Top 5 Men That Have Impacted My Life

Since I have already done a post (See: Five Women ) on women that have impacted my life positively, now it’s the guys’ turn. In addition to the five women that have impacted my life, here are who I believe (as of this writing) are the top five men who have had the most impact on my current life thus far and why.

DISCLAIMER: Some of these names will be aliases (i.e.. not their real name) for anonymity and privacy reasons.

  1. my dad--He was there for me when I was born and through thick and thin.  His work ethic and his willingness to serve and sacrifice for others have inspired me to do the same. As I said in an earlier post, he often works 10-hour shifts, at least five days a week. He sometimes works weekends as well. When he is at home, he doesn’t always lounge around and watch television all day but also helps my mom around the house. When I was discouraged about not achieving the desired result in school even though I had worked hard, he told me something like, “It’s OK, as long as you try your best. It’s better that you fail at something that you worked hard at than doing pretty well, but you don’t try your best.”  This philosophy set the foundation for how I currently strive to approach my job. In fact, I have this philosophy to work hard at my job, “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart.”  And my dad was a huge part of this mindset. (So if you read this, Dad, thank you.)
  2. my brother–Even though he is younger than me, he has had a huge impact on my life as well.  He has pushed me to succeed because he always believed in me and that I could do better and better.  When I was discouraged, he always took the time to talk to me and to encourage me. I was (and still am) always inspired by how innovative and creative he was and is.  For instance, when something in our house broke, he was able to fix it just by ordering the right part.  He also was able to figure out what exactly the problem was.  Not only that, but he has a kind and generous heart. I can never outdo what he has given me, both materially and eternally.
  3. Frank Taylor–He was my former pastor, but he has taught me more about grace and humility than most anyone I know. For instance, when he said something that offended a few people, he didn’t try to justify what he said or make excuses for why they shouldn’t have been offended. He humbly and contritely made a written apology to the whole church. Also, even though at first I didn’t trust him because I didn’t know him well,  he was patient in those times and didn’t try to force me to trust him.  He still showed kindness and grace to me. Though he isn’t perfect, he still strives to be transparent and acknowledges his imperfections.
  4. My manager Chris* (*=NOT his real name)— Though I have only known him for the past year and a half, he has taught me so much.  First of all, he has impacted my life because he interviewed me for my current job and was able to convince the Store Manager to grant me this job.  Also, he has taught me so much about patience, the power of grace and forgiveness, and perseverance.  He has offered to help me advance my career, while also respecting my life outside of work by giving me the days off that I need. I have discussed in this post what he has taught me.
  5. My favorite manager Tom* (*=not his real name)–He has taught me through his great example how to be a good manager.  He has always been kind, generous in his estimation of me, and provides much-needed humor on stressful days. I have discussed in this post how Tom has qualities that we should all emulate.  He also has helped me through some trials that I have had while working at my current job and has always encouraged me in my work.

These are the five amazing men who have most impacted my life so far. They all have had positive impacts on my life, without a doubt. Who are your top five men who have impacted your life? How? Why? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

 

What I Learned From the Movie “Priceless”

Disclaimer: I am not in any way affiliated with the movie’s producers or any distributors, nor am I making any money off these reviews.  Any opinions are always strictly my own. Also, contains spoilers!

(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Priceless_(2016_film))

“Priceless” starts out with a man named James who tragically loses his wife and subsequently loses custody of his daughter, Emerson, after not being able to keep a steady job and becoming an alcoholic. Then, a guy offers James money to drive a truck cross-country no questions asked. He does, until, one day when he crashes the truck and is run off the road after a storm. Curiosity and a gnawing sense something is wrong prompts him to open the back of the truck. He does and discovers two young ladies inside.  After discovering that these ladies were being recruited for prostitution purposes, James and his friend Dale, who later discovers the truck that James drove, tries to shut down the prostitution ring and rescue these women before it’s too late.

