What I learned from my vacation

You may wonder why I hadn’t been writing for the past week and a half or so. Well, I have been on a siesta and have taken a vacation. However, being on vacation has not stopped me from continuing to learn about the world around me and how to better it. I met many amazing and interesting people during my vacation, including two men having the same name as my favorite manager ( see also: Qualities of my favorite manager)! Here are some of the things that I learned about this particular vacation that can be applied by almost everyone in everyday life (not just on vacations!).

  1. How beautiful God made this world.—On this vacation, I was fortunate and blessed enough to witness some of God’s beautiful creatures. Some of the most interesting things I saw in nature were: waterfalls, birds, flowers, and many, many trees! All these things reminded me how blessed we all are to live on such a beautiful planet. This vacation also has helped motivate me to be more environmentally conscious to help preserve the earth. Even a sunrise and a sunset each day have beauty not only because of the bright colors but also because it is a reminder that we are indeed able to still be alive on this planet and make some positive difference in this world!
  2. Get to know people before you judge them. This will enable hearts to be opened to receive love and respect.—At first, when we met the people with us on our trip, most people seemed more reserved and kept to themselves more. However, as time went on and we did more together, people seemed to be increasingly open and friendly to each other. When people let down their guards and set aside their initial impressions, I learned that this allowed us to love and respect each other more because we better understood where the other was coming from and thus were more open and willing to learn from each other.  I believe that if we all strived to really get to know and understand people better before having any type of snap judgment against them, this world would be a much more unified and loving place.
  3. When we strive to understand each other, rather than be selfish or rude, love can thrive and grow!—I admit that when things don’t go my way, I am very tempted to become self-focused. However, when I try to understand others better, I found that my love for them grows as God’s love and compassion in me are able to better flow through me, rather than my selfish, sinful self. The same goes for everyone else. I have been blessed to see people from my trip reach out to one another in unexpected ways, such as a.) Someone on our trip took pictures for someone when they were unable to so that they would remember the good times had with the other members of our trip. B.) The tour leader offering to help people with their flights and accommodations, often going above and beyond to make this possible. He also checked the weather the day before so to make sure no flights were being canceled or delayed, and if they were, he let us know in a prompt manner. C) Someone offering their seat in the front, so that others could sit there too.  These little things and more helped me to gain love and respect for everyone on this trip. What good deed can you do for the people that you encounter today? What have others done for you to gain your love and respect for them?

Overall, this vacation I took has been one of the best and most rewarding thus far. I will strive never to forget these lessons that I believe God has taught me and all the people on my trip that have touched my life in a very special way. Have you ever had the chance to take a memorable vacation or have you met remarkable people in your life before? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

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My Pet Peeves (and how to avoid them!)

Disclaimer: Please, no disparaging comments about me or any of the commenters, or your comment will be deleted and blocked.  

Most people have at least one thing that annoys them about life or about other people. These are the things that make us tick. However, as with most things, we can either let them ruin our day, or we can persevere despite them. I want to be able to constantly choose the latter.  These pet peeves of mine may not be all exhaustive, but they are some of my major ones.  A pet peeve is something someone finds annoying or unpleasant.  Here are some of my pet peeves, why they annoy me, and how to avoid or cope with them.

