Be Still…

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  I’ve been preparing for a big change that I feel needs to happen.

Has it happened yet?  No.
Will it happen?  Yes.
When will it happen?  Dunno.
How will it happen?  Dunno.
Will it happen smoothly?  I hope so.
All I know is that it needs to happen.

This situation reminds me of the many times I’ve encountered uncertainties in my life; two of which I shared in making my big move from VA to NC and being unemployed.  The biggest thing about these trying times is learning to be still and not letting your emotions control your mind, consume your body, or dictate your actions.  It’s so easy to fall into this trap and let it take over your world.

My advice?  Don’t veer to the left or to the right.  Walk in the dark tunnel, but be completely confident because why should we question God every time a situation comes up?  Think of the many times the Israelites did this when God brought them out of Egypt.  How many times have we read or heard that story and shook our heads in disbelief?Especially when they could see the amazing works God was doing.  But aren’t we doing the same thing when God brings us out a time of trouble only for us to turn around and question Him again the next time we’re in a tough situation?  When will we learn to quit questioning Him and just have faith and just know?

So I sit here and be still… waiting… listening… knowing

Psalm 37:7  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him…

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Divergent

I expressed my views on certain holidays in the past couple of posts.  I don’t feel this way about all of them since not all are brainwashing, but why do we turn into zombies over specific holidays throughout the year?  All logic and comprehension immediately go out the door.  And we unknowingly let these events take control of our emotions, our thoughts, our reactions, our sanity.  We just get in robot mode and allow ourselves to get programmed.  We just do what the crowd is doing because that’s how it’s “always” been.

divergent

In the movie Divergent, hundreds of kids are separated into factions according to the outcome of a test they take.  These tests are administered by the injection of a serum which puts their minds into a simulation.  The majority of them do not know that they are in a simulation and freak out (because these simulations awaken in them every fear they have), but very few – and I mean like a handful – come to realize that the simulations aren’t real and toward the end of the movie, they are the ones that save thousands of people from getting killed.

There is a parallel that can be drawn from that movie.  We don’t have to let these things overpower us to the point that we can’t see the true purpose, the true message of what we’re here for.  Think of all the energy – not to mention all the money – we put into things that either have no value or perpetrates a meaningless cycle.  Think of how many people can benefit every day and not just this one day that comes only once a year.  Wake up.  Don’t follow the crowd.  Be Divergent.

Matthew 7:13-14  13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.

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Happy New… When?

So every year people start hootin’ about a brand new year and their New Year’s resolutions…  Stop it.

So many people have this check-off list of things they’ll start doing – probably the same list as the year before…  Stop it.

So we go through the motions and yet again many of us will quit days or weeks in… Stop it.

What is it that’s programmed in our minds that we feel the only time we can begin new (or old) goals is on New Year’s day?  Statistically, most people will quit by the end of the first week – which is today – Congratulations!  And then many more of us will quit by the end of this month.

I think folks get caught up in the hoopla of the new year and then with all the excitement and heightened energy they feel from it, many empty resolutions get created.  And being caught up in the moment, we start off with this great momentum, but then it soon fizzles out as the newness of the new year wears off and we get back into our daily routines (which we find is no different then just a few days ago when it was ‘last’ year) and then all the well-intended resolutions go kaput.

How about we make every day a new year since technically, every day that passes is a new year (since there is always a year ago today).  We can set daily, more reasonable goals.  So if you don’t exercise for an hour today or you cheated on your diet, it’s okay.  You’ll likely hang onto your goals because you didn’t attach it to some expectation of a ‘new’ year.  You won’t give up as easily because you wouldn’t be thinking that the ‘new’ year is ruined.  Tomorrow is a new day… begin again…

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Santa Cause

Is Claus a good cause?