As with everything in life, even movies, there is always something to be learned from them. “Priceless” is no exception. Here’s what I learned from this movie:

  1. Everyone has value, and that alone is worthy of protection.–It’s obvious that even though James has been absent for most of Emerson’s young life, he still values her enough to think about her a lot. This is in contrast to the pimps that wanted to prostitute the two young women who James found inside his truck. Not only did the pimps in the story want to use them for their own perverted pleasures, but they didn’t even care about these women’s feelings or livelihood.  Because James and Dale knew that these men (the pimps) were up to no good, they knew they had to do something to rescue at the very least the two young women whose lives were in danger, and shut down the prostitution ring.  We can apply this concept even to our own lives. If we see or hear of someone that is lonely or feels depressed or hurt, we should not only comfort them but encourage and cultivate the positive aspects of their character and treat them as valuable human beings, rather than commodities to be used for our own purposes. For instance, if someone tells you that they have no friends and that they feel that no one cares about them, be their friend and love them. Yes, it may be difficult, but doing the right thing is sometimes not easy, but we have to strive to do the best we can.  If we witness someone being abused or bullied, stand up for them. Don’t let people hurt others, especially if they are in a vulnerable position. Everyone has value, cherish and protect that.
  2. Sometimes doing the right thing is difficult, but we have to do it.–At first, James was hesitant to rescue the two women (Antonia and Maria) because he had promised to be with his own daughter, Emerson. However, James knew he had to rescue Antonia and Maria, I believe, not only because he knew it was the right thing to do but also to be a good example to Emerson.  James had to sacrifice some time with his daughter, for a higher purpose. If he had forgotten about the two women, James’s conscience would have been eating at him, and he wouldn’t have been such a good example to his own daughter.  Of course, this can be applied to our own lives as well. Have you ever had to do something difficult, but it was right, morally, to do it, as in an obligation? I have.  For instance, several days ago I was having a bad day and yelled at someone I shouldn’t have.  Instead of clinging to my pride and blaming them for my anger, I apologized to them and have tried to make things right with them. It was difficult, because I had to let go of my pride and selfishness, but it was the right thing to do.
  3. One person can make a big difference.–James was just an ordinary guy that was down on his luck (and pride).  However, when the situation called, he made a huge impact in the lives of several girls and women caught in the throws of prostitution.  Yes, James was able to sacrifice even his life, to save Antonia and Maria, and other women.  However, we also can make a positive difference, even if it seems small. For instance, if you see or hear about a customer or client that doesn’t have enough money to pay for your services or products, but they really need it to survive, you can offer to pay for them.  Even something a simple as a sincere compliment or word or words of encouragement to someone who is depressed or suicidal can save someone’s life or at least make their day.  Never believe you can’t impact lives for the positive. Anyone can, even YOU can!

“Priceless” ends with James marrying Antonia, and them rescuing countless girls and women who were formerly involved with prostitution. It also ends with these women and girls being brought into James’ and Antonia’s home and being nurtured and encouraged into a new, hope-filled, love-filled life.

On Upsetting the Applecart

Upsetting the applecart, according to Dictionary.com, is to spoil carefully laid out plans.  (Source: http://www.dictionary.com/browse/upset–the–applecart) However, how I define upsetting the applecart, is doing anything that will upset the status quo. For instance, if everyone is supposed to wear red, and you are wearing blue, you may be upsetting the applecart.

Sometimes it is important not to upset the applecart. Examples and explanations of situations where it would not be so wise to upset the applecart would be as follows:

  1. In order to rebel against authority–Ninety percent of the time, it is not a good idea to upset the applecart by rebelling against authority figures in your life, whether it be the police, teachers, or bosses. Not only will you get in trouble, but you will also not likely to induce the changes you want to be made either by the authority themselves, or the peers around you.
  2. By doing something that is illegal and/or immoral.–If you are upsetting the applecart by doing something that is grossly immoral or illegal because you don’t like something or because you want to do what you want to without any regard to the consequences of your actions, that is being reckless. It is not really changing anything or really “upsetting the applecart” in any positive or significant way.

