Tuesday, October 28, 2014

For the weary

Let us take our burdens to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.  Only there will we find rest.  I try and conjure up my own rest, I try and plan and think and prepare.  But I need rest even from this!  This is why rest can only be found in one place.  Our rest lies in the one who created us, who created everything and saw that it was good.

I struggle in my relationship with rest.  I feel I always need to be doing something, always improving myself in some way.  But rest is an integral part of growth.  Rest takes all of the data I've filled myself with, and integrates it into me.  I helps me see with fresh and refreshed eyes.  It helps me to rest in the One bigger than me.

Rest can help me get in touch with my true self, the self that is hidden with God in Christ.  The self that is being lived through, that is a part of the mystery of the universe, that is at peace, that is good.  For me, it's scary to rest because I fear that nothing will catch me if I fall into relaxation, but this is a lie.  I must remember that there are seasons of life, seasons to fight, but also seasons to rest too.  

If in faith I rest, character can be built into me.  There is time for all the new data, all the new information to take its proper place in me and in the larger story that I'm a part of.  The balance between rest and work can be difficult to understand but I believe contemplation, or a contemplative mind can understand it better than a simple either/or or dualistic way of thinking.  With a contemplative mind, I can see that my rest makes my work all the more sweeter, and good work also will make my rest more productive.

We may even feel guilty or sinful if we start to rest.  Also, when we start to rest we may feel ill at peace because the clutter going on in our mind and body may come to the surface.  Our inconsistencies may seem louder because we have come to a place where we can see them more clearly.  But inviting compassion into our times of rest, inviting the presence of Jesus into it, can help us bind to the One True Voice in the midst of our clutter.  And in this way, we are transformed.  We recognize Jesus more in deeper parts of us, which is salvation.

Lord God, give the capacity, the desire, to rest in you.  Let all my troubles fall away in light of your beautiful rest.  Please help me to be at peace with myself, with others, with you.  And in all, help me to rest in my truest identity as a beautiful child of you. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Beauty shakes us from the familiar, from where we are stuck.  If we but behold it, let it sink in, let it speak into us.  A beautiful song, if I meet it with gratitude, can lift me to new heights.  A beautiful painting can be healing to the place in each of us that longs for beauty, for creativity.  A beautiful sunset can put me at peace, because I feel I'm taking part in the transcendent, in that which is beyond me, but which includes me.

Beauty can create in me a sense of flow, a sense of ease, where thoughts come and go without troubling me.  I don't need to shy back from beauty, from letting it wash over me, for beauty is from God.  In the beautiful moment, I know on a different level, I know in a deep place of me.  In the beautiful moment, I'm held, I don't need to announce my presence, the presence I feel is enough.  In the beautiful moment, I am both awake and at rest.  I am in love, and a part of love.  The script has become to us alive, relevant, free.

Beauty transcends fear, transcends dualistic thinking, transcends ego and ego traps.  It shakes us awake, shakes us from the mundane.  Beauty is related to mystery, to a place where we leave what we know, to join something bigger and better.

God grant me the capacity to let beauty speak to me, to let it wrap around me and take me in.  Let me see you as beauty.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Learning from each other

If we're open, we can learn a lot from each other.  This is the beauty of community, and of relationship. I believe that those are different from us hold special significance for our own personal growth.

Each time I meet someone or talk with someone I want to be open from learning from them.  I believe that this can change us and give us more of an open stance towards life.  Also, this is more inviting to them, and they may be encouraged to share themselves with us.  Also, if I'm open to other people, I will be more open to the moment, to being surprised by the grace in the day.  Also, if I'm not open to other people affecting me, I will not be open to God affecting me either.  I believe that what I'm talking about is more open stance towards life, an opening to mystery, to things that I don't yet know and don't quite know how to take in yet.  To believe that we are complete is to close us off from mystery, from the other.  Also, this isn't living by faith.

We are all a work in progress, and this may sound disappointing, but rather it invites us to dance with the Life flowing through the universe.  If I'm already perfect, I don't need to search for life outside of myself.  If on the other hand I'm aware of my shortcomings, if I know where I end, then I'm more aware of where Another begins.  Our job and goal isn't to work towards independence and self sufficiency, but rather interdependence and dependence on God.  In this way of thinking about things, your gifts are valuable and can add to my life and the life of the community.  Also, my gifts are valuable too and can be used for the common good.

We each have a choice in this life to go about reinforcing our current beliefs, our status quo, our way of seeing the world, or we can open ourselves to mystery, to other peoples' way of seeing, to ideas that stretch and expand our current beliefs.  It's tempting to look for things to reinforce the status quo, for we all want some element of control.  But we can go through our entire lives telling ourselves the same message, of entrenching ourselves deeper and deeper into our own modes.  If we're able to listen for new voices, than we must admit that our own way is just that, our own way, and is incomplete.  I believe we can go through our whole lives fighting for our piece of the pie, or for control, only to realize that life is shared, and made more full through the sharing.

