How God’s Love Has Changed My Life

When someone or something comes into your life and just changes the course of it forever, they will leave an indelible mark on who you are and the way you see things.  This is what God has done for me personally when He came into my life nearly seventeen years ago.  The more I have gotten to know God, the more He has changed me, and thus my life as well. Here are some ways He has done just that:

  1. He has worked in and through me to help me love people more.–As I have shared in previous posts, before God’s love took hold of my life, I was a very selfish and rigid person. As far as I can remember, as a young child, I don’t really recall me being very compassionate and caring of others. I did not understand why a lot of people refused to be friends with me. However, when God took hold of me, all that changed. Hearing stories about adults being abused as children and some of my peers getting bullied started to really bother and upset me, whereas before I didn’t care as much.  God even showed me the pain some ex-churchgoers experienced as a result of being hurt by professing Christians in churches, and that caused me to help others as I had never done before. In this past year especially, God has really been teaching me how to live more and more for Him and others, and less for just myself.  He is teaching me that I have to sacrifice my own conveniences and comforts for the benefit of others, especially if it would help them.
  2. God has revealed to me things that I need to change about myself and has given me the motivation to change.–The more God has taught me about Himself, life, and myself, the more I realize that I still have a long road ahead of me. This has given me the motivation to continually improve myself and strive for excellence in everything I do because if I thought there was nothing left to improve about myself, I would have little motivation to learn and become better. I don’t believe God reveals these things because He is tyrannical or wanting to smite us but for our own good, as to help us not to hinder our own relationships.  This fact, coupled with the fact, that I believe He is merciful, has helped me want to change for the better.
  3. God’s love has brought me tremendous blessings and abundant joy.—The more I know of God’s love, the more I realize how blessed I am. Yes, things get very difficult for me sometimes, and yes I have been through some trials and struggles. However, I consider myself blessed.  Before God’s love really started to shape and mold me, I had few friends.  I felt alone and was lost.  Now, God has blessed me with the type of support and love through Himself, other Christians, and other good friends of various faiths, that I had never thought existed!  For the first time in my life, I felt understood and loved by people other than just my immediate family!  He has also provided me with a good job in which I can do well.  His love has given me the freedom to enjoy His natural and human creations.  I now feel that I can better enjoy life without fear of being alone and abandoned, and I have the confidence and trust that He will always provide for me no matter what. His love has only proved that!

These are the major ways that God has changed my life.  One of the pastors at my church taught that God’s love for us will never cease and will never go away.  This is the confidence which I personally strive to live my life and share with others. How has God or a loved one’s love changed you? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

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Why Care: Finding Meaning in Life


Being presumptuous, according to my pastor, Pastor David Shoaf (and I agree with him), is having a rebellious and/or an “I-don’t-care” attitude about life and morals.  Many people who have been presumptuous about life or about grievous sins (moral wrongdoing) in my experience, have gone to either jail or have died! For instance, people in ISIS who bomb innocent people just going about their daily lives because they don’t agree with the precepts of their religion have at least a degree of presumptuousness.  They don’t care if their targets have families or what pain in their lives they carry. They just kill because their god told them to (supposedly).  Even though few people are as callous and as uncaring as ISIS suicide bombers or the most vicious murderers out there, we all (me included) need to be cautious of having a presumptuous attitude about life and about morals.  Here is why we should care–particularly about others and what kind of life we are leading. :

  1. Caring about others and the legacy we want to leave brings purpose and meaning to our lives.–Personally, before I became a Christian, I was very selfish and was searching for purpose and meaning in my life. Now, I don’t mean that people who don’t share my Christian faith are selfish and uncaring. On the contrary, I know a lot of people of various beliefs other than my own, who are extremely caring and selfless too. It’s just for me, that was my experience.  However, what I am saying is that if we don’t care about others and what legacy we are leaving, life will feel empty and meaningless.  When I got to that point, I felt like life was no longer worth living.  You can only live for just yourself for so long until you start to think about, “What am I doing? Why am I here with everyone else, when they are not benefiting me?” However, when you start to live for the benefit of others and you start to build a lasting legacy that you want others to follow, life starts to become more exciting because you have an end goal or goals in mind that you want to strive for regularly!
  2. Caring for others and leaving a good legacy changes the world.–One of my faith heroes, Rachel Joy Scott, changed millions of lives because she lived a life of caring for others, especially those who were friendless or otherwise in need. Over 1,000 people attended her funeral, and it was televised on CNN.  Some sources even say it was more attended than the funeral of Princess Diana!  Her father, Darrell Scott, also founded an organization called “Rachel’s Challenge,” which helps promote the lifestyle that Rachel led and discourage bullying.  This organization coupled with Rachel’s influence from her writings and the life she led have helped millions of people.  (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Scott) When you care for others from your heart, you can change the world for the positive. If you don’t quit caring and living for good, you will leave a good legacy for others to follow after your time on earth is up. I am striving to live to that end. Yes, I may fail (sometimes lots of times). However, when we fail, we have to just get back up and try again and persevere to the end.
  3. Caring for others and leaving a good legacy is ultimately joyful and rewarding.–Even if caring for others sometimes gets exhausting or people don’t appreciate you right away, to care for others ultimately brings you joy and has its rewards.  Seeing others joyful because they know someone (perhaps you!) cares about them ultimately should bring you joy as well.  That is its own reward! Not only that, but a few people may follow your example as well!  This will start a chain reaction of more people caring enough to change the world for the positive and not being apathetic about others or about life. People will start to respect us more because they know we can be counted on to care.

