Serenity NOW!

Serenity PrayerBalance! It’s what I decided would be the one word that would describe how I wanted to grow and improve my life in 2013. I entered into a 12-step program 142 days ago for compulsive eaters. I never considered myself as someone with an eating disorder although I had always been overweight. The fact of the matter is throughout my life I probably could have entered into any of the 12 step programs available out in the world; a program for alcohol, drugs, gambling, sex, work, etc. You name it, at some point in my life I obsessed with each of them to a point they could have been labeled addiction!

So many people like myself, in an attempt to feel like we have some control in our lives when things actually seem to be spiraling out of control, turn to so many things outside of ourselves that actually only mask the issues we are dealing with. I realized that when I started the 12-step program, food was not the problem; it was years of not having balance in my life; worrying about things that were out of my control; ignoring things I could have affected; and trying to fill a spiritual void with things that cannot possibly exist in a peace-filled spirit; that was my problem. It’s when I turned things over to God and His will for me, and adopted the Serenity Prayer into my life daily, that I began to experience peace and joy at a level I never dreamed of. I thought I would share with you briefly what this simple, 3 section prayer is doing for me and what I believe it can do for whomever embraces it!

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change! I’m not sure if it’s a guy thing or just a people thing in general, but I can speak for myself in that I always felt like I needed to fix everything; be the problem-solver as though it was my job. If you are like me, you realize how much needless pressure we have been putting on ourselves our entire lives. When I came to a point where I really wanted things to change and to begin living a life of peace and joy, I took the first step. I turned my life over to God! I was incapable of changing by myself but with His strength and guidance, at least I began to believe! Then it was time to truly let go of a lot of things; but that’s where I need for God to give me the strength so that I could just let some things be and have faith in Him that they are like they are for a reason. I may not understand them but that is OK as well!  He has got my back!

Courage to change the things I can. With the chaos of always trying to fix things I never had the capability to change, I totally ignored the simple things I could change that would actually make a positive difference in my life. Things such as praying everyday; working out; eating right; taking some quiet time; playing with my kids; taking my wife for a night out; I could go on! The fact that when I began to let go and let God, it was as if life slowed a little and I had the time I needed to do what is truly important, LIFE! PEOPLE! RELATIONSHIPS! CONNECTING! Not money, jobs, social status, etc. What can you change and begin to move in that direction!

Serenity

And the Wisdom to know the difference! Wisdom is something we are not typically born with; it is acquired by turning to God and letting Him guide you. He may place certain people in your life that bring you wisdom. He may allow you to experience some struggle that when you come out of the other side, you are stronger and you have gained wisdom. Regardless of how you receive, you must be constantly pursuing an increase of wisdom in your life. When this happens, clarity begins to drift in and you know the things you can and can’t change! You begin to experience peace, joy and balance in all areas of your life! You realize that the control you desired when drinking, gambling, eating or whatever addiction possessed you can actually be found by surrender! Letting go! It can be hard to understand how one can feel a sense of control in their life by relinquishing control; but then again that is the awesomeness of God! He can make the impossible; possible! Serenity NOW!

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Grab Your Pencil! Time to Connect The Dots!

Connect the DotsHow many of you remember watching a page full of dots come to life as a child? As a very young child I can remember the excitement of getting a brand new connect the dots coloring; pages filled with random dots and numbers, endless possibilities of excitement, color and life. And the opportunity to reach out with my own hand, connect the dots and begin to bring together what the author intended. Once that what was meant to be was made clear to me and the image was complete, I had the free will to add color, texture and imagination to bring life into the image. And so is it with our lives!

Are we but only random dots on this earth with no particular purpose or point? Absolutely not! God placed every individual right where they need to be; every dot in the perfect place at the perfect time that through us and our free will, we can begin to connect the dots. We can start by connecting with those right next to us; our spouses, our children, old friends, our neighbors and anyone within our reach; it is then we can begin to see the perfect masterpiece of life that Our Heavenly Father intended.

Like with the connect the dots coloring book, we too shall never be complete if we leave some dots disconnected from the rest of the creation. We need to each grab our pencil of love and begin to reach out and connect with the nearest dot; the person we see closest to us that is not connected; that is living in isolation; that is confused and lost; that is scared and alone. Make that effort to connect yourself to them in someway that brings each of us closer to resembling God’s plan for us all.