  1. One of my major pet peeves is when someone tells me that they will do something, but then they don’t deliver on their promise.–I hate this because I feel like I am being lied to when people promise something but fail to do it. I know this is often not intentional, but it still hurts nonetheless.  If you PROMISE me something, you had better do it if you don’t want to annoy or upset me.  The exceptions are if you are sick or have a family emergency. Otherwise, do not promise me anything, or say something like, ” I will do x, God willing!, meaning if God allows it to happen, then you will do it.
  2. When people pretend to be someone or something that they are not.–Again, I hate when people are fake to me or pretend to be my friend to “make me feel better.”  I would rather have someone tell me up front that they don’t like me than to be “fake-friends” with me. Note: You will not make me feel better unless your friendship and love is genuine and from the heart. If I find out that you are faking being nice to me, I will attempt to avoid interacting with you for a very long time! Just be real with me.
  3. When people don’t respect my (or other people’s ) property.–I hate when people rifle through my things or read personal stuff I wrote without my permission! That is just so disrespectful! If you want to read something that is personal, that is not on a public platform like this blog, ask first before even glancing at it!  There may be a reason why it’s personal. Also, please don’t mess up my stuff. It is in a certain order for a reason so I can find everything without wondering where you put it.  I also hate it when people do this to others! It just seems so invasive and unnecessary. Of course, I also hate it when people steal others’ (or my) stuff. If you really need something, ask first. Usually, I will either let you have it or let you borrow it. If the person doesn’t want to give x thing to you, respect that or ask someone else.  Make an honest living.  Never steal.
  4. The phrase, “Don’t do what I do, do what I say.”–This phrase irritates me to no end.  It is often used as a cop-out by people in authority who don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, and it is often used to excuse hypocrisy. As you know from some of my other pet peeves, I hate when people are being fake and/or two-faced.  I am a firm believer that your words and actions should match.  If you are in a position of authority, never ever use this phrase for any reason if you want people to actually listen to you. Even seeing these words in print irritates me. Hearing them would be even worse, and is a huge turnoff to want to do anything you say to me.  If one wants to be a good teacher, he or she must lead by example. Always and forever.
  5. When someone complains about a person, but they have never worked to resolve the issue or issues with him or her. —This annoys me because you are not only slandering and/or gossiping about him or her, but things will never get better. It is different if you have tried to resolve the issue, but the person won’t budge.  I don’t want to hear about how x person is mean or nasty, but you have never tried to resolve the issue or really tried to find the best in that person. I say: Try to resolve the issue first then complain to people if the resolution doesn’t work.
  6. When scammers/telemarketers call and you have already asked them once to not call.— Dear any telemarketers here, I understand you must meet a quota and sell your things. However, if I ask you nicely once that I am not interested, do NOT call me 20 times to “hopefully change my mind.” Also, don’t call me when I am eating or having family time. It ruins the whole event. Also, I’ve made up my mind already. I don’t want to buy/am not interested in whatever you offer.  Thank you and have a nice day.
  7. When technology doesn’t work.–I hate it especially when the computer freezes or access online is not possible. I know I may be *slightly* addicted, but I do need these things for a.) blogging b.) looking up my work schedule c.) ministering to others online or talking to friends that live 1,000 miles away from me.  The only things I would suggest so that technology does work again is a.) Try to fix it yourself b.) call your Internet provider, and see if it is a problem with them c.) call a computer technician and pay to have it fixed.
  8. Slow or reckless drivers.--I don’t like it when drivers are, for instance, going 30 in a 45 mph speed limit road. First of all, it is unsafe to drive too slow (just as it is when you drive too fast). Second of all, all of us need to get to point B in a reasonable amount of time.  Also, people who cut me off and almost hit my car and then speed off annoy me. I don’t mind it as much if you cut me off, but please be careful not to hit my car, ok?  If you do, please take responsibility for what you have done and don’t speed off like it’s no big deal. It is a big deal. I need my car to be able to get to and from work on time. Be considerate.

These are just some of my pet peeves. What are some of yours, and how can we avoid pet “peeving” you? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

 

Value- a poem

 

Value – 9/29/2017

*based on the quote by Jefferson Bethke, which says, “People are neighbors to be loved, not commodities to be used.”

I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.- Psalm 139:14 (KJV)

 

You are precious in His sight

You are certainly worth the fight

The fight called life

Including the joys and the strife

 

You are more valuable

Than just a toy to be used

Or something to be abused

Or tossed away like trash

 

You are more valuable

Than silver or gold

Or all the riches of this world

Or anything you can behold

 

Never let anyone tell you

That you don’t matter

Because you are so valued, my friend

And you will be loved until the end

Top Ten People That Have Shaped My Character (and why)

DISCLAIMER: For privacy reasons, I will be using pseudonyms for most of these people’s names. These top ten people are not necessarily in order either.

