Soul Healer

written : 5/11/2018

dedicated to  J, Erica*, Veronica*,  Kelly*, Alice*, Holly*, Anna*, and my managers Chris* and Hope*  (*= all are pseudonyms) 

I was alone and in pain

I was also going insane

I felt so much shame

And I was in despair

 

I felt so unworthy of love and care

I dared never to lay my soul bare

Because I knew they’d condemn me

And all I came to be

 

But then, as water

That refreshes the soul,

On a hot, dry day

You came to me

 

You affirmed me with your love

The one from up above

You gave me a reason to hope

When I was on my last rope

 

Now I want to always love you

And bare my soul to you

Because you saved my life

And showed me God’s love

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Things I Learned From My Mom

Today, I would like to honor moms, and, in particular, my own, on this Mother’s Day by relaying the major things my mom has taught me about life to help me become a better person.  These lessons can be applied by anyone, regardless of your relationship with your mom, and can be applied in most situations we may find ourselves. When I think about my mom, the three major things in life she has taught me are: 1) How to sacrifice for the good of someone else 2) How to work at your very best.  3) How to be frugal and appreciate what I have more.

The longer I live, the more I realize how much my mother has sacrificed for me, and for my whole family.  First of all, she moved to the U.S before my brother and I were born because she knew that we would have better opportunities and successes here.  However, this move meant leaving almost all her family behind and moving into a new area, with different customs and beliefs.  When I was growing up, she often went above and beyond to make sure we would be successful and moral people.  For instance, my mom was always the type to be willing to help me with my homework when I needed it. I also remember her giving me math problems when I was younger to help develop my skills in that area.  She was also not afraid to discipline us when our selfishness and stubbornness got in the way, and sometimes those vices led to my brother and I getting into fights or arguments.  However, my mom made sure we made up and made our relationship stronger again.  Today, since there is a sale at a local store, my mom is willing to accompany me because she knows I value her presence.  These, and countless other sacrifices made by my mom, have helped me to be more willing to sacrifice for her and others.  For instance, at my job, I volunteered to work extra hours on my birthday, several months ago, because I wanted the store to do well on its audit the next week. Yes, I would have rather done something more fun, but I wanted to sacrifice for the good of my colleagues and managers because I care about them, not just so I could get extra money.  I also have been more willing to sacrifice for my mom to do whatever she needs me to do, because I realize how much she has already done for me.

Unfortunately, many people don’t give their moms adequate credit for the hard work they do around the house and for their family.  I don’t want to be one of those people.  I have seen my mom work so hard that her entire body aches afterwards!  Like my dad, she pushes herself to get what she needs to done for the day and for the joy of her family.  For instance, several years ago, my mom used to work for hours trimming the bushes that we have around our front yard, only stopping to eat and drink coffee, until she was done.  I tried to help her get all the leaves and debris cleaned up, so she wouldn’t have to do as much work.  Because of her hard work and perseverance in working around the house and making sure her family’s needs are met, I strive to do what I can, for my family, friends, and co-workers.  For instance, at work, when I am done with straightening my area, I am eager to help out another person, so they don’t feel so overwhelmed in their area (especially if the area is difficult to straighten or if there is high shopping traffic there).  When my mom is feeling overwhelmed or tired, I ask what I can do to help and then do whatever she tells me.

Finally, my mom has taught me the value of saving money and things, and not wasting the income provided by God through my job.  She is the one who taught me that it is best to buy something that is on sale and with a coupon, if possible. She has also taught me how to not spend more than I have.  She has taught me the value of recycling, and thus, not being wasteful with the resources God has given me. In her teachings, I have learned to value the possessions that God has given me, and not take the blessings He provided for granted.  I have observed that in my country, unfortunately, we waste a lot of things and are not as grateful for the things we have.  For instance, we don’t eat all the food that we buy sometimes because we have too much of it. My mom taught me to savor every bite and morsel of food on my plate.  This has helped me be OK, and even eager, to eat leftovers, and see that as a blessing to me, instead of a burden.

These are the three major things my mom has taught me. She has taught me the value of treasuring and savoring what we have, the value of hard work and perseverance, and the importance and benefits of living sacrificially for others. What are some things your mother has taught you?  How has she helped you be a better person? If your mother is still alive and well, make sure you take the time to thank and cherish your mother today.

