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Love & Beauty

how a basket of peanuts, turns noise into help

10.18.14

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how do you explain to the whole world, that Love is crying? that this word – poverty that has been repeated millions of times, in millions of languages is as real as Love, and the reason why Love cries, is because poverty has never ceased crying.

he started off this business trip, as he normally does. a laptop, his cell phone and his bible which he never dared to leave behind, all tucked up in the seat right in front of him as he settled for what would a very long flight. his assistant knew him all too well, and had reserved the window seat for this trip, and ensured convenient access to both internet and phone for his business needs. twenty two grueling hours later, he and his colleagues arrived in he city of Kinsasha, where they would be finalizing negotiations with the government of Congo, to assist Congo in rebuilding it’s infrastructure after the devastating war.

there are moments when your day is more than a day,” he thought. moments when the noise of the world ceases to be noise, and instead you are able to decipher what the noise is all about. moments when the loud and overcrowded streets of Kinshasa cease being loud and overcrowded, instead they are transformed into this very colorful unified choir, singing songs that call for help. it means that the very old lady, barefoot on the streets chasing after you, is not just chasing after you. she is chasing hope. and there is where the whole world stands still, or so it feels. stands still in wait. and if we for whatever reason decide to look away, never to stop to be hope, then it also means that the choir continues to sing, and Love continues to cry. cry because once again, His helpless child is left helpless, as she dares to make her way home, only to find that her hungry and skinny looking children, are just breathes away from death.

Love cries

Frederick Buechner says that God puts himself at our mercy not only in the sense of suffering that we can cause him by our blindness and coldness, but the suffering that we can cause him by suffering ourselves. because that is the way Love works, and when someone we love suffers, we suffer with him, and we would not have it otherwise because the suffering and the love are one, just as it is with God’s love for us. — the hungry dark

on the streets that day was Mercy. she chased after John’s Range Rover, and it was from the side mirror, that John first spotted her. she ran barefoot, dressed in clothes as dirty and dusty as the ground, and her feet as cracked as a clay pot. John signaled to his driver to stop, and within seconds they were pulling up to the side of the busy streets of Kinshasa to receive Mercy. Mercy eventually made it to the Range Rover, where John and his driver stood awaiting her arrival. she took a few minutes to catch her breathe, before she stretched out her worn out basket half filled with peanuts, which she had hoped to sell to John.

John slowly whisked her to a shabby little restaurant by the streets, as she stared on perhaps wondering what John would do to her. he was obviously wealthy, because wealthy in her life meant one was dressed well, and could then afford the luxuries of a driver. being white in her world, also meant being wealthy. his manner of greeting was also one that Mary associated with the rich. maybe he hated her hopeless boldness so much, that he was planning to beat her to death, she thought. like the one wealthy man she had dared to approach a few months back. some people, she remembered  don’t receive this kind of noise that well. and so she held on tight to her basket, almost in such a way as to prepare to escape what she thought was about to happen.

after they settled down outside the shabby little restaurant, John gently reached for his wallet and offered Mercy what seemed like a million dollars. the world it seemed had stopped for such a time as this. Mercy’s eyes popped out wide open, as she stretched out her hand to then offer John the basket of peanuts he had purchased. as quickly as he received the basket, was as quickly as he placed it back on her lap, and explained to her that he was not in need of the peanuts. tears fell gently down her face, as she immediately reached for her basket, and almost unknowingly popped open most of the peanuts, and proceeded to fill her hungry little tummy, with all the peanuts she could get open.

