Friday, March 24, 2017

Perfect Love Casts Out All Fear

“That thing isn’t even human!”  Those were the words I found coming out of my mouth when I encountered my first transgender person almost forty years ago, and I regret saying them to this day.  It pains me that I could be so heartless to even think of another human being in such a hateful way. 

Not long after, I stopped into a Christian bookstore and got into a conversation with the store clerk. To my horror, I discovered that he was a transgender male.  A few minutes later, a transgender female walked in with an acquaintance of mine.  I was about to have a panic attack when my friend suggested that we all hold hands and pray together.  Here I am holding hands with a transgender person on both sides of me, trying to keep from breaking free and running out the door, when I heard the words just as clearly as if someone were standing next to me saying, “Karen, these are my children and I love them just as much as any of my children.”  I didn’t quite understand it then, but a seed was planted.

Fortunately, I’ve since grown and become more enlightened in my spiritual walk.  Back then, I didn’t know any better.  I was ignorant about the issue and just believed what everyone else told me to believe.  In the past several years, I’ve been meeting wonderful transgender people and several have become friends.  They’re kind, loving, and good-hearted people who just want to live their lives in peace.

I get that it’s hard for many to understand this issue because we have no way of relating to those who have these experiences, especially if we’re heterosexual.  Instead of judging and dehumanizing these beautiful people, we could educate ourselves so that we can understand where they are coming from and why they go through the transgender process.

Once I really understood and embraced Jesus’ teachings to love one another (no exceptions), as well as all the other great spiritual masters’ teachings to do the same, it really helped me to open my heart to loving all people regardless of any perceived differences. I also learned to overcome my fear and ignorance.  1 John 4:18 states, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.”

Chaz Bono (formerly Chasity Bono, daughter of Sonny and Cher) recently wrote a great book titled “Transition - Becoming Who I Was Always Meant to Be,” and I would highly recommend reading it if you would like to become more knowledgeable on this subject.  You can also check out transformationjourneysww.com for more information.  I met Gabrielle Claiborne, one of the founders and a trans woman, and found her to be absolutely delightful.  If you can open your heart and get to know trans people, you’ll learn that they’re just like the rest of us.

“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” J.K. Rowling


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 24, 2017.

Friday, March 17, 2017

It's a Wonderful Life

March 10 saw another birthday come and go for me.  Since I don’t believe in age, sometimes I have to really think to remember how old I actually am.  Age really isn’t an issue for me, but as I get older, I tend to reflect more on my life.  It’s easy to look back on our lives and wonder if they could have been different.  We sometimes even play the ‘what if’ game:  What if I had done this or hadn’t done that, would my life have been any different or better? 

Playing the ‘what if’ game can be dangerous in this respect because we cannot change the past.  Sure, there are some things I wish I would have done different.  And of course, if I could go back in time knowing what I know now, then I could probably change the course of my life and all my dreams could have come true.  But I didn’t have the wisdom and knowledge that I have now.  In fact, I’ve become the person I am because I didn’t gain this wisdom until later in life. 

All the things I’ve experienced in the past have made me who I am today and I like who I am.  I just don’t always like who I’m not.  I’m still a work in progress, still trying to figure things out, and still hoping some of my lifelong dreams will come true. 

Then there are those occasional times that I wonder if I’ve wasted my life.  Have I made any difference? Would life have been better without me?  Many of us have those thoughts including some of my friends, so we’re not alone in this thinking.

We all know the Christmas classic movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart.  It’s about a man who thinks all is lost, but his Guardian Angel shows him what his life would have been like without him, and how much he really did touch so many hearts and changed so many lives for the better.

Many of us think that if we’re not doing something on a greater scale to make a difference, then what we’re doing doesn’t really matter.  But it does!  There are many who touch lives by the hundreds and thousands, and that’s absolutely fine!  We need them!  But for the rest of us, we make a lot of difference in people’s lives just by living our day-to-day existence, and it’s just as important!  We touch and change lives one person at a time, and all those one persons can really add up!  Never underestimate your ability to help others or to make a difference in their lives!

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”  Leo Buscaglia


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 17, 2017.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Never Give Up Hope

It was a beautiful spring day with the sun hugging Mother Earth with her love and light.  I was taking on the weight of the world again and my heart was heavy because I was feeling the pain of so many all over the world.  Since nature feeds my spirit, I decided to go to a local state park and sit in my usual spot overlooking a gorge with a magnificent waterfall pouring from the other side.  Tears became sobs as I let the intense pain I was feeling release from my body and soul.

All of a sudden, I heard a noise behind me.  As I turned, I wasn’t surprised to see Jesus walking toward me.  Since I was crying so uncontrollably, I couldn’t speak so I nodded to acknowledge his presence.  With a look of concern on his face, he sat down beside me, put his arm around my shoulder, and my tears continued to flow as I let him embrace me with so much unconditional love that I couldn’t help but feel comforted.

“My dearest, Karen, why so many tears?” he asked. 

