Positive Faith?

The early morning hours, I got up before dawn like I usually do, and just sat and reflected on Thanksgiving.  As is my habit, I got up to read my Bible and began to write in my prayer journal.  “What would I write today?  Don’t I thank God every day for my family, friends, and colleagues? Don’t I take the time each day and thank Him for protecting them? I always thank Him for so many things in my life.”  Yes, I do these things each day, but this time, I sat in deep thought, reflecting on my life.  I thought about the article I write each month for my column, The Power of Positive Faith, and asked myself “what does that mean?”

Many times people who write aren’t writing to sell books or to become popular. They write to share stories that they feel might make some kind of positive impact on the lives of others. At least, that’s what I do and believe others do the same.  When I share my thoughts about the Power of Positive Faith, I try to think of the things that I feel makes my life better because I choose to embrace the attitude of being positive in just about every situation that might frustrate or anger me.  I am not naive, and I recognize that it is hard to do and I think some people may think that when I write about being positive, I am not being realistic.

I have heard comments such as “you can’t always be positive” or “it’s not practical to think that you can maintain a positive attitude in all situations.” That may be true, but that may not be true also. Many people face difficult challenges and great hardships and, yet, are able to force themselves to look for the light in the dark tunnel.  They seek out hope, and they don’t readily give in to disaster.  Some people maintain the faith of Noah; even when they have to face huge uncertainties, they remain steadfast and sure.

What is faith if it isn’t positive? Faith in God is positive. Faith in humanity is positive. Confidence in yourself is positive also.  So, I see faith as being a positive characteristic.  If I look at faith through my religious belief, I also see it as having a positive connotation attached to it.  To me, faith means to hope, to be assured, to trust, and to have confidence. These words trigger positive images for me.  In a more personal context, my Bible relates faith as being positive. For example, a favorite scripture is found in Hebrews 11:1 which states, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Thanksgiving, gratitude, assurances, trust, and hope all come from a place of positivity. There is power in maintaining an attitude that helps us turn our darkest moments into moments of faith that today, tomorrow or next week will be better. For those who do that, tomorrow is better.

Attitude Changes Everything…

positiveattitudechangeseverythingYou ever watch people and wonder why some are successful and others are not? Lately, that’s exactly what I have done.  I am not talking about success only in terms of financial wealth or status. I am talking about how people deal with life, their jobs, families, relationships, or their personal goals.

I have met people who could find one job after another with no problem and others who were always out of work and when they finally landed a good job, they were immediately in conflict with their bosses and let go.  I have known leaders in organizations who were confident and candid, thought of as rude, yet quite successful and other leaders who were thin-skinned and passive-aggressive, who were thought of as nice, yet stuck in place. I have seen strong and independent types as well as weak and co-dependent types.  I think about the people who were genuine and those who were phony. When I think about different people, especially the ones that were not happy or joyful; the ones who were anxiety-ridden and those who were highly insecure, I believe I have found the reasons some people thrive in life and others do not–it’s their Attitude!

First, I believe there are physical and psychological problems people deal with every day. I do not deny that people have real physiological and mental problems. However, I also know that many times success in life has very little to do with a medical issue, it has everything to do with how people see their world.

positiveattitudesmileyfaceHow do you see the world? How is your their attitude towards whatever it is you are dealing with? Do you see the glass half-empty or half-full? Do you see your part in making sure your relationships work or do you rely on others to do all the heavy lifting? What kind of attitude do you have?

Quite frankly, if you are a Believer, I have never understood a “Believer” with a negative attitude.  I just don’t.  A positive attitude is foundational to a Believer. How? Because you have faith in Christ.  That faith translates to trust—you trust that “All things work together for good” or you trust that “If He is for you, who can be against you?” Faith and Trust = Optimism. Optimism is positive. Your positive attitude will not allow you to continue to embrace anger, bitterness, jealousy, anxiety, worry, or pride; which are all negative!  These traits will not allow you to live a successful life. What will help you live a successful life?  Being intentional, understanding that changing from negativity to positivity takes time, and by asking God for help. In Philippians 4:6 we are told: “Do not be anxious for anything, but by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  We are also told in Philippians 4:8, “…whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” 

You want to be successful? Stop being the victim, stop blaming others for what’s happened to you, stop making excuses for not changing your life.  Remember, It’s Your Life, Own It.  It does not matter what has happened in your past, what matters is God can help you change your negative responses to situations to positive ones.  My question is, Do you want Him to help you?

Do You Have Heart Issues Like Me?

heartsDo you ever deal with “heart” issues?

