Believe with all of your heart that you will do what you were made to do.” – Orison Swett Marden

The other night Mr. D came up and asked me for the rock in my pocket. It’s a small rock that has “believe” etched into it. As a little man of patterns, he wanted to put it with the others in the collection – a beautiful group of rocks selected for me by a friend. The other ones say things like “love,” “leap,” “hope,” and “grateful.”

I can’t really explain why I carry a rock in my pocket. There are times in life, now being one of them, when things are just a little bit more of a grind. I get a little bit of flow when I reach in and feel the etching with my fingertips. It’s moments and months like I’m going through now where I’m scrambling to get all that’s on my plate done, a little too busy and discombobulated to discern direction so I need a little extra “belief.” And there are periods when I feel a little disconnected from my faith so I’m missing the extra charge for my spirit and I make up for it with a little physical memento.

On my third round of IVF, I got pregnant with Mr. D. At the 10-week ultrasound, the milestone in which I miscarried a baby a year earlier, the fertility clinic gave me a stone in which “BELIEVE” was etched. I thought it was an odd gift for a medical/science based institution but because I was so nervous given my previous miscarriage, I was delightfully reassured. The stone from the clinic was a little too big for my pocket but I put it under my pillow for the duration of my pregnancy so I could feel the coolness on the nights I was uncomfortable or worried.

One of the benefits I’ve gleaned from yoga and meditation is a feel for the body-mind-spirit connection. When I can’t find quiet in my mind, I can still my body instead, and the sooner or later my mind receives the benefit. In the moments when my spirit needs more foundation, rubbing my finger along an etching shores it up in an indescribable way.

So I’ve stopped worrying if it’s silly and just drop the “believe” rock into my pocket on days I need extra “umpf.” Mr. D is right though – when I’m in balance, it does belong with the group of other words that all work together to hold the goodness of life.

For more of my woo-woo words and a bit of humor, check out my post on the Heart of the Matter, It’s In The Cards

Without Leaving Where He Was

At some point, you have to realize that some people can stay in your heart but not in your life.” – Sandi Lynn

I’ve written so much about my dad that it’s surprising that I still have something more to say about him. Except that even eight years after his death he’s still teaching me things.

There’s a phrase that my brother used for my father at his funeral, “He met you where you were without leaving where he was.” When Vicki graciously interviewed me about the book I wrote about my dad on this week’s Sharing the Heart of the Matter podcast, she asked me about it. In the same way that my Presbyterian pastor dad said that every time he wrote a sermon about a topic it made him more focused on that topic, her asking me about it has made me so much more aware of what an awesome trait it is.

I’ve been thinking about the part of the phrase “without leaving where he was.” Because it’s a lesson that I am learning all the time. I get around my climbing friends and have an enormous urge to work out, my emotive friends and I want to prove I can match their disclosure, or spend time with my children and my creativity explodes. I think that urge to blend in to our current environment is strong for humans – or at least for me.

Here are some of the things I noticed about how my dad, who was also a people pleaser handled this. I’ve spent some time reverse engineering it and come up with five examples:

If he was around someone grieving or sad, he’d definitely dial his energy down. If they were secular, he wouldn’t say anything particularly faith based to them. But he still radiated his love that was based on the belief there was something bigger than this moment, this life, and this pain. He never left his faith behind even when he wasn’t talking about it.

If he was on the golf course with foul-mouthed partners, he didn’t start swearing. But neither did he seem to mind if someone else did. He knew what his values were and was confident in them that he didn’t trade them to fit in. But he was certain enough of who he was so that he seem to understand that others’ behavior didn’t diminish him and therefore freed him from judgment.

If my dad walked into a room or you crossed paths with him in the store, on a hiking trail, waiting for a table at a restaurant, or anywhere else, his presence was palpable. He exuded well-intended welcoming. It wasn’t about him, as it can be sometimes when someone charismatic enters the room, but instead was about a curiosity and interest in others. He didn’t need to tell you who he was but instead was excited to find out who you were.

In that same way, he assumed a lot about the capabilities of others. He was the quintessential “I see things in you that you don’t see in yourself” guy. He would extend himself to help get others to the starting line – but had faith that you could continue on from there. He could help on an effort without needing to own it or control it.

My dad worried over relationships and conflict. It was palpable when something worried him – but then he’d move to do whatever he felt would restore his part of the balance. He definitely followed the advice of one of his favorite quips, “If you have to eat crow, eat it early while its tender.” Then he seemed to be able to let it go so that time and faith could do their parts.

