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God went first

So much of what we encounter daily is conditional. We deal with things in business, school and relationships that are conditional — you get something when I get something.

The reason for things being conditional is because whenever we give or share ourselves, we then are missing what we shared. A part of us gets depleted when we give. Energy was accessed and used when we give of ourselves. This effects our ability to serve, love, forgive, restore and give. We struggle moving on in our comings and goings because we will not allow ourselves to be “spent” for another person’s advancement.

So then how could we ever Agape or love like Jesus taught it?

God went first.

What that means is that before you serve another and think that your energy will be depleted and before you forgive or love and believe that you are losing something, remember that God went first.

He was the first to give, he was the first to serve, he was the first to forgive and he was definitely the first and the source of our love.

So if he went first then we are really working or serving from our overflow. God already forgave first so then you will forgive because of the surplus God has already given.

For those in Christ, we are working and operating from a state of overflow. You have more than enough to be unconditional because God went first.

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Ambushed: Heal from those who plotted against you

It starts with that moment. The moment you realize that something isn’t right. Scenarios have changed. People have changed. There is something foul in the air. The room smells like lies. The air is thick with betrayal and humans have taken on an animal form — of the rodent persuasion.

The normal script is that someone convinced someone else of something and they used other “somebodies” to validate their something which ends in you being the odd person out!

It’s like a horrible round of musical chairs — one minute you’re on top of the world and the next minute you are surrounded by zombies.

As it unfolds you start reminiscing of better days. You remember when the now tainted relationships began. You remember all the potential in the beginning and now this.

There are some who can live with themselves after harming others. They some how feel justified in the betrayal because they feel they have been harmed. It’s only after the fact that they realized they stooped lower.

So how do you recover from the ambush? How do you move forward after an unexpected explosion that leaves a deficit in your life?

Here are three tips: First, let it happen. You will need to save your energy for recovery. Don’t get caught up in the distraction of the fight when you should be decreasing and strategizing on where you are going to land.

Second, anger works like a heavy weight in this case. Once you start hating it consumes you and you have tripled your load. Instead of hating, learn the lesson. Someone you thought you could trust showed you that you could not trust them. Being your loyal friend was too much for them so don’t blame them for their weakness, understand it instead. Try to see the scenario from their point of view and I guarantee instead of hating them, you will pity them.

Finally, when the ambush occurs you will be consumed with who is revealed as your enemy. Don’t focus on that. Look to see who is still with you. These people are being purified and branded by fire and burned on their heart is a love for you. They will create your city of refuge and allow you to heal. You see, there is no need for you to get ugly! You will find this dynamic in all attacks — there will be some for you and against you.

Now, you will feel the need to explain yourself, but why? A wise pastor told me once that those who are with you won’t require a story. Those that are against you won’t believe your story anyway.

So remember, let, learn and look for your real friends — you will land on your feet everytime!

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Do you really know your value?

Have you ever seen an overweight person dance like they are super light on their feet? Have you ever seen an average looking person with a gorgeous significant other? Or how about a poor person carry themselves like they have all the money in the world?

These may seem like insignificant things but they tell quite the story of how much value we place on ourselves. You see for some of us, we don’t need enemies to hate on us, we will do it all by ourselves. We doubt, we’re fearful, we lack compassion for ourselves and we can’t seem to see the good in us.

This self-defeating perception stops our forward progress. We are not in our proper place in life because of this.

Before someone can see value in you, you must see value in yourself first. Before someone else can see beauty in you, you must first see beauty in yourself.

Fit what you want into this scenario but it rings true for everything: You must know and live out your own value. Now for most religious folks, Christ should have already given you your value when he died on the cross and you accepted him as your savior. You got all washed in the blood of the Lamb and was born again. You now walk with purpose knowing who you belong to….

No? Ok, how about you grew up with a strong father figure and he provided you with the security and understanding to know that you were loved, respected and that you mattered. He provided for your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs and you left your parent’s home with a secure sense of who you are.

