Welcome to Write Your Vision!

Deep down, most people have dreams - they may be forgotten, unspoken, or unrealized - but they are there. I want to help you remember and believe in them again...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


Deep breath in, exhale out.  

F. Scott Fitzgerald says 'write because you have something to say' not just because...  For the past few months, I've wondered if I really did have more to say?  Turns out, I actually might.  :)  Thanks to everyone who has encouraged me to get back to this...

Resurrection 101
This past week I've been seriously struck by the fact that when asked about 2011, every single person I've encountered lately has said something to the effect of "This has been the worst year of my life..."  I've not found one person yet who said "Wow, this was MY year!"

And here I thought I was the ONLY ONE having a rough time?

Funny how that works, isn't it?

At the hardest times in our lives, we isolate and retreat rather than reach out and beg for help.  More and more with social media, we all seem to 'communicate' more because there's instant access.  Yet how often do we each actually go visit a neighbor, sit on their porch and have coffee with them?  A neighbor.  A friend.  Family.  Truth is we're actually TALKING less.

Some of us find it easier to write what we say because having to look someone else in the eyes and say out loud what we're truly feeling or how much we're really hurting is simply too terrifying... so we retreat and stare only at our computer who cannot question, empathize or criticize.    To the contrary, the great thing about the social net is that we can catch up with long lost friends and family... gaining insight into their every day should we choose to pay attention.

Still it's so much easier conversing with strangers on Twitter or distant friends on Facebook than it is to allow people who actually KNOW us into our lives.

This Christmas I went home for the holiday.  It was wonderful to actually SEE old friends and family... to be in their presence and get real rather than virtual hugs.  I also spent some time with my grandfather who as it turns out, is obsessed with planning his funeral.  Sitting with him in his kitchen reminiscing about years past with my grandmother was both heartbreaking and hilarious.  The fact that he wanted me to write up the details of his funeral for him and what he hoped each of my family and cousins would say physically hurt my heart.  Nonetheless, I realized it was because he wanted desperately to know that his life had meaning and that he was truly loved.   Don't we all?

He wanted to make sure there would be no squabbling about who was going to do what when, nor what his preferences were.  He knew that during a time of grief, people react - and sometimes not all that positively.  He'd thought through every detail.  He wanted his send-off to be a positive celebration of not just his life but of their life:  My Gram and Pap.  As I sat there with all his hand-scribbled notes, all I could do was smile through tears and say "You're not gonna make this easy on me, are you?"  He was crying too as he watched my reaction to his words.  "I need you to do this for me" he said as he pointed to a love poem he'd written to my grandmother when they were younger that he wanted me to read and promise to read the day of his funeral mass.  When I finally agreed to all he'd asked of me, he sat back in his chair grinning.  Exhale.  "Now I can relax" he said.  Then he started in with the jokes...

My Pap is 88 years old.  Earlier that day, his home was filled with young kids and teenagers.  They each played instruments from drums to keyboard, cello, violin, viola, and trumpet.  These kids came over with their mom to play for HIM.  They came over because he had asked them to play just for me - because I was in town.  Now, how many pre-teen and teenagers do YOU know who would do that for someone who wasn't even related to them??  I was dumbfounded.

The thing about my Pap is... that he just LOVES people.  He'd stand on his head to make a child laugh if he could.  He's never been wealthy but he's always understood the power of love and a simple gesture of loving kindness.  When my grandmother was in the hospital - and to this day - he would bring a loaf of fresh bread from the bakery and a jar of his canned peppers to the doctors and nurses.  "It's not much" he'd say, "but I want to thank you for taking care of my wife."  He'd do the same with folks at the bank - or literally anyone who did something nice for him or her.  It was his way of giving back, always.  Year after year - even though Gram passed four years ago.  He still follows through.  Never forgetting.  As family, we used to rib him about it and tell him he didn't have to, etc. etc. etc. but he'd brush us all off and do it his way anyway.  But honestly, anyone who received that loaf or those peppers had to look into his eyes and there they'd receive the greatest gift of all.  His love and admiration... and for that, they were all blessed.

He knew what mattered.  He still does.

It's the power of his love that brought those kids to his house.  It's that same love that draws us all to him, seeking his approval, wanting his affection.

This year has been a really really tough year for me.  I was hurt, lost, stressed, and more than I care to recall.  But as with all such things in life, I've come out of that darkness back into the light again... resurrected once more with a new set of lessons learned under my belt.

2011 was a tough year but it is ending.  I am choosing to celebrate the ending of 2011 with a return to the good things in my life that I'd let go (like this blog) and a joyful heart in knowing that the most powerful thing was and is still LOVE.  At the end of the day, love is the thing that lingers - the thing that matters.  It is the thing that all those who know you will remember about you and celebrate for you when you pass on from this life.

So in the meantime, enjoy being ALIVE!  Celebrate that you ARE loved.  And in 2012, think about how to personally connect with those you love rather than sending them a Facebook post or Tweet.

Resurrect the Art of Interpersonal Relationships in the New Year!
Spend actual time with your family and friends.
Look them in the eyes or hold their hand.  Tell them all what they mean to you.
Show them all that you care enough to be PRESENT.

Make the time... (and don't tweet about it when you do :)

Just SAVOR the moments of your life.

Conventional wisdom says you only get one, so make the most of it.  My Pap has... and my hope is that I'll positively impact even half the lives he has when my time here is done.

My New Year's Resolution for 2012 is to commit to a Personal Resurrection.  

Join me.
Walk outside.  Breathe in that Air.  And smile.

