Tag Archives: joy

Dear Facebook Friend,

Dear Facebook Friend,

I see you.

I see you through your Facebook posts and have been shocked, angered, insulted, and disheartened by so many of your political posts. I admit that I initially started this letter with the sole purpose of condemning you. All I wanted to do was to call you out, especially on your more antagonistic postings that I’ve encountered.

And here’s what confounds me.

Do we not both profess to be children of the Most High and followers of his son, Jesus Christ? Are we not both guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit?  I take note of your beautiful, faith-inspiring posts that encourage people to pray without ceasing, to forgive, to be selfless, to love one another, and to remember we are all doing the best that we can. 

But how do you reconcile in your heart your more judgmental and hateful sharings? Do you somehow perform a spiritual separation of church and state?  Shouldn’t your faith guide your actions in all facets of your life? 

And do you know what else I see, my friend? 

I see me.

I see my own hypocrisy in sizing up your devotion to Christ based on your Facebook posts. Who am I to believe I am more worthy, more perfect, more holy because of what I do or do not share?  How do I reconcile in my heart my more judgmental and hateful sharings? 

I can’t exactly cast that first stone, now can I? 

I am definitely not without fault.  I have intentionally posted things to stir up people’s emotions rather than build them up. I have made comments or given the thumbs up to many posts you would have found distasteful, insulting, or against your beliefs.  I have been quick to jump on certain band wagons, to be sure!

So, in the spirit of Lent, dear Friend, I ask for your forgiveness.  I have been wrong to judge you.  It was not my place and I am truly sorry. In the same light, I also forgive you. I will not harbor animosity, but will seek to understand what matters to you.

I extend to you this invitation: Let us find common ground in our faith where we can love one another despite our political affiliations, denominational divides, and even our preferred news channels. 

May we commit to fewer negative, sensational posts and choose the better option of sharing stories that reveal Christ’s light, joy, and love to the world. 

Love always,

Rebecca

 

What is Your Joy Meter?

What is Your Joy Meter?

I recently offered condolences to a friend whose adult son had died suddenly. As we conversed, I was pleasantly surprised to glimpse a very strong resiliency within her.  She expressed the positive things experienced during and after his death and highlighted her gratitude in seeing another side of her son through his friends.  She was thankful as well to have gained an unexpected closeness to so many of them.

Curious, I questioned how these resilient traits of optimism and gratitude were formed.  Many years ago, she explained, she had become severely disabled by her fibromyalgia.  In her search for healing, she discovered that when she got to the root of her emotional state AND resolved that which troubled her emotionally or mentally, her body would respond positively.

She learned most of all that forgiveness, optimism and gratitude impacted her health the most.  Her fibromyalgia had become her “joy meter.”  If her symptoms began rearing up their ugly heads, then joy was down in her life.  Instead of stuffing away the problems of her life, she would evaluate, find that broken area, and mend it right away.

I couldn’t agree more.  In my own life I know that my MS symptoms often get more pronounced when I’m under stress or in emotional turmoil.

And for you?  What is your joy meter?  How do you know when there are areas in your life that need to be addressed?

Today Spiritual Prescription:

Mentally scan your body. (After each question, you may want to close your eyes and breath deeply as you listen to your body…)

Where do you hurt? Where are you carrying tension? Have you been more sick lately?  If you have a chronic illness, is it under control or have symptoms bubbled up lately?

Now take an emotional and mental scan. 

What is worrying you the most in your life right now? With whom are you in conflict or irritated?  What needs are being left unmet?  Are any emotions like anger, greed, resentment, depression, shame, or anxiety ruling your mind and heart these days?

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Our bodies and minds are very much connected. One absolutely impacts the other.

Take time to discover your joy meter and
allow Forgiveness, Optimism, and Gratitude to bring you back into balance.

 

Laugh WITH Yourself

Laugh WITH Yourself

Today’s Spiritual Prescription:

I absolutely relish the ridiculous and often embarrassing things that have happened to me.

A pastor and her flock

Choosing a can of kippered herring as a quick, on-the-go lunch then proceeding to eat it in my car, for instance, wasn’t the brightest of ideas.  I realized this only after the oily, fish juices came pouring out of the half eaten can when I made a sudden stop.  What a horrendous, smelly mess that was!

Or what about the time I was trying to comfort a woman who was actively dying after months of being on our hospice program?

Although she was facing the wall, I tried my best to comfort her through song and prayer. She continued to be restless despite my best efforts and seemed to be trying to speak.

Assuming it might be important last words or a final request, I squeezed my way between her bed and the wall. Finally. I could see her face and hear her words more clearly.

And that I did.  With no hesitation she clearly told me, “Get…OUT!”

Ah yes.  That wasn’t the first or last time I would miss the mark as a chaplain.

Honestly, I treasure these moments.  They remind me to not take life so seriously.*

And now your Spiritual Prescription:

Laugh with yourself. 

 

Note—I did not say “Laugh at yourself.”  This is not about belittling yourself.

It is about celebrating life and remembering to lighten up.

It’s about remembering that, like it or not, you are not perfect.  In fact, no one is!

Words to consider from Proverbs 15:15…

A miserable heart means a miserable life; a cheerful heart fills the day with song. (The Message)

 

So laugh with yourself and let your heart be ever cheerful.

