Exploring The Places You Already Are

IMG_2266By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

I spent the morning on the top of a high rise apartment building in the middle of Shanghai. We had to sneak up there, and a lock might have been picked, but there we were at sunrise. It was after a night of Japanese food, sake, and roughly two hours of sleep. One of my companions was in the same clothes as the night before, the other wearing batman pajamas.

You really can’t make this up.

Shanghai is comprised of people. 28 million, in fact. A Shanghai sunrise is mostly haze and enough swirls of pink and purple to remind you what a sunrise is supposed to look like. We had a 360 view of- well, apartments. Tall apartments, short apartments, windows galore. We could see laundry drying and teddy bears left on the window sill. There were curtains and no curtains, plants and no plants, bikes and toys and kitchen sinks and washing machines. There were at least a million people a stone’s throw away in any direction, with more apartments stretching as far as the eye could see.

And there was quiet.

Up above it all, with blurry eyes and an over sized t shirt, I saw my city. This crazy, attitude-filled city I have chosen to live in, going on three years. I saw the bits and pieces of lives being lived as strangers right next to each other, piled on top of each other, in this place that I have always perceived as a little bit lonely. I could see the haze lifting ever so slightly and the buildings turning gold under the filtered sunlight. It was magic.

Batman pajama lady and I started to sing, like the sleep deprived giddy people we are.

“Blue skies smilin’ at me
Nothin’ but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin’ a song
Nothin’ but bluebirds all the day long”

And as we were singing like fools on the top of the world, I felt all my fears of being back in Shanghai melting away. Yes, it can be a lonely city. But that makes it just that much easier for a little joy to go a long way. Returning to a place does not have to make you feel tired and worn when there are still so many adventures to be had.

So I hugged Shanghai with my heart and waved goodbye to the skyline before creeping my way back down the stairs. I fell asleep smiling, knowing there is still so much left to explore.

A Prayer For Healing, A Blessing In Disguise

By: Autumn Elizabeth, Editor in Chief 

Prayer for Healing, Blessings, Interfaith, weepingI have a friend who is in the midst of battling cancer, but this friend is just one of many who needs healing. Lately, I find myself praying for healing often, a little too often for my liking. My private prayer journal is filling up with friends asking for good thoughts as they heal from surgery, for strength as they heal from broken hearts, for spiritual healing for this broken world or simply prayers that they will feel the healing power of love as they struggle with death and dying. This is the prayer I say when I get these requests:

Dear God,

Give_____ what they need in abundance.

Let them feel the wholeness that comes from being loved,

because they are indeed loved.

Let them find a way to heal their wounds seen and unseen.

Let me find a way to help them the best I can.


This is a prayer of healing, but this prayer isn’t just about healing for others. By saying it so often, I have found a blessing there too, in disguise. In praying that others are healed, I am freeing myself from the awful feeling of uselessness that comes with loving those who are suffering, and for me feeling that I am doing something is a huge blessing.

i was not raised, neither by my church nor my family, to be useless, I was taught to serve, to help, to work, and to persevere. But in these recent times of so much hurt and suffering to those so near and so dear to me, I have often felt useless.

I struggle with questions like: What can I do to heal this world? How can I help when I am so far away? What use are my skills with words in times like these? But I have found that in praying for the healing of others, I too am healed. In praying for healing, I am blessedly useful. Thus, the prayers of healing I offer are, in some small way, my biggest blessings.

The Blessings of Memories

We’re pleased to share another guest post from Aya Nejim, who previously wrote on The Courage to Start Over. Aya is a young English teacher, living between Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and Cairo, Egypt. Today, Aya shares with us the blessing of the memories we hold dear to our hearts; the pictures we flip through when we’re nostalgic, the letters and cards we never get tired of reading, all the gifts and little trinkets, which are a reminder that nothing is ever lost forever, and that also nothing ever remains the same.


