I remember looking out the backseat glass of my mom's moving station wagon, watching cornfields move by. Sometimes the cornfields would turn into soybean fields and then back to cornfields again. The perfect alignment of their rows created alignment in my thoughts. The rows looked different when planted on a hillside, this required different thinking.

Periods in the car are great opportunities to sit in stillness. Sitting in stillness brings wisdom. With hotspot wifi, xm radio, built in DVD players and more in our cars, it's easy to continue the cycle of business and stimulate ourselves with gadgets. Without the radio, we can usually resist the urge to sing and participate in quiet observation. Our family observes a quiet time on our way to church each Sunday. I'm not sure what my kids are thinking between the "Are we almost there?", "Stop hitting me!" and "________took their shoes off" interruptions. I know their lives are lived in a constant state of distraction and I want them to see the cornfields as I once did as a child. 

In rare moments I have the opportunity to sit in silence in my moving van, on a road trip without children. At these time, I once again, I feel like myself, my true inner child self with thoughts aligning and wisdom budding. I've even written a few songs on my road trips! (see post "What Gives Me Faith"). As the landscape changes out the window, I discover my inner-landscape. If you are searching, I encourage you to get in the car alone and drive without radio or cell phone. The quiet observation out the front pane will bring you wisdom. You might find God brings a song to your heart too!

Life is full of circumstances and events that often paralyze us. The repercussions of untimely deaths, abuse, injustice and more continue to resonate in our lives as if they are happening now. We believe the message our past reminds us on how powerlessness and insignificant we can be. The more I navigate life, I realize a growing need to accept Christ's forgiveness and grace; though, somehow it's hard to let go and let the past be the past.

Letting go of the past and knowing Christ's grace frees us to embrace the future, no matter our age or circumstance. This is an ongoing process as we are people with memories and baggage and some memories and baggage weigh heavy in our subconscious.  I personally am still letting go of who I was and embracing what I am and who God has called me to be--my voicemail is getting full, can I say delete?  From this process I share with you 3 tips of what has helped me let go of my past:

 

1.  Meditate

It's hard to know what you really think if you aren't taking the time to listen to yourself.  Meditation can be very scary for people for just this reason, we think some scary things sometimes.  Sitting still and breathing as we listen to our irrational and condemning selves gives us courage and teaches us to have grace upon ourselves.  Through meditation I have learned not to spend $500 dollars on a $5 problem from the past (even when it was a $50,000 problem at the time!)

 

2.  Gratitude

I often tell my son, "When you think of good things, you will have a good life; when you think of bad things, you will have a bad life."  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and sometime the advice we give our kids is just the advice we need for ourselves!  Taking time daily to give thanks for the smallest of things builds the foundation to outweigh and push out negative things that ensnare our spirits.  Jesus gave thanks before each miracle which tells me miracles aren't going to happen without an element of gratitude.

 

3.  Vision

Whether you want better relationships, a new career or added blessings, it takes a lot of courage to believe the best is coming because that involves change and trying new things that we will likely not be successful in, at least at first. Creating a vision for what you want, even if cloudy and distorted, allows you to bring that to God and manifest in your life. When starting my business, I had to take the time to envision what I wanted to accomplish with my business and how this would fit into my life. My life was already full so it required letting go of some of my present, and well, dropping the weight of my past. Making decisions and working towards your vision is your responsibility in faith. 

 

Letting go of the past is certainly easier to discuss than do, it takes an incredible amount of emotional energy though allows you to find God's grace. Daily practice of these three tips will send your past to voicemail, filling it up--delete!

Earlier this week my mom was admitted to the hospital for unstable blood pressure.  Scary.  She did everything correct, took the aspirin, went to the ER.  Still scary.  As a healthcare professional, I have been taught to systematically think through medical situations and therefore could advise mom matter-of-factly on what to do when she was not feeling well.  Unfortunately my clinical reasoning didn't prepare me for how I would feel knowing she was critically at risk for a heart attack or stroke or worse.  I didn't sleep well Sunday night...

It's been my practice for years to try and wind down and prepare for sleep.  I love to don my favorite PJs and cuddle with a book.  Absolutely no television for at least an hour before bed.  Monday and Thursday evenings are best because I teach yoga and know my slumber will be especially peaceful after class--my body fatigued and mind clear.  I'm the happiest when my sleep is deep and plentiful!  Sleep has been shown to have many benefits, yet remains a scientific mystery.  According to Psalm 4:8, sleep is an act of trust in God, an expression of our faith:  "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe".

It's really hard to feel safe when there is a serious threat to the health and well-being of your mother or anyone else you hold dear.  Many life changing events and traumas have left me sleepless as I was unable to lie down in peace:

The night before traveling across the world to Hawaii, knowing I would be far away from my kids for an entire week.  (I did find God in the Pacific tropics on Maui and slept very well there).

The week of restless nights after the tornado hit our home. 

Preparing for that first employee termination meeting as a manager. 

My first night away from home as a college freshman.

After losing my dad, I spent at least a month with insomnia and it became evident to me how we put our faith in our parents.  Dad died and I felt lost because an organic object of my faith had disappeared.  No wonder I couldn't sleep.  Transferring this faith to God was no easy task, but did eventually prove beneficial to help me lie down and sleep in peace again.

