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I think that the revelation of grace is one of the best kept secrets of all time. People hear about grace, read about grace, talk about grace, sing about grace and even extend grace to others all the time, but very few seem to really “get it.”

I was raised in church my entire childhood. We were there every week an hour early for “Sunday School” and then stayed for the actual church service. We went to weekday services between Sundays, and I always attended or worked at summer Bible schools and camps.  I was blessed not to be in a fear based “hell-fire” atmosphere. There was a lot of love there and focus on giving to the poor. We were taught the actual Bible and not watered down stories even as kids so I had a very good foundation in teachings about grace, and one would think that grace would be a no brainer for me.

But my own experience is that grace really is a revelation or an epiphany that takes place in the soul or spirit. It is hard to describe it in words because it is almost beyond words. The word is “grace” and that does not really explain it. I have found that when I try to explain it to people they either light up with recognition because they have had this epiphany themselves or they look at me with eyes of confusion because they either do not understand what I am saying or they think that I am saying something wrong…I don’t know.

It was not until later in my adulthood that I had the realization of grace. And when I did I honestly felt as if I had been born into a new life.

I walked around in awe telling people “I feel like I have been struggling to get through a very tight dark womb and have finally been born into the light of the free world.”

The experience for me was so intense that I worried that people might think that I was a little “crazy.” They probably did.

I  remember saying, “Oh! This must be what those people mean when they say “born again!” But do they even know it?”

So what is it? How do I find the words?

Well I used to think that I had to try really hard to be “good.” I had to struggle to “do the right thing” all the time. I had to work hard. I had to help everyone that needed anything. I had to “be there” for everyone all the time. I had to strive and strain to achieve perfection, and with all of this hard work I would one day “arrive” at this Christ like state of being.

I would drop everything in my own life and help others…friends, family…no matter what. I was doing many “good” things for others. I was ALWAYS there if they needed me and not just there as a friend or in comfort, but I was there doing everything ..being everything…..I was playing God!

I was the one that they came too for literally EVERYTHING. I was very co-dependent. I was being their Holy Spirit. With me around no one had any need to go to God for anything. I had all of the answers and all of the help available 24 hours a day…Haha!

I was getting my self worth from “helping” everyone else…from being needed…from trying so hard to be good…to be God.

I was also getting more and more drained, depleted, and resentful. People never gave as much to me as I did to them. My own life and all of my own problems and issues were conveniently being ignored by me, and my own life was not going so great. I even dropped out of college several times because there was ALWAYS a big crisis in my dysfunctional family during the semester, and I would turn all of my focus onto that drama instead of my own life. Co-dependence is just another form of escapism.

So the revelation of grace did not happen overnight. I guess it was a lifelong process that finally came to a head, but when it finally clicked it seemed like it happened all of a sudden.

I realized that all of this trying and struggling and being everything to everyone was wrong. This is not the way to grow into the Christ-like being of love that I was hoping to emulate.

I realized that Christ does indeed dwell within me (Ephesians 3:17)…that the Holy Spirit is inside me (1 John 4:13)…that God which is love is within my very heart, soul, spirit and body.

I, like every human, am a unique creation. I am created specifically a certain way in order to express a unique aspect of God (love) on this planet at this time. I am created “in the image of God.” I, like everyone, am a unique ray of God’s immense love. This is cliché, but there has never been nor will there ever be another expression of God’s love on earth that is exactly like me so if I am not my true self…the “self” that I was created to be… then the world will not experience this unique aspect of God’s image ever again. In being my true “child of God” self I am fulfilling my purpose.

Grace is not about how hard I try, how much I do, how good I am, how much I struggle to be something.

Grace is about surrender…letting go…allowing the spark of God that I carry within me which is without limits…without fear…eternal and infinite to come alive on this limited 3 dimensional earth in this limited 3 dimensional body that I live in for this finite time.

It is nothing that I have or can ever earn by working hard and following rules, but as I surrender to this gift which is given to me because of the love of God that is within me and around me I am then COMPELLED to do the good things…the loving things that I was uniquely created to do.

I am no longer struggling to prove myself to God or others in order to earn love, approval, or status. I no longer have to wear myself out to do everything right and to be everything to everyone in order to achieve a Christ-like state of being.

