Prayers for Boston

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We can all agree that today, our prayers are for Boston!

As the news, images, and stories flood the global media channels today, the world reacts to the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday. Reaction is a universal response, to be sure. It is, however,  very limiting.

The thing about reaction is at the heart of it, no matter how you present it, it is about reciprocal action. Something happens and a reaction drives the need, desire, and necessity for reciprocal action. Reaction, at its core, limits the possibility for something besides reciprocity.

Sadly, in our world, we have watched these stories unfold time and time again. The reactions always lead to this intense need for reciprocal action. As such, our world continues to be flooded by wars, bombings, anti-national opinions, riots, hate crimes, and terrorist acts. It appears to be a merry-go-round the human race can’t  seem to stop riding.

My curiosity leads me to an alternative to reaction. It was seen in the footage in Boston yesterday. It’s called Response.

We saw civil servants, police, emergency crews, runners, and spectators alike responding to the tragedy as it was unfolding. Brave souls who chose to answer the cries of pain with assistance, aid, and support. We can hear the cries of those reacting, but it’s much more powerful to see the actions of those responding!

A response is really an answer or a reply. It usually presents itself in the form of loving actions, merciful words, and gracious deeds. The weight of who we are as individuals, communities, and nations can be seen in our choices of reaction and response.

As hatred unfolds in our nations, our cities, and even our neighborhoods, what do we choose? As we choose to react in reciprocal actions, what does that say about us? When we choose to respond with gracious action, what does that say about us?

We all have a choice whether to react or respond. My hope is that as a global community we not limit ourselves, but instead we will remember the lives that were torn apart by violence yesterday.  My hope is that we will rise up as brave souls and choose to answer that violence with responsive actions!

We can all agree that today, our prayers are for Boston!

12 Steps

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Transformation has many faces and there are many different roads, paths, and trails on the journey. The last two decades of my life and work have been filled with amazing people, resources, and experiences that have deepened and enriched my life. One thing that is true about God is that He loves to develop His kids with favor, grace, and mercy!

This last year has been one of significant transformation and transition for me. As I move closer to my unique calling, I begin to move away from some of the areas in which I have spent decades working. One of those is the area of recovery, specifically transformation through the 12 steps.

My website is also going through some transition and transformation right along with me. This means that many of you have been asking for specific resources that are no longer available. I apologize for the inconvenience to you in this transition.

I am currently working on a published version of the 12 step blog series I wrote in the summer of 2012. I know that many of you use that information as a resource and it is currently unavailable. I am going to include the contents in this blog post for those of you who would like easy access to it for the present moment.

Keep moving forward!!

Step One : We admitted we were powerless over  our addictions – that our lives had become unmanageable

  • Step One Blog
  • Yes, I know that nothing good lives in me—I mean nothing good lives in the part of me that is earthly and sinful. I want to do the things that are good, but I do not do them. (Romans 7:18 NCV)
  • Prayer for Step One : Today, I ask for help with my recovery. I feel lost and am unsure of myself. Denial has kept me from seeing how powerless I am and how unmanageable my life has become. I need to learn and remember that I cannot manage my life or the lives of others. I also need to remember that the best thing I can do right now is to let go. I choose to let go – I admit that I am powerless and that life is unmanageable.
  • Step One Videos

Step Two : Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

  • Step Two Blog
  • For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Phillipians 2:13 NLT)
  • Prayer for Step Two : I pray for an open mind so I may come to believe in a power greater than myself. I pray for humility and the continued opportunity to increase my faith.
  • Step Two Videos

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understood Him.

