Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Week III - Day 4 - The Cup of Mercy - The Evening Review

Thinking of the past several days, I am beginning to appreciate the "emptying" of an evening.  To help...Empty Me - Chris Sligh  God,.empty me of me, so I can be filled with you.

It is the fresh basil that makes this!
It has been such a good day, I decided to splurge and make myself a homemade pizza with fresh mozzarella, ricotta, fresh pesto and basil...and oh, sliced tomatoes.  Ummm, a perfect meal to celebrate a good day.

This was just one kind of nourishment for this day full of blessing.

I am working through a text book on Volunteer Administration.  I am to take an exam in May...and if I do not pass it this May, I can retake the exam in May 2012.  I am doing my best to consider May 2011 as a learning time with the intent to learn and then to pass the exam in May 2012.

I am struggling.  The authors of the book, all college professors from different universities, have written their sections assuming the reader already knows certain concepts, terms.... This reader does not fall within their assumed group. It has been difficult to not become discouraged having to read chapters over and over again hoping for the light bulb to click on.  Today, I was blessed by a good friend working through the first 75 pages with me and helping me translate it into a language which I am familiar, normally "church" language.

One more way I was nourished.  I became more confident that I am not simply stupid...I just need help translating! On a day that I was asked to greet myself mercifully...this was a huge gift! This course is going to be much more difficult than I originally anticipated, yet, today I have a sense of confidence that I can do this.  I am greeting myself mercifully.

Later this afternoon I discovered a long awaited project could not be accomplished as first planned.  Oh, no...the negative talk "almost" began and I managed to stop....Breathing in: Held in your mercy.... Breathing out:....held in your love

I imagined emptying all that negative gunk out of my cup...leaving me an empty space that could be filled by God's mercy... And a new idea, a new plan emerged.  I made a trip to Michael's, found what I needed, and would you believe...I think this new plan will be better than the original!

I am finding the Breathprayers to be amazingly helpful.  I am still not able to "watch" my breathing without hyperventilating, but the breathprayers work for me!  Praise, God!

Does anything need to be emptied out in order for me to be at peace tonight?

I don't think so.  I fully appreciate this thought of Oprah Winfrey's.  I do have a sense of joy and inner peace this evening...and I believe it does flows from being connected to what matters. God surrounded me today with good food, the love and encouragement of good friends, new ideas, and the means to implement them. I thank God for all my good gifts today.
I'm not a word maven, yet Wordles fascinate me. : )

This morning I wrote about forgiveness.  This may come up again, I continue to resist looking ahead.  If it does, I will pull this wordle up again. If it does not, then I have it already included in this journal....possibly I have already pulled it in!

I have long realized I am my own worst enemy.  I do not know anyone who is as critical of I am of myself....and that is not anything to feed, or celebrate.  Who am I...if Jesus can forgive me...who am I to withhold forgiveness?

Yes, through the gift of good friends, food, and new ideas...this has been a good day.

God, I thank you and praise you for all those who have crossed my path today.  I thank you for the gift and nourishment that comes from a variety of sources.  Tonight, I ask for good rest, for myself and for all those who are walking alongside me during this Lenten season. AMEN.

Third Day is one of my favorite groups. I thought of this song while out walking this evening and watching a hawk hunt for his nourishment.  Eagles - Third Day : ) You will have to ignore that whoever put this video together seemingly mistook a seagull for an eagle.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Week III - Day 4 - The Cup of Mercy

Having a conversation with God.
The dialogue with God which begins with the confession one's own failures is not depressing; it is liberating. At last, perhaps even for the first time, we have been honest with ourselves about what we are; and we have been honest with the one Person before whom there is no deception. ~ Emilie Griffin

Yesterday, one of the Wednesday Lunch Bunch commented that it is depressing to think to deeply about herself.  Later, she chuckled as we talked about our "shadow", saying, "I don't bother my shadow and it doesn't bother me."  I wanted to say, "Amen, Sister!" because I have had similar thoughts. There have been days that I continue to write about my flaws in response to Joyce's writing.  Today, Joyce continue to write about her own failings:
"I have discovered that no matter how hard I try, I continue to fail every now and then. I still make mistakes, poor decisions, hasty judgments, and badly chosen comments...The blessing of failure is that it leads me to greater truth if I do not let myself drown in discouragement, regrets, or self-disparagement." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p77-78)
I could have written that statement.  In fact, if I looked back through this journal, I think I would find a similar confession. However, I have not acknowledged that my failures lead me to greater truth if...

