on the anniversary of my tattoo: how i learned it was all about me

i used to think that the purpose of life was to do all that you can to help others.

the reason we were here was to love + be of service to others, to make the world a better place. even if that meant losing your self a bit. i believed that we were here to sacrifice and give and serve until everyone was able to live in freedom. free from poverty, homelessness, violence, fear, hate. it was part of our calling, our reason for being. our co-creation with the divine energy of the universe is what would help to create a better world, a world that was meant to be as beautiful and peaceful and just as possible.

i distinctly remember thinking specifically about mother teresa every single day. wondering how i could be more like her. or like martin luther king junior. or any revolutionary, peacemaker, or spiritual guru who lived life so passionately that they would even sacrifice their life for the good of humanity. risking their safety in order to stick to their message.

i wanted to be like them all. i wanted that passion. that fearlessness. that committment. i felt that if i could not live up to them, then my life would be a waste.

i am certain that some of my belief in an extreme life of service has been inherited and passed down from my puritan/wesleyan/methodist ancestors. in great britain, their hope was to reform the corrupted church of england, to create a faith that was focused not only belief (personal holiness), but on social holiness too (social activism). they stressed that there is no faith if there is no care for the poor, the outcast, the sick. who jesus called “the least of these.” true faith was faith that was lived out. it wasn’t memorized or celebrated on sundays only. yes, learning and growing and personal faith was one part of the spiritual equation. but, from all of that personal holiness, grew works of mercy and love. social justice. in other words: we should really, truly, honestly practice what we preach. like. for. real.

these beliefs and practices were, of course, spread and put into action in the colonies when my ancestors made their way from great britain to the new world, in search for a place where they could create a home and a community that reflected the balance of personal and social holiness.

me coffee cup

so, this balance runs through my blood. it explains to me my deep desire for personal growth, transformation and my dreams of making a difference in the world.

i still believe in this balance, in this way of living. in fact, i still believe that balancing a personal spirituality and a life of social activism is the kind of life we are meant to live. but, over the years as i have grown and explored and discovered, i realize that i had one huge part of it all wrong.

what i had all wrong was the order of everything.

when i was so obsessed with mother teresa and MLK, i felt such pressure to do the same things that they did. and i never thought i’d be able to be like them and do what they did. but, oh how i wanted to. i had no idea how to balance a personal, self-centered spirituality and rid the world of poverty or end racism at the same time. how was it possible to focus on my self if there was so much that needed to be fixed? tackling the big issues of inequality and injustice would take all of my (and others) time. there was no time to sit still and be with myself. there was so much to do!

do. do. do. do. do. and i had no idea where to begin. and, i set myself up for failure with all of this pressure to do as much as i could for everyone else. funny thing was, i don’t think i actually did anything. i just fretted about doing stuff and tried to figure out what stuff to do.

i soon realized that i wasn’t an activist like mother teresa or MLK. i was a contemplative. but, anytime i would retreat to my safe place, to where my soul felt alive, i felt guilty. those things that made my soul sing, that gave me those mountaintop moments, always involved words, images, books, studies, classrooms, nature, travels, cultures. i felt wild + free + inspired when i went camping. or when i sat in a workshop. or when i read the words of an ancient mystic. i felt connected and grounded when i lit a candle or said a prayer or sat in silence.

but, none of this was doing anything. and all of these things were all about me.

me. me. me. me. me. me. me. how selfish was this? and what was wrong with me that i felt more “spiritual” by being with myself than by volunteering in a soup kitchen?

so, for years, i struggled and battled with myself and with god. feeling ashamed one minute and completely inspired the next.

me meditate

and then, over the course of a year or so, it all made sense. no it did not happen overnight. it took a year to begin to understand. and about 8 years to discover how to live it.

but, one night, as i sat in a room with 11 other women discussing a chapter about radical discipleship (you know the type of person i wanted to be. MLK, mother teresa, julian of norwich, etc.), i uncovered something that struck me like a bolt of lightening.

according to the book we were reading, being was way more important that doing. or at least it was the starting point. the foundation.

 to do things without first getting connected + grounded + inspired simply means that we are doing empty deeds. perhaps they are to make ourselves look good, or to get into heaven, or whatever. but, that’s not the point. that doesn’t make us good people or radical disciples or saviors of the world.

