Your Freedom is the Most Expensive Thing You Have….

your-freedom-is-the-most-expensive-thing-you-have-soldiers-1010631From the time that I first stepped foot on Russian soil – during the Kosovo conflict, I have treasured my freedom and my U.S. citizenship. It was not until that moment that I understood what lack of freedom was or that it was even possible to lose it. The freedoms that this nation enjoys has come at a cost. I hope that each one of us who walks the soil of America as free citizens will cherish the gift that has been given to us by the soldiers of this nation and the inspired United States Constitution. Today, I am including just a brief portion of my book that addresses the trip my husband and I made to Russia to adopt our two youngest children. May freedom be a gift that we all enjoy forever!

From my book:

Greg and I were a little nervous about flying to Russia, but that  nervousness increased dramatically when our plane made its first  landing on Russian soil. Our first landing was made in Khabarovsk,  Russia. We were surprised to see that the airport seemed more like an  abandoned military base. Old weathered airplanes with questionable  functionality dotted the tarmac. Our initial astonishment turned to  tension as armed men in military type uniforms drove up to our  airplane and one of their commanders barked harsh words at the  flight attendants and demanded possession of their passports. Our  first touchdown in Russia made it painfully clear to us that while  on Russian soil, we would not have the same freedoms that we were  accustomed to in the United States.

Our second landing was just outside the city of Vladivostok,  the destination for our adoption. Though friendlier than our initial  landing, going through customs verified our initial impressions that  as foreigners in their country, we were not welcome visitors. 

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Serenity and Finding Peace in Your Life

Serenity is invaluable and it comes with a price; the price of self-control. Serenity and Peace are similar. Both are priceless.

I love the writings of James Allen, the author of As A Man Thinketh. The writings and thoughts of James Allen are as valid and wonderful today as they were 100 years ago.  When writings endure well the test of time, it often because they are based on eternal truth.

Peace and Serenity are always available to us if we are willing to utilize the truths that promote them. Namely, seeking God and aligning our hearts and choices with His eternal laws.

Our personal thoughts are powerful. They determine our actions and they determine the kind of life we will build. We are each born with the Personal Power to control our thoughts and our destiny. It is not always easy to learn to use the personal power of our thoughts but it always remains within our grasp to do so.

This is one of the truths I witnessed during my near-death experience. However, you don’t have to have a near-death experience to know what I know. You can know in your heart that what I say is true by praying to God and asking Him to confirm this truth to you.

It is my prayer that each day of your life will be blessed with God’s presence in it. I hope you will read the thoughts I share from James Allen today and find positive influence from his words!

Serenity by James Allen

Calmness of mind is one of the beautiful jewels of wisdom. It is the result of long and patient effort in self-control. Its presence is an indication of ripened experience, and of a more than ordinary knowledge of the laws and operations of thought.

A person becomes calm in the measure that one understands themselves as a thought evolved being, for such knowledge necessitates the understanding of others as the result of thought, and as one develops a right understanding, and sees more and more clearly the internal relations of things by the action of cause and effect, one ceases to fuss and fume and worry and grieve, and remains poised, steadfast, serene.

The calm person, having learned how to govern themselves, knows how to adapt themselves to others; and they, in turn, reverence their spiritual strength, and feel that they can learn of them and rely upon them. The more tranquil a person becomes, the greater is their success, their influence, their power for good. Even the ordinary trader will find their business prosperity increase as one develops a greater self control and equanimity, for people will always prefer to deal with a person whose demeanor is strongly equable.

The strong, calm person is always loved and revered. They are like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson of culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold, than even fine gold. How insignificant mere money seeking looks in comparison with a serene life – a life that dwells in the ocean of truth, beneath the waves, beyond the reach of tempests, in the eternal calm!

How many people we know who sour their lives, who ruin all that is sweet and beautiful by explosive tempers, who destroy their poise of character, and make bad blood! It is a question whether the great majority of people do not ruin their lives and mar their happiness by lack of self-control flow few people we meet in life who are well-balanced, who have that exquisite poise which is characteristic of the finished character!

Yes, humanity surges with uncontrolled passion, is tumultuous with ungoverned grief, is blown about by anxiety and doubt. Only the wise man, only he whose thoughts are controlled and purified, makes the winds and the storms of the soul obey him.

Tempest-tossed souls, wherever you may be, under whatever conditions you may live, know this: In the ocean of life the isles of blessedness are smiling and the sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hands firmly upon the helm of thought. In the core of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep; wake Him. Self-control is strength. Right thought is mastery. Calmness is power. Say unto your heart, “Peace. Be still.”

James Allen 1864-1912, Author

The writings of James Allen are shared from this website: great-inspirational-quotes.com

 

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Happy Memorial Day!