There are other times, however, when it would be very wise to upset the applecart. Examples of these may be as follows:

  1. When the people around you are doing something wrong or unproductive (i.e..when things that “have always been done this way” will not accomplish the desired result or results in the long run). –For instance,  if you work in an environment where people are regularly nasty to each other and are always fighting, you can upset the applecart, so to speak, by refusing to engage in that environment or instead be speaking encouraging things to those you meet there.
  2. When you want to accomplish sustained, positive change in the world around you.–For example, many countries in the past engaged in enslaving people that they thought were “inferior” to themselves.  Now we know that that is wrong. In the past, many thought it was just the way things were, but abolitionists like William Wilberforce and Fredrick Douglas, worked together to eventually put an end to slavery here in the U.S.   They upset the slave owners’ applecart, so to speak, to win the freedom of millions of mistreated African slaves in the U.S.
  3. When you want to be true to your values and convictions, even if everyone else around you is not in agreement.–For instance, my faith hero, Rachel Scott, made a dent in this world and upset the applecart, by being not only vocal about her Christian faith but also applying her faith to her daily life, even though it meant her losing all of her good friends at school.  Another situation where upsetting the applecart may be wise is when you see someone being unfairly treated or bullied, and you stand up for the bully’s victim even when no one else will. This is not primarily about making you a hero, but more about doing the right thing and instigating a positive change in your world.

Whether or not you choose to upset the applecart, the most important thing to remember is how to do it correctly.  Remember that upsetting the applecart may be difficult because you are going against the status quo, the grain, so to speak. Some people may not respect your convictions or what you’re doing, but if it is the right thing to do, do it anyway.  You may even lose some support along the way, but if you know that this is the right thing to do, don’t give up.

Here’s how to upset the applecart most effectively:

  1. Think about how you will upset the applecart.–For instance, if your work or school environment is a place where there are a lot of cliques and infighting, determine a way you will change that by not subscribing to the same things your colleagues or classmates are. In this example, I would want to upset the applecart by not participating in the gossip and infighting myself, and by hanging out with many different types of people, not just ones with whom I feel comfortable.
  2. Determine you will be different in some way than the status quo.–Stand out in some way. –Don’t be afraid to be different, or be yourself, in situations where upsetting the applecart would benefit others.   For instance, in multiple sources, Rachel Scott, my faith hero, is quoted as saying, “I won’t be labeled as average.” Rachel Scott was known for upsetting the applecart in a positive way.  Her faith and compassion for others stood out. She hung out and encouraged those who no one considered or wanted to be around.  She held firm to moral boundaries but rejected shallowness and fakeness.
  3. Hold firm to your convictions and beliefs always.–Never let what other people think of you and/or your beliefs hinder you in any way. Never surrender your beliefs and convictions if you know that you are right. Yes, be open to others’ wisdom and advice if you are wrong about something or to understand people better. However, never let someone change your beliefs and convictions based only on their benefit or just to please them.  Change only because you (or God) want(s) you to.

Upsetting the applecart allows us not only to stand out and be different but also to initiate effective change to our world and those around us. Change, and upsetting the applecart can be upsetting to some people, but they are necessary ingredients to improve oneself and the world around you.

 

A Godsend–My current job

I personally believe that God led me to where I am today and with everything I am.  This is no less true concerning how I got my current job.  I am a sales associate at a large store. Sometimes there is a lot of stress, and yes I do have to work very hard, but I love it.

The journey to my current job:

I worked at a thrift store for almost three years and had a lot of good experiences there too. In fact, I have applied some of what I learned about customer service in this store to my current job! However, later on, as I grew and changed, I knew God was starting to lead me somewhere else.

I had applied to different places for about six months, with little luck. Still, I persisted.  I had applied to my current job too, but I also applied to a bookstore in my area.  To my pleasure, the bookstore had called me in for an interview.  It hadn’t opened yet, so I was led into a dark building and basically was interviewed in a warehouse-like environment. I didn’t care though; I was happy just to get interviewed. However, I was very nervous (read: too nervous), and the interview didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I didn’t know how to answer some of the questions and quickly found out that this job wasn’t a good fit for me.  Needless to say, the people at the bookstore never called me back. Since I had considered this my “dream job,” I was a bit devastated, but still held out hope that I would find a good job soon.

