Monday, October 28, 2013

in clover: a (not so) rare experience

A few days ago, I realized that the Facebook page that supports this blog, In clover, was at 196 "likes."   I recall the day the page reached 100 likes, which was very exciting indeed.   It has been at least one year to reach 100 more.  This blog and the In Clover page are growing....slowly, slowly growing.  On a good day, I do my best not to focus on how many or how few subscribers and "likers" there are.  Instead, as author Stephen Pressfield said in a recent interview with Oprah, I attempt to focus on simply putting my "ass in the chair."  In front of a computer.  Now, type!   It's been hard to do that lately but here I am again, typing.  The thing that allowed me to start again was author Anne Lamott's reflection that the starting place is almost always a "shitty first draft." 

Now that I have graduated and I have an opportunity to see as many directees as the Spirit sends my way, my spiritual direction practice is also growing....slowly, slowly growing.    As far as paid work, I now have four "directees"  that I meet with quite regularly.  I have also been priviledged to lead or co-lead a few retreats for other organizations for pay and I am looking forward to offering my own brand of weekend retreats soon.  As far as unpaid ministry, I continue to work weekly with the group called Cultivating Mindfulness at Central Christian Church.  We practice meditation, mindfulness exercises, contemplative group engagement and group spiritual direction.  Cultivating Mindfulness, now in it's fourth year,  has recently experienced some exciting growth, inviting us to move into a larger room at the church for our time together.

If I am honest, I will admit that I am both encouraged and discouraged at the same time.  For one thing, people are really, really busy.  Most folks have little time for this kind of work.  But that biggest barrier I notice is that many people have never heard of "spiritual direction" before.  And yet, I hear many, many people expressing themselves in ways that leaves me certain that they crave the experience of spiritual direction.  The problem is that most us  lack the language to express it.  Because we've never heard of it.  

And often, after you try to explain it, folks wonder if it's something really strange....

....or why in the world you would pay someone to listen to you.   

Or they completely misunderstand and think that a director will tell them what to think, believe or do.  That either makes them very uncomfortable or very comfortable but either way, it's a misunderstanding of what direction is. 

Recently, while perusing my newsfeed on FaceBook,  I noticed  Parker Palmer's facebook status immediately.  (I also noticed that Parker Palmer has 29, 322 likes on his FaceBook page)



"When was the last time someone asked you an honest, open question—one that invited you to reflect more deeply on your own life, asked by a person who did not want to advise you or "fix" you but "hear you into speech," deeper and deeper speech?

For most of us, that's a rare experience. In our culture, we tend to ask each other questions that are "fixes" or advice in disguise. "Have you thought about seeing a therapist?" is NOT an honest, open question!

But when we share a problem with someone who wants to listen and knows how to ask honest, open questions... Now we have a chance to learn from our own inner teacher, to tap into own inner wisdom."   

Palmer is dead on with this quote.  He has articulated eloquently the importance and the beauty of participating in spiritual direction.   This "rare experience" is what happens in a spiritual direction session.  

It doesn't have to be such a rare experience. 

It seemed important to me that I share that with you.

There you have it....my shitty first fifth draft.  

Namaste,

Lisa


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Friday, October 25, 2013

in clover: rainy day cozy

I've been a bit blue....not sure why.  It hasn't been the weather, that's for sure!  October blessed us here in Central Kentucky with glorious fall days...warmish with just the right amount of slightly crisp air and lots of sunshine...what some call chamber of commerce days...until last Saturday when it turned cold, dark and rainy.

Truth be told, I was in heaven.  I LOVED it.  I gave myself permission not to put on real clothes...turned on the lamps....lit a few fall'ish scented candles....cranked up the fireplace....put a pot of chili on....grabbed a big old furry throw and enthroned myself on the couch with a big pile of yarn and crochet hook.  My intention was to try out this cute, vintage patterned potholder I found on-line.  Easey, peasey, no stress whimsy.  The colors and vintage motif really appealed to me and I need some new pot holders.  