To change from a mode that goes about reinforcing its own beliefs to one open to mystery is to look fully into God, not to get from him what we would like, but to have him speak into us the love that accepts all and transforms all.  We are each created in the image of God, but none of us bears the full image ourselves, we need each other, we need relationship to teach us more about God.  God himself is relationship, lived out in the Trinity.

I also believe that we can seek out areas to challenge ourselves.  Am I shy?  Then maybe I need to seek out those who are more outgoing.  Am I too bold?  Then maybe I need to seek out those who have peace in themselves and don't need to control to have peace.  Am I racist?  Then maybe I need to hang out with those of other ethnicities so I can learn from them, learn to love them, learn to see their uniqueness.  We are given each other to go on practicing the kingdom of God until the kingdom is a full reality.  We are bound to each other, we are given to each other.  To accept this, to open our arms and hearts to others, is to love God.  It is accept infinite mystery, to accept grace that leads to grace and to ever increasing levels of grace.

We will never have this perfected in our lifetimes.  But steadily looking into love, letting our hurts and hangups fall away, can help us to take a more open stance to life.  But we need love and grace for this, we can't muster up the courage to change ourselves.  We need to subject ourselves to mystery, to be open to this mystery, and to not fight back when mystery asks us to give up previous beliefs or ways of being.

Sunday, October 5, 2014


Jesus is our home, the place where we can rest our head.  He is our refuge, the place where we can find peace.  He is the creator of all, and we need look nowhere else for our home.  Orphans and widows, the downtrodden and neglected, those uncomfortable with themselves or their bodies, all the sorrowful, we need to come home.  He doesn't criticize us for our troubles, doesn't look down on us for all of the places we've been, only desires us to come home.

Jesus went before us and defeated death, took our burdens for us, hung that he we might be free.  This ultimately journey, God becoming man, living the perfect life, being crucified, and then risen back to life, was done for you, was done for me.  It means that Jesus is our home, with all our imperfections, with all our hopes and dreams, with all our bitterness, with all the places we look for security besides in Him.  He underwent his journey before we asked him to, before we sought a home.  He prepared a home for us in advance of anything we did, good or bad.  He is alive!  He holds all our hope!  He knows us!  The home has been prepared, I need only seek it, I need only say yes to it.

When we find our home, it gives us courage to leave other worries behind.  The worries that I can't control seem to have less grip on me.  When we come into our home, we are changed.  Character is built in us.  Suffering seems less meaningless and can even be seen as a teacher.  Home gives us the courage to go back out into the world and fight the good fight.  Home is both something prepared for us and for which we must give all.

There is room at home for all of us.  We are brothers, we are sisters.  We have one Father, the one who sees us, loves us compassionately and radiates his love and power throughout the universe for all of eternity.  He doesn't fear the differences in us, and invites us to take His perspective on this too.  Our bitterness may not end overnight, but committing ourselves to his grace, his refinement can help chip away at it, until we see a little more like He does.

At home, all of my scars and bruises can be healed.  The places I've been, the areas where I'm ashamed, can all find relief at home.  At home, we are all celebrated.


I believe that we're called to live a life a worship.  This does't have to mean what we think of worship in the classic sense of the word, of standing in church and singing.  Rather, I think it means having a spirit within us that is responsive to God's Spirit.  Therefore it's not confined to the walls of a church, not confined to music either.  My joy, my laughter, my thinking, even my pain, can all be places for worship.  It's about the disposition and attitude I choose in each of these things.  I can give God praise for my laughter, I can earnestly seek him in my pain.  

I believe that worship means saying "yes" to God on the most basic level.  It's committing all my actions, dispositions, feelings and thoughts to Him.  It's saying "yes" to God with the deepest part of who we are, as our grounding of being, with the essence of who we are.

For this reason, I believe that one religion will never be alone the only place where people can experience and interact with God.  If worship is more about saying "yes" to God in our soul, of giving way to his divine mercy, than of worshiping in the right church, then I believe that it's available to anyone.  Also, for this reason, I believe that a counseling session where God isn't mentioned can be spiritual.  As a counselor, I want to encourage people to say "yes" to a bigger life, "yes" to a life that is meaningful, "yes" to hope, and "yes" to grace.  If this occurs, I believe that God is honored.

This being said, I feel that church can be a great place to worship, as long as it doesn't send the message that worship must be confined to its walls, or that those outside of these walls can't worship.  I believe that a church should send a message of love, one of hope, of grace, of equality, of justice, of freedom, of joy and happiness.  

