Finding your Sacred in the Ordinary

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Sacredinspiring awe or reverence among believers in a given set of spiritual ideas.

“The sacred is in the ordinary…it is to be found in one’s daily life, in one’s neighbors, friends, and family, in one’s own backyard…travel may be a flight from confronting the sacred–this lesson can be easily lost. To be looking elsewhere for miracles is to me a sure sign of ignorance that everything is miraculous.”   -Abraham Harold Maslow

Finding the Sacred in the Ordinary—

SILENCE: I recently heard a podcast where inmates were being interviewed & asked what physical comfort they missed most. All sorts of ideas circled in my mind thinking their answer would be sex, a favorite food, etc. The answer…Silence. It truly struck me. I had never even thought of that, how we take for granted a fleeting moment of silence or don’t truly understand how accessible this gift truly is and we don’t utilize it like we should. We have every opportunity to turn off the television, quiet the children with calming words held within a book, can go beyond our personal limitations through moments of meditation & we choose to fill our days with noise. It struck me & has made me think twice when the whirls of media chime into my life. I am going to take back those moments & remember the gift of silence.

LOVE: finding the love even when the love seems to be hidden. I came across this quote that made me think…“It is inbred in us that we have to do exceptional things for God: but we have not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things, to be holy in mean streets, among mean people, and this is not learned in five minutes.”  -Oswald Chambers        I live in a predominately one religion neighborhood & my small family does not join in, so we often feel left alone. I have found that in order to be able to find a small piece of love we have to go out of our way to send it by doing small acts of service—taking cookies, leaving inspirational Cd’s, little tokens of kindness to have a connection in some way.      It is easy to find sacred moments when you are serving some kind of LOVE in some small way.

CAPTURE IT! You can find something beautiful if you look to capture it!! Look at everything like you are seeking to capture a moment with a fluttering butterfly—it is there and gone within a moment. You will not see anything if you don’t seek it. When you are outside even for a moment look for some small detail that captures you!! It stikes a moment of awe, it draws you for a closer look. Stop, take out your camera (most people these days have them on their phones) and capture it!! I have done this many times on my daily walks. I look for anything that draws me in, a leaf in the shape of a heart, a bird nest, a rain drop on a leaf, tree bark patterns, the whimsical poppies that dance in the wind, on and on. Nature is just one place to look—can you find tiny details within your home, your day?? Can you capture a sweet smile, does your cup of coffee seem to hold a sacred moment for your day. There are moments to capture all around you…find the sacred within them.

LITTLE THINGS: We can find the sacred in the small things that bring us joy, like the comfort of a cozy blanket, sitting on a warm heater vent, appreciating the warm flow of a shower, picking out beautiful strawberries that are in abundance, enjoying fresh, clean water, so many small details of little things we are gifted each day.

FAMILY: “Our most basic instinct is not for survival but for family. Most of us would give our own life for the survival of a family member, yet we lead our daily life too often as if we take our family for granted.”  -Paul Pearshall    Our families should be one of our most sacred gifts. We should strive to fill their days with gratitude and appreciation for the love that is shared.

The sacred things you hold are held in the eyes of the beholder. What you see sacred becomes sacred, what you feel is sacred becomes inspiring, what creates awe and wonder through your lenses is what will hold your attention and help you to find the sacred in the every day ordinary. Best wishes on your journey to find the small, ordinary things that will make each day beautiful, blessed…sacred.

Lots of love and awe inspired moments.  -Heather

Trust in your life’s natural FLOW

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“Flow with whatever may happen and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. That is the ultimate.”  -Chuang Tzu

I just got back from a walk, the weather was rain when I started, so I began it with a attitude of enjoying the rain. While I was walking a woman approached me who was just starting on her walk, she asked me, “Is it getting better or worse?” I smiled, “it comes and goes, you just need to embrace it and enjoy the fresh smell of the beautiful rain.” She hurried on. I literally stopped and felt how this moment was like life, we have to enjoy the flow, whatever may come.

On my way back I pondered about my husband and how hard it has been on him mentally to begin again, to look for a job. I began to pray for my little family, knowing that God knows what is best for us. He knows what flow will be the right current that will take us to where we need to be. I continued to pray for His guidance, to help us allow what we need into our life.

Sometimes it is very hard to remember that he has a plan for everything. That there are not coincidences, only moments of grace. That he can guide, direct, change everything in a moment. That is where our faith needs to step in, to allow, to listen, to look for His direction.

We read this beautiful story before bed last night—it is amazing. It illustrates this whole idea beautifully. Enjoy.

The Tablecloth by Richard Bauman, from Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul

A young minister had been called to serve at an old church that at one time had been a magnificent edifice in a wealthy part of town. Now the area was in a state of decline and the church was in bad shape. Nevertheless, the pastor and his wife were thrilled with the church and believed they could restore it to its former magnificence.

