If you were raised in a Christian tradition, you will recognize this sweet saying. If it’s unfamiliar, read it and see if you don’t fall in love with it, too. In this scene, recounted in Luke and Matthew, Jesus is teaching people how to pray. The issue of worrying about having enough money comes up. Jesus says:
“Consider the lilies, they do not toil nor spin, yet I tell you Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed as one of them. Now if that is how God clothes the flowers, which are here today and in the furnace tomorrow, consider what God will do for you…You must not set your hearts on things to eat or things to wear; nor must you worry…. No, set your hearts on the kingdom and these other things will be given you as well.”
It is oddly comforting to me that people two thousand years ago had the same money worries I have. Of course, it’s even more comforting to learn what to do about them. I heard “Consider the lilies” many many times growing up, but until this year, I didn’t understand it. And I certainly didn’t live it. But I do now. And the result is, well — miraculous. In 62 days I went from bankrupt to bank-full. With the help of a lily. Here’s what happened.
2009 was an astonishing year for me–and for so many. Writing Down Your Soul came out January 1. The next 11 months were filled with teaching, speaking, promoting, and traveling. Invitations trickled in at first, but by summer they poured in. I said yes to every one because the deal I have with Spirit is: Spirit sends the invitations; I show up and spread the joy of deep soul writing. It’s been a prolific relationship.
Between January and November last year, I:
- taught deep soul writing to 1100 people
- held events at 15 bookstores in 8 states
- spoke and taught workshops at 14 churches in 9 states
- addressed 4 organizations for writers, 1 national convention for hypnotists, and 1 holistic health expo
- taught at 2 art galleries, 3 libraries, 1 community college, and 1 homeless shelter
- was interviewed for 16 radio shows, 1 TV show and 3 newspaper articles
As I typed this list for a book proposal, I thought no wonder I’m exhausted. But it wasn’t only my body that was depleted. My bank account was empty, too. By the end of last year, it looked like the only solution was bankruptcy.
Does that surprise you? Here’s the economic reality of being an author, especially a new one. That old image of a writer on a “book tour” is a fantasy. Unless you’re a celebrity or show up regularly on bestseller lists, your “book tour” consists of you begging friends to let you visit. Then, you research the area. You get yourself invited to speak. You cover your travel. You create the flyers. You market the event. With each appearance, I built a larger and larger community for Writing Down Your Soul, but I also dug a deeper and deeper hole in my finances. In December, I faced facts and with the help of my friend and real estate genius, Jane Mak, I made an appointment to see a bankruptcy attorney in February.
If you were reading this blog last December, you know I created a “December Plan” to call in a magical new year. Now you know why. I did it for you, yes, but the first person who needed it was me! Hundreds of you stepped in and played, too. Then, on January 1, I created my Intention Mandala following Thich Nhat Hanh’s profound teaching, “When conditions are sufficient, there is manifestation.”
On the periphery of my Intention Mandala, I drew images of what I want. But at the center, I drew a lily to remind myself to do the six things that will create the conditions that will manifest all that I want. Or, to use Jesus’ words, how I will “set my heart on the kingdom” — the vibrant living presence of Spirit. Looking at the lily every day reminds me to focus not on what I want, but on how I choose to live to express and fulfill my soul’s divine purpose.
It’s a paradox, I know. By not focusing on what I want, I get what I want. Have you noticed hat the universe loves paradox? It would be nice if someone told us in advance that profound spiritual truths always come in a box marked, “Warning! Paradox Inside.” But I guess we all get to discover that for ourselves.
Since January 1st, I’ve been living my “Lily Life.” I wake every morning whispering “I am a lily” and like a flower, turn my face to the Light. Feeling the kiss of Spirit on my cheeks, I bound out of bed with a grin on my face, delighted to embrace my day. Then I scoot into my office, say my prayers, and get to work. If you snapped a picture of me working in my office today and compared it to a picture of me working in my office last year, you wouldn’t see anything different — unless you noticed me smiling at the lily on my Intention Mandala several times a day.
On February 4, I met the bankruptcy attorney as scheduled. He looked at my debt and income and said I definitely qualify. He explained the process and asked if I had any questions. “Yes,” I said, “I made $10,000 in January. Is that a problem?”
He looked at me for a long moment. “Yeah,” he said, “that’s a problem. You can only have a thousand dollars in your account. Call me when you only have a thousand dollars.”
