Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father’s Day!

May all dad’s have a blessed day as we celebrate you!

We celebrate and lift up all the dads, and those who fulfilled the role, who have labored in love, guided in wisdom, provided in loving ways, and blessed their children with many gifts, tangible and intangible. A special shout-out to my Dad, who is getting doubly blessed for he has a birthday coming up very soon. I am so honored that he raised me up in the way I should go (Proverbs 22:6) with such a rich spiritual heritage, taught us to love God and neighbor.  Yes, I am a PK (a preacher’s kid). And if the picture above gives you any indication, he was (still is) a tremendous chef among other things! Thank you, Daddy!

Today, we also bless the memories of those dads, grand-dads, even great-grand-dads, who are no longer with us…all those who did their best and loved us the best they could.

Let us continue to appreciate the blessings of all our family relationships, including extended family and friends.  Let us continue to be kind, be compassionate, communicate, love, forgive, and show dignity and respect to all, today and always.

Joyfully,

Rev. Dinah

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day

mothersday-2

I have so many memories running around in my head of my mother. She is no longer on this physical plane of existence, but her memories live on me, my siblings, and all of her grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Whether you are a mom, you’ve had/have a mom, or becoming a mom, or even if you’ve had to fill in as a mom, I hope this day brings a rich, satisfying, joyful day of celebration and gratitude. Happy Mother’s Day!

Love & Joy,

Rev. Dinah

Joy in the Midst of All This?

Distancing Graphic Instagram Post

Yeah, in all this? How can we find joy?

I am in Day 32 of sheltering in place here in the Bay Area. I haven’t binged watched anything nor have I taken up a hobby. If there’s one tip I could share, it would be this. I have taken up being aware of my emotions and doing a daily check-in with myself. Nothing really stringent, just noticing. The one thing we don’t want to do is ignore the challenges and what’s going on all around us. And we don’t want to ignore what’s going on inside of us either, physically, emotionally, mentally, nor spiritually.

I’ve been wondering about how to talk about joy in the midst of all this. Where is joy in all this? After a few minutes of checking the news to see if there’s anything I should do differently, I pick up my remote and remove the noise and go for my daily walk. 

Walking has been the best way for me to not only get exercise, but it’s like rebooting to my system. It helps to refresh my perspective and clear my thinking. I can hear my own thoughts rather than being bombarded with all the stuff from the networks and social media. Once I settle my mind and breathe in fresh air, a sense of peace and joy is right there waiting for me. Ah yes! In this little piece of the world…there’s a little joy oasis. 

Joy is the ever-abiding stream of gladness and delight for living that wells up on the inside of us if we’ll allow space and time for it. As I walk, I begin to notice the beauty of the flowers, the sky, the trees, and relish in this simple noticing. As I walk, I am grateful for my legs, my ankles, my knees, my balance, my heart, everything in my physical body that allows this motion and activity to take place. Sometimes I listen to a podcast, sometimes I don’t. It is so quiet on the streets now; there’s nothing to drown out! No traffic on the streets. Hurray! The streets might be a little empty, but the information super highway is not! LOL! I feel gratitude and appreciation for this time to reflect. While centering and placing my focus on my heart, I bless all those who come to mind and pray for our world. Before you know it, I’m back at my apartment…looking forward to the next walk and allowing space for joy to rise in my awareness once again. Wash hands Quote Graphic Instagram Post

Where is joy in all this? I think it’s in every moment we choose to recognize, realize, and respond to it. Then we can express it, and it blesses others in our world and those all around us.

Whoever and wherever you are:

May we all  be well.

May we all be secure.

May we all be happy.

So be it.

Amen.

