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.

 

 

 

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 THE SABOTEUR? (HINT: WE ALL HAVE ONE)

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Hi friend…

Do you ever have the experience where you’re about to do something you know you’re supposed to be doing and then you stop yourself? I don’t just mean doing the dishes or the laundry. I mean important stuff. Things your heart burns for. And yet, despite all the burning, there’s this voice inside you that takes a bucket of cold water and pours it all over you. And the next thing you know…

You’re doing something completely unrelated to whatever “it” is that you were meant to be doing.

I don’t know what it is for you. It could be a book you’ve been meaning to write. It could be that space you’ve been wanting to organize for yourself so that you’ll have a place to focus on your creative or spiritual life. It could be eating healthier so that you’re not sick and tired all the time. It could be a relationship you’ve been wanting to work on. It’s different for everyone.

But then some voice inside you says things like this:

“What’s the use? There’s no guarantee it’ll lead anywhere.”

“When I have more time.”

“So many other people are doing this. What makes me think I’ll ever get anywhere with it?”

“The last time I tried something like this, nothing came of it.”

“I’ll do it later.”

“I’m not good enough. / Nothing I do is good enough.”

“It needs to be perfect.”

Friend, that merry-go-round won’t stop on its own. You have to deal with it and stop it by force, even if it means bringing it to a screeching halt. Even if you have to dig your heels into the ground and feel like you’re being dragged a while before it stops. But stop it you must.

How do I know this? Because I have a tendency to ruminate, so if I’m not careful, I could spend hours ruminating and speculating and over-thinking. Granted, a big part of being a writer involves staring into space. But there’s a limit. I’ve had to learn to snap out of it. I do a lot of things to help with that—prayer, meditation, yoga, EFT, writing, watching and reading things that motivate and inspire me.

But in the end, the only way to cut it out is to…well, stop it. Get up and shake yourself out like a blanket that has crumbs on it. Because even crumbs can bury a person if there’s enough of them.

Remind yourself of the opportunities you have—very likely opportunities that a few years ago you only dreamed of. Or if not that, just reflect on what you’ve already done and how far you’ve already come. And if you’re having trouble remembering, call up someone who knows you well and ASK them. Ask them to remind you!

There are some friends who fit this quote so perfectly, they should have a t-shirt with it inscribed: “A friend knows the song in my heart and sings it back to me when my memory fails.” Or, in some cases, a coach.

Make sure you have at least one person in your life who can jolt your memory and remind you who you truly are and of all the good you have done. Because this will help you to courageously keep going on days when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.

If you can’t reach a friend, consider sitting for 20 or 30 minutes and writing down all the good you have done and reminding yourself. I guarantee you, 20-30 minutes won’t be long enough.

I hope this encourages you and helps you feel less alone and more okay being human, knowing that there isn’t anyone on the planet who doesn’t struggle with self-doubt or The Saboteur.

Together, we can silence that debilitating voice and keep replacing it with the voice of grace and encouragement. The latter is the voice of truth.

If you need help battling the saboteur, you can click this link to go to my calendar and set up a free 30-minute introductory coaching call with me. 

https://www.timetrade.com/book/581CL

Stay courageous,

Monique

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BOUNDARIES FOR CHRISTIANS PODCAST

Hi friends…

When thinking about boundaries, it’s important to know the difference between people pleasing and God pleasing.

I hope this will help you.

If you have any questions or thoughts in response, feel free to comment and/or contact me.

If you would like to talk with me about having healthier boundaries in your life, you can schedule a call by clicking here and booking an appointment. I look forward to talking with you!

Blessings,

Monique

 

“FAKE IT TILL YOU MAKE IT”–NOT THE BEST LIFE STRATEGY

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I’ve read, seen and heard this term “fake it till you make it” quite a bit the past few years. It’s supposed to mean that if you’re struggling with something, finding something hard, or just plain having a hard time and not doing well, you can pretend you’re doing better than you are and eventually you’ll really be doing better than you are. I think there is a tiny bit of truth to this if it’s meant in the same sense that C.S. Lewis wrote about when he said:

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone you will presently come to love him.”

Perhaps he’s right that “pretending” your way into a virtue will eventually cause this virtue to become your true character over time, the way that a child putting on an adult’s shoes eventually “fits” into them. You can eventually “fit” into a virtue by practicing it. I prefer the term practicing over pretending as it sounds more like forward movement than putting on masks in order to hide ourselves.

Also, Tony Robbins often talks about how our physiology affects our psychology. In other words, if you’re feeling depressed and are sitting or standing slumped over, the first thing to do is pull your shoulders back and breathe. In other words your body informs your mind how to feel. There is also a lot of truth to this.

But overall, as a lifelong strategy, “Fake it till you make it” isn’t going to fly. At least not if what you are actually wanting is to be real and to be loved for who you are and not who you pretend to be.

It seems that what we all want is not only to be real, to be authentic, but to be real and authentic…and be loved. The part where it gets scary is when being authentic might cause rejection, disapproval or outright alienation. If you were raised with people who did a lot of hiding from themselves and their emotions, or if expressing your true feelings was met with abuse, rejection or invalidation, it’s easy to see why people find it easier to fake it.

Personally, it seems like more work to not be real than to be real. But I can see why people fall into this trap because maybe for the time being, it seems the better alternative. But as anyone wrestling through this can tell you, it’s not the better alternative. It ends up becoming a bigger and bigger hole to dig yourself out of.

My own frustration with being real is more related to the kind of responses I sometimes come up against which make me see why so many people find it easier to not bother with authenticity. Things like telling someone how I’m feeling when it’s not a happy-smiley day for me and then being either preached at, lectured or invalidated in some other way.

Henri Nouwen said it so marvelously:

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”

So what are some solutions to the dilemma of wanting to be real, but also wanting to avoid being hurt, and more importantly, to be heard and be loved for who we are? Perhaps there isn’t any big solution, but two things that come to mind are risk and discernment.

Risk is part of being human and is part of any human interaction. We need to risk being hurt in order to have authentic relationship, friendship and community.  The important thing though is to make sure to bring discernment along with us when taking risks in sharing with others. Discernment about when to tell, who to tell and how much to tell.

Discernment is much like gut instinct, but even finer tuned. It helps you locate the line between your own fear and the need to take a risk and step out, whether that’s stepping out in connecting with people or stepping out in a new direction in life. It’s a divine gift and like all gifts, it can be cultivated and strengthened so that it becomes easier to tune into. The more you do, the better choices you will make in who you share your concerns, burdens and heaviness with. As you probably know, sharing with the wrong people can be worse than not sharing at all.

So tune your ear and heart to God’s guidance and choose wisely. Then take the risk and share your heart honestly and openly. The right people will be okay with hearing your junk. And who knows, it may even free them up to share theirs. That doesn’t mean we need to wallow forever in a “junk sharing” pity party, but it does mean that there should be at least one or two people in your life with whom you feel like the Emily Dickinson quote below. God knows how thankful I am for those people in my life.

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As always, let me know if I can be of help. Wishing you all the grace and strength you need.

If you need further help living more authentically, you can schedule a free 30-minute exploratory coaching call with me by clicking here and booking yourself an appointment. I would love to talk with you!

Monique