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There's A Song In the Air

The Holidays are here. Makes you want to sing, doesn’t it.

What a wonderful season, full of love, joy, peace and busyness and mystery. A one-time event that is cyclable, filled with diversity, yet yearly offering us something we hadn’t noticed before.

If we are paying attention.

In Sunday’s comics of LuAnn by Greg Evans, she was preparing her classroom for the Holiday Season by writing “Merry Christmas” on the white board. A child entered and said, “We celebrate Hanukkah”. Luann added Hanukkah to the board. Another mentioned, “We celebrate Kwanzaa”. The conversation continued - as well as additions to the board - to include Omisoka, Muslim festivities, Winter Solstice and Seasons Greetings.

Luann’s final entry was “PEACE!!!”.

Does the above-mentioned comic strip bring peace to you? Or do you identify with the bold print and the three exclamation points? What is this world coming to?

I find peace. Wait! Before you quit reading, let me explain.

The Christmas message IS peace. And love and joy. But how do we find those attributes if we don’t understand the meaning of the words? I think of Jacob, our founding spiritual forefather, and his life trials and weird dream of a ladder with angels ascending and descending. When he awakened, he was afraid and confused. He looked around and said, “God was here all the time and I didn’t know it.”

Then Jacob did something even more weird. He anointed a rock and proclaimed that dream holy and that place holy. Then he rolled up his stuff and continued his known, yet unknown journey. (Genesis 12)

Jacob transcended. He began to think different thoughts about his family and his God and his complicated life-journey. Does God really love a cheat like me? Can I have peace even though I have an angry brother who wants to kill me? Is truth actually written on my wisdom heart? Is joy possible when I am only concerned about me and my? What else do I know that I don’t know that I know?

In watching Christmas movies and seeing advertisements, they seem to be more about Santa and gift than the Christ child. Yet in the background there is a song in the air. A song of a Holy Night. A Song of Joy to the World. Music moves us in mysterious ways. I find the message of a God who IS love - unconditional love. The God who birthed a son like Himself. One who loves us for no good reason. One who loves us with no expectations in return

One who empowers us to transcend, to grow, to love, to rise above.

What a wonderful season, full of love, joy, peace and mystery. A one-time event that is cyclable, filled with diversity, yet yearly offering us something we hadn’t noticed before.

Pay attention. Listen to the music. Harken to the short messages from your heart. Love. Forgive. Be kind. Overlook snarks. Move past regrets. Let it go. Sing.

We are in the midst of who we are and who we are becoming. As we are open to love and forgiveness, the Christmas message of peace and love is birthed in our hearts.


Being a Blessing

Our topic today is being a blessing.

Being in the grammatical sense is a gerund. Which simply means that any time you add ing to a word – any word – it brings it into present tense – the NOW – right this second - that expresses a generalized or uncompleted action. As in “I’m going to the store.” You understand what is happening, but it is an uncompleted action.

I love ironies. One of which is, we cannot give out of an empty basket. We cannot give what we have not received. What have we received? Life. Breath. Gifts. Talents. Love. Because of these free gifts from God, we are able to give and to bless others.

In the book of Acts we have the story of Paul and Silas traveling around telling people about the one true God and his marvelous blessings bestowed on all of us, whether we give him credit for it or not. This God is the one who is always near to us, leading us, guiding us, directing us, loving us, comforting us. In trying to paint a picture of this wonderful invisible God, in poetic form, Paul said, “In Him – in this one true God – we live and move and have our being.” You are an animation of God.

We are all human beings. Beings
• Being - the quality or state of having an existence
• Being - qualities that constitute essence

All of that tells me that we’re not done yet.

You bake a cake for the recommended time and on the surface it looks done, but you stick a toothpick in it, and it’s a little gooey inside. That’s us. No matter how many years we have been in the oven, we’re not done yet.

But, no worries, we are human beings and we’re still learning.

Psychologists tells us that we are most open to learning when we are in love. When we are in love – with a person, a hobby, an adventure - we are open to new information and we willingly take it in and try it out. Being a blessing is not only being thankful and gracious and appreciative; it’s also being and staying in love with life and people and God and yourself.

