Category Archives: Inspiration

Peace in the Storm!

Charles Dickens starts The Tale of Two Cities by saying, “It was the best of times, the worst of times...”  It makes me think of these perilous times of major uncertainty and the importance of finding peace and centers of refuge.                       peace

Level-headedness is essential to maintaining a sense of balance as we navigate the abrupt storms on the high seas of life.  We must weather these swift changes and the use of good sound mother-wit can serve as a great aid. I often think of Rudyard Kipling’s poem, If.  He wrote:  

“If you can keep your head when all about you.   Are losing theirs and blaming it on you.”

When things seem to be spiraling out of control all around us, there is still that calm center waiting there in the midst. It would behoove us to hunker down and cleave to it with all of our might. 

Most of us have a place in our homes where we can get quiet.  We may have to minimize the use of social media and the news reports, so our clear thoughts allow our intuition to kick in and point the way.  When there is no music, no television and no silly chatter, we can get in touch with our true selves.  Our thinking crystalizes like a newly-washed drinking glass and the old, muddled ways of thinking are flushed down the drain.

Life is like walking a tight rope so we carefully place one foot in front of the other.  We don’t have the luxury of looking too far down the road to see what is coming because we could lose our equilibrium.  We must take slow, decided steps.

I read a lot because while reading, I must be still.  I am not bouncing and flitting around and spinning my wheels.  It may be an e-book or a regularly printed book but I quiet my thoughts and gain new perspectives at the same time.  I worry less and become like a lily of the field. “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin.” (Matthew  6:28)

 Cooking also defuses my anxiety.  As I chop each chip of an onion or a bell paper, clarity seeps in and  answers to my concerns trickle onto the scene.  More light is emitted, and I see things from other points of view.  Einstein said, “The problems we face today cannot be solved by the minds that created them.” Yes, it takes new mindsets to solve those old dilemmas.  

Spirit is always nudging and guiding us, but if we are distracted, we miss the directions that can help us.  When attuned, we can hear the warning signs that say, “Don’t go that way today or don’t call that person today.”  Later, we may discover that a disaster has indeed been averted because we adhered to that still, small voice.

Traveling on our personal paths is a methodical process and the Chinese proverb reminds us that, “A journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.”  Each single step can lead to more peace and greater understanding if we walk mindfully and take serene reprieves to gather our bearings and stay the course!

Lynn M.                                                                                                                   August 10, 2019

 

Creative Expression!

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Creativity can unfold in many forms and shapes.  If one thing is not shaking, then we can try something else to unleash the creative spirit within us.  There are so many ways to open new channels. 

I recently communicated with a fellow writer and she said that she was trying some new things.  She meant that she was funneling her energy in new media formats.  She had not written a new book, but she was doing more online interviews and articles and has found newer ways to stay in the creative mode.

It helps to unload and get rid of some of the inner angst on many levels.  Journaling is a great way to talk to that silent friend and let those emotions fly on paper and then disintegrate into nothingness.  It is like letting out a big sigh of relief!

If no new ideas for a book project have, as Alice Walker said, “crawled in,” then we can find other ways to color our worlds.  We can always blog, write poetry or even paint for that matter.  Ernest Hemingway spoke of how painters influenced his writing and said, “ I was learning something from the painting of Cezanne that made writing simple true sentences far from enough to make the stories have the dimensions that I was trying to put in them.”

Lately, I have been creating e-cards for family members and close friends.  They have worked as a panacea for both the receiver and me, the giver.  As I acknowledged special events, I found increased calmness as I worked with pictures, colors, designs and fonts. I took the time to personalize each birthday, anniversary and sympathy card and found myself deeply engaged during the process.

Many have found peaceful rewards through a host of activities like doodling, whittling, drawing, knitting, crocheting, glass staining  and of course, the list is endless.  They offer quiet  gifts and no talking is required. What a great outlet!

Lynn M.                                                                                                         July 13, 2019

 

 

 

Great Choice!

