Monday, December 21, 2009

I love Christmas!


When you are sitting around your Christmas dinner with friends and family, why not ask some thoughtful questions?
1. What's the best thing that's happened to you since last Christmas?
2. What was your best Christmas ever? Why?
3. What's the most meaningful Christmas gift you've ever received?
4. What was the most appreciated Christmas gift you've ever given?
5. What was your favorite Christmas tradition as a child?
6. What is your favorite Christmas tradition now?
7. What do you do to try to keep Christ in Christmas?
8. If you were stranded on an island with a TV/DVD player and only one Christmas movie, which one would it be? +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ I never thought I'd be a fake tree type but a few years ago after Christmas, we bought a nine foot tree with white lights for $30 (such a deal we couldn't pass it up, even if we only used it on our front porch or something like that!). However, I must admit I love this tree! Here are the positives about a fake tree:
1. It goes up in a flash.
2. I don't have to put lights on it
3. You can move the branches to fit the ornaments where you want them to show up
4. The branches don't bend down under the weight of the heavier ornaments
5. I can "smell" the tree since I put out my Yankee Candle "Cedar Leaf Spruce" potpourri which smell even better and longer than any Frazier Fir we've ever bought
6. It's economical
7. No needle droppings!
8. Don't have to water it
9. No sap on your hands that you can't get off
So all in all I'm now PRO artificial tree!!! +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I CORINTHIANS 13 - A CHRISTMAS VERSION If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another decorator. If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook. If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing. If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point. Love stops the cooking to hug the child. Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband. Love is kind, though harried and tired. Love doesn't envy another home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens. Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way. Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can't. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Flame of Love



O living flame of love
That tenderly wounds my soul
In its deepest center! Since
Now you are not oppressive,
Now Consummate! If it be your will:
Tear through the veil of this sweet encounter!

O sweet cautery,
O delightful wound!
O gentle hand! O delicate touch
That tastes of eternal life
And pays every debt!
In killing you changed death into life.
O lamps of fire! In whose splendors
The deep caverns of feeling.
Once obscure and blind,
Now give forth, so rarely, so exquisitely,
Both warmth and light to their beloved.

How gently and lovingly
You wake in my heart.
Where in secret you dwell alone;
And in your sweet breathing,
Filled with good and glory,
How tenderly you swell my heart with love.

Saint John of the Cross

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mistakes


You wonder why you are permitted to make mistakes in your choice when you sought so truly to do My will in the matter. To that I say it was no mistake . . . all your lessons cannot be learned without difficulty and this was needed to teach you a lesson. Not to him who walks on, with no obstacles is the promise given. The overcoming is never the overcoming of the one who troubles you, but the overcoming of the weaknesses and wrong in your own nature, aroused by such a one.

excerpt from God Calling edited by A J Russell July 28
Rev 2:7 To everyone who overcomes I will give fruit from the tree of life in the paradise of God.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Burning Bush




Wednesday I was on my early morning walk around the neighbor. I passed by a little creek and glanced at it and noticed some "stirring" in the water. I thought, "that's odd" and then heard a splash and thought "is that a dog swimming in the creek?" So I turned aside from my walk to investigate. To my surprise I saw two creatures. At first I thought, "Are those beavers???" (There had actually been reports of some beavers in the neighbor) But as I continued to look, one climbed out on a log and instead of a big flat tail it had a long skinny tail . . . river otters!!! They went back in the water and turned to look at me with their little heads popping out of the creek the way river otters do. I was amazed! I watched them for a few minutes and then went on with my walk. Now I wished I had stayed a while!

For me this was a God Hunt moment. How often do you see river otters in a creek in your neighborhood???? This was a first for ME! God knows how connected I feel to Him in and through nature and this was an early morning "gift" saying to me, "See how I delight in surprising you with fun little gifts just because I love you?" I could just see the expression on God's face as I "found" the gift He had waiting for me.

As I thought about this, I remembered Moses "turning aside" to investigate an unusual sight: a burning bush that did not burn up. And in that moment God spoke to him. What if Moses had not turned aside? What if I had not? I would have missed something very special from God's heart to mine.

