Week

I've been off-blog since before Thanksgiving just because I've had a mountain of work (and fun stuff, too) to do. I hope this note finds you all well and enjoying a relaxing weekend. I wanted to pass along a headline, taken from Faith Week in Review, a newsletter published by Faithandvalues.com, that made me laugh:

    Evangelicals on top of prostitutes
    One reason why evangelical churches across the nation are not growing is due to the image that non-Christian adults have of evangelical individuals. In a nationwide survey among people who do not consider themselves to be Christian, the image of "evangelicals" rated tenth out of eleven groups evaluated, beating out only prostitutes.

The article is actually quite interesting, detailing how certain labels attract or repel us based on our understanding and expectations. More evidence that the mind separates and categorizes, while the heart just loves. :) k

Friday, November 22, 2002

The Immediator

The thought in my head today is about the immediacy of God. The "I Am" is here right now, in this moment, with each of us. It occurred to me this morning that I'm here, right now, living this day, because God wants me here. Today. In this city, in this house, with these kids (and dogs and cats), with these bills, with this career, with the individual friendships that bless me in all directions. We are vastly connected to eternity and to the eternal, simply standing here, right in this moment, where we are. Now is the portal to all the sacredness we'll ever know. Now is the moment when we finally welcome and recognize God. And if we miss the opportunity, we know it's offered again and again, as each future moment we're given becomes Now.

Tuesday, November 19, 2002

Pitching the Bucket of Faith

When I was in fourth grade, my best friend Michele moved with her parents from our concrete-and-brick apartment complex to a beautiful farm just outside the Indianapolis city limits. The house was big and drafty, with windows that stretched from floor to ceiling and big, unused rooms upstairs with peeling paint and chipping plaster--perfect and spooky for two 10-year-old girls giggling their way through a sleepover.

One morning in November we awoke early to find the world painted with a heavy frost, from barn to field to house. Michele and I put on our coats and gloves (she wore her Daddy's big canvas work gloves) and we went out to do Michele's chore. Her job was to water the horses; the mama mare, named Chocolate, and her newborn colt.

Michele had learned how to use the old pump and I stood back and marveled at this friend who had been a Barbie-playing city girl only weeks before. She pumped the water and I helped her carry it to the barn. Over and over we did this; one trip, two trips, three trips. Soon our arms were aching and Michele huffed, "Why is this taking so long? I usually only need two buckets and I'm done."

Michele's dad appeared in the doorway, grinning. "I was wondering when you two were going to realize that you picked up the bucket with the hole in the back." He pointed to the bucket. Sure enough, water was running out the back as we walked to the trough. He handed Michele a different bucket and took the one with the hole out of her hands. "I'll pitch this bucket and seal it up and it will be good as new tomorrow," he said.

This morning I'm remembering that experience because I've been thinking about ways that our faith trickles away without us knowing. Over 90 percent of Americans pray. Do we really believe it works? Do our actions say so? Are we any closer to really trusting God, to really relying on him to see us through the course of our lives? I want my belief to be more than belief: I want it to be a knowing. And toward that end, I want my thoughts, my choices, my actions, and my expectations to reflect the faith I say I have--and I know I have--when the chips are down. I'd like to pitch my bucket of faith and seal up those little cracks where the strength of God's presence dribbles out unnoticed. That means trusting him to do what he says he will do. Expecting it. Claiming it. Listening carefully--and applying what I hear. And with a little divine help, this bucket will soon be as good as new--or, more likely, better than ever.

Enjoy your day! :) k

Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Closing the Manual

This morning driving home from school, I heard an interview with John Mayer, a contemporary singer-songwriter. The interviewer brought up the fact that John gone to music school at Berkeley for two years and then cut out. His response: "I never was the kind of person to learn things from a manual." Me neither! I wanted to sit up and cheer. :) How often we feel we need to do what everyone else has done, learn the way everyone else learns, and value what everyone else values. But life in faith is a journey, step by step, that takes us along our own unique path, if we're paying attention. I'm putting away the store-bought map, closing the how-to manual, turning off the TV, and letting go of everything except God. He's more than able to show me where to put my foot next. Blessings on your day! :) k

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Understanding & Knowing

It occurred to me today as I was writing to a friend that so many of the things we learn in our lives, we learn only over time. We grow, gradually, into trusting other people. We get used to a new job--slowly, one project, one person at a time. We change our lives, our families, our goals, and our perspectives by taking microscopic little steps, growing in a tiny way each day, every day, for years. Our intolerance melts subtly into acceptance. Our prejudices begin to take a back seat to our hope of finding that of God in another. Our fears, bit by bit, dissolve the unknown in favor of the known--what God has done before, he'll do again, and more.

So many of the unrealistic expectations I have put on myself and my own growth have had to do with time. I expect to know better, now. I want an answer, now. Like Paul, I know what I think I should be doing, but as Peace Pilgrim says, "It takes a while for the learning to catch up with the living."

