CHECK IN for Week Nine: SSSHHHH!!!!

download (1)

Week Nine’s task for a Lighter More Loving You was to SSSSHHHH!!  To be silent.  To find 2 hours of QUIET. 

No Talking, No Phones, No Nothing!

How did that go?   Or is it planned yet?


Noise can cause… 

  • hearing impairment
  • hypertension 
  • ischemic heart disease 
  • annoyance
  • sleep disturbance
  • changes in the immune system
  • birth defects have been also attributed to noise exposure

Not to mention STRESS!   Noise causes stress on our bodies and our emotional and mental health.   It’s hard to be more loving when one is stressed.

Is our world noisy?   YES!!!   Phones, TV, radio, traffic, people!

I’d say that SILENCE will be one of the things Doctors prescribe for better health in the future…if they are not already.   Dare I say, we may even have to pay for it?   And some already do by going on retreats, taking vacations, going to meditation classes.

Silence is important not just for your physical and emotional health, but your spiritual health.

Anything you can do to improve your spiritual health, and this is probably the most overlooked life area as most people spend more time on physical and emotional health, will greatly increase your ability to be lighter and more loving.


SILENCE is the best pathway to

  • greater INNER PEACE that carries over to all areas of your life
  • increased CREATIVITY and PRODUCTIVITY
  • a better UNDERSTANDING OF WHO YOU ARE
  • a HEART CONNECTION with GOD
  • the ABILITY TO HEAR INNER WISDOM leading you to better choices
  • an ability to JUST BE YOU in any situation

We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature—trees, flowers, grass—grows in silence. See the stars, the moon and the sun—how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls.   –Mother Theresa

When there is silence there is time for introspection and to allow our true self to speak. I truly believe that with practice quiet reflection can help us reach a level of deep inner calm…The state of silence is a way of reaching another part of your mind not possible when going about your daily routine. This other part of your mind is connected in every way to the world around you and with practice you can tap into this knowledge.    –Steven Aitchison

Silence is the indispensable doorway to the divine…Can those who do not know silence ever attain truth, beauty, or love?  Do not wisdom, artistic vision, and devotion spring from silence, where the voice of God is heard in the depths of the human heart?  –Cardinal Robert Sarah

Have your 2 hour SSSSHHH session and then see if you can put 15 minutes in each of your days!   Your future Doctor’s order!  🙂

Cheering You on to a Whole Silent Strengthened Heart,
Barbara
cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1

 

 

The Walk Home

photo 2When I walk around the lake and take this last stretch to my house, I’m always blessed by the peace and simplicity of this section of road.  I also know that just yards away is my Haven…the place where I can be me, relax, dream, be creative, feel secure, and eat!!!  I wake pretty early and sit with God praying, reading, and journaling.  I do some form of exercise like walking or yoga, because if I don’t do it early in the day, it is likely I won’t do it at all.  And then I eat!  By the time I get to this part of the walk, I’m hungry!

photo 1This stretch of the road also reminds me of my true walk home.  At 50+, there is a dawning realization that I’m getting closer and closer to my real home—Heaven!  And just like my morning walk, I am excited about getting there but I want to walk this last stretch in such a way that pleases God.  I want to run the good race.  I want to live with eyes wide open to see the beauty around me.  I want to live and love with a heart wide open to God–to what He is doing and wants me to do.

photo 5While the walk around the lake is beautiful, it is not always easy.  I’ve stumbled over rocks, stepped in duck poo, tripped and fallen when not paying attention, chased off bees, been rained on, and been choked by the dust that is stirred up when the dirt road is dry.  Sometimes the traffic noise out does the peace. Sometimes I encounter people with smiles and dogs that are friendly.  Sometimes I meet grumpy people and dogs that don’t like my dog.   Sometimes I walk alone and sometimes with a friend.  None of these are unlike encounters on my walk to heaven.  Each day is different, yet I just keep going to this last stretch to my home, to my haven, to heaven.    And, here too, I am hungry!

Honestly, I wish that I could fill up and never be hungry…and yet it is an everyday need…food and God!  If your anything like me, if I go too long without eating, I’m grumpy, impatient, self focused, can’t think well, make bad choices, and fill myself with things that aren’t healthy.  I’m not just talking about food here!!

When we are feeding ourselves well and are full, we share and feed others.  This kind of walk is pleasing to God.