I'm grateful I'm learning to live in the moment and cherish each and every one. What a gift each moment from my God is to me!!!!

Remember to turn aside when you sense One calling you to do so. You may experience a God moment along with me and Moses.


(this image was taken from igoogle and is not the real otters I saw)

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Life is a Journey, not a Destination


"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives." Annie Dillard

So be sure you are spending the minutes of your lives well. Savour every moment. Live in the present moment, live in the "in-between", it is a sacred space with God. Learn how to keep company with Jesus. Practice the presence of God.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Words to Live By


Regina Brett's 45 life lessons and 5 to grow on
Posted by Regina Brett September 20, 2007 14:03PM
Originally published in The Plain Dealer on Sunday,May 28, 2006

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I've ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here's an update:

1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

4. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.

8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it.

9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks.

16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.

23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.

24. The most important sex organ is the brain.

25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this matter?"

27. Always choose life.

28. Forgive everyone everything.

29. What other people think of you is none of your business.

30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

33. Believe in miracles.

34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35. Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.

37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.

38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.

39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back.

41. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

42. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

45. The best is yet to come.

46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

48. If you don't ask, you don't get.

49. Yield.

50. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Change


We all want to change something about ourselves. Read below to find out how to start that process.

"People perceive and remember what fits into their personal plot—an internal script of oneself and one’s world. Beliefs and assumptions (inspired by experiences) dictate what you look for and attribute meaning. You always find or create that which validates those beliefs, and ignore, mistrust, disbelieve—or more likely don’t notice—anything that doesn’t fit into that pattern.

Reruns
People repeat behavior, even that which doesn’t work, because it offers security and familiarity. Doing the same thing results in a known outcome; predictability masquerades as effectiveness. When you move beyond a familiar pattern, you may experience anxiety.

Repetition reinstates the security of the familiar, even if the repetition is limiting or frustrating. By opting for repetition, people sabotage invention and imprison creativity. Stuck behavior has stuck consequences. Staying in a rut long enough begins to seem like fate. That outlook can lead to despair. The ultimate question about fixed beliefs or “stuckness” is: Does it work?

Who Wrote This?
Change may be difficult, but it begins with the easy recognition that you are the author of your own life story. Insight, understanding, and theory do not create change. New theories alone will not drive old lived experiences into extinction. Lasting change requires new lived experiences to replace old experiences – you invested a lot of years in the old system, and you will have to practice the new stuff as hard as you practiced the old stuff."

4 BASIC TESTS FOR CHANGE

1. What do you want to change?
2. What do you want to outgrow?
3. What do you want to avoid?
4. What do you want to enhance?


This article was written by David Krueger, MD who is the Dean of Curriculum for the CTA Certified Coach Program and author of 16 books. He mentors executives, entrepreneurs, and authors.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A Must Read



I love this author and this book! He writes: We look for saints and for mystics whose words speak to us. We seek out the poets and preachers and pilgrims whose language seems somehow our own , in the hope they will explain what we know we have heard in the depths of our hearts.

This is exactly what Benson has done for me as I read this book: expresses my own heart and confirms my experience with Jesus. I love it and am celebrating this book and my own relationship with Father/Papa God.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fallow Field



I'm reading the greatest book, flying through it, can't wait to get into it every single morning. Living Prayer by Robert Benson. This line struck me today: "We pray that we may so use such time (on a retreat) to renew our minds; by letting our minds lie fallow for a time, by not engaging them every waking moment in the things that pass away." p101

I was thinking about how just "being" with God, and being silent in prayer, not saying anything or expecting to hear anything, just allowing my mind to be "fallow" is so needful. The Lord commanded his people to let their land lie fallow every 7 years AND every 7X7 years or 49 years in order to produce a more fruitful crop. The year of Jubilee was the 50th year after all those fallow years, a huge celebration.

Who knew that leaving our minds to be fallow in silent prayer would or could produce so very much????