But today I caught a glimpse of an understanding that reminded me that time is an ally, deepening our understanding and underscoring our knowing: Practical experience with God gives us an understanding and a knowing of his presence we can't get from a book, a song, or a movie. Lots of days with God give us the scope of experience, the knowing that he's there when we need him, a real help, companion, and guide we can count on, no matter what. :) k

Thursday, November 07, 2002

One of Those Days

Have you ever had a day that started out great and then went to pieces before noon? I don't know what happened today, but what began as a beautiful, frosty, peaceful morning dissolved into an "everything's-going-wrong" kind of day. Sometimes I just don't see any rhyme or reason to these things; but I know God understands, even when I don't. My mantra today is, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." I know things will come back together again as quickly as they came apart. And God is with us, either way. :) k

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Loving the Note

I got to sit in on my son Christopher's trumpet lesson yesterday. His instructor, Jim Edison, has done it all. He's been the director of college bands; played professionally on tour with big bands and singers; played for the Barnum & Bailey Circus; has formed, managed, and toured with jazz groups; and was inducted into the Jazz Hall of Fame. He's 70 years old now, and a stroke a few years back left his left hand hanging by his side. But the right hand still plays trumpet magically; and his mind, keen ear, and fine teaching spirit know just when to stop to the music and call a boy's attention to something small that can make the difference between playing a note and loving it.

Did you know that there are many different ways to play a note on a trumpet? Not just loud and soft, but also "in-the-box quiet" and "concert-hall big." There are ways to bite off notes, breathe through notes, gently round notes and "set them down", kiss notes, project notes, and taste notes that sound like "milk and honey." And when you're stretching for the high notes--which is stressful because they're tough to reach and harder to hold--the trick is to relax and breathe; don't screw up your face and tighten your arms and neck muscles. Relax and love the note. Relax and honor your partner, your instrument. Relax and enjoy the moment, filled with music you're contributing to the world.

Each moment we live is another chance to play a note. We can hold moments tenderly or enjoy them heartily and let them go. We can waste them looking back at the past and wishing we were there. We can lose them by fantasizing about other notes we'll play--or moments we'll live--in the future. But we've got a chance to play a note, right now, in any way we choose. Today, may you do it your way, with God's help, and may you both enjoy its sound. :) k

Monday, November 04, 2002

Prayers for Parents

Over the weekend, I ran across this article,"CNN.com - Survey: Parents doubt their skills - Oct. 30, 2002," saying that a recent survey found that parents generally feel they are failing as parents. My heart went out to this entire generation of parents! Sometime today, would you please join me in praying for their comfort, wisdom, and growing relationships with the Divine? We can pray not only for the parents in this survey but for all parents, everywhere, today. Prayer is one of the few ways we can truly touch everyone, instantly, in the name of God. Let's remind each other, too, that we're just where we need to be today and that not one of us makes this journey alone. Blessings on your day. :) k

Friday, November 01, 2002

Letting God Work

Do you notice how much is being written right now about letting God work? It seems as though all signs lead to Trust for me lately. I hear songs on the radio and they remind me to trust God. I catch five minutes of a TV program and it reminds me to trust God. A little snippet of an email reminds me that if I'm struggling, I'm not trusting.

It occurs to me that Trust is continuum, a path that leads us from that initial acceptance of God's help, through every moment of our lives, to a full realization and reconciliation with him after this worldly life. Trust isn't a lesson we learn once and master; it's a million small choices, several made each day. Trust grows when we decide to ask God what to do instead of reacting quickly to an upsetting situation. Trust grows when we turn to him when something scares us. Trust grows when we choose to stand on his promises instead of relying on our own strength to solve a problem. Trust grows when we continue stepping forward in the dark, holding on to the belief that he is with us and will direct our steps.

My hope for us this weekend is that we're able to know God's presence in a very real way and rely on--and take comfort in--the fact that our relationship with him continues to grow in trust each day, just the way he wants it to. Blessings on your weekend! :) k

Wednesday, October 30, 2002

Being Understood

The importance of being understood is on my mind and heart today. Last night I had the difficult experience of being misunderstood--or perhaps misjudged is more the word--by a person I'd just met. I found myself flailing inside, upset and trying quickly to figure out how to make things better, to let her know I was an okay person, to make things more comfortable for us both. Nothing I tried worked. Reflecting on it in my quiet time with God later, I could see that I was probably trying too hard, caring too much, working too diligently to try to make things better. If I had been able to simply let the situation be what it was, to listen quietly for God's leading instead of acting from the pounding of my own upset heart, a different result may have arisen. Or maybe not. But either way, I would have been holding the hand of the One who truly understands me, and I would have felt less alone.

Saturday, October 26, 2002

A Silent Moment

To send a prayer for Senator Paul Wellstone and his family, friends, and constituents. His vision, voice, and energy will be missed. We were fortunate to have in him someone who showed us it is possible to balance passion and perspective with a genuine, world-changing love for people.

