Tag Archives: peace

Dirty Laundry

The week before Christmas 2017 I had a dream about an old friend that I hadn’t spoken to in about 30 years. My dream was surprisingly vivid as I seldom remember them and this dream was crisp and my friends’ features were clear. It was as though I could have felt the warmth of her skin had I reached out and touched her.

She was a close friend in the early 1980s when I lived in Minneapolis. She had a soft spoken voice, she taught me how to play the mandolin and we laughed a lot together. We were actively involved in church and spent a lot of time together within our Christian singles group. We loved bluegrass music and occasionally visited a little dive near downtown Minneapolis where they played live bluegrass.

Our true friendship began late one afternoon on a drive from a Christian singles gathering in the suburbs of Minneapolis. As we drove back towards the city we passed a field of cows. I randomly said out loud, “I love cows”, and she jumped back with a gleeful “So do I!” We laughed at the silliness of our mutual love of cows and that was the beginning of a great friendship.

As the years passed we lost touch after I moved to Florida, got married and lived the busy life of work and raising a family. Now, over 30 years later, with a plethora of life events behind us I had this dream about her.  It was a short dream where we were discussing laundry – of all things! I told her that I didn’t always keep up with my laundry when she replied, “You should do your laundry every day. You shouldn’t leave it sitting around. I do mine every day.” Then it was over and I woke up.

I laughed at the silliness of it, remembering she hadn’t been one to keep up with her laundry at all. Then I wondered what she may be going through and if she needed prayer. Throughout my life I’ve had vivid dreams about specific people, which led me to pray for them. So I began to pray for her and felt a strong prompting to call her.

It was the week before Christmas and the scurrying of preparing caused me to postpone the call. When I made the call a few days later her answering machine picked up and I heard her familiar voice. I left a message letting her know that I wanted to reconnect.

On New Year’s Day I called her again and after the excitement of reconnecting I told her about my dream. We laughed over the silliness of it as she confessed her laundry often piled up. We moved on to discussing our lives and that we had both lost our dads in the past year. We reminisced about the church we attended together and the people we hung around with back then.

Then she asked if she could share something with me and told me that when we were friends back in the 80s that she wasn’t really a Christian and she hadn’t really known Jesus as her Savior. She had walked the walk, but wasn’t living out a Christian life. She lived that way until nine years ago when she was burned out and took a leave of absence from her job. She thought a month of rest would help her get back on her feet so she could resume a better, happier life.

Her time off was restful and she felt better than she had in a long time. Then the day before she was to return to work she realized she would go back to work and that nothing had really changed at all. She still had all of the same issues that brought her to a place of unhappiness with her life.

It was then that she realized that if something was going to change it had to be within her. That’s when she prayed, “I can’t do this alone anymore, Jesus. I need you to come into my life and change me.” She said she began by confessing her sins and asking for forgiveness. It wasn’t a big event; it was the simple act of asking Jesus to help her change and committing her life to follow him. I felt honored that she would share such a deep part of her life with me.

I shared with her how I was at a place in my life where I was tired of striving. I was tired of constantly struggling for a better way of life, thinking about how I could earn more money, and how to be truly happy and content with my life. I desired to lean more on God and less on my own capabilities.

She said it was like Galatians 2:20 and she read to me:  I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God. I agreed that I needed to lean more into Him to achieve more peace and allow more of the Jesus within me to lead rather than taking it all on myself.

We continued sharing about our lives and were both happy to have connected again. After we said our good-byes I giggled to myself about the dream of dirty laundry and thanked God that I had made the call.

A couple days later as I sat at my desk writing this story, I glanced at a message on my bulletin board: I Surrender All. I questioned myself if I had really surrendered – my anxiety, my constant striving, my mental health challenges, my children, or my marriage. The familiar words of the song came to my mind:

All to Jesus I surrender, All to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live

I surrender all, I surrender all, all to Thee my blessed Savior
I surrender all

Was I really surrendering it all to God? Did I really trust God in all of these things or was I trying to orchestrate it all myself? Was I really trying to live in his presence daily?