Moses knew God.
This morning I thought of Moses and the stories of his conversations with God on the mountain.  Exodus gives us an appreciation that not only did God know Moses but Moses "knew" God.  From the scripture accounts we learn Moses had a relationship with God.  Later, in Joshua 1:5 God says, "As I was with Moses, I will be with you [Joshua]; I will never leave you or forsake you."

Last evening I shared with one of the Wednesday Lunch Bunch (WLB) that was what I am seeking.  I want to "know" God but, in order to do this, I need to do some deep soul searching and spend time thinking about shadows and cleansing....the things that can, if I allow them to, depress me!
"The blessing of failure is that it leads me to greater truth if I do not let myself drown in discouragement, regrets, or self-disparagement."
Peter took his eyes off of Jesus...
This may go on a post-it-note and attached to my computer monitor as a daily reminder. Because...when I focus on my "self", I do have a sense of drowning.  When I keep my focus on Jesus, my failures do become blessings that lead me to greater truth...and to the relationship I seek.

Joyce writes: "It is out of our human lives that God reaches us. We expect that these lives would be less wounded, less bumbling, less muddled.  We hope that our lives would have a quality of 'pureness' to them,but God reaches us in the way that God has always reached human beings - through our ordinary, flawed lives." (Ibid)

Then, Joyce brings up the "biggie." The WLB even talked about this yesterday that it could be one of those "stains" that is difficult to remove:
Seeking forgiveness of God and of others.
Offering forgiveness to ourselves.
"No matter what the reason for our failures, we need to eventually move to the place where we forgive ourselves for how we have failed. We also need to ask forgiveness of God and of others if we have harmed them." (Ibid)

I have written before about Rami Shapiro's book, Recovery, the Twelves Steps as Spiritual Practice. "Making Amends" is part of any Twelve Step program.  Over and again in scripture we read about forgiveness.  Joyce says, "...and then we turn with trust to the One who readily and endlessly extends the cup of mercy to us..."

   Breathing in: Held in your mercy...
   Breathing out: ...held in your love. a sign of my
letting go of this failure.

Remember one of the failures of your life.
Write a word for this failure on a small piece of paper.
Place this paper in your cup, symbolic of your self.
Hold the cup in your hands.
Notice any emotions you have as you hold the failure.
Speak to God about your thoughts and emotions.
Ask to receive God's understanding and mercy.
Listen quietly to God's response.
Then take out the piece of paper and tear it to shreds as a sign of your letting go of this failure.
In your love, remember me...

Scripture: Psalm 25
Be mindful of your mercy...
and of your steadfast love,
for they have been from of old (Ps 25:6) Remember Me - Psalm 25

One failure I still need to forgive myself for is...
What do you think and feel about your failures? Have you changed because of them? If so, how?
God of mercy...

God of is healing to write what I perceive as "my failure" on paper and then offering it to you to hold...and then tearing it to shreds. It reminds me of the time I wrote something in sand, prayed...and then wiped it away...gone.

Forgive me for being so hard on myself.  I am gaining a greater understanding by either ignoring those things about myself that discourage me...or by beating myself up with my faults and my failures....I am in essence saying that I do not trust your mercy, your graciousness, or your forgiveness.

I have changed because of my failures!  I have learned from my failures! Praise God!

God of mercy, continue teaching me.  Help me to feel safe, to trust both you and myself, enough to face those things...those failures...that keep me from being honest with myself and with you.  You already know these things about me, and yet you continue to love me.  Joyce reminds me that you reach out to us, to me, out of my ordinary life. Help me to keep my focus on you as I continue this Lenten Journey of The Cup of Life. Help me to let go of my "self" so that I might be present with you.

A wise Zen teaching says, "...To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barriers between oneself and others." —Zen Master Dogen [1200-1253] "Remove the barriers between oneself and others..."
God embracing me...

Wellspring of Mercy, you welcome me home.
You understand my human failings.
You embrace me in my incompleteness.
You help me move on from failures and defeat.
How good and gracious is your kindness to me.

