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Would Jesus Call Us Friend?

Compassionate. Competent. Composed. Cooperative. Courteous. Educable. Empathetic. Ethical. Fair. Forgiving. Generous. Honest. Humble. Inclusive. Informed. Intuitive. Kind. Modest. Non-judgmental. Open-minded. Patient. Reliable. Respectful. Responsible. Self-disciplined. Supportive. Sympathetic. Transparent.

We believe Jesus lived these positive values. As people of faith, we believe these values are how God wants us to live too.

Therefore, if we are completely dedicated to living a loving, heart-led life we must focus on being love in action by cherishing these values in our every day, moment by moment, behavior.  And, we have the spiritual responsibility to set healthy boundaries by refusing to enable or support the behavior of any politician, government official, religious leader, social acquaintance or family member whose character values go against our own.

People of faith are confronted each moment with opportunities to be love (positive behavior) in action to walk our “God” talk.  What matters is how we answer life’s challenges and our interactions with other people.  Were we an ambassador of love? Would Jesus be proud to call us friend? Did we stay respectful to those who disrespect us? Did we forgive? Did we set strong boundaries to protect ourselves and other people from abuses of power? How did we show up to support life and our fellow human beings? Do we value peace, personal responsibility and stewardship of the home God created for us?

No matter what we face, how great the challenge, or horrible the injustice, the bottom line is how we rise to the occasion. When we choose to be our very best in each meeting with a stranger, each negative situation, each disagreement, we will absolutely create heaven on earth. For ourselves, our children, and our fellow human beings.  The choice to lead with the integrity of Jesus is ours to make.

A Past Present

I was around five when I decided it was a great idea to let my parent’s sleep in on Christmas morning. I took my little sister by the hand and we quietly crept into the living room. I closed the door and plugged in the Christmas tree lights. I sat my three year old sister down in one of the overstuffed chairs.

One by one I handed out presents. I separated my mom and dad’s and put them next to two empty chairs. I put Rachel’s in front of her and put mine next to me. Once I’d crawled around the back of the tree on my hands and knees to make certain I’d gotten each and every present, we settled back for some serious clandestine gift opening.

When we got finished we both went in to wake up our parents to tell them about all the gifts Santa brought. I’ll never forget the look on their faces. My mom cried and my dad looked so sad. Neither of them got mad. In fact they both quickly assured us that Santa wasn’t mad either but that mom’s and dad’s like to watch their children open gifts. But, they did make us promise we’d never again open presents without them.

It’s been over fifty years since that covert present-opening operation. My mom remembers that Christmas in our little house on Mistletoe Street in Victoria, Texas as if it were yesterday.  I do too and I will for the rest of my life.

E.I. = Heart-smart

Emotional intelligence – my definition: the ability to put ourselves in the shoes of other people with empathy and respect – is a gift from God given to each soul. But, like any skill we must practice, practice, practice to master leading with heart, rather than being led by a judgmental and fearful mind.

Our thoughts create our behavior. Our behavior creates our life. Therefore, mastering a mind with a mind of its own is a responsible thought by thought focus. When we remain in touch with what we are thinking and why (the emotional motivation behind our thoughts – fear, anxiety, judgment, frustration, blame, control, arrogance, domination) we can change negative, limited thinking to positive and loving so we honor God for giving us the precious gift of emotional intelligence.

In order to benefit from the emotional intelligence God asks us to use, to do no harm and to create our best life, it is necessary to educate ourselves to know what is happening in the world. We cannot be insulated with our own thoughts and beliefs. We cannot rely on the group think that is generated by the thoughts and beliefs of our immediate circle of like-minded friends and family or churches. Simply because others believe as we do does not mean we are right or that our decision and actions will not harm ourselves or others.

To make good decisions we must have information that challenges our thoughts so we can discover thoughts and beliefs that do not truly align with OUR HEART! Challenging what we think and why we think it helps keep our heart open so we follow the divine’s direction of treating other people as we want to be treated.

I Don’t Believe in Satan, but …

I don’t believe in Satan. But I do believe in the evil that results when a human being has been completely consumed by unfeeling and uncaring ego.

Personal importance, fear, quests for riches, irrational delusions, and an unending appetite for attention and power over other people drowns out all moral and spiritual guidance.  Of course the guidance is still there, but, without a willing and open heart we cannot hear God whisper truth, wisdom and direction because we’re too busy listening to and feeding ego.  An ego left unchecked becomes exceedingly clever, eventually directing us to completely ignore and act upon the wise, respectful and empathetic advice of our heart.

This battle between good (soul) and evil (egocentric thought) is one with which each and every human on earth wrestles. Each day, in countless ways, we are tested.  That’s why it is important to master an unfeeling mind with a mind of its own with the simple guidance of – treat other people as you want to be treated. Ego’s desire for domination cannot survive when heart is brought forward to consider what is also best for others too.

Giving Thanks for Gratitude

Gratitude is immensely powerful to keep our focus on all that is going right in our lives. For instance, I am so grateful to the people who take care of my trash and recycling. I put it out and they take it away. That truly rocks!