My parents had me believe in Santa Claus when I was a child.  All the magic.  All the fantasies.  Inspiring awe and excitement.  I believed in him, but at the same time, there were some questions that troubled my mind…

I thought about the kids who didn’t get anything.  Where was Santa Claus for them?  I mean I knew all about “he’s gonna find out who’s naughty or nice,” but did that mean they were all naughty?  Even if they were, I had to admit that my sister and I weren’t exactly angels all year long, but yet we got toys every year.  So I wondered, why did Santa choose some kids over others?

And what about the kid down the street who was mean, rotten, and cruel all the time but somehow got more gifts and better gifts from Santa? (I bet you remember a kid like that.)  So how did this kid who was blatantly naughty get chosen over the nice ones?  And then even among the kids who were nice, I wondered why some received more… or less… or exactly what they asked for… or nothing at all?

And what about Jesus?  How did his birth play into all of this?  Was Christmas about Jesus? or was it about Santa?  Who are kids really thinking about when Christmas comes around?

So then the time came when I found out it was all a big lie.  Talk about an equally big disappointment.  I mean, it cleared up a lot of those questions I had, but that didn’t take away the empty feeling I suddenly felt inside.  Do you remember how you felt?  Can any of you say it felt good?

So fast forward into adulthood and we find that children are still being told about Santa Claus.  We see the nuts that fight each other in the store for the last ones of that popular toy.  We see adults worrying if they bought the right gift.  We see adults stressing over their diminishing bank account trying to make Christmas ‘special’.  We see adults depressed because they can’t afford to buy anything for their kids.  But yet, the Santa Cause still cycles on year after year.

Matthew 15  Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?

Romans 12  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Colossians 2  See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit after the traditions of men according to the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

And what about Jesus?  Was Jesus born for this cause?  Is this cause teaching our children to be appreciative over what they already have?  or demanding of what they don’t have?

How about adults?  We see family members disappointed and upset with each other because they received things they didn’t want … or things they noticed isn’t as nice as another family member’s… or things that weren’t exactly what they asked for… or nothing at all.  Hmm.  Does this ring a bell?  Wonder from where that was psychologically engraved?  So the fights ensue or the silent treatment begins and the hurt continues and the Christmas ‘spirit’ gets dashed again.

Remember Jesus?  Isn’t Christmas about Christ? or is it about gifts?  Nowhere in the story of the birth of Jesus Christ nor in his teachings does it say to give gifts to each other every year on the day Jesus was born because that’s what the wise men did for him.  Yes it’s great if we give to those in need during Christmas, but Jesus’ teaching was about us giving everyday of the year.

How much greater and fulfilling Christmas would be if this is what we instilled in our children instead?

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Starting Over-Rated

I’m setting up a row of dominoes.  Carefully, one by one, I set them up one behind another and hope I can get all one thousand standing without having to start all over.

I’m drawing a picture of a tiger, trying to get the eyes just right, the nose, the teeth, every strand of hair.  Part of my technique is to apply various pressure to my pencil or angle it as I draw to get just the right affect.  I use my fingers to blend and provide proper shading.  I do this in pencil because I want to be able to erase any errors I make so that I don’t have to start all over.

I relocated to NC a few years ago from VA to make a change in my life.  I wrote about it in Controlling Your Path, Part II.  It was a decision I made that I am SO ever thankful for.  I was finally moving forward.  I was finally leaving behind a continuous cycle of financial struggles, lack of support, and a career that just wasn’t going anywhere.  People would say that it was good that I had “started over.”  That’s an interesting perception to call new experiences, “starting over.”  Whether it’s starting over with a new job… starting over at another church… starting over in a new relationship… etc.  But should it really be called “starting over?”  When I moved, I didn’t see it that way.  Starting over means to start something over from the beginning… which to me implies that I moved to a new location just to start the same tired cycle all over again that I experienced in VA.  So I never felt that I was “starting over”… I felt that I had turned a page, moved forward, grew spiritually.  I felt empowered.

If you are unhappy with your job or don’t have opportunities of advancement, would you get a new job with the expectation of having those same disappointments?  If you got out of a crumby relationship, is your intention to start that over in a new one?  If you apply “starting over” to these situations, of course it would be discouraging.  That psychologically could be why you’re stuck in a current situation.  You’re overwhelmed thinking that you’ll lose all the invested time and energy you put into something.  You’re overwhelmed thinking you have to do a lot of work all over again.  But you fail to realize you’re not “starting over.”