Happy Holidays Everyone!


Monday, July 4, 2011

There will not be any further blogs on this site for a while. Thanks so much for listening!


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Trying Times

I'm always amazed at how quickly elation can turn to frustration when things get complicated.  We often witness the unbelievable and count our blessings thanking God for bringing us through trials ranging from a trip to the emergency room and a dying dog to a parking space close to the door in record heatwaves...

Yet, the very next seemingly negative event or circumstance puts us in turmoil... no matter how trivial.

Human beings are funny that way.  We epitomize "what have you done for me lately?" through our incredible short term memory.  We also often fail to grant the grace we are given in our circumstance to others...  I imagine God in heaven must shake his head at us frequently.

So often we can't see past our "now" to even conceive of our potential future or the impact of our current actions on that future. I call these 'heavy sigh' moments. We allow the trying times we face to dictate our state of mind and subsequently our state of belief.

The result:  A lack of VISION

Isn't it funny how we can be given EXACTLY what we requested, prayed for, meditated on, or believed could be to then turn around and only see a new set of circumstances to derail us rather than seeing how much closer we are to our dream?

Why is that??
Well, there's the good vs. evil belief; karma principles; yin-yang; etc etc etc.  Pick your negative poison.  I think it's any number of things but regardless, I believe it comes back to a lack of vision. 

We fail to see the forrest for the trees... we have blinders on!

Next time you come through an incredibly traumatic time and receive our grace and victory, take a moment to WRITE DOWN your joy, your excitement and how grateful you are to have been brought through safely or given what you wanted.  Do that for yourself so when you face your next problem you see it for what it is:

A circumstance.  A challenge.  A step closer to your GOAL...

When things get complicated - as surely they will - REMEMBER where you've been so you can have FAITH in where you're going.

Your ability to achieve your VISION is decided by the myriad of choices you make today.  See past the circumstances of now to where you want to be - and then refuse to settle for anything less than your dream... one circumstance at a time.

Whatever you are facing today - no matter how big or how insignificant the issue - consider how 'big' that is in comparison to your dream!  You can have your hearts desire if you believe you can. 
Embrace your Vision!
Choose to see it rather than the circumstances.  ;)

You might be surprised at how close you already are!


Monday, June 6, 2011

Answered Prayers...

Incredibly... God came through.

This morning, the Vet called and the first thing he said was "Aspen's fever broke."  I almost cried.  I smiled and instead waved my hand to God in thanks...  He had answered.

The vet went on to say that his lungs had started to clear... he was breathing better... and that his insides were responding.  All things were improving!

All things were improving...

It is so breath-takingly humbling to experience a miracle.  To know that with a WORD, God answered... and not in any sort of random or non-descript way.  Not in generalities.  Not circumstantial.

God answered in strikingly significant specifics.
The response was so precisely perfect that the Truth is that it could be NOTHING else but God.

And isn't that how it works?

Be still and know...
He answers so that we KNOW.
He answers in a way that assures us that it IS Him...

Our hearts recognize and KNOW.

Thank you Lord, for answering this prayer and for responding to the overwhelming love and support by so many friends and family who were praying also.  Praise you for your unbelievable grace and love... for helping renew and infuse our faith.

You ARE all in all... THE God - THE Lord.  The one and only, Alpha and Omega.  The Morning Star. King of Kings...

I love You - and honor You - and am so humbled and blessed by this miracle of restored life for my little Aspen.  I know his healing is not yet complete - but I know it will be because You answered already.  How great thou art!  And how incredible is it that the God of the Universe cares so much for a life so small?

How much more do you mean to Him?
How much more will He do for you?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Prayers for Aspen

A friend asked me 'how' I prayed?
This is how...

I'm asking for prayer and healing for little Aspen... 

That today his fever breaks and his health is wholly restored to the amazement of his vet and for God's glory. We are praying and agreeing that Aspen is healed completely from the inside out - the cough disappears, his breathing is normal, his lungs are clear, his fever is gone, and he can eat and digest his food with no problem!! Your Word says to ask... so I am asking for this restoration miracle now in Jesus Name, Heal this little life who brings such joy and bring him home to us THIS week!

I thank you Lord that Aspen will live a long, full healthy life for at least another 10 years!  ...that his eyes see, his organs, cells, muscles, and bones are vibrant and alive, healthy... that he is surrounded by love and not afraid... that his heart is strong, his kidneys and liver and intestines all work normally as they should... that his body is strong and healthy, free from infection and disease.  I pray a hedge of protection around about him - that he is surrounded by your warring and ministering angels to guard and comfort him.

I pray and come against ANY ailment, infection, disease, or negative thing that attempts to hurt or kill him and command those things to GO NOW in the Name of Jesus - at whose name every knee must bow and tongue confess that He is Lord ( Isaiah 45:23 and Philippians 2:9-11).  "It is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord" (Zech 4:6) so I acknowledge You, Lord.  Only YOU can heal Aspen and I praise you and thank you for this victory.

I thank you Lord for the blessing that this little dog is to me and my family.  I thank you Lord that you have given him as a blessing and that his 'time' is not yet done.  He is an innocent life whom You love as much as I do.  I TRUST You, Lord and KNOW that You want Aspen alive and healthy... therefore I rebuke and reject this attack on him.  Your Word says that 'the thief comes to kill, steal, and destroy' (John 10:10) so I know where this comes from and am so thankful that You, Lord defeated him.  Your Word further says that "when caught, the thief must restore 7x what he has stolen" (Prov 6:31) - so I claim that now for Aspen.  He WILL be restored to full health and live seven times a greater, stronger, longer, healthier life than before.