  • Step Three Blog
  • So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. (Romans 12:2 The Message)
  • Prayer for Step Three : Lord, I am learning that there is an awful lot I can’t do. I can’t control life the way I am used to. I can’t make people be what I want. I can’t stop the pain inside me. I can’t even fully submit to your plan yet – I’m still too frightened of you. But I know that there is one thing I can do right now. I can make a decision to turn my will and my life over to you. Making the decision doesn’t mean I have to make it happen. Making the decision doesn’t mean I understand you or your plan. Making the decision doens’t even mean I entirely willing, but it does mean that I know your way and will is right. Lord, turn my simple decision into reality.
  • Step Three Videos

Step Four : Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

  • Step Four Blog
  • Let’s take a good look at the way we’re living and reorder our lives under God. (Lamentations 3:40 The Message)
  • Prayer for Step Four : Dear God, It is I who have made my life a mess. I have done it, but I cannot undo it. My mistakes are mine, and I will begin a searching and fearless moral inventory. I will write down my wrongs, but I will also include that which is good. I pray for the strength to complete the task.
  • Step Four Videos

Step Five : Admitted to God, ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

  • Step Five Blog
  • Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. (James 5:16 NLT)
  • Prayer for Step Five : God, My inventory has shown me who I am, yet I ask for your help in admitting my wrongs to another person and to you.  Assure me, and be with me in this step, for without this step I cannot progress in my recovery.  With you help, I can do this, and I will do it.
  • Step Five Videos

Step Six : Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

  • Step Six Blog
  • Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor. (James 4:10 NLT)
    Prayer for Step Six : Lord, I am ready for your help in removing from me the defects of character that I now realize are an obstacle to my recovery. Help me to continue being honest with myself and guide me toward spiritual and mental health.
  • Step Six Videos

Step Seven : Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings

  • Step Seven Blog
  • On the other hand, if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won’t let us down; he’ll be true to himself. He’ll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.  (1 John 1:9 The Message)
  • Prayer for Step Seven: My Creator, I am willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength as I go out from here to do your bidding.
  • Step Seven Videos

Step Eight : Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  • Step Eight Blog
  • Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! (Luke 6:31 The Message)
  • Prayer for Step Eight : Dear God, I ask your help in making a list all those I have harmed. I will take responsibility for my mistakes, and be forgiving to others as you are forgiving to me. Grant me the willingness to begin my restitution. This I pray.
  • Step Eight Videos

Step Nine : Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

  • Step Nine Blog
  • This is how I want you to conduct yourself in these matters. If you enter your place of worship and, about to make an offering, you suddenly remember a grudge a friend has against you, abandon your offering, leave immediately, go to this friend and make things right. Then and only then, come back and work things out with God. (Matthew 5:23-24 The Message)
  • Prayer for Step Nine : Lord, I pray for the right attitude to make my amends, being ever mindful not to harm others in the process. I ask for your guidance in making indirect amends. Most important, I will continue to make amends by staying abstinent, helping others, and growing in spiritual progress.
  • Step Nine Videos

Step Ten : Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

  • Step Ten Blog
  • If you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. (1 Corinthians 10:12 NLT)
  • Prayer for Step Ten :I pray I may continue:
    To grow in understanding and effectiveness;
    To take daily spot check inventories of myself;
    To correct mistakes when I make them;
    To take responsibility for my actions;
    To be ever aware of my negative and self-defeating attitudes and behaviors;
    To keep my willfulness in check;
    To always remember I need you help;
    To keep love and tolerance of others as my code; and
    To continue in daily prayer how I can best serve you, my Higher Power.
  • Step Ten Videos

Step Eleven : Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God,  praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

  • Step Eleven Blog
  • Let the teaching of Christ live in you richly. (Colossians 3:16a NCV)
  • Prayer for Step Eleven : Dear God, I pray to keep my connection with you open and clear from the confusion of daily life. Through my prayers and meditations, I ask especially for freedom from self-will, rationalization, and wishful thinking. I pray for the guidance of correct thought and positive action. You will, Higher Power, not mine, be done.
  • Step Eleven Videos

Step Twelve : Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

  • Step Twelve Blog
  • Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. (Galatians 6:1 The Message
  • Prayer for Step Twelve : Lord, My spiritual awakening continues to unfold. The help I have received I shall pass on and give to others, both in and out of the fellowship.  For this opportunity I am grateful.
    I pray most humbly to continue walking day by day on the road of spiritual progress. I pray for the inner strength and wisdom to practice the principles of this way of life in all I do and say. I need you, my friends, and the program every hour of every day. This is better way to live.
  • Step Twelve Videos

Our posture speaks volumes

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Memories flash in our mind at the most unexpected times. I’m enjoying one right now of my daughter as a tiny girl. She has always held herself with such incredible posture.