I have been dealing with heart issues lately. My heart and my head are working overtime trying to figure out myself and my motives while trying not to worry about the motives of others.

I observe people. I am a people-watcher. More than anything, I listen to people, even when they don’t think I am. I watch for signs of superiority and insincerity. These traits will show up in various ways.  All you need to do is wait.

Anyway, I don’t like the way I have been feeling lately. Like you, I have seen the best of folks and the worst. I told myself that it’s time to stop and reevaluate my surroundings; not my inner circle, they are cool, but some of my associations and occasional acquaintances. If I, or you, are not careful, these associations can become more frequent and more influential in our thought patterns. You see, we sometimes hear from these acquaintances more than from our inner circle and before we know it, their voices are in our heads and spills over into our hearts. This is the time to find our inner circle!

My inner circle is people who are more than just trustworthy; they are authentic!  They are positive, going somewhere people who energize me.  We don’t always agree, but we respect each other.

friendship-starts-in-loving-heartWe value the opinions of each other, and we trust that each one of us is intelligent and bright enough to have an opinion worth hearing. I love my inner circle because we believe in treating others well whether others are like us or not. We don’t insult others or treat people in a nasty way. We are proud and open-minded and we recognize that we don’t have all the answers, nor do we know the mind of God, but we trust God with the answer.

I am reminding myself lately to be careful to check my heart. I don’t want it to become dark and distrusting of others. I ask you to do the same.  With all that is going on in the world, we have to guard our hearts and our attitudes. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into negativity and pessimism. It’s too easy to do.  One way to ensure that does not happen is to step away from social media (which isn’t so social anymore) and read your Bible.  Stop listening to the crowd for a while, rather, sit, reflect and wait to hear from God.

The Word of God says in Lamentations 3:22-23 that “The steadfast love of the Lord never ends. His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.; great is your faithfulness.”

I know that God loves me. He loves you too, but He also loves the world. The world doesn’t look the same to everyone; I get that. However, the world and all that is in it belongs to God (Psalms 24:1).

I have told myself that instead of being frustrated with what I have seen lately, I will trust God. He has always taken care of me and I trust He will continue to do so. He mends the brokenhearted and He cares about the things that bother us.  I  believe that the God I love is probably a whole lot more tolerant and accepting of those that are not like me. I don’t know, but I do believe that one day I will.

Keep It To Yourself….

keep it to yourself.2Like others, I am bothered whenI hear things like “that person doesn’t like you” or “she has a problem with you.” Look, Whatever!  Yes, I will admit it, it bothers me. I have learned to push back when someone tells me that someone feel that way about me. I push back when I have felt the animosity from a person first hand also.

You see we all have someone who do not like us. Wow, you thought everyone you met like you? Well, they don’t. What a revelation, but it is true.  The most popular people have folks that find something wrong with them. The most unpopular do too.  What makes the world go round is to recognize early if you can that we are all different and we may not like the same things nor can stomach some of the people we have to interact with.  That’s just reality and it’s okay.  My problem is with my friends and pseudo-friends.  I love you but….let me tell you a couple of things. You probably think you are doing me a favor by making sure I know that someone does not like me.  I get it.  However, please do me a favor.  Keep it to yourself.

That’s right, keep it to yourself. You are not helping the situation at all and if it bothers me to hear, I can imagine how it might destroy someone who is not as confident as I am.

You may think that you are just saying something either to help me (or to be mean to me pretending to help) but don’t. My life is full, filled with happiness and joy and on a positive trajectory. I am winning.  I don’t want to be brought into a negative space.  Honestly, I don’t believe that is your intention at all; at least I hope not. But that’s what happens when hurtful words are used even when those words are no intended to be used as such.

keep it to yourselfLook, even the best people who are positive and optimistic can be brought down, albeit for a little while, with those comments or opinions you are passing on.  Now let me ask you something. Do you feel good about yourself when you pass on that “stuff?” I bet not.

Okay, so maybe you didn’t know this. Soooooo now you know. Also know this, “Haters gonna hate.” That’s just a fact of life. I have always believed and stated when a person is focused on me, they probably want to be just like me. Of course the hater will say that’s not true. But to all my haters, yes it is.  I can’t say that I blame you though.  If I were you, I would want to be just like me too!

Haters Gonna Hate!

haters gonna hateThe first time I heard the term “Haters gonna hate” I laughed out loud.  I had to think about what the phrase really meant.  You know what I mean? Sometimes we hear these catchy phrases and begin repeating them without really knowing what they mean.

