What Would Jesus Do?

I grew up Catholic. In the North Eastern United States everyone was Catholic. We went to church and listened to sermons in Latin. I don’t remember my communion, but I can still taste the grape juice used in the offering. I thought it was gross. Back then we all drank out of the same cup. The bread tasted like a moldy cracker and I felt submissive as it was placed in my mouth. My mind was young and therefore I did not feel allowed to question what this religion was all about. Even then it seemed to be a complex matrix of rules and regulations regarding a relationship with God. Even as a child I always felt that not only was it my right to know God, but it was, quite possibly, my reason for being here.

As time moved on and life changed church became nothing. At least nothing spiritual. We tithed to the church, prayed for the sick, sang songs and went to CCD. It was a social gathering. Once we left the building, it was over. Like most children I heard a lot of cliché phrases from adults in regard to God. God knows best, hand it over to God, God wouldn’t give you something you couldn’t handle. These same people said ‘God Damn” with each minor mishap in life. The more I listened, the more my mind became full of twisted perceptions and unreasonable ideas. I noticed that many people who got themselves into trouble turned to God to make it better. God began to seem like merely an escape. I started to envision God as a man, sitting high above the clouds in Heaven. Watching and looking and waiting to condemn me.

With the next chapter, I picked up the Bible and began to read. My mind began to take me on a journey into time. It was like a history lesson, filled with eloquent languages and intimate moments of thought and vibration that reflected an era that had long been dead. Jesus stood out the most. He seemed to me to be enlightened, yet persecuted. Loving, yet denied. Aware, but free. It was as if he was living the way God had existed in my mind all along. He was connected, not by blood but by spirit to God himself. His connection was allowed regardless. His passion and clarity frightened people. In his mind he could feel God pulsing through his blood, filling up his mind and soul with the embodiment of awakening and peace. Jesus had the innate ability to allow, to receive and to believe that God was with him always. He had no fear. I remember feeling close to Jesus, feeling as if the way he lived, the way he walked the Earth, was the way we were all supposed to live. When I read in the Bible that he wanted us to become as him, he wanted us to live in his likeness I truly began my spiritual journey. Until that point, I believed that being Godly was the right of only a few.

As I grew up I was always gently reminded of my duty to not disappoint God. My mind was becoming full of guidelines that seemed outlined with fear, all of which were supposed to be for my own greater well being. They seemed restricting and unforgiving and harsh. It was as if religion enabled people, even people I loved and trusted an acceptable avenue with which to instill fear in me. Where was the love in that? Out of fear, assimilation must have taken place in my mind. Even though I felt my own inklings of connectedness to God, the first time I came home drunk, I just knew I was destined to Hell. The guilt, remorse and shame lived in my mind endlessly. Of course, I could be forgiven, but how many times and how many mistakes could I make exactly before Hell became my final destination. And where was Hell, and wasn’t living in this physical world without spirituality some sort of Hell on its own? I had many questions.

I grew up, became an adult along the way and made decisions on my own about my God. I felt that God had to be even more than what I was taught. I felt quite simply I should be able to reach him on my own terms. It often seemed that many of the prayers I heard and said were rooted in selfishness. Help me get the new car! Let the loan go through! Make my kid better! Help my family with money! The list was endless. I began to pray in simplicity. My prayers were mere utterances of thought. My eyes closed, my mind open I began to try and imagine that God was with me as I prayed. In my mind He was there listening and guiding at all times. I remembered a warning in the Bible by Jesus to beware of Wordy prayers, or prayers said from the rooftops. I don’t remember the exact phrase, but tome it was similar to what we did in Church. As religion was boasted it was as if righteousness reigned. The more I practiced, the more my mind was able to accept after all this time that yes, God did exist in me. After all, aren’t we all a part of God? If God is all encompassing then doesn’t that make him as accessible as any of the other energies we summon at will? I was not confused. The mindful creation of the relationship escalated into a feeling of well being and peace. Certainly things still went wrong from time to time; at least I perceived them that way. Among all the chaos, there was order. I found it only when I reached my mind to the quiet place where I allowed God to exist. It was funny, but at some point I realized quite abruptly that all this work to get to God, was only serving to further disconnect me. We come in connected. He was already there. It wasn’t my actions or my behavior or my lacks of any kind that made him far away, it was my perception. The mind had to be emptied, void of preconceived ideas and limiting definitions that many religions interpret as the spirit of God!

