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Tagged ‘Inviting God‘

The Pearls We Value

Like everyone else, I got up this morning, got ready for the day, and landed with my first task that seemingly got my day started. Is not that what we all do? Each day brings with it the many tasks that seem to be “what we have to do” to start our day.

I began thinking about this a little more and realized that each day we begin exchanging life for someone or freshwater loose pearls for the things that we deem as “important” to us. Think about it. In my earlier post Stepping Into Life, I discussed the necessity of taking steps, one-by-one and eventually the summit appears. Prior to ever taking the first step to reach the summit begs the question, What am I exchanging my life for, each moment, as I take steps onward and upward to achieve the peak of any given summit?

I am reminded of a story that Jesus spoke of. He states that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of See full size imagegreat value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

I realize that I am combining two thoughts simultaneously at this point. However, what I believe the significance of what I am trying to say is that each day we are giving our life over to someone or something. We are exchanging our time, energy, thought, and heart for someone or something that we deem as important enough to give our life to. Our time is our life quantified. Our money is simply remuneration for our time. Our energy is the soul of our initiative concerning what we are about in purpose and plan. Are you conscious of your pearls today?

Photos courtesy of  Google Images/Shenzhen Fortune-yon, Overlander


Stepping Into Life!

Recently, I had an opportunity to take  week-long sabbatical. In case you do not know, a sabbatical is “A sabbatical year is a prolonged hiatus, typically one year, in the career of an otherwise successful individual taken in order to fulfill some dream.” In my case it was not a year, nor was it necessarily to fulfill my dream. It was however to gain perspective, and a vantage point about my life. Everyone needs that type of time to consider how and where one is going. I was grateful to have the time to engage & reflect, listen & hear, step & pause. One of the exciting events that I chose while on sabbatical was to climb what is called a 14′er (or fourteener) known as Quandary Peak. In case you have not connected the dots, I was out-of-town visiting the state of Colorado. Colorado has breathtaking views, clean air, and space to “take it all in.” Colorado has over 50 14′ers and all have views that extend beyond the horizon. Quandary is one of many and is a beginners 14′er with a gradual but intense incline.

As I seem to do with most events in my life, I experience them to the fullest measure, meanwhile I extract the symbolic meaning of them as I am engaging and participating in the adventure. Quandary Peak is a 14,265 foot Peak southwest of Breckenridge that begins in the trees and ends up above the treeline. The trail is relatively easy to follow until crossing the treeline and traveling onto the rocky path towards the summit.

As I was venturing upwards, I was remembering when I ran my first marathon in the year 2000. One of the key learnings then was, “anyone can run a marathon, one must simply learn what their pace is to complete the race.” Then, that was a good learning. Knowing what your pace is enables you to complete your race. Life is a race and you are competing with yourself. Knowing what your personal pace is enables you to complete it with the time that is commensurate with your own abilities and commitment. It is so easy to look around and observe the other competitors and compare yourself with what is perceived about “the other.” What an illusion! It goes to show, life is filled with illusions. Back to the climb.

What I learned while climbing was, “the ascent to the top takes place by “stepping into life” one step at a time! Rarely does any progress, achievement, or goal get accomplished while watching or sitting. Though there is a time and place for observation, there is also a time for stepping into the unknown “one step at a time” in order to gradually move into a more full life. I am reminded if the passage in Isaiah 25: 6-9

On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine, the best of meats and the finest of wines.

On this mountain He will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; He will swallow up death forever.

The sovereign Lord will wipe away tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken.

In that day they will say, Surely this is our God; we trusted in Him and He saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in Him; let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.”

Step into Life, your life. Go to the summit, your summit. See the peak, the view, the majesty of His glory from your perspective One Step at a TIme! You will receive as you trust each step along the way!

Photos courtesy of Google & 14ers.com, Flickr, tab2space.

 


The Leprosy of Our Day

Oh what an awful title to start this entry for the day. But, have you ever00011506-SPP-leprosyportraits-005 by natalia_tumasian. thought about it? Jesus confronted, held and touched, and healed one of the most debilitating and damaging illnesses of His day-leprosy. All lepers (due to the contagion of the illness) were automatically removed from society, held with disregard, treated as if substandard, and lastly, left to die within their little community of lepers. How tragic and utterly baneful this must have been for those who contracted the disease. Why did Jesus go out of his way to make a difference, to relate, engage, heal, and love these people?

