The Speed of Church

There are times when I get a little frustrated about how slowly tasks are being completed in both my personal and professional life, about a hot summer day dragging on and on, or anxiously waiting for a special event to arrive. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Time since childhood. Fortunately, it’s become more peaceful as I’ve learned to manage my activities better, to pace myself through the days or years…and still I have more to learn.

When I was a kid my chore list seemed endless. To make things a bit more interesting, I would time myself to see how quickly I could get a particular task completed. As long as my efforts passed inspection the first time, I considered my work successful and my timing accurate. However, if I had to redo the task, the time was invalidated until the next attempt. For example, by the time I was 15 years old, I could clean a full bathroom, including tile walls, floors, fixtures, mirrors, counters and replace the towels, in less than 17 minutes AND pass mom’s inspection. The sooner I completed the chore list, the sooner I could move on to what I wanted to do.

I took this need for speed in my work to the corporate world. In particular, the area of marketing and sales support always seemed to have a critical time-based deadline to everything that needed to be done. I was a perfect fit and thrived in this environment for years. The skill to create documents and assorted materials within a short time limit still comes in handy on a weekly basis as a minister.

I’m grateful I have this ability to get things done so quickly and, in most cases, they still pass the critical eye of inspection without error. In the past 40 years I can recall only two times when I missed a specific deadline and faced the consequence of an unhappy boss or client. Funny how I remember those two disappointments and not the thousands of times I was successful.

Somewhere along the way I stopped using the stopwatch and started marking time by days, weeks, months and years. Things still get stopwatchaccomplished, projects are completed in a timely manner, and yet the urgency to get it all done today has slipped away. I’ve learned, through my years of working with a church behind the scenes and now as a church leader, that tasks do get done – some sooner than others. Yet, eventually, progressively, what is truly needed in the moment will be tended to and completed…  until the next revision demands more.

The overall idea is that this church or spiritual community will be here for the duration or life of its members. It’s not going anywhere as long as we are attentive to what’s important – each other.  So what’s the rush? It’s true that Sunday service comes around with amazing regularity, the bills and staff must be paid by a certain date, and materials need to be created for a planned workshop, meeting or event. Everything else will unfold in absolutely perfect timing… perfect unfoldment.

There’s a lot of Trust involved – in one’s self and those who share in the responsibilities. Trust that we’re all doing the best we can with what we have to work with. Trust that the most important tasks will be done first; the rest will be handled eventually. Trust that the “speed of church” efforts are different from the high-stress, demanding deadlines of my past, but still as effective. Trust that our organization is not suffering from lack of attention or love or care. Trust that balance and rest are as important as busyness and productivity. And Trust that we’re in the right place at the right time… right now… this moment… which is all the time we have anyway.

5 Bags of Clarity to Lift the Soul

It’s not often that I do yard clean-up in late January, especially in Colorado. Time and circumstances as they were this week, I was able to rake and trim one day, then shovel snow the next. I’ve missed doing such yard work in the past couple of years. But based on the accumulation of leaves and debris left behind by former tenants, it won’t be long before I get my quotient filled.

Whenever I spend time raking, collecting, and gathering leaves, it’s very therapeutic for me…even meditative. My hands are busy and productive doing this physical labor. My mind vacillates between planning the day’s “to do” list, listening for Spirit’s direction, and just enjoying the silence between thoughts.

On this particular day my thoughts focused primarily on insights I had received earlier that morning. I have been praying for clarity for several weeks. I am ready to accept direction and purpose for my life, specifically in regard to intellectual projects that have been drifting through my mind for years. Like the layers of leaves and debris I was now raking, I am ready to tidy up and simplify a myriad of ideas, projects, and career directions.

By the time I completed the small front yard project, I had collected five large bags of plant debris. I had also created titles for five key writing projects and identified my role in developing five separate income streams. Spirit definitely likes a void! Clean out the old and the Divine Creator will fill it up with better and more! My prayers had finally been answered: I had clarity.

While it might seem that I’ve only made more work for myself, none of the new writing projects or financial sources needs to be created today or even simultaneously. Identifying and writing them down gives me structure, comfort, direction, and focus for the long-term. Frankly, the creation of one supports the life of another. For example, writing and publishing a book establishes an author, just as doing research for my doctorate will require some travel/vacation time with my husband.

