5 COUNTER-INTUITIVE NOTIONS THAT CAN IMPROVE YOUR LIFE

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** image credit: Victoria Yore and Terrence Drysdale

Hi friends…

So what might those notions be?

These came to mind…

  1. Being still when you have a thousand things to do. Seems like the last thing you should do when you’re swamped with a busy schedule. There are people to see, places to go, fires to put out, calls to make, emails to send. But then, things aren’t always what they seem, are they? Here’s what St. Francis de Sales and Martin Luther had to say about it…

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2. Giving when you’re low on money. What? Really? That just doesn’t seem like good accounting. It seems like the last thing you should do when you’re low on cash, and wondering how you’re going to pay your bills is give some (or all) away. But for some reason, the law of the universe is “give and you shall receive.” Perhaps because it takes faith to give. It takes trust to give. And that faith and trust are never more tested than when we give even though it looks like utter foolishness. You can trace some of the greatest (and sometimes wealthiest) people to their generosity. If you were to examine some of their lives, you’d find that they gave when it hurt to give and when it seemed they had nothing.

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3. Doing less, not more. Striving: it seems like a good word and a good idea, but is it? Sure, we should strive to love more deeply, create more authentically, trust more fully, work more heartily, but striving is something different. Striving is doing something in our own strength and forgetting why we’re doing what we’re doing, and for whom. Striving can be exhausting. When there is much to do, and so many depending on us, to step away requires faith, it takes strength, and that first takes willingness.

 

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4. Loving and being kind to someone who has hurt or offended you. Whenever I’ve heard of people sort of mocking the idea of following Christ, as if it’s for simpletons and weaklings, I wonder if they know about this thing he said: love your enemies. This is where the rubber meets the road. Whether someone stepped on your toe, or destroyed your life (or the lives of people you love), we are called to love… which is the absolute last thing we feel like doing in that moment or season.

 

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5. Keep going when you feel like giving up. You’ve been planting seeds and watering them continuously. You’ve been hoping, praying, trusting for a situation to change or improve. You’ve done your part. What gives? What’s taking so long? Where’s that harvest you were promised? Sorry, I don’t have an answer on that one. I wonder myself sometimes.

What I do know is that even though everything in you wants to call it quits and forget about it… even though you’re frustrated, tired, exhausted and want to throw in the towel, something inside you refuses to give up. Even though it would be easier, you can’t. You won’t. You’ll get up one more day and keep going. You’ll trust one more day and anticipate something good, even though you have every reason to say, “Hey, after all this time, it ain’t happening.” Even though the outward reality looks completely opposite. Again, things aren’t always what they seem. Just like in the best plays, there’s always something going on behind the scenes to make the story one worth telling.

It’s what the best stories are about, the best movies: tenacity, overcoming, resilience… moxie. It doesn’t even seem possible to keep going, but you do and you will.

 

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In all five of these things, what stands out is that none of them “feel” good, or make sense. They’re completely contrary to how we normally operate. So they must require a strength outside of ourselves in order to pull it off.

Exactly.

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* * Image credit: Christian Schloe 

 

If you’d like to have a courageous conversation, click here to book an appointment with me (no charge). I’d be happy to talk with you and explore how you can move your life forward.

Blessings,

Monique

http://www.artoflifecoachmonique.com/

 

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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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THE ANTIDOTE TO CYNICISM

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With the invention of social media, we have been given the opportunity (or burden) of seeing people’s internal lives become outward ones in a way we probably never would have dreamed as each expression, each post reveals something about the poster. Be it a video, an article, a picture—each one is unwittingly a snapshot of the interior of a person’s heart, life and inner landscape.

One thing that has become clearer than ever as I’ve observed this over the years is that it really is not possible to be a cynical person and a happy, peaceful or joyful person at the same time. They cancel each other out. Cynicism and joy are like oil and water: they don’t mix.