Who will you re-fall in love with today? Or you could start from scratch and pretend it's for the first time.

Science and technology are discovering many new things daily. But they are not really new. King Solomon said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” There is nothing new under the sun because at creation everything that was destined to be was pre-programmed into the mystery of this universe to come forth “in the fullness of time.” Just like the birth of Christ. Just like the birth of you.

Becoming a Blessing is synonymous with becoming yourself – your true self, your essence - your DNA God-Code self. It’s that simple, and it’s also that difficult. It’s difficult because we too often second guess our self. We listen to our ego instead of our wisdom heart. Wayne Dwyer suggests that ego means “edging God out”.

When I have a not so gracious feeling toward me - and Jesus said I am to love me as I love you, my neighbor - I pause and evaluate: “Even though I burned the pie, I’m still a pretty good cook.” Likewise, when I have a not so gracious feeling toward someone else - and Jesus said I am to love my neighbor as much as I love me - I pause and evaluate: “Just like me, that person is doing the best they can.”

Loving attributes acknowledged. Grace restored.

The Heart-Math Institute says that our heart sends out more neuro transmissions than our brain does. Sadly, those transmissions don’t always reach our brain -- until we prepare our mind to receive the wisdom from our heart. Our heart’s invisible transmissions expand up to a three-feet circumference outside our bodies. It is something we unknowingly transmit whether positive or negative.

So how do we attune our mind to receive the heart’s wisdom? My go-to is the holy language of Scripture.

In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:43-48) Jesus contrasts what we think or what we have heard with what he says. “You have heard it said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate our enemy’, but I say, ‘Love your enemies, do good to them that hate you and pry for them which despitefully use you and persecute you.” He goes on to talk about how good God is to everyone; sending sunshine and rain equally on the righteous as well as the unrighteous. Sending drought and tornados equally on the righteous and the unrighteous – no respecter of persons.

Jesus completed the thought with “Be perfect even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

A long-time friend of mind has a delightful habit of smiling and giving a nodding approval and openly says “God love it” when someone does something special. She is not speaking to anyone in particular, but the heart-math translation is there.

When someone acts out, she gives an understanding nod and openly says – to no one in particular – “You gotta love ‘em”.

I may want to say, “I most certainly do not ‘gotta love ‘em.” And God gently speaks to my wisdom heart, “Yea, you do. That is, if you really want my kingdom to come to earth, that as above so below.”

Me? Perfect? How? One definition of perfect is “just right for the stage of growth”. An apple seed is a perfect apple, for its stage of growth. The goal is to keep on growing.

I suggest we attune to our wisdom heart by meditating daily for divine favor through the Lord’s Prayer (Luke 11:1-4). “Our Father” …. Pause and think about people groups all over the world, diverse socio economic, intelligence and abilities. Yet they are all our neighbors, and God is their Father. Even if you don’t get past the Our Father part, that can be enough.

We grow into our true essence by realizing that we have enough. “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matt 6:31-34) Enough. We have enough. Sometimes we try to be thankful, but it seems difficult because we really focus on lack. I didn’t get enough sleep last night, not enough time, not enough money, not enough energy. …I’m not enough. What we focus on is what we draw to us. Begin to proclaim, "I have enough for today." That mysterious portal of ‘enough’ overflows into natural abundance through creativity, repurposing, thankfulness, generosity, appreciation, celebrating, blessings, accomplishments, good-will.

A wonderful measuring rod of being is III John 2, “May you prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers.” May you prosper – mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, spiritually, relationally – even as your soul prospers. Pause and evaluate. Content yourself by having enough.

All through the book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul admonishes us to be happy, glad and content (enough). This is not Paul in the Penthouse speaking, but Paul in the jailhouse. In all things give thanks. For all things give thanks. “Rejoice in the Lord always….” I can just see him pacing around the prison writing or dictating and searching to bring it to a powerful conclusion…. “And again, I say ‘Rejoice’.” Enough.

I examine my own life and how to be more thankful.

