How To Have The Faith Of a Child

Like many of you, I held my children extra close this weekend.  Adults and children alike, none of us can make sense of what happened on Friday.  We discussed.  We prayed.  We focused on being together.  Before bed, my boys asked if I would tell them stories of when they were younger.  This one came to mind:

Swooshed Away

Two years ago, exactly three days before school let out for Christmas break, I received a call from school.  On the other end of the line, all I heard was sobbing.  The sobbing was so gut-wrenching, I couldn’t even tell which one of my sons it was.  Once I was able to determine 1) exactly who I was talking to and 2) that neither child was hurt or in danger, only then was I able to listen and begin to process what in the world had happened to create such a reaction.

As my then third-grader was on his way home from school that afternoon, he was clenching a piece of artwork with its accompanying contest ribbons to the handlebars of his scooter, and attempting to contend with a very windy day.  Recipe for disaster.  The wind came “swooshing in,” as he said, and he managed to keep his grip on the artwork, but lost the ribbons that were paper-clipped to it.

He was heart-broken.  Devastated might be more accurate.  As soon as I hung up the phone, I grabbed the dog, jumped in the car, and arrived at the trails behind his school within minutes.

Since he saw the ribbons swoosh away, we knew they hadn’t fallen off inside the school.  That left the bike trail or possibly the creek below.  We combed every possible inch for his three missing ribbons, backtracking several times to double and triple check; the wind was not letting up a bit.  I knew at any second we would spot the red, yellow, and rainbow colored ribbons he had described.  Long story short, we looked and looked, and found n-o-t-h-i-n-g.

Spontaneous Prayer

Defeat set in.  The tears came back.  Shoulders slumped, he turned back and we headed for the car.  It was apparent, we had done all we could do.  In that moment, I remember thinking, And when you’ve done all…stand.  So, I reminded him to have faith.  And he asked me if this was a good time to “trust life?”  As I nodded, he said a quick prayer out loud.

Moved by his spontaneous prayer, I felt moved myself to talk to him more about trusting life — to remind him now that he had prayed, it was time to let goTime to let go of the worry and to trust the ribbons would find him.  I reminded him that the ribbons could come back to him in many different ways.  They might blow past his path tomorrow on his way to school, or maybe he would find them at recess later that week.  “It doesn’t matter how they make their way back to you,” I explained.  “That’s not your concern.  What matters is that you believe they will.  You know they will find you.

Just In Case

The next morning, I called the school and explained to one of the school secretaries what had happened.  I asked if it was possible to replace the ribbons (just in case…).  She said she really didn’t think so — the art competition was district wide, and because it wasn’t done at the school level, replacing the ribbons would be difficult.  I went ahead and emailed the art teacher to see if there was anything she could do (just in case…).  No luck.  She wouldn’t be back until school resumed in January.

After I had done everything I could think to do as a mother, I heard myself say again, And when you’ve done all…stand.  So I stood.  And I waited.  And he waited.

A Note Appears

By Friday, I was hoping my son was starting to forget about the ribbons, the prayer, trusting, all of it.  When during my morning workout, the phone rang.  I never stop a workout for the phone, but at the last second, something told me to run and grab it.  On the other end of the line was Cathy, the same secretary I had spoken to earlier in the week about the swooshed ribbons.

She said, “Leslie, you’re never going to believe this!  Let me read you this note I found on my desk this morning.”  She read:

Good Morning Dee,
Mae found these ribbons outside of school — before they blew away.  Don’t know if there is a way to get them back to the person who earned them?
See you tomorrow!
Jacqueline C??? (I can’t make out the last name)

Faith of a Child

(By the way, I never found out who Dee, Mae, or Jacqueline were.  Angels??)  ;-)

The Faith of a Child

My smile broadened with every word.  Who would have thought?  How did the note end up on Cathy’s desk?…the same secretary I spoke to about the ribbons.  Why not one of the other two secretaries who wouldn’t have had a clue?  Who may have just tossed them in the trash.  And with it happening on the Friday before Christmas break, one of Cathy’s busiest days of the year, checking in tons of parents for holiday parties, why didn’t the whole thing just fall through the cracks somehow?

Because my son trusted.  He trusted in prayer, in life, in something bigger than he.  He trusted that it was being taken care of.  And he knew he didn’t have to be the one to figure out how his ribbons would get back to him — all he had to do was let go…and trust life would take care of the rest.

