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When Life blindfolds us and spins us around…

What do you do when life blindfolds you and spins you around? We think it’s our fault, that we’re to blame, when really we should be focused on being gentle with ourselves. Melody Beattie

Meditation: This past month of May has been a whirlwind. There are many extra events (graduations, confirmations, end of semester testing, family gatherings, travel needs) scheduled everywhere, throwing families off their usual schedules and their equilibrium. Politics is overwhelmingly dark and maddening. Work schedules have been crazy as well with extra meetings, extra traveling and extra strategizing events. May has been a month of temperature changes on top of all of that. Our bodies want to slow down, but instead are forced to function twice as hard as usual. Being blindfolded and spun around is a good image for the past month. When we can’t keep up and when we begin dropping and losing things, or when we don’t meet deadlines, we could start getting frustrated with ourselves and push even harder. Instead, it is so helpful to know that we belong to a merciful God who wants to comfort us in the midst of our “spinning” experience. When we are troubled, God wants to comfort us. Living grounded in God’s Grace means that we can refrain from being harsh with ourselves on top of life being rough. Instead we lean into the experience of self-compassion. We acknowledge and validate how hard the past month has been, and we give ourselves credit for still standing. Or if standing is too difficult, we sit or lay down for a while, just resting. It is wonderful to belong to a God who is patient and compassionate.

Prayer: Gracious God, when we start blaming and judging ourselves for not being more “functional”, Your Spirit intervenes. You remind us of all that has happened to and around us. You remind us of the things we could not control but that impacted us deeply. And then You fill our heart with compassion for ourselves. And after you comfort us in this way, You also give us compassion for others who are “spinning” in the dark, just like us. You are such a safe place to land. And we are grateful! Amen

God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us. 2. Corinthians 1:3b-4 (NLT)

 

Deception – The New Normal

The English language has 112 words for deception, according to one count, each with a different shade of meaning: collusion, fakery, malingering, self-deception, confabulation, prevarication, exaggeration, denial. Robin Marantz Henig

Meditation: We live in the era of deception. A six year old on the street was asked what he thought about president Trump after his first year in office. The boy answered: “He changed the world. He took away harmony.” It seems to me that American children grow up today exposed to all 112 nuances of daily broadcasted political deception. However, it is intriguing to learn that the Native American community of the Apaches, who have a particularly negative view of lying, in their language only have two words for lying or deceiving. They did not need more words, as it happened so rarely in their culture. Our current American culture needs more than hundred words to describe and talk about deception, as it happens every day in many ways. The view of lying and deceiving is being normalized by our current political climate. The lack of harmony the boy describes is grounded in us becoming what our behavior and our mind engage in. We as culture are shaped by the language we use.

Prayer: God of history and God of the present day, as the Native American culture was eliminated and their values of harmony with nature became eradicated, the newly imported language and culture brought with it the frequent use and many nuances for the phenomenon of lying and deceiving. Behavior (and thus culture) creates language! God we pray that we, including our children, will remain critical and awake. We pray that we adults will teach the next generation in words and in practice the opposites of those 112 words. Amen

They will do no wrong; they will tell no lies. A deceitful tongue will not be found in their mouths. They will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid. Zephania 3:13

Eating Disorder Recovery

“No two eating disorders are the same.
No two individuals are the same.
No two paths to recovery are the same.
But everyone’s strength to reach recovery IS the same.”
― Brittany Burgunder

Meditation: My family of origin has dealt and is dealing with eating disorders. It is a genetic disorder that has caused much shame and physical and emotional harm in my family. I struggled with anorexia when I was 14 and with binge eating when I was 21. At the age of 29, I finally entered therapy and my eating disorder went into recovery. I will always need to have a conscious and mindful relationship with food.

My daughter recently went through 4 months of eating disorder treatment. For both restricting food and also for food binging behavior. Her symptoms had become severe, so that recovery was a must. We found an amazingly modern eating disorder hospital here in Atlanta only for teens age 11-16 years old. This recovery place became a safe haven for my daughter. She learned language to talk without shame about her eating disorder, she developed new coping mechanisms, she had individual and family therapy and learned to eat mindfully and in a balanced way. As family we began eating dinner together (which we had not done for years), and we have learned what triggers an eating disordered person. We try to avoid those triggers and practice having the shared meal be peaceful and pleasant. I am relieved and grateful to share that my daughter has come a long way in her recovery. She has learned what triggers cause her restricting or binging of food. She now has a nutritionist and a therapist who specialize in eating disorders. There is no shame in having an eating disorder. There is help available. Recovery is possible.

Prayer: Thank you God for professionals who specialize in eating disorder treatment in teenagers. Thank you for the holistic treatment of the teenager and of the family. Thank you that a disordered relationship with food and body can be recovered. Thank you for having my daughter back.

Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7

 

Mother’s Day Reflection and Prayer

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers. Rudyard Kipling

Meditation: Many of us remember their mothers today. Many women are being thanked and celebrated on this special occasion, and they deserve all recognition and love that comes their way. I like to also remember on this day, that there are many unusual and unrecognized “mothers” among us. I am thinking of and I am grateful for all kindergarten teachers, nurses, teachers and loving neighbors. I am grateful for all men and dads who choose to be mothers and who have motherly features. I am thankful for aunts and grandmothers who sometimes love a child exactly how the child needs to be loved. I am also grateful for women who are in their heart and in their ways with children definitely mothers, only not in a biological way. And I am grateful for the joy and the challenge to be a mother myself. I have never learned as much, grown as much and have been stretched as much until my children came along. They have made me a more patient and forgiving person. They are my mirror and show me my growing edges and my weaknesses. And they are such loving and forgiving girls who also see my strength and who appreciate me in my effort to be a Mom who learns and changes along the way as they grow and mature into their very own personalities.

