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Friday, December 18, 2015

As You Grow…

Life can often be a revealing, enlightening and sometimes brutal teacher.
You don’t only find out who your “real supporters” are when things are bad, but also when things are good.

As we strive to grow and better our own lives, some people aren’t capable of continuing on your journey with you.

Case in Point:
I am reminded of my former fiance’. Although I loved him, he wanted to remain in his small town, among familiar surroundings and familiar people. He had no desire to travel, advance his education or share new life experiences or adventures.

WHEREAS…I advanced in my career, traveled the nation – even internationally to Nigeria, Amsterdam, the Bahamas and Hawaii, relocated to another state, competed in state-wide competitions and sought new adventures, i.e. skiing and white-water rafting. Although I still have the highest regard for him, I simply “outgrew him.”

This process is not good or just is. There are so many people that I care for deeply whose lives have gone a different direction than mine. Although we were kindergarten classmates, High School best friends or even college Alumni, we no longer have dreams, goals or experiences in common.

Another twist on this…Some people may outgrow you!

Case in Point:
I have a dear friend who I connected with at church several years ago. He had come to Nashville as a medical intern working on his residency at the medical school here. Since I was a “doctor wannabee,” his journey was exciting to me. I assisted him anyway I could. We also worked closely together in ministries at church. I felt like we were “kindred spirits.”

However, after he graduated, he got a prestigious job in another state. Eventually, he was appointed as a Medical Director in yet another state, as well as several other national appointments. I have to humbly accept the fact that “he has outgrown me!”

Although I am so proud of him and still consider him a dear friend, his education, expertise, opportunities and experiences have exceeded my own. 

What’s interesting is that this will happen the more you grow and deepen your relationship with God. You will no longer have things in common with your former friends, even some family members. The Lord will take you places that will amaze you…places you won’t be able to explain or even understand.

God is working on us daily…to mold us, develop us and grow us into being who He created us to be. We will no longer think the same, speak the same, feel the same or act the same. Our new priority and focus is now on God, trusting and being obedient to Him. We will discover that, as we grow closer to Him, we are "outgrowing this world." 

The Bible says:
Romans 12:2 (NKJV):
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Isaiah 49:1 (NIV):
…Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV):
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
2 Peter 3:18 (NKJV):
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
Luke 2:52 (NIV):
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.
1 Timothy 4:7-8 (NIV):
7 …train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

Memorable Quotes:
“You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.” – Marianne Williamson
“Growing older is mandatory. Growing up is optional.”
“You need to associate with people that inspire you, people that inspire you to rise higher, people that make you better. Don’t waste your valuable time with people that are not adding to your growth. Your destiny is too important.” – Joel Osteen
"Like wildflowers; you must allow yourself to grow in all the places people thought you never would.”
“Anyone that encourages intellectual, emotional, artistic or spiritual growth is worth keeping. Don’t let them go.”
“I’m attracted to people who want to see me grow.”
“I will never turn down my ambition because someone else is uncomfortable with the volume.”
“We find comfort among those who agree with us. Growth, among those who don’t.”
“Don’t you dare shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort . Do not become small for people who refuse to grow.”
“I only grow apart from people who don’t grow.”
“Unless you try to do something beyond what you have already mastered, you will never grow.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Align yourself with people that you can learn from, people who want more out of life, people who are Stretching and Searching and Seeking some higher ground in life.” - Les Brown

However, we can rest assured that…We will never outgrow God and God will NEVER outgrow us.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

“I’ll Pray for You”…Is That It?

It is amazing how quickly we respond to people during death, illness or unfavorable outcomes in life with:

“I Will Pray For You.”

However, it appears that this is where it ends. No visits. No texts. No calls. No cards. No expressions of assistance. NOTHING.

As I continue to manage health issues, this statement is becoming vivid for me. I appreciate the prayers. Why even James 5:16 (NKJV) says: “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”

I analyze myself about this because I have been very guilty of it in the past…before my own health challenges.

I DID pray… But did I do anything more beyond that?  No, I sadly admit. But I sure did put two “gold stars” on my HEAVEN-BOUND passport. I felt so proud of doing my "Christian Duty." 

Now that I find myself on the other end of the spectrum, I know that I could have done more….and simply didn’t.

I reflect on all of my excuses:
“I’m so busy.” 
“My job and family life are so hectic.”
“I don’t want to bother them.”
“They probably are overwhelmed with visitors and family.”
“I am sure the church is meeting their needs.”