Over 7 years ago I went through a class that is similar to the ones I facilitate (WHOOP Classes). Since then so much has changed–especially in how, where, and with who I walk.

Another round of WHOOP (Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose) Classes is about to begin.  I love running and hosting these classes because they teach us how to fill up on God and to walk boldly, beautifully, and lovingly.  They teach ways to be fed and they feed you at the same time.

Take a walk to my home.  My haven is open and I’d love to feed you.

WHOOP Classes begin August 18th at 6PM at Barbara’s home in Cashiers, NC.

If you are far away and would like to participate, let me know. If there are 2-3 of you, a conference call class could be organized.

More info on WHOOP CLASSES.

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

Would love to hear your heart on how you feed yourself with God.

Death, Divorce, and Heartbreak Part 3: The Pain of Free Will

images (6)“What makes heartache through divorce or break ups so much more difficult for me to deal with than death?” 

This was the big question I asked in last week’s post (click HERE to read last week’s post).   It is the questions I’ve been asking God for years.  Death never brought me so much despair I wished for death but heartbreaks have.    (This is not written from the perspective of suicide or violent deaths or relationships that had to end due to harmful abuse.)

The Pain of Free Will

Death is not a choice.

Death is beyond our FREE WILL. Our bodies will die.

Love is a choice. 

We have FREE WILL to love what and who we want.  We even have free will to choose how much will love others or things.

Love is a commitment to spend time, energy, resources, care, and share life with someone. There are different levels of this commitment in our lives with different people.  Those are needed and healthy for us.

The level of commitment that we are finding in marriages (and most relationships) today is dismal.  How easily we seem to turn on and off our love for people we have promised to love, honor, and cherish for the rest of our lives.  How easily we say “I love you” to people and then run out the door at the slightest hint of a problem or expression of a need.

In relationships there is always a choice.  Death isn’t a choice, it’s an inevitable fact. 

Yes, when someone dies the relationship is not what it was.  The physical presence of that person is gone.  The acts of love that were readily available with them in body form are no longer there.   There is, however, no grappling with someone’s choice of who and where they turned their love.

When someone leaves the relationship through death, it is not because they no longer loved the people around them.

They did not go because they chose to love someone else or chose not to be committed anymore.

When someone chooses to leave a relationship, they have chosen to stop directing a certain level or all of their love toward another.

When it happens in the context of a committed relationship, it can be very painful.

We all have the freedom to UN-CHOOSE someone.   A big fear we all face in relating to others is rejection.  Being un-chosen is rejection.  We tend to put up all kinds of fronts,  play relational games, and squelch ourselves emotionally so we won’t ever feel this terrible hurt.

For me, when someone chooses to turn their love off, I can panic.  I get fearful and start doing things I wish I didn’t.  I may find myself running away, freezing all my emotions, or fighting back in an attempt to control.  There is no peace in taking control.  And no amount of fixing, controlling, or manipulating will bring me my heart’s desire, which is for the other to freely choose to love me.

As hard as it is, I must accept that if someone chooses to not love me, I cannot MAKE THEM love me.  True love is the kind that God wants from us.

God’s deepest desire is for us to freely choose to love Him.  He has been working to reconnect with us since Adam and Eve freely choose to eat that darn apple.   It has taken thousands and thousands of years for Him to tell us how much He loves us.  It has taken wrath, floods, laws, stories of sinful people, a big book of His Word, hundreds of promises, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and the death of His son.  Still, He is waiting for so many of us to freely choose to love Him.

He has the power to build universes and raise the dead, but He will not MAKE US love Him.

And despite our choice, He keeps choosing us–to love us, to be committed to us, to care for us, to listen to us, to meet our needs.

If you have ever felt the pain of unrequited love, divorce, or heartbreak, this is what God feels….all the time, day in and day out, a million times over.

Longing. Heartbreak. Crushing pain. Stomach aches and turnings.

And yet, despite the pain, He will love us even when we don’t love him. 

God never finds us unworthy, too much, or too sinful to keep loving.   As I heard in church this Sunday, God even said NO to Jesus when he prayed for the “cup to pass”.  God wanted us to know His love. He wanted us to be able to come to Him.  God found us worthy of a huge, heart wrenching sacrifice with a giant NO to His beloved son.

God feels every day what I have felt when I’ve been un-chosen.

