You Can Never Cross the Ocean Unless You Have the Courage to Lose Sight of the Shore…

art wood sign on beach

I don’t know about you but personal growth always feels like a remodeling project to me – with too many walls being demolished and the new construction always fraught with delays. Yet, when the work is done, I never fail to look back and feel a heart full of gratitude.

Personal growth is such a blessing! Self improvement always requires a leap of faith and courage. Although we may see massive benefits to changing, where we are is usually where we feel most comfortable. God is our most ardent fan. He is mindful of our capacity and our abilities. No one knows us better – not even ourselves. You only know yourself from a mortal perspective. He knows your mortal history and your pre-mortal history. He knows your magnificence! Best of all, He believes in You!!

Are you feeling a need for some changes? Perhaps God is nudging you! Listen to your heart and allow yourself to really feel deeply what God is trying to speak to your spirit. Then use His guidance to start the step by step process that He will provide. He will help you across your “oceans” and you will never regret the journey.

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Looking on the Bright Side of Life…Having a Positive Attitude

If you don’t look for the Bright Side You will probably never find it

If you don’t look for the bright side you will probably never find it – Sheila M. Burke

I often work with people who are trying to improve their lives. Some of them are trying to improve their health and some of them are trying to overcome the pain and fear of previous life experiences. The interesting thing, for me, is that no matter what the life issue they are dealing with – I virtually always see a need for a more positive attitude. When we look on the brighter side of life and have a more positive attitude, we immediately open the door to healing and to solutions.

Think about your own life. Do you have a tendency to think or expect the worst?  Have you bought into the lies that the world tries to convince us of or have you made it a habit to buy into real truth? There is a quote by Thomas S. Monson that says, “Your future is as bright as your faith”. I believe that Thomas S. Monson is right on target.

Having said that, I do not believe that a positive attitude makes life easy breezy and that all problems flee at the thought of encountering a positive attitude. I do believe and have witnessed that a positive attitude makes every problem more bearable and more easily solved.

Think of Thomas Edison and all of his failed attempts at inventing a light bulb.  Thomas Edison never put a number on how many times he was willing to try. With his positive attitude in hand, he simply learned from each failure and kept trying.

If life has been unfair, dwelling on all the ways that you have been wronged will not change the outcome. In contrast. dwelling on all of the things that you can do to live a more positive life, in spite of the unfairness, will yield blessings and a greater amount of God’s light in your life. Who doesn’t want more light and happiness in their life?!!

Today, I share a wonderful story by an anonymous author. I love the lessons contained in it! I hope you enjoy!:

Regret City

I had not really planned on taking a trip this time of year, and yet I found myself packing rather hurriedly. This trip was going to be unpleasant and I knew in advance that no real good would come of it. This is my annual “Guilt Trip.”

I got tickets to fly there on “WISH-I-HAD” airlines. It was an extremely short flight. I got my “baggage,” which I could not check. I chose to carry it myself all the way. It was loaded down with a thousand memories of “what might have been.” No one greeted me as I entered the terminal to the Regret City International Airport. I say international because people from all over the world come to this dismal town.

As I checked into the “Last Resort” Hotel, I noticed that they would be hosting the year’s most important event — the annual “Pity Party.” I wasn’t going to miss that great social occasion. Many of the towns leading citizens would be there.

First, there would be the “Done” family; you know, “Should Have,” “Would Have” and “Could Have.” Then came the “I Had” family. You probably know old “Wish” and his clan. Of course, the “Opportunities” family; “Missed and Lost,” would be present. The biggest family there would be the “Yesterday’s.”

There are far too many of them to count, but each one would have a very sad story to share. Of course, “Shattered Dreams” would surely make and appearance. “It’s Their Fault” family would regale us with stories (excuses) about how things had failed in their life. Each story would be loudly applauded by the “Don’t Blame Me” and “I Couldn’t Help It” committee.

