Posted in Being Human, creativity, Discernment, Empowerment, Mystics, teachers, Virtual Church

What is Your Magic? Part 6

Continuing the conversation on charisms – the unique and special way each of us is called to be a vehicle through which Divine love finds its expression in the world.  Charisms are our own special magic and the way in which we participate in God’s unfolding plan of turning the world from fear into love (aka “salvation”).  Charisms are gifts that we possess that when utilized facilitate results far beyond which we know we are humanly capable.  In today’s blog, we will explore the charisms of leadership, mercy, missionary and music.


In speaking of the charism of leadership, I’m going to borrow from the Catherine of Siena Institute in their Catholic Spiritual Gifts Inventory: “People with the gift of leadership are God’s catalysts (Weddell, 1997, p. 40).  Those with the charism of leadership are problem-discoverers, able to see the world through the eyes of “what needs are not yet being met,” and “what could be made better here?”  Leaders have the ability to come up with a vision and share that vision in a way that makes others want to come together to make it happen.  Leaders tend to see with an eagle vision, seeing the big picture and content to leaving the details to others.  As problem-discoverers, leaders are not to be confused with the gift of administration which is about problem-solving. When I reflect on this distinction, I am reminded of the relationship between myself and my editor (who has interestingly found herself in administrative roles with a wide variety of people I suspect as possessing the gift of leadership).  I see the big picture, I write the big picture, she challenges me to pay attention to the details.  She sees the problems in the text, and I’m content to let her fix it.  🙂



While all human beings are called to tend to the needs of the hungry, the poor, the homeless, the imprisoned, the sick, and the disenfranchised, those possessing the charism of mercy, are called to do so in a unique and special way.  Possessing a deep sensitivity to the needs of the marginalized and oppressed, are sensitive to their suffering, those with the gift of mercy are compelled to help and do so in a cheerful and effective way.  Careful to respect the dignity of those with whom they work, those with the gift of mercy lift up the lives of the oppressed and in the process feel energized and renewed.  It is through their deeds that that lives of others are transformed.  Mother Teresa is the perfect example of one who possesses the charism of mercy.



Again quoting the Siena Institute, “Men and women with this gift (missionary), love to live cross-culturally and are remarkably effective channels of the love of Jesus when they do so. (Weddell, 1997, p. 42)”  I would argue that this gifts goes beyond those of a Christian faith and is present within anyone who is passionately attracted to cultures outside their own and who effortlessly and passionately adapt to another culture’s language and customs.  The distinction around what makes simple interest in the culture of another a charism is that the cultural interest leads and blossoms to a service to that culture.  In this I think of my friend, Peggy who yearns and hungers for opportunities to travel to third-world (specifically Asian) cultures to be of service to children.  In Peggy, the missionary and mercy charisms are combined and she does so with an effortless grace and ease.  Peggy’s example reminds us that the missionary charism never stands on its own, but is accomplished in conjunction with one or several other charisms.

oscar romero


Amy Grant anyone?  Click on the following YouTube link and you will see the perfect example of music as a charism put to action!  🙂

As you have reflected on the charisms presented so far, what do you think might be your magic? 

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Posted in Discernment, Gifts of Contemplation, God, Inspiration, Mystics

Listening to God – Guest Blogger Bill Tonnis

Today’s blog post comes from Bill Tonnis, musician, pastoral minister, hospital chaplain (in training) and contemplative.  Thank you Bill for pointing out the unexpected ways that God finds us and calls us to ourselves and to our purpose in this life.  See Bill’s bio below, but more importantly, check out Bill’s website for his music and to learn more about his journey! 

Listening to God

Bill Tonnis 001

Praying is something I did a lot of in my life…but it was all “one-way” praying as in ME doing all the talking and God doing all the listening. It wasn’t until I was quite miserable with how I had engineered my life that I actually listened to what God might have to say. It took a flood…literally…for me to shut up and listen. After covering the major flood of the Ohio River the entire first week of March in 1997 as a radio news journalist, I sank into my couch at home and in total exhaustion and misery from a lack of fulfillment I simply told God, “I give up.” It was in the silence of my surrender that I “heard” in my heart a voice that said, “Get your guitar.” This made no sense since I hadn’t even touched that guitar in ten years and had hardly played it since I was a teen. But the experience was so strong that I couldn’t deny it. Fast-forward 16 years later and I am: releasing my third album of original Contemporary Christian Music; have a web site and daily devotional on my blog titled “Today’s Contemplation; have completed a Masters Degree in Religious Studies; have become a youth minister and music minister; am halfway through Clinical Pastoral Education (chaplaincy training); and my whole life is built around “listening” to God speak to me in the silence.

