I've written a lot lately about ups and downs, God's blessings, and also tried to share some realness about all of it. That's why I write and share - to be real and open about what God is doing in my life. It can be dramatic, yes, but I'm also hoping the messages help readers in whatever they are going through.
Tonight I have somewhat of a different message and it comes from God's truth talking to me. This is the lesson that came to me tonight - don't you dare let codependency make you think your integrity is less than it is. I think I've mistakenly thought that, but tonight God was telling me that the integrity and class that's inside me, and that's also inside you, is so much stronger than any screwed up codependency we might have.
I'd have to say, I've let my thinking stray from what I know about myself. And I bet many of us have done that along the way. Because of decisions we've made, or emotions we've felt, we have thought, incorrectly, that we aren't good enough, strong enough, well-intentioned enough or loving enough. What a bunch of bull. We are all of those things and more, and don't let some lies or false thoughts get in the way of believing in yourself and your integrity.
That's the lesson I learned tonight as I thought about some mistakes I've made, but also about how I've handled those mistakes and rose above them, to be a man of prayer, love, caring, values, humility and change. I was letting codependency get in the way of seeing myself that way. No more. Integrity wins out. Make it win out for you too!
With all humility, I pray for God's blessings to you. XO
It's been an amazing, amazing week. Such blessings to relate that I can hardly keep them in, even with strangers sitting next to me at the coffeee shop (more on that later). But even with these amazing blessings, something has come to me over the last many months of how wrongly focused I can be. Maybe you'll be able to relate. I hope not so much, because if you do, we both need some changes to happen.
I'm talking about how my mind tends to focus on what I DON'T have in my life, instead of focusing on what I DO have in my life. And that just makes for depression, anxiety, self-centeredness and ingratitude. Is that how I really want to live my life and what I really believe in?! NO WAY! Because of this I've taken things and people for granted way too many times. This way of thinking undervalues too many things. So, for all the ungraciousness I've shown to friends, family, a girlfriend, co-workers, and other acquaintances, things are changing. I realize just how much of a blessing everyone has been to me, and now see what is IN my life. What is in my life is LOVE from so many people, and from God.
This way of wrongly thinking has also led me to try to be someone I'm not. Foolish at this age, huh?! I guess God is leading me more and more to be the person I am...and for that I am very grateful. Let's hope that comes across in all my life and in my relationships. I trust that it will, and wish you the peace that you can be just who you are too...and that is great! XO
Check out these blessings - they go on and on, so I'll make them short and sweet (sort of). Remember, I'm sharing these to show just how much love God is giving me, not to show me, but Him in my life.
1. Went on this crazy good trip to Colorado, all as a thank you to me for teaching someone's son, which I would continue to do even if I won the lottery. Teaching is my heart, so being thanked in such a gracious way for something that comes from the heart was very special. And as you can see, got to spend some serious play time with my two sisters. Plus, had the best experience on horseback, really connecting with my horse, Rimington. Thanks to Steve, Harrison and Justin too. Here are some photos from the trip. One more thing about leaving for this trip - many friends, including Tal and Claire, made sure my mom was okay while we were gone. Thank you!
2. At my Box Project session at Youth for Christ on Monday, with middle school boys, two boys had great comments/reactions: one said his box was the best thing he had ever made (!), and a second boy gave me a bro handshake, leaned over to give me a hug, and asked for graph paper to take home. So, so cool!
3. As many of you know, the Box Project from my class has really taken off. I'm working to get teachers from around the country to do this project with their students - it's that cool. So, I've been speaking at conferences, and am set to speak at two more so far. The idea came, I think, from two seeds: working with sixth graders at Golda Meir School in downtown Milwaukee six years ago, and inspiration coming to me while walking down a food aisle in a grocery store. Well, I always wished I had taken some photos of that sixth grade classroom project at Golda, because it would be nice to have documentation of the start of the Box Project. Which leads me to this crazy good story that happened two days ago.