Can you imagine what things would look like if we remained but dots on the page? We would never know our purpose; we would see what we could have been; we would not know and understand the beauty that could come from connecting with the person next door? What a waste of an opportunity to be co-designers in this world!

But we can’t make EVERYONE connect the dots; and this I know, however, no one said we couldn’t reach out and connect more than just our dots. Some of us have been given the desire, vision and passion to see the picture well before the dots are even connected. I use to love trying to guess what laid in front of me on my coloring book even before I put a pencil to a dot. Sometimes I was right and sometimes I was wrong but either way I still had the ability to move closer to the truth by connecting another dot; and another, and another.God Dots And with each dot, even if no one else is seeing the big picture, I am getting a clearer picture of my purpose and what I was designed for.  But I also know not everyone will be impacted by my “lines” but some people will be; and they will acknowledge it to me; and together we can pull out our pencil and help those that just can’t connect the dots for themselves.

It’s possible that I may never see the finished picture until the day I meet My Maker but until then I can connect as many dots as possible; invite many others to join me; add color, excitement and imagination into the page we are on today and rest in the following scripture; “We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things
work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love
God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

There’s a beautiful picture out there waiting on us to commit to; who’s going to grab their pencil and get started connecting dots? Let’s make a Divine impact together! God Bless!

Posted in Spiritual | 11 Comments

Smile….The World Needs It!

smiley faceFor the past several years, I have enjoyed a little ritual that I enjoy doing on my drive to work. At every red light or stop sign, I look over at the person beside me and smile and wave! It’s amazing the responses I receive! Many people smile and wave back and I’m sure as they are driving off they are saying “Who in the heck was that?”. Some I see laughing because I do it with child-like enthusiasm. Of course I get the occasional one finger salute but I don’t let that deter me. Typically I grow my smile even bigger for them! Try what I am saying. Start out by looking at the expressions on most people’s faces on their morning commute. Most just have this look of stress and anxiety! They are heading to a job they can’t stand; running late to drop the kids off at school; fed up with the traffic; YIKES! They look like they could scream at any moment! Then you come along; big smile and a friendly wave; and at the moment that negative thought pattern they are caught up in is interrupted and knocked off track. They may allow it back in later on but know this much; you did your part!

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face, but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” Proverbs 15:13. How important is it for us, through a smile, to bring joy to the hearts of others? There are so many positive things that can come from smiling and I wanted to share a few.

1. Smiling Makes Us Attractive – There is an attraction factor to those that smile; we are drawn to them and want to know them and figure out what is so good. Disgruntled, angry, frowning cry babies push people away; but a smile draws them in!

2. Smiling Changes Our Mood – Smiling can literally trick the body and help to change our mood. The next time you are feeling down, try putting on a smile and watch what happens!

3. Smiling is Contagious – Someone that smiles can light up a room and literally change the mood of others around them; it is as though they bring their happiness with them and by nature we all want happiness; so bring the smile and share the gift.

4. Smiling Relieves Stress – When we are at our wits end with stress, it literally shows on our face. Putting on a smile can prevent us from looking tired, overwhelmed and worn out. This can help to reduce the stress enough allowing us to take action and make the changes we need in our lives.

5. Smiling Boosts Your Immune System – It’s been scientifically proven that smiling makes us more relaxed; and when our bodies are more relaxed, they are able to fight sickness and our immune system gets a boost!

6. Smiling Reduce Pain and Makes Us Feel Better – Studies show that smiling releases endorphins, serotonin and natural pain killers within the body. These 3 things together can make your feel like a million bucks. Face it, Smiling is a natural drug.smile in the crowd

7. Smiling Reduces Your Blood Pressure – There have been recorded instances where a simple smile can create a measurable decrease in you blood pressure. Next time you are at Wal-Mart, go to the free blood pressure monitor and check your reading. Then sit for a few minutes and smile; then check it again. Did you see a difference?

8. Smiling Lifts Your Face and Makes You Look Younger – What a work out of the face muscles. Just smiling helps to lift the muscles of the face and helps a person to appear younger! Who needs a face lift when you can smile?