To care about others and about the legacy we are leaving for others to follow are very important because this is one of the major ways we derive meaning to our lives, changes the world, and is ultimately joyful and rewarding not only to the ones we care about but also to us as well.  Who needs your care today? Who can you show love to today?  What legacy do you want to leave? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

Some people, places, and things that give me joy

I will be discussing WHY these give me joy. These are in no particular order or ranking. These things are not all exhaustive either.

  1. God—He is my light and my salvation. He is the source of my joy. He’s awesome!
  2. my family–all of them 🙂 They have been there for me through thick and thin. They have been exceedingly generous and caring for me.
  3. hanging out with my friends–all of them, you know who you are 🙂 They have been there for me too. I enjoy having deep spiritual conversations and just talking about life with them. I have enjoyed spending time with them by watching movies, shopping and eating at restaurants with them or just going over to each others’ homes.
  4. my online friends—Kat, Kassi and Abbey.  You have been a great love and support to me. Your validation and grace have meant a lot to me when my other supports were lacking. So, thank you.
  5. my managers at work--Each one of them has given me some measure of joy and taught me the value of hard work. I have learned so much from each one of you, so thank you.
  6. my blogging community--I don’t know where I would be without you, the valued reader.  You are awesome! 🙂
  7. sunshine-–I love the sun! It makes the day so much brighter and lovely. I love being outside when the temperature is nice and it’s sunny out.
  8. animals—I love dogs, cats, and all types of animals. The only one that I really don’t prefer is the Canadian goose.  I love that they don’t judge you and how uniquely precious God made each one.
  9. butterflies–I like how intricate and beautiful God made them. Unfortunately, I rarely see those! 😦
  10. the teachings of the Bible and how it illumines the greatness of God–I love that when I follow the Bible’s teachings seriously that I find that I have more joy and peace in my life. I also like that it exalts God and reflects how much He has done in others’ lives, including my own.
  11. flowers-–I like all the different colors and types of flowers there are in the world. I love seeing a whole bunch of them together in nature (a.k.a,  a garden).
  12. church–I love my church. I recently became a member, and I don’t regret it one bit! I love both the people and the building.  I love singing the hymns and the pastors’ sermons are always relevant to my life. Even the guest speakers are good!  I’ve learned so much from my current church, including how to have a good devotional time with God.
  13. writing–I love writing and sharing what I’ve learned with others. I hope the readers of this blog will be a.) inspired to write about their own experiences and things they have learned in life. b.) take away something from this blog to apply to their own lives. I also like writing poetry sometimes.
  14. Chinese food-— I love Chinese food. I like how the dishes have a lot of vegetables and are tasty.  I also love any Chinese noodle dishes, though I also like the rice dishes and most of the other dishes as well.
  15. Mexican food--I love the cheese in Mexican dishes and all the different flavors they use in their dishes.  Yum…
  16. Moomin characters— I love the cuteness of Moomin characters and that they always seem to want to learn new things and go on new adventures. Also, the books that are based on these characters are also very good, and one is able to escape from the pressures of life in these books.
  17. stuffed teddy bears—I love teddy bears. They are the cutest darndest stuffed animals in the world.
  18. People serving others.–I love when people help others in need. For instance, I think the outpouring of love and support to those impacted by Hurricane Harvey is nothing short of amazing. If you would like to be a part of this, please see this post for more information.
  19. birds chirping-–I love the sound of birds chirping. It is such a peaceful sound to me and tells me that everything is alive and well.
  20. VeggieTales–especially the banter between Larry the Cucumber and Bob the Tomato. 🙂 ‘Nuff said.
  21. Beautiful scenery--including forests, forests with a mountain backdrop, the oceans, lakes, and rivers (as long as it doesn’t look polluted), flowers, jungles, etc…
  22. encouraging notes and letters— I love validation and encouragement. I also love giving the same to others.
  23. Christian Music–I love how the music has meaningful lyrics and encourages me in my walk with God. The music is part of what propelled my search for God before I became a Christian!
  24. authenticity--I love when people don’t have pretenses about who they are and are loving and caring for me because they want to, not because they have to or have some type of ulterior motives. I also love it when people can be honest with me and not lie about who they are or what they think.
  25. reconciliation in relationships–I consider it not only a relief but a blessing when I am able to reconcile with someone, or when I see two people, in general, reconcile with each other after a difficult period in their relationship, whether a friendship, a romantic relationship or other types of relationships.
  26. caring customers at work--I love it when customers are patient, kind, considerate and thankful for the work not only that I put in every day, but also others with whom I work. I love it when they say “thank you.” I am particularly appreciative of customers who take the time to fix the displays they look at without being expected or asked.
  27. a good rest or nap— Makes me so refreshed and joyful to be able to have a good night’s rest (or afternoon nap on my days off).
  28. books–I love to read about a variety of subjects. However, I read mostly non-fiction. My favorites right now are Christian living, food recipes, travel guides, conflict resolution in the workplace, and biographies or autobiographies.
  29. magazines–I love to read magazines on similar subjects as above.  I also like writing magazines to better this blog and to further my writing endeavors.
  30. trees-I like trees not only because they provide shade but also because they are beautiful and strong, just like I want to be.

