WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN…?

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What do you do when the hardships you face seem like too much to bear? It could be something very serious happening to a loved one, it could be your health, it could be your living situation, it could be your marriage…it could be all of the above at once. Everything is shrieking at you to pay attention to it, to tend to it, to do something, for God’s sake!

So what do you do?

Honestly, I can’t tell you what you should do, but I can tell you the only thing I know to do, the only thing that makes sense, though it goes against everything the exterior world clamors…

For God’s sake (and my own and others’)…I get very, very still. I go inside…into the inner chamber of my heart…and there, I find God waiting for me. There, in the stillness, in the quiet, “There is a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen,” as Rumi wisely said.

And so I listen.

And I hear a call above the waves and wind shouting, “Be still!” (It’s incredible how loud that inaudible voice can be.) That call is the anchor that draws the little boat of my soul back into the only harbor that gives peace…God’s presence.

There, my thoughts are calmed. There, the injustices that stare me in the face lose their power. There, answers are found. There, my heartbeat is restored to a normal rate.

There are some extremely frightening things going on in my life right now, in the life of someone I love (life or death things not related to illness) so being able to even sit down and write this is the only proof I need that it’s true–there is power in stillness, there is power in faith and hope, and there is relief from fear in God’s love. I don’t feel it every minute, but that says more about my wandering focus than about God.

There is a time to do all we can to work, to help, to tend to…and there is a time to be still, to trust and to wait for the answers to come. It is a very fine art to find the balance between these two and to live within them.

I do not know of anything that is made better by anxiety and fear. I only know of all the things that are made better by trust and love.

 

– Monique Amado

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* Image credit: Christian Schloe

Remembering Your Belovedness (with Henri Nouwen)

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Dear friends,

The best way to value ourselves is to remember, and bask in, who God says we are and how much God values us. If we stay grounded there in that Great Love, it becomes less and less likely that we will devalue ourselves or allow others to do so.

This is an old talk by Henri Nouwen which I think will help you, as his words have helped me, to stay connected to who God says you are. It will strengthen you in all your inner and outer dealings in this world. I listen to the entire thing at least once or twice a year to refresh my memory and keep me strong.


In case you don’t know who Henri Nouwen is, he was a grace-infused human being who lived and worked among the L’Arche Community and said that these lovely people taught him more about God’s acceptance than anyone else. He said this was due to the fact that they did not know or understand anything about his degrees, his accolades or his accomplishments (let alone his failures and weaknesses), but only knew him by his heart.

Believe me, time listening to these words will be time well spent.

Wishing you God’s peace & security…

Monique

ON PERSISTENT PRAYER & NEVER BEING ALONE-PODCAST

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Hi friends…

Sunday before last was my birthday and I thought the best way for me to celebrate it and give thanks for my life would be to put myself in a position for God to speak through me. So since our pastor is on vacation and we needed someone to fill in to prepare and share a sermon, I said, “Hey, I’ll do it.”

I’m seeing more and more why Jeremiah is called “the weeping prophet,” and I’ve realized I may never be able to speak to a group of people about God without crying. I think I’m okay with that. It’s just hard to talk through tears is all.

Someone asked me afterwards what made me start crying. I later thought, “Well, that’s a pretty intimate question!” At the time, I wasn’t sure how to answer, but after thinking about it more, I realized it’s partly because when I look out into the faces of people, I can see in their eyes the pain they are carrying. For some, it may not be on a conscious level. For others, it’s very much on the surface. In any case, be it a blessing or something else, I’ve always been able to pick up on things going on beneath the surface when I walk into a room. It can be overwhelming at times, but it is a gift in that it gives me the ability to tune into what people are not saying and be sensitive to it. I suppose this is part of what made me cry.

Also because as I prepared this message, I thought mostly of my dear brother and his affliction, so he too was there in that sea of faces even if I couldn’t see him with my eyes.

I know people who have suffered, or are currently suffering–people I care deeply about–who think that God has abandoned them. And I want so much for them to know that it’s not true. Despite all outward appearances, he has not abandoned them. Or if you’re reading this, he has not abandoned you. Your spouse may have, your friends may have, your family may have, but God has not and it is a tragedy to confuse the two.

As for me, I can attest that it is God, and God alone, who has patiently carried me through every darkness, every pain and every trial and never left me. And that is perhaps why I cry when I speak about him. Because I so much want others to be free from suffering and just as much, I want them to know that when they are suffering, God is there suffering with them.

I hope this message will encourage you. Feel free to share with anyone you think might need to hear it.

To schedule an appointment for life coaching or spiritual guidance, please click this link.

Blessings,
Monique

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My Story of Healing from Eating Disorders (Podcast)

This will be part 1 of my story because there has been healing in so many areas of my life that each would require a separate talk. So I’m sure there will be more parts that I share on this topic in the future. But for now, I wanted to post the story I shared at church here in Berlin recently and my hope, as always, is that something I said might give hope and encouragement to someone listening.

There were moments of technical difficulty during my sharing…and a bit of nervousness…and a bit of crying. Our stories can be messy, so it’s no surprise that the telling of them can be too.

Click here to hear it.

It tells a bit about how I went from this:

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To this:

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I hope that if you, or someone you know, struggles with an eating disorder, or any kind of self-destructive behavior, that hearing my story will help you to not give up and to keep praying, keep hoping and keep knowing that God loves you no matter what’s going on and that healing and good things are possible.

