EACH MONTH IN THE 12 STEPS OF HUMILITY WE ARE CLIMBING SAINT BENEDICT’S LADDER OF HUMILITY. WITH EACH RUNG WE COME CLOSER TO THE PERFECT LOVE OF GOD.
The ladder is our life on earth, if we humble our heart God will raise it to heaven. ~ St. Benedict
THE ELEVENTH STEP OF HUMILITY:
A monk speaks gently, without laughter, with modesty, briefly and reasonably without raising [her] voice. ~The Rule of Saint Benedict
Speak concisely, say much in few words; be as one who knows and yet holds [her] tongue.~Sirach 32:8
This is the third step where Benedict addresses communication. Step Nine calls us to listen more than we speak, followed by Step Ten which asks us not to be excessive in our laughter. Today we are encouraged to be brief and gentle when we speak.
When I grew up we were taught“If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all.” This might be considered a modern version of St. Benedict’s 11th Step of Humility.
By restraining our speech we are putting others before ourselves, allowing them to share something of themselves, honoring them with our attentiveness.
Much of the time when someone is talking to us we are too busy in our mind crafting our fabulous response. St. Benedict asks us to restrain our speech with a humble, honoring attitude toward others. Having listened attentively to the other we can now have our say. We aren’t to be boisterous, bragging or loud. The best rule of thumb might be to remember to respond vs. react.
When we are reactive we are being led by our emotions. But by responding we have given more thought to the words we will say.
This is often difficult and must be practiced consistently for it to become a natural habit, especially with those we are closest to.
Again Saint Benedict comes to us with words of wisdom from an ancient time that are vital to our lives today!
RESOURCES: The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century by Joan Chittister
Twelve Steps to Inner Freedom: Humility Revisited by Joan Chitister
The Twelve Steps of Humility and Pride by Bernard of Clairvaux
St. Benedicts’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Everyday Benedictine Living by Jane Tomaine
We take our bodily functions for granted until they become impaired.
For the better part of January I have been knocked down by the flu virus. More than the usual sniffles and body aches, I was immobilized by chest congestion that brought wheezing, a non-stop cough and loss of breath.
A book I’m reading on Christian mysticism brought a new perspective on the simple act of breathing.*
In the Judeo-Christian tradition the name of God is Yahweh. Written in the Sacred Hebrew tetragrammaton: YHVH (yod, he, vac, and he) it was considered unspeakable by the Jews. This unspeakability has been recognized for a long time but some see it deeper way, not only as a word formally unspoken but a word breathed. Many are convinced the correct pronunciation of Yahweh is replicating the sound of inhalation and exhalation.
Imagine… our first and last words entering and leaving this world, the one thing we do every moment of our life is actually speaking the name of God. This should make me have more respect for my lungs and the breath given me by the Holy Spirit! Try this meditation/breathing technique: Breath in whispering Yah. Then breath out whispering Weh.
YAH-WEH… YAH-WEH… YAH-WEH… YAH-WEH… YAH-WEH…
If you can’t see the video below CLICK HERE for a beautiful Michael W. Smith song to listen to as you breathe in the peace of the Lord.
The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See by Richard Rohr
How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul
Stuart Brown, MD
Earlier this year I reviewed Brene’ Brown’s book Daring Greatly in which I first learned of Stuart Brown and the National Institute for Play. Having my own challenges with finding play time I decided that PLAY was an important book for me to read.
In PLAY, Dr. Brown takes us to all sides of play, from the animal kingdom through the human lifecycle, play time in infancy to school yard rough and tumble, through adolescence on into adulthood. We learn through Dr. Brown’s research the incredible importance play is to the prevention of violence in our world and spawning innovation in the marketplace.Most interesting to me was to learn that the opposite of play is not work, but depression. Which makes total sense if you think about it.
When you read PLAY you will discover your play personality, how to take your own play history and hopefully learn how to be free to play more. I found this book quite interesting. It’s a little heavy on the research for my personal taste, but all in all I recommend PLAY by Dr. Stuart Brown.
If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for Dr. Stuart Brown’s fascinating TED talk.
IN THE LIVING LIFE LESSONS COLUMNEACH MONTH I AM SHARING LESSONS GOD HAS TAUGHT ME THESE LAST SEVERAL YEARS. TODAY LEt’s talk about Finding purpose in life.
The lines of purpose in my life never grow slack. They are tightly tied to my future in heaven, kept taut by hope.~ Colossians 1:5 (The Message)
Finding purpose for life is an issue I struggle with almost daily.
I’m married to a man who is driven with strong world-changing purpose and he walks in that with firm determination and vision for the future.
I, on the other hand, don’t.
Sure I find some purpose in supporting him, loving my friends, family, kids, grands, caring for our home, my writing and studies, etc…
But what does it all mean in the end?
The above verse is one that sets my feet back on solid ground. If I look to the world and my contribution to it for the validation of my purpose, I will be sadly disappointed time and again. But if I look only to God’s Word and the plans that He has for me I can find hope.