 

How To Be a Coffee Bean (or Change Your World)

This analogy/story is inspired by one of my managers at work who told us this following story (origin–unknown) to motivate us during a meeting we had:

One day, a mother wanted to teach her daughter a lesson, and so she told her daughter to buy these three ingredients: carrots, eggs and coffee beans. After the daughter bought these items, her mother told her to boil them and to tell her what happened.  So, after boiling these three items, this is what she told her mother: The carrots that were hard before they got boiled became soft after they were boiled. The eggs, which were previously soft, became hard, but the coffee beans stayed the same and permeated everything around them. 

Our manager told us not to be like the carrot which became soft under pressure (boiled). She told us not to be like the eggs, which hardened (became calloused) under pressure, but to be like the coffee beans that stayed the same under pressure and then permeated everything around them.  This concept, in Christian circles, is called “Being a Light,”  but can be applied to most anyone, regardless of belief. Here’s what I found are just three characteristics of people who positively change the world (i.e. “became a coffee bean”).

  1.  They invested in people.–These coffee bean-like people invested in others, not just themselves, or not just them and a few close family members and friends. This means they intentionally strove to positively interact with everyone around them.  This does not mean they succeed every time, but it also means they strive to make a positive impact on the majority they meet, not just a few people.  When I think of people like that, I think of all five of my faith heroes (for more on my faith heroes, see this post.), who inspired others to live their best life possible.  I think of my pastor, Pastor David Shoaf, who has served in the same church for over 40 years and has touched almost everyone he met there. I think of Chris* (NOT his real name) who makes sure people have time off work sometimes because he cares that people have families and lives outside the job and my manager Tom* (NOT his real name) who helps his workers succeed and strive for excellence every day.
  2. Be genuine.–What my faith heroes and coffee beans have in common are their genuineness. They both don’t change who they are because they are pressured to “fit in,” or because they “feel like it.” For instance, one of my faith heroes, Jesus Christ, did not change His purpose, mission, or personality just so that the Pharisees would like him. He always stayed true to His character. Also, another of my faith heroes, Rachel Scott, had lost all her friends due to her newfound faith in Christ. Even so, she was adamant about staying true to her belief and who she was, and not some tamed-down image of who her friends thought she should be. Never change who you are due to circumstances or people wanting to mold you into their own image of how you “should” be. Be true to yourself, while still willing to be open and teachable to change for the better, but change for your own reasons, not just another person’s.
  3. Stand Out.-Finally, and perhaps most importantly, in order to be a true world-changer or coffee bean, you have to stand out. Rachel Scott has been quoted in multiple sources as saying, ” I won’t be labeled as average.” In order to be a true coffee bean, you have to want to be better than average in your mentality and attitude towards life. That is, you can’t just blend in, be like everyone else, and/or do the minimum.  For instance, at work, one way I am trying to be a coffee bean is to work hard every day, and sometimes even volunteer to do extra work when I have the time and when needed, to help others. Moreover, I strive for excellence in my work, and not simply to get things done. Rachel Scott stood out by being kind to everyone around her, not just the people she looked up to or with who she got along well.  She even was kind to those boys who would later murder her, and also to those who were shunned, looked down upon, or made fun of by everyone else in her school or by society.