Blessings & Joy,

Rev. Dinah

Bye-Bye March – Hello April – COVID19

Wash hands Quote Graphic Instagram PostThis has certainly been an interesting month with the COVID-19 global pandemic that the world has been facing for the past few weeks.  I’ve been constantly reminding myself that even in the midst of all this, there is a real true sense of joy and vitality that runs like a river deep down inside of us. I’ve seen videos of people singing from their balconies! Yet and still, we are in the midst of a “new normal.” Here in Northern California, we were the first to undergo an active official “sheltering in place” program on March 17, but it had been swiftly building and coming to that. I’ve gone out for food a couple of times and came right back in. Each day I have been walking to get exercise. It’s also been the perfect time to connect and re-connect with family and friends through various means of communication. (My day job continues, thankfully — I’ve been working remotely now since September).

It’s more important than ever to remain connected and express as much love, gratitude, compassion, and empathy as we possibly can. My ask of everyone is to follow the guidelines that we are asked to follow; check out official reputable sources for information (such as the CDC); you never know whose life you might be saving. Stay in place and save a life. There is plenty of anxiety and tension circulating. So I invite everyone, myself included, to slow down, breathe, meditate, contemplate, and pray, or do whatever spiritual practice works for you to stay centered, purposeful, and positive. Be prayerful and practical. We can help each other through this, even in small ways. Whatever is within our power and means, help others. I’ve seen some folks online sharing their creative gifts and talents, too! Singing, music, dance, …the arts are flourishing!

As human beings, it’s natural for us to try to make meaning of it all, leaning on either spirituality, or conspiracy theories, to help us cope.  However, we have to stay grounded. One thing that stands out for me is that I see the resiliency, the coming together, the heroes and sheroes, the health care workers, service industries, the humanitarian rallying of thousands of communities and all the good that seems to emerge in a crisis. Why must it take a crisis before we see this great outpouring of these gifts? My guess is that this good-will is there all the time but rises to the surface more prominently when there is a huge crisis such as this. My hope is that we, the human race, can shift to a higher, more just and equitable way of being a global community. On some level, maybe we can dwell together in more humane ways working for the good of all humankind, regardless of race, religion, nationality, ethnicity, gender, identity, age, or any other identification or classification. How will we be different when this subsides? or will we be? Distancing Graphic Instagram Post

This is my prayer for all as we come to the end of the Season for Non-Violence (which started on January 31 and runs through April 4th; read more about it at Commonway.org).  I have been saying the pledge and including this in my prayer and meditation time:

“May all beings be well – – May all beings be secure – – May all beings be happy”

I am a firm believer in the power of affirmative prayer.

And as the Prayer for Protection affirms:

The Light of God surrounds us, the love of God enfolds us, the power of God protects us, the Presence of God watches over us. Wherever we are, God is.

Silent Unity® is normally open 24×7 if you would like for someone to pray with you (1-800-YOU-PRAY). Oops, sorry they have reduced hours now. Click here for more info on Silent Unity®.  No matter what religion or denomination (no division), they’ll pray with you a confidential prayer. They’ve been at it non-stop for over 125 years.

What I also love is that the U-PRAY application can also be downloaded to your phone and prayer requests can be submitted via the mobile app at any time. Check out the new Alexa requests also now available.

There’s a whole lot of praying going on, that’s true…imagine… where 2 or 3 are gathered. We don’t have to be physically gathered…we need only touch and agree for the highest good of all…in the secret quiet chambers of our hearts, extending unconditional love out to all. Ask, knock, seek…

I wonder what will be transformed when we emerge from all this?

Be safe, be well. Follow the guidelines.

Love & blessings & JOY to you!

Rev. Dinah

“KEEP YOUR JOY FLOWING”

 

A Powerful, Lasting Impact of Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon

In June 2012, I stepped into my call to ministry while attending the Unity Peoples Convention in Detroit, Michigan. Little did I know some 8 months later, I would be quitting my job, emptying my apartment, throwing my household furnishings into storage, and driving my loaded down car from California to Missouri to go to seminary. I’d heard people say, “you won’t know until you go.” That’s the way it is sometimes when we are following our guidance. We often don’t see the next step until we make the first step. Something inside me said to leap and I did…into a full residential seminary program. 