As mom is now stable and I have slept much better, I'm well aware that another anxiety provoking event will try to possess my repose.  I'm also more aware that there will be a day that I will have to practice faith without my mom.   For now, I'm grateful to have her as an object of faith and for the faith to be still enough to catch some zzzzz's in peace.

Good Night.

The birth of Jesus is a worldwide historical phenomenon representing peace that has inspired songs such as "Silent Night". Being a four time veteran of the delivery room, I never did have a silent night bringing forth my children into the world.  In fact, each night (and they all decided to be born at night during normal sleeping hours) was quite noisy and I wasn't feeling the heavenly peace.  I'm pretty sure by the intermittent cries of the women throughout the labor and delivery rooms, that calm and bright are not appropriate adjectives either.   Now mind you, I'm not Mary and I cringe thinking about her riding a donkey for miles and miles at 9 months pregnant.  I suppose people cringed at me leading yoga classes 9 months pregnant.  At least Joseph and Mary had shelter in a barn for the big event, right?  We don't know when Mary's labor began or how long it was, I'm guessing Joseph found a midwife because most first time fathers intuitively don't want to add extra anxiety to the situation and know their wife needs somebody because she is moaning, sweating, and laboring.  Moreover, the universal rule of childbirth says:  Everything a husband says or does while wife is in labor, can  be held against you for eternity.  Childbirth is just flat messy.  I wonder what they did with all of the emerging body excretions in the manger?  Oh wait, they must have used the straw to cover it along with the other animal excretions.

So after a baby is born, the silent night, holy, and heavenly peace become more of a reality.  I was moved to the postpartum unit where all IS really calm and bright and sweet with nurses to wait on you.  Not for Mary, her postpartum unit was a barn, perhaps a few feet away from the big event.   I grew up in a rural area and have played in many a barns and I can attest to you that the ones with animals are stinky and you better watch where you step.  Then comes the visits  by excited relatives who may or may not care to give you a moment to clean up and recover.  For Mary, these were crazy teenagers that have been out watching sheep for who knows how long.   After I delivered babies, I honestly wanted to sleep and snuggle my baby, not visit with strangers who have heard voices.  Poor Mary, away in a manger, no crib for a bed, no proper lodging or other necessities for her first babe, body wounded from childbirth (which is always scariest the first time) and receiving strange visitors ...how silent is that?

This Christmas Eve, as you meditate upon the birth of Jesus,  thank God for your silent night remembering every silent night has a bit of noise.

There is a fine line between a hobby and mental illness.  A hobby will either drive us into obsession or save us from going insane.  I'm finding as we age, hobbies take on a sacredness and only if we experience a "quiet time" in our activity will we be spared the curse of insanity.  

 I've trained in gyms for 20+ years and I can affirm that a weight lifter's quiet time does involve heavy metal.  The weight room is holy ground making that big lift. Many people do not understand the world of weight lifting and are quick to dismiss it's value.  On the other hand, "roid rage" didn't get it's name for nothing.

Quiet time for the yogi is actually finding quiet for meditation.  My entire business is centered around this concept with a Christian theme!  There are plenty of crazy yogis with "out there" philosophies or who refrain from eating, drinking or other daily hygiene practices in order to meditate.  In their defense, Jesus did spend 40 days in the desert.  (For the record, at no time in the near or planned future am I planning an extended fasting and meditation time nearing the point of starvation.) 

We've all heard the preacher tell us to read our Bible every day and hopefully I don't have to explain the sacredness with this quiet time.  I try to read mine every day.  As with other activities, I do know Christians with a religion addiction who bring out their 2 axes and .38 caliber to demolish the non-Christian with Acts 2:38...in the name of "love" of course, but unfortunately not too quiet.  In their defense, Jesus was pretty direct at time as well.

Here in Indiana, it is not uncommon to see a high tech deer stand with electrical hook up and wifi in someone's backyard. The first day of hunting season is like a national holiday.   Moms love to scrapbook and will flock together to commemorate special family moments using their creativity.  Painters, musicians, gamers (yes, even the gamers) will attest the sacredness of their hobby, or at least you will see the "real" person shine through or become alive in their hobby.  Some are so fortunate to have their hobby as a profession, however, this opens another door of obsession and even fear. 

I would LOVE to convert all of you to yogis in order to feel what I feel in Christian Yoga and Meditation.  The truth is, not all of you are likely Christians; and for many of you, yoga may not be your thing and you have "your thing" that makes you feel alive.  Your quiet time might just be working in the garden instead of sitting and breathing!  In John 10:10, Jesus said, "..I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  Not all of us are smart enough to be a Bible scholar (that doesn't excuse you from reading your Bible every day), and not all of us are going to be professional yogis (that doesn't excuse you from regularly participating in exercise as a part of your life), not all of  us are going to play an instrument in a band or perform onstage or be the best at our hobby (that doesn't excuse you from not carving out time to develop your hobby).   Romans 12:6 states, "We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us." and Colossians 3:23 states, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters" (aka your boss, whoever that is).   If you do actively participate in a hobby, I encourage you to make sure you experience that sacred quiet time with your practice: Time to reflect, time to feel alive.   If you have set your hobby aside because you are "too busy",  for your own sanity, pick it back up again!  We all need leisure and we all need that sacred quiet time that is aligned with our God given gifts.  Whatever you do, make sure to engage in "your thing" regularly and "work at it with all your heart" so you may experience "life to the full"!!