Tag Archives: compassion

Notes to My Sisters

January 19, 2017

Spiritual sisters, career sisters, traveling sisters, biological sisters, sisters I have yet to meet . . . to the ladies I love, respect, appreciate and admire, I have a few words for you.

Deepest gratitude for the off-hours texts and just-because calls. You never cease to amaze me with your heart, your wit and your ways of knowing where my heart drifts. Every prayer and every sweet hug are fathomless in my book of life.

Never, ever, ever give anyone the power to degrade you. Your joy, your trajectory and your very breath are for you and the Lord to command. Knock down the harsh words, judgmental stares and doubting intentions that may mar your path. Sweep it away swiftly.

Embrace your roots, smile forward and be present now. The past is a lingering lesson not a tether. The future is a glimmer of hope not a destination. Now is your gift and everything it should be. Love it, celebrate it, learn it and sink into it fully.

Resist measurement. Your eyes will break you down, piece by piece. Your worries will hold you captive. Your presumed obligations and expectations will throw you off balance. Accept the glory of you and the gift of exactly how you are wired, created and forged in faith.

Laugh as much as your cheeks and belly allow. Humor is grace let out. It lightens heavy burdens. It quells arguments. It puts thoughts into perspective. When paired with compassion, childlike curiosity and bubbly effervescence, it is the answer to oogley moments.

I welcome your wisdom below in the comments. May hope, love and light be yours today!

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

November 17, 2015

It’s so easy to focus on the deficit, the wants or the challenge. Shaking free of that debilitating mindset takes a commitment to forgiving yourself, loving others in their language, and a clarity of judgment to know which voices serve you and which do not.

Most importantly, for obstinate personalities like me, it takes an occasional trimming. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

You see, being a mompreneur, a new parent and a new wife in a new town with two new stepkids and a new rhythm to life all added up to a hazy sense of entitlement. I sacrificed so much, I told myself. I gave birth, for heaven’s sake. I am only one person, I pleaded with the universe.

I wanted to hold on to the former, comfortable identity I had worked years to manifest. I still wanted to design my day, own every bit of my time, and put my wildly creative and random conversations at the front of the queue.

So, in mature fashion, I planted my feet, crossed my arms and, honestly, threw a big ol’ temper tantrum about how unfair everyone else’s needs were on me. I cited my limited time, my limited sleep, my limited patience. Waa, waaa, waaaa. It was honest, candid, brutal, blunt, what have you . . . in short, it was me being a hypocrite.

A few of my wants:

  • 15 minutes extra in the shower to condition my hair and reflect
  • No interruptions when working in my office
  • Zero questions that didn’t feel valid (how dare they ask “What are we having for dinner?”)
  • No staying up past the baby’s bedtime, as I clung to that precious window of sleep
  • No midday calls to check-in or share stories
  • Absolutely no taking away my Starbucks cafe time or midweek lunches
  • Two hours (scheduled at my discretion) to catch up on shows or blogs, whatever pleased me
  • Unfiltered spending on my sweet angel (fluffy lamb, it’s yours; cute shoes, let’s get ’em)

Was I hurting? Yes. Was I exhausted? Yes, still am. Was I craving intellectual stimulation? Yes. Was I trying to serve others? Yes. Was I doing it with a gracious heart? No. Ahhhh, and there’s the rub. “Service” without the smile is just obligation.

You can choose to perceive how thoughtless, selfish, demanding and flighty others are. Or, you can turn the mirror of clarity and see those very same unsightly traits in yourself. Certainly, no one is perfect. Thank the Lord for that.

It was all a cry for help and a resistance to sacrificing self. Deeper than that it was an inability to ask for help and a fear of losing self.

Funny how we tell the world how much we do, say we do it without expectation and even keep giving in productive ways to benefit others. But, the magical realization is that no gift is truly effective with strings and no one, especially me, can expect others to cater to their microcosm of wants. I had to trim back on the pity, adopt a more compassionate view of my family and set some healthy boundaries.

With those actions in motion, I started to feel liberated from guilt and wanted to enhance that freeing feeling by lightening my body to match my spirit. So, I turned to an organization I have supported before: Locks of Love.

I went to see the talented, charming Demi at Halo Hair Studio. I told her I wanted to donate at least the minimum 10 inches. And here’s what happened . . .

Hair to My Waist

Hair to My Waist

Over 12 Inches Trimmed

Over 12 Inches Trimmed

Donation to Locks of Love

Donation to Locks of Love

Final Style

Final Style

As I got my haircut, I thought about my behavior, burdens and desires. My behavior needed to be improved for both my loved ones and my own well-being. My burdens were self-chosen and could fall to the salon floor. My desires should be honored and voiced respectfully, not by clinging to a sense of entitlement.

By the time I left the chair, I felt lighter, invigorated and more my vibrant self. The lesson is in listening to the voices that serve you and silencing the ones that cause you distress.

I was lucky enough to be able to send my locks along to a little girl, whom I hope feels my love and the swirly curly joy each strand possesses.

Burn No More

December 3, 2014

I’m heartbroken over the senseless and unending “news” coverage about Ferguson. Shame on you media mongers for hiding behind free speech with your contempt, malicious ways and ill motives. May God have mercy on you.

