He Finds Us in the “Unawares”…

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Have you noticed or were you unaware?

That God seems to find us, show us, give us small gifts in unexpected ways?

He did it today when singing in an impromptu trio…“thou didst leave thy throne and thy kingly crown when thou camest to earth for me…”

Suddenly, transformed to 45 years ago and the old Bev Shea Album my Dad played at Christmas with all the old hymns….

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but in Bethlehem’s home was there found no room for thy holy nativity…”

No room, I find there’s no room for His touch when I am filled with the distractions of

self-pity, expectations, business that can wait and lost priorities.

It’s when I’m not looking that He appears again to me, touches my face so softly, allows me to feel both joy and pain and even embrace a tear.

Am I better than He?

The foxes found rest and the birds their nest in the shade of the forest tree

But the couch was the sod, Oh thou Son of God in the deserts of Galilee”

Do I escape earth’s pain?

Dare I trust a homeless god, such a humble and humiliating Saviour?

He caught them unaware as well, it seems

thou camest Lord with the living Word that would set thy people free;

But with mocking scorn and with crown of thorn 

They bore thee to Calvary”

Do I escape lowly titles, humiliation and even scorn like Him?

Would I count it an honor for the King?

The last stanza rings the ultimate moment

When heavens arches shall ring and her choirs shall sing

At thy coming to victory

Let thy voice call me up saying yet there is room, there is room at my side for thee,

O Come to my heart Lord Jesus, there is room in my heart for thee”

So leave the crowd behind and find Him in the unawares…

The moments He bids you and you answer the call

they are subtle but they abound this Advent season

He will not disappoint you.

Amen.

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How to not Press the Snooze Button and Other Musings on Chemo…

image I consider myself a “Morning Person” but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to get out of bed. I’m not one of those who jumps up on the exercise bike and then runs 2 miles before meeting a 6am networking group or prays for 3 hours on her knees for missionaries.  I’m somewhere in between.  I do get up after 2 snooze pushes at 5 am, I do exercise and I do have a “quiet time” with God before leaving the house for the day’s adventure. But it’s not easy, and it takes lots of makeup.

These days, I use my daughter’s vanity as my makeup table- one of the advantages of being an empty nester is that we can spread out and use all of our 4 bedrooms for our various purposes.  I thought buying a lot of expensive makeup would help me get up easier so I treated myself to the Estee Lauder Counter at Macy’s for Mother’s day-( P.S. it didn’t help so I’m back to the CVS counter).

Then I was given a gift (by my son)- a shirt that said “crunch before lunch” from Victoria’s Secret no less and I thought that would do the trick (by the way-what ever happened to pretty frilly nightgowns-everyone thinks wearing sweats to bed  will drop weight and their husband won’t bother them?) I’m a believer in pretty lingerie, but that’s my generation.

I watched an old Seinfeld episode where Jerry talks about getting up in the morning- “It’s like you have to learn to walk again”, I couldn’t agree more. And to talk again, don’t talk to me in the morning-at least not before quiet time. And yes, that’s become legalistic- like something you do instead of being with Him.

I spent a weekend in Chicago recently and also visited the suburbs where I entered “Hobby Lobby” for the first time. Wow, it was like my first time at Christmas Tree Shops in Maine before they came to the Island!  Well, ya’ gotta love those stores owned by Christians, Christian music playing, lot of Jesus stuff and lots of good prices on everything for the home and crafty types (I tried to be one of those but my NY accent is too thick). In fact my Home Ec teacher told me to throw away the dress I made in Jr High and my knitting squares at our church group were used sparingly in the blankets we gave to the sick-( those poor souls have suffered enough without being exposed to my squares).

But to tell you the truth the sign I bought in Hobby Lobby just about sums it up- In the Morning, Just give Me Jesus”.  That is what it all comes down to for me. Yes, I like my pumpkin coffee, yes; I can’t leave the house without a lot of make up (I used to wear false eyelashes in High School) and yes, I am weak, frail and sometimes broken but He remains the same. He meets me in my weakness, my failures and speaks hope and life to me. He tells me that He loves me and will never leave me and that I have a bright future. He knows how I felt  when I  had a bad hair day (that’s putting it mildly) ,it fell out during chemo. Now this is a hard pic for someone who won’t leave the house without lots of prep to post but I know some friends going through this now and I want you to know that He is there for you when you feel like you can’t get up or want to push the eternal snooze button.

