Are you THAT Guy?

Today I want you to imagine that you are on your first day as a Brand New Lifeguard.

You enter the pool in your lifeguard uniform, ready to save lives.

You have practiced and studied to pass the swim test, and obtain your CPR and First Aid Certifications.

This is a dream come true for you…

(are you with me here? Can you feel the excitement of this day?)

 

Now lets walk into the pool together and see what our first day on the job will be like.

Your Supervisor immediately finds you and says,

” So you just became a lifeguard huh?”

To which you reply,

“Yes Sir.”

He then reminds you that just because you have learned a few techniques and have a shiny whistle around your neck doesn’t mean you are ready to save lives.

He then says he is going to take you around and show you the ropes.

He informs you that it is a BIG POOL OUT THERE, and that people just want to have fun.

The rules are a drag, so don’t worry about the rules.

The lifeguards are just there to hang out and look cool.

As he is telling you all these backward ideas you spot a child who is drowning…

He tells you if she needs our help she will come to us and ask us, otherwise always assume that they are fine and don’t interfere with their fun.

You try to explain that she can’t ask for help because she is drowning. He just says again…

“If she needs help she will ask, otherwise its none of our business.”

He then asks you if you are familiar with the Life Preserver Ring.

You excitedly tell him yes, and begin to explain the five-finger method…

He lifeguardinterrupts you and says,

” We have found that it is much more useful as a ring to use in our bing-bag toss competition.”

You are starting to get really confused and ask, but how does bing- bag tossing save lives?

He laughs at you and says,

” it doesn’t but…It is ridiculously fun to play.”

Your starting to get a bad feeling about the people working here. You wonder if they even care if someone dies in the pool or not.

So you point out the poster to your supervisor which lists the 10 Commandments of the pool.

He brushes you off again and just says,

“We let people pick and choose which of those commandments they are going to obey…remember, people just want to have fun.”

Just then some kids come running as fast as they can past you. You stop them and tell them to NEVER run next to the pool because they could get hurt.

He tells you that how they behave is none of your business, and that if you are going to be a kill joy like that, people will stop wanting to come to this pool. And worse than that, people might start thinking that Lifeguards are weird.

Then he shows you the Life Guard stand.

You proudly proclaim that it gives you a 180 degree view of the pool, so you can keep everyone safe.

He laughs at you and says,

“NO stupid, that’s where we go when we want to be left alone.”

You are appalled!

You ask, but how can we save people if we aren’t even paying attention to them?

He says in order to save people lifeguards need to spend time alone, to meditate and read. If they are always looking out for others, how can they save themselves?

By now, your head is spinning with confusion.

You thought being a lifeguard was going to give you the opportunity to save lives, but the only duty your supervisor tells you to worry about is the “duties” that occasionally pop up in the pool.

What kind of place is this?

Who are these people?

So you ask him these questions to which he responds…

“Well, we got tired of everyone saying that lifeguards were no fun and that we were all a bunch of lamos. People were always saying things like, ooh don’t do that in front of Jim, he’s a lifeguard.”

We have a saying around here, “We are not to be OF the pool, but IN the pool.”

He then reminisces about how when he first became a lifeguard he too wanted to save people, but then he realized that nobody thought he was cool, or fun to hang out with, and he decided that being popular was WAY more important than saving lives.

 

ARE YOU THAT GUY?

Have you decided that living a life that was pleasing to God was boring?

That sharing your testimony with someone would make you stand out and be different?

Or, maybe you keep silent because you believe that if they wanted your help, they would ask for it.

 

I recently read a quote from the famous Las Vegas Magician, Penn Jillette, he was asked what he tought about Christians sharing their faith.

Now lets remember that he is a very OutSpoken Atheist. He makes no bones about his belief that there is NO God.

But here is how he feels about us sharing our faith and beliefs.

In a YouTube video that went viral three years ago, Jillette criticized atheists who argue that Christians should not share their faith with others.

“I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize,” Jillette said, “I don’t respect that at all.

“If you believe that there is a Heaven and a Hell, and people could be going to Hell … and you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it would make it socially awkward, … how much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize?

“How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was coming at you and you didn’t believe it, … there’s a certain point where I tackle you, and [everlasting life] is more important than that.”

So again I want to ask the question…

ARE YOU THAT GUY?

I know that far to often… I am that guy.

Today, I want to encourage you to ponder this question deeply.

If you really believe that there is only one road to Heaven, and the consequence of missing that road is spending Eternity in the Lake of Fire…

Why would you ever allow anyone to get lost, when you have the road map that can point them in the right direction?

Speaking up about our beliefs IS scary…very scary.

But if we don’t start doing just that, the consequences could be disastrous.

 

 

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Dare to be SEEN and HEARD

FEAR…seen and heard 1

 UNcertainty…

shame

vulnerability

Who am I to SAY that?”

“If you really SEE me, you won’t want me.”

When these type of thoughts come up for you, do you shrink and bury your head in the sand?

Do they stop you cold?

There’s this fancy, funky message going around town that 
claims that when those difficult emotions and doubts 
come up, you can actually learn to transform them into 
a healing balm, leaving you in great shape to grab your 
megaphone and sing your message to the masses.megaphone

You can’t pick up a magazine without reading this.

You can’t watch afternoon talk shows
without hearing this.

This message that our insecurities can actually become our strengths is mesmerizing, to say the least.

BUT…

How do you go about changing a problem into a blessing?

How do you begin to say the things that you have previously been afraid to say?

From what I have been reading it’s about getting truly embodied so you can share your soul’s work with confidence, power — and grace; So you can say what it is you need to say, even when you are afraid to.

Fear is natural when you have something big — 
and meaningful — to share.

And it’s NEVER going to go away.

Which means that in order to make your mark on the world and make a positive difference in your community, you need to find the courage to commit to stepping into your power and to operate from a place of vulnerability and authenticity.