Tuesday, October 22, 2002

Knowing Where We Come From

The other day my sons and I were in the car (we spend lots of time on the road, but it's good talk time) and the discussion turned to eyebrows. My teenage son suddenly has these cool, manly eyebrows. :) He was saying he obviously gets his eyebrows from his dad. "I have your mouth," he said. "That's what makes me a good trumpet player." My younger son got in on the discussion. "I think I got my easy-going attitude from you," he said, "but I'm good at football because of Dad."

As the conversation continued, I was touched by how much of themselves my sons attribute to their dad or to me. His hair, my eyes. His romanticism, my gentleness. I listened to them talk as they divided their attributes and qualities into little piles: Mom and Dad. I wondered where their own gifts came into their figuring. And I was moved by how important--and comforting--it is to know where we come from.

I didn't know my father until I was 34 years old, and then it was an odd meeting--I walked into a room filled with people, knowing that any man over 60 in there could suddenly look up and say, "Kathy? Hi--I'm your dad." I didn't realize it until I met and began to have a relationship with this man that I needed to know where some of my interests and abilities came from. And as my relationship with him continues to grow, I see more and more of myself in him.

How important it is to know where we come from! And for those of us who didn't grow up having all the puzzle pieces intact, who were adopted or simply unconnected, what a gift it is to uncover those missing pieces as they appear in our lives. What strikes me most of all, however, is how on a deeper level we all know that we are part of each other as well as part of something larger. I believe we sense that underneath all our surface differences, we all fit together perfectly in the very heart of God. Knowing where we come from--and Whose we are--helps us feel safe, knowing that we belong, knowing we share in something bigger than ourselves, knowing that we are never alone.

Blessings on your day, friend. :) k

Friday, October 18, 2002

More Info, Please

Thanks to Doug Tindal of www.faithandvalues.com for sending me this info. The man I described yesterday (who told the story of the American fellow on safari) was Terry Hershey, author of the book Soul Gardening. You can read about his book by clicking the book name and going directly to the amazon.com page describing it. Enjoy! And, by the way, how's your soul today? Mine's trailing a little behind, like Peter Pan's shadow...:)) -k

Thursday, October 17, 2002

Letting Our Souls Catch Up

The last three mornings I've added something new to my morning routine: Up at 6:00, wake the boys to get ready for school, let the dogs out, and do my yoga (or fold last night's laundry). But earlier this week, when I was looking for a yoga program a friend had told me about, I discovered New Morning, a show produced by Faith and Values Media that runs on the Hallmark Channel at 6:15 (in my area) each weekday morning. This simple little show is peaceful and filled with heart--ideas for staying centered, listening to God, beginning the day in a peaceful frame. It really is an amazing, sweet, gentle way to open a new day.

This morning one of the stories showed a man sitting in a garden. He told a story that went something like this: "A typical American man decided to go on Safari in Africa. He was typical in the sense that he was always in a hurry, always out of time, and he travelled with lots of stuff. In Africa, he hired a group to help him carry his belongings on safari. For each of three days, they made great time--they rose early, they walked fast, they set camp late. On the fourth morning, the man rose with the sun, as usual. He was ready to go. The morning dragged on and the workers didn't appear. Finally, agitated and upset, he approached the guide. "Where is everyone?" he asked. "We were supposed to leave hours ago." The guide looked around with a knowing smile and turned quietly back to the man. "They are waiting for their souls to catch up," he said.

This simple little story felt like a great gift to me. How often I rush through my day, measuring my effectiveness by the number of deadlines I meet, the tasks I accomplished, the kids I delivered on time to various school and social functions. I love the idea of simply letting my soul catch up with my body! Today I'm going to be more willing to walk at a gentler pace, one that allows me to stop and take a breath when my soul needs to smell the roses.

And if you want to give yourself a gift tomorrow morning, find out when New Morning is playing in your area. Here's the link: www.newmorningtv.tv.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

It's in the Eyes

Yesterday afternoon I had about 45 minutes to do half a dozen things. I ran to the grocery, to the post office (yes, now I know that it was Columbus Day and there was no mail service), and to the pet store. Last stop before picking Cameron up from school: Kinkos.I had 8 minutes to drop off a manuscript to be copied. When I shuffled in, wearing my sweatpants, Christ the King school sweatshirt, and Nike sandals, the place was filled with businesspeople in businesswear. I tried to wait patiently, watching the second hand tick away the seconds on the clock on the wall.

Seven minutes later, I was the next person in line. As I stood biting the inside of my lip and picturing Cameron waiting like a forelorn waif on the empty school sidewalk, a young man with dredlocks in baggy, low-rider pants walked in and went up to the counter. He stood straight as an arrow, right in front of me. The harried clerks continued waiting on their respective customers. Then one employee turned and looked at the fellow. I noticed her eyes--big, blue, wide-open, *tender* eyes. She stepped up to him and said softly, "How can I help you?"

The young man cleared his throat and asked whether they were hiring. I was touched by the practiced way he held his head up; his gaze, his stiff shoulders. I could feel how tense he was.