“Almost everyone has people that have shaped the way they think, speak, and behave in one way or another. Some have influenced us positively, and others have not been such a positive influence. However, here are the ten people that are in or have been in my life that I think have shaped my character to the way it is today, aside from my Lord and Savior Jesus, who I believe has shaped me the most dramatically, and why:

  1. My dad–My dad has had a profound influence on my character and the way I see life. First of all, he is very hard working. He usually works at least 10 hour days, at least five days a week. When he comes home, sometimes he even helps my mom around the house. I have strived to imitate him too. I try to work very hard at my job, not only to please God but also because I have been influenced by seeing how hard my dad works and how rewarding hard work can be. Also, he is a generous man.  I believe that if a family member or friend needed it, he would give the shirt off his back!  I want to be that way too. I want to care for others the way my dad cares for my family and others. However, I want the best for people, not just necessarily what they want.
  2. My mom-– My mom also has had a profound influence on my character. She also strives to be generous and providing what we need. She has worked tirelessly and selflessly to provide for our family.  When my brother or I needed something, she would always be willing to provide it for us.  She doesn’t worry about things too much but trusts that things will turn out good in the end. I want to be more like her in this and have not so much fear and anxiety about the future. It is something I am working on for myself.
  3. My brother–My brother has shaped my character in major ways as well. First of all, like my parents, he is willing to give up self for the good of his family and others. When I was visiting him at his home, he made sure I was taken care of and that I felt at home.  He even offered his bed, so that I could sleep comfortably, but I told him that I was willing to sleep on his sofa so that he didn’t have to go through all the trouble. He is also very thoughtful and kind in his gifts to my parents and me on our birthdays and Christmas. He never gets something on the fly. He puts much thought in what we would like and what to purchase or make for us.
  4. J- J has taught me to be more independent in my thinking and more confident in who God created me to be. When I first met her, I was depressed and still looking for work. After several years, she helped me get a job and built my sense of confidence and self-worth so much that I now have greater energy and drive to do things like write in this blog! 🙂
  5. Betty– Betty was my discipler, and like J she has also encouraged me and validated me when I was down and out. She helped me to see things in a new light. She worked with me to know God better and to strengthen my faith in Christ. She was (and still is) a godsend!
  6. Veronica–Veronica taught me about joy and life. I did not know this until recently, but she is a prayer warrior too!  Her positive attitude about others, always seeing the best in them, has helped her through the tough trials in her life. That she almost always seems joyful and bubbly are the traits that I want to emulate for myself in order to impact other people’s lives for the positive, because if you are always negative, who would want to be with you?
  7. Erica— Erica’s devotion to God and to His priorities are amazing!  Like my parents, my friend Erica also has a strong work ethic and is diligent in accomplishing what God wants for her.  She has also helped me to accept myself by her accepting me for who I am, and not trying to change me into what she thinks I should be. Like Erica, I also strive to accept people the way they are, without endorsing sinful behaviors, of course.
  8. Holly--Holly has taught me so much about life.  Her dedication to social justice issues and the way she articulates her views inspire me to do the same. She has influenced me to be more compassionate and understanding about where different people from different walks of life are coming from in their views. She has helped me to understand people who are suffering better and how to best help them.
  9. Chris (one of my managers)–What a journey I’ve had with Chris! He has helped me not only to get my current job but has taught me much about life. He has helped me to be more patient and compassionate towards him and others.  He has even helped me with the logistics of my job and of some of the functions of a lower-level manager.
  10. Frank Taylor–My former pastor (also one of my faith heroes; see here ), in my opinion, is one of the most humble people I have ever met. When a bunch of people at the church I attended at the time was offended by something he said in a sermon, he didn’t excuse himself but humbly sent a letter to everyone apologizing for the offense, even though he didn’t even mean to offend. I was (and still am) very impressed by this act of humility. He also didn’t force me to respect or trust him, but he allowed me to get to know him better and see for myself his character.

Biggest Lie Society Taught Me To Believe (and how to counter it)

Disclaimer: This post is inspired by a question asked of writer Todd Brison on Quora. You can find his website here.