But after I got a few rows of the blue yarn crocheted up, I began to think this was going to be a somewhat petite potholder.  I am a bit clumsy around the kitchen and often in a hurry, so I try to use a generously sized potholder to keep me feeling safe...just in case I slip.   But I hated to give up what I had done and the colors were so much fun, I just crocheted on.

Of course, little c was wandering about, doing her own creative, rainy day things....singing, dancing, drawing and writing, it changes minute to minute....she loves a pj day as much as her mama.  She asked if I was making something for her...no, not this time.  But then I remembered a cute, stripey pattern I had seen for fingerless mitts and I wondered if my too-small pot holder might be just the right size to wrap around c's little wrist.

This is my inspiration photo from a wonderful, wonderful blog. I want to live in her world! 

IMG_6007

So I set out to convert my ill-fated potholder into a mini version of these stripey mitts.  I kept the little scalloped border, that really adds a nice finishing touch.  The only change I made was to stitch the seam in a single crochet on the right side of the mitts...I'm TERRIBLE at sewing a seam.  I saw this as an opportunity to make the seam a feature, rather than trying to hide it poorly.

After I finished the mitts, she was so tickled with them, she asked me to make a matching hat!  Using a squarish shaped hat I purchased for her last year as inspiration and to help gauge a good size, I figured out about what the width should be and I crocheted a rectangle in a matching stripey pattern and then just folded it in half, top to bottom.  I used the same single crochet stitch to seam the sides and then I found a you tube video that showed how to make tassels to adorn the corners.

Voila....a hat and fingerless mitts....all from my ill fated pot holder attempt. 





My blue day turned a bit sunnier, despite the rain and cold, and little c couldn't have been happier....




Atticus the Cat was pretty happy with the laid back day too.  I think he was very tired here...just worn out, after hours of trying to sneak my ball of yarn away from me.





c insisted on wearing her ensemble to school on Monday, even though it had warmed up by then.  She said that she wore them in class until her teacher had to ask her to take them off and that ALL her friends want a set of their own.  Not bad, for a potholder. 

Here's to rainy, cold, grey, but still cozy sorts of fall days.  And to stripey mitts with matching tassel hats, sweet little girls and aggravating, yarn thieving cats, all who chase the blues away. 

Namaste, 

Lisa 


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Thursday, September 12, 2013

in clover: minds like crows




“Our minds are like crows. They pick up everything that glitters, no matter how uncomfortable our nests get with all that metal in them.” Thomas Merton






I like home décor and decorating television shows. An old favorite is “Clean House” on the Style channel. The premise of the show is simple. The “Clean House” team (organizer, designer, handyman and host) arrives at a home that is completely over-run with lots and lots of clutter. They use all sorts of tactics to pry the clutter loose from the grasp of the inhabitants and then sell the clutter in a huge yard sale and donate whatever is left to charity. The yard sale proceeds (plus a little extra) are used to make over the home into a functional and inviting space. When the homeowners play along, the transformations are really quite incredible.


As the team begins to sort the various items, identifying what should go, disagreements break out over who should let go of what. No one wants to give up their own stuff but everyone is quick to point out what the other family members should give up. This accumulation of stuff is literally rendering their homes unlivable. They know this is the truth but they are overwhelmed by the task of cleaning it up or sometimes, they don’t really want to get rid of the excess. They just don’t want to see it or have to step over it any more. Often it is clear that they really hope the clutter can be organized and stored, rather than gotten rid of.


There are mothers of teenagers who can’t let go of baby clothes and bassinets and young adults hanging on to a childhood’s worth of toys. There are piles of clothes, craft supplies, power tools, pots and pans, books, car parts, holiday décor and super-sized collections of every sort, ranging from velvet Jesus paintings to Viking helmets. Sometimes the things belonged to a beloved family member who has passed away. Sometimes it is left from a failed business venture.