the point is, that in order to do anything, we first have to be. to simply get attached. grounded. we have to have a sense of self. we have to know who we are. we have to listen to our soul. we have to make it all about “me”.

that’s not how many of us think, though. and it doesn’t even make sense. especially because it seems selfish. everything in society teaches us to not think about ourselves, but to only care what other people think and the things that we do. that’s what defines us and makes us important. how much we do for others is what makes us “good people”.  so, how could it actually be the other way around?

how could being focused on inner self be the way to help others?!

well, i let this belief begin to sink in a little bit over a long period of time, and i realized that this is exactly what my ancestors passed on to me. this was the personal holiness part of the equation. although it’s no equation. and it’s definitely not linear or hierarchical. instead, it’s just an eternally flowing circle.

when we begin with being, with slowing down to simply be with ourselves and listen to our soul, then we are filled with inspiration, we feel power that we already have, we discover who we really are, we get in touch with that mystical spirit that connects us all. and all of those radical, good deeds that end up causing people to change the world? well, they simply flow + grow out of us. like the leaves on a vine branch. only we are not the leaves, we are the branch. our job is to just be. to stay attached.

positivity, healing, love, peace, calm – it all just begins to flow because we are attached to the source of all things, to the universe, to god. we allow ourselves to be open, and we find that special thing that makes us who we are. and we can’t help but use it. it just happens. naturally. organically.

in other words, being helps us discover our personal legend. our personal destiny. our calling. and from that, we become superhero on a mission to save the world.

me cup of coffee tattoo vine

when i first grabbed onto this idea of being before doing, i decided to get a tattoo. a vine that wraps around my wrist to symbolize staying grounded + attached. thanks to Facebook, i saw a post this morning that said that i got that tattoo 8 years ago today. and i just couldn’t believe how my life just keeps aligning with the flow.

you see, on monday, i began a year long course to get a certification in sat nam rasayan – a meditation technique out of kundnalini yoga that focuses on healing by being fully present. my guru lady teachers told us that, in order to be fully present and open in sat nam rasayan, it all begins by focusing on ourselves, on using our senses to help us allow and feel everything that is happening around us.

it’s the opposite of emptying your mind and focusing on someone else. it’s about creating a space so big and free and peaceful that it spreads out to everyone, everywhere. it’s about learning to hold that space open and become a stable, safe presence. in no way do we focus on any other person but ourselves. we don’t sense what another person feels or imagine what someone else thinks, we simply practice being. but, by being fully present in ourselves, we change the world.

so, there you go. it’s all about me. it’s all about you.

that was the behind-the-scenes spirituality that my young adult heroes had. i only saw or read about the great things that they did. what i didn’t see was the personal spirituality that was the foundation of the amazing affects they had on the world.

that was exactly what my ancestors were trying to explain: the necessity of living a balanced life, focused on a strong, grounded personal spirituality, coupled with active, outward-focused social activism.

with that knowledge, friends, you and i are just as empowered and amazing as ghandi and malala. we are just as much of a humanitarian rockstar as bono, or an ambassador as angelina jolie. we are just as important and inspiring as rosa parks and stephen hawking. and we are simply carrying on the same messages that our ancestors have shared throughout history. 

so, get down on that mat and breathe deep. or find a corner to pray in. light a candle and just be with yourself. create a daily ritual of just being. and soon, your soul will guide you. and simply being exactly who you are will make a difference in this world. i promise.

onwards + upwards! xoxo

how i discovered i was in real deep…

lately i’ve had a few days where i look in the mirror and think to myself as i twist + turn to catch a glimpse of all of my sides, “yep. i feel pretty damn good today.”

are there things to work on? yes, definitely. are there things that i feel not so great about? of course! but, i’m not focused on those things. the overriding feeling is one of power, peace, and pride.

i have no idea where all of this has come from, but i have been dwelling in those feelings for about a week now. and giving mucho thanks-o to the universe for feeling like this. i’m not sure that i have ever felt this… well, confidence and security in myself…. like this before.

me summer 2015

but, when i dig a bit deeper, i begin to uncover where all this just may be coming from.

