True Happiness / Contentment / Acceptance (Book Excerpt 4)

It's What We All Want!

Contentment When is enough enough?

A rich industrialist from the North was horrified to find a Southern fisherman lying lazily beside his boat smoking a pipe. “Why aren’t you out fishing?” asked the industrialist.” “Because I have caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman. “Why don’t you catch more than you need?” asked the industrialist. “What would I do with it?” asked the fisherman. “You could earn more money,” was the reply. “With what you sell your extra fish for you could get a better motor and boat; you could go into deeper waters and catch more fish. You could buy nylon nets. You could catch more fish and make more money. Soon you could have two boats, then a fleet of boats, employees, and a real business. Then you would be rich like me.” The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?” The industrialist said, “Then you could sit down and enjoy life.” The fisherman said, “What do you think I’m doing now?!”

"Come Together!' (Thinking, Saying, Doing!)

What do I really need to be content? More friends? Another relationship? A better paying job? One of our local university professors starts his Psych 101 class by asking his students “Why are you here? Why are you going to college?” He gets a range of answers, from getting a good job to being successful to living the American dream. He continues asking them again and again, writing all their answers on one side of the board.
Finally one class member answers, “I just want to be happy!” The professor writes the word HAPPINESS on the other side of the board and circles it. He then asks his students “Does achieving all the things on this side of the board equal happiness?” Yes? No? If not, what does? This professor then goes on to discreetly share his spirituality as the source of personal happiness in his life. What simple, practical insights deduced from the minds, and hearts of his students!

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Happiness, contentment, serenity—gracious gifts from our Higher Power given as wewalk our talk in recovery—are more precious and powerful than any degree, success, silver, or gold.

Resting In The Everlasting Arms

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Jesus & Lao Tzu, Mary & Martha, One Thing Needful.

 

the one thing that will bless all other things . . .

I’ve been struck lately by Lao Tzu and the Taoist teaching of “Do Nothing and Leave Nothing Undone.” It reminds me of people (including myself) whining, “I don’t have time to meditate, to pray, to be still! I have too much to do to take time out of my day for that!” Contrast that with the likes of great reformers who advanced God’s love and understanding of Grace. Two off the top of my heart are Mother Teresa and Martin Luther, both teaching through their living that they could do nothing without prayer, meditation, and reflection for long periods of time each day in order to get the most done possible. Hence the Bible verse and way of living: “Pray without ceasing.”

There’s a beautiful teaching in Luke’s gospel where Jesus is coming to visit Lazarus, Mary and Martha. Martha rushes about frantically in order to get everything done, while Mary just sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to Him.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  (Luke 10:38-42)

Hmmmmmm…..’few things are needed-or indeed only one.”

The only thing needed is to sit, be still, and listen to the truths of the Spirit given by Christ and all others around us, including ourselves. The Kingdom of God is within us. We are each part of that miraculous puzzle, conduits of God’s love and light to each other. That’s why we are here—to reflect that to ourselves and others.

But the critics yell out: “BUT HOW CAN I PAY MY BILLS, PLAN MY LIFE AND WORK MY JOB IF I JUST SIT EVERY DAY DOING NOTHING????” The answer is too difficult for our minds and egos, but very simple for our hearts and our Spirits. This is why faith is a gift. But what good is a gift if it is not taken, opened, and used?

When we take time each day to ‘be still and know,’ we become a channel–an instrument as St. Francis lived–of God’s peace, love, and light. EVERYTHING we need to do will be given us when we are still….and more. Whatever needs to be done will make itself known to us when we sit at the feet of those that the Spirit is using to teach us. Then, time is multiplied and we can actually get more done—or at least it feels like it, because it’s done with peace and serenity. It’s done in the moment, in the present, joyfully, mindfully. God multiplies our time, like the loaves of bread and fish, and we can ‘feed’ so many around us who are starving for this understanding and way of living.

"Lord, Help Me Be Still and Listen To You!"

So…..it helps me to remember that I am a vessel, a container waiting to be filled up with love and light. Some days that filling is done to over-flowing and spills over into the lives of others and their joy is increased. My prayer is for that to happen more often—for me to get out of the way, and be that stained glass window for the LIGHT to shine through. I love to see those brilliant, reflected colors brightening the lives of those around me.

Why do I make things so complex, when it is so simple? Only one thing is needed.
Taking time, together with all of you, to smell the roses and the coffee.

Ken

ps – “Lord, help me be in the moment as much as possible this day, so that I do not miss the mystery.”

Created In God’s Image…….Co-Creators With God

Creating And Re-creating!

