Dream Big! A New Year is Coming!

I’ve been writing this blog for more than a year.  I write because I love to share what I know and what I’m learning.  This is my last blog for 2014 so I thought I’d reminiscence a little about the year and end with my first blog, written in October, 2013.

When 2014 began I was facing a move…I am a minister and my congregation had voted to move our location to another town, ten miles away, thinking that location would attract more people.  I also was standing for election for a position on the international board of my church’s “mother” organization.

The new location didn’t attract more people.  The board voted to close down, especially since I had announced I would be retiring soon.  Our last service was on June 29.  We had a full house.  I wanted to ask, “Where have you been all this time?”  I didn’t.

I didn’t win the election, either, but to be honest, I’m glad.  I’m not sure why I decided to run.  Seemed like my soul was calling me to do so.  I needed to step out, even though I didn’t win.

For years I’ve wanted to live near my youngest daughter and her family.  Whenever I visit and have to leave, I feel as though part of me is being cut out.  I always knew that if I’m left alone, I would move to be near her.  In March, my husband, who is 86, announced that he thought we should move there while he’s still able to help.  Hence the reason for my decision to retire now.  We put our house on the market in June and when it sells we shall move.

If you wonder why I’m writing all this, it’s for this reason:  I believe in possibilities.  I believe we live in a universe that answers our intentions.  I believe anything is possible.  I believe in setting intentions.  I also believe that just when we’re on the cusp of great change, reverses may happen.  Reverses which call for perseverance.

Some possibility-thinker gurus call these reverses stepping stones.  Whatever they are called, I know they call me to a greater need for connection to my Source.  Oh, I didn’t mention, Thanksgiving, 2013, I told my daughter that within five years my husband and I would be living near her.  I didn’t tell my husband.

So, while all the naysayers are shaking their heads when I set my intentions, I know that if I stay the course, I will see those intentions come to life.

So, stay the course!  Dream big, keep on dreaming, and know your dreams will materialize!

Here’s the blog from October, 2013, my first:

Are you living an unlimited life? Do you have dreams that you don’t believe will ever to come to fruition? This blog is about seeing those dreams become fulfilled! Yes, you can have the life you dream about! Yes, you can do what makes your heart sing! Yes, you can….do whatever you presently think you can’t be, do, or have! Yes, you can, and I’ll teach you how!

The first step is to know exactly what you want to be, do or have. Before we go any further, sit still for five or ten  or more…minutes and let yourself dream. If you could be, do or have, if money were no object, what would your life look like? How would you spend your days? Just let yourself dream. Don’t censure yourself; don’t yes, but, your dreams. Just let yourself go.

The second step is to write everything down. Don’t just dream, write your dreams down; keep a journal or a notebook just for your dreams. Don’t concern yourself with how it’s going to happen. Just dream, and write. And keep it with you all the time, for easy referral.  You can also make a dream book…clip out pictures that look like what you want, glue them into a scrap book or your journal.  I do both.

Third step: focus on your dreams. In your day-to-day activities, when you feel mired down, bring out your journal or notebook and look at your dreams. Just focus on what you want. Don’t let the stuff of today get you down.

That’s all for now. Keep dreaming and keep writing and looking at pictures and stay focused on your dreams.

Magical Mind, Magical Life!

The month of January always comes laden with thoughts of new beginnings. The holiday season is past, the future beckons. The darkness of winter is slowly beginning to recede. January is often accompanied by a thaw, a metaphor for our lives. We feel our frozen hearts and lives thawing to the promise within.

January is also a time for reflection. It’s the perfect time for remembering and for assessing myself, as I look to the future. I begin the new year with thoughts of how I want my life to be better, how I want to be better. I laden myself with resolutions to be better, enumerating how I can be, what I need to do.

So I take the time, to remember, to reflect. I let my mind wander back to the holidays, to the wonder, the joy, the expectation. I remember a beautiful October day in New Mexico. The sky is clear blue, the cottonwoods along the river changing into their fall dress. Some are completely golden, a few have changed into brown, some are still green. Here and there a red- leafed tree peeks through.