• I am thankful for misunderstandings, because they teach me to strive to be a better communicator
• for criticism, for it forces me to examine actions and attitudes and leads to repentance for failures
• for adversity, because it is in the winter that roots grow deepest to find fresh nourishment
• for financial reverses, because it helps me to be grateful for what we have.
• I am thankful for challenges that taxes every fiber of my being forcing me to grow in new directions.
• I am thankful for dreams, for ideas and for goals, for they keep me active and energetic and alive.
• I am thankful for a contented mind and a grateful heart.

Some may say, “but I don’t have that kind of faith.” Au Contraire! The Scripture says that everyone has been given a ‘measure of faith’. A measure. How much is a measure? Enough.

Everyone has enough faith to listen to their wisdom heart. You know what that is. It’s the inner guidance that directs you to do the right thing. It is the gentle inner voice that does not yell, does not condemn and does not lead astray. Just as everyone of us has been given life, so too have we been given breath for a certain number of days. Breath that breaths us.

God is sometimes seen as being too big, too powerful, too holy, too far away to have anything to do with me. Maybe we have a longing to serve God and others, but first we have to clean our self up.

Don't Cope, Overcome. About 45 years ago God spoke to my confused mind, “Just let me be your friend.” It resonated. I needed a friend. Out loud I said a faint, “okay”. No big deal. But it was a big deal. The friendship took and continues to grow.

May it do the same for you.


The Power of Self-Evaluation

I am good at teaching, but not always so good at living what I teach -- and that is exactly why I teach. Teaching holds me accountable to what I say and do. I was late-in-life learning a lot of things – like Goal Setting and Planning – but self-evaluating was ingrained in me as a child.

During my West Virginia wonder years we gathered on Sundays at our little circuit-rider United Methodist Church.  Each Communion Sunday the pastor emphasized the sacredness of the sacrament and the value of self-evaluation.  You know, to make sure we were living right; that we weren't harboring any lies, didn’t need to apologize for,  or “lest something worse come upon you.” 

Thankfully, my Aunt Erma explained that self-evaluation is not dumping guilt on yourself, but is taking responsibility for our missteps. If we don’t own up to our part of the problem, then it leads us to stack attack misbehavior that hurts us and others.

The purpose of self-evaluation is to see our self as we really are, so we can either keep on a good path or take corrective steps. It’s all Total Behavior. What we think, what we do, how we feel about our thinking and doing, effects of physiology and our mental health and our sleep, our digestion, our energy level and our relationships and our success and…

In other words, everything within us touches everything about us and everything we do effects everything we do.  To stay whole and healthy, self-evaluation is a discipline I practice daily.

Self-evaluation is tied in with the Ten Axioms of Choice Theory Psychology.

·  #1 states that "The only person whose behavior we can control is our own".  I suppose the inference is that way too often we do not control our self and need to think about the outcome.
·  #2 says "All we can do is give or receive information."  Inference - don't place blame, don't criticize, be nice, use your inside voice, get honest with yourself. 
· #6 states "We can only satisfy our needs by satisfying the pictures in our Quality World" (i.e. pics in our head).  Inference: ongoing negative guilting thoughts suggest we're not too satisfied with our life so self-evaluate and make changes. 

A theory is something not yet proven.  When we consider the possibility of a smidgen of reality in Choice Theory, then the practice of the theory becomes real. And we prove to our self, for our self what is or is not effective.  Long term. 
The key word in Self-Evaluation is “Self”. Only it’s not really “self” because we are never alone. We have a great “cloud of witnesses”, whether in that DNA molecule syphoned from a long dead ancestor or the influencing thoughts gleaned from a stranger or the mystical concept of God.

So what are the benefits?
  • Challenge you to excellence
  • Lessens dependency on the approval of others
  • Promotes healthy competition
  • Encourages non-judgmental judgment (see Axiom #2) 
  • Ask and answer tough questions
  • Live in the present 
And all this accumulates into personal empowerment.  You have to experience it for yourself. Enjoy.  

“One breath began the journey of life;
Ambiguous with joys and strife.
What makes one, breaks another;
All of earth’s travels are for us to discover
The value of self, sister and brother.”

Choice Theory Basic Intensive Training, Waco, Texas, Mona Dunkin, CTRTC,LM