The lie that society has taught me to believe since I was about two years old when I was rejected by people at a daycare center, is that one’s worth is dependent on how much you accomplish and/or are to other people. Maybe there are some of you who have or are still believing this very lie. It’s easy to believe, especially if you live in a developed country like I do. The phrase “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps,” comes from this mentality. It says that, basically, we should be self-made and need minimal, if any, help from others. This mentality also does not take into account or value those who are disabled or otherwise cannot do certain things all by themselves. It may see people who need help of any kind as  “weaker,” more “useless,” or somehow “less valuable,” than their able-bodied counterparts.  The only benefit to believing this lie is that it forces you to be diligent and not lazy. However, the drawbacks, in my mind, are not worth this benefit.  First of all, it devalues people. It not only devalues the disabled or sick but also everyone else because it reduces our worth to be only what we do and if we are “useful” to society or not. Racism and other forms of prejudice derive from this mentality that other people are worth less because of what they do or don’t do in society.  Also, this lie is a form of pride.  Believing this lie does not allow one to get the help and support they need, because of the stigma of shame and embarrassment of feeling “worthless”  if they admit they need help. If one accomplishes success in society’s eyes, this person may become arrogant and look down upon others. Finally, this lie sometimes influences people to spend their life on things that are not as essential, such as becoming a workaholic to the expense of his or her health and loved ones.  Because this society is accomplishment driven, some people may chase after money, power, sex, or work to the point of being obsessed with them and delve into becoming an addict, which is never good.  If this society based someone’s worth more on how they beautiful and unique they are, for instance, instead of just what they can contribute to society, this wouldn’t be such an issue.

Here are some ways we can counter this lie and its effects:

  1. Value people.–I have written several times on how we should value people. For these posts see this and this.  However, it is worth repeating.  One way we can value people more is to thank people for the good that they do to us and others. For instance, if you see a colleague or a boss take the initiative to help you with some of your work because they see it may overwhelm you, say ” Thank you. I appreciate your help.”  They are not obligated to help you, but the fact that they did anyway needs to be acknowledged not only for their sake but also for yours as well.  Another way we can value people is to encourage people when they feel upset or depressed. Tell and show people that they are still worthy of love even if they don’t accomplish everything they desire or hope.
  2. Demonstrate and encourage humility.–One way to demonstrate humility is to genuinely apologize when you make a mistake or offend someone. Never say, “I’m sorry, but…,” because you are just excusing what you did, which is not a real apology.  The correct way to apologize and make amends with someone you offended is to a.) I am sorry I did x and that I hurt you by doing x. I will promise to try to never do that again. Will you forgive me?” b.) Work to not only offer restitution for the loss the offended party incurred by your mistake or sin but also to never offend them again. Another way to show humility is to be willing to be vulnerable. Never be afraid to ask for someone else’s help or admit that you are not perfect.  Yes, it is a risk sometimes. Many people aren’t willing to be vulnerable because they are afraid of what others will think of them and that they will be rejected. That used to be me too in the past. Now, I am not so afraid anymore, because I now know that their opinion really doesn’t matter. It is what God thinks of me that really counts. Also, the people that reject us for being vulnerable and honest with them are probably insecure themselves, and striving to please them is really a waste of time because they will never be satisfied with anything we can give them anyway.
  3. Be successful in things that will matter for eternity, or for your eternal memory, not just on things that will only last in your earthly life.–Yes, it is good to be successful at one’s job or career, or get good grades. I don’t object to this at all. In fact, I encourage it!  However, what I’m saying is don’t focus so much on worldly success that you miss what really counts or what memory you will leave on this earth after your life ends.  In order to be truly successful, I believe one of the things people should focus on besides God is the relationships you have on this earth with other people. How are you treating those you profess to love or care about? This is something I think (me included) can do better. Do not be so focused on worldly goals that you miss the eternal and the spiritual, and your relational goals.

If we do these three things, this lie can be seen for the farce it is. People are inherently valuable, not because they can do a lot of good for us, or even the world, but because each person is unique and special in how they were created to be. Value and cherish others today, and never think that we are only as good as what we do.