My Dreams

(written on : April 29, 2018)

Dedicated to all my co-workers and managers at my current job

I dreamed of the day

When I would be here

And leave a mark

Lasting until my dying day

 

I dreamed of the day

When I would be loved and valued

For not just the person I could be

But for the person they already see

 

And now my dreams have come true

God has worked in and through me

Now I can see

A bright future coming up ahead of me

 

So, I dream of the day

When the Love and Joy I found

Will become real to you

And fill you too

Being Kind in a Pain Filled World

I wrote the following poem in response to the pain around me.  While I was watching the news in my job’s break room on my “lunch” (read: dinner) hour, I heard of yet another school shooting where at least two people had died. I had just gotten done talking to a friend whose family is battling illness and pain.  I felt like I needed a good cry; I was nearing a feeling of overwhelm and anguish because I felt helpless and depressed for these people.  Then, I remembered  how one of my faith heroes, Rachel Joy Scott,  lived her life, and one of the things Jesus wanted me to accomplish on this earth—namely to spread His love in a world of pain.  Here is the poem I wrote:

 

Love in a World of Pain    written on : 3/20/2018

 

Hearts full of hate

People chasing

Longings that will never sate

The pain inside them leaks

 

Who will dare

To be the one who will care

Instead of giving them just

A blank stare

 

Before we leave a gaping wound

In someone’s heart…forever

Before tragedy strikes

And we are left reeling

 

So to whom will you give

The gift of agape love

The sacrificial type from up above

And change someone’s life for good

 

 

Then, I realized that it would do no one any good if I just sat there and moped about all the pain in this world that I could supposedly do nothing about.  I realized that I (and you too), can do something about the pain around us. One of the most effective ways to relieve someone’s pain is to be kind to them.  Here are some of the ways that I believe we can spread kindness and love around us:

 

  1. Do not ignore, ridicule, or stare at someone in visible (or invisible) pain. Reach out.—On the second stanza of my poem, I write, “Who will dare/ To be the one who will care/Instead of giving them just/A blank stare.” One of the most aggravating things a person can do to another in visible pain is just to stare at them. I hate this because this behavior implies that the person in pain is crazy or weird for expressing and having these emotions. First of all, we are not in the position to judge others’ expressions of emotions because we do not know the person’s whole story. We don’t know if we would have really responded better or even worse than if we were the same place they were.  Secondly, it implies apathy and a lack of care for the other person in pain because a stare implies that we are more concerned with how they are affecting us, than we are about the other person’s well-being.  In various things that I have read about Rachel Scott, she wasn’t one of the people who just stared at or ignored people in pain. She reached out. She not only talked to them, but was willing to be their needed friend as well.  We should follow her lead.  If someone is visibly upset, just asking them if there is anything you can do to help, or just listening to them vent can show that you care about them.  Yes, it does require some emotional labor to do this, but spending this labor can save someone’s life and is well-worth it!  Regarding the school shooting that I just heard about yesterday, what if someone just reached out to the person responsible for the act of violence instead of just ignoring, or even worse, ridiculing them?  What if their teachers or anyone around them showed compassion to them, and intentionally showed them several acts of kindness that would have demonstrated to them that they matter and that they could do something positive with their life? Reach out to someone in pain today, whether it is a friend or someone who no one would dare to reach out.
  2. Make it a point to be intentionally kind to everyone, especially the ones that could have hidden hurts. –On my birthday, I wanted the people that I work with the most to know that they mattered to me, and the hard work that they put in was worth it. So, one of the things I did was make them bookmarks with their name and their name meaning or meanings. Everyone has a name, every name means something. That is why we name people and some of our pets. They have intrinsic value to us. However, we typically don’t name inanimate objects. Sure, they may have some value, but those who you can have relationships with have infinitely more value and impact than any inanimate objects can.  Several of my friends make it a point to be kind to others, simply by smiling and asking them “How are you doing?”  Sure, it sounds simple, but how many of us constantly do it with a sincere and genuinely good-hearted attitude? Be kind, especially to those who are suffering silently.
  3. If you are religious, pray for people who are in pain.—If you are religious or spiritual, I would wholeheartedly pray for those around you who are suffering, either physically or mentally. Pray that they would be healed of their pain. Pray that they will receive some measure of comfort and peace, even in the midst of their pain. Pray that people around them (even you) would be able to and would be willing to help them in some way.  Finally, pray that they will have the strength to get through each day, because this in itself is often a struggle for those going through suffering and hurt.

 

These are some of the ways we can make a positive difference in a pain-filled world. We can reach out to those we see that are visibly hurting, instead of just staring at or ignoring them.  We can think of creative ways to get to the root of their hurt and soothe them with intentional acts of kindness and love.  We can also pray for those who are in pain.  Doing these things can not only alleviate someone else’s suffering, but can also show them that there is still love and hope in this world.

