Need a reminder?

Wow can you believe summer is almost over?  Not sure of your location, but due to spring flooding, the first part of our summer could be considered mild for Texas!  Never fear…..we have temps predicted to reach 108 just this week so it will be a regular scorcher.

Season temps are fickle, but there’s a few things that can be counted on.  As you know, my heart is always focused on single adults & how they navigate through their lives. Summertime, for singles, especially single parents, generally induce additional concerns & expenses. Sports, vacays/stacays, increased child care & more.  When my son was younger, I remember all too well how much I had a love-hate relationship with summer.  I made sure he was in sports which meant my usual 12-16 hr shifts at the hospital were reduced to 8.  Weekend games & tournaments meant no OT. Then…..childcare was my dreaded expense. During the school year he attended a local BGCA after school program for a nominal cost.  Thank goodness we had a local YMCA for summertime!  The last, but certainly not least, concern was back to school clothes & supplies.  Cutting hours & OT during the biggest budget busting time presented many opportunities to panic. I’m not one to panic, but it did take some juggling!   It wasn’t until said son was grown did I learn frugal, budgeting technics.  This past weekend he made a comment of how he honestly didn’t know how I survived & made it during those many years.  This thought was provoked because he is now a parent & understands the often daily requirements of sustaining a household.

Looking back, I have to give thanks & gratitude to Jehovah for being my all in all.  Many times there were subtle reminders of how much He is looking out for my best interest or is in control.  I could never blame Him for my poor choices or sticky situations because it simply wouldn’t be fair.  There were several occasions where the answer I sought, was not the answer He provided.  Also there were numerous instances when His word of advice left me sad or disappointed only to realize later how much wiser He is than me.  Often, during my daily commute, I consider just how much He has spared me from over the years & am beyond thankful for His grace. In the midst of trials, tribs, tests or whatever you wish to label your misfortune, maybe you’re like me & tend to forget He is ever present, all knowing, & concerned for the smallest detail of what concerns us.  It’s in these times when I tend to elevate or just spend more time solving problems on my own or place circumstances above the one who can obliterate them & bringing peace.

In the busyness of life, I tend to lose focus.  Daily scripture reading & morning prayer time is my true north! Within the past 6 mos there has been almost a constant system, for the lack of a better term, of how God reminds me He is listening, thinking of me & is very well aware of what is taking place on my timeline. Such happenings can be me thinking of something insignificant only to have that very thing transpire immediately. Perhaps I’ll think or dream of a person I haven’t thought of for years & within the same day hear from them or read something about them.  I can entertain a question only to have the answer materialize.  For instance……I completed a certain TV series & one day on my way to work pondered how the institution in the series actually began.  While watching another series, that interrelates with the previous one, an episode explained the formation of the institution in question.  This was a day or two apart.  Completely insignificant details that cause me to wonder.  Time & time again this has occurred & I refer it to my “thought thingy.” Instead of being weirded out by them, I embrace the happenings as a constant, continual reminder how important my thought life is & discern how much God is aware of my actions.  It’s a reminder for me to “tow the line” or walk upright & right standing.  Don’t get me wrong….I fail often, but am becoming more consciously aware of God’s presence.  I can read or believe scriptures every day, but one “thought thingy” quickly snaps my attention.

As you may have read in past posts, I work at the Divisional level of the Texas Salvation Army.  There is a precious ritual practiced every Tuesday called devotions. Yes, there’s weekly donuts too, but…..I leave those for others!   For the past nine years many people have spoken into my heart with their 20 minutes of history, personal stories, recently read books, & of course, the word of God.  This weeks devos were certainly no exception. Not only was the main message phenomenal, but my point of focus came from the “popcorn testimony” of someone who had recently attended the International Boundless Convention in London, England.  Along with the words he spoke about the convention, he presented an occurrence that immediately moved me to tears & lead me to write this blog.

