Still Sacred

Nurturing Gratitude

Nurturing Gratitude

I invite you to join me in exploring ways to nurture gratitude.  The process of caring for and encouraging the development of gratitude could take many forms. Previously, we discussed how to find gratitude, especially in noticing things we are thankful for and making a list of these things. Reviewing those lists could be one way of nurturing the gratitude that you have already noticed in your life. A way to go a bit deeper is to utilize prayer and meditation to nurture gratitude.

Prayer & Meditation

It might be helpful to actually define what I mean when I use the terms prayer and meditation.  In this instance, it is defined as setting aside time, when you will be uninterrupted and can fully focus on your intention in the presence of the Divine.  In this case, your intention is to notice and nurture gratitude in your life.  Giving some special care and attention to the moments in your life that you are thankful for so that they may become more abundant.

Sacred Text

One thing that I enjoy bringing into my prayer or meditation sessions is sacred texts.  Examples of these could be your gratitude list, a favorite poem or scripture. I have compiled several scripture passages that involve gratitude or thanks giving.  Sometimes it is helpful to read how others express their gratitude in order to expand our own definitions. I invite you to look them over and see if one of them stands out to you.

Lectio Divina

Lectio Divina is a Latin term that means divine reading. It is a way of reading scriptures, poems or any sacred text, where you gradually let go of your own agenda and open yourself to what God has to say to you.

The basic format is to read your sacred text 3 times:
1. Read (Lectio): The first time listen to the passage in a general way, simply enjoying the presence of God’s Word. Try not to analyze the scripture, instead allow it to wash over you.
2. Meditate/Reflect (Meditatio): During the second reading, listen for the word or phrase that stands out to you. Perhaps jot it down in your journal.
3. Pray (Oratio & Contemplatio): The final time, listen for what the Spirit might be wanting to say to you through the word or phrase in step 2. What personal message does God have for you today in this sacred text? Focus on only the word or phrase that stood out to you.

My guideline for Lectio Divina explains the practice in more detail and walks you through a sample session.  I recommend setting aside at least 10 minutes for this type of devotion.

Join the Journey

Gratitude: Find, Nurture, GrowIf you would like to receive my newsletter and be the first to know about new spiritual resources, then click here to Join the Journey.  Also, I have set up a Still Sacred Facebook Group, where you can communicate with others that have also decided to explore spirituality in the everyday moments of life with gratitude and humor.  Come join us!

Thanks for joining me on the journey…

 

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Heart of Gratitude

Heart of Gratitude

Do you struggle with gratitude?  I like to think of myself as a grateful person, but sometimes it is challenging.  I’ve come to realize that recognizing the things I am grateful for is more than just a nice thing to do – it can be a life saver!  During November, the Still Sacred blog will offer various resources, such as creating a gratitude list, to support you in making this a month for finding, nurturing and growing in gratitude.

A few years ago, I was given the assignment to write down 3 things that I was grateful for every day.  I was not too enthusiastic about this challenge.  I didn’t see the point… wasn’t it enough to simply call to mind those things that I was thankful for and meditate on them?  Wasn’t it a bit of overkill to write down these three things each and every day for a month?  What follows is my journey with making a gratitude list and the profound impact it had on my life.

My Gratitude List Adventure

In the beginning, I agonized over what to put on the  list.  Was being grateful that I had woken up really good enough to make the list?  Was it too vain to put down that my hair looked great that morning?  What about not getting stopped at a red light all the way to work?  I decided that whatever 3 things came into my mind at the end of the day, well, those were the things that I would right down.  Nothing was too small or insignificant or silly.  I was surprised that some days  it was excruciating to find those three things. Other days the pen seemed to scroll line after line of things that filled me with gratitude – I wrote 10 things one day! At the end of the month, I had filled several pages in my journal and was relieved to have finished the assignment.  I turned the page and went on to other activities, almost forgetting about the list.

