Love Without Conditions…

loveI read someone’s post recently that listed a whole bunch of things for his reader’s consideration. He said that someone asked him what advice would he give to his children.  He listed so many considerate, loving and well-articulated things he would tell his children;. Clearly he loved them.  But out of all the things he listed, what resonated with me the most was “love without condition”.  During the time I read his letter, I had just received mail from someone telling me of an issue in their family with a teenager.This parent was clearly upset and so totally disappointed with what had just happened.  I had already responded to the friend and then I read this guy’s post.  I immediately thought about the situation that had just been described to me and although I had pretty much said the same thing, the phrase “love without condition” would not leave me alone.

I began to think about it.  I pondered it and asked, What is “love without condition” anyway? Well, immediately Jesus came to my mind. He is the only person that I can think of who ever loved without condition. He loved humanity so much that He died for us. Yet, there are so many in this world who refuse to believe it. They say that this is just a story that someone made up.  That Jesus was indeed a good man, but there is no way that he is the Savior of the world. My simple response? But He is. You might say, prove it. I can’t. I just believe.

I believe that Jesus is the ultimate example of unconditional love. He reached beyond His little home town, His little team of disciples, He reached beyond His own people, the Jews, to embrace and include people that nobody else would  even dare sit with. Hey, but Jesus did. Jesus didn’t mind being around hookers, drunks, the lowest of the low, He didn’t mind sitting with women or people of different races, because He loved without conditions. He forgave regularly and He knew how to meet people where they were without condemning them. He loved them without conditions.

You might say, well, there are conditions, you have to change your life to be a Follower of Jesus; to be a Christian.  No, that’s not true.  I was messed up, like many others, and He accepted me as I was and then as time went on, my life began to change because I wanted to change.  Unless you have lived in some secluded & remote place where you have never had to interact with others or you have only been around people who are exactly like you, maybe you don’t know that. But even you and those like you, are not perfect. When you met Jesus, you were not then and you are not now! Yet He still loved and continues to love you.  In fact, the Bible says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

I am not going to even pretend that I have mastered, nor that I am anywhere near loving unconditionally, but I hope that each day I get a little better at being loving, patient, & kind,. I hope that step by step I can become what we are told to become by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 :4-7 when he says, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Hey, that’s a picture of what unconditional love looks like!  And unconditional love is not just for the people we like, it’s for everybody no matter color, gender, creed or (wait for it….!) sexual orientation.  We are to love people and let God handle the rest. Look, don’t judge me because I believe in loving others regardless of where they are. Hey, my sin and your sin may be different, but it’s still sin.the-new-commandment

Your Dreams are Important…

you-are-gifted-encouragement-and-inspiration-at-www-abettermedaybyday-comHave you ever seriously considered the gifts that God has given you? Have you ever just sat quietly and contemplated what you have and why you have a particular gift?  Do you honor God by doing something with what He has given you or do you find yourself sitting, looking or comparing yourself with those around you?  Do you look at your friends and secretly resent that they seem to be achieving every single goal that they set?  Do you feel a little jealous when a co-worker seems to be able to accomplish one thing after the other? Do you look at yourself and feel inadequate?  Well, stop! You are gifted too. You have your own road to travel to get to where you want to be just like the person you are comparing yourself  to.

When they achieve their dreams the process isn’t any easier or harder for them as it is for you. The difference is they are focused on achieving their dreams and using their gifts. Are you? Or are you sitting on the sidelines watching them?

I always say that one of the many reasons why dreams aren’t met and success isn’t accomplished, is a real simple one; we are too focused on watching what someone else is doing,  comparing ourselves to them and then worrying about what they have accomplished compared to what we have accomplished.

Hey, God gave you your own dreams. If He hasn’t given you the talents to accomplish them yet, you can bet that He will; He’s probably preparing you right now. In fact, Hebrews 13:21 tells us that He has given us gifts that are special. Did you know that? I believe the Bible!

I also believe that just as we have spiritual gifts, God has put dreams in our hearts that are just for us.  When we pursue those dreams, I think we are pursuing a destiny designed in God’s  grand plan.

Here is some news for you; you can choose to pursue those dreams and do so with an attitude that what God has begun in you, He will complete it or you can watch others pursuing theirs and comparing what they are doing versus what you are doing and just stay stuck where you are. I don’t think that pleases God though and watching others certainly does not do anything to keep you on a forward movement path.

My Journey is mineIf you aren’t careful, you will become consumed with what others are doing. How does that fulfill your own purpose?  It doesn’t.  Watching others and comparing yourself to what they have accomplished and what you haven’t, only causes you to question your abilities.  It stresses you out. You can become obsessed with their achievements and begin to doubt if you are even capable of achievement. Yet, we can agree based on scripture, that God has given you the ability to do just that; achieve His divine purpose for your life.

Look, your dreams were given to you for you only.  My dreams were given to me for me only. You can decide that you will pursue yours and I can decide that I will or will not pursue mine. The point is simple, your journey is yours to travel just as mine is mine to travel. We can trust God to give us the strength, talents, gifts and abilities to achieve our dreams and goals and to finish the race or we can sit back and be distracted by all sorts of things that won’t help us finish our race at all.