It was an adventure for my oldest sister and I to drive across country. We stopped at the Grand Canyon and took pictures. I figured there was no sense being that close and not stop to see one of the world’s wonders. We stopped each night for dinner and checked into a hotel. We had great weather all the way, for March anyway. We plumed through Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, and at last we drove into Missouri.  Funny thing is…the closer we got to Unity Village, the harder it snowed and it started to stick on the roads… but finally we made it. 

I couldn’t wait to get the keys to my room I was renting on the grounds of Unity Village. I considered it a miracle! I was told there was no housing available at first, and I was put on a waiting list. But through a turn of events, here I was, settling down in my warm, toasty room, with the temperature of 20 degrees outside and seven to eight inches of fresh fallen snow on the ground. As I lay in bed on the first night in the Women’s Annex, I was gazing out my window looking up at the famous landmark Unity Tower. In that moment, I remembered and gave thanks for Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon, who broke the color barrier at the Unity School of Christianity and was permitted lodging on grounds in the late 50s.  Unity village had been segregated. I honored her in my prayers that night and drifted off to sleep. “Because of her, and many others, I am here,” I thought to myself. She was the first African American to stay on grounds, and here I was sleeping overnight as a residential seminarian on these grounds. We must never forget those who have paved the way for us. 

While growing up as a little girl in the midwest, I had heard talk about this “woman preacher” in Chicago who had this BIG church. Oh yes, there was talk of her, but I knew very little about Unity and was fascinated to hear of big city news such as that. Our family had made many trips to Chicago, but we were in another denomination and I don’t recall ever venturing out to see her church. But in the Black community, she definitely had some notoriety and had appeared in Jet and Ebony magazine. Who knew decades later I’d come to this same place of beginnings? 

I went on to do more research about Rev. Colemon’s life and her experience while I was studying at Unity Institute and Seminary from 2013 to 2016. She made her transition in 2014. In 2016 as I walked across the stage to graduate and be ordained, I had pinned a picture of Rev. Johnnie Coleman inside my robe near my heart. I had to find a way to carry her across that stage with me for I knew she paved the way for me to be there. Because of you, Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon, we can all follow the truth in our hearts and live courageously. Thank you. We celebrate you this Black History Month of 2020. Many stories have been written about her, but this is mine.

To celebrate Black History Month, see Gems of Wisdom from Black Leaders of New Thought:

https://www.unity.org/publications/resource-materials/black-leaders-new-thought

Happy New Year!

Well, 2019, that’s a wrap! Here we go, 2020! 

It’s been quite a year! I hope you have had a wonderful holiday season and that you are doing well.  I hope you are envisioning an awesomely prosperous and healthy year in 2020 and beyond.

As you may recall back in 2019, my last Sunday as senior minister at Unity of Tri-Valley was Easter Sunday. After that, I gave myself permission to take six months off as a sabbatical.

Over the summer, I started reading Wayne Muller’s book, Sabbath- – Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives, reflecting, taking walks, and quieting my life down a bit to listen…listen to my heart. It felt a little weird at first not having my calendar filled and working 12-14 hour days and all weekend. I began to understand that I needed more time for spiritual renewal in order to not lose my joy for serving in ways that sparked my enthusiasm and more in alignment with my gifts and talents.

The funny part is when you create space for creativity and make time to think about what you want for your life, the most amazing things can unfold in your life. Each day I went to work, quietly affirming, “thank you God for this or something better,”  and “I am open and receptive to God’s living spirit of Truth.” Gratitude opens us up to receive more in life. After a conversation with a previous manager of mine in 2013, one thing led to another and I was blessed with a new position with my former employer, Kaiser, in September. The blessing was not only a financial blessing and a raise, but I could also work 100 percent from home. I started late September and worked 5 weeks before my trip to China.

China was indeed a trip of a lifetime. I wanted to get out of my normal routine…and boy, did I ever! I’m still reminiscing and processing it all. The trip was a busy 16-day tour, starting in Beijing and ending in Hong Kong, but well worth it. I returned home for about 10 days and took off again for another “vacation from the vacation.” My family reunion was a family cruise to the Western Caribbean during Thanksgiving week. It was very relaxing and a blessing to spend time with family. 

