Monday, June 30, 2008

Songs for Morning Prayer CD

Steve West had the privilege of serving as arranger, producer, and primary musician of this project. Copies are available for a free-will donation to the "Academy for Spiritual Formation" (see below).

Dedicated to ELISE ESLINGER, who for more than twenty-five years has worked with The Upper Room and The Academy for Spiritual Formation developing resources that are both theologically sound and Spirit-led.

Steve West - arranger and producer; keyboard, percussion, vocals
Gary Furr - guitar, vocals
Jeannie Crawford-Lee and Janet Nabors - vocals
Jeff McKee - engineer (Boutwell Studios, Birmingham, Alabama)

There are 10 tracks on this recording. There are 5 songs which may be used for Morning Prayer (with Upper Room Worshipbook in hand) recorded with voices/melody, followed by the same songs recorded without voices for use as accompaniment.

Songs on This Recording:

"All Are Welcome" - words and music by Marty Haugen
"Psalm 63" (In the Morning I Will Sing) - music by David Goodrich

"Blest Be the God of Israel" (Canticle of Zachary) - words by Michael Perry, music by Hal H. Hopson

"The Prayer of Jesus" (The Lord's Prayer) - words by Mother Thunder Mission, native American melody

"Song of Shalom", stanzas translated or written by Elise Esslinger, Mexican melody

Ordering Information

Steve West has them on hand to distribute for a free-will donation to "The Academy for Spiritual Formation" for scholarships. He will mail you the CD and forward your donation to the Academy. Mail a check made out to "The Academy for Spiritual Formation" (please enclose $3 additional cash for shipping) to him at:

Steve West
966 Fry Gap Road

Arab, Alabama 35016

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Pilgrimage Journey

I just returned from the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Academy for Spiritual Formation, where the theme for our faculty sessions was Pilgrimage. The pilgrimage metaphor has given me a great gift as I seek to understand my journey. The life of the Academy is part of my ongoing pilgrimage, initiated by the undeniable niggling hunger of my heart. This ongoing pilgrimage is larger than any single retreat or set of retreats. It is a marked path others have travelled before; it is the path of spiritual formation, the labyrinth journey, a circular homegoing. It is longing for my true home in Christ's arms and going to "thin places" where I can find healing, transformation, and rest, letting go of that which takes me away from center and taking up that which comes from my passion for God. Then returning to the base camp of ministry in our culture and world. This ongoing departure to sacred space, this continual pilgrimage and return, is my voluntary intention to leave behind the status quo and pursue what the restlessness of my heart draws me to. I am learning that most of my spiritual life is lived in the in-between places of going or returning.

I rely on a community of fellow travelers shaped by common experience, yet it is a subversive community for it changes all we leave behind when we pursue God together. We encounter resistance and find ordeal in our continual return to the world. For me, the greatest resistance is not without but within, yet I am slowly growing to trust in the "ministry of presence" in the setting I return to. I am becoming the kind of person I long for God's people to become, and not everyone will "get it." That's okay, for this is the nature of encounter with the holy.

I am being made into a subversive, cross-bearing, carrier of the fire, and most of my journey is not living on the mountaintop but in the darkness and ordeal of longing and return. This becomes more mysterious the longer I am on the journey as a wayfaring stranger. This subversiveness is the kingdom of God, and resistance is to be expected. I think something is wrong when it feels dry or dark, but nothing is wrong. So I stand on the threshold again and again, called to hear Christ's voice and follow the hearing, then to return changed from one degree of glory to another.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"God Whispers" at Auburn

I had one of those moments when God whispers to me at Camp War Eagle, of all places (registering my daughter for Auburn). I knew that Auburn was started by the Methodist Church. But taking an evening to rest and reflect, I happened upon a historical plaque in the Centennial Garden in front of the Foy Student Center. It outlined a journey that began in 1856 when Methodists began the “Alabama Men’s College” on that site to prepare leaders for ministry. 8 or 10 years later, the property was deeded to the state for an agricultural and mechanical college, which eventually became Auburn University.

