When Your World Crumbles and Your Truth Vanishes

I didn’t plan to write this blogpost, but deeply felt that I needed to write it. Life is just life; it is not perfect, and it is not guaranteed; it just is. Life can be all that when we decide that we want to receive all the gifts that God has readied for us. Life can be a real mess, or it can be sweet. This world is far from perfect and expecting others to be perfect is expecting something I cannot deliver myself; I am far from perfect. I can only love because God loves me first, otherwise, I wouldn’t even know where to start. I am an imperfect decent person that once thought she had it all together but did not. I am happy that I found that out. When your perfect world crumbles, when your beliefs, habits, everything you knew as truth, or everything you knew as “you” comes toppling down, the only thing left is the real you, sometimes, the real scared you. That is a good thing; believe me, I have been there. Now, you can sweep away the pieces (don’t even bother to pick them up) and continue your journey (don’t even have to start a new journey, there is no such thing, just your journey).

This world is loud and fast; don’t pace yourself to it. This world is unfair; don’t expect fairness or righteousness from it. Instead, be for others what you were expecting for yourself. Don’t let the noise be louder than your faith. Faith in what anymore? In the only one that lived through it all, the unfairness, the rejection, the let-downs, the hate, the noise of the times … Jesus lived through it all. When in doubt, ask Him directly in a real imperfect but sincere prayer; He will answer you. I know. If you want to know Him a bit better, find him in the chronicles of His life (in the pages of the bible.) Don’t take anybody’s word for it; you find Him yourself! If you really want to know Him, you ask Him for help, and it will be given to you. He will reveal who He truly is to you. You’ll get your answer.

So don’t let this imperfect but beautiful and lovely world rob you of your peace, light, and love, instead, live like you have never lived before – connect through Him. It makes all the difference.

Love and light.

The Simple Life – Simple Abundance and Prosperity

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”

Hans Christian Andersen

I love the above quote. It is the opposite to “own nothing, be happier.” However, sometimes we flutter more around the pursuit of too many flowers and forget about the freedom we have to enjoy the sunshine.

In the pursuit of a simple life, I’ve realized that the accumulation of flowers is not the most important aspect for me anymore. There was a time it took center placement. Losing a lifetime’s lush garden all at once taught me that my focus was off centered and gave me the freedom to pursue a life full of sunshine. The sunshine after the storm is usually the most beautiful. With countless sunny days ahead, the heart can only rejoice about the simple abundance that surrounds me. I have learned to count my blessings, and there are oh so many. Prosperity takes the form of more than the material, those blessings that were missed when the “little flower” was ignored, in pursuit of an entire field. Like the caterpillar, I was transformed, and like the butterfly, I find delight in the offerings of every new day. Sometimes, sprouting wings is painful, but without them one cannot appreciate the beauty of that single flower up close.

Prosperity comes in many forms, an integral part of simple abundance. We tend to think of prosperity from the material/financial point of view only, but there is so much more to it than money or things. These two are important, but not most important. Simple living involves the realization that there is much more abundance around us that what we perceive in the material/monetary realms. These riches are unlimited, countless, and continuous. The true meaning of prosperity can be found in a single flower.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 3:1 KJV
Photo by M.A.D.

The Simple Life – Simplifying Your Space

In the pursuit of the simple life, most likely, the first thing we focus on is our physical space, our home. For the purpose of this post, I will refer to “space” as not only the physical aspect, but also, the space that extends to the mind, being that anything that occupies an important part in our life – goals, dreams, values, interests … I am not a minimalist, neither a tightwad, although sometimes I would like to be, but someone who likes and enjoys simplicity and strives for balance.

The desire for simplicity moves us to start decluttering our physical space. We start with the things we own, and by the time we are done, we find ourselves looking into other areas of life that go beyond – our future plans, finances, work, habits … In my experience, letting go of things could be overwhelming, more so if circumstances at the moment challenge other areas of my life. Change is never easy, even when it is welcomed. Sometimes, there is a catalyst to that change, an event, a person, or any other circumstance that might induce change at a quick or slow pace, and of course, that comes with a set of emotions and responses attached.

When striving for a simple life, decluttering our space is a good place to start. Letting go of what doesn’t serve us anymore or doesn’t honor our space anymore is a first step in the pursuit of simplicity. This step will prove challenging but necessary because it will exercise our will, as well as test it, and serve as training for when we move into other areas of life that are more complexed – habits, finances, goals and dreams, health … It is a process that will take some time and varies by individual. It is also continuous because we evolve in time. I can say that I am still in the process of letting go.