Currently, I am more deliberate about sending cards, emails or texts, calls as well as praying more intensely for others.

I now live by this quote:
“Your greatest test is when you are able to bless someone else while you are going through your own storm.”

It doesn’t minimize my “storm,” but it does help me keep mine in prospective.

The Bible says:
Colossians 4:2 (NIV):
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
1 Thessalonians 5:17 (NKJV):
Pray without ceasing,
Ephesians 6:18 (NKJV):
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Memorable Quotes:
Sometimes saying, "I will pray for you" isn't enough. Sometimes we need to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
"Get on your knees and pray then get on your feet and work."- Gordon B. Hinckley
“Don’t ask God to guide your steps if you are not willing to move your feet.”
“I’ll pray for you. Because it is so much easier than actually doing anything for you, but still makes me feel like a good person.” - unknown
“YOU need to take action if you want things to change. Praying without action is not productive.”
“You pray for the hungry and then you feed them. This is how prayer works.” – Pope Francis
"In your morning prayers each day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children." - M Russell Ballard
“Often the answer to our prayer does not come while we are on our knees, but while we are on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us.” - Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“Actions trump Good Intentions.” – Janette McGowen
“Action speaks louder than prayer.”
“A single act of kindness shown towards another is better than a thousand heads bowing in prayer.”
“Pray until something happens. Prayer is not passive. It is the hardest work we will ever do.”
“We must not only say our prayers; we must also live them."

As we continue to continue to pray deeply and fervently for each other, we should all strive to “walk what we pray.” 

Friday, November 20, 2015

“Mirror, Mirror…on the Wall...”

Many of us grew up reading and watching fairy tales in our youth.  A timeless one is “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.” We remember one of its memorable phrases:

“Mirror, Mirror,
On the wall
Who is the fairest of them all?”

The fairy tale, as adapted in a movie, is:
The Magic Mirror contained an imprisoned spirit who is referred to as the Slave in the Magic Mirror. In his first appearance in the film, the Evil Queen would consult with the Magic Mirror who the fairest of them all was. The Magic Mirror always told the Evil Queen that she was the fairest of them all. When asked who the fairest of all is, the spirit replies that, while the Queen is beautiful, a fairer being exists. When the Queen angrily asks for the girl's name, the spirit describes her, making it obvious to the Queen that Snow White is the one being referred to.

However, when I ran across this version of the quote, it led me to reflect:

“Mirror, Mirror…
On the Wall...”
“Do you see Christ in me at all?”             

Many of us are so consumed as to how others view us. Sadly, we don’t seem to spend the same amount of time thinking about how God sees us.

The Bible says:
Psalm 139:14 (NKJV):  “…for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;…”
Philippians 4:13 (NKJV):  I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
James 1:23-24 (NKJV): 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was.
Song of Songs 2:10 (NIV): 10 My beloved spoke and said to me, “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me.

Memorable Quotes
 “When you follow Christ, it’s written all over your lifestyle.”
“Our Christian lifestyle speaks much louder than our Christian vocabulary.”
“You wouldn’t worry so much about what others think about you if you realized how seldom they do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
“It’s not about the mirror; it’s about the one we are trying to mirror.”  Jimmy Pena
"Whatever you believe about yourself on the inside is what you will manifest on the outside."
“What other people think of you is none of your business.”
“Stop comparing yourself to everyone else. Make peace with who God created you to be.”
“Live in such a way that if anyone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.”
"What we SEE depends mainly on what we look for" - John Lubbock
“We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” – Anais Nin
“The world sees only what you do. God sees why you did it.”

We may be wise to adjust our focus from how we see ourselves or how the world sees us to how God sees us…

Friday, November 13, 2015

“I’m a Very Private Person…”

In the past, I often described myself as this.

Private is defined as: “not known by the public or by other people;   not known or intended to be known publicly : secret; preferring to keep personal affairs to oneself : valuing privacy highly; unsuitable for public use or display”

The website Rervso explores this:
Your “Private Life” is that part of your life that is concerned with your personal relationships and activities, rather than with your work or business.  <I've always kept my private and professional life separate..>.    

