Be Still and Know that I Am God – christianityworks

Another message today! I was scanning the FM dial and stopped on 104.9 FM. I feel this was customized* for me as I am trying to stay open to signs from above, but know you will benefit from reading or hearing it today, too!

Please visit this link below and either click on “download this episode” to hear it, or scroll down to read the entire transcript. Thank you Berni and “A Different Perspective,” and 104.9 FM.

* I wear a second bracelet along with The Serenity Prayer to help me stay focused that says, “Be Still And Know That I am God.” (Psalms 46:10).

 

Be Still and Know that I Am God – christianityworks.

Who Keeps “Messaging” Me? An Angel? Departed Loved One? God?

Have I totally lost it? Or have I officially been messaged —repeatedly now—by an angel, a departed loved one, or even God?!

Ordinarily, I get through the toils and snares of my life by praying, reaching out to wiser ones, and meditating on The Serenity Prayer.  But time and intensity can take its toll. Truth be told, lately I’ve felt almost ground down to the nub. I know am very blessed with a wonderful nuclear family, a host of quality friends, and an incredible, insightful therapist.  I know I can’t make it without turning to my Higher Power on a daily basis.  Yet, even with these supports, I confess I’ve been struggling to keep the faith.

Maybe I got to critical mass last week and somebody, somewhere thought I needed serious signage!

Last Tuesday when I was at my grant-writer job reading my mail, I noticed something a bit odd. A particular and faithful corporation who gives us a good-size check every year at this time had a “bungle” on the salutation part of their formal business letter explaining their grant award.

They had addressed the letter to Tanja Esperanza Moriarty. Esperanza? Well, my professional ‘signature’ for the past 9 years has always been “Tanja B. Moriarty.” I don’t even spell out or usually hyphenate my maiden name at work. I just use the B and a period.

In my very limited Spanish, I know that Esperanza means “hope.” Ha! I’m sure short in that department, I thought.

I showed the letter and “Esperanza” to my co-worker Val. A woman of strong faith without missing a beat claimed, “That’s God giving you a little encouraging punch on the shoulder.”

I was still in “self-wallowing mode” and said, “Hope-schmope!”

“Come on, Girl,” she scolded.

I smirked, but since I’ve had more than a few funky/spiritual things happen in my life (see Mind,Body, Soul posts), I decided to make a copy of the letter to keep in my pocketbook.  Had the door to my hardened heart opened just a crack?

Exhibit #1:

esperanza

The very next day, I went to outpatient radiology for my annual mammogram. I checked in at the window and was told to take a seat. I grabbed a chair in the waiting area and wouldn’t ya know it? Right in front of me was a small table with this tri-fold brochure staring me right in the face:

Exhibit: 2

hope is power

My heart jumped a bit. The crack of the door of my boarded-up heart pushed open just a teeny bit further.  “O.K.” I said aloud. “I’m paying attention.”

Later that afternoon, I had met my wonderful pastor for cup of coffee at Sweet Harmony Cafe and Bakery on Main Street. Pastor Joon Lee and I periodically do this to check in with each other.  After a good-sized gingerbread-chocolate latte I contemplated the extremely cold weather and bouncy-back road ride home, and decided it would be wise to hit the little girl’s room before I left.

You won’t believe this, but as I sat on the porcelain, I turned to my right and saw THIS was hanging on the wall:

Exhibit: 3

hope sign

The small print reads, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, HOPE for tomorrow.”

It was like lightning!  Esperanza! Hope is Power! Hope for Tomorrow!

I left the coffee shop tingling, and it wasn’t all from the caffeine! Someone, somewhere was conking me over the head to “Have Hope, Tanja “Esperanza” B. Moriarty!”

Here I was, feeling at the end of my rope…and out of God-knows-where comes a barrage of “hope”, “hope”, “hope.”

What do you think, my friend? Who has been messaging me with these signs? Or would you say it is just one of those coincidences? Please share your opinion, your personal experiences.

Are You A Boat-Rocker or A Doormat? No More Christian Nice Girl Can Help

If you know me or have read even a few of my rants, you might be justified in calling me a boat-rocker. One who speaks up, goes against the tide, and says, “Hey people, the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!”

