I Love What You Are Doing

Beautiful Things Grow from Fertile Ground
Beautiful Things Grow from Fertile Ground

“I will be generous with my love today. I will sprinkle compliments and uplifting words everywhere I go. I will do this knowing that my words are like seeds and when they fall on fertile soil, a reflection of those seeds will grow into something greater.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free

I made a couple of small speeches over the weekend. Nothing big. I had prepared for them, written them myself and got through both events with a little help from above.

Apparently my words touched a few people because I got some really good, squeezy hugs from my friends. And one of my dearest friends actually crossed a room to get to me. He made my day when he told me how much what I said meant to him.

I can sometimes tell exactly where people are in their mental and emotional state just by how many compliments they give. People who are not in a good place will likely not give compliments. How do I know this? I was one of those people.

When I was jealous, I did not give compliments. When I was stressed and overworked, I did not want to see someone else full of spirituality and grace. This actually would tick me off. How dare they be in such a good place when my life was such a challenge?

What I realized is the path into the light includes compliments. You just can’t get around it. When I look at others through my spiritual lenses, they are a child of God. I see their attributes, not necessarily their faults. If I see their faults, they are masked by the person’s own hidden potential.

And so I compliment. Nothing phony. The real thing. You look lovely today. I love what you are doing- you are an instrument of God’s great love. When I say it I mean it.

And, I try and be a good compliment taker. In other words, when you compliment me I will hopefully say thank you. I will smile at you. You will probably make my day.

What kind of person do I want to be? I want to be the kind of person who is happy for others. For what they have accomplished and what they feel good about. I want to take those good points and bring them out into the light. There they will gather speed and bring more good light into the world.

“You are the Light of the World” Matthew 4: 14-16

(Pay a compliment to someone today!)

How do you feel about compliments? How do you feel when someone compliments you?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Does Prayer Work?

But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. Luke 22:32

I happened to type “Prayer” into my Pinterest search bar this morning and boy did I get a spiritual eyeful. I’ll give you the link at the end of this post but suffice to say there was a whole wide range of pins on the subject.

Evangelist Luke writing, Byzantine illuminatio...
Evangelist Luke writing, Byzantine illumination, 10th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This got me thinking about prayer. How do you pray? Or do you even pray? My prayers have changed over the years. When I was young they were the prayers of church, whispered along with the priest’s words or out loud during the liturgy. During the kneeling down part of the service, I was either paying attention or not, fidgeting or wondering what I was going to do later that day, like riding my Schwinn bicycle around the neighborhood with my girlfriends.

One time as a young child, we missed church because it had snowed heavily. I remember being worried about the consequences and what God would think if I wasn’t there. So I took a cross I had in my room and prayed, maybe on my knees. I don’t remember what I prayed about but I remember I had a really good week, getting an “A” on a test and other assorted awesome stuff. That’s when I knew God had some serious pull.

Jim, my SO, doesn’t believe in praying for specific things. He thinks I do but honestly, my prayers are of the general variety. Does prayer work? I used to think it was silly stuff but the older I get the more I believe yes, prayer definitely has its potential.

It is amazing sometimes that I will pray for assistance for someone or some issue, again the prayers not being specific, and help will arrive in some shape or form. Honestly, if I leave well enough alone and not give God directions on how I want it done, s(he) will do a fabulous job. After all, it’s God we are talking here.

What doesn’t work is praying and then using my own control devices. Or praying and expecting immediate results. Prayer works fast sometimes and other times it does not. Maybe God wants us to practice a bit of patience.

Letting go of results is probably the hardest part of prayer for me. Maybe this surprises you- is there really a letting go part? Yes, I think this is the most powerful part of prayer- surrender. There in lies the freedom, the relief I have been seeking. That moment when I can lay my head down and feel a peace come over me that just wasn’t there before.

The results of prayer are often solutions I hadn’t thought of. Imagine that. That is when I know God is really good.

Click HERE for the Pinterest prayer board link.

Do you believe in prayer? What’s your favorite prayer or tell us how prayer has worked or not worked for you….

Join me on my graceful journey.
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When Less Is Really Better

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“There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Life is moving in slow motion for me these days. For the first time in many years I have the luxury of enjoying summer, spending time with my mom, family and friends. It’s a big switch for me, multi- tasker that I am, as I am used to cramming as much as I can into my waking hours. It was nothing for me to go non stop from 7am until 10pm at night, rarely stopping long enough to catch my breath in between. My sister Mary said to me once, “Jo, you’re making us all look bad.”

These days, it is life without much of an agenda. It is freeing really to have a minimal schedule and plenty of time to work on small projects. And, the bonus to all this is I am living on a lot less money than I used to. My needs have become very simple. I tried to figure it out the other day, what was it that was really different? First, I am just not buying stuff like I used to. Second, I am content with a lot less.

DSC_0162Part of this I can attribute to grace and age. As I truly work on embracing life from the standpoint of a spiritual journey, material things have become less and less important. As I get older I feel like I am truly embracing what my mother Katherine has always set an example of- that less is really better. Bigger, fancier and complicated just means more expensive, more maintenance, more potential aggravation. Make more money and we spend more money. Easy and simple I’m finding is really the way to go. Pare things down, decide what’s really important, ease back and enjoy it.

The bonus to all this less is more attitude is more time and energy, and a bit of extra money for what I feel most passionate about. The ability to decide what’s really important bestows a true attitude of generosity in so many other ways. Ways that can really make a difference.

Thanks again to my daughter Michelene for these beautiful photos!

What’s your simplest pleasure? I’d love to know!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Coming Into Grace

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Cook Forest 2Years ago I would have completely dismissed the above quote, thinking I didn’t have time to contemplate such nonsense.

