Thursday, May 31, 2012

Protecting Your Joy!

Joy does not simply happen to us. We have to choose joy and keep choosing it every day. — Henri Nouwen

Joy is a spiritual fruit not a human emotion. Joy is fulfilling not a feeling and it stems from the heart not the mind. Joy is obtained when we are in harmony with God. Joy can cause you to have strength to embark upon and overcome the toughest challenges or simply cause you to coast through good times with gratitude. Joy cannot be taken from a person as many think. Joy can only be given away by its possessor. How fitting is the lyrics of a song by the gospel great Shirley Caesar, “This Joy that I have…the world didn’t give it the world can’t take it away.” 

If your “joy tank” is empty or low, then you have allowed people or circumstances to cause you to uncap or puncture your “tank”. Once your “tank” is opened or leaking, it is impossible to keep full.  If you value Joy, then you will protect and guard it. Reflecting on life’s positives, having gratitude, great expectations, faith, and fulfilling your passion, all help to protect and increase the joy in your life. Joy should be the “fuel” that keeps the “engine” in us running. It is a state of being that is not dependant on whether good things happen for you. If you are only happy when things are going well, you are on the emotional roller coaster that incites fear and thrills but nothing sustaining.

Have you ever had peace in the midst of a difficult time? If so, that is true Joy!

Are you valuing and protecting your Joy?

Enrichment: Proverbs 10:28 The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish. Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Prayer: Preemptive, Constant or In Case of Emergency?

When faced with life’s challenges even some of the least religious people subconsciously turn to God or a perceived higher power in prayer. You would often hear statements as “Lord Help me,” “God, I pray this works,” “God, if you are real I could use some help right now, “God/Lord if you get me out of this, I promise to never do it again.”

In times of crisis God is often called upon for help. Prayer for many people is like yelling for superman or batman to rescue them. It is like signaling for batman by flashing a symbol in the sky. The truth is prayer can be more beneficial than using it during time of need. It can help us live a fulfilled life of peace. You can pray for needs, blessings, protection, guidance and direction, etc. To use prayer as a “last ditch effort” is limiting.

“Prayer is not just a "spare wheel" that you pull out when in trouble; it is also a "steering wheel" that directs us in the right path throughout life.” Unknown

How have you used prayer?

Has prayer been your anchor or your life preserver?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Love: Flee, Fight or Surrender

I heard something interesting today. It was a statement regarding human responses to aggression. When faced with aggression, Human’s will flee, fight or surrender.

Immediately I thought this statement sounds a lot like how individuals respond to love.
Many people flee from love for various reasons (fear, vulnerability, past experiences, trust issues, ignorance, etc.).

There are people who fight to have love and other individuals fight against it. Often times love is accepted or rejected based on a person's knowledge. Definitions and perception of love decides how people will respond to it.

Finally, there are people who know the true value of love. These are people who experience great things because of their willingness to surrender to love. However, not every person who surrenders to love gives in to the real thing. Beware of those who cover malicious intent with an imitation garment of love.

Are you fleeing, fighting for/against, or surrendering to love?

Can you think of other things in your life that causes these three responses?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Human Chameleons – Do they really exist?

"People are like chameleons; circumstances make them change their colour" - Unknown

Merriam-Webster defines a Chameleon as “any of various lizards that can vary the color of their skin” and “a person who easily or frequently changes attitude or purpose.” I would like to emphasize the latter definition. There are many people who change their behavior, attitude and even physical appearances to fit in or be accepted socially.

Our parents used the old idiom “keeping up with the Joneses” when referring to buying material goods or doing things to be like others. Often times what is being done or purchased is not consistent with a person’s true character and identity.

Starting in early childhood peer pressure occurs to shape and mold people in to images contrary to their true self. Life’s pressures are designed to help change people from “coil” to “diamonds.” However, peer pressure is designed to change a person into a cubic zirconium. Becoming a cubic zirconium is to be an imitation and fraction of your true value and self worth.

Is your “shine” real and long lasting?