When I break down that phrase that my brother used for my dad, I realize how much magic there was in not leaving where he was. It’s one of the reasons he accomplished so much in his life – because he didn’t waste any time or energy being someone else.

If you are a podcast person, I’d love for you to listen to the Sharing the Heart of the Matter podcast (and subscribe). It’s now on Spotify, Apple podcasts, Amazon podcasts, and Pocket Casts as Sharing the Heart of the Matter. And here’s a link to the shownotes to this episode about Finding My Father’s Faith.

Back In The Game

The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting.” – Walt Disney

My 83-year-old mom has returned to playing ping pong after her infamous ping pong dive where she admitted her competitive nature got the best of her common sense. When my family came over for dinner the other night, my brother asked if she was making any concessions in her game to be safer. She nodded yes and said she’s trying to keep a hand on the table while she plays for stability.

Apparently the physical therapist who’s been working with her on a sciatic issue asked the same thing. Not really convinced by her reply, he asked, “Have you ever considered just saying, ‘Good shot?’”

We all got a good laugh out of that one. It reminded me that I’ve read and seen a lot of great advice about staying in the game, whatever our game may be, lately.

From An Audience of One, the wisdom that we need to choose the path we are going to travel and stick with it. Not that other forks won’t arise in the future but that nothing good comes from wavering at the decision point too long or mourning the path not chosen.

And from WritingfromtheheartwithBrian a pep talk straight out of the Buffalo Bills locker room to be fully present. Brian rousingly writes an hearty exploration of the Bills saying, “Where else would you rather be, than right here, right now?” that reminded me to love the life I have and the path I’m on.

Finally I watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade again recently. In it, Indiana Jones is reading the clues from his father’s grail diary to pass the final challenge to find the grail and save his father’s life. He has to believe as he steps forward into the chasm that a path across the void will unfold. He checks his options one last time, confirms he’s in the right location, and then as he leaps, the path appears.

Decide on the path, commit to being present for it and then have faith to take the leap – it’s about as good as it gets for finding our way through this life.

I’m glad my mom has a strategy to keep safe by keeping a hand on the ping pong table. But equally as relieved she’s still in the game. It just wouldn’t be her if she just watched shots go by!

(featured photo from Pexels)

Peace is Free

Peace is not something you wish for; It’s something you make, Something you do, Something you are, And something you give away.” – John Lennon

The other night I made the mistake of working on my taxes before bed. After a night of tossing a turning, mulling over finances, I blearily made my way down to the family room to meditate. As I lit the candles before settling down on the cushion, I thought “At least you have enough money to buy candles.

None of this is new – not the worrying about money in January which I’ve done every year for the more than 20 years I’ve been in business so I know from the pattern that it all works out but still worry anyway. And not the thought “At least you have enough money to buy candles.”

However, this was the first time I realized the fuller meaning of that phrase. I have always assumed that it was a reflex reminding me how much I have. But I marveled on the morning in question that what my inner voice was also telling me that my path to find peace, meaning and joy is free. It doesn’t cost me anything to stop and meditate at any or every moment.

And it was telling me that I can do that anywhere or everywhere. I can still find the calm within when the life circumstances are hard. As the quote from John Lennon reminds me, it isn’t just wishing that creates peace but it is powerful and transferable sense worth working for.

It brings to mind an Oprah Soul Sunday podcast I heard where she talked about whispers (here it is on a video of Oprah’s lifeclass). That she’s found that God, the Universe, a Higher Power talks to us in whispers. And it’s only when we don’t listen, the voice gets more insistent, a pebble upside the head and then a brick, in Oprah parlance.

So for twenty years I’ve been sweating through January as I handle the not-so-fun tasks of getting my customers to pay their invoices and to nail down commitments for the next year. This is the first where I really listened to that inner voice and was able to find my internal peace while doing so.

I’m hopeful that I’ll remember that the price of peace is free next year. And also, not to do my taxes before bedtime.

Leaps of Faith

Sometimes your only available transportation is a leap of faith.” – Margaret Shepard

When I was 6-months-old, and my sister and brother were 4 and 6-years-old respectively, my dad took an offer to be a pastor of the church in Manilla, Philippines. It was 1970, the Vietnam war was raging. Ferdinand Marcos was the President of the Philippines. Six months after our family moved there, there was a phony insurrection and Marcos declared Martial Law. We stayed for almost 6 more years after that.

