Monday, December 29, 2008

Handling Criticism

Let's make 2009 a year that shines! One of the ways we can do that is to let criticism bounce off us and not to take it personally if we receive it. Another way is to make sure we are not the one doing the criticizing. There is never any value in comparing ourselves to others. When we do that, we are being unloving to ourselves and setting the other person up as our enemy. We can admire their abilities and set them up as a role model, but at the same time, we must be careful about drawing comparisons or judging ourselves or the other person. God gave us all unique abilities and we need support others in their abilities as well as appreciate and enhance our own. I want to be inspired by other people's success instead of being jealous. Since God did something marvelous for them, He can surely do it for me too. In the Old Testament people who criticized others were called "slingers" because when an enemy would attack a city, the first thing they did is to sling stones into the city well to clog it up so the people would have to leave the safety of their city walls. Joel Osteen says that we have a well inside us of joy, peace, and victory, and we must not let the slingers clog up our wells. He writes, "Perhaps somebody speaks derogatorily about you, but instead of letting it go, you dwell on it, growing more and more upset." He goes on to say that before long, we think about getting even and paying them back. He says that instead of dwelling on the criticism, we need to make it a priority to keep our well pure. We must not sink to the level of retaliation or defensiveness. In order to defeat a slinger, we need to shake it off and keep moving forward. Keep our eyes on God. Matthew 10:14 says, "When you go into a town, whoever will not receive and welcome your message, when you leave that place, shake the dust off of your feet." We won't let anyone steal our joy if we stay on the high road and let God vindicate us. We don't need to be a people pleaser. It's important to accept the fact that not everyone is going to like us, and we certainly cannot make everyone happy. There is tremendous freedom in releasing ourselves as the warden of the imprisoning thought that we must make everyone happy. Instead, this new year let's put our energy into running our own race. We can be tough on the outside but stay tender on the inside. Remember that Psalms 139:14 says, "I praise You for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Your works are wonderful. I know that full well." When God endorses us with those kinds of words, what need have we of any other endorsement? Joel says, "Don't let unwarranted criticism create stress in your life. Stay focused on what God has in store for you."

Monday, December 22, 2008

Develop a Habit of Happiness

This Christmas the greatest gifts we could give to others and our own selves are the gifts of love and joy. Why? There are a couple of reasons to give these gifts. The first is that they make us happy, and the second is that they don't cost us a dime!! The only way we can give happiness away is have it ourselves. How do we attain this wonderful gift? We have to develop it. Our habits are learned responses. In one of my facebook groups today, I received this messages, "Our experiences color everything. The events of the past can have a profound effect on how we see our lives now and what we choose to believe about our world. Our past experiences can also influence our emotional reactions and responses to present events. Each of us reacts to stimulus based on what we have learned in life. There is no right or wrong to it; it is simply the result of past experience. Later, when our strong feelings have passed, we may be surprised at our reactions. Yet when we face a similar situation, again our reactions may be the same. When we understand those experiences, we can come that much closer to understanding our reactions and consciously change them." Joel Osteen says that the good news is that we can 'reprogram' our own 'computer'. We can develop a habit of happiness. The bible says in I Thessalonians 5:16, "Rejoice in the Lord always." No matter what comes our way, we can develop the habit of happiness and smile our way through it. We do not have to wait till the crisis has passed to be happy. This is the only moment there is. If we choose peace of mind as our only goal and give our unconditional love, we can have a Merry Christmas. Acts 2:28 says, "You have made known to me the ways of life. You will make me full of gladness with Your presence." Make a decision right now to have a Merry Christmas and stay happy the rest of this year, and make 2009 a year that shines.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feed Your Good Habits

I read a story about two wolves in a couple of places the facebook group "Positive People" and then again in Joel Osteen's book BECOME A BETTER YOU so I'm starting to think that the Lord really wants to use this story to teach me something. The story goes like this: "An old Cherokee said to his grandson, 'Son, on the inside of every person a battle is raging between two wolves. One wolf is evil. It's angry, jealous, unforgiving, proud, and lazy. The other wolf is good. It's filled with love, kindness, humility, and self-control. These wolves are constantly fighting.' The little boy thought about it, and said, 'Grandfather, which wolf is going to win?' The grandfather smiled and said, 'Whichever one you feed.'" I love this story because it tells me that in order to cultivate peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control in my life, I will need to feed these character traits. In less than three weeks we will be starting a new year. What a great time to start developing and feeding good habits! I want to start setting my goal now to eat properly and exercise. I am going to drink plenty of water. Joel Osteen says, "Bad habits are easy to acquire but hard to live with......good habits are difficult to develop.....but...easy to live with." Every time I make a good choice, it will get easier. The bible says to run from temptation. That is the key to success. "There is no temptation that will come to you that you can't overcome. God will always make a way of escape." (I Corinthians 10:13) Instead of running to the kitchen every time I'm stressed, I need to find someplace else to go or something else to do. I can relieve tension by taking a brisk walk, breathing deeply, meditating and praying, or reading the bible or other inspirational material. Even staying busy online or scrap booking helps me stay out of the kitchen. God wants me to be happy, healthy, and whole. The bible says, "He is a very present help in the time of trouble....Greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.....I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Like the second wolf, I already have self-control, discipline, kindness, forgiveness, patience, etc. inside me. I just need to feed these virtues. I'm going to relax this holiday season, go with the flow, and stay in peace. At the same time, I'm going to be aware of how I'm treating my body. I have respect for what God gave me, and I'm going to love myself because I am a daughter of the Almighty. I don't have to wait for the new year to start treating my body with respect. I'm going to feed my good wolf this holiday season, and 2009 is going to be fine! Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Being Good to People

Christmas is coming, and generosity is in the air! Despite the economic crisis, we really feel more benevolent toward people this time of year. At least that is my perception. We can express our love for others with our mouths, but until we express it with our actions, it doesn't feel very authentic. When we have an opportunity to do good by being a courteous driver or a good listener, we are sowing seeds of kindness into the lives of others. When we do something good anonymously, that is even better. Every day we can look for some way to be kind to someone....not just at Christmas! Galatians 6:10 says, "Every opportunity we have we should do good to people." Matthew 25:40 says, "When you do it to the least of one of these, it's like you're doing it unto Me." Every year as a teacher, there is always a campaign sponsored by the NEA with the phrase, "I make a difference." I love that saying.....whenever I give, I gain so much of God's favor. Even if nothing noticeable happens, the good feeling in my heart is worth it. Joel Osteen says, "Remember, true love is always backed up with actions."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Invest in Your Relationships

It's the day before Thanksgiving. We've invested time in cooking and cleaning house, but now it is time to invest time in people. Joel Osteen says that our relationships are "emotional bank accounts" where we make deposits with encouragement and forgiveness or withdrawals with criticism and unforgiveness. I watched a video on facebook recently where a parking attendant was always smiling and complimenting people when they approached his counter to have "valid" stamped on their parking tickets. He not only validated their tickets but them as well. Some of them walked up to him with a look of discouragement and defeat in their faces, but when they walked away, they had a spring in their step and a smile on their faces. The parking attendant was making a deposit in their emotional bank accounts. Recently I visited my daughter and granddaughter. I hoped to make a deposit in their emotional bank accounts with love and encouragement because they had some trauma in their lives recently. Their friend and neighbor was shot by the police over a misunderstanding. It's a long story, but anyway, my daughter and granddaughter were heart-broken. I spent time with them, sympathized with their pain, and loved and cuddled them. I wanted them to know that while the world sometimes appears to be a violent place, family will always provide a safe haven. It's important to invest in your relationships and treat people with respect and love. I wanted to show my daughter and granddaughter how special they are. Hebrews 3:13 says, "We should encourage one another daily."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Taking a Stand for Your Family

