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