Benefits of Humility

Some people scoff at the idea of lowering yourself or allowing others to get ahead of you, because, they think, it shows weakness.  However, I believe, since it is unnatural to want to humble oneself or to allow others the greater benefit, the opposite is true. –In fact, I would even add that it takes great emotional and spiritual strength to truly humble oneself.  All around us, society whispers to us, in different ways, “Take care of number one first and foremost, then you will have great success,” and even “Be successful at all costs, even if you have to step on others’ toes to get there.” However, I would attest that most people, who are truly successful and truly make the greatest difference in our world, turn these whisperings upside down—through their willingness to sacrifice themselves for the benefit of others.  In fact, not only does humility grant us a type of success that can’t be measured by the society around us, but a humble attitude also has lasting benefits to you as well. Here are just some of them that I have observed when people (including me) demonstrate a humble attitude:

  1. Humility allows you to be your genuine self.—When we are entangled in arrogant pride, I find that we are constantly on our toes to try to impress the Next Bigger and Better person, sometimes in an effort to cover up our flaws and deceive ourselves and others, subconsciously, about them. It’s like we don’t want to face our flaws in ourselves, and we end up living in an illusion. Many people I have observed, who present themselves arrogantly, have deep-seated pain and/or flaws that they are desperately trying to hide from the rest of the world. They may be afraid of feeling rejected and unloved by others, or otherwise, being inadequate to the world. However, when we are humble, we are more likely to have a realistic view of ourselves. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. “Humility” that degrades oneself is not really humility, but reverse pride.  Degrading oneself says that “I am so broken and “special” that I can’t be fixed by anyone,” which is, of course, a lie, no matter how true it may seem at the time.  While having a humble attitude does acknowledge the self as a unique and beautiful creation, it acknowledges others’ beauty and worth even more! When you are humble, you are not afraid to be vulnerable with others and show your true self—the good mixed in with your flaws—because you are not afraid of rejection or lowering of status. Status and fear of rejection no longer matter to you. The welfare of others is more important.
  2. Humility diminishes jealousy and selfish attitudes.—I firmly believe that 99.9% of all jealous attitudes stem from pride. When we are jealous of others, it not only shows ingratitude for the gifts we already received in our lives, but also a kind of entitled pride that says, in effect, “ I deserve what that other person has, and he or she doesn’t! “ However, humility acknowledges and believes that everything, even life itself, is a gift.  Humility says, “Even though I don’t deserve much, I am grateful when I do get something.”  Humility has power and strength to think about the needs of others because it isn’t preoccupied with oneself.  Humility does not ever compete against another, whereas pride wants to beat everyone at their own game, so only it gets the benefit. Humility can be demonstrated when we put others’ needs and egos, ahead of our own.  For instance, if we have a humble attitude, we will readily admit when we do something wrong and sincerely apologize and repent of our actions.  In contrast, when we are prideful, we will often excuse our sinful (morally wrong) actions or diminish the true magnitude and seriousness of our sins.  Humility is happy when another co-worker gets the promotion we wanted, but pride is envious and resentful of the other coworker getting the promotion.
  3. Being humble will get you more respect in the end.—Although there are still some people who think being prideful will get you more respect, most people appreciate it more when one is humble. Being humble will get you more respect, because it allows you to consider their needs more.  Having a humble attitude develops our empathy because you think of yourself less, and on others’ feelings and experiences more.  Yes, there is a time for self-care, but all in all, being humble involves knowing that your needs will be met, in the process of caring for others. My faith hero, Rachel Scott, was a humble person. She didn’t tell everyone about all the kind things that she did to be noticed, but just did them out of her love and care for people. Her parents and others only found out about her kind acts from her recipients, and only after her death.  Jesus Christ, another one of my faith heroes, and my Lord and Savior, also demonstrated great humility by being willing to die an excruciatingly painful death in our place, so we didn’t have to.  Now, both Jesus and Rachel Scott, are greatly respected by many people because of their acts of kindness and humility.

As you can see, having a humble attitude has many benefits.  Humility allows you to be your genuine self, without reserve or regret. Humility eliminates, or at least, lessens jealousy and self-centered attitudes, and humility can get you more respect in the end.  Allowing others to be bigger than yourselves is a sign of great strength, not weakness. Humility does have a price of sacrifice to pay, but it is worth it in the end.