To be honest, I’ve heard more than once in my life, “Why can’t you just let it be?” “Stop being a bulldozer!”

Looking back over the past few decades, I believe I have been a vigilante for justice, champion of the underdog, a sometimes unsolicited protector, and a buzz-kill-whistle-blower.

I haven’t always won popularity contests pointing out things— (“Hey caregivers, your dependent (senior citizen) really needs some new teeth!” “Hey, hip radio station, it’s not OK for your DJ to encourage 15-year-old listeners to get drunk on a Saturday night!”). I’ve spoken up at church meetings and in town government as a Selectman and taxpayer. I’ve campaigned against verbally abusive and sexist kid coaches and challenged community “do-gooders” when they soft-soaped school drug-use survey results. The list goes on and on.

Sometimes I saw immediate change— the elderly lady got new teeth before she passed away! The FM station brought their radio show to the high school in effort to make nice. Sometimes it seemed fruitless to stand up, though. We got the crappy coach canned, but he was rehired almost immediately at a different high school.

Wouldn’t it just have been easier to look the other way? Just go with the flow?

Believe it or not—I haven’t always sounded off. I’ve done my share of plastering on fake smiles, holding my breath, stuffing it all down. Suppressing too much (especially anger) has led me to have to deal with mid-life anxiety and low-grade depression. When I’ve failed to speak up and felt I should, I felt like I had an itch I couldn’t scratch.

I have evolved enough to know by now at 48 that it is not up to me to save the world. To help me discern, I’ve begun wearing The Serenity Prayer etched on a bracelet. I truly need “the wisdom to know the difference” of what I can or cannot change so I can go through the rest of my passion-prone life without bulldozing, bungling, or burning out.

The book No More Christian Nice Girl:When Just Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler, Ph.D. (Bethany House Publishers) has been another great tool to help me figure things out. I learned why it isn’t healthy or even Christian to be “a nice girl”, faking, stuffing, seething. I am relieved that I haven’t necessarily gone against God by speaking up or calling something or someone out when someone was being neglected, hurt or mislead. I will concede that there were times when I came on too strong—even for a good cause.

NMCNG reminded me that I need to be more like the complete (360 degree) Jesus. While He lead by example of a life of love of God and neighbor, he decidedly had a firm side. He wasn’t always the smiley, bearded, hippy-crunchy shepherd featured on the felt board in Sunday School. The authors say, “a narrow focus on the sweet side of Jesus gives women the idea that God wants Christians to behave sweetly in all situations.  Here’s the problem: Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth,” not the sugar of the earth.”

We are called to be stronger.

Jesus got pretty strong sometimes. He challenged those in authority and turned over the tables in the temple (Matthew 21:12). Coughlin and Degler reveal several more passages, almost twenty percent of the four Gospels showing where Jesus wasn’t always “nice and gentle, but assertive and firm when necessary.”

My kind of Jesus!

Admittedly, I have a LONG WAY TO GO in being more Christ-like, but I can strive to be a Woman of God—because “…God prefers his women to do more than passively sit on their hands while evil triumphs.” (Page 82). I can be firm out of love, instead of saccharine-sweet and smoldering inside.

Coughlin and Degler explained, “Our goal with this book is not to create Christian Mean Girls who bulldoze people…Christian women need to find a balance between passivity and aggressiveness.  This starts with finding a backbone so that they can be redemptive forces for good in a world that too often strips people of their dignity and worth.”

I encourage you to read this book to get over being a “Christian Nice Girl.” (If you are a guy, you can pick up, “No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts Men, Women and Children” by Paul Coughlin.)

You’ll find as described:

“When passivity and false niceness don’t bring the abundant life Jesus promised, some Christian women try even harder to hide behind a fragile façade of pleasant perfection. Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler give women the empowering message that they have options far beyond simply acting nice or being mean–if they will emulate the real Jesus Christ and face their fears of conflict, rejection, and criticism. Brimming with enlightening information, thought-provoking questionnaires, real-life stories, and biblically based teaching from both the male author of the pioneering No More Christian Nice Guy and a female clinical psychologist, this book will motivate women to allow God to transform them into authentic, powerful women of loving faith.”