This hope is not one to disappoint. It is tied tightly to my future in heaven and that gives me reason to celebrate!
The trick is to not stop looking up!
If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for one of my favorite worship songs!
This past September I was blessed to see Lysa TerKeurst speak at the Women of Faith conference in Dallas. When she spoke at the conference her message was taken from Unglued so I was excited that I had already chosen it for my October Book Review.
Are a woman who struggles with stuffing your emotions or exploding from over-stuffing? Then you are going to want this book! To be honest most of us are one or the other and sometimes both depending on the hour of the day or the day of the month. Our schedules are overly committed which keeps us in danger of bursting at our seams with raw emotions daily. In Unglued Lysa shares transparent personal stories to help us recognize the differences between stuffing our emotions and exploding. She then gently teaches us from Scripture how to repair our thought processes and reactions which can help prevent future explosive episodes. Though I don’t struggle with raw emotions much these days, there were many years when I was a walking time bomb. I could have really used Unglued when I was raising my three children!
I enjoyed reading Unglued by Lysa TerKeurst and I think you will too!
If you can’t see the video screen below click here to Lysa TerKeurst discuss Unglued.
IN THE LIVING LIFE LESSONS COLUMNEACH MONTH I AM SHARING VARIOUS LESSONS GOD HAS TAUGHT ME. TODAY WE LEARN HOW TO TALK TO OURSELVES AND TO OUR CIRCUMSTANCES.
May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. ~ Psalm 19:14 (NLT)
Year by year God continues to teach me about my words. It isn’t enough to stop saying the wrongs words, I must begin to speak out health and healing. I know from personal experience that by confessing the negative things I see each day, by rehearsing them over and over verbally, I am giving them power in my life. If I want to see something different I must be committed to speak what I want to see.
It’s important that we guard our tongue. Whatever we speak we give power over our life. If we constantly talk about our problems we will continue to see them. If our body is in pain and we talk about the pain symptoms to our friends, we will continue to have the pain. On the contrary, if while in pain, we choose to speak health and healing over our body, in spite of what we actually see or feel, we will begin to walk in health and healing. Genesis tells us that God created the earth and all that is in it with His Words, and that God gave man authority over all the earth. Scripture also tells us the power of life and death are in our tongue. This is difficult concept for many to grasp. Some Christians are uncomfortable with it and see it as New Age mysticism or positive mental attitude stuff. It’s true you can find this concept in some New Age teachings, but it is totally Biblical. At 100 years old God told Abraham that he would be the father of a nation, that his children would number as great as the stars. Abraham believed and God counted him as righteous because of his faith!
Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. ~ Romans 4:17
I first learned this principle listening and watching Joyce Meyer in 2005. I was inspired by her teaching and books and wanted to have what she had. So I began following her example by rewriting various Scripture verses in first person and speaking them out loud over my life.
I am a new creature in Christ: old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Then I began to recognize negative things happening in my family, situations that I knew God wanted to be different. Based on what the Bible tells us God wants for our lives, I began calling those things that were not as though there were. When I began making these affirmations over my family and marriage they were not true. Today they are!
For my family:My family is fully restored and my children have forgiven me.
For my marriage:My marriage is completely restored. My husband and I have a healthy relationship that glorifies God.
Take this lesson to heart for yourself and your family. God has given us the ability to create goodness in our own lives by the power of our words. If it can happen for me it can happen for you! If you can’t see the video screen below CLICK HERE for a song to help us dedicate our words to God. Photo credit: kentoh / 123RF Stock Photo
Time is a mysterious thing. We can’t see it but we can see the results of it. We can measure it but we can’t control it. Today I want to talk about marking time to bring more awareness of its passing.
A few years ago I read something that brought serious attention to my lack of awareness of time passing in my life and how I was spending that time.
Today the average person dies at 70 years of age. So if you are 20 years old, you have just 2,500 weekends left to live. If you have turned 30 you have 2,000 weekends left until you die. If you are 40 years old, you have only 1,500 weekends left. If you are 50 then you have just 1000 weekends, and if you are 60 you have a mere 500 weekends left.**
Rather than days or moments many of us look at the passing of time in weeks often living specifically for the weekend. Counting time in years keeps our mortality at a distance. Counting by weekend keeps life a little closer but how are we spending those weekends? When I read the quote above I was 50 years old and had just spent the last ten years of my life totally living for a party weekend. It shook me and my husband up so much that we decided to create a way to track our weekends passing. Based on our ages we counted up the approximate number of weekends we had left to live. We purchased a lovely crystal vase and filled it full of glass marbles to represent the weekends left in our life. Each Friday we remove one marble and place it in a visible location. Then on Monday the marble goes in the trash. We started this exercise six years ago and the decrease in marbles is definitely noticeable now. We don’t talk about it much, but each Friday the marble is in its place bringing regular awareness of our use of time. It will be interesting to see the continued effect on our use of time as the vase gets emptier.As we track the lapsing of time, keeping present visible between the past and the future; we become more aware of the moment, the now in which we are.