TSA history bookThis guy, we’ll call him “Churchill,” along with another co-worker, are cousins who grew up in the small town of Bedlington on the outskirts of London.  After returning from the Boundless Convention, another one of Churchill’s department co-workers presented him with an antique book. This co-workers wife, whose sister happens to be one of our Divisional Salvation Army officers, had noticed the book at a yard sale, I think, & picked it up.  The book was Volume One covering The Salvation Army history from 1865-1878 written 80 years after William Booth began to preach the gospel.    TSA history book inside coverWithin the book was a tattered envelope. Within the envelope was a small card, referred to as the Open-Air Plan. Open air planThe card listed streets of where The Salvation Army Corps Band would be playing & who the leader was.

The same Corps where the cousins attended as youth & played in the band. This was strictly an internal schedule which probably only those band members would’ve received. The dates were November 1947-January 1948.  On January 4, 1948 the leader listed is the grandfather or great-grandfather of the recipient of the antique, yard sale book. Churchill is trying to find out which one it was because both of them went by the same name.

Think about it………Bedlington, England 1948 to Fort Worth, Texas USA 2015.  An antique book. Family. Hometown Corps. Co-worker.  I’m not sure what this means to you, but I was immediately reminded of just how mindful & mighty GoTSA history jacket coverd truly is. Who else could have orchestrated such an occurrence?  He moves through space & time because He can. He created it! I asked Churchill what he thought this meant.   He was contemplating how this book could have traveled countries apart to land here in this dispensation of time.  Who migrated here & brought it with them? Those are very logical questions that would be way cool to find out!  My primary question was, “Is there anything significant in your life you are praying for? Or just maybe there’s something you’re believing God for an answer to & this confirms God is truly listening?”  Churchill replied that he hadn’t even thought along their lines. You can tell I’m totally blown away with this divine connection!  I wonder….what “plan” God is guiding Churchill toward as the leader?? He has a very sweet, beautiful family & I can’t wait to find out!

I even appreciate how they discussed the necessity of having the Revised Standard Version of the New Testament to bbook nt version2e more relateable. Talk about forward thinking! Through this happenstance, I want to encourage you how scriptures recount God has numbered the hairs on our heads(yes, He even knows if you’re bald!), numbers of our days, thinks of us as the apple of His eye, He even bottles our tears & keeps a book of remembrance for every time we speak about Him. Jesus can never forget us as our name carved in His hands. I’m sure this would cause controversy, but it seems that’s the original tattoo! Lighten up!  Just my thoughts here!

Whatever you’re facing, regardless of your relationship type, please understand you’re not facing it alone.  God genuinely knows where you are & more importantly, He is no respecter of persons. After the book incident, I’m inspired & convinced, more than ever, He longs for us to have conversation & sweet communion with Him.  Again, He is not the author or instigator of bad choices, but He absolutely can help guide us in making the right ones. We need to listen to His voice, thought thingy’s, or unexplainable instances only He can devise.  If we quieten our busyness long enough, I’m sure more important things than a TV series question will be revealed. Preaching to myself & duly noted!

Blessings,

g
Open air plan supporters

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So far

One of my friends, lovingly known as The Goddess, posted this & I wanted to share. It is simple when you think of it, yet very profound. There are seeds of greatness in all of us.  The choice of what we do with those seeds has been & always will be up to us alone.  emerging butterflies

The caterpillar lives its entire life span instinctively knowing it will soon become a butterfly. This metamorphosis dictates every decision the caterpillar makes. From each morsel of food it eats to where it will finally attach its chrysalis.   Could we, perhaps, determine the passion that stirs our soul being worthy of such pursuit?

Her words below……….

Enjoy the journey,

g

rose buds

I’ve come to realize that there is no “becoming”.

A bud doesn’t “become” a rose.
It already IS a rose.
Always has been.
What you can see is the result of the journey, so far.

Just as an acorn holds an entire forest within it, you have within you all the greatness you’ve been seeking.

It’s there.
Always has been.
What you can see is the result of the journey, so far.

The decision for each of us is what to do with our greatness.
Let it ride, or let it rise?
The choice is ours.
Always has been.
And at the end of this day, this year, this life,
What you see will be the result of the journey, so far.

*The “so far” bit is key.