I’m not ready to establish schedules or timelines for completing these lists of five. Several of them are already in various stages of progress. However, I find satisfaction in recognizing that I’ve been moving forward in their creation for many years, and that continuing on this track – albeit with more clarity – will keep me occupied for years to come. I find that having direction brings me incredible comfort and motivation. I absolutely know that focused intention will accelerate a successful completion of each treasured purpose.

Just for today…I turn my attention to finally cleaning up my office. I discard everything that no longer serves my highest vision and purpose. I make space for organizing future endeavors. And I welcome into my consciousness the peace and joy and uplifting energy of expressing my life to its fullest possibilities. With God as my partner, I cannot fail!


Freedom To Be Me

The more I learn about who I am, the more I yearn to express fully as me. This may not seem like such a difficult undertaking, yet for someone who has focused on work first for most of her life, this is not an easy or simple undertaking. The most familiar way for me to express is through my work. Any alternative is challenging, and sometime feels very foreign. I find my freedom through my work – whether it’s for payment or pleasure.

I discovered in my early teen years, that by going out into the work world, I was not so easily relied upon to take care of younger siblings (four of them). I found it easier – and more palatable to my sense of independence – to go to school, work part-time, and pay room-and-board at home, than to be a teenager in the house, taking care of little ones, and being under the scrutiny of my parents. Working gave me a little money for my own spending, yes. But more than that, working gave me freedom!

Being in the workforce so early in life (babysitting at 9, restaurant at 14, bartender and office worker at 18, etc.) planted seeds of a workaholic behavior to which I now pay close attention. It’s often difficult for me to slow down or find balance in life. I dream of extended vacations, but I don’t often take them. Instead, I do refreshing mini-retreats each day through meditation, reading, and tasks that require minor brain energy. It’s a beginning toward greater experiences.

The act of working gave me the opportunity to discover how I fit into society, the world. I discovered I learned quickly, retained and honed skills easily by challenging myself through accepting tasks of greater difficulty, and was (am) able to complete projects efficiently through constantly improving production processes (specifically, desktop publishing, editing, and marketing tasks).

It’s interesting to observe how much I expect of myself. However, when I get lost in the creative flow of a project, humming along and losing track of time, it doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a graceful dance, a euphoric ballet, or high-energy hip-hop routine. I’m in the flow of Spirit; it’s Oneness in action. My time and energy become an easy give-and-take of talent and a creative expression of years of finely-honed skills. There’s a mental committee urging me on, encouraging me to challenge the status quo…watching my progress as I stretch myself and reach beyond previous levels of achievement.

These are moments of freedom to be me. I determine with a somewhat critical eye if I’ve done my best…at least, this time…where I can improve…and how I can explore diverse interests. I get to dig deep into my years of experience, get lost in a puzzle of complexity, and come up with answers or ideas that resolve a riddle or challenge. Then, I take a breath, turn around, and look for another set of questions that has no answers.

In that break between focuses, no matter how long it lasts, there is freedom to dream new creations, new endeavors, new accomplishments that bring new skills…and the cycle continues with great anticipation…the freedom to express as me!


I love days like these…cloudy, a bit cold outside, listening to spa-like music of piano and violins…and the time to write undisturbed. This moment follows a vacation day from the pulpit, so I’m feeling recharged, contemplative and very grateful. I enjoy my work; I also appreciate the occasional Sunday off. It helps keep life in perspective. I believe too much of any one thing is either an obsession or a burden leading to resentment. But what is enjoyed or repeated in moderation allows the mind and body to fully appreciate its temporary nature. After all, all of life is temporary to some degree.

This is not something I understood much, if at all, twenty years ago…or even five years ago. Given my upbringing and early adulthood, I felt it was required to not only “suck the marrow” (Thoreau) out of each life experience before releasing it, but to do it quickly, urgently, before it got away or was taken away…and my opportunity was gone. Savoring an experience and trusting it could repeat itself – even if in a slightly different form – was a foreign concept to my old way of thinking. Fortunately, I can now appreciate a slower, richer pace…and still accomplish all I set out to do.