When I let go of all of the struggling and trying and working, and I release myself from my inner task master in order to surrender to the spirit of love (Christ) that is within me I almost naturally but also supernaturally begin to walk on the path of fulfilling the purpose and doing the good works that God has purposed for me and my life……And that does not include every good work that my poor body can possibly do.

Yes…sometimes I catch myself slipping back into my co-dependent ways. I do not have it all perfectly figured out. I have not “arrived”

But I can at least catch it now at some point before it gets out of control because of the revelation of the grace of God which is given to me by the grace of God.

*”Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”   Matthew 11: 28-30 (Jesus’ words) emphasis mine

* “What I’m saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.”   Luke 14:11 (Jesus’ words)(emphasis mine)

* “And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.”  Romans 8:1

* “If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.

 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that. Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.”   Galatians 2: 18-21

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We are finally here…the anxiously awaited year of 2012. This is the year that many have thought about, talked about and written about….and here we are. And I feel a buzz of excitement in the air. There is spirit of change blowing through this time and space like a hurricane force wind.

There are uprisings of people around the globe. All over the world people are finding the courage to rise up against oppression, tyranny and lies. People are demanding truth, and they are revealing truth of all kinds. Things that have been kept in darkness are being brought out into the light for all to see. There is an awakening of sorts happening. I see it all over the world.

I have been connected to people around the planet through the internet in a way that was not possible just a few decades ago. I hear the same message and longing from them all. People are calling for hearts to be changed and opened. People of the world are crying out for the truth to be revealed and for truth to be heard. People are longing for human connection and divine connection. People are daring to believe that a better world is possible. People are looking for something much greater than themselves alone whether they realize it or not.

I see great fear in people of the world, but then I see them fighting that fear with great ferocity through the power of  faith, love, and connection.  I see courage in humanity…courage to speak the truth…courage to stand up for peace, freedom, and love…courage to be themselves.

There is an opening right now like a beautiful flower that is just beginning to bloom. Hearts, minds, and eyes are opening globally and this is being manifested in many different ways.

There is also great opposition to the spirit if these times. That is the way that it is on planet earth. There is always opposition…light and dark, yin and yang, good and evil….everything has an equal and opposite reaction.

I feel a burning in my soul and a vibration of a higher frequency that is becoming more harmonious with the song of the creator’s love….Agape…unconditional love.

No…I do not always act in harmony with it, but I feel it in my spirit. As I allow myself to open more and more to the heart of God… the spirit of this great love flows through me and it makes me dance to its music.

These are amazing times to be alive. My cells are singing with anticipation of the things to come. I do not imagine it all to be easy as great things rarely are, but I am working towards surrender to something beautiful and new. I hope that you can tune in and feel it too.

Just like a mighty Oak Tree receives the light of heaven freely through its branches,

As I reach toward heaven the love of God flows freely through me by grace.

Just as the tree is nourished all the way to its roots by the sun,

So am I nourished through and through with the light of God.

As the tree sways in harmony with the breeze while remaining firmly rooted to the dark womb of earth,

I remain solidly grounded as I am moved in a dance like flow by the breath of the Holy Creator.

Everywhere I look nature teaches me about the love of the one who created it.

And in looking at the tree I am reminded that I too am a conduit between heaven and earth.
As I gently walk the earth in this dense physical body totally open-hearted and surrendered in spirit,

The love of Christ flows to me and through me, and I humbly become a bringer of heaven to earth.

I believe that every person’s life has purpose. Every person has a part to play in this drama that we call life. It is so easy to get absorbed into our own world, to put on the blinders of separateness and to lose sight of how we are connected to a much larger picture than just our small day to day routine. We are all a piece of a greater puzzle. We are a note in a much fuller, more harmonious song. Our lives are threads in a beautiful tapestry.  Life really is a dance with a pattern that touches and connects with others all along the way, and we usually have no idea of the impact both positively and negatively that we have on the whole picture.

This concept is expressed so simply and perfectly in the classic Christmas movie, It’s a Wonderful Life.” If you have seen the movie you know that when just an ordinary man, George Bailey, has his life erased from existence it causes a domino effect of disturbing changes in the lives around him and even lives of those he does not even know.

When one person touches other lives even in small ways then the lives that she touches then effect other people which then touch others and the ripple expands throughout the world. And this includes positive as well as negative impacts.

