Tag Archives: one day at a time

One Day at a Time—with Passion

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, June 16, 2015

one day at a time, in color

One Day at a Time—with Passion

This is the first day of the rest of your life. It is, truly. I am not being facetious.

At least, that’s what Nathaniel Branden says in his chapter on Handbook for the Soul.

He speaks of the passion needed to go through life, and how much commitment each person needs. That, plus the ability to appreciate the positive things in life, are two key aspects of this journey called life. I think I might even be able to suggest that Branden considers them all-important aspects, even when each individual goes through continued difficulties and challenges.

I read with interest the real-life example Branden gave. He spoke of his first book, and while he began to explain (in words) about this situation years ago, I had a sudden insight about it. As this formely-young man thought at first, he needed to hurry up and get through the writing-part of this book. But then, he thought more and more deeply. It came upon him that his life was the process. Each day, one day at a time. [1]

What a free-ing thought!

This allows me to think more deeply and more kindly of others. (I am not sure exactly how this fits in with this particular chapter. I am just happy that I will not be alone. At least, I do not need to be alone. Or, stay alone.

As Branden says, “Obviously, we cannot control every area of our life. . . . But we do have an enormous degree of responsibility for the shape our lives takes. . . . We are not passive spectators, but active contestants in the drama of our existence.” [2]

Positive thinking, and one day at a time living. I watched as others nourished themselves; and by God’s strength, I can praise God for these basic instructions. Not easy. Not by a long shot. However, now Branden knows. Now, we do, too.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995.), 102.

[2] Ibid, 103.

Rekindle the Soul Connection

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 14, 2015

campfire photo

Rekindle the Soul Connection

I love fires. Fires in fireplaces, or in fire pits. Cooking fires when camping. Even gas fires in fancy-shmancy gas fireplaces (no cleaning up afterwards!). Something about setting up the wood to begin with, kindling the flame, feeding the fire. And then, sitting there in comfort, enjoying the crackle of the leaping flames. The warmth of the flickering glow.

How much I relate this to the care and nurture of my soul! Sometimes, I need to see to my soul-connection. Make sure that the fire inside of me is properly banked for a long-term burn. And, I can’t neglect the fire inside, the warmth and light that the fire provides. Provides nurture and care to my insides. Jack Canfield’s chapter in Handbook for the Soul reminded me of this, so strongly.

Canfield spoke of reconnecting with the soul, and mentioned so many different activities. When he participated in these various ways, they aided in his energy and awareness. As he mentioned, “When you set aside time for peace and tranquility—a massage from a loved one, a yoga class, thirty minutes of deep meditation, and the like—it’s hard to stay in a conflicted state of mind. When the benefits are so consistent and reliable, one has to wonder why so few people engage in these soul-energizing practices on a regular basis.” [1]

When put that simply and cogently, I need to truly ask myself: why don’t I engage in these soul-energizing practices on a regular basis?

Yes, many people are fooled into thinking that they don’t have time to engage in these nurturing practices. Except—and I am doing some sincere soul-searching here—I do know the benefits. I have experienced the positive, soul-energizing effects. Why don’t I practice these things, on a regular basis?

Canfield mentions a great many techniques, several for each different type of person. I want to. I really want to have the benefits of this wonderful soul-nourishing practice. Not the least of these is something I try to do on a regular basis. I’ll let him speak for himself: “one very powerful way to connect with spirit, to lift yourself, and to make a difference is to engage in some kind of selfless service, such as feeding the homeless, teaching the illiterate to read, tutoring in an inner-city school, or volunteering at church.” [2]

Amazing journey I’m on. We are all on this journey called life. We all are encouraged to rekindle the soul-connection inside. And, our individual journeys are One Day at a Time. Excellent chapter. Excellent advice. God willing, God can help me in this endeavor.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 89.

[2] Ibid, 92.