Thanksgiving is coming!! Family time! This year let's create an atmosphere of love, peace, and unity in our homes by bringing out the good in our families with our positive words. Let's make it a fun-filled time by treating each other with dignity and respect. We'll speak blessings over family members and give them holiday memories that possibly we never had when we were growing up. No matter what our home life was like as children, we can create a better one for our children by affirming them. We need to tell them how proud of them we are and how great they are doing. We can be a positive role model and take lots of time for them. I remember hearing a story not long ago of a boy who asked his father how much money he made an hour because that boy wanted to save up enough money to buy an hour of his father's time. Yikes! Another thing our children need is encouragement. We should focus on their strengths. We will see more of their virtues if that is what we notice about them. If we will only take a stand for our family and make sure that we give them plenty of love and tell them how much we appreciate them, we will make a memory with them this year that they will carry to their old age. How rewarding!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Keep the Strife out of Your Life

Obama was elected President! Now we will transition from Bush to Obama. It appears that they are working together to make this transition as smooth as possible. Whatever conflicts arose previously, they are forming a relationship that will help our country heal from economic wounds and war. After all, relationships are all that really matter in life. If we had good relations with everyone, there would be no more wars. Our relationship with God, our significant other, our children, our grandchildren, our extended families, our friends, and our community mean everything to our happiness. Yet, we can't deny that with the differences in our personalities, our politics, our belief systems, and our temperments, we can't always keep the peace. How do we keep strife out of our lives? How do we keep pride from getting the upper hand? Eckhart Tolle wrote that "power over others is weakness described as strength." Joel Osteen says in chapter twelve of BECOME A BETTER YOU that "we must learn to give others the benefit of the doubt....Every person has faults; we all have weaknesses. We should not expect the people with whom we are in a relationship to be perfect.....there are some things I have to overlook, some things for which I have to make allowances." This reminds me of "The Parable of the Rose". I don't know who wrote this, but I think it is beautiful:

"A certain man planted a rose and watered it faithfully.
Before it blossomed, he examined it.
He saw a bud that would soon blossom.
He also saw thorns, and he thought,
"How can any beautiful flower come from a plant,
burdened with so many sharp thorns?'
Saddened by this thought, he neglected to water the rose,
and before it was ready to bloom, it died.

So it is with many people.
Within every soul, there is a rose.
The 'God-like' qualities planted in us at birth,
growing amidst the thorns of our faults.
Many of us look at ourselves and see only the thorns, the defects.
We despair, thinking nothing good can possibly come from us.
We neglect to water the good within us, and eventually it dies.
We never realize our full potential.

Some don't see the rose within themselves.
It takes someone else to show it to them.
One of the greatest gifts a person can possess
is to be able to reach past the thorns and find
the rose within others.
This is the truest, most innocent, and gracious characteristic of love-
to know another person, including his faults,
recognize the nobility in his soul,
and help that person to realize he can overcome his faults.
If we show him the rose, he will conquer the thorns.
Only then will he blossom, and most likely
bloom thirty, sixty, or a hundred-fold, as it is given to him.

Our duty in this world is to help others,
by showing them their roses and not their thorns.
It is then that we achieve the love we should feel for each other.
Only then can we bloom in our own garden."

In relationships, it is so important to keep strife out of our lives. If we are critical faultfinders and keep account of everything someone does that is wrong, our relationship with that person with suffer and deteriorate into arguing and fighting. The bible teaches us that love believes the best in people (I Corinthians 13:4-8). In another place, it says that love covers a multitude of sin. If someone has wronged us in the past, we need to let that pain stay in the past so that we don't have strife in the present. Joel asks, "Do you want to be right, or do you want peace in your home? Do you want to have your way, or do you want to have healthy relationships?"

Love and Light,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Bringing the Best out of People

Recently, I've had the opportunity to start a group on facebook called "The Greatest of These Is Love" and then found, along with another facebook friend of mine, a group called "We Love Joel Osteen".

The first group, (I call the LOVE group), was born out of adversity. I had a thread on facebook called "Spiritual Sisters" in which some of members began to quarrel. I tried to mediate but that didn't work. Finally, I just realized that the only way that they were going to be in harmony was through love. "Love is kind."
(I Corinthians 13:4) These ladies were so kind in their hearts that I knew they could eventually find that harmonizing core. I started to think about love the way it is described in I Corinthians 13 and the chapter ends with "the greatest of these is love" so that is what I named the group. The ladies are members so I am affirming that love will be the catalyst needed to bring peace and harmony to them. The group grew to 224 members in just two weeks. Joel says that "there's no greatest investment in life than being a people builder. Relationships are more important than our accomplishments."

The second group was a Joel Osteen group that had been abandoned. It had 42 people in it but no administrator and a kind of hateful video on it. I liked the name (WE LOVE JOEL OSTEEN) because I really do love the positivity in this man. We've been discussing his books for more than a year on this blog so I thought why not become administrator and share ideas from the blog with the group. A good friend of mine, who was an officer in the LOVE group, had already made herself an administrator and asked for help with the group. We removed the hateful video and replaced it with some of Joel's sermons uploaded from youtube and invited people to join. It now has 71 people in only one week!

I'm not telling you about these groups to boast. I realize that only God's hand could have accomplished this, but I do feel like there was a purpose for keeping the blog alive now. I knew all along that even when participation waned, I had this need to express God's word and the inspiration I was receiving in my daily life from the bible and Joel's books, and other inspirational writing. I just wondered when He was going to multiply the fruit. While in His good timing, it has come to pass. Joel says, "Our attitude should be: Who can I encourage today? Who can I build up? How can I improve somebody's life?" We have the power of the Most High God inside us. We need to encourage people to grow to their full stature as it says to do in the bible. Sometimes a person just needs a spark of hope. People will respond if we really care about them. We can never bring out the best in anybody if we condemn or criticize them or verbally beat them down. We can only bring out someone's best by loving them. That's what Joel does, and like Jesus, he is often criticized for it. He just keeps keeping on. Sure he is rich, but having money is no sin. Many people say that Joel actually saved them from taking their lives when they were in the middle of a deep depression. Our society has enough cynics, critics, and faultfinders out there, and Jesus was not one of them. Neither is Joel. Now I am not comparing Jesus and Joel to bring out controversy. I realize that Jesus was the Son of God, and Joel is an instrument of God. So are we all instruments of God. The bible says "iron sharpens iron." We can be like Jesus and encourage one another. At the same time, we need to respect all our brothers and sisters in the Lord because He works in them, just as He works in us.

Have a great week and don't forget to vote! This bald eagle is a reminder that our country is "one nation under God".