i have been on an inner spiritual journey since moving to sweden. i’ve been social and had fun and all of that, but i have been doing a lot of inner work. i didn’t really choose to do it, it just has happened.

many of you may know that i am the queen of being. it’s right there, first, in my blog name. be. i can relax with the best of them. i thrive on meditating, soaking up, sitting still, kicking back, sleeping, having long fikas (coffee), gazing at the moon and the stars. i have definitely learned a lot about the art of living in the present moment and being aware. and this is something for which i am super grateful.

i am living a very connected, grounded, aware, peaceful life right now. and that empowers me.

but, the word empower suggests something:  a c t i o n .

and, little did i know it, but there is some action that has begun to surface in my life. it’s called aligning.

i have talked about living an authentic life on my blog before. living life true to yourself, aligning yourself with your purpose, yadda yadda. but, i realize now, that i have been talking about it – not really doing it. that’s not a bad thing, however. i needed to preach it till i reached it.

what i mean, is that all of this talk and thought about alignment has somehow led me to the place of actually beginning to align my life with who i am called to be. my purpose or destiny or whatever you want to call it. it’s really about beginning to not just think about my passions, but to actually live them. to let those passions, which i have discovered by going inward, begin to slipp out into my life.

so, i’ve been shifting and moving from an inner, contemplative focus to an outer, physical one. the changes that have been occurring and growing inside of me, from my soul, are beginning to sprout forth a like a seed in the spring. or, since it is almost autumn here, i could use the analogy that i am beginning to reap what i have sown. i am gathering in the harvest to be used and shared.

basically, folks, shit is happening in my life. and boy, am i in deep.

i’ve crossed a threshold and there is no turning back. i carry all of my meditative, contemplative ways of being with me throughout everyday (because that is how i breathe and stay connected), but a shift has occurred and now i’m all about action.

literally, what has been feeling good and secure on the inside, is now showing up on the outside.

i am taking my inner life and letting it be on display on the outside. all of the energy and peace that i have felt on the inside is now seeping out, ready to make its mark on the world in a whole new way.

this aligning, this matching my inner world and my outer world, is gonna take some time though. it’s not an overnight thing, but a slow, steady transformation that i am experiencing. still, there will be bursts of action, and i have already taken some very specific steps which are thrusting me forward into who i want to be and where i want my life to go (more on that later). i’m committed and i’m in deep.

in the meantime, I’m gonna stand in front of my mirror, take a deep breath and smile as i look at what i see, and then remind myself to get to work.

onwards + upwards!! xoxo

let’s get started!



hi friends! for the past few days i’ve been working on organizing my blog a little – making it more user-friendly and such for all of you faithful readers and all of your newbies, as well. hopefully, it makes the blog a little more interesting and pretty to look at too. of course, it’s possible that you may not notice any of the new designs/additions, so this post is designed to point them out to you. hehe.

it all started when i read this post over at gallivance.net, a couple’s blog that inspires me  with every post. they had decided to revamp their blog and add a “start here” page to their top menu. i commented on their post and the addition of that page, and as usual, they commented back, giving me a few tips & a little pep talk to do my own version here – such sweet bloggers they are!

so, this is my new “start here” page! welcome! it’s a place where you can begin and get a little snippet of what belovelive is all about.  i’m posting it as a blog post right now, but you’ll be able to find it in the top new menu from now on (look up there now. see it?).

i also created links over in my left sidebar to my three main categories (be, love, & live). just click on the photos to see the posts in each category. they are also in the top menu in word form. hopefully this streamlines everything and makes it even easier to navigate in the belovelive world.

so, here ya go! presenting my new “start here” page:


hi! i’m liz. and welcome to belovelive!

i’m your host in this little corner of cyberspace. i started belovelive in the spring of 2011, soon after i married a swede and moved from the united states to sweden. since then, i have just recently moved back to the states (july 2013) and i brought this blog with me.

in the three years i lived in sweden, i hoped to keep in touch with family & friends and give them a glimpse of what life in northern europe was like. well, i did just that. however, i had no idea that i would be sitting in asheville, north carolina in 2014, 900 blog posts later, with so many new friends and connections from all around the world – all because of this little place where i write down my thoughts and share my photos as i process this amazing journey called life. this blog has opened up so many amazing opportunities and been such a gift to me. i hope it will be the same for you.