Today, Joyce asks that I greet myself mercifully at least once today!

I can do this...with God's help!  AMEN!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Week III - Day 3 - The Cleansed Cup

I could smile and say, "At least I am not
this stained!" Couldn't I???
Create a in me a clean heart, O God! Enjoy these moments of worship: Psalm 51 - Keith Green

Detox Herbs
I must admit that one of the first things that came to mind as I began reading Joyce's confession on her stained cup was "detox." This seems to have become a popular means of "feeling better" the last few years. While I do not know a lot about detoxing I know there are a variety of the ways suggested to accomplish detox.  Some with little or no effort on the part of the individual.  I suspect that where there is no effort required, little will be accomplished.

Joyce writes, "I know that I need to be regularly cleansed from inner stains that keep me from living as a loving person...the day-to-day grime that collects when I do not pay attention on a deeper level." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p. 75)

In other words...I need detoxing, but I have a feeling it will take more than wearing special pads on my feet to accomplish this cleansing.

Joyce continues, saying, "One of the paradoxes about inner stains is that while the stains must be recognized and attended, love for one's self must continue fully....It is the knowledge that I am capable of much greater goodness that creates a desire in me to change."

In a few weeks many churches will reenact  Jesus washing the Disciples' feet. What has always struck me when I have seen this reenacted was the care and love the Jesus figure gave to the one whose foot he was washing.  It has never been a once over...and move on.  Time and care are always displayed...and tenderness.

I wonder what I might discover if  I approached cleansing my inner stains the way the Church depicts Jesus washing the feet of the Disciples?  I wonder what I might learn if I handled my heart in the way I imagine Jesus caressing Peter's feet?  Or...Judas' feet?

    Breathing in: Create in me...
    Breathing out:...a clean heart, O God.

Sit with your cup in your hands.
Notice if your cup is stained or not.
Ask God to help you see one inner stain of yours.
Be still and wait for this awareness to arise.
Whether it is stained or not, take your cup to a sink.
Prayerfully wash it with soap and water.
As you do so pray to be cleansed of what sullies your spirit.

Scripture: Psalm 51

As I reflect upon my life, I see that I regularly need cleansing of... because...
When I think of my stains that are irremovable, I...
Thank you, God, for...

I had to look up the word "sullies" was not in my list of common words. Merriam Webster says,
1. Damage the purity or integrity of, defile.
2. Make dirty.

I have already learned something new today...."sullies."

When I think of stains that are irremovable, I have a slight knee jerk.  If I have inner "stains" should I not try to get them cleaned remove them?  Maybe if "I" work really hard....maybe if I bring out some kind of harsh cleanser...

Joyce says she continually prays for guidance so that she will know what stains need some spiritual elbow grease and which ones are part of the "character" of my being.

This is a difficult suggestion for me to get at this moment.  It is something I will continue thinking about as I go through my day.  I am not sure what Joyce is saying.  "Stains."  Would that be physical, mental, emotional elements of our "character" that cannot be cleaned away?  I suspect this will be a question for the Wednesday Lunch Bunch today.

Thank you, God, for the women who join me on Wednesday to share this journey.  Thank you for Joyce and her insights and gifted way to articulate some hard truths.  God, teach me more about these inner stains of mine.  Open my heart so I might learn more of what is keeping me from wholeness and then, God...give me the courage to step forward from there.  God, send companions to walk alongside me, to encourage me and to hold me accountable as I strive to become a healthy version of "ME."  AMEN.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Week III - Day 2 - The Shadow of the Cup - The Evening Review.

I stumbled across some words by Jimmy Buffet today that caused me to pause...and then reflect about being in THIS moment:
" I bought a cheap watch from the crazy man floating down canal.It doesn't use numbers or moving hands, it always says now.Now, you may be thinking that I was had, but this watch is never wrong.And if I have trouble the warranty said:Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On."
Earlier today I read:  Being in the wilderness, Brian Taylor says, requires that we become aware of our feelings and attitudes. Our questions of God can quickly turn into rejections of God. Trusting God often means that we deliberately take time to get a compass reading on our feelings and emotions.(

A compass reading on my feelings and emotions.

