The Question that Changes Everything

Most of us walk through life thinking what we see is a reflection of reality. Our opinions are based on real, factual, objective observation and they are right!

But wait…

What if you don’t have all the information?
What if you don’t see things clearly?
What if you are actually just picking up opinions someone else dropped in front of you?
How can you tell?

I don’t imagine that many of us wake up every morning ready to apply the scientific method to our daily routine. Do we research our toothpaste? What about that brushing technique? No, most of us wave off any thought of wasting our precious time on what we are sure is good enough, even if it isn’t perfect.

Have you fallen into a routine where you always drive the same way to work? Do you always order the same thing from that restaurant you always go to? Are you watching the same news anchors and commentators day in and day out? Maybe it’s time for a change.

I want to share with you one simple question that has made the biggest impact in my life. It has changed my opinions, caused me to do a little more digging in regard to things I take for granted, and it even changed the way I drive across town.

Are you ready?

(No that wasn’t the question!)

What if I’m wrong?

There it is, the question that changes everything. What if I’m wrong, about this toothpaste? About the situation in the Middle East? About my politics or my parenting?

I like to think I am always right. Who doesn’t? Admitting I’m wrong is uncomfortable, and really, let’s face it, I just hate it! But the truth is that I very rarely see the situation, the issue, the product, from every angle. There is almost always something I’m missing, and guess what–That is ok!

I’m human. You are human. We are limited in our understanding!

No one has all the right answers, there isn’t a cheat sheet to life. So give yourself a break and start learning to assume that there is a remote possibility that you are not 100% right all the time!

What if I’m wrong? What if you are wrong? What more do I need to know, see, do, experience in order to get a better handle on this?

Wisdom is not always having all the right answers, it is instead the ability to recognize both what information we have and what we still need to learn in order to make the right choices.

Seeing things clearly,
How ReFreshing!

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Terminal

The end is near.
Many ends to choose from:
a bomb, the zombies, the calendar.

With endings, there must be beginnings.
So there’s hope, but still an end.

It looms on the horizon,
stalks in the shadows.
Will we know, be aware
of its approach?

Do we even want to know?

Would I rather sleep through its coming, or toast it
with friends?

Could I stand to watch as all I love
is laid to waste?

Indeed, I must.
Whether it arrives at once
or takes its precious time.

To live is to observe all the small endings
on the way to our own.

So we pray for fortitude to fight
and joy for the moments in between.

 

Christmas Pondering

Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

When was the last time you did any pondering? With the way everything moves so quickly, it is hard to find time to ponder anymore. Social media makes it easy to be emotionally moved by love/anger/fear/sadness/empathy one moment and laugh at silly cats talking about cheeseburgers the next. How is it that we can shift gears so quickly? The emotion barely has time to set in before we are scrolling on to the next thing. As disturbing as this might seem, the information we are reading and the stories we are moved by mostly have to do with the lives and experiences of other people, sometimes people we’ve never met who live on the other side of the globe. It is easier to keep them at arm’s length and only allow them to touch our emotions on the surface. Still it is troubling that we interact with so many deep needs with so little thought. Possibly more troubling is the thought that we could be losing the art of thinking and feeling deeply about things in our own lives.

It might just be me, but when things get busy, during the holidays or toward the middle of each school year, I function with very little deep thought from day to day. I follow the commands of my calendar, moving from one appointment and event to the next without any time to process what I have just experienced. Like scrolling through Facebook, I can find myself keeping the story of my own life at arm’s length and the events of my day from drawing any deep thought.

With all that was happening in her life, the announcement of the angel, the trip to see her cousin Elizabeth, the return and Joseph coming to take her to his home, the journey to Bethlehem for the census, Mary took time to ponder. Perhaps in the stillness of a baby sleeping after the shepherds had left in the early morning hours. Maybe in the days to come as she experienced first-hand feeding a baby from her body, sleeping 45 minutes at a time, changing for-real clothe diapers. Definitely as they met Anna and Simeon in the temple after the time of purification to dedicate little Jesus as a firstborn son. She actively stored up these experiences and pondered them in her heart.