You are the Alpha and the Omega, Lord.  The beginning and the end.  All life, all hope, all love comes from You.  You are ALL in ALL.  Jehovah Jirah (our provider), Jehovah Rophe (our healer), Jehovah Shalom (our peace), Jehovah Nissi (our banner)!  You heal with a word... Emmanuel - God with us.  I thank you that 1 John 4:4 says "Greater is He that is in me, than he that is in the world" and Psalms 23:4 says "I will fear no evil, for you are with me Lord, Your Word and Your Spirit comfort me.  No evil shall befall me, neither shall shall any plague come near my dwelling" (Psalms 91:10) and that means there is no place for this illness, this plague in my home because I am a child of the King.

Thank you, Lord!  I give You all the glory for Aspen's healing and I thank you humbly for this amazing grace... today and always.

I love you, Lord Jesus - I believe.
To God be all the Glory.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Write Your Vision 101

This is my 101st blog post so it seemed fitting to consider going back to the basics.  A 101 class is your entry level, basic introduction to whatever the topic is.  So Write Your Vision 101 is about to begin:

Name:  Write Your Vision

Purpose:  To determine and subsequently achieve your dream(s) for your life.

Activities:  1) thinking 2) speaking 3) writing 4) believing 5) acting...

Lately I feel as if I have been through the ringer, put back through the spin cycle, and tossed in an old dryer spinning and hitting up against hot metal while I bake - all wrinkled.  I can't seem to get my footing.  So when faced with those types of life circumstances, I always go back to the basics.  The 101 version:

What do I believe?
What do I know?
What are my circumstances saying (to the contrary)?
What do I do now?
Is there something I'm supposed to be learning here?

Great questions, right?

Over the years I've taught myself how to fight for my beliefs, how to move on past heartbreaking grief, how to see past the present to the vision, and how / when to let go.  All were incredibly HARD lessons.  All took their toll on my soul and psyche.  All shaped my attitude and point of view.  The one thing I've learned more than anything else is that God does in fact have a plan.  I think we humans muck it up more often than not with our lust, ambition, greed, fear, and numerous other frailties that we listen to and choose consciously or not as we invoke our 'Free Will.'

Interestingly, in time - and time truly is grace in motion - we are often given signs that allow us to see the error of our ways and hopefully get back on track.  These signs can come in the form of people we love TELLING us we're off... friends, family, or complete strangers.  They can be messages we get from something we read or the lyrics of a song.  Messages can also be something as simple as a birthday wish from a 2 year old that reminds you of your heart's desire to be a parent/family... or tears through prayer when you realize the pain you've caused or that's being caused.

No matter what the message is or how it comes, we are given the opportunity to rebalance.  To choose - yet again - where we belong, what our present and therefore our future will be.
This could be THE moment.  Get out of your comfort zone...

If it is - breathe.

You are being given a gift.  No matter how unnerving the possibility may be - no matter what the message or how many changes it may bring, it is WORTH it. 

Y O U  are worth it.

1.) So keep breathing and THINK about those signs or messages.  What are they telling you?  It's probably something you already know or have known.  Now don't try to figure it all out - that's how doubt creeps in!  Nope - just be sure you understand the vision.  Understand the details of your dream...

2) Next, start SPEAKING out loud what you think you know.  Say what you want.  Hear yourself giving voice to your thought... your dream.

3) Now that you're clear, WRITE down what you spoke verbatim.  Write it in detail - follow each thought through down to the color of the walls in your new home, the type of floor, where the wall sockets will be.  Imagine your dream in to the level of detail you would if you were designing your own home.

4) Once you have your dream written down... you've spoken it and thought it through.  BELIEVE it's totally possible!  You have to choose to believe that what you dream, what you want IS possible.  Your desire is the confirmation particularly if it's not a selfish one.
5) ACT accordingly.  Make the decisions that move you forward toward your dream.  Don't sit back and wait for something to happen.  You have to get out of the boat to walk on water (Matt 14:22-33).

And yea, you might sink half way there and need help BUT you get to WALK on water back to the boat once you get pulled out...

Our dreams are worth the effort to think about them, to speak and believe in them... to take the time to write them and to act on them.  Don't allow them to be stolen, destroyed, or killed.

When the circumstances blow in or the dryer spins incessantly, hold fast to what you believe - to what you know.  Have FAITH in the possibility.  Your vision can become reality.  Trust your heart.  Activate your mind.  Speak your truth.   Then stand back and watch what God will do...


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Chasing Storms - Stressed Anyone??

Okay, I have to admit I am sad about two things right now - the Series Finale of SMALLVILLE and the impending end of Oprah

Smallville has been a staple for the past nearly 10 years and I grew up watching Oprah... I absolutely love her.  She has done more to change attitudes about so many controversial yet fundamental topics that it's impossible to measure or truly account for the numerous lives she's saved, touched, or changed.  Thank you Oprah - you certainly impacted my life.  As for Smallville, gotta love a hero... enough said.  ;)

Interestingly, the topic of stress has been coming up a lot during this same time.  I soon realized that two of my de-stress mechanisms:  Oprah and Smallville were disappearing. 

I don't watch TV really.  I use my DVR for everything and watch only what I choose.  The end result is that I'm incredibly particular about my time and viewing options because I'm stressed and have limited time.  Don't we all?

So then I started wondering about WHY I've been stressed?

Typical stuff I guess.  Organized chaos at work, striving to get better, do more, impact change.  Family stress.  Friend stress. Travel (for business) stress - planes, hotels, rental cars, bad food.