I’ve often wondered if that gutsy move by my parents set up a pattern in us kids. Bigger than any theological belief, did they show us that leaps of faith are possible? It’s the topic of my Heart of the Matter post today. Heart Dreams That Call For Big Leaps

(featured photo from Pexels)

The Coming Radiance

I’m not sure how many of you also followed Martha Hendricks of the White Hair Grace blog so forgive me for introducing someone you might already know. But for anyone who wasn’t, Martha was an 80-year-old blogger with non-Hodgkins lymphoma and sharing the stories of getting old gracefully. She had a lot of roles in her life. In her words, she was “professional classical singer; a Norwegian rosemaler; a pastor. And now a writer. “

I say “was” because she passed away this past August. But not before penning an incredible post that is as much about living as it is dying. So I’m reblogging this beautiful writing from an lovely woman:

white hair grace

Dear friends, I am Martha’s eldest son posting these final words that mom felt she needed to share. She wrote this post August 12th, but didn’t publish it. My mom passed away peacefully, surrounded by her family this past Sunday, August 21st. She so loved writing this blog and sharing her life with all of you. Thank you all for the joy you gave her. She is with her beloved Dwight once again.

“Learning to be still, to be really still, and let life happen – that stillness becomes radiance.”

Morgan Freeman

My dear readers and followers – Hello again! Surprise!

When I wrote my last blog in May and closed out my White Hair Grace page, I thought that my work of seeking out the miracles of grace had reached a kind of natural conclusion. Of course, the best of intentions meet up with life’s larger plans, and here…

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The Magic Kingdom

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” – W. B. Yeats

I watch a lot of Disney movies these days and I’ve noticed there is always a pause before the magic kicks in and works. Like in Beauty and the Beast, Belle comes back to the castle and the Beast is fighting off Gaston and is gravely injured. Belle goes to him on the terrace and says, “I love you” just as the last petal falls from the flower that held the magic of the curse that turned him into a beast.

Everyone thinks its too late and Belle is crying over his crumpled form…until the magic lifts him up and transforms him into back into a prince.

As I notice the pattern, it makes me think about magic in our lives – and that the pause is of indeterminate length and certainly of a length that we can’t predict. For example, establishing a gratitude practice. My kids and I made gratitude boxes, little boxes to slip the things we are grateful for on a daily basis. But starting that practice and feeling the magical onset of a good mood of the soul isn’t instantaneous.

And the same goes with blogging. It’s not like we write our first blog, and then instantly we’ve perfected our style, know what we want to write about and are surrounded by supportive blogging buddies. It takes time to find our sweet spot and build our WordPress community.

Ditto for passion and love. And everything else where we step forward and then life meets us.

So I know what you’re thinking – none of these examples involves any the special juju as depicted in a Disney movie. There are simply hard work and time.

But I think there is magic involved. It’s magical that we find our way to the things that work for us. And beautiful that we get enough to keep us at it. That we open just long enough for someone else to be open and see us. The magic is in that it can happen in the time between when I open and you close.

It’s magical that when we risk, we open ourselves up to opportunity. When we make ourselves vulnerable enough to be seen, that someone else comes along to hold us is rare and then we tell the stories to inspire others to do the same and we get those tingles all over again.

In The Princess and the Frog, the prince gets turned into a frog by a voodoo man. Then he kisses Tiana because he thinks she is a princess, but she isn’t and they both end up as frogs. [SPOILER ALERT – I’m going to tell the ending here.] After a Disney movie length adventure of making friends and finding out what is truly meaningful, they fall in love, give up their human dreams and get married. Once they do, Tiana becomes a princess because she married a prince, albeit in frog form. The prince kisses her and they both turn back to human.

They stop struggling to be what they thought they wanted and just love each other as they are – only to get it back again. The magic of life.

The secret is in the waiting through the moments where all seems lost, holding the faith for as long as it takes for the magic to work which will likely be longer than the pause in a Disney movie. The magic is in believing it will still happen even as we wait. And then, when it does happen, seeing it as one whole story and telling it to others so they too will last through the wait.

(featured photo from Pexels)

Unlearning My Way Back

A child can teach an adult three things: To be happy for no reason, To always be busy with something, and To know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.” – Paulo Coehlo

My sister-in-law recounted a conversation she had this week with my daughter, 7-year-old Miss O while holding hands and walking through an outdoor shopping center near our house.