Graduation capIt’s officially summer!  At last.  The warmth has not quite shown up, but many graduations are taking place all around us.  Today, I was sitting by the lake when I noticed a family taking pictures with their freshly-minted graduate from the local university.

The first day of summer was calm and pleasant and I enjoyed observing this family revel in their delight of their accomplished young one.  They took a variety of poses and by the time they finished, I knew which one was the mother, the father, the brother and the grandmother. I was like Harriet in Louise Fitzhugh’s Harriet the Spy.

They finally dispersed and the grandmother walked by and said, “This is a really good day.” “Yes, it is,” I replied.  The graduate was still wearing her cap and gown, so it was clear that she was the honoree. I asked her “What was your major?” She responded, “English.”

I perked up and sat taller on the bench and said, “Me too!  You will always find work.  You can teach or work in corporate.”  The testimony just seemed to roll out and stand like a rook on a chessboard.

 “Thanks,” she beamed.  “My parents will be glad to hear that!” It was a good way to kick off the summer as I reassured this young person setting out on her path that she had indeed made a great choice.

Employers are always looking for those who can read, write and effectively use the language. English majors can branch out in so many directions. 

They can serve in the fields of writing, technical writing, corporate blogging, copywriting, news reporting, public relations, editing and certainly education, to name a few.   One of my ministers often said, “It works, if you work it!”

Lynn M.                                                                    June 22, 2019

We Don’t Talk Anymore!

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Today everything is done on the fly, so to speak. One day, I realized that I had not spoken to an old friend for years, though we email each another on a regular basis.  So, I decided to shock her. I picked up the phone and dialed her mobile number.

She said that she started not to answer because she did not recognize the city nor the number. She also said that she considered blocking it.  When she discovered that it was me, we both laughed and admitted that we have allowed social media to take over our lives.

Since we had last spoken, her land-line number had changed years ago and that says a lot about our current state of affairs when is comes to real communication.   When I used to call my older relatives, they would often say, “It’s so good to hear your voice.”

Nowadays, we shy away from actually talking to each other for a host of reasons.  We are too busy or though we may not say it, texting and emailing is a convenient way of not dealing with each others’ feelings and emotions.  When we shoot a brief message over to someone, we don’t have to deal with their being lonely, worried, sad, overly-excited or just too long-winded.

I recently saw a Twitter message where a woman basically wrote, “Text me or email me.  Don’t call because if you do, I will just look at the phone ringing.” I thought, “This speaks volumes and it perfectly makes my point.” People don’t have a lot of time or they are unwilling to spare it to listen to others.

I am currently reading a book called Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell which was written in the mid-1800’s.  Mary Smith, the narrator, has a bird’s eye view and she shares what is going on in the lives of the people in the town of Cranford.

Reading this book is comparable to taking a slow stroll in the park.  The reader gets to see the houses, the roads, the carriages and the gardens.   We feel the silk dresses of the women and witness the threadbare clothing of Captain Brown.  We smell the fresh roses and breathe in the frigid air as the townspeople commune with each other in a variety of settings.

The pace is slow enough where they truly get to know each other and accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Their visits often last weeks if they are visiting from another town.  They have real face time.

Today, we have allowed our little screens to dominate our existences and we are missing out on a large part of simply being human.  Talking and listening to one another are still vital to our wholeness.  It reminds me of Charlie Puth’s song, “We Don’t Talk Anymore.” Think about it!

Lynn M.                                                                                May 18, 2019

Because He Lives!

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Perhaps during the burning of the Notre Dame Cathedral, the gargoyles performed their duties well.  Though much was lost, much was gained and retained.  It brought the people out in large numbers as they cried, held hands and sang hymns in one voice.

Whenever the burnt-out interior was shown from Paris, the huge golden cross stood starkly for all to see.  During this Holy Week, I thought of the song, “Because He Lives , I Can Face Tomorrow.”  They said that even a well-known bee colony survived the fire.