All the traveling resulted in my back getting tweaked out which hasn't allowed me to workout.  Another de-stresser not available.  Also because of the traveling, I haven't been eating as healthy as I like.  More stress.

Hmmm - I'm seeing a pattern.

This morning in church the pastor talked about guess what?  Stress.

Hmmm - I'm seeing a pattern here too.

In one of Oprah's last shows, she reminded everyone of some of her greatest lessons she's learned over the years.  Her lesson was "When you know better, you do better."    In church, the pastor was talking about the essence of faith... and the music was about living without fear.

As all these messages were swirling around in my mind, I started to realize the trap I'd fallen into without even knowing I'd tripped.

I'd been living according to everyone else's - the world's - rules.  I'd gotten away from taking time to breathe and making good choices in favor of chasing storms.  The result of all these circumstances was that my stress level was increasing exponentially... as was my temper.

I knew something was wrong, off - but I couldn't seem to stop long enough to put it all together.  Instead, I just kept getting angrier.  More frustrated.  Stressed - seriously.

Wow, just like that - off track. 

The good news?  It's just as easy to get BACK on TRACK as it is to get off it.  When I realized all this (when I knew better), I changed (I did better). 


I stretched today.  I took timeout to go to church.  I ate a nice brunch.  I went to the grocery store and bought a boatload of REAL food.  Then I had tea with my love and one of my best friends and her 4 year old daughter.  Where we were drinking our tea was a giant fish tank and I got to take time-out and view those fish through the wonderous eyes of a child who was so excited to see them. 

Breathe in, breathe out. 

Better?  Yep.
On track again?  Yep.
Still stressed?  Nope, not really.

The thing is that I am so unbelievably blessed:  I am loved - by my wonderful partner, Kristin - by my family, by my friends and even by my co-workers (well,  most of them!).  I have a job I absolutely love because I get to work with people and a company whose sole mission is to help some of the most vulnerable people in our country get healthcare and behavioral services they need.  We have a fantastic home that's affordable, beautiful and filled with memories and love.  And I could go on and on...

I'm fulfilling the thing(s) I was created to do and I'm in love and loved.  Truth is that I've never been happier or healthier.

Right now, in this moment, I'm not stressed.  I fundamentally believe God is in control, that He loves me and that as long as I keep my eyes where they need to be, He takes care of the details.  Thanks for that, Lord.


Monday, May 2, 2011

Thank you, US Military...

The American people have had an open wound lingering for the past 10 years... the terror unleashed on our country with the murder of civilians on September 11th hurt our collective soul.

To the Members of the United States Armed Forces,
THANK YOU for your sacrifice and your victory tonight.

You fulfilled the promise of finding and eliminating America's Most Wanted killer.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Vision: Why William & Kate Matter

In 1981, my mother woke me up early to watch Lady Diana Spencer marry Prince Charles.  We sat as close to the television as we could on the floor looking up at it and drinking tea.  It is one of my favorite mother-daughter memories...

Yesterday, Princess Diana's son William married his love, Catherine (Kate) Middleton at Westminster Abby.  Despite traveling for work, I again got up at 3:45 am to watch and found myself tearing up more than once. 

I've been surprised by how negative and critical some have been of the royals, the wedding, Prince William, and even Kate.  Was it a fairytale wedding?  In many respects, it absolutely was. 

In today's cynical world of war and disappointment, the idea of a Prince marrying a commoner and making her a Princess seems more than Disneyesque but actually makes some angry.  For those, I challenge you to consider what else is driving those emotions - beyond these two young adults who are in love and making a commitment before God and the world to be together in their circumstances?

The thing that I love about Prince William and his brother Prince Harry is that they are 'gentle'men.  Whenever I see, read, or hear anything about them I am always struck by their dignity, their compassion, their sense of honor, loyalty, and love.  Princess Diana said in many interviews that she wanted her boys to learn the value of work (so they had chores), the value of people (they were never allowed to order others around despite their privilege), and the value of giving back (in their case, volunteering and charity).  She encouraged them to FEEL!  No stiff upper lip as the British are known to demonstrate.  She encouraged them to 'marry for love' first... which William has now done.  She taught them to be who they are.

Watching the Prince William over the years (and Harry also), I've been amazed at how truly kind and considerate he is.  Both boys are accomplished men now. 

William has a college degree (thanks to Kate who encouraged him to change his major and finish school).  He joined the military and is an RAF helicopter pilot who performs search and rescue missions, which are some of the most dangerous.  He vacations with his father, his brother is his best friend.  He rides horses, hunts... AND cooks.  He goes shopping at the grocery when he and Kate are in Anglesey in North Wales where they have lived.  He has traveled the world - yes, but often in the pursuit of understanding and to work.  Yes work - including building homes and cleaning toilets in Chile, Africa, and other poor communities.

William and his brother Harry are well rounded MEN.  They are chivalrous and respectful, protective and kind, compassionate and honorable.

These two young men are true role models.  Yes, they've had fun, gone to pubs, etc. as all young adults do... but they are grounded.  In watching the wedding yesterday, I loved their posture, their grace, and their genuineness.

The reason WILLIAM matters is because he is a true reminder that men can still be 'men' and yet be sensitive, articulate, graceful, and faithful to one woman... willing to commit to marriage and the fidelity of it.

