The Heart of the Matter

POST #200! (Yay! )

If there is no heartbeat in someone, they die.  The heart is one of the most vital organs in our body. Similarly, our spiritual hearts reflect who we are as people, and also the motivation behind our actions. Without a spiritual heart, or passion, for anything, we also die.  There have been some people who, in their minds, have reached such a pinnacle of success that they have nothing to live for anymore.  Finding your own heart—including the motivations behind your actions, purpose in life, and what you are passionate about—can help sustain you in times of trial and pain, helps motivate you to keep on going in life, and helps give you direction in life.  Finding someone else’s heart—including their passions in life, motivation behind their actions, and their life stories—can help us to cultivate a deeper understanding and appreciation of that person, and often leads to us loving and respecting that person better.  These are the lessons I have learned by both personal experience and through what others have taught me, about both finding your own heart and finding others’ hearts:

  1. How to find your own heart:

During the years when I was growing up and felt aimless in life, I only saw glimpses of what my heart was. However, after God revealed Himself to me and during the past ten years, more and more of my own heart has been exposed to me.  One of the things that had helped me find my own heart was to ask myself, “Why do I do what I do?”  I found that when people don’t ask themselves that vital question, either consciously or subconsciously, that they tend to drift aimlessly in life and become depressed and sometimes even feel hopeless and adrift. I believe that if people asked themselves “Why am I doing “ X” ?” (substitute X for an activity) more often,  they would not waste as much time doing things that don’t benefit them or others.  They would also see their heart and motivation, and be more apt to make any needed adjustments.  For instance, many people who are working do so solely for the paycheck and nothing more. However, many people don’t also think consciously about why they are doing what they do. If work becomes unbearable for them, they may ask these questions, but it is often too late for them to salvage their jobs and make a greater impact for themselves and others.

I would also ask myself the question, “What gives me the most joy?” Do not only think of your hobbies and what you do for fun, but also what stirs your soul.  For instance, seeing and hearing about children being abused deeply upsets and angers me, but being able to speak encouragement into the lives of adults who were abused as children has given me much joy.  Another thing that gives me joy is to be able to share God’s love with others and seeing people’s faces just light up. Seeing people happy and content does not give me joy solely for my sake, but for theirs as well.  It gives me great joy and pleasure to see that others can experience God’s love too, especially for those who had previously not really experienced or known about that depth of love before. Think about what gives you the most joy, and cultivate that into your heart and passions.

Another way to find your own heart is to write out a life purpose statement and some life goals.  For instance, my purpose in life can be summed up in this way: “To glorify God and to share His love to others.”  Your life purpose statement should be no longer than a couple of sentences.  Then, write out some goals that will cater to your life’s purpose.  In my case, some of my life goals would be: a.) To share the love of God with loved ones and my colleagues at work in tangible ways. b) Meditate and learn something new about God every day, and apply these lessons to my life c.) Not to give up if I fail to live my purpose, but be willing to humble myself and try again.  d) Garner the support of people that love God the way I do, so we can support each other and encourage each other, especially when times get tough. Writing out your life purpose and goals will help make them real and tangible to you. It will also help give you direction and tangible actions you can take in order to live up to your purpose. Furthermore, writing your life purpose and goals will help you stay motivated and can remind you of your importance and value in this society.

  1. How to find others’ hearts:

 

Before you can find what drives a person and what their heart is, you need to develop a genuine relationship with them.  If you purposely intrude on someone solely for finding what their heart is or to manipulate them, you will never find it because they will see through your pretenses before you even find them out.  You need to show a genuine care and concern for their well-being, more so than your own.  You need to be willing to spend time and invest in that person.  You need to be sure you never betray them, because if you do, they will most likely not reveal anything deep and personal about themselves to you ever again!  For instance, if someone betrays me, I will tend to hide certain personal things about myself because I don’t want them to use what they know about my heart against me and deliver a near-devastating blow to my soul. I would not even mention this blog to them!