That’s one of the principles taught in many meditation classes: take the time to meditate each day and you will actually find you create more time to get things done in life. Another benefit to doing things in moderation is the ability to “enjoy the journey.” By slowing down, being mindful and focused, you can fully embody the experience you’re having rather than rushing through it and only skimming the surface of what it really offers.

This idea became vividly apparent when I was learning massage techniques…I had to slow down in order to really feel the muscles and the repairs needing attention below the skin’s surface. It also allowed the muscles time to respond to the pressure I was applying and releasing…to bounce back and heal. While I do very little massage anymore, a similar example is now being expressed through the piano lessons I must practice and comprehend.

It’s impossible to learn to play the piano well in one day…or one week…or even one month. Yet by steady and repeated practices, I do see progress. I can now read most of the notes on the bass clef; something that was a frustrating mystery a couple months ago. I hear myself getting better with each painful hour I spend at the keyboard – painful for others who may be listening, so I’m now wearing headphones to save them the agony.

It does my body and mind little good right now to work at my piano lessons for more than an hour at a time. Moderation is the key. Practice. Walk away and do something else. Practice. Do some stretches or take a walk. Practice. Go to work, write an article or sermon. Practice. Each time I come back to the keys, I feel stronger in my skills…I notice my progress…my hands seem to remember what they’re supposed to do. This moderation routine allows me to make greater headway AND enjoy the overall experience, rather than beating myself up verbally, practicing hours on end, and becoming frustrated because I don’t see that I’m getting it as fast as I think I should.

Would I like to learn more quickly? Of course! In the meantime, I am enjoying the process. I’m marking the pages of accomplishment each week. I’ve discovered old family music sheets that I can learn along the way (for variety from the lesson plans). I listen to music in a whole new way and am humbled by the talent all around me. And my body is grateful for the diverse physical positions throughout the day.

My new mantra is:  EVERYTHING in moderation!

Try it. Enjoy it. Live it.

In the Company of Spirit

My meditation practice has been sporadic and undisciplined for much longer than I’d ever intended or cared to admit. I truly love the benefits of regular meditation. I get lost in the bliss and solitude, making it difficult to return to the physical world. Therein lies my desire: to be in meditation within the active realm of life.

Fortunately, I’ve been introduced to many methods of meditation. In fact I teach my students from this resource of awareness and practices, and am fully open to learning more, to experiencing more. A recent trip to a local sanctuary allowed me to guide a class through a number of different meditative practices, and then turn them loose to create their own experiences while I was free to delve into my favorites. It was a lovely afternoon of peace, serenity and new understandings for all.

The day’s favorite for me was walking the labyrinth…a beautiful classic design forged in rocks and boulders amidst trees and shrubs – both within the paths and surrounding the circle. Very mindfully, and quite alone, I slowly travelled the walkways laid out before me. I carried a flower, symbolically a gift to Spirit for the privilege of being there.

As I pondered my purpose and intention of the walk, head down but eyes open so as to avoid stumbling over tree roots or odd-shaped boulders, I heard someone’s step near the outside edge of the labyrinth. “Someone just passing by,” I thought casually and returned my focus to my intention and solitary walking. Within a couple of minutes and from another part of the meditation circle, again I heard someone stepping near the edge of the labyrinth. This time I looked up to see who was there.

No one. At least no human form was nearby or even within view of where I was standing, now paused in the dappling sunlight and the warm breeze. Then I heard it…a clear message from that eternal voice, which said, “I’m walking with you; you’re never alone.”

In that moment – a microsecond of time – I could feel Life smiling at me. And I smiled back.

Funny, I hadn’t thought about feeling lonely. The day, the week, had been filled with activities that included many people. While I had been serving in various capacities, I had also felt served by others. Then I realized the significance of this message…Spirit, God, is with us always, even when we’re feeling exceptionally good. Often we seek out our Spiritual connection when challenges are pressing us down to our knees; we call out for help through prayer and find comfort to make it through. We don’t have to wait that long.