Your life matters and you are needed here on this planet.

Blessings & peace,

Monique

p.s. If you need coaching and/or spiritual guidance, please click here to schedule an appointment for an introductory call with me.

 

 

Being Turned into Gentleness

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I’ve been reading Streams in the Desert for over 20 years and still, the readings are as fresh each time as if it was the first time. I’ve met others through the years that have attested to a similar experience.

Here’s the reading from today. I’m sure some will identify.

“So few are willing to undergo the suffering out of which thorough gentleness comes. We must die before we are turned into gentleness, and crucifixion involves suffering; it is a real breaking and crushing of self, which wrings the heart and conquers the mind.

There is a good deal of mere mental and logical sanctification nowadays, which is only a religious fiction…and such an one goes forth with a gay, flippant, theological prattle about the deep things of God.

But the natural heartstrings have not been snapped, and the Adamic flint has not been ground to powder, and the bosom has not throbbed with the lonely, surging sighs of Gethsemane; and not having the real death marks of Calvary, there cannot be that soft, sweet, gentle, floating, victorious, overflowing, triumphant life that flows like a spring morning from an empty tomb.”                       —G. D. W.

 

If you desire to deepen your spiritual and/or creative life, please feel free to schedule a 30 minute discovery coaching call by clicking here.

Blessings,

Monique

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WHAT IS GREATNESS?

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Do you ever think about what the word greatness means? I think about it often and I seem to come across it frequently in quotes, talks, video clips and other things I listen to for inspiration. I was watching an interview of 2 people discussing greatness and I imagined myself being interviewed and being asked the question, “What does greatness mean to you?”

I think my response would go something like this:

What comes to mind is a story I remember a beloved pastor telling many years ago. He told about a little boy standing in front of a bakery window during wartime. The little boy was poor and had nothing. There was no way he could pay for anything in the bakery. He just stood outside with his nose pressed against the window, staring in, smelling the delicious aroma of freshly baked bread. Just then, a man walked up and said to him, “Little boy, would you like one of those rolls?” The boy looked up at the man and said, “Oh, would I…” The man promptly went into the bakery and bought a bag full of freshly-baked rolls. He came out and handed the bag to the little boy. The boy, in a state of awe, gratitude and wonder, looked up at the man and said, “Mister, are you God?”

That story makes me tear up every time I think of it.

I think greatness is someone who causes others (especially those who feel hopeless or lost or afraid) to believe in the possibility of a loving God. Someone who gives others a glimpse of how loved they are, how accepted they are and how they didn’t need to do anything to earn that “bread roll” other than to simply exist…not pay for it, not grovel for it, just open their hands and take it and trust that it was given with absolute benevolence. Perhaps greatness allows others to encounter the depth of love and grace because someone paid attention, someone took notice of their need, their pain, their very existence.  And by such love, hope is rekindled…or kindled for the first time.

What about you? What do you think greatness is?

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Click this link to set up a free 30 minute discovery coaching call and we can talk about it.

peace & grace,

Monique

 

 

 

 

**Illustration credit: Christian Schloe

 

 

 

CELTIC PRAYER & THE IMPORTANCE OF BREATHING

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The past 24 hours or so, I was reminded again of the importance of simply breathing. The situation that can bring me anxiety, anyone who knows about it can’t blame me for feeling trepidation over. (Not to sound mysterious, but I can’t go into it here.) Inhale…exhale…deep inhale…deep exhale. Still, one would think it would come so naturally—to breathe. After all, we’ve been doing it since we were born. Yet in times when things appear possibly dangerous or frightening, we can easily forget to do the most basic thing of our lives: draw air into our lungs.

When we’re anxious or troubled, it’s like we have to remind ourselves to breathe. I’ve found though that while drawing deep breaths is good, drawing deep breaths while meditating on a short phrase about God is better.

Being that it’s St. Patrick’s Day, it seems a good time to mention how powerful and calming many Celtic prayers are simply because of their simplicity and the fact that they mention such seemingly “ordinary” things, such as wind, fire, water…air. All those things seem ordinary enough until we are suddenly without them. Being without breath due to fear or panic can be like suffocating on our own thoughts.

Granted, I don’t have this all the time, but I do at times have it when it comes to extreme circumstances (which the current thing would fall into the category of at certain times).

So here is a prayer that might help you should you ever find yourself in a time of needing to remember to breathe. If you never have a moment like this, then we’re all very happy for you. This is for the rest of us.

This is from the Breastplate of St. Patrick:

“I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

I arise today
Through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s eye to look before me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me,
God’s hosts to save me
From snares of the devil,
From temptations of vices,
From everyone who desires me ill,
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of every man who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation”

I hope this helps you, calms you, give you peace in times of distress and most of all, hope in God’s divine presence holding you and helping you.

For more ideas of wonderful short phrases you can repeat, that are easier to meditate on with your eyes closed, have a look at this link.

The beautiful calligraphy is courtesy of my dear and gifted friend, Karen Ables, who gave this to me as a gift. It is one of my great treasures. Please only use with permission.

Wishing you much peace, protection & strength this St. Patrick’s Day.

Monique

** To schedule a free 30-minute discovery coaching call with me, just click this link.