Afraid of the Dark!

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Blankets clinched tight around your face as if they are a cloche of protection. You can almost hear your heart beating within your chest… Bum, bum… ba,bum!!! Tired eyes now wide open. The noises of the day kept your mind busy. Now the quiet speaks so loud. Creaking of boards turn to monsters in the hall as our imagination plays on our greatest fears. The rustling of leaves outside our window become rabid packs of animals on the prowl. Dark shadows loom in corners like a creepy stalker waiting for us to defer our eyes.

From frightening images through the window to the unsettling feeling we get when we hang our feet over the bedside, we are afraid. Our minds create more drama than reality. Instead of taking our thoughts captive and telling ourselves what to think, we believe our gut instinct is telling us we are in danger. We do not realize we are the ones entertaining tormenting theories.

We have deduced that we are discerning truth. We act upon that core belief so we can feel safe. We try to protect ourselves and the ones we love from harm. Yet, we have come to anticipate horrific moments instead of considering the alternative… We are not in danger!

Irrational feelings of being vulnerable to pain causes us to meditate on negative thought processes. We have interpreted our surroundings to be perilous and predicted the outcome to be fetal. We fail to scrutinize what is spawning our understanding of the situation. Unfortunately we draw the wrong conclusions and we ourselves remain alone, in the dark.

As a child, I thought like a child. As an adult, I put childish things behind me. Most of us as children went through a time when we feared the boggy-man or the mysterious creature lurking behind the shower curtain. We may have even been comforted by someone we trusted; someone we knew would protect us. As we have grown our speculative nature hopefully matured.

Switching on the light in our brains is just as important if not more-so than switching on the light in a dark room. What we focus on we empower. If we dwell on fearful thoughts, we give way to torture of the mind, spirit, and soul. We become scared to agree or partner with faith as our worst dreads become our friends and enduring allies. Our self imposed paranoia causes us to take extreme precautions. We do not calculate risks verses benefit, we simply freeze in our tracks and become numb to respond with rational.

Seek the peace which passes understanding. Allow your body to relax. Draw from the still small voice that calms your spirit. Choose to believe in hope. Set your scattered, uneasy mind to good thoughts. Tell evil to go to hell and deal with bad things when that happen not during the never end “if” they are going to happen. Breathe deep and smell the fresh air. Close your eyes and trust everything is going to be alright.


Silencing the Voices

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Voices raced through my head as if I was standing in the middle of grand central station. Instantly I was agoraphobic, yet I was alone in my room. I snapped back to reality as the person on the other end of the phone line became the most important person in my world. I must become present and attentive, I thought to myself. My response, my reaction, my perspective will have lasting impacts on this person. I must quiet everyone else’s judgements, gossips, and condemning words.

Duct tape in the imagination can work wonders on the voices of friends, family, loved ones, and not so loved ones who are speaking in my mind. As the truth about the situation arose to the top of my thought processes I felt peace penetrate my soul. I swallowed my pride, my desire for idealism and perphectionsim. I did not panic. I knew everything was going to work out and people would have their opinions regardless of what was going on. If my life was on the tabloids, it would sell. Why? Because people eat up drama. And boy have I been through some dramatic moments.

I began to question why did I care what others think of me? Why did I care what they had to say or what their opinion was? I am walking in relationship with someone I care deeply about. Everyone else gets to choose their own path. They can deal with their own fears, insecurities, pains, and issues. Even if I heard their disapproving comments, I have control over myself alone. I chose to silence the voices in my head and the power I had previously given them in my life.

The only voices I give credence to are the ones who are willing to walk through life with me. They are people full of wisdom and experience. They know me. They know my heart. They will take the time to speak into my life in truth and love. Those people have the ability to make me feel vulnerable and safe at the same time, and their opinion is greatly valued.

By the time I had finished my phone conversation I had processed through a myriad of emotions. I felt and experienced raw emotions derived organically as I was receiving information. As I encountered each new wave of voices I silenced their voice with this truth: Though at times this is not an ideal life, it is a really good one.


Never Enough

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Never Enough!

    We lose heart before we start,
Listening to the voices in our heads.

Seeking approval from those we desire affection.
All in all we desire a deep connection.

It came from our parents, our, siblings, our friends,
It came from our culture, our race, the trends.

This feeling of inadequacy that doesn’t subside.
It causes us stress, grief, and pain inside.