The woman was a model of gentleness. She spoke with him as though he were the most important person in the room. She told him what their hiring policies were. She explained the jobs she had open. She gave him the name of the HR manager, along with his phone number and the hours he worked. She wrote the information down on the back of one of her own business cards. She went above and beyond just normal people doing normal jobs. She was loving this kid, showing him that his questions were important, that she honored his decision--and his courage--in coming in to ask about a job. Those eyes said it all. She valued him and he was welcome. What a nice gift for a kid who probably gets more scowls than smiles in our world.

The clock on the wall? I forgot about it and thanked God for that woman's example to me. It's not about the seconds you spend with someone. It's about looking at them tenderly--with love, with intention, with kindness. It's about being tenderly present with people in a way that lets them know you see them and shows them you're glad they're there.

And somehow, miraculously, I had a heart realignment and I still made it to school in time to see Cameron walk out the front door with his friends. Thanks, God.

Thursday, October 10, 2002

I Love That Guy

This morning I had an interesting experience. I was driving my son Cameron to school and we were listening to the radio. A listener called in and was talking to the radio host about something...and I rolled my eyes and changed the station. "Why'd you do that?" Cameron asked.

"The guy was obviously making that up," I said. "He just wanted to get on the radio."

After dropping Cameron off at school, I thought of my reaction and wondered why it irritated me. I started to talk (in my head) to God about it.

"Oh, I know," I suddenly imagined God saying, "I just love that guy. He's a hoot, isn't he?"

That thought stopped my irritated, why-do-people-do that? kind of thinking. The image of a smiling, loving God, shaking his head and laughing lightly about the crazy things we do for attention, for love, for affirmation, to feel better. He understands us. He knows what drives us and what we need. He loves and smiles and pats us when we need it.

I'm not going to judge that guy on the radio anymore. God loves him. And me, too, thank God. :) k

Tuesday, October 08, 2002

New Issue of OPENINGS

Hello! Today I published a new edition of OPENINGS, the free enewsletter I write that shares simple faith essays (much like this blog but with a bit more room to write). If you'd like to check it out, click here or visit www.revisionsplus.com/Openings.htm when you get the chance. If you'd like to get on the list for OPENINGS, just drop me a note at kmurray@iquest.net.

I hope you're enjoying the fall wherever you are and you take a moment sometime today to feel the good changes coming in as the geese fly over... :) k

Thursday, October 03, 2002

A Kind Day

This was a day of unexpected kindnesses. The person on the interstate letting me in, the smiling teachers at Cameron's school, happy clients and kind emails, funny stories and shared moments with family. Some days the kindness just glows from people, like sunshine or good thoughts or offers of help rising naturally from a loving spirit. I'm grateful for these days when that glow is so easy to see. :) k

Wednesday, October 02, 2002

Sending a Smile

In keeping with that last post, I thought I'd send along my favorite God cartoon, courtesy of The Far Side: :) k

Lightening Up

I'm saying a quick prayer for all of us who get stuck in stress mode, who tend to take things a wee bit too seriously, who *work* at our faith and *work* at our relationships and *work* on ourselves. Sometimes I totally forget about one of the most wonderful acts of worship: Laughing. Laughing and loving means relaxing and opening up (and sharing) what God gives me in this moment. It shows God--without me *working* at it--that I trust him. It reminds me that nothing is that critical and helps me remember what I know--that God is unfolding things gracefully, that I am right where I need to be right now, and that I am fully enjoying being alive in this moment. And that, I think, is perhaps the best way to say Thank You. Let yourself laugh today! It feels good. And I think it's music to God's ears. :) k

Monday, September 30, 2002

Inside Everything

Hi there. This weekend, I spent a short-but-wonderful rest in New Harmony, Indiana. It's a peaceful tiny town in southern Indiana that lives out the whisper of a dream Richard Owen had in the 1800s of harmonious, communal living. The experiment he began before the turn of the century ultimately failed, but the New Harmonites hold on to the peaceful ideal and the welcoming gentle hospitality on which their culture was founded. I was entering a serene, circular garden with a gentle fountain in the center and a brick walkway leading through shady lush hostas and billowing ferns, when I happened to look down at a stone at my feet. On the stone these words were engraved :
    Lift the stone and find Me.
    Split the tree and I am there.
This was worth the 3.5-hour drive to me. A simple reminder that we cannot be where God is not. I needed that just now. Wishing us all a peaceful week, remembering. :) k

Friday, September 27, 2002

A Little Rumi

To end the week, I thought I'd pass along a little verse of Rumi's that encourages me when I'm learning new things (as I always seem to be doing):

    God turns you from one feeling to another
    and teaches by means of opposites,
    so that you will have two wings to fly,
    not one.

Have a good weekend, everyone. :) k

Thursday, September 26, 2002

Letting Peace Be

I've had an uncomfortable thought rattling around in my head this morning. For the past several weeks, I've been running through my life in stress mode, trying to juggle numerous projects, get the kids to their school functions on time, and so forth. It seems that "I don't have time!" has become my mantra. And although it's come upon me suddenly this time, this acceleration and stressed-out mindset isn't something new for me--I've been in this place many times before. This morning, in my journaling and prayer time, I suddenly thought, "Why won't I let myself have peace?" And I understood clearly that I have been choosing this lifestyle, maybe because it has some hidden benefit for me, and maybe because I don't know what my life would look like without it.