As the home owners stand in the doorway, gazing upon an unusable room, they will explain to the team what the purpose of the room is supposed to be…dining room, living room, guest bedroom…and then they express what they would like to room to become... home office, nursery, craft room, or simply functional again. But when it comes down to letting go of all the clutter housed there in order to transform the room into what they say they want, most of them put up a big ole’ fight. I’m sure some of it is staged for the camera but clearly in many cases, the team hits a real nerve. These folks have seen the show, they know what kind of transformation lies ahead, they ASKED for this and still, it is an enormous struggle to part with these things. It’s humbling to be honest about the condition of their home. And it’s a big job to begin clearing the mess.


I’m sure you know where I am headed with this. About 20 years ago, I read a book called “Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston. At the time, I wasn’t all that sure about the feng shui part but I found the book very inspiring. Now, I wasn’t knee deep in clutter but I did have many, many things that just didn’t serve me any more….clothes that no longer fit but had cost “good money”, knick knacks that weren’t “me” but came from an expensive store or were a gift from a dear friend, books I read but would never read again, and so forth. In her book, Karen says that your outer state is a physical representation of your inner state.  That really got my attention. That made me uncomfortable. That gave me something to think about.


I invite you to reflect on that. If it makes you uncomfortable, that's ok.  The goal here is not to judge how you feel but simply to notice it and then to sit with it. What do you hold in your heart that you no longer need? A tendency to perfectionism?  Anger? Resentment? Fear? Judgement?  Like the homeowners on “Clean House,” we can choose to be very brave….we can choose to be very honest …and we can choose to dig deep, past the surface layer.

It can be very, very difficult to dig down deep.  In spiritual direction practice, we have a saying..."a dragon guards the treasure."  It can be very scary to confront that fire breathing dragon but truly that is what we must do if we are seeking transformation. 

We have very good reasons for the emotions we carry with us. Life is not fair. We are human and we get hurt and we get angry and frustrated and defensive and self-righteous and we become fearful. Like the homeowner who cannot fathom giving up her only daughter’s out grown baby clothes, we cannot imagine giving up our perfectionism, our anger and our expectations and yet, that is exactly what we need to do in order to truly live.   As physical clutter renders a home unlivable, emotional clutter keeps us trapped in the past; unable to live fully; unable to move forward; unable to claim the kingdom. We can choose to create space in our homes for living and we can choose to create space in our hearts for Divine Transformation.   

Now, not many of us can claim clutter free homes any more than we can claim clutter free hearts.  After reading my post, if you are beginning to judge yourself harshly, please stop.  Harsh judgement of oneself is not Sacred.  Allow yourself some Grace.  Remember...



peace and all good, 

Lisa 

(A version of this post originally appeared on The Bluevine Collective.  I have been revisiting the issue of clutter, both the physical and emotional,  in my own life and so I am revisiting this post.  In the original post, which ran in September of 2010, I noticed that I said, "we must" and "we have to" and "we should."  I have intentionally changed that wording to "we can choose to.") 


Monday, July 15, 2013

in clover: sacred brokenness

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(This is a post that ran a few years ago...I have no idea why but it wants to post again, today.  Who am I to stand in the way of the spirit?)