I imagined what it must have been like to start this school for young pastors and then see it fail, having no idea where failure would lead. The denomination at that time was divided because of issues related to slavery, and in the middle of this mission project the Civil War broke out. I’m guessing that the economy fell apart, the school failed financially, and they deeded the school to the state to help with agricultural and mechanical needs related to Reconstruction.

While imagining all this, I went inside for a drink and came back out. Some students were serendipitously gathered around the pond singing “Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross” and the words resonated in my soul. It struck me powerfully that there was no way those who experienced what must have felt like a miserable failure of the church could have imagined that 150 years later, a thriving institution of 25,000 students, some of who sang “in the cross be my glory ever” as part of active religious life on campus, would be here because of what they tried to do.

When we take up the cross, we don’t have a snapshot of where it will lead 150 years later. In fact, we rarely see results. Moses did not get to set foot in the Promised Land, Abraham never saw the descendents as numerous as the stars, and Mary never met the generations that would call her blessed. We don’t get the glory, and rarely do we even see a glimpse of it. One of the deepest mysteries of the body of Christ is that our glory is in taking up the cross, and we trust God for the trajectory of where that might lead. God just might use us, in times of failure and perceived failure, for something wonderful. I had some amazing time of meditation, looking back over the decisions of my past and considering the decisions of my future, with all my failures and burdens, and pondering those of our church. I had a blessed time of putting it all in God’s hands, trusting God for the trajectory, for the “fruit that will last” if we would simply abide in him while we take up the cross. Faith is believing in what you can’t see.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"The Sound of Pentecost"

This is my column which appeared in the Huntsville Times on August 8, 2008 - Steve West

Years ago I heard music that would change my life. I was traveling to China on a mission tour with Christian youth from Alabama. One Sunday, we visited a Protestant Church in Nanjing.

I smile when I remember I was not entirely looking forward to it. The trip had been tiring and morning had come early. We had heard that the service was entirely in Chinese and the sermon was forty-five minutes long.

When we arrived, they had reserved space for us near the front. It was a good thing, too, for the room was absolutely full. I remember the face of an old woman with tattered clothes who sat right in front of me. She smiled at me warmly.

Drawn into a mystical experience, my spirit was captured by such wonderful, familiar music. We began by singing “Holy, Holy, Holy” in Chinese. I knew only one verse in English, but I sang it over and over just the same. Throughout the service, I found every note strangely familiar. The choir sang John Steiner’s “God So Loved the World,” with beautiful Chinese intonation. A shock wave moved through my spirit, for I had directed the choir of my home church in the very same piece two weeks earlier!

During the sermon (indeed forty-five minutes and in Chinese), I found myself intrigued by the songbook. Instead of the Western hymnal I was used to, it consisted simply of Chinese words with numbers printed above. I can remember the moment it dawned on me how the numbers represented the tune. “Jesus Loves Me,” for example, was notated “5-3-3-2-3-5-5.” Once I saw this, I searched from hymn to hymn to find tunes of my faith inside this book on the other side of the world. The magnitude of our connectedness filled my soul.

We sang again. By this time my heart was racing and my voice bellowed with whatever verse or phrase I could remember. I will never forget the face of the old woman sitting in front of me. In the midst of the song, she turned and looked at me with tears streaming down her face. It was my “Pentecost moment”, a profound experience when I realized that though we were separated by a world of culture, we could hear each other in our own language.

There is strangely familiar music that binds us together as God’s people, spanning the globe and moving through the centuries. Our spiritual lives do not develop in a vacuum. Our journey has context. We are notes of God’s creative instrument, beautiful on our own but having no meaning unless heard in the context of a phrase, a melody, a song, a symphony. We are breathed into existence with larger vision in mind. When I came out of that crowded church in Nanjing, I had seen a glimpse of God’s dream for humanity, a people wonderfully diverse but forever bound by the song of our hearts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Spiritual Formation - New Age or Christ Centered?

I saw a post on The Website of Unknowing from a reader troubled by the idea of Christian spiritual formation practices, seeing them as "new age movement" that had trickled into the church. She thought of it as dangerous, even Satanic. Here was my posted response.

