Friday, July 29, 2011

Sunny Days

Isn't it amazing how one's outlook drastically improves when the sun shines? I never cease to be impressed when my internal stormy clouds get swept away as the bright Colorado sun gently warms my mind.

Here's the deal: All of us have a life to live. Nobody's life is more important than another's, yet the majority of us live as if the daily drama either constantly affects us or we are above it. I say "daily drama" lightly, fully aware that one person's drama is another person's entertainment. In this case I refer to anything that isn't going as planned, which can also be viewed as whatever makes us unhappy. The unhappiness ends up becoming the focus, thus effectively eliminating all possibility of seeing the joy in the process.

So many of us get caught up in the now, and think "if I can just get over this next hurdle [insert financial troubles, relationship issues, deadlines in the office, illness, busy schedules, oodles of emotional-related issues, general frustrations or crankiness, etc.], then I can go on with my life." Life is then put on hold while momentary troubles take the spotlight.

I'm pretty sure our American forefathers had an incredible nugget of wisdom in that very small phrase "The pursuit of Happiness," that so many of us glaze right over: It's about the pursuit. They never promised happiness, nor did they say that it was the end objective! In their God-centered directive as they set the foundation of our country, they focused on the process of living life. At some point during the development of our nation, the focus shifted to the happiness portion (probably early 60's to 70's) and the balance of life was thrown off.

At some point, each of us have to individually make the decision about what type of life we will live. For some, it is an early decision about being happy in the moment. For others it is about the pursuit. For the select few, it's about both. Today, I have decided that it's about both, for me at least. My burdens are lifted as I, in faith, believe that God the Almighty is there with and for me every step of the way. Those stormy clouds in my mind are permanently whisked away while the sunshine leaves it's everlasting warmth as I embrace all of life with joy, acceptance, gladness, gratitude and an expectant heart that every moment is better than the last.

Sunny days, keeping the clouds away....

Friday, May 27, 2011

Tearing Apart

I hear that as one grow older, different common stages come into play both in your life and the lives around you. As a child, we had our "play" and "sports" stage. In middle school there was the "everybody's parents are getting divorced" stage, but nobody knew why, only that it hurt. In college it was the "experimentation and find yourself" stage where we tried new things that we could chalk up to our "crazy college years." Afterwards, it was the "time to grow up" stage where we got our first apartments, realize we had it good in high school with zero financial responsibility, suck it up and pay our bills while still finding time to do some more mature exploring of the world and ourselves. At this juncture, people split into a few categories. Some got married, some pursued careers, some traveled the world, some focused on relationships, some had babies. But at some point those stages ended up circling back and possibly ended for some while the rest may have embraced the continuation of others.

The stage I am now learning about is the one as I'm in my early 30's where more people are getting married, and many are having children. Careers are taking off, we're starting to take care of some of our grandparents or parents and it's the new "20" according to many theorists. Here's the thing though, there is also a growing undercurrent of adultery, pain, drug abuse and self-rediscovery amongst the people I know. It's freaky as heck. I had personal experience as a pre-teen with my own parents going through some of this, but I never understood why or how it could happen. And now, those I love are even speaking of such horrors, and after being married I see their point. I don't agree with them, nor would I ever because it breaks a commitment deeper than any other that we can, in our flesh, agree to,, oh man, this is tough!

I guess I'm learning that through all these seasons, people aren't superhuman after all. We laugh, we cry but we still live. We need to be needed and we need to be left alone. Those two needs drive many of our decisions throughout life, and it's amazing how those two needs can be the catalyst for a destructive path of decisions that will obliterate those in its wake.

So what are we left to do? Pray with everything you've got. It is now a season for prayer, and if you haven't started, it's a good time to begin. I don't give a flyin' flip if you believe in God or not, He hears you anyway, and our souls are not meant to cut through life alone without divine comfort and direction. Prayer might seem like a cop-out for those of you who are angry and hurting, but I will say this: When you pray for others, you take your eyes off yourself and your investment grows from being self-focused to a heart of compassion for those around you. If you're not hurting and still feel like prayer is a cop-out, do it anyway.

Now, for those of you who are momentarily freaking out and wondering about Chad and myself, we are very much okay. Sure, we've gone through our own trials, but we manage to come out together on top every time. And that's the trick I hear- never give up on coming on top together. We have a tightly knit healthy community that surrounds us, and who are committed to walking through our marriage with us - we're not naive enough to think we can "do" marriage alone!