In the spring of 2005, I was expecting a baby girl (little c) and a 40 foot high cube container of antiques from England and France.   The few years preceding had been difficult for my extended family…there had been deaths, divorces, financial troubles and other trying personal issues.   Lots of painful change. We had faced some hard times.
Anxious to get the new inventory cleaned, displayed and sold before the baby arrived, I was counting down the days until the ship carrying my container docked in Norfolk, VA.  The container would then make its way by truck to the shop.  Everything would need to be unpacked, cleaned, inventoried, photographed, priced and sold.  Post September 11, the import business had changed a lot but in almost 10 years we had never had any trouble getting our container through customs.   
Never say never.  First the container was detained for X-ray inspection.  Apparently my penchant for old garden and farm tools raised suspicions and so the container was completely unpacked for a physical inspection.  I was physically unable to do heavy lifting so Michael drove to Virginia. He had been told on the phone that he could repack the container.  A container, well packed, is a thing of beauty…hastily packed, it’s a disaster.  Michael drove home a week later, having never been allowed to even lay eyes on our container.
Two weeks later it arrived and we held our breath.   A birdbath…the basin cracked in two…a carton of blue and white porcelain plates shattered.  The leg of a very fine 18th century buffet, snapped.  The list went on.  As we dug into the middle of the container I came upon a pile of what had once been lovely French earthenware jugs.  I was excited that I had been able to source so many and had imagined how I would display them and how great they would look.  They were shattered inside their shoddily replaced bubble wrap. 
At the end of the day, we realized it could have been worse. The furniture could be repaired, although it would be costly.  I sat on the floor with the damaged plates and a hammer.  I broke them into small pieces and displayed the broken bits in large glass canisters.  Finally I sold the pieces to a woman wanting to learn mosaic work.  Mike glued the birdbath together and brought it to our home…we didn’t think we could guarantee it well enough to feel right about selling it to someone else.  The French jugs were a lost cause except for one that was broken across the middle.  I sat it in an out of the way corner, by my work station, and left it there.
One day, I was helping a client sketch ideas and plans for a small fountain.   She had an old tub to for the base and was looking for something for the actual font.   She decided on an urn…the water would bubble up from the center, cascade down the sides of the urn and back into the tub.  It was going to be lovely.  I had been threatening to add a water feature to our garden for years but I didn’t like the fountains I saw for sale at home improvement stores.     
Hmmmm….
I wandered the store looking for pieces to combine into a fountain.  One of the biggest hurdles to designing a fountain is hiding the pump.  I knew that my fountain would go under a dogwood tree so it needed to be low to the ground…not too tall.  A low stone trough would be great but what to go with it?
Maybe an urn like my client chose?  No, the colors were too similar.  An enamel body pitcher?  No, it would rust out in a season and the scale was all wrong. Maybe an English watering can?  No, just didn’t look right.  Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the two pieces of the broken French jug.  I set the top in the trough.  The angle of the break was just right…just right for a fountain!  The dark brown color stood out against the putty colored stone.  And best of all, because the bottom was missing (broken), the pump would be easily hidden.  Voila!  My perfect fountain.
Most of the time, I am able to see the sacred in wholeness. But when something breaks, I try to fix it. And that’s ok…many things CAN be mended.  In fact, in this disposable world we live in, more things SHOULD be mended.  When things can’t be fixed or we won’t take the time or the trouble to try, we often dispose of them….send them off to the landfill where we don’t have to see them anymore.   
But there is sacredness in the broken things too…broken things, broken relationships, even broken people.   It’s all sacred.  When something breaks and cannot be fixed, we have an opportunity to re-vision it…give it a new purpose.  Instead of banishing it from our sight, we can learn to live with the imperfection…the loss.  We can sit and look at the broken things…learn to appreciate them fully…even come to love them… maybe even more than we did in their wholeness. 
As a whole, perfect thing, the French jug would have sat in my dining room…a lovely display. But in its brokenness, the jug directs cool water into a basin….the water makes music …robins bath in my fountain every morning!  Children cannot resist dipping their hands into the stream.   
I am aware that the jug, in its brokenness, is much, much more fragile than when it was whole.  When the weather turns cool, I do not take a chance.  A cold snap would shatter it for sure.  I store it more carefully than I do the other summer things.  For one thing, how would I replace it? Where does one find a broken jug for sale?  The jug, BECAUSE of its brokenness, is precious to me.   In some ways, it is irreplaceable.
I wonder how it would feel if we treated the broken and chipped places of our hearts with the same care?   As a trainee to become a Spiritual Director, I am required to receive spiritual direction.  I think that so far, most of what I have been learning is just that…to accept, love and cherish those things about me that are nicked…cracked….even shattered.  When we search for the sacred, I hope we do not over look the broken things.
Peace, 
Lisa

Thursday, July 11, 2013

in clover: technical difficulty?