A few weeks later, I went into the store (i.e where I work now) because my mom and I needed to buy items from there. So, I decided to ask whatever manager was out there the status of my resume that I had sent online there.  So, I asked one of the personnel coordinators there, and she was very nice and scheduled an interview for me at 1 pm.  I didn’t have time to change into more formal clothes, so I had to go there with the clothes that I had on at the time.

1 pm came, and I was so nervous. There was also a woman there who would also become an associate and later one of my dear friends at work. I decided to make small talk with that woman who I will name “A”.  A was also looking for work, but unlike me, she already quit her previous job.  A was also kind of nervous. We both got interviewed by one of my current managers who I will call *Chris (NOT his real name).  He only asked one question about customer service. I was so surprised by how short the interview was. I did not know if I was going to get the job because I was so nervous during the interview. A and I waited for one hour to get our results and if we were going to get the job or not.  Chris kept walking back and forth and updating us on progress and getting our papers, etc.

One hour passed, A and I were each called in separately, and I was offered the job! I felt so happy but was a little disappointed when it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. However, I felt this job may be for me too, because of the opportunity to later advance and eventually I would be making more than I did at the thrift store!  So, I told the store manager that I would discuss the job offer with family and tell him tomorrow whether I would accept the offer or not.

My family and I decided that this job would be worth it.  So, I went in again, and I explained to the higher-up manager there (but not the store manager, since he wasn’t there at the time) that I would accept the offer, but I would have to respectfully give the thrift store my two-week notice before starting the job.

After giving the two-week notice,  I went to orientation.  It was several hours, but I learned a lot about the company and got my schedule. I was happy that they were able to give me much better hours than at my previous job.

What I Learned

I am so glad that I accepted the offer when I did because I felt that God had led me to my current job for several reasons.

1.) God wanted me to show His love to many people, whether it would be customers, my fellow co-workers, or even my managers.—One of the reasons why I have stayed where I am at my current job is God’s prodding me to show people there that they are loved and that they don’t have to feel alone or unappreciated. Sometimes, I fail at this, but I pick myself back up and try again.

2) God wanted me to learn from the people around me.–God wanted me to learn how not only to serve others through these three groups (customers, co-workers, and managers) of people but how to excel at my job. He wanted to humble me, by letting me know in no uncertain terms on some days, that I still have a lot to learn and to apply to my life.

3.) God felt that I could apply my skills more effectively in this job, rather than the job at the bookstore.- While I am constantly learning new and wonderful things at my current job, I am also applying skills that I learned at my previous job to this one.  For instance, at my old job, we had to always walk the customer to the item they are looking for, and I strive to always do that whenever possible and if the customer doesn’t refuse or decline to be walked at my current job. Also, at my previous job, I learned from the store manager at the time that if a customer has several items that they are trying to carry, that they should be asked if they need a cart as a way to give good customer service to them.  I always try to do that at this store as well. Sometimes, the customers say, “No, but thank you for asking,” or something to that effect, but if they say something like, “Yes, I need a cart!,” I immediately get them a cart, no questions asked. At the bookstore, there are no carts and since it is smaller, the customers don’t need to be walked as much.

Conclusion: I thank everyone at my current and previous jobs that helped me to get to where I am at today.  One more thing I learned is that when God (or your intuition) leads you somewhere,  listen to that prodding.  It may change your life for the better so you will be where you are supposed to be.  Has God (or your intuition) ever led you to somewhere where you felt “right”?  Please discuss in the comments.

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/

My Top 5 Favorite Quotes and Why

Words. They are building blocks of our social life and communication with others. They can build up and tear down. I’d personally rather communicate words that build up instead of tear down. Here are some words that were spoken by some famous (and not-so-famous) people that have inspired and/or encouraged me, and not left me with a feeling of disgust, and why they inspire me.