Why Care: Finding Meaning in Life


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

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

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

Why Respecting Others’ Boundaries is Important

In the news, Hillary Clinton is quoted as wanting to say about President Donald Trump during one of the Presidential debates, ” “Back up, you creep. Get away from me. I know you love to intimidate women, but you can’t intimidate me, so back up.’ ” According to the linked article (link below), President Trump reportedly bragged about groping women, and several women have complained about his inappropriate behavior towards them.  When even the President of the U.S has issues respecting other boundaries, as reported on the NBC news website, we, as a society, also need to learn and re-learn how to respect other’s boundaries as well. For a related post, see this post. Here’s why:

  1.  Respecting others’ boundaries makes others feel safe around you.—Have you ever had someone touch you without your permission and made you feel uncomfortable? I have—more times than I can count. A long time ago, a random guy followed me around in the place where I used to work and started touching me (but not my private parts) in ways that made me feel uncomfortable.  He obviously didn’t give a care that I was uncomfortable and felt unsafe around him. If he wanted to date me or become friends with me, he should have not touched me in the way he did and just made small talk with me. If I didn’t want him around, he should have respected me by leaving me alone! There are several people I know that don’t like to be touched, so I don’t. This is not because I don’t care for them or like them. Quite the opposite, in fact! By not touching people that don’t like to be touched, I am respecting their boundaries.
  2. Respecting other people’s boundaries shows that you respect them as a person, and are not going to treat them as a commodity.–By respecting others’ boundaries, whether it is their touch-boundaries, their belongings, or other types of boundaries, you respect them as a fellow image bearer of God. When one does not respect another’s boundary, what they are saying essentially is, ” I will make the decision(s) for you.  I will touch your belongings or your body (or etc…) whether you like it or not. I don’t care about what you want or need from me. It’s all about me and my wants here!” This is a very self-centered, and, quite frankly, a rude way to think!  This is what we do though when we don’t respect another person’s boundaries. However, if we do respect another’s boundaries, we are saying, ” I respect you and your autonomy. I trust you to make your own decisions.  I care about what you want and need, so I will treat you as a person, and not as a commodity for my own selfish purposes.”
  3. Respecting others’ boundaries can inspire positive change as people see your example.–I believe the movement to free sex slaves out of their misery and buy their freedom stem from this concept.  When people see that you consistently respect others’ boundaries, some people will start imitating your example, and thus you can inspire change. For instance, in feminist circles, we have this concept called “rape culture” that stems from the disrespect of other’s boundaries, and feminists have done so much to help combat this culture through not only educating people about creating a culture of consent but also modeling what it means to respect others’ boundaries.

So this is why we should respect others’ boundaries. Not only will it make people feel safe and valued but it will also create a culture where everyone’s boundaries are respected and cherished. How can we better respect others’ boundaries in our lives? What steps can we take? Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

source: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/hillary-clinton-says-my-skin-crawled-during-debate-trump-n795136

When I Say “I Love You”

This post is based on 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (KJV), where charity=love:

Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;

Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;

Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

DISCLAIMER: This post can be for everyone, but is dedicated to all those who have made a positive impact in my life, especially my family and friends. Thank you!

 

When I say, “I love you,” I strive to love you with all my heart, soul, and strength.

When I say, “I love you,” I will always wish the very best for you and your future.

When I say,  “I love you,” I will always strive to treat you kindly and with respect. That means I will never think I’m better than you or better off without you. I will always do my best to respect your boundaries. This includes when you don’t want to be hugged, I won’t hug you. When you don’t want to talk about something, I won’t force the issue. When you can’t do this right away, I will try to be patient and wait for you.

When I say, “I love you,” I will do my very best never to think evil thoughts about you, never to slander you or talk behind your back.

When I say, “I love you,” and you wrong me and I get upset at you, I will a.) Get the issue between us resolved quickly  b.) Not allow bitterness to take root in my heart. c.) Have my anger at you subside as soon as possible.

When I say, “I love you,” and I wrong you, I will quickly ask for your forgiveness, repent, and try to make things right between us.