With all that said and done, I feel like my heart is slightly tearing apart with the sadness I feel for others. God, I pray that your Spirit will go into the hearts of any who are affected by this new stage. Lord, bring your light and illuminate it all so that all may see, heed, and get out of those prisons or help others to get out of theirs. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Be Still and Know That I Am God

As I open up my Denver Book of Prayer, today's reflection asks this question: "How can I be still in God's presence?" I sit, close my eyes, and hope that I'm still. Immediately struck with the image of me sitting in a forest, surrounded with crisp autumn air, a morning mist, and the sounds of animals waking, I feel my body relax. Only then do I notice the hum of my computer fan, and I'm pulled out of my peaceful "happy place" and the question knocks on my heart, asking, "why can't I be still?"

And my inner, quiet, little insecure child's heart says, "Because I'm not comfortable enough to do it alone." You see, I'm a confident woman, who can boldly proclaim things, and people follow. But when people don't follow...when I'm alone walking in the wilderness...I waver. Every. Single. Time. As I pondered this shattering reality, it occurred to me that when I'm in the forest or a glad or something where nature surrounds me, I'm comfortable being still and letting God be God. I'm comfortable because I'm not alone in the "be and let be" attitude. Everything around me proclaims God's glory, majesty, power, creativity, beauty, excitement, life, and wonder. I'm not alone in being confident or boldly proclaiming these things (and more) because everything and every being around me agrees.

How does one take that security, and translate that into the everyday loud, obnoxious, humming, bleeping, crazy, mach 5 world that we live in? I don't know. But I hope today, I might get glimpses of that. Will it be enough to know that out there, creation still agrees with me that God is God? I think so. When in doubt, I suppose I can just quickly shut my eyes and go to my happy place.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

With the Encouragement of MY BEAUTIFUL SISTER (MBS)...

I will begin writing more regularly.

Thank you dear one!

Not too long ago, after fumbling for my keys in my very full purse, I locked myself into my office. And then I sat here.

In silence.

Staring at my computer screen, jaw hanging open, eyelids fluttering shut.

I realized I was tired.

So I did some work for our business, briefly chatted on the phone with the love on my life, and then sat some more.

It's amazing, how sitting in silence, can have such a different effect on a person, depending on the circumstances. Really.

Take, for example, today. After spending an afternoon teaching, engaging with others and pouring out myself so that our fabulous business colleagues can grow and develop their own business, I'm just completely tuckered out. I'm so tired, I can barely keep my eyes open. In fact, my eyebrows are working overtime to pull my lids upward so that I can peek through my lashes in order to verify that what my fingers are typing is in fact showing up correctly on the screen. In this situation, this time is somehow allowing me to get in touch with a loud signal that my body has been apparently trying to tell me - that I should go to bed.

On other days, quiet times allow me to re-energize, calm down, think clearly (which usually involve some form of fitness), reflect, and pray.

What do times of silence and solitude do for you?

I'm curious.

I'm also a bit too fuzzy-headed right now to write anymore. :)

Goodnight dear friend. I hope our journey together is fun!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Creative Outlet

Last night I sat on the 2ND floor terrace of the MDE Public Library. The hard metal chairs cradled me as I typed away on my laptop. The warm air slowly mingled with the sounds of a softball game, and the sun gracefully set while casting off glowing hues of passionate begonias and fuscias. It was too late when I realized that I missed these moments of peace in their entirety as I only noticed them during my brief glances away from the screen.

So a day later, I would like to spend a moment reflecting on this moment that passed me by.

Every so often, I think the majority of people spend their days just going and attempting to complete the mundane tasks of life. I was a part of that group of people last night. The rest of our world's population are either doing something of significance. More importantly, there exist those who are not doing but rather being. Somehow their tasks or priorities still get accomplished as they focus on being themselves. I'd like to be this last type of person.

If I could have lived last night over again, this is probably what I would have done:

I think if I had come out to the terrace in the same state of mind, I would have put my bags down. Maybe I would have walked to the edge and leaned against the railing, or I might have decided to sit down somewhere that afforded a good view of the area. After this initial step, I think I might have decided to take it all in, little by little, one section at a time.

The first section would have been to the east. Over in that direction, I would have heard the goings on of a softball or baseball game. I think I would have spent some time intentionally smiling, as I probably would have done some internal reflection and memory re-living of my own childhood times spent at a ballpark.

After the shouts and cries of joy or despair filled me up with a new sense of wonder, I think I would have turned north.

The open spaces would greet me with their waving grasses, wild prairie dogs and serenely flying birds. I would think of the few date nights that my husband and I have spent walking hand in hand through them, whispering our souls secrets to one another. Occasionally we'd laugh with or at one another, and sometimes we would embrace. We would point out the different flora and fauna like the old married couple that we pretend to be. Maybe I would think about that time that we found wheat growing in one of the fields by the Brunner house. We decided to try out the kernels which tasted very sweet and tangy, excited that a city chose to grow something edible and sustainable within our very community. Or I would reflect on the time we roller bladed around the open spaces. Chad spent most of his time behind me, making sure I didn't bite it as my unsteady legs constantly threatened to give out on me at any moment. Lastly, I might ponder the moments that I've spent on my own running through them. Those solitary moments have given me some of my most brilliant insights, allowed me to resolve tough issues, and drawn me closer to my Creator in ways that few other activities do.

