Monday, December 19, 2011

Book Review: Saved by an Angel by Doreen Virtue

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(I was send this book by Hay House for my honest review.)

This month I have been reading Saved by an Angel: True Accounts of People Who Have Had Extraordinary Experiences with Angels...and How YOU Can, Too!

Part I of this book, the bulk of it, is full of organized stories of people who encountered angels.  Sometimes they saw the angels and sometimes they saw clear signs of their angel.  Some of the stories were hard to read as they involved rape, murders, car wrecks, etc.  It seems the angels come to aid quickly in moments of deep distress.  Although this does not comprise the entire scope of stories, there is the recurring theme that angels come in our times of deep distress and suffering.  The stories encouraged me to be open to the ways angels appear to us.  Most of the time I think I live in la-la-land and don't always stay open and aware of the psychic or spiritual world.  This books shows you what it looks like to see beyond basic reality and understand what God and the angels are trying to get your to know or see. Furthermore, the powerful ways they can intervene to change our lives.

Part II of this book is practical application and my favorite!  This section is called "How You Can Encounter Angels."  There are so many affirmations and prayers to say to the angels and ourselves.  For these, I typed them into a word document so they were all together.  I read them every morning and it sets a wonderful tone for my day.  Doreen's suggestions for how to request and seek guidance and answers from our angels are so powerful.  Praying, directly asking, writing a letter, using possesions, going outside in nature, and holding a ceremony are all listed in detail. 

There is a seven day plan  for hearing angel visions.  Doreen is passionate that the things we eat and drink affect our sensitivity to see and hear angels clearly.  "In addition, keep you caffeine, sugar, nicotine, and processed food intake to a minimum during this seven-day period."  As someone with a meditation practice I can attest that the things I digest affect my mind and body powerfully.  There are the most beautiful morning and evening meditations!  These are beautiful to use all year.  Doreen includes a total of 15 meditation/short prayers.

Althoug this final section my feel short, it is full of practical applications.  The suggestions remind me of those in the Angel Therapy Oracle Cards, times 100!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Book Review: Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon kabat-Zinn

I went send this book by for my honest review.

In college I read Wherever You Go, There You Are (hyperion, 1995) by Jon Kabat-Zinn and found it so accessible for understanding mindfulness.  I then proceeded to go years, at least fifteen, without really meditating as a practice.  I have returned to it at 38 years old and  I yearned for guidance as a "new" beginner.

Here an interview here!

Sections of the book are divided as Entering, Sustaining, Deepening, Ripening, and Practicing.  I find this book so easy and simply laid out that I could pick it up and let the book fly open at any point and receive a rich word of wisdom.  The pages hold so much more than a quick commentary.  I wouldn't even consider it a devotional book as I've read many of these.  I find this to be liken to sitting next to a wise man and getting the wisdom collected over many years.  Jon does not use deep parables or riddles to convey his points but a straight-forward common sense style approach.  Frankly, I think the last section on Practicing would be one to read first.  Jon covers how to sit, what kind of cushions on which to sit, sleepiness, posture, what to do with the eyes, and protecting the time.  This little how-to chapter gave me some great ideas and made me want to go meditate!

I have been meditating for a few months now and am so surprised at the spiritual growth budding.  I was encouraged with the quick thoughts on page 103, "Taking Care of Your Meditation Practice" where our time to practice is to be guarded, like that of growing plants or a garden.  "So it makes sense to take care of your nascent meditation practice, especially for the first thirty or forty years and can easily be trampled or washed away by all the competing demands of the day."
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This books comes with 4 audio meditations.  I am a picky person when it comes to guided meditations.   Prior to this, only two guided meditations could I follow without being distracted by their voices: Caroline Myss & Doreen Virtue.  I know add Jon Kabat-Zinn to this list!  In the guided meditations he is sort of coaching you along, it doesn't sound like he is just reading it off a piece of paper.  He also gives beautiful moments of silence in addition to three tiny chimes so you know you are done at the end.  I noticed when I meditated alone afterwards, my ability to be mindful was much improved.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The most disturbing thing...

Yesterday my son and I were saying our prayers and affirmations at the kitchen table.  It is always a special time in our mornings.  I pulled out some old Sunday School leaflets and there was the most beautiful prayer to someone praying over them in heaven.  The child could fill in the blank as to who the person might be.  I thought this was quite comforting and lovely.

I turned over the page and saw a little road map called "How to Get To Heaven."  I froze.  I literally could not speak.  Did I really just read, on the back of the prayer to a deceased loved one, a reminder that my innocent child needs to "get" to heaven?  It displayed all the ways they get to heaven such as not fighting, sharing, being kind, etc.  I suddenly saw so clearly the Truth for myself.  My child does not have a black heart.  My child is not in need of "getting" to God's love.  I gave leaflets away yesterday afternoon.

To quote Rami Shaprio who says it so well, "God loves you unconditionally. But He’ll damn you to Hell forever if you don’t love Him back."

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Standing In My Truth - In Love and Prayer

This week some students and I parted ways.  We did so amicably and I am grateful to God for this blessing.  Prayer in every words and action and sending love before is powerful.  God’s love heals, forgives, and strengthens us in our weakest moments. 

Without a doubt, the hardest aspect of teaching for me is when I see a child in stress or severe fatigue.  For years I thought that was how it was supposed to be, this was what it meant to rear children in today’s modern, fast-paced world so they could handle the challenges that come their way.  Then later as I dealt with my own issues of adrenal fatigue and lack of sleep it became very clear that this was not what God intended for the lives of our children or us.  Suddenly, the families I admired for their worldly successes, the mothers I compared myself to I did no longer.   Seeing in my own students the stresses and fatigues I dealt with myself seemed like cruelty now -  not a track to better and more successful living.  It seemed they were working harder, but not smarter although their test scores would prove me differently.  I started caring less about their test scores and more about their emotional well-being.  I was more concerned with finding inspiration , a smile, joy in their playing than where they went on vacations and their most recent GPA.  As I began caring about my own heart I started really seeing theirs.  The hard part was when I would explain my observations to their parents only to see them turn and find something else for their child to do. It is very easy to find teachers more than willing to take “successful” students so they were never far away from someone wanting them in their studio or on the team.