“Haters gonna hate” does not mean that they truly hate others. On the contrary, what the phrase means is people who are jealous or insecure, will always have something critical to say or imply about someone else. The term really only means that if one is a negative person, all they do is find fault, be critical or just plain and simple, have nothing good to offer. I chalk it up to them having low self-esteem. They will never admit it, but I bet they are always comparing themselves to others. Just think about it.  A “hater” has deep insecurity. They put on pretenses that they are confident and strong, when in fact, they are not.  Many times what’s lurking right under the surface is the question “Am I good enough?”  They may be really good at many things, but they seem to zone in on what someone else is good at or what someone else is getting credit for, and it bothers them. Just watch someone who you think may fit these descriptions: They brag to show what they have. They evaluate their clothing, hair, car, home, my goodness, anything to someone they are secretly competing with. The person may not even know that they are in a competition, but the hater knows. Actually, it takes too much energy for me to deal with haters, so I choose not to do so. Why? I can’t change them and neither can you. So, you should not waste your time trying. In fact, you should not give your haters a second thought. I am not joking with you!

karmaLook, haters want you off your game! The truth is they want to be just like you but they will never admit it. They want to look like you, be popular like you, be your size, do the things you do and be good at it like you are.  They may smile in your face and say all the right things to seemingly show support, but all the while, in the back of their minds, they resent you for some reason.  No worries though. I am going to tell you how to deal with them. Because if you would recognize who you are dealing with up front, you can head off your shock when they finally reveal their true colors to you. Here is my advice:

  1. Don’t watch for them, they will show up.
  2. When they show up, don’t be in shock. Tell yourself, LaSharnda said they exist.
  3. Do not waste your time with them. Be kind, professional, and aware, but do not hang out with them. Don’t be fooled into a sense of security with them. They only want something from you because they are not your friend.
  4. Always speak well of them. Even when they are not speaking well of you.
  5. When they do something to undermine you, don’t get even. Laugh.  I am serious. Laugh at the situation.  If you get bogged down thinking about what they did, they win.  You are now distracted, unfocused and vulnerable. You are not winning!  The reason they secretly resent you is because they see you as a winner.

vengenance is mineMy grandmother always said “what’s done in the dark, will come to light.” I couldn’t stand it when she said that. However, she was right.  Whatever it is that someone succeeds at doing to you or even if they try to do something to you, just remember, you don’t have to worry. If you are a Believer, the Bible says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”(Romans 12:19)..

If you are a non-believer, (I wish you were a Believer), but this is for you, Karma is a B—- and remember, “What goes around, comes around.”

 

 

Have You Tuned Out?

I don’t know about Encourage-One-Another1you, but if I don’t watch it, I can easily find myself criticizing everything.

How about you? Can you get on a roll if you don’t like something? Me too.  I  have listened to myself get on a roll if something irritated me.  To think of it,   when I start, I can just keep going and going and going. I think that’s why the word, “whiner” came about.  We just keep whining and whining until no one wants to listen. In fact, I know that’s why kids, spouses and others close to us learn to tune us out.

If you think about it, when we whine, our emotions are not “good feeling” emotions. They are stressful emotions.. They come in the form of irritation, anger, frustration, fatigue, being unforgiving, intolerable or just down right —I want to be nasty today.   I used to tell myself if people would hear how they sound, they would stop, but I am not so sure anymore. I am convinced there are those who love experiencing negativity; they just like to complain or condemn and discourage.

I block out complainers and I make it a point to try to hear myself when I get on that train.  I wantuned-out-2t to catch myself and stop to right away. I don’t want to be a person who becomes the crier of bad news and the person who is the Debbie Downer in every
situation. I don’t want family or friends to think of me as the one who is always negative. I pray to be a positive person and to be a person who can help bring joy to others.

People have a lot to deal with in life and most times, they know when they haven’t made the right decisions. They know when they could have done better but chose to do otherwise. I don’t think they need me pointing that out. I learned this from having a son.  I want to uplift him and help him. I want him to always feel that he can recover from anything; from any failure. Heck, I have.  I don’t want anyone in my sphere of influence to ever feel totally defeated, I don’t care what they have done.
You know, Jesus encouraged others. He didn’t tear them down. He didn’t look at those who was already beating themselves up for their mistakes and beat them down more.  Rather, Jesus strengthened and encouraged.  That’s what we are supposed to do too according to Romans 15:1 “We who are strong in the faith ought to help the weak in order to build them up in the faith.”