 

However, if someone proves themselves trustworthy, their friends will most likely be able to slowly reveal their heart to them, and this trustworthy person will most likely (because he or she is a person of integrity) help their heart grow and flourish. This trustworthy person will start by asking pertinent questions about what drives their friend or friends, and they will show genuine love and care for their friends. The trustworthy person will respect their friends ‘(and loved ones’) boundaries at all times, and will let the friend or loved one share their heart as they are ready.  For instance, if a loved one is addicted to something, the trustworthy friend will not only help the loved one out of the addiction, but will also give them words of support and encouragement.  For instance, if the trustworthy person finds out that the loved one has the addiction because they (loved one) are lonely and needs something to fill them, the trustworthy person can keep them company and also encourage the loved one to seek out new friends that will also support the loved one.

 

This is what I learned about both finding your own heart and finding others’ hearts.  When you have a window into your own soul, you will be able to help it flourish and grow. You will be more content and joyful as a person, and you will feel that you have value in this world. Similarly, when you know someone else’s heart, you can make a world of difference in their lives by helping them find joy and purpose in their lives. While your physical heart keeps your body alive, your spiritual heart keeps your soul alive. May your heart flourish and find much joy!

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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.

Creating a Legacy: Living with Purpose

Over the past few weeks, I have heard and/or witnessed one of my dear friends almost dying, going to a funeral of a friend that I hadn’t been able to see for a long time, my pastor getting sick, various people holding grudges against one another (thankfully, not me), and the stress of my workplace getting tested by our company.   In all these things, I believe God has been teaching me to a.) make my life count, and  b.) create a lasting legacy for my life.

I hate to be morbid, but we will all die someday. This is why I believe it is imperative to live with purpose, and create a legacy, not only for ourselves, but also for future generations that may not even know our names.

Even when I was at the lowest depths of my depression, I thought about my purpose in life. I knew that where I was then was not where I wanted to end up, in the final moments of my life.  Yes, I have always had happy moments in my life, despite the looming depression, but I had never really realized lasting joy until recently.  Little by little, God has shown me how to live powerfully, with lasting and great purpose. I believe that anyone here can live their life with purpose and can make a positive and powerful difference in the world around them.

Here is what I learned about living life with purpose:

  1. If you want to live your life with purpose, you cannot be a half-hearted individual.—I see a lot of people around me going through life, not only struggling just to survive, but also without aim or purpose. I was that way when I was growing up. If I was aware that I would forget some of what I learned in school or that I would never see 90% of my peers that I grew up with up until now, I am afraid I would have done more things to get them over with, without any heart, or passion, in what I was doing.  However, during the past five or so years, God has taught me how to live my life with passion and purpose. For more information about finding a purpose in your life, read this post.  At work, for example, when I go into get-things-done mode (a.k.a—doing things to get them over with), I find that I am much less effective in getting said things done right, than if I did them with concentration and put my heart into what I am doing.  This is true for other areas of one’s life as well. For example, if you are married (I personally am not, just my observations of relationships I see) and you do things for your spouse just for duty’s sake or get him or her off your back, you are less likely to please him or her, than if you did said things with thoughtfulness and heart.
  2. If you want to live your life with purpose, you must be willing to forsake certain things.—We all get distracted in life. However, when living your life with purpose, you want to limit these distractions as much as possible.  For instance, if you are living with the purpose of being there and providing for your family, you want to work enough that everyone is adequately fed and provided for, but not so much that you won’t have any meaningful time to spend with them.  So, in that example, the person who wants to be there and provide for his or her family must get a job that would adequately provide for everyone in their family and that they won’t have to work too many hours, at the wrong times, so they can be there for their family.   For me, my purpose in life is to glorify God and love others. This means I must actively strive to forsake things that would prevent me from carrying out this purpose, such as listening to or watching media that promotes the hatred of or devalues my God or others.
  3. If you want to live your life with purpose, you must persevere. –If you want to create a lasting legacy, you must not give up on life, or your purpose, even when it gets tough. For instance, if part of your purpose involves making a positive difference in certain relationships in your life, you must not give up on these relationships when tension or difficulties threaten them. In my life, to my shame, l almost gave up on several people, who hurt me in the past. However, I believe God didn’t allow me to, and something (or Someone) in me kept me from giving up on these people completely. Thankfully, these relationships are restored, and I am able to be, not only a friend to them, but, hopefully, make a positive and lasting impact on them, as well. For another example, if you want to be successful, career-wise, you must not let obstacles get in the way of your goals.  You must not let a couple of failures or bad days at work, make you quit your job completely, if you aim to be successful career or work wise.