I realized by using words like “prayer”, “intuition,” and phrases like “I sense that” I was breaking the cardinal rule of teaching – becoming involved.  Since I had a personal studio, I began to responsibly own the power granted me to nurture those who were still finding joy or looking for joy,  in their playing.  I stopped being run by the machine in my own studio as I did in the corporate world.  I began to look within for my own truth about situations.  At first, I would look to older, more experienced teachers, not only for their mentoring, but for their approval.  I wanted to know what a good teacher and copy their formula – exactly, to the letter.  I forgot, along the way, to even consider that I already was a good teacher who just need polishing.  I was not someone with out inner guidance and the power to stand in my own philosophies about children and living.  I was afraid if my inner spirit influenced my teaching I would not have "successful" students.

One of my dear friends questions the system of why is it we as teachers are to be ranked as “good” for a child to receive high school credit in piano.  If the child does the work, does it matter how “good” the teacher is?  I loved the question and it has permeated into so many areas of my life.  If a student *really* loves piano, I could honestly know very little.  Sure, they would have some musical holes, but their passion - I firmly believe – would see them through and guide them to the right people along their way.  I know that is what happened to me. 

It is my responsibility with my own child to stay aware of what his life purpose is.  It is not for me to decide it, determine it,  or block it, just to nurture it.  How many parents really consider this?  Today I heard a podcast encouraging teaching children to meditate.  I’m sure none of my students meditate.  In fact, I need to be cautious of the word.

Letting a student leave for the right reasons only to see them continue with someone else for the wrong ones is difficult because I care.  However, to freeze it in time and give it a label is not fair to myself or them.  It only serves to inflate my ego and condemn their spirits.  I choose instead to honor myself, in that I spoke my truth in this situation instead of being intimidated.  I am grateful to God things were resolved peacefully and without conflict.  I continue to pray for the children and their parents as they maneuver through life. I was blessed to have them because they taught me just as I taught them.   We are all on a journey and this is theirs.  My goal in their life was completed and now very apparent – for them to know that joy and inspiration is important in life.  And so it is.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Book Review: The Power of Your Spirit

The Power of Your Spirit - Order Here!
Initial Impressions:

While we want to transform into spiritual beings, we fear the effort may be too complicated and the rewards not guaranteed.  So we learn  enough to talk about it, but stop short of experiencing it in the most direct way -- through a committed daily practice, because this is where "the rubber hits the road."

There is nothing like a good fussin':-) 

As a piano teacher, I can relate to someone who takes piano for a lengthy amount of time but doesn't get better because they do not have a daily practice at home.   I can imagine the same is true for psychics.  This, to me, is the foundation of this book - to get off our duffs and do the work.  The book divides into four sections - awakening, discovering, surrendering, and flowing,  Each section contains multiple stories with corresponding exercises and questions that are timeless.

Can you really create an authentic, Spirit-led life with daily practice?  Sonia says it will take "attention, discipline, and practice."   Lifestyle changes bring about real and lasting changes, not just isolated moments of the Divine.  She encourages us to center our daily lives with meditation, breathing, and looking within with journaling.  As a result, we can surrender to Spirit  "even when your truth makes you or those around you uncomfortable, unhappy, angry, or afraid?" Yeah - not easy if you aren't use it to it right?  Sonia does break it down in steps through this book.

I particularly appreciate the journal questions and breathing exercises.   These are questions you could go back and use every few months to reconnect to your Spiritual vital signs.   I kept wondering why she kept coming back to breathing and she did explain it!
As simplistic as it sounds, breathing is the only action that can interrupt and actually end the ego's game of fear and control.  You can reset your personal vibration to a more creative, empowered, and joyful level.
Sonia explains that Spirit is "best felt in silence."  This is an underscore of the important of moving from our head which wants to think and talk about spiritual things and moving into a much deeper place.  She gives ideas on how to connect to our Spirit during the day as well as reminders to be open to intuitive thoughts and ideas.    This really is such a wonderful how-to book that is great for beginners.  I think the stories will help beginners because they will see themselves in her client stories.  The journal and breathing exercises are wonderful for all because we can either forget the breathing techniques or it is time to ask the questions anew as we are move through stages of life.

Get out your tools!  We are building an altar!  To Sonia, the altar isn't about the exterior as it is about the interior.  I loved the description that it's similar to walking into a holy place - your energy and Spirit just respond!  What a beautiful space to create in your own home but "...if there's no holy inner work going on, though, the vibration of Spirit won't be present; and the portal won't open."  I wanted to give Sonia a big HIGH FIVE when she mentioned "becoming disconnected when our altars were moved out of our homes and into the churches."  I can't quote this entire chapter, but I would if I could.  It's my favorite!  It even includes things to do while at your altar to connect with your Spirit.  

The ego urges us  "to stay a step ahead of your fears."   I've been so many decisions based on fear, trying to maintain the status quo, please others, or simply from fear of failure and having lack.  That's a powerful sentence in this book.  The daily practice and journaling sections in this book are so rich and plentiful I feel I've had a workshop with Sonia herself.  This is absolutely a wonderful reference book that can be used at any time in one's life.  The questions and ideas presented her for immediate use will never become outdated, in my opinion.  The further I go in this book, the more I reap from it.  She recommends making these habits for 40 days.  This would be a *wonderful* book for a group study during Lent or any other time of year.  It would be wonderful to have a place for encouragement in our new practices as our egos flare up and say we are too busy.

