The Cost of Midlife

Reader, accountant and financial planner, Daisy Barton has been generous enough to share her resources with my readers.  Daisy developed an info-graphic on the cost of midlife.  Check it out here, http://www.accounting-degree.org/midlife-crisis/ and then please explore her other amazing services.  Thank you Daisy for sharing your wisdom with my readers!

Love,

Lauri

Making God in Our Image?

While scripture says God made us in God’s image, we are busy making God in our image.  When we create a God that is human – judging, wrathful, vengeful, jealous, we have forgotten our Oneness with God in love.  In this Sunday’s supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church, we are invited to remember Oneness and let God reveal God’s self to us.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Twenty-fifth Sunday Ordinary Time

 

Agape’ Meditation Practices Newsletter

Supplement to the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church Service

 

 

Scripture Reading:

Seek the LORD while he may be found, call him while he is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way, and the wicked his thoughts; let him turn to the LORD for mercy; to our God, who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.

Is 55: 6-9

 

Additional Readings:

 

Ps 145: 2-3, 8-9, 17-18

Phil 1: 20-24, 27

Mat 20: 1-16

 

Created in our Image

Scripture says that God created us in God’s image. The funny thing is that although this is what scripture says, we have been very busy creating God in our image instead – a God who is jealous, wrathful, fickle, all about power and control, manipulating through intimidation and fear. When we turn to God in the way that Isaiah describes, we learn, not of the God of our own making, but the TRUE God. We learn that God sees through a different set of eyes than we do. We understand that as we are tempted to separate, God unites. We learn that God is merciful and kind, compassionate and all-forgiving. We learn that through God’s eyes, there is no evil, not darkness; and that there is also no light – but that all are One in God’s sight. We learn that it is not God who judges, but was who judge. And, we begin to understand what Jesus taught – that God is love.

Where are you tempted to create God in human likeness? 

Where are you invited to allow God to reveal God’s true self to you?

How are you seeking after God?

 

Spiritual Practices – Drawing God

For this exercise, you will need two sheets of blank paper and a box of crayons.

 

  • Reflect on the image of God you were taught as a child.
  • Create an artistic expression of this God.
  • Now, think of God as loving, kind, non-judging and compassionate.
  • Create artistic expression of this God.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we recognize the false perception of separation from God as the Core Spiritual Wound. Evidence of this would include: judgment, fear, feelings of constriction, anxiety, loneliness, emptiness and feelings of lack. When we are believing in the false perception of separation and experiencing the fears that arise out of this perception, we act in non-loving ways – toward ourselves and others. The key to healing this wound is remembering our Oneness in love with God

 

Where do you believe yourself to be separate from God?

 

Where are you aware of the presence of fear, anxiety, loneliness, emptiness as present in your life?

 

How can you begin to open to the truth of Oneness with God?

 

Strong Intelligent Independent Successful Woman Syndrome

Today’s post is addressing the plight of strong, intelligent, independent, successful women.  Because we are all these things, we often feel very alone and getting others to understand we still need help and support can be a challenge.

 

wonderwomanshield

A New Diagnosis for the DSM

I am proposing a new diagnosis for the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual).  That new diagnosis is “Strong Intelligent, Independent, Successful Woman Syndrome.”  The symptoms of this syndrome include:

  • Loneliness
  • Anxiety
  • Spontaneous sadness
  • Headaches
  • Neck, shoulder and lower back pain
  • Creaky knees
  • Difficulty getting others to understand you need help

SIISWS is common among women who have worked hard to be successful in a man’s world (in case you are in denial, white, male privilege still reigns supreme in our society), and/or who have crawled out of adversity to make a life for themselves.  These are women who possess inner strength, tenacity, perseverance, courage, intelligence and who have a vision of what they want and who they are called to be and who have worked their butt off to get there.  You know these women.  You might be one of these women.  These women are a force to be reckoned with because they have moved through the challenges life has handed them and have moved through the inner fears, anxieties, and self-doubts that might have paralyzed others.  “We shall overcome,” might be thought of as their common mantra.  These women are strong, independent, intelligent and successful because of their own hard work and because of the inner and outer resources they have found along the way. It isn’t easy being one of these women, however, and this is the cause of the syndrome.