When I say, “I love you,” and you accomplish something special and good, I will always be there to support you in it. I will be happy for you and not be jealous and scheming against you.

When I say, “I love you,” it means that I will always encourage the best in you and try to bring that out.

When I say, “I love you,” I will always appreciate everything that you do for me and others.

When I say, “I love you,” I will do my best to always show my authentic self. Since there are no pretenses in true love, I won’t hide who I really am either. And I expect that you will not be afraid to show your authentic self to me either.

When I say, ” I love you,” it means that I will sometimes call you out on things that bother me about you that need to be changed. However, I will also strive to do this gently and in love.  This is not to put you down, but this is to bring out the best you possible.

When I say, “I love you,” I do my best to sacrifice myself and my desires if I think it will help lift you up in any way.

When I say, “I love you,” it does not mean I will never fail you or fail in my love, but it does mean that I will never give up on you or on our relationship.

When I say, ” I love you,” I will always strive to show how much God loves you through my words and actions to you.

What I Learned (or re-learned) from God Today

Disclaimer: This has content from a Christian perspective. Please, no disparaging comments or they will be deleted.  Thank you and happy reading. 🙂 This was originally written August 16, 2017, and will be up a few days later.

A few months ago, after having a very satisfying time with God, I decided to have what I call “God Day” again today. God Day is where I devote most of or all day to God to get to know Him better and to learn new things and re-learn old things from Him.  Everyone who calls themselves a Christian should try to do this at least once a year, preferably a few times a year.  Some people even do several days of God Days! At any rate, here’s what I have learned from Him during my time today and for the last several days:

  1. God is sovereign in control of everything.–I learned that I need not worry about my present and future circumstances. No matter what may go wrong or right, God is still in control. I believe that God will take care of me. No matter what. Always and forever. Even if someone hurts me physically or emotionally, God can still use that situation to bring about good in my life. Even if some of my prayers go unanswered, God is still in control. He is in control of the ultimate outcome of our lives. Yes, we make decisions (I don’t know how that works, but anyway…)  that can impact this, but ultimately it is His will that will win out.
  2. Everything that God does is to either bring us closer to Him or a way to bring us good and Him His due glory.–Even the annoying phone call I received from a scammer in the middle of my God Day today (Ugh, how irritating is that ?) helped me to rest in God’s grace. When I wanted to escape a bad situation that I had at work, God didn’t allow me to because he was using that situation to refine my character and grow me to be a more loving and patient person.  It was like God was saying to me, ” You don’t want to deal with [situation] anymore? How will I grow you then? Not going to happen until you deal properly with the situation at hand.”  My illness three years ago with my gall bladder? I believe it was to bring me to a greater appreciation of life and all that He had given me. I believe every situation in your life is allowed by God in order to make us a better, stronger person, even the bad ones. I’m not saying that it is good that you had to suffer through these things (I hate seeing or hearing of others suffering, and still do!), but that your situation is not hopeless even if you think it is! It is still redeemable!  Been rejected or abused? That experience can help you to treat others with more compassion. I have been rejected tons of times, and I know that these awful experiences have helped me to carry out God’s purpose and mission for my life with greater love and compassion than if I hadn’t been rejected by anyone at all. Lost a loved one? This experience of heartache and sadness can help you to help others through their losses and can help you value the people that are still with you more.
  3. I need to look to God and His character for love and approval and not other people.–In my experience, I have tended to look to others to draw upon my self-worth and how I thought I was. I now know that was a mistake, and I still struggle with this sometimes. Whether you are a Christian or an atheist, you can attest that other people’s perceptions of you aren’t always 100% true or even accurate. This is why it is so important for everyone to stop feeding on another’s love and approval as indicators of how lovable or valuable we are! The truth is that we all are inherently valuable no matter what other people say or do to us.  Whether you are Black, White, or anything in between, rich or poor, straight, gay, or bi, transgender or cisgender, republican or democrat, thin or fat, short or tall, or any other human identifier, we are all inherently valuable and should be loved and treasured as fully human, more valuable than gold or even platinum! For me, when I look to God for my worth, I know that I am His child and inherently valuable and cherished, no matter what other people say about me. So, if another person says that I am worthless and stupid or something to that effect, I can laugh in their face and acknowledge in my heart that they are lying, and not take them seriously at all! When I look to God, I know He loves me so much that even when I was at my worst, He gave up everything for me! (See Romans 5:8). 