So lets talk today about how one steps into their power and authority…

Because let’s not pretend that doing this is as easy as making up our minds to do so.

If all we had to do was simply decide to be powerful, everyone would already be powerful!

 

The cold hard truth of the matter is that becoming ANYTHING is hard.

We see this in nature when a caterpillar becomes a butterfly.

Going from insecure to secure is every bit as painful, and transformative as it is for the caterpillar to become a butterfly.seen and heard

 

The last nine years of my life have been some of the darkest and ugliest to date.

I have had some soaring bright spots, too, but the low points were remarkably low.

When you run your car out of gas to completely empty, the sediment that usually stays at the bottom of the tank starts freely moving through the car’s engine, gunking things up good.

Simply put, my abusive marriage, bearing and raising 4 children, being a step-mom to three more, and being a service-junkie ran my tank to empty.

These are the things that worked in the past to sustain my life, but about nine years ago, it all stopped working. with some pretty wacky consequences for my little body-mind-soul.

The sediment that moved through my engine was dark, bitter and debilitating.

the truth is, I’m still  not completely out of it.

I’m not fully de-gunked.

I’m not totally in the bright sunshine with neatly numbered smiley bullet points to
power point out for you.

But the exciting thing for me is that I know how my story will end:

It will end with an undiscovered huge reservoir of my strength, tapped.

With a sloughing of half-truths, revealing a more luminescent me.

With red-hot clarity.

With the kind of sweet laugh that’s only possible when you’ve made it back from the dead,
even more alive.

Wrapped in the arms of my Savior.

But I’m not at the end of my story yet.

I’m in it.

I’m learning how to share my story.

To speak my truth.

I am learning to be seen and heard.

I have discovered that transparency brings us closer
not further apart.

know vulnerability is the strongest thing I can practice.

Nine years ago, the rumblings of a volcano were beginning to vibrate in my soul. I had the strong sense that my life was going to suffocate me if something didn’t change.

I was on the verge of a major breakdown.

It was during this time that my precious son Victor ended his own life.

My downward spiral was spinning so rapidly that I literally had no stability or balance in my life at all.

What the vicious dark beauty of the breakdown was saying to me was this:
“Sweet cheeks, it’s. not. working! Just in case you
have any doubt, I’ll shred it now! stop. shift it. fix it. heal it. rethink it. mend it. You will not be allowed to go any further until you do.”

It was at the very bottom of my downward spiral, when I had nowhere else to go. Life had gotten as hard as I could handle it being, that I feel flat on my face, and literally screamed at God.

I yelled, ” Would it kill you to give me a little help here?”

And help me He did!

He picked me up, dusted me off, and filled me with his love.

Because he had compassion for me…I now desire to be compassionate.

Because he forgave me…I now have the ability to forgive.

Because he has given me so much… I find great joy in organizing events that raise money to assist others in need.

Because he has shown me my worth…I now have the courage to be SEEN and HEARD.

It my deepest prayer that anyone who is going through any type of break down in their life, will be lifted up out of the ashes and born anew.

That they too will discover reservoirs of strength that they didn’t know they possesed, that they will feel the sloughing off of untruths, see their life with red hot clarity, and feel the loving arms of their Savior wrapped around them.

That they will no longer be afraid to share their story…

That they will stand up and be SEEN and HEARD.

 

If It Ain’t Broke…

I loved this post so much that I simply HAD to share it with my followers.

THE EDITOR'S JOURNAL

This story never gets old…got yourself a cuppa? Then I’ll begin:

A business man was on vacation on a beautiful island. The pace was slow and the people seemed easy going and… well… simple hearted. One day he hired a local fisherman to take him out on his boat. The scenery was incredible. The water as blue and clear as Daniel Craigs eyes, the wind just a gentle whisper. It was a zen-like moment between man and nature. The fishing was plentiful and the island was undisturbed and quiet. Recognizing opportunity, the business man turned to his guide and said, ‘With all this at our disposal I could really change your life.’ ‘Really?’ the fisherman replied. The business man said, ‘Yes, why we could catch and sell fish by the boat loads. Nobody comes here so there is no competition. With some creative marketing we could do something that…

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Reckless Abandon…Fuel for the Flame

Reckless Abandon:

To pursue life passionately and whole heartedly…holding nothing back!

Doesn’t that sound wonderfureckless abandonl.

Could you almost feel your heart rate begin to rise as you read that definition?

Did you find yourself thinking something along the lines of…WOW, I want to live like that!

 

Living life filled with Reckless Abandon gives our lives fuel for the flame of passion and purpose.

 

Before you can learn to live your life with reckless abandon, you first need to understand that the only way this is possible is if you have also learned to live life with AUTHENTICITY.

While this may sound elementary, as I have walked through several phases of my journey, I realized I lost valuable time not being completely authentic.

I am aware the growing process had a vast impact upon the way I viewed and perceived myself. However, decisions I made based on the environment, and peers caused me to present a facade which was not my character nor my true nature.

Authenticity to me is the ability to reach within myself and expose even to myself, my triumphs and my tribulation.My time of cheers and my time of fears, embracing those different seasons in my life and growing and learning from each of them.

Experience has been one of the greatest and dearest instructors in my life.

However, the knowledge I gained from mishaps, and calamities in this phase of my life has produced wisdom and keen insights that I simply didn’t possess as a younger adult.

If I had my wish I would want the life lessons for each of you to be filled with equations and answers to address your authenticity.

I wish for you to listen to your own brilliance, (prayerfully much sooner than I.)

What really matters is having the heart to empathize with others and to live a life which expresses the genuine gift within each of us.

This is the reason I live a “no condemnation” life, and I have the gift to sense and empathize with many.

The trials and mistakes in my life have shaped my personality into a much softer and humble version of the woman I was before.