9. Smiling Can Help Your Success – Smiling people look more confident and in doing so attract people and opportunity to themselves. You are more likely to be considered for that promotion over Mr. Frowns or you may even be approached by another company that sees value in you; and that value? You bring happiness and success with you wherever you go!

10. Smiling Helps You Stay Positive – Give this a try! Put on a smile; now while smiling think of something negative without losing the smile. Pretty difficult isn’t it? It’s because the smiling body is telling itself “Life is GREAT”! This will steer you clear of depression, stress and worry! Put on a smile!

So what do you have to lose? Absolutely nothing, but you have tons to gain! So on your next drive out and about town, remember to smile and wave to your fellow brothers and sisters out in the world. I promise you will feel better and if you get one other person to smile, you can call it a success and a positive impact!

Posted in Spiritual | 23 Comments

What Do “YOU” Worry About?

Young Woman ThinkingQuestion for the day: What do you worry about? or better yet, what keeps you up at night? My challenge is for everyone that reads this to share the one thing they see has their biggest burden or stress to overcome.

Our lives are filled with one stress after another, one worry, one problem, issues that just won’t go away! The burdens we allow to engulf our lives can take us to a point of physical sickness; even death. A recent study in the U.S. shows that 77% of people experience physical symptoms caused by stress. 73% experience psychological symptoms due to stress. Those are LARGE numbers! Nearly half of those polled (48%) say they have seen an increase in their lives over the past 5 years; so one could easily conclude that this issue is going in the wrong direction.

So what are the leading causes of stress? I’ll take it from #7 to # 1!

Starting us off at # 7 is sleep deprivation! People are just not getting enough quality sleep causing an inability to release adrenaline and other stress hormones. Ironically it’s stress keeping them from sleeping; what a trap that is!

At #6 is Media Overload. Too much television, radio, internet, email and social media sadly which is typically dominated by negative information. I know its hard but TURN IT OFF!

At #5 is poor nutrition. In this fast-paced world we live in many people find it hard to eat meals that are healthy. We turn to fast foods, loads of caffeine, processed foods, refined sugars and lord knows everything is loaded with chemicals. I myself have cut sugars out of my diet completely; I’ve lost 45 pounds, feel great and the things that use to stress me out, although still there, just don’t affect me the same. Diet is huge!

#4 is Relationships. Our country faces its largest divorce rate ever seen. Dealing with the death of a spouse, family member or loved one; arguments with friends; or mere loneliness; these are all relationship stresses that are plaguing our country. Self-centeredness has a lot to do with it; if we can just all begin to care about one another and sow love into the world, this particular stress would soon be gone.

At #3 is Health. Again this could be cause to poor diet, no exercise, or possibly an issue that is hereditary. Cancer and other chronic illnesses tug at our finances, our rest and our ability to have balance in our life all taking a toll on the health of not only the patient but their family members.

At #2 is Money; or as many would say the lack of it! With unemployment at record numbers, fighting to make ends meet is towards the top of the list of stresses. Factor in unforseen medical expenses, people trying to live on reduced retirement and quite frankly a lot of bad spending habits promoted by our culture, and you have disaster waiting to happen. We can’t all run off and change jobs if our income is too low, but we can seek the help of a financial advisors to help us with budgets, spending ideas and accountability that help to get us going in the right direction. Don’t allow your money to control you, rather position yourself to control it. It just takes a little discipline and effort.

And finally, coming in at #1; Job Pressure! This comes at us in all forms. Pressure from a boss; issues with a co-worker; work overload; or even that possible cut back lingering over so many people’s heads. I hear so many people say they don’t have a choice, but I am here to tell you life is nothing but choices! Take a change on yourself; possibly start your own business even if it’s part-time. Take it slow but remember, no job is worth your health. If you are not a lazy person , and guidance for God, you will find your true calling!worried-man

Some of you may be going ALL these things affect me and you probably are! First and foremost make a decision to reduce stress in your life. Utilize the Serenity Prayer: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. I have been using this now for about 4 months and I can honestly say my life is different! Turning what you can over to God and allowing Him to be your strength and resting in Him is a great place to start. Matthew 11:28-30 states “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” If stress is taking you out, you’ve got nothing to lose!