No matter how much suffering you went through, you never wanted to let go of those memories. – Haruki Murakami

We often forget the beauty of memories, their value. Memories have become – for most of us – a source of pain, grief and loneliness, reminding us only of what we lack, what we have lost. I believe that memories are a gift, a blessing that we need to thank God for daily. Their beauty lies in the mere fact that in a way we get to see several versions of ourselves; the person we once were and the person we have become. It is like tiny little founding pieces of how we are today.

I think of memories as spirits that transform into energy which our bodies encompass; the good ones give us joy and hope, while the bad ones transform us from pained, sad and lonely people to people filled with knowledge and wisdom. Even the people we lose, we keep their memories in our hearts and by doing so we carry a part of them within our soul. I like to believe that the pain goes away and that all that is left is simply a piece of ourselves in a different world with different people.

At times of despair, I often wished to lose everything; who I am, who I was, but then I realized that if I did, I would have never become the person I am now. Looking back at my memories, I saw how much I have come through and how different I had become. All the different versions of myself; the strong, the caring, the broken, the intellect, it reminded me that the journey still continues and nothing ever remains the same, not the sorrow, not the pain and not even me.

I am grateful for my memories because they give me hope and faith and fill me with warmth, knowing that even in my darkest days, another version of me has survived before and shaped the person I am now.

Being a Blessing

By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

When you wish someone joy, you wish them peace, love, prosperity, happiness… all the good things.

Maya Angelou

Elizabeth Gilbert discusses finding a guru in her rather famous book, Eat, Pray, Love. I had the pleasure of reading her story while on a stretch of beach in the Gilly Islands, sisters to Bali (cliche, I know, stop sighing at me). Finding a guru? I thought. Skip that- I want to be one!

Disclaimer: It has already been discussed in a previous entry that modesty is not my strong point. I said I would work on it, and it is a work in progress.

A guru is a spiritual leader, someone to help you along your spiritual path. So yes, me being one would be a perfect example of the blind leading the blind, but what can I say? I love wisdom. I love journeys. It might take me a while to get there, but at least I have goals!

During this month of focusing on blessings, my guru-seeking mind jumped to the idea of being a blessing to other people.

This idea is all candy and rainbows. Me in priestly robes magnificently throwing holy water on the masses, or in a Pentecostal Sunday suit vigorously shaking hands with members of the congregation, or cross legged outside of a temple handing flowers to children. “I bless you!” I will say, all magnanimous-like. It’ll be great, like throwing thunderbolts of sunshine into people’s lives.

Until certain people come to mind. Certain people I do not want to bless. Not with holy water or handshakes or even a daisy chain.

It hurts just thinking about it.

Maya tells me to wish them joy, peace, love, prosperity, happiness… All the good things.

I realize that’s what a blessing is. Wishing with your whole heart for all the good things to come into existence for that person. Manifesting it yourself because you want it so bad for them. Becoming “all the good things”- whatever that means in the moment. Money? Hugs? Clean dishes? I also know blessings don’t grow on trees. They come from a seed of forgiveness first, and then love. I suppose you can only bless someone if you love them.

But maybe not. Maybe by blessing someone, by pumping that heart muscle into determination to be “all the good things”, love might come out of it. And that is, after all, what we are called to do. Love.

I hope you join me on my guru-training journey and try to bless someone around you, just so I’m not so lonely in this quest. Preferably someone who really, really, really needs it. Forgive them. Love them. Bless them. Be all the good things, and I promise you’ll get some good, too.

The Blessing of Living

We’re pleased to share another guest post from Esraa Mohamed, who previously wrote posts on rituals and desires. Esraa is an Egyptian Muslim and physical therapy student with strong passion for the universe and its mysteries.Today, she shares with us her own reflections about blessings; a blessing we all take for granted: simply being alive and healthy, breathing in and out.

Generally, I consider myself way too blessed, but sometimes life makes me too busy and I give a blind eye to all the blessings I have. Sometimes it takes loosing my breath to make me aware again.Cloud, Breath, Interfaith

Seven months ago, I had an allergy that took my lungs to the edge of a cliff. I felt death vividly inhabiting my ribs. And I swear I could sense my pleura gluing together. As I was faintly slipping to unconsciousness, I wanted to pick up my phone and tell somebody that I was dying. I wanted for once to tell somebody “Hey I am not okay, I need your help”.