Prayer: God, we are grateful for spouses and children everywhere who prepare red roses, thank you pictures and cards, self-baked cakes and breakfast in bed. We thank you for all families that celebrate in this way today. We are also aware of those who are sad today, as they miss their mother, or miss being a mother. Comfort them and help them see You as their mother who wants to provide them with what they need. Thank You for all who take the role of mothers in biological or in chosen ways. They make the world go round. And they stand in for Your presence. They help us believe that You still exist and that You still care. And we are grateful. Amen

As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you. Isaiah 66:13a

“Always remember”

Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Meditation: The phenomena we see in the US today resemble the ones in Germany eighty years ago. What we can observe as parallels are the strategic abuse and perversion of a democratic system by influencing the uneducated masses, by either controlling or demonizing the media, and by undermining the legal system. The propaganda back then was put out every day and fed nationalistic material to the masses, which sounded patriotic, but it covered up the elimination of basic human rights and of groups of people who were considered “not Aryan enough”.

Today many “not American enough” immigrants are leaving the US, or they are being imprisoned. The Fox News channel has become a right wing propaganda machine of the current government. Immoral and unethical behavior is being normalized and legal loopholes are being constantly utilized with the help of highly paid lawyers. Violence is being glorified. Wake up USA !… Never forget Germany’s history!…Always remember how minorities were systematically oppressed and killed back then… The US president is encouraging and defending a world wide movement of white supremacy…

Prayer: God of history, wake us up. Where are the demonstrators? Where are all the women who were marching in January 2017? Help us to organize and help us to resist. Let us learn from the past. In your mercy, do not allow the same strategies to cause the same harm! All that happened was done in small increments. “Everything was legal” – and “all became lethal”. God, have mercy. Amen
So be careful how you live. Live as (wo)men who are wise and not foolish. Make the best use of your time. These are sinful days. Do not be foolish. Understand what the Lord wants you to do. Ephesians 5:15-17

Letting Go…

Letting go helps us to live in a more peaceful state of mind and helps restore our balance. It allows others to be responsible for themselves and for us to take our hands off situations that do not belong to us. This frees us from unnecessary stress. Melody Beattie

Meditation: I am challenged every day as the parent of teenagers. What am I responsible for and what not? What is mine and what is theirs? While my husband has the gift of easily letting go and letting them make mistakes, and in doing so learn to claim responsibility for themselves, I often feel uptight and overly responsible for my daughters’ actions. Where does this come from? Some of us have grown up within family systems where members were either depressed, stressed, anxious or have been addicted to a substance or to work. We learned to cope by feeling overly responsible. Responsible for parents, siblings, household and the family image to the outside world. We over-functioned without being aware.  We consequently learned to “be in the world” feeling responsible for everybody and for everything. For us who learned to cope this way, it is important to remember that all persons have the right to be responsible for themselves. We need to take our hands off from what is not ours. We need to give back what we falsely took on. We need to allow others to make mistakes, learn from them and become responsible for themselves. I am allowed to feel and enjoy the relief that comes from no longer over-functioning.

Prayer: God, even You share the responsibility for this world with us. You have given us free will. You allow us to mess up, while always calling us to greater and deeper responsibility for ourselves. We are allowed to draw boundaries and set limits. We are free to let go and give back what is not ours. We, too, need to call others to greater and deeper responsibility for themselves, instead of compensating for their irresponsibility. God, free us from co-dependence and from over-functioning. Help us to “let go and let, You, God” call all of us to greater responsibility for ourselves. Amen

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. Galatians 6:4-5

Belonging

Spiritual identity means we are not what we do or what people say about us. And we are not what we have. We are the beloved daughters and sons of God. Henri Nouwen

Meditation: Sometimes life just gets too much. Sometimes the conflicts around us try to swallow us. We feel exhausted, torn, anxious and worried how we will conquer and navigate all the demands. When my job tries to define me, when my family’s needs seem to be endless, when nothing I do seems to be enough, it helps to be still and remember whose I am. I am created and formed by the One who loved me from the very beginning. I am called by name. I am set free from judgement, set free from concern about my value and worth. I am invited not to be afraid. As no matter what the outcome, I am not alone. I belong. I belong to the One who created me and who wants to set me free over and over again. Free from expectations. Free from judgments. Free from anxiety and fear.
Can I take a few moments today to be still? To remind myself that no matter what will happen, I belong to the One who created and loves me.

Prayer: God, when the going gets tough. When I feel I don’t have enough support and I am all alone tackling the demands of my day, remind me of your words that you gave to Israel and through Jesus also to us. Remind me that you know my name. Remind me that you see me and know me intimately. You say: “Do not be afraid for you are Mine.” Thank you that I belong. Thank you that I do not walk this walk alone. Amen

But now, thus says the Lord who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. Isaiah 43:1