These are the three things everybody who is like a coffee bean have and examples of how one can imitate them. Coffee-bean like people always have a positive impact in this world, and sometimes it is very great! Resolve to be your best–Be a coffee bean today!

Carrying Rachel’s Torch

One of my faith heroes has always been Columbine student Rachel Joy Scott, who was murdered in 1999 by two of her classmates. Rachel is my faith hero because of her great belief in God and because she has all the positive qualities I would like to embody in myself. Also, I must note that she wasn’t perfect so I can relate to some of her experiences very well, especially when I fall down or sin.

After I watched the movie “I Am Not Ashamed,” which is based on Rachel Scott’s life, God has inspired me not only to try to live out Rachel’s five challenges but also to carry her torch.

What is carrying Rachel’s Torch?

For Rachel’s 5 challenges, click here, and then click on the box where it says, “Program Challenges.” Carrying Rachel’s torch, to me,  involves not only striving to live out her five challenges every day but also to live a life that properly honors her life and legacy.

How do we (I) carry Rachel’s torch? 

Carrying Rachel’s torch not only involves living out the five challenges in Rachel’s challenge but also making these promises to yourself and to the community around you:

  1. I will strive to make a positive difference in my world and to do this with all my heart. –I remember that Rachel Scott wrote in her journal, ” I will not be labeled as average,” and so I don’t want to be either.
  2. I will strive to think of others before myself.– While Rachel wanted her peers to love and like her, sometimes they didn’t and outright rejected her because of her bold faith in Christ.  Rachel believed that others needed to know about God’s love, and she was willing to risk her own reputation so that people could know and experience Christ’s love. While she certainly didn’t believe in forcing people to convert, she did believe in sharing how He has impacted her life and even that sometimes shocked people.  She also sometimes risked her safety and comfort to help others in need. Her fellow torch bearers also will strive to live in the same way.
  3. I will strive to intentionally love and offer my friendship and support to people who are hurting or otherwise in need.–Rachel always intentionally strove to offer her love and kindness to those in need or were hurting. She even approached a formerly homeless man and offered to help him through his tough time. She also reached out to her killers before they committed the massacre and offered friendship to them.
  4.  I will strive never to hate anyone who hurts me.—Rachel never ever hated anyone, except maybe the devil. If someone gets upset and angry at her, it hurts her too, but she never (as far as I know) exacted vengeance on them. Rachel’s torch bearers should strive to do the same, and make an impact, like her, with love instead of hate.
  5. If I fail at any of these above objectives, I will shake the dust off my feet, so to speak, and carry Rachel’s torch again. –I bet Rachel sometimes failed at meeting her own standards, but like Rachel, we should not give up! We should keep trying!

Why the torch metaphor?
In the Olympics, a torch bearer in a marathon was to carry another’s torch and then pass it to others in order to successfully complete the race. Similarly, we are all running in a similar, longer race. It is called the “Race of Life.” We all want to be successful and belong somewhere.  In this instance, I use the torch metaphor in order to describe how we all can carry on Rachel Scott’s legacy not only so her positive impact on this world and the community around her will not be forgotten but also how we can all work as a team to finish the Race of Life well and to continue what Rachel started.

Epilogue

Personally, carrying Rachel’s torch will be a struggle for me, but this is what gives me a purpose and reason to live. Of course, this purpose pales a bit to glorifying God and enjoying Him forever, which will always be my number one purpose in life.  What do you think of carrying Rachel’s torch? Are you ready? Please comment here.

sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Scott

https://rachelschallenge.org/

Patriotic edition: 5 Things I’m Thankful For and 5 things we could improve

DISCLAIMER: Please no disparaging or disrespectful comments about me (the writer), different political views, or others in this blog. Also, please no arguing about political stuff here. This is not the place to do it! If you break any of these rules, your comment or comments will be deleted. Thank you and happy reading. : )

In honor of the 4th of July, the Independence Day of the United States of America, I will discuss five things I am immensely thankful for that this country provides, and five things we as a nation could improve on. I am honored and thankful to be born in this country and to be able to enjoy many of the freedoms this country provides for me today.  However, I know this country is not perfect and that it has a lot of problems and issues, which I will delve into later.  Regardless, I am thankful God put me here not only to be successful for myself and my loved ones but also to help others.

