Rise and Shine: Woman with Arms Outstretched at Sunrise - Ready to Take on the Day

BOXES ARE FOR CEREAL, NOT PEOPLE                                                                                                                      Sandra Garton Breech


The above words blasted into my brain as I was once again wondering “what on earth is making this so impossible?”  That thought occurs to me often as I am usually trying to learn to do something far outside my comfort zone (or I am multitasking on a ridiculous level.  Example:  I just watered my flowerbed for over an hour because I started writing and forgot the time.  Luckily, in this heat, it is basically impossible to overwater anything. Yes, I am so very human.) But I digress.  Back to “Why am I usually trying to do something far outside my comfort zone?”

At this particular moment in time, I realize that I am trying to fit into a box that someone else has defined as the way to do things.  I am trying to do what the world says is the path to success.  Wow!  That’s a really foolish choice for someone whose sister has always told her, “You march to a different drummer.”  Then, why am I trying to cram myself into a box that hinders rather than helps me?  I think the answer is fairly simple, as it often is.  It’s the seeing the answer that is the hard part.  Because I am unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or both with what I am trying to do, I fall into the trap of “someone else knows how to do this, and I need to follow that path.”  What is brilliantly successful for someone else may never be helpful for me.  Why?  Because I am not that person; I am different, and that is okay.  Being uniquely myself is the whole point of this journey we take in life.

God created each of us to be a glorious one-of-a-kind masterpiece.  With that kind of God-given glory running through my veins, I choose to be totally and completely myself.  Why?  BECAUSE BOXES ARE FOR CEREAL, NOT PEOPLE NAMED SANDY, OR SHELBY, OR GRANT, OR LAURA, OR JANE, OR…


Rise and Shine: Woman with Arms Outstretched at Sunrise - Ready to Take on the Day

I am probably one of the world’s greatest fans of fireworks and have travelled the world to witness some of its  most magnificent displays.  Yet one that is closest to my heart is only 50 miles from my home.

As I sit in the predawn light, I think of you and me and wonder how often we miss the treasures in our own backyards.  We humans are fickle and tend to take the people and places we love for granted.  Why oh why do we do that?  I believe is it too much to do rather than a calloused soul that creates this tendency to overlook the precious.  Our ridiculously over scheduled lives leave only time to put out fires rather than cherish the simple gifts of love and togetherness.

My favorite Independence Day fireworks celebration always opens my eyes and heart as it bathes me in the innocence of love shared in a place still unspoiled by technology, overcrowding, and concrete.  My soul breathes in the light and sheds the burden of “too much to do in too little time”, and I am a child again.  I am a child who was blind but now can see…and innocent wonder and joy saves me once again.  Unfolding before me is a gift beyond imagining, a coming together of the best of God and man.  Yes, the fireworks are beautiful and exciting, but it is people loving one another and taking the time to share this time with one another that is the miracle.

This same miracle is offered to each of us every, single day, but we are too busy to see it.  And we are losing the best of ourselves bit by bit as we rush past the opportunity to love those who want to love us back.

I took oh so many pictures of this day.  See the miracle in the photographs.  Which photographs do you find the most beautiful?  What do you feel in your body as you look at them?  You are seeing one miracle after another — some created by man; some created by God.  You can have these same miracles in your life.  Are you, am I, going to continue to rush past love or embrace it?  CHOOSE!


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Your Were Born to Shine

As I sit at my computer in the hours before dawn, I am thinking of you and of me.  The first words that pop into my mind are from a piece from PETER PAN, a book by J. M. Barrie.  In the segment, a mom is reading to her two young children. Tinker Bell, the fairy who is Peter Pan’s constant friend and companion, is dying because no one believes in her.  Her light is growing dim…so very dim.  As the mother continues reading, she tells her children that Tinker Bell can be saved if enough people believe in her.  She suddenly drops her book and says, “We can save her!  IF YOU BELIEVE, CLAP YOUR HANDS!  CLAP YOUR HANDS”!

I frequently struggle with creating a global resource for God’s hurting children because the challenge seems beyond my abilities.  Coupled with those doubts is the fact that I often run into walls that appear out of no where.  The closer I get to fulfilling God’s wish for me the more impossible the obstacles are.  Then, as exhaustion sets in, the ghosts of uncertainly begin to materialize.  The voice in my head says: “I don’t know enough about technology to do this.  I don’t know what to say.  I need to be more like this person or that person.”