HOW ARE YOU MARKING THE PASSING OF TIME IN YOUR LIFE?
You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. ~ James 4:14 (God’s Word Translation)
CLICK HERE for a beautiful video to meditate on as you appreciate the passing of time.
Last December, while searching for books to review, I stumbled upon Made to Craveby Lysa TerKeurst. I was unfamiliar with the author but found many books by her with raving reviews and as a seasoned Amazon shopper that means BUY =D
With obesity rates rising, it’s no secret that food is a big problem in our world today. Though this isn’t my specific area of weakness, sex and food addiction are closely related, so I decided it would be a great selection to review. Little did I know God had a different reason for me to read this book. On a seemingly normal Saturday afternoon, I was reading along when all of a sudden God snuck up and healed a deep emotional wound from my childhood! Just like that. Out of the clear blue. Healing came through Chapter 14 ironically titled Emotional Emptiness. To process her own childhood emotional wounds, Lysa used Philippians 4:8:
“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”
So as I read how Lysa processed her painful memories, I processed my own unmet nurturing needs. Here are excerpts from my journal:
What is true about my childhood?It is true that by father was emotionally unavailable, an alcoholic, sex addict and womanizer. It is true that my older brother was born handicapped and my mother wasn’t able to give me the nurturing I needed because she had to care for my siblings. It’s true momma did the best she could. She didn’t reject me on purpose, she was just running on her own strength and didn’t have enough to go around.
What is right about my childhood? It is right that my mother did all she could to care for my brother. God just whispered to me – if our roles had been reversed – if I had been in the wheel chair, my mother would have done the same for me!
What is pure, lovely, admirable and praiseworthy in my childhood?What if I change my perspective on this emptiness and feeling of lack? What if I look back at this memory and see it as a sacrifice of love for my brother so that he could have the care that he needed most? Jesus doesn’t see His wounds as a victim but as a sacrifice of love. I mustn’t see the empty places as lack for me but as a gift to my brother and sister. By doing this my perspective changes to purity of heart, loveliness for my brother, my sister, and my mother. Seeing the positive vs. the negative allows my pain to become something admirable and praiseworthy.
Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting a surprise healing that day. One thing I know, is that my burden is gone. I am free from that empty pain of lack! Our cravings may come in different packages but the bottom line is still the same: we’re all trying to fill our spiritual emptiness, to moisten our dried up hearts with pleasures found in the world. It won’t work no matter how hard we try. It seems the harder we try the deeper the hole gets, and the less satisfaction comes until we are so numbed that we can’t feel our brains think any more. Whatever your weakness: food, sex, gambling, shopping, media… You will find help in this book. Where the word food shows up just fill in your particular weakness. That’s what I did and it worked for me! I highly recommend Made to Craveby Lysa TerKeurst. It’s an easy read, with touching personal stories sure to reach a spot in your heart. There are study guide questions at the end of each chapter that make it perfect for small groups to work together.
What is an emotional pit?Anything we can’t get out of with our own strength. What is your pit made of?Self-pity; compulsive habits, depression, anxiety, worry, doubt…
“A pit is an early grave Satan digs hoping to bury you alive.”~ Beth Moore
How did we get into this pit?
Pushed in innocently by someone else :: family heritage, spouse adultery, job loss.
Slipped in by our own unplanned doing :: started dieting ended with eating disorder.
Jumped in with willfully planned sin, rebellion or disobedience.
Our pit dwelling may be caused by any combination of the above, or we may have gotten into one and it lead to another. Whatever the case living in the pit is not where we want to be.
Whatever we focus on will draw us in.
By focusing on our weaknesses or the circumstances we see in the natural, we give them power in our lives. They draw us in. We end up walking directly into the pit that we really want to avoid. When we’re riding a bicycle and we focus on the parked car near the curb we’ll surely ride into it. The same is true with our areas of weakness. If we focus on them we will fall right into it. Instead, we must keep our focus on Christ, by meditating on His Word we will be less likely to fall back into our pit. I’m not saying we won’t still struggle. But I know from experience, if I keep my thoughts going in the right direction that’s more than half the battle.
Can’t we just steer clear of the pit?
As Believers we owe ourselves and those in our circle of influence the determination and commitment to do everything in our power to walk away from the pit. You might fake it till you make it. But will power won’t sustain for long. Unless and until we turn our our self-destructive desires and weaknesses over to God nothing will change.
When will we turn our desires over to God? Must they nearly destroy us?
Unfortunately, that’s what I did. I had to lose my job, my home, my car, my family, and then my freedom before I looked up from my pit to find God’s loving hand reaching to pull me out.
Is God in your life? Are you living victoriously? Or are you living in your pit?
I encourage you to spend some time with God. Ask Him to search your heart for the pits that you may be headed for or are living in now. Get a good study Bible, do a topical word search related to your pit struggle. Dig into God’s Word. I guarantee you will find a hand reaching to pull you out!
I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. ~ Ps. 40:1-2
Click Here to watch Beth Moore’s teaching video “Get Out of That Pit”