I recall the roads of my journey which were less than favorable, when I was given this great second opportunity to learn from error and share with others so that they, too, can do the same.

Living my life with compassion and an open heart has taught me how to offer genuine love to each and every person I meet.

I am not talking about romantic love. I am referring to the kind of love that we are commanded in scripture to offer each other.

What does that kind of love even look like?

What does Jesus mean when he commands us to love everyone?

Is it an emotion of the heart?

An act of service?

A force of the will?

Can love ever truly be defined?

So often we think in simple terms about love…but REAL love goes much deeper.

Real Love has the power to

Strengthen the weak.

Help those in need.

It lives in harmony with ALL people.

It holds us accountable.

Love means carrying each others burdens.

Real love has the courage to admonish someone when the need to do so arises.

It is instructing…(just as a parent is with their children.)

A loving person will naturally show feelings and compassion even to complete strangers.

Love has the power to spur a person on to accomplish great and powerful things.

Maybe, the hardest part of real love is the ability to confess wrongs, and forgive offenses.

So what does any of this have to do with authenticity, and living life with reckless abandon?

EVERYTHING!

If you do not have people in your life that you have taken the time to build and cultivate trust with… you are standing alone in the world.

You are vulnerable, scared, and fearful.

None of those adjectives describe Reckless abandon even a little bit...

So before you can relax and enjoy the flow of life, you first have to learn, understand, and then live by the TWO commandments that Jesus gives us in the new testament.  (John 13:34-35)

Not only do all the laws and prophets hang on these two commandments, but our very existence hang on them as well.

Once you can learn to release judgement, first for yourself…then for those close to you, and finally for humanity in general, then and only then will you ever be free to live with reckless abandon.

Jeff loves that I laugh all the time.

I laugh because I am free in my heart. I am not burdened with the guilt and shame that come from living a life of UN-authenticity.

When you can learn to love yourself enough to share the truth of who you are with the world, and risk rejection…then you will have the foundation necessary to begin to show love to others.

But…

Beware the thinking that leads you to believe that you can force-feed love to someone and change their life by doing so.

This kind of thinking is ego centered and will lead to pain, frustration, and failure.

A key component to loving yourself and others is to understand, and actually celebrate what doesn’t matter.

 

Does the shirt you are wearing REALLY matter?

Or what about the style of speech someone has?

By learning to only focus on the authenticity of any given person, you take back your authority to make the decision as to what enters our life and what doesn’t.

It is of non-value to attempt to prove to anyone your self- worth or significance.

I have also learned that it doesn’t matter whether my wisdom is accepted or not. My assignment is to present it, and trust that it becomes a beneficial tool in someone’s life.

Like I said earlier, you cannot ever force feed love to someone. Wisdom is the same way.

All you can ever do is offer it, and if they accept it, GREAT!

And if not GREAT!

Love holds us together…

grafted by faith into the one true Christ whose example compels us to love each other.

In (1 Corinthians 13:1)Paul teaches us, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.”

In other words… If you approach people or life with out love, it does not matter what miraculous things you can do. You will just be IRRITATING!

Again, that does not sound like reckless abandon.

Irritating behavior will never produce anything of value…ever!

We can all bring to mind a person who had a powerful impact on our lives.

That person had the ability to change us, because they showed us unconditional love.

 

I would leave these words and, pray that they would be beneficial and profitable to at least one person.

My greatest ambition in life is this…

That when the time comes for me to leave this life, they will say of me ,

“She made a positive difference in her lifetime, she treated everyone in a manner which displayed love, respect and wisdom. She gave her best, she lived her best life, and she encouraged everyone she knew to do the same.”

If I can accomplish that…then I will have lived my life with RECKLESS ABANDON!

What if life came down to these four questions?

As a parent, I tell my children  that they need to do whatever it takes to make sure that they are not among the 98% of people who spend 98% of their time on the 98% of things in life that don’t matter.

Until way too late in my life, I included myself in that group.full life

Nearly eight years  ago, I had some clarity enter my life that changed my view of life.

Now I attempt to make sure that everything I think, say, and do is directly related to the relationships in my life, and that it is in line with my life’s purpose.

(which has nothing to do specifically with the desires of my body or the insatiable and usually non-beneficial activities of my mind.)

I have chosen in the second half  of my life to build my experiences around two messages.

 One was the statement, “Your life is not about you,”

The second one comes from Neale Donald Walsh’s book “Conversations with God.”

They are the Four Fundamental Questions of Life:

  1. Who am I?
  2. Where am I?
  3. Why am I where I am?
  4. What do I intend to do about that?

Asking myself these questions often has helped me to create a life that matters to my soul.

His book was life changing for me when I read it.

(If you have not yet read the book, I suggest doing so. There were of course things in it that did not fit with my personal belief system, but for the most part, I found the book to be very beautiful, and filled with positive, life enhancing suggestions and insights.)

One of the things that I took away from the book was a new way of living my life.

It was especially powerful for me, since I have actually experienced the reality of having my son alive and well and sending him to school, and then the very same evening, being forced to accept the truth that he was dead. That I would never hold him, or speak to him again in this lifetime.

I now ask myself these four questions daily, especially when life starts to get hectic and I find myself neglecting the relationships in my life and focusing too much time and energy on THINGS.

So here are the 4  more questions…

1: If this were my last day on earth and I had only one I thing that I could say to another, what would I say?

2: What would I do differently with or for them today?

3: Would I still need to finish the things on my list, or can I find time to spend with them before they go?

4: Would they leave this world knowing that they were totally and completely loved by me?

How much deeper and more passionate would your relationships be if you took time each day to ask these questions as you plan your schedule each morning?

Can you imagine how fulfilling your relationships would be if the people in your life knew that they mattered enough to warrant your time and attention?

In the end… it won’t be the things or awards that matter – what will matter will be the people who walked along side you during your life.

