Tiny little kindnesses

When I leave home for a few days I often notice the things no one but me would see.

My flowers whose faces are in search of the sun become thirsty and just a bit droopy.  

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I walk around watering herbs and flowers and looking for down cast heads.

I then notice that the bird feeders are also in need of more seeds.  The blue jays and robins are searching and searching the bottoms of the feeders.

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I refill them and walk along the porches to push back the cobwebs and sweep away the pollen.

In every corner of my home I issue tiny kindnesses that help to keep things flourishing.   

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It occurred to me that life is also full of the opportunities to sow tiny kindnesses all through out the day.

Kindnesses towards people can nurture their souls the way water can make a flower bloom. 

The same way my grandson turns his face towards mine for more kisses because love always searches for more goodness.                                                         11410754_394845570699936_604079107_n

A text message, a hand written note, a timely email, can all be kindnesses.

A phone call can remind a young mother that she can and will make it through a hard day.

A few minutes with a friend can bring clarity and push confusion back.

Small group meetings with young married’s help them feel safe enough to ask questions and practice their faith.

Meals with friends allow the truths of God to bloom deeply into our souls and shine out our actions.

Kindness becomes of habit of giving life in whatever way it’s needed.

Nurturing life wherever one finds it.

If we choose to go slow enough in life we can see, really see, where we can sow a kindness.

There is such power in tiny little kindnesses.

Spiritual Community

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A very wise man once said:

“The deepest urge in every human heart is to be in relationship with someone who absolutely delights in us, someone with the resources we lack who has no greater joy than giving to us, someone who respects us enough to require us to use everything we receive for the good of others, and because he has given it to us, knows we have something to give. The longing to connect defines our dignity as human beings and our destiny as image bearers.

“ we don’t need more churches, as we usually define the word. We need more spiritual communities where good friends and wise people turn their chairs toward each other and talk well.” Larry Crabb – The Safest Place on Earth.

I remember when I first read those words how they resonated through my soul like the sound the chimes make after being brushed by the wind. It struck me as deep and true that we were made to turn our chairs towards each other and remove our masks of false perfection. If we could only stop pretending and start practicing a vulnerability that would hunger for true connection.

Larry Crabb goes on to say that the central task of community is to create a safe enough place for the walls to be torn down so that we can reveal our brokenness. Only then can the power of community do it’s job and restore our souls.

Unspiritual community is made up of such lesser things:

congenial relationships

cooperative relationships

consoling relationships

Those types of relationships are so easy and take no courage at all. They fulfill for short periods of time but do not have the power to help us get out of the mud we find our souls in or help us feel known and loved.

And all of these are counterfeit of spiritual friendships/community.

Spiritual community has the purpose of “Reconnecting a detached soul to the lifeblood of community requires power that a few people seem to possess. Powerful people can see the hidden life that is already poured into another by God and, with an awareness of the life they have received from the same source, they pour out what is deepest and truest and noblest within them into the soul of the another; and they do it with a clear vision of what that other person could become as the life of Christ is nourished and released within. Community – Larry Crabb

Here are a few sentences that we can pray to help us form the life giving spiritual relationships that we long for.

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God grant us more empathy and tear down our judgements. In every place that we see others through our veil of fear or pride, I pray for a revelation of the Father’s love to clear our sight.

I pray for courage and insight to build up the man or woman that you bring in front of me.

Lord what are you wanting to release through all the difficulties and joys in this person’s life?

How do you intend to advance your Kingdom through this person?

What weaknesses or strongholds is this person wrestling with that keeps them back from their full potential? Please give me the words and insights to honestly and gently deliver that information to this man or woman of God.

Thank you for the specific ways that this person blesses me. (recount them)

Help me to see how those gifts can bless the body of Christ.

Grant me vision for this person Lord and help me from falling into the trap of believing that I’m dealing with a problem.

Amen

Two books that can take you much deeper into this worthy topic would be Connecting and The Safest Place on Earth. Both by Larry Crabb.

The painful beauty of transitions.

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The sea is rolling and churning and I serve as a witness to the turmoil the sand is undergoing in the powerful twisting force of the water. The sand is propelled upward that the water seems filled with sand. Beige water contrasts blue and I stand in awe of the sheer force of the waves.

 

My life transitions remind me of my time in the sea. Relationships that were hard won are now shifting and moving and the result remains to be seen. Makes me so sad for what was but hopeful about what will be.

 

This is what I do know is true. God has a plan and I will be moving into things not away from them. I always mourn. It’s half how I am wired. I give it all away and then grieve but,  I know how to move forward.

