Saturday, May 31, 2003

Quick Wisdom

In unpacking one of the many catch-all boxes that have successfully made the move to my new office, I discovered a journal of unusual quotations that I'd read (and forgotten) long ago. I liked rereading them so much that I decided to post if you'd like to take a look, click this link: Discoveries. Have a good weekend! :) k

Friday, May 30, 2003

The Process of Partnership with God

This is what's in my head this morning. Someone close to me is going through a rough time. I've been through similar situations in my own life, more than once, and I have been praying for clarity on how I can best help now. As I was writing in my journal a little while ago, I found myself replaying my own experience and some very clear steps I took (and continue to take) with God came into focus. I thought I'd share them with you, too.

When I am faced with a difficult situation I don't know how to resolve, I follow these general steps:

  • I pray, listen carefully, and do exactly what I receive in prayer--immediately. In the prayer, I ask God to reveal to me anything I am doing to cause the circumstance and tell Him that with His help, I'll face it honestly and allow Him to show me how to heal it. (invite God in)
  • I take full responsibility for my situation and accept it as a learning. (face myself clearly without judgment)
  • I weed out self-pity at all costs because self-pity tells me that I'm powerless and a victim of the situation, which isn't true. (recognize the power of change is within me)
  • I make sure I'm willing to do the work--and I do it, even if I don't want to. When God reveals something in me that is unhealthy, I immediately begin to apply what I learn. This takes self-discipline (which I often need to pray for help with) and humility (because I am often surprised that I have so much to learn). Luckily, God provides more of both of these things when we ask. I've learned that if I don't apply what I learn, the situation will continue or come back in another form until I do. (apply what I learn)
  • I try to stay thankful for the experience, no matter how dark it seems, because it is drawing me closer to God and revealing those places in me that have not yet been healed by His light...but they will be. (be thankful)
  • I watch for even the smallest signs of change and growth--and claim and give thanks for each one as it appears. This keeps me moving forward--I can see that God is leading me out of the situation, bit by bit. (watch for the good)
  • I diligently step forward into that new place and refuse to be dragged back by fear or doubt into the place I'd been before. (claim each step and move forward)

This process with God has worked many times for me in many different circumstances--through divorce, financial troubles, illness, and more. You may have a much different process, but in the end we can all be sure that God will bring good from our situations in many ways. At the very least, the situation will be healed, God will be at the center of our lives, and we will have been given an experience and a witness of faith that one day may help another person find the path out of a dark valley.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Small Things, Faithfully Done

My brother and I had an interesting conversation yesterday. We're both old enough now (in our 40s) to talk with some perspective about life. We discussed the path of growing more peaceful--the sowing and reaping metaphor--and thought about how much the small things, faithfully done, help shape our days this week, next week, and next year. When I think of the things I do faithfully each day--care for my family, study about and talk to God, write about what I discover in faith and in the technical realm--I realize that I can see pretty clearly what I'm investing my love in for the future. And it fits me. I like it.

What do you do faithfully, each day? Those activities are building your tomorrows--they are an investment of your love and energy. I hope--for you, for your family, and for us all--that it's something that brings you joy. :) k

Friday, May 16, 2003

The Truth Does Set Us Free

This week, Christ stepped into a conversation I was having with a client who was struggling with his business communications. He offers a good service and people are always pleased with the work he does (they get more than they expect), but he continually wrestles with how he communicates what he does. He was so knotted up about ths issue that he couldn't see the simple. And that's what I'm always drawn to. I asked, "What's the truth about what you do?" He succinctly told me what he does for people. I told him what was in my heart: If you know what you offer and you tell the truth about it, you don't have to work so hard at pithy messages and consistent approaches. If you know there's something true, something clear, something focused about what you do, share that. And if you don't yet have that clarity, pray, meditate, walk in the woods, listen until you know what's true about you and what you offer people.

I remembered a friend who once told a small lie that escalated into a big one. The small lie--about where he went and who he went with--became a huge cover-up that eventually spread into all areas of his life. He spent so much time and energy trying to keep his partner from finding out about the lie that he began to feel as though his whole life was a lie. Finally, when his partner stumbled across one small piece of the lie, the whole story came out and both people were hurt and reeling by what began as a silly little lie.

When we are truthful with ourselves and others, we don't have to carry around past conversations, coverup stories, false faces, and exaggerated histories. We don't have to worry about what others may one day find out about us. We don't have to live looking back over our shoulders. We can simply stand wherever we find ourselves, doing our best in each situation, and moving forward. In this way, the truth really does set us free. When we live with truth as our priority, we are free to connect authentically with each other and we can be more open to the presence of God in every moment and every exchange.

Blessings on your day! :) k

Sunday, May 11, 2003

Looking for Why

The other morning as I was driving Cameron to school, I noticed the faces of people driving--the person in my rear view mirror, the lady waiting to turn as I went by, the people in the cars in the oncoming lane. I was struck by the seemingly vast differences of us all--our backgrounds, our families, our careers, our hopes, our struggles--and I thought of all the diversity within each individual life. An affluent person today might have been hungry as a child. And that same person might experience financial struggles in the years to come. Some are healthy; some are not. Some have loving homes; some do not. Some have overcome the hurts and hurdles holding them back from childhood; some have not...yet.