Five Things I am thankful for in the U.S.A

  1. religious freedom–I can be any religion I want to be and be able to worship freely without fear of being sent to jail or tortured for my faith. I happen to be a Christian, but I see others of different faiths, having similar freedoms to me.  This is not true in many other countries. I hear and know of people being jailed, tortured, or even killed just for practicing their faith. For example, in North Korea, in general,  if you practice publically any religion other than the state religion, you are put in prison and tortured until you submit to their faith.  This is a freedom we Americans should all be thankful for and keep preserving for the next generations.
  2. freedom of speech–Here in the States, in general, I can openly criticize my local government, state government, and even federal government, including the President and Vice President,  without fear of losing my job, going to prison, or being tortured or killed for that.  I can even stage a protest against the government’s policies, if I wanted to, without getting arrested or jailed just for doing so.  I am very grateful I can do that openly or even publically, without fear of being arrested or losing my livelihood for doing so.  In many other countries, if you openly criticize governmental policies or the leader of the country, you will be arrested and jailed for doing so. A few nations even kill their own people for protesting against their government or their policies!
  3. Adequate water supply- We, as a nation, are extremely blessed by our many bodies of water!  In general, 90% of the country, can turn on the faucet and water comes out. This is not true at all in many parts of the world! Some parts of the world don’t even have faucets or clean, running water! In many parts of the world, people must carry buckets of water from miles away from their home, just to get enough water to live! In many cases, the water isn’t even completely clean or as pure, as it is in the States!  I see some people here in the States just running the faucet without using the water that comes out of it. What a waste! Think of the people that don’t have any water near their homes.  Try to appreciate that you are able to have clean, running water, and don’t take this for granted.
  4. A strong and courageous military force — We, as a nation, are blessed to have men and women who are willing to risk their lives to defend our country and its freedoms. I know several veterans personally and am thankful to know them.  I am grateful for them and all military personnel because many of the people who are or were in the military have to go through not only grueling training to help them prepare for the battlefield, not to mention the horrors and the heartaches of war and losing your comrades, but when they come back to civilian life, they are often underappreciated and/or forgotten.  You may not agree with the principles of war, and that’s fine, but the fact that these men and women are standing up for our freedoms and protecting us from terrorists and other evil people, is something for which we should be immensely thankful.
  5. The right to defend ourselves against invaders or intruders.–We, as a nation, are blessed to have the Second Amendment, in case someone tries to kill or attack us, and the police can’t or won’t do anything about it for whatever reasons.  Now, I would personally never own a gun, but for those that do, I respect them, especially if they live in high-crime areas or are in situations where they feel legitimately physically threatened or unsafe.  In 90% of the countries that I’ve ever visited or heard about, it is illegal for private citizens to own a gun or any form of defense, even if they do feel their lives are at risk. I do think there should be gun control laws, but I think the basic right for United States’ citizens who are law-abiding and will use a gun responsibly should never be abolished.

5 things the U.S could do better

  1. Respecting people with different political persuasions.—There has been so much strife in this country just because Trump was elected. Sure, he has his issues, and you don’t have to like him, but hating him or people that agree with his policies, will not solve any of our nation’s problems!  I was very saddened by a man who shot several people who were playing baseball for charity just because some of them didn’t agree with this man’s political ideas!  I see many people on Facebook and Twitter just taking jabs at people because of their political views. If we want to be united as a nation, we cannot keep doing this! Yes, there are many people who hold views that I don’t personally agree with, both politically and religiously.  That does not give me the right to personally attack them, either with my words or my actions. This, in my opinion, is no longer “freedom of speech,” it’s being a jerk!
  2. Taking care of the poor.–I know many people here in the States, both online and offline, who are struggling just to get by.  Some of you may be thinking that these people should “just get a job.” First of all, it’s not that easy! It takes an average of five or six months to get a decent job for most people, and some it can take years, and yes, they are actively looking too!  I’ve been there.  Also, some people are disabled and can’t work! Either they have severe mental problems, or they are physically unable to work.  Finally, even if the poor do get a job, how many jobs do they have to get to have a living wage, and be able to spend time with the ones that matter to them most.  Two? Three? Five? It’s so difficult these days to even find one job. let alone several! And where would even an average, able-bodied person find the time and energy to work, let’s say,  four jobs to support themselves and family, and still have time to spend adequate time and energy to spend with their loved ones outside of work? I’m not saying that an abled bodied person should just mooch off the government and not to do anything with their lives at all. I’m saying that we should do our part to take care of the poor and hurting, because it’s the right thing to do, and you never know what struggles and hurts another human being is going through. So, unless you are God or know everything about someone, try not to judge them! In fact, in several places, Mother Teresa is quoted as saying, “If you judge someone, you have no time to love them.”
  3. Loving immigrants .—Unless you are a Native American, you have no right to judge who should or shouldn’t be in this country.  Yes, it is upsetting to some people when people come here illegally and don’t pay taxes.  However, hating them and/or treating them like commodities instead of human beings with felt needs isn’t going to solve anything. I understand that a few people who have come into this country have done criminal activities or committed hateful acts of terrorism, but a.) This isn’t the majority of immigrants. Most are families coming here to better their lives because of all the freedoms and opportunities we have here. b.) There are criminals that are American-born citizens too!  So singling out immigrants as perpetrators of criminal acts is not only unfair, it is often untrue as well!
  4. Loving people who are different than us.–In the past two years, there has been much strife because some people aren’t willing to accept or love people who are different than them. For example, a few years ago, a white supremacist murdered several black Christians worshipping God, during a Bible study, in Charleston, South Carolina, just because they were black! I mean these Christians didn’t even do anything to hurt this guy, and he still shot at them!  How sad! Of course, the majority of Americans are not as mean and racist as he was, but we all would do well to look in the mirror sometimes and make sure we don’t even have a trace of hatred for people different than us! This doesn’t only include being free from racism (and not being prejudiced against other ethnicities) but also loving people regardless of gender or gender identity, sexual orientation, social class, disability, religious beliefs, or any other human identifier.  Loving them doesn’t mean agreeing with everything they may do or stand for, but it does mean being willing to be there for them and comfort them if another person hurts them, and it means actively trying to help them find joy and meaning in their lives.
  5. Thinking of others before ourselves.–This is especially true if you are in a position of leadership in the U.S  government.  I saw a government official on T.V enjoying the beach he closed to the public because of a lack of funds. I have several issues with this. First of all, if the beach is closed to the public, you and your family should not be enjoying it either! It’s only fair. Second of all, if you want to enjoy the beach with your family, and there are not enough funds to keep it open, a public servant should take it upon him or herself to finance it so that everyone could enjoy the beach, and not just you and your loved ones.  If you are in any position of leadership, be it in the government, or in a school or in a workplace, you should always think of others before yourself. For instance, if you are a manager, you shouldn’t just cut hours or lay off people just so you can save money for yourself or people like you.  Think of others first!