Yesterday, I published a post called "Open for Business."  For some reason, my email subscribers did not receive notification of the post.  

I can't figure out why or how to regenerate the email, so this post serves two purposes:  first, to see if it is fixed (will you get an email for THIS post?) and second, to let you know if you want to read what I published yesterday, click here: 

http://www.readinclover.com/2013/07/open-for-business.html


Ahhh, the universe! 

Namaste, 

Lisa


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

in clover: open for business

It's taken me some time to work up the courage to say this here but.....I did it!  I have officially graduated.  I completed a three year certification process with Sycamore Spirituality Center....first, a one year program called Contemplation in Every Day Life and then a two year program called The Art of Spiritual Direction. 

I have a certificate and everything!



I graduated early in May.   I traveled to Cincinnati by myself on a Friday afternoon.  It poured absolute buckets of rain the whole way!  When I arrived at the retreat center on the convent grounds, it was still raining but, despite the downpour, the gardens were absolutely stunning.  I was not willing to get out my nice camera but I snapped these shots using my phone from under a large, black umbrella I found in the stand by the door.  (I NEVER have an umbrella. I am sure that says something about me.)





After dinner, my friend Margaret and I took a walk around the grounds.  We didn't mind that it was still misting rain.  We had a lovely chat with one of the sisters who was taking the convent pooch for a walk.  As we made our way around the grounds, I felt very drawn to this gate.  I do not know why but I really wanted to take a photo of it.  I don't think it was locked.  Maybe I should have tried to open it....



Later, after everyone had arrived, we gathered in a circle and spent time together, quietly and reflectively, in this beautiful space.  

 

All the things in the middle of the circle have special meaning.  I found the circle of light even more beautiful and inspiring than usual.  It was quite emotional.




The next day, after spending some time in gratitude for one another, we changed our clothes and got ready to greet our families and friends and then...it was time to graduate! 


Michael and the children drove up from Lexington and my sister and niece came too.  It was nice to have family there.  My spiritual director was also there which was a lovely surprise.  

During the ceremony, we were asked to rise and our family and friends layed hands on us.  I can't even begin to tell you how special that was. 

Each one of us received a blessing.  This my mentor, Steve, blessing me.  It was one of the first times in my life that I have been in "the center of attention" and didn't mind at all...in the past, nervousness and anxiety have spoiled special moments but not this time!



We were also given a white "khata."  A khata is a ceremonial Tibetan scarf symbolizing purity and compassion.  The khatas we were given bears the image of a lotus blossom.  I especially loved this because of the symbolism of the lotus flower.  ReligionFacts website states:

"The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight. This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment.
Though there are other water plants that bloom above the water, it is only the lotus which, owing to the strength of its stem, regularly rises eight to twelve inches above the surface."

Michael took this photo of me in my khata shortly after the ceremony. 


And my sister took this photo of my family. 




So, my training and internship period have come to end.  I know that the work I have been doing for the past three years, both internal and while sitting with others...one on one and in small groups...has prepared me to go forward confidently with this work.  

Recently, I was a co-leader of a beautiful, contemplative Service of Healing.  It was very powerful.  The day before, I led a group of 12 women in a Contemplative NeedleArts Retreat.  I loved the experience and I am getting very positive feedback from those who attended.  Last month, I led a Personal Mandala Meditation for a group of women who serve others in the Stephen Ministry program.  And the month before that, I worked with a group of social workers and therapists from the Kentucky Center on Trauma and Children, based on Jon Kabat Zinn's work in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.  I have even put together a brochure about myself and spiritual direction.  The one thing I had failed to do was announce it here.  