I am grateful for police and firefighters. These women and men have chosen to put their lives on the line for you and me. Overall these fine public servants truly rock!

I am grateful that I can go to the corner store to get fresh food. I am grateful to live in a warm apartment. I am grateful to feel love and to love.

I truly believe the quality of the life we create is directly related to the depth of our level of gratitude. For the small things that make life easier. For the people who help make life easier. And for the love that makes life worth living. Each of the people who positively impacts us is an #AmbassadorOfLove. I am grateful to be surrounded by them.

Friendship and Tech

My friend Sydney and I only get to see each other once a week. So, we only have a few hours to be together. Recently when I arrived she leaped up to give me a huge hug which felt fantastic. After a few minutes of catching up she immediately went back to playing with her iPad.

So I asked Sydney to pay attention to me rather than her iPad. She began to cry. After a long time and several attempts to find out why she was upset I finally figured out she was upset because she thought I was angry with her. I held her hand and assured her I was not angry. But friends must be honest with one another and I told her I felt that technology was more important to her than spending time with me.

I am not a parent but I recently interviewed a parent about the dangers she witnesses of technology negatively impacting her children’s ability to have healthy and respectful interaction with others.  This is something I feel each parent must stay on top of because we don’t want to create a generation of young people who cannot talk to or relate to one another. We don’t want our children to think machines that don’t feel are more important than human beings and animals that do feel.

Sydney and I are okay because we talked it out. Which is another important aspect about relationships that we must teach children. When something upsets us we cannot just sweep it under the rug or refuse to share our feelings. We have to be honest with one another. Which is exactly the relationship Sydney and I are working to build.

Be the Positive Change

I was behind my apartment and saw a young man intentionally throw a glass bottle in the middle of the alley. As soon as he realized I saw him, he ran away.  I walked to where the broken bottle was and picked up as many pieces as I could and threw them in the dumpster.

As I returned to my apartment I wondered why he would do such a thing. Why would he want to cause upset to someone who gets a flat tire or possibly pain and injury to a pet that may step on the broken shards? And, maybe he did not think about the consequences of his actions. Perhaps he just shattered the bottle as a joke or because he was bored.

We are all at different levels of awareness about how the actions we take impact others. I am so grateful to have learned what I put out comes back to me.  I’m glad I care because no matter what anyone else does I am completely responsible for my thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions.

We cannot control or change anyone but ourselves. So the way for us to move past the unconscious actions of others, is to do everything within our power to right the wrongs we see.  No one has to know or see the actions we take, like picking up the broken glass. God sees. And that is most important.

No Expiration Dates on Dreams

This is my friend Eren Cannata. He is an Emmy winning songwriter who, for over fifteen years, has pursued his dream of signing with a major record label. A label that is fair, supportive, and that values equality. A rare thing in the music industry I’m told.

Recently Eren met with the executives of a major music label that creates the honest and fair atmosphere he dreamed of becoming part of. I am excited to share that he was signed to a deal which was better than he dreamed.

It takes time, effort, determination, and persistence to achieve the dreams we have for ourselves. So hold on to your dreams and never give up pursuing them. Eren is a perfect example of keeping the faith, doing the work, and being ready when the day we dream of arrives.

Listen to the podcast I did with Eren here: https://bit.ly/2pbFe71

 

Create Sweet Memories

I was five years old when my dad stole a tiny piece of my candy corn. After making the Halloween rounds with mom I sat at the kitchen table with my haul laid out before me. Deciding to open my favorite treat first, I placed each candy corn neatly on the table. Starting from the left with the largest piece I continued by size until on my right was the smallest one. It was my favorite and I was saving it until the end.

Without warning my father swooped into the kitchen, grabbed my tiny favorite and ate it.  I burst into tears. He dropped to his knees, wrapped his arms around me and asked what was wrong. I told him the tiny one was my favorite. He said he took the smallest one because he wanted me to have the big pieces.

The next day my dad brought home two packages of candy corn. We sat across from one another at the kitchen table lining up each piece. After all the pieces were laid out he gave me the smallest one from his package and I gave him the largest one from mine. Fifty four years later the memory of that exchange with my father is still a sweet treat within my heart.

This week, be thankful for all the pleasant memories you have of your life. Regardless if the relationships you had with your parents and family are positive, or not, find the memories that are positive.  Feel gratitude for those times because by concentrating on the positive you will create more positive in the present, and future.

 

Two Ears, One Mouth

God gave us two ears for a reason. So, one of the most loving things we do for other people is to listen to them to understand. Not just respond.

Listening to understand is actually feeling what is being said in your heart. You feel each word being spoken. You keep your mind quiet. You don’t interrupt. You don’t think of a response while someone is speaking. You hear them with your heart.

Listening to understand is a skill that takes time and purposeful concentration to master. However, God gave us the ability to listen to one another as we want to be listened too. So, we certainly can choose to become a master listener because when we do, we are able to connect with other people in ways that make our heart sing. And our differences become less important. And our world becomes better.