Monday, October 27, 2008

Have Confidence in Yourself

It is so important that we think positive thoughts and say positive words to ourselves and others. There is so much destructive potency in condemnatory words or thoughts. We need to lift ourselves and others up rather than condemn. Discouragement is so limiting to how high we can go in life. We are made in the image of the Almighty God. In order to enjoy our life, it is imperative that we stay in an attitude of gratitude and optimism. We need to encourage those around us as well, especially our children. Our children, as well as ourselves, are full of potential. We can do all things through Christ. God gives us strength, courage, and ability. We have these attributes inside. We just need to realize our God-given favor, which surrounds us wherever we go. Don't let one negative remark bring you down. We have a tendency to shut out all the positive stuff if we hear even one negative voice. Why is that? Sometimes we obsess about our offenses instead of basking in the praises we hear. We just need to get up every morning with gratitude in our hearts, energized by God's blessings and affirming our destiny as children of the Most High God, so we can get ready for a glorious day. We might want to spend a little time in stillness to hear God's voice, and then flow with His blessing down the river of life to our marvelous destiny without letting any obstacle get in our path! Happy Halloween!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Patty and Frank! I have been out of town so much and no time to be on here, I apologize! As I went to write this entry, I saw the note from John Kennedy, "When written in Chinese the word 'crisis' is composed of two characters. One represents danger, and the other represents opportunity." and at that moment, my son called from Iraq! I read that to him! He was very, very quiet, and said, "That is good!" It has been really hard to have him over there this time.
I really, really have enjoyed this book by Joel Osteen, and the word "Becoming" is beginning to really be a 'stop and think about it' word for me. I purchased the book on CD, to listen to on my way back from the Nebraska Junk Jaunt, and I didn't get to listen till I got home. As we are doing this Chapter by Chapter, I thought I would only do catch up and then slow down to CxC. However... I listened to it all in two days while working! I LOVE it. There are points in it that just hit me like a hammer. I loaned it to my daughter who has had a recent life changing experience, and she is going to listen to it. Grant and I listened to part of it on the way back from North Carolina last spring, and we don't know where that CD set went, whether he has it or we do! LOL! But I will be sending that to him now, it is an awesome, inspiring book. Becoming. What a new beginning to some old thought processes for me that one word represents. Thank you, Patty, for the recent blog notes. You have caused me to think outside my own little box!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Learning to Like Yourself

Jesus said in Matthew 22:39, "Love your neighbor as yourself." Joel Osteen says, "The prerequisite of loving others is to love yourself. If you don't have a healthy respect for who you are, and if you don't learn to accept yourself...faults and all, you will never be able to properly love other can't give away what you don't have. If you don't love yourself, you're not going to be able to love others. If you're at strife on the inside, feeling angry and insecure about yourself, feeling unattractive, feeling condemned, then that's all you can give away. On the other hand, if you'll recognize that God is working on you, and in spite of your flaws and weaknesses, you can learn to accept yourself, then you can give that love away and have healthy relationships. This basic principle could change your relationships with people around you." When we aren't loving toward ourselves, we have a tendency to think that it only affects our own selves, when, in reality, it affects every one around us. It even affects how we feel toward God. God created us so it is not very respectful of Him to criticize what He made!

If you are challenged with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight like I am, it is helpful to remember that God approves us unconditionally and is our advocate on our weight loss journey. He helps us and guides us. He is our best friend!! Hebrews 12:1-2 says "to look away from everything that distracts." Criticism of ourselves is a distraction from enjoying God's wonderful plan for our lives. We should wake up daily with a grateful heart that God has given us a marvelous home for our eternal spirit....our body!

Weight is my personal challenge. Yours might be something else, but whatever our challenges in life are, we need to realize that we have God's stamp of approval. We need to add our own stamp of approval to who we are!

Love and Light,

Monday, October 6, 2008

Stop Listening to Accusing Voices

This is a very important topic because most of our accusations do NOT come from other people; they come from our OWN selves. Most of them come about because when we are critical of ourselves, it spills over to others. One way to get past accusing voices is to practice forgiving ourselves and others. God forgives us so why do we like to place so much blame and guilt on ourselves and others?

We need to look at ourselves in a new way and tell ourselves positive things. We can be our own best friends and look in the mirror without fault-finding. I looked in the mirror today and said, "You don't look half bad for being fifty-six." I usually laugh a little at some of my flaws but thank God for a wonderfully functioning body at the same time. Romans 14:19 says, "Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding."

Let's not beat ourselves up. Let's have full confidence and press forward with no regrets. We can always look at ourselves and say, "Well, if I had done such-and-such, my life would be so much better."

My accusing voice is usually pointing a finger at me, telling me that if I had been a better mother, such-and-such wouldn't be happening to my kids. Joel Osteen says, "Let the past be past. You cannot change it, and if you make the mistake of living in guilt today because of something that happened yesterday, you won't have the strength you need to live this day in victory.

Take the pressure off yourself; give yourself the right to have some weaknesses and not to perform 100 percent of the time." By the grace of God, we are worthy. God is not an angry, condemning God. Quite the contrary. He is a loving and merciful God. We just need to change our attitude and stop being negative toward ourselves and other people. We need to see ourselves and others through the eyes of God. We are His beautiful creations!!!

Love & Light,

Monday, September 29, 2008

Discovering Your Destiny

In these tough economic times, it's hard to think about destiny. Is this a really fate or a predetermined course of events? What is the lesson here? I think we need to avoid getting into a fear mode. We need to keep on living life to the fullest and pursuing our passions. That's is the advice Joel Osteen gives, and I think it is worthwhile advice. We keep on keeping on, doing what we are called to do with enthusiasm and excitement. "God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well." (Romans 12:6) Proverbs 18:16 says that our gift will make room for us. We keep pressing forward no matter what Wall Street does. We will shake off negative mind-sets and live in blessing. One of the action points from Joel Osteen's new book BECOME A BETTER YOU is this: "I will be more aware that the decisions I make today will affect future generations as well as my own life. I will be more careful and deliberate about making wise decisions.......I will make choices based on my desire to leave my family better off than they were previously." Kahlil Gibran wrote: "When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. To love life through labor is to be intimate with life's inmost secret. All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible." I am a flute and my work is love made visible. Every day I teach children. My goal is to excel in that to honor my God. My work is made visible through my students. Their response to learning is my music. Another labor of love is writing on this blog or writing a facebook note. I don't get paid for it, but I love doing it and that is reward enough. In the ancient Hindu holy scripture, God tells his student, "While the unwise work for the fruits of their actions, the wise offer all results of their action to Me." I offer my actions and my work to You, Lord, and You will take care of all my needs. I have no reason to fear NYSE. My God is bigger than Wall Street!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Generational Blessing

"Today is a new day....God has promised that your seed, your family line for up to a thousand generations, is going to have the blessings and the favor of God--all because of the life you've lived," promises Joel Osteen in BECOME A BETTER YOU. What a wonderful blessing! My new grandson Samson came into the world a week ago. He is strong and healthy, and so is his mother. After every thing Tori has gone through with her motorcycle accident, she gave birth to her son naturally! Praise God! She feels so empowered. I feel the favor of God so strongly. Celine Dion wrote a song for her son in 2002 that is perfect for my brand new grandson. Here are the lyrics:

"A new day has come
A new day has... come

I was waiting for so long
For a miracle to come
Everyone told me to be strong
Hold on and don't shed a tear

Through the darkness and good times
I knew I'd make it through
And the world thought I had it all
But I was waiting for you

Hush, love

I see a light in the sky
Oh, it's almost blinding me
I can't believe
I've been touched by an angel with love

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new, new sun

A new day has... come

Where it was dark now there's light
Where there was pain now there's joy
Where there was weakness, I found my strength
All in the eyes of a boy

Hush, love

I see a light in the sky
Oh, it's almost blinding me
I can't believe
I've been touched by an angel with love

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new, new sun

A new day has... come

Let the rain come down and wash away my tears
Let it fill my soul and drown my fears
Let it shatter the walls for a new, new sun

A new day has... come

Ohhh, a light... OOh"

Monday, September 8, 2008

Breaking Free from the Strongholds of Your Past

I wrote a note a while back on facebook on this very subject. One the most powerful concepts that I have ever come across is the idea to live in the moment. Omar Khayyam, a scholar and astronomer who lived in Iran from 1048? to 1122 said, "The Moving Finger writes; and, having, writ, moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit shall lure it back to cancel half a Line, nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it." Wayne Dyer in the WISDOM OF AGES writes, "One of life's greatest illusions is the belief that the past is responsible for the current conditions of our lives." When we are fully conscious, we are "plugged in" and aware. We live in the present moment. When Tori had her motorcycle accident, her body started the healing process immediately. Of course, the doctors had to clean her wounds and pump new blood into her. We have to do the same things with our emotional wounds. We have to close them and pump new blood into them. Omar Khayyam says that none of our tears can erase our story so we can't live in the past and expect to be healed. We need to remove all blame and guilt from our minds because it is the attraction to these negative feelings that keeps us from feeling peaceful and loved. When we choose peace through love and forgiveness, all blame and guilt will disappear. Joel Osteen says that we have to get past the misconception that because we love God, we're supposed to be perfect. We can't change the past, but we can change the future by making the right choices today. The Articles of Confederation of the Iroquois people exhorts humanity to think seven generations ahead when we make decisions. If we all took that kind of responsibility, we would certainly have a better, healthier earth. If I take responsibility for my own actions toward the planet, I can make it a better place for my grandchildren. Right now that seems like a worthy goal.