When I had children, I imagined that I would leave the immense part of their mind that belonged to God alone. Living in the Southeastern United States at this time I realized that there was huge misconception about families who didn’t go to church. IT was deemed unacceptable and I was judged quite frankly as a sinner. My resistance broke down, probably due to conformity and I awoke one Sunday with the intention of going to Church. My daughter, 5 years old was excited and playful and anticipating great joy and happy singing. She loved her dress and wore pantyhose for the first time. As we sat, welcomed by many and hugged by more it was as if we were being indoctrinated. The preacher made mention of the new family in the back row at the beginning of service and the whole congregation sent us prayers. I felt little. I would have believed that with all that powerful energy coming my way I would have at least had goose bumps. The singing started, then the sermon. Brimstone and Fire! My one daughter, indigo by birth began to cry. She was frightened.

We drove home and I felt somehow that what I had accomplished was simply the onset of filling my children’s minds with all the things that they would need to erase later on to truly find their own relationship with God. We opened the dialogue, and my 5 year old daughter told me that she didn’t need to go to that church. She said she already talked to God all the time. She said God knew her teddy bears, her pony, and her sisters. God knew when she was sad and God knew when she was happy. God she said helped her flowers to bloom. She talked to God about her dad and me, her sisters even. God she told ME, was in her, always. At that point in her life, she had never heard of Hell. She was mindfully aware and expectant of all the good that life brings. She had intentions of love and peace and could imagine herself freely as a mermaid or a horse. It was all real to her. To her, God existed as simply and plainly as the nose on her face. It wasn’t a search or journey to reach God. She simply did. It was astonishing. What would Jesus Do, I thought. I assumed only that the answer was to let it be. Let it be that my children never lose their way to God. Let it be that we pray together under a huge pecan tree that overlooks the stream where we live. Let it be that my children can always find the clarity they need no matter where they are. Let it be that our Church exists in our Home. Let it be that hell cannot penetrate our house. Let it all be so!

Time will obviously expose my children to many different schools of thought. I just hope that given the opportunity to feel their connection with God, my kids will always know that he is with them. They will always remember that to reach God, they just need to use their mind power. If they can feel the easiness of the relationship now, than quite possibly they will always be able to find their way back. For me, God stays in my mind through every moment of every day. As he guides me through mindful delivery of thought, I become confidently aware of the deliberate art of allowing. As long as God is allowed, he is present. And even when we are not mindfully allowing him inside, he is there waiting to join us again. The key to God is definitely our mind! This what Jesus knew and what he was trying to tell us so long ago.

Stef Daniel 2008

All About Trust!

I really care very little about the current political state of our country. If I had to vote I suppose I would vote Republican. The truth is that there are many more issues that keep me busy than worrying about the election or the political rat race in Washington. I have noticed very recently that many people use the word trust to describe their feeling about any particular political official. It seems funny to me.

One of my best friends talks endlessly about her inability to trust her husband. I suppose she is fearful that he will find another woman or something. Teachers talk about trusting their students. Parents enforce the need to be able to trust their children. The word trust is a mainstay in our society. For whatever reason we feel we must be able to trust things or people to do or behave the way we want them to. Is this to avoid our own disappointment? I am not really sure. I even hear people talking about trusting their cars. Every time I hear people talking about trust I want to laugh.

The dictionary defines trust as the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person or thing; confidence. As we talk about trust and as we decide whether or not to give our trust away to someone or something we are denying ourselves access to what we are assured of at our birth. From the time we come in, we are promised that all will be well, and as long as our minds accept that; it is absolutely true! For whatever reason, fear maybe, humans feel the need to allow that birth given benefit to lie in the hands of other people or inordinate objects.