Then my thoughts went back to the conversation with my friend and her desire to change and ask forgiveness for her sins. We’re all sinners, its part of our human nature. Jesus’ message to us when he came to earth was to confess our sins, to repent, to have the desire to change. But how long had it been since I had exercised that part of my Christian walk? What part did it play in my faith, my relationship with God, my happiness or my success?

My mind was telling me that I didn’t have a lot to confess. I’m not in any type of sexual sin or doing anything physically immoral. Then I realized that my sin wasn’t physical, it was in my thoughts – anger, accusations, judging, and self-condemnation. Those were the things that I needed to confess. Those were the things that were keeping me from truly living a free life. They weren’t acts of sin visible to others, but certainly visible to God. And that type of sin was deteriorating my life.

That’s when it hit me. The dream wasn’t about my friend at all – it was about me coming to a place in my life where I’m doing my spiritual laundry every day – confessing my sin daily – coming clean with God continually.

I had forgotten that the reason God sent Jesus to earth and allowed him to be sacrificed for my sins was so that I could lay all of my burdens of sin at his feet and be freed from the guilt and condemnation of my own human actions. I had forgotten that my relationship with God wasn’t for His benefit, it was for mine.

I’m in a searching mode – but not in a striving mode. Just asking for God’s wisdom to lead me through every step of my life and surrendering like I haven’t done in 30 years. It’s a very freeing experience.

I’m grateful for the dream. It gave me the prompting I needed to call an old friend, to hear her story and to awaken me to a new chapter in my life.

I’m now studying about God’s plan of forgiveness. As I learn – I will share.

 

 

 

 

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Post Christmas Joy

I’ll admit that many past Christmases have been filled with my own anxiety and angst when I have unnecessarily over-anticipated, over-thought, over-spent, and over-planned. Truthfully, this Christmas started out with a plan. My son and his girlfriend were going to come home from California. My youngest daughter, who lives at home, would be going between our house and her boyfriends’ parents’ house for festivities. My daughter and her husband, who live in Tennessee, were possibly going to come home. All would be well.

Then Christmas plans changed. First, my youngest daughter wanted to spend more time with her boyfriends’ family and would be spending limited time at home. Second, my son told me he wouldn’t be home until the day after Christmas. Lastly, my daughter in Tennessee wouldn’t be coming home at all because of their work schedules.

With my heart a little sunken and my spirits and little damp, my husband and I were facing a very quiet Christmas together. I think we both felt somewhat like the breath had been snatched out of our lungs. I felt a little dazed as I realized that the position I held for so many years as a parent was in a transition phase and Christmas would be very “different” this year.

It made me reflect on life’s milestones. My years as a child with no worries, first loves, moving away from home and getting a first real job. Traveling and experiencing different parts of the country. Then love and marriage and a child. Unfortunately, a divorce and heartbreak. Then a new love, marriage and a couple more children.

Now my grown children were busily going through their own life cycles. Experiencing everything I had hoped and prayed for them. College, living in other parts of the country, marriage, love, and traveling the world. They’re living life larger than I ever experienced and that’s a dream come true as a parent. That’s what brought me joy thinking about Christmas without my kids.

I had settled my heart about our Christmas. I was at peace about spending Christmas Day at the beach, just me and my husband – the seagulls, the waves, the sun. I was okay that life brought us to this place.

Then I got a text from my son. He said he and his girlfriend would be here after all – for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! I felt elated. I started trying to set times for dinners and gift opening. Made trips to stores for gifts and food. My daughter was trying to work out times for spending with her boyfriends’ family and at home with us. It became stressful trying to work it all out.

That’s when I finally said – – – “You know what? Let’s just play it all by ear this year. Let’s not set our hearts on any one plan. Let’s just see how it goes.” The only thing I timed was when the turkey would be done on Christmas Day. Everything else could just play out as it fit into our days. It was then that my heart settled, my mind settled and I felt peace in my soul. No longer trying to control the outcome of visiting and eating and opening gifts created a much more peaceful and fun atmosphere for everyone.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were full of joy and peace! There was no anxiety. There was no angst. There were no expectations of anyone. It all just flowed beautifully into a joyous family experience. I think that may have been the lesson God wanted me to learn from the beginning – to let Christmas happen gracefully, without my own agenda trying to create an experience.  That is what made it the best Christmas I’ve had in many, many years and I will continue to feel that joy for many days and weeks to come.