DISCLAIMER: There will be religious content. 🙂

1) “I choose to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I love this quote because it is actually one of my (unmentioned) life credos! I strive to love every day, precisely because I think hating someone is too great a burden to bear. The energy that I have spent even being close to hating some people has been, regretfully, time wasted. For instance, I have found that instead of spending time being upset at people that hurt me and going into a self-pitying mode, that the time was better spent intentionally doing and thinking nice things about them, for that is the best “revenge” for someone who has hurt you. This is a biblical principle called, “heaping burning coals upon their heads,” because if you overwhelm an undeserving person with kindness, they will probably a.) feel guilty for saying or doing these mean things to you. b.) stop the behavior because they would see it would be insufficient to get you “riled up” or upset. c.) get in trouble for it, as other people around them would start to realize that he or she is unfairly repaying you evil for good.

2) “If love depends on how the other person loves us, we have a business deal, not love.”-Paul E. Miller (Love Walked Among Us p. 143).

I love this quote because it teaches me how to love more sacrificially and less selfishly. Most of us fall into the trap at one point or another in our relationships of loving someone just because they love us back, or not loving someone at all because of how badly they have treated us, either currently or in the past.  However, the author of this quote is right: If our love is entirely dependent on how the other loves us, we have a business deal, not love.  Love does not keep a record of how well the other loves us.  I am trying to love someone I know better by not acting angry or hateful towards this person just because they are the same to me sometimes. In my faith, I am called to love others even if they don’t love me back, or even if they don’t like me.  I know loving others who don’t do the same back may seem futile and difficult to do, but hating others and becoming upset is just going to make things worse, as I can personally attest.

3) “People are neighbors to be loved, not commodities to be used.”-Jefferson Bethke

When I saw this quote on Twitter, I immediately retweeted it! This quote accurately reflects my belief that all people regardless of belief, gender, sexual orientation, income, race, ethnicity or any other human category we make to separate or distinguish each other, deserve to be loved and not treated as less than human in any way. This is because I believe that we all bear the sacred image of God, and are a unique and special creation. If you look at how complex and unique the human body is, not even counting the personality of the person inhabiting the body, we can see how wonderful and awesome our bodies are! Also, when interacting with different personalities and people, we can always learn something from them and thus grow and mature as individuals.  When we manipulate someone to our own ends, we not only insult the Creator of that person, we also insult the person’s inherent worth as an individual.  Also, it is very selfish to do that to another person, because in doing that, one is saying that they don’t care about the effect their manipulation is having on that other person, otherwise they wouldn’t do it in the first place!

 

4)“They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”-anonymous (regarding evangelism/teaching others)

I don’t know who wrote or said this quote, but this is a marvelous saying that means a lot to me. Whenever I share God’s love and/or the gospel of Jesus Christ, I want to be caring for that person, not just my own personal need to “save” them, which I can’t do anyway, no matter how hard I try.  If I don’t really care about them as a person, I will not only push them away from anything to do with my faith and any religious matters but also discredit the genuineness of my faith.  Also, whenever I teach someone how to do something, (Let’s say I teach a new co-worker how to straighten an aisle at work.), I want to do it not only with passion and knowledge but also with care for their abilities and where they are at in life.  If I don’t teach or share God’s love with love and care, then no one will listen to the message I am conveying. They will not only think I am a crock but may also question the veracity of the message itself, even if it is 100% true!

5)”God’s grace does not come to people who morally outperform others, but to those who admit their failure to perform and who acknowledge their need for a Savior.” – Tim Keller in The Reason for God, 19

I like this quote because it emphasizes the need for humility in this world.  Some people, even Christians, think that if you morally outperform someone then you will experience God’s grace and blessings more. That’s not necessarily true. One will experience more joy, blessings, grace (which is getting good things you don’t deserve) and mercy (not getting the bad things you do deserve) from God when one is humble and know that any blessing they get is undeserved!  This, I believe, is the catalyst for gratitude because it erases any sense of entitlement and arrogance on the recipient’s part. It erases the entitlement and arrogance because of their self-awareness that they don’t deserve anything good and are fortunate to not experience all the bad things that they do deserve in this life for their sins or moral failures.

