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No Room at the Inn

The Christmas story, as told in Luke 2:7 states: “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn.”

The first part of that sentence — all the way up through “manger” captures our attention. But I would like to draw your attention to the last words in the sentence: “…no room for them in the Inn.”

During the Christmas season, busyness rules many people’s lives, dictating a hurry and scurry that tires the body and soul. There are lists to make, gifts to buy and wrap, cards to get ready to mail, parties to attend, and festivities/programs to partake of. All of these are great and useful.

But what if you stopped to think about your life and heart as a manger where the Christ child could rest?

Are you moving so fast to participate in all your activities that there is no quiet time to speak of the manger and what it could mean to you?

Is your life like the Inn where there is no room for the ideas of faith, peace, love, hope and joy – the quintessence of the Christmas Spirit?

Whoa! Slow down! Breathe deeply now.

Every day, your brain, heart, and body need to take the time for your own good in order to make room in your being for focusing on the qualities that make up the quintessence of the Christmas Spirit — the Faith which helps you along your way, the stillness of Peace, the Love of self and others, the Hope of a better day, and the Joy of life and more livingness daily.

It would only take a few minutes, but if you choose to spend that time, the gifts that will bring will last all day long. Are you willing?

God’s blessing be upon you and your journey!  Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!

Manger of the Heart

Faith

Bring you tidings of great Joy!

Blessings Be Upon You!

Peaceful Sunset

Orderliness

Benjamin Franklin was an advocate for: “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” Even before him, it was said on-board ships, with known limitations on size, that  one could conserve space and promote tidiness by using this principle.

Have you ever sat down at a desk piled high with business papers, including junk mail? It is almost impossible to concentrate because every sheet of paper you look at requires something from you. It has the effect of a Gatling gun, which tears asunder wherever it is pointed. The higher the pile, the harder it is to sort through. Your attention may wander. Soon you get up and go do something else, leaving the mess the way it is on the desk. Is this counterproductive? Of course, it is. I have to do a primary sort and then work through each stack, one piece of paper at a time until the mess becomes orderly again. The trick is to actually finish each stack in its turn.

A room can have the same effect. If clutter is the order of the day, it usually stays that way. It is a known fact that, when you enter a room, you have 15 seconds to decide to change something. After that, it just becomes part of the background. A simple act, done consistently, can save you more than you can imagine: If it is trash, put it in a trash can while it is in your hand — do not just set it down somewhere. If you are in a car, keep a trash bag handy and throw it away as soon as you can.

If you make a “To Do” list, breaking out each thing you want to change, you will have a higher success rate in accomplishing said change.

There are some work places that require their workers to have only one project on their desk at a time. The rest are in a “Suspense Drawer.” This enables the worker to focus on only one thing at a time. After all, that is the only possibility anyway, with the other projects/ideas kept in a circling pattern (like air traffic controllers, who keep the airplanes at different altitudes and patterns). The trick is to not lose track of the airplanes. I personally use sticky notes, writing down whatever I need to keep in mind before I turn my attention back to whatever it is I am doing at the time. My “To Do” lists also work very well for me.

As one ages, Organization is called cuing: You decide where to put something like car keys, and then you always put them in that place every time so you do not have to go looking for wherever you put them down. It saves a tremendous amount of hassle, as forgetfulness comes naturally to most of us as we grow older, not to mention Dementia in its many forms.

I personally have a bad habit of setting things down wherever I am if my focus changes to something else. As a child, I lost more coats that way until my mother taught me to: “Count noses: If you came in with something, make sure you leave with it.” I still use that to this day, all these years later. It helps me to keep track of car keys, cell phones, sun glasses, etc., when I go into the bank or a store. I know of people who have to do that with their children even! It’s a busy world out there, after all.

I have seen people give small children car keys to play with because they make noise. This gives the child the idea that it is a toy, so he/she naturally grabs them without the parent knowing it. Then the game is on to find keys when one needs them. Can you see what a bad idea this is? Cell phones fall into this category as well because they are ubiquitous to every household now.

Suggestion: Keep the needed items in the same place every time: Car keys, cell phone,  medicine, sun glasses, etc. It is a good stress reducer, eliminating misplaced items.

Life rarely gives you the opportunity to be organized. It comes at you full bore, overwhelming one with a plethora of things that require your  response. One needs to sit down, take some deep breaths, and begin to quiet the thoughts that come to mind. If you break whatever is overwhelming you down into bite-size pieces, you can get a lot more done, perhaps even surprising yourself.