if you are new here, then take a peek at this page and click on any links you find interesting. these are the basics, or a little snippet of the kinds of things that i post.

here at belovelive, i share my philosophy of life and my adventures in life on an almost daily basis. i am simply a pilgrim on a never-ending, adventurous, blissful journey toward inner peace – and i choose to chronicle that journey through my writing and photos. for me, that journey toward inner peace is found through being, loving, & living. the real journey, though, is sharing that journey with you, here on the web, and with other family & friends in my daily life.

if you want, click on the “you’ve got mail” button on the left sidebar and get my posts in your email, or click here to follow me on my facebook page. of course, there is also instagram and twitter – i’m pretty active on (addicted to) social media. you can find links to everything just to the left in the sidebar.

so, let’s get started…


meet liz
word of the year
celebrating two years



skulls and flowers
open hearts? no. open minds? no. open doors? no. open wounds? yes!
what’s your motto?



“there’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be”
i’m rested & i’m ready
observe all that is around you
wednesday wisdom: how to live
different people, same spirit

finland lake


same love
the lost art of snail mail
her words
a closet is no place to live
the beauty of a woman blogfest



how to have an adventure every day
i’m ok. even though i got an email
don’t get so busy
own your moments
a restaurant that feeds your soul
the top ten lessons i learned i 2013

mojito at pappa grappa


travel confessions from a pilgrim
dublin 2.0
a time to remember in berlin
sunrise over the mediterranean sea
a magical swiss-irish wedding
lindos, greece
when i said adventure, i didn’t mean this
rhodes city

lindos, greece


nothing is weird in avl
who i am an north carolina girl
i left my heart in asheville
big big big news!

asheville alley


pinch me, i’m an expat
just for you, mom & dad
i wanna graduate from high school in sweden
midsummer love
st. lucia day: the girl with the crown of candles
full of archipelago love
immigration said yes

skeppsgården swimming


a girl and her fika
a cup of coffee cures everything
making dreams come true over a cuppa

coffee cup

i hope you’ve enjoyed this little introduction into the belovelive world. please hang out for a while and explore more deeply. or become a follower and receive emails whenever i post something new – which is pretty often. so, go ahead, make a pot of coffee or grab a glass of wine or a bottle of beer. curl up in your little corner of the world and spending some time… just being, loving, and living.


wednesday wisdom.

“the moment is the sole reality.” ~ karl jaspers


today, let go of all of the distractions long enough to sense reality: here. now. this.

peace and love. xx

seek and you will find.

it’s friday, my loves, and i just wanted to share a little thought with you as you begin your weekend…


call it karma. call it the universe. call it whatever. but, seek and will you find. i truly believe that. when you seek with your heart, when you listen to your soul, when you are true to yourself, you will find that all the pieces fall into place. not in exactly the way you had planned or imagined necessarily, but in a way that ends up seeming like it was meant to be when you look back.

right now i am in the midst of a lot of processes. a lot of things that are outside of my control. there are things that i dream about, things i must do in order to make those dreams come true, and then i have to sit back and wait… for instance, my love is still fighting to work on living life and feeling better. we’re applying for an apartment that we loooove and waiting to hear if we get it. we’re waiting on the visa process. i’m looking for a job which pays the bills and satisfies my soul. i’m finishing up work here. there are so many things right now that i am not in complete control of. i do all i can, and then i release it to the universe. and wait. yeah, it’s not easy. not at all. but, i know, i feel, that i am following my soul and my dreams, and so i trust. i trust the universe. i trust the process. and i trust that things will, in the end, be better than i ever imagined. come what may.

so, sit back. breathe. seek with all your soul. and trust the universe. trust life to work out all things our for your good. it is a balance of being, trusting, and doing. in no way do i mean that we just sit back and wait for things to happen. we must be active, co-workers in our life. the sitting back part is how we get in touch with our soul, how we know what our dreams are. and then, we make things happen. we take steps. we make decisions. we put ourselves out there, try new things, take risks, leave our comfort zones. and we patiently (or not so patiently. hehe.) wait for our life, our journey to unfold before our eyes. we trust the journey. and we keep seeking, knowing that what we seek… peace, love, happiness, wholeness, whatever… is seeking us too.

love & peace, peeps.

