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".