Costa Rica Chronicles–The Happy Place

September 15, 2009 in Costa Rica Chronicles

Today marks the 188th anniversary of Costa Rica’s independence from Spain in 1821.  It is a day of celebration and dancing in the streets.  Costa Rica is considered one of the happiest places to live on the planet and I’m starting to understand why.

Now that I’ve lived here a few months, I’m discovering what it means to live in a place that makes you feel happy, a place where no matter what your job is or your income level, you can find reasons to smile.   The Spanish word sonrisa means smile and reading it leads me instantly to the word sunrise.  That’s one of the things that makes me happy.  I wake up every morning to the sound of the roosters crowing (around 6AM) no need for an alarm clock these days, and the sun is up and ready to cheer me on for the day.  It’s not just sunrise though, it’s sunrise against a background of clear blue skies and beautiful lush greenery and vibrant flowers.  It’s a constant  reason to smile.  The earth simply calls me back to life.

Waking up happy is possible everywhere I know, but living here has taught me to appreciate those things that I had nearly forgotten before.  I smile at the birds who talk in a variety of languages from the mango trees and dance with the butterflies in the garden.  I smile at the workers repairing rooftops who sing out “Good Morning, pretty Lady” as I walk to the local market.  No matter how old I am, I appreciate a little flirtation.   I smile as I walk past the little school near my house where four year olds are learning to sing in Spanish, English, and French.  It just makes me happy.

I’m also getting quite spoiled simply by receiving the love of my friends and family and co-workers here.  I don’t know why the whole world doesn’t greet each other with a cheek-to-cheek kiss and a smile.  Greeting each other, welcoming each other into the day is a beautiful thing.  It  acknowledges your presence, lifts your spirits, and embraces you into the inner circle of life.

So here today as we celebrate Costa Rica’s independence day, celebrate your independence too.  Celebrate your reasons to smile…sonrisa!  Celebrate all that makes you happy right where you are.  I’m reminded of that old saying, “bloom where you’re planted.”  Well do that…make today a happy day, a chance to bloom into the full measure of all that God meant for you.  Remember that the one with a happy heart has a continual feast as it says in Proverbs.

So let’s do some feasting on all that is good and do some dancing in the streets.   Pure Vida!


Costa Rica Chronicles

September 14, 2009 in Costa Rica Chronicles

Some of you have asked me why I came to Costa Rica and have wanted to know more of my experience here.  To that end, I’ve decided to take this week and share a bit of my story.  Since yesterday marked the anniversary of the first time I set foot in Costa Rica, it seems appropriate to start at the beginning.  After a fleeting ten days in this incredible place, I returned to the United States and my dear friend and tour guide asked me to send him my thoughts on the trip.  Here’s a bit of that reflection…

Every now and then, we receive an unexpected gift.  We can almost imagine God smiling as He sees us unwrap it, anticipating our immense joy when we actually see the thing that He has given.  Surely, a little happy dance is going on in heaven as we open gifts like that.

What did I experience?  The first thing was an invitation to relax, let go of fears, and live in the moment.  As a person who spends a lot of time working, planning, preparing, and fulfilling the needs and expectations of others, this was an important and beautiful opportunity for me.  It took a little getting used to…being out of cell phone range of the world, being away from everything I know, taking in the incredible beauty of the landscape. It was so freeing!

It happened though.  Without really being aware of it, I found myself…that is, I found my self.  I allowed the situation to be all it could be without judging it or manipulating it, simply loving it.  I was a girl seeing a great big world and what seemed so intimidating at first, became a challenge I wanted to win, a moment to embrace and enjoy,  and a chance to become more than I had been before.  I wanted to be a new and more complete me. I wanted to be better than I have ever been.

I loved everything, from the generous hearts of the people as they delivered their wares in the market and shared tastes of exotic fruits, to the rumbling rainstorms that hit the tin roofs like marching bands across the sky, to the realization how very alike we are, all over the world.  We all have the same need to be valued, to be loved, to be accepted simply by being ourselves.  It has nothing to do with money or expertise or status, it simply is the desire of our hearts.