One method for accomplishing a task is to: 1) Decide what task to do; 2) Gather whatever you need to do it; 3) Do it; 4) Put everything back where it belongs. This works wonders! Actually, most people fail because they do not have “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” This eliminates clutter from happening in the first place.

If, however, one has not decided where to place anything, let along everything, and clutter is everywhere, how do you begin? One item at a time. Decide where this item will “live” and put it there. You can always change its “home” whenever you need to do so. Years ago, a friend of mine was visited by her mother-in-law, who insisted on helping with housework. One day, her husband came home and asked her, “Does the vacuum cleaner live in center of the living room?” Of course, that was where her mother-in-law kept it so she could use it frequently. The vacuum cleaner, of course, returned to its real home in the closet. It is a simple, workable premise.

I have a dear friend who purposely and frequently goes through the house, one drawer or closet at a time, looking for things she no longer uses or needs, giving them away. This includes a freezer, kitchen gadgets, clothes, etc. She is the queen of Simplification. She was a Social Services Director of a Nursing Home, helping family members make some sense of homes filled to the brim with loved ones’ stuff. It is strange, but we work all our lives to acquire it. Yet, in the end, it all must be recycled elsewhere. Sad thought, isn’t it?

Some people are “string savers” who cannot let go of anything. Sometimes they are known as “hoarders.” They have boxes of papers and mementos with sentimental attachment to the simplest of things: A child’s drawing, cards, outgrown clothing, etc. It can actually take an outsider to help that person prioritize and release that stuff. Are you one of these? Do you need help letting go? Or can you just begin to do it?

Organization does not happen by itself. It takes time and focus. But, like the journey of a thousand miles, it begins with one step. Are you willing?

God’s blessings upon your journey!

Organization/Orderliness

Organization/Orderliness

First Panel: The Organized Closet
Second Panel: The Organized Bathroom
Third Panel: The Organized Kitchen
Fourth Panel: The Organized Office
Fifth Panel: We can all have this kind of tranquility before us if we simply follow mother’s one basic rule of living…
Sixth Panel: Girl on left says, “Mom…?” Mom on right says: “Don’t look up! It spoils everything!”

File boxes on floor have labels: Put Away, File, Review, Misc., etc.

 

 

The Sound of Silence

A few days ago, we were on top of Haleakala Crater on Maui. The sun was warm, and the view of the crater was clear. There was no wind, for a change, and the clouds were far below us.  We stopped by a lookout on the way down from the top. It was there that I heard it: A profound Sound of Silence which touched me deeply. Somewhere inside of me, I heard and felt a stillness that I have never experienced before at this level. It was so peaceful and quiet. I felt so very blessed at receiving this precious gift. The surroundings were not only beautiful and majestic, but it inspired awe in the beholder. The Silversword plant, which only grows there, is wondrous. The clouds were coming straight up from the rain forest far below, like wisps of imagination. It was hard to leave it in order to return to the hustle and bustle far below us, catching our flight home.

I know that it is an oxymoron, for how can Silence have a Sound? Perhaps because it is the exception. Sound is a pollution present in every place inhabited by humans and animals. Some of it is pleasant, like the rustle of leaves in the wind, surf on the seashore, or a waterfall. How about the sound of a child’s laughter or a cat purring? However, most sounds come from our environment: Traffic, horns, overly-loud music, neighbors fighting over some trivial thing, etc. Some we like: a newborn baby’s cry, good music, conversation with a loved one or friend. Others we do not care for much because it is not within our frame of reference. Even when life is a little quieter, there are not many places where one can experience the Sound of Silence.

The stillness in my soul is now present with me, wherever I go. It is like it makes the song of birds more sweet, the flowers more colorful, and  my awareness  is more alive than I ever remember. I know I am more peaceful at the center of my being. I treasure this greatly.

In the Bible in Psalm 46:10, it states: “Be still and know that I Am God.”

In this stillness, it gives us a home base from which to operate. Eric Butterworth said it very well: “Be in the hub of a wheel, living life from the center instead of at the circumference.” If you are caught up in the sound and fury of all the activity, guess who is at the circumference? (Is it any wonder that, at the end of the day, you feel like you have been run over by something?) But if you take a few minutes for yourself in the morning for quiet contemplation/meditation, you can respond more from the hub of the wheel (for it is very motionless there) and with a more thought-filled response to everything.

