Recently I re-listened to one of my favorite episodes from the Rob Bell podcast (The Robcast) entitled 900 Ligaments.  It was about how religion shows up for us in different ways. There’s Capital Letter Religion: Christianity, Buddhism, etc., and then there’s lower case religion, mantras like “family is everything,” or “love is everything” or “I just follow the facts.” Events such as being a fan at a Dallas Cowboys game or being an Apple tech-head at an Apple technology seminar, or holiday traditions or rituals, on and on… these are all a form of lower case religion.

He says, “Everyone is religious… everyone is constantly ligamenting.”

Ligamenting, meaning holding together our lives through, as he puts it, “stories, structures, systems, rituals, rhythms, routines, rules, beliefs, behaviors, belonging; we’ve been doing this for thousands of years, yeah, all of it, to essentially hold us together. Without anything to hold us together, we can easily find ourselves all over the place…”

The ways we hold ourselves together, with this ligamenting, is such a a big part of what I’ve worked through, and am continuing to work through, to understand my own life. My religious background, most of it left behind, my individuality, my divorce, my relationship with a man that instigated me leaving that marriage… it’s a profoundly weighty topic, the lower case “religions” that help me hold my life together.

Through my divorce and reconciliation, I’ve learned my prominent religion is being with my core family, which is my two boys and ex husband. I’ve learned that living in separate households, driving the boys back and forth every week between my house and their dad’s diminished enjoyment in life for all of us. We all crave stability, cherish our history together, and, most importantly, we’re in a supportive environment now, evolving as individuals under the same roof.

Don’t misunderstand— if there had been any element of abuse or addiction in the relationship, I would not have reconciled. Divorce is many times the right choice!

I’m only saying that, for me, I realized a lot of why I’d left in the first place was I’d believed my ex held me back from pursuing my dream of writing and publishing novels and becoming fully self-actualized in general. Then, after we split, I saw how much he had given to the family and to me, and I began to realize I’m the one fully responsible for working on my dreams and becoming fully self-actualized, not him or anyone else.

Were there times he could have been more supportive, before we split? Yes.

Were there times I could have taken initiative with my goals instead of handing over my power? Yes.

So now that we’re together again, the beauty of it is we’re religamenting: he’s more supportive. I’m much more self-empowered. The religamenting we’ve done in our relationship and family structure works for us as the people we are now!

“Ligaments work until they don’t. They hold you together until they don’t. Maybe it worked for awhile, maybe it was good, but things have changed. You aren’t who you were.” —Rob Bell

My dad died this summer. He was the patriarch of our Christian-centered family when we were growing up. I’m the youngest of the family, the only girl, with two older brothers. What I didn’t see coming, from my dad dying is, as a result, I’ve needed to deconstruct the nature of my connection to my brothers and mom. I’m no longer the “little sister.” And with my mom, I no longer care if she doesn’t agree with my “liberal” viewpoints. I’m no longer feeling bad in any way for believing in gay rights or woke movements. I believe we all need to live true to ourselves, whatever that looks like. It’s that simple. And I’ve religamented to that belief and fully embrace it.

I’ve always been open-minded this way, but I was not validated by my family, so I’d keep it in, and it wasn’t until my father passed, I realized my family’s unwillingness to validate me caused me to not truly validate myself. Now I’ve religamented to having my own back with my beliefs and resting in it. But it took the passing on of my father for me to somehow experience a complete freedom, a cutting of the cord, even though I loved him and always will. 

Listen to this episode, maybe it will shed light on possible ways your ligamenting no longer works for you, and you can find a new belief to help you religament and keep you growing into the person you truly are.

Rob Bell

The RobCast


the kingdom of heaven

the kingdom of heaven

It’s amazing, how many different ways there are to interpret what it means to live your best spiritual life. I’m not an expert on religion, other than Christianity, since it’s what I was brought up in, but I’ve always thought it would be interesting to become an expert on world religions.

I’ve met enough people to know many times people interpret religious text differently, even the same verse, for example, from the Bible.

I was brought up in a home where scriptures were interpreted literally, and I’ve spent my life, to this point, untangling the literal cords that nearly strangled me. 

My spiritual journey has been a winding, uphill road, but recently I had a moment, while listening to an interview on YouTube, where a massive, meaningful part of the puzzle, relating to experiencing the presence of God, fell into place. That interview, with Eckhart Tolle, can be found below, under today’s resource.

One night, when I was in college, in my dorm room, and my roommate was away overnight, I was determined to lie on the floor of our room, in the darkness, until I felt the presence of God either enter or surround me.

I was at a point, even while attending a Christian university, where I did not feel God was accessible the way I had been taught.