To make a long story short, I went to this depressing party, knowing full well there would be no real benefit in doing so. And, as usual, I became very depressed. But as I thought about all of the stories of failures brought back from the past, it occurred to me that this trip and subsequent “pity parties” COULD be cancelled by ME!

I started to realize that I did not have to be there. And I didn’t have to be depressed. One thing kept going through my mind, I CAN’T CHANGE YESTERDAY, BUT I DO HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE TODAY A WONDERFUL DAY. I can be happy, joyous, fulfilled, encouraged, as well as being encouraging.

Knowing this, I left Regret City immediately, and didn’t leave a forwarding address. Am I sorry for mistakes I’ve made in the past? YES! But there is no way to undo them.

So, if you’re planning a trip back to Regret City, please cancel all those reservations now. Instead, take a trip to a nice place called: “Starting Again.” I like it so much that I made it my permanent residence. My neighbors, the “Been Forgiven” and the “We’re Saved” are so very helpful. By the way, you don’t have to carry around the heavy baggage anymore either. That load is lifted from your shoulders upon arrival. But don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself.

– Author Unknown

Story shared from the following website: http://www.motivationalwellbeing.com/motivational-stories-6.html

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A Believing Heart…Believing in God

In matters of religion, a skeptical mind is not a higher manifestation of virtue than is a believing heart

I’m not going to lie. Somehow, I have always known that there is a God and believed in Him and in His ability to help me. I have sensed Him in my heart and I have seen Him all around me: in nature, in loving relationships, in the solutions to life’s problems that seemed to be handed to me. I know that not everyone has that experience.

Though I know that not everyone believes in God or has a believing heart, I also know that virtually everyone born to this world questions at one time or another if there is a God.

I believe that my life is a testimony of his existence. Even if you exclude my near-death experience, there are just too many “directed” events for me to brush a belief in God under the carpet. If I had never had a near-death experience, I have found the “needle in the haystack” far too many times to ever question God’s existence!

In that light, I share today’s story. I love Marilyn’s story. I also love that she trusted her heart and recognized the tangibly intangible moments that she shared with God. I hope you enjoy!:

How an Atheist Found God

A personal account from an atheist who was convinced no god exists, and what facts led to God.

By Marilyn Adamson

Religious people seemed annoyed by my question, “How do you know that God exists?”

Perhaps they wondered about my motives. Or maybe they had no idea how to answer. Most of their responses were, “Well, you just know.”

I wasn’t trying to be difficult. But I certainly did not “just know.” And I was hoping someone did!

After many months of this, I thought, “Here are the people who say they believe in God, but no one knows why!” It was like learning the truth about Santa Claus. It seemed obvious that God was completely fabricated. Maybe some people needed to believe in God but clearly there was no proof. No objective evidence. I came to the most stark conclusion…God did not actually exist.

I held this belief for years, not expecting it to ever change. But then I met someone who caused me to become interested in the possibility of God. She was caring, kind, and very intelligent. It bothered me that someone that intelligent could believe in God.

She talked about God like he was her closest friend. She was convinced he deeply loved her. I knew her life well. Any concern she would take to God, trusting him to work it out or care for her in some way. She would tell me, quite candidly, that she was merely praying that God would act upon her concerns. For over a year, I regularly saw what seemed to be answers to her prayers. I watched her life through a myriad of circumstances, and her faith in God was unwavering.

So, I wanted to believe in God on one hand, because I admired her life and her love for others. But I couldn’t believe in something against my intellect, against my better judgment. God did not exist. A nice idea, but that was all. Wanting something to be true, doesn’t make it true.

During this time I was developing a personally built philosophy.

I tried something that I’m not sure many people do. Every few weeks, I would study a particular philosopher’s take on life …Nietzsche, Hume, Dostoevsky, Sartre, Plato, etc. and then try to apply it to my own life. I was looking for the perfect, workable philosophy for life. I found over and over, that either their philosophies seemed lacking, or were too impractical to implement. But I kept searching.

I was challenging my friend with every question that came to mind about God. I would find myself writing out questions late in the evening. This went on for well over a year. One day she handed me a book1 that briefly answered questions like, is there a God; is Jesus God; what about the Bible. It presented facts. No comments like, “you have to believe.”