Clean the Clutter from My Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Friday, June 12, 2015

clutter

Clean the Clutter from My Soul

Oh, boy did I need this chapter! Not just for today, but for a lot longer than just today. “Spiritual nourishment,” which is what I understand Sydney Banks to describe as “soul thinking,” seems to me to stem from “compassion, love and wisdom.” [1]

I resonate so deeply with today’s chapter from Handbook for the Soul. Yes, for sure I can get all caught up in negative thinking. I can easily get stuck on that hopeless, helpless hamster wheel in my head, where all I doing (thinking!) is coming up with negative expectations. Going down into that deep pit of useless self-pity. Or even worse.

I love the example Banks gave, where he mentions an imaginary person he names Martin. [2] Just a crooked mental detour on the way home can cause Martin to go down a dark, miserable path, ensuring he has a dark, miserable night.

How much better to think positive thoughts, which will lead a person down nourishing, even uplifting paths. “This moment—now—truly is the only moment you have. It is beautiful and special. Life is simply a series of such moments to be experiences one right after another.” [3]

This kind of mindset, learning to live in the NOW, is what I need to strive for. This living for TODAY (not yesterday, and certainly not tomorrow!) is what One Day at a Time living is all about. This is the way of life I try to live. Just for today. I find this One Day at a Time life to be quite sensible, not to mention described by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus urges His followers to concern themselves with one day at a time—today. Each day has concerns of its own, as He says at the end of Matthew 6. I take the words of Jesus to heart. And, I find echoes of His encouragement all over the place, like right here.

The present moment is the most important moment for me, helping me to stay connected to the NOW. Plus, living in the present moment helps me to be encouraged, urges my heart to stay positive, and nourishes my soul. All wonderful things! God willing, I may continue on this path.

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 74.

[2] Ibid, 75-76.

[3] Ibid, 76.

Mindful, Nourished Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, June 8, 2015

if nothing ever changed, no butterflies

Mindful, Nourished Soul

Today’s chapter by Stephen Levine stretched my way of thinking. Yes, I usually think in terms of a Judeo-Christian mindset. However, this reading had a definite Eastern, even Buddhist view on mindfulness and the soul. Not my usual way of thinking, at all.

But, he also speaks of nourishing the soul. No matter what background each individual comes from, no matter what belief structure each one espouses, practically everyone acknowledges that the soul needs to be nourished. Strengthened, and encouraged.

A universal breakdown of that nourished, strengthened soul happens when distrust happens. I don’t care if people have Jewish beliefs, Christian understanding, Buddhist mindset, or whatever else is there. Mr. Levine tells us more: “We don’t trust ourselves, so we stay rooted in the easy and convenient. We eliminate as much pain as we can from our lives and end up painted into a corner we call safety. Safety is the most unsafe spiritual path you can take.” [1]

This last statement reminds me of the chaplain internship where I served, from 2002 to 2003. I was attending seminary full-time, but I also worked at the retirement center 20 hours per week. The director of chaplaincy was awesome. A wonderful administrator, he knew how to delegate authority. More than that, he knew enough not to hand-hold us chaplain interns. He turned us loose in the retirement center, with very little safety net. He took calculated risks, and gently encouraged us to take risks, too.

Further words of wisdom from Mr. Levine: “It’s important in everyday life to work with kindness. Learn patience. When you stand in lines or are at a red light, soften your belly. Open your body and your mind to the subtler levels of experience, letting go of your attempt to control, to be right, not worrying about appearances, not trying to be safe.[2]

So, here I am reminded of how I am to be, and how I am not to be. Yes—kind, yes—patient. Those attributes are good and positive. No—to safety. In other words, no fix, manage or control.

Yes, these are all attributes I need to allow myself to work on. Get better at. God willing, I shall. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea? One step at a time. One day at a time.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 50.

[2] Ibid, 51.

Love? Connection with the Soul

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, June 7, 2015

Love? Connection with the Soul.

change everything

I appreciate Bernie Siegel’s chapter in the book Handbook for the Soul, in several different ways.