“Starting over” should be applied to having to reset those dominoes because the dog burst through the door and knocked them down.  “Starting over” should be applied to having to re-sketch that tiger because you accidentally spilled coffee over it.

“Starting over” shouldn’t be applied to life experiences.  If you learn from them, you will always move forward.  In life, we take in our struggles, learn from it, advance, evolve, develop, grow…

Amen.

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Golden Calf

I absolutely have to remodel my kitchen and it has to look like this and has to have these exact materials and be completed by a specific amount of time no matter what the cost or I’ll be unhappy and depressed and I’ll be sure everyone around me will be miserable over it too… golden calf.

I love my car.  I wash it as soon as dirt gets on it and I never drive it in the rain.  I’m the only one who is allowed to drive it and it has to be parked in the garage everyday.  No one dares get anywhere near it.  In fact, I inspect my precious car often of scratches and smudges and if I find any, I curse everyone I think is responsible…  golden calf.

I’ve lived in my house for years.  Wonderful memories were made here.  But I lost my job a few months ago and even though I know I’m close to losing my house, I will not sell it or rent it.  It is my home.  I even refuse to have a yard sale.  Everything that’s in it are my possessions.  I didn’t work hard for so many years just to give it all away… golden calf.

What material possession(s) are you so attached to that if anything happens to it or if it gets taken away, you act like it’s the end of the world?  That is your golden calf.  It may not be something you get on your knees and pray to as if it is a god, but when you treat it like it’s a god, it is your golden calf.  Let go of your attachment to material things.  Discover what’s really important… life, love, giving….

Besides, you can still cook and feed your family in your not so perfect kitchen…  you can be grateful that you have a means of transportation… you can get back on your feet if you’ve lost your possessions, after all, those are all earthly things.

Ecclesiastes 2  10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure.  My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.  11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Matthew 6  19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

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Who is your family?

Our childhood has a huge impact on who we are today.  Whether it was great and wonderful, or just okay and not really spectacular, or if it just down right sucked.  For those of us who didn’t have it so great (usually parent issues) and struggle today with that part of our lives, there is good news.  We can choose what we do with that experience and the people we’ve dubbed responsible for it.  We can either give these people a lot of power in our lives or we can choose not to.  And while their influences had affected us, it’s up to us how much we allow those influences to persuade us today in the direction we take, what we believe in, how we behave or react to situations, our relationships, etc… After all, what we decide to do with the result of these people’s actions defines us… not the action itself.

To start, I think maybe we put too much emphasis on a label.  For instance, the labels ‘mom’ and ‘dad.’  I’m picking those labels because they are the most popular ones that we give blame to.  We grow up comparing and setting expectations of what a ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ should be like.  Well, unfortunately, perfect people do not exist in the world.  In reality, our parents are just individuals who grew up with their own history, their own parent issues, their own insecurities, and they have their own opinions and ideas and collectively that’s how they became who they are today.  But somehow we hold their imperfect selves responsible for giving us acceptance and approval and self value.  We hold them to these labels…  these labels that string us along like a marionette.  We even tether ourselves to these people because of obligation… because “blood is thicker than water.”

Matthew 10  37 “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Yikes!

Jeremiah 17  5 This is what the Lord says: Cursed is the person who trusts in mankind, who makes flesh his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. 

Double yikes!

But I know that I’ve felt cursed when I had put so much trust in flesh.  So maybe if we quit setting expectations through a label, it would be easier to forgive… to heal…  to let go… And then maybe we could have compassion toward those who hurt us and instead pray for them.  Because can you really get back what you think you’re owed?  Are you still waiting for validation?

Who is your real family?   Maybe it’s your best friend… your cousin… your neighbor…

Matthew 12  46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him.  47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”  48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?”  49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

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