Sing — It Helps the Medicine Go Down

Not literally, of course.  If you sing while swallowing medicine it might be impossible and certainly be messy.  But when you’re going through a hard time, or you are attempting to forget about something causing you pain, or you are bored to tears on a long drive and need something to occupy yourself with and reading makes you carsick, singing helps.

When I was giving birth the first time, not wanting to rely on medicine I turned to hot water and Lamaze breathing and singing to take my mind of my baby’s journey to the new world.  When the lab technician is drawing blood, which makes me faint if I think too much about it, I sing.  And I don’t have a decent voice, can’t even hold a tune much less hit the high notes.

When I want to feel connected to my Mother, I sing “The Old Rugged Cross” — a hymn she sang on every road trip through the south that was our annual vacation.  (After all, who wouldn’t want to tour the Vicksburg cemetery every single year of their life?)  As soon as I start, or hear someone else sing that hymn, I find myself back in the backseat of that Pontiac, fighting over space with my little brother and wondering “how much longer”? and if Dad will ever really stop for a bathroom break or continue saying “darn, I just missed it” past every exit.

And when I visit a new church to check it out, the preaching may be important but it’s the songs they sing that let me know if it’s a place where I will feel at home.  Growing up going to church Sunday morning, Sunday night and, often, Wednesday night service plus Choir practice every week embedded Southern Baptist hymns not only in my brain but in my very bones, and hearing those hymns brings me home.

I’m not a music person.  I rarely listen to music at home or in the car, preferring books on tape or podcasts.  I can count the number of concerts I’ve attended on my hands and I’ve been attending them for 40 years.  But I do love to sing.

 

 

 


The Sun Magazine | The Mystic And The Warrior

The Sun Magazine | The Mystic And The Warrior.

They got me at hello, or the magazine equivalent of it.  Just received my first issue of The Sun Magazine and turned to the first article and am hooked.  The story of the Mystic and the Warrior former priest Matthew Fox speaks to my soul.  It isn’t about original sin and questioning our existence on earth, but about God’s original blessing of life to each of us, at the divine within us, about love and the feminine as well as the masculine, about embracing science and God, about relationship, about a “regrinding of faith in a mystical, prophetic, cosmological worldview.”  Beautiful stuff.  In the article he quotes David Orr as saying “Hope is a verb with its shirt sleeves rolled up.”  Let’s get to work, let’s love God, let’s love life … let’s just exude, bathe in, celebrate and spread love.


I Am Lola Mae’s Granddaughter…

We all want to be known, yet put up walls and false faces and often fool even ourselves.  We want to be known but, apparently, we want to make you work at it.

Hiding Our Authentic Self

Hiding Our Authentic Self

Well, in the next four minutes I’ll do my best to show you Who I Am.  Because that’s the topic of today’s Daily Prompt.

I’m Lola Mae Smith’s granddaughter, and Mama Smith’s great-granddaughter — two salt of the earth, strong women who made much with little, who loved unconditionally, and who put their faith in God and did their best to make this earth a better place for everyone whose path they crossed, and I’m proud to carry on their line.  But talking about them is a very roundabout way of telling you about me, and since I only have four minutes I’ll try something more direct.

After spending some time with a lovely group of ladies seeking to know themselves more fully, I’ve learned that I’m a Six on the Enneagram, with a strong Seven wing.  Knowing someone’s Enneagram type is: (i) a little “woo-woo” for someone, like me, with a practical bent and from East Texas, but also (ii) very informative.  Just those four words: “I’m a __[fill in the blank with your number, from One to Nine)” tells you most of what you need to know about a person — how they approach a problem, why they do those things that irritate you, and how best to reach to their core.  The Six Type is, to quote from one apt description, “full of contradictions,” because our almost constant anxiety has us bouncing from one psychological state to another and, to allay our anxiety, we are loyal to a fault to what feels like a solid structure or belief on which to rely.  Here’s a link to a more thorough description of a Six.  And my Seven wing has me easily bored.  So between wanting to bounce around due to anxiety (Six) and wanting to bounce around due to boredom (Seven) … I’m perhaps a tad unstable.

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Or, if you learn more from natal charts, I’m a double Scorpio (both my Sun and Moon were in Scorpio when I was born).  Which means I really, really love learning and and control.  Emotionally, intense is the operative word. Along with, need I say it again (no, at least the folks who know me don’t need to hear it said), I need to be in control.  So I struggle just a bit with trying to give up control and to live in the moment.  But I’m really, really trying!

My horoscope symbol

My horoscope symbol

I’m a loyal Texan who has lived the past 23 years in Southern California.  I’m such a good daughter of my Lone Star State, in fact, that my children — both born and raised in California — considered themselves Texans for years.

I grew up in a small conservative East Texas town full of lakes and rolling hills and pine trees and rose bushes and Southern Baptist churches, and spent most of my time not in school in some activity at church or with my nose in a book. I’ve wanted to live in Europe for as long as I can remember, and I love history and museums and learning about almost anything.