I came to better understand the “New Age” term “Co-creators with God” as I created and re-created with mud and clay, spinning them into new creations (not to mention the miracle of actually co-creating the lives of our two children, Paul and Leah, in tandem with my wife Joan!). And, if any of you have read anything I’ve written, it almost always gets back to God recycling / re-creating our lives, taking all the broken pieces and making a Brand New Creation: 

‘BEYOND HUMPTY DUMPTY!!!’

A wheel thrown and altered large vase

So, what does it take to be ‘RE-CREATED’?  I won’t pretend to know that answer for you, though it took a near death experience for me to hit bottom and surrender, giving to the Master Potter as many broken pieces as I was able. In the past five and a half years, He has re-created my life in so many ways. I was the walking wounded who has become the wounded healer. God IS making my scars beautiful. Nothing is wasted—all is used / recycled. He has and continues to breath His Life-Giving-Spirit into me and into so many around me seeking to be re-created.

This idea of God breathing into our lives is brought out strongly in Michelangelo’s magnificent “Creation of Adam” fresco in the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. This iconic art work, with the two hands reaching out to each other, has been ‘abused’ as much as the Mona Lisa, but there’s so much more behind it’s creation.

"God created Man from the Dust of the Earth and Breathed Into Him and He became a Living Soul!"

We’ve become so used to this famous art work that it’s easy to forget the incredible teaching that it brings to us. God creates Adam from the clay of the earth and he’s just there, so to speak. But then He breathes into man, and man becomes a living soul!

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Blessings and Peace to you, as we allow our Creator to continue to breathe His life-giving Spirit into us as co-creators with Him, assisting in that re-creating process of others!

 

“Hunchbacked Recovery Wings” ~ (Book Excerpt 3)

Sharing About Flight and Recovery With Our Granddaughter Nora Jean!

 Hunchback Recovery Wings

 

I read a story recently that reminded me strongly of my personal recovery. It was about a mother who brought home a foster child with a deformity—a severe, crippling hunchback. The mother’s son was the same age as the foster child. She took him aside and asked him not to talk about the other boy’s deformity or make fun of him. A few days later the mother overheard her son talking to the boy, saying, “Do you know what that big hump on your back is for? It holds your wings that will help you fly!”

Wow! What a perfect recovery analogy! This story came back to me as I was walking this morning, just when I needed it most. It reminded me of perhaps the greatest blessing in my life: my very real Higher Power uses my worst deformities as strengths to help me fly above my self-imposed fears and worries. From this perspective, I gain an amazing healing view of living more in the present.  This is a present filled with tension and doubt, as well as with future deformities, but one that I’ve been given new strength to wrestle with. I have been gifted with a present that forces me to be more honest with myself and more open to others.

I’ve known and taught for years that many of my greatest defects are my greatest strengths and gifts that have been pushed too far. Loving, leading, and working well with people can turn into manipulating people into fulfilling my desires or unmet needs. Deeply understanding spiritual truths can devolve into winning theological battles while losing the friendship war and being a poor witness for my faith. Enjoying solitude while using my creative gifts can lead to isolation, not sharing with others, not keeping in touch with my mentor/sponsor, or having few close friends. When I live into these defective traits, I refuel my worst fears, which leads me to a low-grade depression that in turn brings about the very defects that I have risen above in my recovery.

Another defect which haunts many addicts and alcoholics is the belief that “saying it is the same as doing it,” or, “writing it to others publicly equals accomplishment.” Wrong! But I am thankful that sharing with and receiving input from my recovery family over the years has become a key piece of my recovery puzzle. I am taking the next step, doing the next right thing. My wings are hidden in my deformed strengths. These steps are helping me slowly gain lift off! I am learning and re-learning to fly!   Thank you! 

And, I thank the One that makes my scars and my deformities beautiful and somehow uses them to help me fly.

"A Wounded Monarch but It Will Still Fly......Can I???"

“Wounded Healers” (Book Excerpt 2)

 


 

"In the depths of Winter, I finally learned that within may lay an invincible Summer" ~ Albert Camus


If someone asked me, “What is the most empowering and life-giving aspect of your recovery journey?” I could describe it with two words: Wounded Healers. Those words come from Henri Nouwen, an insightful Roman Catholic priest and extraordinary writer who was a conduit of God’s light shining through his brokenness, freeing others to be the same. His famous recovery phrase is, “The walking wounded have become the wounded healers.” This phrase is alive and never ceases to empower me.

There was a time after I hit bottom, crashing and burning, when I could be described as a veteran of foreign wars. My life wreaked of what I thought was tragedy beyond recovery. I knew in my mind that things would never be the same, but I did not know in my heart that things could actually be better! Now begins a new journey, a new recovery, a new life that is slowly growing better, even beyond what it used to be.