Miss O said, “I love this place. Fun stores, good food, no BS”

My sister-in-law paused for a beat, wondering if she should ask, hoping Miss O didn’t know what it meant, and then asked, “Do you know what BS is?”

Miss O replied brightly, “Of course! Bad Service!”

After I stopped laughing, I wondered why it is that we think it’s bad for 7-year-olds to know swear words. Other than the fact that their executive brain function isn’t fully developed and they might deploy them inappropriately, indiscriminately or both. I landed on the fact that it feels like a loss of innocence.

I heard an interview once with singer and songwriter Billy Bragg where he posited that the opposite of faith isn’t doubt – but cynicism. If I think of Miss O using bad language, it feels cynical as if some beliefs of childhood would have had to have suffer in the process.

At their age, Miss O and Mr D believe that:

They are loved beyond measure and worthy of love

If you pray, those prayers will be answered

There is magic in the air so that sometimes fortunes found in fortune cookies will reveal the next fun thing

Potential new friends are everywhere

If you cry and show your vulnerability, you will be taken care of

Looking through this list I’ve typed, I think that I need to unlearn my way back to those beliefs. Because my cynical self might have been feeding me a lot of BS instead – and by that I mean bad service, of course. 😉

My Book Baby

The inner life of any great thing will be incomprehensible to me until I develop and deepen an inner life of my own.” – Parker J. Palmer

The death of my dad and the birth of my daughter are forever tied together in my mind. The day that I finished all the plans and paperwork to try to get pregnant via IVF, I sat at my desk and thought, “Wow, my world is about to change.” And the next day my dad suddenly died in a bike accident and I thought, “No, not like that!”

Then I spent 9 months taking the recordings I’d made of my dad and the effort I’d begun to write about his life and creating a book about him. On a night in August, at the end of the day I’d finished the very last line edits for the book, I went into labor with Miss O.

The birth of my baby right after I’d put my metaphorical book baby, Finding My Father’s Faith, to bed has meant that I haven’t thought much about the book in the last seven years. Until someone like the wonderful and insightful Vicki Atkinson of the Victoria Ponders blog comes along and reminds me of my book baby and I revisit the delight in the midst of grief of writing that for my dear dad.

Oops – I buried the lede – a podcast episode about my book

And I recently talked about the book, being a pastor’s daughter and the value of recording our loved ones with Troy Headrick in this Wise & Shine podcast. Here’s a link if you want to listen: Wynne Leon on Finding My Father’s Faith.

Pushing the Wrong Buttons

If what you believe in does not impact how you behave then what you believe in is not important.” – Shaykh Yassir Fazaga

My friend, Eric, told me that his 87-year-old mom has been leaving him really long voice mail messages. She records her message and then thinks she has hung up but the voice mail then records her going about her business.

So he was on the phone with her the other day and told her that she hasn’t been hanging up. “Well” she replied, “I hit the button.” After they finished talking, he stayed on the line and sure enough, heard her puttering around.

He got her attention by yelling her name into the phone and when she put it to her ear he asked, “WHAT button have you been pushing?” She replied something that made him realize she’d been pushing a volume button instead of the power button.

After we finished laughing about that, I mused about all the times I’ve pushed the wrong button. It reminded me of the old tech support joke when one tech asked another how he fixed the user’s problem, and the tech replied, “The On/Off selector was in the wrong position.”

I think of the time I was giving my friend, Jill, a compliment on her pants and said, “Those are so cute. My mom has a pair.” Turns out I offended her greatly because who wants to look like someone’s mom? Oops, wrong button.

But mostly it makes me think of all the times I’ve tried to do something without plugging into the Source and feeling the surge of power in my solar plexus. Like the tech joke, I have often tried things with the on/off selector in the wrong position, and without the power of belief, just relegated myself to futilely tapping at the keyboard with no results.

From rock climbs to bids for work in my professional field, there has been a huge difference between doing it with the power on or off, with my beliefs and values intact or lost somewhere in the dimness. Sometimes when I plug in to a Higher Power, I realize that I’m pursuing the wrong things but I find out the course correction is much easier with the power on.

Of course, like Eric’s mom, I continue to push the wrong buttons at times. Sooner or later, I find my way back to the small insistent God voice at my core asking, “WHAT button have you been pushing?”

(featured photo from Pexels)