It wasn’t until I found myself in the midst of a very difficult situation that I would returned to those pages in my journal.  My daughter was in the midst of some serious health concerns.  I was struggling to keep a positive attitude and present the optimistic, parental influence that she needed during that time.  That’s when I remembered my gratitude list.  I pulled it out – sometimes several times a day – and read over the list that I had begrudgingly made months early.  It was immensely helpful.  Although some of the things on the list didn’t apply to my current situation, reading the list made me smile.  Simply reading the list filled me with joy and was extremely comforting.  It allowed me to find gratitude in a time in my life when I wasn’t able to see the things that I should be thankful for.  It alleviated some of the pain in a difficult situation and gave me hope that things were not as bleak as they seemed.  That list gave me strength to persevere. In short, it was a life saver.

Finding Gratitude

I hope that my experience shows the power of finding and documenting gratitude. I invite you to write down a few things you are grateful for each day for a month.  The list is only for you, so don’t worry about what you put on it. Then tuck it away in a safe place, you never know when you might need a little pick me up.

More Gratitude Resources

In researching this topic, I stumbled upon another excellent article at “Why You Need Gratitude in Your Life Right Now” by Laura Dee ( The Mindful Mom Blographer).  Laura offers some great resources on the benefits of gratitude along with a challenge. Starting in November, she will be hosting a 30-day gratitude challenge which will include a free, printable gratitude worksheet that follows along with an online community of people who are also taking the challenge. If you are looking for some guidance, support, community and accountability, don’t miss out on this opportunity. Sign up here.   I invite you to join me in finding more gratitude with Laura’s challenge.

If you would like to receive my newsletter and be the first to know about new spiritual resources, then click here to Join the Journey.

Thanks for joining me on the journey…

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Grab Some Gratitude

Grab Some Gratitude

With Thanksgiving Day just around the corner, November’s focus is all about gratitude.   This month’s theme is designed to help you find, nurture and grow the virtue of gratitude.

Want a sneak peak? Sign up now to get instant access to these resources on our exclusive newsletter subscriber’s page.

More Coming soon…

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Anticipation: Another Life Transition

Anticipation: Another Life Transition

This week I continue with the theme of navigating through life’s transitions.  I invite you to consider a situation of anticipation, something you are eager to have happen in your life.  Perhaps it’s the birth of a child, marriage or a career change.  I do not want to give you the impression that it is bad to set goals or envision big dreams for your life.  I want you to consider what you are missing by rushing ahead in your mind to the thing you are anticipating.  There are experiences along the way, unexpected events through the transition, that you might be tempted to gloss over or opportunities that you might miss because of the intense focus placed on future events or the outcome you are expecting.

I will explore being in the state of anticipation and journeying with patience through these transitions.  It is great to be hopeful, but it can be limiting and possibly disappointing to expect a specific outcome at a designated time.  We all know that life is unpredictable, and yet we often try to control it.

Last week we considered 3 questions which you could also apply to this situation: What troubles me the most about this time in my life ? What am I supposed to learn from this?  Where is God in this situation?  However, I will pose three new questions for you to also ponder as you travel the road of anticipation: What emotions am I feeling that fuel my desire to jump ahead to the future? What can I learn from being patient?  What is God offering me in the present moment?

My Story of Anticipation

I clearly remember the day my first child due to arrive.  I had prepped and prepared for 9 long month – well 40 weeks to be exact which is clearly longer than 9 months as any expectant mother can tell you.  I got out my video recorder and walked around the house, filming the empty nursery, the shiny new toys and adorable clothes.  As I replayed the tape for myself, I was clearly NOT joyful.  I was disappointed.  My due date would come and go and still there was no baby in my arms.  I would wait another 4 days for that awesome privileged.  I can look back on it now and see that I needed that time to prepare, but my state of anticipation nearly robbed me of the joy and peace that those last few days would bring to me.

What emotions was I feeling?