I shared with my youngest daughter this morning about today's reading and that I had identified one thing in my shadow as being "fear." Since then, I have continue to consider what fear is and what it keeps me from, every time I reach for something...and I see a shadow.  Marianne Williamson has written about fear in a way that has blessed me before...and has again today.  Our Deepest Fear. Wow...AMEN.

It is "Holy Work" to move past your own fear..."

It is Holy Work to wrestle with these thoughts, insights, and questions Joyce offers through these devotional readings.

I had not thought of  the time spent with a cup and journal as doing Holy Work. Holding that insight, gives the time I am spending reading, searching for images and songs, and journaling a new feel, a new importance.  Yet, in many ways I should not be surprised.   The Breathprayers invite the Holy to be present.  This evening, after a long and thought filled day:
Breathing in: Loving Presence.....Breathing out: ....I want to grow.
1. How open or aware was I to the presence of God in my day?
2. What kind of nourishment did I receive? What kind of nourishment did I give?
3. Does anything need to be emptied out in order for me to be at peace tonight?  
4. For what do I thank God as I prepare to enter into sleep?

Earlier today I was frantically searching, much like the woman searching for her lost coin, except what I was searching for really was not important except for my peace of mind.  I became discouraged and defeated as the search came up empty.  Then...when I had given youngest daughter produced the objects.  And she found them where I had originally thought they were placed only when I looked I looked past them.

I did not sense God in my searching and not finding.

Honestly, I was so paralyzed by all my negative thoughts, that when they were found, I was not even "present" enough to celebrate. And that saddens me.  Yet, that moment is past and I cannot go back and recreate the gift of "the lost being found." I can, however, continue to learn.

The love and commitment of my daughter was blessed nourishment today.  I pray that I was able to return at least a portion of that love back to her as the day progressed.

Listen....and smile.
I was nourished by my walk outside today.  It was still cold, but the song of a couple of red-winged blackbirds fed my soul.

I watched the smoke from a burning ditch drift into the sky, creating lacy tails, like on a kite, swinging to and fro. I watched intently, expecting a red kite to suddenly appear above the dancing strands of smoke.

And then there was a big fat groundhog.  He was totally oblivious to his audience as he searched for some tasty snack along the creek bed.  I wondered at his thick coat.  I thought back to the damage done in our garage by one of this guy's brothers last year...and considered his teeth!

I was nourished and felt peaceful, returning to my WARM home.

Again, it feels as though I need many more days reflecting on my shadow and the fears that prevent me from totally being present...from totally loving the child of God that is "me."  Perhaps that is what I want to empty out this evening, the feeling that I need to do more, to think more, to write more.... Perhaps I can empty this out, creating space for God to teach me the same lesson, in a different way...or perhaps he wants to teach me a new lesson that will build on the lesson from today.

Thinking of kites and what is possible when I let go and allow God to freely work within my golly...when he is in control, I can fly! Amazing Kite Flying

God, teach me how to live without fear, to live acknowledging my shadow and learning from that shadow. God, teach me how to give myself over to you, trusting you to guide me through that I can fly! For tonight, God of love and peace, give me and those who are reading Joyce's book, good rest and a peaceful sleep.  AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Week III - Day 2 - The Shadow of the Cup

The Shadow of the Cup
"Making friends with your shadow helps facilitate your acceptance of yourself as a less-than-perfect human being. We have a dark side; we are  not all light." ` William A. Miller

There are mornings I begin reading and after two sentences find myself trying to think of a way to simply skip this day's reading.

I do not think that much about my shadow...and I am suspecting that maybe I am happy not thinking about my shadow!

What is our shadow?  According to C. G. Jung, it is anything in our inner world that we do not know or that we know but refuse to accept. It is the part of our psyche, or self, that is in the dark. Joyce continues saying:
"The shadow can be a positive quality. It might be self-esteem in a woman who has never believed that she is of worth. It might be the gift of honesty in a man who has always felt compelled to practice deceptiveness. It might be deep compassion in one who tends to be self-centered.
"The shadow can also be negative characteristics that we refuse to believe are a part of us, such as stubbornness, greed, jealousy, lust, hatred or self-pity." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 72)
Joyce goes on to say:
"The negative characteristics of our shadow are not sinful any more than our flaws are sinful in themselves. These things only become sinful if we deliberately make them a source of harm for ourselves or others. Our flaws may simply be that part of us which consistently rises up unexpectedly in our lives and seems uncontrollable...If we are to grow in wholeness, then we need to know and claim our Shadow as much as we can."  (Ibid)
           Breathing in: Loving Presence...
           Breathing out:...I want to grow.