Monday, September 1, 2008

The Power of Your Bloodline

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption." (Romans 8:14-15). I am a creation of God, pressing forward in my capacity to live the abundant life. So I stand tall because I am a beloved child of God. "God, you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made: Your works are wonderful. I know that full well. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalms 139:13,14,16). There is great comfort to me in these verses because I am expecting a grandson any day now. My daughter plans to name him Samson. He will be a strong little boy. I love knowing that this little baby boy is extremely valuable to God, as well as he is to our whole family. On this Labor Day I am grateful for my bloodline because we are children of the Most High. My grandmother, my mother, myself, my daughters, and my granddaughters are all fulfilling our destinies. Now a boy is about to join this matriarchal society. It's about time! Eleven years ago, when Frank and I combined our families, he brought a boy into this family of girls, and now Frank thinks it is high time for another one to join us. Me too. I love the name they chose for him too. The biblical Samson had supernatural strength and toppled a building. I believe our Samson will also be a victor and leave his mark on this world in a wonderful way.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Give Your Dreams a New Beginning

"I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart." (Jeremiah 24:7) Are we stretching to the next level? Sometimes disappointments can set us back. I've probably written on this blog before about the layoff I experienced in 2002. I was teaching young adult literature and communications at Southwest Junior High School in Lawrence, Kansas, at the time. We had just moved to town and this job was an answer to prayer. I loved it. My principal gave me an excellent evaluation so I thought that I would have the job as long as I wanted it. That spring, though, the administration and school board made a decision to cut the budget by laying off educators (RIF-Reduction in Force). In 2002-2003, Lawrence Public Schools laid off 131 first year educators. Even though I had taught 20 years, it was my first year in this district so I was RIFed. I was so upset at first that I didn't know what I wanted to do. In the fall I started subbing. I had a job every day. The pay wasn't great, but it was so much fun to teach every day without bringing home papers to grade, lessons to plan, or a list of parents to contact. I felt so free. It was God's plan to take the pressure off me and free my spirit. It was a new beginning! I stretched to a new level, and I have never been happier. "I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth. Do you perceive it?" (Isaiah 43:19) I never looked back. I get up in the morning and ask God for guidance and wisdom. At night I thank God for a perfect day. I'm so thankful every day for my new beginning. I did love my job at Southwest, but at the time of the layoff I didn't realize that God had more in store. He worked out our finances so I didn't need that job. Mom gave us an early inheritance so I can testify that "all things work together for good". (Romans 8:28) Joel Osteen says, "God is saying this is a time for new beginnings. Get your fire back. Get your passion back......this is the time to break free." Amen!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Stretching to the Next Level

Whether we are talking Olympic competition, achieving optimal health, or making good career choices, stretching to the next level and constantly pressing forward in our abilities to excellence is the potential we have inside. Just ask Nastia Liukin, the U.S. Olympic gymnast, who wore a smile that lit up her whole face as she climbed atop the medals podium and waved to the crowd. She blinked back tears of joy as the gold medal was placed around her neck. While I am not competing for any gold medal, I am pressing forward and stretching myself to stay fit. I'm also stretching myself in the classroom to do the best possible job with my students that I can do. Today I actually got to teach literature, which is my subject area, and I did stretch myself to present the material in a way that was enthusiastic and, I hope, interesting to them. I have also been stretching myself at home with my family. We had a couple of grown kids move back in a month ago, and it is definitely a stretch to keep my patience with them until they are able to move out and make it on their own. The bible teaches that we have the Holy Spirit inside to give us guidance and wisdom to handle these kinds of situations, and I call on Him daily to help me with this. Joel Osteen asks this question in chapter one of BECOME A BETTER YOU: "Are you ready to break free from your self-imposed limitations and start stretching to the next level?" I think I am. I just need to get my eyes off my problems and onto my God. As for achieving optimal health and staying fit, I am so ready to feel energetic and wear cute clothes again. I will keep my eyes fixed on the prize as Paul did in Philippians 3:14.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Love in the Family

Frank and I celebrated our eleventh anniversary yesterday. We each brought two children into the marriage. I had a toddler granddaughter at the time. Since then, we have added two more grandchildren to the family and a fourth is due next month. Is it easy to have a blended family? Well, it depends on who you ask. I just asked my husband, and he said, "No". I think and say that sometimes too, but it is what we needed to help us learn how to love. Frank is a terrific bonus father for my daughters, and I hope that I am a great bonus mom for his son and daughter. Even though most people say it is hard to parent children who are brought into the marriage via a former spouse, it is a definitely a learning experience. It's nothing for which we would ask or choose in our lives, but it is what Frank and I needed to grow as individuals. No one ever says, "I want to be a step-parent when I grow up", but with God's help, we can go with the flow and realize that it is a way to let love do its perfect work and show through in all kinds of situations. Eventually, the children become a part of us, just as our own children do, and we realize that God brought these children into our lives for a purpose. We are then grateful for the diversity and contrast they bring. The main thing we need to remember is this: "Love is patient; love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast; it is not proud. It is not rude; it is not self-seeking; it is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails." (I Corinthians 13:4-8)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Coping with Loss

I lost my aunt (my mom's sister) this past week. My aunt is the mother of one of the participants on this blog who also lost her husband and father. I know another one of you lost your husband. I lost my father. Most of us have experienced loss along the way. A couple of my facebook friends have lost grown I was wondering if this would be a good topic for the blog. I'll start with some quotes of people who have lost loved ones because I think that in sharing comes healing. Glenda Brenton who lost her husband says, "When you experience the loss of a loved one, your whole world is turned upside down. And so it's very necessary to be in a caring, confidential, supportive environment so that you can share your thoughts and your feelings and experiences with others who are going through the same thing." Virginia Conard who lost her seven-year-old son forty years ago and then her husband just recently said that she cried for a year behind closed doors in silence when her little boy died. When Virginia lost her husband, she said that it wrenched the heart in a different way. She said there is a difference in the way you grieve when you lose your parents than the way you grieve when you lose a spouse. Losing a child is still a different kind of loss. She said, "At one time I had my husband dying of cancer at one end of my home and his sister, my sister-in-law, dying of cancer at the other end of my home." Virginia joined a support group and began looking at her home differently. The same place where her husband and sister-in-law slowly said goodbye became a place she could greet warmly again. "I've always been surprised at myself...that I'm going around saying, 'I'm so grateful. I'm so grateful. And here I don't have my wonderful husband, but he left me this nice home; he left me with 60 years of happy memories. He left me with three wonderful sons and three wonderful daughters-in-law. I am grateful.' One of the most effective ways we cope with loss is gratitude for the time we were given with our loved ones.