I have known people who seemed addicted to crisis...they go from one major problem to another, month to month and year to year. Being honest with myself, I have to admit that functioning in time-crisis mode is exciting--days are full, energy is high, and I feel that what I do is important and urgent. But I'm ready for something else, something kinder, a mindfulness and appreciation worthy of this gift of life. Can I learn to allow myself to have real, lasting peace in my life? Can I make choices that enable me to feel that time can be savoured and enjoyed not simply spent quickly--or promised away--before it arrives?

I'll say right now, to you, to God, and to myself: I'm sure ready to try.

Tuesday, September 24, 2002


I read something this morning that I really liked. It was a new definition of maturity. Here's the quote: "Maturity doesn't come with age or intellectual wisdom, only with love." -Ruth Casey

Isn't that a nice thought? The more we open up to love, the less we close out, the more mature we become. This is much better than the typical "be-rational-about-everything" model of maturity that I sometimes try to hold myself to. I may not be getting wiser as I get older, but I sure am learning how to love better. Thanks, God. :)

P.S. The quote comes from the book A Woman's Spirit by Karen Casey.

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Use Your Fruit

I've been thinking, today, about the two paths that present themselves when we face a difficult situation or person. We can protect ourselves against the person or event, we can call out to God, we can wonder why this is happening to us and what we did "wrong" to bring it on. Or we can use our fruit. The thought is that knowing God doesn't guarantee anyone a carefree life; rather it gives us the resources to transform a dark and difficult path to one filled (or at least beginning to glow) with the light of understanding and love. I sometimes forget that I carry that light. And, I'm sorry to admit, I sometimes forget that you carry it, too. We've been given a great resource, a magic potion, a truly transforming elixir that every hurting person in the world (including us) needs: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these there is no law." We all know it: Love changes things. :) k

Wednesday, September 18, 2002

A Big Oops!

Well, my web scripting inexperience is showing itself. If you tried to subscribe to BlogOfficeXP, my blog with tips and such for Office XP users, and you've been receiving this blog, Practical ~faith~, instead, my apologies! If you'll drop me a note by clicking here, I'll get you on the right list right away. :) k

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

I Have to Laugh

...at myself for that last title. I was writing about staying present in the moment, and yet the only title that occurred to me was "Being There," as opposed to "Being Here" HA! :)))

Being There

Here's an idea I've been playing with for a while. We all know that the secret to relaxing is to be able to simply be fully where we are. Watching a ballgame, cooking dinner, sitting on the deck, soaking in the tub. Whatever. When our minds are not digging in the past or planning the future, they can be here now...and they can be at rest, receiving the gifts this moment has to offer. Even though I know this, living it is a tougher task. There are deadlines and barking dogs and arguing kids and ringing phones to deal with. But not long ago I borrowed a phrase from God that helps me be present whatever I'm doing. The phrase is I AM. God said to Moses, "I AM THAT I AM," and I must admit I thought that was pretty cryptic at first. But when I apply it practically in my life..."I AM petting the dog...I AM taking a deep breath...I AM driving the boys to school on this beautiful fall morning..." it brings my mind to the present--NOW--and frees it from the illusion of past or the promise of present. Sometimes I realize that God is here waiting for me when I finally return to this moment. I AM writing this, thinking of you all and wishing us moments of special clarity today. :) k

Friday, September 13, 2002


Today I received sad news today from my friend and fellow writer, Natalie Zee (coauthor of HTML & Web Artistry 2: More Than Code). Her roommate Wendy, age 25, died Wednesday, September 11 after a one-and-a-half year battle with skin cancer. Today I saw Wendy's picture for the first time and I was so touched by the life and joy in her face--especially those beautiful blue eyes. Those eyes tell the story of a life that was never really touched by illness. I wanted to share their beauty with you, too.

"Stories were once as important to survival as a spear or hoe. They gave counsel. They connected the living with the dead. Stories distributed the suffering so it could be borne."
--E.L. Doctorow

Wednesday, September 11, 2002

Asking the Right Questions

Some things you read, even on a tender and sad day like this, make you want to stand up and cheer. Take a look at this essay written by Ed Murray, CEO of Faith & Values Media, and you'll see what I mean: Light

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Leave It to Eleanor...

I read this quote this morning and it really struck me:

"Somewhere along the line of development we discover what we really are, and then we make our real decision for which we are responsible.
--Eleanor Roosevelt."

Sometimes I feel that I've spent much of my life searching for that something, trying to discover what I'm here to do, how I can best use what God's given me to do whatever it is that I need to do. But this quote reminds me that the decisions we make--and whether they are right or wrong for us--depend so much on our perspective, our understanding of ourselves, and our own growth. I've been growing into what I really am, like a tulip opening, and I think I expected to find it somewhere along the "road," outside myself, a moment of Aha! that just fit and explained everything. Instead, I am growing into more and more me, and finding God within and without and all around. The more I open, the more I'm aware of Love itself breathing life into the universe.