I loved the city because it is rich in texture and color and design, intermingled with God’s design of flowers and fruit trees and crystal clear night skies.  It overflows with the complexities of making life work and the simplicity of letting it unfold.  I loved the rain forest with its abundance of life-giving plants, sounds of life that echo through the night, and gracious people who are happy with what God has given them, able to see His abundance everywhere.  I loved the idea that people embrace the design of life and blossom fully under the care of a loving and generous God.  I loved the smell of the mud that brought me back to the earth and to my foundation and robed me in a kind of splendor no evening gown could ever fashion.  I loved the waterfall that threatened me and then embraced me with its power and beauty.  I loved not wearing makeup for days at a time and though I suspect I was less than beautiful, I felt good anyway.  I loved the idea that maybe for a few minutes I didn’t have to prove I was worthy enough to receive this gift.

My spirit is alive in a new way, my heart is overflowing with joy at this discovery, my soul can’t quite take it in.  My gratitude is to the God of my heart who knew more than I did how much I needed this experience.

I’ve been here seven months now and those reflections are still the truth.  This gift to me has been immeasurable.

I’ll tell you more about that as the week goes on.  Wherever you are today, may you recognize the gifts God has for you.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.  James 1:17


In Search of the Dreamers

September 13, 2009 in Inspirational

Some of us are dreamers!  Because of our willingness to take a risk and step beyond the clearly marked path, we can find ourselves in places we never meant to go.  When that happens, the realists in our midst remind us that there are definite guidelines, processes, time-tested ways for things to be done, and if we would just stop kidding ourselves, stop dreaming, than all would be well.

Perhaps.  Perhaps we could postulate that life is meant to be lived in some sort of linear pathway from point A to point B and that if we are just willing to take the obvious steps we can get there quickly.  But then what?  Oh, yes, we get there, but how was the journey?

It’s the journey that actually carries dreamers along.  Mark Twain once wrote that we must “never part with our illusions.  Without dreams we may continue to exist, but we cease to live.”  Perhaps then, the dreamers, armed with imagination and persistence to unlock the doors where dreams come true actually have the secret to living, at least the secret to making the journey more fulfilling.

Today, it is my hope to encourage all of us who believe in the direction of our dreams, to be willing to take a new step, even a new leap forward.  Build on yesterday by creating today in a new way.  Is there one thing, just one thing that you can do that will start to tip the scales in your favor?  Can you engage one more person in possibility thinking? Can you draw one more picture, write one more chapter, practice your dance steps one more time and feel the difference, feel the dream coming to life?

The saddest moment for anyone filled with the creative spirit of God is to give up the dream.  You may indeed have your heart broken by love, but even worse is when your heart breaks over a dream that is taken away. It’s okay to be a dreamer, in fact, it’s a gift you were given the day you came into the world.

For the sake of your own heart then, and the delight of the One who watches over you with every breath and in every dream, keep your spirit alive with the joy that comes from holding tight to the gifts of your imagination, to the dreams in your soul.  Keep believing in your dreams.

Repeat after me…Everything is possible for him who believes.  Mark 9:23.

Dream on!


Bumper Cars Anyone?

September 12, 2009 in Inspirational

Do you ever feel like you’ve gotten stranded in a bumper car?  You go along just fine for a few moments, then wham, you’re hit from the side and  heading in a different direction doing your best not to get slammed again by a jolt from behind?   No matter how hard you try to stay clear of things, the ride gets bumpier making you dread whatever is ahead.

With the current state of the economy, you may have been bumped from your job, or hit from behind by the stock market.  You may have a dwindling retirement portfolio or a house that just won’t sell for anything near what you paid for it.  Bump, bump, bam!  It all stacks up and you think you might not be able to handle one more hit.  What do you do?

The thing about a “bumper car” life is that eventually you do begin to figure out how to take on the turns a little more effectively.  You find yourself navigating the course by trying some new tricks, some new direction that wouldn’t have occurred to you before.  You calmly get back in the driver’s seat because now it’s your turn to see where this path will take you.  If you are willing to see it, you may find God has now given you a chance for an up-turn, a chance to get clear of all the obstacles.

Ralph Waldon Emerson once said that “what lies beyond us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  Whatever direction your life is turning, no matter how many bumps you’ ve experienced lately, the up-turn happens when you discover more of that answer.  What lies within you?