So I ask you, what is taking you out? What keeps you up at night? What is stressing you out? and if you have found a way to beat it, tell us that too! Please share! With enough of us sharing we can possible get the answers we need. Remember, we are all in this life together! Let us help one another, along with our Heavenly Father, find peace!

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Many Parts….Connected!

All One TreeThe greatest illusion in this world is the illusion of separation; that we are independent of one another; that we do not share in the events of life. Nothing can be further from the truth. Everything that happens, even if it is on the other side of the earth, will eventually makes it impact on each of us. This explanation is revealed to us in  1 Corinthians 12:4-11, “Brothers and sisters: There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another, the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another, faith by the same Spirit; to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another, mighty deeds; to another, prophecy; to another, discernment of spirits; to another, varieties of tongues; to another, interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.”

Each of us was created with special, unique gifts and even more importantly, a unique purpose. Our participation in and our contribution to the balance of life is vital. For each of us that separates ourself from the whole of humanity; not only do we create a void in the world but we will forge through our lives always feeling an emptiness; a vacancy that many of us spend our entire lives trying to fill. Unfortunately some of the substitutions we turn to in an attempt to fill this void become destructive in our lives. Many turn to alcohol, drugs, food, sex, the internet; the list goes on! These forms of addictions not only take us out of the game of life, but they do affect everyone, everywhere, because as we have determined we are all connected.

we-are-all-connectedIt is when we begin to realize and embrace the fact that we were created for a purpose that only we can fulfill that we can begin to grow and become the full potential God created us for. The value you can bring to the world through these gifts are irreplaceable and cannot not be provided by anyone else but you!

We are all created with an internal desire to be a part of something bigger than ourselves; and thanks to our Heavenly Father we are! We are all connected through His One Spirit; each with a distinct purpose and that being to bring peace, joy and love to the whole and by default to ourselves! Me must never forget that we are one. All that we do, or don’t do; all that we say, or don’t say; all that we become, or don’t become, MATTERS! You matter, I matter, each person on this earth with a heartbeat matters and when I begin to care as much about you as I care about my own heart, mind and spirit, well my friends great things are destined to be! You count! You matter. We need you! NOW is our time!

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The Living Word

Bible glowMany have heard the bible, scripture, is the “living word”. As a young man I truly couldn’t wrap my head around that one; I mean it was pieces of paper. But as I have grown older and remain on a quest to seek the truth, I have come to understand exactly what is meant in calling scripture the living word.

When we make scripture a part of our daily life, we allow God to come to us through His word. Whatever we may be needing that day, whatever answers we may be searching for or whatever message God needs for us to hear at this stage of our lives can be transmitted and received through the scriptures. At times I have come back and revisited a passage I may have read years before and the most incredible thing occurs; I receive a completely different message from the same scripture. God may have seen I was in a different place in my life than the time before and through His power and through His living word, He communicated a different message to me using the same words! Incredible and powerful!

One example I would like to share is of a time I was leading a group in reading and breaking open scripture. We would share a particular scripture and then discuss its meaning. Generally everyone is on the same page and for the most part shared how that common perspective effected them. This one evening in particular we were going over John Chapter 11, the story of Christ raising Lazarus from the dead.  Mary and Martha, Lazarus’s sisters had sent lazarus risingword to Christ that the one he loved was ill. Jesus waited 2 days before making the journey which took several more days. By the time Jesus reached Bethany, Lazarus had been dead and in the tomb for four days. Of course both the women came running to Christ, weeping, telling Him had he been there, their brother would still be alive. When Jesus saw them crying, He wept. (John 11:35)

Now this weeping of Jesus is what I want to share in particular. We began to share with one another the significance of this action by Jesus, His weeping. For the most part we all agreed it was a sign of His true humanity, that seeing His friends hurting truly cut to His inner most feelings and He Himself could not help from crying. If we are to believe that Christ came to this earth not only to save us but to experience everything we as humans experience, then something such as death, loss and grief would have been an important part of His human experience.

Now to my point. There was a young 18-year-old who was there involved in the group, and he usually didn’t say much. He was at a point in his life where he was questioning his faith, what he believed in and whether or not Christ was real! He had an experience and a take of this scripture I will never forget.