Friday, September 06, 2002

Ministers R Us

I read something this morning that was a good reminder for me. The book was talking about how God uses even those we can't fathom him using--the lady impatiently honking at the elderly man in the Target parking lot, the surly telephone solicitor, the bossy lunch lady, the kids teasing on the playground. We tend to look for signs of godliness in kindness, peace, love, acceptance, and respect--those, after all, are God qualities. But God is not limited to our perception of him or our expectations of others, thank goodness, and we know he often works in the darkest places to bring his transforming light.

Thursday, September 05, 2002


How could we ever forget? This time last year we lived in an innocent ignorance; this fall as we come to the anniversary of 9-11, we have, through great pain, experienced a broader world-view and perhaps a new understanding and appreciation of lives, moments, and God-with-us. Here's a beautiful presentation from www.faithandvalues.com that tenderly touches the very human faces of 9-11: In Remembrance of September 11, 2001

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

The upcoming year anniversary of the September 11 tragedy is putting lots of people in reflective moods. Here's a thoughtful look at how or whether our faith was shaken (or strengthened?) by the terrorist attacks and the following violence.frontline: faith and doubt at ground zero | PBS

Slippery Slope

Isn't that a strange phrase? I heard a business guy say it in a meeting once and I thought it sounded cheesy; one of those faddish phrases people toss around, like "I'm so jazzed about this new product!" But this week I think I'm learning about--and maybe walking along--a slippery slope of my own perspective. That whole "know yourself" thing is really a lifetime effort, you know. Just when I think I know what I'm talking about, something comes along to show me that I don't quite have it cornered just yet. Finding the faith to keep taking steps in the dark, trusting that there's understanding here and acceptance even before understanding comes, is what it's all about.

Monday, September 02, 2002

To Know That You Do Not Know

...is the beginning of wisdom. So Lao Tzu says. Is that supposed to make me feel better? Life has blind spots and faith is the only thing that fills them in. Knowing you're okay--and loved--in spite of. Thank God.

Apply What You Know

The thought this morning is to apply the lessons/ideas/inspirations I'm given each day. Eat the manna and know there's more coming tomorrow. If I don't use the understanding I'm given today, why should I be given more? So many things I already know--things about my pressure points, my blind spots, my vulnerable places--and yet I simply walk into them time and time again, telling myself, "I just didn't see that coming." If I apply what I am given, I will see what's coming, and I'll do know what's best for me. When I'm willing to hear what I need to apply, I am constantly guided. Sometimes, Lord help me, I just don't want to hear. This is one lesson I truly want to learn. Now.

Sunday, September 01, 2002

Reminds me of a sticker I had on my Mac Classic years ago: Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.
Once upon a time I read "The Tao of Pooh" and considered myself a taoist. The cork tree is perfect as a cork tree. It doesn't have to be turned into any other product or do any other thing besides what it does so naturally and so well. This really does fit my approach to life and, I think, to people. Things are as they are, and that's okay. We invest our energies in what we want to create (either consciously or unconsciously) and then we play out what we ourselves have created. The part I haven't figured out yet is where we cross the line--when are we messing around in someone else's creation pot? What if someone wants to live in a chaos they find comfortable and we've been trying desperately (for our own needs as well as for their own "good") to help them clear things up? Ultimately we learn that it is not our choice. Life is very humbling and large. I think I need to sit under a cork tree for about two weeks.
I found this peace summit online this morning. It looks wonderful. Anyone up for a trip to Geneva?Millennium Summit

Friday, August 30, 2002

The week, she ees almost over. I'll finish two projects today. Already finished one, in fact. I love that feeling of completion, knowing something is done, over, wrapped up, solid, secure. It's something I had control over (although I invite God's help), something I was able to put away in a file or folder and name it good. And yet I know that in the scheme of things, these continual projects are just part of the ebb and flow of my work life--I invest my energy in service, I use my mind, and I do my best. In that way, I feel connected to God as I work, whether I'm writing about OfficeXP (I have another blog called blogOfficeXP that talks about practical *computer* related things) or doing an article or writing these blog notes. Someday perhaps I'll also love the *not knowing* and be able to feel good/whole/comfortable even when completion isn't mine to control. For now, I sure like to get things finished.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Okay, it's been a great day. Logic says that's not possible, with the pressures from work, the multitude of looming deadlines, and the ticking of the clock (and the calendar). But you know what makes such an incredible difference that it can turn a day of impossible tasks into a light-hearted, uplifting day? People. People I enjoy working with, people who make me laugh, people who remind me that we're all in the same boat (which at the moment is overburdened with today's catch--thanks, Jesus!). The people make the difference. Kristen, Tim, Claudette, Suzanne. People. And the God in them. Thanks for making the impossible possible again today, Lord, through the people you send to help carry the load with a smile. :)
Where is this week *going*? I've barely had time to think. I updated my business site this morning and realized that there's a certain knowing that you grow into when you've been doing something for a long time. Do we become what we do? Or do we do what we are becoming? I keep seeing this image of a tulip opening...that's the way I've grown into my business...that's the way I've grown into myself...that's the way I've grown up in my relationship with God.

