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.

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!

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.”

 

 

In Due Time, It Will Be Revealed…

God has a planEvery year in May, my husband and I put aside the chaos of life and spend one full week together doing nothing but hanging out. We always go to New York City and spend time walking the streets, eating from the street vendors, going to different kinds of restaurants, going to see a play or two and if family is close enough and have time, we see them. However, the trip is for the two of us to enjoy one another and to decompress.

Recently we attended the play, The Book of Mormon, on Broadway. I generally read reviews before I purchase tickets, but I only heard that it was a good play, so I didn’t read the reviews until a week before leaving for the trip and I had already purchased the tickets.  I have to admit, I enjoyed the play. Of course there were scenes that I felt were obscene and I would not have preferred to see them, but overall I liked the play.

As we were walking back to our hotel, my husband asked me if I was okay with the play and I asked right back, “were you?” He loved it. I asked him how would he have felt had the play turned from a particular group, the Mormons, to the Assemblies of God denomination (our denomination) or any other Christian denomination. He said, “well, I probably would not have liked it so much.” I said to him, “me either.”

I really didn’t give the play another thought after that until I sat down and began to write my weekly blog. The play was comical at best, but I thought about my stereotypes of different groups and I began to ponder the stereotypes that others have of Christians.  Why are we so weird to some? I have heard the comments “who would believe Jesus is God?” “the stories in the Bible are not believable, they are made up by men” “if there was a God, why would he be racist, sexist or favor one group of people over another?” ‘how can you believe in something that is not logical at all?” and the questions and comments go on and on.

lord teach meFirst off, I don’t claim to know nor understand the mind of God. So, I am not one of those Christians who believes that they have it all figured out. I just don’t. I know some will say, “see, you don’t know, yet you believe. You have simply been brain-washed your entire life.” I didn’t say I was stupid. I only said that I don’t have to understand everything. I believe that in due time, everything will be revealed.

I am not an ignorant person. In fact, I am highly educated. I have an undergraduate degree, two graduate degrees and one post-graduate degree. Oh and no, I have not only experienced life in America; nor been confined to only one area of the country, and I have hung out with people who are not like me. On the contrary, I have lived in two countries and I have traveled to Cuba, India, Sri Lanka, France, Italy, Germany, Israel, Japan, Korea, Guam, the Bahamas, Greece, Turkey, England, Kuwait, Iraq and a host of others. I have been to just about every state in the United States too. I have eaten with my hands, with chopsticks and with utensils. Yes, I am well-traveled, yet I still choose to believe in Jesus.

I have friends from other countries that I can call on by name. They communicate with me and I communicate with them frequently. So I am not a closed-off person. In fact, I like to think of myself as a woman of the world. I don’t force what I believe down anyone’s throats, but I also do not stifle what I believe.

The point is this, if someone wants to make fun of Christians, I say let them.  We won’t make fun of you. I hope that we do not get angry at comedies or parodies of who we are and instead love more and trust God. I pray that in due time, not only will our trust in Him show the world why we trusted Him so much, but that our love will show the world why He is worth trusting.

Listen and trust me. Everything is by design and it will all be revealed in due time.

Being Different Is Good..

differentI think we forget that we are all different people.  Oh sure, we say we know that we are different and we come to table with different perspectives, but for some reason, at the end of the day, we still expect the people we encounter to make the exact same decisions that we would make if faced with the same situations.

The fact is, until we truly embrace the notion that we come to the table with different life experiences that filter how we see the world, we will never accept others for who they are.  You may say, that’s not important, but it is. Don’t you want others to, if not value your opinion, respect that you have a right to your own opinion?  I do.

I have been on social media sites and watched television or listened to radio, and I am always frustrated and disgusted when people are so closed-minded that there is no room for anyone else to have a point of view.

I watched a lady get attacked recently because she posted to social media that she had decided to delay having another baby in order to purchase her dream home. What happened next was just down right crazy!  Others attacked her for making that decision.  On the morning news, the media reported the story and even stated that she indeed had the right to decide, but the reason she was attacked so viciously was because people on social media thought that she was out of touch with “everyday” people.  That there were too many other things going on in the world to worry about, rather than her writing that from her pristine life and protected life.  I don’t know her at all, but what I feel is that she did nothing wrong. That’s her life. For some of us, the issue would not be  sitting and trying to decide between having another baby or buying our dream home, my issue could be deciding between continuing working on a business that may not be producing what I want and spending thousands of dollars on holiday with family. I wonder if I chose to continue to put money into a failing business rather than speeding it on my family, if I, too, would be violently attacked. The point is, as humans, each of us have the right to make our own decisions based on what we feel is right for us and guess what? Maybe yours will be different than mine and vice versa.

Hey, chill.  The world would really be a better place if respect replaced exerting our own will. We will do so much better in love and in life, if we can learn to respect each other. Whether you believe the world was created or that it simply happened, that’s totally your own business and your opinion does not affect mine, nor does my beliefs diminish yours. I believe in God, you don’t and that’s okay. You not believing doesn’t affect what I believe at all. Right?

Having different opinions will be influenced by many things that have happened in each of our lives. Having different ideas about life is really more than okay.  It is wonderful because if we were all the same, the world would truly be a boring place. God loves diversity and that’s more than skin color.