When he began to share what this scripture spoke to him, I was taken aback! What remarkable insight. He brought to our attention a different reason he thought Jesus may have been weeping. He said he believed that Jesus, knowing Lazarus was already dead, knew that he was in paradise with the Father, that Lazarus was now in heaven. But because of our lack of faith, the sisters and those around Jesus’s lack of faith, he had to bring Lazarus back from the Father, back from the eternal paradise of Heaven just to prove to us the power of God. For this reason, our lack of faith and having to bring Lazarus back from heaven, was the reason Jesus was weeping!

Wow, I thought. I had never thought of it from that perspective before, but I could see it. The awesome thing was that this scripture, this “living word”, had spoken to this young 18-year-old man the exact words he needed to hear. He began weeping relating to the story of those questioning their faith and belief, like he had been up to that time, and it was as if Christ performed that miracle all over again just to prove to this young man He is real. He did heal and raise Lazarus and yes, He was here for all of us and for this young man! Needless to say it was an incredible and powerful study group. Through this young man’s witness and understanding we all walked away with a different take on this scripture and a reaffirmed belief in Christ’s healing power.

Have you ever read a scripture that spoke directly to you? Have you ever just randomly opened the bible and turned to the exact message you were looking for? Have you ever experienced multiple messages and meanings from jsut one passage? I would love to hear of your experience. The living word is here for each of us to embrace and make a part of our daily live. Allow it to make a Divine Impact in your life!

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Is That A Stone In Your Hand?

Stone in handIt seems today we live in a society where everything and everyone is labeled. And the majority of us spend our every waking hour seeking the approval of those doing the labeling! That label so many of us strive for is that of acceptance; to be the best in the eyes of the world. Well what does that really mean to be the best? Or more importantly what does it really “take” to be the best?

Society is telling us the answer to that is “whatever it takes”!  No matter the cost; no matter the consequence; no matter the expense, do what you must to make it to the top! So there you have it; a society under the constant pressure to produce results or to end up being labeled and judged!

John 8:7 tell us “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Yet in today’s society there are so many rocks flying around that we are all at risk of being hit! And who is it throwing the rocks? It is the media, our employers, our neighbors, our friends, our own families; it is I! We are all so afraid of not making it; of not being accepted; of being left behind that we despise seeing anyone else have success. So rather than applaud them for their achievements, we look from every angle to find that mistake they made, or that shortcut they took so that we can expose them for the fakes they are. It doesn’t matter that they did what they were told and went for it regardless; it was how they did it!

Well nowhere along the journey was the HOW of it ever explained; nor was the HOW of it ever made to be important. It didn’t matter; until after the fact; then the truth comes clear; that the HOW is the only thing that really matters.

Somewhere as a society, we loss site of the journey and focused merely on the destination. But its the journey that defines the heart of a person. It is where our self-image is developed; it is where our belief in ourselves is strengthened. It is where we begin to appreciate and respect the means by which not only ourselves, but others progress through this journey called life. We don’t want to simply arrive at life but we should want to LIVE and EXPERIENCE life! But many of us are so afraid of failing and being judged that we never even try. This is a guaranteed failure for we can never reach the potential our Heavenly Father created for with trying. Instead of possibly having to dodge a few stones thrown by others, we arm ourselves with stones and begin tossing them at everyone else who is trying.  This is not the example we should be setting for our children.

Instead we need to teach them to become their absolute best focusing on their journey; for their journey and purpose is unique and special to them. To compare themselves and gauge their progress by that of others and to be afraid of what others may say is no way to live; in fact it is not living at all! If we have to dodge a few stones standing up for what we believe in and for chasing God’s will and purpose for our life then realize that it will be worth it. It will only hurt for a moment; but the pain of regret will last a life time. The exciting thing is if we are all on that same journey of becoming our personal best, embracing each day, each accomplishment as well as each failure, believing and knowing that we are moving towards our own unique self, then we don’t have time to pick up stones nor throw them!

Let us all strive to live by the lesson taught us in Luke 6:37, “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

Let us each set down the stone in our own hand and begin setting an example of living a life of love, joy, peace and purpose!

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