I also wanted to hold my pen and scribble like a note of gratitude for the blessings I have taken for granted; my family, my friends, my health, even for the blessings I didn’t have.

My life flashed in front of my eyes, teasing me with the uncountable things I have taken for granted. And all what I wanted back then was one last chance to say thanks for all what I had. But my lungs brutally attacked for one last time, leaping the tottering guts out of my soul and I became too fragile to fight any longer.

My life dwindled amidst the agony of this night, so I sucked my nose into the cushion and cried God for mercy, for death, but even death was the tranquility that my situation couldn’t afford. I lost consciousness without any idea how did my lungs make it through the night.

I woke up to the morning breeze grateful to nothing more than being alive. I knew that I have left my lungs at the battlefield with all faith that they would make it for another battle yet to come. And I was really grateful for every little sip of sluggish breath.

Breath by breath, I realized that one of the biggest blessings that many of us, including myself, fail to cherish is simply the blessing of being alive. To live, to breath, even when it is hard, is truly a blessing.

Counting Blessings

By: Jenni Taylor, Author in Chief

When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light, for your life, for your strength. Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.


Dad and me, July 4th

Dad and me, July 4th

The Bernstein Bears (and my parents) taught me to count my blessings. I would look around the room when I was a little kid for inspiration to fill up the appropriate amount of time for a bedtime prayer. “Thank you for my moooooooom, thank you for my daaaaaaaad, thank you for my teddy beeeeear… thank you for my sooooooocks…” Somewhat scrambled, not necessarily sincere at all times, but hey- practice makes perfect, right?

I live a blessed life. On accident or on purpose, the universe has given me wonderful, beautiful things. Too many to count.

But that’s the secret, isn’t it? To count them anyway. Even my socks (one pair equals two blessings- win). To say thank you for the morning light streaming through my window or for the same light even when I can’t see it. To use that crazy thing called faith to say thank you even for the things that haven’t happened yet.

Right now I am extremely blessed to not only live abroad, but to come home and be surrounded by people I love. There is a hesitation that happens after not being home for a while. Circles of friends shrink, people are married with kids and have less accessible couches covered in baby spittle (adorable baby spittle, mind you). People change. You change. Worry and anxiety kick in and you wonder if there is really anything to come home for at all.

But then I get a hug from my dad as pictured above and I feel like I just jumped in a blessing bubble bath. I get messages from friends, and their unconditional love and excitement for my life that is usually far from exciting melts my heart and reminds me to be the kind of person they are proud of. I am blessed with so many amazing, positive people in my life- how can I not count?

So I do. I count, I smile, I look around and think of even more. I’m surrounded by blessings, and it’s just the beginning of the list.

Seeking Submissions: Blessings

Interfaith, Flowers, Blessings

This month at Searching Sophia’s Pockets, we are focusing on the theme of BLESSINGS. WE can find blessings in so many places along our spiritual journeys. So look deeply and tell us what you are grateful for on your spiritual journey and how you find blessings your spiritual experiences.

If you are lacking inspiration for your submission, here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. Who in your life do you see as a blessings? Why?
  2. What blessings do you get from the spiritual, faith, or religious journeys of others?
  3. How might blessings, gratitude, and faith be linked?
  4. Where do you find blessings in your daily life?
  5. When have you struggled to feel blessed?

With Wisdom, Love …and Lint,

The Searching Sophia’s Pockets Team

Many Sources of Inspiration

Today’s post comes from our regular contributor David Etim, who is writing from Lagos, Nigeria. He shares with us the many ways he finds inspiration on his spiritual journey. His wisdom comes from a deeply Christian perspective, and also holds value for us all. It is also a beautiful transition from our theme of inspiration to next month’s theme of blessings.

Wisdom, Interfaith, Candles

Progress gives inspiration. And inspiration? That is what allows me to make my way towards greatness.