These are the five things I am immensely thankful for in this country, and five things we can improve.  What are five things you are thankful for if you live in the U.S (or if you live in another country–what are you most thankful for there?)? What things can be improved in your country? Please feel free to comment respectfully on this.

Five Women That Have Impacted My Life Most and Why

DISCLAIMER: I will be using pseudonyms or initials for all these people for privacy reasons, except my mom, who will bear the name “my mom”.

  1. my mom–Besides the fact that she gave birth to me, she taught me how to be more unselfish and sacrifice for others. She does everything for the good of our family, and not just herself.  Growing up, she even sacrificed some pleasurable things for herself so that my sibling and I could have them.  From this, I have learned (and am still learning) how to be more willing to sacrifice things for the good of others, and not just think about me, myself, and I all the time. Before I became a Christian, I was VERY selfish. Now, I am NOT saying that all people who aren’t Christians are selfish. On the contrary, some of the people in my life who aren’t Christians are some of the least selfish people I know! However, for me personally, after I became a Christian, my mom’s lessons and sacrifices became more apparent to me and I started to apply them more to my life.  For example, in the past several years, I have started to care more about hurting people in my life and online. I credit this partly to my mom’s example she gave to me of unselfish sacrifice over the years.
  2. J—She is my mentor and friend.  She has impacted my life in that she changed my future by believing that I could get a job and drive a car when I felt no one else did.  She also helped me go through the process of finding the job that I have now.  Her perseverance and her spirit of never giving up on me when everyone else seemed to, helped me through these past five years have hope and courage to recreate my dreams and even gave me the courage to write this blog!  Despite all the stresses in her life, she, like my mom, always puts others before herself.
  3. Erica* (*=NOT her real name)–She has been my friend for almost 11 years!  She has accepted and loved me even when I was being difficult or demanding.  She has a true heart for other cultures and wants to share the love of Christ with everyone around her.  She is one of the most genuine Christians I have ever met. Yes, like all of us, she does occasionally sin. However, she is honest and upfront about her struggles and most everything. She is also pretty level-headed and doesn’t lose her temper easily, if at all.  I also want to strive to be more like her in these ways. I, too, want to strive to be honest and genuine in all my dealings with people.  I strive to be loving and accepting of others, as she is.
  4. Kelly * (*=not her real name)–I’ve been her friend for about five, if not more, years.  Like Erica, she is also honest about her struggles and triumphs.  She takes the time to care about people in ways they may or may not normally expect. For instance, even though she is busy with school and work, she took the time to make a beautiful bracelet for my birthday, not to mention paying the shipping costs to get it from the place where she lives (not too close by) to my home.  She also tries her very best to listen to other people’s concerns. When someone tells her that they were hurt by her, she tries to resolve the issue where the other person got hurt by her. She doesn’t let things slide, or offer obligatory excuses.  I strive to go the extra mile like Kelly to make sure people around me, whether, at home, work, or church feel cared about by me.  For instance, at work today, one of my managers was having a stressful day.  He totally did not expect this, but one of my guy friends and one of my gal friends got together and decided to let him know that yes, we do care about him and hope he feels better.  We did this by buying him his favorite snack and by getting him a card encouraging him through this tough time. I don’t do this to brag on myself or even my good friends, but to let people know how much Kelly’s care for me has inspired me to “pay it forward,” so to speak.
  5. Veronica* (*=not her real name)–I’ve been friends with her for a couple years, but her joy and enthusiasm for God and people has changed my life. Also, she was there for me when I got very upset at a situation at work, and in my life in general,  and broke down in tears. I was really depressed and angry at that time. However, her joy and encouragement to me to seek God and that I had a good purpose in life was what I needed to get back up on my feet again, so to speak.   Her joy and enthusiasm for life, even when things get tough, is what I want to cultivate for myself in my life. Because of her, and because of my experience three years ago where I almost died, I strive to find joy in life everyday. Sometimes, I do fail, but people like her keep me going even when I feel like giving up.