Jacqueline Gates

2015 Expectations

As I contemplate the ending of 2014 (which I feel I just got used to writing) & face 2015,  I want to embrace new journies.
In retrospect of accomplishments to goals set this year I’ve:
(1)become debt free
(2)lost a clothing size  & am embracing an even more health consciousness lifestyle
(3)become a minimalist by creating most of my own health & beauty products using Essential Oils
(4)moved into a fabulous new neighborhood
(5)set a course for new personal business endeavors

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This leads to what new goals to set!
I want to begin with things like  updating my passport, organizing the chapters of my book, maybe even taking some courses in things that interest me like concealed handguns, join a gun range club or etc. Yes….. I have a gun & used to love target practice!!

I ran across this list from something I read today by John Maxwell & want to share it as it has many attributes one could adapt resolutions from.

I will choose and display the right attitudes.
I will determine and act upon important priorities.
I will know and follow healthy guidelines.
I will communicate with and care for my family.
I will practice and develop good thinking.
I will make and keep proper commitments.
I will earn and properly manage finances.
I will deepen and live out my faith.
I will accept and show responsibility.
I will initiate and invest in solid relationships.
I will plan for and model generosity.
I will embrace and practice good values.
I will seek and experience improvements.

I pray 2015 brings a beginning of peace, joy, comfort, love & opposition as without that, we often neglect to respect the first few!!
Blessings,
g

Immigrant Children

As you may know, I’m from Texas.  I feel very strongly against our borders being flooded. Period. Many voice an opinion that this is not the “Christian”  thing to believe. There’s a huge disconnect in the belief that Christians shouldn’t feel this way. I love God & serve Him daily.  I choose as an act of my will to extend mercy, grace & unconditional love.  My bible has story after story of how God protected his people & commanded His leaders to wipe out entire nations to do so.  I’m not saying He should wipe out Mexico, Salvador, etc., so please don’t misinterpret that.  I am saying we should exercise wisdom to protect our own.

I treat all mankind with dignity & respect & strongly believe children should never be used as tools for personal or political gain. This is not Christian, or humanitarian, but political. My governor has been soliciting the POTUS to come see for himself. His trip to Texas is to attend a fundraiser, not assess the situation. Really?? A local Mayor is up for re-election.  He’s in the spotlight for the wrong reasons by offering shelters for immigrants without following procedures. Sound familiar?  Protecting humans should come from the right heart motive, not personal gain.

