Prayers for Peace, movie by Dustin Grela
I saw this film this weekend at the Oxford Film Festival. I felt morally obligated to share it. The theater was completely silent after it played.
Peace Is A Choice
It is December 31st and I have reached my goal of making a conscious decision for peace each day of this year. As I spent a part of my day today re-reading the posts for this year I couldn’t help but think how all those small steps transformed my life and maybe some of the lives of the people that took time to read my blog.
This year I have learned so much about people all around me and around the world that are also seeking peace. I felt connected to a movement for peace that is so much bigger than just me. A movement that is changing the world drastically. I believe my choices and your choices, even though they may seem small and insignificant at times, have and will make a difference.
As I look back at my various choices here are some of the things I have come to understand about peace this year:
1. Every single second no matter what the circumstances, I have the opportunity to choose peace, first as a personal response and then as a public response to whatever is happening.
2. Peace is the choice to care about a relationship more than just getting my own way, the weird bonus is that once I have made that decision the outcome is almost always better than my original desire.
3. Sometimes I just need to take a deep breath, do something different, or take a nap before addressing something that is causing conflict. I need to re-balance my emotions in order to think clearly about the best choice for peace. This year I have learned to give myself permission to do that. Wisdom takes time.
4. It doesn’t matter how amazing Disneyland is, if a child is cranky they need a nap before they can enjoy it. It is the same for my life, if I put too much on myself I am not going to get the same satisfaction and joy out of life as I would if I did less and enjoyed the moments more.
5. There are a lot of good people in the world doing amazing things to make the world a better place all the time. I refuse to let my mind be corrupted by the sensationalism of media that harps on the negativity of the few while completely ignoring the beauty of the many.
6. When I lose perspective on peace in my life, my place in the universe, or the future, I will be gentle with myself, take a walk, drink a cup of tea, read good books, and buy myself and a neighbor some flowers. I will remember the gentle mantra of Julian of Norwich, “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all matter of things shall be well.”
7. If we look there are always, always, always solutions. These solutions are usually more simple than we think, we just have to use our hearts and heads to figure them out instead of assuming there is no other answer.
8. We are stronger together. We need each other. We need to appreciate our differences for spice and to focus on what we have in common for sugar.
9. Assuming the positive intent of everyone around me prevents a lot of misunderstandings.
10. I became a more peaceful person this year. Since this happened for me, I fully believe it can happen for the world. One peaceful choice at a time.
"Swagger"ing Through Life
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which.
He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both….”
- François-René de Chateaubriand
My friend Brad posted that quote and it says so much about where my thoughts were today. Last night I was able to hear Mark Harriman’s band Swagger play at the Opryland Hotel, I’ve seen him perform twice and both times I’ve been impressed with the way his soul seems to pour through his music. He did an amazing rendition of the song Mad World. Watching the group “play” was the epitome of the above quote.
As I drove home from Nashville today listening to the new Swagger c.d. I purchased I thought about how brief life is and how important it is in pursuing peace to pursue the things that cause our soul to sing. These are the things that give our lives meaning, and make them meaning-full. I want my life to be filled with this excellence of vision, this kind of passion, this kind of joy, the type that bubbles over and flows into the lives of the people around me inspiring them to seek out the lives that make their work become play.
New Year’s Resolution
Less is more. Thinking of the ways this could inform and shape my New Year. Less stress, less spending, less clutter, less fear, less expectations, more peace, more time, more love, more genuine awareness.
http://www.tonic.com/ Joined this amazing site today! I love it! Peace, creativity and positive news rocks!
It occurred to me today how different the world might be if we all were authentically living our dreams. What would happen if each person took a good long look at their own desires and said, “Even if I only do it a step at a time, I’m going to pursue what I most want and what I am most afraid of.”? Perhaps doctors would become artists and teachers would become seamstresses.
Perhaps if people would pursue what they are afraid of without concern of failing, they would be less grouchy, they would be so carried away with their passions there would be no time to fight or be angry or fearful. They would be so in love with life that they would treasure every moment for themselves and for others. Today is my day to look at next year and think about goals I can set to allow me to live the one precious life I get to live.
National Veterans Art Museum
Christmas is over and I have started daydreaming about the presents ahead…meaning the days opening before me, each a gift with unlimited possibilities…that is Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, as my high school choir teacher would often say. In my daydreaming frenzy I ran across http://www.nvvam.org/ which is an art museum in Chicago that features art work by veterans, especially Vietnam veterans. It is a place of healing, remembering, coping, and understanding the realities of war. It is a place for present peace.
This is a link to a youtube video about the museum and an amazing exhibit with dogtags from all the soldiers that served and died in Vietnam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WFYG68X5ZnM
Don’t miss the blessing…
The best part of my entire Christmas day was not opening presents or eating tons of snacks, but rather a few heart to heart conversations. Conversations about topics that mattered and that kept spinning through my mind long after the last word was said.
In one of the conversations I talked about when I think of how to describe myself I never think first of teacher, which is how I feed my family, but rather writer, which is how I feed my soul. After saying that I questioned my own dedication, even though I have published a book and had a magazine article published this year. I think this is due to the fact that I have this hard held belief that a writer should be writing every day.
Then as I sat down to blog I realized writing everyday has been exactly what I have been doing with my blog. Life needs dreams, and it needs a way to daily bring those dreams into reality. This is true of being a writer, or being a peace maker, and it seems to me the most important thing is intention. If our intention is to bring peace in the world it may look differently from what we might first think, and it is important to remember that so we don’t miss the blessing looking for the answer.