Monday, July 28, 2008

GPS (God's Powerful Spirit)

Lately, I've been challenged by my weight again. I lost 66.7 lbs. in 2005-2006, and I certainly don't want to find them again. My biggest ally in maintaining a good weight is the Holy Spirit. His still small voice tells me when I am full, but sometimes I ignore it. I am God's creation and as such, I know that I am wonderfully made. (Psalms 139:14.) I love myself because God loved me first. Now I just need to take care of His creation. I know how to do it. It's just a matter of doing it. This week my challenging adventure will be to eat right and exercise. I will avoid stress eating and late night eating. I will trust my GPS. The GPS in my car works wonderfully. The GPS inside me works even better if I activate Him. I need to hold a vision of myself as a very healthy lady. I need to renew my mind on a daily basis. I need to persevere. "Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the test of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4. This trial of maintaining my weight is pure joy because it is developing perseverance in me. It is empowering me. My weight watcher leader once said that I have a 100% chance of success if I DO what is required to lose weight. That does not mean....think about it....or hope or wish for it. That means DO it. That means eating right, drinking lots of water, and getting plenty of activity in my day by riding my bike, walking, and doing housework. That means staying in control of my life. That means forgiving myself for errors and moving right on past them. That means not resisting my GPS. That means focusing on my success, not my failure. That means keeping track of what I eat. That means I am on a mission. "Then they said to him, 'Inquire of God that we may know whether the mission we are undertaking will succeed. The priest replied, 'Go in peace. The mission you are on is under the eye of the Lord.'" (Judges 18:5-6). Today I choose to believe in myself. I choose to believe that I can make a decision to stay healthy and have the perfect weight. With the help of my GPS, I'll meet my goal.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Does It Matter?

This week I've been on the verge of experiencing stress and tension, but I've chosen peace of mind instead. I have to remake my decision for peace of mind often during some days. I know that it is all a matter of attitude. No matter what happens in my matter what anyone does or says, no matter what happens as far as circumstances or events are concerned, nothing can cause me distress unless I let it. Only my own attitudes, thoughts, and judgments about something can make me stressful and full of tension. "Teach me to do Your will for You are my God. Let Your Good Spirit lead me on a level path." (Psalms 143:10) If I go with the flow and stop resisting, I will realize God's perfect plan. I need to keep myself from becoming a participant in human drama. I need to live only in this moment and realize that I'm nobody's victim. If I can be at one with what happens, then I will not be at the mercy of the world, and my happiness will be determined by my own self, not someone else. Thanks for reminding me of that, Lord.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Thoughts Determine Destiny

Oprah says, "I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become." William James, an American philosopher, psychologist, and teacher who lived from 1842-1910, wrote, "There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking." The bible says, "As you think, so shall ye be." All of these quotes would lead us to one conclusion. We create our reality with our thoughts. Phillipians 4:8 has been quoted on this blog before, but I think it is worth repeating that we need to think about "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think on these things." If we fill our minds with these kinds of thoughts, there will be no room for worry. Not only that, but our thoughts can bring about our destiny. We wish for something and desire it. Next we set our intentions with passion to bring it about. This happened for my granddaughter Jessica and me last summer when we lost her dog Red. We wished so hard that we could find him. We prayed about it with strong desire in our hearts. With passion we set our intentions to find him. Then we took action by looking everywhere, putting up posters, offering a reward, and contacting both the animal shelter and the animal control officers. We never gave up hope. I was supposed to take Jess home, but she would not leave without her dog. Three days later we found Red. Our thoughts never changed from faith to doubt. We wouldn't let ourselves get discouraged. Some people tried to prepare us for the worst, but Jess wouldn't accept it. When I saw her determination, it added strength to mine. We filled our thoughts with God's faith and sure enough, it worked. Now you might ask what would have happened had we not found Red. Could we have handled the disappointment? I only know that we didn't let that possibility enter our minds. We deliberately shunned doubt in this instance. We actually read quotes like the ones at the beginning of this post and took them to heart. Can we use our thoughts and visualization to live favor-minded as we studied in YOUR BEST LIFE NOW? Will God grant us that kind of favor? I think He will. Because I realize the power behind my thoughts, I keep them focused on moving a mountain of doubt. In my mind, I don't lay out the welcome mat for worry. I lay out the welcome mat for good to come into my life and the lives of all my loved ones. Thank You, Lord, for honoring our faith and bringing about Your greatest good in our lives.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Constant Craving

I must be thinking of song titles today. Remember that song by K.d. Lang about constant craving. I often think of how much we live in a material world. That's the title of another song by Madonna. Even our study on the blog of YOUR BEST LIFE NOW seems to point toward receiving bigger and better things. Often we try to fill ourselves with possessions, money, success, power, status, or even people to feel more complete. Matthew 6:26 says, "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them." Our God shall supply all our needs. "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these." (Matthew 6:28-29) If we feel a big hole in our heart, we can not fill it with possessions, job promotions, social status, or all the money in the world. We can only feel that hole with God. My best life now is one of perfect peace centered on God. I achieve peace through forgiveness of myself and others and loving kindness toward all God's creatures and even our planet. My joy comes from a grateful heart for all of God's abundant blessings. He supplies all my needs.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"Live and Let Live"

Patty, this comes straight from your entry today. Your comments on aggresssiveness and defensiveness took me right to the book I just got yesterday, and started reading while waiting for a friend at a restaurant. (Yes, that ties in, her daughter had a baby when she was just a teen, with a guy she thought would be her life mate - he wasn't!) Corrosive relationships, power trips, all of it had me thinking back to when we were praying for the situation. There have been others in the past that we have prayed for God to watch over and work through. The name of the book I just got from Radio Bible Class? "Before the Ring" William L. Coleman. My friend leaned over, and said "What are you reading that for? Are there weddings in the future?" Quite possibly on my part, but she went on to say that her daughter is engaged to another young man but the marriage is over two years in the future. She said.... It is too late for "Before the Ring." Perusing it, I think not. The information and stories could be for a lot of us, before we take the leap. How much easier life would be if we worked out kinks in the rope before we rope ourselves into situations. Some of the stories are applicable to not just marriage, but to work situations, friendships, etc. How many of us have aggressive or defensive work mates or partners? One comment that stood out like a light: Marriages (work partnerships, etc) that begin with fireworks may end up as scattered ashes. I told someone recently... Marry in haste, repent at leisure, and he said: WHAT does that mean?
For you on the blog, if you were asked that, what would you say?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Patty, you are right...

God is good, and we used to sing a little chorus, and it is going through my head right now. "God is good, God is good, God is good, all the time!"
I am so glad that God watches over us, and directs our pathways. If I was in control, I would have such a 'spaghetti bowl' mess part of the time. I am reminded of that as I think over today. When I got off work, a little 9 year old girl came to my house to help me clean, and stay focused, and she is very good at keeping the focus going! I have been so busy that I piled face painting stuff, fabric and books in my sewing room, and it was a mess. I just didn't take the extra time to put things away. She helped me and I am nearly to the point of being ready to sew again, and I am so glad that she can come alongside me, and help me keep my focus.
I think back to the times when God directed someone to do that for me when I was overwhelmed and I am so glad He was good to me... and didn't let me slip and fall, with the help I had I was able to overcome. I am very grateful for that help, guidance and direction.

Accepting God's Good

It has occurred to me that we have a wonderful God that gives such good things in life. When we come against a challenge in life, many times the last place we turn is to God Almighty; yet the bible tells us to "seek ye first the kingdom of God". If we, on a daily basis, would look to God as our source, "all these things would be added unto us" (Matthew 6:33). I'm so grateful for the good God has shown me lately. He has showered me with blessings.

One of the blessings was a wonderful trip with my cousin in May to Iowa and Illinois. What a lovely time to travel! All the trees were decked out in their greenery, and the blossoms were so colorful. It was a lovely girl trip. Our mothers are sisters, and it was a pleasure to relive our childhoods with each other. I've had many other blessings of late: a couple more girls' trips with my daughters and granddaughters, the lovely wedding of Frank's daughter, and currently I'm keeping my precious granddaughters.

