Posted in Future/stability/security, Life, Time/stress

Inspiration for the future

One of my favorite Bible verses is Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (NIV)

What I love about this passage is in the original Hebrew language it uses the word “shalom” to describe God’s plan. Shalom is one of those words that is packed full of meaning. It means peace, welfare, goodness, prosperity, total and complete wellbeing all in a single word. Imagine that! God’s will for you is goodness, welfare, peace, prosperity, complete and entire wellbeing. “God’s will” is a verb — it’s an action word. So, God is enforcing goodness, health, and wellbeing in your life.

When Jeremiah, the prophet, spoke this message to the people of Judah who were exiled in Babylon, it was a much needed message of hope. After the tumultuous events of 587 BCE including the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the Babylonian conquest of Judah, God’s promise was that God would restore the land and abundance, God would return the people to their home and out of exile, and there would be joy and celebration. It didn’t look like there was peace, but this message assured them that that was indeed God’s plan and so it came true.

This message is true for you, too! One time when I was feeling anxious about the future, I remembered this passage and God’s promise. This reminded me that God is in charge and God’s will is only good. God didn’t cause me to feel anxiety or doubt about my future, and I could overcome these thoughts by trusting God’s presence and power. I felt such a sense of peace and an assurance that God, good, was with me.

So the next time you are tempted to doubt or despair, know that God is not out to get you. Instead trust and remember that God’s plan for you is shalom — goodness, joy, peace, health, prosperity, and wellbeing, and God is willing this in your life!

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Posted in Current events & community, Future/stability/security, global, Women

Wonderful interfaith event

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I am grateful I had the privilege of being on the planning committee for this wonderful interfaith event. This was the 38th Annual Women’s Interfaith Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

A beautiful group of women have been planning these wonderful conferences each year since the early 80’s. There is a new topic each year. The theme this year was “Holy Days – What, When, How”.

I loved learning about the diverse faith practices of each of the faith traditions represented. From Ramadan to Rosh Hashanah, Easter to Buddha’s Birthday, we had the opportunity to learn about each these diverse holy days and what they mean to these women of faith.

My favorite portion were these final questions: what do the holy days mean to you, what language do you pray in, and how can we carry the peace-building message of interfaith to the world.

There was such an atmosphere of peace, respect, and inclusion in the room. The qualities of kindness, thoughtfulness, and love were truly uplifting.

It is affirming to see what is possible in the example this diverse group of women sitting in the same room, listening to one another, and sharing their stories. It inspires hope!

Posted in Future/stability/security, Life, Mental health/wellness, Prayer/healing, Time/stress

Asceticism and spiritual practice

Asceticism is a spiritual discipline that has been practiced throughout history as way to deny the self and feel closer to the Divine.

For early Christians, the ascetic practices were as diverse as their understanding of Jesus Christ. For some, it was living in monasteries with a strict spiritual discipline, for others it was living on tall pillars in the midst of a community, and for some others it was imitating Christ through martyrdom.

Today a spiritual practice often has to do with a desire to feel connected. Feeling connected to nature, to people, or to God.

For some, spiritual practice may include prayer or fasting, for others it might be yoga and mindfulness, for others it might be community and social justice. Perhaps ones spiritual practice may include elements of all of these things.

I find a consistent spiritual practice and discipline that allows me to become more aware of my thinking, what is happening in my consciousness, to be essential. Am I entertaining doubts or fears? Am I buying into materialism or commercialism? Am I having God-centered thinking? Maintaining balanced thinking is essential to keeping us healthy, happy, and purposeful.

A spiritual practice can help one discipline thought by becoming more conscious of the Mind of Christ or divine inspiration. This divine Mind is always communicating that we are blessed, we are spiritual, we are healthy, we are whole, we are loved. God sees and knows who we absolutely are. God is holding you in spiritual peace and divine perfection right now. Seeing beyond matter to the deeper spiritual sense of things helps us see and know a concrete being that is spiritual, perfect, and harmonious.

This is a metanoia experience, a change in consciousness, a healing. It satisfies and has healthy side effects (such as better relationships, improved self esteem, a greater connection to the Divine, and discernment of the Holy Spirit).

Developing a spiritual practice that enables one to be mindful and aware of God, keeping watch over our own consciousness is a great protection to us; it maintains our bodies (since our bodies are inextricably linked to our consciousness); and gives us spiritual renewal and freshness to keep up with the daily demands whether they be parenting, working, or volunteering.

At the end of the day, I like to wrap up the day with gratitude. Being grateful for every little thing — the sunlight. The wind in the trees. The smile of a family member. A feeling that God is with me. Whatever it may be. Wrapping up our day in gratitude shuts down the mental cycle of to-do lists. It stills and quiets thought.

Forgiveness is key, too. Practicing forgiveness for any slights you may have felt that day. These can be subtle (or overt) and we don’t want to let them build up. So simply letting go of any hurts or things that may have rubbed you the wrong way. Getting ready to start the new day with freshness.

A spiritual practice is a wonderful thing to cultivate. It is a gift. It is the perfect way to care for yourself and, thereby, to bless others. It will give you the insight, freedom, love, and joy you need to feel sustained throughout the day and the years.