Each and every day fight to remember, amidst the hectic activity of  life, Who You Really Are—a spark of Divinity created in the image of God.

Struggle to remind yourself at every turn that where you are is a place in the Kingdom of God, and that you are here for a very specific purpose.

And always remember, ‘Your life is not about you.’

It is about everyone whose life you touch.

And it is about how you touch them.

 I would also tell every person that no matter what else they imagine in this world of Illusion, the truth is that Love Is All There Is.

So love deeply and on purpose.

Finally, Don’t take your relationships for granted, they are the priceless treasures we were born to discover.

I believe in the end life really will boil down to these four questions.

1: What did I say?

2: What would I do differently if I still had time?

3: Did I put people before things most of the time?

live life
4: 
Do the people in my life know how deeply I loved and appreciated them?

Start today living life as if today were your last day so that when that day actually does arrive, it will arrive with no regrets on your part.

Don’t let life distract you from loving.

 

 

Mediocrity…Don’t settle for that!

Is it possible to escape mediocrity and recapture your zest for life?

This is the question that we all ask at times.mediocritytop

 

 

I married my first husband just 2 weeks after graduating from High School.

I was just a kid.

Way to young and inexperienced to handle the life that I had just unknowingly chosen for myself.

That one single decision, to marry my husband, would send me on a journey through domestic abuse and violence that would wound my soul in ways I could never have imagined as I stood at the altar and took my vows to love him for the rest of my life.

I still bear the scars of that decision on my soul.

They will always remain there, as a beautiful reminder that I deserve better than that.

My journey to heal those wounds has been a long one.

But as I look back on those days of darkness, and remember the loneliness and desperation that I lived with every waking moment back then, I am so grateful for the life that I now live.

I possess a wisdom, that was hard-earned.

I am confident in ways that only a survivor can be.

I am filled with a faith that cannot be shaken.

I appreciate the people and experiences in my life with such a deep and profound appreciation that is only possible for someone who suffered without love for so long.

So today, I am going to talk about how I found my way out of MEDIOCRITY and emerged into a life filled with passion and purpose.

To begin I need to ask you a question…

How often do you find yourself settling? 

It’s probably more often than you realize…mediocrity2

The dictionary defines settling as,

“to accept someone or something that is not exactly what you wanted because you don’t think you can have what you want.”

Once you adopt that mindset… you have accepted a life of mediocrity.

Surprisingly, many of us settle for mediocrity in various aspects of our lives.

We deal with jobs we hate.

Friends that let us down.

We may even let our significant other get away with some things we probably shouldn’t.

We often get so wrapped up in trying to make someone else (or everyone else) happy that we forget about ourselves. 

Twenty four years ago, I believed that always putting others above myself made me a humble and gracious person…

But all it really made me was a doormat!

Being humble does NOT mean thinking less of yourself… Humility is thinking of yourself LESS.

Never get so wrapped up in someone elses feelings that you sacrifice your own.

That is not love, that is co-dependancy.

Realize that Your Choices Define You

The fact of the matter is, you can’t always try to please everyone that comes and goes in your life. 

No matter how hard you try, there will come a point when you realize that you matter just as much — if not more – and it’s time for you to step back and think about yourself for a change.

I have often said that life is about choices and the choices we make ultimately define us. 

We may not always be able to choose our circumstance in life, but we can determine the quality.

When we do that, we can choose not to settle for mediocrity.

How many of us have settled for something that just didn’t feel quite right?

Or for a job that didn’t allow any potential for growth and development?

How many times have we settled for a relationship that brings more pain than joy?

Or for friends that are taking more than they are giving?

We all have been in these kinds of situations at one point in our lives.

Perhaps we thought it was our only alternative.

Believe me, there are always options.

I have been a single mother raising four children completely on my own for seven years now. Their father does not pay child support, (Yes I have taken him to court, and all he received was a slap on the hand)

He has not seen his children for five years. He chooses to live on the street rather than get a job where he will be forced to help me provide for our children.

So, I have two options here…

This situation is difficult to say the least.

It is financially difficult for me to raise four children by myself.

It is emotionally difficult.

My children suffer abandonment issues, anger, and sadness due to their fathers choices.

Nobody would blame me at all if I was angry and bitter.

If I spent my life in depression.

That would be completely understandable.

But I do have another choice.

I can choose compassion, forgiveness, and faith.

Instead of encouraging my children to hate their father, I teach them to forgive him.

Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I choose to praise god for all the blessing he provides for us. Me and the kids not only have the things we need, but God also has blessed us with a few of the things we want as well.

mediocrityBy choosing how I FEEL about this difficult situation, I set aside mediocrity, and embrace life.

I will not pretend that this is an easy thing to do.

I do get angry, really angry at times.

I do get depressed, and cry till there are no tears left.

I feel scared, A lot.

But I don’t allow myself to stay in those lower emotions for long. Life is too short to waste it on regret.

Today, twenty-four years after my first wedding…I can honestly say, it is finished!

I am renewed.

I have the love of a man who is the very definition of Integrity, kindness, compassion, and responsibility.

He loves me, I love him, and we both love my children.

My life has come full circle.

I am ready to have experiences that I have never had before.

I am ready to jump in with both feet, and allow love into my life again.

Jeff has a very stable personality.

I asked him once how it is possible that he can be so stable and not have any regrets that weigh him down.

He told me, that he has things in his past that hurt him too, but that he has learned to live his life with this one motto…

Never do anything that you KNOW you are going to regret.

When he said that to me, I was struck with the profound wisdom of that statement.

We usually know BEFORE we make a choice that we will probably regret it, but we ignore our inner wisdom, and do it anyway.

We pile on one misery after another because we refuse to listen to that voice.

Jeff has learned to listen.

He knows that the momentary pain of walking away from something might hurt for a bit,

but… not nearly as much as the pain of regret and guilt will hurt him later.