Life itself is filled with cacophony. It begins with sound of an alarm clock  so we can get underway, and continues throughout each day. Perhaps the baby is crying, the young children are fighting, or the phone is ringing, and the TV is already on. Sometimes, we are so afraid of being alone that we fill our surroundings with noise, be it a computer, music, TV, cell phone, etc. Some, of course, is generated by our 24/7 lifestyles, earning money so we can afford to live in this economy. The only question is: Is your health suffering from the anxiety, stress, and overload that is in your life, caused by the choices you have made in the past? How, then, can one begin to get a handle on this? Easy: One thing at a time. Begin to thoughtfully look at your reality and see each individual thing by itself. Then you can make a decision to alter it however you can to make your life more peaceful.

Serenity of Spirit is a worthwhile goal. It has a price that it demands, however. One must stop responding to exterior stimuli the way you always have. Dr. Wayne W. Dyer says, “Change the way you look at things, and the things you look at change.”

Will I forever be grateful for the Sound of Silence which I experienced on Haleakala?  You bet! I have a new perspective to add to the daily ingredients for living a fulfilled life.

If you are a scuba diver, a snorkeling enthusiast, a spelunker, a hiker or climber of mountains, you know whereof I speak. You have experienced the moments of Silence.

I believe that each experience becomes part of our Tapestry of Life. Some beautiful memories add in the rainbow colors, and the tears and grief add the contrast of the background. When all is said and done, your Tapestry will be unique to you alone. How do you want it to look? No one else can weave it for you. For good or ill, it is yours to do. Others can have an opinion about what you should and should not do. But you are the captain of your ship. You alone must decide how to sail it and where you are going.

If you have a stillness inside from which to make your decisions, you will be able to ACT vs. REACT. If one is always REACTING to external stimuli, you will always have greater chaos in your life. ACTING means you take time to think things through before responding. If you have a charging elephant coming at you (which few of us will ever have),  you will REACT. The rest of the time, ACTING is the champion of Self Control and Calmness.

Funny thing about that is people are attracted to you because they can sense your attitude before you ever open your mouth. It emotes from you like the scent from a flower.

How do you begin? The following quote (which is mistakenly stated to be from Van Goethe *) puts it very well:

“Then indecision brings its own delays,
And days are lost lamenting over lost days.
Are you in earnest? Seize this very minute;
What you can do, or dream you can do, begin it;
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”

By utilizing this idea, Synergy is thus  created. (The Secret of SYNERGY is that, once movement begins, it multiplies and continues.) Is it a worthwhile goal? Absolutely! But only you can decide that. Are you willing?

God’s blessings upon your journey!

* (The lines are attributed to John Anster in a “very free translation” of Faust from 1835, where the lines in question are spoken by the “Manager” in the “Prelude at the Theatre.”)

Haleakala Crater

Haleakala Crater

Haleakala Crater

Haleakala Crater

Silversword

Silversword

Silversword - Done Blooming

Silversword – Done Blooming

Plumeria with Palm Tree

Plumeria with Palm Tree

Plumeria (leis usually made from this)

Plumeria (Leis are usually made from these.)

Habiscus

Hibiscus

Waterfall

Waterfall

Waterfall

Waterfall

Bougainvillea

Bougainvillea

Maui Sunrise & Surf

Maui Sunrise & Surf

Waikiki Sunrise & Surf

Waikiki Sunrise & Surf

Bougainvillea with Palm Trees

Bougainvillea with Palm Trees

Hawaiian Sunset

Hawaiian Sunset

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

Our warmest wishes for you is to have a very Happy Thanksgiving!

It is a day to watch parades on the television, probably overeat from a heavily laden table (if you are lucky), take a nap, enjoy the companionship of loved ones and friends, or perhaps even to just relax and enjoy the peace and quiet.

Whatever your day consists of, we hope that you take the time to list all of the blessings which fill your life. Some are obvious, and others are not. Some you think of frequently, while others pass you by without your noticing. Some do not get any of your attention at all until something negative impacts it. Sometimes, the negative takes it away for a long time, if not forever.

Thanksgiving has always been a day for doing exactly that: Change your focus from what you do not have and are striving for to what you already possess. It does not matter if it is a nickel when you need it, or lots of cash at the right time.