1month - 1700g - Pneumonia by u.wili.As in many of the Lord’s parables where he touches the very heart of broken, sinful, and lost humanity, He does so with these people. Jesus most often elevates the truthful, and compassionate response to humanity while ensuring that the point is not to expose humanity and how bad it is. “Our tragedy is that most often, we focus on what people are not rather than what they are and what they can become.“ 

So…what is the leprosy of our day? As mentioned earlier in one of my first entries, I am a therapist and a consultant. I spend many hours listening intently to the circumstances, stories, and relational exchanges that seem to create stuckness in the mire of life. I am convinced that the Leprosy of Our Day has less to do with physical illness and more to do with our response towards our overriding  ”fear of not belonging.” What do I mean? Let me explain.

Because we were all made for meaningful connection, our proclivity for perspective is to belong. We all arrange our grid for viewing life each day with an emotional focus to insure belonging. When we stumble upon a person who is “different” or perhaps going through something that we would dread going through, our immediate grid becomes jaded with our fear and asks, “If I engage would I belong?” If we are afraid, our belonging meter begins to show alarm. As a means of self-protection, we then become suspect, possibly even judgemental towards the person, or group therefore insuring our own cleansing from the system while protecting what we have already set up as our “criteria and system of belonging.”

Lepers are created by our own perceptions of what is “not acceptable” and reinforced by our engrained response of judgements and rationalizations of why another is truly an outcast. So..the leprosy is not necessarily a certain issue as much as it is a response to the issues with an already preconceived grid of insuring self-protection and deemed purity.

A good friend recently went to the Holy Land on a tour. His instructor Giant Clouds Invade Idaho! Close Encounters of the Cumulonimbus Kind by moonjazz.Ray Vander Laan  said it well, “Jesus came to bring order in the midst of disorder, he came to enter into the chaos and not skirt it to appear more righteous.” Oh, how difficult this is. What is certain is we cannot do it alone, we need each other, our perspectives need to be refined and transformed into the image of true love, and we need to be having conversations with the Lord and each other about our struggle in the midst of it.

Photos Courtesy of  Natalie Tumasian,U.Wili,, MoonJazz 


Conversations That Turn To One Another

I am becoming more aware of the degree to which people feel isolated from one another. Loneliness, emptiness, despair, and turning one’s affections from what fulfills and creates life to indulging in parts of life that offer nothing more than the slimy consolation prize which in turn certainly communicates: ”you’re not a winner.” Sometimes I simply have had enough of the paltry and squalid side of life. I long for and desire so much more for relationships, people, and the daily experience that is created from our human efforts.

“Every change in the quality of a person’s life must grow out of a change in his or her vision of reality.”  This quote comes from a book that  I am reading. You can check out the links for yourself. The book suggests that there is a wisdom of tenderness that coincides with the Words of Jesus as the master vision of reality. Essentially, our picture of God creates our understanding of reality with all the mental, emotional, and relational paradigms that go along with it. Understanding and identifying with our picture of God is an honest beginning for knowing where to commence defining the world we live in.

Where is the place that we begin or continue to turn for our own personal consolation when the world does not make sense? If we turn to God and we receive nothing more than silence, often in our own spiritual immaturity we conclude with, “God must not care.” If in turning to others we are told religious blather God merely is reduced to the trivial understanding of our own ignorance. If we turn to one another, what do we turn to one another for? Are we merely temporary sources of comfort amidst the discomforts of life. What place do we (our relationships) hold with each other?

I witness and listen to a variety of relational experiences where people are disillusioned and confused with their relationships and the purpose they have in their life. I am certain that conversations must turn to God but also to one another. The quality of these conversations, in my estimation, outweighs the quantity of conversation.

I have been a witness to conversations that seem to spin around the maypole amassing quantity yet the end result is anemic with mutual understanding and connection. Conversations that listen at a depth that is commensurate with what is being said appears to be central to arriving with a level of connection that satisfies. My next entry will discuss conversations that listen.

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Picture Organizer


Conversations about Meaning

A while ago, I wrote a post that described the necessity to Keep the Conversation Going. Similarly, the post that you are reading  points towards the need for keeping the inner conversation with yourself  fresh and alive.

