Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Power of the Positive...I learned this firsthand...

So many times we go through crisis, deal with compromising situations, and make hard decisions in our lives.  It's so easy to see the bad or down side of things..so easy to be pessimistic..so easy for us to throw ourselves a pity party....so easy to forget who we belong to....

We always hear about "speak life, not death" or "power of life and death are in the tongue" and so many times it's treated as just that, something we hear but don't believe.  But those sayings are true whether or not it is based on a part of the Bible or not.

Have you ever known someone to talk down about themselves and they live in such a way that they fully embody the things that they said about themselves???  No job, no direction in life, no life, no SO (significant other), no transportation, no higher education, no will power, no happiness,  no opportunity for ANYTHING good to happen...ALWAYS complaining...

At the same time, look at people who have made goals for themselves and you hear them always speaking positively about the process they're going through, even if they have setbacks or failures, they remain positive.  Every time something bad or unplanned happens in the life of an optimist, they make sure they see it as not a total waste...they learn a lesson from it and keep going. They put themselves in the way to be influenced by a more positive source whether that source is God, other people or something they read, watch or listen to. There is power is positivity, whether we're alone or in larger groups.  You ever notice how much you can accomplish when you're positive?  Think of the show Biggest Loser....the contestants had some major hurdles to jump mentally, emotionally, and physically....but then look at their results...

Sometimes we need to "man up" or sleep on an issue (whether it's figuratively or actually speaking)....this is something that I've had to do many times.  When we are faced with some kind of conflict we have to remain in control of our actions, thoughts and words.  We don't just affect ourself when we don't, but we affect anyone who is within reach (physically--within earshot, emotionally, spiritually and mentally--think of being on the "same page" with someone where they can identify with you).  We can change the opinion that someone has of us if they catch us on a bad day...

All Satan has to do is catch us on the day where things are poppin' off all over and we have a bad attitude...but we can counteract that happening if we remember to stay positive from the jump....About a week ago I was talking to my BFF and we had both been thinking (on our own) about how to be more positive about the things we deal with in everyday life and go through with our marriages and friendships  ...I have had to make it a point to be more positive..(yes people, I'm not ALWAYS happy, optimistic and cheery...I have my bad days too...lol). Now I'm not saying that it is easy, cause of course after committing myself to it, that stand was tested, just yesterday...

But remembering that GOD always has our best interest in mind, we can have a more optimistic outlook on our lives.  We may be in a place where we're doing things or acting in such a way that is contrary to how we should be but that doesn't mean that we GOD can't get ourselves out of those situations and be in a better state of mind. And that's another thing....it's not us that does anything for ourselves....it's going to be GOD that gets us out from where we're at.  (This does not mean that we don't sit back and do nothing to clear our the issues/negativity/hinderances). 

I read an article the other day that made me think of something....it was about "empty apologies", you know, screwing up then having the "oops, i'm sorry about that (again) God" mentality. (That's a whole 'nother blog right there....lol)  Well that can be applied to being positive....we can talk positivity and write positivity ALL DAY LONG, but it makes no difference if we don't believe that what we're positive about will come to pass...and that there is some good in the situation (even if it is just the lesson that we will learn).

Stay Strong, Committed and Positive :-)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Honda Buybacks

Most people that know me, know that I LOVE my Honda....but I'm tired of these nice advertisements and letters from the dealers to inform me that MYcar is SPECIAL....why? Not because I carefully chose it, but because there is a HIGH demand for my cars....people are trying to buy my make/model in my year quick.  And in the same (breath) they also want to tell me how they can get me into a newer car with a low payment for a new model being released (or that is already out). 
So many times Satan will come along with some hot new item that is supposedly much better than what we have in Christ, but we're too psyched by the shiny wrapping, the glitz, glamour, respect, prestige that accompanies the hidden costs.  When we're offered a deal on a newer car with better gadgets that are supposed to help us drive, we see the low cost of the car (the price to upgrade) meanwhile we don't see that in the future that the price will skyrocket or that it will just be a large payment right away.  We may have to get used to spending more on gas or upkeep for the car, the insurance may cost us more too....Instead of being satisfied with the reliable, presentable transportation that we already have (and that may be paid off too) we want better/more so we go get it when we really don't need to....

Life as a Christian may not be easy all the time, but if you are doing what you should and living right, God takes care of us in every way....Temptation may flash by us attempting to draw our attention and we, many times, look to see what it is and start to try to figure out how it is better than what we have (or so we think).  We may "test drive" the sin and in turn "buy" it and ditch our old reliable transportation (lifestyle).