Love smiles

John’s driver returned back with plates of food, and asked Mercy to join in the feast. and after sharing a meal and a few laughter’s together, John made a few phone calls for help, and shortly thereafter they parted ways, but not after John had ensured that she was well connected with the help she needed, to sustain and provide for her family.

upon arriving his hotel room that afternoon, he fell to the floor in utter disbelief at the noises of poverty he had witnessed, and cried a few tears for the love he had shared with Mercy. he reached for the phone, and cried some more as he explained to his wife, what pain and suffering faced majority of the people of Kinshasa, and how he had met Mercy, or rather how Mercy had met him, and made more of his day, than he could ever have imagined.

sleep that night was hard to find. he could still hear the noises in the streets, however this time the noises came with faces, and the faces came with pain.

you may not always have a comfortable life and you will not always be able to solve all of the world’s problems at once, but don’t ever underestimate the importance you can have because history has shown us that courage can be contagious, and hope can take on a life of its own. –michelle obama

love: christine

 

opening self to divine interruptions

01.12.14

old friends pass away, new friends appear. It is just like the days. an old day passes, a new day arrives. the important thing is to make it meaningful; a meaningful friend – or a meaningful day.”

dalai lama

i had planned on waking up early, & driving up to L.A  to see her. i know myself, when weekends come my way, my feet start to drag, & so i went to bed very aware of this, yet still determined to overcome my dragging feet, & make it to L.A  in time to have enough of the day to spend with a precious cousin, whom i had never met before.

a few days ago she confirmed her arrival. i had my weekend all planned out, but something inside of me said – cancel. cancel and dare instead to spend this precious moment, with a precious person. early Saturday morning, after wrestling my decision to cancel all plans, i made up my mind to do it anyway.

welcoming divine interruptions, means being flexible enough to go with the flow of the divine #motherswithadream4christ

my uncle (cousin’s dad), passed away a few years back. i remember when he passed thinking to myself, oh how i wish i had met him. i was never able to meet up with my him, though i heard all sorts of brave stories about him. some which made sense, & others which did not. he lived a life many feared to ever mention. a very warrior like life. set in his ways, he had a dream. a dream that led him to ran & hunt. you could say, he was a man with an endless kind of possibility dream. determined to overcome whatever came his way, to dare instead to meet this dream he so cherished. he was also very well connected to the powers around him. and i think with power surrounding him, he was positive his missions would be accomplished. eventually he passed away, having accomplished i believe some of his dreams, however i do believe, his most cherish dream was never accomplished. many things have been said of him, one thing is for sure he was a warrior at heart.

now you can see why, i had to meetup with my cousin Susan (in the picture with black & white pants). not only does she carry a piece of my now deceased uncle, but she also brings with her a connection with an uncle, i thought i would never have. more than that, she brings with her hope. hope because, there was a time many believed she and her sisters, had all passed away. having lost both parents at such a young age, tucked in a foreign country, Susan and her sisters were forced to defend & fend for themselves. defend themselves against their dad’s enemies, & defend themselves from life in general. unfortunately, this blog post can not truly do justice to their story, however, i do write this, simply to give us all hope. hope that no matter what you are going through. no matter the valley, our God is always present.

there are moments in life that are way too precious for words. moments when we need to find it in us, to open up self to divine interruptions. and see it as a good thing & go with the flow when that happens, and believe that our God always has plans for good & not evil (Jeremiah 29:11). when we allow ourselves to walk instead in the will & plan of God, we find that divinely interrupted moments, have precious meaning. to walk in the presence of God, means allowing Him to take center stage of our daily life, and there we find that sometimes, our plans are not His plans, yet He always does have good plans for us, way better than we could ever dream or imagine.

divinely interrupted moments, have precious meaning #motherswithadream4christ

when your day seems to be going out of the order you had planned, remember to stop & dare instead to yield to the presence of God #motherswithadream4christ

the practice of opening self to divine interruptions, means starting off your day with the Lord at heart. committing your every move to Him, and asking Him to lead you to the places He desires. We all have plans for our days, for our lives, can we dare instead to allow Him to interrupt our plans, for a greater good? think about it, & dare it to be the way in which you live your life.

as Dalai Lama said, “like the days. an old day passes, a new day arrives.” my Saturday came & passed, but the memories of the day will forever be engraved in my heart.

until next time, have yourself an open heart. open enough for divine interruptions.