The word “slump” was not in her physical dictionary. From a very early age, she has held herself with such dignity and grace. The physical manifestation of her spirit is represented in her posture.

In a recent conversation, my sacred curiosity was once again ignited around the concept of posture. Posture has a complex list of definitions around the way we hold ourselves. Whether that be in our attitudes, in our bodies, inside a corporation, in our minds, with relationships, spiritually, in public or private, and even politically. Our posture speaks volumes.

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Consider for a moment becoming conscious of the postures we are currently holding. We might find ourselves arrogantly posturing at work to intimidate or impress. We could discover a demanding posture with our children in order to control. We might be exposed to our selfish posture with our spouse to manipulate or demand. If we are brave enough to listen, our posture speaks volumes.

My curiosity leads me to consider the ways that we posture our spirits, towards God and others. It seems, in religion, in churches, and even in our own hearts, there is a lot of defensive posturing. In a moment of real honesty, most of us would admit that we find ourselves feeling defensive against God, against religion, against religious people, and even against our own inclination towards the ambiguous and mysterious nature of spirituality.

Interestingly, defensive postures often drive us to “dig our heels in,” “stand strong,” or “not lose ground.” There is a static nature to defensive posturing. It seems to be rooted in this firm idea about claiming something that we perceive to be ours.

The space we claim might be in regards to spirituality, but it might also be in our job, with our marriage, in politics, with our kids, or in our community. If we have a belief that something is”ours”, we will fight to the end to keep it, to guard it, and to preserve it. When we work so hard to defend our current territory, we cannot move without the intense perception of failure.

The unfortunate truth about defensive posturing is that is always ends with a win/lose scenario. In sports that is usually the whole point, but in life it is very limiting. A very clear definition of a life in a “slump” is one that cannot or will not move. If any movement brings failure, then your only choice from a defensive posture is to “slump.”

But, what if movement isn’t failure? What if recycling our defensive posture gave us access to more? What if changing our posture could change our life?

Consider the alternative of an offensive posture. This posture seems to be less rigid, less static, and far more fluid. An offensive posture seems to have very active energy attached to it.

As we move closer to an offensive posture, there seems to be endless possibilities. There is freedom to move, to give, to love, to rest, to explore, to play, to serve, and to create in every area of our lives. There is an abundance of forward movement available to us in an offensive posture.

Stop for just a minute, take a deep breath, and consider your current posture. What does your posture speak to the world? What could a shift in your posture make available to you? Our posture speaks volumes!

Whispers from the Womb

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As I work day in and day out with people on transformational journeys, I encounter so many brave and curious souls. A universal piece of exploration towards transformation is discovering our individual uniqueness. The questions rise up like the fire from the belly of a volcano.

Who am I? 

Why am I here? 

What do I have to offer?

What’s my purpose?

I’ve been on an excavating journey of my own soul for several decades and uncovered all sorts of treasures. Some discoveries were very surprising. Others were strangely and deeply familiar.

It’s got me very curious about some divine mysteries. Mysteries that I know I’m not sharp enough to solve. But, mysteries that ignite my curiosity in very intense ways.

The Psalmist wrote of God,

“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex.”

The Creator of the Universe made all the delicate, inner parts of you and me. I wonder, does God, like He did in Genesis, speak into our creation?  I’m curious about what the Creator of the Universe might whisper from the womb.

Of course I don’t remember leaving the birth canal, nor do I know any details surrounding that event. I do however have some far away spiritual connection to the early moments on this earth. As if somehow, my spirit recollects existing before my body drew its first breath.