We have to remember that what we currently have (lifestyle) is BETTER than what is being offered by the competition....we already have what we need and maybe even some things that we just want.  The "better"/newer item that is hot off the block will come at a price...it may be where we spend our money, it may be our time, it may be our witness or reputation....and in the worst case, it may cost us our life. Like getting a car note for that "better" car when we had a paid off car, we will have to make adjustments in our life to pay for the things we may have thought we wanted......

So do what I do.....shred that buyback letter/postcard and toss it in the trash....not today dealers (Satan).....I will keep my car (Jesus) with it's years and mileage :-) Besides my history with Him is better than the history with you.

Quality (Day) Labor vs. Salaried (You do get compensated.....but for what?)

Disclaimer: In no way am I trying to insult anyone or down-play their hustle if they work through a day labor facility....I'm merely using the establishments operation setup to prove a point through comparison.....we all have bills to pay....at least it's honest work.

Quality (Day) Labor vs. Salaried (You do get compensated....but for what?)

So I was passing a day labor company the other day and saw about 12 to 15 people standing outside waiting for the office to open....and I started thinking why didn't they go to a staffing agency? But there could have been many answers...then I thought....is the employer REALLY going to get quality labor (which was the name of this particular business)? Now I have actually gone to one of these places with my brother before....there was a company hiring a lot of clean up crew for a Lakers vs. Spurs game (most were going to work and see bits of the game whenever they could sneak away....including me..lol) and man! I feel for anyone who has to and can do this everyday....they get kudos from me....my body felt so worked....but anyways...

Back to that "quality" (DAY) labor....If you have a job that is in action 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (or even 24 hours a day but Monday through  Friday) and you ONLY put in work during your 7-3, 8-4, or 9 to 5 shift, then the rest of your time is yours to use but the work is piling up or being mishandled.  Do you seriously expect to paid for the other 16 hours of the day when you did no work?  Do you expect to acrue time off while you're not working? no.....with day labor you get paid for the time you are there....that's it....

With a salaried position, an 8-hour work day is a lovely dream....everybody expects to do 40 a week and that's it, but many times you may pull extra hours or find yourself on overnight schedules and such. The pay is higher though...you earn more than a day labor employee and there are other benefits that you are entitled to. 

In God's Kingdom, the job of saving souls is 24-7-365.....we can't expect to actively reach the world for 4 years while we're working in an outreach setting and reap the benefits over a lifetime while we go on about our business....that's working for quality day labor but getting the salary....We always have to be on the job, the work never ends, the demand is high for good quality employees...but the pay we receive is MUCH higher than the compensation we get through quality day labor. We may never be the employee of the month, but giving our best is all that's required once we're on God's payroll.  Our payroll is ongoing until we get our pay from God himself.  When we try to do quality day labor in God's fields, we get poor results.....When we do the work of the salaried (whenever it's needed), then we get to reap the harvest....

Make sure you pick your job type wisely.....

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Is your candy worth your wrapper?

Dove chocolate........Hershey's Symphony Milk Chocolate with Almonds.....Twix....I could go on and on about my favorite candies.....My mind starts to remember the taste of sweet creamy chocolate....mmmmm...they say "Diamonds are a girl's best friend" well chocolate comes in at a close second.....

So many times we can see the label of a product or a business and good things come to mind...Chick-fil-a: great food but closed on Sundays....Popeye's: has good spicy fried chicken....Southwest Airlines: no baggage fees.  Businesses spend so much money when it comes to marketing their products to make sure that they have a logo that will help sell their product and make their logos memorable for the customers. 

They either use flashy colors, or great design layouts that have a way of sticking in our memory.  For anyone that has ever taken a marketing, design or digital imaging class, you know that when you come up with a brand you cant' just do an okay job....you have to do a great job.  What you create for a brand will become part of people's everyday lives...they'll see the brand on TV or on a poster and all the things your company is known for will start to scroll through their minds. This will either prompt them to buy whatever it is you have OR encourage others to buy it too...

Along with the design, the actual wrapping has to be taken into consideration....if you need to have it freshly sealed, then you need to have a gummy or glued seal so that moisture cannot get into the package and spoil the goods....if it's something you may eat soon after you buy it then maybe just wrapping it will do (think Subway or McDonalds)...whatever the case, the wrapping has a reason for being the way it is....and it needs to do that job.

SO.........