Anxious and disappointed that things were out of my control.  I wanted that baby in my life and in my arms right that very moment.  I had pinned all my hopes on the date that she had been “promised” to me.  I was obviously being unrealistic and selfish.  My daughter was not the first baby to be a few days late.  I felt somehow cheated, even though I was obviously not going to have to wait forever…a few more days seemed like an eternity and I was impatient.  Also, there were underlying fears… fear of child birth… fear of parenting … fear of all the changes a baby would bring.  My mind had convinced me that somehow having the baby would alleviate all of these fears.  I was ready to be rid of the overwhelming fears, and my mind had already set the course for that solution to be having the baby at the appointed time.

What can I learn from being patient?

Patience gives me a little breathing room.  If I can wait, relax and try to enjoy the state of just being in the moment – then I am living.  I am not in the past obsessed with what has already happened, nor am I in the future mentally creating expectations that might not occur. If I can sit patiently in the state of anticipation, then I can fully feel it and cherish the blessing that I have something great ahead of me.  What this state taught me was that I had an enormous capacity to love someone that I had not even met.  To embrace the joy that a little baby was growing inside me and that was a very special privilege that not everyone gets.

What was God offering me in that moment?

Some precious time to rest.  I had all the physical things ready for my new baby, but I was given the gift of time to rest and prepare myself physically.  A few extra days for the baby to be fully ready to enter the world healthy and strong.    I remember sleeping a lot and surely I would need that extra energy in the days that followed the birth. But it is only in hindsight that I can view that as a gift.  I also had time to overcome the fears I had of the actual childbirth.  The waiting made me more prepared and determined not to be afraid.  In this time of rest, my excitement was allowed to percolate and to grow larger than my fears.  When I finally went into labor, I was calm ..well as calm as a first time mom can be… and filled with courage.

For another example of how my expectations could have limited my experiences, read my blog on exploring autumn.

If you would like to receive my quarterly newsletter and be the first to know about new spiritual resources, then click here to Join the Journey.

Thanks for joining me on the journey…

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Journey through the Transitions

Journey through the Transitions

Navigating the journey through the transitions in life can be challenging. Sometimes in life we have to wait, and if you are like me, this can be hard because it means practicing patience.  Perhaps you are eager to get out of a current state of grief, loss or boredom; perhaps you are anticipating a life change…a marriage, new career or home.  Wherever you find yourself, knowing and accepting that you are exactly where you are supposed to be and not rushing through the transition can be difficult.  So take a breath and pray for clarity on exactly what this season of your life is bringing to you.

Journey through the Transitions: Walking in the Moment

Transitions come in many forms, some hopeful and others despondent. If you find yourself in a painful situation or anxious with anticipation, it is understandable that you might want this time in your life to be over.  While pain often has us looking back at what was lost, and anticipation speeds us into a future that has not happened yet, both are similar because we are not present to what is happening in our lives in the moment.  Each of these transitional periods can give us opportunities to reflect and grow in wisdom and strength.  I invite you to consider the following questions in light of your current situation:  What troubles me the most about this time in my life ? What am I supposed to learn from this?  Where is God in this situation?

My Transition through Grief

This week I invite you to journey with me through the transitions of a great loss in my life. When my grandmother died, I was devastated and lost.  I couldn’t catch my breath, it felt like a freight train had driven through my heart. I got caught in a cycle of desperately missing her and crying every day over my loss and the moments we would never share again.  Being sad and grieving the loss of someone is, of course, natural and part of the grieving process, but I can look back and see how stuck I became by focusing on what I had lost and not working through my emotions.  I just wanted to hear her voice one more time; to have her scratch my back and reassure me that everything would be alright.  In life there are things that are beyond our control; things that we cannot understand or change.  The only thing that I could change was my reaction to the situation, and I was not willing to do that at the time.  I was sad, felt abandoned and everyone was going to know it.  Then one night I had a dream.  In my dream my grandmother was walking away from me, and I was desperately trying to catch up to her.  She was walking hand in hand with someone.  Suddenly, they both stopped and looked back at me.  They were smiling as they turned my way.  I realized the person holding my grandmother’s hand was my grandfather that had died 15 years earlier.  The look on their faces was serene and joyous.  The abundance of happiness that radiated from them was contagious, and I felt wrapped in their love.