Has childhood peer pressures created adult Chameleons?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Honor your Mother

"A mother can touch a whole generation just by loving her own child well." - Unknown

There are many reasons to honor your mother whether she is considered a good or bad person. A great deal of gratitude is owed because she gave birth to you and this began your life. If you are a believer, God commands you to honor our Mother and promises to bless you for doing it. Honoring your mother adds life and wellness to you.

If it wasn't for my mom's caring heart, tenacious guardianship, and intuition, I would have fail victim to the streets of Chicago. Instead, I am now a productive member of society and able to help others achieve a better quality of life. For this kind of love I am grateful!

My advice to all; fight to have a good relationship with your mom. As for those who have been hurt by your mom, don't harbor unforgiveness because it will adversely affect your life.

In what ways will you honor your mother this Mother's day?

Friday, May 11, 2012

What Lenses Are You Looking Through?

“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change." Wayne W. Dyer

Growing up and even as a young adult, I remember being targeted by certain people. These people would even pick fights with me. I remember thinking they were the problem. I didn’t attribute their dislike to my behavior.

The “light bulb” moment happened in my early adulthood, when I encountered a stranger at my workplace. One night he needed a ride home after work and I offered to take him home. My kind gesture changed his perception of me. He broke the tension and said “You know I didn’t like you because you always walk around like you are in charge.” I was a supervisor but not of him, so why did it matter? Maybe he did have his own insecurities but I had to examine myself.

What the man shared was intriguing. However, I viewed things differently; being person short of stature I struggled with self-esteem. Throughout my life many people described me as strong and tough but I never thought I was sending intimidating or threatening “vibes.”

It was obvious that I needed to change. I decided to be consciously aware of the “vibes” I was sending and show myself friendlier. Being confident without compassion and humility is a recipe for social disaster.

Here's a biblical take away that I love, "Humility goes before honor!"

What "vibe" are you sending to others?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Perception is Reality

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves" - C.G. Jung

Like it or not, perception for many people is reality. Have you ever said these words or something similar? “If they only get to know me, they will see I am a nice person.” Maybe you did not say those words about yourself but about another person. The truth is, a person’s perception is their reality. It is very critical that we send the right aura and “vibe” to foster the right perception.

Of course there will always be the villain, the hater or antagonist that will not like you just because you are breathing. Their perception will remain warped until they get over their own insecurities and self-worth issues.

“I don’t care what people think” is a futile statement made by a lot of people. A more clever statement to make is “I will not allow what people think to drive my every decision and happiness.” Life lived to its fullest potential requires a person to live for more than themselves.

Do you think others perception of you is accurate?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Character Vs. Reputation

Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are – John Wooden

Merriam-Webster defines character as “the complex of mental and ethical traits marking and often individualizing a person, group, or nation.” Merriam-Webster defines reputation as “recognition by other people of some characteristic or ability.” A reputation can stand alone or with your character.  Good character leads to a good reputation but a good reputation does not necessarily mean you have good character.

A reputation can simply be an image created by a person and maintained for a period of time. A reputation that is not supported by character is subject to change and what many of us call “smoke and mirrors.” Character on the other hand is a strong foundation that will remain after the “smoke clears.”

A person’s character is based on their ethics, morals, values and cultural influences. These variables can create good or bad habits. These habits will shape a person’s behavior and will solidify their name. It is like writing a name in cement and allowing it to dry. What is left is a permanent impression.

Have you ever met someone who lived up to their name whether good or bad? On the other hand have you ever met someone who did not live up to their name? They kept calling themselves one thing (i.e. good, bad, crazy, player, BFF, etc) but never exhibited the characteristics to match the description?

If you allow good character shape your brand, image and reputation, they will last a lifetime. However, if person’s character is bad and they are presenting a “good girl or good boy image,” it will be a matter of time before their true character is exposed! This is when people lose creditability. Once credibility is lost, it is hard to regain.

So the questions of the day are: 

1.      What impression do you want to leave on earth and the people that occupy it?
2.      Do you want to have god sustaining character or be a character that pretends to be something else?

Please read and consider these biblical scriptures:

Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33 (NIV)
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:22 (NIV)

How much life are you willing to give...