Life Coach/Christ Coach

water falls in the middle of the forest

Monday Muse: Waiting, Seeking & Finding Hope

“….The Beatles song “Hey Jude: has this wonderful line after just advising “Jude” not to wait for someone to perform with!  “The movement you need is on your shoulders’. We spoke earlier of The Wizard of Oz metaphor in life, where we wait for a savior as Dorothy did in Oz, when the power to return to her home was always with her.

… Each day we are facing some type of trial or test in our life, …. Remember, the movement we have been waiting for is right there …

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Your Monday Muse: Finding Peace instead of living in Fear

Living in Fear Excerpt from “Life Coach/ Christ Coach”:  There is a very funny movie from comedian Albert Brooks, called Defending your Life, that is constructed on the theme that out of all the stories and trials of our lives, what we are finally judged on is our ability to live our lives without fear. We begin to see much of our own trials in life are surrounded by fear, and it becomes one of the major drivers of our behavior. And in the movie, the assumption is that if we live a life that is fearless, where we learn to take chances and damn the consequences, just living our lives to the fullest, we may conquer the inhibitions that hold us back and make us whole and well-adjusted and more perfect human beings. It is a wonderfully complex notion, and of course, one that is fictional. There are so many brave people who show us what life is like when we conquer fear. But the human condition is one where we acknowledge that we act bravely in the face of fear, not that there is no fear left! Most heroes will honestly tell you there is some measure of fear when they acted bravely. There is a funny scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail where they trail one of the knights singing of his cowardice in fleeing a battle as he ‘bravely ran away!” So it is that we remember the sayings: “Discretion is the better part of valor” and ‘Choose your battles wisely.’  We have learned earlier of the woman who marveled at the calmness of the Captain who brought order and peace when all were fearful on a huge ship at sea in a storm. That is the voice of reason, … The gathering storm is not lessened when we learn to conquer our fear, but we can live to fight another day and to face the enemy bravely when we learn to conquer our fear. There is a saying in Spanish that translates something like, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived’ We know what fear is when it drains your energy and causes you to freeze. It is something we live with, and must learn to not simply conquer, but acknowledge and learn to do battle with each day. Remember the mantra from the English living through the blitz of London in World War II: Keep calm and carry on. Is this not what Jesus did, knowing the outcome that faced him? And we do know what the outcome of our lives will be as we must all face our own mortality. … life is seen not as a battle well fought, but a life well lived and the knowledge that we are given the freedom to let go. Living in fear is much harder than fighting with death, …” Accepting God From Life Coach/ Christ Coach Excerpt “….We can relate to the many, younger people and those who go to mega-churches in search of, what Tozer calls ‘the above-average spiritual experience.” They seek something deeper, and this is, in his estimation, defined as wanting more (FOMO) ‘because the average Christian life is tragically shallow.’ Perhaps we can lose the “Christian” in this sentence as all our lives may seem more inner directed and we are isolated from other things with the cell phones and internet connections that leave us wanting more. Searching and seeking, we look for answers and Christ is one who is there for us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer brings the point home with his reading of the gospel of Matthew 6:33 “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Anxiety for food and clothing is clearly not the same thing as anxiety for the kingdom of God, however much we should like to persuade ourselves that when we are working for our families…we are thereby building the kingdom, as though the kingdom could be realized only through our worldly cares.” Bonhoeffer tells us that the kingdom of God is so far distinguished from the earthly possessions that come our way, we need to distinguish them in our minds. …. Learning to accept the will of God and to try to understand how God is speaking to you in this life can be a challenge for all of us. Oswald Chambers said that God never speaks to us in dramatic ways, but in ways that are easy to mis -understand. We are left asking at times: “I wonder if that was God’s voice?” Oswald suggests we (first) ask and we shall receive. To say, “Speak to me, Lord!” and then to listen to what you are hearing. I know that I have been deaf to his voice at times, and at others, when I was receptive and took time to listen, I found some amazing answers to the hard questions. In my own life, I changed jobs and the new one didn’t work out. I was simply looking, and seeking, when a friend sent an email of a job description that sounded like the type of work I had done many times before. I knew that even though I had thought I would never return to the old work I had done for many years, that this was a good fit. And it turned out, they needed me and I needed them! I heard God’s voice in the simple and short email that led me to a path I had thought was closed to me. This happens at times, when God will tell you where you need to be or to go. I wanted a small dog a few years back, and went to look at a dog that needed a home. The heavens opened up and it rained so hard, I barely made it home in the downpour, with no dog and not even a chance to look at it. I thought, perhaps God