At first I awoke sad that I never caught up to my grandmother, but then I realized two things.  First, my grandmother did not want me to be sad for her, she was happy.  She was free from the pain that had engulfed the last few years of her life, and I needed to find some consolation in that fact.  It reminded me of the many talks she and I had about how dearly she missed her late husband.  I had been so caught up in what I had lost, that I failed to remember the emotional and physical pain that she had endured in her final years.  I had forgotten her truly happy and joyous smile that had faded so many years years before her death.  I was allowed to look at the situation through different lenses and refocus on the importance of seeing all angles of a situation… not just mine.

Secondly,  I was reminded that I had survived the loss of my grandfather, and it gave me the hope that I would be able to survive the loss of my grandmother too.  So many years had passed since my grandfather had died, and now I was given the perspective of time.  I could remember how devastating that loss had been, but how time had allowed me to heal and remember him with fondness and without the heart stabbing pain of grief. This perspective wasn’t instantaneously comforting, but it started me down the path with reassurance that I had survived going through the transitions of grief and loss before.

I still miss my grandmother; still wish I could hear her voice; still crave the coconut cream pie that tastes like home.  Every once in a while, I get a glimpse of someone who reminds me of her or a whiff of something that smells like her.  For an instant, my heart jumps and I look for her.  Then I realize that it is the precious gift of remembering.  Sometimes I shed a tear, but usually with a smile of my face at the lovely flood of memories that accompany the experience.  Today, I am able to remember her with gratitude.

My insights may not be the same as yours, but I invite you to ponder the questions that I offered to you earlier.  Below, I offer my own responses which are unique to my lived experiences.  None of our journeys are exactly the same, but I encourage you to look for the similarities.

What troubled me most?

As I walked through the transitions that grief brought into my life, what most troubled me was that I wasn’t in control.  Death happened regardless of what I wanted and it was permanent. I didn’t get to say my final goodbyes.  I couldn’t stop the never ending flood of memories.  I would never be able to call her up and ask her advice on the tough situations in my life.  I wouldn’t ever be able to share my joys and triumphs with her.  But through prayer, I have found that I can share these things with her.  I can open my heart and offer them to the universe, and I believe that my grandmother is there to receive my news – joyous and sorrowful – with open arms.

What have I learned?

Life is unpredictable, and I do not have the ability to control many things, but I can develop composure over my reactions.  The power of memories can pull me into despair if I allow them, or they can lift me up in gratitude with all the joy and wisdom that someone brought into my life. Time is precious, and being present to the people you cherish is paramount.  I have learned that I would not be lost in grief if I had not loved a person intensely.  I think this is VERY important to consider. In order to avoid grief, that means that I would have to stop loving and caring for people deeply.  That is not the way I want to live.

Where was God in this?

Everywhere!  He was in the darkness with me as I cried, but I was too stubborn and self-absorbed to reach out for comfort.  I thought I was abandoned and alone, but that was not true.  The Spirit brings me the the familiar faces and smells that remind me of my loved ones, but I have to be open to receive them as gifts. I have to let go of the idea that things are being done TO me, and allow for the possibility that things – good and bad – happen in life that are unexpected.  I need to devote time to prayer and meditation to continually grow on my spiritual journey towards the sacred… and remember that I do not walk alone.

Journey through Expectations

Next week, I will explore being in the state of anticipation and journeying with patience through the transitions. If you would like to receive my quarterly newsletter and be the first to know about new spiritual resources, then click here to Join the Journey.

Thanks for joining me on the journey…

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Five Minute Life Changer

Five Minute Life Changer

Need a Life Changer?