Strong Intelligent Independent Successful Woman Syndrome

SIISW’s are tired.  Tired from always having to be strong.  Tired from the burden of always having to overcome – fears, anxiety, self-doubt, societal structures, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions that stand as obstacles to their empowerment.  SIISW’s are sore.  Sore from carrying the burden of the tasks they have chosen, from climbing over obstacles, up hills, over and through mountains to accomplish their goals.  Sore from sometimes being the only one in the room up for the challenge.  Sore from carrying what others are not able to carry.  And SIISW’s are lonely.  Lonely because they appear to be confident, self-assured, autonomous and capable.  “You got this,” is what others believe of the SIISW.  SIISW’s are also lonely because, in truth, others are intimidated by them – women who are afraid to harness their own inner strength and men who are threatened by the strength and power of successful women.

Seeking for a Cause

The cause of Strong Intelligent Independent Successful Woman Syndrome is the weaponry that women have to take on in order to become SIISW’s.  SIISW’s need both a sword and a shield.  A sword to cut through fears, inner and outer obstacles, and self-doubt in order to accomplish their tasks.  A shield to protect themselves from the adversities of their past, the criticism and condemnation of others and the volley of sticks and stones hurled toward them as they fight their way to achievement, and the relationships lost because others are either unable to keep up, or become jealous and turn away.  In picking up these weapons, SIISW’s sometimes forget to lay them down, and forgetting to lay them down, neglect the deep vulnerability that drove their quest in the first place.  That is, however, until the vulnerability begins to wake up, seeking to remind the SIISW that they are still human and in need of human companionship, comfort and support.

The Way to a Cure

The cure for Strong Intelligent Independent Successful Woman Syndrome lies both within the woman and her closest friends and companions, but it starts with her.  SIISW’s need to remember they are human.  SIISW’s need to create space in their lives where they can be present to and become comfortable with their vulnerability. They need to acknowledge their fears, their insecurities, the defense mechanisms they’ve developed in order to become a successful woman in a man’s world.  They need to acknowledge their longing, their disappointments, losses and failures and grieve them.  They need to make a home for their loneliness.  They need to acknowledge their needs – especially those they cannot fulfill on their own, or that they just don’t want to accomplish on their own (I use my princess card for these….changing tires, snow blowing my driveway, bagging groceries, etc.)?  And once the SIISW has become comfortable with the vulnerability within, they need to be even more vulnerable and begin to ask others for help.  They need to ask their friends for help, invite their loved ones in as sources of support, seek professional support when these services are needed.  And…..they have to keep asking because quite frankly, those around them don’t really believe they need help, “You got this,” is most likely their first response.

How You Can Help

If you have a SIISW in your life, you can help them overcome Strong Intelligent Independent Successful Woman Syndrome.  First, by recognizing the symptoms and second by offering support.  Step in, even if they have not asked, and offer support.  BE the shoulder they can cry on.  Offer to take one of the burdens off their hands.  And when they say, “no, I got this,” take it off their hands anyway.  Reach out and invite them to join you for something fun.  SIISW’s are really bad at making room for fun…..be the one who helps them let go of the “work” and simply enjoy life.  Listen to their needs and offer to help them get their needs met.  Rub their overburdened shoulders, knees and feet.  Take the shield and sword from their hands, pulling it from their dead fingers if you need to, and then simply hold them – because after all the work of holding up themselves and the rest of the world, what SIISW’s need most of all…..is to be held.

 

 

Humility and Spiritual Obedience

Please find below meditation supplement for the Authentic Freedom Virtual Church for this coming Sunday, September 14, 2014.  In this week’s issue, we explore the topics of humility and spiritual obedience.  God alone knows that path that is in our highest good.  Are we willing to do the hard work of surrendering our own will to that which is promised to be in our highest good?

 

Scripture Reading:

Brothers and sisters: Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Phil 2: 6-11

 

Additional Readings:

Nm 21: 4b-9

Ps 78: 1-2, 34-38

Jn 3: 13-17

 

Humility and Obedience

In the spiritual world, humility and obedience go hand-in-hand. In the Christian tradition, Jesus provides the model for pure humility and true obedience that we are called to follow. Jesus surrendered his own will to Divine guidance, which meant following the course of his truth, even when it meant likely death. (It is not that God sent Jesus to his death, or that God desired that Jesus die for his truth. Instead, Jesus lived the truth that God revealed to him, which threatened the political and religious institutions of his time.) Even when faced with suffering and sure death, Jesus did not give into the temptations of his ego, instead, he turned to God in prayer, asked for guidance, pleaded for support, and then continued along his path. This is the process we are invited to follow as Christians – to turn to God for guidance, surrendering our own will, transcending the temptations of the ego, and follow God’s guidance, trusting it will lead us along the path of our highest good.