I appreciate how Sonia makes it clear through different stories that it is either ego or Spirit running every aspect of our life.  As she simply states, "Unless we surrender, however, we cut ourselves off from our Divine power and burn out.  Then we're left to rise from the ashes and find our way back to Source once again.  In the end, there is no other place to go."  (emphasis mine)
The outdoor purple steps!  Click to order the book from Hay House

The final section of the book is Flowing with Your Spirit as opposed to "bullying" our way though life.  "The greatest challenge to staying in flow comes when you encounter "the ebb, which is any change, expected or unexpected, that leaves you threatened and insecure because you aren't sure what coming next."   Sonia says that ebbs are a "signal from our spirit to grow."   This section lovingly reminds that it is our purpose to move through these ebbs to reach higher places in our Spirit.  I hold to the thought Sonia shares,  "To flow is to believe that the Universe is always conspiring for our success as spiritual beings,..."  When in an ebb, it is okay to tell the Universe what we want, just leave it open how it will arrive!     As we deal with our own ebb and flow, we are reminded to be compassionate and loving toward others.  What a wonderful reminder as this book comes to a close.

This book prompted me to sit on my porch and watch the leaves fall and hear the birds sing, paint my garden steps purple, and weed my garden.  All things that nurture me and calm me during my busy moments of the day.  When my toddler was acting out, I felt this beautiful inner calm and didn't get rattled.  This book will be referred back by me for years to come.  

*Hay House sent me this book for my honest review*

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

You Can Create an Exceptional Life - Book Review

!Order here!
Woot!  I'm reviewing a book and so excited about it.  I am thrilled that Hay House sent it to me to review.

I've decided to keep some colorful index cards with me while I read it.  I have a feeling there will be affirmations I will want to use.

Initial thoughts at the beginning of the book:

It is small.  It's very easy to travel with or pack in your purse.

Cheryl begins her introduction with doing things that feel good.  My Judeo-Christian background rebels against this.  However, I think feeling good means ten bags of chocolate.  This book assumes the reader understands that feeling good is about what your inner spirit needs to live an exceptional life.   I found Cheryl's introduction a bit of a 'Louise is so awesome' bit of pages.  My mind kinda nodded off and hoped the book would have more substance.  And substance it had.  Of course now that I've read the book, I see why the Louise is so great introduction was appropriate.

Louise Hay's introduction was very profound because she pulls back and examines what all writers, philosophers, and religions try to explain.Why do bad things happen?   Wow.  This point was addressed from the beginning.  Do I trust life?  Do I trust that life loves me?  Do I trust that what happens is ultimately for my good?  This section is so wonderful for people who might be in their 20's and 30's and need support and affirmation to look beyond what they currently see.  Oh and to top it off  Louise just rattles off this superb list of affirmations for those in a health crisis.  Can you say highlighter?

Chapter Two: Becoming the Creator of an Exceptional Life
Cheryl recalls moments of attempting to prove the correlation of our thoughts and our lives.  This chapter shows such beautiful examples by both women of the proof in our daily life that our thoughts do matter and do affect our world.  Self-care begins with our thoughts.   I associate self-care with taking a bubble bath or physical restoration. The wisdom in this chapter really gets to the core of true self-care which is what we are thinking.  Reading this chapter even gave me a sign.  Just this morning I watched  five minutes of a reality show concerning financially wealthy housewives.  I suddenly realized that these "conversations filled with useless drama and repetitive harmful thoughts" were tearing down the very thing I was building up in myself.  I canceled the season pass.  It was a great reminder that monitoring what comes into our minds and thoughts throughout the day is NOT a waste of time.   It can be so easy to listen to gossip - either in our real life or on TV and think "Hey that's not happening to me so who cares if I watch/listen to it?"  But - it DOES matter.  It matters a great deal.  As Cheryl says so well, "Without realizing it, we develop patterns of thought and behavior that direct our radio transmitter to search for AND emit negative signals that only create more negativity and difficult experiences in our lives."

Chapter Three: How You Start Your Day Is How You Live Your Day
Do you dread awakening in the morning? What message you are sending about what you believe about your life?   Louise likes to have two hours before she faces people.  ME TOO!  I love to walk slowly into my day, even if it means getting up early.  I suddenly feel so much more evolved knowing that Louise does too. :-)  Lest you not want to awaken at 3am, Louise shares "Everything we think and say to ourselves is an affirmation."   All of the moments in my day are important and can be used for my good.  Cheryl chimes in that she relaxes and enjoys her day FIRST thing.  Oh yes - I totally agree!  Highlighter please.  Oh and get ready because there are tons of affirmations to say during your day while you go about.  I wanted to leap with joy when I saw this page!  They also give great ideas for working with children using affirmations.

Chapter Four: How You Live Your Day Is How You Live Your Life
I've always associated Louise Hay with crisis affirmations, if you will.  If I'm ill, or in the middle of a break-up, dealing with my self-worth, weight loss and loving my body - the big challenges for me.  In this chapter, Louise brings out the seemingly little things that add up such as blessing our food, our cars that take us where we need to go and everything in between.  For example, have you ever given thought to what you see all day sitting at your desk?  As Cheryl says, "Sometimes all it takes is a small change to send a big message to yourself that says, "I love you, and I care about what you need."  We can learn intentional actions that create a beautiful life.   There are more suggestions than I could list here, but this chapter is life-changing if you put it into practice in your own unique life.  They touch on work in such a powerful way and include affirmations.  What a relief to know I don't need to fix the world, I just speak the words of affirmation and the Universe handles the rest.

Chapter 5: Don't Break a Habit - Dissolve It!
Ala ego!  This is a great discussion about how to handle life's problems.  You know the ones that just tick you off?  Louise returns to her affirmation that "All is well.  Everything is working out for my highest good.  Out of this situation only good will come.  I am safe."   Louise explains "the more you turn away from a problem, the quicker the solution becomes."   Wow!  I never thought of this before but it makes total sense.  The more I want the problem handled, the more my ego jumps in and tries to dictate all the moves in the game instead of TRUSTING LIFE!  You should read what Louise says about complaining.  That moves into a financies discussion that includes a journal question and of course, wonderful affirmations.   I am realizing this small book kinda covers everything.  This was the chapter that moved me to tears.  Louise shared how affirmations would affect family relationships with those dying of AIDS.  I just broke down.  Using affirmations for family, yes of course, why didn't I think of that.  Chapter Five is my favorite chapter so far.