 

These are the principles that I have learned in helping me to live my life with purpose.  If you want people to remember you after your time on earth is up, you must live your life with passion, be willing to forsake certain things, and persevere through it all.  If you want to be remembered well, I believe investing in other people’s lives, instead of only your own, is a good place to start. Yes, it takes work to live with purpose, but I believe it will be well worth it in the end.

What I Want For My Birthday

My birthday is in a few days! Normally, when a person has a birthday, they want material gifts like outfits, a birthday cake or special treat to eat, or something that delights their fancy. After all, a birthday is a celebration of that person’s very existence!  Though it is nice for me to have things like these, the things that I want most for my birthday are not solely for me—but for the whole world, especially those I interact with regularly.  They cannot be bought at any store, but their worth is beyond anything that can be tagged with a price. The three things I want most for my birthday are:

  1. For the world to experience God’s love.
  2. For peace for the people around me.
  3. For people around me, both online and offline, to experience joy.

I want the world to experience God’s love because I believe that if they did, this world would be a better place. What do I mean by God’s love?  Mainly, agape love.  According to a source in the Wikipedia, theologian O.C Quick describes agape love this way:

If we could imagine the love of one who loves men purely for their own sake, and not because of any need or desire of his own, purely desires their good, and yet loves them wholly, not for what at this moment they are, but for what he knows he can make of them because he made them, then we should have in our minds some true image of the love of the Father and Creator of mankind.

(source:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agape)

In other words, this love is so unselfish that when someone loves like this, it is purely for the other’s benefit, not anything that they can gain back from the object of their love.  Agape love is so unconditional that it will love its recipient, even with their flaws, and no matter what their actions may be.

Many people in this world seek this kind of love. Yet, many search, far and wide, for this kind of love, because of its stability and genuineness. However, they come up empty.  They have a gaping hole in their souls where this love should be.  Some have given up hope of ever finding someone who will love them like that, and either they will delve into bitter hate for this world, or have callous indifference to everyone and everything around them.

However, for anyone who has experienced God’s love, agape love, I would strongly encourage you to share it with others, because all of us desperately need this type of love. For those who think they have never experienced this type of love, that have only experienced “love” on the basis of merit or a trade of some sorts, know that agape love is out there for you. Don’t ever give up on this type of love! Agape love can change your life, and change this world for the better.

 

Another thing that I want for my birthday is for people around me to experience peace. (Yes, this also includes those who read this that I have never met face-to-face.) I don’t really like watching the news all that much because it feeds on our fears.  It seems like every two minutes, the news reports someone being shot or killed.  There is rarely any encouraging news on television, even though I know this type of thing does happen more often than one would think.  Also, I see people at my workplace, my family, and even some of those that attend my church, carrying burdens and cares that have them on edge or worried.  I admit that sometimes I am one of these people. However, when I focus on my blessings and what God has done for me, I am able to be much more at peace than when I focus only on my circumstances and the bad happening around me.  I see how God is working, and how good can come out of a bad situation.

I would love those around me to experience similar peace. I want you all to know that things will turn out OK, or even gloriously, if you don’t give up.  I would advise everyone reading this not to worry your life away.  I used to worry so much about things, when I was growing up, that I did not enjoy life as much as I should and could have.  Now, as I am learning to let go of certain worries and fears, I find that I am able to experience joy and peace much more in my life.