So, UNIVERSE....

my spiritual direction and retreat leadership practice is officially:



And to all of you, I am going officially on record to say that I am available for individual and group direction work.  If you want to know more, email me at lisagmaas@gmail.com.   If you are part of a group that would like a contemplative experience, send me a note. My emerging specialty is providing creative, contemplative experiences. 

I am qualified, prepared and eager to do this work! God willing, I hope to be doing this work for a very long time to come.

Namaste,  Lisa

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Monday, July 1, 2013

in clover: Vulnerable Joy

I had something written for today but I've just gone to let the chickens out and found one of my hens, a pretty little Rhode Island Red, dead in the coop.   

Emmy Lou was the friendliest of all my girls and the one I would most often hand to a curious child who wanted to hold a chicken.   

This is me with a teenage Emmy Lou the day she came to live with us. 



 And here's a shot of her on the roost with Nancy.



 Back when when had six...sunbathing together.  Emmy is right up front.





I have been dreading the day that I would find a dead chicken.  Honestly, it made me feel sick to think about it.  It made me feel terribly vulnerable.  My friend has kept chickens longer than I have and she told me that every time one of them dies, she says to herself, "I just can't do this anymore.  No more chickens!"  

She also has said to me many times, when wrestling with some difficulty, that she seeks out the calming presence of the chickens.  "What did you do then?" I ask.  "I sat with the chickens."  I do it too.  I call it my chicken meditation.  I have recently made two new friends, both of whom are chicken keepers.  And they report the same sense of peace when they are with their chickens, which seems to be proof that the feelings of vulnerability are worth it, even though it's terribly difficult.  

When I was a single girl, I had a sweet little cat I called "Bubba."  He acted a lot like a dog, greeting me at the door.  I LOVED that cat!  When I was very pregnant with Big C, Bubba died.  A neighbor, trying to stop birds from eating his garden up, had put out poison.  It was awful for me and for over a decade I refused to have another animal. I swore I would "NEVER go through that again."  This makes me laugh now...since I was only a couple of weeks from giving birth.  Seriously! 

We took in my dad's elderly cat when it needed a home but I refused to get very close to him.  And he wasn't very friendly anyway, so it worked for us both.  It was only because of Little c that we have a dog and two cats now....although the chickens are on me.  Sometimes, in a quiet moment, I marvel at how I have exposed myself to vulnerable feelings by allowing animals in my home again.

Brene Brown has this to say about vulnerability: 

"When we lose our tolerance for vulnerability, joy becomes foreboding."  

I am certain, for me at least, this is absolutely true. 

Sometimes, like this morning, exposing myself in this way sucks.  But most days, it's totally worth it and full of joy. 

Maybe I will write a book...."Everything I Needed to Know About Vulnerability, I Learned From a Chicken."
Maybe.

Namaste, 

Lisa

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Monday, June 24, 2013

in clover: S is for....

S is for Simplicity 

This year little c asked to celebrate her birthday with a more intimate gathering than in years past. She suggested a day out with her mom and dad and one school friend and we were happy to oblige.  Big brother is off on a church mission trip and as no family happens to be visiting this year,  we thought she might be disappointed when there was only Michael and me to sing Happy Birthday to her.   So we decided to invite neighborhood friends with children to stroll by....in that sweet spot, after supper but just before summer bedtimes...to sing with us and have a piece of cake.  Easy for everyone!

There were still a few simple preparations.


S is for Straws, made of brightly colored paper. 

While shopping for plates and napkins, I spotted these irresistible packages of brightly colored paper straws.   The empty jam jars,  piled at the bottom of the basement stairs,  seemed like a perfectly simple companion for the old fashioned paper straws.  Who knew straws and jam jars could be so inspiring?


S is for Steal

I picked up this vintage metal tray on a recent junk store junket.  I love the colors, the pattern and the shape and with a price tag of $2...it was indeed a steal!  And I was excited to have an opportunity to put it to use.