No? Ok then, maybe you met your spouse and they had everything together and they were able to balance you out and … ok, maybe not.

So we have created the need and we now need a solution for where you are. The solution is simple: You need therapy. The reason is because you have to process how you got to where you are and that can’t be done alone. You then need a plan that allows you to see your growth and grants you access to the next level for you.

We are at the end of the month of March and spring is right here. Thinking back on New Year’s Day are you where you thought you would be by now? If you are not at least in the place you thought you would be in then you need a life coach/therapist to help you plot a course and start you on your way.

Make the investment in yourself. You are worth it!

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How sunny is your sun?

So I am once again facilitating grief groups in churches and other community organizations and every now and then I stumble across a saying in the group that really touches me.

One of the wonderful ladies in this latest group I am doing credited her father as saying that with every death (loss) the sun becomes less bright.

Less bright?!?

I thought to myself how I can imagine that happening. It seems that when we suffer loss — particularly of a loved one — something changes. Things do not look the same. It is like the vision captured by your eyes is not as sharp as it was.

I first experienced this when my grandfather died. Now maybe it started happening at my grandmother’s death but I was younger and didn’t notice as much. But for sure I noticed it when my grandfather died. He was very special to me. He was funny, he was the first Male figure that actually paid attention to me as a young boy. I felt when talking to my grandfather that I mattered.

When he died, I was 29, married with a kid on the way and in a career, loving life. That was all new to me but my environment paused to give honor to an important figure in my life and the experience left my vision slightly impaired– things never looked the same.

I would later experience this when my mother-in-law died. She was a beautiful woman with an inclusive heart. When she loved you, you knew you were loved. She was kind and had a “tell it like it is” spirit. I can recall the first Christmas without her. She was gone, but her spirit was the elephant in the room. For a woman who taught us all the true meaning of Christmas and family, to be gone is more than we could imagine. We couldn’t say her name without fighting back tears. I finally spoke and we begin to share her spirit with each other. Still for us the sun has just never been as bright as it was before she passed.

Perhaps the dulling of the sun is a signal that with each death we die a little too. And with each death we draw closer to our own end — maybe that’s really what scares us about death.

Nevertheless, don’t stop loving. Don’t stop caring and definitely don’t stop grieving. Live without regret and don’t worry about that sun you see because you know the Son that sees!

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Are you experiencing this?

I wonder will this sound like a rant? I don’t want it to, but here it goes:

It seems that I am bothered by the liberties people take with my life. Things like assuming you can count on me for a certain thing. I would like to volunteer myself please!

I must have a way of making people feel comfortable not asking and just assuming my help. People can count on me to pick them up, I wanna say “loan” but the right word is “give” them money and pick up the check when we dine. Now of course there are only three people who I would expect to take such liberties and that’s my three children, especially my girls. But even this has to stop because I can’t even claim them on income taxes anymore.

I am trying to examine what about me makes people feel this comfortable? What am I doing or saying to make this ok for some?

I may not figure this one out but I had to say something as this has been on my mind for some time. I guess I just simply need to add one word to my vocabulary: No!

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Free days

Psalms 90:12 says that we should “number our days” and the reason had to do with applying our hearts to gain wisdom. Simply put, God did not want us to waste time. He wanted us to see the day as a gift and utilize our free will to glorify him for giving us the day. Our days should have a healthy mix of learning, helping, growing, bonding, loving, sleeping, forgiving, with a side of fun in them.

The truth of the matter is days are constantly wasted. Some have used the gift of a day to plot another’s demise, character assassinations, fraud, hurtful speech, wild aggression, coveteousness, anger with a side of hate poured on them.

Where do we get the notion that the day is actually ours?

In the midst of our days we eventually get a free day. This is a day where work is caught up, there are no worries, you are in a sweet spot in life and you can literally choose to stay in bed all day if you wanted. If you’re doing something right in your life then you shouldn’t be a stranger to such days. We need these days to reset. It’s our respite from life. These free days can pop up anywhere: a random Saturday, in the middle of a vacation, around a holiday or in between projects. Sometimes you can see them coming, but they can also sneak up on you.