Set you cup in a place where it casts a shadow...
Gaze upon the cup and its shadow
Let what you see speak to you about your life.
Place your hand in the shadow of the cup.
Ask God to help you befriend your unknown realm and to learn from this part of yourself.

Scripture: Matthew 7:1-5
How can you say to your neighbor: "Let me take the speck out of your eye" while the log is in your own eye?

Write a letter, or carry on a conversation with some quality of yourself that you would rather not have.
As you reflect on the concept of "shadow," what are some of your key thoughts and emotions?
God of unconditional love,...

I process my thoughts and feelings as I write or type.  When I read this day's thoughts through the first time, I was feeling anxious and uncomfortable.  I truly did consider thinking of a reason I could skip this day.  Going back and typing out Joyce's words for this journal, I noticed things I had not seen before.

After the first reading I began thinking of everything "bad" about myself that I could hold.  I'm sometimes impatient.  I sometimes act from a place of scarcity rather than abundance. I sometimes react rather than taking a deep breath and responding. But then, when I sat down to reflect on my cup and to place my hand in its shadow...those were not my thoughts.  I felt an overflowing sense of love coming from my heart...which I dubbed as being "wrong."

Sitting with the image of "shadow" I realized that a shadow is not necessarily "bad."  On a hot summer day, I will sit down in the shadow of a large tree and give thanks for its protection.  Some of my flowers will be planted so that they grow in the shadow of my home.  They would not thrive in a full day of summer sun. So...there may also be grace within a shadow.  Taking it a step further...I think Joyce is reminding me that God''s love may also be found within my shadow.  San...remember the words of Psalm 139?

Sitting with my cup and my journal...I believe it is fear that resides in my shadow and that fear surfaces in so many different ways.  I work hard to keep it "hidden".  I work hard trying to ignore its voice.  And, all my efforts to ignore and to keep it hidden have in some ways only given it more strength.  Fear thrives in darkness and Joyce reminds me:
"These things only become sinful if ... a source of harm for ourselves and for others."

I would not have thought of myself being "sinful" by trying to hide or ignore the voice of fear that lives within my shadow. yet, fear does keep me from being and living in wholeness.  It goes back to my writing about trying to give Uncle Robert peace while he was in the hospital. How can I offer comfort to another when there is a "log in my own eye?"

God of unconditional love, help me discover you within the shadows I try to ignore, for these fearful shadows create a sense of doubt not only in you but in myself as well.  I have written it is difficult to trust others...if I cannot fully trust the God within me, then I am not surprised I struggle to trust others.  The shadow of fear  places a shadow of self-doubt that surfaces in the most surprising places and with only a little encouragement from the outside world.  I can see how this would be a sin, because it does keep me from living a your unique, gifted, and much loved child.

Today, God of me consider your love, every time I take a drink from my cup, from my glass, from a the liquid quenches my thirst, may I remember your Living Water quenches my thirst created by fear.

Shadows are a part of my life, because Light has to be present for a shadow to exist.  Light of the World...

God, grant me courage to face my inner enemies, those things that keep me from being fully present with you.  Help me to learn from them and then fill me with your light...fill me with love for who I am.  AMEN.

Today: Joyce suggests that I see the shadows of physical things, and to ask God for help to know and accept my inner shadow.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Monday, March 28, 2011

Week III - Day 1 - The Perfect Cup - The Evening Review

"I WILL NOT criticize or find fault with myself or others today."

Does it count if I am gasping for breath after a long walk and I am criticizing myself for not only slacking the last couple of months in terms of exercise, but also once again getting into the bad habit of mindless snacking?

Besides is cold outside!

~ ~ Grumbling ~ ~

I may be out of shape, yet God still calls me toward wholeness. To help me center my thoughts..Psalm 139

I have thought today about my unrealistic list of self expectations.  I am much more gracious to others than I am to myself, yet I do hold high expectations.  And you know what else...I often expect other people to read my mind!  I do not want to ask for something, yet I have at times felt frustrated when someone failed to do something I had "thought" about, but not shared.