And guess what?  The jelly jars fit PERFECTLY on the tray: 


But what to serve our guests?  Pink lemonade bags seemed the safest (organic, no glass and no added sugar!) as well as the most simple solution for our young guests....



but for their parents?  

S is for Sangria, the summer variety...

I have never made sangria so I googled recipes and figured I could not go wrong with this Martha Stewart recipe.  This recipe is light and not too sweet.  It calls for basil and sliced ginger which I thought sounded interesting.  I made a few "secret recipe" adjustments and voila....


I let it sit overnight and crossed my fingers! 

After the morning thunderstorms rolled on past, we tidied up the garden just a bit, set out our simple spread and soon, neighbors came strolling down the street.









S is for Sesame Honey Almonds from Trader Joe's.  

Everyone loves them and they were a nice nibble with the sangria.  The green bowl is a piece of 50's refrigerator glass that belonged to Michael's grandmother.




S is for Spiritual practice opportunities! 

Just before our guests arrived, I noticed that Atticus the cat had jumped on top of the cake box!  Tinker Belle had nearly disappeared in devil's food cake and the garden of yellow icing flowers was now stuck to the top of the box.  Michael volunteered to run it back to the bakery, hopeful they could "fix it" but in the end, we kept it simple....I smeared around what icing was left and let it go.  Sweet Michael said, "Good job, honey!  You made it look like clouds."  

I vented on FaceBook...my status read: 

"My &*^#$%$ cat just jumped on top of Caroline's cake...Tinker Belle is toast!"  And then there was some mention of my sampling the sangria immediately.

I am glad I vented as one friend reminded me that it's our mishaps that most often lodge in our memories.  For years to come, we remember them and laugh.  This is so true!  I am sure that we will always remember this as the year the cat jumped on top of the cake. The realization made me (almost) glad it happened! 

Another friend made me giggle when she commented, "In my world there is almost nothing more holy than a spiritual director who says "&*^#$%$ cat" publicly. Except maybe one who heads for sangria next. You're in the spiritual big leagues now, my friend. Watch out world!"

I am so thankful for those who accept and affirm me, exactly as I am! What a gift.
 

S is for Sweet Voices and Sweet Smiling, Sticky Faces...

c was excited when it was time for singing...she didn't mind that the breeze put out the candles before she could blow them out and she sure didn't mind the smooshed bits. 





S is for Summer Birthdays and Sweet Daughters turning eight! 

Namaste, 

Lisa 

   
   










Monday, June 17, 2013

in clover: welcoming new life




Recently I had the honor of co-hosting a baby shower for a dear friend.  Little c was over the top...she loves a party, especially when it involves lots of pink.   She was a great help and inspiration and we enjoyed each others company in our preparations.  (Well, most of the time anyway!) 

We made our first batch of cake pops together....



We displayed them in a pair of vintage English urns that I borrowed from my shop inventory.  


 


We made a banner and a big tissue paper flower to decorate our fireplace.....



We made heart shaped cucumber, basil and cream cheese tea sandwiches and decorated them with a tiny bit of impatien blossom.  (Yes, impatiens, like pansies, are edible!) 


And we made tiny little heart shaped pimento cheese bites...


We even made our gift....


I have made several hats and one pair of the knitted Mary Jane shoes before but this was my first ever sweater.  I found the free crochet pattern on line and I added some details of my own.  Our guest of honor received several beautiful handmade gifts and I could tell, she really appreciated them.  

Other friends planned the games and contributed homemade cupcakes and layer cakes,  yummy cookies and beautiful fresh fruit and veg.  I noticed that sharing the responsibilities increased my joy...and not just because I had less work to do but because it was more fun to plot and plan together.  Often I find that my own creativity is unleashed when I am around other creative folks.

c and I had a wonderful time decorating the house and fixing the food but the  most fun of all was filling the party favor bags.  Our idea for the favors took some time to gel but eventually, inspired by a big bag of colorful beads we found in our basement craft area, we came up with these:




Each bag contains a white votive candle and a prayer litany rolled into a scroll, secured by a simple prayer bracelet.  My friend Greta introduced me to the idea of giving white candles at baby showers...to be lit during the birth. I love this idea!  The bag of beads we found was left over from a Prayer Bead Meditation I led for a group of women a few years ago and so we thought, why not also give our guests a prayer bracelet? 