The items that are the hardest to let go are sentimental items, or represent a memory, even when these don’t serve us anymore. Instead of owning the sentiment or memory, we have placed it on the item. Letting go of gifts or things that cost much money is also challenging. Things that represent for us an ideal place or time in life are difficult, especially if it is something that we see ourselves doing/being in a future that is generally not planned for or mapped. We tend to internalize that ideal life as part of us even when it has not materialized. Even when we know that these things do not fit our lifestyle anymore, or are not being used anymore, or ever used, we want to hold on for fear of losing the dream. One thing that helped me in letting go of items in those categories was realizing that I was hoarding an item that someone else needed, and I did not need. When we can easily meet the need of another by letting go of something, we operate from a place of generosity as opposed to selfishness. Understanding this concept makes it easier to let go of these things that have a hold on us but do not have a place anymore in our home and life. During this process, I understood that I owned much more than I needed. I understood that my physical space should be a representation of where I am, not where I was or some distant place in my mind. That would be like living in my past or in a future that has not/will not materialize. This can be tricky because if my present circumstances are crappy or less than ideal, I don’t want things to be a representation of that; I want out of it. That is when the process of simplifying helps. Instead, I surround myself with the things that serve me now, have a purpose, fit my lifestyle better at the moment, and honor the person I am now. There is no shame on it; we all want to be better, and even when circumstances are not ideal, we can certainly “make room” in our lives to welcome better days. Living now doesn’t mean to stop dreaming and hoping. It is a spiritual journey, undergoing change.

Having less has made life easier and simpler in many ways; however, I am not done. I honestly can say that if I were to place all the items that I have let go in the past seven years in one location, I would be able to open a small thrift store. I am not proud of that. Although I am not a minimalist, I do live simply, and what is in my home has a purpose and is being used at the moment. When an item stops fulfilling its purpose or functionality, now I know it is time to let it go. When everything has a defined purpose and a place, I end up with less things to handle or that occupy my time and energy. At this point, I am comfortable with letting go of anything I don’t use. That includes things that will only have one use. For example, a kitchen gadget that I let go was a garlic press. It is something that has a single use, but not necessary, as I can do the same thing with something else. Another one was a lemon squeeze gadget. For me, these were not necessary items. Now, if I had a problem with my hands, arthritis for example, those items would be needed and would make life easier. This is an example of how individualized this process is.

The longer one lives, the more things one accumulates, and most of those items are not used anymore or do not fit an actual lifestyle. That is a green light to let these items go. Things that bring to mind bad or sad memories, regrets, guilt, or any less than positive feeling don’t belong in my space as well. Those feelings occupy valuable space in my mind/heart, space that is better filled with positive and good feelings/emotions. So where did I start? For me, clothes are one of the easiest things to let go as long as I keep only what fits me now, feels comfortable, and looks good on me. Anything else must go. Most likely, what has not been worn in a while will not be worn any time soon, another sign that it stopped serving its purpose and must go. If you don’t know where to start, this is an easier and less painful way to start.

We are conditioned to own things since childhood, and it is also in our nature as gatherers and collectors. Many of us follow patterns throughout the years, and for that reason, it is harder sometimes to let go. Where we come from, culture, socioeconomic status, country of origin … it all has to do with how we deal with stuff. If we want to live a simpler life, we can start one day at a time, one item at a time. One thing I understood and found interesting during this process is that there are items that we own out of habit or conditioning. An example for me were metal dishwashing pads. Although I found that they clean well, I really did not like them that much but used them and kept buying them. I did not like the metal/rusty smell and that some rusted fast. These also hurt my sensitive skin when I washed dishes. I don’t wear gloves and do not own a dishwasher. I was using these out of habit, but most important, there was a beautiful memory attached to these that I wasn’t aware of until I asked myself this question, “If I dislike them so much, why do I keep buying them?” The answer surprised me. It was the memory of my grandmother. She used them all the time, and I could visualize her in my mind, washing dishes in the kitchen. These metal sponges or pads had a pleasant memory attached that I would revisit in my memory every time I used them, whether I realized it or not. Once I understood that, I was able to keep the memory and ditch the sponges. That is just a simple example of how we end up keeping things we don’t even like in our space. Sometimes, it goes beyond the “use it or lose it” because it goes deeper than that. I was using the metal sponges. That is why looking for our responses to these situations is important and an eye-opening experience.