I saw some evidence for God that was solidly logical. The parts particularly convincing to me were the chemical properties of water and the earth’s position to the sun. It was all too perfectly designed, too perfectly put together. My faith in “nothing behind it all” seemed weaker than the possibility of God. I had fewer reasons to be certain of nothing, and more reasons to conclude that God might be there.

I then encountered a situation that fully challenged my current philosophy on life. What I had been putting my faith in proved to be completely insufficient. It shocked me to see that I was at a loss for an approach to life that was fully reliable. However, the situation resolved itself and I moved ahead. I have a pretty steady personality. Throughout my life, I never really felt “needy.” No on-going crisis. No big gaps or struggles. And certainly nothing I felt guilty about.

But the concept of God was something I couldn’t get off my mind….was he there? does he exist? maybe there’s a God…..

One night I was talking to my friend again, and she knew I had all the information I needed. She knew that I had run out of questions to ask. Yet I was still trying to debate. In one clear, abrupt moment, my friend turned to me and said, “You know, I can’t make this decision for you, and God’s not going to wait forever.”

And I immediately knew she was right. I was playing around with a very important decision. So I went home and decided that I was going to decide. I was going to either ask God to come into my life, or I was going to end the subject forever and never allow myself to consider the possibility of God again. I was tired of dealing with this decision. I was tired of thinking about it.

So, for the next three or four hours, I reviewed everything I had read and observed. I evaluated it all.

I concluded that the evidence for God was so strong that it made more sense to believe in God than to believe he wasn’t there. Then I had to act on that conclusion.

I knew that just intellectually concluding God existed, was way too light. It would be like deciding…airplanes exist. Faith in an airplane means nothing. However, if you need to get somewhere and an airplane is the way, you have to decide to act and actually get on the plane.

I needed to make the decision to actually talk to God. I needed to ask him to come into my life.

After a few hours of thought I addressed God, “Ok you win. I ask you to come into my life, and you may do with it whatever you’d like.” (It seemed reasonable to me, that since God exists, God had every right to influence and direct my life, if he wanted to.)

I went to bed and the next morning wondered if God was still there. And honestly, I kind of “sensed” that he was. One thing I knew for sure. I immediately had a huge desire to get to know this God whom I now believed in.

I wanted to read the Bible. When I did, it seemed that God was spelling out who he is and how he viewed this relationship with him. It was amazing. What really surprised me is how often he talked about his love. I hadn’t expected that. In my mind, I was simply acknowledging God’s existence. I had no expectations of him, but as I read the Bible, he chose to communicate his love to me. That was a surprise.

Now, my basic, skeptical nature was still there. The first few months or year, I would ask myself, “Am I really believing in God? And, why am I?” And I would methodically review five objective reasons why I believed God existed. So my “faith” in God did not rest on feelings, but on facts, on reasons.

To me, it’s like the foundation of a building. The facts/reasons support my faith. It’s like someone driving across the Golden Gate Bridge. They can feel whatever they’d like about the bridge. But it’s the construction/design/materials of the bridge itself that allows them to safely get from one end to the other. In the same way, the objective reality of God–the logical, historical, scientific reasons to believe in his existence, are important to me. There are people who don’t seem to need that. But I hate being fooled, and I have little regard for wishful thinking. The substantiating reasons for God’s existence mattered to me.

My Experience, Part 2 – Further Evidence of God

Since that time, now that I’ve been a Christian for a number of years—-why do I now believe in God? What reasons do I have for continuing to believe in God?

I’m not sure any of these are going to be believable to you. But I’ll try to put that concern aside and be candid with you. Previously my questions were about God’s existence. After beginning a relationship with God, I saw additional evidence that God is real. Such as…

1. When I have questions, concerns, or would like insight on a matter, God speaks to me through the Bible. What he shows me is always perfectly suited to my question, and a better, more satisfying answer than I expected. Here’s an example.