So many of us has bought into the lie, that Mediocrity is the fate of humanity.

That a life filled with passion and purpose are impossible.

But I want to remind you that with God NOTHING is impossible. ( Matthew 19:26)

And in (Acts 14:17) Paul tells us, “Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

Jesus stepped down from his throne, wrapped himself in human flesh, and walked amongst us. He suffered hunger, thirst, lonliness, heartache, and betrayal.

But the one thing he never settled for was Mediocrity.

He lived every second filled with purpose and passion.

He gave us the example. We have the “How To Manual”.  

It is my hope and prayer that, like me, you too will find your way free of the past hurts and regrets that are keeping you chained to the ball of Mediocrity.

That you will go to the Lord in prayer and ask him to lift this burden from you.

His is waiting for you to lift up your voice to him in prayer and ask for his help and renewal in your life.

I give you my solemn promise that a beautiful life is possible, even when you are right in the middle of Mediocrity.

You don’t have to settle for that!

 Being mediocre and settling may seem like a safe place at first, where you think things can’t get any worse, but that also means things cannot get any better, either! 

 

 

#1 way to be relaxed, carefree, and in command…

Stop Adding Mass to Your Misery

 

Thinking about whatever it is that you wish wasn’t happening serves only to add mass to your misery.

The more you think about the WRONGNESS of any given situation, the more alive and powerful the situation becomes in your mind and…

before you know it, that 1 thing that is wrong in your life has spun out of control and you find yourself depressed and feeling that EVERYTHING is wrong in your life.

 

So is there a way to stop this insanity, and get off the hamster wheel of misery and catch a ride on the train to happiness?

(you know that I might have a suggestion, otherwise, I wouldn’t have asked that question  ;P )

 

The #1 Secret to Being Relaxed, Carefree, and In Command

There is a hidden part of you that knows, without thinking about it, how to always be perfectly relaxed, carefree, and in command.

This hidden aspect to your personality in relationship to your present thoughts and feelings could be visualized by imagining how the spreading branches are related to the mighty oak tree.

Once you come into contact with its perfect strength and power, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.

Great masters of the past have called this part of us by different names – none any better than the rest – but the one that seems most complete is…your Christ filled spirit Self.

 

The #1 secret to being relaxed, carefree, and in command is to nurture and protect this supreme indwelling Self – to be in conscious contact with this celestial part of you that is untouched and untroubled by any event life brings your way.

You can think of your Original Fearless Self as the secret source behind all that you respect and admire, the water that makes possible the beautiful flowers of goodness, kindness, love, truth, and joy.

When I think about this part of me I like to remind myself of the story of Jesus on the boat with his disciples during the storm.

Matthew 8:23-27

23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”

26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

The bible promises me peace if I follow and obey Jesus. So when the “Wheel of Misery” starts to spin in my mind, I like to stop and remind myself that I have nothing to fear because Jesus is the captain of my boat.

I have found a few other tips to use in stressful times to regain my relaxed, carefree, in command self.

Following are six simple exercises to help you begin to shed the barriers that stand between you and this special part of yourself so that you can begin to release and realize its extraordinary power in your life.

1. Stop looking for other people’s approval to determine your own self-worth.

Your self-worth is not determined by what others think of you.

It is however determined by what YOU think of YOU.

So take a few minutes each morning before you leave home and say out loud to yourself at least three things that make you special and unique.

2. Stop feeling responsible for the happiness or unhappiness of others.

This one was huge for me. I spent 20 yrs in an abusive marriage because I had bought into the lie that I was responsible for my husbands feelings.

I was NEVER able to be smart enough, or pretty enough, or make enough money, etc to create happiness FOR him.

He was miserable no matter how hard I tried. I very nearly lost myself completely in my quest to make him happy.

Learning that everyone is responsible for their own feelings was a major breakthrough in life for me.

I now enjoy healthy, fulfilling relationships because I don’t feel the burden of their happiness as my own any more.

 

3. Stop thinking you can change what happened yesterday by reliving it today.

The past is GONE.

You can never change what has already happened.

Technology has not been invented that can turn back the hands of time and give us a chance for a re-do.

If your choices yesterday caused you pain, instead of feeling useless emotions that will just add to the problem, try writing down the experience.

Then, list three positive things you learned from your experience.

Next write down ways to avoid the same mistake in the future.

That really is a much better use of your time than regret will ever be.

 

4. Stop spending time with people who have agreed to live with negative states.

If you have a person in your life that is ALWAYS negative. Don’t just walk away from them…RUN. Run as fast as you can before they suck you into their vortex of doom.

There are people in life who find it comforting to be in the middle of a crisis at all times and will even manufacture one if there isn’t one around already.

They are a burden to everyone they come in contact with.

They do not want friends, or comfort, they want CRISIS!

If you are in their immediate vicinity, you will probably be swept along in the mess they are making.

So…my advice here is to remove them from your life. They will not change.

 

5. Stop believing you can only be as successful as you are willing to push yourself through life.

The day I stopped trying to FORCE life to conform to me and instead began to surrender to my destiny, was the exact same day life became easier.

We can’t always force life to work out for us the way we PLAN it.

Life has a mind of its own!

I have learned that it is a better use of my resources to just have goals and to constantly be moving in the direction of them, and trusting that if I stay alert and prepared I will be given the things I need to succeed.

Life is a journey, so find a comfortable seat and enjoy the ride.

There really is no need for you to push the train along, it has and engine to do that for it,

and… your life is no different.

 

6. Stop explaining or justifying your actions to yourself or others.

When I make a decision I have learned to stop trying to reason it out with anyone.

I just state my position knowing that there will be people who understand me and those who do not…

NO matter what I choose this will be the case 100% of the time.

So stop wasting time trying to convince anyone that you are right.