What is the stuff you’re made of, the God-given talents you possess that remain undiscovered territory for you?  What will it take for the Potter to reshape you and remold you into the purposeful being He knows you already are meant to be.  As it says in Isaiah 64: 8, “We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”

May God make something beautiful out of your life, giving you an open road to feel the fresh breezes of His love and the confidence that He will be there with you at every turn.  Sure, you’ll have to slow down for a few more bumps, but you’ll be on the right road!


This Little Light of Mine

September 11, 2009 in Inspirational

I don’t know about you, but I always loved the little song I learned way back in Sunday School about letting this little light of mine shine.  Remember that?  Remember how you sang so proudly and somehow you knew there was nothing more important than keeping your light on and not hiding it under a bushel.

Now, a few years later, you may wonder how successful you’ve been at keeping that light on and how willing you’ve been to actually put it on a lampstand.  The truth is we are each the light for someone else.  Someone stands in the shadows and needs what you do and what you say because it makes a difference.  Someone walks in a dark place and hopes and prays you come along with a match.

Albert Schweitzer once said, “Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being.  Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled that light.”

For those of you who have rekindled that light in me, I am forever grateful and for those who need more light, draw closer to the ones who see you as you are, love you simply because you’re you, and desire more for you than you may even desire for yourself.

As you hold up your candle today for yourself first, see the wonder of God’s design, see the grace and beauty He has put into you, and then reach out into the dimly lit paths around you and look for others, who have a candle, but no flame.

We exist to make the world a little brighter, a little easier, a little happier for those around us.  When we do that, God’s gift is that it splashes back on us and we receive more light ourselves.

Think about that.  Every time you shine your light, you become brighter because you are standing a little closer to the Source of all light who blesses your efforts.  With that in mind, let’s each take our little box of matches and head out confidently singing “this little light of mine”.  The path has already been prepared so there’s no fear of stumbling, for as it says in Psalm 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Go on then, shine your light because you really make a difference!


Is that a fact?

September 10, 2009 in Uncategorized

It’s always been interesting to me how often we’re driven by what we believe are the facts of a given situation.  We talk about the “real” world and the “real” numbers as though those are immovable truths.  Those of us who believe in our dreams, rely on faith, or dare to hope for more may even feel chastised by those who prefer to face facts because we think they perceive us as not looking at  the truth of our situations.

Nothing negative here about the fact finders and the truth sayers, but I can’t help questioning how we actually know when to accept things as facts.  A simple example to me is the poor caterpillar that goes slugging along on its belly, not really looking up, but simply existing, getting its share of daily bread and hoping no one steps on it or finds it a tempting meal.  Should the caterpillar face the fact that its crawling days are it, all that it will ever experience?  Should it never hope that someday it will fly?

Is it a fact then that where you are at this moment in your life is a fixed reality?  Is it all there is for you?  Is it what God had in mind when you were designed?

Some of us I fear face the facts, accept the realities, and let our light go out much too quickly.  We think of what might have been or what we think will never be, but the truth is our reality is a moving target.  Today’s reality can be totally changed by tomorrow.  You may be slugging along in life now, but next week you may find an incredible change has happened.  It probably won’t be comfortable or easy.  You may have to challenge your heart and mind to believe in things that are not yet there, something like faith I suspect. Once you’ve gone through the process though,  isn’t it possible that a beautiful new you will emerge so you can fly?

Today, consider the facts of your life, if you will, and then ask yourself is this really the end of the story?  Is this really my whole truth?  Is this really God’s plan for my life?   If you don’t think so…here’s another fact.   “Behold, I make all things new.”  Rev. 21:5

Keep your hopes and dreams alive today.  They will help you ascend the “facts” and fly into a new reality.


You’ve Earned a Ph.D.

September 9, 2009 in Uncategorized

Today you’re being awarded a Ph.D.  That’s right!  It’s something you’ve earned by hard work, by great planning, skill, and diligence.  You’re being awarded this Ph.D. because you deserve it for every gift you’ve shared with those around you, every moment you’ve devoted to getting to know yourself better, and every person you’ve met who left feeling better than they did before.  For all that, it’s your time to enjoy a Phenomenal Day…your own Ph.D.