We have become jealous like Cain with Able.
We chose not to believe the truth over a fable.

We compare ourselves to others only to discover our flaws.
We exaggerate our weaknesses, our value, and our cause.

We have adapted a victim mentality,
Clinching tighter to our pain.

If only our parents would have done this different,
and our teachers done that.
Our dreams would not have been crushed,
and our wallets would be fat.

Truth is… We agree with the lies we have been told;
Especially the ones we tell ourselves.

We put limits on what we view as risk.
We hesitate in fear and apprehension,
And, untrusting we recoil.

Night terrors haunt us like the unrest of weary soldiers.
Still, day after day we begrudgingly toil.

When success eventually comes on any level,
The unresolved what’s next is soon to follow.

When will our world cave in and all the naysayers win?
Such negative foreboding can prod the most optimistic people.

We affirm the discouraging words,
Giving ear to such negative things.
When we push past disappointment we struggle to hang on,
Praying our coping mechanisms will be faithful.

Our peace has been tested.
Our faith has been tried.

Our support systems stretched,
As they know us well and can judge just as harsh.

When we do walk in humility, confidence, & safety,
It feels like we have to fight to remain there.

To relinquish control and live in freedom appears irresponsible, reckless, and dangerous.
Instead of walking in faith and love,
We choose to entertain our fears and trust their ability to deliver.

Wholeness is hard,
Truth is more than perspective,
And the right thing comes from the heart,
Not because we are told we should.


What’s Love Got To Do With It?

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Protection

We don’t want a baby and we don’t want a disease.

We don’t want to give up our freedom and we don’t want an STD.

Lovers come and lovers go,

It’s all fun and games until somebody leaves.

It was good and provided such a high,

It validates our person and gives us release.

How could it be wrong when it felt so right?

Then why do we feel this alone, this empty inside?

A crowd of faces, a sea of people,

Hollow ships sail these waters.

With priceless cargo they shove over board,

Never reaching the destination for which it had endeavored.

Wounded souls,

Sails with damaged holes.

As pirates plunder the booty,

We unwittingly sell ourselves short.

We set our standard low,

Believing no one will pay the cost.

We do not wait for the highest bidder,

As we see what we have as inferior.

The greatest gift we could ever give,

We place such little worth.

Protection is more than a condom or birth control.

It is about putting value on what we have over doing what we are told.

There is no medication that can cure it’s symptoms,

for it is not a physical condition.

It is not about just preventing a life,

It is about mending the one that is already living.

It is more than sexuality,

It is a heart.

 


Dog Eat Dog

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Dog Eat Dog

“You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.”—Malcolm S. Forbes.

Like most animals, a dog will attack another dog when it feels threatened. Out of fear, people turn on one another. They fight for position, power, and validation. They reason out their undignified actions and justify their shady behavior. Leaving behind collateral damage, many people will do whatever it takes to make it to the top of their field. However, there are people out there who do not just look out for themselves; people who desire to be good at something but are not willing to take advantage of others. It is in the heart of most people to act out of integrity. Maybe we should start asking ourselves how can we protect others and still achieve our goals?

Being narcissistic by nature, we are typically self-serving. “What do I get out of this?” “What personal gain or benefit is there for me?” In the midst of pursuing life, liberty, and happiness  we must come face to face with worth and value. This includes our societal view, personal view, and world view. Insecurities stem from poor self image. It is not modesty or humility. This actually comes from negative self perception. First we must come to a healthy understanding of, “I am important.” Second, we must deal with the value of life in general and understand that “Other people are important.”  The conflict arises when we don’t know how to serve the needs of others while also attending to our own.

It becomes essential for us to push past the uncomfortably that comes from communicating about what is going on inside of us.
We do not have the right to blame others for our choices. Even in the face of peer pressure, ultimately we are responsible for our actions. Owning our decisions also allows for us to have grace to make mistakes. Doing this while living with other impephect people can be trying at times. It can be a lot of work, however, the benefits for everyone is tremendous.

Having children I see first hand the effects of egocentric behavior:

“Me first.”

“No me!”

“Hey, what about me?!?”

“Me, me, me!!!”