We can feel that connection when things are going well and easy, too. We can offer prayers of gratitude for all the Good in our lives and more yet to come. In that moment of peaceful awareness in the midst of the labyrinth, I was once more assured of my relationship to the Divine…and all the Love and Serenity that are mine – any time I accept it…when I’m open to it.

That’s the purpose of meditation for me – to be more open to the Divine. So now I’m ready for greater discipline…to significantly and joyously deepen my practice. It’s time for another walk with Spirit. See you later.

Catch-Up…or Not

Ever since we moved back to our family home earlier this year, there has been a line of boxes waiting to be emptied. One room after another, items have been put away, given away, or tossed away. The artwork is finally going up on the walls. The heavier drapes are being hung in time for the cool nights of autumn. Life’s activities continue one day after the other amidst a stack of this or pile of that. Still, some boxes remain, with contents patiently awaiting a return to usefulness or the trash bin.

Occasionally I declare that it would only take a few days to “catch up” with all of it and things would be back to normal…that I would no longer need to look at these cardboard containers stacked around my office. When I tried that approach – taking a couple of days to unpack files into drawers, books unto shelves, and knick-knacks into corners – the other part of my life fell into panic…the deadlines and projects that I needed to pay attention to came due with amazing speed and stress. I traded one irritation for another.

The truth is, this IS normal…for as long as I can remember. There have always been boxes sitting around in some corner, filled with memories…numerous photograph albums, school papers, childhood gifts, and tidbits from relationships. Throwing these things away seems sacrilegious – all are parts of me. But every once in awhile, when we move or I need to get to something in the far back corner under the bottom of the pile, I’ll look through a box and determine that at least SOME item is no longer necessary to whom I’ve become. I’ll toss it into the wastebasket or ask one of my adult children if they want it. They never do. Why would they?

Frankly, I’ve come to accept that there is no “catch up” either. Time is time. We can’t save it up to use it later. We can only spend it as we live each day…fixing meals, working, hanging pictures, creating art or crafts, playing with grandchildren, working, visiting with friends, sleeping, driving, cleaning, recreation, working, studying, reading, writing, working, etc. (If you’ve followed this blog, you already know that, for me, working is a priority.) But sometimes I can empty a box or two.

I think the reason I resist the boxes is because of their contents. I want to explore each container indepth…look at each piece of paper to determine its value…fondly remember the goings on in my life at the time the item was gifted to me and by whom…make sure I throw nothing away that I’ll regret  later for having done so. No one can really assist me in this process. It’s a solitary endeavor. I’m the only one who can decide what stays and what goes…or how important that piece of paper is to my current existence. For example, reviewing the several small boxes of greeting cards received for all those special occasions during the past few decades from my loved ones. My husband has his own collection, too. We finally agreed that maybe it would be okay to reduce our “collections” and keep only a few of the most precious of these cards…when we have the time to look at them.

I know, eventually, all this will get sorted out. I’d just like to do it while I’m the one still making the decisions and so my children don’t get stuck with it. However, it’s not ALL going to happen today. And for now, I’m okay with that.

Law of Gluten

As a minister, teacher and student of Universal Principles, immutable Laws that can be proven by anyone, I found myself the subject of painfully proving such a Law recently. Sadly, I allowed my human ego to make the decision in the matter. My body was the test subject and paid the penalty for not listening to that All-Knowing Voice.  Ignoring that Voice about the correct decision resulted in my own demise.  The decision? To eat too much flour-based food in one day.

I have discovered over the past few months that my body has developed an intolerance to gluten in food. Gradually, I have been reducing or eliminating gluten-based foods from my diet. This one decision has had incredible and positive effects on my body. Not only have the negative symptoms gone away, but my cholesterol levels have reduced, energy has increased, and I’m making healthier nutritional decisions for my diet. (If you do a search on the Internet for “gluten symptoms” – such as this site provides: – you will get a better picture about this condition.)

Even with all the positive experiences I’ve been having by following this gluten-free practice, there have been times when I cheated on the diet. Just a little…without any major ramifications. However, this week I went too far in cheating. I succumbed to that ego voice that wanted the apple pie… and the tuna sandwich… and the crackers… all in one day. By the time I went to bed that night, my stomach and intestines were in such pain from trying to reject all this gluten-type food, that I spent most of the night and the next morning worshiping the porcelain god. The Law of Gluten reigned supreme!