Love: Christine

Today’s prayer space

Human Trafficking Awareness Day/Month

To get involved in the fight against Human Trafficking, visit the following organizations:

International Justice Mission

The A21 Campaign

Counsel to Secure Justice

how life is lived in full…

01.05.14

its so easy to get caught up in the hustle & bustle of our days. there are days, when I am more aware of the beauty within, as I am aware of the beauty without. there are also days, when i seem oblivious to almost every bit of life’s precious moments. the singing birds pass me by without a moment of thought, the gentle streams of a river, gently stream by without a wonder of how magnificent creation such as this really is.

i love the days when i wake up to the sounds of the birds, and their beautiful sounds awaken my heart. i also love the days when i am wide awake. i call those days – wide alive. when a genuine smile catches my attention, when i can recognize and feel the presence of my neighbor next door. when a stranger is no longer a stranger, when my kids laughter’s echoing from way in their bedroom catches my attention, & without knowing what truly makes them laugh so hard, i find instead that i join in the laugh. such are the moments that blow me away. moments that i treasure & love.

happiness is not something ready made. it comes from your actionDalai Lama

this year i am purposefully determined to practice living in the here and now. determined to practice calmness & along with that compassion.

more & more i realize how important it is to remain in the present. to walk in calmness of spirit, & in so doing welcome compassion in ones heart. there is something grand about being in the present. one is more wide alive than ever before. seldom, does the preciousness of life pass one by, when one is in the now. the birds in the air are then no longer strangers to one’s life.

a calm & present spirit brings life to life

yesterday is never forgotten when its lived fully

the regrets of life, lessen as we dare to spend our present, with the ones present in our lives.

moments become more than moments.

they become tangible in every sense of the word.

they are felt within & without.

moments become life as it should be

the madness of life can weigh you down, however if lived in the present we are most often able to work through such madness, & in so doing create room for an even brighter tomorrow.

life is only precious, when lived in the now

dare to life fully!!

until next time: have a here & now filled week

love: christine

hello my name is shame….

05.30.13

Hello, my name is shame.

I am terrified of being completely vulnerable for fear of being judged.

Terrified of daring to love, daring to build relationships for fear of being rejected and abandoned, hence my high raised walls of protection.

I often say to myself that I am not good enough.

Not worthy enough

Not lovable.

You will often find me dressed to impress, most often looking good.

I am a slave of good fashion, but don’t let that fool you. Underneath all the layers of clothe, I am a little child trapped in shame and eager to escape the ugliness that haunts me from within out.

Vulnerability is not weakness. Vulnerability is emotional exposure.” Dr. Brene Brown

Often times I receive compliments on how beautiful I look, how gorgeous my shoes and clothes are, and when I drove a Hummer I received compliments on how stunning my car was, but none of those words ever fell to solid grounds, because underneath all the external beauty, lay the hidden truth that I felt ugly and unworthy of every good the world told of me.

Enslaved in a dark cloud engraved with the words “ugly,” I can never fully receive compliments, in fact I do my best to stray away from such conversations. Often times I can tell when a compliment is coming my way, in that moment I immediately divert the attention from me to the person by showering them with compliments before they get the chance to shine the light on me.

I call myself an introvert, but to be honest shame keeps me locked up in this cage.

In the core of my being, I am a compassionate and loving person.

I love to engage 1:1 with people, tell them how beautiful and loved they are, but I find it difficult to be effective in this role when I am buried in shame. The only time I feel safe enough to explore this gift, is when the light is not shinning on me, when I am in my self defined safe zone where my true self is free to be me but not really free because the truth is, somewhere hidden in my heart is a drowning spirit filled with shame of self.

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Psalm 139: 14

For many years I struggled to utter the words from Psalm 139:14 mainly because a big part of my heart never truly felt fearfully and wonderfully made.

All I could see were imperfections that diminished the value and authenticity of this verse.