These five women have impacted my life the most not only because of their love and kindness but also because of their unselfish and caring attitudes toward me and others. What five women have most impacted your life? Why? Please feel free to comment.

3 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

As I write this, it is Father’s Day. Some of you, like me, have a great relationship with your dad, and for you and I, I am immensely grateful. For others, you don’t have to have as great a relationship with your earthly father, and for that I am sorry. I hope you know that I believe that your Heavenly Father loves you where your earthly father didn’t.  Anyway, here are just three lessons that my dad has taught me by how he lives his life, and these are lessons from which anyone could benefit:

1.) Work hard–My dad’s job requires him to work nine (sometimes even more) hour days, at least five days a week. Sometimes, he even works weekends! In fact, he worked today! Granted, it was for fewer hours than the usual nine, but the fact that he even bothered to work on this special day (i.e Father’s Day) is a testament to both his work ethic and care for his family, including me. After working a long day, sometimes he even helps my mom around the house! What’s even more amazing is that he can retire fully, but he is still willing to work full time! He never wants to settle for anything less than his very best. My dad’s work ethic inspires me to also work diligently at my job as a sales associate. I strive to imitate him by striving for excellence. He also tells me that he doesn’t care as much about the results, as much as the effort that I put into my work.  For instance, if I try my best, but I only work producing average results, it would be OK for him because I already did the best I could. However, if I got good results, but slacked off, he would get a bit upset at me because I was lazy and could have done even better than I did.

2.) Help others–My dad is always willing to help others before he helps himself. When he sees my mom struggling with a task, he is always willing to help her out. For instance, if my mom needs help with the cooking process, and she feels overwhelmed by the many tasks she had to accomplish earlier in the day, he helps the best he can by, for example, cutting the food into bite-sized pieces, and later stirring the ingredients in the pot. At work, he is also willing to help others. For example, he is willing to cover his other co-workers’ shifts where and when he can, not just so they will do the same for him when he needs help, but because he sees a need and loves to genuinely help out.

In the same way, I love to help other people too. When I see a need among my co-workers or managers at work, or when a customer needs help, I try to help them the best I can. For instance, when a customer needs something from the top shelf, I try to help them get it. Obviously, with my short height, I cannot reach it by myself. So, I carry a ladder and help the customer get the item. I  help them not only because it’s good customer service, but because it is the right thing to do. I, also, by imitating my dad’s example with family, colleagues, and others love to help, not just family out, but anyone I can.

3.) Do your best to get along with everyone.–Even with people he does not like or care for, he tries his very best to get along with them and treat them the best way he can. I am striving to do this myself, especially at work, where teamwork is essential. For instance, some people he serves at his job can be difficult and have many problems that need to be fixed or solved.  However, he tries his best to rectify the situation and be at peace with them. He does not have many, if any, enemies, because of his peaceful attitude. It is something that I want to imitate as well. I don’t want any enemies (except the devil), and I never want to have a hateful attitude or behavior towards everyone. I think hating someone is a colossal waste of time and energy.  Besides, I don’t think my dad genuinely hates anyone either.

These are the three major lessons that my dad has taught me by the way he lives his life. I am lucky and blessed to have an earthly father exemplifying these great qualities because having these three qualities will get one very far in life. What has your earthly father taught you? Feel free to share in the comments.

Two People: A poem in honor of my parents

This is a poem I made about 6 years ago. This poem is still as true as ever today as it was then. Enjoy, and hope you too can find something of value in it!