 

I just don’t know how to do it and not hurt.  This is what I have learned as silver appears on my crown, some pain is worth the cost.

 

I ask God what will come next for me in life. I can’t see yet. The water of my soul is murky.  Just like the ocean that I am relishing this week. I’m churning and churning and the salt water is stinging my soul eyes.  It will pass and soon my vision will be restored.

 

My water play is just like my life.  You see I had a bout with the sea and the sea won.  It flipped me around and I laughed as I scraped along the bottom and got tossed like a rag doll.  It felt like I was playing with God.  I play catch with him in my spirit and this was a manifestation of our game play but with water.  To experience the expanse of the ocean is probably the only natural thing on earth that can best serve as a metaphor for his sheer greatness.  It can surround me and overwhelm me yet it lifts me and propels me forward or back with great power.  I am lost in its volume yet not lost put part of something so much greater than myself. I worked to stay afloat and above the waves. Some just crested my head and made me laugh with all the bouncing around.  Refreshing and invigorating while also being exhausting and filling.  When I resist the movement of the sea I get pummeled but when I surrender to its rhythm I am thrilled by the wonder of all that movement and sheer force. Lifted beyond what I can possibly do on my own, brought into the depths or out to the shore. 

 

 Yeah sounds God like to me.

 

I surrender in life and in the sea and enjoy my water play with the Creator.

 

 

Soul Care

I just returned from a soul care conference. The conference time was skillfully designed to go from head to heart.  They had teaching time always followed by a time of reflection and the sharing of our sacred ramblings in triads.  The added weight of perspective by people who know you and care for you was powerful. Image how limiting it would be to walk into a dark room with just your candle and try to see every detail of the room but if you can add others in with their candles it’s a game changer.  When trusted sojourners join the process the exercise turns into an exchange of life and deepened awareness both of God and yourself.

 

As I return home to my beloved family and cottage I have this deepened sense of peace and gratitude in my soul.  I smile as I walk from room to room counting my extreme blessings. It’s as if I can see even more beauty around me than ever before. My eyes keep welling up with happy tears. I marvel at the light that baths the walls and spills into the family room.  The breeze that drifts past me while I sit in the shade under a tree whose leaves trap the light and grant me shade.  I realize that I can see and experience more beauty and love because I have removed more darkness from my soul.

 

As I tinker in my flowerbeds dead heading the dahlias and realize how similar this is to our soul excavations.  I view this lovely heap of color with both life and death intermingles in its form. The old finished blooms can actually start to damage the life around it.  I clip away without regret and examine the gorgeous blooms that still raise their heads to the sun. When the process is complete, nothing but life remains. That which cannot contribute must leave. Just like in life we have situations that leave behind messages that can bring us death. When we don’t take the time to examine what to let go, what to keep, and what to learn from, we end up with mixed messages.  The danger to our souls is that we start to carry as much dead thoughts as living ones. Truth becomes intermingled with lies and we often don’t know how to sift our souls for fullness and life.

 

What great lovers of God and man we would all be if we cared for the conditions of our soul.

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The Circles – Control, Influence, Concern

The Circles – Control, Influence, Concern

Life is lived in 3 circles.

What can we control?

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The first circle contains the only thing we can control in the world.

Ourselves!

Problems arise when we exert all our energy on trying to change other people instead of ourselves.  We cannot control all our circumstances or other people.  But if you find yourself often stressed by the behaviors of others you may not understand the power of the circles.

 What people or situations can be influenced?

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Our second circle is a bit larger and is an example of all the things we may have influence over.  We can influence loved ones, friends, and environments.  Anything or anyone that we invest time and energy into can be considered an area that can be influenced.

What areas in life are we concerned about?

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An example of places where we show concern would be world hunger, poverty and injustice.  Anything that doesn’t have your direct involvement and but occupies a place in your thoughts.

Our lives start to spiral out of control when we exert energy and focus on the wrong circle.  We cannot control world events or other people.  It’s a waste of time and energy to focus trying to change anything but ourselves and then our contribution to areas of influence so that they affect our places of concern.

My husband told me about the circles one day when he came home from a conference.  It was a day that I felt like I light bulb went off on top of my head.  I got it!  Most of my frustrations in life came because I had things in the wrong circle.  I spent too much energy trying to control other peoples behaviors and not enough time controlling my thoughts and actions.  I sat down and wrote down the amount of stress or energy I spent on people or situations and then was honest about what part of the circle I had them in.  This was one of the lessons in my life that changed my life for the better.  When I learned to think through the truth of each situation and place it in the right circle, I gained peace and perspective.

So now I offer you my light bulb lesson.

How are you doing with your circles?

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