Halloween is a few days away, Thanksgiving is one month away, Christmas, two months. New Year’s Day seems so far off. In January all these days and events will be past and we will be into the new year. As I look forward to a new year, a new beginning, I realize all these days and events herald the New Year; they help to prepare each of us for a new beginning, if we let them.

Fall is the time of harvest and the beginning of a fallow time, when the earth – and we – rest. As the days grow shorter, the darkness is longer, another metaphor for our lives. We huddle around fires, trying to light up the night, fearful of the darkness.

Long ago the dark time was feared, hence the times of celebration. We ward off fear by celebrating that which we fear. The ancient ones celebrated the end of the harvest and the beginning of the dark time. They celebrated life by honoring those who had gone through the veil. Halloween is the first of those celebrations, the time of remembering the departed; the word Halloween means “hallowed or holy evening”. Some think that Halloween is derived from the Gaelic celebration, Samhain, which marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter.

The festivities of Halloween, the celebration of the harvest, continues with Thanksgiving, the day originally set aside in North America to celebrate the harvest with gratitude. In the United States, Thanksgiving celebrations are rooted in English traditions which began with the Protestant Reformation.

Celebrating life continues into December with various religious traditions: Hanukah, Kwanza and, of course, Christmas.

The holidays, whether begun in October with Halloween, or November at Thanksgiving, and continuing into January, with New Year’s Day and Epiphany, are magical times. Christmas Eve, especially, has always felt magical to me. There seems to be a hush in the air, as though the world is holding its breath, waiting for Something.

Since recorded times, humankind has been waiting for Something, though we may not know what that Something is. We’ve looked to the stars, to the Cosmos, because, deep inside, we know that Something exists and somehow we are connected. Ernest Holmes wrote, “…the first great discovery man made was that he could think…” (Science of Mind, p. 72.3 [1926]). When we realized we could think we became aware of ourselves and once aware, began to lose the connection with that Something. Losing our connection, we began to flounder and continued to flounder until that Something nudged, prodded, pushed or pulled us; we began to feel the yearning again. This is when we begin to wake up, searching once more for that Something, that connection to the Cosmos.

This is the hush I feel on Christmas Eve, the yearning for the connection, the birth of the Christ Child! It is “…a whispering of this Life assuring you that you are one with it..” (Ernest Holmes, How To Use Your Secret Power.) I feel the newness of life – the Christ life – within, “…Born into time and experience…the Christ Child incarnated in human form, Taking the likeness of men and women…” (Ernest Holmes, Science of Mind, 1938).

It is this newness of spirit, the birth of the Christ within me, that I feel. Ernest Holmes said there is no magic, and yet it feels magical. The word magic has many connotations, one being, “…something brought about by deception or slight of hand, a sorcery, or supernatural.” (dictionary.com). Ernest Holmes reminds us that there is nothing supernatural about the birth of the Christ, nor about the Power that is within each of us. The Christ Consciousness is the knowledge that the Christ lives in each of us. The Christ is the Perfect Man, born in each of us, as we become aware of It.

Magic is “…a quality that makes something seem removed from everyday life, especially in a way that gives delight…[an] extraordinary power or influences seemingly from a supernatural force.” It also means, “…hidden natural forces, wonderful or exciting.” (dictionary.com)

Magic is a natural human ability with which we are all born. All we need is a desire to learn and practice. This magic creates change by connecting with natural energy.

We know from quantum physics, as Elizabeth Rann Arrott wrote in The Invisible Line (New Thought, Summer, 2014) that there is a “…mysterious, non-material realm that underlies everything in the natural world. Our thoughts, desires and emotions affect everything in the physical world, including our circumstances.” Magic, like quantum physics and the New Thought philosophy and practice, is the control and manipulation of the non-material realm.

Some call it magic; we in New Thought call it using the one and only creative power, the mind, at the individual level, the Universal Mind at the cosmic level. Charles Fillmore wrote, “…Mind is the one and only creative power. All attempts to account for creation from any other standpoint are futile…” (unity.com). Using the Mind is our magic.