First, as clergy trained in chaplaincy, I understand what he’s talking about. From speaking to patients, their loved ones, and hospital staff, I have an appreciation that is much more of a reality check. Yes, so many have a renewed understanding that they have “today.” Just one more day. Today is the most important time, the best time. Not next week, and certainly not next year. Getting lost in anything other than “today” is not conducive to true joy.

Second, I relate because of my familiarity with the 12 Steps and the Recovery program. “One Day at a Time” is all important. As someone trained with a certificate in Alcohol and Drug Counseling, as well as many acquaintances involved with Recovery, I understand the concept that NOW is the most important time. The only time worth living.

Third, I agree with Dr. Siegel’s recommendation: change your attitude toward your life. (italics his) I am strongly reminded of a quote I saw several years ago that deeply moved me. It said, “Some people see the glass half empty. Others see it as half full. Be glad you have a glass.”

Dr. Siegel suggests: “. . . if you can’t change your external circumstances at this point, you can change your attitude toward your life. You can say, ‘All right, I choose to be happy. I choose to view what I do every day as a way of contributing love.’ When you go about your life with this attitude, you’ll find that your circumstances do begin to change.” [1]

And, each day is filled with choices. Little choices, larger decisions. Forks in the daily road. The Recovery program tells me to choose the next right thing. I would go that one better: I strive to do the next loving thing. This I see as closely linked to changing my attitude toward my life, exactly what Dr. Siegel tells us to do in this chapter. Otherwise, if the little, incremental choices I make day by day lead me down a path towards a person I do not want to be, what good is it? Do I really want to end up feeling awful, even if I see awful things at work? Even if someone confides awful things to me in confidence?

Yes, attitude is everything. God, I choose love. I choose the next loving thing.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And, read my sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

[1] Handbook for the Soul, Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield, editors. (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1995), 41.

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 8, 2015

pray pray pray

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

I love Fr. Nouwen’s writings. Really, I do. I read something from Fr. Nouwen’s book A Cry of the Heart in the devotional book I have. Yet, my thoughts kept going back to one of the scripture readings for today.

Yes, Fr. Nouwen wanted to alert his readers to prayer. Being led to pray to God, and even taught to pray by God. Yes, dear God. Teach me to pray.

A very good brief reading, but my mind kept wandering away. Wandering toward Psalm 42.

I connected with verses 3 and 4a. “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’  These things I remember as I pour out my soul.”

Suddenly, vividly, as I read these verses I remembered several times in my life when I was so very sad. So disappointed. Submerged in anguish. Including, one fairly recent time when I was in the ocean depths of despair. Lord, where were You? It’s so dark. I felt all alone. Almost . . . worse than all alone. Such despair and hopelessness.

I knew, intellectually, that You were with me. True, I could not feel it. Not for some time. I still am not sure quite how, but I got through that horrid time of depression and dire despair.

A key feature to continuing through the Slough of Despond? One day at a time. One hour at a time. Even, ten minutes at a time. If I can just make it through the next little while, then I’ll be okay. I hope I can. I think I can. I pray I can.

I guess Fr. Nouwen was right after all. Teach me to pray, dear Lord. Reach out to me. Teach me to pray.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .

Be Thankful. No Matter What.

matterofprayer blog post for Thursday, November 28, 2013

I woke up this morning, went out to the car to do an errand, and found it had a flat tire. On Thanksgiving morning.

I was able to get the tire half-inflated, and drove over to the nearby car repair shop, which WILL be open tomorrow. However, that incident throws a monkey wrench in our Thanksgiving Day plans.

Upon reflection, that monkey wrench does not seem TOO serious. My family is currently all in one piece—no accidents or catastrophic events. We are healthy, have (lots of!) food in the refrigerator, a warm place to live, and plenty of warm clothes in our closets. It may not always be that way, but it is for right now.

I do have friends who have sick relatives, one whose sibling just died several days ago, and several more who have chronic health concerns of their own. But God can see us through. God has not failed me yet. I understand from many, many people that God hasn’t failed them, either.