the next chapter from my memoir: 33 changed everything.

canton home

the view from my front porch.

my husband closed the door behind him and i was standing in our, in my, home… alone.

it was the beginning of august in 2007, and it was as if the slate had been wiped completely clean. i was almost 33 years old and i felt brand new. perhaps i felt a little bit of fear, but mostly, i felt free. not free because my marriage was now over, but free because of what that symbolized.

i was me. only me. and all the dreams that i had dreamed, whatever they were, now seemed more possible than ever.

what had happened to me was that i had gotten to know myself. i had allowed myself to listen to my inner voice, to feel my own soul, to put away all of the thoughts and pressures of others’ expectations and just listen. i felt more me than i had ever felt before. ever.

now, what was i to do with my life? how was i going to go about making dreams come true? i most definitely would move from the small town in the mountains in north carolina where i had been living. and, if i could make it happen, i would move to denmark. after 12 years, perhaps my chance had come. i suppose i could have felt overwhelmed and confused, but i felt more calm than ever before.

on my first night alone, and for many nights thereafter for the next 4 months, i poured myself a glass of red wine, sat on my little front porch, stared into the starry night sky, and just let myself be me.

the next morning, i woke early, make a pot of coffee and snuggled into a big, round chair on my back porch to read, write, meditate, and pray. i repeated this morning ritual faithfully for the next year. almost every single day. i used these mornings to fill myself with inspiration and then to reflect on what i had read, what i had done, and where i was headed.  i wrote and wrote and wrote. i dreamed. i planned. i processed everything. my soul was my counselor. my guide.

max patch

i also headed back to work after the summer of 2007 with all it’s adventures and transformations.

i worked full time as a minister in a united methodist church. it was my seventh year there, surrounded by inspiring, amazing, mountain people from all walks of life. i loved my job. i loved my co-worker. i loved the youth. i had built strong, important relationships with some wonderful, inspiring people. i had created a position that allowed me to use my gifts & passions at the time.

but, how long would i remain there? that question rolled around in my mind daily. i began to realize that, as painful as it would be and as ridiculous & careless it may seem to others, it was time for me to move on.

central umc canton

at the same time i was working full-time, i was also beginning my final semester of seminary, my final four months of preparing to receive my master’s degree. the last few months of soaking up the information, knowledge, and spiritual development that was part of the process of becoming me in my professional role. however, throughout my entire seminary journey, i knew that it was not really a preparation for a job, but a preparation of who i am called to be… as an authentic, whole person, living out her dreams and using her gifts. seminary actually never was, for me, a professional endeavor, but a personal, spiritual one.

i recall the last assignment i had that semester. my final project was to write my spiritual autobiography. a look at my past, my present, and my future. what an appropriate assignment for this particular time in my life, i felt, as i began my life anew. i looked forward to getting my journey down on paper, in black and white.

but, we were also told that we would share our autobiographies with each other, and then take a day to discuss each person’s journey as a group. i was nervous. really nervous. i knew exactly who i was, who i felt i needed to be, but i did not know the answer to that age old question, “what are you going to do?” – an integral part of the last part of the assignment… to cast a vision for what we felt called to do after seminary, how and where we would work.

for me, that question was irrelevant. i had cast aside all pressure to answer that question in my life, after i had slowly come to understand that it is not about what i do, but about who i am. and if, and when, i am faithful to who i am, what i do will come directly from that.

nature and me

with that the guiding belief in this new life i was embarking on, i decided to mark myself. literally. i had a vine tattooed onto my right wrist as a reminder and a celebration of the knowledge that all i need to do is simply be. to simply stay connected to my soul, to the divine that is within. my job is to be. and just as a branch bears fruit simply because it connected to a vine, so will i bear fruit in my life, if i am connected to that which is true, light, love, and peace within me. my soul will lead me where i need to be. and what will i do? i will only focus on being me. and in being me, i will become someone who can be used wherever she is.

i wrote my spiritual autobiography for my seminary class. i illustrated with words the journey i had been on thus far, and the dreams i had for the future. and i did not list any plans. i did not say where i wanted to work, how i wanted to live out my ministry, like my classmates did. there were no specifics when it came to my future. there was only a certainly in my present, and the plan to seek to be true to myself, trusting that the details would come.

