Character: Next Right

When you are a person of character, you won’t question IF you should do the right thing, because you’ll know the right thing must be done.

Character is proven in moments of difficulty or trial when it’s easier just to walk away. Character is sustained when a crisis arises, and criticisms and ridiculed may be at their worst. Character is deepened each time the right choices are chosen, regardless, the sacrifice or struggle that may be endured.

Ask yourself today, “Are you a person of character or a person of reputation (conformity)?” Do you stand alone to make the right choice, or will you bend and sway like a daffodil, depending upon the wind and waves to guide you?

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Give Yourself Permission: Authenticity

Too many of us grow up believing we must conform to society, or be molded after our family’s traditions, or conform to our friends’ desires, or even be completely yielded to our parents’ or spouses wishes. When we’ve been constantly conditioned to surrender and submit all willpower, all defiance, all choice to the determination of another, authenticity can escape us, and we might not even realize it.

It really takes hard work to be authentic, because not everyone is going to agree with you on everything. It takes a dogged mindset to remain real when the world around us is full of so much fake that is sold to the highest bidder. It even takes a mental stubbornness to remain grounded in your own beliefs, standards and choices for life, especially if you have someone close to you whom you seek to have their approval, affection or admiration.

The coveting of another’s love can wreak havoc on one’s conviction to be authentic. At times, it will even take some self-denial to preserve true genuineness of soul, because our natural tendency toward selfishness can, often, override authenticity to the point of creating a self-righteous, self-approved, self-promoted state of being, which is never truly authentic in the matters of the heart.

A true authentic being is one who knows herself, the good, the bad and the ugly, and is fully aware of what needs improvement, and is willing to make the, sometimes, hard adjustments to bring the kind of change that will not simply “turn over a new leaf,” but change that will also be magnetic to cause others to desire this same type of transformation to become authentic.

Authenticity comes with a price. Those willing to pay it will reap it’s amazing benefits. Those who refuse will grow stagnant in the mundane, duplicity and hypocrisy of life, until they eventual die a slow, cruel death of fake relationships, dual personalities and a foul, unreliable character.

So, it is up to you, and it up to me.

What will you choose?

I will strive to choose authenticity.

Be Brave. Be Authentic.

Authenticity takes courage and boldness to obtain. This is not because it’s hard to achieve, but rather, because it takes effort and a deliberate decision to be real, not only with others, but with ourselves. It also takes a true appreciation of ourselves, a sort of self-love.

I say, “sort of,” because I’d like to clarify this word I chose. The kind of “self love” I’m talking about isn’t this cultural self love where everyone has to agree with you, appreciate you and understand to for you to be able to “carry on” in your daily routines of living. That kind of attitude has been misrepresented as self love, when all that is is pure SELFISHNESS. No, true self love is when you can appreciate who you are AND who you are not. It is an understanding of your strengths AND your weakness and having the ability to love yourself through all of them. It is even the ability to be able to ask for help when needed, realizing that you’re not made perfect, and there are other people in this world who are better than you, more capable than you and even, sometimes, who aren’t even going to like you.

But you can be ok with that, because you’ve come to grips with who you are and who you are not. You love yourself for it; you’re wearily working on the improvements you need, and you’re okay with those who don’t like who you are, because you’re not living for them anyway! THAT’S authenticity, and that’s “the bravest and most adventurous way to live!”😉💗

Why wait?

So, what will you do in the new year of 2018?

Don’t wait for tomorrow, for none is guaranteed tomorrow. We are not guaranteed our next breath. Make your decision. Make you plan. Make your choice. Get moving, and start today. You can do this thing! Just believe!

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

To Be More Like Him

I read a post the other day of a lady who was in a store parking lot and witnessed a young mom place her two young children (both under the age of five) in the car, roll down the widows just a bit, lock the vehicle and return to the store for a five minute span of time. The person posting simply stood a ways off, watching over the vehicle, until the mother returned. 