I too am very much in favor of keeping centered on Christ, and I share your concern as someone who is radically Christian and who believes Christ is the way, truth, and life. I am by vocation a minister of the gospel and have been a Christian since I professed faith in Christ on a church retreat at age 10. But for me, this focus on the centrality of Christ is precisely what Christian spiritual formation is all about. To say that all spiritual formation is from the new age movement, imposed on the church, is to throw out many centuries of Christian prayer experience and spiritual flow … all because some pray using these practices who are of other spiritualities.

For me, Christian spiritual formation is going from a world of seeing religion as “doing” back to experiencing Christ as the true vine, and we the branches. It is letting God in Christ be a transforming presence in my life, changing me “from one degree of glory to another” as Paul said, so that I bear the fruit of love, “fruit that will last”.

I think that there is certainly new age spirituality out there, and I admit that I prefer to think of it not as Satanic or false doctrine but as partial truth. However, I’m concerned about what is probably some rhetoric you may have heard, dismissing all spiritual formation efforts, because we are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Jesus himself was a spiritual formation teacher. His sermon on the mount was a reflection of God’s alternative values that change us, tranforming us into the image of Christ over time. He spent time in contemplation and silence and prayer as evidenced in the scriptures, even as people were clamoring for him to do things. And his prayers in the book of John indicate a real contemplative spirit. He was a faithful Jew, so he prayed the psalms letting the ancient words shape and form his prayer life, which is one reason he quoted them so often. Naturally, if particular prayer practices are not helpful for your spirituality than that’s okay. But it concerns me that spiritual practices rooted in Christ, that might be experienced differently for different people, would be dismissed, rather than accepted as part of the Holy Spirit’s movement in bringing forth the gifts of prayer among those called to a more contemplative life. For me, it enriches my spirit and deepens my roots, drawing me ever closer to Jesus Christ. It is a process of being conformed to the image of Christ for the sake of love. Having said all that, I do think for those concerned about purity of spirituality have a good point. Christian spirituality needs to be rooted in Christ, but I would say only fear would cause us to neglect to experience the breadth of spiritual practice, when Jesus promises his presence in the Holy Comforter who would teach us in the midst of all our spiritual exploration.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Struggle With Numbers

Some ask why I struggle with the way we talk about numbers in God’s church. It's not because numbers don’t represent people (they do, and I have a passion for reaching people!). I struggle because Jesus gave us a gift, and the gift is a metaphor. The metaphor is that he is the vine and we are the branches. It may seem idealistic, but I believe that if we abide in the true vine, we will bear much fruit, "fruit that will last". Turning around decline will not be because of focusing on fruit or being more anxious in the call to produce, produce, produce. Growth will always come from focusing on the holy center, our vine, the love of Christ. This is so simple yet it escapes us! We think working harder or smarter will save God's church; it is a new form of “works righteousness” to think so. If we put it in God’s hands, focus on abinding in Jesus, and trust, we will be changed and we will "bear fruit that will last." We will touch lives.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why Do I Blog?

Blogging is a new experience for me, though I have known for a while that writing is a form of creative expression and spiritual discipline I feel drawn to. I have been nudged by the Spirit into a life of Christian spiritual formation and have, over the last ten years, found depth and healing in finding myself immersed in centuries of spiritual flow. God has deepened my roots through the practices of spiritual direction, meditation, silent retreat, Academy for Spiritual Formation, covenant group, lectio divina, healing prayer, shadow work, writing, attentiveness to body, rule of life, liturgy and sacraments, silence, and studying the spirituality of saints. I pray that blogging is a new step in the journey of creative expression and praise.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Letting the Word Transform Us Over Time

This week was Vacation Bible School and I enjoyed it. I leaned over to a friend while joining most of our 120 VBS kids in singing to reflect on what I love most about VBS. It's spiritual formation. It is letting the Word wash over you as you sing it, play it, pray it, act it, and move to it. It’s not learning a particular verse on a particular night that changes these kids, but a lifetime of being shaped by the Word. There’s nothing wrong with the "adult world" of studying, debating, arguing, and wrestling with the scripture. But the reason Jesus called us to have faith like a child is that faith is not believing what you’ve figured out. It’s believing what you can’t see. Faith leads us back to this, the simple trust of immersing ourselves in the Word and letting it transform us over time into the image of Christ.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sandy and Me at General Conference