Praying banishes the ghosts and brings a sliver  of light back into the room.

I return to square one again and figure out what I know for sure.  I decided I know at least two things:

  • No one can beat me if I get up one more time than I get knocked down; and
  • I’m going to give this the best I’ve got.

With those two absolutes as my focus, things begin to happen.  Suddenly, I can see the possibilities rather than the limitations.  What created that transformation?  After all, I’m a person just like you, no better , no worse, but amazing things happen when a person decides to believe…and act on it.  Belief sparks a flame that becomes a fire that becomes a global resource for healing.  You don’t need someone else to ignite you and your dreams; you just need to believe in yourself.

Remember Tinker Bell and the children.  IF YOU BELIEVE, CLAP YOUR HANDS!


Rise and Shine: Woman with Arms Outstretched at Sunrise - Ready to Take on the Day

How do you mend a broken heart?  That is a question that has echoed through time since humans first existed on this earth.  I’m guessing that both Eve and Adam had broken hearts after they took a bite of the apple and found what that cost them.

None of us ever think of a broken heart until we have one, and then “how do you mend a broken heart” becomes the most important question in life.  It’s a plea for survival, coupled with the question “do I want to survive?”  It’s an anguished entreaty to God, “will I ever hope or trust again?”  First and foremost, it is a timid whisper emanating from an injured soul, “will I ever feel safe to love again?”

I’ve had a broken heart, and it almost killed me.  Every dream destroyed; every promise betrayed; every element of my life ravaged because the “game” was such fun.  Although the “game” was fun for him, it wasn’t for me.  It cost me my heart as it shattered into so many pieces that I couldn’t imagine ever finding them all, much less putting those pieces back together.  The pain as it broke was so excruciating that I was sure I was having a heart attack and needed to go to the emergency room.  BUT…I wasn’t. I was simply one of the broken who had to give up believing in the man I chose to be my forever, who had to grieve the death of a dream and find a way to come back.

Finding a way to come back, to beat again, has to be one of the greatest challenges of the human heart.  I once heard a renowned heart surgeon say that, despite all his years of experience and training, he still didn’t know why a transplanted heart “chose” to beat again.  My heart was dead, but I wasn’t a candidate for a transplant.  So, how was I supposed to “choose” to let it start to beat again?   Why would I ever even consider  that kind of agony a second time?     I felt so much safer inside the cozy fortress I had built around myself.  No one could hurt me in here as I withdrew from the world and chose to exist rather than live.

Honestly, allowing my heart to start beating again was monumentally difficult for me.  Only the horror of realizing I had built a prison around myself instead of a fortress was powerful enough to blast me out of my stupor and seek healing.  First, I had to find enough of the broken pieces to glue back into something resembling a living heart.  Then, I had to muster up the courage to dream a new dream that would inspire my damaged heart to face the hell of growing whole again.

I knew I wasn’t strong enough or brave enough to make the quantum leap to a gloriously healthy, loving heart.  I could only manage one small step at a time, and inch by inch I crawled my way out of a cold, living death.  The journey was not one I could have imagined from a place of love and safety.  It was not one I would have ever chosen voluntarily, but it was the one that ultimately defined me.

Today, I wake every morning and thank God that I am free.  To those of you who are members of the walking wounded, I say this.  Rise up and embrace the possibility of a life filled with love and wonder.  No one can take away your ability to dream unless you let them.  You are glorious beyond imagining because that is who God created you to be.  Face your fear and  shine; your light will transform the world…and YOU!


Rise and Shine: Woman with Arms Outstretched at Sunrise - Ready to Take on the Day

“I’m only passing through on my way home.  Heaven is the place where I belong.  More than an idea or just a dream, the land beyond the stars is calling me.  When my savior calls, I will go.”

I absolutely believe these words written by Jim and Melissa Brady.  We were created to spend eternity with our Creator.  That was the plan all along with Jesus as the key to our admission.


Spending eternity in Heaven is not our only goal.  We came to earth as spiritual beings on a human journey.  Our purpose was to grow to be the best we could be, and God gave us every gift we needed to accomplish this.  Imagine that!  Each of us was created by God, perfect in His sight, and blessed with talents that would enable each of us to have a positive impact on this world and all its residents.  As I type this, I am imagining a world inhabited by such enlightened beings.  Suddenly, I realize that I am talking about heaven on earth — a place where love and kindness and honor are commonplace, where we live in harmony with our Heavenly Father.