 

The other thing I want for my birthday is for people to experience joy.  As some of you regular readers may know, I have struggled with depression for many years.  It has only been fairly recently that I have begun to experience true and more lasting joy.  I never want another soul to experience the depression I have battled with for so long. This does not mean I necessarily want everyone to get what they want, especially if their desires won’t really make them experience true joy in the long run.  However, I do want people to experience lasting joy—joy that will last through the trials, the tears, and the pains of life. I want people to have joy that can triumph over every obstacle in its way, and joy that can last forever!

I want those around me to be able to have so much joy in their hearts that they will not even consider comparing themselves to the Joneses, and being jealous of those who supposedly have it “better” than them.  I want those around me to have so much joy, that they can no longer keep it to themselves. –They are compelled to spread their joy, wherever they go.

These are the three things I want most for my birthday. I don’t want my birthday to only be about me, even though it is technically celebrating my existence.  I want my birthday to be about spreading love, peace, and joy to others, so that my special day would not only make me happy, but would make  those around me joyful as well.

My Goals in 2018

I used to not participate in New Year’s Resolutions or Goal-Making. I felt it was setting myself up for failure, especially if I did not achieve what I wanted in life.  So, I used to avoid doing resolutions, almost like the plague.  However, in 2017, God has given me a greater motivation to make and achieve goals. The goals that I will make for the year 2018, I believe, not only feed my drive for success but cater to my two overarching purposes in life:

  • To glorify God in everything.
  • To show people the love that God has already constantly shown me.

Here are some of my 2018 goals and how I strive to achieve them:

Spiritual/Personal Goals

  1. Cope with my anger issues more effectively
    • Count to ten before expressing my anger.
    • Take deep breaths when anxious or uncomfortable.
    • Think about the positives of the current situation (even if it is a mostly negative situation)
    • Try to refocus on my overarching purposes in life (Glorify God and show people God’s love)
    • Try to think about the negative consequences of inappropriately expressing my anger, and so avoid becoming angry in the first place.
  2. Get out of my comfort zone to glorify God at least once a week.
    • Do something kind for another person even if it inconveniences me a little bit.
    • Don’t complain or get upset when asked to do something uncomfortable, but see it as an opportunity to glorify God and die to self.
  3. Read through the Old Testament in a year and also part of the New Testament (since I will have already read through it this year. At this time of writing, I am only 5 or 6 chapters away from finishing Revelation)
    • Read at least 2 Old Testament chapters a day, and 1 New Testament chapter on Weekends.
    • If I miss a day, do the readings on the day that I missed.
  4. Don’t worry as much about things.
    • Think of ways to solve the problem/issue at hand other than worrying
    • Memorize Romans 8:28.
    • Focus on how God will bring good out of the situation and focus on His goodness and that He’s not trying to hurt me.
    • Memorize Jeremiah 29:11.
  5. Think more positively about others.
    • Say to myself, “This person is not out to maliciously hurt me. They just want to get through the day.”
    • Remind myself that everyone has a story and is probably going through something or has gone through something that is painful or challenging. (Re: “Be kind quote”)
    • Recall positive qualities about said person or persons.
    • Thank everyone that does something truly kind for someone (including me).

Work (Day Job) goals

  1. Get a reward (a pin) by providing excellent customer service.
    • Ask myself, “How can I go above and beyond for this person?”
    • Walk the customer whenever possible to the item they are looking for.
    • Apologize if you cannot find the item the customer is looking for, and ask someone else who knows the item better than me.
    • Look for every possible way (if possible) to help customers find the item or items they are looking for.
  2. Pass the test to become a department manager
    • Learn at least 3 department manager related things
    • Be more intentional about being a “to-be leader” in my department
    • Take the test by August 2018.
  3. Get returns done in an average of less than 45 minutes
    • Walk the department before work or the first few minutes of work to see if there are any changes to the mods to know the department even better.
    • Be willing to work different areas of the store, so to know other departments too.
  4. Learn at least 3 department manager related things
    • Set up times with manager I (or whoever the manager is) to learn DM stuff.
    • Take the iniative to ask the current department manager or managers about how to do certain things.
    • Practice more DM things, over and over, until I am good at said thing.
  5. Be a trained cashier.
    • In January or February of 2018, ask to train for cashiering.
    • Train at least 2x a week.
    • Memorize and learn what is needed to be known for cashiering.