I’m completely against flooding our cities with people who aren’t doing so as a direct result from a natural disaster.  This disaster  is man-made & self-inflicted.  This will be like a cancer destroying our nation.  Actually this is an internal terrorist attack where we’ll be sleeping with the enemy.  Every country has border control. If you don’t believe it, ask  Andrew Tahmooressi,  our Marine who, for some strange, odd, reason, can’t be released from a Mexican prison.  Our borders should never be respected differently.
Why do I have such a strong opinion about this?  Let’s look at just a few of the reasons!
We have families (some are my friends) in Texas who are unemployed, children who don’t eat unless they eat at school & take back packs containing food home for dinner. Here’s a quote from Hunger Busters:
Over 137,000 (87%) of the children attending Dallas schools rely on school-subsidized breakfast and/or lunch as their only resource for food. All too often, these children go without dinner. Many of them have nothing to eat from school lunch one day until school breakfast the next.
At our recent National Social Services Convention, David Beckmann,  President of bread for the world, informed us about the numerous programs that have been cut from the national budget. Many, if not most, of these affect children & senior citizens.  This validates the previous quote & should enlighten us on the dire needs in our own neighborhoods.  While our economy is improving  & Texas is stronger than most, why add the strain?  I won’t go into detail as to why these children are going home hungry or why people are unemployed.  I will express my resistance to opening borders when we can’t provide for our own.
Again, this is an internal, political blow & other states, Florida & California,  are experiencing the same. California protested sending 3 busloads back. Those immigrants were put on planes & sent to Houston?   Now the government is sending armed government agents to fight the California protesters.  Really?  Our own people are being targeted?  Is it me, or shouldn’t we be focusing our attention & resources on the root source?
The old saying,  “Charity begins at home” should be applied.  Our US government shut down this past year & I had friends hanging in the balance.  Our US is on the brink of bankruptcy & many cities have already declared it. We have trillions of dollars in debt owed to other nations. Despite Obamacare, millions aren’t receiving medical treatment. Our veterans are denied well deserved benefits.  Human trafficking is rampant.  In all these things, what happens?  We open our borders.  I’m not a rocket scientist or an economist brain child, but I can see how this is pouring salt on an open wound.  Well….maybe salt is too mild as salt can actually cure. Acid on an open wound would be more descriptive.
tx border fenceWhat makes this even worse is the fact that other countries, who have vowed to destroy America, are flying to Mexico to cross the border because…..they can.  This leads me to the to believe this was the conspiracy all along. Innocent children & adults are being caught in the crossfire or are considered collateral damage.  After all….if history serves us correctly, the past several political outbursts have been smoke & mirrors to disguise what is actually happening. Create a diversion & the American people will get their hair on fire &  panties in such a wad, they’ll never acknowledge what is really happening.  Not anymore.  We have put our big girl panties on & are dealing with it.  Sorry guys…..you catch my drift!
Enough is enough!!!  Stop shipping exhausted, malnourished, diseased humans from city to city knowing they won’t qualify to stay here.  A recent Dallas newscast reported that they’ll soon be deported. Why expose them, weaken our defenses, turn citizen against citizen only to send them back?  Contact your congressman, senator, governor & let your voice be heard.  Posting your beliefs on social media is one thing & is powerful. Nothing compares to vocally reaching out & helping our officials realize we are not sheep, but  humans whose heart beats for our great nation.  This also affirms & cheers them on for valiantly fighting  on our behalf.  We voted them in & should continue to support them.
Questions???  Where are the resources coming from that are being wasted on such propaganda?  How did they miraculously find billions of dollars in our budget?  Seriously?? Where could these funds be reallocated?  I know!!!   They’re cutting welfare programs & people who are knowingly abusing the system are being forced into employment? What are some questions you may have?
You may read this & only visualize an angry, bitter, racist behind a keyboard.  On the contrary, my heart is so very proud of my Hispanic, Brazilian, Indian, etc. friends who are now bona-fide Americans.  Many of them share my same concerns or are even more vocal!  They came to my America-land of the free because of the brave.  They did so to obtain freedom from tyranny or to offer a better opportunity for their families.  They did their due diligence, counted the cost & obtained citizenship.  To the best my knowledge, NONE of them receive free government benefits.  They are proud to wave the American flag.  I salute, love & respect them immensely.
In summary… I am a Christian. I am vehemently against open borders.  I am for taking care of Americans who need a hand up, not a hand out.
God Bless America,
g

Unforgiveness

Forgiveness is the economy of the heart… forgiveness saves the expense of anger, the cost of hatred, the waste of spirits.
― Hannah More

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Unforgiveness can be very costly as it’s like a cancer. It can quickly replicate itself causing physical ailments. I’ve literally seen people have to be on high blood pressure meds because the anger & resentment they harbor against someone causes physical symptoms. This can further lead to other debilitating diagnoses. What about anti-anxiety meds? How many people do you know that take prescription anti-depressants or mood altering drugs because they blame someone for a life event & refuse to surrender it??
Hey! Won’t you play another somebody done somebody wrong song!! Besides big pharma, every outlet of media feeds off of it, yet it’s primarily costing you invaluable quality of life. We’ve heard it said, “Unforgiveness is like drinking poison & expecting the other person to die.” It destroys us, because chances are, the person we’re captive to doesn’t think about us at all.

It isn’t worth the cost. As the quote eludes, the economy of the heart shouldn’t be depleted because of an emotion. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you have to become besties & you may never feel you’ve crossed over. It isn’t a feeling, but a decision. It means you can finally stop rehearsing the wrong, release it & not give that person permission to hold you captive any longer

Human trafficking is a sick, twisted, social disease that should never be permitted to occur or continue. The bondages we repeatedly function in, because of unforgiveness, are no different. We sell our souls; perform unhealthy acts of conduct & remain slaves to a thought, idea, or circumstance. It isn’t worth it. However, you; your well being; psychological & physical health is.