The big lessons I believe I have learned in 2019 are:

  • Do not postpone joy. If there’s something you want to do, do it. Don’t wait so long to take care of yourself. It doesn’t mean you’re selfish if you practice self care and good boundaries. Self care should be all throughout the year; do not wait until 3 years to do self care! 
  • Do little things all along the way regularly to renew and rejuvenate and lift your soul.
  • Allow space to feel. By that I mean pay attention to our emotional health. Things can really pile up. Sometimes there are losses in our lives and we need to have breathing room to see what’s going on inside of us. There were people who passed away this year, and I had to take time to recognize I was in a grieving process. 
  • Don’t let grievances pile up, forgive but don’t continue to be a dumping ground for others who are not consciously doing their own healing work. Life is too short to carry the weight of unforgiveness or any kind of malice toward others. if you knew that person would be gone tomorrow, what would you do differently? 
  • And finally, with the socio-political climate in our country, we must seriously commit to bridging the gaps within our communities, families, and nation wherever and whenever possible and express more understanding and kindness. By all means, pray.

So, in 2020, I hope you will plug into what brings you joy, makes for peace, stirs up divine love and right action, and makes your heart sing. Be intentional and really do it! I feel called to continue working on my online joy ministry. Joy is my strength, and it has sustained me in countless ways.  It’s not about being glib or glossing over our challenges. True joy resonates from deep within and will buoy us up through whatever comes our way.

I am still in a place of listening, visioning, and affirming that I will will be guided in the right steps and right timing for the best unfolding of this ministry. The best is yet to be! Thank you for your loving support and prayers.  May you be blessed richly in 2020 and full of joy!

Love always,

Rev. Dinah

Back from China Trip

Well, here it is…the heart of autumn. I typically like to send a happy birthday greeting on the first of the month, but this time I was in China during the first part of November. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY November folks, and happy belated birthday if I missed yours this month.
IMG_5617I waited and saved up a whole year for this vacation. It has been about three years since I had a real vacation (in 2013). I finally did something outside of my comfort zone. More later on my travels. Fear can sometimes stop us from seeing the world, but I was determined to go and I’m so glad I did. Special thanks to our tour leader, Rev. Mary Anne Harris of Tulsa, Oklahoma. I’ve been with her on trip to Italy, Spain, and Portugal so far and they are always well organized by the company she engages to do all the booking and planning. Her website is Harris House Studios if you would like to see more photos. I’ll post more later. If you are not already on my mailing list, join to see the updates that are coming.

The Thanksgiving season is upon us! It’s a tradition that should last the whole year, in my opinion. Nevertheless, I am grateful for another season for expressing even more gratitude. I am particularly grateful for all the good that is going on in the world, even when it feels like it isn’t. I say let’s look for all the blessings in our lives and be extra, extra grateful.  Even if you are grateful, see if you can top that. If you are into making gratitude lists, see if you can DOUBLE or TRIPLE it. Then watch and see what blessings get multiplied in your life. Staying in the zone of gratitude turns the tide, every time.

Wishing you all the soul-enriching warmth, fulfillment, and abundant blessings that the transformative power of God’s love can bring!