The cross is still offering hope and serves as a silent reminder that it stands to address our wants and our needs.  It reminds us of our brotherhood because in times of great fear and sorrow, we cling to one another.

And as the gargoyles worked overtime, much was salvaged, and billions of dollars have poured in from around the world.  The towers still stand and much of the structure of this beloved building seems to be sound.

No matter how much we have gained materially, we still have a deep childhood respect for the church as a vital part of our community and civilization.  Some may not have sung hymns in years because we have allowed our busyness and social media to run rampant in our lives.

But this frightening event made us all pause and realize how far we may have ventured off course.  As we take things and people for granted, in times like these, we stop to reclaim our direction as we lean on what has proven to be tried and true.

Lynn M.                                                                  April 20, 2019

Filling Up Space!

“… precept upon precept,
line upon line;
here a little and there a little.”
Isaiah 28:10

We can apply this quote as we wait on change.  The lull time between high activity and down-time presents a perfect opportunity to look around at our immediate surroundings. We may notice those things that have quietly fallen into disarray during our busy seasons.

So rather than worrying about the outcome of impeding situations, this is a good time to fill up those spaces with meaningful, mini-projects. We can start a to-do list of things that need to be done and not sit in one place adding more wrinkles to our brows.

Perhaps, those closets need extra attention.  Our wardrobes must be changed from winter clothes to spring wear.  Or are there boxes still sitting somewhere in our abodes silently waiting to be unpacked and discarded?  This is a perfect time to dig in and do some spring cleaning.

Many books are being written about becoming more of a minimalist.  We can use this special time to define what needs to be done.  It’s great chance to throw out surplus personal papers and organize whatever we decide to keep in our possessions.

As we stay faith-filled during our wait times, we can gain a tad of encouragement from John Burroughs’ poem Waiting.   He writes:

“Serene, I fold my hands and wait,
Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea;
I rave no more ‘gainst time nor fate,
For lo, my own will come to me.”

Amid the flying dust or the upheaval of rearrangement of our things, we might be distracted by a beep signaling an email or text or a ringing phone. We simply pause from our work to answer and hear that there is indeed good news. There has been a breakthrough! After taking the message, we can smile and wonder, “Wow! Where did the time go?”

Lynn M.                                                                              April 6, 2019

Straight & Narrow!

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We have heard that the way is straight and narrow.  As we age in maturity and wisdom, this appears to be truer and truer with each passing day.

Think about traveling on an open highway and we approach an overpass that gives us the option to go in a myriad of  different directions.  If we have a map, we can carefully look for the proper exit in order to reach our destination.

However, if we are unsure of which route to take, we simply sigh, “Oh, my!”  We must make a quick decision and at our earliest convenience, pull over to a safe location and check our Map Quest.  Then, we can get on the road that we will take us where we are trying to go.

As in life, if there is only one narrow route, it’s easier to stay on course.  Yet, if there are multiple choices, chances are that we might lose our way.  If we find that we are indeed lost, we may have no idea of how to get back on track.

Recently in the news, two young girls (sisters) became lost out in the rough terrain.  The older sister recalled what she had learned from her 4-H Club. She was told that that if she became lost, she should stop and stop wandering.  Wandering could only make her more lost.  So, she and her younger sister, stayed where they were until they were fortunately found within two days.

This is such a great life lesson for all of us.  If we find ourselves feeling lost and off-balance, we need to simply stop like the young sisters. We should take the time to think things through and allow the fog to lift.  Eventually, we will see with a vivid clarity, if we don’t give in to despair.

We can graciously fall back into alignment with the natural order of things and trust the Holy Spirit to put things aright again.  Then, we can climb back onto our straight and narrow path as we make our way to our comforting home base.

Lynn M.                                                                         March 9, 2019

Awaiting Recognition!

There are times in our lives when we are looking for something from the outside that we already have on the inside.  Buried deep inside of us are those seeds that are awaiting our recognition, sometimes known as “our calling.”