When you add Kate Middleton - now Princess Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge - we see a compliment, a match... not based on wealth or status but based on her as an individual.  Kate is an educated young woman who is happy simply being herself.  She too is grounded, modern in her ideals and style and yet loves and values tradition.  She has been a role model as well.  Consider that she has been content to simply be who she is for almost 10 years without having to brag or gossip about her life.  When William suggested they break up to allow them both to consider options, Kate did not start trashing William nor did she cry out to friends or others.  She embraced the opportunity believing if they were meant to be together, they would be.  Why? She was a confident woman who knew her worth...

Six weeks later, William who admitted to being miserable without her, was back.  Let me say again, SHE KNEW HER WORTH!  Young girls (and the rest of us) could take a lesson from Kate.  We forget our own worth.

The result:  A MARRIAGE... not simply a beautiful wedding.

The wedding reflected William and Kate.  The vows, their prayer, and the themes they requested be present in the Bishop of London's sermon.  The bishop reminded us that the DECISION to marry highlighted their devotion to a spiritual life designed to bring each person into the fullness of themselves. 

William and Kate matter because they are choosing to live their lives to the best of their ability, becoming their best selves AND doing it together. 

Today, so many men and women have forgotten or simply never learned how beautiful and enriching this can be.  These two young people are not ruled by fear, insecurity, some macho need or a whiney sense of victimization. 

They are thoughtful, graceful, devoted individuals who give us all a glimpse of the possible...

Consider what you want in your spouse or partner.  Consider the qualities of these young people... I then encourage you to WRITE down the characteristics you personally would like to strive for as well as those characteristics you need from your life partner.  You can't get what you want if you don't know what you want.  So, perhaps start by examining two young people who seem to be doing it right!  And then begin to believe that God will bring you the prince or princess your heart truly loves...


Friday, April 29, 2011

Happy Royal Wedding Day!!

Congratulations William & Catherine :) what a beautiful, intimate ceremony. God bless you both!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter!

King James Version

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (John 3:16-17)

The Last Supper
And his disciples went forth, and came into the city, and found as he said unto them: and they made ready for the passover. And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. (Mark 14:16-17)

And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many. Verily I say unto you. I will drink no more of the fruit of the vine, until that day that I drink it new in the kingdom of God. (Mark 14:22-25)

Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus prays in Gethsemane
And they came to an olive grove called Gethsemane, and Jesus said, “Sit here while I go and pray.” He took Peter, James, and John with Him, and He began to be filled with horror and deep distress. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and watch with Me.”
He went on a little farther and fell face down on the ground. He prayed that, if it were possible, the awful hour awaiting Him might pass him by.  “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for You. Please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will, not Mine.” Then He returned and found the disciples asleep.

“Simon!” He said to Peter. “Are you asleep? Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with Me even one hour? Keep alert and pray. Otherwise temptation will overpower you. For though the spirit is willing enough, the body is weak.”Then Jesus left them again and prayed, repeating His pleadings.  Again He returned to them and found them sleeping, for they just couldn’t keep their eyes open. And they didn’t know what to say. When He returned to them the third time, He said, “Still sleeping? Still resting? Enough! The time has come. I, the Son of Man, am betrayed into the hands of sinners. Up, let’s be going. See, My betrayer is here!”

Jesus is betrayed and arrested
And immediately, as He said this, Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived with a mob that was armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent out by the leading priests, the teachers of religious law and the other leaders. Judas had given them a prearranged signal: “You will know which one to arrest when I go over and give Him the kiss of greeting. Then you can take Him away under guard.”As soon as they arrived, Judas walked up to Jesus. “Teacher!” he exclaimed, and gave Him the kiss. Then the others grabbed Jesus and arrested him. But someone pulled out a sword and slashed off an ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus asked them, “Am I some dangerous criminal, that you come armed with swords and clubs to arrest Me? Why didn’t you arrest Me in the Temple? I was there teaching every day. But these things are happening to fulfill what the Scriptures say about Me.”Meanwhile, all His disciples deserted Him and ran away.
Jesus is Crucified
So Pilate, anxious to please the crowd, released Barabbas to them.  He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip then turned Him over to the Roman soldiers to crucify Him.  Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band of soldiers. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe.  And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand; and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying Hail King of the Jews! And they spit on him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)

And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. And there followed him a great company of people and women, which also bewailed and lamented him. (Luke 23:26-27).

And they brought Jesus to a place called Golgotha (which means Skull Hill).  They offered Him wine drugged with myrrh, but He refused it.  Then they nailed Him to the cross.  It was nine o’clock in the morning when the crucifixion took place. A signboard was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against Him. It read: “The King of the Jews.” Two criminals were crucified with Him, their crosses on either side of His. And the people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. ”Ha! Look at you now!” they yelled at Him. “You can destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days, can you? Well then, save yourself and come down from the cross!”  The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but He can’t save himself! Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down from the cross so we can see it and believe Him!”

Then said Jesus, Father forgive them; for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:33-34)

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the Scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. (John 19:23-24)

Jesus Dies and Is Buried
At noon, darkness fell across the whole land until three o’clock. Then, at that time Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?”  Some of the bystanders misunderstood and thought He was calling for the prophet Elijah. One of them ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, holding it up to Him on a stick so he could drink. ”Leave Him alone. Let’s see whether Elijah will come and take Him down!” he said. 
Then Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he said, Father into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.  At the same time, the curtain in the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. When the Roman officer (centurion) who stood facing Him saw how He had died, he exclaimed, “Truly, this was the Son of God!” (Luke 23:44-47)

Some women were there, watching from a distance, including Mary Magdalene, Mary (the mother of James the younger and of Joseph) and Salome. They had been followers of Jesus and had cared for Him while He was in Galilee. Then they and many other women had come with Him to Jerusalem.