 

Two People-dedicated to my parents, with love

Two people swept in a torrent of blessings and trials

Bring a five pound six ounce baby into this world

Many  nights are bound with anguish and tears,

Trials and fears,

Watching their baby grow up in a sinful and troubled world

But then with their child also come days of enjoying and relaxing

Of rewarding and rejoicing!

 

Two people swept in a torrent of blessings and trials,

Sacrifice everything they have in this troubled and difficult world

For their then five pound six ounce baby,

Who is now grown up as a lady

Whom to they still make sacrifices for and love

As  she learns  more and more

To love them and the One up above

Jesus’ Love for Mankind (and how to cultivate it)

Disclaimer: Will have religious/Christian content. So, please note that and NO disparaging comments or they will be deleted. Thank you. This post is also made in honor of Rachel Joy Scott, who died 18 years ago today, because she lived with so much love and grace even in the face of suffering.

Almost all of us have heard the song/phrase, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so,” but this phrase can get so trite that it almost loses its meaning and depth.  When people quote that song lyric or phrase to me, I want to say, ” Well, do you know how much Jesus loves you?” From professing Christians, I would probably hear, “Sure, He died for my sins!” From others, it would probably be, “Yes, He loves everyone!” Both responses would lack the depth and the height and the width of His love! In fact, anything I say cannot compare to how much He loves us!

I was doing my devotions yesterday, and am doing New Testament on weekdays, and Psalms (eventually Proverbs) on weekends. I was on John 13 yesterday, and was struck by HOW MUCH Jesus loved His disciples, and by implication, us too!  Jesus loved His disciples SO much that He was willing to wash His disciples’ feet. Usually, this service was reserved for Non-Jewish slaves, not a Jewish rabbi, as His disciples revered Him as! And certainly, it was not the picture of God they had in mind!  He even washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, who would so callously betray Him just hours later. And Jesus knew this too! He also washed Peter’s feet, who would deny even knowing Him hours later. Of course, Jesus also knew this, as well as the other disciples, who would desert Him in His time of need. (John 18:25-27, Mark 14:50) Jesus also did this humble act of love, just before He was to die a most brutal death for our (and their) sins, and He knew that too!  Not only did Jesus wash His disciples’ feet, but He also served them a meal (i.e.. The Last Supper). This is why we should strive not only to life for (or be responsible for) ourselves, but also for others, even our enemies, as well.

While there are times when we need what I call “self-care” to be re-energized and recharged so we can better serve others, living completely for only oneself is not good either, as this following anecdote I posted on Facebook will illustrate.

In September of 2009, Majorie Orbin was convicted of murdering her husband Jay Orbin in a most brutal fashion. During her marriage, she had had several affairs..and already been married 6 other times. Her credo that drove this lifestyle was this, in her own words: At 18, I was told that I could not have children. So I made a conscious decision at that point in my life I would only be responsible for myself. I danced, I traveled. I worked hard, played hard, went through a few marriages.

But this is how it is when Jesus takes hold of your heart and you make a conscious decision to live for others (also from my Facebook-bold emphasis mine):

 In about the year 1999, I was suffering from depression and lived a very selfish lifestyle. I wasn’t what people would call a “bad person,” but I WAS to an extent only responsible for myself—being successful in school was an idol. Like Majorie, I was looking for people to love and accept me for who I was and not really finding true joy in that search.

Then, sometime in the year 2000, Jesus Christ took a hold of my heart and life. Today I am in my 30s, and like Majorie I can’t have children either (namely because I haven’t been able to find a significant other yet). Because of Christ, I have made a conscious decision to serve God and others the best way I can, even if sometimes this is exhausting, not because I’m some saint (trust me, I’m NOT), but because Jesus is my Lord and Savior and He deserves nothing less! Praise Jesus,and thank you all, my life overall has been nothing short of AMAZING!

So, like Jesus, we should strive to live for and serve God and others, through our attitudes, words and actions by willing to help others out even in the times we don’t feel like it or we feel we have nothing left to give by drawing upon God’s strength to help you.  This is especially true when we have to serve people whom we don’t like or are hard to love, because when we show them our love, it shows that a.) We won’t give up on them  b.) We are “heaping burning coals on their head” (i.e….they will start to feel bad or pronounce judgment on themselves for treating us badly–because why would you treat someone badly who treats you so well?!)  c.) Who we belong to (Jesus) not our own sinful selves.  I admit that I don’t always succeed at doing this, but God is teaching me slowly how to love everyone–even those who give me a difficult time. May you do the same, and find your life so rewarding and fulfilling in the process!