I have found inspiration in looking at what Gloria Copeland says,

Even if it seems costly at the time, always do what God puts in your heart to  do. Your whole future may depend on it.

I found inspiration too in what is written in the Bible. Hebrews 10:35 says,

Do not lose your courage, then, because it brings with it a great reward.

And in my own life’s progress I have found inspiration. On my birthday last month, I was given a number of gifts including  an additional job and  a self-contain apartment in a parsonage. These were great progress in my life and gifts from God.
God has used this providential turn of events to teach me to know God better, to become more obedient to God and to give me inspiration combined with steadfast persistence.

Finally, I find inspiration in the people God has sent to my life. God will always bring the right people, at the right time into my life, and their steady love for God and humanity are a constant inspiration to me.But there is more. Contact without inspiration is a waste and inspiration without improvement is a great waste as well. Take for instance, ever since I came in contact with Searching Sophia’s Pockets, there have been a tremendous improvement on my writing skills. This work inspires me too.

Inspiration is the key to aspiration. Inspiration averts expiration. Inspiration comes little by little developing my capacity and moving me to the next level.  I enjoy this supernatural ride of divine inspiration, which enables me support my projects with the spirit.

Please celebrate the many sources of inspiration with me, and celebrate their source.
God is awesome! God is wonderful! God is All-Inspiring!

How Many Loaves Do You Have?

ByJenni Taylor


Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat…’

His disciples answered, ‘where could we get enough bread in this remote place to feed such a crowd?’

‘How many loaves do you have?’ Jesus answered –Matthew 16:32-34

My fridge is full, but my eyes are hungry. Hungry for more time, more freedom, more peace, more wisdom. I am hungry for less- less stress, less pain, less loneliness, less daily doses of despair. I want to be faster, smarter, kinder, more patient, more giving. I want to be better.

All this wanting leaves me paralyzed.

I kick and scream in my tantrum, a small ugly smugness creeping from my heart. I want to be good; that means I must be halfway there already. I want, I want, I want… My eyes are turned inward, my ears tuned to the sound of my own voice, and there are my fists- closed tightly, ever so tightly.

“How many loaves do you have?” He asks.  The question burns.

“I have compassion for these people,” he says, and I finally look up. I see the thousands of high-rise apartments surrounding me, their lights softly glowing in the night. The lights outnumber the visible stars a million to one, and I am gently reminded how selfish I am to ever think I am alone.

My clenched heart hears a thin strain of music, ancient and connecting and almost completely forgotten. A song of giving.

I am hungry. My needs are not belittled or lost in the void, but no longer do they come first. I accept the hunger, and I accept I still have so many things to give. My heart begins to thaw, and I close my eyes and pray for the same compassion the Great Teacher had to put his own hunger to the side and care for those around him. I have loaves- warm, buttery, full of goodness loaves to offer the world. People break bread, they connect, they open their hands and in return are filled to the brim. I count my loaves, I count my blessings, and  I see the same miracle in my life that we see in the gospel of Matthew-

There is more than enough.


A Prayer for Strength




Dear Universal Source of Strength,

We pray for the strength to listen to the burdens of others, and the strength to bear burdens of our own.

We ask for help in negotiating the fine line between personal strength and public aggression.

We hope the we show our own strength in the wisest of ways.

We pray for those who must summon strength all too often, those who battle, those whose suffering seems unfairly immense.

We hope that their strength is honored, not exploited.

We ask that you continue to show us the ways we can support the strength in those around us.

We ask for strength that comes from a friend’s hug, a warm cup of tea, and a good meal.

We hope that we find this strong support easily.

We pray for those for whom the strong support of loved ones is not available.

We hope that when we search ourselves for strength in times of trouble, we are able to find it.

We pray that when we cannot find it ourselves, someone does us the kindness of showing us our own strength.

We ask for the wisdom to recognize our own strength, even when it comes in quiet forms.

We pray that the strength of this world, this time, be a strength of compassion, love, and tenderness toward all things.