Tag Archives: spirituality

God Kisses

In a class I attended on journaling we were told we should decide whether our journals would be about real life or spiritual life. The teacher said, “It can’t be both.”  “Wrong!” I said to myself then and now.

Real life is tightly braided with spiritual life. I believe that is how it is created to be. In our people, in creation, in little things that happen and all our very real moments, the Holy is always mixed imperceptibly with the Real.

When we sign up to be spiritual people, we are agreeing to Terms and Conditions that include seeing what cannot be seen, hearing what is not spoken aloud and believing in that for which there is no scientific evidence.  It takes faith to keep looking, listening and believing.

Last Monday, seven days ago, I once again witnessed new life come into this world. Pace Ryan, our second grandson, was born. There is nothing more holy than a little one entering the world. Later I marveled over the whole thing…how did my daughter’s body know how to labor? How did little Pace go from his previous life submerged in amniotic fluid to breathing air? How did his blood supply switch over to run on its own? How did he know to cry and clear his lungs? How did he know how to nurse?

And then this, he came with dimples. Dimples! Dimples no one saw coming. Dimples buried far back in his genetics that no one on either side can recall anyone having. It delighted me to the tips of my toes. Dimples!

I told my daughter I’d heard that dimples were a sign that God had kissed someone. It’s not in the Bible. Don’t go looking for it. But the Bible is full of language and teachings about the signs of God. It teaches us that once we have seen God, we are never the same. Hebrews 11:27 speaks of Abraham persevering because he had seen the one who is invisible.  Jesus said, Blessed are those who believe without seeing me. John 20:29  The Bible teaches us that our world is full of the signs and wonders of God for those who can see such things.

I have no doubt, not even one, that little Pace was kissed by God. I see it with my faith eyes, my heart and my soul.

Our God is a kisser. God kisses us with sunrises, sunsets, loved ones, rainbows, new life, wonders and surprises all of the time. Where have you seen a God kiss lately?

Dr. Cindy Ryan is a pastor, wife, mother of three, Mimosa to Keller and dimpled Pace, a breast cancer survivor and someone who loves a kiss from God.

Advertisements

The Under Toad

I’m finding comfort in reading John Irving novels. Currently, I’m reading The World According to Garp. I like Irving’s writing even though I’m sure I don’t understand parts of it. His work always intrigues and challenges me.

In this novel, the Garp family talks to their young sons at the beach every year about the under tow. They describe what it can do to you. One of their boys becomes particularly afraid. Finally, they get to the bottom of his fear. He believed all along they were saying, “Watch out for the Under Toad.” He was picturing a massive frog-like toad, lurking under the dark of the water, big-eyed, slimy, ready to grab him by the legs and steal him away.

After that, whenever anxiety popped up in their family, they called it the Under Toad.

I’m seeing quite a bit of the Under Toad lately, are you? I see it in the news, in my Twitter feed and other forms of social media. I see it in families and friendship circles. I see it in schools, churches and in the community. Last week, I had a conversation with a relative over politics at her initiative that sent me rushing out the door, emotional, sweating, uttering bad words and covered in Under Toads.

One of the ongoing lessons I have learned in my adult life is that the Under Toad does not help anything.  It is bad for marriages and parenting. It is bad for leaders and followers. The Under Toad moves us from being thinking, calm people to overly emotional, reactive ones.

I hate it because it is so much fun to blame others, but the truth is we cannot manage other people’s Under Toads, only our own. When anxiety is high, all you can do is manage your Toad.

Sometimes our fears are real and based in fact. There really is, for example, an under tow out there which we should know about and respect. But, it is not a huge, amphibian-like monster plotting to get us. Millions of people do not die each year because of Under Toads. In fact, no one has even been hurt by one, ever.

How do we manage our Under Toads?

Everyone is different, of course, but here’s my list of anxiety-busters:

Establish some spiritual touch points and routines that anchor you like prayer, journaling, meditation, scripture. Do these whether you feel like it or not. Don’t wait until inspired. That is not how it works.

Engage with nature. Creation feeds our souls. The colors, the smells, the wonder of outside eases anxiety. Sunrises and sunsets are my favorite twice a day Toad repellent.under-toad

Music works every time.

Comedians. Thank God for the funny people. Did you know, laughter cannot co-exist with Toads?

Babies. Children. Find some. Rent some. Volunteer near some. According to Psychology Today, 4 year olds are reported to laugh 300 times a day. 40 year olds? Only 4. Find a small person, play and just laugh when they laugh.

Disconnect. I’m beginning to think our media feeds our hungry Under Toads and when our Toads are large and scary, we keep going back for more. When they see what sells it is like supply and demand. Maybe we should take a little break.

Breathe. Mary Oliver, the poet, writes, “Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” I don’t know about you, but sometimes I forget to breathe deeply, especially when being pursued by Toads.

Exercise. It is amazing how we are made. Exercise is good for us and breaks the anxiety chain. It helps us feel better, look better and sleep better. I walk. Every day. Outside, in nature. I breathe there. I disconnect there.

Act. Do something. Go ahead and act. Today, I spent a couple of hours with some amazing women strategizing about how we would help serve the economically disadvantaged students in our public schools with school supplies and other resources. It kept the Toad at bay.

Love. Love people. Love strangers. Love your family. Love those who feel differently than you do. Try to listen but also take care of you. Learn to say, “Can we change the conversation? I’m having an allergic reaction to a personal Toad problem right now.” I promise they will stop talking.

Thank you, John Irving, for your writing. You showed me the power of the Under Toad…and more than that, you showed me it is not even real.

 

.

Last Day

My family arrives late tonight. Solitude soon over. I’ve been sitting still so long the animals aren’t afraid of me. I’m like Dr. Doolittle or something.

This morning a tiny bird landed about three feet from me and started singing. He was so little but so loud, like surround sound. A giant brown shiny lizard made himself known. Yesterday I counted 10 light blue dragonflies using me as their mother ship as I lounged in the lake. I met a grasshopper as he smacked into my leg. I didn’t stay still for that. I met a turtle on my walk. He didn’t trust me and retreated into his shell. I wish we all had a retreat house on our backs.

i believe God really does speak to us in and through creation. In fact, I’m starting to think God enjoys showing off all those sights, sounds, colors and creatures. What a show!

I’m ready to see the human creatures who I share life with. Solitude is good. So is family-animal and human.

Solitude Day 2 1/2

Still enjoying my own company. I had no idea I was so pleasant to be around. Except for that part of me that works at the church 24/7. She woke up at two a.m. pondering church things that could surely wait.

I amuse myself in solitude. Even though I purposely planned these unstructured days, I keep a to-do list:

write

rest

hang out at lake

walk

read

I still check things off too. How much solitude would I need to be able to give up my list?

I talk to myself in solitude. And, I’m funny. This morning on my walk I saw a deer. I said, “I see you!.” She was rude and didn’t say anything. I also thanked a tree for some shade. She also did not reply. See how funny I am? Seriously I’m fine.

Yesterday I got to sit on the screened in porch-actually I was reclining -there’s a bed there. I know, I’m blessed. Anyway I got to watch a storm roll in.  It took about two hours and was like a good movie with almost all my senses engaged. I’ve never done that before. Even my bird friends got quiet for awhile-everyone seemed to be watching the same movie.

I’ve read three full books already, plenty of magazines too. I’ve worked lots of crosswords. I still have my phone and of course Words With Friends. In true solitude, I think you are to let go of all of that. Thank goodness I’m not that nutsy radical yet. 

So far, I still like myself. Maybe tomorrow I will get on my own nerves but not today. I have way too much solitude on my to-do list to enjoy now.