“Jesus, there is just so much going on in the world and I’m just taking on the weight of the world again.  My heart is so heavy because people are being torn from their homes and families, and they’re being made into refugees in other countries.  Jewish cemeteries are being vandalized, Mosques are being burned, people are being harmed just because they look different or have different beliefs, people’s lives and homes are being destroyed from wars, hate crimes have been climbing, some politicians and religious leaders are using fear to control people’s lives and to promote more hate and violence, and….  I just don’t think I can take much more!”

Calmly, Jesus replied, “Karen, the empathy you have for others is heart-warming.  Feeling other’s pain is not a bad thing.  It helps you to have more love and compassion for others which allows you to help them because you understand.  Human beings can be pretty complicated.  You need to remember that people treat others based upon the way they feel about themselves.  Humans as a whole have forgotten who they really are.  You were born innocent and pure and so full of love.  Hate is taught.  At the same time, more and more people are awakening and remembering that they are spiritual beings living a human existence.  Your love and the love of others is changing the world even if only one person at a time.  Never give up hope.”

As he dried my tears with his sleeve, our eyes met and I knew what he said was true.  We humans are evolving and we’re beginning to realize that unconditional love really is the answer.  We can’t give up. 

Suddenly, I looked up to see a hawk flying overhead, and it was then that I felt Jesus had left.  But his love for me and all of humanity remained.


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 10, 2017.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Revolutionary Love

Recently, I discovered an amazing woman named Valarie Kaur (valariekaur.com), a lawyer and Sikh activist, who founded The Revolutionary Love Project (www.revolutionarylove.net).  I would like to share with you their declaration because it says so much of what I believe.

“We pledge to rise up in Revolutionary Love.  We declare our love for all who are in harm’s way, including refugees, immigrants, Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, LGBTQIA people, Blacks, Latinos, the indigenous, the disabled, and the poor. We stand with millions of people around the globe rising up to end violence against women and girls (CIS, transgender and gender non-conforming) who are often the most vulnerable within marginalized communities. We vow to see one another as brothers and sisters and fight for a world where every person can flourish.

We declare love even for our opponents. We vow to oppose all executive orders and policies that threaten the rights and dignity of any person. We call upon our elected officials to join us, and we are prepared to engage in moral resistance throughout this administration. We will fight not with violence or vitriol, but by challenging the cultures and institutions that promote hate. In so doing, we will challenge our opponents through the ethic of love.

We declare love for ourselves. We will practice the dignity and care in our homes that we want for all of us. We will protect our capacity for joy. We will nurture our bodies and spirits; we will rise and dance. We will honor our mothers and ancestors whose bodies, breath, and blood call us to a life of courage. In their name, we choose to see this darkness not as the darkness of the tomb – but of the womb. We will breathe and push through the pain of this era to birth a new future.” 

More and more people are rising up all over the world to bring people together and they include people of all colors, races, nationalities, religions, cultures, genders, all sexual orientations, politics, and more.  It’s so easy to feel discouraged when we see so many people being harmed just because of a difference in beliefs.  Hate, bigotry, ignorance, and violence seem to be the norm only because that’s mainly all we’re hearing in the media.  But what we’re not hearing so much are the stories where millions and billions of people are awakening to the power of love and learning that we really are all connected.  We’re practicing the teachings of our great Spiritual Masters who taught us to love and care for one another.  As I always say, never give up on hope or on humanity because love will always prevail.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”  And the Dalai Lama stated, “Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper March 3, 2017.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Love is Sane; Fear is Not

“Everyone is on a spiritual journey; most people just don’t know it.  Spirituality refers not to some theological dynamic outside ourselves, but to how we choose to use our minds.  The spiritual path is the path of the heart; at every moment, we’re either walking the path of love and creating happiness, or swerving from it and creating suffering.  Every thought we think leads deeper into love or deeper into fear.  Love is sane, and fear is not.”

“The spiritual universe is the Mind of God.  Miracles are the thoughts of love, extended from the Mind of God through the mind of humans and out into the world.  God is Love, and as God’s children, so are we.  Our purpose on earth is to think as God thinks, which means to love as God loves.  When our minds are attuned to love, things unfold miraculously.  Loving thought creates loving feelings, and loving feelings create loving behavior.  In this way we create happiness for ourselves and for those around us.”

The above is an excerpt from an article in the March/April 2017 issue of Unity Magazine titled “The Miraculous Universe,” which was written by Marianne Williamson in her book, “Tears to Triumph.”

I’ve always believed that when we were born, we were born as the pure, unconditional, perfect love of God (by whatever name you use).  If we were made in God’s image, and God is Love, then how can we be anything else?  After we’re born, we start to become ‘humanized.’  Our caregivers begin to teach us what it is to be human by passing onto us all their strengths and weaknesses, all their beliefs, and everything they’ve learned from their own life experiences.  And soon, we begin to forget who we really are.