Freedom from unhealthy side effects, bitterness or hate is within your control. Be honest & open with yourself. Determine this day is the day for the madness to stop.
Let go & live.
Blessings,
g

Parasitic Relationships

Today is a very special day for one of my closest friends.  Her marriage of 24 years ended & her divorce became final today.  As an advocate against divorce, what I’m about to say is the exact opposite, but I have to confess….I don’t know who’s happier, me or her.  Well….I know that answer, but you can tell I’m beyond stoked!   I’ve known & worked closely with her since October 2005.  She is naive is some ways, doesn’t attempt any of the things I do when it comes to DIY stuff, isn’t extremely internet savvy, reads daily devotions, but won’t attend church, wouldn’t stand up to talk to a crowd if her life depended on it, will procrastinate until I’m driven crazy & hates to veer out of her normal comfort zones.  She is, however, one of the kindest, sensitive, loyal, most committed mother, cat lover & human I know.

Before they married, husband had a child & baby mama drama.  Although her grandfather tried to warn her, she loved him & accepted his son. During the marriage, he was unfaithful & this produced another child & yes… another baby mama. My friend is precious & attempted to honor her wedding vows regardless of husband’s infidelity.  They had 2 kids of their own & oops…another one happened.  She worked 3 jobs during her pregnancy to provide for her family.  This is acceptable right?  I mean husband worked one job, paid all his money to baby mama’s for child support & expected to be completely taken care of with designer clothing, new vehicles, toys, etc.  Wait…I had a lapse of sanity for a moment, because in no lifetime is this acceptable.

When things became unbearable they separated.  [Enter humor] While living with his mother, husband got a taste of being responsible for himself. They attempted to reunite & make the marriage work so he moved back home. This is a great option if you’re not dating someone else in the process. During this time, he wrecked his truck & of course he got a brand new one.  She paid the note, so why not right?  It’s OK that she drove the hooptie with no A/C in Texas heat.  The kids are young, they’ll survive.  NOT!  Finally the day came.  July 2013 was the most memorable month for me ever.  Wait….this isn’t about me, but I was rejoicing believe me!

Friend began “going out” with a friend she’d known most of her life.  He had 3 baby mama’s, 7 kids & lived in a garage loft type room at his parents.  Before you judge that she obviously has a problem, stop.  In 20 years of mentoring single women/men, I’ve seen this cyclic behavior pattern a million times.  Remember when I described comfort zone above?  It was just a friend with a history of leaving broken hearts all over town & kids he’ll never contribute in raising.  For 6 years I used to read during my 45 minute lunch break.  I didn’t gossip with anyone, didn’t socialize or even sit in the dining room.  This was my time to invest in my mind through books.  Friend had a bestie that shared lunch with her.  Bestie left & now friend & I began to have lunch together.  I could have been extremely selfish, self-absorbed & genuinely not bothered by what was going on in her life.  Except…..she’s my friend.  I’ve heard every event that has taken place for the past 2 years.  I’ve heard every event that has taken place for the past 2 years.  I’ve heard every event….no this isn’t a typo.  I have literally heard events, repetitively, for the past 2 years.  If you know me, you know this rubs against every fiber of my being. Why did I listen?  She has no one to mentor her in relationships.  I am not the most sensitive, patient, polished, or kind person when it comes to advice sometimes, but I am thankful to say we have worked through many situations, other relationships & she is so much stronger because of it.  Yes it was an extreme sacrifice sometimes, but to see her today is like there is nothing better.  The reward is worth the investment.

My judgmental attitude overruled my best nature sometimes & I would call husband a parasite.  Then lifetime friend became a parasite too.  Having a 25 year background in nursing, I am familiar with what a parasite is. Not only what they are, but what havoc they can wreak on the lives of people or hosts.  While praying for her to have courage & emotional stability today to face the judge, I actually began entertaining what a parasite truly does.  I then had to look up the definition & description.  Looking at pictures grossed me out completely.  I can’t imagine enabling that type of behavior!  Here it is:

parasiteParasite : a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.

Parasitism is a non-mutual symbiotic relationship between species,  where one species, the parasite, benefits at the expense of the other, the host.  Unlike predators,  parasites do not kill their host and will often live in or on their host for an extended period of time. Parasites show a high degree of  specialization, and reproduce  at a faster rate than their hosts. Parasites increase their fitness by exploiting hosts for resources necessary for their survival, e.g. food, water, heat, habitat, and transmission.