What are you selling?  Does your "inner Jesus"/Holy Spirit/Lifestyle have the correct wrapper?  If most of us had to have a wrapping worthy of what we carry with us, we would be ashamed.  Can people look at us as Christians and know that there is something different?  Jesus is a breath of FRESH air, but so many times we walk around full of HOT air, with bad attitudes.  Our wrappers shouldn't be deceiving either....don't proclaim to be something that you're not. If we say one thing, but act differently we have on the wrong wrapper. Do we church it up on Sundays (and some Wednesdays) then "party like a rockstar" the rest of the week?  And even if we DON'T party, do we act in a less than appealing, unchristian-like manner?    God can do anything and everything but it doesn't help if we don't live actively believing that...we present something great on the outside while the inside is stale and or rotten.....we put so much effort into looking like the most saved & righteous people, but then we don't actually TRY to live that way......we all have struggles, but that's only one batch of our product....not the entire product line....We should live so that others wonder, man that [wrapper] sure seems good, the [product] must be great!!!

So I ask again, is your candy worth your wrapper?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lose Yourself and You Will Lose Yourself.....

So many times we are told to lose ourselves   in a moment, our feelings, music or in something, to just give in. When we give in, we just handed over the decision in our lives to whatever we gave in to. From the biblical viewpoint, Jesus = found (dedicated, taken care of, safe, our purpose is decided) and Satan = lost (unorganized, lacking - in whatever you need, always in danger, meandering).  If we go with the "get lost in it" mentality, we give in to our own human desires and don't have God's agenda in mind. 

1) We can get lost in love and date and/or marry the wrong person. So many times, we or our family/friends end up with the wrong guy or wrong girl only because we are looking for love where we shouldn't be..or when acting in a way to please ourselves we end up making choices that impact our lives forever. Before I got married, if I was interested in a guy, I would say "God, if this isn't the one, just take him out the picture...I don't mean any harm towards him, but if he's not for me, take him please"....God heard and answered when he needed to.  There's nothing wrong with being lost in love if you are with the RIGHT person....but if that's the case, then you've fallen in love so you're NOT LOST. So many times we may not realize it but when we date the wrong person, we can damage ourselves AND/OR the person we're dating to make us/them less than suitable for their future spouse.  When we marry the wrong person, not only do we jeopardize ourselves and them, but ALSO whoever God intended for our future spouses to be.

2) We can get lost in our talents/gifts....We may be great writers but write the wrong material...we may be great painters but paint the wrong things..great actors but act in the wrong movies...great orators but talk about the wrong subjects...singers but sing the wrong songs.  In whatever our talents and gifts are when we start to get lost in them, we use them for our own edification and not Gods.  If we don't use them wisely, God can and will take them from us (I have experienced this one firsthand and am determined to not go through that again).  I have a signature line on my emails that I got from a plaque my lil sis/roomie gave me a few years ago...it says "Our life is a gift from God, what we do with that life is our gift to Him".....that right there sums it all up.

3) We can get lost in our own goals. The same as talents/gifts, when we become lost in our goals, we act recklessly, wanting to fulfill our goals no matter what it costs us, our families or friends. We begin to work towards our goals by ourselves. There may be thoughts of prestige, respect and compensation that we may receive or the ability to say "look at what I did" not "look how God's blessed me". We forget that we need to stay grounded with our support group who will be happy and willing to encourage us along the way. True friends and family love to see those they know succeeding in life. When we put ourselves in the mindset of being goal-oriented and not God-oriented, we're in the wrong....God can make our goals a reality with MUCH less work than we'd ever put into them, we need to keep Him at the forefront...

When you lose yourself in whatever it is, you lose your identity. Your personality changes, you may change your attitude toward things, you may change your appearance, your friends, your activities, etc.  You become less and less like yourself than when you kept yourself "on point"....aka, on top of your game. Remember you don't have to be at the point where you have "arrived" to be on top of your game.  You lose authenticity when you make those changes because you become less grounded as "you" and start being shifty, indecisive (or even decisive in the "whatever happens happens" or "whatever goes" attitude) or physically pleasure-filling based. You may start to seem or look phony in the areas where you say God has put you, because now that your mentality has shifted you are trying to live for yourself and God.  We already know the Bible says you cannot serve God AND man....so one of those has to go.....

We have to be mindful to not to let our self-fulfilling mentality take over because they say that an idle mind is a devil's playground. Remember, lose yourself and you really will lose yourself.