of course i was terrified at how my classmates and my professor would respond. but, it was a beautiful moment, filled acceptance and support, as they congratulated me on finding a level of peace within myself that some of them had not yet discovered.


oh yes, the fall of 2007 changed me.

i was now legally separated from my husband. i was preparing to leave the church where i had been working for the past 7 years. and i was completing the last leg of my spiritual journey in seminary. it was a peaceful, slow, thoughtful, and inspiring four months. i felt safe. calm. hope. alive. peace.

it was during this time that i died to my old self. the final death came around my 33rd birthday in september. i sat one morning and literally said goodbye to my old way of life, to the old me. and yet, i appreciated all that the old me had given me. without those previous 33 years, would i have never celebrated the beginning of this new journey in life. though i let some things go, i held onto myself, because i had actually discovered that which had been within me all along.

and i was born again. life began again. i breathed deeper. laughed harder. sat in silence longer. wrote more. listened more intensely. communed with nature. lived more fully.

i had no idea what would come. but, come what may, all would be well.

*all photos taken in the fall of 2007

gettin’ down to business. belovelive is on facebook!


image from here.

it’s time to get serious. and i have some pretty serious dreams. as i said before, it feels like 2013 is a year to embrace adventure all over the place and to embrace my free-spirited-ness. what that means is, it’s time to make more dreams come true! and to live it up. i feel like celebrating every day – even when there’s nothing to celebrate, or when i feel not-so-great. still, there is this excited, balanced, peaceful, carefree feeling inside me. i feel like stuff is gonna happen. or that it is happening.

if you know me (here or in the “real world”), then you know i love writing, photography, blogging, and travel. and you know that it is my biggest dream to make all of these into my career, my way of making money. well, it’s time to become that which i want. it’s just time. i feel it.

i have a friend who has asked if he can “feature” my blog at his restaurant, and if i can freelance/volunteer to be part of a visionary group for his business. he wants to have people with “deep souls” around him as he casts a new vision & mission for his restaurant, and since i have this blog, he thinks that it would be a great match. i don’t know much more about it, only that we’re gonna meet about once a week (and include other people too) and begin talking about our collaboration. so so so cool. and a beginning of something.

inspired by my friend & his suggestion to me, i decided it was time for my blog, belovelive, to have it’s own facebook page. on it, i want to connect with more people. post my blog posts. post photos i have taken for others, and make things a little bit more professional than my private facebook timeline. i am hoping to meet more people, get tons of likes, and work even harder to make this dream come true.

it’s just time, ya know? the stars are lining up, or something. the universe is opening up. and i am ready to grab hold of my dreams.

i love the quote in the image above because it says, “decide what to be” instead of “decide what to do”. ‘cuz it’s really about being who we are creatd to be… not just doing something. it’s about having a purpose, not just doing things. when there is purpose behind what we do = being who we are, then life has much more meaning. so, i’m not gonna worry about or decide what i want/need to do. i’m gonna focus on who i need/want to be. and when i am simply true to myself, then all that i do will be meaningful.

yep. i’m gonna get out there and be me. all over the place. i’m gonna make my dreams come true. it’s time, once again.

now, i ask you togo on over to my facebook page & “like” it. check it out, and hopefully you will feel a little inspiration and pass it along to people in your life.

like my page on Facebook by clicking the image.

like my page on Facebook by clicking the image.

 what are your dreams? who do you want to be? 

peace & love.

tea time is best.

if you’ve visited my blog before then you know that i love coffee, tea, candles, quiet times, meditation/reflection, writing and opportunities to just be. i guess you could say that i am a pretty introverted, laid-back person.

tonight i’m being true to myself and having a cup of tea (that my german friend brought back for us from her trip home to germany. she lives in sweden.) while i write this post. i’m sitting in the living room, but no candles are lit because i don’t want to admit that the summer sun is fading away and darkness is returning to sweden. in the fall and winter, candles save me with their warm glow. but, right now, as the sun is setting,  i’m enjoying the last few moments of natural light of the day reflecting on the meeting i had this evening.

just in case you don’t know, i work in a church; and tonight i had a planning meeting with the other minister about our church service for  this coming sunday. m (the minister) and i had not seen each other in 4 weeks, thanks to the long vacations in sweden. (love you, sweden). it was so great to see each other, and we immediately got down to business. and the flow started as soon as we began talking.