Loving people project outwardly a loving world. That doesn’t mean they don’t see the evil and darkness; they may see it more than anyone else. They just don’t believe that forever dwelling on it or pointing it out is the best way to extinguish it. Sitting in a dark room and talking about how dark the darkness is will never make it light. Only turning on a lamp or lighting a candle will do that.

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Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hatred cannot drive out hatred, only love can do that.” And he ought to have known. He was on his feet, on the street, being love in a way that few people have ever been. Ironically, that’s why he was killed. To draw a movement of that size around the force of non-violent love is scary to those who are in opposition to it. Jesus knew that too.

The cynic, on the other hand, has a problem for every solution, a sarcastic comment for every positive one, a suspicious thought for every good you have the audacity to point out.

It will suck the energy out of you to attempt to reason with a cynic.

Yes, we need to question things, speak out against injustice, expose evil, but it needs to be tempered with grace and loving intention, otherwise no one will listen no matter how loud someone yells. A bit of skepticism is necessary so that we don’t fall for every trick. For example, I don’t trust governments, any government (except maybe the former president of Uruguay, “Jose’ Mujica–the world’s most humble president“)…with good reason. But if we’re spiritually tuned in, we won’t fall for anything and everything. Well, hopefully.

The problem happens when cynicism and skepticism are chronic, as in non-stop. At that point, it’s more of an illness of bitterness and suspicion than just a tick.

So, I put forth a suggestion, an antidote: instead of railing against cynics for how cynical they are, I would bid us to pray for them instead. Or if you’re not prone to praying, send loving thoughts in their direction, no matter how difficult or impossible that may seem.

Think: how unhappy must a person be to constantly dwell on awful things? How powerless must one feel to feel powerful only when sharing their (often volatile) opinions? How unheard must one feel? How alone? How hopeless? How afraid? No matter what show of bravado is there, it’s a pretty good bet that each cynic is inwardly afraid of something that even they can’t name.

It is heart-breaking…and infuriating.

And that’s why they need our prayers. Because we, who arm ourselves with love and light, have been given more power than we allow ourselves to believe.

We have the power to speak words of hope, to speak words of beauty, to create, to do all those things St. Francis talked about in his prayer to be an instrument of peace.

I, for one, will continue to believe that love can drive out hate and darkness. And I will continue to believe it can even heal and free people’s bound-up hearts that are shackled in chains of fear and gloom. Will you join me?

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If you’d like to talk to me, please click here to make an appointment.

 

 

 

Some Inspiration from Frederick Buechner:

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I took my copy of ‘The Magnificent Defeat’ off the shelf yesterday to lend to a friend. Frederick Buechner is one of my all-time favorite writers. His prose is like glittering poetry. His heart seems made out of diamonds to write like he does. I constantly have to put his books down for a moment and stare off, saying, “Wowwww,” then go back and hungrily re-read what I just read.

Suddenly realizing I would be without a book I had not opened in a long time, I felt compelled to go through it to re-read all the parts I had underlined. I felt much like a mother kissing good-bye her high school graduate who is leaving for college, unsure when I would see my child again and knowing there would be a hole in my heart (or on my bookcase) in its absence.

I copied down some of the lines that impacted me today, from lines that had impacted me when I originally read the book about 7 or so years ago.

I hope they will do something for you as well…

“Faith is the word that describes the direction our feet start moving when we know we are loved. Faith is stepping out into the unknown with nothing to guide us but a hand just beyond our grasp.”

“The secret of prayer is persistence. Keep at it, keep speaking into the darkness, and even if nothing comes, speak again and then again. And finally the answer is given.”

“We have heard so much tragic news that when the news is good we cannot hear it. But the proclamation of Easter Day is that all is well.”

“To be wise is to be eternally curious.”

“[Christ] suffers wherever anyone suffers.”

“We need poets or children or lunatics to show us the miracles we do not notice.”

“The storyteller’s claim, I believe, is that life has meaning…The power of stories is that they are telling us that life adds up somehow, that life itself is like a story.”

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