Moving to this place was a new beginning to a much simpler life. Every year I let go of more. Despite all the items I let go before the move, I feel that there is more room for improvement. So far, I have let go of many things since moving here, and over the past month I have boxed many more things that I don’t need anymore. We are planning a yard sale in the spring, and the proceeds will be used to fund a new workshop. The things that did not serve a purpose anymore will have a new one – make us some money for that project. These objects will serve a purpose in other people’s homes, whether these are sold or donated. These objects get a second chance, and so do I, living a much satisfying simpler life, and what can be simpler than that?

Whether clutter or habits, getting rid of these gives us space in our lives for inspiration, creativity and the pursuit of a more satisfying life.

The Simple Life – The Process

Photo by M.A.D.

Process – A series of steps, actions, or operations used to bring about a desired result. (American Heritage Dictionary)

For today’s post, I want to write about the process in pursuing the simple life. If you read the above definition of process, for me it was all that, and more, and I can honestly say that the process continues. It continues in the material, the mind, the physical, and the soul. If I go back to some of my posts about the simple life ten years ago, I see part of that process taking place in between words. For me the process was/is long, and I compare it to separating bolts and nuts into groups by size and form. Each person goes through their own bolts and nuts situation when pursuing simplicity in life. Although I am pretty sure that it might have started earlier than that, I can pinpoint the journey about over 10-12 years ago. Like any person with a brain would say, looking back, I could have done things much better, but that is always the case, isn’t it? Whatever brings you into the process, I have found that it is better to embrace the upcoming change with an open mind, in faith and hope, and focus one day at a time, whether that day brings a challenge or rest. Although not easy at first, a grateful attitude, and prayer, helps a lot. Depending on how you came into the process, willing or not, attitude is key, and it might make all the difference. Process will take as long as it has to. I can honestly say that now.

During the process, there will be highs and lows, a natural flow, and supernatural as well. Awareness is important, but many times our radar is a bit cloudy, and that is when prayer and a good honest attitude with ourselves help. I think that we are about to go through many challenges as citizens of this country, and of the world as well. It will be a process, in which we’ll need those two. But going back to my personal experience, I can say that this process started with the need of letting material stuff go, and that was the first tangible step that I took. I started decluttering my physical space, and eventually, decluttering other areas of my life as well – spiritual, financial … You have to start somewhere, right?

During this purge, the material stuff was the easiest to let go off, although not necessarily too easy. We accumulate things through a lifetime, and those things have memories, emotions, and feelings attached to them, so that is not so easy at times. The more we live the more we accumulate. I am still letting go of stuff, believe me. Every step takes you closer, and the more you let go, the freer and more satisfied you feel, to the point that you actually feel that there is nothing you really need, except for the important things in your life like God, people and values, beliefs… the not so tangible stuff. I can honestly say today that I could walk out of this house if I had to, and take nothing with me, and I will be fine, material stuff that is. I can appreciate beautiful things, like them, and enjoy them, but I am not tied to them as I might have been before. In the pursuit of the simple life, you learn to appreciate the good, the bad, and the ugly, although in the beginning you might not even like it or realize it, and even fight against it. The aha! moment comes later on, at least it did for me.

In ridding myself of much material stuff, I had to do it systematically, one step at a time; it was what worked for me back then. The process was a process in itself, if that makes sense. The method I used was to go room by room, and divide items into donating or give, selling, and trash. There wasn’t much in the trash category, but I started by selling stuff in three steps. We would use the money to put towards our upcoming move out of state. That added to the motivation. First, I sold things online. What didn’t sell online ended up on various yard sales, and what did not sell in a yard sale, we sold at a flea market in two occasions. At the end, we gave away the stuff to sellers that did that continuously for a living, and they were appreciative. I also gave stuff to family and donated an entire room full of stuff to a veteran’s organization in three different load trips at the beginning of the process. It took time and effort, and it certainly did not feel good in the beginning. Once we moved out here and were settled in the home after fixing up the place (you can check out that process under the topics farmhouse restoration, the simple life, or restoring an old farmhouse) I realized that there was still much more to let go, and I was able to give and donate much more. This process continues until today. After living here for about 6 years, I find that there is much more that I can do in this area. After all, it is a different space and a different lifestyle, and the time was necessary to understand what works and what doesn’t work in the new setting. It also let me explore new possibilities and understand why some of the stuff is not a good fit anymore. I will write about that in much detail. The next blogpost will be about simplifying your space, and it ties to this one. I hope you enjoyed this post.