A friend took this picture of Sandy and me at General Conference with his mobile phone. We were attending a banquet with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia. The Africa University Choir is in the background.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Groundbreaking at Grace UMC

On June 1, 2008, we had a special day at the church I serve. We broke ground on a new Family Life Center. My friend and former pastor Fred Webster joined us and our District Superintendent Tom Bell preached. There is something deeply spiritual about setting aside holy ground. God has blessed us to be a blessing.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Home From Annual Conference

Yesterday I came home from Annual Conference, but conference strangely feels like coming home. Yes, I struggle with how to go about gatherings and creatively approach issues. I wish it were a little longer because of worship and the relationships that give me life. I struggle with how we approach numbers, because I believe fruit comes not from working harder or being anxious about it but from abiding in the true vine as Christ’s branches. But generally I came home inspired for another year of ministry. I love Annual Conference!

Friday, June 6, 2008

New Sung Version of Great Thanksgiving

Tonight at the Ordination Service at the North Alabama Annual Conference, Bishop Willimon will lead us in communion using a sung version of the Great Thanksgiving that I arranged. I'd like to share it with you. A version of it is newly published on the website of the General Board of Discipleship at:

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

God Singled Us Out

"We are curious about God. We make inquiries about God. We read books about God. We get into late night bull sessions about God. We drop into church from time to time to see what is going on with God. We indulge in an occasional sunset or symphony to cultivate a feeling of reverence for God. But that is not the reality of our lives with God ... Long before we got interested in the subject of God, before it ever crossed our minds that God might be important, He singled us out as important. Before we were formed in the womb, God knew us."
- Eugene Peterson in "Run With the Horses"

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Blessed to Be a Blessing

Lord, I feel your blessings abound in my life. Yet what I think of as blessings are not what your Word calls blessings in the Sermon on the Mount. My blessing comes from the many struggles that have brought me to this place - my times of spiritual dryness, mourning, peacemaking, persecution, and fostering a merciful heart even when it's tough. Is this not how blessing comes? We are blessed to be a blessing, but blessings are not money, status, and success. Blessings are all those things that culture does not value or reinforce and yet they draw us to your heart. Our broken places are where you are strong, for we become wounded healers.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"Remaining Underneath" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I read this quote today in morning prayer and it resonates in my soul:

"Perseverance, translated literally, means: remaining underneath, not throwing off the load, but bearing it. We know much too little in the church today about the peculiar blessing of bearing. Bearing, not shaking off; bearing, but not collapsing either; bearing as Christ bore the cross, remaining underneath, and there beneath it - to find Christ ... For remaining steadfast, remaining strong is meant here too; not weak acquiescence or surrender, not masochism, but growing stronger under the load, as under God's grace, imperturbably preserving the peace of God. God's peace is found with those who persevere."
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Testament to Freedom

Imbedded in Christianity is a paradox. We are called to take up the cross as well as to cast all our cares upon Him, to bear one another's burdens as well as to be not worried or anxious. How do you find joy while "remaining underneath"?

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Living Stones CD

Steve West's first CD Project, “Living Stones,” was created in memory of his mother, Betty Hamby West, and to raise support for building the new church he founded. It is a creative expression of Steve’s spirit, featuring:

1) Open Now My Lips – copyright 1995 Stephen P. West
2) Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – by Robert Robinson
3) This Very Moment – copyright 1997 Stephen P. West
4) Spirit of Christmas – copyright 1994 Stephen P. West
5) Joseph’s Song – by Richard Vinson, copyright 1985 Windmill Power Music
6) Water and Spirit – copyright 1995 Stephen P. West
7) Raindrop Prelude – Prelude in D Maj, Opus 28, No 15 by Frederic Chopin
8) God Before Us – copyright 1994 Stephen P. West
9) Mother Eagle – copyright 1994 Stephen P. West
10) Today I Give to You My Love – copyright 1988 Stephen P. West
11) Living Stones – copyright 2000 Stephen P. West
12) Truth Unending – by Ross King & John Sherrill, copyright 2000 Ross King

“Living Stones” CD Copyright 2003 by Steve West

“You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” – 1 Peter 2:5

All musical arrangements, original compositions, vocals, piano, keyboards, guitar, and trombone by Steve West. Editing and percussion by Robert Willis. Flute by Kimra Herb. Female vocals by Amy Parker.

