All posts by Alison Cole

About Alison Cole

Alison Cole likes to describe herself as “a freelance useful person”. There are all kinds of people and jobs out there, but she likes the freedom to drop everything when someone is in need and go off on adventures to help out with new babies or anything, especially when it's supporting marriages and family! When Alison is not off nannying, she likes to occupy her time with drawing, painting and writing!

Find the Difference

I remember looking at magazines as a child and looking at two very similar pictures and being asked to find the differences in the image. Maybe children today aren’t given as many magazines, but a quick search tells me that there are still lots of apps and games that have these same ideas.

From a young age we are encouraged to look for the differences. Circle or click on the ways these things differ. Emphasize what makes them unique. This one has a cloud. That one is missing a fence post.

There is nothing wrong with being unique. There is a children’s book called The World Needs Who You Were Made To Be. And it talks about all the special qualities people bring to the world. The world does need people with different skill sets. It would not be useful if everybody wanted to be a fireman when they grew up. The world needs variety, and people performing different uses. Indeed, heaven is made up of infinite variety! It couldn’t be heaven without it!

“The angels of any one heaven are not together in one place, but are divided into larger and smaller societies in accordance with the differences of the good of love and faith in which they are, those who are in like good forming one society. Goods in the heavens are in infinite variety, and every single angel is as his own good.” (Heaven and Hell 41)

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Complete Safety From the Hells

“From true conjugial love there is power and protection against the hells.” When I hear this phrase, the first thing I think of is an innocent newborn, wrapped lovingly in its parents arms. The safety of being surrounded by celestial angels.

The next place my mind goes is thinking about married couples working on conjugial love and getting protection from the hells. And from there my mind goes to being single, and lacking that protection from the hells. I know this isn’t everyone, but as a single new church woman, my mind always floats to “If I were married I would be safe and happy.” I know that marriage isn’t a cure all, and I know that it takes work and isn’t a breeze. I even know that married people aren’t basking in this magical protection 24/7. I know all that, and yet still “power and protection against the hells.” That phrase is so powerful and enticing. If only I were married I would have power and protection against the hells. This is how my brain works.

This is how my brain works. So what? My brain also tells me a lot of other false things. Brains are not hard wired to think rationally, and in fact need more information to form thoughts that are good and true. As appealing as that stand alone phrase is, I need more data. Let me look at more of this passage:

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Is the Grass Always Greener?

I think that it is easy to always be waiting for the next thing to come along. Finishing school, getting a new home, getting married, having a baby, having another baby, getting that promotion, getting a new job, vacation, quarantine to be over.

It is good to look forward to things. We need to be working toward goals and accomplishing things, but it is too easy to get sucked into not enjoying the present. It’s easy to put off things until something changes. It is easy to choose to be inactive until the right circumstances arise. In those situations, I have found that waiting can be interminable.

Everyone has heard the phrase, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” And I know this is something I fall into believing. There will always be something around the next bend if it will only get here!

It is easy to look at the lives people present on social media and wish that our own life looked more like that. It is easy to look at people who are in quarantine together and covet their lives, covet their swimming pool, covet their opportunities. If you look for it, someone out there is probably having more fun than you are, especially if that is your attitude. I fall into this trap constantly. “If only ___, I would be happier.” But when I am able to pause and reflect on my own blessings, and actually appreciate the good things in my life, I don’t have to be comparing myself to others or waiting for something better to come along.

Someone once pointed out to me that the New Church is the only church that isn’t waiting for something. We are not waiting for judgment day. We are not waiting for the second coming. We are not waiting for answers. We have it all, and we should be so lucky! Yes, I know that doesn’t mean we are perfect, or have absorbed all that the Lord has to offer, but it does mean that we don’t have to wait for anything in order to start.

But waiting is easier; expecting something to change in order for things to get better. But is it comforting to believe that the Lord is going to show up in person and fix everything? Maybe a little bit, but it is also intimidating. I think that it is much more comforting to realize that He has given us all the tools we need right now. He is always with us, always leading us, and never absent. 

For every smallest fraction of a moment of a person’s life entails a chain of consequences extending into eternity. Indeed every one is like a new beginning to those that follow, and so every single moment of the life both of his understanding and of his will is a new beginning. And since the Lord foresaw from eternity what man was going to be like in the future and even into eternity it is clear that providence is present in the smallest individual things, and, as has been stated, is governing him and diverting him so that he may be such, this being achieved by constant re-shaping of his freedom. ( Arcana Coelestia 3854)

The Lord gave us the tools to be happy right now. And when I pause and reflect on the fact that I was born into a family who knew about these truths, who cared about them and raised me in them; when I pause to reflect that I have access to these truths in the Heavenly Doctrine, I realize that I am actually much happier to have the life that I have, and not desire someone else’s advantages.

Someone once said to me, “Be happy where you are, or you’ll never be happy.” And this idea has stayed with me. If I am not allowing myself to find the happiness now, I will never be able to find the happiness in life. Happiness can be found now, because the Lord is always present, always wishing to be with us, and wanting us to be happy. No matter where we are, He is going to be present, and if we choose it, we can be happy now.

Breathing

How often do you think about your breath? Unless you have a reason too, you probably don’t think about it that much. Our breath is instinctive. Babies breathe. No one taught them how. I used to hate thinking about my breath. It made me feel claustrophobic. I mostly got over that though because I realized the great peace which can come by paying attention to the breath.

Why do we start with the breath? Why do we return to it often?

“Jehovah God breathed into man’s nostrils the breath of lives, and man was made a living soul” (Genesis 2:7). 

The Lord started with breath. He breathed into man and made him a living soul. “A living soul” Such a beautiful phrase. Breath is how the Lord created us and breath is the very first thing a baby does. But it’s not a one time thing. We keep returning to focus on our breath.

“To breathe into the nostrils the breath of lives signifies to implant the perception of good and truth.” (Interaction of the Soul and Body 8)

It makes sense that this happens at the beginning. We need the perception of good and truth right from the start. But it’s not something that we get once and are done. We keep breathing. We return to our breath over and over, re-focus. We can focus our breathing for things like yoga, meditation, or even singing. Breath is connected to everything, not just because it is active at all times, but because of how our emotions can change our breath. We think about our breathing when we are out of breath after exertion. Or we can be light of breath with excitement.

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