Are you there, God? It’s me, Christina

Images found on Pinterest.  Hand of God by Younsung Kim.

Photo Credits: 1) Paige Locke 2) Hand of God” by Yongsung Kim 3) evangelismcoach.org

I feel compelled to begin this post with a disclaimer: this is a meaty, murky subject of which I have limited experience and knowledge. I’m not a theologian, a philosopher, a clergy member, a spiritual leader, or a devout yogi.  I’ve never checked myself into a monastery, a nunnery, or an ashram to sit in silence and experience nirvana for days on end.  The closest I’ve come is spending a (noisy) week at Bible camp in Three Lakes, Wisconsin, as a kid and then a (less noisy) week at a Six Senses spa in Thailand as an adult.   The only nirvana I’ve experienced is the one that smells like teen spirit.  I’ve always subscribed to the Christian faith, but I’m your typical lay person:  highly flawed with a faith that has waxed and waned over the years.  So now you can decide whether or not to continue reading…

Despite my lack of credentials and spiritual shortcomings, I am a truth-seeker, a contemplator, a self-improvement junkie, and, most importantly, a believer.  Stripped of my ego’s domination, I’m a sensitive soul who wants to be a channel of God’s peace and love in this world.  I yearn to know more about God and feel His* presence in my life.  I strive to be more God-conscious even though I’ve struggled to grasp what it actually means and how to achieve greater consciousness.  My desire to be more God-conscious often feels like an unattainable goal, like trying to run like a Kenyan when my body is built like a Swedish farm girl.  And yet, and yet, and yet…. I hear God whispering that it’s within my reach if I can learn to drown out the noise of our Earthy world and tune into His universal vibrations…the whole notion of “being in this world, but not of this world,” if you know what I mean.

Does hearing His whispers mean that I’m already God-conscious?  I think so. From my limited “earthly” understanding, God resides within us and we can access His presence anytime.  Each of us possesses the power to achieve God-consciousness, also known as a higher consciousness or transcendentalism.  This is a core belief of most faiths, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Baha’i, etc.   Just like the lesson Dorothy learned in “The Wizard of Oz” when Glinda the Good Witch tells Dorothy that she had the power all along and only needed to learn it for herself.  Close eyes, click heels, return home… Sounds simple, doesn’t it? So, why does it feel so frickin’ difficult???  I can point to experiences where I’ve felted His strong presence, such as the moment my mom entered eternal life, during a few deeply blissful meditations, and while worshiping to music.  I’ve also witnessed His miracles, and how He has answered prayers in the most unbelievable, inexplicable, mind-blowing ways.  These experiences have stirred my soul enough to CRAVE His presence just like I crave Trader Joe’s mini dark chocolate peanut butter cups… MORE PLEASE!!  Whenever I feel that God-consciousness eludes me, I consider all of the “evidence” of His presence, and remind myself of the ways I can satiate my craving through prayer, meditation, writing, and music.  So, I know it’s possible… yes, it’s possible.

But let’s face it… I don’t live in a constant state of serene meditation and prayer. In fact, my daily life is quite the opposite of serene: it’s chaotic, often unpredictable, and quite MESSY.  I usually wake up at the crack of dawn, after a night of tossing and turning, with a tiny human attached to my back or belly.  My sweet little Toots wakes up between 6-7 a.m. with a list of three year old demands: “Mommy, I need to go potty! Mommy, I want juicey please.  Mommy, watch Dora.  Mommy, I want clothes NOW.  Mommy, I want (fill in the blank).” I stumble out of bed, completely sleep-deprived, with God-consciousness as the FURTHEST thing from my mind.  I move around on auto-pilot, with my talkative ego dominating my mental chatter.  I’m aware that my thoughts are often small—I mean, embarrassingly petty and trivial—and my early morning emotional state is best described as “fragile.”  My day continues at warp speed while I juggle my son’s needs with household chores, meal preparation, errands, exercise, and my part-time coaching business.  Listening to contemporary worship music while driving 65 mph down the highway and sipping herbal tea is about as close to enlightenment as I get. In a blink of the eye, it’s time to give Toots a bath, read him a few stories, and put him to bed.  At the moment, bedtime involves lots of crying and protesting, followed by lying on the floor next to his bed until he falls asleep, and then eventually letting him sleep in our bed when he wakes up screaming.  My time to meditate and pray is reduced to a few minutes as I’m falling asleep and groggily giving thanks for our day, the miracle of Toots’ life, and His many blessings.  Then wake up, and repeat!