Chapter Six: The Beauty of Wisdom
 Oh this is so yummy!  Louise shares about growing older and the secret.  It makes so much sense.   They talk about wrinkles, weight-loss, the relationship to one's body.  Loving ourselves first creates this beautiful trickle down effect.  I take that to mean that when I love myself, I'm more tuned into my body (because I love it) and therefore make the best choices in the care of that body.  As opposed to listening to someone else tell me what I need and giving no heed whatsoever to what my body is saying.  Cheryl's input on aging at 50 are so remarkable.  Instead of fighting aging, we learn to see the value in it - becoming intentional about our energy, our time, and our relationships.  Hugs, Cheryl.  This spoke to my heart. 

Chapter Seven: The End of the Movie
This beautiful chapter is one worth keeping for the rest of my life.  Louise, someone who has worked with many dying people, shares her thoughts, beliefs, and insights about death in such a compassionate, real way.

This is a heart book.  It's not a book of scientific theories and big words.  It is a book of how your heart lives, breathes, and moves throughout the day and into the nights.  It's about how we look at  flower, a boss, a co-worker, our employees, our children, our car, our toasters and everything in between.  Cheryl delivers the message of Louise with such gentleness and respect.  She shares her own insights when appropriate, but never competes with the message.

Trust Life and our thoughts are our first step in self-care. Now, off to work on step one.

Much Love

Order You Can Create An Exceptional Life

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Do you know the moment you have forgiven someone?  REALLY forgiven them?  For me, it's when I am filled with emotion which then turns to gratitude.  We love because God first loved us comes to mind.  After a moment of true forgiveness  I wrote this song.  I was walking out the door and stopped in my tracks singing the chorus.  A song I'd heard all my life, but it made sense to sing it.  Why?  Because I felt that all the LOVE, that pure, honest, love does come from God and I want to show that gratitude in this song.

The part I remember as a child was
"How wonderful!  How marvelous!  And my song shall ever be...
How wonderful!  How marvelous!  Is my Saviors Love for me. "
click on "What Forgiveness Feels Like For Me Today"

Friday, September 30, 2011

Things Your Piano Teacher Will Not Tell You

The quotes that spurred this rant/epiphany/growth:
"When I wasn't hiding anything any longer, when I wasn't trying desperately to appear sane or put together or profound, I had nothing to lose. And I began to trust something even more fundamental than my craziness: my basic sanity."
Geneen Roth Lost and Found

"Culturally we've been scared away from our creativity by what my dear friend Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist's Way, calls creativity monsters--the voices from the past and present who criticize, attack, ridicule, and judge us, and who banish us from owning and expressing our creativity with joy and abandon....  They're the people who imply that creativity must be "good" in order to be valuable, who subject your work to public appraisal before you're allowed to join the club...
One of the problems that distances so many of us from our creative Spirit is the notion that being creative is synonymous with being a professional or an aspiring artist.  It's not.  It simply means making something new out of something that presently exists."
The Answer is Simple...Love Yourself, Live your Spirit!   Sonia Choquette

I don't create the desire for music - I can only nurture and support it.

Adult students show me that desire and passion overrule any preset rules about music education as child.

Music will call the child to it.  The music calls you - you do not call it.  This is why parents can't MAKE their children want to practice or love music.

Outside events and recitals build skills - but they don't build passion and love for the art of music.  Task oriented/checklist kids like these -but it doesn't mean they love music and creativity.  It could be they are too busy to relax and enjoy the process.  It could also mean it's just not there and piano is just one more thing they need to learn (to be well-rounded and smart, right?).

Who gives a shit if music raises test scores?  Just sayin'.

If, in their lesson,  your child can't tell a note from a piece of broccoli, they are too freakin' tired.  Nothing will go in.  Stop wasting everyone's time and put them to bed to restore.

There is no such thing as quitting piano- everyone quits and begins something.  It's called life cycles and seasons.

My desire for student approval, parent approval, and peer approval no longer dictate my teaching.  I have something that tops all of those: my experience, the gift of prayer, and intuition.

Stressful lessons come from the teacher (me) wanting the students to be "ready" for the next piano event.  Who cares?  I mean if they are ready then great.  If they are not?  Maybe they will be in a few months or next year.

I am not a students' God - I'm just a facilitator of the gift of music. [ BIG difference.]

You can show children pathways and possiblities - absolutely but ultimately - their calling comes from God. 

If you feel led to put your child in piano - then do it.  If you feel led to take them out - do that too.  There are no quitters in life, just people who are stubborn to start or stop something because they refuse to listen or pay attention to the ebb & flow of life.

I don't need to have my students in a "certain" recital, program, or association - to prove to you that I am a good teacher.

I feel good when I let go of thinking a student should be "here" or "there" by x date.
I feel good when I accept that a student may never be into piano.
I feel good when I show unconditional love to all students - regardless of ability.
I feel good when I honor a students' creativity and desire.  Conversely, I DON'T feel good when I make them learn stuff just to have it learned by a stupid date, at the expense of them playing something they truly love.
I feel good when I remember that I make a living teaching music and being a damn good musician - despite the fact I had "cheap" and supposedly unqualified teachers - by today's standards anyway.   I had NO lessons in high school because my parents didn't really care.   AND - I ended up with a music scholarship to college.  Therefore, what do I know about what makes a good musician as a child?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We are getting chickens!

Oh my my!  We are going to get some little chicks and build them a pen.   Two chickens for fresh farm eggs!  YEAH!  Lest my blog be completely serious, I wrote a little, goofy, so not going to Carnegie Hall song about it!

Granny, We Are Getting Chickens

Monday, September 26, 2011

Holy Ground


Written by Me:

I am one with you  and you are one with me

But is the God that sees you    the God that sees me?

