The Calm Within the Storm

I received this message in my email recently and was quite touched by it. Wanted to share it here in hopes that it might touch some of you as well.

The Psalmist wrote, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.” PS 55:6

dove

Have you ever felt that way? Sorry, there’s no escape! Wherever you go — there you are!

Peace is “an inside job.”

Oceanographers tell us that even the worst ocean storms rarely extend more than twenty-five feet below the surface. Gales can rip the ocean, causing tidal waves one hundred feet high, but just twenty-five feet below the surface the water is as calm as a pond.

storm

The point is this: The only place you’ll ever find peace in the midst of life’s storms, is through an in-depth experience with God.

Korean Christians have a saying: “We’re just like nails. The harder you hit us, the deeper you drive us; and the deeper you drive us, the more peaceful it becomes!”

hammer nail

Part of God’s purpose in allowing the storms of life to blow, is to drive us deeper. Deeper into dependence on Him and deeper into relationship with Him.

Someone said, “God takes life’s broken pieces and gives us unbroken peace.” When you focus on the God who never meets a problem He can’t solve, instead of focusing on the problem you can’t solve, you’ll experience in-depth peace. And you’ll carry that peace with you wherever you go. Others will notice it and seek your advice when they too face trouble.

You see, when you know that the God within you reigns above you, you won’t succumb to what’s around you.

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When Life Lessons Come Full Circle: A Personal Story

I’m an over achiever and a go getter. There’s a frantic, nitpicky air coursing through most of what I do. When I lived in Los Angeles, I shared an apartment with a wonderful free spirit. We contrasted well with her calming, almost floating presence.

I’ll never forget when she turned to me one day and asked, in her innocent, purely curiosity driven way, “What are you going to do when you’ve done it all?”

At the time, her question bounced right off me. Back then, fresh out of college, the only beatings I endured were from myself and generally, I saw no limits to what I could achieve.

Ironically (though probably not), she was the very person with me 2.5 years ago, when my world came crashing down around me. And although we no longer live together in Los Angeles, her question has haunted me throughout the years.

Today, 29 months and numerous universe inflicted battle wounds later, her words ring more powerful than ever.

While I’m still an over achiever and go getter, I now understand and appreciate the gifts of grace and presence, agents of change that my former LA roommate wisely knew all along.

The greatest harm comes from our own aggressive minds.

Nothing More Beautiful

Ocean

…Because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop kissing the shoreline, no matter how many times it’s sent away.

Maya Angelou Tribute

mayaangelou

As many of you who follow me probably know, Maya Angelou has been a great source of inspiration for me. I frequently quote her on this blog and more frequently, I write posts inspired by her words and poems.

I am deeply saddened to hear of her death. The world is surely a bit darker without her shining light. However, Dr. Angelou has graduated and I’m sure today when she met the Lord, He smiled at her and said, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Maya Angelou will never know the full extent of lives touched by her work here on Earth. She’s inspired millions who will go on to inspire millions more. A job well done, indeed.

I remember watching her on Oprah Winfrey’s network series Master Class around this same time last year. Even through the television screen, I could resonate with her calming presence. The stillness, grace, and peace that she resided in, also resided in her. Her light could not be dimmed.

I remember in that Master Class, Maya said something that I will never forget and has since changed my life. She told Oprah, “When you learn, teach. At our best, we are all teachers.” Aside from being an accomplished poet, author, civil rights activist, singer and dancer, Maya Angelou was also a professor at Wake Forest University in my hometown of North Carolina. But Maya assured others, you don’t have to be a professor to be a teacher.

The most powerful part of Maya Angelou’s testimony is that not only did she share wisdom through speaking, writing, and teaching, but she lived out her own advice. She was a walking, breathing example of her own wisdom. A rare accomplishment in this life.

Today, I have gathered some of my personal favorite quotes by Dr. Angelou in honor of a life well lived.

“Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”

“I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back.”

“One isn’t necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential. Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.”

“Nothing will work unless you do.”

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

“Everything in the universe has a rhythm, everything dances.”

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.”

Life is a Journey, Not A Destination

acceptance
Life is a journey, not a destination. The key is staying realistic about where you are on it at any given moment, and then appreciating that reality.

God – The Master Craftsman

birds

This morning as I was walking my dog before work, I had a moment of clarity and awe that I want to now share with you.

The weather is getting warmer here and the birds were out in full force this morning. It occurred to me just how complex their way of being is. Together, they formed a cacophony of sounds which I can only assume were claims of territory. They all appeared to be staking out their domain in preparation for Spring.

God, who made us, also made these birds and formed the complex system by which they operate. How amazing! Knowing this, I wonder, how can we ever doubt God’s goodness and love?! It only takes a few short minutes of observing the birds to know that He is a master of detail.

This should put a lot into perspective when you really stop to consider it. As complex as He made the birds, He made us with that much more precision. And although this complexity contributes to much of our anxiety and confusion on Earth, it shouldn’t. It is this very complexity that should, instead, overwhelm us with wonder and direct out eyes in awe towards the Master Craftsman who created it all.

Each of us are beautifully and uniquely designed in our own right, by a God who cares deeply about every last detail of our lives, even the birds.

It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things.
― Donald Miller