I’m heartbroken for the grieving family who tragically lost their son, for the officer and his family, for the townspeople who lost homes and businesses to a wave of fiery rage, for the staggeringly high intraracial violence that occurs every day, and for those who would let perceived injustice fuel the flames of hatred and looting and pain and hurt on others.

1 John 2:9-11 NIV
“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”

Burn no more in your souls. Burn no more with words that act like accelerants. Burn no more into the cameras or crowds to cultivate harm. Burn no more for attention’s sake. Burn no more with selfish anger. Burn no more into the hearts of impressionable children. Burn no more to feed the gangs and thieves.

May healing begin. May grace fall on every spirit. May wisdom prevail. May compassion take root. May we all learn how to love again.

John 16:33 NIV
“‘I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.'”

I pray this, Jesus. Amen.

Reciprocal Compassion

April 3, 2014

I was scrolling my social media feed this morning and saw a post by one of the special needs organizations I follow. Unlike some of the images I have seen from them before, they were poking fun at how individuals outside the autism community ask questions that they feel are ignorant. I had to pause. Three things unsettled me:

  1. This organization’s mission is acceptance, yet the tone of the post was exclusionary.
  2. The page asks the world to be more understanding of disorders, yet they were criticizing someone for asking a question and also implying a level of ignorance in the asker.
  3. The group often celebrates individuality and touts open-mindedness, yet they were so quick to set up an us (we get it) vs. them (they don’t get it) scenario.

My only thought is . . . such a pity. Compassion is meant to be unconditional. That means that despite misunderstanding, difference or even naiveté, we are called to respond with tolerance.

As I have said before, tolerance is not setting yourself up to be a silent punching bag. However, it is definitely not compassionate to respond to people with something akin to, “Duh, I can’t believe you didn’t know that. How stupid are you?”

Instead of assuming, which gets everyone into trouble, try reaching out with love. For instance, here are some questions you can ask when you feel compelled to strike out to justify your position or retaliate with a snarky comment:

  • What was my interpretation of their view? Our reactions (e.g., wow that was silly, I can’t believe they said that, what a mean statement) are based on life-conditioned interpretations and it is important to recognize our own patterns. The trick is then to wipe away your emotional bias and see the statement as if it were on a page.
  • How can I see this person with loving eyes? Even when someone hurts us unknowingly, we tend to strike out to combat the pain. Before you act, think of what you could do to stop that wicked cycle in its tracks. Try looking at this individual as if they were a child and imagining how adorable, precocious, goofy or vulnerable they would be. Our adult selves are not far from those children.
  • What can you do to improve their understanding? Tolerance begins with you. Instead of assuming someone is ignorant or despicable, consider that they simply may not have good information and may be feeling awkward about the topic. Try humbling yourself, validating the individual and offering help, “That is one way to see it. Would you like to know more about what makes my child so amazing?”

Not everyone will be open, comfortable, ready or capable of accepting your compassion. That does not mean you should not offer it. More so, instead of the hurtful cycle of reciprocal criticism, you can shift into sparking cycles of reciprocal compassion. Imagine opening the eyes, minds and hearts of others . . . that’s a hopeful gift you can give the world.

One final thought. If you carry the burden of angry victim, you will be setting up a courtroom of judgment in your mind. In that room, you may play the role of judge (presiding), the prosecutor (accusing), the court reporter (rehashing), the bailiff (barricading) and the jury (dwelling). If you play all or even one, imagine the diverted energy you are investing.

Let go of the need to make the world see it your way or walk in your shoes. Each soul is busy enough just trying to walk in their own. The best you can do is enlighten with respect, respond with gentleness and offer abundant compassion.

Cause I Said, So . . .

December 12, 2013

Ok, I would bet dollars to donuts (Krispy Kreme is my preference) that you remember one of your folks saying, “Because I said so.” If you are a parent, the fateful day that you say the same thing to your offspring has already come or, most likely, will creep into conversation someday. It’s ok. It happens. Of course, you know me, I have a little twist to make it better . . .

What if we leverage the spirit of the season and a little linguistic wizardry? Instead of “because” we can use “cause” and flip the meaning. It’s a three-part plan:

  1. Cause (a purpose, driving force or charitable endeavor)
  2. Said (as in tell people about it, with passion)
  3. So (implying the expectation of action)

So, dear friends, I encourage you to lift yourself and lift up others. Here are just a few precious causes that found their way to my line of sight. Each reminds me of the importance of amazing acts, finding fulfillment and the gift of grace:

  • Reece’s Rainbow – Adoption grant foundation for orphans with special needs (I dare you to read their stories and discover their tremendous gifts)
  • Compassion International – Releasing children from poverty (referred by Ann Voskamp, whom I truly love and admire)
  • Global Giving – The perfect way to find a cause, donate or inspire giving in others (there is still time to send gift cards to friends and family)

Reece's Rainbow Christmas Tree

Pick special causes or be open to them picking you. Why? Most importantly, giving is the best way to gain a sense of purpose and interpersonal connection (wards off depression, assuages loneliness, battles boredom, reinforces faith and eases grief). Also, haha, because I said so!