This week I want to concentrate on all the good in our lives. If we would accept God's good instead of putting up a resistance, I'll sure we would see it everywhere. God's good just keeps becoming more and more obvious in my life.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Going with the Flow

When I let go and let God, I am blessed beyond measure, but I need to remind myself frequently to do that. Sometimes I start resisting b/c in my perception, things are not going the way I want. That is when I need to realize that perception is how I see things, but I have a narrow lens, not the huge view finder that God has. For instance, in 2002 and 2003, the Lawrence Public School district of Lawrence, KS, laid off 131 educators. I was one of them. I had taught twenty years, but I was new to this district. As a non-tenured teacher in my first year here, I didn’t survive the budget cuts. I was devastated. I railed against the injustice of it all. Now six years later, I see that it was a blessing in disguise. It actually led to the desire of my heart. I now am a substitute teacher, or a guest teacher (my preference of title since I know that I am a real teacher, not a substitute). I have flexibility in my day. I didn’t understand it at the time, but now I have clarity. “In the same way, we can see and understand only a little about God now, as if we were peering at His reflection in a poor mirror, but someday, we are going to see Him in His completeness, face to face. Now all that I know is hazy and blurred, but then I will see everything clearly, just as clearly as God sees into my heart right now.” I Corinthians 13:12. Now I am able to go to work everyday, enjoy the kids, and come home with no papers to grade or parents to contact. What a blessing! I used to prepare for classes for hours. Now I can truly enjoy the whole experience and have plenty of time left over for my family and travel. The absolute wonder of the situation is this. For the twenty years I needed a contract position, I had one. When I was a single mother, struggling to raise my daughters without child support, I always had a contract job. Now that I am happily remarried and on my husband’s health plan, I no longer need a contract job and all the stress that goes with it. I am truly following my bliss. In the fall of 2004, Mom sold the family ranch in the Sandhills of Nebraska and divided the money up among her children. I used that funding to pay off our lovely home so now we have no house payments. Isn’t it surprising? My job layoff, something that appeared so devastating, was actually a most wonderful catalyst for a very positive change in my life. Had I known all that was forthcoming, my perception of my layoff would have changed from something very traumatic to something very joyous in an instant! Instead of crying about it, I would have been celebrating, but then I looked “through the glass darkly” instead of with the clarity I now have. The Dalai Lama said, "Remember, not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck."

Monday, June 2, 2008

Enjoying the Journey

I am sitting at the computer thinking about my life. For some reason, I feel compelled to write. I’m happy, and I want the world to realize that happiness is a choice. Why should we be downtrodden? This is why I want to share some things that are in my heart. I want to share my spiritual journey. It is an eternal journey, and the fun is along the way. The fun is life itself. Let me begin with what I remember of my journey.

My physical journey, of course, began at birth. My spiritual journey began forever ago, but my earliest memory of it was sometime during my sixth grade year in school. My grade school teacher was a Christian, and she led me to the Lord. What a joyful experience!

I married at 18 but still managed to attend college and receive a Bachelor of Science degree. I waited until after college graduation to begin having children. During these early years of marriage I went to college full-time and held down three part-time jobs but yet still managed to attend church Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. I also read my bible daily and even got through it in one year. I memorized gobs of scripture. Yet, all of that still left me seeking spiritual fulfillment. I felt like something was missing.

Then in 1974, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Teresa Marie. For the first time, I felt spiritually and emotionally fulfilled. In 1976, I gave birth to another baby girl, Tori Sue. Now I had a family! I know now that I was in a good spot because I had fulfilled a lifelong dream to become a mother. I had always played with dolls and fantasized about having my very own baby. Now I had two. How blessed I felt! This blessed feeling carried me through several years. In 1983, though, my marriage of twelve years fell apart. I had some depression, but my lovely daughters and my teaching career kept me from total despair.

I raised my daughters and taught English at the high school in a small town. During that time, when my daughters reached the teenage years, the usual rebellion that goes with those years had me in a dither. Hillary Clinton says that it takes a village to raise a child, and I do believe that. As a single parent, I felt like I needed help. Fortunately, I had my sister Pam and her husband Ben to round out my village. They helped me by giving both physical and moral support.

In 1995 my beautiful daughter gave birth to a baby girl herself. Teresa had a pulmonary embolism three months later. Three blood clots were found in her lungs. I lived in Nebraska at the time, but I flew down to Arkansas, where Teresa lived, to be by her side. My airplane ride seemed long as I contemplated my daughter’s condition. Not only was I extremely worried about Teresa, but also her baby, three month old Jessica Marie. After Teresa’s recovery, I made a decision to leave my home in Nebraska and move to Arkansas to be close to Teresa and Jessica.

It was in Arkansas that my spiritual journey took a different path. Teresa had always been interested in the environment and the Native American culture so I began to look for a more tolerant religious path, one that enveloped respect for the earth and all other people and creatures. In my quest for this path, I became a happier person. I let go of a lot of blame and guilt and began to look for tolerance….not only of others but for myself as well. This spiritual transformation helped lead me into the next phase of my life. I was ready for a loving relationship.

While in Arkansas, I met Frank, a wonderful man whom I married in 1997, and our union has been so uplifting. I truly believe I met my soul mate. He is my best friend. Life is good. He’s romantic and thoughtful. He’s opened so many doors for me. He taught me computer skills, reintroduced me to the thrill of bicycling, and organized travel opportunities for us beyond my wildest dreams.

A couple of years after my marriage to Frank, my youngest daughter Tori married and had a baby daughter Sierra Jade. Then on July 18, 2004, Tori had a terrible motorcycle accident that almost took her life. Sierra was five years old at the time and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. This changed life for my little family dramatically. My sense of serenity was gone. I was consumed with worry. I felt like I couldn’t cope.

Even though Tori was hurt severely, her spirits were high. She became my spiritual guide. I read books she suggested because her example inspired me. I wanted to be as happy and peaceful as she was and is. That is when I began learning about peace and how the indwelling of the Spirit produces positive emotions such as joy, love, and peace. I began to look forward with positive expectation.

I witnessed a real miracle. Tori had a busted pelvis and was told that she could not have any more children, but in 2006, less than two years after her accident, she had an amazing baby girl, Kaya Nixi. Kaya is a Hopi Indian word meaning “wise child” and Nixi means “water sprite”. Kaya is a miracle baby. I decided to stay with Tori, Caleb, and Sierra for a while and help take care of Kaya. The first day of my stay I was jumping on the trampoline with Sierra. I fell off the trampoline and broke my arm. The weird thing is that my thoughts were so full of joy about Kaya that my broken arm didn’t matter much to me. Somehow along the way, I became discerning enough to recognize what is important in life. All other things became trivial.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Living with Enthusiasm

"God's people should be the happiest people on earth," says Joel Osteen in the last chapter of the book. I usually don't post until Monday. Even though the reading is not due until then, I'm so excited about a video that Frank put together that I decided to post ahead of time. We picked quotes that we try to live by and put them on photos that we have taken on our various trips. We used Enya's music for a background and assembled our video. I'm all about living MY BEST LIFE NOW with all the enthusiasm I can muster. I believe in looking at life as a breeze instead of a battle. That is not to say the hard things don't happen in life. I've had two daughters in ICU in the past so I have been through challenging times, but I refuse to let things get me down. I wake up in the morning with a smile on my face, and just today I made up a little poem: "Life is easy, light and breezy." This doesn't mean that I am naive or frivolous; it just means that I've made a choice to be happy. I have so enjoyed reading this book with you and your comments throughout the discussion. Thank you very much for your participation. Some of you were able to get on the blog quite a bit, and some of you didn't have the time or the desire. Whatever your part was, I want you to know I appreciate you all. Without you, Frank and I wouldn't have put together this blog or examined the book so closely. It has been a blessing to us. I hope you have been blessed in some way too. Whether you have read the book or not, feel free to make comments this week about enthusiam.