As I get curious, it’s as if my spirit recollects the moment it was separated from the safety of creation and the Creator and entered humanity. I believe the words the Psalmist spoke about God being intimately involved in my creation. It’s as if there is this distant recollection that my soul was connected to God during my physical creation.

I wonder if the Almighty whispers hushed and intimate conversations to us as we form in our mother’s womb. I wonder if the tender voice of our Father takes the time, before our ears can hear the sounds of earth outside the protection of the womb, to whisper to us who we are and what He created us for. I wonder if in some supernatural way, our soul collects those conversations and somehow retains a memory or connection to them.

Of course our minds and our bodies have no recollection of the womb or birthing process, but I have a curious fascination about what our souls collected during that time. Do we carry with us the intimate whispers of our Creator? The desires that rise up and fill us with passion, were they whispered to us in the womb? The way that we go after life, is it in direct response to our spirit connecting to those early conversations?

We, as humans, were made to be wonderfully complex. We are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. I can imagine the possibilities of a transformational journey inspired, fueled, and informed by mysterious whispers from the womb.

Time Flies

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Today I’m thinking about the old saying that says, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” It’s so true really. When we passionately engage our purpose and calling it is enjoyable and fun! It’s not long that we open our eyes and time really has flown by!

I got a very kind note in my inbox today from the company that hosts my blog. They wanted to wish me a Happy Anniversary! They were also very kind to lay out what the last two years has looked like on my blog with all sorts of stats, maps, charts, and pie graphs.

As I stop and think back over the last two years, I am astounded by all of the life changes, growth, and transformation I have experienced. It was two years ago that I jumped off the cliff of writing prompted by a Little Shove. What an intense and profound ride it has been.

I can remember really clearly the day of my first blog. A very dear mentor sat just feet from me as his blue eyes bore into my soul. He asked me why I was keeping all of the brightness God put in me such a secret.

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Our No’s Build Walls

It’s funny when I think about how long I said “No” to writing in a way that others could read. It seemed too big, too scary, too arrogant, too risky, too vulnerable, and just plain crazy! “No” seemed the only reasonable and responsible way to respond to this strangely divine nudge to write.

In hindsight I can see how many walls those “Nos” built around me. Walls that kept me hedged in isolation, bound by fear, trapped in insecurity, and blocked from being my truest self. Walls that prevented me from trusting God’s perfect design of me, kept me from embracing what was beautiful in me, stopped me from sharing the light that was burning inside of me.

Our no’s keep us from waking up to the passions and gifts that burn inside of us. Our No’s imprison us to a safe, comfortable, and predictable life. Our No’s make God small enough to control and manipulate for our own agendas, strategies, and ideals.

Our Yes’s Create Parachutes

My mentor charged me to get over myself, me fear, and my insecurity and just write! He challenged me further to commit to it in an outrageous way and just see how God would respond. Something woke up in my soul that day and for the first time a YES spilled out of my heart and across my lips.

In a profoundly new way, my soul felt the rushing wind of an existence without walls. I realized that YES had propelled me quickly out of my neatly constructed and controlled walls to the edge of a cliff where the bottom was not visible. I found myself over the edge with an astonishing desire for a parachute!

Our Yes’s propel us into wide open and uncontrollable spaces where divine wind fuels us to places we could never take ourselves. Our Yes’s empower us to dive into the depths of how God made us and the freedom to fall with confidence. Our Yes’s deliver mysterious mechanisms and pathways that allow us to step into the fullness of who we were made to be.

I don’t know where you are today or what lies in your inbox, but I wonder what you are saying No to today. Where are your No’s building walls? How are your walls making you small?

Is there something right in front of you just waiting for your YES? What transformation lies on the other side of your jump? What will it take to wake you up?

Clean Windows

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My home has always been a reflection of my family and our personality. We see it as a refuge in a busy and crazy world. It is a calm place of peace, love, and rest.