while we were planning, i looked ahead in the swedish lectionary book (a plan of themes for sundays) we were using to see what the theme for the day was on september 16. on that day, i will be preaching, having the talk, you know. there are many ministers who preach and spend their time standing in front of people telling them how bad they are, what they should or should not do, and exactly what they should believe. i am not one of them. my sermons are like blog posts, my preaching is like taking one of my blog posts and delivering in person to a crowd of people. it is my hope that my preaching is inspiring, challenging, and uplifting.

anyway, a few weeks ago, i wrote a blog post on rest (read it here), inspired by a daily meditational book that i use in the mornings (the theme for july & august is rest). i got a comment that said that my post sounded like a sermon and that the comment-er would like to hear me speak more about it. i thought about planning that for the 16th of september, but then i decided to go in another direction (following another theme based on another lectionary ). i felt like i would be forcing a sermon if i preached on rest… like i was choosing what i wanted to talk about, instead of letting the spirit inspire me. preaching on rest would be too easy and i might put in too much of my own bias, instead of studying & pulling out what the universe, what God, might be saying to me through the lectionary text.

well, tonight, as i peeked ahead to the theme for september 16, in the book we were using, i saw that it said “ett är nödvändigt” – one thing is necessary; and then the following bible passages to read with that theme were all about resting, pulling away, taking time for yourself, learning to just be and live in the moment. being. that is the one thing that is necessary.


i was totally amazed. how could this be? i had considered preaching on resting & being, but decided that it would be “cheating” since it was something i was choosing. but, tonight, right there in front of me, in the swedish book, were the words, ” i will give you rest” in the book i was working from. a sign? most definitely.

i know this is right. i can feel it. i wondered about it after i received the comment, but i brushed it aside. but, now, the universe has spoken. it is indeed time for me to write a sermon on finding rest, on living in the moment, on trusting God, on simply being.

so, my theme for the 16 of september has changed.

wishing peace & inspiration to you all.



how one word made all the difference in my little world.

well, i’m close to finishing 2 of my 4 weeks of vacation this summer. i haven’t been anywhere, but that feels ok. in fact, it feels necessary and important. of course there is the pressure to go somewhere. but it’s self-induced. the pressure to be like everyone else, scurrying off here or there on some vacation to some place in sweden or to another exotic country. well, that’s just not in the cards this summer for me. and ya know what? i’m totally ok with it. i’ve got other things on my mind…

like this one word that i’ve had floating around in my head for the past week: rest. i read something sunday about jesus taking his disciples with him one day on boat, seeking a solitary place so they could have some rest. a retreat. vacation. time to just be. of course, the crowd followed them because jesus was like a 1st century rock star. and while i can imagine that jesus was desperately seeking some alone time, listening to his soul telling him that it was time to recharge his batteries, he did not turn the crowd away. he gladly welcomed the crowd and all of their needs and desires. even though he’d planned to rest. something i would not have done. i would have sneakily found a way to “lose the crowd”, retreating into my apartment and refusing to make plans with anyone. or, if i couldn’t lose them, i’d spend all my time complaining that i’d rather just be alone. but that’s why he’s jesus. and i’m me.

but that got me to wondering… why? why am i so selfish with my alone time? and i immediately knew the answer to my own question: perhaps it’s because i’m not spending time alone on a regular basis, and better yet, when i have alone time, i’m not maximizing it.

jesus went away to be alone quite often, pulling away to go deep within himself. perhaps since he did it quite often, his soul was fed, and he was able to continue to serve others because he never let himself get drained. he never gave and gave and gave, without allowing himself time to reflect and just be. and so, his soul overflowed.

perhaps i’m so stingy with my alone time because when i have it, i do not necessarily use it productively: i do not fill it with things that fill my soul… journaling, doing yoga, meditating, dancing, photography, long walks, true quality time with my love & friends. to be brutally honest, more often that not, i get stuck on the internet, or with a movie. i’m not filling my soul properly, and so i’m not really ready to share myself because i always feel squeezed dry. i’m lazy with my soul time. i realize now that i can have all the alone time in the world, and it won’t matter unless i seek to be inspired rather than entertained.