As I was writing at Alterra/Colectivo, a student from that sixth grade class walked in with her mom and younger brother. Since she had just graduated from high school, I went over to say hi and congratulate her, and find out what the future holds. We talked and then they asked what I was up to. I explained where I teach and other things, and then asked the former student, Fiona, if she remembered the project we did in class, and she did. I then said I never took any photos and wished I had because of its connection to my current Box Project. Fiona thought for second, and then said she thought a friend of hers on Facebook had photos of the project on her page. And sure enough she did, as evidenced below. HOW COOL IS THAT?!! :) Great to see you Fiona and best of luck in the future.
And it was so cool after talking with that family that I leaned over to the guy next to me at the coffee shop and shared a bit. He had a couple of books about God on his table, so I asked him if he was studying to be a minister. He said he was studying theology, so I told him I just had a God moment and asked if he wanted to hear it. He was excited to hear and thanked me for sharing.
4. And there's one more! A former student of mine, who is going into seventh grade, was playing guitar and singing at a small place in Waukesha that same night as the coffee shop story above. I thought I'd go and support him. As I was listening and chatting with his dad, Emmett dedicated a song to me: Superstition by Stevie Wonder, since I had asked him about the song when he was in my class. What a nice thing to do for a teacher, dedicate a song unexpectedly. Of course, I recorded it, and don't think Emmett would mind me sharing below.
And to top that day off, between the Alterra experience and seeing Emmett, I ran into an old high school friend of mine at Brookfield Square, who I hadn't seen in ten years. :)
See, what IS is what counts. I'm learning. Hope you are too. Blessings. XO
That's the way I heard it put during a sermon, and how right that is. Blessings are everywhere, if I am available to see them. Half an hour ago, I ran into the woman at Colectivo/Alterra that gives me a hug when I see her. We gave each other a hug and a nice "good morning." Know what her name is? Liv
Yep, "LIV(e)" That's the message to me.
Am off to Colorado this morning with my sister and sister-in-law - all through a blessing from a student's parent. How cool is that? Talk about a blessing. I've understood this week more than others that I am blessed beyond belief. I didn't always see it that way, as I looked at others and saw what I didn't have in my life. I knew that was not a good way of looking at things, but for some reason kept doing it.
So, that's what I've been praying about, to view life's blessings everywhere and know God's presence here and now, with deep gratitude. I also send out prayers to the people and families of Orlando and others, and for my old friends too.
After "putting my foot down" last week, it's gone well, but I caught myself using words the other day that kept me thinking old ways, like "change is not easy," or "it's not always easy." That is changing too. It's how you frame it and with the help of prayer, and friends, I'm seeing that more and more.
So, reframe it. I'll be unplugged in Colorado for five days. I could take that as a pain, but I'm going to rejoice at that instead. Shoot, I'll be in the mountains, time to soak it all in!
On another note, last week I also mentioned the heart needed to dig deep into to make decisions and get on with things. That heart is in all of us. I think it's our true, loving self, full of life and goodness. I read a church bulletin note from Racine's First Presbyterian Church's Pastor Gillian this week that talked about heart. She talked about running the race that is before us, and related the story of John Stephen Akhwari and his 1968 Olympic marathon race. It might not be what you think, so please check it out below. That is heart! I love it. It sure brought me goosebumps and helped inspire me this week. That's the kind of heart we all have and that can change life's perspective. Thank you Gillian.
I start out today with prayers about love and blessings and I send all of those out to whoever may be reading today, and all others too. Remember that heart we have, and the blessings of God. Have yourself a blessed week. I hope you know God's blessings in your life too. XO
It sounds like a good plan, changing some habits. Whether they are habits in thought, action or attitude, there are things I'd like to do to make my life better, happier, and more full of integrity, where my thoughts match my loving heart. Yep, that's the plan. But, I've said that to myself or others plenty of times, and some things have changed, while others seem stuck.
Some of those habits I'd like to see change are so engrained in my being, they seem unlikely to change. But after texting with a friend last night, about being on my own pity pot of feeling lonely, she said she was praying for me to get over the loneliness, the thoughts of someone else, and for a new joy to come alive. She also said she knows who I am and my heart, and that I was special to her and many people. It was a blessing to hear, and....it helped me understand that I was just stuck in my own crap. I texted her back a huge thank you, but it also made me think that although I pray and want to change, I also have to show some guts, determination and HEART! That's where "putting my foot down" comes into the picture.