God’s Gift

God’s Gift

For J, my mentor (written on : 3/7/2018)

 

All my life

I was searching for love

A love that would never fail

A love that wouldn’t bail

When things got tough

 

I tried to blend into the crowd,

Hoping someone, anyone

Would love me for me

And would someday see

A light in me

 

When I was at the end of my rope

Looking for any sign of the slightest hope

That’s when God showed up

And gave me the greatest love

I have ever known

 

Then God gave me the gift of you

And, through you, saved my life

You showed me what was true

And I was able to triumph

Over the lies that I held inside so long

 

Most of all,

You showed me grace and love,

From the One up above

And you gave me joy

That I had been searching for so long

 

What I Learned From Peter

The apostle Peter was one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, and the writer of 1 and 2 Peter. To me, he is a dynamic example of how God can use the ordinary and make them extraordinary.  These principles I have learned from Peter are so universal that anyone, no matter religion, race, class, ethnicity, gender, or any other human identifier, can apply these to their lives!  I’ve had a tough week, and more and more, I have been thinking about how the apostle Peter also had tough times- -Times where he was hypocritical in his character, so his actions betrayed what he believed;  times where he was persecuted against and rejected by others, times where he felt inadequate to God and to others. All these I have also experienced in my life, and I can bet, some of you have, too.  However, I have learned these following things from the life of Peter that has helped me not only to understand him better, but also to encourage myself and others in our life’s journeys:

  1. Think before doing or saying
  2. You don’t have to be perfect to make a difference
  3. Never give up.

One of the mistakes that Peter made throughout his life, was he did a lot of things without thinking them through.  This is something I struggle with as well.  For example, in Matthew 26, Peter is recorded as saying that he would die for Jesus even if he were being persecuted! We know that he didn’t think about what that really meant, because even when three different people, including a servant girl with no power to do anything bad to Peter, asked if he (Peter) had been with Jesus, Peter denied even knowing of or being with Jesus, all three times! In another instance, the apostle Paul writes in Galatians 2 :11 (KJV), that  Peter “was to be blamed, “ meaning he was to be corrected, because he separated himself from eating with the Gentiles (non-Jews). Peter did this only because he was afraid of what some other Jewish people would think.  Peter did not think about the implications that his actions would have on the Church, as a whole, nor on the example he was setting for the rest of the Jewish believers.  From these two instances, I learn from Peter that it is better to think things through before saying or doing anything. For instance, when I am upset at someone, I want to say very mean and hurtful things to that person as a way of making them “feel” my rage at the time. However, when I really take the time to think through the implications and consequences of my actions, I often am successful at not saying those things.

Another thing that I learn from Peter is the fact that one does not have to be perfect, or even saintly, to make a positive difference in this world.  As I noted before, even the apostle Peter, was far from perfect! However, some weeks after Peter denied Jesus, Jesus encourages Peter by reinstating him to ministry and preparing his heart for this endeavor by asking Peter if he loved Him. Jesus reinstates him to ministry by basically telling him to “feed His sheep,” meaning to encourage people (the sheep) to follow God’s directives by “feeding” them His words and His teachings.  Even though, Paul had to reprimand Peter later, Peter still made a huge difference in helping the early Christians be able to withstand persecution for their faith, and to be able to stay mentally strong despite these persecutions and other life trials.  We know this, through Peter’s writings, where he encourages the churches he lead to stand firm in their faith and persevere.  Sometimes, the perfectionistic-me thinks that when I fail morally or in another way, that I can’t do anything worthy for God or for others. However, through learning about Peter’s life, I am encouraged that this is not the case.  I believe that this is not the case for any of you either. No matter where you are in life, or what you have done or failed to do, you still can make a positive difference in this world. You just have to believe you can!

Lastly, and perhaps, most importantly, I learned from Peter never to give up.  Even when Peter made, what I think to be the biggest error of his life—denying even knowing Jesus, Peter did not give up on life or on himself.  As noted in John 21, Peter went back to hanging out with Jesus and, eventually, accepted his mission from Jesus. Peter did not avoid Jesus or the other disciples that were left, but faced his mistake when Jesus gently confronted Peter with the issue of his love for Him.  In contrast, another disciple (Judas) that betrayed Jesus, went and committed suicide, giving up on life and on everything else.  Also, in several biblical passages, Peter is recorded casting his nets all day, or all night, for fish, but not getting any. Peter could have given up until Jesus came to him, or waited for another day, but Peter persevered.  Eventually, in John 21:11 (KJV), it says, “Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken.”

Many times in my life, even several days ago, I have felt so overwhelmed with life, that I just wanted to give up.  However, my faith in God and the hope of a better future, prodded me on.  When I look to the apostle Peter and see his perseverance, I am also inspired to keep going, because I know the reward can be great for me, if I don’t give up. I’m sure the rewards you can get, both in this life and in the next, can be very great, if you don’t lose hope and if you keep on, keeping on!