I believe that worship is choosing love over bitterness, it's about choosing grace over condemnation, it's about saying "yes" rather than no, it's about abundance rather than scarcity.  Each day I have an opportunity to engage the day with open arms, with an open mind, with hope of being shaped and molded by the grace in each day.  But I must choose, it can't be chosen for me.  The grace is already present, God is already working, I must seek where he is working and give all towards His efforts.  

Thursday, October 2, 2014

God Wants us to Enjoy Life

This may sound obvious, but it is actually a shift in thinking.  It may have to do with the God you were raised with, or with relationships with parents.  It also may have to do with where the emphasis was put in your early years.  Was your God a vengeful God, a God of wrath?  Was your God a God who stays in heaven looking for ways to accuse, ways to correct, ways to get us back in line?  Was the main message you were taught duty, following orders, giving up pieces of who you are up for the hope of some distant glory that never comes?

We need a benevolent view of God.  The view I have of God affects how I think of myself and my day.  If I have a carrot on a stick theology, always being dissatisfied with what or who I am, I will struggle to find rest.  I will always struggle to feel ok.  This doesn't sound much like good news.  God isn't sitting up there correcting, he is loving, he is pursuing.  He wants more freedom for us than we want for ourselves.  God wants us to enjoy life, he wants us to trust the divine mercy flowing through the universe.  God is love, all else I can hold loosely.

We don't need to put God in a box.  We don't need to go him for spiritual nourishment, and then somewhere else to have fun.  The small details of our life matter to God.  Throughout our day, he is pursuing us more than we are pursing him.  He is hoping we enjoy our day more than we are.

Therapy with Children

I believe that therapy with children is about finding the joyous part of them, the part that's alive, or that has potential, and then working at bringing this out more fully.  In their life, children may have had to bury this part in order to survive.  They may have had to bury the parts that had hope, that give them joy, that sought comfort because they may have reached out with these parts only to find their needs frustrated.  For self preservation, they needed to stop reaching out.  Then in therapy, it's our job to find this part, these hidden needs, to acknowledge, to help remove the shame from them, to call them good, and help the child experience them in a safe setting.  I believe that this is consistent with a strengths based approach.  We look for their strengths, their internal resources and seek to bring these to the surface.  This type of approach is I believe a positive one.  When meeting with a child we are not looking for their deficits, not for the places they are lacking.  Rather, we are accepting them for who they are and encouraging them to share all that they are with us.  

In this type of approach, the atmosphere we want to create is one of openness, one of acceptance, one where the therapist remains curious about and present with the child.  We want an environment conducive to growth for the child.  It's not about the child living up to or attaining to demands we would have.  It's not even about our dreams or goals for the child.  It's more about letting the child's dreams naturally form in the open and supportive environment.  In an atmosphere and relationship like this, I believe that it also takes the pressure off of the therapist.  I'm less pressured to have the answers for the child, less pressured to steer them in a direction and therefore less frustrated if we don't like the direction they are taking.  My job is not to set out goals for the client or steer them in any of my directions, rather it is to join in the child in their world and help the child move towards their individual and unique light.  

For the therapist, this takes a shift in thinking.  I'm not a teacher in the common use of the word.  I don't hold all of the answers, rather I have patience to trust that the path will unfold in the context of a compassionate and supportive relationship.  I also believe that this requires the therapist to trust the natural good in clients.  We look for the goodness, the uniqueness, the creativity in each of our clients and try and provide an environment where these can naturally grow.  Also for the therapist, this takes patience.  It may take some time for the child to feel comfortable enough to show the therapist their hidden needs, or their wishes for freedom, and this requires the therapist to hold a supportive environment and then to wait for the growth to take effect.  This may sound frustrating to wait, but actually it is incredibly liberating.  It is trusting the therapeutic process.  It is trusting that relationship is good, that it is healing, that when given the right footing that a child can run.  

I believe that play can be a big part of therapy with children.  Play helps their uniqueness to shine.  It helps them engage their world in a way that is not threatening to them, but rather inviting.  It helps them to feel understood, to feel that the world is kind.  Play helps the child unfold and for them to get relief from all that is binding them.  I also feel that play that follows the child's lead can be helpful.  In play, like in the rest of therapy, it isn't about the therapist coming up with a great playful therapeutic environment, rather it is about engaging the client, providing a supportive environment, and trusting that the child's natural ability to play will kick in.  If play occurs, the therapist can in a way reflect back to the child aspects of the play occurring.  For example, if a girl client is playing with a dollhouse the therapist may make comments or ask questions about different aspects of the house.  And the comments aren't us telling the client what we think it means, but rather reflecting what the client is doing.  I feel that a therapist can help start play if the child is having a hard time getting going, but the therapist should seek to support the child's natural playful tendencies once play has begun.