It was very early on in this journey that I admitted the world is much better with God running the show than if I were in charge.

I absolutely love the images and the phrases of Psalm 139...who would not feel loved and protected...cherished by these words?  The Psalmist captured so many thoughts I might carry:
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
   too lofty for me to attain.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;    test me and know my anxious thoughts. 
 7 Where can I go from your Spirit?    Where can I flee from your presence?

As I trotted behind Sophie this evening, gasping the cold air into my lungs, I thought again of God holding me, much like I held my cup this morning.  Once Sophie stopped to check some burned corn stalks and I looked up to the heavens and exclaimed, "You do know this is not a time to be smiling don't you?"

And then I found myself myself and in that moment, I know God did smile.

God, teach me to let go of my adult list of "what should be" and to simply love and enjoy you...and myself as a child. Hillsong Kids - Jesus Loves Me  AMEN.

Jesus does love me...and you.  A little three year old girl reminded me of that this past Sunday as she "taught" me the actions to a song from the back pew.  An entire sanctuary separated us, yet there was just the two of us. What a special gift and blessing.

I pray that you and I are both blessed with restful sleep.  May we rest in the knowledge that we are loved. AMEN.

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Week III - Day 1 - The Perfect Cup

Joyce's poem on page 68...that page alone could have been my lesson for this day.  Phrases that stood out for me:
"I will love you, for you, not for what you have done
or what you'll become."
"it is time for me to see the flaws of myself and stop being alarmed.""it is time for me to receive slowly evolving growth the kind that comes in God's own good time and pays no heed to my panicky pushing.""it is time for me to embrace my humanness to love my incompleteness""if I wait to be perfect before I love myself, I will always be unsatisfied and ungrateful" (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 68)
JJ Heller has a wonderful song that I suspect will also become an important part of this week's refection.  I hope you enjoy.What Love Really Means

For so long, I worked hard (and sometimes still fall into the trap) to be the perfect wife, mom, and Giz. To be the perfect Scout Leader, Room Mother, Elder, Post Prom Chair... To be the perfect...

 "it is time for me to embrace my humanness to love my incompleteness"

God, teach me love myself in my
humanness and in my incompleteness.
No matter how hard I try, I always come up short.  Sometimes in my own eyes and sometimes in the eyes of those I love or am striving to please.  I cannot be perfect.  I cannot remember everything.  I make mistakes.  God made me only human...and he loves me in my humanness and in my incompleteness.

Incompleteness is all around me.  I walked around my flower beds yesterday afternoon and was noticing that some areas did not fare well through this past winter.  This morning, however, I realize I was looking for perfection, or some notion in my head of what the flower beds "should" look like. I had made a mental note that if possible, I wanted to spend time today getting rid of some of the moss that has arrived this spring...uninvited... But this morning I am wondering if I might give myself permission to discover beauty within those same areas of my flower beds that caused a sense of restlessness and dissatisfaction yesterday.

"'Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect,' has been translated inaccurately. The actual text reads, 'Be whole as God is whole.' Wholeness implies a process, a gradual coming together into a oneness in which all the parts are integrated, but not necessarily perfect." (Rupp, p 69)

          Breathing in: Loved, loved...
          Breathing out: ....loved as I am

I watched a new Grandpa studying the
hands of his new little girl yesterday.  How
much more so God would lovingly study me.
        Holding my cup in my hands...
        Study the cup...
        Notice if there are any flaws or imperfections...
        Enjoy the cup...its color, shape, size...
        Imagine myself in God's hands...
        Imagine God observing me, studying me....
        Imagine God smiling and enjoying who I am....

Scripture: Psalm 139:13-14
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you for I am...wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works.

Make a list of your expectations of a) yourself, b) others.
Write a dialogue between God and the part of yourself that you especially struggle with accepting.
Dear God, when I picture you smiling and enjoying who I am, I...