I love how you love my rambling ways

I love that you get my need

To see beyond the rules and regulations

To the part that underneath

To love those they say we “love”

Yet their love is full of hate

It’s a twisted and unmerciful love

Be like us then you can be with us

Talk like us then we will love you

Look like us then we will let you in

Let you in our world

But my world with you is not based on conditions

My love for you stands even when

You change your mind and your bend with the wind

Discovering who you really are

I am one with you   and you are one with me

But is the God that sees you     the God that sees me?

I love how you love my rambling ways

I love that you get my need

To see beyond  the rules and regulations

To the part that’s underneath.

Who I am is changing     Who you are is coming to light

I’ll never be the same       You’ll never sound this way again

Loud and tormenting my soul

Developing my sacred space, nurturing the sacred place

Knowing the map of my soul

It is not open to you; but you have placed your mark

Solidly on my shores…

Thank you for bringing me closer to this authenticity

Loving you feels so easy now

Loving you is so easy now…

Tarot Cards, Rosary Beads, reciting Glory Be’s

All feel the same to me now…

They touch the special place, that gentle loving place

Bringing me closer to you

I feel my grandmother when I eat farmer’s eggs

Holding me loving me, like a little prayer

I know that You are near when we sing Draw Me Near to the cross you bore

I cannot contain you in one house of boxes.  Boxes with bows in knots.

You are much more than this – all of this and none of this. 

You are not only for me to hold…so no one can contain my soul

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The margarita and how church fanatics sold me down the river

We are all an elder to someone...
 The dictionary defines an elder as someone older or higher in rank.  In that case, we are all an elder to someone and someone is always an elder to us.  I was in my late 30's when it occurred to me that I am now an elder to teens and twenty-somethings.  To be honest, I wasn't too happy about it. I think it's easier to eat of the buffet of wisdom than to serve it properly to others.  It got me thinking of things I had not thought of in a long time.  I was so ignorant in my 20's and I have lots of rejection slips to prove it.  Today I'll mention one of them.

Not everyone has an honest mother, father, or even friend in their life who will say the hard things like, "You talk too much and dominate conversations.  Please chill out because you are driving people crazy."  Yeah...not everyone has one of those iron sharpening iron people in their life.  There will be times when we need to lovingly approach a person.  We can't assume people are doing things just to make our lives aggravating and then proceed to tell everyone.  It's really not all about us.

The margarita and how church fanatics sold me down the river
When I about twenty years old I was asked to teach an aerobics class at a local church.  I enjoyed the ladies and everyone was very friendly.  I enjoyed the Bible readings and prayers at the end of class.  At the time, I was not attending a church.  I would go out with my "friends" to the Mexican place and have drinks.  One day in class I mentioned that I had a margarita over the weekend as we were chatting before class.  I wasn't married with kids so that's about all I had to say about what I'd done.  It was my contribution!  About a week later, I get a call from the head over the aerobics, super nice lady inviting me to come visit at her house.  I was so, so excited!!  She wants to be my friend!  She likes me!  WOW!  This is so amazing!  She doesn't want anything from me other than to just visit - with ME!  Thank you Lord for bringing me to these people!  

I remember driving to her house and gawking at how big the homes were with their bible named roads.  I thought that was so neat that such a nice Christian lady lived in a neighborhood where the streets were paved with Bible heroes.  It must be great to be a Christian wife, mother, and leader of the aerobics department at church.  And so, after we sat down she complained about her husband a little but I just figured she liked me so much she could easily share that, right?  And then, at the end of this long friendly overture, she brought up the (drum roll please) MARGARITA!  I was dumbfounded and stunned.  The color drained from my face as all I could hear after that was, "This was a joke.  She doesn't like you.  She is just relaying the message from the ladies in the class.  The ladies in the class don't care about you, in fact they are too chicken to even tell you this so they asked her.  Super Christian lady, aerobics leader, in the fancy house, probably resents having to waste her busy time on the likes of you and your drinking and partying ways.  How dare you mention that in a church?  Are you crazy?  Everyone *knows* this religion doesn't allow drinking!?!"
I left the house feeling so very small.  I stopped teaching the class not long after that and have never gone back to that church.  Church lady never called or invited me to her house again.  There was no one in my life to say, "I love you.  We love you.  Keep teaching our class even though you have a margarita."  I wasn't even mad at them, I was just so hurt because once again, I had broken one of those unspoken and unwritten rules.  The rule is "Be sure to follow the rules we don't tell you about."  I realized that to be with them, I had to be *like* them and I wasn't.

Today God warmly reminds me of a truth articulated here:
..even in the midst of rejection, you know you are valuable.  You are worth what was given for you.  God gave Jesus for you, and you are worth that much to him.            
   Friendships for Grown-Ups by Lisa Whelchel

Please know that your witness is more powerful than you think.  Never count yourself and the love you have to give as a small, insignificant thing.  Love everyone and if you need to guide someone pray to do it lovingly and then invite them to your house - again and again.  Prove they are more to you than a call to the principal's office. 

Dayspring Back to School Set Review! WOO HOO!

The entire six piece set! sent me this wonderful set of school supplies.  The opinions about them are my own.

The 3 ring binder folder is very nice.  It's very polished, shiny, and big enough even for my  music.  This is definitely my new worship music folder for church!
When I saw these on the Dayspring site I thought it was more for teens.  But now that I'm holding them, I am seeing so many uses for myself and I am, ahem...38!  Yes, the pink set is for my bible study work at church, home prayer time work, etc.  The black set will hold my music for the praise team.  