God totally gets what I’m going through because He knows what happened in the garden and He knows how to fix it.  It is not His fault I’m learning or going through what I am.   I’m not being punished or taught a harsh lesson.   I have just experienced the world of Adam and Eve–the world of free choice of love and commitment.

If I had not gone through some break up experiences, I’m not sure I would fully understand how much God feels when we choose to not love.

God, in His own awesomeness, just keeps on loving despite the rejection.  This is a good reminder to keep choosing love in the face of other’s free will choices and the potential pain of love.

Death is easier for me because love is still there.  I don’t feel un-chosen when someone dies.

I have not lost love, I have just lost the body the love was coming through.  

I will miss the person greatly and yet still feel loved.

With divorce and heartbreak the body is still there but the love is gone. It’s hard to watch a body that once flowed with love toward us still be alive and choose to flow love somewhere else.

The truth of free will is I have no control over another’s choice to love or not love.  I do have a choice in how I will choose.

I can continue to choose love. I can choose to respond like God does and in ways the bible says is best.  I can choose peace.  I can choose to remember that I am never really UN-CHOSEN or UNLOVED because God will always choose to love me…and that is a soothing reality when a heart is troubled.

Free will is a great gift from God—for pain or peace.

It is a huge responsibility knowing our choices can have a painful effect on others…and God.  And, still, we get to choose.

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

Choose FREELY to leave a comment…or not!  But I’d love to hear your heart on the above.

WHO ARE YOU Part 4: A Taste of WHOOP—Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose

images (10)Love transforms one into what one loves. –Quote from a Facebook post that stuck in my head; author unremembered!


 

 

Last week’s post discussed some of the ways we might behave when we believe two lies:

  • Love Hurts and if God is Love then God Hurts.
  • If God hurts and we are made in His likeness, then we must be hurting and hurtful beings.

The truth of the matter is that God IS love and Love does NOT hurt.  Unloving behaviors hurt.  Who we are in our core is LOVE, and we are beings capable of great love.

Believing that God hurts leads us to believe that we are all hurtful beings, and we then engage in fear-based, self-protective behavior that is rooted in fear.  We begin to avoid the connection, intimacy and love that we’re made for and that we long for.  In order to break this cycle, we need to recognize that feeling unfulfilled is more a reaction of fear (natural instinct and conditioning from past unloving encounters) than a choice to love (our true spiritual essence).

Becoming aware of our false beliefs and acknowledging the behaviors we engage in to protect ourselves isn’t always pleasant.  It takes a great deal of introspection, self-knowledge, willingness, and time.  And let’s not forget COURAGE!  In areas of your life where you feel unrest, anxiety, anger, pain, sadness, or unfulfillment, you are very likely participating in fear instead of love.  To honestly examine your behaviors – to dig into your beliefs and uncover the causes of your actions – takes a great deal of bravery.   So if you are still reading and following these blogs, I want to give you a whole-hearted cheer…a big WHOOP!  You are already being brave, so keep going!

As I promised last week, I want to give you a practical, do-able spiritual practice that will transform you into what you will love.  Here it is: start and practice loving yourself every day at every moment no matter how you are being or what you are doing.  Love yourself and you will transform into something you love! 


images (2)Self-love is a spiritual practice. 

Some of you might be thinking that sounds awfully selfish and self-indulgent.   I used to think so, too.  And this same reaction occurs in my WHOOP groups when I tell them, “for the next 5 weeks you are going to concentrate on YOU and loving yourself!”  We are often taught that loving ourselves is a form of conceit and self-absorption.  We might also think that self-love goes against the selflessness that Jesus teaches by his example.  But I have learned that loving myself is a form of honoring God, and that it also honors others.

Here are some truths I’ve learned about the link between loving myself and loving others:

  • You can’t love others unless you love yourself just as you are at every moment. “Every moment” is the challenging part.  I don’t know of anyone who acts perfectly kind, caring and loving all the time. Least of all me!  But I’ve found that the root of this thinking is within me: the amount I judge and criticize myself is the amount I judge and criticize others.  When I learn to be kinder and gentler with myself—the good and the bad parts—then I can do the same to others.  This is how God loves us—He will never remove His love from us no matter what we think, say, feel, or do.  Check out how many times the word STEADFAST is associated with God’s love; if we are made in the likeness of God, then we are capable of steadfast love for ourselves and others.
  • If you’ve ever flown on a commercial airplane, you’ve heard the oxygen mask instruction, “If you have a small child with you, put your mask on first before helping them.” WHY?  Because if you are struggling to breath, start to panic, or pass out how can you help another.   If you can’t love and take care of you, how are you ever going to love and give care (being selfless) to another!
  • To honor, love and know WHO YOU ARE is how you learn to honor, love, and appreciate who someone else is. The more loving and compassionate you can be toward yourself, the more you can extend love and compassion to others.  When you can forgive yourself for your selfish, controlling or unkind ways, you will be able do to that for others.  That is love!
  • Self-love is believing and practicing the truth about our relationship with God. The extent to which we understand and experience God’s love is the extent to which we can love ourselves and others.   Self love is living out the truth – through our thoughts, deeds, and actions – that there is no separation between us and God. God is in us and we are in God. Therefore, the same kind of love that He gives us, we can give to ourselves and others. We become mirrors—we are to reflect God’s love and we can reflect that love right back to our self and others.
  • Did Jesus show self-love? I would have to say YES! He lived the ultimate Whole Hearted Life.  He totally got God! He knew who he was in and as God. He was conscious of his “being” and “doing”.  He honored what to do for himself to stay true and connected to who he was and his purpose.  He extended love and compassion. He fulfilled his purpose! If he had had one ounce of fear or doubt, I’d hate to think of where we’d be or what we’d be doing.  Have you read the end of Exodus or Leviticus lately?  It will make your head spin with all the proper procedures and sacrifices! I’m so glad Jesus’ new command to us was to love—love your neighbor as you yourself are loved, love God with all your heart, mind and strength, love others as Jesus has loved us.

God’s love and self-love is a sweet dance between us and God.  You can’t seem to have one without the other.
If you love you, you love God.
If you love God, you love you because He is part of WHO YOU ARE.
If you dishonor yourself, you are dishonoring God.
If you dishonor God, you are dishonoring yourself.
If you are not connecting with yourself, then you are not connecting with God.


images (7)Love transforms one into what one loves.

The transforming that occurs is God’s love to us, through us and given back to our self.   (You might need to read that one a few times to let it sink in!) Practice some self love and see what starts to happen in your life.

Practical Tips:

  1. WHAT IS LOVE? WHO IS GOD?  These are big questions.  Anything you can do to study and learn about love and God will be important to understanding how to love yourself.
  • Read the bible. Pick a version that you like!   I like The Voice, The New Living Translation, and The Amplified bible.  There are lots of great study bibles with commentary that explains more of the history and the concepts presented in the bible.
  • Here are a couple books I recommend:
    • Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
    • Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk
    • Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr
  • Here is a starter for you. Read what 1 Corinthian 13:4 says about love, and practice it on yourself this week:
    • Be patient and kind to yourself.
    • Don’t be rude, crude or indecent to yourself…in words or actions!
    • Don’t get upset with yourself or keep a list of all the things wrong you did today.
    • Love anything and everything that you do this week.
    • Trust, hope and endure however you are “being” this week!
    • Don’t dismiss yourself this week and any shape or form.
    • Remind yourself that you are important and needed by God.
  1. Make a list of 100 Ways to love yourself. Every good life coach eventually asks their client do this list.  WHY?   The list sheds light about WHO YOU ARE, what you like and what feeds your soul.  It also becomes a resource of what to do when you feel the need for love. Once you write the list, put it into practice right away and notice what starts to transpire in your life.  Get your list going by asking these questions:
  • What activities do you like to do that make you feel peaceful or more alive?
  • What activities do you do that make you feel better about yourself?
  • What things do you know from deep down in your heart that if you did them, you’d feel more loved by yourself?
  • What things do you wish someone else did for you to show you love?

These can be big and small things. They can cost money or not.   They can be actual activities or a way you want to be.

Examples:
Light candles
Read more fun books
Take a bath
Listen to music and sing
Drink more water
Brush my teeth
Make my bed in the morning
Have fresh flowers in the house
Don’t go to bed mad
Take family vacations every year
Go on lunch date with girlfriend
Cook a new recipe
Schedule Date nights
Tell the truth in love
Go for a walk
Take an art class
Buy new pajamas
Keep my morning time sacred
Breath before responding when feeling angry
Take responsibility for any behavior I did that might have been hurtful and apologize
Remember to take some healthy snacks in the car so I don’t eat something unhealthy

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

I’d love to hear your heart.  Leave me a comment or tell me a few ways you plan to love yourself this week.