Saturday, August 24, 2002

A few moments ago, I had to share some difficult news with a friend and I heard her reaction mirror my own: stunned and sad. When we get unexpected or upsetting news--especially if it's an issue that has touched our lives in the past--we often feel the emotion before our minds can begin to make sense of what's happening. I heard this in my friend's voice and knew she didn't hear anything else I said. I know how much I need help in quickly getting over the stunned spots so that my mind can clear to hear what to do. In this case, our friends have asked for our prayers...after much struggle, they have decided to separate and divorce. We can only pray that God will continue to lead them and stay close, and make his will and love known to them, together and individually. Who among us knows what is best in these circumstances? Only love, only God, only healing has an answer.
It occurred to me this morning that sometimes my internal drive for success is really a fear that God won't provide. If I'm successful, I have the money-home-food-comfort-things I need and I don't have to be afraid of doing without. If I'm not successful, who knows what will happen? So the thought goes. But I know it's not real. It's not needed. It's just fear talking. The reality--which I have experienced over and over again--is that God *does* provide and God *is* faithful and God has a plan in place. I can (and do) release my fear-driven quest for success and let God show me how to give my gifts. "Concerning the work of my hands, Lord, command ye me." :)

Friday, August 23, 2002

Here's something I read this morning... "A healthy mind in a healthy body is free to find God." I have found that it's certainly easier to be aware of God in my daily life when I am not struggling emotionally or physically. I know that's true. But I've also found that God can slip silently into the midst of a horrible headache, lift heavy sadness, bring peace right into the middle of torment, and dissolve obstacles like they were never there. Thank goodness that we don't have to have a healthy mind and body before we can find God. It can make hearing him easier, but I think he does some of his best work when he reaches in and lifts us up in our weakest moments.

Thursday, August 22, 2002

For a refreshingly cool break in the middle of your workday, visit this site and watch and listen to the ever-clear James Taylor singing a beautiful new song and a sweet classic. Just a little rest stop along the way...CBS News | James Taylor’s October Road | August 20, 2002 09:57:49
Does it ever seem to you that we try too hard? We drive miles to church, we take classes, we read books, we reach and reach. We try to live according to our conscience, we "do the right thing", we agonize, we think, we pray, we work...and all of it is a kind of veiled effort to reach the God who has been living in us all along. Do our strivings make it harder for us to simply be with him? Just let me be with you, Father, through this day...and know I'm with you. That's all.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002

People on the radio this morning were talking about high school, the good old days, the times when you had it good and you didn't know how good you had it. Left me feeling a bit tenderhearted. I wonder whether my sons know that they are now living the best time of their lives. I wonder whether my daughter knows it. I wonder whether you and I do. There is no time but now. This moment, whether we're healthy or sick, strong or weak, happy or miserable, is truly the best time of our lives. God is near. God is here. Life courses through our veins. We breathe in and out, the common act of all living beings. The fact that we continue living another second more is an acceptance of a gift of life. Two weeks from now we may be tempted to look back and today and wish that we somehow could have held on to what it offered us--peace, sunshine, health, security, love. But that day, two weeks from now, will be the real moment, the real gift, on that day. Then, in that space and time, that day will offer us the best time of our lives. Wherever we stand, whatever month, whatever year, this day alone is the one in which we love each other and meet God. All other mementos we carry from the past are just crumbs of yesterday's manna.

Monday, August 19, 2002

One more quick one. We went to Canada and back to pick up my daughter Kelly this weekend. 1100 miles in about 30 hours. But a beautiful drive and good conversation along the way. If it's been a while since you've seen the country, since you saw with your own eyes the way the corn tassles move together and sway in the golden light of late afternoon, it's time for a road trip. Some beautiful things just can't be imagined, they can't be written about, and they can't be filmed. You've just got to see. With your own eyes. :)
A quick note. School is good. God is good. Cameron came out of school the first day with a big smile on his face."It's crazy," he said. "I already have four friends...and a girl *likes* me!" Not crazy, I thought. Prayer. :)

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

It's late and everyone's asleep. (Even Georgie the puppy is snoring behind me as I write.) It's been a long, full day...a day with trumpet lessons and football practice and lots of work. A day with anxious moments at bedtime as my 9-year-old son Cameron tried to settle in for the night, knowing that in the morning he wakes up to a new school year, in a new school, with all new kids. I sometimes forget how big and impossible the world can look to a 9-year-old; how big a lump being the New Kid puts in your throat, how a few uncomfortable moments can feel like they will last the whole rest of your life. I needed some real practical faith tonight as I stretched out beside Cameron and cuddled him close. I prayed and reminded us both that God is with us every second, and that God sees all the good in us and will help us with the fear part if we let him. As I packed Cameron's bookbag later, knowing he had finally drifted off to sleep, I wished that I had told him that everyone is uncomfortable--we're all uncomfortable--but the discomfort most often dissolves quickly when someone smiles at us or says "Good morning," or simply casts a friendly look our way. Little things lift. But to a 9-year-old perhaps you can only say, "It will be all right, honey. Wait and see."