One thing that is sure, true and constant and that is, God is God. Whatever gifts He has given is ultimately for His glory. Choose if you intend to honor Him by trusting what dreams He put in you and believe that He is able to help you accomplish them.

Yes, your journey is yours and mine is mine, but all has been determined by God.  The question is, what do you intend to do about it? Will you simply watch and compare or will you move forward trusting and obeying? Remember, the choice is yours…

Let “Status Quo” Be Uncomfortable

Expand-yourself-Get-out-of-comfort-zoneAre you afraid to be uncomfortable? Good. I find that when I am uncomfortable living a regular, everyday life, I do something about it.  I can’t sit still. I become restless and I have to do something. Anything! How about you?

There is a negative connotation associated with being restless.   I don’t see it as negative. In fact, I think restlessness can be a good thing.  For some, it is negative but for others, restlessness pushes us to action.  I say, restlessness can be stressful, but it can also be liberating.

In my book, It’s Your Life; Own It. No blame, No Excuses, one of the things I talk about is the importance of going after the life you really want.  I talk about how important it is to decide on what it is you want and then to plot a course to achieving that goal. I talk about how some people will talk, talk and talk about what they want and they never do anything about getting what they want. They make excuse after excuse about why it is that they can’t do something. The make every excuse as to why something can’t be done and they blame everything that they can think of as the reasons why that don’t move towards the goal.  When the real reasons may be as simple as being uncomfortable; taking a risk; doing something; anything.

Don’t you know of people who set goals and never achieve them? Me too. I have heard people say that they wanted to write a book or that they wanted to start a non-profit or that they wanted to start their own business, yet year after year, you see them and they are still saying the same things they said 3 years prior. You ask them what have they done to get closer to that goal and the answer is “nothing really.”   Have you helped someone lay out a plan to do something only to see them months, sometimes years later, and they have not done a thing? Of course you have. I certainty have.  Listen, they are happy being comfortable with the status quo; it’s that simple.

Are You A Goal-Setter or Goal-Achiever?

There is a big difference between a person who is a goal-setter and one who is a goal-achiever.  There is a big difference between dreamers and achievers and there is a real big difference between those who always talk about what they want to accomplish and those who get out there and actually accomplish the thing they want. Do you know what the difference is?  Comfort and Discomfort.

where-magic-happensMany are comfortable living just as they are day after day. They claim that they want to do more and to achieve a stated goal, but it’s just talk.  Then there are those who embrace discomfort; they are the risk-takers. They can’t imagine living day after day just dreaming their lives away.  They would rather take a chance; they understand that failure can happen, but that does not scare them. God bless those who are happy with comfort. It’s okay if that’s what they want to do; if that’s how they choose to live. I just would prefer that they would recognize what they are doing and that they would stop talking about achieving a thing that they never intend to achieve.  I wish they would recognize that they are living a fantasy and that’s okay too because it is their lives. I just don’t want them acting like the victim.  It’s okay but it’s not what I want for my life and that’s okay too.  I prefer to embrace being uncomfortable.  I prefer taking risks. Because by doing so, I have stretched beyond my wildest dreams. I have accomplished things I never thought possible.

The challenge here is to decide what you want out of life.  Recognize that most who are successful, take risks. They have learned to embrace the unknown and the uncomfortable.  Remember, we all like the familiar; we all want to live in comfort, but what’s frightening about that is that I will end up living a status quo life. I am terrified that each day will become mundane and that I will wake up one day and would have not experienced so much that God placed inside of me.  I would encourage you to think about what’s holding you back.  Is it that you are happy nursing what you are comfortable with or are you willing to take a risk and do something that you have always wanted to do?  Guess what? It’s up to you.

It’s Your Life; Own It…

Do You! Maybe the World Would be a Better Place…

Beckwith photoI am always put off when I see or hear of others trying to dictate how another person should live. You know what I mean, don’t you? They want to dictate how the other person should write, talk, and behave.  I have always wondered what’s the deal with those people who think that they have been put on this earth to tell everyone what they should do.  I am also baffled by those who constantly critique others as if they were given the keys to heaven alone and no one else has been nor will they ever reach their level of superiority.

Don’t you want to tell them to bug off? To mind their own business? You know, if we could find the strength to tell them to mind their own business, as we mind our own, maybe we can get a lot more done than we expect. Maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place.  If we would stop interfering with other’s lives and let them be who they are, maybe the world would be a better place. If we would just encourage others and not tear them down. If we would push them to write that book they dream of writing without requiring them to have the same publisher we have or the same style of writing or the same well known friends or publicists or whatever it is that we require of them before they can be good enough, maybe, just maybe, the world would be a better place.  If a person wants to sing, dance, start  a company, invest in a relationship or do anything that they dream of doing, and we not judge, but simply support them, maybe the world would be a better place.

seuss-youIf we would just let people be who they are; let them live out their dreams with our encouragement; if we would just shut up and keep our negatives opinions to ourselves, do you think that maybe the world would be a better place?