The Lone Star State

The Lone Star State

I love to read.  I read while I get dressed, while I eat, while I wait for my twitter feed to load, before bed, any spare minute I can find. And I write.  I’d love to write a book others would love to read.  To bring to life another world into which some other little girl who is stuck in a small little town can escape.

Surrounded by Books

Surrounded by Books

I’m a Mother who loves my children with all my heart and who does too much of some things for them and too little of other things.  I’d love a do-over — for them to shrink down to their baby selves again so I could just pour love into them and do all the things I now know would have been better to do.  But they are adults now and what’s done is done and all I can do is just the best I can, now.

Me and my babies

I’m a wife to an amazing husband who patiently reads my blogs and supports me and encourages me and loves me despite the craziness that I am.  He’s visionary and creative and romantic and I am incredibly lucky to have him in my life.

Jack, contemplating life

Jack, contemplating life

Well, my four minutes is almost up and I haven’t yet told you something incredibly important — I love God and am a disciple of Christ and want more than anything to be more like Him.  More loving, more self-less, more patient and kind.  I need lots and lots of practice.  And Jesus is there, loving me, no matter what, along the way.

Jesus

Jesus

That’s it, my four minutes is up.  Now, tell me all about YOU!


Coaching Christlikeness

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I began a Coaching Christlikeness class with Neal Nybo at church today, devoting myself to spending eight weeks learning more about myself, more about Jesus, and more about the path that will lead me to the life I want.  The scary part?  I’ll also be challenged to surrender things that are important to me.  To deny myself, and my wants.  To surrender control.  Scary stuff.  The love and gratitude and peace all sound wonderful … but getting there along a path of surrender, denial, and loss of control?  Taking down my protective barriers built up over 54 years and being brave enough to be fully vulnerable?  To stop talking and thinking and doing and rest in silence to listen to God?  Not sure if I can do it.  But for today, at least, I’ll try.

I have big dreams of retiring early and of spending a year in France, of long walks and daily yoga and reading under the shade of the oak tree in my back yard for long hours at a time.  

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What if God has some other plan for me?  A plan involving long hours of feeding the homeless or building orphanages in Afghanistan or who knows what else that takes all my money and all my time?  

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(How can someone see this child and not want to help her?)

God’s plan may be something I’ve never even considered and can’t imagine, and it might be nothing like what I think I want my life to be.  But I know to live my fullest life, to live my best life, is to live the life God planned for me, whatever that may be.

Today’s lesson focused on Belief, and Neal interspersed quotes from his mentor, Dallas Willard, with Jillian Michaels, among others (finding examples for our spiritual lives in the words at the end of Ripped in Thirty is just one of the things I love about Neal!)  Jillian was speaking of physical exercise, but the words fit well in our spiritual lives as well.  To quote her:

“Most people don’t show up in their own lives.  They go through life every single day without being focused and bringing their A game.  Transformation is not a future event.  It is a present activity.  That is why you must bring everything that you have to give in every moment.  And it doesn’t have to be perfect.  It isn’t about perfect.  It’s about effort.  When you bring that effort every single day that’s where transformation happens.  That’s how change occurs.”

We started class by listing three things we believe to be true — so true that I am prepared to live my life trusting it to be true.  That the sun will rise every morning.  That my kids will be okay, despite some bumps and bruises along the way.  That my parents love me, even if it’s in their own unique way.  I live my life each day knowing and believing those things to be true.  Next, three spiritual beliefs that we’re prepared to live our lives based on.  I stole my three from Neal.  (Note to self: perhaps stealing rather than using original thought is not the best way to uncover my own truth?)  But to be fair I do really believe these three things, so the fact Neal also believes them doesn’t make them any less true for me.

1.  God is a loving God (at times I did question this, with good people dying, bad people thriving, and all the things that aren’t perfect and don’t work the way it seems as if they should, but ultimately I’ve confirmed my belief that above all else, God loves)

2.  God loves me (yes, even me, even when I’m stupid and sinful and ignore Him and even if He knows I Could Do Better)

3.  God has a plan for me, and if I do anything less, it will be second best.  (And I’ve done a lot of second best in my life.)

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If we believe it, we should act as if it is so.

Neal closed by assigning homework — three times this week we are to sit in silence and solitude.  First, for five minutes, then 10, then 15.  Silence to allow God to speak to us, should He so choose.  God doesn’t tend to interrupt us.  If we are busy with our own thoughts, He doesn’t usually butt in.  But if we sit in silence, listening for His voice, He may speak.  If we ask, “is there anything you’d like to teach me?” He just might let us know that, in fact, there is.  

So I sat in silence, with eyes closed, for 10 minutes today (I’m a Type A … what’s 5 minutes when I can do 10?)  I didn’t hear God, and I almost fell asleep, but I sat.  I decided to sit for 5 more, with eyes open.  I’m not sure I heard God speak to me, but I felt it was step 1 of a long process of being open, receptive, still and willing.  I’m in, and curious and excited to see where it all leads.  Thanks for coming along with me on the journey.

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