As loving as my dad is...
God's love is greater still.
I am blessed to be the much loved daughter of the most wonderful dad.  I cannot imagine a daddy being any more loving, more protective, more generous...than my Dad.  God, when I picture you smiling and enjoying me...I picture my dad.... My dad, whose eyes always seem to light up a bit whenever I walk into his range of vision. My dad, whose eyes were distressed and grieved when he leaned over my hospital bed following a horrific car accident. My dad, who has held me and hugged me.  My dad, who has been the world to is so hard to comprehend that your eyes, your touch, your hugs....would be all that plus so much more.  My dad loves me unconditionally...and I know that in every fiber of my being. Yet, you love me even more...

Striving for Perfection = Headaches
God, I get so frustrated when I screw up!  You have given me great gifts, yet I do not always use them wisely...and I know better!  I talk when I should listen.  I push when I should be still. I demand when I should be gracious. I react when I should pause...  Those are the things that make me crazy!  I say I want to please you, and then sometimes I forget you are here.

I expect myself to always be kind and gracious.  I expect myself to not judge...especially people, but situations and circumstances as well.  I expect myself to always get things done in a timely manner.  I expect my home to be neat and attractive.  I expect....  Geeze...I expect perfection!  No wonder my head hurts....all to often!

Prayer:  (Joyce's prayer is so perfect...)
Dear God, a long time ago I learned that you never make junk. You created me as a human person whose journey of life is the path to wholeness. This journey needs room for growth and space for evolving discovery. Each day is another opportunity to receive your help and your love as I become the person I am meant to be. Help me to love myself well and to entrust my growth to your guidance. Remind me often that I am "wonderfully made" (Ps 139:14)

I will not criticize or find fault with myself or others.

Ummmm Sounds as though I could use a dose of humbleness for this day.  "God dwells within me as me." Casting Crowns offers me a song to get my world tilted a bit more toward "wholeness" this morning.  It isn't about is about Him. Who Am I - Casting Crowns

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Friday, March 25, 2011

Week III - The Chipped Cup

It is quiet at the moment, and I decided to use the quiet to read the introduction for Week III.  The Chipped Cup? ~ ~groan~ ~ 

It just gets better and better!

Peter Mayer has a wonderful song, The Japanese Bowl.  I have tried, but I cannot find it.  It is on his Heaven Below album so you could listen to a small portion on Amazon.  I invite you to hold at least these wonderful images of Mayer's as we begin reflecting on The Chipped Cup:
Not Japanese, but it does have
cracks filled with gold.
I’m like one of those Japanese bowls 
That were made long ago 
I have some cracks in me 
They have been filled with gold 

That’s what they used back then 
When they had a bowl to mend 
It did not hide the cracks 
It made them shine instead 
So now every old scar shows 
From every time I broke 
And anyone’s eyes can see 
I’m not what I used to be 

But in a collector’s mind 
All of these jagged lines 
Make me more beautiful 
And worth a much higher price 

I’m like one of those Japanese bowls 
I was made long ago 
I have some cracks you can see 
See how they shine of gold
This may be my theme song this week.   I have appreciated the words for a long time, with Joyce's writing, I suspect they will take on another whole significance.

You can just make out the chip above the flower along the edge
of the left cup.  It was actually a much bigger chip that has been repaired.
Joyce shares that a friend has a bowl with a "bad side" that as her friend has grown older, she has gained a deeper appreciation for the faded and chipped area.  I thought of a set my husband gave me for Christmas several years ago.  It is old, so one would expect worn areas.  I have always wished that one cup had never been broken and "repaired."

I have not read past the first paragraph and Joyce is already getting me out of my chair to reconsider perceptions! Looking at this tea set, I can see how it reflects my life back at me.
"The 'perfect bowls' are the ones that oftentimes are never used to bring joy to others because they are carefully kept behind glass doors or hidden in cupboards collecting dust. They never really get to engage in life or enjoy nurturing others." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 66)
What a beautiful new lens by which to consider aging.

A natural rhythm and grace...aging.
Joyce admits that her imperfections keep her ego in check.  The Wednesday Lunch Bunch talked together how we end as we began... dependent.   They wondered if aging was a gift from God since our egos are much stronger and assertive when we are young and strong.  At the time, they had no idea they were preparing their hearts for a week of The Chipped Cup.