So with this in mind I have been wondering why so many people feel that they do not fit in? When you see the big picture it is obvious that everyone has to fit in, but so many people feel that they do not. So many people feel isolated and separate and unimportant. And many times we as humans perpetuate this belief by refusing to connect with others on any deep level. We do seem to push people out many times and add to this illusion of separateness and lack of life purpose.

Sometimes we don’t go as far as making someone an outcast, but we just deal with people on a surface level. We keep many acquaintances and call them our friends. Why are we as humans so intent on making some people feel like they are not a part of things, and why are we so fearful of connecting with others in a real way?

The more that I learn about people the more I see that we are all so similar. We are all so insecure sometimes. Even that person that you see and you think that they have it all together…they have it all figured out…they have it so great….well, they are insecure too.

We would all be so much more fulfilled if we embraced the connection that we have to everyone…if we embraced our similarities and our differences….if we broke through our fears and illusions….if we embraced one another.

I caught a glimpse of the Holy One out of the corner of my eye.

I tried to grab Him and wrestle Him down. I wanted answers from Him.

I struggled to keep Him in my grasp, but like liquid He just slipped through my fingers.

I chased His river as it flowed before me until I was close enough to dive in.

But right at the moment that I began to jump He evaporated and rose to the sky.

I crashed to the ground all bloody and bruised, and I watched Him float by like a cloud.

With nothing left for me to do I just lay there exhausted and drained.

He was out of my reach, and my eyelids grew heavy as I  watched him drifting away.

My teary eyes finally gave in and closed as I began to rest.

The moment that I finally let go He rained down on me sweetly in my sleep.

Are overachievers just trying to prove to themselves and others that they are worthy of love, life, and value in this world by their achievements? Is being an overachiever a gift from God that allows a person to push beyond limits and adversity in order to gain success in this world? I believe that it is a combination of both.

Growing up and then into adulthood I was always an overachiever. I was self motivated and self disciplined, and I always pushed myself beyond normal limits. For example no one ever had to tell me to do my homework. No one ever checked my backpack or my work at home. No one pushed me to sign up for the most advanced classes offered. I just did it on my own.

I studied in my room for hours at a time. I had other students calling me for help in Chemistry and Trigonometry and English. I even decided on my own to get special permission to take Chemistry and Physics at the same time my junior year of high school so that I would have more time in my schedule to take even higher level advanced placement classes my senior year.

When I started college my Freshman year I did not have to take Freshman English and I started out the semester taking Calculus instead of Algebra like most people because of all the work that I had done in high school. I did all of this just to “see if I could do it.” I pushed myself. I was a perfectionist.

I also pushed myself in dancing, athletics and in basically anything that I did. I would not wonder if my body could do something or not. I would just make my body do it no matter how painful it was.

I was constantly proving to myself and the world that I could do anything that I set my mind to do, that I was as intelligent as anyone, and that I had great skills.

I believe that this is a God-given gift. There is a reason that I am hard-wired to be this way. I am a limit pusher. I am a person created to break out of the box and reach beyond what the world may tell me that I can or cannot do, and that is a gift. I can use that to do something great for the world.

However I also believe that this gift can also be used to feed a deep down longing to feel worthy and valuable. I believe that for other over achievers and for myself this drive to do more and more than is expected or even believed possible can come from a deep inner feeling of unworthiness.

We have to continuously prove our worth by showing that we can be successful and that we can do more than others believe that we can do.

I remember having thoughts like “I may be tiny and I may be a girl, but I can beat this guy in a race and I can score higher than him on the Calculus exam.” And I would do it.

That is competitiveness that comes from feeling that others underestimated me and my potential. I do not know where these messages came from. Somewhere I got the message deep down that I was not seen as valuable or good enough in this world. For some reason subconsciously I felt unworthy. It was never a thought in the forefront of my mind. I never thought, “I have to prove my worth because I feel unworthy.” My actions were just showing that I carried this belief. And many times it was tied up in my being female.

There seems to be at the core of many people and especially at the core of girls and women around the world that we are not as good. We are not as valuable, as capable, as intelligent, etc, and I spent much of my life pushing myself to prove that wrong over and over.

And I did.

I do not want to lose the gift of being a person who can push beyond limits. That is at the core of who I am, but somehow I do want to lose the deep core belief that I am never good enough. I want to help other over achievers to see that we are worthy of love, respect, value, and everything good in life even if we never achieve another thing in life.