Leaving you with something to think on.....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Confidentiality

C – Careful not to gossip
O – Only for my ears, keep it to myself
N – Never give out information
F – Friendship’s main component
I – If they didn’t tell anyone else, neither should I
D – Desirable character trait
E – Enriches bond between friends
N – No one’s personal details are for public discussion
T – Trusting someone to not share what you say
I – It is not a one-sided decision
A – Always keeps other’s best interest at heart
L – Loose lips can put you out of the loop
I – Intrinsic freshness seal to relationships
T – Trust can be lost or broken if not exercised
Y – Your friendship’s health and duration can be determined by your level of it

Sometimes in life we are put in positions where we have to exercise confidentiality. I have been in this position at least twice formally with volunteering. The first time was mentoring in a program for two years for girls whose mother-only parented homes were either going onto or coming off of welfare. The second time was while being a counselor at Agape Pregnancy Help Center for 3 years. I would hear stories of how home life was from young girls and young adults (and sometimes from clients older than myself) about the things they faced on a daily basis. Sometimes I was horrified at the lack of humanity and carelessness they described, other times I may have been saddened by the vacancy of love and support one would expect to get from home and from friends. (All this would of course make your mind race, but how you show it on your face is what makes the difference. You don’t want to react in a way as to make the other person think that they can’t share with you when that is the desired goal.)

Now that I no longer am involved in either of those ministries, I have had more time to look at my personal relationships with my friends….not saying that I haven’t done this before, but now for the lack of other counseling/mentoring venues, I’ve had more time to give them more attention. I’ve realized over the years that confidentiality between friends is something that is the unsaid super glue. Now there are things that my friends and I may talk about that is okay to be shared, but there are also some secrets that we will be taking to the grave. Everything may not be a secret, but it’s not something that’s up for public discussion either. When I look at the different levels of friendship I have with people, confidentiality is the marker of how close my friendship is with a person. I still keep in touch with friends from home and younger “sisters” of mine and one of the things that they know I do have is a good level of confidentiality. Knowing that you are the kind of person people can just talk to is a good thing; it means that you don’t spread their business.

Now there’s different bonds of confidentiality, there’s the confidentiality that I have with my husband, there’s the confidentiality that I have with my girls, there’s the confidentiality that I have with my parents, there’s the confidentiality I have with my coworkers…and so on. I can’t assume that any group shares confidentiality with each other and I shouldn’t cross contaminate. I can’t share things with my parents that I hold in confidence with my husband and I can’t share things with my husband that I share in confidence with my girls. There’s a difference in speaking up if a party is in danger and another if you’re bringing up something that was told to you with the intention of it being just for your ears.

I have been in the position before where I have told female friends of mine (they really were friends of mine) things that I’ve opened up about to just them only to later hear someone else ask me about it. Needless to say, those friendships crashed and burned, and not on accident. I gave chances for there to be some absolution to the issue but when it happened a few times, I had to just let them go. Usually it was cross contamination of my confidentiality with them being crossed with the confidentiality of another friend who they were close to but that I did not know myself. There is no quicker way to hurt a friendship than to break confidentiality. When people feel that their confidentiality with you is in jeopardy, they will make sure to keep you out of their business.

But there is also the matter of keeping information personal. If there is something that you need to vent or talk about but you can’t find the proper channel, you may have to keep a journal….or just tell God and pray over it. If you don’t know if you should talk about it or not, think about it….if it’s something that you really don’t want to ever hear about again, keep it. There is no law that says that everyone needs to know your business (including your friends) and the only time there may be concern is when accountability needs to be in place for you. Don’t feel like you have to tell your friends all your business to keep them as friends, you don’t have to…friends share information because they want to not because they feel forced or out of obligation.

We shouldn’t go fishing for information out of our friends…not saying this is less important when you’re younger, but I don’t think that teens have as big an issue with this because of where they are in life with trying to figure out themselves and what they’re going to do, they share information sometimes TOO easily…haha. But if we’re talking to our friends we should never ask them about something that they look/sound not too eager to share. When they get to the point when they just openly come to you, then you know they are ready to share and you’ll also be hearing the most relaxed honesty at that time. They may just be experiencing things that they want to keep personal and there’s nothing wrong with that, we have to be aware of the need to be courteous and caring.

You may wonder what keeping information personal has to do with confidentiality, it has a lot to do with it. Maintaining confidentiality is an outward decision; keeping personal information is an inward decision. They both take discernment and practice. I’m not writing this to say that I in any way have mastered these techniques but that I try to do better about them daily. I know I’ve breached confidentiality before and had to apologize to both parties (the one who it was about and the party I told) and while it may have been over something I thought to be small, it shouldn’t have been done. I also know that I’ve had to remove myself from certain people because of the amount of attention they want to give me trying to find out all the details of my life…

I’ll just leave you with the hope that something you read makes you think about and value the diverse relationships and confidentiality you have with others….remember, having confidentiality makes you a better friend/acquaintance and shows you can be trusted...