Carol Ann Preston
Inspiration: motivation, incentive, enlightenment, illumination, brainstorm, vision, etc.
Practicing the discipline of prayer and meditation for over 26 years I have been willing to learn and grow as Ilearn to listen and recognize inspiration and to follow God’s Spirit as the source to inspire my daily life. Today I rely on Spirit’s inspiration and more readily recognize the difference between ego inspired thoughts and those that are in harmony with the Spirit of Christ and these have a foundation of love, joy, perseverance and discipline. I have found one consistent theme and that is Love.
Some examples where I have experienced inspiration have often been the simplest ones that I hear at the beginning of the day, when I am uncertain what I am to do that day, ‘get up and do the next right thing.’ Sometimes I am inspired to clean house, other times I am inspired to write, make phone calls, write letters, or take a walk. These are the simple and what seems to be ordinary inspirations of my daily life, although in the beginning there was no such thing as ordinary inspiration, as my spirit was starved for inspired thoughts, something that was not focused on me. It has been through many spiritual awakenings, practicing disciplined prayer and meditation in my life that ushers into my mind inspired thoughts at various times of the day. Beginning with a committed, disciplined relationship with Christ, I also committed to follow His lead, as I am directed, on a ‘need to know basis.’ In doing so, inspired thoughts and opportunities of service have increased as I also continue to practice examination of conscious and watch for 'ego' that would deceive me.
Sometimes I wake up at 3:00AM and I am inspired to get up and pray for others. Sometimes I am inspired during my time of prayer who to pray for, but many times I pray for people in general, and I pray for about an hour and then go back to bed. In the early years of listening to inspiration, I was also growing in my trust in God’s Spirit to guide me throughout the day and I began to experience seemingly simple guidance as I practiced the discipline of ‘listening.’ I learned that discipline and trust is a key component in my being inspired. I had become willing to follow as He led, on a need to know basis. And this simple attitude works well in my harmonious relationship with God. Knowing He his part is to lead and mine is to follow.
One early afternoon I was on my way home from work, having worked late the night before I was afforded the privilege to go home early and I looked forward to taking a much needed nap before my children came home from school. A block before our home, the thought came to my mind to drive to my daughter’s school and pick her up. I argued back and forth in my head as I considered my desire to take a quick nap and I did not want to go anywhere else. But, this inspiration did not stop; over and over in my head was the same instruction, "Go to your daughters school." After relenting, sensing this instruction was an opportunity of trusting discipline, I followed and made a left turn at the stoplight and drove straight to her school.
I parked along the driveway, where there were plenty of other parents in their cars waiting for their children. This was Jr. High and since I saw plenty of students lingering out front I assumed the school bell had already dismissed students for the day. With parents sitting in their car I noticed there was no school faculty out front with the students. I thought this was odd and then saw a large gathering of students off to the front side of the school building. Recalling Jr. High myself, I sensed this meant trouble. I got out of my car and walked into a circle of students and heard, "Mom" loud and clear and noticed my daughter was one of those on the outside of the circle with the other kids. There were two pre-teen young girls in the middle of this circle who were about to start fighting. I mean physically fighting, with a large gathering of other students surrounding and encouraging them. I noticed that one of my daughter’s best friends was in the middle of this soon to be fight. "Where were all the teachers?" I thought to myself. I yelled out my daughter’s and her girlfriend’s name and with authority told them both to follow me and get in my car, ‘NOW!’ With no argument, the girls quickly followed me and jumped into the backseat of my car, with no word spoken by anyone until we had pulled away from the school. "What was going on?" I asked. I was told that my daughter’s friend was about to fight another, much stronger and bigger girl from school as she had made this girl mad and had known she would be hurt in a fight, and so on. She was greatly relieved to having had an option out of the fight. I thought silently to my self, "God knew there would be no faculty out front when this fight would have occurred, and someone called out to Him for help, and I was able to ‘hear’ an opportunity to be His instrument of service."
The girls wanted to know why I was there, since it was not customary for me to pick my children up from school. I told them about the inspired thought that came to my thoughts and told them that their guardian angels were looking out for them that day and to thank God for His ever-presence, and reminded them that all areas of our lives matter to God. Arriving home, I allowed myself a time of peace and quiet prayer and meditation, never forgetting this example to follow persistent inspiration, even when I do not know the why of it all.
The last example I would like to share, is when my young cousin died. One early morning, during my prayer and meditation time, I sensed that I needed to drive the following day and visit my aunt and uncle. I told my husband, noticed that I had no previous commitments, and packed for the following days 4 hour drive. I went about my day as normal, and went to bed with plans to spend one to two days with my relatives.
The following morning, after I had begun my day, I received a phone call early from my mother. She told me that my cousin had drowned the day before, as he worked on a barge in the Gulf of Mexico and it had taken on water, and my cousin did not survive. She told me that it would be at least a day before she could put her affairs in order to make the drive to her brother’s home, and asked me if I could drive to stay with them until she could get there.
I told her that I was already packed, and about the inspired thoughts to go and visit my aunt and uncle the day before. When she called, I was already dressed and packed, ready to go, ready to be of service to my aunt and uncle who had just been notified that their only son had drowned. Leaving grieving parents, a sister, a young widow and 3 young children to pray for and minister too.
As I drove the next few hours, I talked to God the entire way, with a grateful heart that I had been called to be a channel for His love, and grateful that I had learned to listen and follow directions, even when I did not know why. I was grateful that my husband had become accustomed to inspired thoughts and avenues of service and that he supports my efforts. I was allowed the privilege of serving my grieving aunt and uncle, and assisting in the preparation of a memorial service for my cousin, utilizing years of experience in supporting the grieving, to now give to my family.
God guides me toward acts of love, consideration and kindness to those around me, with an attitude of care and respect. God’s creation benefits from inspired thoughts that I recognize and act upon and through service I have discovered joy to be the source of my happiness.
May you be blessed with inspired guidance and experience the joy of serving with love,
Carol Ann Preston
Remembering Who We Are: a workbook by Carol Ann Preston