If that is God’s plan and He creates each of us with the ability to contribute to the fulfillment of that plan, what happened?  I’m certainly not living in Heaven on Earth, and I don’t think anybody else is either.  In fact, we seem to be moving in the direction of creating hell on earth rather than Heaven.  Wow!  This got to be very serious very quickly.

How did each of us go from being children of the light to being children of misery and doubt?  I think the answer is less complicated than we might want to believe.  Could it be as simple as the fact that each of us wants to be the Hero or the Heroine rather than the foot soldier or the archer?  Could it be a simple as the fact that we don’t value each of our roles as worthy and profoundly important to the creation of harmony?  What makes a surgeon more important than a teacher?  What makes a president more important than a mom or dad?  Again, the answer is fairly simple.  We measure worth on the scale of money and power rather than love and kindness.  We measure value according to the definition created by a toxic world rather than the definition created by a loving God.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to contribute to that dark reality even one more second.  I want to be a Warrior of the Light rather than a Servant of the Dark.  As I sit here, I wonder how I can find my way back to the path of light that God intended for me to walk.

Suddenly, my mind is filled with answers.  Can it really be that simple?  Yes, it really can be that simple.  The answer may not be easy, but it is simple.  I remember that I can choose.  I HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE!  The antidote to the dark always lies with the power of the one who is brave enough to stand for the light and fight for it.  The courage and power of the one who remembers he or she is the child of God and fights for the right to live as the child of God can ignite the passion of the many.  Courage is simply fear that has said its prayers.  As I drop to my knees and pray for the courage to be part of God’s solution, I pray that you will choose to join me.  Choose to be a Warrior of the Light.  SHINE…because our light can transform the world.



Rise and Shine: Woman with Arms Outstretched at Sunrise - Ready to Take on the Day

The Infinite Nature of Love

When I consider the infinite nature of love, I always think of my mom, a window, and a clothesline.  Those three things became a portal to a world of wonder, joy, and an understanding of the miraculous blessings of hearts open to loving all things great and small.  As I’m typing this, my eyes fill with tears as I remember…and give thanks.

We weren’t rich.  We lived in a simple house with a kitchen window and a yard with a clothesline.  My mother often stood at that window as she washed dishes, and yet no palace could have offered greater opportunities to grow a heart that loved unconditionally and a soul that expanded to embrace the light and joyously share it with all the world.  My childhood was spent in that light, and the Saga of Rudy and Rita began there.

Chili Beans and Cornbread

I’m not sure when this wondrous journey began, but I’m guessing that it began with chili and beans and cornbread.  Yes, dear born to shine friends, I did just type that, AND cornbread was one of the magical ingredients…as were the clothesline and the window.  My mom, a kind and gentle spirit, was standing at that window when she saw a pair of cardinals land on the clothesline.  The birds and my mom immediately connected, even though cardinals often spook at the sight of a being that could bring harm and death.  The three remained transfixed by the encounter and connected heart to heart by a love that embraced all living things.  My mom, being a true southern lady, immediately wanted to feed the birds, and, Ta Dah, here comes the common, yet magical in that moment, cornbread.  My mom walked outside and crumbled some cornbread where the cardinals could see it.  She stepped back as the birds flew to eat the gift Mama had offered.  In that moment, the three of them bridged that gap between species and began a trusting and unconditional relationship that would span generations of cardinals and most of my childhood.

The cardinals continued to come to the clothesline every, single day.  My mom began to call them Rudy and Rita, and they began to call her when they wanted some of her delicious cornbread — a single note signaled the beginning of another heart expanding visit that proved the possibility of a love that was unconditional and transforming.  Bird and human lived a hope for a tomorrow that had love enough for all — not just the ones that were defined as worthy.

Cardinals on the Clothesline

Rudy and Rita, Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal, included their children as their family grew, and their babies loved my mother just as they did.  I don’t know how many generations of these beautiful crimson-feathered creatures became a part of my family.  I only know that there were always cardinals on our clothesline, that they always voiced that single note to call to my mom, and that they always loved her and her cornbread.

Every word of this story is true, and my eyes are filling with tears as I realize, once again, how I was blessed, transformed, in those moments.  My eyes were opened to the spiritual sight that sees the miracles that exist all around us — the miracles that prove that love is big enough to share with everyone and everything and available to us through simple, everyday things like a mom, a window, and a clothesline.