I could never really access God or Jesus the way I had when I was an impressionable, gullible child. There were just too many holes in the story, and the narrowmindedness of only “one way” to God felt dead wrong to me.

But on this night I was willing to once again open myself up to the possibility that maybe God would show “Himself” to me, if I pleaded and strove for it. So, I lay there in the darkness for hours, asking God to “show me a sign You’re real” or “Bring Your presence into me,” and, after hours of lying on my back in the darkness, I had to admit to myself, I felt & experienced NOTHING.

That was a turning point for me. Not long after, I decided that would be my last year at a Christian university. University of Colorado was looking real good. Al though I had encountered several awesome, groundbreaking Marketing professors and found an amazing church called Higher Dimensions, something about that experience on the floor, receiving nothing when I’d been pleading to experience ANYTHING, was a total let-down and game changer. If God really worked that way, God would have been sure to show up for me that night in a way I could have felt.

Fast forward years later to this video… it is truth for me and freed me up in how I experience the presence of God. Maybe it will do the same for you.

Specifically, this post focuses on the part of this interview identified as The Kingdom of Heaven, 23:21 into the video.

a sacred space

a sacred space

This image brings a sense of calm.

Here at my house, I set up my office/private room to feel, as one of my best friends calls it, “like a warm hug.” What a compliment. I just want the space to feel welcoming, safe and cozy… so I think I accomplished the mission.

Almost every morning I pop in my earbuds, while lying in bed in my bedroom, and meditate using the daily session in the Chopra app on my phone. It’s the perfect way to start my day.

But when I need my office/private room to write or feel solitude, I shut my door and relax in the warm hug vibe. Things that contribute to this vibe include candles, a big comfy chair with pillows, select pictures, decorations, and an essential oil diffuser. The diffuser was a gift from the same friend, and it came with a selection of six scents. Over time I’ve appreciated how each scent can contribute to a calming atmosphere, and I think eucalyptus is my favorite…

Our personal spaces effect the way we think and feel. People have different beliefs as to what works, and I’m beginning to explore more of what that means for me. I don’t appreciate stereotypes, and things such as crystals and sage can conjure up images of spiritualism that seem a little “out there,” but that shouldn’t keep us from exploring these things, if they are right for us.

Why do people who discount them get to determine what’s helpful for the rest of us?

They shouldn’t.

Part of my journey, that has transpired from fully accepting my own beliefs, is not caring what others think about them. Rather, I am exploring deeper spiritualism outside the conservative boundaries I was brought up in.

If you’d like reasoning behind why creating a sacred space is valuable and tips on how to do it, this article is for you. It’s a quick, insightful read and helps get us going on creating a space for our spiritual growth.

Personally, I really like having a space dedicated to centering and spirituality.

Click here to read the article.

you are not your thoughts

you are not your thoughts

There can be a lot of struggle with what goes on in our minds, and I’m sure there are many different ways people handle unwanted thoughts.

I’ve always thought it important to be emotionally honest with ourselves and others, and still do, but something shifted in me after reading the resource I’ve included in this post. 

What shifted for me is that, no matter what thoughts or feelings I have, I can accept them and chose a behavior that moves me toward what I want, rather than respond automatically to negative thoughts.

So, if I’m in a friendship where I want a particular kind of response from a friend and do not get it, I can accept my thoughts and feelings, yet behave in a way that protects the friendship rather than brings damage. I can communicate honestly about what I was hoping for, but in a way that helps build trust between us instead of erode it.

This article starts with a quote I’ve referenced in another post:

“Give me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. ” ~Reinhold Niebuhr

I’m telling you, this quote is GOLD.

When reading this article, I was struck by the realization many of us feel overcome by our thoughts, but no one would know it, since it’s an indiscernible occurrence. Yet, isn’t that why many turn to drugs or alcohol, to tune out the thoughts?

The author of this article shares, “Around and around it went inside my mind, a never-ending internal conversation full of questions and uncertainties—the not knowing driving me insane and the desperation increasing every day. I must be able to resolve this, I thought. I need answers. I was overwhelmed by questions, uncertainty, indecision, paralysis, and fear.”

She goes on to tell us she was self medicating for a generalized anxiety disorder, and during her recovery she was taught and used a behavioral model called Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (or ACT.) This is based upon three basic concepts: acceptance, commitment and behavior.

My main take away from her article mirrors what I wrote at the beginning of this post: we accept our feelings, but we choose a BEHAVIOR that moves us more toward what we want. To me, that’s true empowerment.

She writes, “You are not your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. You don’t need to try so hard to control them; you just need to accept them and come into the present moment so you can control what you do.”

That, my friend, is also GOLD!

She offers valuable insight, giving more detail for each of the three steps, and to read this article, click here.