I have joined the ranks of baby boomers dealing with aging parents. My son is off to college, I’ve started my own, growing consulting business and was looking forward to unbridled freedom. Instead, I am experiencing the unexpected demands that come with taking care of a parent.
I know that I am not alone, because my friends are all dealing with providing for their parents in some way.
More than ever, stressful times call for leaning on God for peace and guidance, and what I call Divine time management.
Here’s what I mean…..
Our connecting with God and practicing ways to be contemplative aren’t limited to prayer, meditation and writing. While I promote prayer, meditation and journaling as powerful tools, there are many simple ways to feel the love and presence of God every day. By incorporating mindfulness of the presence of God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, or all three, through simple acts we perform, we can bring a sense of peace, wholeness and clarity into our daily living. What do I mean?
Have you ever stopped to think of simple things you do – Preparing a meal, walking your dog, painting, gardening, cleaning your house or apartment, sitting in the presence of a loved one and not speaking, fishing – almost any kind of hobby? All of these activities lend themselves to putting your whole heart into it. We may even call these activities “mindless”. What these actions represent are contemplative practices.
I put house cleaning on the list because it seems so odd, right? Continue reading
I haven’t posted on my blog in a while because I decided to unplug myself from the computer. Initially, it was a tough decision to make. But in my quest to slow down and live in the present moment, I chose not to take my laptop with me on a choir tour to Scotland and England. I did, however, take my camera and a journal.
This was the final day of our trip, singing in St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, England.
Bill Stein, our wonderful Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church in Kirkwood, Missouri, orchestrated this trip for our choir to sing at some of the most magnificent cathedrals in the world.
Here’s a small sample of our tour. It was wonderful to worship with others across the world and to experience the splendor of these exquisite structures that were built to the glory of God.
This is the Outside of St. Paul’s.
This is Winchester Cathedral (yes, the song was about this cathedral) – Winchester has the longest Nave (principal area of the church) in the United Kingdom.
Coventry Cathedral was the only cathedral that was damaged during World War II. The cathedral was almost completely destroyed during the Blitz. A modern cathedral was built connected to the remains of the old cathedral. After seeing the devastation, the minister of the church said a prayer, “Father Forgive.” These words are in the ruins as well as the new cathedral. Two cross beams had burned and fallen in the shape of a cross. The beams are on display in the new Coventry Cathedral with a replica outside where the beams were originally found.
York Minster Cathedral
Singing at York Minister. Seeing the choir in this huge space will give you an idea of the size. The sound in these cathedrals was amazing. When we finished a powerful song the sound reverberated throughout the space for several seconds.
York Minster has the most glass of any cathedral. During World War II all of the glass was removed and hidden in the countryside to protect it.
This is just a piece of Durham Cathedral. It was impossible to get a view of the entire structure. There were no pictures allowed inside. The columns were 22 feet round. It was the first of the large cathedrals on our tour.
This is a view from the top of the tower.
St. Giles is in Edinburgh, Scotland and is the birthplace of the Presbyterian Church. This was our first stop and was very special.
Our director, Bill Stein, had the opportunity to play the pipe organ shown here. He is an incredible musician and the music filled the entire space.
Every cathedral had a place to reflect in prayer and to light a candle. I took an opportunity to light a candle and say a prayer in each space.
This trip was not only a gift in having a wonderful experience but it gave me the gift of how important it is to live in the present moment. It was the first trip that I have ever taken where I forgot what day or time it was. I wasn’t worried or thinking about anything else but being present in each moment.
It’s taken me a while to adjust to getting back into the routine of life. The reason, perhaps, is not wanting life to be routine. To be continued…..
Sunday will be Mother’s Day. For many, it’s a time of celebration. For me, this mother’s day will be a time of celebration. My mother is still with me. She turned 92 in January. Considering all that she has physically to deal with, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and asthma, you would never guess that she is 92 – more like 70, and she certainly doesn’t act a day over 16!
Here she is after she broke her left wrist in the fall of 2008. She goes by the name of Bea. This pose is typical of her personality because she always felt more comfortable performing on the stage.
After this happened, I told her, “Mom, you’re lucky that it was your left wrist because you’re right handed.” Two weeks later the phone rang. It was my mother telling me she had broken her right wrist. She told me she couldn’t help it because she’s always been an over-achiever! That’s where I get it….. and her sense of humor. My mother is truly an inspiration.
I am a mother. For the first time in a long time, my son will be with me this Mother’s Day – Another reason for celebration.