Blogging Goals

  1. Get started with affiliate marketing.
    • Find a Hosting Website
    • Join at least 3 affiliate marketing programs/companies.
    • Review products for them at least 2 to 3 times a week.
  2. Earn money from affiliate marketing (see goal #1 under blogging)
  3. Write a total of at least 200 posts (combined from this year and 2015 year)
    • Consistently write at least 2 X a week.
    • Write a variety of posts but sticking to the motivational/spiritual/social justice themes.
    • Write more poetry or how-to posts.
  4. Get up to a total of at least 500 posts total.
    • (See goal #4 under blogging)
  5. Write a blog post at least 2x a week
    • Set up a time before or after work to write OR write at least a blog post each of the two days that I am off work.
    • Have at least 10 different topics to write about each month (probably more) so I will have content to write about.
    • Write a little more poetry reflecting on spiritual/ motivational/social justice themes, of course.
  6. Get more followers on Pinterest and Twitter
    • Join more blogging groups
    • Engage more with others on these websites
    • Promote other people’s content

These are some of my goals for the year 2018. I know it is quite a hefty list, and I may not achieve all of them. However, this list will motivate me to live better and become a more engaged and motivated individual in life. What are your goals in 2018? Do you also avoid making goals like I did in the past, or do you make resolutions every year? Please feel free to comment.

The Grinch of Christmas: Harms of Commercialization

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I want to know, what does Christmas mean to you? What do you think it is supposed to mean? For many, it means celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and all He represents.  For others, it may mean spending more time with family and other loved ones.  For still others, it means getting people the best gifts ever.

Though Christmas and the holiday season are supposed to be joyous times, many people become stressed and even disillusioned. One of the major reasons why people may be disillusioned is reflected in the results of a Pew Research poll*, where 33% of those surveyed dislike the commercialization of Christmas, and I agree with the 33%. Here is why I believe the commercialization of Christmas is harmful to the holiday and to us:

  1. It misses the point.—Christmas is primarily not about the gifts we receive from loved ones, but commercialization makes Christmas only about the material things we give and receive. Commercialization is very superficial in this aspect. Commercialization can make us so affixed to the gift aspects of Christmas, that we completely miss the real point of Christmas—celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ and what He means to us.  The word Christmas even contains “Christ” in it!  We are supposed to remember the founder of Christmas—Jesus, not just see if we can get the best gifts or give the flashiest and most elegant gifts.
  2. It creates more stress than is necessary.—Besides missing the point of the true meaning of Christmas, it creates a lot more stress than is needed for this time of year. A lot of people, because we have created a society of entitlement and materialism, stress out about what gifts to give others.  They think if they don’t give just the right gift the receiver will not only be disappointed come Christmas, but also may think less of them (the giver).  Some people also stress out about how much they can afford (more on that later) and how much they should or shouldn’t give a particular person. Also, a lot of people buy and cook elaborate meals for this holiday. Now, I am in no way against people cooking good food and having elaborate meals to celebrate Christmas and other December holidays,  but sometimes they get so stressed during the preparation of the meal that they are unable to enjoy themselves or their loved ones, a lot like Martha in the Bible who was trying to prepare an elaborate meal for Jesus and the other guests there without taking the time to get to know him or anyone else there.
  3. People that are marginalized are left out of the celebration when the holidays become commercialized.—Because of all the emphasis this time of year on gift giving, people who are struggling financially or in other ways, are often left out of being able to participate in this aspect. Imagine seeing your friends being able to afford fancy jewelry for their loved ones, and you would like to give one of them to your mom who is sick or dying, but not having enough to buy it. However, if the true meaning and the more spiritual aspects of Christmas were emphasized more, the joy and the hope that Christmas has to offer would be able to be realized by even society’s marginalized!  The privileged in this society would give to those who are more marginalized because they would know and understand that everyone deserves joy and peace this Christmas, not just themselves.  More people would be less materialistic and put more time in to help the hurting and needy, and spend more time with those who matter most to them.