One day, my schedule, deadlines, and obligations were crawling up my neck and tightening their hold. You know that feeling when you’re so overwhelmed, you don’t know what to do first?

So I got out a piece of paper and pen, and asked God: “Just tell me what you want me to do, and I’ll do it.” I was fully prepared for shouldering 100% responsibility, and was basically asking God to just set the priorities, tell me how to approach it all, and I would.

I then opened my Bible and immediately read where Jesus was talking with a man who was blind. Jesus was asking him, “What do you want me to do for you?”

I read it again. Jesus asked: “What do you want me to do for you?” Rather amazed, I picked up my pen and began writing an entirely different list…to God. This, I have found, is characteristic of God. Reminding us that he is there. That he cares, and he’s capable.

I choose that example because it’s brief. But I could cite hundreds of examples where I was asking God a question and he perfectly, thoroughly answered me. It probably is the characteristic of God that I most appreciate and value–that he is willing to answer my questions.

This isn’t something I learned from other Christians. It’s just how my relationship with God operates. I ask a question, with an attitude that I really want to give him freedom to tell me whatever he wants to….to correct my thinking, to point out an area in my life that isn’t right, to show me where I’m not trusting him, whatever. And he always graciously speaks to me.

2. Similarly, when I need direction for a decision, he gives it. I believe that God cares about our decisions. I believe he has a plan for our lives, that he cares about who I marry, what kind of job I have, and some decisions smaller than that. I don’t believe he cares what toothpaste I buy, or lots of mundane decisions. But decisions that will affect my life or what he wants to accomplish through my life…I think he cares.

When has God given me clear direction?

One time I needed to decide about a trip to the Middle East. There was risk involved, and I was willing to go only if God wanted me to go. It was important to me that I knew what he wanted.

Two different times I asked God about a job. Both times his leading on it was so clear, that anyone watching would have concluded the same. Let me try one thin slice of an example.

During my senior year of college, I had decided to take a job with a Christian organization after graduation, that would require a move to California.

It was Christmas break, and I was now visiting my parents. One evening, I was alone and thinking through a long list of friends. I was wondering who I could talk into moving to California with me to be roommates. One person named Christy, came to mind, who had already graduated and settled in a job in Iowa. I thought she’d be the perfect roommate, but I hadn’t talked to her in several months. Just 30 minutes later, at my parents home, Christy calls me on the phone.

Her first sentence was, “I heard you are taking a job with this Christian organization.” I was floored because I had only told one friend, in Ohio.

Her next statement was, “Ok, I’ve got the pots and pans and dishes.” I said, “WHAT?!” She was moving to the same town in California and was calling to see if I would room with her.

Ok, so you see my point.

You might ask, why such a big deal, to even need God’s help in this decision? I knew that my parents would be completely opposed to this job. I thought it might cost me my relationship with my parents forever. So it was not a light decision. I asked God to guide me toward what he wanted. And he did. There were about ten other events related to this job, just as clear.

Other reasons I still believe in God…

3. In terms of explanations about life–why we’re here, what the purpose is, what is important in life, what to value or strive for–God has better answers than anything I’ve ever read anywhere. I have studied multiple philosophies and religions and other life approaches. What I read in the Bible, what I see from God’s perspective, all the pieces of the puzzle fit.

There is still a lot I’ll read in the Bible and close the Bible saying, “I don’t get it.” So I don’t mean to suggest I fully understand everything in the Bible. Instead, I’m saying that life only makes sense from the perspective of what God has revealed. It’s like reading the operating manual to life on earth, only we are not left to merely follow the manual. The inventor is explaining to us how it all works, and then offers to personally guide us through it, on a daily basis.

4. The intimacy with God is deeper than intimacy with any human being. I say that married, with two children, and tons of very close friends. His love is perfect. He’s incredibly gracious. He takes me right where I’m at, and as I said, speaks to me. He intervenes with actions that leave me amazed as the observer. He is not a belief or doctrine. I see him act in my life.