Just notice: Can you walk? Can you talk? Can you sing? Can you use your hands freely? Do you have your health? Are you working your way through a health challenge? Can you eat whatever you like? Can you see? Can you hear? What beauty surrounds you?

There are so many people who do not have those blessings for they are either unable to do them for whatever reason or their life situation prohibits/inhibits it.

Life is made up of a lot of simple things which pass us by like a ship in the night if one does not take time to focus on them. We miss many blessings just because we do not see them. Look at your surroundings to see the beauty, life, and laughter that are there – no matter how small or insignificant it may appear. Just know that what you bless increases.

Gather your loved ones and friends, be they near or far, into your heart and thoughts. Bless them one and all.

How about you? What do you choose to focus on today?

God’s blessings upon your journey!

Beauty from Chihuly Exhibit at Denver Botanical Gardens:

Blue Icicle Towers

Blue Icicle Towers

Persian Towers

Persian Towers

Saffron Tower

Saffron Tower

White Tower

White Tower

Mirrored Green Hornets and Gold Waterdrops

Mirrored Green Hornets and Gold Waterdrops

Blue and Purple Boat with Walla Wallas

Blue and Purple Boat with Walla Wallas

Summer Sun

Summer Sun

Heliconia

Heliconia

Orchids

Orchids

 

Are You A Human DOING Or Human BEING?

One good question: Do you consider yourself to be a HUMAN DOING or a HUMAN BEING?

A second question: Do you think you are a HUMAN BEING HAVING A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE?

Or are you a SPIRITUAL BEING HAVING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE?

What is the difference you might ask?

It is a matter of FOCUS, PRIORITIES, and how you actually spend your time each day.

We can have the most grand idea as we begin our day of who we are and what we plan to do, say our Prayers, Meditate maybe, and then get underway. Then the daily wear and tear (known as vicissitudes) begin. You make your to-do-lists and begin your day. The rest of the day passes as though it had wings. You look back on your day and wonder where it disappeared to. Things on your to-do-list are probably still sitting there, or it is partially done. You have to wonder: What happened?

Answer:  LIFE

One element here is the lack of FOCUS. There are so many distractions in our everyday world that it is a wonder we can get anything done. Noise levels can be astronomical. Quiet and stillness are rare. There are pressing priorities at every turn — everything from changing the baby’s diaper, to answering the phone, to dropping the kids off at school (and they are still half-dressed and dawdling), to getting ready for work, to a boss that changed his mind and added more work with tight deadlines on top of an already full load, etc.

How can one stay centered and calm in the face of the flurry of it all? Some say to get up at least five minutes earlier so you can have some quiet time where you can pray, meditate, do yoga or Thai Chi, read your Bible or Religious Instruction, or whatever you like, including a quiet cup of coffee on the back deck contemplating nature, birds, etc. God is there. But you must seek Him first in order to achieve that moment of rest that you will need to carry you through your daily activities.

In the Bible, Matthew 6:5-13, it states in v.6: “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” It then goes into the Lord’s Prayer, which we are instructed to pray daily. I have wondered about that for years, but I have come to know that the whole story is to quiet the outer so that we can emphasize the innermost parts of us,  finding solace for our weary hearts and minds.

Another element that leads to Peacefulness of Spirit is Meekness. In the Bible in Psalms 37:11, it states: “But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace.” Again, in Matthew 5:5, it states: “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” George Lamsa’s explanation is as follows: “It refers to the type of man who does not retaliate and who is free from that grasping temper which leads to disputes and quarrels…Such men believe in nonresistance…” The true meaning of meekness is the ability to bend with the wind or being teachable. This is far from the traditional meaning of becoming a rug so others can wipe their feet on you. Say “Nay!” to that! It is more like a river flowing around the rocks and obstructions in its way. This is the attitude essential to remaining quiet, calm, and peaceful in the face of adversity.

It all comes down to what you think in your head versus how you react to what is going on around you. Are the kids fighting again? Is the husband or wife unhappy about some inconsequential detail (which is not important to you at all)? How are your stress levels — probably through the roof? Is a loved one ill? Is there too much month left and not enough money? Did someone cut you off in traffic and almost cause you to have an accident? Are your allergies causing you discomfort?

The world has a way of impinging on our presence of mind in a million different ways, both large and small. The only way to make a change in it is to alter yourself and how you are thinking and responding. The outside circumstances do not care a lick about how miserable you are.