Our flag does not fly because the wind moves it...It flies with the last breath of each Soldier who died protecting it

Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death by Patrick Henry

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The questing before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided, and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House. Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free– if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending–if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained–we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. The millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable–and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

Story shared from the following website: http://storiesofusa.com/give-me-liberty-or-give-me-death-by-patrick-henry-march-23-1775/

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Finding Peace and Contentment…Living in Harmony with the Lord and Your Conscience

Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence, and I learn, whatever state I may be in, therein to be content. Helen KellerEvery life has it’s ups and downs – it’s trials and strife.

Yet, I have found that there is a simple way to have peace and contentment. The way to peace and contentment is to know the source of peace and contentment.

I have witnessed great effort on the part of many to utilize situational ethics or create man made parameters of what should be right and what should be wrong. Yet, what I witnessed in heaven gave me no assurance that God’s children are either adept at or are in a position to create eternal laws.

Those laws – God’s laws are eternal and, just like His love for us, fixed and immovable.

God has given each of us a conscience. That conscience allows us to know right and wrong. Additionally, He has given us laws and guidance that directs how we are expected to act and behave.

We have the right to choose whether we will accept and obey God’s laws or whether we will rebel against them.

However, just like jumping off of a ship – we can choose to jump ship but we can’t change the consequences of our actions.

I have found that, as I choose to listen to my conscience and to live in harmony with the Lord, I am given peace and contentment.

I love that, as a result of my conscious decision to align my actions with both my conscience and the Lord, I have been blessed to be at peace with myself. I am comfortable being alone with myself and I love silence. I love being able to commune with the Lord and to receive of His abundance in my heart.

My choices have not made me perfect but they have given me greater access to the Lord and His perfection.

If you struggle to find peace and contentment in your life – analyze where you are in your relationship with both the Lord and your conscience. If your analysis finds you needing some improvement, go to the Lord for help. If you are willing to provide sincere effort, I know that He will provide the assistance that you need!

Please remember that the Lord loves you and it is His desire for you to have His greatest blessings!

I hope you will enjoy today’s story!:

Real Meaning Of Peace

There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.

One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror for peaceful towering mountains all around it. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.

The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.

But when the king looked closely, he saw behind the waterfall a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rock. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest – in perfect peace.

Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why?

“Because,” explained the king, “peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace.”

“Inner peace: a state of mind, body and perhaps soul, a peace within ourselves. People that experience inner peace say that the feeling is not dependent on time, people, place, or any external object or situation, asserting that an individual may experience inner peace even in the midst of war”

“I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace.” Dalai Lama quotes (Head of the Dge-lugs-pa order of Tibetan Buddhists, 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, b.1935)

Story is shared from the following website: http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Love-Inspirational-Story/734744

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Cynicism is an Intellectual Cop Out…There is a Better Way

Cynicism is an intellectual copout, a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.

Cynicism is an intellectual cop out,a crutch for a withered soul, a thin excuse for inaction
and retreating commitment. Do not become cynical; be appropriately concerned and actively involved.    Jeffrey R. Holland

There is a lot of cynicism being thrown around in our country right now. I believe in the quote by Jeffrey R. Holland. That is why I used it for today’s meme.

I understand concern. I understand differences of opinion. I understand a desire for leaders to see the world as we see it. I also understand that the solution to every problem, concern or care in this world is God.

I wish that I could share the memories of my near death experience with the world. In it, everyone would be blessed to see that God is real and His love is perfect and ever enduring. Everyone would see His infinite and complete perfection and understand that the key to all happiness, joy and true success is to make God an integral part of all we do and align our choices and actions with His unchanging truth.

The world is imperfect and we are imperfect but the greater the effort of mankind, as a whole, to choose light in this world, the more we will receive peace, safety, and joy. As Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “When God works through us, No One and Nothing can stand against us.”

I hope you enjoy today’s story which was shared by Hugh Downs!:

Hugh Downs on Overcoming Cynicism

One morning on our Today show we reported on a group of teenagers whose demonstrations had shocked their community. In the faces of the young people pictured on the screen I saw a total rebellion against authority.

“That could have been me 25 years ago,” I said to myself.

It started me thinking back to the age of 14 when the change within me occurred. Up until then I had accepted without question the patterns my parents had set. Then slowly I began to see things through a haze of contempt and rebellion.

Perhaps it was partly because I stood first in my class and took great pride in my pseudo-intellect and glib tongue. Success, I concluded, was all that mattered.

As captain of my own ship, I decided that I needed help from no one. Sensitivity to need and concern for others were, to me, signs of weakness or guilt. I had a theory for everything.

Since a great percentage of those in my home town of Lima, Ohio, were church-going people, I divided them into two neat groups: the ones who used church once a week as a cleansing ritual, and the others who attended church with the thought, “I want to be on the winning side in case there is something to all this.”

So I argued that all churches should be abolished because they stood in the way of faith. I theorized that a man can worship God as he sees fit—where and when he chooses. And if he doesn’t choose to, that is his privilege too. (I didn’t choose to, by the way.)