When the minister took charge of the church early in October 1948, he and his wife immediately went to work painting, repairing and attempting to restore it. Their goal was to have the old edifice looking its best for Christmas Eve services.

Just two days before Christmas, however, a storm swept through the area, dumping more than an inch of rain. The roof of the old church spring a leak just behind the altar. The plaster soaked up the water as if it were a sponge and then crumbled, leaving a gaping hole in the wall.

Dejected, the pastor and his wife looked at the defaced wall. There was obviously no chance to repair the damage before Christmas. Nearly three months of hard work had been washed away. Yet the young couple accepted the damage as God’s will and set about cleaning up the damp debris.

It was a depressed minister and his wife who attended a benefit auction for the church youth group that afternoon. One of the items put up for bid was an old gold and ivory colored lace tablecloth, nearly fifteen feet long.

Seized with an inspiration, the pastor was the high bidder at $6.50. His idea was to hang the tablecloth behind the altar to cover the ragged hole in the wall.

On the day before Christmas, snowflakes mingled with the howling wind. As the pastor unlocked the church doors, he noticed an older woman standing at the nearby bus stop. He knew the bus wouldn’t be there for at least half an hour, so he invited her inside to keep warm.

She wasn’t from the neighborhood, she explained. She had been in the are to be interviewed for a job as a governess to the children of a well-known wealthy family. She had been a war refugee, her English was poor and she didn’t get the job.

Head bowed in prayer, she sat in the pew near the back of the church. She paid no attention to the pastor, who was hanging the tablecloth across the unsightly hole. When the woman looked up and saw the cloth she rushed to the altar.

“It’s mine!” she exclaimed. “It’s my banquet cloth!”

Excitedly she told the surprised minister its history and even showed him her initials embroidered in one corner.

She and her husband had lived in Vienna, Austria, and had opposed the Nazis before the Second World War. THey decided to flee to Switzerland, but her husband said they must go separately. She left first. Later she heard that he had died in a concentration camp.

Touched by her story, the minister insisted that she take the cloth. She thought about it for a moment but said no, she didn’t need it any longer, and it looked pretty hanging behind the altar. Then she said good-bye and left.

In the candlelight of the Christmas Eve services, the tablecloth looked even more magnificent. The white lace seemed dazzling in the flickering light of the candles, and the golden threads woven through it were like the brilliant rays of a new dawn.

As members of the congregation left the church, they complimented the pastor on the services and on how beautiful the church looked.

One older gentlemen lingered, admiring the tablecloth, and as he was leaving he said to the minister: “It’s strange. Many years ago my wife–God rest her—and I owned such a tablecloth. She used it only on very special occasions. But we lived in Vienna then.”

The night air was freezing, but the goosebumps on the pastor’s skin weren’t caused by the weather. As calmly as he could, he told the man about the woman who had been to the church that very afternoon.

“Can it be,” gasped the old man, tears streaming down his chicks, “that she is alive? How can I find her?”

The pastor remembered the name of the family who had interviewed the woman. With the trembling old man at his side, he telephoned the family and learned her name and address.

In the pastor’s old car they drove to her home on the other side of town. Together they knocked on her apartment door. When she opened it, the pastor witnessed the tearful, joyful and thrilling reunion of husband and wife.

Some people would call it an extremely lucky chance happening, the result of a hole in the church wall, an old tablecloth, a pastor’s ingenuity in solving a problem and so on. But the combination of events was far too complex for it to have merely “coincidence.”

If one link in the fragile chain of events had been broken, the husband and wife might never have found each other. If the rain hadn’t come, if the church roof hadn’t leaked, if the pastor had decided not to go to the auction, if the woman hadn’t been looking for a job or standing on that corner at just the right time…the list of ifs is virtually endless.

It was simply God’s will. And, as it has been said many times, He works in mysterious ways.

I hope you enjoyed this beautiful story. I hope it touched your soul and will set you in a good place for your day. Peace, Love and Joy to you.  -Heather

What do your kids REALLY NEED?

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Lately my husband and I have been back and forth on our concern about moving our ten-year-old daughter from a home she loves and the close proximity to her cousins and family for an out-of-state job position.  We are in the middle of making the decision to keep a steady income with the possibility of moving or taking a less paying job and staying. It has been a roller coaster of pros and cons. So I thought I would do some research on what children really need…their REAL needs vs COMFORT needs. So, here are some of my findings, mixed in with my own thoughts and feelings. Hopefully these ideas will help encourage you to invest a little more in the children within your life.

CONVERSATION: I strongly believe kids need to be heard and when you truly listen there is a stronger investment in the relationships. Talk to your kids regularly, don’t be too quick to fix their problems or tell them what you would do. Listen and allow them to get out their feelings, to see that you are truly engaging in their needs and concerns. This will help them to always open up and talk.      Try and see yourself in their childlike shoes. What may seem like a small problem, to them may be a big experience—listen and empathize. Help love them through.