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Your Monday Muse: On Living with Doubt and finding Friendship

Living with Doubt   From the book Life Coach/ Christ Coach:  …Well, I’m not sure that having doubt automatically makes us weak. It makes us human and mortal and fallible. There is a great line by John Wesley, where he says: “I went to America to convert the Indians, but O! who shall convert Me?!…..I have a fair summer religion, I can talk well…and believe myself, while no danger is near, but let death look me in the face and my spirit is troubled.  This is great stuff, and I love the line about having a summer religion. Like a summer romance or cupboard love, it’s something that can be here today and gone tomorrow. Wesley recognizes this point and is honest in his assessment of his mortal failings.  We know that having doubts in our life and in our personal faith is not as unusual as you might have been led to believe. Mother Theresa herself, in her private diaries, expressed doubts in her faith. Wesley goes on to say “O! Who will deliver me from this fear of death? What Shall I do? Where shall I fly from it? Should I fight against it by thinking, or by not thinking of it? A wise man advised me…’Be still and go on.”  He muses that it may be his cross, and something that can be used to keep him humble and keep all his good resolutions.  To simply acknowledge the fear and the doubt does not make us sinful, it means we are human. To acknowledge doubts in our lives is part of the human condition…Own your doubt and don’t let it consume you.  Free Will From Life Coach/ Christ Coach: Much is written about having free will. There is a wonderful film, Lawrence of Arabia, that stands on the theme that Nothing is Written. In the film, Lawrence finds that he may be able to rewrite the script that has been laid out in Arabia where even matters of life and death are in the hands of those who use their free will and their abilities to find success. Naturally, as one would expect, the pitfalls or downside of the life where we have free will comes into play with Lawrence in this complex story. But in the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson, those of us who tout our free will ‘mock thee when we do not fear’ and of free will, Tennyson says ‘our wills are ours, to make them thine.’ I think the idea of freedom and free will are things that people have somehow confused in their minds in recent days. When Nelson Mandela, trapped in a prison cell during apartheid, spoke of his idea of freedom, it is a very different thing from those who consider simple acts of kindness and decency to others in the community as somehow burdens upon our freedoms. Freedom, as many of us know, can be held precious when people are mindful of others who have truly lost their freedoms.  For those souls, they can better appreciate the inner peace of having a free will. And the irony is that those who are locked behind prison bars may somehow have more freedom of thought than the one who is free to move about,  yet remains trapped with a mind full of fear and darkness. Free will is something that we know is precious and we must be thankful each day for our own truly free will.   Friendship From Life Coach/ Christ Coach: Charles Kingsley, the minister and author, speaks of the great value in our lives of close and enduring friendships. Kingsley says, “ We must give and forgive, live and let live…We must hope all things, believe all things, endure all things rather than lose that most precious of all earthly possessions-a trusty friend. And a friend once won, need never be lost…”  In my Growing Group for self-esteem enhancement, we talk of the value of close friends to grow our own faith and strength and belief in ourselves throughout our lifetime. That is the message -that some of the treasures we build up here on earth that come without a price….. …. These are the things that deep friendship gives us, the strength to carry on, even when there is nothing left but to endure. Mantra; This week, I will acknowledge the doubts I have had in my life. They will not consume me, but I can own up to having doubts as all human beings do. I will acknowledge the wonderful possibilities of having free will, and at the same time acknowledge the awesome responsibilities it brings to me as a concerned citizen and human who lives in a society with others that need help and support. And finally, thinking of the obligations I have to others,  I’m also reminded of the great strengths I have found in lasting friendships and how much that means to enrich and enhance my life.  