Like me, you will learn how to navigate successfully and not be a doormat in relationships with family and friends, boyfriends, your spouse.  You’ll see how to be firm in the workplace. The book even talks about knowing when it is time to walk away from abusive relationships.  It’s definitely a cool resource for a Bible study group. Anyone interested? I will serve chocolate covered pretzels representing how we’re to be both salty and sweet.

“Angel Feather” at My Women’s Fire Circle

I was drawn to a sample drum circle at the Haddam River Days event last September. Sitting before a l waist-high djembe drum amongst mostly children I soon mimicked the simple beats laid down by the women. “I like peanut butter- I like peanut butter.” The beat shifted to more complicated but still easy rhythms. I zoned and stayed at the circle for over a half hour.
The women handed me a flyer and encouraged me to join one of the local drum group. Yes! I would get myself to a circle—and soon!
Almost a year had passed and though I thought about it, I never got to a group. It had been in the back of my mind and was brought to the fore when my friend “D” and I were talking bucket lists. D said she and her partner wanted to try drumming and she asked if i could help them find a circle. D is in late stages of cancer and time literally is of the essence.
I called the number on the flyer but there was no answer. I surfed the web but couldn’t find anything local or soon. I began asking around. A lead from a woman from my church who is a massage therapist pointed me to a shop The New Pagenew page. I called and spoke to a very friendly proprietor, Yvette.I explained my friend’s situation and if she knew anyone anyone who facilitated women’s drum circles, who might make a house call. She told me to call her associate Tala. What a great and open soul! Sight unseen, Tala, a certified Sound Healer, not only would come to my house for a drum circle, but she would taylor it to a healing and energy circle in honor of D. She would also bring a friend, Lindsay, a fantastic drummer and photographer.
I would make the fire in my yard–tinder, kindling and fuel, no paper or accelerants, and w one match ala Girl Scouts! Tala would bring a singing bowl, some rattles, and drums. I would loan out my Tom toms, maracas, etc. I decided
to buy a small djembe of my own.
I thought and prayed about the drum circle and who to invite- mostly people who knew D, but a few others I thought would be a good fit. Each woman was to bring a special item from her own yard to put into the fire as an offering—flowers, sage, a stick, etc.

D and I were in steady contact growing more and more excited for this fire circle event. She did a ton of researching on line for djembes and Tom toms. She purchased a set of each for her partner and they were miraculously delivered the day before the circle.
The day of the circle arrived. Sadly, D was having a very bad day and she told me she and S could not make it after all. My heart was sad. I thought about postponing, but know how hard it is to get nine committed friends plus Tala and Lindsay to find a new date. We decided to have the circle in D’s honor and for individual benefits anyway.
I met Tala and Lindsay in my cul de sac that night and experienced their warmth and kindred spirits immediately. Tala gave me a full, soulful hug as though we had known each other for years!
The women were milling around the fire pit as Tala and Lindsay set up their bowls, bells, rattles, and drums. While I was bringing out last minute refreshment items for after the drumming, a white, fluffy feather (not from the typical northeastern birds) floated down by the circle between Cathy, Brenda, and Erin! The three women stopped mid conversation to marvel and retrieve it. It was immediately identified as an “angel feather.” We all got the chills and felt its surprising appearance as something spiritual. A hello from someone departed? A presence? Someone gave the feather to Tala who stowed it in red velvet bag with her gems.
I will write more about the actual 2.5 hour drumming experience,but will for now stick w the feather…
At the end of the night as we were standing around the goodie table, the consensus was to give the feather to D. Tala put a piece of flint that had been carved into a heart-shape she acquired from her friend’s sacred land in Arizona (?) to present to D. Some of us talked about going to her house for a “flash mob” drum circle when she rallies. We will see. I took the satchel and promised to bring it to her ASAP.
D called me the next morning. Thankfully she was feeling a lot better. I gave her a play-by-play of the night, and how we were thinking of her and sending her love and energy. I told her about the “angel feather.” “That was me!” She said, almost matter of fact. She said she had planned to bring one of her precious feathers to the fire as an offering. woh! I told her how the women wanted her to have it. She said she would keep it with her sacred treasures and plans to have it on the altar at her memorial service.
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It’s My Turn:Recovering as an Adult Child of an Alcoholic