Shame is the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing we are flawed and therefore unworthy of acceptance and belonging.” Dr. Brene Brown

I believed and I still do that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, “if that’s true only God was and is capable of ever seeing the beauty He created in me.” I said to myself.

No man could or can possibly view me as beautiful,” I convinced myself.

After all, I was and I am still layered with tonnes and tonnes of imperfections one would be crazy to fall in love with, or invest in relationship with me.

Only God,” I said to myself.

Only He was and is capable of seeing the beauty in me,” meaning here on earth, no man can ever see my beauty.

There were days I remember when I wished I was never born, or that I would have been born different. May be then, I thought to myself, “I would find the beauty that God saw in me. The beauty others saw in me.”

I wish I viewed God’s love as ENOUGH. I wish like you that I would have been fully content with the love of God, which is  by the way the greatest kind of love. 

Oh how I wish.

Instead, I longed for man’s kind of love.

The kind that comforts you when you are down. The almost envious teenage puppy kind of love that often times is so innocent and temporal. The love that showers you with gifts, holds you tight never to let go. The love that often utters the words, “I love you,” shouts to the world how crazy madly in love they are with you.

That was what I deemed REAL TANGIBLE love. All else just didn’t measure up.

God’s not so much. It was good, but not nearly as good as this tangible love that I so longed for.

As I write and declare this, I can only imagine how painful this must be for God our Father to hear and read. Although being God, none of this is a surprise to Him.

To know that His unconditional love is not nearly enough for His child. What a blow to His AMAZING spirit.

Many times like so many people, the love much like God’s that is so easily accessible, and oh so easily given is the kind of love that we take for granted.

Kind of reminds me of how easily accessible regular stones are to us, so much so that I have never given it much thought or even so desperately longed for it. However, when I think of Gold or Diamonds, all over sudden a rush with a desire to have, want steps into my heart. Suddenly, stone is no longer just stone. Stone is beautiful and desirable. Sadly enough, that’s the only way I can think of to describe my feelings towards this AMAZING love freely given to us by God, yet least desired.

Shame my friend, will rob you of every good planted in you.

I love what Dr. Brene Brown says:

“Shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change.”

I remember when I first heard the statement, “we are all BROKEN CREATURES,” boy did I feel redeemed. Finally, I had an explanation for my shame. How I related with this statement which dared to fully define who I was, who I am.

Broken in every sense of the word.

My friend Gaby and I had lunch this week. Seated in this beautiful Asian restaurant, tucked in the middle of downtown LA on a sunny Wednesday afternoon, she dared to remind me how good spirited I am. How worthy of love I am. Everything that causes my skin to crawl, because in the depths of my bleeding heart, shame robs beauty. Beauty then ceases to exist.

Deep down, shame is a longing for love. Unconditional love.

Still, she kept grinding on, feeding my heart with positive affirmations. Replacing all my negative thoughts with thoughts of good.

She later pointed out that just like me, she struggled to receive and embrace the good in her. The worthiness that so exists in her beautiful heart and body. So much wrong had been done and had happened to her. So much hurt ache. How could she not have felt that way about herself?, yet I never viewed her that way. All I saw was this amazingly beautiful Mexican friend filled with love love and more love.

Shame once again, dared to rob her of the beauty planted in her.

Shame lost

Growing up my parents never told me they loved me, and I don’t blame them. They too were raised in a similar way. However, having been raised in a world, greatly influenced by the western world of abundant and visible displays of love, never hearing those words sort of created the demon in me that feels unworthy of LOVE, and is always then searching for LOVE and sometimes searching in all the wrong places.

“I LOVE you. I LOVE you. I LOVE you.”

Hearing solidifies the feeling. Meaning if I heard it over and over, I am more apt to believe it of myself.

I remember as a teenager and youth, I looked to men to fill this void of love that seemed to grow deeper and deeper into the emptiness of my heart.

I struggled to accept a male friend, as just a friend. I longed for more than friendship because for some strange reason, more than friendship meant that I was TRULY LOVED.

Friendship wasn’t good enough. Friendship did not equate to love.