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Your Monday Muse: Finding Happiness and giving comfort

Finding Happiness The following is an excerpt from Life Coach/ Christ Coach: The answer to the question of what Happiness is will mean different things to different people. It will change for us throughout the course of our lives. Contentment is something we may not try to seek, and happiness is that elusive thing that is mentioned in the US Constitution as that thing we are free to pursuit all our lives. What is Happiness? Most likely in Christianity it is defined through Joy. Joy is found throughout the Bible in places where we may find it most unlikely. It is in a brother reuniting with his family, after they have sold him into slavery and given him up for dead. It’s in a tale of redemption, where a father rejoices to know his wayward son has returned to the fold so that he then slays the fatted calf. A woman finds peace following her mother-in-law to a strange, new land, and a man who could not speak suddenly finds his voice upon the birth of a long-awaited child. A couple who longs to have a child suddenly find they are expecting. There are human tales, and tales of ordinary people who do remarkable things and face extraordinary odds. Giving Comfort From Life Coach/ Christ Coach: …One of the emotional scenes I have written about in the past is the comfort that I find when I seek Christ in my church simply by sitting quietly and absorbing the meditative quality and radiant light from the stained glass window portraying Christ in Holman Hunt’s “The Light of the World.” The words inscribed below the picture are: “Behold, I stand at thy door and knock.” The message is clear-those who seek Christ and keep an open mind will be comforted by his presence in times of trouble. Solutions: In Giving Comfort, we may be surprised how the advice of simply showing up may make a world of difference. Your presence may be a comfort at funerals, and a few kind words that you may feel from the genuine depths, sincerely meant and not simply uttered by rote, are what may make a huge difference in someone’s life. A short note with heartfelt sentiment can also be treasured more than you may know. Remember this when you are the one who becomes the comforter, and then in turn, may need to be comforted in return one day. Faith in Ourselves From Life Coach/Christ Coach:  John Calvin tells us that hope is nothing else than the expectation of the things that faith has believed to be truly promised by God. …Faith believes God to be our Father. Hope expects that he will always act as such towards us. ..Faith is the foundation on which hope rests. Hope nourishes faith. It is true that hope and faith do go hand in hand in this life. We spoke earlier of the virtue of clearing the air and opening our hearts, leaving behind secrets. In this idea of faith, faith looks deep and says, in the words of the missionary AB Simpson, ‘This is God’s secret. You look only on the outside; I can look deeper and see the hidden meaning’  It is akin to the diamond in the rough, when we see things at times in rough packages. Treasures of love, kindness and wisdom are often hidden within. God can see inside the rough packages, and we must have the faith -as in the Serenity prayer-the wisdom to discern through him. Trust in him and we learn more about the hidden meanings and secrets tied up in rough packages… …The Prayer for what John Baillie called “LovingKindness” is part of that belief and faith in this better world. Charles Spurgeon tells us: “Blessed is the one who waits. Wait in Faith. Many of us know that waiting is part of the human condition, and part of the Christian condition Wait in Prayer. Wait in Faith.” There is a story of a woman who took a sea voyage back in the day when crossing to Europe involved long journeys by boat. This woman, Mrs. Charles Cowman, spoke of the terror in the passengers in the face of a storm that tossed the ship. A man came among them radiating calmness and peace. He assured them in a gentle voice that all was well. Who was he? The captain of the ship. As with this, we can liken the voice of Jesus as we toss and turn on a restless night, in the midst of turmoil.  In my church, there is the beautiful stained glass picture of Jesus with the lamp, stating: Behold, I stand at thy door and knock, When there is turmoil in my life, simply staring and being in the presence of this has given me strength and peace. It is a symbol of the one who can bring this peace to us as we fight and struggle in our daily lives for answers. As we have mentioned, let him in. Christ is knocking on that door. How do we have faith? Peter Marshall tells us: “Make us like children again.”  Don’t overthink it. Not childish, but childlike in our faith, a faith that is willing to trust even though we cannot see. Mantra: This week I will think about different ways of finding Happiness. And the definition of what Happiness means to me in this life. And I will think of times I have given comfort and those who have used kind words or unexpected deeds to comfort me when I needed it. And finally, I will think back on times I have been too hard on myself, and think of “LovingKindness” when I start to lose faith in myself and my abilities. From the Bible:  Behold, I stand at thy door and knock- From Revelation 3:20

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Your Monday Muse: On Greeting the Strangers in our too-busy lives