Friday, July 29, 2011

Still - Five Minute Reflection

8:53 – 8:58am
I still like to write even though I have less time to do so. I still love to eat even though I have lost 80 lbs. I still have more left to lose and the battle feels brand new some days, almost as if I am back at 306. I laid in bed this morning remembering when my 306 lb sized body took up so much space. Mentally, I still feel I take up that space. It’s amazing how our brain grows to think my new size is as big as my old size. I think that’s why I still stress about weight. Until my mind sees me as beautiful, I will still feel overweight. Of course, there are times I am still proud of my accomplishments, just not as often lately. Trying to lose those last twenty pounds is nothing short of ridiculous. My eating is emotion driven. My big cue is when I have gone a few days and not really felt hungry. That’s my goal this morning – to not eat lunch until I am hungry, no matter what time that might be. Not just eating because I’m bored or because it’s so much more exciting folding my son’s clothes or mopping the floor. But, I will wait until I am hungry, then I will not be beating myself up afterwards. Yes, I still think about and obsess about weight. Not all the time and not every day, just when life throws me a curve ball. I still want to learn how to make true friendships. I’m reading a book on that. Yes, a book on how to be a friend. I never thought I would need one, but the more I read the more I’m kicking myself for not doing it sooner. Why didn’t anyone teach me these principles? Thank the Lord for good books.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Even as a parent, I don't decide God's annointing

I keep asking for wisdom from God because the wisdom I can understand and grasp changes.  It's not because God is holding back me some wisdom!  When reviewing the DVD session on David this morning I realized something I had not when I first viewed it.

So David, from the Bible, the guy who wrote many of the psalms?  The one, who with his guitar and probably flowing locks, changed worship in the temple in a radical way?  Well, did you know he grew up pretty humble?  I realized something today about little David.  He was *not* his father's favorite like Mr. Joseph and the Technicolor Dream Coat.  No, he didn't even make roll call when anointing king time came.  I think this is why his big brothers didn't throw him in a well.  I'll bet his brothers thought it was a big joke.  They likely assumed Saul (the annointing person) was just old and didn't know what he was doing.

I think David remained humble and repentant throughout his life because he wasn't raised to be puffed up.  Oh how I love this!  It goes to show that no one can stop what God wants to use!  As a parent, there is so much pressure to send your kid to this school, that church, hang around those people - not those, spend lots of money on them so they are afforded every extra curricular activity this side of heaven - of course!  But, look at the people God used!  I see affluent people spending THOUSANDS of dollars on their children in the hopes, in the prayer, that they get to play a little big of God by using their nepetism to launch them into jobs, careers, and high society status.  But then, along comes a kid from the projects, single parented, who goes to state college on government loans who proceeds to kick butt and take names.

I want a heart like David!  I want God to use me.  I want to trust God to ignite my paths ablaze.  Let me not be fooled into thinking I can buy or network myself  into man's graces.  It's a masquerade.

Monday, July 25, 2011

An easy life is not the goal, a peaceful life is

I am somehow coming undone this afternoon.  It feels I cannot get enough time and space to just breathe.  I have had a very busy, although fulfilling weekend.  I walked my husband through his baptism, visited a friend, had time to enjoy a nice breakfast and coffee, washed clothes, exercised - all those good and necessary things.  But somehow, the day went by so quickly and I feel like I need more.  I need more time. 

I know what the real culprit is.  I know what it draining my energy like a tiny hole in a bucket.  All my bible studying today doesn't want to fill me like usual.  I am bothered that there are people who are gossiping about me.  I am upset because although I am choosing to love in this situation, there is a part of me that wants to hold a press release and tell the real story, broadcasting it on the nightly news.  Man, I would feel so much better.

I took a free sample read of  Antagonists in the Church.  I guess I will have to buy the thing to figure how to deal with it, but so far they nail my gossipers on the head.  It's kind of uncanny how well personality types can be put in boxes.

I did a little reading in my Made to Crave book because when my wounded self comes out, the food wants to go in.This helped me get out of the kitchen.  I refuse to overeat.

This discussion by Father Robert Barron seems to be nailing it for me.  It's hard to be one of those real, live, Christians.  It's so warm and fuzzy when I can be there for a friend, when I can love those around me the way they deserve.  But then there are days like these when I can hear Jesus saying, "Are you sure you want to be a Christian?"  He brings us to Job where his suffering is based in God's permissive will.  I recognize that a  lack of prosperity, even emotional, is a way for God to "rightly order my soul."  It makes my life, "in a spiritual sense, joyful."  St. Thomas More, an important player in the court of Henry the 8th lost everything!  His home, his status, and in the end, his life.  However he was PROSPEROUS and understood the true treasures that come from heaven.!  Another scholar,  St. Thomas Aquanis would ask, "Why do wicked people seem to prosper?" Aquanis reaches to God's perspective.    The wicked person might even be punished by their prosperity which I will call today - a free pass to gossip with no seeming consequences for themselves.  Why?  The material things could take him away, or make it harder for him to understand the spiritual things.   It's worth a listen.

Note:  If you aren't Catholic, these names might be unfamiliar.  I'm not trying to say that St. Thomas More should have killed Protestants, but he died because he was not allowed to practice his faith in God and that boldness is inspiring.

In this I rest my head and move on with my day.  I move with a sense of enlightenment about pain and suffering.  In my weakness, God is made strong.  May the words of my mouth (public) and the meditations of my heart (private) by acceptable to God.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Community- I really don't like it but I get it.

The clear teaching of the New Testament is that the body of Christ is to be people deeply connected to each other, supporting each other, and filling each other's hearts.
                                               Friendship for Grown-Ups  by Lisa Whelchel

Community.  Yuck.  I rebel against it.  I don't want to need it.  Yet everyone time I turn around I read about it or it's the topic of the sermon on Sunday.   I know what evil things a community can dish out.  Sadly, I saw this in so many ways throughout my childhood, and later in adulthood. 
Our words become the mirror in which others see themselves
                                       The Power of a Woman's Words by Sharon Jaynes

My identity was not in Christ and what He did for me.  I had my arms and legs wrapped so tightly around the approval of others that their rejection just broke me in a thousand little pieces.  Their words were my daily portion.  And yet I somehow could not learn the healthy balance of needing community and needing approval.
God made us to need Him and each other.  We need God.  We need his Word.  We need each other.
                                                   Friendship for Grown-Ups  by Lisa Whelchel

When I was around someone who gossiped I took it as a personal challenge that I could be a person that was so wonderful, so good, so great, that they would never speak ill of me.  Geez, that is so ridiculous just typing it!  It's that same game that comes from movies where the hunky, jerky guy always falls for the awkward girl and he totally changes his ways.  I think that's giving we humans the power that belongs to God. Only God can rearrange our souls.  No one can to it for me nor I them.  So, how do I live in community with all these expectations?  With all these fears of judgement?