JOY and Love aways,
Rev. Dinah

My Summer Sabbatical

Greetings!
Well, in April I decided to put myself on a “summer sabbatical” to reflect, to be still, and to listen to my heart. Yes…I gave myself permission to not take any speaking or singing engagements this summer 🙂 However, I’m still working my day job. So, the weekends are filled with opening myself up to whatever I’m inspired to do that feeds my soul.
Easter Sunday, April 21, was my final service as the minister of Unity of Tri-Valley, after serving for 14 months in a labor of love with a lovely spiritual community. It was bittersweet but necessary for me to do some truth-telling to myself and step aside. Prior to that, I served as associate minister at Unity of San Leandro in Northern California for two years. And prior to that, I worked to earn my Masters of Divinity at Unity Institute and Seminary from 2013 to 2016 and was ordained in 2016. I am grateful for the privilege of serving and learning so much in church ministry! Now, it’s time to shift my focus a bit.
Reflections
Over the past few weeks and after several long walks, I’ve come to realize I’ve been going full speed in various ministry endeavors for quite some time. I made a decision in 2005 that I would live the next decades of my life a lot differently than the first few decades of my life. #1- I would live intentionally in alignment with a vision for my life and in alignment with my values. So, I had to do the work of asking myself those hard questions and writing down what I wanted in life and then begin to think/act/behave in alignment with those things. The most important things for me were spiritual growth and to being in integrity with myself.
One thing that was out of whack was my finances. I found myself in over $100,000 worth of debt in 2004. By putting Truth first in my life and gaining a greater awareness of abundance, I began to manifest an abundance consciousness and things began to turnaround. From 2008 to 2012, I studied to become a Licensed Unity Teacher, diving deeper into the spiritual teachings that had helped save me from spiraling into depression. They helped shift me into greater fulfillment, abundance, emotional healing, and a sense of purpose.
This particular spiritual path was working for me; I could see and feel the change; I felt more peace, more satisfaction, and more love and compassion for myself and others. By 2009, I was completely out of debt! It took a commitment to my spiritual practice, discipline, forgiveness work, and greater self-awareness to leave behind the judgmental, critical, self-defeating mental habits that were leaving me feeling empty. 
I’ve come to realize that our thoughts lead to our emotions and our actions.  One of the key principles I discovered says, “thoughts held in mind produce after their kind.” I took it to heart and focused on Spirit. Somehow, a renewed sense of resiliency began to surface. I watched myself like a hawk. I focused on loving life, loving God, and every day being a clear transparency for God’s love to flow through me. I had to face myself and “do my work,” which is still my continual work, to release and let go of that which no longer serves me in a positive, constructive way and make room for new, expanded ways of expressing. I think we all want to grow, get better, and expand. When we do, we give others permission and encouragement to do the same.
So, I just wanted to check in, catch you up, and give you a few highlights of my summer. In a nutshell, I’ve been walking, getting out into nature more, keeping up my regular contemplative prayer practice and meditation work, reflecting, reading, re-connecting with friends, enjoying podcasts (like the Home-brewed Christianity’s Radical Theology summer series with Jack Caputo and Tripp Fuller), spending time with family, and working on improving my sleeping and eating habits.
Slowly, as I roll out of sabbatical mode this fall…I will ramp up my on-line presence for Unity JOY Abundantly Expressing Ministries, and sharing JOY in our world wherever I can. Since its inception in January 2018, I’ve had other priorities that needed my attention:) But this desire to share my JOY has never left me! I plan to continue to my singing and speaking talents as I am led by Spirit. More to come!
For now, I will enjoy the rest of this summer cozying up with one of my favorite books, Sabbath, Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. I love this quote from it:
“Sabbath is more than the absence of work; it is not just a day off, when we catch up on television or errands. It is the presence of something that arises when we consecrate a period of time to listen to what is most deeply beautiful, nourishing, or true. It is a time consecrated with our attention, our mindfulness, honoring those quiet forces of grace or spirit that sustain and heal us.”
I am so grateful for all my life lessons and how important it is to be authentic and to be true to myself.  If we don’t do this, we will never be happy (at least that is my experience). I encourage you to do the same; hang around those who will support you in being your highest, best self. BE JOY, BE LOVE, BE PEACE…and BE the force of good that you want to see in the world. We need YOU. We need the unique light and the JOY you bring! Please know that I am so very grateful for YOU and the love you bring. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Love & joy,
Rev. Dinah

This Month – Final Call for China

Screen Shot 2019-03-17 at 9.58.58 PMTravel with us Oct. 29 – Nov. 13! This time we’re heading west…to China! Dust off that passport. Download the brochure.