Our Too-Busy Lives The following is an excerpt from “Life Coach/Christ Coach”:  The noted lecturer Evelyn Underhill speaks of the busy “click-click of the life of succession;” and the danger of developing what she calls a ‘lop-sided Christianity; concentrated on service ‘and on this-world obligations,’ as to forget the needs of constant willed and quiet contact with that other world. Underhill says we conjugate three verbs: to Want, to Have and to DO. ‘Craving, clutching and fussing, on the material, political, social, emotional, intellectual-even on the religious-plane, we are kept in perpetual unrest…forgetting that the fundamental verb, to BE, and ‘that Being, not wanting, having, and doing, is the essence of a spiritual life” Christ spoke of the lilies of the field. He advised to let the day’s own trouble be sufficient unto the day. It is about learning to be present in the moment, and not worrying about the future. The busy lives we lead reflect an inner emptiness at times, I am afraid. To need to fill the calendar for every minute defeats the purpose of living in the moment. The phrase: Fear of Missing Out is called FOMO. And the fear is that in doing all things and working diligently to ‘have it all’, we end up with nothing. By that, I mean there is an emptiness or a need to continually seek something that brings fulfilment, rather than looking in the mirror and starting from within yourself. My small dog is always looking to go for a walk or a ride, just like a small child! I call her “Miss FOMO” because she is always living with the fear she might miss out on something. I can relate well to the ‘click-click’ that Ms. Underhill talks about. And our busy lives are filled with so much from without, that it is a good reminder to stop and not only smell the roses, but perhaps to look at the lilies of the field and then to think about some of the things that you may have missed by not seeing the forest for the trees! Forgiving Ourselves  An Excerpt from “Life Coach/Christ Coach”: Remember that in speaking of Christian love, we learn of Christ’s forgiveness for the ultimate sin of betrayal and denial from his disciple, Peter, who had, it says, “his body and soul humbled.’ He could not think of Christ’s great act of forgiveness without crying….  William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, speaks of the time he committed a sin against some other young men in a business deal from his youth. He describes seeking them out and confessing his transgression, and the “peace that came in its place, and the going forth to serve…from that hour.” We do not need to formally commit to going back, and in some instances, as when someone is not there or is dead, we cannot go back and apologize, or right a wrong. But the conversion can take place. We can forgive ourselves when we make restitution in our minds. It may entail writing a formal letter, sealed only for you. Or talking with friends and counsel of some burden that is laying heavily on your heart and soul. … This is the beauty of the act of forgiveness in your life. As you seek out and truly forgive those who may be also reliving and remembering and worrying about something that happened long ago. The story in our own family is of two brothers who were born well over a hundred years ago, and had a falling out over money. They had not spoken in many years, when the sister of both spoke of their quarrel with the one brother she was closest to. She told him that as he attended church as a Christian, that there was no use in continuing to go each week if he wasn’t going to follow the beliefs he professed to aspire to. If he was going to live his life out as a Christian, he would have to be the one to approach his brother and make the first move.  The brother listened carefully and took her words to heart. He worked up the courage to go to his brother’s house and speak with this man who was now a prosperous merchant. The two spoke together, and cried, and hugged. The happy ending in our family story saw the two reconciled, and the brothers even began to go to church together, as the one who was approached had not been a regular attender.  The moral here, and the underlying story, is about the healing power of forgiveness and love. There had been a dark undercurrent at work in the lives of these two brothers. They could not live completely and fully as upstanding members of their community, good husbands and fathers, knowing there was a hidden pain within them. And the moment that the breach had been healed, there was an understanding of reconciliation and an acknowledgement of love.  This is what may happen when forgiveness is an act and is at work in your life.. Greeting the Stranger From “Life Coach/Christ Coach”: …One of my favorite stories, called “Nansen’s Hut,” is about living with and accepting those who are strangers. It is the story of a traveling monk. The monk stopped at the hut of a fellow worshipper and was given specific instructions about how to cook the food, clean up and to help himself to a dinner while the other man was out working.  When he returned, the place was in chaos. The bowls had been broken and the furniture overturned, and not one of the instructions he carefully left were followed. Moreover, the other monk had vanished without a word, but simply trashed the place and left! Upon reflection when telling the story, Nansen said, “He was a good monk…I still miss him!”… The story reflects and stands on its head the traditional tales of what we expect when we let people into our homes

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