Love Is the Answer

My wish for you this day is that some simple, everyday things will open a portal in your life, a portal that will fill you with the wonder and certainty that you are, and always will be, enough.

Love is the answer.  It always has been.




Rise and Shine: Woman with Arms Outstretched at Sunrise - Ready to Take on the Day

The tiny girl clings tearfully to her mother as she refuses to go to school.  She desperately wants to go but fears that death lurks there among her friends.  In another part of town, an elegant senior citizen stares out her window, longing for the thing she fears most, a hug from her granddaughter.  Lastly, a brilliant and kind high school student sits in his therapist’s chair and whispers, “If this is all there is, I don’t want to live anymore.”  About now, you may be wondering, even hoping, that this is the theme of the latest science fiction movie.  Sadly, you would be wrong.  Each of these is an example of our current reality.

Covid exploded into our awareness with more than a threat of illness; it screamed ‘ISOLATE OR DIE!” and created the terror of connection with those we love.  So, we went inside, locked our doors, and lived without the warmth of human contact.  We forgot how to talk to the friendly checker at our neighborhood grocery store; we forgot how to gather with friends in the backyard just because it felt so good; we forgot the simple joy of sharing a moment with a friend.  We replaced community with the cold “safety” of function by electronics…and the loneliness is killing us.

Statistics indicate that 61% of Americans say they feel lonely.  Today 49% of Americans have 3 friends or fewer and 12% have 0 compared to 1990 when 27% had 3 friends or fewer and 3% had 0 friends.  Science indicates a strong connection between loneliness and depression, anxiety, obesity, and suicidal thoughts.  Human life expectancy is reduced more by loneliness than it is by heavy drinking or obesity, and lonely people are more prone to Alzheimer’s disease.  There seems to be a trend here, and it is definitely not a positive one.  Isolation is costing us more than we can pay, and we’re seeking destructive alternatives to feel connected.  “Opioids feel like love.  That’s why they’re deadly in tough times.” Maia Szalavitz.  In 1999, there were 8,000 opioid deaths; in 2021, that figure rose to 75,673.  Yes, you read that correctly; the death toll from opioid overdose skyrocketed to 75,673 in two years.

I’m writing this, dear friends, because I work with the people suffering from the lack of human connection and the inability to feel safe in the world.  We thought we had recovered from the destruction of the Covid pandemic, but we haven’t.  None of us has quite found a way to return to the belief that we are safe and life can be good.  We can’t find a way to reboot and thrive.   So, what’s the answer?

I strongly believe the following quote.  “The good life cannot be found in isolation.  It’s found through deep and meaningful relationships” Nate Hilgenkamp.  I can’t tell each of you what to do because I respect the fact that your life is yours to shape, but I can tell you how I began to rebuild my life and my loving community.  I sought the presence and guidance of the loving Creator of all and once again was reminded that He is always there.  Knowing that I’m never alone gave me the courage to begin again…and again and again if that’s what it takes.

Please know that I am very human and struggle just as each of you does.  As a shy introvert, I do not naturally and easily build human relationships.  So, building a new loving and safe world is a challenge, but one I welcome.  Closing my eyes in a quiet and peaceful space was my first small step toward the world of my hopes and dreams.  I could see more than a new world.  I could see more clearly who I am and what I believe.  I am a total and complete optimist and absolutely believe that God created me to fly.  I believe you were born to fly too.  How about it?  Come fly with me as we shine a light on this kind and brave new world we are creating.

Rise and Shine: Woman with Arms Outstretched at Sunrise - Ready to Take on the Day

We are meant to be whole.  We were never meant to be perfect. Yet we frantically chase any and every thing that might make us perfect.  We seek an impossible goal and destroy ourselves in the process.  We achieve destruction rather than perfection.  Why?  How?

A quote by C. S. Lewis provides a powerful clue.  “You don’t have a soul — you are a soul.  You have a body.”   In other words, we’re chasing all the wrong things and none of the right ones.   The hollow place in the center of our being is not shaped like a bottle, a cream puff, a new relationship, or the latest “I have to have it” thing.  The hollow place in the center of our being is shaped in the image of God. Our souls are crying out, ” We long to feel your presence, Lord.”

We long to feel your presence, Lord, and the Lord longs to be close to each of us.  The only distance between God and you or me is the distance we put there because we don’t believe we are enough.

How, please tell me how to feel God’s presence.  It’s actually very simple.  JUST ASK… He’s been waiting for you all along.