When we ponder, we establish memories. The stories we tell ourselves and others about the events in our lives are the ones we keep for years to come. Moments that we pass over without a thought are gone forever, but those we choose to reflect upon are treasures that last.

What is happening in your life right now that could use some mulling over? What treasures are you brushing off for more pressing demands of work, or the louder demand from the buzz of your phone? For those of us who don’t check our phones that much, maybe it’s using the radio or TV to drown out the silence. A little of that is ok, but if we find ourselves simply filling space with meaningless activity then we need to reevaluate. With all of this filler, we forget to feed our souls.

By contrast, when we remind ourselves of God at work in our lives, when we turn our hearts to gratitude for all we have and all God has done for us, when we take time to ponder, we find the deep joy God offers to us in himself.

Scientific studies have recently shown that what we ponder makes a difference in the ways our brains function, carving neural pathways so that the thoughts we think a lot, we continue to think a lot.  Like driving home and forgetting how you got there, our mind follows pathways that are familiar without our direction. It works with gratitude, being thankful as a practice makes it easier to see things to be thankful for and reinforce the gratitude. The same is true if we think about what God has done for us and is doing in our lives. Wouldn’t it be great to have gratitude and joy as our autopilot response? When we tune our minds to perceive God at work and find even more to ponder.

God gives us a lot to think about. We can start with what he did for people in ages past, recorded in the Bible. What he has done for all of humanity and the world in coming in the flesh to walk among us in the person of Jesus. Redemption. Grace. Mercy. Love. We can move on to how this plays out in our daily lives specifically. His giving us family and friends. The job that feeds us. The children that fill our homes with cheerful noise. The animals and pets that provide such loving companionship. The friends close by whose care and concern for us shines bright. The warmth of love transmitted from loved ones who are far away in cards, pictures and letters. A bird outside our window. The sun shining, the breeze blowing, the glint of light off of the snow, the break in the clouds. All can be reminders of God’s love and care.

God has done such great things for us, let us not set aside his blessings for fleeting pleasures, busy schedules and mindless lives. Let’s take time to ponder, and in that act of pondering store up treasures of memories and grace.

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

 

Responsive Presence

When a doula walks into a room, she may be quiet, she may be boisterous, but she is always observing.

A doula will tune in to your breathing, then breathe with you.

A doula will tune in to your movement, then move with you.

A doula will tune in to your mood, then feel with you.

When she breathes with you, you begin to breathe with her. She moves you into a deeper and smoother pattern without a word. Simply breathing next to your breath.

When she moves with you, you begin to move with her. She directs your movement with a touch, with eye contact, with hands on your hips. She dances with you.

When your doula feels with you, she projects peace and confidence. Confidence in you! You begin to feel it, too.

Suddenly, you are calm, dancing, and confident that you can do this. You can climb this mountain. You can breathe through this contraction. You can birth this baby!

A doula does not ask you to trust in her strength, she helps you find your own. Through her responsive presence, she finds you when you feel lost and walks you back from the edge. She knows the magic of hip squeezes and peanut balls, but mostly she is simply there. Simply present. Observing the room, feeling the mood, and adding just the right nudge to move it all in the right direction.

Being an active responsive presence.
That’s ReFreshing

Steadfast Heart Doula Services

How I became a poet

Words are kind of my thing, I write, I talk,
and yet, I never was a poet.

I always felt too tight, bottled up,
what if the words were wrong?

What if they didn’t flow, or fit, or rhyme?

What if they weren’t perfect?

Perfection was my Great Wall of China,
Impressive in the middle, if unfinished at the ends.

It was impossible to be perfect, I knew
I couldn’t reach that high, that wide.

I’d shuffle pretty parts as people passed
keeping them from seeing what lay undone.

Until tired, I saw with new eyes my fellow shufflers
All exhausted from the motion meant to hide.

And others, who had laid their pretty bits aside
still close at hand, but not as screens for broken things inside
Instead they opened wide their hearts and lifted up their heads
No longer shamed, with joy their daily bread.

Then words arose, delicious aromas of sweetness wafting by
I took my paper, and drawing one down began to write.