I just picked up The Complete ACOA Sourcebook, Adult Children of Alcoholics at Home, at Work and in Love, by the late Janet Geringer Woititiz, Ed.D.  I finished Part 1: What Happened to You as a Child? What is Happening to You Now? and Breaking the Cycle. In what feels almost after the fact—after nearly three years of weekly therapy—this book spells it out in black and white the consequences of growing up in an alcoholic home and in my case, explains the underlying anger and conflicts I’ve had to deal with for most of my adult life. Thanks to books like this, a  great psychologist named Dr. Ella Marks, and my faith,  I’ve been able to extricate myself from some of the wreckage of my early life.

I saw my broken self all too clearly in the common traits of the many adults Woititiz collected from other ACOAs.  A number of us became “hyper-responsible” victims in a very abbreviated childhood having to “be a grown up” way before we reached double-digits. In a house of tension and chaos never knowing what to expect, some of us became anxious.  Later we could be labeled as “controlling”, pushing to have some order and security in our lives.   We fear abandonment, tend to over-react when something is changed beyond our control, and can be dangerously impulsive. We also can go overboard seeking the approval of others.

Thankfully, I’ve done a lot of hard work.  I have learned how to identify difficult, conflicting emotions and have found ways to avoid and unhappy, negative places—figuratively and literally. I am no longer a victim. I have choices.  I’ve made a number of healthy ones for my marriage, for my children, and last, but recognizably not least, myself.

One in four families in the U.S. experience from some sort of mental illness and addiction. If your household growing up was or now is one of the four, you don’t have to suffer alone. Get help. Start by picking up this book and read at least the first three sections to find a path.

I want to share a poem from an Adult Child of an Alcoholic that appears on page 156.  I couldn’t believe how the poet Kathleen Algoe in 1989 felt almost exactly the way I felt when I began therapy in 2010. I remember on my drive home from my very first session the “child within” almost audibly said, “It’s my turn!”

I found my “child within” today;

for many years so locked away,

Loving, embracing—needing so much,

if only I could reach in and touch.

I did not know this child of mine—

we were never acquainted at three or nine.

But today I felt the crying inside.

I’m here, I shouted, come reside.

We hugged each other ever so tight

as feelings emerged of hurt and fright.

It’s okay, I sobbed, I love you so!

You are precious to me, I want you to know.

My child, my child, you are safe today,

You will not be abandoned—I’m here to stay.

We laughed, we cried, it was a discovery–

this warm, loving child is my recovery.

From Chapter 5
Recovery Hints

It is important to be clear what recovery means for adult children. Alcoholism is a disease. People recovering from alcoholism are recovering from a disease. The medical model is accepted by all responsible folks working in alcoholism treatment.

Being the child of an alcoholic is not a disease. It is a fact of your history. Because of the nature of this illness and the family response to it, certain things occur that influence your self-feelings, attitudes and behaviors in ways that cause you pain and concern. The object of ACOA recovery is to overcome those aspects of your history that cause you difficulty today and to learn a better way.

To the degree that none of us have ideal childhoods and to the degree that even an ideal childhood may be a cause for some concern, we are all recovering to some extent or other, in some way or other. Because there are so many alcoholic families and because we have been fortunate in being able to study them, it is possible to describe in general terms what happens to children who grow up in that environment.

To the degree that other families have similar dynamics, individuals who have grown up in other “dysfunctional” systems identify with and recover in very much the same way.

Impromptu Family Sing-a-long Soothes Souls More Than Spoken Words Ever Could

Sometimes family gatherings can be strained…We have enough heartache and history, coupled with the fact that my sibs and I still have to deal with how to do holidays with “exes”, namely our long-divorced parents. Mom and her husband were hosting Easter this year at the family homestead, and though it was suggested my father “could also join us”, we three thought “NOT.” We made other plans to see Dad before the big dinner.