As I thought about the very great differences in our lives, I also was aware of our sameness. As Bonhoffer said, "We are all equally in need of salvation." Throughout our lives, somehow, perhaps even unknowingly, we will be drawn closer to our loving Lord. Our circumstances--financial, health, relationship, and emotional--may simply be doors inward to the place where eternity, and eternal blessing, live in us. Looking at it that way, does it really matter that some people have more money, some have better health, and some better relationships than others? If our outward circumstances are the door inward to God, we can be happy that we each have doors of opportunity that take us closer to Him, no matter what those doors might look like.

So often when something goes wrong in our lives, we begin to look for reasons...searching for the why. The thinking is that if we do everything right, if we play by all the rules, watch our health, eat right, listen to our consciences, and pray regularly, nothing "bad" will happen. And then when something *does* happen, we feel, as Henri Nouwen says, that we are "living under the curse, instead of knowing our blessedness." But Jesus already explained how this whole curse-blessing thing works in relation to circumstances. When he was asked whether the man's blindness was due to his or his parents' sin, Jesus said, "Neither. This occurred so that the glory of God might be known."

So when someone falls from grace--Martha Stewart's empire is dismantled, the preacher's affair is discovered, a friend is diagnosed with cancer, or we lose a job, do we believe that the circumstance is simply an opportunity for God to make himself known, to that person and to us through them? Or do we look at their (or our) lives and say, "Well, we should have seen it coming. Power corrupts. Stress saps the immune system, and corporate America is only interested in the bottomline." The choice of vision is ours. What are we looking for? That's what we'll find. As for me, I'm going to reserve judgment and keep my eyes open and my heart awake, waiting for God to appear in the open door.

Monday, May 05, 2003

Being Poured Out

I begin each morning by "leaning on God's windowsill" awhile, spending time in the breakfast room, watching the sunlight touch and awaken the houses on the other side of the lake. I read from my favorite devotional books, I write in my journal, I think and pray. Yesterday morning I felt such a yearning to be doing more, and doing it more directly, for God. As I was praying about it, a sudden, clear thought emerged in the middle of my outwardly bound words: "Who is this 'I'?" And I was instantly made aware that I was telling God what I wanted Him to do. I wanted Him to provide the outlet for me to write more about Him; I wanted Him to bring the channels and outlets for sharing with more people; I wanted Him to let me know--in an unmistakable way--that I was doing what He wanted me to do...

Katherine, who is this 'I'?

I quickly felt a ripple of embarrassment, and then I began to pray--instantly, unintentionally--the words and thoughts just poured out without my looking for or forming them. It was odd and wonderful. One by one, people sprang to my heart and I lifted them up and into the light of God. I felt led to pray for some people I didn't even know as well as those I did. I felt a great love for each person as I prayed. For Kristy, who needs clarity in her career; for Andrew, who needs healing in his marriage. I don't know these people, and yet they sprang to mind and I prayed for them with all my might and let the prayers fly to God. I know it may sound strange, but that's what happened. I decided not to question it and simply lift whoever God put on my heart up to Him to do what He knows is best.

Perhaps that was the answer to my prayer...perhaps God was using me the way He saw fit and letting me know in an unmistakable way that it came from Him. I'm not sure. But I do know that I felt, for a brief moment, what it was like to be poured out for let the well-defined and protected 'I' go and let my spirit relax and float along in the love of God. I cannot tell you that I understand these moments; only that I felt very blessed and felt that God was very close. So many small and miraculous gifts He gives us each day! May yours sparkle brightly for you today and draw you closer to Him. :)

Thursday, May 01, 2003

Being Willing to be Revealed

There's a line from Rumi that says something like, "Even if all our friends are sleeping, we have to allow ourselves to awaken and move. Movement brings us to a new place where new learnings can come..." I'm finding that this move to a new house has also created internal movement in me. New awarenesses. Things inside are bubbling up in this new environment that I'd forgotten I had--or would like to forget. Things like feeling sorry for myself when I'm overworked; wanting to run away when I feel misunderstood; allowing myself to simply react to situations around me and feel powerless instead of taking responsibility for myself and my choices and remembering that it's within my power to say No at any given moment.

But God and I have an understanding. I'm willing to let Him reveal all these bumps and wrinkles and self-absorbed tendencies in me, but I ask Him to heal them and take them away. Up and out--revealed and dissolved. That's the plan. That's my intention. And that's what's going on. Seeing myself in this light isn't flattering, but when I remember that God's light shines away the darkness, I know He can illumine all the shadows of fear that still hide in the corners of my belief system about myself, about Him, about the world. If I accept all these revelations as opportunities for the touch of His healing love, I'll move through them gracefully, learning and loving and letting them go.

Blessings to you in your revelations today, as well. May He help us to regard ourselves with kindness and love as we allow ourselves to become more and more like Him. :) k