This is the magic I feel on Christmas Eve, in the hush of expectation. This is the magic we use when we think, when we give a Spiritual Mind Treatment, when we speak our word, expecting to see that word manifest. We have an innate power, an urge even, to create. We have an innate desire to create. We have a responsibility to create, to bring into form the desires that we feel.

The magic is the power of the focused, trained mind. Jeffrey Schwartz, a research psychiatrist and one of the world’s leading experts in neuroplasticity, began to study the philosophy of conscious awareness many years ago. Working with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) patients, he discovered that the mind can control the brain’s chemistry. With the premise that the mind, and thus the brain, can be trained, his work has enabled many people to overcome OCD.

Schwartz’s method utilizes four steps to re-train the mind. Those steps are: 1) Relabel: Identify deceptive brain messages as they occur;

2) Reframe: Change perceptions about the importances of those thoughts;
3) Refocus: Learn techniques for shifting attention to something positive;
4) Revalue: Learn the importance of understanding and believing that deceptive brain

messages are not real and have no value. (Jeffrey Schwartz and Rebecca Gladding, M.D., You Are Not Your Brain)

Using Schwartz’s methods, many people have re-trained their minds, thus changing their lives.

The research of Schwartz and other neuroscientists validates the teaching of New Thought: we change our life by training our minds. We train our minds by re-focusing, by catching ourselves when we have destructive, negative thoughts and deliberately changing those thoughts to more positive thoughts. This is the magic: training our minds to focus on the good, on God.

The promise of January, with the shortening of the long dark nights, is that spring is not far off. The sun, though weak, feels a little warmer. The birth of the Christ Child thaws our frozen hearts. Weary from the long winter nights, we are revitalized by our awakening to the Truth: that Something for which we yearn is the one Creator of the universe to Which we are connected. We are not alone. The one Power is our power, our magic, to use to create a new life.

The promise of January and of all the holy days is this: because we are connected to the One Creator and Power, we are not alone. We can create a new life. New Year’s resolutions are not necessary. As we open our minds and hearts to the One, the Something that created us, that loves us, we remember our connection, our Power. In the opening of our minds, our new year, our new life begins. This is the magic.

The Season of Miracles

I believe in miracles.  I believe in magic.  I’ve witnessed a few miracles.  And then I’ve prayed for a few that didn’t happen, at least not the way I wanted.

“Not the way I wanted….” –that phrase has always bothered me.  If it’s true that we create our lives – and I believe we do – then why that caveat?  Why does that happen?  And I don’t have an answer.

For example, my oldest daughter had an illness that eventually caused her death.  We prayed for years that she would be healed.  Looking back, I see that she was the miracle.  And she had a son; even that was a miracle, because all her doctors advised her not to get pregnant.  She was a testimony to living fully, in the now, which she did.  She lived life, as the saying goes, on her own terms.  Something I can’t say for myself, though I’m trying.  Who’s to say a miracle didn’t happen?  Perhaps 32 years was all she was supposed to live.

Then there is my granddaughter, Lizzie.  Diagnosed at age nine with cancer, she fought elegantly and eloquently for five and a half years.  And she lived life on her own terms, beautifully, joyfully.  She was a wayshower for hundreds of people and still is.  People still find her a role model for living fully.  Her motto was carpe diem, which she did, with gusto!  We prayed every day for those five and a half years that she would be healed.  Where was our miracle?  The miracle was Lizzie herself, in the way she met life head on, not giving in to the cancer.  She spoke to a men’s networking group a year before she died.  “I have cancer,” she said, “but cancer doesn’t have me.”  She went on to say she didn’t want to talk about the cancer, but a project she had begun to help other cancer patients.

No, we didn’t receive a miracle “the way we wanted”, but we watched a miracle every day of Lizzie’s life.  And we still watch miracles as people find their way through her example.

And yet, I see prayers answered every day.  Prayers for things we might call inconsequential, but who’s to judge?  I take comfort in that for both Vickie and Lizzie, their lives were miracles, and perhaps their souls chose to stay just a little while with us.