This all happened on Friday, the day of preparation, the day before the Sabbath.  When the evening was come, there came a rich man of Arimathea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed. (Matthew 27:57-60)

And Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of Jesus beheld where he was laid. (Mark 15:47)

Jesus is Risen!
The next evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Salome and Mary the mother of James went out and purchased burial spices to put on Jesus’ body. Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they came to the tomb. On the way they were discussing who would roll the stone away from the entrance to the tomb. 

A violent earthquake took place as an angel from heaven rolled back the stone. The Roman guards shook in fear as the angel, dressed in bright white, sat upon the stone.

When the women arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone – a very large one – had already been rolled aside. So they entered the tomb, and there on the right sat a young man clothed in a white robe. The women were startled, but the angel said, “Do not be so surprised. You are looking for Jesus, the Nazarene, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He has been raised from the dead! Look, this is where they laid His body. Now go and give this message to His disciples, including Peter: Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see Him there, just as He told you before He died!” The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, saying nothing to anyone because they were too frightened to talk. (Mark 16:2-7) 
When the guards reported what had happened to the chief priests, they bribed the soldiers with a large sum of money, telling them to lie and say that the disciples had stolen the body in the night.
It was early on Sunday morning when Jesus rose from the dead and the first person who saw Him was Mary Magdalene, the woman from whom He had cast out seven demons. She went and found the disciples who were grieving and weeping. But when she told them that Jesus was alive and she had seen Him, they didn’t believe her.

Afterward He appeared to two who were walking from Jerusalem into the country, but they didn’t recognize Him at first because He had changed His appearance. When they realized who He was, they rushed back to tell the others, but no one believed them.  Still later He appeared to the eleven disciples as they were eating together. He rebuked them for their unbelief – their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen Him after He had risen.

And then He told them, “Go into all the world and preach the Good News to everyone, everywhere. Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: They will cast out demons in My name, and they will speak new languages. They will be able to handle snakes with safety, and if they drink anything poisonous, it won’t hurt them. They will be able to place their hands on the sick and heal them.”

When the Lord Jesus had finished talking with them, He was taken up into heaven and sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And the disciples went everywhere and preached, and the Lord worked with them, confirming what they said by many miraculous signs. (Mark 16:19-20)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Art of Spring Cleaning

April is always an emotional rollercoaster month for me of joy mixed with tears. 

I LOVE it because my birthday is this month and I believe in celebrating it as it is the ONE day of the year that is MINE.  With that also comes Easter, spring flowers and showers, beautiful green grass, the need to start planting and clearing out the weeds in the yard, laying new soil or mulch, etc. etc.  All Good.

April is also my grandmother's month.  Her birthday is a few days after mine so she and I would always celebrate together... and I loved that because I adored her.  It made us special.  Despite her being gone now (thus the tears), the depth of my love for her and her impact on my life is still amazing to me.  She was/is my person.  My "Go-To" and my heart.  And SPRING was her favorite time of year!  This was when she'd launch into SPRING CLEANING...

Gram LOVED to clean her house in the Spring.  Pretty much anytime really but especially this time of year.  She couldn't wait to open the windows and clean those sills and the windows themselves with soap and water until they sparkled.  Then she'd have Pap wash down the screens that had been in storage and hang them.  But the work didn't stop there.  No, that was just the beginning. 

Gram and Pap would LITERALLY start cleaning their home from top to bottom, inside then out.  Gram would "start high" because the dust would drop down.  She'd climb up on chairs and take apart the ceiling fans and light fixtures washing each piece in the sink.  All curtains and lamp shades would come down for their cleaning.  She'd assign Pap the wall washing and baseboard cleaning... and if he missed anything - NO supper!  That was her grinning threat.  He'd look hurt but then would grin right back at her with an "Okay sweetie, I'll do it good."

They'd tackle the vents and ductwork blowing them out and washing the vents in the sink also.  All bedding would come off and head for washing machine.  That meant the pillows too.  Pap would lift up the mattress and Gram would vacuum and clean the box springs and bed frames.  She'd also vacuum under the bed and he'd be responsible for the walls and baseboards around and behind the beds.  Once that was in process, they'd pull EVERYTHING out of the closets.  All clothes, shoes, etc. until it was empty.  Gram would start sorting and Pap would clean the closets themselves.  The clothing would be placed in piles - some going to the needy, some to storage, and ALL going into the wash.  This was the time of year when Gram wouldn't use the dryer.  Nope.  EVERYTHING would go from the wash to the clothing lines in the yard... "so they would smell good!"  And they did.

After each bedroom was complete, they'd hit the hallway and bathrooms then the living room.  The cushions on the couches would be beaten outside and set out for a few hours to take in the sun and breeze.  Now they'd tackle the kitchen.  First the stove and refridgerator had to be pulled out so the floors could be cleaned along with the outside of both appliances.  Next Pap would set to work taking the stove apart and cleaning it while Gram would clean her fridge.  Once complete, they'd begin with all the kitchen cabinets.  Pap would wash them down with Murphy's Oil Soap and water while Gram would empty them.  Pap would wash the inside and Gram would lay down a new liner and then replace the contents.  If anything looked dusty or sticky, it too would go into the sink for a bath before going into the cabinet.  Then when they'd literally gone through everything, Gram would clean her floor.

Once the upstairs was done, they'd start the trek downstairs into the live in basement where they did their cooking and canning.  Same process.  And of course, once the inside was done then they'd work outside.  Pap would wash down the siding of their home and paint the window sills, etc. while Gram started ironing.  She'd have an enormous basket by now!  She'd hang her curtains while they were still a little damp - that was a secret!  She didn't have to iron them if she did that!  But she'd iron the sheets and pillow cases, all those clothes before going back into the closets and drawers, etc.  Even the things going to the church for the poor... all would be pressed and ready.