Tips & Tricks: Have a highlight moment of the day & ask your kids what were the highlights of their day.  Play a get to know you even better game in the car & have fun questions for one another. Have fun family questions on the dinner table to pick and choose from when you have a quiet moment together.

CONNECTION: I have heard time and time again that kids who feel closely connected to their parents that they want to cooperate. There are many things to consider when talking about connection like play, hugs and affection, getting rid of outside distractions, etc.      It is easier to ask your child to get out of bed in the morning if you spend a few minutes snuggling in bed with them or read them something inspirational before sleep. My daughter loves it when I tickle and rub her arms, we also have personal back scratches that create waterfalls, rainbows, rose petals, raindrops…that help soothe and relax her. Its a good way to connect and help her feel safe.          Be present with your child. Focus on being with them then and there. You only have so much time with your child until they are all grown up and move on, so be with them, listen to them, connect with them on any and every level.

Tips & Tricks: According to many sources—people needs 8 hugs a day. So think about, plan it out and give those hugs to those you love…morning, noon and night, just because & always to say “I Love you.” I came across a good quote to remember Focus on CONNECTING, not just CORRECTING. 

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance.                We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”  -Virginia Satir

PRAISE & APPRECIATE: Notice the little details in moments of greatness. When you as a parent are awarded a piece of art done by your little one, take a moment and look at the details, comment on the great use of colors, the pattern, the background. Don’t just respond with “great drawing.”      Always try to point out the good moments in any situation. My daughter is constantly at odds with cousins touching her stuff and playing with things without asking. I have to talk her through those moments & point out how well she handled the little kids with kindness and patience.      Make sure you take special moments to praise your little ones in front of your spouse. Since my husband travels a lot it is fun to sit down together and talk about all the highlights he missed while he was gone.       Be silly & make some noise–kids really do LOVE the attention when you yell their name as they jump out of the car and run to the school or when they are performing and you whistle loud and scream their name.      Create moments of celebration–whether you have a special dinner in honor of entering reflections, or give a gold coin for good behavior, honor your child for being the special person they are.

Tips & Tricks: Have a special spot (fridge, personal bulletin board, special shelf) to allow children to shine and share their artwork or a outstanding test.  Make a special book each year that you include their artwork and special tests, write a special letter & make it a cherished keepsake.

PLAY:  have nicknames, special handshakes & songs you make up together. Play creates moments of rituals and tradition. We have special songs we sing for Halloween that we made up together, we have recently created a special “Fairy Day” for the first of May, because fairies have been a special addition to our whimsical world of imagination. My daughter comes home with fun handshakes and teaches them to me & our nicknames go on and on depending on the mood of the day.

Tips & Tricks: Take time to create moments of play together—make fairy houses out of sticks and acorns, tickle each other for the television remote, put puzzles together and make candy bets during card games. Have fun and PLAY!

QUIET TIME: Have some special quiet time as a family. Take 15-30 minutes or more and sit down together–read, write in your journals, meditate, go on a walk, do something that takes you away from the noise of the day. Children need your undivided attention, but they also need quiet spaces.     Your time and attention is so vital to the relationship between you and your child. Taking this time together will be able to mend wounds, heal hurts, create moments that will open up conversations and will ultimately take care of any need that arises.

Tips & Tricks: Give your child a special place in their room that is a good reading corner. Have a great chair or pillow where they can read, write, be still. My daughter has just began to write in her journal each night before bed. Yeah!!      Create opportunities of quality time with your child. Have a special day each week where you go out together. Have daily quiet time where you just talk or read together.

Additional Tips & Tricks from an Expert: According to Dr. Harley Rotbart, author of No Regrets Parenting–Turning Long Days and Short years into Cherished Moments for your Kids, he said this…

What do kids really need from their parents?

1. Security–Kids must feel safe and sound. This means providing them with basic survival needs (shelter, food, clothing, medical care and protection from harm)

2. Stability–Stability comes from family and community.

3. Consistency–Parents must synchronize their parenting. No “good cop, bad cop.” Consistency also means that important values should not be changed casually or for convenience.

4. Emotional Support–Parents words and actions should facilitate kids trust, respect, self-esteem, and independence.

5. Love–Saying and showing you love your kids can overcome almost any parenting “mistake” you might make. Even when kids have disobeyed, angered, frustrated, and rebelled against you, they must know that you love them and that you’ll always love them.

6. Education–Make sure your kids get the best possible education for their future. This, of course, includes school. But it also includes the valuable lessons about life that you provide during the time you spend together.

7. Positive role models–Parents are their kids first and most important role models. Be the kind of person you want them to become.

8. Structure–Rules, boundaries, and limited: Without them, kids are forced to be adults before they are ready, and they lose respect for you and other adults.

Well, I hope these ideas will spark some motivations to do more with your little ones. Happy Parenting.  Happy Day.   -Heather