I am especially passionate about this for women because it is such a rampant disease among women world wide…..the disease of feeling “less than” no matter how much we achieve and how confidently we portray ourselves.

Girls are constantly getting subtle and sometimes blatant messages from our culture, other cultures, and even our own homes that we are at least a little lower on the totem pole than boys. Sometimes the message is more severe in that we are downright second or third class citizens or that we are property in a way or that we need men to guide us and direct us in the world.

I remember being in high school and being floored when I heard my good girl friends saying that they would trust a man gynecologist more than a woman even though I pointed out that a woman should know more about women’s issues than men. They said that men were smarter. And one of these girls had the highest GPA in our class! When I asked her to explain this to me she said that it was just because the boys were not trying! These kind and highly intelligent girls really believed these negative things about themselves! My blood boiled, and it still does as I see evidence of these negative self images in girls and women everywhere…..even in myself as I constantly feel the need to prove myself and my worth.

We are constantly bombarded with these negative images and ideas of ourselves from both men and women, and frankly, it hurts.

I have come to the understanding in life that when I am passionate about an issue so much that my blood boils then it means that I have a purpose surrounding that issue. There is something that God created me to do and hard-wired me to do to address this issue because I am extremely passionate about it. I do not know yet exactly how it is to play out, but I do know that it begins with me learning and truly believing in my deepest self that I am worthy, valuable, lovable and as good as anyone in this world male or female.

As I do the hard work to come to that truth within myself  I will then be able to spread it to others more effectively, and that is an exciting prospect. I will use my God-given gift of limit pushing to push beyond these horrible lies about female unworthiness and to spread the truth of who we really are.

Feelings of compassion are probably no strangers to most loving people, but I can still remember the exact moment when I came to the realization that compassion is profoundly painful. Sometimes true moments of compassion can be so unbearable that I think that many of us close our hearts just a little bit in order to bear it.

All of us being human have probably experienced compassion many times throughout our lives. I can think of many times that I have felt compassion for my fellow humans or even an animal. We have all felt that ache in our hearts when we see people suffering. That ache becomes stronger and harder to bear when it is a loved one such as our child, a sibling, a parent, a spouse, or a good friend.

Sometimes it is easier to work really hard at cheering the person up, to try to solve their problem, or to try to change the subject and stop thinking about it than to allow ourselves to really feel the gravity of the pain that they are suffering.

I have found though that when we do allow ourselves to experience compassion in its fullness we connect to something more true and more real in our hearts. We learn something instantly in that moment about ourselves and about humanity. When we allow ourselves to actually feel someone else’s pain even for a moment we connect to the truth about their soul and our own. We connect to our very connectedness.

This is very different from feeling sympathy. I am talking about having a moment of actually experiencing someone else’s pain in its entirety, and this is not easy or fun to do.

I remember a time when I was about 17, and my mother had recently found out that my step father had been having an affair. She had decided to try to work out the marriage which did not work out in the end, but she was trying. Things were very uncertain during this time. Our lives were shaken.

My step father had been the source of extreme misery for our family. He was abusive, highly critical, negative, oppressive and wallowed in his own misery. He was messed up, broken, full of self-hatred, angry, bitter, and sick in many ways. And he took it all out on us.

But he had been the step father that I lived with the majority of my childhood. I lived with him from the time that I was 4 until I was about 18, and there were some good moments. There were some times that we laughed together, and there were a few moments that he surprised me with gestures of love, true affection, or kindness. This is a very confusing thing for a child. There is love for and even from an abusive parent in some strange way.

Well my mother told me that she was trying to work out her marriage with him, and she asked me to be kind to him (which was a strange thing for her to say I think.) Since I always tried to help my mother in any way that I could and had spent my life doing things to try to show her the love that I subconsciously saw that she never received from her husband…. like buying her tons of Christmas gifts, defending her in arguments with him, making sure she was okay, watching her back…etc….I got on board with her for this too.

I don’t know why I felt compelled to do this, but I got my step father a sweet card, and I wrote a pages long heart-felt letter to him. I do not even remember what it said, but it was something from a part of myself that is more loving than any other part of me because remember….he had abused and hurt me and my dearest loved ones repetitively. I left the letter for him to find.

I did not stick around to watch him read it, but later I heard him closed up in the bathroom sobbing loudly and uncontrollably. He was wailing, and I had NEVER heard this from him in my life.