If you are not trustful of a situation, a person or a circumstance then you are not allowing faith or love to prevail and provide for you. Instead of worrying about whether or not your can trust your teenager with the car, believe that all will be well. Instead of thinking that one man as president can ruin the country, believe that he will do just fine. If you are fearful of your car breaking down, imagine that it won’t. As we focus on our distrust of our surroundings or the people we love or the things in our life and even the state of our country we are interrupting the process in our minds that delivers our own well being. I think it is a choice best not chosen. I choose to trust in all situations and in all people and things. I find myself rarely disappointed.

Balance Beam

Just a few weeks ago my kids and I went to birthday party. The party was held at a gymnastics facility and had instructors on hand to help the kids play on all the equipment. As we walked in the gym, the kids grew warm with excitement. I was not as enthused.

My mind immediately took me to a place of worry. I imagined my kids falling off the bar, cracking their head open or breaking an ankle. Determined to keep it to myself, I took my seat and watched.

The kids all took their turns on the trampolines and bars. I kept my eye on the balance beam, 5 feet high above the gym floor tucked neatly in the corner of the gym. My mind retraced an accident when I was 8 years old. I fell off the balance beam at my school and needed stitches to repair my forehead. It seemed as the kids made their rounds through the gym the closer they got to the balance beam, the more nervous I became. My mind became a place of chaos. I became withdrawn, touched my hand to the place on my forehead where I hurt it so many years ago. I was starting to get a headache, and my body felt hot. The fear in my mind was physically manifesting itself to my body.

It seemed within seconds, the kids…my kids were lined up to take their turn on the beam. I panicked and wanted to shout and scream hysterically, but no words came from my throat. For a fleeting moment I allowed my mind to be hysterical. I started to manipulate the gym and make my way over to where the kids stood. In my mind, I vividly saw my kids falling off. I saw their blood and could taste their tears as they pressed up against me for support. My heart and hands ached in the way that only comes from knowing your child is suffering some sort of pain. The feelings, emotions were so real. If it hadn’t already happened, I knew it soon would.

My older children seemed embarrassed as I approached. My youngest seemed blissfully unaware of the danger before her. I wanted to warn her. Just in time I caught myself, and quickly tried to recapture the direction of my mind. I simply watched. Kid by kid walked across the beam. Some were unsure and staggered a bit, others looked woefully to the floor. Some just refused to go. Some kids ran without holding the instructors hand and showed no surprise that they made it. A few kids tried hand stands. One kid having just watched the Olympics gave a leap. My older kids were nervous. They had heard the story of my fall and I think I reinforced it on the car ride to the gym. They could sense my fear from across the room. Each foot was so carefully put one in front of the other. It was painful to watch the intense intention they were giving to not falling. They never considered making it, or enjoying the journey across. I realized that I alone had created their defeat. I had planted the seed in their mind that was growing into the tree of self doubt. As my youngest took her turn, she seemingly skipped across. She didn’t even look to see where her feet would land, and she never reached out once for the instructors hand. She reached the end, spun around quite elegantly and headed back almost in a gallop. Her spirit was free of ropes, her mind free of doubt. The three inches of wood beneath her feet supported her as fully as a strip of asphalt. It never occurred to her that she would fall, or perhaps even that falling was an option. Her concentration was simple and pure, motivated only by success as she walked by the beam.

As parents and humans we alone hold the key to our beliefs. What we perceive to be true always is. Passing on our misconceptions to a child who is naturally open to life’s bounty is a difficult thing to reverse. I realized then that it would take much time to convince my older kids that they too could make it across the beam unharmed. I wondered how many other seeds I unknowingly planted in their heads. Even as I reasoned that my caution was warranted by my own experience, I realized quite unequivocally that I had created the obstacle for them. My mind was hanging on to a powerful memory. The balance beam was simply another reminder that the set points within us are constantly being tested and tried. Our mind will always go back to the last point of memory, and it is up to us to decide what that memory is.