I recently had a day like that and I chose to count my blessings on that day. I did not do anything but that. You may wonder how can you spend the day doing that? Well, as I discovered I have had a lot of blessings!

I thought about my health and the rollercoaster it was on over the last 25 years. I really should have been dead from obesity but I am still here — 170 pounds lighter and the greatest testimonial regarding discipline. My finances have been a tremendous blessing having to replace lost income I thought would be difficult — it only took 5 months and I landed in a far better place than before. Can you imagine having all your bills paid and coming up on another pay week where the previous check remains untouched? And you’re expecting an income tax refund shortly…now that’s living your best life!

There have been some smaller but still significant things as well: I am full of enlightenment having read 4 books so far this year (I’m averaging 2 books per month), I am working in a field that allows me to be a gamechanger for someone regularly (I see breakthroughs and victories often). I have at least two hearty laughs per day; I no longer listen to mainstream news, I have a happy home; I recently bought a new casual wardrobe because of last years weight loss; and I absolutely love the person I have become.

Free days are meant to allow you to reaffirm the path you have chosen in your life and if you don’t like where you’re going you can change. But if you are waiting for someone else to do something, you have already spoiled your day. Find your happy place so you can stop and smell the roses. Do it soon before you end up in your last days.

Posted in Accountability, Achievement, Change, current events, History, Justice, Patriotism, Politics, Taking Responsibility, Uncategorized, Working together

Forever chasing nothing

As a nation, we pride ourselves as being an advanced culture with highly intelligent people and as having the best of everything — pound for pound — the world has to offer. Sadly, I struggle to find anything we do as signficant to mankind.

Now this is not a bash America blog! I used to say I love America but like many I could not tell you why. It was my only frame of reference so I loved what I knew. I assumed that people in government were looking out for the little man — looking out as defined as making laws and provisions for the little man to grow and develop into something more, not throw him a bone and keep him dumb.

There was a study done in the 90s with 21k people across 7 nations to test there literacy. The study covered more than 30 tasks over a 45 minute span. The test takers were between the ages of 16 to 25 and the specific items on the test dealt with reading comprehension, following directions, reading maps, completing job applications etc. — things you would need to function and thrive in every day life. The results were astonishing (see table below). There were level grades from 1 to 5 where a 4 or 5 was pretty high functioning and of course a 1 was struggling. Sweden’s population of that age group were the brightest with more than 40 percent functioning at the highest levels. Only 18 percent of Americans at that age range preformed as well as the Swedes.

What does that mean you ask? Well other than the obvious, it seems that the study has also proven that higher functioning was related to higher wages. When France talks about job creation and the US talks about it, those are two totally different conversations. France is only talking about a living wage where you can take care of a family with a modest living. In the US, we say a job is a job — better than not having one.

Today we are in a literacy crisis. No one should be surprised about this but I don’t think we understand the effects.

 

  • More than 30 million adults in the United States cannot read, write, or complete basic math above a third-grade level. —  Proliteracy
  • Children whose parents have low literacy levels have a 72 percent chance of being at the lowest reading levels themselves. These children are more likely to get poor grades, display behavioral problems, have high absentee rates, repeat school years, or drop out. — National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
  • 75 percent of state prison inmates did not complete high school or can be classified as low literate. — Rand Report: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Correctional Education
  • Low literacy is said to be connected to over $230 billion a year in health care costs because almost half of Americans cannot read well enough to comprehend health information, incurring higher costs. — American Journal of Public Health

Our problem: Politics. We constantly elect people who can not relate to the problems of the average American and they could care less about those problems. It doesn’t even matter what political party you belong to — both parties have failed the little man.

It seems that we have disfellowshipped the word demand because we don’t demand anything — nothing of ourselves and nothing from those who rule the world. So we sit and take it — you live your life paycheck to paycheck and die in a sea of debt. In our country they tell you that you have the right to pursue happiness, they just forgot to tell you it was nearly impossible to catch.