It’s pay attention time!

When I was pastoring, one of the least listened to parts of the service was the announcements. One of the young girls in the congregation came to talk to me about how disrespectful the adults were being. I asked her if she had any ideas on how to get the adults to pay attention and she said yes. The next Sunday, this powerful 7 year old got up in front of the congregation and loudly proclaimed, “It’s pay attention time!” The adults immediately paid attention and then she explained that announcements were not a time to talk to their neighbors, but a time to pay attention to the announcements. It has been years since she taught this lesson and took over that part of worship, but I still remember her telling everyone, “it’s pay attention time!”

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The Brace for your Brokenness

Recently, I shared with someone that every step I take is in faith. They did not fully understand what I meant. Sometimes we hear people talk about walking in faith. For me, it is not just a spiritual faith walk, but also a physical faith walk. On October 15 2007, as I was opening my office door at the church I was pastoring at, I felt a pain shoot down my right leg, followed almost immediately by numbness and a sense of shock. I also found myself going why now God as within minutes, a special guest and his entourage arrived and I was bracing myself to figure out what was going on, how I was going to lead worship, and how I was going to manage to look like a calm, cool, collected leader in the midst of this storm that was suddenly and unexpectedly raging in my life. The words which kept floating through my spirit were peace, be still. Peace, be still. Through the grace of God and the support of my wife and good friends, my car and I got home safely. 

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A is for the A’s

Lately, others have invited me to participate in some interesting blogging challenges. This week was no different. For the next 26 weeks, I will be blogging my way through the alphabet. When I asked some of our Facebook and Twitter followers for some A words as inspiration for this week’s blog, you offered me appreciation, awareness, agreements, attitude, asparagus, and anchovies, in no specific order. While the last two might seem a stretch in terms of this particular reflection, the more I thought about these letter words, the more I realize that they were, in their own unique way, related. One of our followers suggested the word appreciation because she said she appreciated everything Inspiritual does for our readers, members, and followers. While we too appreciated the feedback, I realized that being able to be grateful and appreciate someone else’s actions, words, or behaviors was in part about awareness and attitude. If one is not have an attitude of gratitude about the blessings in one’s life, then one cannot appreciate the fullness and richness of those blessings.
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Back to Kindergarten

One of my favorite books for the longest time was Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. In it, there was a list of important life lessons he learned in kindergarten. Number 11 “Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.” When one was in kindergarten, it seemed easy for most people I know to lead a balanced life. We went to kindergarten, learned and thought about things like the alphabet and big and little letters. We would spend time in school and after school, playing and creating games or stories with our friends or by ourselves.
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Temporary and Permanent Residency

A friend of ours is interviewing for a job in another state. As she has talked about the idea of moving, she has thought about taking up a temporary residence somewhere until she can decide where and in what neighborhood she wants to live in. As I have listened to the stories of those whose homes were lost during Hurricane Katrina, there was a clear sense that where I am at right now is a temporary situation, but soon I will be moving back to or into permanent housing again. When it comes to where we live, most of us have a clear sense of when the place is our temporary and or permanent residence. So why is that some of us have trouble doing that with our feelings.
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Can we talk?

Sometimes it can be a scary thing when we listen to the things we say to ourselves, never mind each other. When we consciously listen to what we are saying to ourselves, we can catch ourselves slipping into a state of negativity. A space when we begin to lie to ourselves. When we hear someone we love start to say negative and self-deprecating things about themselves, we might jump in and help them to look at the space they are in that is enabling them to speak this way about themselves. However, who does it for us, especially when those thoughts are not coming out of our mouths, but just floating around in the back of our head.
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Who are we?

I was watching a 2-minute video by Don Miguel Ruiz called The Truth about Cats and Dogs. He talked about how cats do not identify themselves as cats or dogs as dogs or any animal as a species or series of roles. As we are not a part of those species, we will never know that for sure. However, his whole point was that we are more then any word we use to identify ourselves. As I thought about this, I found myself going back to a story from the book of Exodus in the Hebrew Bible. There Moses asks God, who shall I say sent me.
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The Lens of Love

Whenever I go to the ophthalmologist’s office, they check my eyes to see how my vision is doing. While they are able to see behind my eye and assess all kinds of information about my vision, they are unable to assess how I see people. see there is more to our vision then just whether or not it is 20/20 or if we need corrective lenses or contacts to enable us to see better. When it comes to seeing others or ourselves the only lens we need to wear is a lens of love. How we see others and ourselves is about us and where we are at in our journeys. If we cannot see ourselves through a lens of love, then how can we see others through that lens? The lens of love is unconditional. Some refer to this as agape love, a love that transcends the ability to be frustrated. It cannot be frustrated because there is no expectation attached to it. When we see others and ourselves through this lens of unconditional love, it means we have released our expectations for others and ourselves. When we see ourselves getting frustrated with someone because they have not fulfilled my expectations, it is a signal that our love for them conditional.
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Judging Others is Judging Self

I have been rereading sections of a book from last month’s Spirituality Book Club called Dancing with your Dragon by Shaeri Richards. One section made me realize that when I judge others I am really judging myself. Shaeri shares the story about how she could have so easily gotten into an argument with her husband over whether or not her butt was looking too big. As she wrote about it, this was a no win situation for him, because no matter what he said it was not going to be what she needed to hear. Even if he said of course not dear, she would not believe him. How she heard how he answered this question was all about her, and had very little to do with him.
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Loving my “enemies”

Most people I know, when they think about their “enemies,” do not talk about loving them. What if we did though? What if we put our “enemies” on the top of our prayer list and blessed them? Why is it that every faith tradition in the world teaches one to love their “enemies”? Is there even an “enemy?” Iyanla Vanzant once wrote about being grateful for those who got on your last nerve. I could not agree more. I have learned so much from those I had once considered my “enemies.”
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Decoding your Spiritual DNA

Last week, I challenged us to activate our spiritual DNA. The question, however, is how does one do that. While there are some questions we can each meditate on and explore, the journey to activate our spiritual DNA is different for each of us. This is not a one size fits all kind of journey. One of the books I have been reading is called Soul Types by Robert Norton and Richard Southern. They suggest there are four soul types, which are the ways in which we live out our identity, values, purpose, and vision. All four types reside within each of us as possibilities, but most of us choose one or two to focus on more directly. Each one is centered on something different: heart, mind, soul, and strength.
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