We would like to share our video with you. Click here! All of the photos are photos we have taken over the years! God Bless!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Our Nature is Truth

(Photo of my daughters)
It’s time to Launch off a life of pure excellence. We can each do this by embracing one simple, yet amazingly insightful truth.
Our Nature is Truth!!
This indeed means it is natural for us to live IN truth. Not only visit it from time to time. We require no education, no amount of money and no career to live a life of integrity. It is our very nature!! Now isn’t that something worth getting excited over? I am a nature lover. My love spans upward to the deepness of the blue skies and below into the soil at the wonders of the earth. Nature exists effortless and just as each river leads to the sea, each one of us has a sea of truth within us waiting to open to freedoms. Holding back the truth in any situation creates waves within.
Avoiding the truth because of fear only adds more fear and that becomes a problem.How often does this happen where circumstances “seem” to be asking us to leave out the truth or fib in order to avoid an even bigger dilemma and inconvenience another. You’re late for work so you find the best reason to suit the situation. Your friends want to go out, and you don’t so you make up some fib to avoid hurting their feelings….you get the idea.
I was a proud 4 year old riding on the John Deer tractor down the gravel road with grandpa. It was the best! I was born the youngest and often more times than not when I wanted to do something I was told “You’re not old enough yet”, so this day was extra special. I savored every moment of the cold fall winds blowing on my face until… One of my mittens fell off my hand. I watched it hit the tire and fall onto the road. I loved those mittens!! Now what! The entire journey home became only a memory to me of fear. I did not tell grandpa my mitten had fell off. I withheld the truth. He was running late and I didn’t want to cause him any more delay. Once at home my tears began to flow and suddenly the truth came out. It couldn’t be helped as immediately my bare hand was noticed, even though I tried my very best to hide it.
I did get my mitten back. We made a trip in the car back down the road to get it.At the age of 4 I realized telling the truth even if it seems better to lie causes less problems. From this story I share of when I was very young I have found the biggest truths of who I am are Now impossible to lie about. So I don’t like liver, there are many who don’t, and I don’t like ice-cream…and so on and so on. It’s ok to be who you are even in moments where it feels uncomfortable and would be easier to grab a costume and become a clone in perception. The truth cannot be hidden forever. There is no part of our unique essence that can be hidden in the end. The journey back to find your truth may take time, but like a lost mitten found to a little 4 year old girl it will bring you great Joy in the end.

Colleen C Smith

Monday, May 19, 2008

Being a Person of Excellence and Integrity

Being people of excellence and integrity is the only way to be truly happy according to Joel in chapter 31. What does that mean? It means going the extra mile and having a good attitude at work while you give the best quality and taking pride in what you do. If you are a homemaker, keep your house looking nice. If you are a teacher, you give your best to your students. If you are a businessman, you give your company a full day's work. These are just some of the examples of being a person of excellence and integrity. "Whatever you do, work at it with your whole heart, not unto men, but do it unto God knowing that God will reward you." (Colossians 3:23) I'm going to brag a little bit on my husband now because I have accompanied him on business trips and watched him teach agents about insurance. He gives it his all. I'm always proud of him for that. He never takes the easy way out. His former boss told me that she wished she could clone him. I know this will embarrass Frank. He hasn't been on the blog for awhile because he has been so busy with travel and work, but I am proud to say that he exemplifies this chapter. I thought of him with almost every word I read. I want to follow his example in this. I want to follow Christ's example even more as He did what was right, even in the face of great persecution. May we live happy, fulfilled lives because we are doing God's best work.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happiness Is a Choice

Happiness really has been knocking on my door lately. I had a marvelous birthday and Mother's Day. I have so enjoyed enlarging my vision, recognizing my royalty as a child of the Most High, realizing the power of my words and thoughts, letting go of the past, finding strength in adversity, living to give, and choosing happiness. We are finishing the book in the next three weeks, but I want to continue to blog and enjoy my best life. Joel says, "Your best life starts today! God wants you to enjoy your life right now." I think that we need to realize that happiness is a choice. It is not dependent on a particular set of circumstances, our relationships, or some wonderful event taking place in our lives. It is dependent instead on living life as an adventure with an open heart and tuning into the joy of this very minute. Happiness is available, but we must choose it every moment. Even though I'm tired tonight from my trip, I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to travel. Happiness is all about gratitude. We have such an abundant life. "Bless the Lord, O my soul who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like an eagle's." (Psalms 103:1, 5)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Sowing and Growing

"They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that is really life." I Timothy 6:18-19. God created us to be a river that is constantly flowing, according to Joel. "When we live selfishly, always receiving, always taking but never giving, we become stagnant and polluted.....Yes, God wants to pour good things into your life, but if you want to live your best life now, you must learn to allow those good things to flow through you to others. As you do, your supply will be replenished and your life will maintain its freshness."

Monday, April 28, 2008

The Seed Must Lead

Galatians 6:7 says, "Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap." If we want to reap good things, we must sow some good seeds according to chapter 28. The seed always has to if we want happiness, we need to sow some seeds of happiness. If we want anything in this life, we must be willing to give it first. II Corinthians 9:7-9 says, "God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work." Our Sunday sermon was about sacred service, which the speaker called anything we do for someone or give to her/him. I love that....sacred service. I'm inspired to do my best to serve God and His creation, including everyone I meet.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Keep Your Heart of Compassion Open

It's hard to be compassionate sometimes, but I like the way chapter 27 begins. Joel tells this story of when his dad and he were traveling overseas, and the plane had to stop to refuel on this small island. On the island, Joel's dad discovered a young man who was stranded on the island and gave him money to fly home. Joel's dad thought about his own children and how he would want someone to help them in they were in that situation. I would do anything for my kids so I would hope that I could be compassionate to someone who had a situation similar to what my kids have gone through. The other day a woman, who is one of my facebook friends, was telling about how she lost her 25-year-old son a year ago. I felt such compassion for her because I remembered how close I came to losing Tori when she was 27 to a motorcycle accident. Sometimes I wonder if God allows things like that to happen so that we will have compassion for others. I thank God every day that he spared Tori. Here is a picture of me holding Tori's oldest daughter Sierra when she was a baby.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Showing God's Kindness and Mercy

My baby granddaughter Kaya turned two today, and here she is kissing my mom, her great-grandma Joan. Happy birthday, Kaya! Her name came from a Hopi Indian word meaning "wise child", and I think she's lived up to the name. Of course, since I'm her nana, I might be a tad bit biased.

It's time to start discussion of chapter twenty-six, "Showing God's Kindness and Mercy". "See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always aim to show kindness and seek to do good to one another and everybody," says Paul in I Thessalonians 5:15. Joel says, "When you are placed in awkward situations where somebody doesn't treat you right, you have the golden opportunity to help heal a wounded heart....hurting people often hurt other people as a result of their own pain. If somebody is rude and inconsiderate, you can almost be certain that they have some unresolved issues inside. They have some major problems, anger, resentment, or some heartache they are trying to cope with or overcome. The last thing they need is for you to make matter worse by responding angrily." Amen! Help me to remember that, Lord. Help me to be kind to people no matter how they treat me. Help me approach others with the innocence of Kaya, who is non-judgmental, loving, and accepting of everyone.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Joy of Giving

Rock Chalk, Jayhawk! Those of us from Kansas know what I'm talking about. Tonight is the National Championship basketball game with Memphis, and it is beginning NOW. Go, Hawks!!