 

These are just some of the harmful aspects of commercialization. Of course, I am not against shopping, as I do a share bit of that myself. However, rather than stress out about food preparations and gifts to give loved ones and friends this holiday season, let’s think about the true meaning of Christmas, and cherish those we love. Finally, let’s bring joy and hope to those who find this time of year difficult.

 

 

*Source: http://www.pewforum.org/2013/12/18/celebrating-christmas-and-the-holidays-then-and-now/

 

Things I am Most Thankful For This Year

With the end of the year coming the end of next month and with five days until Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on things that we are thankful for this year.  A lot has happened to me in this past year, both good and bad. Many things that I have experienced this year have served to better my character and bring me closer to God, and for that I am grateful for, too.  Although I am thankful for much more than I can probably compile in a list today, the following are the people, places, and things that I am most thankful for this year and why:

  1. God’s love for me—I believe God has shown me over and over again of His great love for me. He has not only saved my life about seventeen years ago,  but He has also never let me give up on life and showered me with blessings like family, friends, a full-time job, purpose, and the ability to relate to you today.  Sadly, I have only recently realized some of the amazing things that God has given to me.  I know I will never know the depth of His love to me, but even knowing a glimpse of it gives me much joy and fulfillment in life!
  2. My family and friends—My mom, dad, and brother have helped me throughout my life, and have served to help me understand God’s love better. I am now beginning to realize how much they have sacrificed for me and for all of us. My friends have also been a godsend to me.  I feel their support and their love on a daily basis as well. We have been there for each other, and I always learn something valuable from them that helped better me as a person and as a follower of Jesus.
  3. My church and everyone there—It has been over a year since I walked into the church which I am now a member. At first, I didn’t think I would be there as long as I have, but I am glad I am a member now.  The pastors have helped me dramatically improve the quality of my interactions with God and others. One of my pastors there helped me to be able to commune with God more effectively.  Another pastor helped me through a difficult time that I had with someone, and I gratefully report that this person and I get along pretty well these days!  If it had not been for God’s love and the people of my church, I don’t know where I would be today.
  4. My job as a sales associate—Even though I get stressed out sometimes, I can honestly say I find satisfaction in my job. I love interacting with co-workers and customers, and serving them as well. I love the challenge it gives me to be Christ-like to others and to do an overall good job. Although there have been times when I failed at my job, the successes and rewards outweigh them all.   I have learned so much from almost everyone I have interacted there, including and especially the management there.  I am beginning to see exactly why I am there and what my role is to be there—to show others the love that I have received and not to keep it to myself by serving others at my job and by striving for excellence.
  5. The ability to write—I love being able to write, and that God has given me this gift to be able to relate to others. (By the way, I write MUC H better than I speak!) I love being able to express myself in this way and encourage people with my words.
  6. My blogging community—I am thankful for you, the reader, who visit my blog. I also am part of an online community where I get to read and support other bloggers of different niches. This has helped me develop an interest in many different things, which has awakened me to explore more and develop almost a child-like curiosity. This curiosity has helped me gain purpose in life and healed me from depressive episodes that I had suffered earlier in my life.
  7. My brother’s cat—The first time I got to see his cat (virtually), I fell in love with him (the cat)! Although I am very allergic to cats, I can see he brings much joy and love to my brother.  I love that about this cat!

These are the things that I am most thankful for this year. Of course, I am thankful for many more things, but that could take years to write!  All these people, places, and things have helped bring me to the place where I am today in life.  And for that, I am very, very thankful. What are you most thankful for this year? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.