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Dainty, white tea cup on a white table. Pink flowers in a glass vase are blurred in the background.

As I was meditating this morning, the soothing voice of Yoga instructor, Selena Lael, made it seem as if all was right with the world. 

“Exhaling fully,” she said, “and emitting a humming sound will activate the Vagas nerve.”

Well, I don’t know if I inadvertently activated the “Vegas” — as in Las Vegas — nerve instead somehow, but suddenly I was amped up and anxious. Alarms were blaring in my head. Oh no! I forgot there’s a bill on auto-pay! Is there enough money in my account to cover it?

Also, I’ve got a stack of emails to reply to. Plus, I just dangled my preposition at the end of that last sentence. Aaaah!

So many things just seem so…unfinished. You tackle one situation and another one seems to spring up in its place. All these things are really just tasks on a to-do list, and we’ve all had moments where things have slipped through the cracks, haven’t we? But, looking back on the ledger of your life, you’ve handled such things before. You know how to plow through this pile of problems.

Eyes up. Gaze forward. Hands together in prayer. Shoulders square. One foot in front of the other.

There’s no need to gear up for a fight and “take on the day.” Put down your arms and take IN the day. The battle’s already been won. Do what you can to address what needs attention, and then, stop running in place. Be still, and breathe.

Settle into your comfy armchair with a fresh cup of coffee. Cover your lap with a soft throw blanket. Sit by the sunny window in the living room and pet the cat. Drink in the day that is right now, not the chaotic mess-fest you fear it may become.

It’s okay to stay in today and let tomorrow germinate in God’s garden. Who knows? Maybe the muck and mulch of fear and uncertainty will magically morph it into a beautiful, burgeoning blossom. But for now? Just be here.

On Tuesday, Auntie Ruth wrote about wearing a Grace Mask so we can all travel in grace.  I thought of her today when I was listening to The Happiness Lab.  If you aren’t familiar with this pod cast, check it out here.  Psychologist Dr. Laurie Santos teaches a Yale class on how to deal with stress and anxiety.  And the best part?  She shows you how take action.

Stress and anxiety?  Sounds like life today, doesn’t it?   We are worried for our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods and, let’s be honest, for ourselves as well.

One of the things that Santos recommends for dealing with stressful times, including life right here and now, is meditation.  And the meditation that she recommended sounded an awful lot like meditative prayer.

Here is how it works.  Note: I am adapting this slightly to make it more prayerful.

  1. Sit comfortably.  It doesn’t matter how you sit or where you sit.  Just get comfortable.
  2. Picture someone you are worried about and that you care about.  I’ve been worried about my Dad so he’ll be the example I use.
  3. You can think this next part or say it aloud.  “Lord, keep Dad safe.  Help him be happy.  Help him be healthy.”
  4. Breathe deeply and exhale.
  5. Now go on to another person.  “Lord, keep our Pastor safe.  Help him be happy. Help him be healthy.”
  6. Again, breathe deeply and exhale.
  7. You can pray for as many people as you’d like but remember before you wrap things up to take the time for self care.  Pray for yourself.  “Lord, keep me safe.  Help me be happy.  Help me be healthy.”

I know it sounds goofy but scientists have found that mediation lowers stress.  You’ll sleep better.  You’ll function better.  And who couldn’t stand to be a little happier?



Not everyone is an introvert.  I get that.  Social distancing is really hard for my husband – who may be quiet but is really an extrovert.  Me?  I’ve been training for this my whole life.  I’ve got a shelf full of books to read, a knitting project, a crochet project and a deadline.

But it is still tough because so much is unknown.  There are so many things out of our control.  Every day, it becomes easier and easier to fall into anxiety.  But here are three things you can do today.

Breathe.  Take a moment and do a breathing meditation.  As you inhale, imagine God’s light flowing into your body.  As you exhale, this light pushes into your extremeties.  As you inhale and exhale, you are filled and recharged with his light.

Disconnect.  We want to know what is going on so we go online.  Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation online.  And a lot of panic.  Disconnect for several hours a day.  Read.  Do a puzzle.  Learn a new skill.  My friend told her son that and he is learning to pick locks.  She was super worried about this but the rest of the boy mom’s assured her – that’s a stage.  We don’t get it but it’s a stage.  And it can come in handy when someone accidentally slams a locked bathroom door.  Don’t ask.

Connect.  Wait a minute.  Didn’t I just tell you to disconnect?  I did.  But if you are like me you spend a lot of time online.  Actually call someone.  Do you have a friend who lives alone?  An older neighbor?  There’s someone in your life who needs to hear from you.  Reach out and connect.  Share some of that light you gathered up.