Joyce is also giving me a bit of a "warning" that she does not want me to  approach this week, criticizing myself for imperfections.  That is not the goal of this journey. Rather, this journey is to see what my imperfections tell me about my relationship with God and with others.  I would add...with myself as well.

So, I am guessing we will be challenged to look at ourselves, our imperfections...our aging through a new lens this week.  The question will be...

Will we consider the wonder and rhythm that aging brings our hearts?

Or will we be like Maxine, complaining and grumbling about our aches and our pains?

Sounds like it will be an interesting week!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

Week II - Integration/Review

The Open Cup
Last night, between wakefulness and sleep, I thought, "I am surely done with The Cup of Life! How much more, how much deeper can I go?" My next thought, "San, this is only the end of Week II, there are four more weeks!"

I cannot begin to imagine what else Joyce will find to challenge and nudge me to consider, yet...according to the Index, there are four more weeks.

As I begin these moments of reflection on The Open Cup, I listen again to one of my favorite songs, As The Deer  AMEN and AMEN.

God of Abundance, help me remember your presence that has grace my life this past week, as I reflect back on this week of Openness. AMEN.

I invite you to reflect along with me...journal...leave a post, OH! By the way, the posts come to my g-mail account and I have periodically replied from the g-mail account, not realizing they are not going anywhere.  You do remember I am a novice at this blogging thing! Feel free to check back, another might have built on something you have written...we can blog together and learn from one another, just as the Wednesday Lunch Bunch.

"What is some of my inner clutter?"

I find myself resisting referring to some of my stuff as "clutter", yet this week I have come to acknowledge that whether it is "good" or "bad" in the eyes of the world, it is still clutter that is keeping me from the one thing I most desire.

Early on I shared a quote from Eat, Pray, Love:
"God dwells within me as me."
As I consider this thought again, not only does my clutter keep me from God, it keeps me from my true self.  How sad that I, and many others, race through our days without ever stopping to acknowledge "me".

My inner clutter is my packed schedule, the many commitments I have made; that I am beginning to accept the reality that I cannot keep well.  I hate that admission!

I hate it because I do not like to produce shoddy work...BECAUSE it makes me "look" the eyes of the world.

Ummm, San, who is it you live for?  Remember that Audience of One?

That kind of thinking is also part of my inner clutter.

"How do you experience 'listening' in your prayer?"

Robert Wicks really caused me to pause: "When we pray, how often do we say: 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening'? More often, I think, we say: 'Listen, Lord, for your servant is speaking!"

I have become much more aware of my prayers this week! The notion of giving God a laundry list of "to do".... I do not want my prayers to be a list.  It may take more than another four weeks, yet my awareness has been heightened, which is one small step.

"Does the cycle of 'emptying and filling' relate to your life experience?"

Again, a visual image that caused a deep ah-ha to rise up in my heart. I am a farm girl.  I understand and appreciate how everything in nature has a cycle of being empty (dormant) in order to once again be full (fruitful)...yet I had not thought of connecting that understanding to my own own soul.

"Be empty, and you will remain full..." ~ Lao-Tsu

"What helps me to trust God?"

Things like this study....knocking some awareness into me!

I trust by learning to see the grace that is around me and within me.  I trust by re-learning I cannot live life on my own.   Again, that illusion of control that is illustrated so well within this comic:

Seems as though I remember something about TRUST being the foundation of LOVE.  The more I am intenational about be present with God, the more I am aware of his presence throughout all my life...the more I will be able to let go of my fears and insecurities and be with him...trusting.

How great will that be!

"Have you been able to find solitude in your life?"

Geeze, are not a miracle worker and I am a slow learner!

Still, I am in such a different place this morning than I was six days ago.  I feel as thought I have been stretched, yet I think I have been emptied a little instead of being made larger in order to hold more.

In our Western thinking we often think of being "Supersized".  It is a very different notion to be "Emptied" in order to be more "Open".

"I" am becoming the unique and gifted
child God created me to be!
As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after thee
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship thee

You alone are my strength my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my hearts desire
And I long to worship thee

You're my friend and You are my brother,
Even though you are a king.

I love you more thank any other,
So much more than anything. 

I want You more than gold or silver,
Only You can satisfy.
You alone are the real joy Giver,
And the apple of my eye.


Many Blessings ~ Sandi