Your Ph.D. comes with a gold cord wrapped around the sheepskin.  The gold cord is a reminder that all of life is enhanced by the One who joins you daily in the effort to find joy and success.  With His love, you have a three-fold cord that speaks of body, mind, and spirit.  It’s on a sheepskin because no matter where you live or what you do you’re always following the Shepherd, graduating to greater degrees of awareness and knowledge.

So it’s your day to take that mortar board of life and set it squarely on your head, step out into the world and let your light shine.  You have earned a Phenomenal Day so celebrate being wonderful you and applaud the great education the years have brought you to help you become all God intended.

So, congratulations on earning your Ph.D.  Did I mention you’ve earned this for each day of the rest of your life?  Tell everyone you meet that you are having a Phenomenal Day!

May the Lord bless you and protect you.  May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.  May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Now wouldn’t that bring you a Phenomenal Day?  Please let me know how your day went.  I’m off to frame my sheepskin.    Karen Moore, Ph.D.


Are Labels the Key or the Lock?

September 8, 2009 in Uncategorized

Classifying, organizing, and naming the world around us is an essential ingredient in building our sense of community.  Finding ways to identify the important things, staying away from the harmful things, and articulating the what and why of things is necessary.

Labels give us keys to understanding. But sometimes, it feels like we’ve gone too far, like we’ve labeled everything to keep it neatly categorized, nicely boxed with a big red bow, or easily put aside.

Labels hang on each of us like so many post-it notes.  On any given day, your labels show.  You’re strong and smart and pretty, or you’re too gentle and kind and giving, or you’re below par, not quite enough, too old, too tall, too independent, too needy, too negative, too freakin’ positive, too dull, too something…the list goes on.

The problem then is how do you label yourself?  Are you locked into the idea that your career is finished because you’re 60 years old? Are you locked into the idea that you can’t be successful because you haven’t made it yet? Or you can’t have a great marriage because yours has already been labeled dysfunctional, or you’ll never amount to anything, or you can’t become an artist because someone said you couldn’t paint your way out of a box when you were a kid?

My point is to encourage all of us to take a look at what we’ve locked ourselves into.  If you wake up saying my story is over, I’m too old, too rattled, too depressed, too used up to be of value any more, than you might need to step up to the mirror, look at the person standing there, peel off some of those icky sticky notes and start applying some new truths.  You need to label yourself in a new way…strong, essential, significant are good words to start with.

You know in Psalm 139, David tells us that God’s thoughts about us are “precious” and that they outnumber the grains of sand.  Today, give yourself the label of “precious” and let it be a key to unlock the best possible you.


Time for a New You?

September 7, 2009 in Uncategorized

Getting tired of stacking up yesterdays?  Is it time to be realigned, redesigned, remolded, unfolded, made new again?

No matter what happened yesterday, it’s back there somewhere.  It’s now just a little part of your history.  It’s already old news?  So what about today?

You’re the star of your own story…the champion, the hero, the extraordinary designer of all that is you.  You can re-invent yourself any time you choose.  Sounds good you say, but how?  Well, here’s a short list of ways to get started.

  • Forgive yourself…yes, let go of all those nasty things you say to yourself that keep you stuck!
  • Do one thing in a different way…change your hair style, make a stranger into a friend, volunteer somewhere new.
  • Laugh…look at how seriously you’ve been taking life recently and find one good thing to laugh out loud about.
  • Yell…out loud.  Shake your puny fist at the universe and determine that you will not be defeated.
  • Hug…someone you care about and do something special for them for no reason at all.
  • Give thanks…Yes, find all your blessings…the ones you’ve long taken for granted, that you’ve shoved in a box somewhere or simply lost sight of…and give them some attention.  Don’t say you have nothing to be grateful for because if you’re breathing and upright, then you do.
  • Jump…at any chance to get out of your old groove and even if it feels slightly uncomfortable tell yourself you will keep moving.
  • Put away your flashlight.  You don’t need to know what’s around the next corner.  You just need to find your way through today…a new you is waiting just ahead!

We have reason to re-invent ourselves, reasons to hope for more.  In Lamentations it says:

Through the LORD’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “ The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“ Therefore I hope in Him!”

God’s compassion is new every morning, YOU are new every morning, reborn at each new sunrise.  Go on…try on a new you today!