Grace.  And lots of it.

Grace is nothing more nor less than the face that love wears when it meets imperfection, weakness, failure, sin"
                                     Friendship for Grown-Ups  by Lisa Whelchel
I never thought of grace this way.  I need it not only for others, but when looking at my own faults and shortcomings.  The only one with enough grace to cover all of us is Jesus.  And so, daily I pray and work towards losing my dependance and slowly loosening my grip on the approval of others.  In doing so, I find the most glorious freedom through Christ.  This freedom is not the same as the freedom of my own "Hey who cares what anyone thinks because I'm me so take THAT!"  No, this freedom is knowing that God loves me the way I was, the way I am, and the way I will be.  He loves me more and he knows me best.  No human can out do that, it is just not possible.  

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Revelation Song - Revelation Moment

I teach piano.  Although most of my students attend some kind of church, most of them have little to no interest in learning the music of their faith or even see themselves playing for church.  Although I don't mind, not all of us are meant for church playing, I can't help but remember how playing for the church was the only reason, the one thing, that made me want to learn to play piano.  My family saw no separation between what I played, including my ability to play, and the One for whom I played.  I never knew who ACDC was until I was in high school.  My days were filled with bible songs and going to singings.  My heroes were Debbie Van Huis of the Twin City Singers who could sing and play on an electric piano!  It was a red head named Katherine at Davis Crossing Baptist Church who could play by ear and read music with fingers as quick as lightening, never missing a beat as she yelled the key to the guitar players who scrambled to keep pace.  It was my Aunt Doris and Cousin Tammy, self-taught,  who showed me how to transpose keys if a song was too high.  These were my heroes and the only job description I wanted was the one that said "pianist" in the church bulletin.

This week I asked a student if there was a worship song she might like to learn.  She said "Revelation Song" by Kari Jobe was on her ipod.  She was hesitant because she knew some of those songs can be hard for her level.  She's a sixth grader.  I told her I had recently come to find more places to find music and I would look for a good arrangement.   I found a fantastic, simplistic, arrangement on Lifeway Worship for $1.49 and I grabbed it.  Well, it was actually free because for following them on twitter I received two free downloads.  Nice. I printed the piece and sent her home to go for it.

She came back to the next lesson with the entire song in nice sheet protectors and a new worship binder.  She had learned the piece and kind of blew me away.  While listening to her, I started crying!  I was almost embarrassed.  I mean, I was so caught off guard by the tears and my own reaction.

I have played for every religion you can name at least once and I can tell you with certainty that liturgical/church/worship musicians are becoming fewer and far between.  Even more, truly qualified musicians, you know the ones that can actually read music, know their theory, and can sight-read,  are even harder to find.  My colleagues and I scramble to fill in for one another on a Sunday just so we can have a break.  I'm sure you have heard that churches are in decline?  Well, the musicians of those churches are in a worse dilemma.

With this new found revelation, no pun intended, I am seeking God that those children, teens, and adults who feel the call of God will pursue it.  I pray they will look away from the American Idols and look to the God of the Universe.  I pray they will want to play the music the feeds their soul in the most genuine, lasting way.   I feel God leading me strongly in this area as now I'm ready to give back what was given to me by Kathrine, Debbie, and my family - the love of the music of God. 

My adult students have said sometimes they were too upset about something to practice.  I tell them, "Give me a hymn and I'll sing and play in the middle of many tears, allowing those waters of music filled with praises to soothe my soul."  Guess what?  It really does.  Music is a blessing to be shared.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Gossip, Type II

(From Latin detrahere, to take away).
Detraction is the unjust damaging of another's good name by the revelation of some fault or crime of which that other is really guilty or at any rate is seriously believed to be guilty by the defamer.

 Oh boy, this is a tough one.  It's easy to rationalize my own opinions of something and keep them to myself.  But what if a person really did me wrong?  What if I really did catch my son stealing that cookie?  Or, what if I'm pretty sure he stole the cookie because he was the only one in the house!  All signs point to his guiltiness!   Don't I have a right to tell the other people who have cookies to beware?  That my son is a thief?  Hmmm...

Russ Rentler's Blog on Detraction says it so well:

What is the sin of detraction?
Detraction reveals something about another person that is true but harmful to that person’s reputation.
The fact that something is true does not justify its disclosure. We may not reveal another person’s secret faults or defects unless there is proportionate good involved.
Detraction is a sin against justice because it robs a person of his reputation. Each person has a strict right to his reputation, whether deserved or not.
Because detraction is a sin against justice, it requires reparation. The detractor must try to repair the damage to the victim’s reputation, and also to restore any temporal loss from the detraction, such as loss of employment or customers.
The Catechism teaches:(2477) Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.

As much as I would love to add some pithy, enlightened comments, I really can't.  I think this says it all.  
I will say that I find that anger seems to be when I, and most people, are most prone to the detraction gossip.  In other words someone has done some thing to me and I am fightin' mad!  So, what do I do with the anger?  I tell everyone who will listen, and then some, everything I can find wrong, a little wrong, big wrong, and maybe wrong about that person so they will be as angry as I am.   

I actually found out about the sin of detraction because I had a person come to me who was very upset that said child did not enter the private school of their choice.  This person was convinced, whether true or not I don't know, that it was a conspiracy by the staff of said school.  The anger spilled into detraction and information regarding staff was spilled onto the floor.  I just stared with my mouth agape.  How could I defend all these people?  How did I know if what she were saying was true?  I felt sorry for those she maligned, true or not.  This was when I looked up detraction and I think the posts mentioned here give us a very clear idea.