As our children grow, my husband and I are consciously teaching them how to take personal responsibility for their choices, including their actions. We are guiding them to operate in self-control. We teach them to tell themselves what to do and not try to control other people. We are instilling values for freedom and individuality. We are purposefully cultivating the celebration of each other. We want them to appreciate being in relationship with powerful people while also recognizing they are a powerful person themselves. The “I am better than you” mentality, or the “You are better than me,” has got to go. We use the phrase, “I am amazing just the way I am,” and “My best is good enough.” We want them to know that while we as people can always hone our craft and develop as people we can also be okay with where we are in process.

My husband and myself intentionally highlight the harms of comparing ourselves to others. We seek to remove jealousy between our children and others by focusing on gratefulness, building self-confidence, and a nurturing a personal  relationship with God rather than a religion full of rules. Our hope is that as our kids grow and mature they will get their identity from Him and not from what they believe others think about them.

As adults we need courage and wisdom to engage in “Brave Communication”. We need to risk rejection and let others know what is going on in our hearts as well as in our heads. We’ve got to get real. The security of being known takes vulnerability. It takes honesty; beginning with ourselves. It takes work. It can be hard, time consuming, and exhausting, yet, it is tremendously rewarding. What we fail to recognize is it takes just as much energy to bury our feelings as it does to deal with them.

In the midst of this we need to be careful not to tell others about them. This is called judgement. We assume we know the why’s and the motives of others, so we shove our judgements down their throat. We use deductive reasoning, we read body language, we listen to both verbal cues, and watch for non-verbal communications. All in all, we take the information we have gathered and observed, and after we process it we arrogantly think we know the heart and mind of someone else. We usually do not ask clarifying questions because they are awkward and uncomfortable. Instead we project on them our perspective, paradigm, and personal filters.

Growing in identity is the most important thing we can do as people. When we spend time with God we learn about His nature and character. We have nothing to prove to anyone. We don’t have to listen to introspective criticisms. We can ask Him what He thinks about us. Then we can either continue to believe a lie about ourselves as in the movie Freedom Writers, or we can change patterns, gain confidence, and prosper in life. Others may try to drag you back down like crabs in a barrel because it exposed the deep insecurities in their own hearts. Despite this we can learn to celebrate the success of others with sincere joy and also position ourselves to achieve our greatest potential.

Hopefully, as we grow in the knowledge of who we are, we will create a safe place for others to do the same. May we inspire people to be confident without becoming prideful. May we learn to be more assertive as that is where we have the most to gain. We do not have to become aggressive and run rough shod over others. We do not need to be passive and sacrifice our hearts or play martyrs either. Most certainly, we must be very conscious of becoming passive aggressive. We can’t pretend everything is okay when it isn’t: “I have no needs, no wants, and no dreams and only others are important”. Then we talk behind each others backs. We make sarcastic, cutting comments, and we undermine the core of relationships in general.

We get so concerned we will be taken advantage of. We do not wait until something occurs to a deal with a situation. We sabotage our success before we begin.  We are so afraid we will not get recognition that we draw negative attention to ourselves. We are so worried we will not get what we think we deserve that we rob ourselves from receiving honor when it is due. We get so wrapped up in others mishandling the relationship we don’t actually put forth the effort to have one.

Serving the vision of others can keep us in a place of humility. We do not all have to be missionaries to take care of one other. We just need to make people matter. We can do this by putting our money where our mouth is, our time where our social injustice passion is, or by tending to the needs and desires of another. Learning how to put people first, not exploit others for personal gain, and not live in a constant state of self-protection, takes self-respect. As a defense mechanism people hoard money, food, or random items. This is a sign of a wrong core belief. It is caused from a root of an unsafe psychological perspective. To counter this behavior in our children, we have adopted the philosophy of giving out of who we are. We choose to be generous no matter what. It does not come out of overflow and it is especially not used to manipulate.

What do you really want and what are you willing to do to get it? Blending dreams with vision is vital. Wisdom, rational, and faith are required to see the magnificent become reality. Being intentional about the direction you are headed in life and enjoying the journey in the meantime will make your traveling much more pleasant. It will also keep you focused, allow for you to navigate the turbulent waters of life, and get calibrated if you veer off course.

Don’t get me wrong. I want it all. The thing is, what I am willing to sacrifice to get it? Unlike Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization which is self seeking, self-serving, and self-focused, this way of life seeks first what is right, what is true, and the betterment of mankind. This is when we will truly get what is ours, others get theirs and more. Wholeness will manifest as you are satisfied mind, body, and soul. Being a leader is about serving not demanding. As in “It’s A Wonderful Life,” your wants will be met in the most unexpected way, because who you are will not go unnoticed.