 

* Last night I was horrified to discover I had accidentally posted this Spiritual Prescription weeks ago unfinished.  Heaven forbid! I was certainly NOT laughing at first, but I’m getting there!

A Pessimist in Recovery

A Pessimist in Recovery

Today’s Spiritual Prescription:

I am a recovering pessimist.

unhappy faceWay too often, however, I tumble off the wagon and roll into my old patterns of negative thinking. (Broken and Beautiful is a perfect example!)

Last week I was made painfully aware of how difficult it is to refrain from having a gloomier, darker outlook on life.

As I was leaving a skilled nursing facility I could not help but glance in each resident’s room as I cruised down the hall.

In one room there was a mountain of small stuffed animals carefully stacked on top of an individual’s dresser.  Without missing a beat, I said to the facility employee moving past me “I can’t imagine having ALL those eyes stare at me at night.”

It was a weak attempt at getting her into my car of trash talking someone’s conceivably weird behavior.

To make things worse, would you believe she had the nerve to suggest that all those eyes were “looking out” for their owner, protecting her against the “boogie man”?

Oh suuure…. isn’t that sweet.  Little furry protectors.

Then clearly the person is paranoid, I suggested.

In was no use.  With each negative slant I had on that mound of stuffed animals and the resident who piled them, the caregiver had something positive to say.

And before I realized it, I was an official jerk wondering why I had, once again, been drawn to the dark side. Why had I been so set on ferreting out the slightest negative perspective—and on stuff animals of all things?

What a waste of time and energy for my entire being!

And now for your Spiritual Prescription:                    

Don’t go to the dark side!0910131602

Resist seeing the world in a gloomy, dreary light.  It is a bad habit that impacts your body, mind and spirit!

Proverbs 17:22 puts it this way : A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Don’t allow your spirit to be crushed by dark imagining.

Notice and fight off the temptation to negatively respond to life around you.

We miss so much of the beauty around us when we do.

(I saw this happy chalkboard message on my way home that day.  A nice reminder to keep working toward a joyful heart.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BINGO! (More Sweet Than Bitter)

BINGO! (More Sweet Than Bitter)
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I found this beautiful image on the website IslamicAnswers.com. Wish I knew more about it.

Some of the hardest personalities I work with as a hospice chaplain are the ones who are bitter.  These individuals carry heavy hearts burdened with loss, betrayal, hardship, and abuse.

Their conversations are always filled with negative comments, mistrust, dark thinking, and hatred.  Isolation is typical; forgiveness, rare.

Often, I don’t even make it across their threshold.  One mention of “spiritual” and my services are quickly declined.  In too many cases, I represent the God who left them hurting in the first place.

Others allow me in, identify as people of faith, but speak in such a way that the God, Higher Power, or guru they claim as theirs might not recognize them as followers.

And they can’t just stop the “stinkin’ thinkin’.”

I counsel individuals who have lived through decades and decades of disappointment and despair.

It is extremely difficult for them to trust and to see that goodness and kind-hearted people really exist.

But I do firmly believe that one’s attitude about life is the palette from which her or his world is painted.   Dark imaginings tend to produce dark realities.  If I am convinced that my day will be crappy, chances are…my day is going to be crappy.

If I assume that everyone I meet will belittle, cheat, or regurgitate their ugliness upon me…I’m fairly sure that any words or actions of another will be interpreted as such.

As I vigilantly stay on the look out for every bleak signs that I was right about this dark world, I sadly miss out on that small blessing that just passed me by: the clerk who genuinely complimented me on my outfit, the small child who smiled sweetly, the individual who helped me for no other reason but to be kind.

  The kindness, goodness, and magic of the world sometimes have to be diligently sought after.

When my children were younger, I began creating bingo cards  (5 x 5 square grid—the center one FREE of course!) to keep them entertained on long trips.  It was a treasure hunt, seeking out the ordinary and the ridiculous such as donkeys, rainbows, rock stars and unicorns.

Never seen a unicorn on a family trip before?  Well, they exist.  They come on key chains and bumper stickers and  little children’s t-shirts.  We were looking for a clown once and found it at a rest stop in the intricate design of a man’s tattoo.

 Even the most obvious, when we are not consciously seeking, can pass us by.

On a recent trip, as part of my own bingo challenge I decided—the hospice chaplain that I am—to find the Grim Reaper.  Impossible you say?  That’s what I assumed.  But, after 12 hours on the road, with an hour left to go, there he was on a billboard—the Grim Reaper, himself,  persuading folks to not drink and drive. I was so ecstatic to find him!

But honestly, after that many hours of driving, had I not been seeking Grim, I would have blown right by him and his important message against driving drunk.

 And what about you?

How do you see the world?  What shades of color are on your painter’s palette?  What are you expecting to find on your bingo card of life?

The Apostle Paul advises in his letter to the Philippians (4:8-9), “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received of heard from me, or seen in me—put into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.(NIV).**

Perhaps stinkin’ thinkin’ can’t ever be fully eliminated.  Life, after all, can suck.  But let us strive every day to keep that which is excellent and praiseworthy on our lips, in our hearts, and on the forefront our minds.

    And when we do, I promise we will discover life to be more sweet than bitter.

 

**I also like this same scripture as found in Eugene Peterson’s The Message: Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.