My sister had the great idea of visiting my Dad at his community center “living room” on Easter after church.  Andy brought his guitar and Dad took his spot at the piano.  I had my trusty bag of percussion instruments I keep in the trunk of my car! (Just waiting for an opportunity to break it out—always at the Soup and Song Open Mic Coffee House!)

I don’t know how or why Andy lead us in Donovan’s “Atlantis” but suddenly this song “took over” and we all were enveloped in a healthy and jolly communion of music. Our visit like this became a highlight and happy experience instead of perfunctory duty. Thanks be to God!

Inappropriate and Nearly Uncontrolable Laughter Strikes Again!

Can you recall a time in your life when something struck you as absolutely pants-wetting hilarious but you were in a place where it would just be sooo inappropriate to let it rip? This happened to me, again, just yesterday in church!

My awesome and relational pastor was taking his place at the pulpit to give us a message about Palm Sunday. He began paraphrasing Matthew 21:1-11, “According to the Gospels, Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem…” Only my pastor did not say “donkey”. He inadvertently switched the “d” for an “m” and said, “Jesus rode a monkey into Jerusalem.”

At first there was a quick ripple of tittering across the congregation but then most everyone settled down to listen. Everyone but me and my dearly beloved, that is.  I don’t know who began quaking first, he or I, but our pew began to vibrate with stifled, almost-impossible-to-contain laugh-tremors. My mother in the pew behind us saw us rattling. She tapped my husband on the shoulder. He only shook all the more.

That only fired me up again. I hid my face in my scarf. I was trying so hard to control myself and set a good example to my 15 year old niece sitting beside me. It’s just that the mental image of our dear Lord and Savior being carried on the hairy back of a monkey, limping triumphantly into the crowds—and that my husband was also fighting hard not to lose it—that practically caused me to really LOL and wet my pants! At one point I envisioned us bolting out of the pew, racing down the aisle and bursting into the stairwell erupting and echoing with fits of “bwah, ha, has!”

Instead, I opened my hymnal to try to distract my mind by focusing on the lyrics of a random song. I struggled to tune into my pastor’s serious message of how we all have to face “Good Fridays” (tough times) before we could have our “Easter Sundays” (relief).  The only relief I wanted then and there was to either bust out or to chill out: pronto!

I recall one other time also in a church, when I was supposed to be quiet but something struck me as so funny, that I had to turn myself into Sean’s shoulder as not to “bwah, ha, ha!” at a wedding ceremony. The clever bride, wanting to recite her vows correctly had taped a note card on the backside of her bouquet. When it was her time to pledge to her betrothed, she flipped the card and read off it.  At the time I was in college and was no stranger to note cards in my speech classes, but taped on the back of the flowers just made me blow!  Please share a time when you struggled with overpowering inappropriate laughter!

A Man’s Craving for a Beer Saved My Husband’s Life

Editor’s Note: We were blessed to have survived this accident that occurred on June 10, 2012.

Sean has been cleared of all restrictions on his shoulder and is doing well with his neck, after the four breaks to his C-1 and a fracture to his C-2. He has some stiffness and aches and can’t turn his head all the way to the left, yet, but he is otherwise a miracle man! My knee is still a little tender and I can’t kneel on it. The doctor says that is it is good as it is going to get, but I am not complaining because I know it could have been so much worse.

I wanted to share with you that after all this time, we are still receiving confirmation of God’s mercy and love for us at the time of that horrific accident.

Last week, Sean met up with the man Patrick who “happened” to be just two cars behind us. It was almost as if he materialized on the scene back on June 10. As you might recall (or read), after we crashed, Sean jumped up, TOOK OFF HIS HELMET, and was heading over to the motorcycle to try to pick it up! Patrick, who saw the whole thing, came over to Sean and identified himself as former EMT, and basically ordered Sean to lay down so he could hold Sean’s head in a straight line. “I will move any way you need to move,” he said. By then the searing pain was ripping through Sean’s body. He was writhing and screaming. Patrick knelt with Sean’s head cradled in his hands, and kept Sean’s neck and back straight.

Patrick works in the security department at Middlesex Hospital. Sean, as a police captain, serves at a liaison between the hospital and the PD, and spoke with Patrick before their meeting. Sean thanked Patrick again, crediting him again, for saving his life.