 

 

If you will stop and really take a minute to think about these 6 actions, you will realize that you probably have a story, both good and bad for all 6 actions in your own life.

These 6 things are issues that I believe we all struggle with from time to time, and if we are honest with ourselves will admit that one of these 6 things is currently holding us back right now..today.

In 8 days I will be celebrating another birthday, and each year as I get older, I also find myself settling into myself more.

And with that settling comes comfort, and security that has truly created for me a life that is relaxed, carefree, and one where I am in command of my emotions.

Finally at the age of 42, I can honestly say, I have learned to stop adding mass to my misery!release the burden

 

How far is it to Infinity and Beyond?

To infinity and beyond…infinity and beyond

That is the catch phrase of Buzz Lightyear, the action figure toy featured in the Disney movie “Toy Story”.

Buzz is a Space Ranger with an electronic voice, spring – loaded wings, a blinking LED laser, and a cardboard box rocket ship.

He is on a mission from Star Command to protect the universe from the evil Emperor Zurg.

BUT…

During the course of the movie, Buzz discovers that his spacesuit transmitter doesn’t work, his laser weapon is only a flashing lightbulb, his backpack propulsor doesn’t propulse, and (horror of horrors) that Star Command doesn’t exist.

He is forced to face the reality that he is nothing but a simple toy.

A plaything.

Nothing more.

He realizes that he has trouble getting from one house to the next, let alone going, ” To infinity and beyond.”

As humans we have always been fascinated with the concept of the infinite.

How many is infinitely many?

How large is infinitely large?

Is it possible to understand the Eternal?

How is it possible for something to go on and on without end?

Mathematicians have grappled with this concept for centuries…from Archimedes to da Vinci.

 

God is BEYOND INFINITY

The Bible teaches that God is “The First and The Last.”

That means He is bigger, greater, and beyond everything else that exists.

He is infinite.

Here is Websters definition of Infinite.

infinite, without limits; not limited by space or time; exceedingly great in excellence, degree, and capacity; boundless; limitless; immeasurable.

Here are three scriptures that speak of Gods infinite nature.

(Nehemiah 9:5)  “Stand up and bless the LORD your God from everlasting to everlasting. Blessed be your glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.”

(Jeremiah 32:17) “Ah, Lord, GOD! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is to hard for you.”

(Job 11:7-9) “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven…Deeper than sheol…Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.”

 

God is Higher than the Highest.

King Solomon built a magnificent gold temple for the Lord.

But even Solomon realized that no building could contain God. (1 kings 8:27)

He knew that the entire universe cannot contain our infinite  God.

 

solar systemThe other night Jeff and I were enjoying the evening sky filled with millions of stars.

I started to wonder, just how big the universe actually is.

So I came home and started to research that question.

Did you know that if you were to build a model of our solar system to scale you would need to begin by placing a softball on the goal line of a football field to represent the SUN.

MERCURY and VENUS would be like pin heads on the 5 and 8 yard lines.

EARTH would be the size of a mustard seed on the 12 yard line.

JUPITER would be a marble on the opposite 38 yard line.

SATURN would be the size of a pea placed halfway through the opposite end zone.

In order to include URANUS, NEPTUNE, and PLUTO (I still like to include Pluto even thought it has been downgraded.) you would have to add four more football fields onto the end of the first one.

PLUTO would be like a speck of dust almost 500 yards away from the softball sized SUN.

And that is just OUR Solar System!

In order to reach the nearest star , Alpha Centauri, you would have to jump in a car and drive 30 hrs. (1,800) miles away. And Alpha Centauri is the closest star to us!

There are billions of stars in our galaxy beyond that – and billions of galaxies grouped in clusters – and clusters grouped in superclusters… and on and on.

What I discovered in my research is simply this…

The Universe is so big that it is beyond our comprehension.

Yet it pales in comparison to the vastness of God.

In (Psalm 145:3)  It says, ” Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.”

In (Job 36:26)  we read, ” Behold, God is great, and we know him not; the number of his years is unsearchable.”

 

When I looked up at the sky with Jeff, I was able to SEARCH the vastness of the universe and actually come up with numbers and a scale that made sense to me.

But scripture tells us that Gods greatness and years are UNSEARCHABLE.

Not only is God infinite in space, He is also infinite in time.

His existence extends from this point of time backward as well as forward forever!

God always was and always will be. (Revelation 1:8)

His being is from everlasting to everlasting. (Psalm 90:2)

(Isiah 57:15) explains that God “inhabits eternity”.

The Hebrew word for inhabit conveys the idea of lodging, abiding, residing, or dwelling.

In other words God exists outside of the constraints of time.

He is not bound by a linear succession of events as we are.

He created time and is Lord over time, but in his own being He is timeless.

(2 Peter 3:8)  says, “With the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

God’s perspective on time is very different from ours.

Although He interacts with us on a linear day-to-day basis, somehow He also stands above time and is able to see it all as present.

 

This week I want to encourage you to take a moment and really think about how “big” God is.

Do you feel small and insignificant in comparison?

I know after researching today’s blog, I sure do! 

If his vastness reduces the earth to a microscopic speck, then of what significance can I possible be?

I am nothing!

It seems preposterous that an infinite Deity would care about something so small and insignificant.

Yet scripture tells us that He does.

The resurrection that we celebrated yesterday tells us that He does.

 

I would like to challenge all of you to read ONE chapter of the Gospel of John every day.

Then pray for the spirit to show you the truth of who and what God is.

I believe that by the end of the Book of John, you will have as close of an understanding of God as you will find anywhere.

God is unsearchable!

BUT…

He has also promised us that the “The Word of God is alive and powerful” In (Hebrews 4:12) 

By reading the Word of God, the Spirit will testify to you the truth of Gods infinite nature.

 

I would love to start a group discussion as we read the Gospel of John together and share our discoveries with each other.