“Living Stones” CD’s are available for a donation of $20 (includes shipping). Proceeds will go toward Steve’s giving to the church he presently serves. CD’s may be purchased by mailing your donation, made out to “Steve West” for “Living Stones CD,” to:

Steve West
966 Fry Gap RoadArab, Alabama 35016

To hear one of the songs from the CD, click here or see the other selections in the right hand column of my blog.

My First Commencement Address

Well, I did my first Commencement Address recently. Don't be too impressed ... all three graduates at the homeschool academy appreciated it. Seriously, it was a great honor. I thought I'd share the text with others, so here it is.

“Follow Your Joy”
The Brook Academy – May 16, 2008
Steve West

I’m delighted to be here, especially since one of you is one of my parishoners. Congratulations, graduates. Congratulations to your families. I especially want to congratulate all you “moms” out there who are getting the best Mother’s Day gift ever! This is an important day. It’s a day when take one foot and step into a mystery. It’s called the rest of your life.

Do you ever pay attention to the words we use for things? They can be strange. Why do we drive on a parkway, and park on a driveway? Why is it called “rush” hour when your car barely moves? Why do we call that place the airplane drops you off a “terminal” (that’s not good!)? I want you to pay attention to the word that is used for tonight’s ceremony. We don’t call it “end” or “culmination” or “goal.” We call this “commencement” and that word means “beginning,” the start of something. You are starting something new.

I’m envious because you have so much ahead of you. The decisions you make now will send you on a trajectory that will affect everything, maybe even change world. So I’m not going to preach to you tonight. I’m just going to talk, to give you some advice.

There’s a lot you don’t know, because most of what you need to know in life, you can’t really learn in school. Only life can teach it to you, and it takes years to learn it. I certainly can’t cover it in the next few minutes. The best I can do is crack the door and shine a little light through. But since I’m in charge of postponing your diploma about 15 more minutes, I’m going to try to make it worth the wait.

There’s something I wish someone had told me when I was where you are, and it’s something I can sum up in one sentence: It’s not about doing, it’s about BEING. We live in a culture of functionalism. I had to unlearn this pervasive idea that “you are what you do.” It’s an idea that is exhaled by our culture and we take it in like oxygen. We hold these truths to be self-evident: You get what you pay for. Success is everything. Work is what you do for money, and that’s what counts. You are what you do. Listen to some adults sometime who are meeting each other. It doesn’t take long for them to ask the question, “so … what do you do?”

In life, it’s as important to “unlearn” as to learn. I had to unlearn three things that helped me to unlearn that one big thing.

“Unlearning Number One” is that it’s not enough to ask what you are good at. Asking what you are good at can lead you down the wrong road, because you are looking for other people to tell you what you are good at. You are basing life on what you get applause for, and in turn what you are supposed to be doing. You are basing your identity on affirmation, approval, and comparison.

I’ve always struggled with “Unlearning Number One” because I’m good at music. I love music, but I’m called to be pastor. I can vividly remember calling my Dad on the phone, and he’s a pastor! When I told him I wanted to be a pastor, he said “Awww …” What do you mean, “aw?” I said. “We need good musicians.” He gave me gift, actually, because from then on I realized I was not doing what called to do to please anybody. What we get the most attention for, what we seem to be good at is not necessarily the gift God has given you for the transformation of world. It’s about who God wants you to BE, not what wants you to do.

“Unlearning Number Two” is that it’s not enough to ask what will make you successful.
Our culture values achievement, accomplishment, climbing the ladder, and getting recognition. But the Bible is clear that success is not the point. Finding your gift and sharing it joyfully, and trusting God for the rest? That’s the point. You can drive yourself crazy, and still never be successful enough. Success is highly overrated, and it has a price.

Nobody ever dies and on their deathbed says, “you know, I wish I had spent more hours at work.” Go ahead and decide right now. Life is about who God wants you to BE, not what God wants you to do.