When we got home, we constructed a balance beam of our own. My older children and I walked the beam day after day. After some time, we all made it across. We never talked about falling from then on. It seemed that the work needed to replace a thought pattern is far more difficult than just believing in the best to begin with. The world is our oyster, and life energy is always seeking us out. It is our decisions, our mind that pinches us off from the source. Always. As a mother I find it is so important to remember that as we shape our own mind, we are also shaping the minds of those that we love the most. Our balance beams can easily become theirs if we allow it. It just depends on the mind.

About Cows

We should have known we were in over our heads the first day we got our cows. We excitedly called our neighbor to come see the new “herd” and the only thing he said when he opened the barn was “You ain’t got no cows”! Sure enough they were gone and we spent the entire day searching for them. We found them several miles away grazing in someone’s yard. Rule#1 Always close the gates.
70 acres of land takes a lot of fence. Every cow can find any hole no matter how small and they will get through it. Cows always think the grass on the other side is greener and they will push over or jump over any boundary to get to it. Our cows always seem to get out at the most inopportune times. One small bull decided to take the leap to the other side while I was home alone, 8 months pregnant with twins. Determined to keep him from traveling down the road I stood out there in the rain, waving my hands and hollering as he ate. He looked at me curiously but paid me no mind. Helpful passerbies would get out of their cars to assist me but they always proved as idiotic as me. One old man got sticks and waved them around as if he was doing some freakish martial art. He made clicking noises and even tried honking his horn which proved only more menacing. He finally leftand the little bull just ate until my husband came home. Speaking of honking, one freezing cold early morning this crazy lady was honking her horn in our driveway, never a good sign when you have cows. It was dusk and she said one of our cows was in the road. Sure enough, there stood one of our biggest Santa Gertrudis heifers. My husband woke me up, I got in the truck to help as he went chasing the animal in boxer shorts and flip flops down the road. Little by little traffic backed up behind me in the truck. More honking. My husband was yelling at me because apparently I wasn’t wrangling properly pulling the truck either too close or staying too far away.We finally turned the heifer around, ran her into the yard and she went right through the open gate. As we stood there at the barn watching her we realized that she wasn’t even our cow. The bull took a few sniffs and apparently pissed her off so she hopped over the fence and went back down the road. We let that one go
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The Longhorns that so impressed us in the beginning grew and became a little scary. One got its horn stuck in the hay ring (still cant figure that one out), and we had to cut the horn to get her out like a hose and we thought for sure she would bleed to death. My husband and father in law were covered in blood. Who knew they had some sort of artery inside that horn. We sure didn’t. She healed up just fine and we keep the horn in the barn. Another Longhorn who we called Paleface but should have been named Psycho chased my husband through the pasture one night as he fed them hay. Apparently the flashlight spooked her, and she chased him until he dropped the light to leap the fence.
We have delivered several calves on our farm. The vet is always busy when we are in trouble so we have to wait for him to arrive. One heifer prolapsed during her labor and the vet told us to simply keep pushing the uterus back in until he could arrive. Easy for him to say. As my husband (who is very weak stomached) wearing “the glove” would periodically push the uterus back in, the cow would pee all over him and he would turn his head and throw up. Of course we had all the kids and the grandparents out in the field watching and laughing as he would spit and sputter and dry heave. He got us back when he flung the glove in our direction and it splashed at our feet. Finally the vet arrived and all was well, although my husband will never look at a uterus in the same way.

I have stuck a hosepipe up a bull’s ass (per the vet), and was impressed with how much water it could hold. My husband tried to rescue a cow that sunk in a bog and the damn cow rolled on top of him pushing him under the mud. We have one cow who can open gates with her horns. We have a 10 inch tall dog who chases the cows and almost get us killed every time we’re out there. We have finally realized that sweet feed will cause a ruckus and it needs to be done from inside the back of the truck. Oh yea, and never take a calf from the mama if the mama can see you. The experiences are endless.
For now we hope to never hear the words “you aint got no cows” again. Georgia cattle farming is a lot of work and a lot of fun. If only you could hear my mother in law yell SUUEEEEE SUUEEEEE SUEEEEE cows.you too would be hooked on the hilarity of it all. We don’t have the heart to tell her that they aren’t pigs.

Stef Daniel 2008