Comment below if you would like to join me in reading the Gospel of John and share your new found perspectives with us.

 

 

 

Every story has a backstory.

Since we are in the middle of Passion Week, I wanted to discuss two unlikely heroes in the Easter Story.

 

Every story ever told, has a back story.

The easterbackstoryback story chronicles events that happened before the main event unfolds.

And while it doesn’t change the how or who or when of a story, it certainly changes the WHY.

 

The Easter Story is no different.

Surely your familiar with the primary narrative:

Two thousand years ago when a handful of Jesus’ followers showed up to his grave to mourn His death and care for his body, the tomb was empty.

But do you know the back story?

The back story was the proof for the first-century Christians that when they saw Jesus walking around in the weeks following His crucifixion, they weren’t seeing a ghost.

It’s the proof generations of believers since that time have used to declare that Jesus did in fact rise up from the grave in Resurrection.

The Legitimacy of the Christian faith hinges on just one event:

The Resurrection.

But what I want to point out today is this…

Without two unlikely heroes in the back story of Easter, Jesus’ death might have faded into oblivion without so much as a mention in the history books.

Thats right, the worlds most famous burial, would not have even rated important enough for one single sentence in the history books without our two heroes.

Here’s what would have happened:

Jesus would have risen from the dead in a mass grave, in a garbage dump, in a valley called Gehenna, outside the walls of Jerusalem all by himself.

Gehenna was a terrible place, the air was filled with the smell of rotting corpses and burning garbage.

Historically when a person was crucified, his body was left on the cross to rot. This was a sign of Romes power over the people. Eventually, when the body was pried off the cross it would then be thrown into a wagon and hauled to the “dump” along with all the other rotting corpses.

No one- not even the family of the deceased- was allowed to mourn the death.

It was as if a crucified person never even existed at all.

And…That my friends, is exactly what would have happened to the body of Jesus if it had not been for our two unlikely heroes:

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.

 

In order to discover how these two men became the unlikely heroes of the Easter story, lets go back to the early days of Jesus’ ministry.

 

We find both of these men early in the story of Jesus. They were among a group of religious leaders whose full-time job was being good.

The Pharisees didn’t like Jesus because He refused to keep their rules.

But..

Within this group of religious do- gooders existed a small faction that were impressed by Jesus’ miracles. They wondered if maybe he just might be the long- awaited Messiah sent by God.

But they needed more information.

In John 3, the story picks up when a man named Nicodemus came to Jesus at night and said,       ” Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing unless God was within him.”(v.1-2)

Nicodemus was warming up to ask the big question when Jesus did that weird thing we see him doing throughout the Gospels…answering a question before the question is even asked.

He told Nicodemus that “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (v.3)

Nicodemus asked him how someone can be born when they are old? Surely they cannot enter in a second time into their mother’s womb to be born. (v. 4)

Jesus answered him that “No one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh but the Spirit gives birth to Spirit.” (v. 5-6)

And so the conversation continued. Jesus talks about Moses in the wilderness  when the Israelites were overrun with snakes. It was a big mess.

Snakes were biting and killing the Israelites. Moses prayed and was told to put a bronze snake on his staff and lift it up, and all who looked on the snake with faith would be healed.                     (Numbers 21:4-9)

bronze snake

Then Jesus said, ” Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in Him.” (John 3: 14-15)

From the very beginning of his ministry, Jesus predicted how and why he must die.

He too, would be lifted upon a stake so that anyone who believes in Him- not behaves for him- can gain entrance into God’s kingdom.

After that Nicodemus keeps a low profile for a time.

Meanwhile…

Jesus continues to teach about

BELIEF versus BEHAVIOR.

Spirit versus flesh.

Faith versus Religion.

He continued to heal disease and gain new followers.

The Pharisees grew angrier and angrier until Jesus did the unimaginable…

He raised Lazarus from the dead.

Outraged the Pharisees orchestrated a plan to get rid of Jesus once and for all!

Their plan was a good one…

it involved a betrayal, a false witness, and an impromptu, illegal court trial.

When Pilate was backed into a corner and had no choice but order the crucifixion, Jesus’ family, friends and followers looked on in disbelief.

They watched Him drag his cross to Golgotha, where the nails were driven into his hands and feet.

They saw as His  head was slowly raised above the crowd. Then his neck, his arms…

And that is when it clicked in the mind of Nicodemus, and in the mind of Joseph of Arimathea.

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of man must be lifted up.”

That is what he meant!

This is what he expected!

This is part of the story!

I can only imagine the HUNDREDS of prophesies flooding into their minds in that instant.

The instant when they both knew for CERTAIN that they were looking at the Son of Man, the Messiah, the God of all creation, lifted up for all to see.

Hadn’t the prophet Isaiah said, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:5)

This is when they both must have decided that they had enough power, influence, and wealth to try and salvage what little they could out of this situation.

So here is the decision they made that changed the ending of the story.

They boldly asked Pilate for his body.

Joseph took the corpse to the tomb he had reserved for himself and his family. Then together he and Nicodemus anointed Jesus with myrrh and aloe in accordance with Jewish burial customs. (John 19:39)

As sundown approached, they rolled a massive stone into place to seal the tomb, placed guards at the entrance, and left with no hope of ever seeing Jesus alive again.

Lets just pause for a moment in this story and ponder the pain and loss of hope that they were experiencing. Jesus had claimed to be God, yet was easily murdered by man. Their hopes had been dashed.

Nobody stood by the tomb awaiting the resurrection.

His friends did not greet Easter morning with a loud celebration counting down the moment when the stone would roll away and he would emerge alive and well.

In their mind he was gone. Dead. Finished!

Faith, courage, and concern for the Lord’s body made it possible for first- century bystanders in Jerusalem to believe without a shadow of a doubt that Jesus had indeed been dead and was once again alive!