I spent some time researching prayers for labor and birth but in the end I wrote my own.  I asked our guest of honor for permission to share it here.  She graciously agreed. 

Actually, this is what she said which I thought was sweet and funny: 

 "Feel free to use our names! And don't forget to mention that one of the prizes for the shower games was a dozen fresh eggs. That was so incredibly cool and I think the world should know."  

We did offer one dozen of our eggs as a game prize and my hens would be proud to know that their eggs were immediately snatched up.  

Feel free to use the litany yourself, I only ask that if you add it to your own blog or print it on paper, please attribute authorship to me and provide my blog address, www.readinclover.com.  I thank you and your karma will too.  :)
 
Namaste, 

Lisa 


A Prayer Bead Litany for the birth of Liv and Elijah's daughter....

Bead One: 

Creator God,

We ask your blessing on Liv, a new mother, as she enters into this unknown and sacred experience of childbirth.  Connect her with the ancient knowledge of her sisters who have come before her.  Help her to embrace her strength.  Help her to embrace her power. Help her to surrender to her bodies own Wisdom.  Fill her heart with joy at the  anticipation of this most divine labor, now beginning to unfold for her.  

Isaiah 41:10
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous hand."

Bead Two:

We ask your blessing on Elijah, a new father, as he emotionally and spiritually labors with Liv and lovingly supports her in her physical labor.   Fill Elijah with stamina and a peace filled divine energy that he might share his strength with and bring Your Presence to Liv.  Connect Elijah to the wisdom of all his brothers who have come before him. Allow him to share deeply with Liv this most sacred experience of labor and childbirth, now beginning to unfold for him. 

Psalm 29:11
"The Lord gives strength to his people, the Lord blesses his people with peace."

Bead Three:

We ask your blessing on this child, a new daughter.  Divinely guide her transition from the womb of her mother into the tender and welcoming embrace of her mother, her father and all the others waiting for her. Throughout her unique birth experience, cradle her in surrender and beauty. Allow your Peace to surround her, as she moves from the warmth, support and darkness of the womb towards the Light of your Creation, bringing your Light into the world by her very Presence. 

Jeremiah 29:11
"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

Bead Four:

We ask your blessing on the medical professionals and caregivers charged with tending Liv and Elijah and their daughter.  Help them remember the sacredness of this experience.  Help them to remember the uniqueness of each birth.  Give each of them the heart of a midwife, mindful of the body, mindful of the spirit, and most mindful that they are witnessing a miracle. Bless their minds, hands, and spirits well as they expertly care for this family, so beloved to us. 

Psalm 118:23
"This is the Lord's doing, and it is wonderful to see!"

Bead Five: 

We ask your blessing on each of us, the family and friends of Liv and Elijah.  Help us support them in labor and childbirth through our prayer and meditations.  We pray with great joy and anticipation and thanksgiving for the soon to be new life in our midst.  We pray for Liv as laborer, in this ancient and sacred rite.  We pray Elijah as supporter and advocate.  We pray for the doctors, nurses and midwives in their call to the medical profession and as witnesses to the miracle of birth. Lord, hear our prayer.

Numbers 6:24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you, and be gracious unto you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace." 


Bead Six:

We give thanks for the miracle of birth, the Holy Cycle of Life and for the divinity and humanity of your Living Creation.

Ephesians 3:20:
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through God's mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think."

Bead Seven:

We bless this birth! 


(Here I actually included a birth blessing written by someone else but I do not have permission, yet, to include that.)

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