Patrick explained the ‘odd circumstance’ that lead him to the accident scene. Patrick was just finishing mowing his lawn, when suddenly he had a craving to go to the local bar to get a beer. He said he never gets a craving to go to local bar. Further, his car keys were outside on the front step—and he said he ALWAYS hangs his keys on a hook inside his house. He snapped up his keys, got in his car and headed to the local watering hole…until he came upon our accident!

Have you ever had a strong impulse do something out of the ordinary to find you were being used for another purpose?

Where do you think we go when we die?

I’ve always been fascinated by people’s near-death and “death” experiences. Raised in the Christian faith, I hope there is a God in Heaven and that I will see my loved ones beyond this earthly plane. People who have clinically “died” have given us some glimpses of good and sometimes terrifying scenes of what could be ahead for us. What do you think happens when our physical bodies die? Have you read any good books on the subject?

I have recently read To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again By: Mary C. Neal. http://www.christianbook.com/to-heaven-back/mary-neal/9780307731715/pd/731715?kw=to+heaven+and+back+mary+neal&event=PPCSRC&p=1018818&gclid=CJHp0Kvg6rQCFcef4AodFksAeg I highly recommend this book.

All for a Toothbrush

I remember one of my earliest Christmas seasons at my place of work where I am  the grant writer for a soup kitchen, food pantry, assisted living, and community outreach programs.  My cubical office which faces the Main Street is situated in such a way that I can hear people talking outside at the call-box at the front of the building.  With my office door open, I can also hear my co-workers talking to the people at the call box from their offices.

I was supposed to be concentrating on my work, but my thoughts kept drifting to what seemed to be an insurmountable list of things I needed to buy and do before Christmas.  I had to find the right gifts for people, had to plan a big meal with fussy eaters, and deal with idiot relatives who mouth off when they drank too much.

“Yes?” the squawky voice of my co-worker, a Sister startled me from my dysfunctional daydream.  She was two doors down the hall talking to a man who had just rung at the box outside.

“Ma’am, I was just released from prison and I need a toothbrush,” the burly voice beseeched. That should be no big deal, I thought. We just received literally hundreds of them during our recent toiletry drive, we could spare one. To my shock, the nun said, “I am sorry sir; I only give out toiletry bags on Tuesdays.”

What?! It was Thursday, but this didn’t make sense to me. I didn’t want to go against my co-worker, but I just could not see not making an exception for this man. I jumped out of my seat and ran down the stairs.  I pulled opened the door to the large dark man slightly hunched from the cold.  He was wearing a coat but was blowing into his bare hands to keep them warm.

“Sir, why don’t you wait in the dining room and I’ll get you a toothbrush.”

“Thank you, Ma’am,” he said. I ran back up the stairs slipping past the sister’s door and up to the third floor where we kept the toiletries.  I stood before huge grey bins and plucked a boxed toothbrush. This man has nothing, I thought as I stuffed the toothbrush a nearby Ziploc baggie.  I added tube of toothpaste, deodorant, and shampoo. Our mission is to help those in need, I thought,  justifying the stuffed bag. Remembering his cold hands, I picked up a pair of large gloves from the shelf of recent donations.  I didn’t want to get caught with this contraband so I stuffed the loot in the large pockets of my sweater.

I met the man in the empty soup kitchen dining room; it was cleared out after lunch hour.  “Here you are, Merry Christmas,” I said, taking a step towards him looking into his dark brown eyes.  His cold hand brushed mine as I handed him the packet. “Oh, the gloves, too,” I said, pulling them out from my sweater pocket.

All of a sudden this man began showering me with a profound and holy gift. “God bless you, ma’am.  God bless you and your family,” he bowed towards me. “God, Bless You.” My being tingled in his warm glow and my heart beat wildly, flooding me with spirit.  Here I thought I was to giving him, this needy man, just out of jail, a simple toothbrush kit and a pair of gloves, but he gave me something greater.

Teary-eyed, I floated up the stairs and back into my office.  While I was away from my desk, my boss had laid a white envelope across my keyboard. I opened my Christmas card and two sizable green bills spilled out. I burst into tears.