Tuesday, August 13, 2002

Ever heard the phrase, "It's all in the details"? I just finished filling out this simple little questionnaire my son sent me...40 questions about your favorite color, favorite place, favorite song, best memory, and so on. Things like "What's in the trunk of your car right now?" and "What time do you wake up in the morning?". Little details that we rarely know or think to share about each other. As I answered these questions my heart just lifted. I sent this silly little thing to my mom, my dad, my brother, my kids, and my sweetie. I felt as though I was giving them a piece of my heart. Little, yes. Inconsequential, yes. But the joining is the thing. I want to be known by others and I want to know them, too. I want to know what time everybody wakes up in the morning because it's one human act we all share. It's joining. It makes us one. The very fact that you love someone--anyone--makes you part of me. I like that. :)

Monday, August 12, 2002

Expecting a sleepless night? Why not take in a meteor shower? Check out this link to see the calendar of all the meteor showers in 2002. Cool stuff.IMO Meteor Shower Calendar 2002

One time I was up praying late and I looked up in time to see a shooting star. I said a word of thanks and continued praying. A few minutes later, another shooting star. Then another. And another. After a total of six I stopped counting and went to bed, sure that I was either hallucinating, the world was coming to an end, or God was trying to tell me something in a really dramatic way and I was totally missing it. Now I'm thinking, meteor shower? Perhaps. :)

Sunday, August 11, 2002

Sometimes I think honoring God is as simple as thoroughly enjoying a strawberry milkshake.
This morning in meditation I found myself worrying about a meeting I'll have on Monday. It's a review of a project on which I was a developer...it turned out to be a complicated project and I'm wondering what people will say and I guess I'm concerned that I will be criticized. When I caught hold of the thought, I tried to offer it to God (and let go of it), and the prayer that followed was, "Let there be joining, and not separation, in that meeting." Peace is union. Division is disharmony. It had never occurred to me to pray for joining in all conflicts, but that is God's way--bringing us together, dissolving our fears, and embracing us all as one. TYG!

Saturday, August 10, 2002

If you don't know anything about A Course in Miracles and you'd like to see what it's all about, check out this web site. I've been studying ACIM for years. It shows us where to find "that of God" within us and leads us there by untangling the knots we create in our logical minds. Daily Workbook Lesson
Do you have a story too? Email it to me at kmurray@iquest.net and I'll put it up. :) k
I just got off the phone with a friend. She's been struggling to get some equilibrium in her life since her husband died last fall. She's had half a dozen jobs and quit them all; she stays as close to God as she can but her grief engulfs her sometimes. Just now she told me of a job she tried to quit at a wonderful little grocery store in Columbus, Indiana. The manager said, "No, wait--don't quit. Go home, calm down, and come back in the morning. I'll have something else for you to do." The next day when she went in, he told her a job in the bakery had opened up. It's the absolute perfect, loving thing for her. She's a grandma with a big heart and loves to cook for everyone. She didn't even have to think about it. We talked about the way God works--we each struggle and try and squint, trying to force ourselves to make sense out of our lives, but when God opens a door, it swings open like a breeze and we are carried in with arms of love. A good reminder. :)
Okay, so I won't keep clicking Publish to send the same message over and over. But it looks as though everything is working. I still have to figure out the links...Hey, this is cool! :)
Hello! and welcome to my first blog attempt. I've been fascinated with blogging ever since I first heard about it...I imagine it to have the potential to bring huge & wonderfully diverse groups of people together...reaching out, sharing, listening, thinking, encouraging, puzzling, trying, and being together. The most important points to me are these: (1) we each have experiences and insights to share that could help somebody else; (2) we are stronger together than we are apart (peace is union); and (3) not one of us is outside God's* love. (*whoever or whatever you understand him/her to be*)

I hope you'll enjoy the stories and thoughts on this blog and feel welcome to share your own. Let's begin! :) k

~p r a c t i c a l ~ f a i t h s c r i p t ~ Please drop me a note and let me know what you think of this blog so far (kmurray@iquest.net)
Hello! and welcome to my first blog attempt. I've been fascinated with blogging ever since I first heard about it...I imagine it to have the potential to bring huge & wonderfully diverse groups of people together...reaching out, sharing, listening, thinking, encouraging, puzzling, trying, and being together. The most important points to me are these: (1) we each have experiences and insights to share that could help somebody else; (2) we are stronger together than we are apart (peace is union); and (3) not one of us is outside God's* love. (*whoever or whatever you understand him/her to be*)

I hope you'll enjoy the stories and thoughts on this blog and feel welcome to share your own. Let's begin! :) k