See the brochure for details and order form. Sign up and send in deposits today. This is the final call this month. It is the trip of a lifetime.

We will be joining my friend and mentor Rev. Mary Anne Harris, an experienced tour coordinator. The trips I’ve taken with her to Italy, Spain, and Portugal were high quality and well planned (through NAWAS- -she deals with only the best companies). Join us! And check out her photo gallery of the other trips she’s led at the Harris House website.

Reclaiming Your Joy

7 Tips for Reclaiming Your Joy

Sometimes we can get bogged down in life. We drift, we can get stagnant, and we can sometimes feel no sense of direction or purpose. I have come up with these reminders to help me reclaim my joy.  I’ve used them over and over. This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a great start! In the book, The Revealing Word, it says that joy is “the happiness of God expressed through its perfect idea in [humankind]…and that joy and gladness are strength-giving.” Wow, did you know that joy and gladness can give you strength? (Nehemiah 8:10)

Joy is more than a fleeting moment of happiness.  For me, it is more like an underground reservoir that shoots up warm springs of living waters in my soul whenever I need them.  True joy arises from within as we focus on all the good that is in our lives and the Source of our good.

When you claim and reclaim your joy, it does not mean you are not compassionate with others or that you don’t notice the challenges of life that are going on around us or in our world. We are not side-stepping anything. But with joy, you will have the strength and energy to be up for the tasks that lie before you.

So here are some of the tips I use for reclaiming my joy all the time and help me keep it stirred up!

  1. Stir up love, and you’ll stir up joy. Joy stems from divine love, unconditional love, the God-kind of love (agape love). I call it loving “just because.” Boost up your love with kind thoughts, words, and deeds, and walk in the wisdom of divine love and you will find your joy meter rising. When you feel your joy is at a low point, consider how are you doing in the area of expressing and manifesting unconditional, inclusive, non-judgmental love…to everyone! Stir up love, and let joy rise! “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” – John 13:35 NRSV
  2. Praise is the language of joy.  Whatever we praise, bless, or magnify grows! Gratitude and thanksgiving multiplies, germinates, and fertilizes everything in our lives and affairs. We can express our appreciation and gratitude to those around us each day. In prayer, we can give thanks. With a heart full of thanks, joy automatically rises. “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” – Psalm 34:1
  3. Prayer, Meditation, and Contemplation fills up our reservoir of joy.  When we consciously commune with the Divine and tap into the Presence, we are continually filling ourselves up with joy. Allow yourself to get still and go into the Silence…and be filled with the spirit of joy.  “You show me the path of life. In your presence there is fullness of joy; in your right hand are pleasures forevermore” – Psalm 16:11 NRSV
  4. Set your mind on God’s good. Think on all the good that God is unveiling and expressing in your life and all around you and joy will rise in your heart.  “Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8 NRSV
  5. Go and do good for others. Find a way to serve joyfully in community, in your spiritual community, at your school, in your neighborhood, or globally. Selfless service without thinking about reward and benefit can open up your heart to more love and joy. Your giving becomes the gift, and the joy of giving is its own reward. “So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us work for the good of all, and especially for those of the family of faith.” -Galatians 6:10 NRSV
  6. Play, engage in creative fun. Go dancing, …yes, dance! wave your arms in the air, like you just don’t care! Play music. Go to an art festival, a museum, or do some art! Go sailing, go to a play or a concert, and find a way to get in a good belly laugh (not at others, of course, but with others). Proverbs tells us “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.” (15:13); “but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” (15:15); and “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” (17:13).
  7. Find your tribe.  Find and share your joy in a community that is inclusive, accepting, loving, non-judgmental, uplifting of one another, and supportive of you finding your spiritual highest good. It may not be a traditional brick and mortar church. It can also be some collective group that enhances the individuals involved with it. “And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:24-26 NRSV

Add a SPLASH of JOY to everything you do this week! Share more JOY tips with us online at: Facebook Page and Discussion Group and like our Page.

Blessings & love,

Rev. Dinah

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