The process continues until today.

The Simple Life – Awareness

Awareness – (aware) to be mindful or conscious of; cognizant. (American Heritage Dictionary)

Amid a world on fire by chaos, the need for a bit of normalcy, balance, and peace grows in the heart of many. This growing desire for a more meaningful existence starts many times with the quest for simplicity. The desire for a simple life, to rid ourselves of the unnecessary things that capture our time, attention, and crowd our vision, to make room for what we consider important, whether that translate into experiences, values or the desire to own less, becomes stronger. Our focus changes, many times from wanting stuff to the need for setting ourselves on another path, sort of a spiritual awareness, a disposition for change.

These days, I think we need it more than ever. The past couple of years have been rough on the entire world, and this year presents itself with great challenges as well. I have been on this quest, brought into it by a series of unfortunate events that by now, I recognize as blessings in disguise. Each day, I take another step towards living a simple life. What started years ago with some significant decluttering, has evolve into spiritual awareness and the desire for simpler times and days. Shelling out stuff was the beginning, and although this process continues, it has shifted from the material into the spiritual. Undergoing this process has inspired a series of blogposts that I will call The Simple Life series. Each topic will be approached from my point of view and according to my experience, and how it relates to living a simple life.

The pursuit of a simple life is different for every person, and it relates to your values, beliefs, and what is important to that person ultimately; it is an individual process, a surrender into the new and unknown, in faith and hope. Awareness leads you to the simple life, and through living a simple life you gain more awareness. I only hope that I can inspire you in your own pursuit.

Photo by M.A.D.

Fearless

Fearless – Without fear; brave. (American Heritage Dictionary)

The word fearless has been overused, thus becoming a “fashion” word, a word that people tend to use without discrimination, a cliché. It has become almost meaningless, just as the word love, used with disregard and abandonment (of meaning).

The American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “without fear.” Without fear does not mean in the absence of fear. One can be truly scared of something or a situation, and be/act fearless in the presence of the object of fear. There is no “fearless” without having known fear. It is a word that I take seriously, rather than “in fashion” because it pertains to something deeper than the outside persona, but more of the internal self, of the condition of the soul, and even spirit.

Fearless is rooted in spirituality, in the condition of the heart. I have been truly scared in some occasions but fearless at the same time. It has only been possible because my strength has come from Jesus, and not from my own efforts or disposition. Faith has a lot to do with being fearless, but also knowing that your supernatural strength comes from God, and that changes the whole meaning of the word.

“For God Had not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

2 Timothy 1:7

Photo by M.A.D.

The Day I Had a Tiny Glimpse of God’s Love

It happened on New Year’s Eve, years ago. My husband was in the living room and we were about to watch the New York ball drop on T.V. (No, we were not drinking). It happened in a matter of seconds, very fast but very profound. As I stood in front of the kitchen sink, about to finish up and join my husband in the living room, suddenly, I was hit with an immense feeling of joy and love like I had never experienced before. It engulfed my whole being. I felt as if I was part of the entire universe, of everything that surrounded me, even the material. I was everything and everything was me, but all of it was engulfed by this immense love, unlike anything else. I heard this voice in my mind, but not audible, just present in my mind, and apart from my own thoughts – “Hold on to the feeling,” the voice said. In an instant, I was back, and I could not explain what had happened. A very small part of that feeling remained in me for the next couple of days, almost like a side effect. I kept thinking about the voice – “Hold on to the feeling” – but I could not recapture it. The greatness and oneness, the immensity of it is hard to explain with words, even today, as I recall the experience.

Much later on, that memory helped me through a very rough time. I knew that I was never alone. I don’t know why, or how, but I think that I was given a tiny glimpse of God’s love and oneness that day. I don’t think that my being would have been able to take all of it; it was sublime, supreme, great and indescribable. Today, I think about that day, and I share it here with the hope that it speaks to anyone who might be feeling alone, unloved, or unworthy. That it speaks about how much God loves us, and His immense kindness and care. You are not alone, God loves you, and you are valuable to Him. The entire planet seems a big giant ball of twine these days. The events happening around the world might be overwhelming to some people; I know these have affected me, however, even when I cannot recapture that feeling today exactly, I reminisce of it, and know that I am not alone, and neither are you.

Photo by M.A.D.