If Jesus had risen from the ashes of Gehenna and walked into town covered in rat bites and reeking of trash…that would have still been remarkable.

BUT..

It would have been explainable: He clearly hadn’t been dead, they might have reasoned.

But like I said at the beginning, every story has a back story…

And in this case, the back story, and two men –  provided us with irrefutable proof that Jesus had in fact, RISEN!

Without their public proclamation of belief,

without their disregard for position or popularity,

without their compassionate care for the body of Jesus,

this would be a very different story.

So this year as you celebrate the resurrection, stop and take a moment to thank our two unlikely heroes.

 

 

Love is a CHOICE not a FEELING

love is a choice2What is Love?

 

Many believe love is a sensation that magically generates when Mr. or Ms. Right appears.

No wonder so many people are single.

This is how many people approach a relationship.

Consciously or unconsciously, they believe love is a sensation (based on physical and emotional attraction) that magically, spontaneously generates when Mr. or Ms. Right appears.

And just as easily, it can spontaneously degenerate when the magic “just isn’t there” anymore.

You fall in love, and you can fall out of it.

The key word is passivity.

Erich Fromm, in his famous treatise “The Art of Loving,” noted the sad consequence of this misconception: “There is hardly any activity, any enterprise, which is started with such tremendous hopes and expectations, and yet, which fails so regularly, as love.”                                                                                                                                                                                         (That was back in 1956 ― chances are he’d be even more pessimistic today.)

So what is love ― real, lasting love?

This is a question I have been attempting to answer myself, for most of my adult life.

As children we are entertained with stories of Princesses who live a life of intense boredom, and depression until one day their Prince shows up, and they ride off together and live happily ever after.

Problem is…that story sets us up for failure later in life. They lead us to believe that if you feel an intense attraction to someone, then it must be love.

But it isn’t love, it is just, well…intense attraction.

Love takes time.

LOVE IS A CHOICE.

Love is active.

You can create it.

ACTIONS CREATE FEELINGS…

Now that you’re feeling so warmly toward the entire human race, how can you deepen your love for someone?

By behaving in the way God created us to behave.

What do I mean when I say, “Actions affect our feelings most”?

For example, if you want to become more compassionate, thinking compassionate thoughts may be a start, but offering charity and goodwill is the behavior that will ultimately get you there.

Likewise, the best way to feel loving is to be loving ― and that means giving.

While most people believe love leads to giving, the truth (as Rabbi Eliyahu Dessler writes in his famous discourse on loving kindness) is exactly the opposite: Giving leads to love.

What is giving?

When an enthusiastic handyman happily announces to his non- mechanically inclined wife, “Honey, wait till you see what I got you for your birthday ― a triple-decker toolbox!”

That’s not giving.

Neither is a father’s forcing violin lessons on his son because he himself always dreamed of being a virtuoso.

True giving, as Erich Fromm points out, is other-oriented, and requires four elements.

The first is care, demonstrating active concern for the recipient’s life and growth.

The second is responsibility, responding to his or her expressed and unexpressed needs (particularly, in an adult relationship, emotional needs).

The third is respect, “the ability to see a person as he [or she] is, to be aware of his [or her] unique individuality,” and, consequently, wanting that person to “grow and unfold as he [or she] is.”

These three components all depend upon the fourth, knowledge.

You can care for, respond to, and respect another only as deeply as you know him or her.

One of my favorite things to do is to plan out a perfect gift that is centered around a theme.

So I take great care to observe what the person is interested in, what their hobbies are, what sports team they cheer for etc. then, I will go shopping for a gift that will be useful to them in their life.

I am showing them how important to me they are by taking the time to do this.

My close friends know that, although my gifts may not always be expensive, they have had a lot of thought put into them, and therefore, they look forward to receiving gifts from me.

I have learned that what most people crave is the feeling of being KNOWN.

When you show a person that you KNOW them, and then by your actions communicate that you accept and care for them, love is the natural result.

It is impossible to NOT feel love for someone who knows and accepts you for who and what you are… and then loves you for it.

The effect of genuine, other-oriented giving is profound.

It allows you into another person’s world and opens you up to perceiving his or her goodness. At the same time, it means investing part of yourself in the other, enabling you to love this person as you love yourself.

Many years ago, I met a woman whom I found very unpleasant.

So I decided to try out the “giving leads to love” theory.

One day I invited her for coffee. A few days later I offered to help her with a personal problem. On another occasion I read something she’d written and offered feedback and praise.

Today we have a warm relationship.

The more you give, the more you love.

This is why your parents (who’ve given you more than you’ll ever know) undoubtedly love you more than you love them, and you, in turn, will love your own children more than they’ll love you.

Because deep, intimate love emanates from knowledge and giving, it comes not overnight but over time.

 

The Bible tells us,  “Greater love has no man than this: that he lay down his life for a friend” (John 15:13).

I could easily say that I have “an intense feeling of deep affection” for my dog.

However, I certainly would not give up my life to save my dog.

Also, the Bible verse says, “friend.”

Maybe I could show true love to a friend without feeling “a deep romantic or sexual attachment” to them.

The world would say that is not possible.

However, I would say that not only is loving a friend possible, it is a better way of showing love than in a physical way to a romantic partner.

Love is not a feeling.

Love is making a choice to show someone in a tangible way that you will put them above yourself no matter what.

The ultimate example of love is Jesus Christ.

By coming down to Earth as a baby, He made the choice to show love to all humans.

Although many people sinned against him…and continue to do so, he showed unconditional love through his forgiveness of them.

His death on the cross put the spiritual needs of all humans above his own needs.

Christ is love, and he embodied love perfectly on the cross.

Love is so much more than a feeling; it is a choice.

Choosing to love others is the only way to bring joy into a relationship,

 and Jesus’ love gives us an example of how to do so.

 

 love is a choice