No surprise that I don’t feel particularly God-conscious…

So, how do I become more God-conscious while still going about with daily life?  I wouldn’t be much of a wife, mother, friend, or professional if I spend my days sitting in a meditative silence.  God certainly hasn’t called me to monkhood!  The only answer is this:  to slow down enough to listen to those whispers I hear and honor them… to slow down enough to notice all of the ways He speaks to us through nature, the people around us, and experiences…to slow down enough to savor the present moment without agonizing over the past or worrying about the future.  In my last post, LEAP! with your Heart, I referred to this inner voice as my heart, but others may call it their instinct, intuition, or gut feeling.  Regardless of the label we choose to describe this inner wisdom, this is God’s voice speaking to us.  He’s not the voice of shame, fear, anger, disappointment, or worry—gals, that’s your ego talking.  He’s (or She’s) the gentle voice inside us that encourages and empowers us, that loves us just as we are today, fabulously flawed.  When we let His voice flow freely, we experience His divine grace: a love like no other, a peace everlasting.

What I’ve come to understand as I’ve crafted this piece is that tuning into your inner wisdom IS God-consciousness.  We needn’t look outside ourselves to find it—it’s a gift, always accessible without any strings attached.  God wants us to be the uniquely beautiful, talented women that He created us to be.  He doesn’t expect us to be perfect and is quick to forgive our shortcomings.  He calls us to slow down enough to listen to our hearts and trust this voice to guide us in every aspect of our lives.  He challenges us to stand in faith…to trust and be patient… to believe…to be grateful…and to dream big.

*Note: I’ve used a male pronoun for God, but I actually don’t believe God is a “she” or “he.”  Some writers use “it,” but that didn’t feel right either.  God is God!

(Keep scrolling down for Discussion Questions/Writing Prompts)

Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest


Discussion Questions/Writing Prompts:

What does God-consciousness or Higher Consciousness mean to you? How do you connect with God or your Higher Power?  Think about some examples of when you’ve experienced God-consciousness, enlightenment, or however you wish to describe that awesomely peaceful feeling.

What daily challenges do you face in connecting with God or your Higher Power? What tips can you share with me and other women for listening to God’s voice (aka your heart, your inner wisdom, your intuition)?

As you become more God-conscious, tuning into that voice, what are you being called to do? What’s one action you’d like to take towards that calling?

For my fellow Christians, when I’m in need of shot of God-consciousness, this is one of my favorite You Tube videos to watch of Kim Walker-Smith singing “Holy Spirit You are Welcome Here.”  And when I’m feeling like I’ve totally lost the connection, well then it’s time to watch Worship Mob’s cover of “Say Something I’m Giving Up on You.”

LEAP! with your HEART

leap collage 2

(Credits: Images above were found on Pinterest and foryouyouyou.com)

When you decide to leap, it has to be a decision of the heart.” –Jackie Bassett

Welcome back to LEAP!, an inspiring interview series featuring women who aren’t afraid to leap in the direction of their wildest dreams.  Hope you had a fabulous summer as you leapt in whatever direction your heart desired:  into a refreshing lake or a warm, salty ocean; into a frozen margarita or a dulce de lece gelato (or both!); into the arms of your loved ones or into the embrace of solitude.  After taking a hiatus in August, I had hoped to launch a new LEAP! interview this month, but a couple spontaneous trips combined with Toots’ birthday celebrations interfered with my writing time.  Starting in October, I’ve lined up a few extraordinary women to share their stories of LEAP-ing and inspire you to do the same.  In the meantime, let’s explore what propels our fearless LEAPers to take that first step towards their dreams… their hearts!

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In my LEAP! interviews with Jackie, Vicki, Rajka, and Cassi, I couldn’t help but notice a common theme: all four proclaimed that their heart led them to LEAP.  All four mentioned how their head often talked them out leaping—how their ideas seemed “crazy,” “impractical,” or even “impossible.” What made perfect sense to their heart didn’t make sense to their head.  Yet they went ahead and listened to their heart, soaring courageously into the unknown in pursuit of an intangible itch, an unmet desire, or a burning passion.  And look how beautifully each one has leapt and where they have landed in their journeys!