5. He has done more with my life than I would have done on my own. This is not a statement of inferiority or lack of self confidence. I’m speaking in terms of accomplishments that far exceeded what I ever had in mind. He provides ideas, direction, solutions, wisdom, and better motives than I could aspire to on my own.

Story shared from the following website: http://www.everystudent.com/wires/atheist.html

 

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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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Do You Worry Too Much?

Worrying is a lot like a rocking chair, a lot of effort goes in but you don’t get very far Corrie Ten Boom

I know people who worry a lot…they are always worrying. They are anxious and unhappy and they refuse to give up their daily habit of dwelling on what is going wrong, what might go wrong and those things that already went wrong.

They are obsessed with all of the possibilities life might provide. They rarely revel in the here and now.

Life is a precious gift. A Gift that is sadly wasted when we don’t properly enjoy the heres and nows because we are so engrossed with the what if’s and what might be’s. Of course, the what if’s and what might be’s rarely materialize. However, when they do, it has been my experience that the Lord always provides a way to deal with them.

I have found that planning for the future and setting goals and then using each day to work towards those goals is a wonderful way to live my life. I love being able to bask in the blessings of each day as they are proferred to me.

If you find it difficult to let go of your worries, try a gratitude journal or a nice long walk with the intent of seeing all of the beauty that nature has to offer. You CAN change your thoughts and you CAN change your perspective if you choose to be deliberate about it!

As you read today’s story, think about your own life. If you had only a year to live, would you want to live your lift differently than you are currently living it?

I hope today’s story gives you lots of food for thought!

Parable About Worry

Joe is a typical guy that has what most of us want.  He has success, a wonderful career, a luxurious lifestyle and a wonderful family.

Still, Joe worries about a lot of things:

  • He worries about his project that’s connected to his promotion
  • He worries about how he can multiply his current income
  • He worries about the scholastic achievement of his first son
  • He worries about winning the golf tournament
  • He worries about his wife cold treatment when he stays up too late working
  • He worries about the island he wants to purchase
  • He worries about getting the presidential position of his business club
  • And his list of worries just keeps on going on

Then one day, he was hospitalized for a week with severe hypertension .  While in the hospital, Joe continues to worry especially now that he can’t perform his usual routines.  The doctor noticed Joe’s “worry behavior” and decided that he was going to do something to make his patient stop worrying or at least minimize it.

With an idea in his mind, he went into Joe’s hospital room.  He told the patient that he has severe disease and that he’s left with a year to live.

Surprised and saddened by the news, Joe’s initial reaction was to again worry until the reality of his illness began to sink in.  He realized that he had a lot of things he wanted to do but he hadn’t because he had been so busy working and making a living. He had spent most of his time working –  thinking that it was important to provide all of the good things he had earned for his family.

Now that he believed that he had only a year to live, he started to think of living his life instead of just making a living. He finally understood that living a life only comes from simple things, like a picnic with his family, traveling to places, playing with the dogs or even attending to family gatherings. These things he didn’t think were important until he was told that he was dying.  And as he started to live his life, slowly all his worries began to fade. As the months passed, he do not see them as relevant like before. His belief that he was dying was a blessing in disguise for him to start living.

Are you like Joe?

Well, Joe is like the many of us.

When a worry knocks at our door, we have the tendency to entertain it and let it sit in our favorite spot. Before we know it, it has found a spot at the window and made itself at home.

Living with our mind worrying on the future causes us to miss out the greatness of now. Living and worrying too much about the future is not living at all because we can only live at a single time, which is now.

Do we really need death to remind us about living today?

Death may visit us anytime and life is a very precious gift – too precious to waste in worrying.

Remember that worry is just a product of our uncontrolled negative thoughts.  One of the keys in eliminating our worries is to taking control of our thoughts.

According to the law of averages, what are the chances that the things we are worrying about will ever happen?  Worrying never give us any answers, it is only good in asking “What ifs?”

Written by: Maria Lourdes Macabasco-Yanuaria

Story shared from the following website: http://lifetofullest.com/about-worry/

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