 My husband told me his Mom would give him this bit of wisdom before he left the house.  It was "Don't tell everything you know."

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fasting from Facebook

Fake Intimacy

Why I am fasting from facebook

Reason #1 - I am tired of thinking I'm closer friends with someone than I really am. Someone is my friend on facebook. They share details about their life so I think "Wow, this person really likes me. This person really considers me a part of their inner circle. I am so humbled." Then, I see them in public and they have either nothing or very little to say to me. The are acting like they always do and so I stand there, wondering to myself, "But I thought we were closer friends now. I mean, I know where you went to eat, I know what your kids got for Christmas, I saw your vacation photos. Isn't that why you wanted to be my facebook friend? You don't just show that to everyone. Right?"


What I've realized is people only gave me more facts about their life. There was never a face to face exchange of feelings, ideas, and thoughts. I want real, live, relationships. I want friends who give me more than their google calendar that includes photos. I want more than cute quotes. I don't want to know who is friends with you and who isn't. I want friends who want to know more about me. I want to be iron that sharpens iron. I want someone who isn't afraid to rebuke me if needed and lend a shoulder when I'm crying real tears, not just making sad faces. :-(

Facebook did not gain me any friends, but it did give me lots of ways to hack off the ones I already have. It also gave me useless information that seemed only good for breeding judgements over people. "Did you see their new car? How are they affording that?" It served for only more gossip breeding ground...worse than a pitre dish.

2 Kinds of Gossip - Type 2

I'm sensitive to gossip. Having been the gossiper and the gossiped I've developed a very bitter, sour taste for it. I like to really digest and dissect things so here is something I discovered about gossip.

There are two ways, although there may be more, to gossip. One is just spilling someone's personal business, their past, their personal life - you name it. You have some kind of access to this person's confidential file and you want to share it. The second way involves sharing your own private thoughts/judgements regarding a person. "Say, Susie Q is like the WORST dresser ever!" Now, it's only an opinion, but it's judgmental and inappropriate. Is it necessary? Kind? True? And you must answer yes to all three, not just the last one! Also, does it spur one another on to good deeds? Does it give encouragement to say it?

Today someone said the person leading music at their church had a horrible voice. What? I am a musician for Pete's sake! Does she not know that I have battle scars she can't see all over my body from people who make pithy comments such as those? Does she not know that my post-op wounds are still healing, still raw to the touch? Oh I wanted to yell, "Let's see you do it sista! At least somebody stepped up to the plate despite people like you!" And the worst part, in today's desperate need for Godly, church musicians, she is turning people off to even consider her church.

Calm down.

My response was that the church was blessed to have someone who offered to lead their music. It is hard to find people so let's not bash the ones we have. Okay, I didn't say the last part. I just mentioned that it's important to build the musicians up. So her response was, "Oh I do tell them!" LOL Well, it doesn't help if you tell them one thing and say another behind their back.


Here is the part where I can see slow, painful, growth in my character. At one time, I would have felt so flattered that this person would include me, overweight, not that cute, little old me, in her innermost thoughts about other people. She dothed me as Princess Special! Now I realize, if they will gossip to me, they will gossip about me. My specialness comes from God. My security in myself and acceptance is being a daughter of the Lord Most High! Yes, I want to be accepted among my peers, but not by disobeying God. To be accepted while following God's will for my life is the pinnacle, for me, of peace.

So I did it! I made it through round 1 of gossip in post-op condition! Take that devil!

Stay Tuned for Type 1!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Where is our security?

Here I was, seeing the flesh-and-blood results of the kind of parenting that my peers and I were trying to practice with our own kids, precisely so that they wouldn’t end up on a therapist’s couch one day. We were running ourselves ragged in a herculean effort to do right by our kids—yet what seemed like grown-up versions of them were sitting in our offices, saying they felt empty, confused, and anxious. Back in graduate school, the clinical focus had always been on how the lack of parental attunement affects the child. It never occurred to any of us to ask, what if the parents are too attuned? What happens to those kids?


Where is our security today? What is it we consider security? Is a strong sense of self the result of sheltering, feeding a child challenges and struggles that are carefully and cautiously tuned to their budding personalities and abilities? Do we equate an upset child as being ruined and scared for life?

As a Christian, it seems that we have a gold mine in answering these questions. You see, what most people fear is their child having scars. But what we forget is that Christ takes our scars and makes them stars. Okay, that sounds completely and utterly cheesy. In an attempt to sound more credible, I suggest that it is in the curve balls thrown at us that we learn where our security lies. If I don't get the job I wanted do I blame the employer for not seeing the benefits of having me on their staff? In turn, if someone is angry with me because I don't give them what they want do they have the right to slander me to anyone who will listen?

Psalm 25:4

New International Version (NIV)

Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.

In my daily prayer life I can bring God's daily portion directly to my needs. In this I find security for today and my tomorrows. My happiness and my disappointments are short-lived compared to the lasting peace I find when I realize there is a bigger plan that I cannot see. I don't know who holds tomorrow, but I know who holds my hand - and yours, too.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Ingratitude can be interpreted a rejection

I'm looking for a good, active, Christian women's forum. Does anyone know of one?

I've been thinking of the gratitude. I am referring to the kind of gratitude where you pick the phone, type a sincere e-mail, or tell face to face, a person why you are grateful for them. It is not enough to tell others you think so and so is the bomb.

Another aspect if when we offer praise or a thoughtful note to someone and not only do they not respond, but we see them post on facebook that their toilet is leaking. Huh? I'm not saying do things to get thanks, but I am saying GIVE THANKS!

I was inspired by this sermon by Andy Stanley of North Point, which I cannot find now to save my life!

Anyway, I sat down and wrote to e-mails to Christian women who live it and in turn, help me to live it too. If it weren't for their witness, I would think everyone was secretly cranky and all they need was one little straw for things to blow.

Take some time today to thank someone that has meant something to your life.