These are my top 5 favorite quotes because they illustrate my credos in life so nicely.  The lessons in these quotes are things I want to carry with me and apply to my own life. Of course, I may fail from time to time in learning these lessons, but I will always strive to do my best to follow what I believe.  What are your favorite quotes? Why? Please feel free to share in the comments.

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.

The Beauty of Imperfection

I admit it. I am a perfectionist. I want everything to be right, and everything to be in its right place. So, yesterday when a manager told me that I had done my job wrong, I felt really bad about myself. Granted, it wasn’t that manager’s fault, and they were really nice about it, but it was that I was so focused on making everything just right, I had almost missed learning from my mistakes and looking at the positive aspects of being human.  Yes, I believe there is a time for utopia, but not in this life! Yes, I believe we should always try our best, and strive for excellence. However, even so, we will make mistakes! I believe there is still beauty in that. Here’s why:

1.) Mistakes give us motivation to constantly learn about things and improve ourselves.–This is why we go to school and/or strive to have jobs.  This is also why even if we aren’t in school or have a job, we can still learn things by reading books and communicating with others. If we were already perfect, we wouldn’t need to learn anything!  Also, if we already knew everything, why should we want to learn anything more or grow?  However, since we do make mistakes constantly, we can have the motivation we need to do better because it is human nature to want to correct that which isn’t right in our lives, whether morally or pragmatically. For instance, if I made a mistake in straightening items at work, which I sometimes do, I could make sure the items are straightened in the right places next time and really neater than before.  If I never made any mistakes, I wouldn’t have much motivation to improve at my job.  I would probably just do my job mechanically, like a machine, and wouldn’t find much joy in that.  Morally, if I sinned (i.e. made a moral mistake) by slandering someone I don’t like (just an example, I rarely if ever do this to people), and this person found out, got really upset, and severed ties with me, this would give me the motivation and the wake-up call I need to be kinder in the way I approach people and in what I say to and about others.

2.)Making mistakes give us a glimpse of God’s and other people’s grace and mercy towards us.–When we make an honest mistake, we are usually met with some grace and mercy. For instance, when I had done my job badly yesterday, although I was really harsh and unforgiving towards myself, the manager that confronted me treated me with patience, grace, and compassion.  If I had never made the mistakes I did at my job yesterday, I would never have seen my manager’s grace and patience towards me. Also, when I sin against people and against God, as long as I admit that I made a mistake, am willing to own up to it, and make the proper amends, God and people are 95% of the time very gracious and forgiving towards me.  If I never sinned and if I was perfect in every way, never making a single mistake, I would probably never see either God’s or other people’s mercy extended towards me for my wrongdoings.  In seeing grace and/or mercy extended towards ourselves, we are probably more likely to extend it towards others as well.  We can thus relate better to our fellow humans better.

3.) Mistakes teach us how to humble ourselves.–When we make a mistake, we have basically two choices when we are confronted with them by someone else. a.) Be defensive, deny wrongdoing, and/or make excuses for our mistakes. OR b.) admit our mistakes and correct and better them the next time.  I hope I choose b) more often than not, because admitting and learning from our mistakes, is the pathway to humility. Humility is very important for many reasons I won’t get deep into right now since I already had discussed that in a previous post. However, one reason humility is important is that it teaches you to be genuine–to be who you really are inside, warts and all.  Mistakes confront you with the choice to be genuine by exposing a part of you that makes you human–being flawed!  You can try to hide it (be fake) or be open and honest about it (being genuine).  I believe mistakes–moral and otherwise–are tools that are used in your lives to teach us not to be too arrogant or closed-minded towards people or things.

This is why mistakes can be very beneficial in our lives. Since I am a perfectionist, in this post, I am also writing to myself, as much as I am to you, the readers.  Mistakes, besides being a part of learning, also helps us experience mercy and grace, and teaches us how to humble ourselves. So, don’t worry if you make an honest mistake. Just try to learn from it, and do better next time. You may find that is the beauty of imperfection!

What have mistakes taught you?  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.