If you know you have a habit of becoming negative, stop yourself. If you have tuned out and can’t hear yourself speaking negative, get a true friend who can gently point it out in you and bring you back.  If your words would change and become more positive, I bet your entire life will reflect that too.

 

Push Yourself For Yourself. No One Else Matters..

push yourselfI was out running one morning and was amazed at how many times my mind would tell me to stop.  I could hear myself say “no, just don’t stop.”  As my feet hit the pavement, I felt exhilarated and tired at the same time.  Again, I would hear that voice in my head say, “just stop running and walk; you’re tired.” I would be tempted, but I would literally say to myself, “push, don’t stop.”

What’s funny is I run so early in the morning, and I am living in a new place, so no one knows me and no one cares what I do.  So I could stop if I wanted to do so.  I could just walk, or I could cut my run short and just turn around and go back home, but I don’t.  I don’t because it’s not about the run. It’s about me being able to overcome the negative talk that is going on in my head.  Besides, how will I ever get better if I don’t push myself?

You see, to continue running when my mind says to stop, means I overrule my mind.  My philosophy for every area of my life is “try and try harder. Push yourself until you can’t anymore. Never give up. Give it your all.”  I tell myself constantly all that is required of me is my willingness to try. Plus, I don’t push myself only when others are looking on, I push myself for me.

You see this discipline applies to goals in every aspect of our lives, whether it is selling Mary Kay, Nerium, Advocare, Scentsy or whatever.  This discipline is important if you are going to school and trying to finish a Bachelor’s, Masters or Doctorate. It applies if you are writing a book or an article. It applies to healthy habits and spiritual disciplines. It applies if you are single or married. It just applies to life.

Those who succeed are just gutsy enough to decide that they are not going to listen to what the naysayers have to say, even when their own mind becomes the primary naysayer. They are not going to give up because a sale didn’t happen or a peritsgoingtobehardson let them down. They keep on getting back up and pushing. That’s why some drive their Nerium Lexus or Mary Kay Cadillac or go on Scentsy cruises year after year. They are tenacious. Yes, they experience disappointments just like all of us, but they don’t wallow in them. More importantly, they understand how important it is to get up and do their thing every single day. They don’t freak out over the “no’s”because they understand that all they need is that one “yes.” They are not deterred because the people they thought they could count on, were not the ones they could count on at all.

As much as I love my family, I have always reminded myself of one thing; there are two people I can count on, God and me.  I know it’s important to trust God and to have faith, but I also know that God is not a genie and He wants me to do something with the gifts He has given me.

Many times the reason someone isn’t successful has nothing to do with a lack of skill, it is due to the lack of motivation and the fear of failure. Oh but those successful ones, they find the motivation when it isn’t staring them in the face. They may have some fear of failure, but their faith in God and in themselves, is far greater than the fear. They push when the fearful pulls back. They find a way to climb that mountain when the mountain seems too hard and they run when that voice in their head says “you should stop; you’re tired.”  They respond “No, I am not.”

 

 

You’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Come-a-long-wayHave you ever looked back on your life and thought to yourself, “Wow, I have come a long way?” Ever sat around collecting your thoughts and considering the life that’s right before you now and thought to yourself, “What a blessed life?” or “What a crummy life?” Have you ever been so mesmerized with the status of your life that you just could not believe you made it to where you are now or are you terrified by the choices you have made and regret every moment of everyday of being you?

Whether you are living the life that you have always dreamed of or if it is just a mess, I believe that you have come a long way.  Everything that we experience in life has been designed to bring us to where we are right now. All of the choices we have selected and the decisions we have made along the way, have all been a part of the process that makes up who we are right now. Good or bad; it is what it is.

It is always good to evaluate where you are. Even if it’s hard to face. By doing so, you have an opportunity to either continue down the path of success or you can now course-correct; you can make adjustments that can alter that path you are on. Maybe you have made many mistakes or bad choices, but I don’t believe it is ever too late to make your life count.

The totality of who you are and what you want to be all fall into one camp; the decisions you  make.  You want to get on the road of success?  Whether that success is in your personal life, professional life or spiritual life, think differently and act differently.  Start to move into the direction of what you deem as success. Don’t sit around and continue to accept mediocrity, or accept excuses or place blame, just do something and make it productive and positive. Make it something that will move you towards your goal of succeeding.

you've come a long way3You have come a long way baby whether you think you have or not.  You have come a long way whether you have succeeded in attaining your goals or whether you have fallen short. If you are where you want to be, great. If you are not there yet, you still have time to get there. However, you must act. You must make changes and do things differently than you have in the past. You see it is easy to accept the status quo and easier to remain complacent. It’s easy because it is comfortable. Doing the same things the same way won’t get you to where you want to be. Be daring, be a risk taker, use your past experiences to your advantage. What have you learned from them? If you re-evaluate them, you will find you have learned a lot.