“Unlearning Number Three” is that it’s not enough to ask what will keep you from failing.
Sometimes failure, hurt, and pain is the way that you grow, the way you BECOME. There is a gift in every failure. It’s like I often say at church, “God never wastes a hurt.”

Do you know who Steve Jobs is? He created Apple Computers. He created I-Pods. I saw his story in a commencement address he gave not too long ago. Did you know he got fired from Apple? I don’t mean recently … he got fired a long time ago. He and a friend started Apple in his parents’ garage at the age of 20. He worked hard, and after 10 years Apple had grown to a $2 billion company, with 4,000 employees. They had just released their finest creation, the Macintosh, about when he turned 30. Then he got fired.

How do you get fired from company you started? It was “corporate stuff”, and there’s lots of corporate stuff out there. Sometimes I wonder, if Fed Ex merged with UPS, would we call it Fed UP? Anyway, as Apple grew, Steve Jobs had hired someone to run the company with him, then they had a falling out. The Board of Directors sided with the other guy. So at the age of 30, Steve Jobs was out. And he was “out” very publicly. This had been the focus of his whole life, and it was devastating.

Slowly it began to dawn on him, though, that he still loved what he did. So he decided not to quit. He decided to start over. He didn’t see it then, but getting fired was the best thing that could have happened to him. He was a beginner again, and it freed him for one of the most creative periods of his life. He started two companies, and one of them is called Pixar. Pixar then created “Toy Story,” the first computer animated film. Now Pixar is the most successful studio in world. The second company he started was later bought out, by … guess who … Apple, and their technology became the core of Apple’s current renaissance. Now there he is, Steve Jobs, selling us I-Phones. None of it would have happened if he hadn’t failed. Don’t be afraid to fail!

It’s not enough to ask what you are good at, or what would make you successful, or what would keep you from failing. That’s because life is not about doing at all, it’s about BEING who you are. Time is limited, so don’t waste it living somebody else’s life, or someone else’s dream.

God has a calling for you. We use the word “calling” in the church a lot, but perhaps there is a better word, YEARNING. God has a yearning for you. It’s not something God wants you to do. God is not looking for employees, or task managers to get his jobs done … God is looking for relationship. God is yearning for you to be the person God wants you to BE.

So how do you know you are taking a step toward “being” in world of doing? The only way I know is to “follow your joy”. Life is not about what you are good at, or what makes you successful, or what keeps you from failing. What gives you joy even when you’re not happy? What makes you feel like the YOU God made you to be? If you follow your joy, then you have found that next step.

I used to think I was young. I’m not sure what day it was, but somewhere along the line I became old. When I was a kid, it was before chickens had fingers, and before buffalos had wings. I had to actually go to a library to get a book, I had to actually go to the store to shop, I actually had to have money in my bank account to buy something. I remember when we got our first microwave. My brothers and I played “Pong” and “Missile Command” and woah, when I was in High School video games actually came out in color! I was already a pastor before I tried this new thing called “email”. I was pastor of the 3rd Methodist church in all of Alabama to have web page. One day, a guy in my church said to me “we need to do a web page,” and I said, “that’s great, it sounds good … but what’s a web page?”

The world changes. It shifts under your feet. What you will actually DO in the world will change. The important question is who are you going to BE?

Desmond Tutu spoke at the commencement address for my university the year I finished seminary. Now it is almost 20 years later, and I can’t remember a thing he said (because of that, I’m going to give you a copy of this commencement address when I finish!). I don’t remember a thing he said, but I remember who he IS. I remember what he stands for. His witness led to the end of apartheid, the extreme racism of South Africa.

I want to leave you tonight with something from Nelson Mandela, another person who fought alongside Tutu for and end to apartheid. He became president of a new South Africa after years of being in jail and racism and persecution. In his inaugural speech, Nelson Mandela said,“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves: ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are we not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightening about shrinking, so that other people won’t feel unsure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear; our presence automatically liberates others.”

Don’t worry about being successful. Be YOU. You are the only one that can do it. Be the best YOU you can be. And that will change the world. Congratulations.