Tonight I'm also starting the discussion on giving. Rozan presented some good thoughts about it on the last post so I'll just continue from there. "Giving and receiving are the same, and all that I give, I give to myself." says Jerry Jampolsky. Sometimes we think that when we give something away that b/c we don't have it anymore, we will suffer scarcity and loss. Actually, though, when we give, we will experience such an expansion and extension of joy and love that we will feel like we've gained much more by giving than we would have gained had we received. Jerry Jampolsky also says, "Become a love giver instead of a love seeker." The gospel in Luke 6:38 says, "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put in your lap, for the measure that you give will be the measure you get back." I used to think that verse was talking about money, but I've come to realize that it is referring to everything in life.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Trusting God When Life Doesn't Make Sense

Frank & I did trust God in regards to his mother, and thankfully, she is doing much better. She should be out of the hospital on Tuesday. I appreciate chapter 24 because all of us have been through times when life just didn't make sense. I remember a particular time when Tori was in the hospital following her accident, and she had been through a particularly long life-saving operation. Her sister Teresa and I spent the night in the hospital waiting room, along with my granddaughters. Early in the morning, a thief grabbed my purse. I was devastated. I had been through so much already and now all my ID was gone as well as my money. I had been buying hospital food to feed Teresa and the granddaughters. All of the sudden, I had nothing. Life didn't make sense just then. Later in the day, I was on the phone to Frank, explaining what had happened. A stranger overheard my conversation and gave me some money. I asked for his address so I could repay him. He wouldn't give it to me, but his wife finally gave it to me. A week later Frank and I sent him a check for more than he gave me, but he never cashed it. In the midst of my struggle, God sent a generous man to provide my needs. What an awesome God we have! Joel says in this chapter, "He knows how much you can take, and in your times of distress, keep in mind, God is enlarging you. The struggle is giving you strength."

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Purpose of Trials

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter. We had the kind of Easter that makes chapter 23, "The Purpose of Trials" relevant. We had just returned from a wonderful three weeks in Arizona to learn that Frank's mom had been hospitalized. We spent Easter Sunday driving to Joplin to see her. It was tough for Frank. "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him." (James 1:12) This verse is an encouragement to me as was the whole chapter in Your Best Life Now. Joel says, "We all face challenges, struggles, and times when things don't go our way......God has a divine purpose for every challenge that comes into our lives. He doesn't send problems, but sometimes He allows us to go through them." In difficult times we find what is inside us. I Peter 4:12 says, "Don't be amazed at the fiery ordeal that's taking place to test your quality as though something strange was happening." God uses trials to cleanse us, purify us, and refine us so that we can become the person God wants us to be. Joel says that God is more interested in changing us than He is in changing our circumstances. Do we have what it takes? Will we trust God to get us through the tough spots? God may be trying to toughen us up a little. Will we soar with the eagles? Joel says that without the resistance of air, an eagle can't soar. Our trials serve to make us stronger.

Monday, March 17, 2008

God's Timing

I stand amazed at God's Timing over and over again, and today is a perfect example. I have referred to my friend Linda in this blog. Her picture is on my fridge, so I can see, remember, and get over the hurdle of losing her, and I was feeling pretty proud of myself last night as I looked at it. There were heart twinges, but I was ok, knowing she was in God's Arms.
Today, I talked to my son on break, and he said, "Mom, I need to read something to you, do you have a minute?" He began reading, and it was such an uplifting letter, written to him when he was in Afghanistan, I believe. At the end of the letter it mentions Jeremiah 29:11, one of my favorite all time verses, and then he said, "Mom, it is signed 'LINDA'!" I lost it. It says: "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." She wrote that out for him when he was just going through some rough waters. My friend is now experiencing perfection.
God's Timing is always PERFECT, and in our imperfect world, we tend to forget that. He always answers, it may be "Yes, No, or WAIT" but He always does, and IN HIS TIME!
I trust that we will wait and watch for His timing in our own lives.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Your Inner self

A lot has happened in the last two months - that remind me of the inner self staying strong. A dear, dear friend named Linda went into the hospital in Denver on the 14th of January 2008 for what she thought/hoped/prayed would be only a 5-7 day stay, with a longer recovery. Over the course of six plus weeks, she fought like a trouper to overcome the six hour surgery, and we thought she was going to come through it, till the 27th of February, and she passed away on the 28th. One of the most telling comments was "She is a FIGHTER, she is going to overcome this!" SO many things happened, almost every weekend we would get a call to pray for her, and quickly, she was incredibly ill, and with God's Strength, that inner woman came through, and would appear to be getting better, and the next setback would hit. So many over the course of the recovery and she just wore out, bless her heart. We will all miss her incredibly. When we think of her, we think laughter. No matter what beset her, kids in the military, deploying, moving, etc, she was able to look on the bright side, pull up her strong inner woman, and laugh at some point. Her inner person is laughing and singing in Heaven today. She was a testimony to all to the end.

I was not here for her Memorial, I flew to Fayetteville, NC to help my son Grant drive back, with his car on a trailer behind a 16 foot Budget van. There was a possibility of being back Friday night, but with delays, and weather, icy roads that caused an overnight halt in Frankfort, KY... we got back on Sunday, and the Memorial was on Saturday, and lasted for two hours, then they had a wonderful time of fellowship after.

My son and I listened to the first 6 Chapters of Joel's next book on CD as we traversed MO and KS Sunday. Joel does go back over a lot of things covered in this book in the new one, but my son at one point said, "Mom, I LIKE this guy."

I will now think of my 'inner woman' standing up when I feel down from now on. There are so many things that try to keep us down. Losing my friend is just the pitts... on the trip I was thinking of things to tell her, then would realize I couldn't.... she used to get such a kick out of my trip excursions, and would share her own stories of her camping trips that she adored. I would shake off the feelings of loss and tell myself to buck up and get on with it... that she is well off now.

My son leaves for his next post in two weeks, Fairbanks, AK. He was pretty shocked when he was told where he was going, but within a short time, he began to look forward to the duty station, however-he may be deploying soon. His inner man is thinking forward to what it holds for him, the new adventures. I have had to tell myself to just "let go and Let GOD" so many times, because I know with God's protection he will be just fine, in fact, I HOPE to go visit him!

There were so many, many statements on the CD that we both identified with, and at one point Grant stated that he knew of someone he would like to have listen to the CD.

I am really, really enjoying this blog, I can relate to the book so much, and one out-of-the-ordinary thing happened at the airport when I was leaving for Fayetteville via Atlanta. I was reading ahead in our book, taking notes, so I could blog when I got to Grant's home, and had closed the book for a moment. A man leaned over, and in a strange tone asked "ARE you enjoying THAT book?" "Well, yessir, I am." "Re-all-y?" he said. "Yes, really. My husband is not a big fan of Joel, but he hasn't read the book, but I AM. I feel you can get anything out of any book, you take what you can use." I replied. He waited a minute, then his nose sort of out of joint, he said "Do you believe in Jesus Christ?" I said yes. He asked a few more pointed questions, then he said, "ARE you a born again BELIEVER?" I looked him right in the eye, and I said "IS THERE ANY OTHER WAY?" He sat back for a moment, then said "There are a lot of other ways you could have answered that, that was good." That was the end of our conversation, he got on his plane, I waited. I continue to wonder what he was really asking me. You can tell it has left me with more questions than answers that I will probably never get.

Thank you, Patty, for inviting me to this blog. It has opened my eyes to possibilities, reinforced beliefs, and lead to some interesting discussions!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Aim High and avoid Disappointment

The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.

Michelangelo said it best. While his message underlies the importance of HOPE I do believe that Chapter 20 talking about disappointment can be, and is for some people, the killer of hope. Without hope we don't even have the ability to dream and without dreams we can't utilize the enormous power of our minds and souls. Set your aim high, work hard, dream hard and let the power of God work his magic for you.