Recently, I was reminded (again) of how much easier life is when you let your heart lead the way.  How your head CAN help, but it can also hinder.  For six months, I agonized over a big, huge, life-changing decision: where to send Toots to preschool.  YEP- PRESCHOOL for my THREE year old.  After researching and touring several schools earlier this year, I secured him a place at my top 3 choices and then I spent six months debating which one was the right fit for us.  I say “us” because, not only did I want the best environment for my little dude, but I also wanted to find a school in a convenient location which suited my scheduling needs.  From the moment I started researching schools, I was drawn to one particular school- I loved their educational approach, the new facilities, and the teachers.  I could visualize Toots enjoying himself and thriving in the colorful, Montesorri-inspired environment.  My heart was constantly drawn back to this particular preschool, yet I agonized for MONTHS over this decision.  I wrote pro’s and con’s lists; I drafted schedules; I did multiple drive-by’s, even resorting to driving Toots to each parking lot and asking him, “Is THIS where you want to go to school?”  When I pulled into THE preschool, Toots remembered it from a previous visit and wanted to go inside and play.  I took his response as the final sign I needed, and I withdrew his spot in the other two preschools.  All along I knew in my heart of hearts that he’d end up going to this preschool so WHY did I spend soooo much time and energy contemplating this relatively SIMPLE decision? Really… WHY???????

Because I let my head get in the way.  My head was telling me that the schedule at one of the other schools was better- the later start/end times, the longer hours would better suit my needs.  My head was telling me that my friends sent their kids to the other two preschools, so I should do the same. My head was telling me that, if I sent my child to Preschool A, then he’d be missing out on Preschools B and C.  My head was full of fears for his safety, his health, his future, etc.  Basically, my head was telling me that my heart can’t be trusted to make such decisions…. about PRESCHOOL.  Yeessssss, PRESCHOOL.

I totally get how ridiculous this sounds, and I feel slightly embarrassed that such a basic decision could occupy so much mental space for half of a year.  Maybe a few other mama bears can relate!  But now that I’ve made the decision and Toots has started preschool, I can look back and see it for what it was: just another exercise to reinforce the importance of listening to my heart…. trusting my heart to guide me even when facts and figures point in a different direction….then leaping HEART-first with courage and conviction as my wing-men.

I could share many more stories about leaping head-first vs. heart-first and what I’ve learned through these experiences. When I think about the times that I let my head call the shots at the expense of my heart, I remember the emotional distress I endured as a result: the grief, the melancholy, the disappointment, the desperation, the sheer panic, the anger, the self-hate, the SHAME.. all stemming from the misalignment between heart and head.  Looking back, I know that my greatest, most significant, most transformative, most KICK-ASS leaps happened when I followed my heart… like saying “YES!” to a last-minute assignment in Amsterdam, like starting up a conversation with the cute Dutchie sitting next to me on the plane, like launching a professional women’s network and mentoring ring in the Middle East, like leaving the corporate world behind to start my own coaching business and become a mama.  Oh the JOY that comes from leaping HEART-FIRST!

Perhaps I needed this “preschool” lesson to remind me that, although I’ve made a few “PhD-worthy” leaps in my lifetime, I must practice leaping every single day.  Some days, I need to take baby steps in the direction of my heart, and other days I need make toddler-sized hops across life’s puddles.  These mini-leaps prepare me for when it’s time to make another PhD-level leap.  By practicing the art of leaping heart-first on a daily basis, I’m ready for those life-altering moments when I’m standing on the edge of a cliff with my eyes closed, visualizing where I’m headed, taking a deep breath, and then LEEEAAAAAAPING into the unknown… yet with absolute trust and faith that I will land exactly where my heart wants me to land, exactly where I’m meant to be.

So, with this in mind, let’s start our new “school” year with some journal exercises to tune into our hearts and listen to this inner guidance.  I’ll be posting a weekly journal prompt on my Facebook page through the month of September to help you start this heart-centered dialogue and see where your heart leads you.

Week 1:  Reflect on an example of when you listened to your head (aka your logic) to make a decision and then reflect on an example of when you listened to your heart (aka your intuition or instinct) to make a decision.  What did you learn from these experiences?

Week 2: What tends to guide you in your own decision-making: your head or your heart? How can the two energies complement each other?

Week 3:  What is your heart telling you RIGHT now?  How can you learn to decrease the volume of your head and increase the volume of your heart as you make decisions? How can you learn to trust your heart to guide you?

Week 4: Re-read what your answers to the previous week’s questions.  Identify at least ONE heart-led step you would like to take before the end of September, and then define another step or two you’d like to take in October.  Challenge yourself yet be realistic.

“When it comes to LEAPING, I would say all leaps must come from the heart so listen to what your heart is wanting you to hear.  And trust it.  Always ask for signs and guidance and once you receive it, take a little leap.  If it’s meant to be, the little leap will lead to another leap and you keep following the little leaps until you finally ready to fly.”

-Cassi Christiansen