i have forgotten what it means to be alone; and yet, i am this person, this nomad, longing for moments of solitude.

there are a group of people in life that intrigue me. they inspire me. they are people who practice a contemplative life. throughout history they have been called desert mothers & fathers. and while most people think that the desert monks and ammas (desert mothers) were only around during one certain time period in life, i beg to differ. i also believe that there are plenty living in our midst today. i have known a few women whom i call my “amma” (a word that means mother in many languages). these women have been contemplative, modern-day mystics guiding me, inspiring me, and journeying with me in life. people like elaine, linda, dania.

and then there are the mystics and desert mothers/fathers of history. people like julian of norwich, gregory of nyssa, john the baptist, athanasius, catherine of siena, thomas merton. all of these people (including the ones that have been in my life) live life a little differently that everyone else. they live life from deep within their soul… spending much time alone, relishing quietness & stillness, praying, meditating, thinking, writing, educating, counseling. however, none of these people lived, or live, a secluded life. they are members of their community, balancing their desire and dedication to nurturing their inner lives, as well as living out their love in the midst of the community in which they reside.

just like jesus did.

i realize that i am writing from a christian perspective, but that is part of my foundation/background. just because i am speaking from this perspective does not mean that i do not include great teachers, theologians, and spiritual guides from other religions, too, in my circle of inspirational mystics. people like buddha, rumi, ghandi, demeter & persephone, isis…

now back to my word: rest

the jewish community has a word that i love… shabbos. it is the word for shabbat or sabbath. most of us know what a sabbath is. the sabbath, or shabbat, is the day of rest for jews and christians. many people think of it as a day of prayer because jews & christians visit synagogues and churches on those days. but, the yiddish (jewish word) shabbos teaches me that it’s deeper than just one day of rest or prayer…

it is ceasing to create & withdrawing into our own essence. in other words, just being. exactly who we are. living from our soul for one day. doing those things which fill our soul, make our soul dance. it is breathing freely, knowing that just being alive is what life is all about, soaking in the moments, living one day with wild abandon, returning to the essence of who we are.

finding this word, shabbos, has meant a great deal to me this week as i spend my vacation days seeking rest & rejuvenation and trying to find a way to redefine how i rest, how i reconnect with this community of contemplative beings, to which i feel drawn.

when i was studying for my master’s degree, to become a minister (pastor), my friends & i had a joke. ok. they had a joke about me, and i played along because, in a sense, they were right. they teased me that because i was the contemplative one, the one always seeking some quiet place during the day, talking a lot about being rather than doing… that my life was all about me. that looking inward, drawing into myself, spending time in silence, finding signs of the Divine everywhere… was focusing too much on me. instead perhaps i should have been waking up and giving away every single second of my life to everyone else. at least once a day someone jokingly said, “…because it is all about you, liz”. i can’t say anything about other people, but i can say that, during this time, i had deep inner peace – even in the midst of turmoil.

those of us who crave some solitude, who love to read, reflect, ponder, write, draw, create, and generally have a calm, quiet, sometimes loner of a life, do that because we are drawing within ourselves. not to be egotistical, but to connect with ourselves, to connect with our souls, to connect with the divine spark, the image of God that we believe is in each one of us. and we believe that this world would be a better place if we all just took a little time to just be.

going inward does not make one more egocentric, it makes one more grounded. and being more grounded means that one can be filled, and then one can overflow, and begin share to one’s self with the world, to make a difference. doing things for the sake of doing things, or out of sheer “duty” is exhausting and not fun. seeking to be alone and then using that time for mindless internet surfing or sitting on the couch is also, in the end, exhausting and not fun.

but to truly be alone, to truly have a day of sabbath, to truly go within one’s self, and to truly follow one’s bliss will not only make a difference in your own life, but will most likely affect, change, and inspire those around you.

so, i’ve got a little more that 2 weeks left of my vacation. how do you think i’m gonna spend my time? it sure ain’t gonna be in front of a tv or randomly surfing the net. it will be filled with things that fill my soul and some intense quiet time on a daily basis.

basically, i’m just gonna be. and live life.

now i know why this word, rest, has been on my mind for a while…it’s about time that i reclaim my contemplative roots.