Parasitism can take the form of isolated  “cheating”  or exploitation among more generalized mutualistic  interactions. For example, broad classes of plants or fungi exchange carbon and nutrients in common mutualistic mycorrhizal relationships; however, some plant species known as myco-heterotrophs  “cheat” by taking carbon from a fungus rather than donating it.

Synonyms –  sycophant, toady, leech, sponge, hanger-on.

I was surprised at how this identifies to husband & lifetime friend.  How quaint that leech was my other descriptive word.  How many people do you know can be labeled as this?  How many people do you know who are drawn to these types of people?  Before we go further, please understand that co-dependent, manipulative, self-absorbed, ruthless, parasitic behavior patterns are not gender specific.

You can’t change what you tolerate & often we tolerate situations, husbands, wives, lovers, & friends just because we lack the courage to do anything else.  The best thing you can do for someone who lacks the confidence to walk away from these parasitic relationships is to be a friend.  Listen, offer advice & most of all validate their good qualities while constantly & continually building belief that they are much more valuable than this. Please, direct them to a community DivorceCare Group immediately.

Today is a new day in the life of my friend.  I know it wasn’t an easy path to follow, yet there is such a release & relief.  If you read this & think I’ve been stalking you because this is your story, please know there is hope & a cure for tolerating someone, a parasite,  who is literally sucking the life right out of you.

Blessings,

g

Be, Do, Become

I purpose daily to read several leadership blogs & intentionally post positive quotes.  This morning my chosen quote stirred my thoughts. This is actually the purpose.  Too many times we try to tell people what to think instead of inspiring or empowering them to think on their own.  Here’s the quote:

ImageBeing angry at the mirror won’t change what it is reflecting.
If you want to SEE something different you have to BE something different. – Steve Maraboli

 

A few years ago I learned about three little words that have the potential to create a catalyst for change.  Be, Do, Become.  These can be practically applied in any area in which we desire change. The process is relatively easy.  Begin with a choice of what you want to change or who you would like to be. Now let’s not get crazy & want to become another human!  Perhaps there is someone who is a role model to you.  What is it about them that you want to emulate?  Do they speak well in front of others?  Are they kind, generous & thoughtful?  Are they known for how they serve others?  Do they exude a healthy lifestyle? Are they physically active? Are they disciplined in certain areas of their life that challenges you to raise the standard in your own life?  Are they a great parent? Whatever it is, choose to glean specific info from an area.  This focus will include reading specific subject matter from credible sources.  Exercise discipline regarding this change by putting it into daily or even more incremental practices.  A book that has changed my life in so many areas, The Slight Edge, provides tremendous wisdom in how to implement & enforce this. During your waking hours, purposely think about this change.  One of my favorite Bible scriptures instructs us to call those things that be not as though they were.  I like to refer to it as the Speckled & Spotted Principle!  One of my favorite books, the ant & the ELEPHANT teaches us about the power of the conscious vs the subconscious mind. You have probably read how many world renown athletes see themselves batting that home run, or shooting that winning hoop, etc.  There is something powerful about visualization.

The second step is to Do what it is that you want to change.  If you are following a mentor or role model, do what they’ve done to accomplish their success.  This can start as small as setting the microwave for 5 minutes, look at yourself in the mirror & give a speech. Said speech can be just telling the person in the mirror how wonderful they are!  What if it’s writing a book?  Begin a blog. Becoming healthy?  Cut out fast food except for one day/week.  A marathon?  Start running at the local high school track or park that has a trail. How about a treadmill?  A simple way to begin running if you’ve never done it is to walk 5-10 steps, then run 5-10 steps & increase this, yes, incrementally, until you are running.  There are, of course, amazing apps to help you too.   Whatever it is….DO something!

Finally…..look in the mirror.  Who do you see?  Better still, who have you become?  Confident?  Happy? Healthy?  Competent? Courageous?  Empowered?  Free?  In the process, I can’t promise easy, but I can promise it’s totally worth it.

Blessings,

g