Driving home, I had a little chat with my beloved Voice. “Thank you for that appointment,” I said. “Turns out I’m not bankrupt after all. I am bank-full. And you know what, I love this feeling. I am thankful to be bank-full.” I giggled. “I am thankful to be bank-full!” I sang my new mantra all the way home.
Now, whenever I receive or spend money, I say, “I am thankful to be bank-full!” For the first time in my life, I laugh as I pay bills.
Several women at a recent event took me aside to tell me they love my book and my workshops because I’m so “real.” I laughed. Yup, that’s me. I feel like the spiritual Mikey. Remember the kid in the commercial who ate the Life cereal first? Well, I do seem to eat some interesting “cereals of life” first:
- I have the atrocious divorce, discover deep soul writing, and pass it on to you.
- I forgive my husband, experience an eye-popping miracle, and start teaching forgiveness.
- I discover how to write a book by plugging into “The Intersection” and now teach creatives how to Plug In!
- I discover the joy of mystical poetry and now everywhere I go, people fall in love with Hafiz, the great Sufi poet.
So, I guess it makes sense that I had to step into the pain and panic of feeling bankrupt in order to be willing to explore the spiritual paradox of getting what I want by focusing on creating the conditions that lead to the delightful state of being bank-full.
And please understand, when I say bank-full, I am not talking just about money. Money is delightful, but prosperity is so much more. It’s friendship, growth, freedom. It is loving relationships, a peaceful home, and joyful work. It is in a word — love. Love of life, love of others, love of Spirit, love of who you are and why you’re here. The feeling of being bank-full is the feeling of love overflowing onto your hands, your heart, and yes, your bank account.
Well, the deal I have with Spirit, don’t forget, is I say yes. Yes to having the experience, yes to plunging into the paradox, and yes to sharing what I learn in the process. So, now it’s time say yes to sharing the profound adventure of “considering the lilies” and creating a magical, joyful, abundant life.
Would you like to join me? I created the “You are a Lily” telecourse to share this magical co-creative process with you.
I enjoyed hearing your “pennies from heaven” story. Here’s mine:
I am an artist. A friend and fellow artist collected 1000 secrets sealed in pure white envelopes in 1996 for an art quilt now in one of the Smithsonian museums. At the time, I was debating whether to go back to school and get an MFA. My friend suggested I put my secret in one of her envelopes. I was one of the anonymous 1000. Last summer, she surprised me with a box of 200 of the sealed envelopes.
I decided to make an art project of my own. I shredded several of the envelopes and made pulp and then paper out of them. The remaining envelopes sat in the bottom of the box till a couple of weeks ago. After machine shredding the second batch of envelopes, I began looking at the strips. Some had a word, some a sentence, some were blank. I decided to weave the bits of words. As I sorted, up came my secret that I wrote in 1996! My secret did not make its way into my friend’s art piece in 1996, or to my first batch of shredding and pulp, but found its way back to me. I lined up the shredded strip recognizing my penmanship and easily remembering the words of my secret.
At the beginning of this year, I requested Spirit to “Please show me that you hear me and reveal yourself.” Well, the morning I read your article about pennies from heaven in your newsletter, I opened the dryer and found — a penny! Receiving my 1996 secret was a sign and the penny is a confirmation. Someone is definitely hearing me.
Enee, St Petersburg FL
After I posted my own “pennies from heaven” story about my first husband sending me pennies, Writing Down Your Soul newsletter readers starting sending theirs. Here’s a delicious one.
Janet, I really enjoy your e-mail newsletters. I especially enjoyed your story about the pennies from heaven. I, too, have a collection of them. The first one I got was on the day of my Mom’s funeral. When we left the church we went back out to the limo and there sitting in the middle of the 2nd seat was a shiny penny. It jumped out on the black upholstery. Now, 3 of us slid across that seat to exit the limo so I can’t believe it was there when we left. Plus our son had gone back out to the car to get something and he said he was sure he would have noticed that bright copper penny on the black seat. Since then my sister and I have both found pennies in odd places at times when we most needed the comfort of our Mother. She once found one on the edge of her sink after she’d fixed lunch and washed lettuce in the sink. The most recent one I found was the day we had to put our beloved beagle, Riley, to sleep. She was very sweet and my Mom loved her, too. My husband and I needed to get out of the house for a bit and when we returned, I opened the dryer. I pulled out the lint filter and there was a bright shiny penny. I knew my Mom was looking after Riley in heaven.
Thanks for sharing your stores. God Bless, Leneta, Atlanta GA
If you have a penny story or any other message from heaven, send them to me and I’ll post. My email is email@example.com