Friday, June 05, 2009

Be a good steward of your pain




"Being a good steward of your pain...It involves being alive to your life. It involves taking the risk of being open, of reaching out, of keeping in touch with the pain as well as the joy of what happens because at no time more than at a painful time do we live out of the depths of who we are instead of out of the shallows."
— The Clown in the Belfry, Frederick Buechner

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Being vs Doing



How many of us go out and DO for God before we even have discovered who we are in relationship with Him . . . the BE side of us. God calls us to first BE and then from who He made us to be He calls us to DO in relationship to Him. "Doing" without first "being" is like a plant growing tall without a strong root system - there is nothing to ground its activity and quickly it will fail. (Hmmm, sounds a lot like Jesus talking about the parable of the sower doesn't it?). "The higher the growth up, the deeper must be the enrooting." Much activity for God without first growth IN God will result in failed fruit.

Work on your just "being" with God today!

inspired by excerpt from God Calling from May 27

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Solitude in NC


It is always nice to have a little R&R and mine was very special the last few days. I traveled to my friend Barb's cabin in NC and had two whole days of relaxing with God, reading my Bible, devotionals, books, praying, being quiet, walking, journaling, lectio divina. I also got to visit a bit with Barb and Keith, Bailey, Carson and Marley on their farm. What a joy, what a treat! We had some great Chicken Fried Rice and Chocolate Fondue. Thank you God! Thank you Barb and Keith!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

The Bride



"All that I am and all that I have is yours."
Sounds like a wedding vow from a bride to a groom, and vise versa, doesn't it?
I give him all that I am and have, he gives me all that he is and has.
What a great exchange!
This is exactly what takes place in our hearts when we surrender our hearts and lives to Jesus. He IS our bridegroom. We give Him our sin and unrighteousness, He gives us His Life and His righteousness. Now that is a GREAT EXCHANGE!
God made Jesus who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2Cor 5:21 NAS

The Message says it like this: God put the wrong on Jesus who never did anything wrong, so we could be put right with God.

Here it is in the word on the street by Rob Lacey: God piled our mess on to the only innocent man ever to live. He gave him the death penalty for everything we'd messed up, for us to walk free. For us to use our new God-connection to start doing the right thing.

(Cool! I didn't know the word God-connection was in this version of the Bible! God Connection is one of my group coaching venues that I offer)

"Oh Holy Bride, how beautiful are you when you come to Jeus with nothing of your own. (He accepts you not on what you have to bring, or even on who you are, but because He loves you and gave His life for you.) The Bridegroom will be more than pleased with youw hen He sees you cothed in His beauty (alone). There will be no limit to His love for you, becuase you are clothes in His Holiness."
Let Go by Fenelon pg 72.

Wow, He really LOVES me!!!! :)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Coaching is dynamic!


As a spiritual growth coach, I partner with women to discover how their unique desgin can unleash a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. I do that through assessments, exercises and approaches that fit their stage of life, calling and spiritual temperment. I offer individual coaching, small group opportunities, such as God Connection and half day mini-retreats as well as speak at larger venues, such as women's church retreats. I ask powerful questions that help women process what's going on in their spiritual life and motivate them to draw closer to God and experience Him more deeply.
If you are interested, check out my website: www.closerstill.org

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The White Stone


In Revelation 2:17 Jesus tells us He will give each of us a white stone with a new name that only He knows on it. Today I was reading a Lenten devotional that talked about that. It said, "He knows what my name should be, how His grace has marked me in such a way to reveal His glory. He knows what name will clearly picture who I am and who I belong to. He names us out of His love. He will put the stone in my hand and I will know, from my naming, how much He has loved me all along."
I just love that. I had asked God a while ago if He would be willing to share with me His white stone name for me . . . and He did! I have never liked my name because it often gets mispronounced and misspelled so to have a new name thrilled me. It is His special name for me, so special that I don't want to share it here, it is too personal. BUT I encourage you to ask God the same, ask if He will share His white stone name for you. And then ponder it, ask about its meaning. As I read this devotional today, He gave me even further insight into the meaning of my name and it was exactly what I needed to hear in this season of my life.
I promise, you WILL be blessed, if you listen closely to His whispers to you.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hard times