Yesterday, I was discussing with an individual particular circumstances that were engulfing her ability to maintain buoyancy and personal perspective in her life. She described her situation as a dark shadow that was overcoming her ability to see any light in her situation. Our conversation together continued to hover around the particulars of her situation but more so her “ability to see” herself in her situation and to see more than what she now was experiencing. What resulted was a Conversation about Meaning.

We are forced, sometimes , as we face difficulties, to ask questions that we do not have immediate answers. Events happen, our lives rearranged, and peril begins to enter our emotions and thoughts. Dread begins to set in similar to water that solidifies concrete when it sets up. A clear direction is not in sight and stagnation or resignation seems like the only alternative. Where do we search for and answer?

A dear friend of mine recently wrote a blog that addresses decision-making in the context of the confusing swirl of the journey of  life at a crossroad. In addition to asking, “What is the right thing to do?”, is there a place to understand and address the question, “Where does my meaning come from in this given situation?” 

Each circumstance in life that we experience compels us to check whether we will end with despair and emptiness or meaning, purpose, and value. As I began to process with this women her “sense of purpose” in the midst of her circumstance, what resulted was a lengthy conversation about her needs, longings, desires, hopes, and dreams.

Despite the tragedy at hand, her soul possessed the deep well of life as represented in needs, longings. desires, hopes, and dreams. One author put it this way, When we pay attention to our longing and allow questions about our longing to strip away the outer layers of self-definition, we are tapping into the deepest dynamic of the spiritual life. The stirring of spiritual desire indicates that God is already at work within us, drawing us to himself.”  It is difficult at times to see God in the midst of our difficulties and ‘yet it is in our difficulties that we often most clearly see God and therefore ourselves.’ I am grateful for the well within that contains the  life and residency of God. This grants permission for new perspectives and new beginnings despite hardship. What do you think?

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Clip Organizer & BrandonRhodes Photo Stream


Conversation with Life is Ultimately a Conversation with God!

For those of you who know me, it does not require any boldness on my part to write the following:

 “You stir us to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”  Augustine

Why have I begun this post with such a bold proclamation as stated by Augustine? I believe that ultimately a conversation with life is a conversation with God! God is life. Where we enter into life represents itself as a conversation. There are many entry points.  Usually, we are entering at a point of pragmatics, survival needs, getting the job done, or simply self-service and maintenance. Other times, the conversation may be tasks and accomplishments, or goals and objectives. Eventually, our conversation with life presses into purpose, values, reasons for being, and understanding our own personal identity and the identitiy of the author of life. This is a much deeper conversation that requires who we are to be receptive to all the authoring that has developed up to that point in our life. That is why I call it the ultimate conversation of life.

When I was in my teens, I had such a conversation. I met my author, his name is Jesus. We have a relationship that as a mentee, I am continuously learning. I invite you to continue reading my blog. I welcome your comments and questions that you may have as you listen to the various blogs that speak to leading you life in an age of opportunity and challenge.

Finally, another quote from Augustine: 

 But the abyss of the human conscience lies naked to your eyes, O Lord, so would anything be secret even if I were unwilling to confess to you? I would be hiding you from myself, but not myself from you.”

We have this incredible ability to think that we are hidden from God. Conversely, we are really hiding ourselves from Him. Conversations with life is an invitation to knowing and being known by another and by Him.

Photos courtesy of www.crossroadsinitiative.com & www.wordpress.com

Conversations that Create

Once again, I was blessed to have another engaging conversation of depth and discovery. I was traveling with a friend to meet with a consultant who shared some mutual interests. Of course, as we drove to our destination, we conversed. What I realized was the incredible enjoyment of our interaction and the manner in which it helps each of us create something new.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, What is Your Conversation With Life, we were not simply talking. We were actually creating as the conversation was happening. I found that our conversation included these qualities:

  • conversation is creative
  • conversation is life-giving
  • conversation grants permission for uniqueness and expression
  • conversation promotes authenticity
  • conversation helps us to understand and move towards wholeness
  • conversations teach us how to listen
  • conversation lends itself to discovering “the other as a true other”
  • conversation deepens intimacy (knowing of self and another)
  • conversation invites God to be involved

In future blogs, I am sure that I will be elaborating on these qualities that lifted from my conversation with a special friend. This was my conversation with life and I was sensitized to the beauty of giving consent to the conversation. What are your conversations creating today? Have you reflected much on the qualities that seem to emerge from your conversations? I encourage you to continue to deepen your Conversation with Life!