 

 

Serenity – Quiet Your Soul

Work, errands, bills, family, health, cooking, cleaning, and the list goes on. We live in an age where multi-tasking is the new norm. You know the scene well. Stomach in knots, easily irritated, always thinking two steps ahead, To-Do list a page long, and the list goes on and on.

Stop! Serenity is just a moment away from your present reality. You get to choose! So right in this moment . . . chose peace – chose serenity. No matter what is going on – conflict in your mind, exterior chaos in your living situation, tension in relationships, stress of finances, fear of the future – you have the power to quiet your soul.

Serenity is one of those things that, if you try too hard to grasp it, it eludes you. It enters when you merely allow it’s presence. When you feel that richness, fullness and peace – you know it has seeped into your soul.

butterfly sunny day.jpg

Simple steps to feel serenity:

  1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Imagine allowing the warmth of a sunny day to flow deep into your lungs. A butterfly lands softly on a beautiful flower and a gentle breeze wisps across your face. Feel peace flowing into your lungs and seep into your soul.
  2. Breathe out worries, tensions and anxiety by picturing a box filled with heavy hammers and wrenches being dumped out along with all of your burdens.
  3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 over and over
  4. Feel your mind, your muscles, your lungs, your heart relaxing and feeling light, relaxed and fluid.

Become intentional about allowing yourself to have moments of serenity in your day. Visit this place as often as you’d like. Remember – – – you can create this kind of peace in your life. It’s a choice.

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

America the Beautiful – God Shed His Grace On Thee

America the Beautiful – By Katharine Lee Bates

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
America! America!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife,
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
America! America!
May God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness,
And every gain divine!

O beautiful for patriot dream
That sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam
Undimmed by human tears!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Challenge before Christmas

 I’ve had a bit of a challenging week, but I am so very grateful that life is as good as it is.
At the beginning of the week I was in melt down mode. A drunk driver had smashed into our car just before midnight Sunday evening while it was parked in front of our daughter’s friends’ house in a nice residential neighborhood. She and her college friends were all gathered there studying for end of semester finals. When we received the call, Todd and I were frantic. Even though we knew Kaitlyn and her friends were all okay, it sounded very serious.
A drunk driver passed out at the wheel and drove into the back end of our car with his truck. He remained passed out with his foot on the accelerator until the Sheriff’s department arrived. They had to break his window to get him out of the truck. He was hauled away in an ambulance before Todd and I got to the scene.
When we saw our Mazda, we were in a state of shock at the amount of damage it had taken. Our minds were crazy with “what will we do now?” We stared at the totally blown out back window, the truck still deeply embedded in our back bumper. We had already been dealing with a financial challenge and this was enough to put us over the edge. We drove the heavily damaged car home and parked it in our driveway.
On Monday morning I looked out the front window hoping that it had all been a bad dream.  Nope, the crashed car was sitting in our driveway. It looked even worse in the daylight.
Our son, Andrew, called to get the details. He talked me through all of my fears and tears and listened to my hysteria. I’m so grateful for a son with a level head. Hanging up the phone my head was still spinning, but I had been given the strength to deal with it by hearing Andrew’s calm and sensible advice.
As Andrew Carnegie so beautifully stated: “Encouragement makes a fault easy to correct, and a challenge easy to take on.”
In addition to the Mazda being out of commission, our second car was in the shop awaiting a part. Even my husbands’ scooter, which he can drive back and forth to work, was not working.
Then we found out that the man who hit our car didn’t have insurance. Damages would have been taken care of at 100% under his insurance had he not let it lapse, and we would have had a rental vehicle under his insurance. Neither would be possible now and our own insurance would have to be used. That left us being responsible for our $500 deductible and any rental car expenses (which we chose not to get).
On Monday I was amazed at how quickly and professionally our insurance adjuster handled our claim. He had a physical damage adjuster out that same afternoon. Sadly enough, the car had over $10,000 in visible damage, not to mention what they would find once inside all of the carnage. So it was deemed a total loss.
During the course of the day I began to shift my thinking. This was a horrible situation, however no one was seriously hurt. I was thankful that our car was unoccupied. I also began to thank God that it was “only” our car (and not any of my family or anyone else) that was hurt by a truck with a passed out driver. I started to feel that possibly someone else was spared a great deal of injury because my car stopped the guy who had no control over his vehicle. I believe that somehow the damage to our vehicle is so much less than what it could have been had it not been in the drunk guys’ path.
Today I consider the circumstances of so many people who are in worse positions than we are. I believe we all know someone who is going through a rough spot in their life. Cancer, drugs, alcohol, loss of a loved one, caring for a sick loved one, loss of job, poor health, etc.
I know that I won’t feel sorry for myself for the loss of my car and I must move forward and do everything I can in my power to get beyond these present circumstances. I’m not sure exactly what that looks like right now. We have some things to figure out, but I do know one thing . . . . it may look a little different than I had pictured it a couple of weeks ago, considering the financial impact it has had on us, but I am looking forward to a nice Christmas with my family around me and the celebration of a gift that was given to us over 2000 years ago in the form of a Savior. Simply put – Christmas will still be Christmas.