How many of us are struggling in some way, shape or form with difficulties today? My neck and shoulders have been bothering me since my bumpy 4 hour trip to Ghamba in Kenya. That was Novemeber 2008, almost 4 months ago. I keep thinking if I just wait long enough, it will get better. I pray for God to heal me and nothing changes. Finally I went to physical therapy yesterday and a shred of hope is dawning even as I do my exercises and sometimes the pain increases. Then I think about those I know personally who are enduring so much worse: my friend who endures excruiating back pain, my friend who is dealing with returning cancer. God gave me an encouraging word today as I seek to do the hard work of pressing through my difficulties as opposed to praying for Him to just take them away.
"Hold fast, My child, for in the hour of anguish, then shall you walk in victory. Do not pray to be brought out of the fire until after you have found Me real in the midst of it. The coward seeks release from the pressure. The courageous pray for strength to overcome."
Daniel 3:27 And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king's counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.
Father, give me courage to pray for Your strength to be strong when I am weak and to remain where I am until I have found YOU in the midst of the difficulty. Thank you that You ARE here with me and only want me to cling to YOU!
(from Come Away My Beloved: 365 One Minute Meditations)

photo credit: Ernest von Rosen, www.amgmedia.com
(Notice the cross in the middle of the fire!!!! How cool is that!)

PS:Whenever my pain annoys me, I take that as God reminding me to pray for my two friends that are in a harder place than me. This gives some value to my pain and takes my focus off of me. Thus in some unusual way, my pain has become a gift.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Invisible Mother



It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the
way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and
ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on
the phone?'

Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or
sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because
no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I
am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie
this? Can you open this??

Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a
clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What
number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30,
please.'

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the
eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude
-but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen
again. She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a
friend from England . Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip,
and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting
there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was
hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty
pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package,
and said, 'I brought you this.' It was a book on the great cathedrals of
Europe . I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it t o me until I read
her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of
what you are building when no one sees.'

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would
discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after
which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great
cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their
whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great
sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was
fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the
cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny
bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are
you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be
covered by the roof, No one will ever see it. And the workman replied,
'Because God sees.'

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was
almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte. I see
the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.

No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake
you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are
building a g reat cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will
become. At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is
not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of
my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn
pride.

I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As
one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see
finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The
writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever
be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to
sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend
he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4
in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a
turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would
mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want
to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend,
to add, 'You're gonna love it there.'

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're
doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will
marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been
added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

I got this from a friend in an email; no idea who wrote it but it spoke truth and encouragement to me as a Mom and I hope it does to you too.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Faith and Love


I just started reading Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy. He lays out a good case for God being incomprehesible and then asks "How can we know an incomprehesible God?" He answers boldly, "Through Jesus."
"In Christ and by Christ, God effects complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love. Faith is the organ of knowledge and love an organ of experience. God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself and by faith and love we enter and lay hold of Him." p.14
"God can be known by the soul in tender personal experience while remaining infinitely aloof from the curious eyes of reason." p.15
I love this! Knowledge is important so that we can know what God says about Himself in His Word but it alone is not enough. We come to love God through experiencing Him. We can know alot about Him and still not love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Transformation happens experientially and relationally. As we relate to God and experience Him, we come to love Him more and more and are transformed by His Presence within us.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

My thoughts exactly!


I came across this prayer this past week in two entirely different books! I love it when God highlights something He wants me to see or know like that! This really spoke to me the first time I read it and every time after that.

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road through I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always though I may seem lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
(Thoughts in Solitude by Thomas Merton)
Amen and amen!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

God Hunt: Edition 2


God has a sense of humor, don't you think? If you look at my post from July 7th, you'll notice I reference a "fellow life coach." Today I actually met her, on the phone! I was introduced to her blog through a friend, Kelly Angell, who knew and loved her and thought I would too. That was in October of 2007. Today I finally emailed her directly and we wound up chatting on the phone for an hour! She is a lovely and gracious woman who I feel privileged to know and is now the first "official follower" of my blog(she even helped me set it up which turned out to be a lengthy ordeal, was she ever patient!). I encourage you to go to her blog and check out the wisdom she shares. That is where I got my first exposure to the "God Hunt" and she often has very thought provoking posts. Thanks Kathryn for sharing your wisdom, musings and heart with all of us!

By the way, I've recommitted to updating my blog at least monthly so check back again. I promise I won't wait 5 months again!