My name for this theory was “Reverse Piety.” It sounded very smart to me.

But as a working philosophy of life it was to prove more and more unsatisfactory. Actually I should have known better.

My father was a Methodist, my mother a Baptist, but in a spirit of early ecumenicity they became Episcopalians when they were married. Time after time they showed their concern for others.

For a while, my father and a partner ran an auto accessory store. When they went into the red, the partner declared himself bankrupt. My father and mother decided that there was a moral as well as a material obligation involved. He took a job and over the years paid back every penny he owed.

I resented it since it meant there was no money for me to continue college. I had to quit after the first year. My bitterness increased when I applied for 26 jobs in a row and didn’t get one.

Then one day I stopped at the radio station in Lima with the halfhearted hope that there might be some kind of job open. They gave me an audition—and to my surprise I was hired as an announcer. The pay was $7.50 a week.

There was hardly any direction to go but up. I was married and a father when one of those experiences occurred which, in retrospect, you can call a turning point.

The radio station where I worked had to cut costs. My job was in danger. Thinking that my boss was looking for a good excuse to let me go, I built up a real dislike of him.

Then one day he called me into his office. To my surprise his manner was kindly. He was concerned about me. And he worked out a plan for me to stay on the job.

Something happened inside me at that point to chip away at the crust of cynicism I had built up around myself. I thanked him for his thoughtfulness, then said impulsively, “You do this for me when all the time I have been hating you because I didn’t think you wanted me here?”

My boss said calmly, “Why don’t you try to get outside of yourself, Hugh? If you do, you’ll tap a source of spiritual and physical energy that will make you feel inexhaustible.”

I chewed that thought long and hard. The words were certainly not new, but now they had meaning.

For a time I had been examining other faiths, from Judaism to Buddhism and Islam. Each has much to offer. Inevitably I came back to a reexamination of Christianity.

While pondering questions of faith and systems of philosophy, I was moving from radio to television, from Ohio to Chicago and then to New York. The years passed. I worked with Kukla, Fran and Ollie, with Sid Caesar, Jack Paar and the Today show.

As success came I followed the pursuits I liked: astronomy, boating, flying, celestial navigation, music. They can satisfy body and mind, but they leave the spirit unfulfilled. Yet, answers to my quest for faith were coming and piece by piece, like putting together a mosaic, the picture was taking form.

An actor contributed to it. I don’t even know his name. But he was in a very successful play and he was asked how he could possibly remain fresh after giving the same performance, day after day, 700 times.

“The audience hasn’t seen the play 700 times,” he said. “It’s a new play for them every night. If I thought only of myself I’d be stale by the 10th performance. But every night I think of the audience instead of myself and they renew and refresh me.”

Last year I sailed across the Pacific in a small boat. It was immensely satisfying to navigate that distance, even though I had a fall during the voyage that injured my spine. Back home, doctors said it required surgery.

I was taken to the hospital in a wheelchair. The operation was a success and I walked out without any help. Yet the experience added something to me.

First, the ordeal was neither fearsome nor intolerable though from the outside it seemed so. Second, there was always someone along the corridors whose troubles and pain were worse than your own. Cheering them was not depressing or morbid, but just the opposite. You got outside yourself.

At one time I served on the Citizens’ Advisory Committee of the New York State Mental Health Association. That committee was scheduled to make one of their regular visits to patients.

I would have ducked going, if I could. I couldn’t. In our car pool the driver of our auto was a rabbi whose sense of compassion interested me.

At the hospital we walked through the clean, neat rooms. Two very disturbed boys caught our attention. One was 13, the second, perhaps two years older. The older one said very little. The younger one said nothing at all.

As the rabbi talked with them I asked a nurse, “What hope is there for these boys?” She shrugged her shoulders. “Very little,” she said.

As we were leaving, I looked over my shoulder and saw the younger boy sitting on an oak bench, all alone, staring into nothingness, the picture of endless despair.

“That boy,” I said to the rabbi, “looks very much like my own son. I can’t help it, but I’m glad—” I was starting to express thankfulness for the fact that my son was normal.

“I know how you feel,” he interrupted. “That boy is my son.”

It was days before I got over the shock of that experience.

The picture of the rabbi not only ministering to his own son, and to all the afflicted in that institution, but also moving to save me embarrassment is still vivid before my eyes. For in his agony he had learned to lose himself in his concern for others.

This was what my parents were trying to tell me as they scrimped and sacrificed to pay off a debt that was moral, not legal. It was what my boss at the radio station was saying to me when I was 22; and it was what the actor meant when he talked about playing one role 700 times.

Different people were getting the message to me, but it took a long time before I really heard and embraced as the heart of my faith the words Christ uttered to His disciples: He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/positive-living/emotional-and-mental-health/guideposts-classics-hugh-downs-on/page/0/2?nopaging=1

 

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