Faith of a Child

How fortunate I am to be surrounded by teachers of Trust.  Teachers of Life.  Even if he was only eight-years old at the time.  (And even if we put the ribbons in SUCH a special place we’ve misplaced them two years later, no matter, we still have our memories of the event, we still have our bedtime story, and hey, we still have the piece of art.)

faith of a child

This might be the exact story someone needs to read today to be reminded of Trust, and how it works.  Please share.  Love, Leslie

 

Offering and Unwrapping Prayers

prayers

My older son praying, after walking the labyrinth. New Mexico.

What “They” Say

It’s often said there’s no “wrong way” to pray.  Just as long as you’re praying, you’re doing great!  At least that’s what they say….

I once knew a girl I considered an expert pray-er.  She could request her desires and beg for what she wanted with the best of them.  And if, what she was pleading for, wasn’t delivered by the “due date,” well, then she knew the remedy for that: she’d just pray harder.  She would shut her eyes tighter, form her hands into more perfect ‘prayer hands,’ and most definitely, she would crawl out of her cozy praying spot in bed and get down on her knees.

Once, at age 17, as she was exiting her high school parking lot, she turned her car in the opposite direction of home, and headed to a Catholic church to pray.  As she looked up at the forlorn expression on the face of Jesus in the stale-aired setting, she knew this time, her prayers could not be refused.  Given she was Episcopalian, wasn’t she making a statement by entering a Catholic church?  That is to say, she understood the hierarchy of churches: Catholic trumped Episcopal any day of the week in the Holy Department.

Life, time, and experience have stripped away much of her ego over the past two and a half decades — which is one reason I’m not embarrassed to share with you that yes, that girl was me.

Stop Your Begging

Begging, pleading, and bartering (please God, if you grant me this, I promise to that…) are a waste of your time.  Each of those techniques shows a lack of understanding about how prayers work, and frankly, it’s lazy.

But that doesn’t mean that prayers have to be complicated.  Quite the opposite.  Prayers can be as simple as having positive thoughts.  And the more we are able to live and breathe these positive thoughts, without defining the outcome, yes — having no attachment to the outcome, the more we offer our trust and faith in the Force of Love who is known by many names.

Mixed Message

When we approach prayer by requesting (pleading, begging, and bartering are all forms of requesting, just more desperate) something of God, the energy behind the request says, “Do this for me.  Grant me what I want.”  Which translates into at least two branches:

Branch 1:  Although I say I believe in God, and it is God who created me, I do not see the magnitude in the creation called My Life.  I do not understand that because God dwells within me, as me, I am able to take an active role in prayer, to participate and co-create with God.  So instead, I will beg and request, leaving it up to a giant force out-there-somewhere to grant me my desires.

Branch 2:  Yet given I’m operating from a place of non-participation, by using this request-only method of praying, I simultaneously communicate the exact opposite, which is, “I know what I need better than you do.  Here, see, this is my request, and here is the outcome I want.”

When you try to drive the outcome of your prayers, placing your focus and attention on how you want things to go, to be delivered to you, to manifest, to end, you are in essence not trusting that there is a force, greater than you.  By requesting a specific outcome, you are expressing that your perspective, the very narrow perspective of one, is more aware of the infinite possibilities of goodness that come with:  God Perspective.

4 + 1 = 5 Modes of Prayers

In the West, there are four modes of prayers that Western prayer researchers typically acknowledge.  They are either used exclusively, or in some combination with one another.  They are:

  1. petitionary prayers, or requests — as described above
  2. informal prayers, also called colloquial prayers — where we simply talk to God
  3. ritualistic prayers — these prayers are repetitious in nature.  For example, “Now I lay me down to sleep…”, “God is great, God is good….”
  4. meditative prayers — they have no words.  This is where we become aware of the presence of God around us, within the silence.

The +1: Co-Creating with God

A fifth mode of prayer, the one most recently introduced to the West, is a feeling based prayer.  With this prayer, you focus on the feeling of what you would normally have requested in a petitionary prayer.  You feel the feeling as if your prayers have already been answered.  You visualize an outcome, not requesting that it be so, but rather, visualizing it in the present tense, as if it already is.

For example, if your desire is to be healed of something, instead of saying, “Please God, let me be healed,” which puts you in the non-participatory position, this fifth mode of prayer spins it on its head, allowing us to feel as if we’re participating in that healing — as if we’re co-creating with God, which is a powerful position.