Now, it sums up my journey of the past decade or so. Finding serenity, searching for grace, deciding what can be changed and what cannot.

My journey has led me over tall mountains, in deep valleys and down the road less traveled. It is not a physical journey but a spiritual one.

Occasionally I tire and stop to rest. But then I pick up my walking stick and begin again.

I remember what I have to be thankful for. My family, my friends, the moon, the stars, heaven and earth.

I remind myself what I have no control over– all of the above.

If I think I can control other things, living or otherwise, I am a fool. I can only control myself and my reaction to people, places and things. This is the secret of serenity- minding my own business.

The journey has been a difficult one at times and it is not over. It is continuous. If I remember every day to have gratitude for my life, my serenity will be easier to maintain.

Thank you to WordPress for an inspiring word today- Journey!

How do you find daily Grace?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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Nourishment….Body and Soul

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We are spiritual beings living a human life. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Lately, I’ve been pondering a different approach to taking better care of myself. I have been thinking about Body and Soul. Sure, it’s a phrase that’s been around forever. But I’m taking it to heart and realizing that one without the other is like walking around with only one shoe.

First, SOUL. I am better at taking care of my spiritual self. Devoting a portion of my non working hours to service work is spiritually fulfilling for me.  This blog and you, my reader, are part of my spiritual life. Spiritual reading, volunteer work and even prayer and meditation are important parts of my soul work.

Now when it comes to BODY, that is a different issue all together.

Menopause (or, insert issue of choice here) has reeked havoc on my physical body. I am abit overweight, tired and admittedly, over sugared. This is where some change needs to occur. My thickening middle has me a bit depressed and there is really no one that can change that except me.

Though I have been trying to do little things to build a healthier me, I’ve not done a good job managing my weight. I rationalize it with my many obligations, stresses, weather, you name it. But deep down I know I really want to take better care of my “temple”.

At this point I have to tell you I don’t believe in diets. I don’t think they work. Having watched friends gain and lose the same pounds over and over through various diets, I believe the mental state of “diet” is starvation. That may not be the case, but perhaps the word reeks a mental manipulation within the heads of its participants. I’d rather make positive changes to eat healthier and get enough exercise.

I want to believe there is a direct correlation between faith and food. If I treat my body as the temple for my soul, does that make me want to treat it better? Yes, it does. So that is what I’m going to try.

By placing food in the same mental bracket as faith, I hope to change how I feed myself. By taking a moment to reflect and notice what I’m putting in my mouth and why, I hope to give my body a bit more respect. The respect it really deserves.

Are you better at Body or Soul? Or both? What works for you?

Join me on my graceful journey.
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A God Nudge

A few days ago I emailed my friend Nancy. I thought she was participating in an event I’m attending this weekend. She emailed me back…. she didn’t know a thing about it. So I called Amy (on my lunch hour) who I thought had given Nancy’s phone number to the coordinator of the event. When I spoke with Amy, she too thought Nancy had been contacted.

I said to Amy, What do I need to do? Is this my responsibility? Amy said No, it is not. She said, Text me Nancy’s number again and I’ll call the coordinator. She can take it from there. I said to Amy (after a bit of hesitation), Maybe this is a God Nudge.

A God Nudge is when you get a hint that something needs your attention. God is letting you in on something, a clue so to speak, so that you end up feeling like a sort of spiritual secret agent.

I have come to accept that if I am supposed to know about something, God will somehow see to it that I am clued in. If I worry about whether or not I have the whole story on any given situation or if I think I am missing valuable information, this is really not my concern. If I’m supposed to know, I’ll be informed. Then, I can decide how to react, without making a big fuss or blaring any horns.

One of the biggest God Nudges I’ve ever had occurred while I was in Patmos, Greece a few years ago. Patmos is a place of outstanding beauty, a Jewel of the Mediterranean and I was there.

Perfect Patmos

We were on vacation, my sisters, my mom and I for two weeks. Patmos was one of our stopovers for four days. It was perfect weather, perfect food, perfect everything. While I was there, I had an overwhelming urge to write. The feeling was so powerful, I started a journal of our trip.

When I came home I wrote a small book and had it bound with a hard cover. I called it “Patmos Memories” and I gave it to my mom for Christmas that year. She loved it. I still pick it up when I’m at her house and read it over again. It was really my writing debut of sorts.

When I think of that time in Patmos, I realize God was nudging me to write. Maybe that is why I feel so comfortable sharing my thoughts and passing stories along. I think that you and I are divine friends, destined to be together and to pass along some Grace and Love.

In the earlier case involving Nancy, I alerted someone to the issue and let it go. Hopefully, I acted as a conduit of some sort. We’ll see. Thank You God, for the nudge!

Another Pretty Patmos Picture!
Join me on my graceful journey.
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The Graceful Light

christmas candles on the morning table
The Graceful Light

The holidays are over and the January darkness has really settled in. Thank God there have been some sunny days or I would really be going crazy. And, as if a great gift was bestowed upon us all, the moon last night was so gorgeous, so full and bright, its long stream of light running down as if to the ground. It was mesmerizing.

Winter darkness pushes me to think about the light and how it has the power to transform me into a person of less worry. When I think of Grace, I think of the light. If I am worried about a problem or situation, bringing it out into the light can help it lose some serious steam.

When I am scared or have a situation in which I don’t know what to do, calling on Grace works. My innermost fears can eat me from the inside out and they can be dangerous stuff. Believing in the light enables me to pull out my fears, one by one, look at them and realize their root. When I take my time and slowly work through them, these fears turn into fearless blips on the radar of my life.

The light can fill me with hope, comfort and warmth. Thank goodness it’s free for the taking.  When I wrap myself in the glow, I feel protected and calm. Life seems less hurried and less intense.

I hope you have a gracefully bright day!

Join me on my graceful journey.
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