Whatever you want, won’t just happen, however. It will happen when you begin to do. So get up and get started. You may not have as far to go as you think!

 

Embrace Joy!

joyThere is so much sadness in the world today.  The lost of some very popular celebrities are in the news. People are experiencing pain with relationships and there seems to be an overall sadness in the air.  Some people who I have talked with recently are really struggling with being joyful.

It occurred to me that if I am not careful, I could find myself beginning to feel and act as sad and down as others.

I have reflected on some of the most recent conversations I have been a part of.  What came to mind as I thought of some of the recent losses was how to pray for those who are experiencing pain. I have prayed over and over again. What struck me hard one morning as I was praying was this thought, “Watch it or you will find yourself sad too.”  That was the Holy Spirit.

watchyourthoughts“Watch it” is important to remember. You see the scriptures tell us to “guard” our hearts in Proverbs 4:23. I believe we are told that because if we are not careful, instead of embracing “joy” in our attitudes, we can end up on a downward spiral of sadness that so consumes us that we no longer look like joyful, happy and powerful people of God. We look like people who’ve been defeated!

In Philippians 4:4, we are told to “rejoice in the Lord, ALWAYS.”

Already, I can hear some say, “You can’t always be happy.” Well, maybe not, but that does not negate what the Word of God tells us to do. I totally understand that heartaches and disappointments can get the best of any of us, but as one person put it recently: “I think that sometimes our attitudes can cause certain things to come to us.” My response to her? “You know I agree with that statement 100%.” I do believe that we can attract negativity, which includes sadness, depression, anxiety and other anti-joy stealers or we can attract positivity, happiness, peace, love, patience, and other joy-creators.

We all face “stuff.” We just do. However, we can have joy in the midst of our struggles and pain. That’s what the Word of God says.

                                          “When anxiety was great within me,
                                          your consolation brought me joy.'”

Psalm 94:19  

Generosity or Greed?

generousMany of us would like to think that we are generous and we would never admit to being greedy. Let’s face it; greed is such a distasteful word.

The Bible tells us “a generous person will prosper; the person who refreshes others will also be refreshed.” (Proverbs 11: 25).  I think we can measure whether we are generous or greedy.  I don’t mean at times you are generous; many are. What I mean is do you hold your “stuff” loosely?  Or do you hold on tight to your “stuff?” Your money, your time or even your skills and talents? Do others have to beg you for everything?

My husband is a generous giver; he has always been that way.  One lovely night, we were walking hand in hand, leaving a Hilton hotel heading to a 5 star restaurant when a woman came out of nowhere and walked right up to him and asked him for money for food. He did not hesitate. He just took money out of his pocket and handed it to her and we begin to walk hand in hand again to dinner. Not saying one word about what had just happened. I remember thinking that I would have never stopped and done that.

Another time I was in Washington, DC with a friend on a freezing cold night. We were driving onto the off ramp, when I noticed her feverishly digging in her purse and braking as she was slowing down on the ramp; I had no idea what was happening.  All of a sudden, she just stopped on the ramp and yelled “Hey, come over here and get this!” a homeless man was sitting on the railing on the ramp in the freezing cold and her goal was to feed and shelter him. Again, I was struck by her generosity.

After witnessing those two acts, for some reason I changed. I stopped thinkinggenerosity 2 the worst when people would stop me on the streets and ask for money or if I would see them on the corner with a sign. Instead of judging their situation, I started thanking God that He had blessed me so and I prayed for them as well as just hand them what I had in my purse.  I used to be good about thinking that people should go and find a job or I would think they are going to get that money and go and drink or buy drugs. I stopped doing that. Why? Because like the two people I witnessed up close and personal, it wasn’t for me to question. I was to do what God led me to do and watch how the person I gave to was blessed; ultimately I was too. Now, I won’t say that I give to everyone; I don’t. However, I do give more than I should probably, but that’s okay, God gives me more than He should also.

I have read that scripture in Proverbs several times. In the Message version, it reads:

                                      The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed ;those                                         who help others are helped.

You see we all benefit from being a little more generous. Not only do we help others, we also help ourselves in that we lose a little more selfishness each time we release something that we want to tightly hold on to.  In the process of developing generous habits, we become more Christ-like. We lovingly give to the poor, we take care of the elderly and orphans, and we enhance the world we live in.