This season has a lot of expectations heaped on it.  Television programs proclaim that Christmas is a magical time!  Miracles happen at Christmas!  I offer this:  for one month every year, we hope for miracles and we open our hearts.  In the opening of our hearts, love pours out.  Love is the magic.  Love creates the miracles.

I believe in love, therefore I believe in miracles…with or without the caveat…”Not the way we wanted.”   So I vow to open my heart and let the magic begin!

Life Calling

Henry didn’t plan to be the pastor of a church, especially not one with a hole in the roof and a congregation made up almost entirely of poor and homeless people. He didn’t plan to begin a ministry of feeding homeless people. Neither did he plan to become a drug dealer, addict and a convict.

Henry was born in a place where drug addiction and dealing was the norm. The second-youngest of seven children, Henry shared a room with his four brothers..and rats. His mother was a maid; his father was a hustler. When Henry was five years old, his mother, attempting to shoot her husband, shot another man accidentally. She spent two years in prison. Henry visited weekends.

His first introduction to the possibilities of life was when he was twelve years old, but he didn’t recognize it. Not long afterwards, he began smoking cigarettes, followed quickly by drinking alcohol. By the time he was in the sixth grade he was smoking marijuana. It was easy to ignore the possibilities of life.

Henry was fourteen when his father, whom he worshipped, died. Disconsolate and bitter, ignoring the quiet call of the possibilities of life, Henry set out on a path that defined his life; he became a criminal. He began stealing cars, then purses; moving on to shoplifting. Other boys his age were attending football games and proms; Henry was committing armed robbery.

At age nineteen, Henry went to prison; while there he had the opportunity to study and earned an associates degree. Life was calling again. When he was released, he found a good job and married his longtime girlfriend. She became pregnant and gave birth prematurely to a boy. Barely weighing one pound, the baby died within five days.

     Again, Henry became bitter; life just never seemed to go his way. His business failed, his house went into foreclosure. Seeing that his brother, a drug-dealer, had more money than he did, Henry went into the drug-dealing business. At first he just sold. Then he began to use the drugs; it wasn’t long before he was addicted and Henry’s slide down the slope to a drug-hazed life began.

Henry finally sunk to the bottom; his and his family’s lives were in danger. It was then that he called out for help, making a promise that if they were saved, he’d turn away from drugs.
Henry survived and made good on his promise. He made the turn to Life and found his way home. Even though he’d turned away from Life many times, this time he kept on the path. He turned away from a life of drugs, of addiction, of crime and became a churchgoer, then a student, an elder, a deacon and finally, a pastor. He was sent to Detroit to be the pastor of an old, decaying church with a hole in the roof. He drove around Detroit’s worst neighborhoods with food on the hood of his car, feeding the hungry.

Henry finally discovered Life and Its possibilities and followed it. Like Henry, we all have the choice to acknowledge and follow Life, or to take other routes. When we ignore our call to Life, we often find ourselves on paths that take us far off course. Like Henry, we go to places we didn’t intend, or want. We feel lost and alone. It’s only when we’re following Life’s Call that we begin to feel that we’re on the right path; we’re where we were meant to be.

     Life’s Call is an Inner Guidance. Some call it intuition. Sometimes it’s a voice so loud we can’t miss it; sometimes it’s a quiet, inner feeling. Loud or quiet, we can ignore it, or listen. We always have the opportunity to choose to listen, or ignore.

When Henry finally began to heed his Life’s Call, it took him straight home – to his purpose in life. Even so, life wasn’t aways easy. He preached in a broken-down church; his congregation often sat listening to him with snow or rain soaking them from the hole in the roof. Cold and hungry, they listened to Pastor Henry. Though he wasn’t rich in material things, Henry was rich in forgiveness and love, both things he passed on to his congregation.

Following Life’s Call doesn’t mean we’ll become rich and famous. It does mean we’ll have something even better: peace in our hearts. Life’s Call always gets us home.
Henry knew he was following Life’s Call because he was happy, doing what he felt called to do. What’s calling you? What is Life trying to tell you? Listen to your heart and you’ll find your way home.