Your “Private Thoughts or Feelings” are ones that you do not talk about to other people.  <We all felt as if we were intruding on his private grief. : Privately, she worries about whether she's really good enough... >   

If you describe someone as a “private person,” you mean that they are very quiet by nature and do not reveal their thoughts and feelings to other people.  <John was an intensely private individual.>    

If you do something “In Private,” you do it without other people being present, often because it is something that you want to keep secret.  <Some of what we're talking about might better be discussed in private.>

Several responses on the site Askville by Amazon are:
Missb524: I used to very open about things in my younger years, I didn't like keeping anything to myself, so I said a lot, sometimes I think too much! I guess it was because I came from a very private household, so I wanted to be different, I liked talking and sharing.  But because of this, I found myself in a lot of trouble.  And sometimes I was then bullied. Now that I am older, I've learnt from this.
Snow Leopard:  My years of legal experience have pretty well taught me to be private and to keep things to myself. If I establish a relationship of trust with someone, I tend to open up a lot with respect to myself, but those relationships are relatively rare for me. Of course, what I know about clients is always kept quiet. I used to be a much more open, but life has taught me to be guarded.
Bear-Lo: I definitely consider myself a private person.  I can and will share if I feel there's a need or a reason.  Most of the time, it's none of anyone else's business what's going on with me, my family or where I'm going, etc.

A celebrity says:
“I am a very private person. No one ever knows anything about me as I don't think it is necessary. I tell people as much as I want them to know about me.” - Priyanka Chopra, actress in ABC’s  TV series “Quantico”

The Bible shares times when it is wise to be private:
Matthew 6:1-7 (NKJV):  “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. 3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly.
The Model Prayer
5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly

The question is:
How can we be “private,” yet be obedient to God’s Will?

The Bible says:
Matthew 5:14-16 (NKJV): 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Romans 12:13 (KJV):  Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Matthew 10:16 (NKJV):  16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

Memorable Quotes
 “Nothing good ever comes with too many people knowing your business. Being private and low-key is the best way to be.”
“Everything you do doesn’t need to be seen or heard.”
“Be the same person Privately, Publically  and Personally.” – Judah Smith
“Every person has two sides to them. One they let the world see and one they keep to themselves.”
“Revealing too much leaves you with nothing.”
“Keep your personal life personal.”
“Sometimes not telling people anything is a good thing.”
“Relationships last longer when nobody knows your business.”
"What you do in secret is on public display before God."

Wisdom must prevail. In the words of my mentor: “Don’t tell everything that you know.”

Instead of living our lives “out loud” either verbally or on Social Media, it may serve us well to be quiet and be still. God wants a “personal” relationship with you…and you alone. The more you commit to Him privately, the more He will bless you publicly…

Thursday, November 5, 2015

“While in the Storm…”

Life has its trouble, disappointments and “storms.”

They are often called the “vissitudes” of life: a favorable or unfavorable event or situation that occurs by chance.

We will all experience them throughout the course of our life. Don’t think so? In the words of a dear friend, “Just Keep Living.”

Oftentimes, it’s not the problem, but how we confront and handle the problem that matters.

Some ways to navigate through "storms" or life's challenges are to:
  • Smile
  • Pray
  • Don’t Worry
  • Determination
  • Be kind to others
  • Encourage others
  • Be calm and content
  • Realign your priorities
  • Understand that it’s YOUR journey to travel…not others
  • Have no expectations
  • “Buckle in and Enjoy the Ride”
  • Embrace it

One of the most popular phrases, often mistaken as a bible verse, is “This too shall pass.”

I am reminded of this when I have to drive through a heavy, torrential rain storm. As long as I remain vigilant, calm and prayerful, it will eventually end or I’ll reach my destination safely, in spite of it. Oftentimes, the rainbow will appear. J

The Bible says:
Romans 8:28 (NKJV):   And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Isaiah 43:2 (NKJV):  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…”
Matthew 5:45 (NKJV):  that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

Memorable Quotes
"Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet" - Bob Marley
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”
 “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person that walked in. That’s what the storm is all about.” – Haruki Murakami
“God sends the storm to show He is the only shelter.”
"Sometimes, you just have to bow your head, say a prayer, and weather the storm."
 “There are some things you can only learn in a storm.” – Joel Olsteen
 “Don’t tell God how big your storm is. Tell your storm how big God is.”
“Your greatest test is when you bless someone else while going through your own storm.”
"Don't let people pull you into their storm. Pull them into your peace." ~ Kimberly Jones
“Without the rain, there would never be rainbows.”

We must learn to expect life to have its "storms." Prepare for them…Embrace them…Endure them. They will pass...