We have the ability as humans to change our patterns of behavior. We have the ability to change how we have gone about things in the past and we have the ability to make different choices from now on. We can go from dog eat dog, to becoming companions who know how to live with strong and powerful beings.

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Expecting… The Unexpected!

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Expecting… The Unexpected!

Ever plan for something you wanted so badly? Did you ever do everything that could have been done and fight with all of your might? Have you ever seen a dream so real you just knew with all your soul it would become reality? Have you ever been crushed, disappointed beyond belief?

To hope in the face of despair, to pursue against the odds, to believe beyond doubt…. is it stupid to wish for the impossible? Or is it rational to be apprehensive to ask for our heart’s desires out of fear they won’t be answered the way we want?

It can be discouraging when what you seek always seems to be just beyond your reach. Such a helpless feeling when you are not in control of your own destiny. Even though many others have experienced similar pain it can still be such a lonely feeling. Yet you press in, you dig deep, you suppress those nagging feelings of frustration.

What happens when you have put your heart and soul into something but reality tells you it is not going to happen? Everything seems to turn against you. Even time itself ceases to be a friend. At what point do you finally put to rest the very thing that motivates you to live? How do you bury what you been imagining, and simply “move on”?

When it feels like you’ve died, at the point you finally let go, that moment is often the very moment your seed is finally planted, finally able to bloom. All this time you thought you had been carrying rotten fruit: dreams that seemed to be shriveling, decaying, and growing mold like a disease. Come to find out, like fruit decomposing into the soil, it is not what is seen that matters.  Rather it is the potential, the hope, the life it carries inside that matters. It is this self-contained life that gives this seemingly small, yet deeply meaningful, pregnant aspiration the potential to become great.

It can be difficult when others so easily acquire what you have been longing for. The thing that seems to come by accident to some, and even unwanted by others, is the very thing you yearn to possess. In those moments, not becoming angry or embittered, and remaining faithful and vigilant to your own dreams may be the hardest thing you ever do. However, this will cause your roots to grow deep. And relative to your surroundings, though you may not flower often, your blossom will be rare and magnificent.

Very few appreciate what they have. Even fewer express true gratitude for what comes naturally. It is those whom have known the strain of struggle, the ecstasy of endurance, and the payoff of perseverance who truly value the prize. For it is the joy set before us that makes this life worth the darkness we go through to get there.

There are those of us who choose to never give up on our dreams. Though we choose to lay down our right to toil in vain, we trust that God keeps His promises. We seek peace during the process even when understanding evades us.  There are those of us who believe that the power of love is stronger than the power of hate. There are also those of us that live in the joyful expectation of good no matter if we get what we expected or we are happily surprised by the unexpected.


A Good Laugh Among Friends

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Laughter fills the air as our cares are left at the door like a pair of dirty ol’ shoes. The mood is easy and the conversation light. There is nothing like the pleasures of forgetting our worries, and the relaxation of being with those we enjoy. Good times to be had with good friends. From backyard barbeques on the patio to a nice drink in a pub, life fills the atmosphere as we have a good laugh among friends. We find our uptight, anal selves melting into a comfortable chair as we let our hair down.

Everything in the world is right as we gather with our smiles in full beam. Whether we slide down a cold hill of powdery white snow and sip hot cocoa at the bottom, or we watch sunsets over horizons on warm summer evenings, our spirits are refreshed as our hearts are happy to be with those we love.

It is in these moments we celebrate the simple things like roasting marshmallows or blending margaritas. We find meaning and hope in newly forged relationships. We also find safety and security in those that are tried and true. We mingle and discuss fine craftsmanship, sporting events, and fishing tales. We linger when it is time to go, capturing every last joke of the evening before time catches up with us and we must go back to our regular lives.

We hold on to these feelings of bliss as if they are treasures more valuable than any achievement we have accomplished. We find we are grateful to be alive and look forward to the tomorrows of the world. We get lost in songs that remind us of these special times. We are quickly taken back and transformed in an instance as we sing along to the melody. Burden free, we may even be silly and dance. After all, what is the fun in hanging out if we can’t loosen up on the reigns a bit?

Laughter is a good medicine for the soul. It produces endorphins, healing, and an overall sense of well-being. So don’t forget to tell your serious side it is okay to chill out, relax, and add some joy to your world!

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