Do you ever feel stressed and over scheduled?  I certainly have in the past.  I felt like there just wasn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.  Sometimes it was hard to focus or concentrate with so many things that needed my attention… family, work, sick relatives, drama, deadlines, on and it on it went. Then, a few years ago, a spiritual leader ask if I would be willing to give 5 minutes of my day to change my life. YES was my answer.  But it would take me years to implement this life changer.  Why?  I just didn’t make the time.  I hope you will learn from my mistake and carve out 5 minutes right now. Go ahead and put it on your calendar if that’s what you need to do.  We all have busy lives, but I am willing to bet that if you open up your calendar right now you could find five minutes to spare.

Let’s Get Started

So now you have five minutes set aside, what in the world could you do in five minutes that would change your life?  Pray!  Is that a doubtful look I see on your face?  Maybe you don’t believe that prayer could be a life changer or maybe you don’t think five minutes is enough.  All I can say is that you already put it on your calendar, so why not try it everyday for a week and see what happens?

When I finally made the commitment, it was tough, not only for me but for my family.  My kids were used to barging in on me no matter what I was doing.  So for me, with a little bit or trial and error, I decided my prayer time would be in the morning before anyone woke up.  I would get a cup of coffee and sit quietly sipping it.  Once I had woken up a bit, I would start my ritual.  The hardest part for me in the beginning was to avoid running through my to-do list for the day – this is N-O-T the time for that. If you are not accustomed to praying, please download my free resource, 5 steps to prayer,  to give you an easy format to follow.

Life Changing Results

What can you expect if you pray every day for five minutes?  For me, it truly was a life changer. It filled my day with a sense of peace.  Using those few minutes to reflect on what I was grateful for helped me to have perspective. Calling to mind people who were in need of extra care, comfort or healing took away some of the helplessness that I felt about their conditions. Speaking freely about my fears, burdens, blessings and desires allowed me to fully accept them and entrust them to a higher power.  Quiet simply, it strengthen and balanced me for the day.  It made everything easier and life more joyful.

What will it do for you?  There’s only one way to find out…

I’d love for you to comment on how adding 5 minutes of prayer to your routine has impacted your life.  Leave me a comment.

If you would like to receive my quarterly newsletter and be the first to know about new spiritual resources, the click here to Join the Journey.

Thanks for joining me on the journey!

 

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Welcome …

Welcome …

With open arms and a grateful heart, I welcome you to my Still Sacred Blog. I am ( in no particular order) a mother, daughter, wife, friend, blogger, spiritual director, seeker, child of God, tech geek, and hopefully we can travel together on a spiritual journey.

My deepest desire is for you to learn to be still long enough to explore where you have been, clarify where you are being called and then journey towards what you know to be sacred.  In my sacred space, I call my higher power “God”, but please don’t take that to mean that I impose that name onto what you hold sacred.  Let this be a safe, inviting space filled with no judgments.

If you are like me, sometimes the busy world crowds out your thoughts. In this multi-tasking world sometimes it is difficult to sit still and be quiet – to put away the thoughts of the to-do list for just 5 minutes. So were do I begin? Where can you begin? I invite you to go somewhere free of distractions and just listen… listen to your breath …listen to your heart beating …listen for the sacred.

Does this sound impossible? Some time ago I would have agreed. Come with me on a journey and we will learn together to find the innermost thoughts of our souls and to create a sacred space to welcome clarity, peace and gratitude. We will find ways to quiet the distractions. Let’s explore together… Discover and expand a contemplative presence that allows us to nurture a personal relationship with what we still hold sacred.

I invite you to try a simple Breath Prayer and to take advantage of the other prayers, meditations and services found in the resources section.   If you would like to receive my quarterly newsletter and be the first to know about new spiritual resources, then click here to Join the Journey.

Let’s embark on a spiritual journey and may the spirit of the universe find you and bless you.

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