I think of the verse from the first letter to the believers in Thessalonica, where Paul advises the Thessalonians to “be thankful in all circumstances.” I know that Paul was familiar with trials and tribulations in his journeys and voyages around Asia. He did not have an easy time of it, all the time, either. He also had faith that God would be with him, no matter what happened to him, where he went, or who he was with. I ought to follow the example of the Apostle Paul, instead of griping about my personal trials and tribulations. Happy Thanksgiving Day, indeed!

Let’s pray. Dear God, thank You for a day set aside to give thanks. Thank You for seeing me through my various trials, just as You have been with countless believers in You, over the centuries. Dear God, be with all those who are lacking provision for their physical needs, today. Lead them to people and places that can provide for them. And thanks for the promise we have from Matthew 6, that You do provide for us, one day at a time. What a great Thanksgiving. Amen.

My time? Or God’s time?

matterofprayer blog post for Saturday, November 16, 2013

I am sometimes late. Not too late, just rushing out the door. Or running in a minute or two before things get started. Truthfully, I am better than I was in the past. However, I still cut things close, sometimes.

The concept of time is an interesting one. Am I saving time? Wasting time? Is time a valuable commodity, or does time lie heavy on my hands? Is time my time, or my employer’s time? Time for work, for study, for play. Time to do nothing. Time to care for others. Time to care for myself. Time to worship, time to pray.

I must make a confession. I almost always think of the abstract concept of time as my time. True, I work hard. I try my best, to the best of my ability. But is it really my time I’m playing with? And right now, God, the most important question for me is: do I begrudge the time I spend with You?

God, I read some verses from Ecclesiastes 3 recently. I saw the poetic way the writer deals with the concept of time. In verse 11, the verse states that You placed the concept, or the sense, of past and future within each member of the human race.

God, I think that my puny idea of time as being my time is fundamentally flawed. I need to realize that ALL time is Your time. You give each of us blessings. Each day is a gift, and I can joyfully receive it from You. You graciously give me Your time to use, one day at a time. Thanks. For everything.

Let’s pray. Dear God, I know I often don’t take the time to be with You, to pray with You. Forgive me, God. Help me to do better. Help me to be the person You want me to be. Give me Your eyes, Your ears and Your heart, so I will always be willing to take the time for others as well as for myself. Thank You for each day You give me, and help me to use the time wisely and well. Thanks, God!

“Tomorrow can take care of itself.”

matterofprayer blog post for Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Hi, God. It’s me, again.

I am back considering one of the Gospels, again. I am so intrigued by portions of the Sermon on the Mount. Seriously, Lord, parts of it seem like such common sense! Especially this part. The end of Matthew chapter 6, verses 31 through 34.

God, why on earth do I keep on borrowing trouble? I know, I know. You tell me, in no uncertain terms, not to focus on tomorrow. And I am not to become preoccupied with yesterday, either. It’s like that acquaintance of mine who told me the other day, “It’s like my grandma said: ‘we can look back at yesterday, but don’t stare.’” Lord, ain’t it the truth?

If I get caught up in yesterday, or preoccupied with what might happen tomorrow, I can miss out on today! One day at a time living! Isn’t that what You suggest? Each day has concerns enough of its own. My marching orders from You could not be clearer, from the last verse of this passage. Live one day at a time: today. I want to believe Your promises, where You said You’d never leave me nor forsake me. I do, God! I do believe.

Thanks for the confirmation. Live one day at a time. That’s sufficient. You’ll take care of the rest. And you’ll take care of me, too.

Let’s pray. Dear God, sometimes I really get afraid. Or anxious. Or angry. Or a little bit of all of them. God, sometimes I feel like I’m near the end of my rope, or like my short fuse is burnt almost all the way to the end. Thank You for these very clear words from Matthew, God. You instruct me not to worry. Don’t borrow trouble! Thanks for these straight-forward ideas. Help me remember them. Daily. Even hourly. When I need You most. Thanks again. Amen.