For others, who have lost their mothers, however, this will be a time of, perhaps, grief. Continue reading
A Prayer for Guidance
I was doing some spring cleaning the other day in my office when I came across a yellow piece of paper. It was folded neatly into four parts. On the outside were hand written words in pencil:
A prayer for Jackie
I suggest you say this prayer, or at least, touch this piece of paper anytime you are going to talk about “the issue” in the next days.
I opened up the piece of paper and saw the date – July, 2004. I vividly remember the reason for the prayer and who gave it to me.
At that time I was in my first relationship after having been divorced. My life had completely changed. The divorce had been very painful and I went through years of healing. “The issue” was the struggle I was having in this new relationship.
This note came from my choir director. We had become very close and he had been a stable, spiritual influence in my life. I talk about angels coming to help us when we need it and Marcos was certainly one of those for me.
The prayer was as meaningful today as it was in 2004, so I wanted to share it. If you are seeking guidance, keep this prayer handy to help you stay on the spiritual path. “The issue” can be anything that you are struggling with as you seek a life guided by God.
I can only move my feet one at a time. And I can only move my feet in the direction my eyes lead me. Be the guide of my vision, turn my face to the path you have prepared for me and keep calling my attention, tapping on my shoulder, whenever I start staring towards my own illusions and delusions.
In the name of Christ, the Light of the World, who illuminates our souls.
I have to say that I am pretty fortunate as a writer that my mind is constantly spinning with creative ideas. But, inevitably, we all hit the wall – the wall of writer’s block. That’s when you sit down with your pad of paper or plop down in front of the computer and nothing comes.
When that happens, you can’t sit and will your brain to spew out lovely prose. It just won’t happen. In the world of true creativity, you can’t force things. That’s when you have to tap into some Divine creative power.
I took this picture at the Monterey Aquarium. It’s a sea horse. Can you believe it? There were 32 different varieties of sea horses. I rarely watch television, but one of my favorite shows is CBS Sunday Morning. Robert and I watch it before we go to church. One Sunday they featured “Creatures.” I had no idea that there are 1.8 million known species!
While I have always admired God’s handy work in the form of sunsets, clouds, mountains – I had no idea how many species God created. And there are more we haven’t even discovered. This solidified for me the mind and creativity of God. It gave me a new meaning and appreciation of God as the Ultimate Creator.
All writers and artists experience being blocked.
I have to admit that I struggle as I get older with realizing the concept of having less time than in my youth. There are so many things that I want to do. Because I have hit the over half-way mark in my life, I feel a sense of urgency in wanting everything NOW!
The Psalmist says, “Be still and know that I am God.” And James says, “Be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” So I struggle with being still and doing.
The words – Be Still – can mean not moving, and being quiet. From a biblical perspective, I was shocked and actually had to laugh when I found out the literal meaning.
The sermon at church one morning focused on the passage from Mark, Chapter 5. Jesus had been overwhelmed when so many people wanted to make contact with him. That’s right, Jesus was overwhelmed. He made the decision to take a boat across the water to escape the crowd. A huge storm rolled in. The disciples were freaked out and scared to death. They looked for Jesus to help them and found him fast asleep from exhaustion. They were terrified because of the storm and woke Jesus up. According to Mark’s account, Jesus was not happy. He was quite mad. So much so that he yelled, “Peace, Be Still!” The storm and the huge waves stopped immediately. The literal translation of, Be Still is – Shut Up!
The bible verse, Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God – is also translated to mean – Shut up and know that I am God. Another pastor I met told me about that translation and used the analogy of the proverbial, family road trip. You know the one, with the kids in the back seat saying, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” The answer, of course, is be still or shut up!
In our busy and demanding world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Take a moment and read the following prayer. In this moment, know that God is here.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for being the God who never sleeps.
Thank you for always being here for me, even when I’m not always here for you.
Thank you that you are Love and that you want the very best for me.
Thank you for your promises and that you never change.
I am feeling totally overwhelmed.
Please help me.
Help me to rest in the fact that you know what is best for me.
Forgive me for turning away from you and trying to control the outcome in situations in my life.
The Bible says that you are not the God of confusion but of peace.
Help me to rest in your love and to feel the peace of Christ which passes all understanding.
Help me to feel your love and comfort.
Help me to be still and know that you are God and that you will take care of me, just like any loving parent takes care of their children.
Your Word says to cast all of our anxiety on you because you care for us.
I turn all of my burdens and concerns over to you.
Please guide my every step and help me to be attentive to your loving direction.
In name of your Son and our Savior Jesus,
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