Do you take the time to be quiet; it is the only way to know God. In addition to my breath and stilling my mind I have also learned to be more fully present. During my Bible study of Genesis, our teacher challenged us to go out into nature and fully appreciate creation that surrounds us. One day I was walking back from the bus stop during a snow storm I looked up and saw with fresh eyes in great amazement the gorgeous fluffy white snowflakes slowly fall from the sky and land on the ground. By slowing down, being present and being open, I was able to more fully appreciate and notice the awe in the world around me. From experiencing nature to fully seeing my fellow human beings, when I can quiet myself then I have the capacity to fully see, hear and notice my world around me at a much deeper level.
One of my favorite stories was when I was pregnant with my fourth child. My family decided to take a hike, and I asked if I could sit and wait for them. The walk ended up being 4 miles long, and I was able to sit for hours in nature in quiet solitude. Let me tell you at that time I wasn’t comfortable with the stillness, in fact; I was grumpy about it. By the second hour, I was able to move into the quiet, and I entered into a prayer. After the third hour of wrestling with stillness emerged such clarity on a future writing project, it was stunning to me.
I know that many of us don’t have hours to be quiet. But let me tell you even if you only have ten to fifteen minutes taking and making time to be quiet in your day is life changing. Whether is it waiting in the doctor’s office who is behind schedule, or waiting at your child’s sporting activities or being in traffic – find a moment where you can slow down and just be. I encourage you to check out my book Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary for faith try its and share your experience in your stillness.
Take time to be quiet; it is the opportunity to see God. One of the biggest challenges I face is taking and making time to be quiet. For the last few years, I have been intentionally working on sitting and being still. I think that many of us hold a misbehaved that it is easy to be still when in fact it takes lots of practice and lots of effort to quiet your mind and body to a calm state.
I remember hearing yoga guru John Kabat-Zinn talk about the active wrestle your mind engages in when trying to calm itself. This wrestle becomes easier as you become more practiced in slowing down and calming your body. He then went on to share when we hear noises our notice things going on around us that this is part of our meditation. This noticing is part of the meditation. I wanted to stand up and shout – yay I’m perfectly okay! Well maybe not totally normal but still I resembled a lot of the people in the room.
Being able to slow down and create space for reflection has been a goal of mine for years. Little did I know what a process it would take for me to slow down. My beginning point was learning to breathe for a few moments. Taking deep breaths and being very intentional in my breaths was my starting point. I came to realize that most of my life I have been breathing from only the top half of my lungs. One researcher noted that oxygen is fuel for our brains if we want to fully fuel our minds and thinking we should make sure we are sitting up straight and taking full breaths.
Once I was able to sit still my next step physically was tackling my mind. At church, I heard a prayer that resonated with me. After each line, I would pause and take a deep breath.
be still and know that I am
be still and know that
be still and know
Through practicing this prayer, I was able to calm myself and my mind to a place of stillness. No matter what is going on around me by saying this prayer, I can slow down and arrive at a calmer place. I invite you to try this breath prayer this week and see what happens. If you want more faith try-its, then follow this link to my book Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary.
Take time to be friendly; it is the road to happiness. If I had a magic wand I wish I could slow my life down so that I had the capacity to be friendly with every person I encounter. Far too often when I am in the grocery store or running my kids all over this earth, I simply miss the opportunity to be friendly. I love the days when I build margin into my schedule so I can visit with others or linger after whatever activity I am participating in; unfortunately, those days are the exception.
When I was growing, up my dad was very intentional with us kids in teaching us the skills to be able to talk to everyone, from the heads of state to homeless folks all with the same compassion and presence. Regardless of a person’s rank, status, education, race, whatever their distinction, it didn’t matter. Not only did dad talk about this with us – he would also take us out on adventures where we would put these skills into action.
I will never forget as an eight or nine-year-old going downtown to serve dinner at a homeless soup kitchen. I found myself very comfortable behind the counter serving food when suddenly my daddy called upon me to go and sit at the tables and visit with the clients. I looked up at him in disbelief! I couldn’t believe that he wanted me, his little peanut out there among all these people. GASP! I was scared to death of those men who looked so different from me. Begrudgingly I obeyed.
Some of the greatest gifts I have ever received have been when I am serving. This was also true that evening. Being able to meet, being able to listen, and being able to be fully present to those around me truly helped shape me. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a journey to share. Being friendly to others – even when it isn’t returned is the magic that unlocks the human potential. Take the time to try it and see what happens.
I challenge you to go out into our world and try being friendly with the full expectation that your kindness and friendliness may not be returned. Don’t get defensive or frustrated; just shower grace, kindness and compassion on others. See what happens.
On the drive home that evening from the soup kitchen, my daddy said, “Heather remember, you may be the only face of Christ that other person gets to see and know. Try being friendly, it’s a game changer for you and for the world around you.” Be a pebble in a pond. Try it.
Want more stories to inspire and lift you in your day. Follow this link to my book Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary.
Do you take the time to think: it is the source of all power. The Old Engish prayer “Take Time” resonated with me on so many levels. When I read the first stanza, it stopped me in my tracks. I am not sure how I feel about the statement that thinking is the source of all power. When I consider all the power that we as individuals have (or think we have) I believe that part of it comes from our thinking. Part of it comes from our heart, and a large part comes for me from a higher power.
Being able to yield to that higher power or being able to surrender to a source that is bigger, wiser and purer that I as a human being will forever be is a differentiator.
I have seen environments where thinking is the source of all their power, and these systems feel fixed and limited. I have also seen situations where it is safe to bring your whole self, both your head and heart as your sources of power, and it is in these places that creativity, being open to the possibilities and incredible performance leaps happen. A critical thing to consider is where you ground yourself and where you tap into yourself for power.
Be intentional to make time to connect with your head and your heart during your day as it is essential to do so. Different people call it different things. Some call it meditation; some call it prayer; some call in presencing; some call it taking deep breaths, and some only call it thinking. Whatever you call it – being able to pause in your day and connect with how you are feeling and going to your well to be re-energized will help you be more powerful in the important work that you do.
Do you seek more intention in your life? Do you seek stories that point to a purpose and living with full presence? I invite you to read my book Seeing the Extraordinary in the Ordinary.
When life gets tough, when circumstances get hard – focus on our heavenly Father. He will provide for you – trust in Him and watch what happens.