Yes, Just give me Jesus- Sometimes His presence is so real-sometimes not.

A Very Bad Hair Day Indeed!

dscn0782 That’s when He fills it in with friends and God’s people and laughter and support. HE DID NOT LET ME DOWN AND HE WON’T LET YOU DOWN.

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God sent me awesome fun people, we ate breakfast at Se-port and did some political door to door campaigning that day pictured above.  He gave me an awesome small group to share this time with and have made life-long friends!

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He gave me laughter in many forms and I love Him for that-That’s our God…So go to Chemo and smile-Thank you Bunty! Show the world you have hope because you do….046

(By the way, that’s the bell for the nurse) And remember, don’t isolate yourself in your time of trouble, we all need each other not only during cancer treatment but always…And Yes in the morning especially-just give me Jesus before the phone starts ringing.  And P.S. I kinda had fun with all the different wigs too!

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The Art of Being

I have to admit, I have been challenged in this area of late and guess what? God is not letting me off the hook.

What do I mean by that?

He is not giving me anything to tickle my fancy, feed my need to self-medicate by a new goal, a big purchase or an exciting alliance.

I think He loves me…..alot

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What do I mean by that?

One of my favorite authors, Henri Nouwen speaks of our identity being wrapped us as follows:

I am what I do, I am what I have, I am what people say about me…

But our core truth and identity that God wants us to embrace is this-

I am the Beloved

It wasn’t util Jesus heard these words from heaven at his baptism that he entered the “doing” phase of His life.

Yet “we” or maybe “I” try to “do” before we “know” what our identity truly is.

Therefore, we are subject to the “wilderness” wanderings for 40 years or the temptation of “throw yourself down, show then who you are, I will give you these riches”. Sound familiar? If the Son of God was faced with these temptations of the false self are we then exempt?

So, settle in, settle down, God is not in a hurry to write upon our hearts the greatest love story ever told; each one of us is “The Star” and although the stars are innumerable, we are loved as if we are the one and only.

Selah…Pause and calmly think of that…

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Setbacks, Seasons and Opportunities

Laurenblackburncoach@gmail.com

Certified Christian Life Coach

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I remember it well, working a 10 hour day and then going to a church missions meeting directly after and not arriving home till 10pm at night. I envied the “retired but refired” people who had nothing else to do but church work, “fun work” and afternoon teas.

Well, here I am, be careful of what you wish for. (lol)

Are you at a transitional season of your life and experiencing setbacks as you were all “fired up” to reach the new goals and lofty aspirations?

It (the new aspiration) may start out with great momentum, then suddenly, life happens, pandemics strike, illness, death and there you are wiping egg off your face. Your strength depleted; your self doubt rises. You may experience inner dialogue like this-

Does God really have a unique calling on my life or am I some histrionic fool?

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Or like King Solomon you think, “all is vanity” may as well just work to pile up money for as comfortable a lifestyle as possible and eat out and shop. Take care of yourself, live, eat and die.

Whoa….this is too raw and honest. Well, I guess you never read the Elijah or David chronicles. We are real, living human beings with the extraordinary “power” of the Holy Spirit within us, yet if you trail back that word to the Greek (dunamis) which appears in the book of Acts, it speaks of latent ability. Dunamis expresses powers residing in a person by nature but something a person or thing exerts or puts forth. Just as dynamite (the word family dunamis) in and of itself is latent unless it it lit and used, so are we.

During your transition, set back or whatever is thrown at you, the opportunity “to be” instead of “to do” offers us unlimited opportunity to know that our meaning and purpose in life is to know God and receive His love and embrace our salvation. (I always thought it was to “be used”) and that is not the case. I am enough that I am loved and fully accepted in the Beloved. Wilderness time is not wasted time, trouble and pain are not to be stuffed but used to purify, refine and bring us forth a gold.

So, today dear friend, embrace the season you are in and know “the best is yet to come”.

Book a Christian Life Coaching Session; Laurenblackburncoach@gmail.com

Control or Surrender?

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Maybe you have noticed that those of us who wear human skin have a natural tendency to want to control our circumstances and even more deadly, control other people.