It seems so counter-intuitive in our culture to simply sit in silence and listen. There is no “doing”…just “being.” I’m sure you’ve heard the clever line about us being human “beings” and not human “doings”…but there is a profound truth there. One of the major influences in my contemplative journey has been the Catholic Monk Thomas Merton. I found a kindred spirit to help lead me from following my “false self” to discovering my “true self.” Never mind that Merton has been dead for nearly 50 years. The words of his books spoke directly to my soul. Lectio Divina each morning followed by a quiet time of centering prayer made all the difference. While I have no idea what God has in store for me next…the inner peace and fulfillment I am finding in each moment makes the journey an exciting adventure. As I pursue God in the silence…my false self diminishes while my true self rises.

Bill Tonnis, formerly a radio journalist, now works as the Pastoral Associate for Outreach at Our Lady of the Visitation Church in Cincinnati, Ohio.  He shares his talent and testimony at schools, churches, meetings, conferences, youth groups and retreats. He has created a ministry presentation titled “Listen – Live – Give… Find Your Voice” focusing on how to live your calling and to be disciples for Christ.  In 2007, Bill Tonnis released his debut CD titled LISTEN TO YOUR HEART. His follow-up CD, titled LIVE TO LOVE was released in 2009. Then in 2013, Bill’s third album titled GIVE PRAISE AND THANKS was released. The songs on these projects represent a variety of musical styles, but the constant theme is that it is never too late to find YOUR voice…to become your “true self” and to help build the kingdom of God.

Posted in Spiritual Practices, Surrender

Lady in Waiting

Can we find God in the waiting?

I’m not sure what happened, maybe I finally got my butt kicked enough or I’m just plain tired and worn out or maybe I had half a glass too much of wine last night…..but I think I finally got it (for today anyway).  There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING I can do to hasten along this house search, the progress of the divorce, the publication of my book, the growth of my business.  I QUIT.  Not really, but for today I feel the distinct call to DO NOTHING. I have searched house listings, gone on house tours, done all I can that needs to be done to make our divorce safe and legal, I have completed the editing of the first pass pages of my manuscript and shipped them off to the publisher, and I have networked, networked and networked to grow my business.  There is nothing more I can do but WAIT for all these seeds I have planted to germinate, take root, grow and produce fruit.  How un-Western of me, un-pragmatic, un-cola.

So, for today, I am making a commitment to DO NOTHING.  (Ok, I do have a client tonight and our Monday meditation group….but that stuff is just plain fun!) But what does it mean to DO NOTHING?   As I contemplate this question,  I think I hear God whispering, “Lauri, you have done all that you can do and the rest is out of your hands.  Now, will you just give yourself permission to spend a day to simply be with me?”  AHHHHHH   Now that sounds like a magnificent day….a day to simply be with God.  But, what does that look like?

For each of us, “being with God” has different meanings.  Determining what this means is part of the exploring part of the spiritual journey, the results of which are unique and deeply personal.  I cannot say what being with God means for you, but I’ll give you an idea of what it means to me:

  • Practicing my “morning pages” (a spiritual discipline of freehand, free form writing as popularized by Julia Cameron in her book, “The Artist’s Way”)
  • Tending to my daily meditation practice
  • Yoga
  • A walk outside in the MAGNIFICENT fall folliage
  • Practicing writing poetry
  • Playing the piano – JUST BECAUSE
  • slintegration (a spiritually intentional NAP)
  • chanting mantra – JUST BECAUSE
  • Playing with chant composition
  • More meditation
  • More writing
  • Maybe a little collage creation
  • Cooking something fun – JUST FOR FUN
  • Reading

In a nutshell….DOING NOTHING and BEING WITH GOD for me means PLAYTIME!  And… a recovering PERFECTIONIST – Play is something that has never been easy for me.  So for today, I will spend the day in PLAY with God.  HOW COOL IS THAT????

