When I was a youngster, I used to be really mad that people in church seemed to rush through the prayers.
“They’re going too fast,” I used to tell my mother. “They should slow down.”
As I developed my own prayer life, I realized that there were times when I’d pray quickly, too. Perhaps I was in a rush, or perhaps I knew the words to a memorized prayer so well that I just tripped over the words like so many stepping stones.
Now, I try to slow down enough to savor the words, one word at a time. I find that this helps me focus my prayer time and the words in a prayer, whether memorized or improvised, settle down more deeply into my soul.
When we take our prayers one word at a time, we realize how beautiful prayer is, and how profound each word is.
Yes, take prayer one word at a time – and open up a whole new world of understanding and spiritual growth!
I noticed that the cashier at a store where I shop was wearing a red dress ribbon, for heart health. I commented on it, and she said, “Oh, yes, we had a promotion for cancer awhile ago. I like the ribbon.”
“Isn’t the red dress for heart health?” I asked.
The cashier thought about it and said, “Oh, I guess your right. I get these ribbons confused sometimes.”
And, so do I. For every color in the rainbow and more, there seems to be an awareness ribbon. And with so many causes linked to so many colored ribbons, I’m beginning to think that the overall effect of each individual cause is becoming diluted, at least on first glance. Lupus, for example, has been associated with purple, but also with orange (although, to be fair, that color generally is on a loop). As for the multi-colored ribbons? Oh, I give up!
With May being Lupus Awareness Month, I thought I’d add to the conversation by saying that whether we have lupus or another illness, really the best way to gain awareness is to be our eager and articulate selves. We live the disease each day, so why not use our experiences as our ribbons, disseminating information to our circle of loved ones first and then, as we grow that circle, to others. If we put the money spent in manufacturing and distributing ribbons and other things, into research and verbal awareness campaigns, thing how much farther along we could be, especially with such under-funded diseases as lupus!
If you feel as if you’re all tied up in ribbons, you’re not alone. But by tackling the “knotty” problem with positive communication and example, we can make it very clear, yes loud and clear, that there are many things beyond ribbons and loops – there are people – and that is truly the point.
Wait! Wait! I’ve got it…uh…it’s…I’ve got it…Oh, no I don’t!
If you have an illness where there is a component of brain fog (as with lupus and many other autoimmune illnesses), you’ve probably had the experience of trying to remember the words or melody to a song and come up short. We all have favorite music, but when illness flares, recall can be tough (good thing for CDs and MP3s!)
But rather than get frustrated, there’s another way to approach musical memory mayhem. Compose something yourself! Yes, make up your own words and tune, fitting them into how you’re feeling and what you’re doing – or not, because the choice is yours!
Pretend that you cannot speak, but only sing, and let your voice express yourself to the four walls of your room or inside your car or, even, to whomever is in your life and willl listen! Punctuate your vocal variety with hand claps or foot stomps or even improvised dance. Again, the choice is completely up to you – no critic will review you, no audience will boo you!
Some research has shown that singing and music can be very therapeutic. We can all use an expression for our creativity, that wonderful, rollicking gift that God has only and exclusively bestowed on his human children. Why not compose yourself today? Let your song rise and with it, your spirit, too!
We do it every day, although much of the time we probably don’t even think about it consciously. Yet, we compete – against against traffic, against fellow shoppers, against the clock, against the world. Even, sometimes, against ourselves (for example, can we go even one more rep in the gym, or fit in one more commitment?). Yes, we are competitive creatures – but oh, how being competitive can make us stressed and often prompt us to lose sight of what is truly important in our lives!
Being competitive automatically puts a qualifier on how we view each other – at work, are we better, more popular, or smarter than everyone else? In traffic, are we critical of other drivers as we take unnecessary risks ourselves? When we look at ourselves, do we see God’s wonderful child, or do we see smoeone who could be thinner, prettier, more muscular, or taller?
The truth about being competitive is that we will never be better, smarter, richer, or more attractive than every person or thing we come in contact with. By “turning on” our competitive spirit when it is appropriate, and moderating it when it is not, we will be able to enter into relationships with others and activities with less stress and more pure joy.
Today, try to notice the ways in which you exercise the urge to compete. Not if or how it makes you tenser, physically or emotionally. Encourage yourself to take the world, others, and yourself as you are – approaching all with love.
Taking competition out of even one day a week just might make us happier for days to come!