The Dinorah Chronicles – Sunrise Souls (Book 3)

SUNRISE SOULS

“As light breaks the shadows so does my light will shine upon the Sunrise Souls. They will shine their light upon this world, and my light will pour in blessings to humanity. The planet will hear of my love, and from the four corners of the world a voice will sound as thunder, announcing my kingdom, the Kingdom of Love.”

(The Dinorah Chronicles -Sunrise Souls)

Sunrise Souls is the last book in The Dinorah Chronicles trilogy. It is the conclusion and fulfilment of Dinorah Sandbeck’s birthright. This book encompasses the main story, Dinorah’s story, and fulfills books one and two. The way the trilogy is written, each book stands for itself, and one can read any book without having to read the others first. However, the main story permeates all three novels, and there is a bond that keeps the trilogy together.

Writing this last book was challenging in the sense of pulling it all together – Dinorah’s quest and her reason for being, the prophecies, as well as each character’s role individually while weaving the main story. Every character came together in purpose. I enjoyed writing this book as it was taking me along with the ending of the story. Because I prefer writing single stories more than trilogies or series, it was also a relief.

Throughout the trilogy, the characters have evolved and this is more obvious in this book. Dinorah Sandbeck has fully accepted her birthright, and in the process accepted herself; her Human and Anarth sides have finally come together. Not only is she stronger but has found her peace. Sometimes the thing that we fight the most can bring us to the peace we crave.

All my books can be found on Amazon in eBook and paperback formats.

Every Little Blessing

For us who celebrate Thanksgiving day, when we think of this day, most likely, a turkey will pop up in our minds. The holiday and the turkey that is traditionally served as a meal have become one and the same. Turkey or not, Thanksgiving symbolizes a time to pause and reflect on all the blessings we have received during the year, and give thanks. We live at such a hurried pace that we forget to thank the Lord for everything that we have been blessed with, and when we really think about it, we have plenty to be grateful for. Even the tiniest of blessings in our lives counts. Just to be able to write this post is a blessing for me. Just think of all that it encompasses – I am able to write because I had the blessing of an education in a public system, and later on a college education, which made possible becoming able to read/write and later on, developing my interests (things that we take for granted but for many others are not possible). I am able to write this post because I have been blessed with health – mentally and physically. An internet connection, and a PC makes this possible too, but for it to happen these had to be invented at one point. All of it, small blessings that are many times, taken for granted. When I think of all the other little blessings that make this possible, it brings to mind a truckload of other blessings, and so on.

There is so much to be thankful for, from the moment we open our eyes to receive another day until the moment we go to sleep and rest. One blessing is preceded by an infinite amount of other blessings that made it possible, and if we go back in time/history, an entire humanity has been blessed and connected by tiny blessings. Right now, I am writing this post from the USA, and later on, you might be reading it on another part of the world via your PC, phone, or other device, but it is all interconnected and it all comes from the same source of blessings. Isn’t it a wonderful thing?

Any day is a good day to give thanks for the infinite blessings we enjoy, and to realize that every little blessing counts. Happy Thanks Giving!

The Five-dollar Miracle

The Five-dollar Miracle is my latest story. It is the story of how a small miracle – a five-dollar miracle – changes a stranger, a pastor, a congregation and a whole country. It all starts when Pastor Neil Beckham receives a five-dollar bill inside a sky blue envelope from a stranger. It is a novelette, and quite different from my previous works. It has an inspirational tone, and a comfortable pace. It is reader friendly. It presents the themes of faith, loss, and triumph.

I enjoyed writing this story as it was something different and light as far as style and development of the story. However, it presented some challenges I did not expect, from technical (computer) issues to writing challenges, unexpected requirements such as writing a hymn, and a sermon. This story presented itself as a nagging title inside my head, and that is all I had. I set aside the story I was planning to write, and I had no idea of who the characters where going to be, what point of view, or anything at all. I just wrote, and somehow, the story emerged. Although it is short when compared to my other works, it reads at a comfortable pace.

This novelette has a more human tone. My other novels deal with the topics of redemption and the supernatural. Secondary themes such as acceptance, forgiveness, grief, and judgement are present in the story through characters situations. These intertwined stories appear unannounced /unplanned weaving these topics into the main (faith).

Overall, it has been an enjoyable experience as a writer, and it taught me to listen and trust the process. Why this story? It was the story that wanted to be written. The Five-dollar Miracle is available in print and e-book through Amazon. The hardcopy can be found here and e-book here.

The Five-dollar Miracle

I will be working on my next novel – The Girl Who Could Not Love – for the rest of the year.