Friday, October 23, 2015

“Put Your Big Girl Panties On…”
…And just deal with it.”

The Urban Dictionary defines Big Girl Panties as:  an expression that is used to say "Grow Up, Move On and Be An Adult."
Linda was crying about Marie and how she was spreading gossip about her. I just told her, "Linda, it's time to put on your big girl panties and deal with it."

The phrase is also stated as: “Put on your Big Boy Briefs/Boxers and deal with it.”

Whenever I hear this phrase, I have an image of a potty-training toddler running through the house with her pull-up diapers on. J

After weeks of training and repetition, she is finally able to successfully “go to the potty” when needed. She is then able to advance to real underwear, which is referred to as “big girl panties.”

Life works this way. We turn age 18, which is considered to be a “legal adult.”  We then discover that it means responsibility, accountability and wise decisions. Some are prepared…many are not.

Life Happens. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Births, Disappointments, Successes, Careers,  Illnesses, Adventures, Traditions, Faith, Travel, Growing Older, Death…

Although we may have had a rough start in life, you reach a point that you can no longer blame your parents, your teachers or your circumstances. Eventually, we must take responsibility for our own lives.

The Bible says:
1 Corinthians 13:11 (NKJV):  When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.
1 Peter 2:1-4 (NKJV):  2 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3 if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
1 Corinthians 3:1-2 (NKJV):  3 And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able;

Memorable Quotes
“Maturity comes when you stop making excuses and start making changes.”
“Our background and circumstances may have influenced who you are, but we are responsible for who we become.”
 “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings
“Growing older is mandatory, but growing up is optional.” – Walt Disney
“Your time as a caterpillar has expired. Your Wings Are Ready.”
“It’s not too late to be the person you wanted to grow up to be.”
“You have the power to say…This is not how my story will end.”
“If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If not, you will make an excuse.”
“Life has no remote. Get up and change it yourself.”

It would be wise for each of us to decide what we want our lives to be, ask God for guidance and Make It Happen.

Friday, October 9, 2015

“Eyes Wide Shut”

Although this is the title of the 1999 movie starring Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise, it has relevance to us today.

Many people go through life this way.

Going to and from work and never noticing:
  • The brightness of the sun or the green color of the trees.
  • The innocent smile of a baby.
  • The hidden pain in the eyes of an elderly loved one.

Taking their children to and from school and never noticing:
  • The excitement in their laughs.
  • The unique way they see the world.
  • The disappointment in their eyes.
  • Their subtle cries for attention, affirmation and love.

Dining in a restaurant and not noticing:
  • The stress experienced by the server.
  • The panic in the eyes of the mother next to you to pay her tab.
  • The sadness from the elderly couple in front of you.
  • The cleanliness of the restaurant.
  • The detail by the chef to ensure you have a unique dining experience.

We often are so busy focusing on ourselves that we miss what is right in our face.

"You can’t make someone SEE the truth when they refuse to open their eyes.” – Janette McGowen

This quote came to me as I was in a passionate conversation with a friend regarding a relationship issue. The total denial and refusal to acknowledge strong feelings that still existed were very interesting. The focus continued to be diverted to external factors instead of the obvious, in-your-face truth. No amount of reason or persuasion could help produce the “light bulb moment” of clarity.

In the 1992 movie A Few Good Men, the memorable dialog stated:
Lt. Kaffee (Tom Cruise):  “I want the truth!”
Col. Jessup (Jack Nicholson):  “You can’t handle the truth!”

The Bible says:
John 8:32 (NKJV):  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
John 14:6 (NKJV):  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
John 17:17 (NKJV):  Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.
Ephesians 4:15 (NIV):  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Memorable Quotes:
“People don’t want to hear the truth because they don’t want their illusions destroyed.” – Friedrich Nietzche
“Truth may be inconvenient, uncomfortable and perhaps unwanted; however, it is always relevant, necessary, and undeniable.” – Anthony Walker
“We don’t see the world as it is. We see it as we are.” – Anais Nin
“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” – Henry David Thoreau
“When you change the way you look at things, the way you look at things change.” – Wayne Dyer
"Vision is the art of seeing the invisible." Jonathan Swift
“I shut my eyes in order to see.” – Paul Gauguin
“The only thing worse than being blind is having SIGHT with no VISION.” – Helen Keller
 “The truth will always be the truth even if no one believes it.”
It may serve us to eliminate life’s distractions and open our eyes by opening our minds and hearts to “what is”.