Just like any Universal Principle, the Law of Gluten doesn’t care who you are… it is no respecter of persons. Anyone with gluten intolerance at the same level as mine, making the same bad decisions, would have similar results. The Law of Gluten is always there, invisible, and ready to be proven. Its effects, when disregarded, are similar in any one who decides to go against this Law. It’s nothing personal… it just is.

I am once again freeing my body (detoxing it) from the effects of this gluten allergy.  As long as I follow the Law of Gluten, I experience growing, positive results. If I disregard this Law, I pay the penalty, the effect, of my ego’s bad decision. I know what to do and which Voice to listen to. I have no one to blame. And it works every time. Perhaps you recognize this principle in yourself… through the Law of Lactose or the Law of Shellfish.

This painful experience has opened up my mind to new laws of nutrition I had never considered before. It also provided me a concrete example of how Spiritual and Universal Laws work in my life… and for everyone else… all the time, whether you pay attention to them or not. Ignorance of these Laws does not stop them from working…nor protect you from their effects or consequences.

Not only do I have a heightened awareness of the rules I will follow knowing the Truth about these Laws (and ALL Universal Principles), but I sleep much better, too.


The title above is not an endorsement for a towing service or an insurance company. It stands today for “Awareness, Acknowledgment, Action. Appreciation.” It is my simple system of up-leveling life and staying in a positive frame of mind, no matter what is going on around you. This “triple-A+” approach is a quick reminder to me of how to stay centered in the affirmative and to keep growing consciously in life.

Awareness. If you don’t pay attention, you won’t know what’s wrong or right in your life and the world around you. Sometimes we need a “wake up call” or to “hit bottom” before our eyes are opened to reality – the “what is” of life without all our subconscious filters distorting the view. For example, we may become aware of a certain limitation (physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc.) that keeps us from pursuing some particular goal or dream. We can either accept that limitation and halt our plans or we can work on changing the limitation to a strength. Being aware is the first step.

Acknowledgment. This part of the formula requires that we are rigorously honest with ourselves. Frankly, if we can’t be truly honest with ourselves, how can we ever be honest with anyone else? I’ve been working on my knowledge and practices in regard to the way I handle my finances. Through my personal studies, I’ve learned that, for many adult years, I spent any extra cash (and often credit) in the same manner I learned in childhood. Only I can make the change and there’s no one else to blame for the financial position in which I place myself. I am responsible. Going along with my husband on a deal that doesn’t really feel good to me…or trying to convince him to agree with one of my unnecessary remodeling projects…involves taking a hard look at MY part in the process. There are always consequences – positive or negative – cause and effect – for every decision.

Action. Once I’m aware of my pursuit or challenge and acknowledge what part I play in the process, then it’s time to take action. This means I actually DO something about it! I don’t just sit back and complain how unfair life is or blame another because it’s not as easy as it “should be.” Stop “should-ing” on yourself. Making a “To Do” list, remodeling blueprint or financial plan is an action step. Saving 10 cents of every dollar for retire­ment is an action step. Weeding one section of the garden each day is an action step. Do what you can with what you have to work with. Procrastination gets you nowhere.

Appreciation.  Step back and appreciate how far you’ve come…this day, this week, this year or even this decade. My husband and I recently took a quick journey down memory lane and recapped what we’ve accomplished in the past 20 years of our lives. (We’ve been together 17 of them.) It was an amazing realization! If we do that much in the next 20 – holy moly! Actually, we’ll probably do more. Through this review, we came to appreciate each other and our individual selves for the personal growth and accomplishments we have each contributed to our marriage and partnership. The whole is so much greater than the parts, yet the parts are what make the whole!

The “AAA+” approach keeps me on-track toward creating a life I love and can share with others. Use this process, tweak it as you choose. The only way you can lose in the game of Life, is if you don’t play. Never quit! Don’t give up. Keep moving forward. If you’re breathing and thinking, then there’s something you can do. Keep growing.