The last direction I would turn is west. By this point, the sun would be setting, and the crisp pigmentation of the sky mingling with the water colored cotton-ball clouds would capture me. I would think of the God who created all of this: the things both seen and unseen, the things of the soul, body, mind, spirit, earth, wind, water, fire. That this God who breathed all of this into creation, also created me with intention, purpose and joy. Joy. I was created with joy. Maybe I would reflect on His sacrifice, or maybe I would think of His love for me, others and the world. I don't know. Or maybe, at this point, I would just stop doing. I would stop trying to accomplish something, as I might realize that this whole time I was still performing to an agenda of being a proactive "be-er." At this revelation, I might sigh. I might sit down if I was standing, or I'd stand if I had been sitting. I would lean towards the west, towards the majestic now purple mountains and drink in everything.

I would be.

And during this "be-ing,"'s possible....but maybe more of me would come out of that whole experience than before I started.

Friday, July 3, 2009

the little princess

one of my favorite movies growing up. enjoy!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

What are you supposed to do?

Each day, I am encountered with my daily task list. I either have it written out (when I'm "on top of things" and my OCD tendencies get the better of me) or I have it in my head (which inevitably dissolves into a few items that usually only half-get done). Sometimes the realities of how much I have to do slightly freaks me out, which has at times rendered me helpless...or at least a little less able to start right away (and has at times been the main factor in the attack of the list beginning at 8pm after an entire day of finding other things to do).

So, amidst all of this, I constantly ask myself, "Is this really worth it?" I mean, really. Is it worth finding the perfect 100% whole wheat no-knead bread recipe? Is it worth blending my own hummus only to wash out the food processor parts...again. Is it worth having cast iron cookware, that I meticulously re-season after each use? Is grad school worth all of the sacrifices that seem potentially small at the time (take sleep for example), but may at some point have long-term irreversible consequences (take the inability to sleep at all as another example)? Is it worth vacuuming my apartment when in a few hours somebody will walk in, on a rainy day no less, and walk around before I catch them and say, "Please take off your shoes"? (Seriously people, didn't your mother teach you to remove your shoes when you come in the house? Isn't it slightly disgusting that you are tracking the entire grossness of the outside world through your home? Through my home?!) Is it worth growing my own sprouts, that I find myself constantly rinsing, and harvesting? Over and over and over again? Is it worth going to the gym to work out, when really, you're just setting yourself to take yet another shower? Is showering really worth it? They didn't shower back in the 1800' why do we have to now? Why do I even bother with all of this?

Because I do. Because it does matter, and yes, every bit is worth it. Finding the perfect easy bread recipe means paying $1.25/loaf of whole wheat goodness, instead of $6 for the same type of bread (with less nutritional value might I add). Blending my own hummus means I don't have to complain about the weird taste, since I get to make my own flavors (I'm going to try out sundried tomato and basil next!) Cast iron cookware, although it seems like it takes a lot of work, is more non-stick than regular non-stick cookware (which was developed to imitate cast iron cookware), it's cheaper, lasts longer, and cooks better. Not to mention, I'm not getting any of those chemicals in my body that take years to get rid of. As far as grad school, I hope it's worth it. After all this work, if I'm still working some lame job, I'll cry. A lot. Maybe I'll get my PhD then, so at least I can be called "Dr. Bentfield" at my lame job. I hope I re-learn how to sleep though, it's seriously messing me up. And shoot, vacuuming is underrated. I can lie down on my floor and know that I'm not essentially lying down on a city sidewalk...that's pretty sweet. Besides, the place just looks better after the grooming a carpet gets after a good vacuum. Nothing like it. I think I might have to put a sign on the door though to ask people to remove their shoes though...or maybe I'll buy a bunch of house-slippers so that when they come in, it's normal to slip them on for everybody and we can be all cozy and clean together. Yes, it's worth growing sprouts, although they can seem like a hassle at times. They really are easy to grow and are so healthy, it's hard to not do it. Besides, growing your own sprouts is like 95% cheaper than buying them at the store....And I suppose going to the gym has it's benefits. I won't always be winded walking up my stairs. And showering is good too- at least for the people around me. I'm a girl, so I just don't end up smelling that bad (I didn't shower for a week on a camping trip, and I wasn't gross per say).


Sure. It's worth it I suppose. But why do I do it all? I think in the end, it's just because I care. I care about my body, I care about my family, I care about my environment, I care about the world. I care about sustainable living, and I care about being healthy. When I come to that to do list, I should be thinking, "What in this list supports what I care about the most?" Maybe that will help me divide and conquer the tasks, so I'll know what I'm supposed to do.