And to that I declare that I was a HOT mess.

Now a work in progress…

Because of my shame filled self, I aimed to please everyone.

Pleasing everyone equated to love all around.

It meant that I would have once again escaped my fear of rejection. Something that as a shame filled child, I strived so hard to escape. This later on led me to hang around people I really didn’t care for, do what I really didn’t care to do, all for the sake of escaping rejection, and welcoming love.

I so desperately wanted to belong, yet never knew how to.

I beat myself up for my imperfections.

If only I was perfect enough then everyone would want to be my friend, everyone would love me.” I told myself.

For most of my life I lived a life buried and trapped in shame, and fear of being completely vulnerable.

For the longest time I found my worth in my career. I had achieved much at such a young age, and I was later to realize that work doesn’t demand vulnerability out of me. At work I am confident in my abilities, there was seldom space for shame to reside in, it was easier then to define my worth with my career success.

I stayed far away from building and investing in relationships for fear of rejection and hurt.

I expected others to take a risk with me, and risk being rejected, while I safely tucked my heart away in my safe zone.

I loved, but not fully loved

Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable, but they’re never weakness.” Dr. Brene Brown

The sad fact about shame, is that it robs one of the possibility of experiencing and building authentic relationships, and in that the possibility of experiencing real love.

In the very beginning of motherhood, I witnessed myself unintentionally denying my children the possibility of experiencing real love.

I knew without a doubt that I loved them, but because I had never known how to give and show true love, my love was given from afar. Never too close enough to bring out the emotions that come with love.

I ached to show them this kind of love. This love that dares to fully give. This love that for all my life I had so longed for, but did not know how to give it.

Shame once again, almost won.

It was later on into motherhood, that I dared myself to conquer shame, and dared instead to experience authentic, raw, unconditional love with my girls.

The thought alone was terrifying.

I dared to give my girls the kind of love that I dreamt of as a child.

The kind that kept me up late into the night imagining.

The kind that caused my eyes to glue itself to the television watching Prince Charming fall madly in love with Cinderella. Or, the simple kind of love that the Flintstones had for each other.

Its the kind of love that is not afraid to hug and kiss.

It loves over and over to the mountain tops and back.

Unconditional love.

That’s what I dared to bless my girls with.

A love that is free from judgement, condemnation and shame.

Free from perfectionism, but rather recognizes that we are all broken creatures, and our imperfections are what makes us beautiful.

I dared BIG.

You may ask why I have decided to unveil my heart naked before your very eyes?

Theodore Roosevelt once said:

“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly…who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at best, knows the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

I say this because like many others, I dare greatly.

I dare to defeat the shame within my spirit, and I dare to free you of that as well.

I realize that by baring my heart naked before your very eyes, that I risk rejection, unworthiness and a feeling of shame.

More than likely, I will wake up tomorrow morning wondering what on earth possessed me to publish these thoughts. I might even wish to have the ground open up to swallow me alive for fear of being judged, and experiencing deep shame once again. But that my friend, is a risk worth taking.

See, the way I see it now, by revealing my deep dark thoughts, shame no longer has power of over me.

I dare to set you free.

To free you of the burden that I have carried with me all these years.

To give you instead hope for a much better life, and to let you know that if you struggle with shame like I do and like millions of others in this world, you are not alone. You are loved, fearfully and wonderfully made.

Believe that.

I love Dr. Brene Brown. She has given me hope at a time when I thought hope was dead. Listening to her, has not only helped shape and re-write the scripts of shame that has for so long played over and over in my mind, she has also revealed to me the power I have over shame. Given me a desire to fight my battle with shame, and because of that I am a better person today. I dare you to spend a few minutes listening to her talk, you will be encouraged and blessed.

{to enjoy this video, simply scroll to the right corner of the blog and pause the blog music}

To that I say good-bye shame, and hello WORK IN PROGRESS…….

Until next week, have yourself a shame free week!!

 

Love: Christine

 

 

 

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