From Chaos to Peace – In Five Minutes

river

You carve out nine hours a day to go to a job, pick up groceries on the way home from work, and then pick up the kids from their after school programs before heading home to throw a pizza in the oven for supper and pulling homework out of backpacks and setting it out on the kitchen counter.

Then its off to take Bella to dance and Micah to Martial Arts, but not before a meltdown from Bella because she has misplaced her dance bag with her dance shoes in it – again.

On your way to drop Micah off at Martial Arts your husband calls and asks you to pick up a card for his boss’s birthday.  While the kids are at their lessons you run to Walmart to grab the card and a box of brownie mix for a party in Bella’s classroom tomorrow – she promised to bring brownies and you just found out about it on the way to dance.

After picking up way more than the two items at Walmart, you rush back to pick up Bella and Micah and once home you throw in a load of laundry while making sure homework is started and the brownies are in the oven.

After your husband assists you with a few homework meltdowns and sending the kids off to bed, he gives you a kiss and heads off to bed himself. Then you fold a load of laundry, get your clothes set out for work, and prepare the kids lunches for tomorrow.

Then . . . with a deep sigh . . . you sit down on the sofa, knowing that it all starts over tomorrow. Sound familiar?

In my days of that kind of rush I found solace in those late night hours, when everyone had gone to bed and I was able to sit quietly in the stillness of my living room.

Often times with only the street light illuminating through the curtains, I would sit with my feet curled up on the sofa and look around the dimly lit room. I could hear the click, click, click of the kitchen wall clock and the soft whirring of the refrigerator.

Knowing that my kids were sleeping peacefully in their beds and there were no more demands on me, my body would tingle with the feeling of quiet and stillness.

In those moments I would ponder the day and reflect on what I had to be thankful for. No demands. No rush. No expectations. Just peace.

To get my mind completely at peace I would first reflect on my standing with God. If not for the relationship I have with God, I could not know the true inner peace that my mind so much desires.

Then I would think of a place that I created in my mind that gently nudged me into a quiet within my soul.

It’s a beautiful place in the woods. A lazy little river flows through it and the sun is softly shining through the tall, old willows that have grown and lived in harmony with the river for centuries.

I breathe in relaxation. I breathe out tension and anxiety.

In a small area, at the bank of the river, sand stretches out into a welcoming little beach. Created especially for me, I set down a small beach chair in the shallow water and with anticipation of relaxation, I sit down. The gentle flow of the water on my feet and the warm air with a slight breeze is just enough to bring calm to my body.

A butterfly softly floats through the air and lands on a flower. A dragonfly sits softly on the arm of my chair adding to the peace of the moment. The leaves rustle gently in the trees and an occasional bird sings a sweet little song.

Tilting my head back I allow the soft rays of sunshine to melt into my skin. The rays warm my body as my feet are bathed in the softness and gentle flow of the water around them.

Completely calm, as soft as the river is flowing, I’ve found peace.

The muscles in my face begin to soften. The muscles in my neck start to ease. The churning in my stomach settles and my mind begins to slow while the soft, warm breeze carries away the remainder of my tension.

The sun is whispering “Shhhh, quiet your mind.” The soft breeze is saying “Be still. Rest”.

In that moment my world is at peace.

 

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