Of course this was a several day process but when they were done, that little West Virginia house would SPARKLE.  It was a true labor of love.

Every nook and cranny.  Every light switch and fixture.  Every appliance.  Every article of clothing and pair of shoes.  Every tool - including the lawn mower would get a bath and a tune up.

And they would NEVER complain or grumble.  They LOVED doing it.  They loved doing it together.  They were a team and they enjoyed every minute of it.

They built their home brick by brick.  Gram designed it - where she wanted each room and how she wanted it laid out - and Pap built it with his friends and family.  They took pride in their home and with their belongings.  They were HAPPY... alwaysThey truly made Spring Cleaning into an art form that is now a memory I cherish and a reminder to not take even the smallest thing for granted.  Nothing escaped their loving touch and polish.

They had a vision for their lives and they made their dream come true.  And from the beginning, they cherished their dream, cherished what they had.  They recognized their blessings.

I used to ask Gram and Pap around their birthdays if they wanted anything?  What could I get them as a gift?

Pap would wink and say "I have everything right here.  I have my sweetie, a roof over my head, and food on the table."  Gram would squeeze my hand and generally say "I have what I want" as she'd start fixing me something to eat. 

And they did.

As we all work to achieve it's good I think to separate and distinguish between "things we may want" and our DREAM: with our calling or our VISION for our lives and "things we don't have."  There's a difference between acquiring more stuff and what we need in our lives to be happy and whole.  When you consider your vision for yourself, I'd encourage you to look around at what you may already have... you might be surprised to find that you already have what you need.  It may simply need a little loving polish and some spring cleaning.

I'm starting today.  One room at a time.  ;)


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Horse Named Butch

Since my last post, there's been a LOT going on... seems like a roller coaster of emotions, would-be signs, and new or renewed decisions.  A veritable lifetime in only a few short days.

My question today is "What scares you the most?"  What's the ONE thing that you simply cannot bear to consider, to hear, or even allow the fleeting thought to zip past you mind because even the hint of it brings you to your knees?  Do you have that thought or concept now?

Okay, so what if the thing you feared most introduced itself to you?  What would you do?  How would you react?  Need some hints?
  • Loss of your job
  • Death of a spouse
  • Your love leaving you
  • A sick child
Loss or Potential Loss.  Loss of some kind in some form that causes heartbreak - causes the tightening in your chest or throat - and then the tears flow.  Sobbing. At times even the POTENTIAL of such a loss can stop us cold.  The potential can become so overwhelming, it can consume you for a minute, an hour, a day, week or longer...

The possibility of losing what you love most can change your world in an instant.  Suddenly that project for work isn't so important nor is cleaning the porch or any number of the other chores or momentary TO-DOs.  In those moments, nothing else matters.

When faced with that pain - that heartbreak - you re-prioritize.  Your body can only absorb so much before it shuts down, nightmares can plague your sleep; but the thing about that type of pain is that it doesn't actually kill you.  It just makes you wish it would.

Ever experience that?  Ever come close?  if yes, then you KNOW... if not, consider yourself blessed and cherish each moment.

Thing is that in those moments or during those times we question.  You may question yourself, question God, the universe, dreams, faith, all the POSITIVE things in life that you BELIEVEWhy? Because we all try to make sense from the circumstances confronting us that make no sense.  In our effort to understand and cope, we question... we wonder.  Those foundational belief questions may last a few seconds or longer.

For me, when faced with that level of fear despite my faith, I still question.  I still may wonder... but then I rebalance.  It doesn't lessen the pain per se but it is how my mind works to protect my heart.  But even then, when the questions start, I redirect those questions based on what I believe either intentionally or subconsciously.  And then, somehow God answers... always.

In this case, I met an amazing Pima Indian woman who spoke to me.  When I least expected grace, I received a message.  A confirmation.  Kindness.  A direct response.  An answer that spoke to my soul and released the wellspring of sorrow that I'd been unconsciously working to control.  The truth made me free... reminding me of MY DREAMS.  It was one of the most humbling moments of my life.  I still have not fully processed it all.

This incredibly was followed by a day of affirmations where people I either didn't know or barely knew spoke positive things to me from telling me how talented I was, how beautiful I was, that I was where I needed to be, doing what I was meant to be doing, and much more.  I was reunited with an old friend and met several new ones who made me laugh and coincidentally reminded me of ME... who I am, what I love, what I believe.  I felt my soul coming back.

And finally - if all that wasn't enough the next day was a day of FUN!  A day to RELEASE all the tension, to release the mental gymnastics, to truly BE IN THE MOMENT! 

It was a day where I was reminded that life was meant to be LIVED!  

I had an opportunity to almost be a kid again!  I was surrounded by the surreal beauty of the Arizona desert with cacti and red rocks and the sounds of water: images so breath-taking in their diversity, contradictions, and color that the spirituality of the place was heightened.  In the midst of this natural spectacle I had decided to go horseback riding as part of a group activity.  It felt right.  I had been looking forward to this from the beginning when I learned I'd be in this place.  It was nearly time.  I was so excited...