This week, my home is transitioning into becoming a product for the real estate market. Furniture is being rearranged, pictures are coming down, everything is being cleaned, painted, and simplified. My home is starting to look more like a house.

It’s been an emotional process for myself and my family. We are all very excited about our upcoming move to the UK, but as our home disappears in front of our eyes, there is some very real emotion for all of us. The reality of our changing life is actually happening day by day as the house gets closer to being listed for sale.

As the work gets closer to being finished, the small details are starting to take shape. One that has caught me by surprise is the clean windows. Every window is being cleaned, inside and outside. What a difference it has made!

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Before the windows were cleaned, the reflection of the outside world was dull, spotted, and fuzzy. The clean windows provide a completely different view of the yard and the outside world. There is crystal clear clarity and you can see every detail on the trees and the yard.

It’s got me wondering today about what kind of difference it would make if we cleaned the windows of our heart and soul. I wonder how often do we look out the dirty windows of our heart and soul and see a poor and dull reflection of the world. I wonder how many times we make decisions, choose our future, and love from a heart and soul with dirty windows.

Imagine the clarity, confidence, and wisdom that would come from living with clean windows. We could see the world, our relationships, God, our careers, and even ourselves with crystal clear clarity. What possibilities could open to us as we view the world from clean windows?

The process of cleaning windows is quite laborious and extremely tedious. Most cleaning companies won’t even clean windows due to the nature of the job. It is most likely the reason mine have not been cleaned in so long.

How similar that is to my life. There are some windows of my heart and soul that have water spots, cobwebs, and a covering in dust due to poor maintenance. There are areas that have been long ignored, dismissed, and neglected in me.

Funny thing though, a bottle of windex, a squeegee, and a rag was all I needed to have every window inside the house clean in about an hour. I found the right tools, the determination, and the time. In the end, the job was much simpler than I thought!

What do the windows of your heart and soul look like? What tools do you need to clean your windows today? What’s available to you with clean windows?

Moving water

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I’m sat in front of a fountain in a hotel. It occupies a significant space of the lobby. The space it occupies is much more than just physical.

The force of the water’s movement is tremendously loud. The scent of freshly treated water fills the air. The movement invites the eye to linger in its dance.

The fountain has invited me in and I graciously respond to the invitation. I sit down at a table close to the moving water. The fountain takes center stage of my attention and begins to communicate its mysteries.

There is something about moving water that speaks deeply to my soul. Whether its a quiet and babbling creek high in the mountains, the strong and powerful waves of the ocean smashing against the beach, or this interestingly entertaining fountain. Moving water seems to communicate so much without ever saying a word. It seems to say,

Movement is life.

The fountain would be so much less inviting, less entertaining, and less interesting if the water was not in movement. It is the movement that brings it to life. The life of the fountain has a profound impact on its environment.

It is in dynamic movement that we find life. The dynamic movement of relationships, intentions, spirituality, learning, and transformation. As we embrace movement in our lives, the invitation has an impact on the world around us.

Fluidity opens possibility.

As the fountain jumps up and down it never creates the same shape. The drops never fall in the exact same way. There are a million possibilities for the shapes it will create.

When we embrace the fluidity of life, we suddenly become aware of a million possibilities. Our willingness to be adaptable to fluidity in our lives is transformational. Fluidity seems to be the fuel to take us places we might never go on our own.

Power is calming.

Rather than repelling people, the power of the water actually invites. As I stand at the edge of the powerful movement, there is a stillness that occupies the space between myself and the fountain. It’s power seems to overshadow what is not calm in me.

There is something interesting that happens in us when we are physically in the presence of a powerful force. Somehow the reality of our humanity humbles is for just a second. The power of something bigger than us has a mysteriously calming effect.

I find it intriguingly curious how much we can learn through simple and present observation. I’m grateful today for the presence of the fountain. I’m even more deeply grateful for the things it has reminded me of today.