We can’t fix everything but we can spend some time every day in his light and sharing it with others.


rule of thirds photography of pink and white lotus flower floating on body of waterThe narrator on the meditation app that I use called HeadSpace said in a soothing voice, “We’re training the mind to both let go of difficulties and familiarize itself with calm, clarity and contentment.” As it turns out, that voice actually belongs to the company’s founder, Andy Puddicombe. Once I got past the fact that his accent reminds me of the Geico Gecko from the insurance company’s television commercials 🦎, I found the meditations relaxing. 

His suggestion to “let go of difficulties” gave me pause. While focusing on the positive is beneficial for mental health, discontent and anger are red flags that tell you that something needs attention. 

As Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, James Carmody says in this article, humans are wired to worry. “Tension is often unnoticed in the midst of managing everyday demands, but its background discomfort sends us looking for relief in something more pleasant like a snack, a screen, a drink or a drug.”

Those points of tension in your body are the way your psyche asks you for a relief valve. For me, along with meditation, I decompress with prayer, exercise, and knitting. Things that allow me to just breathe and be. 

At the risk of sounding like a guru-gecko, your to-do list will always be there in some form, so give yourself a break. Moments of repose can help bring you back to center.

down-angle photography of sunlight piercing through leavesThis morning, I tried a meditation app on my phone called HeadSpace, and, as I sat in my kitchen, listening to the instructor’s voice speaking in a calm cadence, I did find myself breathing easier. 

With the sunlight streaming in, it was peaceful. Just perfect for a moment of centering before the busy day begins. 

Toward the end of the meditation, the instructor guides you to become aware of your surroundings. As I looked around, I realized that the sunlight was like a spotlight. It looked so pretty as it shone on my plant. So shimmery on the pictures on the fridge. So lovely on the schmutz on the floor. Wait. What? Schmutz on the floor? I just swept the other day! But that was at night, using the kitchen light. Meditation over! Must sweep.

I decided it was a metaphor for the meditation. If you can’t see it, you can’t sweep it away. Anxiety, lack of sleep, full schedule… addressing whatever it is that led to needing a moment on pause is the real work. 

So I got more than I bargained for from my jaunt into the world of meditation. I feel like I cleared the decks of my psyche for the time being, but now I’ve got a lot of cleaning on my to-do list! It also gave me time to think about deeper issues in my life that need attention. I think it’ll be worth the effort in both cases. As the old saying goes: clean home, clear mind!

I’ve had Les Brown’s quote (see above) on my heart all week. I’m not sure why but you know how it is.  Sometimes you read something and it sticks with you.  Then I read Lori’s post two days ago and it started to gel.

When I act, I may or may not have a plan but what I do have is a goal.  Maybe I want to clean off one corner of my desk so that the cat has a better place to nap.  Or I want to reorganize the closet in my office.  I have something I want to get done, and I start looking for ways to make it happen.  This is when I’m likely to try something new and accomplish something.

When I react, I’ve put off acting and disaster is imminent.  Something needs to be done now.  The cat has just lumbered across my desk and that pile of papers on the corner is collapsing.  I have to grab it fast or it will knock over my coffee which may well ruin my key board.  Even if I succeed in catching it all and shoving it back against the wall, this isn’t a pretty solution.  I’ve still got a not mess on my hands.

Nine times out of ten, we aren’t looking ahead.  We know the poor need help and that God wants us to focus on Him.  But we’ve got things to do, places to go, appointments to make.  We aren’t looking for the opportunities or the signs from God.  We’ve got our own agenda in mind.

When something needs to be done now, we are too panicked and frantic to listen for the still, small voice.  But like Lori said, it has been there all along.

This is where prayer and meditation come in.  Even if you only take a few minutes a day, spend them in quiet contemplation.  Light a candle.  Get out your prayer beads.  Sit.  Breath in and out.  In and out.  Listen.  Who knows what nudge you might feel or what voice you might here.


This year, our women’s Bible study is on the Ten Commandments.  The focus of our first lesson was God’s promise. “I am yours.  You are Mine.”

At the end of this lesson, the author recommended two ways to explore the study throughout the year.  We could journal or we could use meditative prayer.  Our study leader pointed out that instead of keeping a formal journal we could make margin notes throughout the month.  After al, we’ve each purchased a book and the books have lovely, wide margins.  Markers, stickers, colored pens, sketches, notes, whatever.