When do you take time to DO NOTHING

How can you find God in times of NOTHING but PLAY?

How easy or difficult is it for you to give yourself permission to DO NOTHING….or TO PLAY?

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries/YourSpiritualTruth

Lauri is a trained, professional Spiritual Director and is available for private consultation over the phone, via Skype and face to face. You can contact Lauri at or (920) 230-1313

Posted in grief, Healing

Bring on the Metal – the Power of Music to Heal

Music is said to soothe the savage beast, I have also found it to be a powerful source for healing and release.  In this blog I explore the power of music to heal – music of all sorts, including my personal favorite, heavy metal.  And I give a shout out to my current musical medication – Disturbed! 



Divorce, as many of you know, is NOT an easy process.  While there may be a sense of relief in some areas, there is still grief and old, unhealed wounds (some related to the relationship and some not) come home to roost.  While this is taking place, we are also visited with the fear and terror of a new life that has not yet been revealed.  This is scary stuff!  Grief, anger, sorrow, fear, anxiety, worry, rage, resentment, shame, guilt, depression, sadness, loneliness all show up to pay a visit and we have no choice but to do something about it.  (Ok, I know we could choose to ignore it, but I have not found that to be a helpful decision as anything I try to ignore will simply show up in some other more painful form……..I try to meet it head on!)

One of the things that I have found especially helpful in dealing with and processing the painful emotions of divorce is music.  When I can no longer “think” through the pain, or try to conquer it through meditation, yoga, contemplation, when my fingers are too tired to write, I have sought refuge in music.  While music is part of my daily spiritual practice through chant, the kind of music I’m talking about here has nothing to do with the ethereal strains of sacred chant.  NO…..the way I have found to move through the painful, dark, scary emotions that are surfacing in this divorce process is Earphones on, as loud as my ears can stand it without bleeding, HEAVY METAL…..and the particular persuasion of this genre that I have found myself drawn to is the musical genius of Disturbed!  “Wha ha ha ha!”

For as long as I can remember, without even knowing what it was, music has  been a part of my spiritual practice.  I remember as a child retreating to the sanctuary of my bedroom to put on my headphones (or not…..sorry mom and dad) and jam out to whatever was my favorite music at the time.  Beginning with the Osmonds and the Partridge Family, moving on to Fleetwood Mac, eventually graduating to Led Zeppelin, Joan Jett, Heart, Guns and Roses, Aerosmith and Motley Crue – music has played a role in helping me to move through the painful feelings and experiences of the human condition.   And….it has been heavy metal music that has been the most helpful when times are most difficult.  I can’t say that I have made it as far as the Berzerker genre of East Germany, but give me a good dose of Marilyn Manson, GnR or Disturbed and I am transported to a place where I can find freedom and release from the dark emotions of hatred, depression and rage.  If the movement of the emotions brings me to tears, I know that true healing is taking place.  AAAAHHHHH

How does this work?   Since I am not a sound scientist, I cannot give you the scientific reason for why sound helps us to find healing, but I can give you my current theory.  I believe that music somehow harnesses the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing and release.  In the session that I teach on the Holy Spirit in my program, “Called to Freedom,” I use music to demonstrate this aspect of the Divine.  I use music to invite participants to connect with an understanding of the Divine as “Creative Action.”  When we listen intently to music and allow ourselves to connect beyond the notes and the words to the movement of the piece, we are able to connect with a place within ourselves where there is movement.  In connecting with this movement, we are connecting with the transformational aspect of the Divine that lives within us and seeks movement.  The Divine calls us to growth, calls us to movement, calls us to transformation and music has the power to not only connect us with this place of transformation but acts as a catalyst through which this transformation is facilitated.  It is in this way that music is a powerful tool for healing and transformation – in divorce or in any other stage of transition in our lives. 


So…..a shout out of gratitude and profound thanksgiving to the guys and gals in the band who have been vehicles through which we can experience profound healing and transformation.  And a special shout out to David and the boys in Disturbed”Wha ha ha ha !”


PS:  You Tube has an official site for Disturbed videos!  CHECK IT OUT!



Copyright 2010


Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries/Your Spiritual Truth