The things in this world that give us an illusion of power- money, position, rescuing, helping can keep us “fixed” for a season.

But what happens when our best efforts or manipulations fail? Where do we turn? Inward with anger and rage, or perhaps toward another worn soul. Have you ever noticed what happens when your brokenness collides with another person’s brokenness?

Then you hear in the stillness…

“My peace (calm and spiritual wellbeing) I leave with you, Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” John 14:1

The word “let” denotes surrender. Surrender to a loving, able Abba Father, to the best Advocate- the Holy Spirit and to the Son who stands with us in the pain of humanity’s turmoil and assures us that surrender is not defeat but really the greatest victory.

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Do Your Have “Safe People” in Your Life?

It’a been a bit of a rough start, 2022….

How about you? Many weeks watching the slow demise of my Mom in Stony Brook Hospital, a car accident, cut off from my seeing friends due to covid and travel to name a few.

But this is what I’ve noticed, when your not in regular worship, when you have no time for slow, silent uninterrupted time communing with Jesus and when your social and spiritual connections are cut off, guess what? You are vulnerable.

Please, please, please…make authentic, life giving connections with “safe people” and don’t put the total burden of friendship on your adult children or even your hubby.

Who are “safe people”? Well you can open the treasure of your heart to them and not be mocked or trampled uopm, they do not tear you or others down. They do not compare and offer unsolicited advise and opinons and you don’t feel like bleeding or hiding in a cave after you have spent time with them.

Just yesterday, I had a leisurely 2 hour lunch with a lovely friend where the conversation was enriching, we compared notes about what we have learned this past year, there was no gossip or negative speech, it was a true oasis and some pretty good food in a beautiful place (even the white Christmas lights were still lit- I love that!)

Today, I was sideswiped by a wave of grief and tears, I did not expect. My husband gave me some much needed time alone as he went to fill in with babysitting our grandaughter. Another friend called me and she shared with me the Lord’s faithfulness in her grief when she lost her infant granduaghter. The gift of authentic connection is priceless, rare and worth the investment. I encourage you to seek this jewel and treasure those people in your heart.

For years to come you will reap the rewards of investing your heart with the “safe” soul. (Hint- the “safe” soul has usually been crushed by life’s realities and come out with a face that shines from His touch)

Please Wake the Woke- A NYPD Mom Speaks Up

My heart has been heavy for a very long time. I have experienced a kind of PTSD and finally I figured out the connection between the political divide among Christians and my sons in blue. I am happy to say the burden has lifted due to the power of prayer and calling out to the Lord, my Father.

Yet, I believe I still have a responsibility to “speak the truth in love” and give accurate information because I know Mom’s everywhere of all races and creeds share the same heart for their beloved children. Therefore we are One, we shed the same tears for all the confusion, hatred and sorrows we have been carrying for a very long time. I love you with all my heart, please know that. Especially those in the household of faith, we have so much to bind us together. Like Mary who looked upon her Son’s suffering, we too sometimes bear the unbearable but for His grace in our weak estate.

In my research, I came across a very sound and scholarly author, Dr. Thaddeus Williams. (his books and articles are easy to google). What I found interesting was the study done by an independent scientific company to confirm or deny racial profiling on the New Jersey Turnpike (the NJ Attorney General failed to use scientific methods). In a true experiment you would change or vary the independent variable to measure the outcome of the dependent variable (more black drivers pulled over for speeding). The samples are also analyzed as representative samples. What the study concluded was that age not race was the determining cause of the pullovers.

This is just one of many studies, yet what are we all fed- information skewed to a popular ideological philosophy. For those of us who lived during the 60’s Black Panther movement, we know there is nothing new under the sun as far as ideologies, just different labels. The difference then was we had systemic racism (1950’s and 60’s) but thank God laws have been changed and laws determine the “systemic” structure of a society. I am happy to say that in past 10 years of selling houses on Long Island, I have not seen any racism except in one isolated person and the Fair Housing Laws were our “bible”. Do the hearts of some individuals need to be changed and converted, yes, as long as there sin in this world short of ‘His kingdom come”, YES!