I’ve not tried journaling yet, because journaling is a bit “in” right now. I’m not avoiding it because it is IN. I’m avoiding it because I’m already working with two other journaling projects.  Three just seems like too much.

But I’ve added the line for meditative prayer to the top page of each page in my other journal.  “I am Yours.  You are mine.”  As I open this journal each morning, I see this line of text.  I take a few minutes to meditate.  Inhale.  “I am Yours.”  Exhale. “You are mine.”  Inhale and exhale.  In and out.  It creates a quiet centering start to my day.

Has it solved all the worlds problems?  No.

But I feel calmer and better able to deal with them.  Things feel do-able and less chaotic.

I am yours.  You are mine.

Why not give it a try?


Is it me, or does the world seem particularly noisy right now? Arguments abound — about who’s at fault in the government shut-down, about the kids from Covington, about how long a person ought to be able to last without a paycheck (“Just get a loan,” says one out-of-touch billionaire), about whether and how quickly political events are dragging Venezuela and England and the US and Zimbabwe (and a whole host of other countries) to hell in a hand-basket. It’s getting loud out there.

We cannot, of course, ignore current events. I mean, we can, but the minute we tentatively extend our ostrich heads out of the hole we’ve planted them in, the problems will still be there. Hiding won’t make the news go away. But being quiet and centering one’s self and getting away from social media (as Ruth has wisely done) can give us the space to get our heads together and form our own opinions. So —

Crawl into the smallest place in your mind,
the darkest, the most in-dwelling, and breathe.
Get entirely quiet with yourself.
Bring a book if you are uncomfortable with silence.
Turn inward on yourself until you are wrapped
securely in a sheet of inner tranquility.
When you are ready, release yourself into the world.
You will be different —
one look at you and mouths will still.
This is a good thing.

As much as I love Christmas, I’m not a huge fan of the busy-ness.  I suspect this is an introvert thing and Christmas requires shopping. I’ve finally come to the realization that I don’t mind finding things I need.  It’s the lights and the crowds and the noise.  This morning I ran out of tape and am contemplating how I can use painter’s tape just so I don’t have to leave the house.

I just want to sit on the sofa in the dark and stare at Christmas lights while sipping a cup of coffee.  Eventually I’ll light the candles on my Advent wreath and meditate.  Quiet time with God gives me the Light and Hope I need to venture back into the hustle and bustle.

That said, quiet time can be tough to find at this time of year.  But make sure you get a few minutes here and there.  It is, after all, the balm needed by a soul stretched thin in spots from doing too much.  Good things.  Fun things. Family things.  It doesn’t matter.  Too much is too much.

It is okay to need some quiet time with your own thoughts and with Him.



there-is-lightI’m not going to lie to you. I’m rising to Lori’s challenge to write about the Election but I’m not thrilled about it.  How can I be?  I wasn’t thrilled with the results.  That said, I wasn’t surprised either although I was disappointed. My husband could easily tell you that Tuesday night I was more than a little bratty. But I more-or-less got it out of my system.

I’ve taken a deep breath and looked around me. As I write this, the sun has come up yet again.  The sky is blue.  The air has a glorious chill to it.  Fall is my favorite time of year. I take a deep breath and as I exhale I ask God to use me as He wills.

There are difficult times ahead. I won’t deny that I truly believe that.  But I also don’t think that they will all result from this election. I’m a historian and a Calvinist.  There are always difficult times ahead.

But do you want to know something funny? I mean ironic more than I mean laugh out loud but I have to admit that I laughed at the irony. This morning I read about a study that said that 85% of the horrible things we imagine never come to pass.  Eighty-five percent.  That’s a lot.  In an election 85% is a landslide.

What this means is that whether you’re elated at the results of the election or appalled, you need to take a deep breath.  Then take another. Now for the challenge.

Turn it into a meditation.  Inhale for a count of five.  Hold it for five.  Exhale for ten.  As you breathe, exhale the negative and the dark.  Then breathe in God’s Light.  Breathe in His Love.  Imagine it suffusing your body from fingertip to fingertip.  Feel it flowing from the top of your head to the soles of your feet.

Take that light with you into your day. Look for those who are scared and those who are angry. Don’t overlook the self-righteous. They’re hurting and scared too and are showing it through their actions.  As you find what is negative, exhale God’s Love and Light.  Let it spill out and wash over the darkness.

I’m not saying it will be easy. I’m not saying that solutions will be quick.  But it all starts when you take a moment and breathe.  Breathe in His Light.  Breathe in His Love.  Take it out into your day.  There is light even in darkness.



Have a Mary Little Christmas

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