Peace may be silence and smiles instead of words, it may be buying a cup of coffee for a stanger instead of eating alone yourself, or it may be just thinking each day…what is something I can do in this moment, in this hour, on this day to make the world a happier, saner, more peaceful place?
A pretty severe sore on my tongue has not only helped me avoid lots of holiday goodies but also made it painful to talk. This forced silence has had an interesting impact on my thoughts, a realization of how much is missed in the understanding of body language and group dynamics when I am in the middle of it verses now being on the sidelines. It is amazing how much can be said without saying a word, and how much peace can be found in silence.
Today as my peace choice I would like to share the blog of my beautiful and amazing friend Laura. Her and her family are very precious to me and as her story tells they recently lost their unborn child, a little boy they named Nicholas. Each of their girls I have nicknamed after they were born, their sweet little boy I had already nicknamed Peace before they found out that his short life was already over. While they never got to hold their sweet little boy in their arms, I know they will always hold him in their hearts and his life was real and meaningful and significant to them. I know that his brief experience of life will change theirs forever.
We were surprised recently to learn we were expecting a new baby. Because of the surprise, and the difficult sickness that came with the first trimester, I felt terribly unprepared. However, with the return of semi-normal health, I slowly began to wrap my mind around this new child. I imagined the tiny warm body I would soon be cuddling and nursing. At 14 weeks, I drove to my appointment with a glimmer of hope, and a naively comfortable attitude. In my head, I was still laughing at the inconvenient timing, and learning to accept, as John assured me, “God’s time is not our time.”
Then, an hour later, I sat looking at the ultrasound of my baby curled up very still, without the blinking little heartbeat on the monitor. The events and sadness that followed were hard. There seems to be no protocol for grieving an unborn child. However, naming our baby was a gift. It gave us the ability to talk about him like a real person, and acknowledged that our grief was for someone unique and unrepeatable. And now it gives me the opportunity to remember to you Nicholas Wilson.
When we gather as a family to pray, we believe we step out of our time and into God’s time. We are united with Nicholas, as well as our loved ones and all the saints, before God in eternity. In those precious moments, I am now especially grateful that God’s time is not our time.
We buried Nicholas on our land, a short walk away from our house site, during our first winter snow. We came back when it was warmer to bring some flowers and walk in the woods. Nearby is a cool cluster of trees where we intend to build a tree house. I look forward to planting daffodils, and starting our nature collection while John works on the house this coming year. The land feels much more like our home now.
Thank you for your prayers and kind words.
The Perfect Gift
Somewhere along the line I realized that at Christmas time I got the part about who the Savior is mixed up. I felt all this responsibility on my shoulders to find the perfect gift for each person in my life, as if “the perfect gift” would somehow “save” them from….what? I’m not sure but I seemed to feel it was my responsibility, and the totally self-imposed pressure of it was ridiculous.
I can’t help but wonder if I’m not the only one that has felt this odd compulsion. I’m not sure if it is a result of choosing peace over and over this year, or if I simply realized I am not responsible or capable of creating true lasting happiness for another person. Happiness, like peace, is a choice each of us has to make on our own.
I have a physical gift for each of the people in my life that it is standard for me to give a gift to, but hopefully this year I can also just give them the gift of my own peace and presence. I can choose not to allow guilt or mistaken responsibility to stress me out.
When my kids were little we were very poor and I didn’t have enough money to give them lots of gifts but I wanted them to have tons of packages under the tree. So a few months before I started hiding any toys they left out and when Christmas came I wrapped them up and put them under the tree. Christmas day they were surprised to discover their old toys that were suddenly “new” to them again. It was a silly, fun thing to do and they still talk about it. My kids needed me, with a happy attitude more than they needed the latest gadget. All of us, even during the lean times have so many more blessings than we can ever count. This attitude of gratitude helps me to find peace and hopefully spread it to others.
"Have compassion for everyone you meet, even when they don’t want it. What seems conceit, bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone."
Miller Williams (via laurenbolek)
Faith Like Potatoes
Have you ever had that experience where something you didn’t seek out keeps being put right in front of you with ever increasing urgency? For the past 5 days in different ways the global orphan crisis has been surfacing over and over. Last night I watched a movie that for some reason I thought was a fictional story based in Australia. Instead it was the true story of a Scottish farmer in South Africa. A farmer that eventually starts an orphanage.
Watching the movie, “Faith Like Potatoes” I thought it was kind of interesting but too smarmy and far fetched until I reached the end of the movie and realized with astonishment that it was based on the real life story of Angus Buchan and his wife Jill. You can read more about their orphanage at http://www.shalomtrust.co.za/inside-shalom/bethhatlaimchildrenshome
If you watch the movie on d.v.d. I highly recommend you watching the documentary and other special features that go along with it. I found the documentary even better than the movie. Directed by Regardt van der Bergh, it features Frank Rautenbach as Angus Buchan.
Hope for 147millionorphans
Shh…it is a secret so don’t tell my sister-in-law or mother-in-law, but I am super excited about one special gift I got them for Christmas! I’m sharing this with you because I thought there might be someone special you might would like to order one for. The gift is a product from www.147millionorphans.com
147millionorphans is an organization started by two families that are doing an amazing job promoting the feeding of hungry children throughout the world, bringing awareness to the orphan crisis, assisting adoptive families with fundraising through the sale of original and handmade products made by Ugandan women. The products help these women earn a sustainable income. If you need hope right now about good things going on in the world I really recommend you watch their video.
"You need to be aware of the problems facing the world, because You might be the one with the solution." -Pastor Thomas