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 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.

Posted in Body/physical healing, Life, Mental health/wellness, Travel

The beauty of life

Beauty is a thing of life, which dwells forever in the eternal Mind and reflects the charms of His goodness in expression, form, outline, and color.1

Beauty is a thing of life….wow….isn’t that the truth. When I was a photographer, my job was to look through this lens of life to see beauty in the details. I did a photo series on shadows that were cast by light shining through blown glass. The reflections looked like abstract images of water. You could almost see faces, boats and other shapes in the series. Beauty is everywhere; all around us. Have you ever seen someone in whom light and joy radiated through their eyes? I have. This has since taught me that beauty is, indeed, a thing of life. Because it dwells in God, divine Mind, we can see it all around us.

For in Him we live and move and have our being.2

Being in awe of beauty is a therapeutic action (the Greek word therapeo means in English “to heal”3). Looking at the stars and moon, looking at the smile on a friends face, the sweet voice of a child, all remind me of God and God’s goodness. It is as if these are God’s faces, God’s smiles, and God’s laughter and voice. Perceiving beauty has therapeutic effects.

When I was in high school and college, I thought beauty was something I did — a way I acted or a way I dressed. I have since learned the beauty is not something we do; it is something we are. We shine because God is light. We reflect beauty because God is beautiful. We laugh because God expresses Her joy. We are like rays flowing out from the central sun, who is God. We are never disconnected from our Source, which is why we have the right to express all the beauty, poise, grace, love, energy that God has for us today. Nothing can stop it because nothing — no circumstance, physical ability, lack or limitation — can ever separate you from God, divine Love (even if you seem to be separated) for an instant.

Just like nothing separated me from God through past mistakes and lessons learned. We are one with the light of God, with the light and activity of Christ. We always have been and always will be. Seeing beauty around us is one way we can perceive the spiritual reality, God’s presence, all around us.

let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.4

________

1 Mary Baker Eddy, Science & Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 247
2 Acts 17:28 NRSV
3 Emmanuel Y. Lartey, In Living Color: A Intercultural Approach to Pastoral Care and Counseling Second Edition, p. 55
4 Matthew 5:16 NRSV