Despite this living proof and power, many people I come into contact with are still trying to swim to the surface for air. They are feeling trapped like a panicked swimmer caught beneath the thick winter ice with no hole to climb out of. Yet I can also laugh with others in the program who sometimes joke, “I know that through this amazing, healing 12-step program, the light I can clearly see at the end of that dark tunnel is not an oncoming train”! Even with all these amazing truths around me that are sometimes working through me, I am often unconvinced, trying instead to live life with my own limited, failing power. It is during these doubting, vulnerable times that I am sent to other wounded healers who reassure, comfort, and stay with me.

And why can’t our wounded healers be God in the flesh, living in and flowing through the loved ones He sends around us? Their words of comfort and unconditional love heal us; they empower us to risk cracking the door and trusting once more by giving ourselves to another who will carry us. As they do, they too are given joy for their journey.

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Lord, thank you for being the

wounded healer for me.

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A BOOK EXCERPT: THE PICTORIAL OUTLINE

Oh the Joy, after working on a book for years and one day, it all comes together!

It’s not that I didn’t know the heart of my book: “The Walking Wounded Becoming The Wounded Healers!” That powerful ‘Beyond Humpty Dumpty” where God can take all the broken pieces of our lives and make a brand new creation—something we could have never become if we had never gone through our struggles. This was the heart of my book as it was my recovering life, and so many other ‘walking miracles’ along the way which I come alive in the pages of my book.  

But how do you organize all that in book form that is both attractive, teachable, and applicable to someone who wants healing and a new life?  It came together one day when I thought of “The Seasons Of Our Lives”. The  four seasons in Minnesota are very distinct, and for years I had been taking photographs of our beautiful Beaver Island Trail Path throughout those seasons. So why not combine the two thoughts:  “Beyond Humpty Dumpty – Recovery Reflections On The Seasons Of Our Lives!”  This worked perfectly by dividing the 12 Steps of Alcoholic’s Anonymous with the Four Seasons of the 92 photographs in this book! 

Therefore, when you open my book to the Table of Contents, you find the following four pictures of the seasons, with the outlined Steps below each seasoned picture.


“SPRING!” NEW LIFE FROM NEAR DEATH – 
* STEPS 1-3: “GIVE UP!” (Page 13)

* SUMMER: THE HEALING SUNSHINE OF SUMMER
STEPS 4-7: “CLEAN UP!” (Page 87)

AUTUMN: GETTING READY FOR WINTRY TIMES
* STEPS 8-9: “MAKE UP!” (Page 153) 

WINTER: ENJOYING IT BY GETTING OUT INTO IT!
* STEPS 10-12: “KEEP UP!” (Page 193)

“Taking A Geographical Escape!!!”

 

Our Sedona Arizona Trip, Day 3, 2010

Many Years ago my wife and I would save money for years to take a longer, refreshing, life-giving trip. They began to mean so much to us, and to our two children as a family, that we stopped waiting for years to take them and began doing something ‘major’ one to times a year. That included camping on the North Shore of Lake Superior to the Black Hills of South Dakota, the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, and the Fantasy of Disney World and Tower of Terror. Yes, I know, it takes money to do this—but it takes much more than that—it takes the desire to GO!  Money is important but not the most important. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way. When you realize how healing and life-giving such trips are, they are worth taking. Our loved ones will not say when they are older, “I wish you would have spent more time working”……My grown, married children still talk about going to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness like we did when they were 12 years old!  Included here are two pictures of a special trip Joan and I took two years ago to Sedona, Arizona. We were blown away the third morning when we awoke, took our coffee and walked a block down the path to see these hot air balloons just getting ready to take off. Up, UP, AND AWAY!!!! Amazing and so freeing!

(Click on this link “Sedona Arizona Trip, Day 3” for a short video)

 

"We Have Liftoff!"

Welcome To My World!!! – A Friend, Visitor, Web Surfer, A Serendipitous Encounter!

I remember when I created my first business. We came up with a great Mission Statement, short and succint. Then we went on to say, “If you’re not into organized religion, THAT’S GOOD, ‘CAUSE WE’RE NOT VERY ORGANIZED!!!!’

I feel that way a bit now, though more of a disorganized excitement and joy. And like that first mission church that grew to over 700 souls in 15 years, building three times to 28,000 square feet, I was able to say, “Enjoy this time while it is this size, because it won’t be this way again!!!”

That is this site! Just created on this 9th Day of May, 2012. A site to not only promote the best in personal recovery, as touched on in my new book, “Beyond Humpty Dumpty,” but to also RECEIVE FROM OTHERS coming to this site to share all things necessary, healing, and fun, when it comes to enjoying the present as much as possible.

Like the creation of my first book, three years in the making, this site will be a launching pad for all things transformational: from healing words, laughter, video, photographs, links to other sites, and so much more.

Thanks for stopping by……..come often, you’re always welcome……..24/7.

Peace,
Brother Ken, ‘Beyond Humpty Dumpty’