At that moment I felt his pain in my heart in a way that I had never felt before. I felt his brokeness and all of the pain that caused him to treat us the way that he did. I felt his humanity, and I actually felt connected to him in a true way for the first and last time. The pain that I felt coming from his true self into my heart was one of the most unbearable feelings I have ever felt, and I could not even sit with it for very long. I had to consciously close my heart a little bit to it after a few minutes because it was so horribly painful.

It was in that moment when I felt true indescribable heartbreaking compassion for my abuser that I realized what compassion really is and the gravity of it.

I have never forgotten that moment because of the impact that it had on me and the immense lesson that I learned in that brief moment. Since then I have understood the reality of compassion in its truest form and the reality of its heavy burden. I have seen how I and others have to close ourselves from the fullness of it at times in order to protect ourselves from the extreme heaviness of it. I have realized that many times we mistake sympathy for compassion and that they are very different.

I have also realized that when we have the courage to keep our hearts open even for a brief moment to compassion in its entirety even with and especially with those who hurt us and perpetrate against us we learn lessons about the human spirit that we would never completely understand any other way.

I have been awakened to the fact that compassion is not about butterflies and rainbows like we sometimes like to think. It is hard. It hurts. It involves suffering, and it teaches us more about the purest and greatest form of love than most other things can teach us. And it is worth it.

When I was younger I ran from the mundane. I actually rebelled against the idea of just surviving life….just getting up and going to work to pay the bills then coming home. I lived simply in a shack with literally  four rooms total and no hallway…just four adjoining rooms in the ghetto. I drove an old car that was already paid off, and I still do that out of necessity. I did not tie myself down with marriage or children. Most of my 20’s I lived outside of the limits and expectations of society. I was spontaneous. I traveled. I played a lot! I spent much of my time at the beach. I stayed up all night and saw many sunrises as well as sunsets. I got really in tune with nature. I had many encounters with dolphins, and it was almost as if I could call them in, and they would come. There was something magical about that time. I worked jobs and went to school somewhere in there, but that was not even my priority.

I always used to say, “I watched my parents live their lives going to work and coming home doing things that they really didn’t even care much about just to get by, and they did not seem happy. I will not do that!”

Like most people in their 20’s I was very idealistic. I was very positive, and I just knew that I could change the world.

Towards the end of my 20’s life slowly began to lasso me in and tie me down. And by our 30’s my husband and I somehow got sucked into the machine, and we ended up working and coming home too tired to do anything else. We just had to do what we had to do to pay our bills, and we had to be “responsible” like society demands. We succumbed to the very thing that we had been running from and refusing to conform to for so long. It seemed like we didn’t really have a choice.

Why do so many of us as adults just end up in this daily grind. It is like we just fall asleep, and life becomes this routine of working, paying bills, taking care of business, and doing the “right” thing so that we can “get by.” Sure, we have some fun in there sometimes. We have some laughs and some good times. We do some great things for others, but most of the time many of us seem to be just sleep walking through life in this daily grind. It seems like we escape it for a moment only to get sucked right back into the black hole of surviving life in a sleepy haze of “have to’s.”

I fought it tooth and nail, and it still happened to me! There is something not right about this.

I need to wake up again. I crave a richer more exotic experience in this life. This life is so short, but on this physical plane it seems like we are so slowed down. It is as if our spirits have to slow their vibrations way down in order to remain with our heavy physical bodies so life just seems heavy at times.

That rebelliousness against conforming to the mundane machine is still flickering inside me. There has got to be a better way to live. The more we have the heavier we get and the more we get tied to the ground.

I do not think that I was made to be tied to the ground. I feel like I was made to fly because there is a restlessness inside me that just keeps whispering, “This is not all there is. There is more.”

As I align myself with the flow of God and get more in harmony with God’s song I feel the weight of this more. I feel the need to throw off more and more of the heaviness that keeps me bound to what is “expected” of me as an adult. I do not want being responsible to become my new bondage. Yes….I want to be responsible but not bound by it.

I want to wake up now. I want to be awake and alive now. I do not want to sleep through this short life only to wake up when I die and say, “Oh my word! I missed the whole thing, and it’s already over!”

God…..move me. Open my heart. Fill me up, and wake me up to the beauty and the fullness of life that is here now. Pour your light into me. Lighten me, and lift me up on the wind of your breath. Let me fly again.