Common characteristics of colloquial, ritualistic, meditative, and this fifth mode of prayer are 1) the ability to co-create with God and 2) each type uses positive thoughts as their common denominator.

Shifting from Knees to Feet

As I mentioned before, your prayers can be as simple as holding positive thoughts.  Along with that, however, comes an important aspect of prayer:

“When you pray, move your feet.”  African proverb

As you offer your positive thoughts to Our Creator in the form of prayers, remember to keep your feet moving.  In this context, keeping your feet moving looks like this:

  1. feel what it feels like to receive the positive outcome (not what that outcome is, or how that outcome will manifest)
  2. acknowledge that action is probably necessary (hence, the moving of your feet) –
  3. however, you will not need to struggle to solve what may seem impossible (in terms of ‘solving’ your problem — what you’re praying about)
  4. rather, know you will be led to follow the appropriate steps
  5. know that when the time comes, you will have the courage to follow where you are being led –
  6. – confident that the outcome will accommodate the wholeness and wellness of all people involved

Unwrapping Your Prayers

Throughout this post, I’ve shared with you different types of prayers.  And although there are strong arguments to use colloquial, ritualistic, meditative, and the fifth mode of prayer over petitionary (request) prayers, let’s be honest, petitionary prayers are the most common form of prayer in the West — we go there out of habit and don’t even realize it.

So, next time you find yourself begging, pleading, or bartering out of habit, remember the saying, Be careful what you pray for, because you just might get it.  Let’s say you pray for more courage — you’ll be given the opportunity to be courageous, a package which can be unwrapped to behold a beautiful relic or an uncanny challenge.  Or, let’s say you pray for more love in your life.  You may unwrap a package containing the most loving life partner you could ever dream of, or you may be given the opportunity to love someone who is extremely difficult to love.

It all boils down to this:  the offering and unwrapping of prayers is mindful business.  Set your intention, create your positive affirmations.  Pray with purpose.  Pray like you mean it!

prayersDid you enjoy this post? If so, visit me on my Trust Life Today Facebook page, where I’ve started including my daily positive affirmations — a way of setting intention by putting my prayers down in writing, sharing with others — a way of praying with purpose.

Continue On One’s Path, Move Forward, Journey

In the Native American Yuman language, Mii Amo means:

To continue on one’s path, moving forward, or journey.

During a recent trip to celebrate our health, a girlfriend and I visited the Mii Amo Spa, located in Sedona, Arizona.  What an ideal location to Celebrate-Self!

As we were getting settled into our room, we noticed scrolls on our beds.

Their contents set the tone for the quiet introspection that would follow:

Everything is as it should be and I recognize the perfection in my life daily.

Today, I will do my best and trust that is enough.

I am responsible for my attitude and I look for the good in everything.

I create my own reality, and I focus on what is good and right in my life and the world around me.

My positive attitude reflects in the people I come in contact with today.

I release my need to be a victim, realizing I always have a choice.

Opportunities abound for me always.

I release the need to please all of the people all of the time, and recognize it is enough to please myself.

(These intentions are to help guide your discoveries and the transformations you may make during your journey.)

Eight short lines.  Eight deep intentions.  Eight meaningful prayers.

What a beautiful way to start a journey.

What a beautiful way to Start. Each. Day. of your Life.

Love, Leslie

I hope you enjoyed today’s Friday-short and find it useful in your life.   I’m still incorporating this as a new habit — repeating these words each morning to set my intention for the day.

In order to dedicate more time to write a book, I’ve decreased the number of weekly TLT posts by one.  Please subscribe above, that way you won’t miss a beat!

Growing Into You (Tackling Fears, Heaven and Hell)

Now, I may get in trouble on this one, but please stick with me and see where it goes.  Let me just put it out there — this post, this blog, is not about Jesus, the Bible, the Koran, Buddhism, organized religion, etc.  If you’ve been visiting TLT for any length of time, you know it’s about Trust, Love, Peace, Letting Go, Knowing You Are Enough, and Recognizing What Is.  It’s for those who are Seekers of Truth.

If this resonates with you, please continue….

Earlier this summer, while shopping at the grocery store, I reached down in the produce section, and saw this wedged between two grapefruits:

My first thought was to look around and see who had dropped the $10.  No one was close by.

I took a closer look at the bill and saw that it was a joke.  It was a Million Dollar Bill.  My next thought was, “I wonder what my kids would think of this?”  I was curious to see what, if anything, their reaction would be.  So I stuffed it in the side pocket of my purse and finished my grocery shopping.