I hurt for the Church of Jesus Christ, especially the young generation of Evangelicals buying full force into “Another Jesus, Another Gospel”. I hurt for Christians who embrace pro choice and abortion itself and for pulpits that say it doesn’t matter if you support pro choice through your vote. How will that soul be damaged or suffer loss? Only God knows. But the good news is that there is no condemnation in Christ and when we are truly free and let the conviction of the Spirit do its sweet work, the fruit of repentance will be release from anger and strife.

A new generation would do well to counsel with their elder mature biblically sound parents. The Gospel that embraces a sociological or ideological trend (nothing new, same old Marxism Critical Race Theory) is a gospel of division and a snare of the enemy. As a “senior saint’ who grew up in a racially diverse church, we were very much “One in Christ”, we had “Him” and He had the preeminence” Colossians 1:18. Let’s get back to “Solo Christo”

Your Life as a Mosaic

Do you view your life as a complicated puzzle that needs to be figured out or as a beautiful mosaic whose broken pieces are forming something beautiful and unique?

Walking through Ace hardware this past Christmas season, I was looking for a fun gift for my husband and came across a 1000 piece puzzle. “That would be interesting during long winter months”, I thought but guess what—it was just too much!

I immediately though of the beautiful one of a kind antique bowl I dropped days before. I could not bear to throw it away and thought about using the broken pieces to form a beautiful piece of art, maybe even a backsplash in the guest bathroom behind the pedestal sink. I though to myself about the metaphors of my own life and it’s many pieces that sometimes make no sense and asked, “do I really want to spend my days, trying to make sense and fit all these pieces together or do I want to make something beautiful of the brokenness of my human condition.

Do I really need to figure it out, wrestle with God or like Jacob use that limp for the rest of my life as a reminder of my need for Him? I thought of St. Paul, another feisty biblical figure, full of pride and head knowledge that came to the conclusion that God’s strength shines best through his weakness.

So today, I give my imperfect self to the loving arms of a Perfect Father and trust to Him the story yet to be revealed.

Spiritual Identity Theft

Home | Live on Purpose Coaching with Lauren Blackburn (wixsite.com)

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Have you felt hijacked lately? The roles you once held have been somewhat altered by life seasons or covid? I don’t know about you but life seems to be divided up by pro masks vs. non pro masks and other categories that never existed before. One friend recently told me that “it was never like this growing up”, the hate, the vitriol these past 4 years have been dehumanizing to say the least. Some have chosen to “block out” and retreat for healthy survival.

I’ve learned from trauma ministry that “dissociation” from one’s identity is a mechanism the mind uses to survive trauma. We saw it dramatically displayed in soap operas and movies (multiple personalities) however, I have learned and been exposed to people that have actually experienced their identity stolen in such a way. Remarkable, the coping mechanisms that are there to survive, endure…even if it means giving away a part of ourselves.

We have all experienced this spiritual Identity theft in the workplace. Making a living in the real world, we are often forced to compromise, keep silent or look the other way if we want to keep that paycheck. It’s everywhere even in the church where we vie for positions and acknowledgement that cause us to silence our conscience on matters of morality or theology.

Identity is a touchy thing, I believe we will do anything to protect it when threatened unless our identity is very deeply rooted in our relationship with Christ, crucified, risen and coming again.

I know we have all faced our personal 40 days of testing in the wilderness where the devil has dangled things in front of our nose(s).

What is he dangling in front of you?

Life Maps, Vision Boards and Other Strangers

Writing from My Kitchen Today…

Have you ever wondered what your mind would look like if it was put up on a screen? Try a picture of the freeway or expressway depending on where your live; in other words- do you have racing thoughts? If not racing thoughts then lots of multi tasking in your mind and distractions which make it difficult to focus, accomplish or just have peace?

Many of the techniques used by the early church Fathers are shunned today because they have New Age or Eastern stigmas attached to them. However, meditation, contemplative prayer, lectio divina (divine listening) are all Christian practices which reap amazing benefits for the person willing to take the time and training.

Even before I became a credentialed Biblical Life Coach, I have utilized these disciplines personally for the past decade. The peace and truth that have transformed my walk with God and many aspects of my life are undeniable.

There are other tools I like to utilize as well, life mapping and vision boards. I am planning on a zoom seminar on these tools in cold winter months that loom ahead of us. Please leave a comment or shoot an email to me if you would like more information. Laurenblackburncoach@gmail.com