These are some of the lessons that God taught me today. I know that today I can rest assured of God’s peace and presence in my life, even though things around me may be chaotic because He is my constant.  What has God and/or your life experiences taught you?  Please feel free to discuss in the comments.

How To Defeat Prejudice

On Saturday, August 12, 2017, White Nationalists and alt-right groups and those against them clashed violently in Charlottesville, Virginia. Then, a 20-year-old man plowed into a crowd with his car, killing one young woman in the crowd.  Because of what happened that day, I felt a responsibility to not only condemn what happened but also to conquer all hate with love.  I admit that I have had some prejudicial thoughts myself about certain people and have sometimes judged people unfairly. We all have. This isn’t just about defeating racism (though that is, of course, very important too) but also about defeating all forms of prejudice and hatred in this world.  Here are some things I have found effective in defeating prejudice.

  1. Counter hate with love. Always.–To effectively defeat both prejudices in our own hearts, and melt others’ hard hearts, we must first aim to love.  There is a severe lack of love in this world, and not only because certain people are in power. I suspect this has been going on since near the beginning of time!  We don’t have to always agree with how people live or what they do, but we do have to love. I believe Jesus loved so much that even when He was being crucified and mocked by religious leaders, the Roman soldiers, and others, He said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34 b and c, KJV) .  This is why He is now one of the most respected religious leaders that ever lived!  Never hate someone just because they are different than you.  One way you can do this is to find the good in everyone you meet, even those who rub you the wrong way. 99.5% (if not all) people have at least one admirable quality about them; no person is all bad.
  2. Forgive, forgive, forgive.– One of the ways to defeat prejudice is to have a forgiving heart because, most, if not all prejudice, stems from a grudge-filled heart against a person or group of people. Create a policy in your heart that says that you will not hold a grudge against anyone after a certain period of time (HINT: It needs to be sooner than “after many years” or “never”).  This may be harder for some, but we must persevere in forgiveness.  Yes, we may have a right to hold a grudge, especially if what someone did to you was grievous or vile, but what good will it do you? You are not really “punishing” the offender because they probably don’t give a care about what you think of them or what they did wrong. You are only hurting yourself and preventing other people who did nothing to hurt you from helping you to heal from your wounds and forget about the person that hurt you. I have also heard many stories about people forgiving their offenders for particularly horrific crimes ranging from rape to murder, and everything in between, and how they related that they felt freer once they let the offender off their hook and let God take care of the justice in their case.
  3. Stand up against prejudice in all forms.–Another way to defeat prejudice is to stand up against it in all its forms. For instance, if you see someone post a mean tweet about someone or a group of people, gently but very firmly rebuke that person.  I would personally say something like, “That is not true. Saying [name mean thing that they are saying in general terms], will not change anything.  Please stop it! ” OR if you feel too upset to say anything civil, report that post to the proper authorities.  If you see or hear someone ridiculing, for example, someone who is disabled or otherwise different in some way, stand up to the offender and/or tell them to “Stop it.” very firmly in an authoritative kind of voice. If they don’t or they escalate or make excuses for their behavior, report them to the proper authorities.  If a person or persons voicing prejudicial or hate-filled views is coming to your workplace or school, protest against them, but do so peacefully, otherwise, your message won’t be taken seriously by anyone and you will be cast as similar to the hate-filled people.

These are just some things you can do to defeat prejudice in all its forms. We must conquer hate-filled hearts with a message of love and hope for all people, not just ones that are similar to us in some way.  We also must be vigilant to conquer against any hate lurking in our own hearts and lives and eradicate it immediately.  What other things do YOU think can be done to combat prejudice? Who can YOU love today?

source: http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/13/us/charlottesville-white-nationalist-rally-car-crash/index.html