After putting everything away back home, I pulled out the fake bill and showed it to my boys.  With wide eyes, I could tell the younger one was impressed, or at least somewhat excited.  The older one kept looking at the bill, then up at my face, playing out that visual tennis match for a few volleys, trying to determine what was up.

He called my bluff and I cracked a smile.  The gig was up.

Even though they knew it wasn’t real, this odd, little object stirred questions.  Who would waste their time to make a fake?  And why such a large denomination?  What did the back of the piece of paper say?

“Let’s see,” I said.  The words were so small, I squinted hard to read them.  Finally, with much effort, I got going.  They sidled up beside me and helped out with their younger eyes.

Backside:

In case you’re struggling, too, here are just a few of the lines.

It begins with the ‘Million Dollar Question’:  “Will you go to Heaven when you die?”

Then it gives a test.  “Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain?  Jesus said, ‘Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.’  Have you looked with lust?  Will you be guilty on judgement day?  If you have done those things, God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart.”

As I read out loud, boys still looking along, I silently longed for the days before they could read — that way I could’ve changed the words and avoided the conversation that was sure to follow.

Like bird seed being pelted at me from close range after a wedding reception, their questions stung my skin.  Was that shock I was witnessing on their faces?  Fear?  …what?

“Why does it say that, Mom?”

“Yeah, is it true?”

“I’ve lied before.”

“So am I going to Hell?”

“Is that really the way it works?”

Aye-yai-yai….

As I stood there, head spinning, I decided it was time to take a deep breath.  Yes.  “Let’s all take a moment and take a few deep breaths.  There.  In.  Out.  In.  Out.  Okay.  One more time.”

While we breathed in and out slowly, I felt very much like Winnie-the-Pooh, tapping my own head with my paw,  “Think, think, think….”

Where do I start?  What angle do I take?  How do I not confuse them any more than they already are?

Don’t screw up.  Don’t screw up.  Oh Leslie, you can really screw up here.

Time to say a quick prayer.

And this is the thought that came to me:  “How do I get them to think for themselves and not impart my beliefs on them?”

Now, this may sound strange.  Isn’t it a parent’s job to impart these sorts of teachings?

Well, yes.  But I felt that my husband and I had already done that.  Not by sitting down and giving them formal lessons, but by being a living example, by having open conversations with them on an on-going basis, not just at specific ‘learning’ times.  At this point, I felt that the stage had been set.  At ages 10 and 13, rather than being told what to think, why not serve as a guide and a sounding board while they explored what they felt was their Truth?

Sound dangerous and scary?  Yeah, I agree.  It was — just a little.  But the role of guide, not teacher, felt right in this instance.  So I Trusted it.

And I’m so happy I did.

What a conversation that followed!  They explored their thoughts and feelings out loud.  They teased through the haze.  They bounced ideas off one another.  It was a real dialogue among brothers.  About real stuff.  The stuff that makes us who we are.

And I got to listen to ALL of it.  Their thoughts.  Their fears.  I got to be present to watch this beautiful interaction transpire.  I was experiencing a moment that parents would pay good money to capture on tape — maybe even a million dollars.

So, what did they conclude, you ask?

Well, after much back and forth, they decided, they would not be scared into any belief.  Anyone who would try and use a scare tactic would not be high on their list of Trusted sources.  They would instead Trust themselves in knowing who God is to them.

According to them, “God is a Life Energy.  He lives inside us, outside us, and all around us.”

And as for Heaven and Hell?  They believe they exist here on Earth.  And only here on Earth.

They will not be scared into any belief.  Nor should you.  Not in the belief that you’re going to Hell if you do X thing.  Or the belief that you’re not good enough.  Or the belief that you can’t achieve your heart’s desire.  Or, or, or….

Let the scary stuff be truly scary.

Here’s what we’re afraid of:

10-year old — realistic looking baby-dolls

13-year old — the dark

Me — having a mirror held up to myself when I’m pretending

What are you afraid of?  Stop and ask yourself.  What are you truly afraid of?  Can you see it?  Once you see it, are you willing to do something about it?

Remember, you may need someone to talk to in order to tease it out.  Sometimes it’s the back and forth we do with others that allows us to Find and See our Truth.

Ask the question.  Seek the answer.  Then grow into more of the real you.

If you enjoyed this post, please tweet or share it on Facebook.  You never know — it may end up being read by precisely the person who is seeking it….

Love, Leslie