The fact is, there really isn’t any real formula for success. Some may achieve success following a formula and others have stepped out of the box and accomplished great things not following any formula at all. Your way of doing something may be great, but there are other ways. Each of us may do things differently than another, but that’s okay.

Why not allow others to live their lives? Let them “do them” and you “do you”. If we would do that, maybe the world would be a better place.  Seriously….

God Is Faithful…

faithful-god-results-dayDo you believe that God keeps His promises? Do you have problems believing that? Is it particularly hard to believe that when you have unanswered prayers.

These are questions that I know we all have struggled with at some point, but I am here to assure you that without a doubt, God keeps His promises.

I am sure you have had challenges in your life. If you haven’t, just wait. No, I am not going to speak anything negative over your life, but just living will offer each of us some challenge at some point. Some reason to wonder if God cares enough about us that He will do something about whatever it is that maybe consuming us.

Over the last month or so, I have experienced one challenge after another. I am not complaining and that’s probably why they haven’t overtaken me; nonetheless, I have had them. My stress level has been very high. Many days I have had to remind myself that I need to stop and take a break away from everything. You see even with those who may be strong Believers, we can still become overcome with stress and anxiety.

I was thinking about all that has gone on in my life over the last couple of months and all of a sudden, I felt that God spoke to my heart,“ God is faithful.” Those words were powerful and stuck with me. They stuck with me because things were about to turn from dark days to days of sunshine even as a tornado was about to pound upon this part of Texas.

The Word of God says, “All things work together for good to those who love God.” If we aren’t careful, those familiar verses can become ordinary; they can become just common sayings for Believers, but I want to caution against taking familiar passages for granted. God is God and we can count on Him. He has proved his faithfulness over and over again. He was faithful from the time I was born, through relationship issues, self -doubt, mistakes, through my illness in 2011 and through too many other challenges I have faced in my life. He will be faithful to you too. His faithfulness isn’t just for someone special because to Him, we are all very special.

Whatever you go through, whether it is a super duper surprise or something that was coming for a while, nothing is a surprise, nor is it so huge that it will overtake Him. Things happen in our lives, good and bad, to help mature us. Other times, things will happen to test us and at other times things happen to help us learn to

We Were Not Designed to be Perfect

NoPerfectPplDo you think that perfection is honorable? It isn’t.  Perfection is a dream that no one can attain.  Even the most respected people must deal with the idea of not being perfect simply because others think of them as being that way. If you have a problem with always seeking perfection and never attaining it, you might want to remember that we weren’t designed to be perfect. There was only one human that was perfect and, of course, that was Jesus.

I have heard people talk about being perfectionists and at times, they berate themselves because they aren’t. They feel that nothing that they do is ever good enough. They can’t move on with a simple project because it has to be perfect. They can’t write a paper or paint a wall or coordinate a table setting because every little detail must be perfect.  I understand what they mean, but I also understand that if I live life that way, I probably won’t get a lot of things done.  If I were to wait for whatever I am trying to do to be perfect, I would be frustrated and deflated!

In fact perfection can be hard on a person. It is debilitating!  It is stifling! and it can be harmful to one’s self esteem.  Talk about a sure way to hurt your self-confidence. You don’t have to because you can choose not to be a perfectionist. You know, sometimes those things that hang us up are our own self-imposed pressures.

Listen, if you want to be successful, learn to accept that doing your best is good enough. Just make sure it is your best.  When you have prepared yourself, worked hard and done all that you can to achieve whatever it is that you want to achieve, let the chips fall where they may.  Stop worrying, stop stressing, stop second-guessing. Look yourself in the mirror and say, my best was all I had and I gave all of me. Then walk away confident that if it doesn’t work out, it will be okay because you will be right back trying again tomorrow.

No you don’t have to seek perfection, you just need to be persistent.

 

 

Jesus Christ was the only perfect person.

I’m Trying to be the Best Me…

 

 It is so easy to get caught up in trying to be someone else. There isn’t anything wrong with looking up to someone you admire. Nor is it wrong to look at the successes of others so that you can learn from what they have done; maybe you can do better. In addition, there isn’t anything wrong with changing how you look because you saw a particular look on someone else that you really like. There is nothing wrong with any of these.

Here’s the problem. When you become so obsessed with another person so much that you cannot appreciate who you are is not healthy. It’s a problem if you look at someone else and see inferiority rather than equality or if you see the other person as being superior to you and you lose sight of your own worth. These are problems.

The best that you can do for yourself and that you can give to the world comes with you working to be the best “You” that you can be. It is not you, trying to be the best “someone else you want to be.”

How do you become the best you? Stop focusing too much on what someone else is doing. When you find yourself constantly focusing on another’s successes, when you find yourself secretly resentful and even upset when another person is winning; when you can’t execute your own plan because you are too busy watching what someone else is doing, you are obsessing.

Your best self is your true self. Enhancing oneself is okay, losing your own identity is quite another story.  Who you are is just as valuable as the person you are watching. You are no more and certainly no less than anyone else.

Trust me, someone wants to be like you, so be your best self. always Somebody’s watching.