How are you taking time to listen and receive Divine guidance?

How are you following that guidance?

 chakraart

Spiritual Practices – Surrendering our Will to God

What we think we want or need is not always in our highest good. Only God knows our highest good. Embarking on the path of humility and obedience, we first need to understand this truth. One way to facilitate this knowing is through a mantra practice. Mantra is the practice of repeating the same word or phrase over and over (aloud or silently). In mantra practice, two things happen. 1) We are drawn into a relaxed and meditative state. 2) The intention of the words becomes embedded in our consciousness and beliefs. You are invited to engage in your own mantra practice, with one of the three following quotes from scripture:

 

Let it be done to me according to your word.

 

Thy will be done.

 

Into your hands I commend my spirit.

 

During your chosen prayer period, repeat your chosen phrase over and over in your mind, allowing it to draw you into a meditative and relaxed state. Return to this mantra frequently throughout the week as you move about your daily activities.

In a notebook or journal, record any thoughts, feelings, experiences while participating in this practice.

 

Authentic Freedom

In Authentic Freedom, we acknowledge the crown chakra as our intimate connection with God. It is through the crown that we are able to surrender our own will to that of God’s. It is here that we cultivate humility and overcome the temptations of the ego. It is also through the crown chakra that we know our Oneness with God – not equal, but One as Paul describes in this week’s scripture. In remembering this Oneness with God, we feel content, peaceful, joyful, loving and fulfilled. When we have experiences of peace, joy and love, we are remembering our Oneness with God spontaneously.

 

Where are you remembering your Oneness with God?

 

Superhero Report – Superpowers II

 

Last night in our gathering of the Superhero Academy, we continued our discussion of Superpowers.  (Part I HERE .) This week, we focused on the “non-traditional” or “magical” superpowers.  None of these are truly magic, however, because all of them come from God….but then again, isn’t everything that comes from God magic?  ;)  The superpowers we discussed are as follows:

  • Invisibility
  • Flight
  • Telepathy
  • Trans-dimensional vision, hearing
  • Time Walking
  • Inter-dimensional travel
  • Hosting
  • Mediumship
  • Manifesting
  • Elasticity
  • Time Morphing
  • Blending
  • Exorcism
  • Soul Retrieval
  • Catalyst (aka Shit Disturber)
  • Divination
  • Shadow Walking
  • Death Walking
  • Beacon

LadyofLight

Rather than imposing my own understanding of these superpowers, I invited the Superheroes to come up with their own description/definition of these superpowers, acknowledging that there would be no wrong answer.  (As a reflection activity, I would invite you to do the same.)  The Superheroes arrived at some beautiful ways of understanding these superpowers. I added my own nuance, especially with those, like divination, shadow walker and death walker, which may have gotten a bad-rap in the post-Victorian, Western world.

Divination, quite simply means, seeking and accessing divine guidance.

Shadow walkers are those who are able to walk with others through their shadow, their fears, their compulsions, their darkness.

Death walkers are called and have the gift of being able to accompany another through the transition of dying.

We then identified some important things to remember about the care and use of superpowers:

  • All superpowers come to us through God and are how God works through us for the betterment of the world.
  • We have the freedom to say “no” to our superpowers, BUT we will probably be hounded (by Spirit) until we say “yes.”
  • Superpowers are intended to be used for GOOD, and to use them in any other way will result in dire consequences, not as punishment, but as a natural consequence of putting “bad” into the world. (karma is a bitch!)
  • Superpowers are a responsibility….we have the responsibility to cultivate them, care for them, and most importantly, SHARE THEM.
  • When using our superpowers, it is important FIRST to seek Divine guidance, direction from our highest self, as to how, when and where we are called to use these powers.

In the coming week, spend some time reflecting on the list of superpowers above.  What is your understanding of these superpowers?  How might you be gifted with one, or several, of these superpowers?  How are you invited to cultivate and share these gifts?

 

 

Love is all you need to know – Virtual Church service

The Authentic Freedom Virtual Church service for Sunday, September 7, 2014 is LIVE.

The theme this week is LOVE – love as the answer to all our fears, struggles, challenges, etc.

You may attend this week’s service HERE.