If we study our journeys, we can see that it is right before our eyes.  We can ask ourselves, “What am I most comfortable doing?  How do I spend most of my leisure time when no one is making demands?  What comes to me most easily and naturally? 

Those questions can point us in the right direction as we seek our purposes and missions.  Our queries continue as we make lists and note our most dominant actions.  Here are some things to ponder.

Do I find myself drawing and sketching?  What am I sketching?  Are they designs of buildings or perhaps designs of fashions?  Am I writing?  Do I have a journal that I furiously protect from the intrusions of others? Do I find myself giving advice to others on a regular basis?  Or, is there a sport that takes hours and hours of practice as I seek to perfect my game?  Do I like to repair things or are am I the one who organizes everybody else’s things around the house?

The answers to these questions can help us to find our passions.  As the old saying goes, “Do what you love, and the Mercedes will follow.”  With this awareness, career choices would come a lot easier and fewer dollars would be spent on tuition costs that are spent in the wrong areas or disciplines.

If we slow down and look around at the things we hold near and dear, we will see the seeds of our divine purpose.  Instead of trying to please others’ ideas for our lives, we will clearly see what we have been put here to do. Then, we can pour water our newly, discovered seeds.  They have been sitting there for a long time simply awaiting our recognition. So, cultivate them.  Preen them.  Cut back the weeds and watch them sprout upward into new growth!

Lynn M.                                                     February 16, 2019

On Track?

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We must remind ourselves that it is still close to the beginning of the year.  There is plenty of time to look at the promises that we made as we vowed to make fresh beginnings in the New Year.  We can ask ourselves during this second month of 2019, “Am I on track?  Am I on the right track to achieve what I am setting out to accomplish this year? Am I mindfully setting down new footprints in the sand or have I already fallen back into the old, familiar territory?”

According to the groundhog who did  not see his shadow, spring will be coming sooner than we think; so we need to be ready. The birds have already begun to sing in the wee hours of the morning and they surely know nature’s plans.  We don’t want spring to burst forth and find us still living amid last winter’s drudge.  Nor do we want to be caught behaving as if it is 2018 and encompassed in yesteryear’s rusty angst.

We want to be in tune with the new wonders that are around the corner.  So, we should continue to get rid of the old, unnecessary things of the past that have served their purpose. Otherwise, they simply become weights that will hinder our movement. We want to make way for the new and awesome things that the universe has waiting.

So, take a moment and look down at the ground.  Locate the tracks underfoot and make sure that everything is in alignment.  Check to make sure that all is truly in divine order. Pull on that train whistle and shout, “All systems go!” and chug-a chug, chug right on down the track!

Lynn M.                                                                                         February 9, 2019

Truly Frozen!

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As I look out across this winter wonderland, it has become somewhat surreal.  We are not viewing a movie.  This is real-time Chicago that is being held in the grips of Old Man Winter.

We are reminded of our dependency on both our infrastructure and our utility companies.  We realize how co-dependent we are as we lean on each other for comfort and reassurance.   Yes, we are fragile and dire circumstances reawaken us to that fact.

We know from our history lessons that  Rome was not built in a day but once it was built, it all eventually came to a crashing halt.  So, it would behoove us to cling tight and hold on to our faith as we ration out our resources and look out for our neighbors.

We should take nothing and no one for granted because we see how quickly it  all can float away like debris down a river.  Perhaps we are being nudged to go back to basics.  We must scale down, get rid of some of the fluff in both possessions and in arrogant, haughty attitudes. Over time, none of it will count as a little more than a hill of beans.

We should reapply The Golden Rule and truly do unto others as we would have them do unto us.  If we can reign ourselves in, cut back on the unnecessary things and treat others well, then we can unfreeze our hearts.  We can come out on the other side and look forward to a budding spring encased with a warmer heart.

Lynn M.                                                                                                     February 2, 2019