I must not only pray for change or hope in a situation, but need to make a DECISION. And that decision is something from deep inside that says, "enough is enough." That decision puts my foot down to say I believe in myself, my future, my present, and my God. The God I believe in is so full of love, and quiet support, that I can trust He is giving me the power to live well.
I can decide not to drink soda, I can decide not to eat sweets, I can decide to concentrate on gratitude by writing it out, or letting others know, and I can decide to make some art or read. I CAN do those things. Instead of praying for those changes, I can DECIDE to do them. Sometimes, it's really easy to forget how powerful we are. We are the most amazing creatures and have the POWER to change and grow. Decide upon it!
It may actually sound like I'm talking myself into all of this, and maybe I am in a way giving myself a pep talk, but it's the truth too. "For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and of a sound mind." 2 Timothy 1:7. And so when the time comes where emotions want to change my determination and heart, I need to remember this and my decision to trust, commit, and the truth.
Now live it! Thank you God.
The photo below was taken on my school's campus just a few days ago. Check out the baby herons that are growing up.
As I sat in an empty hallway yesterday, waiting for my new drumming teacher, I looked across the way to an empty room, and Marianne Williamson's quote was on the door. Love that!
The song below is supposedly about Albert Einstein, but I've always loved the words and thought it could fit Jesus too.
Blessings to you all. XO
We are so similar, aren't we? Yes, we have plenty of differences: color, height, gender, income, etc. But when it comes down to it, we are all trying to live our best lives, and all have desires, dreams, doubts, and thoughts. I've been meeting with some pastors/rectors, wanting to connect more with people and God, and looking for a few more answers for myself. One thing has been obvious in all my talks with them, and with friends: we are not alone in our thoughts on faith, God and the mystery of it all. There are plenty of times when I'm alone that I tend to think what I'm going through is just my own drama (of course!), but then I talk with someone and it reminds me that we all go through ups and downs, and all could use a comforting hug, a good laugh, talk or cry.
Several books have been recommended to me, not to find answers, but to refine faith. All have been good in their own ways.
From the last one, I read about Jesus' life pre-Easter and post-Easter. Pretty deep stuff and wordy, but some things hit home. And one really hit home, especially for my stuffiness. I feel like I used to be a lot more light-hearted, and as I grew older, even as a teen, I became stiffer and wanted to do the "right thing." That even included not laughing when others seemed to be having a good time. What a crock that is, huh? I acted as if laughing didn't fit into my idea of what was "right." Talk about over-seriousness. That's why my friend Tally and I say, "Lighten up, Francis," when I get too stuffy (from the movie Stripes, if you didn't know). I have a new goal: laugh a lot more! :)
That was caused by lots of stuff, I think - home life, a Lutheran upbringing or whatever, but today I read about conventional wisdom vs. alternative wisdom. Pre-Easter Jesus grew up, as we all do, in conventional wisdom of our society. But Jesus had an alternative wisdom about life, that had more to do with Godly compassion, than rules and tradition. I feel like I've been living in too much of the conventional wisdom of life, even to the point of living with less joy than I could be because of some stringent internal rules I'm trying to live by, instead of living in the alternative wisdom of love and freedom of Jesus' teaching and God's love.
Okay, with all that said...gotta let go of the old ways and let God guide me in the other. Watch out world, I'm going to let laughter and joy into my life!
Example: on way to Minneapolis this weekend, my sister said, "I wonder what it's like to think like a cow." I said, "I'd love to find out, since my brain never stops!" Yes, we got a good laugh out of my over-working brain thinking like a cow! :)
Plenty of blessings to report too: my uncle is getting better, we had a chance to see our cousins and talk/laugh/hug, was accepted to speak about the box project in an independent school conference in Ohio, and heard from a teacher in Luck, WI who is now doing boxes with her students (see photos below).
Blessings to you all! XOXO Laughs too!