I also believe that on some level within our hearts and minds, we have a slight remembrance of how it felt to be embraced in this love so pure that human words cannot even begin to describe it.  Therefore, we become seekers of Truth, and on our spiritual path, we try to remember this love that we once knew so well.  In order to find this love, we need to quiet ourselves, go within, and listen to that still small voice that speaks only of love, compassion, and kindness from the deepest recesses of our souls.  This is how we know that we are hearing God’s voice because God only speaks the language of unconditional love.

Marianne Williams said, “Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle.”  Willa Cather stated, “Where there is great love, there are always miracles.”  And A Course in Miracles teaches, “Teach only love, for that is what you are.”


Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 24, 2017.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Shack

“The Shack” is a beautiful book by Wm. Paul Young that has been made into a movie being released March 3.  Though it is a work of fiction, it has so much spiritual truth in it, and it questions everything we might ever have believed, but in a good way.  And even though its foundation is Christianity, there is something to be found for people of all faiths. 

The story is about Mackenzie, a man who suffered a great tragedy that turned his life upside down.  Four years later on a very snowy day, he receives a note in the mail signed by God suggesting they meet at the shack that was part of what caused ‘the great sadness’ in his life.  Not knowing what to expect, he decides to venture back to the shack and back into his darkest nightmare.

Instead of the beaten down empty building he once knew, the shack had been transformed into a beautiful home.  To his absolute surprise, God answered the door in the form of a beautiful black woman.  Jesus was there, too, as well as the Holy Spirit in the form of a very pixyish yet amazing young woman.  It questioned everything he believed about who or what these three entities were, but they appeared to him in these forms for reasons that would start healing his heart from ‘the great sadness’ and all the horrible experiences from his past.

Please open your mind and see this movie as there really is so much to be learned from it.  Better yet, please read the book, too!  Of course, I may not have agreed with everything in it, but that’s okay.  We can take from it what works for us, file in our minds what we need to ponder further, or just ignore anything that doesn’t resonate with us.  And yet I received so much wisdom and knowledge about who or what God really is (by whatever name you use) and just how much we are totally and unconditionally loved no matter who we are or what we’ve done in life.

In the book, Jesus said, “Those who love me have come from every system that exists.  They were Buddhists or Mormons, Baptists or Muslims; some are Democrats, some Republicans and many don’t vote or are not part of any Sunday morning or religious institutions.  I have followers who were murderers and many who were self-righteous.  Some are bankers and bookies, American and Iraqis, Jews and Palestinians.  I have no desire to make them Christian, but I do want to join them in their transformation into sons and daughters of my Papa, into my brothers and sisters, into my Beloved.” 

I think Jesus said it well.  And if you love “The Shack,” please read the sequel* “Crossroads.”  You’ll love it just as much if not more. 

“As much as you are able, rest in what trust you have in me, no matter how small, okay?”  God.

*Clarification:  "Crossroads" isn't an actual sequel to "The Shack" with the same characters, but is a sequence of books with the same, but different, story line of meeting God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit with different characters.

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 17, 2017.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Peace Happens One Heart at a Time

One of my favorite poems on Peace is “The Prayer of Peace” by Ilchi Lee.  It’s a beautiful prayer and probably says more than I could ever say on the topic, especially when it comes to peace and religion.  (Verses are separated by commas.)

“I offer this prayer of peace, Not to the Christian God, Nor to the Buddhist God, Nor to the Islamic God, Nor to the Jewish God, But to the God of all humanity.

For the peace that we wish for, Is Not a Christian peace, Nor a Buddhist peace, Nor an Islamic peace, Nor a Jewish peace, But a human peace, For all of us.

I offer this prayer of peace, To the God that lives within all of us, That fills us with happiness and joy, To make us whole, And help us understand life, As an expression of love for all human beings.

For no religion can be better, Than any other religion, For no truth can be truer, Than any other truth, For no nation can be bigger, Than the earth itself.

Help us all go beyond, Our small limits, And realize that we are one, That we are all from the earth.  That we are all earth people, Before we are Indians, Koreans, or Americans.

God made the earth, We humans have to make it prosper, By realizing that we are of the earth
And not of any nation, race, or religion, By knowing that we are truly one, In our spiritual heritage.

Let us now apologize, To all humanity, For the hurt that religions have caused, So that we can heal the hurt, Let us now promise to one another, To go beyond egotism and competition, To come together as one in God.

I offer this prayer of peace, To you the almighty, To help us find you within all of us, So that we may stand proudly, One day before you, As one humanity.  I offer this prayer of peace, With all my fellow earth people, For a lasting peace on earth.”

I wish I had the magic words that would bring love and peace to everyone in the world, but I don’t.  What I can do is to work on myself to try to be the most loving and peaceful person I can be, as well as to commit random acts of kindness whenever and wherever I can.  When we do so, we spread a little bit of that love and peace to all those around us.

Galatians 5:22 states, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  Martin Luther King, Jr. declared, “If we are to have peace on earth…our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.”   Dr. King also said, “The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood.”

Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper February 10, 2017.