Routine, Habit or Practice?

As much as I like to think of myself as a spontaneous, free-spirited person, it’s obvious that I am more prone to routine, habit and structure. It only took three days for my new dog to figure this out about my morning routine. Even then I was trying to vary the pattern so she wouldn’t catch on…to no avail. Her ability to know that I was going to work after achieving certain tasks, leaving her alone for the day, brought out an obstinacy and nervousness I didn’t know was possible in such a little dog. I admired her intelligence for picking up my habits so quickly. It caused me to wake up to and rethink what I was doing, and how I was going to ‘out smart’ this little four-legged teacher.

Routines or habits can be good. I find they make remembering things less stressful if I do certain tasks the same way every day, such as putting my keys in the same place so I can find them later. I’ve experienced trying to change this one habit in recent weeks with negative results. I put my work keys in a different spot than I usually do, forgot I had done so, and walked away. Later, when I realized they were not in-hand, I retraced my steps only to discover that someone else had picked them up and given them to a manager. Eventually I tracked them down and my key-carrying habit has been reinstated. Some habits aren’t worth changing. Others are.

When we employ routines that allow us to be the most efficient, the most productive, they often become a habit, until something new is introduced to the process – such as a small dog. Now, I’m more aware of the routine things I do in the morning. Since I want to ease the anxiety of this small critter (an adopted, rescue dog), but still get ready for the day, I mix up my tasks. Yes, doing so slows down my exit just a bit. However, knowing I leave her calm and peaceful, I feel better. I’m paying attention. I’m consciously aware that my actions are impacting another living creature and it is my responsibility to do no harm to the best of my ability. This takes practice.

Practice, in the generic definition, is to “repeat something to get better” or “an established way of doing something, especially one that has developed through experience and knowledge.” I see practice as being consciously aware of creating a new positive routine or habit based on experience and knowledge.

For example, when we begin a meditation practice, we are very aware of every sound in the room and the stream of thoughts that suddenly (or so it seems) flood our mind for attention.  It takes combining the knowledge of what meditation is – plus conscious awareness and concerted effort – to calm the mind, ignore the sounds, dismiss the thoughts for a time, and go deep into the peaceful place within to commune with Spirit. Repeat as often as possible until it becomes a positive routine and you become serene just preparing for the meditation. Who knows, after awhile, the peacefulness of the meditation practice could very well become your way of being, of living, of habit.

My intent is the same for my new companion – to create a space of peace and trust for her. It will take time for a new routine to form…and lots of practice.

What Do You Do?

It’s interesting how people respond when asked, “What do you do?” Many people start by naming their primary job or occupation, or sharing that they are now retired. However, what I recognize more and more in conversation is that their response is often followed by “but I also…” Perhaps I’m particularly sensitive to noticing this as it has become my habit as well…up until now.

What is it about our culture that we are not content with having only one occupation or job or with being done in the work world? Must we really let everyone know how busy we are at all times? And list all of our hobbies or interests or volunteer activities? Is it our ego that demands such attention to what we do or acknowledgment of what productive citizens we are? Surely our God-Self has no concern about the reply, for that Creative Energy does it all anyway! Or is it because many of us are not satisfied with our primary, income-generating occupation? Is the only way we make a living and find personal satisfaction in life to do this AND something else?

Maybe we just need another way to respond altogether. When asked, “What do you do?”…we might say something like: “I’m creating a fulfilling and happy life.” 

It’s an answer that covers all the bases without a litany of description or excuses. Another nice thing about this response, it doesn’t lock you in to one type of job description. It sets you free to do all that interests you and for which you have talent (or want to develop further)…without justification or validation. This response not only sets an example for others in how to answer such a question, but also opens the door to speak to what interests the inquirer – if they choose to take it to the next step in the conversation. With pin-pointed questions, you can respond to the exact nature of their query.

Our work is not our entire life. While it can be a big portion of it, and while we may need to pursue the “have to” until we find our bliss and the money follows, we can be grateful and happy for all that we are blessed to be doing. Do it with balance. Do it with humility. Do it with joy. What do you do? I’m creating a fulfilling and happy life!