As our group gathered and our guide talked, I saw one of the most beautiful horses.  He was a Mustang - brown and white - gorgeous.  Proud.  He was the first to choose a rider.  Again by grace this majestic horse with more than a little attitude would be the one who chose me.  His name was Butch.  Sitting atop this incredible animal as we trotted through the desert was so joyful, so exhilarating, so humbling, and so spiritual that I got lost in the moment by moments taking it all in - from seeing a desert owl digging to jack rabbits and the amazing landscape.  More than anything I was PRESENT... and I was HAPPY.  Truly, deeply, overwhelmingly happy...

Butch knew what I needed: he challenged me, had to be in the lead but not too far ahead of his pack, and preferred to be off the 'trail' making his own way.  HE WAS PERFECT for me!  While riding him, I found me again.

And I laughed out loud.

In 48 hours, God had taken me through and brought me back to myself.  I felt FREE.  The spirits of the Pima tribe, the animals, the water, the rocks, and their horses warmed my heart and healed me.  They were all a gift and guides.

A reminder that the greatest, most powerful thing in the universe is not fear but LOVE.

That realization gave me an incredible joy and freedom to DREAM again!  To BELIEVE again and to know that I know that I know how truly blessed I am.

I was faced with one of my greatest fears and was blessed with a horse named Butch.


Thursday, March 10, 2011

What We Take For Granted

It's so easy at times to get so caught up in what's missing - what we don't have - that we lose sight of the special miracles and wondrous blessings right in front of us.

While constantly learning and growing is one of the fundamentals I believe in - as is the quest for our dreams - I also recently rediscovered the power of the present.  

When was the last time you actually LOOKED at your spouse or life partner and SAW them? saw their heart? saw their dreams? saw their inner child at work or struggling to deal? saw the stress in their face or posture?

Today, did you smile at your life's love and let him/her SEE you?  -- let them see the love in your eyes or the adoration of your heart for them?

We all try to do our best but it's easy to get lost in the clutter of the routines.  That's how marriages get off track or our kids get into trouble... it's when we lose the intimacy that we lose ourselves - and can inevitably get disconnected from those we love most.

I believe the key here is to not only focus on YOUR dreams but also on the dreams of your spouse or partner as individuals AND as a couple (if you are a couple).  Your family is the greatest gift of all and they are living in the present WITH you.  So while it's important to recognize and pursue your vision yourself, it's also equally important to SHARE your Vision!

And at times, even take a step back and realize that you may already have your heart's truest dream - a lifelong love: whether that's your partner, your children, or your work.

So my challenge to us all today is to take a moment to truly LOOK at the person(s) you love and demonstrate the depth of love and joy by just acknowledging how amazing they are and how they contribute to your dream every single day!

Make the time.

Cook if you never do.  Come home early and kiss your wife's neck as you put your arms around her.  Rub his shoulders.  Hold that hug for an extra 5 seconds.  Sit on the floor with your kids.  Rub the tension from her neck.  Turn the TV off.  Hold hands.

In the relentless pursuit, what we take for granted could be the most treasured things in our lives... so take a moment to refocus.  You'll be so happy you did.   ;)

IF this is a good reminder for you - I'd love to hear what little thing you did to show the ones you love what they mean to you.  Send me a message or comment!

     THINK.     WRITE.     BELIEVE.     ACT.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Steps 5, 6 ,7. Write, Speak, Act.

(sorry it's been a little while since I posted... thought I'd catch everything up at once! :)

Now, last time we talked, I introduced the concept of "marinating" for our fourth step.  THINKING.  The purpose of this was not to allow doubt to creep in and steal your word or phrase that you were newly given but to allow you to sit with your new possibility.  Should doubt or other questioning/negative thoughts begin their assault, recognize them for the thieves they are and reject them as you would any robber coming to your door.  I believe if that happened, you'd do a little more than 'just saying no!' so apply the same principles here.

Step 5 is my favorite.

Step 5.  WRITE down your word or phrase or VISION!!!!

Yes!  You guessed it.  By writing down your new word or idea, you are giving that new thought "presence."  You are introducing it as a reality.  You are allowing it to actually BE! 

My suggestion is that you write it into a journal or prayer diary but ALSO write it on something like a sticky note and then place that on your fridge, on your bathroom mirror, on your computer at work, your visor in your car, your school locker, or better yet - your T.V.!  --  LOL --  Put it where you will see it OFTEN!


Because Step 6 is to SPEAK your Truth!  

Speak your new word or idea or vision!  Look at what you've written and now read it OUT LOUD!  Speak it!  Let yourself hear you say the words.  And when you say them, don't speak it in a future or past tense.  Speak it NOW.  Call that thing that is not as if it were...  By speaking this out loud and hearing it and SEEING it (because you've written it down), you are creating a sensory reaction that will help you BELIEVE that what you've written, what you are speaking CAN actually become reality.

So you've written it, are speaking it... just starting to believe it - NOW WHAT?

Step 7 is to ACT!

huh?  Act how?  Say what?

The final step in your Vision process is to take what you've learned and now APPLY it.  To act on it!  How?  However...

If your vision was to have a different job and spend more time at home.  Put your resume together and start networking or start your own business.  Go see about a small business loan!  In the meantime, start leaving work at 5 instead of 6:00... try working from home one day if you can... or get home early and make a family dinner one night.

If your vision is for a reconciliation with family, take the step to reach out and start the conversation.  Deliver forgiveness and you'll often receive it...

Whatever your vision is, it probably involves CHANGE Change of something for something else.  Don't be afraid of what you want!  Don't be afraid. Don't be afraid!  Don't be afraid...  Changing how you think and speak will allow you to believe - have faith - that your heart's dream CAN come true.  When you believe, you act differently.

Choose your Vision! and watch what God and the universe does in response!