So I ask you again:

Do you consider yourself to be a HUMAN DOING or a HUMAN BEING?

Do you think you are a HUMAN BEING HAVING A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE?

Or are you a SPIRITUAL BEING HAVING A HUMAN EXPERIENCE?

The difference lies at the center of you. Are you willing to be driven by external circumstances forever, or are you willing to do whatever it takes to put your hands on the wheel  and take command of your ship? It is all up to you as to where and how it sails.

Saying a few words in prayer in the morning is not enough to keep your hands on the helm and in control of your destiny. You have to do something differently in order to achieve some level of calmness in the heart of you, no matter how hard the external winds  are blowing — and they can get pretty strong. Where is your attention focused? It is your priority system that got you where you are today. Are you happy with that? If not, are you willing to look for another answer? Take the personal time for yourself, whatever amount that is, so you can quiet the storm, seek guidance, and proceed with a knowing that all is OK, regardless of the circumstances. Take the step you see, and proceed as best you can.

Are you willing to give it a try? It is, after all, your journey.

God’s blessings upon you!

Tree Showing Weathering by Wind & Elements

Tree Showing Weathering by Wind & Elements

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret in Flight

“Good Morning, God!” or “Good God, It’s Morning!” ?

What is my attitude when I open my eyes for the first time each day?

Good Morning!

Is it a Good Morning?

This picture of a little chickadee is in my bathroom, asking me that very question.

Attitude affects and effects perspective, always. AFFECT is defined as influence; produce a change in; to move or stir the emotions. EFFECT is defined as the power or ability to bring about results. PERSPECTIVE is defined as a specific point of view in understanding or judging things or events, especially one that shows them in their true relations to one another.

You may ask me why this is important. The answer is a simple one: How we view our world and interact with it begins with the second we open our eyes. Our first waking thoughts “set our sails” and will determine our journey for the day..the winds that come, as they always do, will catch those sails and blow us completely off our intended course unless we first set them properly and then adjust them as needed.

Is your world a fright-filled one where you have to turn on the morning news to get your first dose of negativity or pick up your newspaper to do the same? Or do you get a fresh cup of coffee and sit down out on the patio to quietly greet the day? All of your first actions in the morning will influence the rest of your day.

You control your reactions to what happens to you by starting to make small changes in your schedule to accommodate new beginnings. Are you willing to take that tiny amount of time to make a difference in your life?

Seek Stillness

We are surrounded by every form of noise, all day, every day.

It permeates our surroundings and our hearing.

But what really matters is the noise that occurs between our own ears.

There is a continual chatter of thoughts and feelings that overwhelm our senses.

The Bible says, “Be Still and Know…”

We have seen this saying on plaques, Christmas ornaments, wall hangings, etc.

What does it really mean? Is there a way to quiet the mental chatter and strong emotions?

It is easier than you think: In your busy schedule, mark off some time for yourself.

During that time, STOP! Even if it is just 5 minutes, you would be amazed at the difference it will make.

I take 5 minute vacations often: I stop and watch a gaggle of Canada Geese take wing…or land; my eyes see something beautiful to behold — the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies, some covered with snow and some deep purple; a song catches my attention, and I really listen to the words and the rhythm; a dear friend calls to say Hi, and we share some pleasant moments (longer than 5 minutes, of course).

Some people do deep breathing exercises, some do yoga, some meditate – the form is not what counts here.

We give priorities to everything else, but short-change ourselves in the process. Nothing could be more important than the gifts we receive when we SEEK STILLNESS.

These gifts come differently to each person, but yours is waiting to be unwrapped. Are you willing to take the time to see what it is?

You might be truly amazed, for it could change your life forever.

Geese on the Wing

Geese on the Wing

Front Range of Rockies

Front Range of Rockies

Front Range of Rockies

Front Range of Rockies

 

Quiet Reflections

Quiet Reflections,

Like the image of the candle on the water:

the slightest ripple changes the image.

Our thoughts and emotions do that,

just like the ripples on a calm surface

when a pebble is thrown in.

Some people have really turbulent waters,

and their lives reflect the chaos within.

The answer lies in quieting the mind and emotions.

Do you have the courage to try that?

Reflections

Reflections

Quiet Reflections

Quiet Reflections

Reflections

Reflections

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