There were various comments following, many on either side of choosing right or wrong for this situation. On the one side, the comments ranged from how terrible that mother was, how she should have been reported, and how dangerous the situation was for those children. The opposite side stated how the mother was obviously going through a tough time, how she must be a single parent doing her best, and how judgmental those persons must be who were against her.

This scenario and posts got me to thinking, and it caused me to realize one thing: we are all human, and we all have incredible opinions for each scenario we encounter. Each one of us looks at things from different perspectives, and that’s the way God made us. We all enter the viewpoint of a situation from our own judgmental advantage.

Who’s to say what that young lady was going through? Who’s to say she is or isn’t a hard-working single mom or a selfish, neglective parent? We don’t know her, and we don’t know her situation; so, all we do is assume onto her situation what we want and proceed to get mad at someone else, because they don’t agree with our “right” (or self-righteous) opinion.

As Christians, why don’t we look to Jesus and pray for this young mom and her kids? We don’t know what she’s going through, AND we don’t know what those kids are going through. We have no idea if she needs a ‘bucket full of grace’ or a good ‘kick in the bucket.’ Truth is, it’s not really our judgement call to make on either side.

Truth is, she probably needs a helping hand (or a guardian to watch over her littles), a good talking to AND a lot of love, but it shouldn’t be up to us to decide which of those is more important. What is up to us is to look at the situation with wisdom and grace. Wisdom would say, “Report that incident; so, it doesn’t happen again.” Grace would say, “Love her and give her a second chance that she may not deserve.” 

Too often, we are too quick to assume into a situation our own opinions and conclusions that, sometimes, have no bearings on the truth of the matter. Look at the various moments in Scripture when Jesus had confrontations with people: the woman at the well, the Pharisees, the adulterous woman, the rich young ruler, Blind Bartemaus… When Jesus reached to those in need, He gave truth AND love. He responded differently and the same to each one. He never used their situation, nor their pain, as an enablement for sin nor an excuse for self-righteousness. He confronted the sin, gave grace for repentance and hope for change. He’s called us to follow in His footsteps. That’s our job: to be more like Him. 😉

My prayer is to be more like Him each and every day. Sometimes, I feel as if I do pretty good, and other days, I wonder if I will ever get it right! However, the goal is all about Him, and if we can keep Him at the forefront, we will be able to reach more than if we simply rely on our own opinions and perspectives as our guide. 💕

What Will You Choose?

What are you choosing today? Are you choosing life, or are you choosing death? Are you choosing joy, or are you choosing sorrow? Are you choosing peace, or are you choosing chaos?

You might say, “Well, you don’t know my circumstances. I can’t choose anything! I am a victim.” Yet, I have to disagree. You may not have control of your circumstances, but you do have control of YOU! You can choose how you handle those circumstances, and you can choose how you react to whatever you are facing.

Just as you cannot control or change the wind and the storms that come, you may not be able to control or change bad things from happening around you or even to you. However, you have complete control over your emotions and your actions. You can decide, right now, how you will react to those bad things. Will you “flip out,” refusing to be consoled or comforted? Will you become angry, lashing out in anger? Or will you take a deep breath, step back and assess the damages, and approach the situation with peace and wisdom? Will you handle the chaos with the kind of strength and grace that helps someone else along the way?

You have the ability to choose today. Choose life. Choose peace. Choose joy. Your choices not only impact those in that present situation, but they can impact others for generations to come.

What will your choices leave behind?

Choose a Path…

I came across a new blog the other night, Shades of Today, and the blogger’s post prompted me to send a comment her way, and as I thought about it more, I thought it might be a good topic for me to share here as well…

Sometimes, it’s so hard to know the path in life to take, especially when it feels as if it may be a real “key” to unlocking your destiny. In my life, I have found four things that help the choosing to be a little easier: perspective, diligence, hope and faith.
My perspective can make or break my situation. If I’m all ‘doom and gloom,’ always believing “the grass is greener on the other side,” I’ll forever be searching for the fantasy I’ve created in my own mind. Sometimes, you can miss the very best opportunity sitting right beside you, because you’ve always got your head in the clouds and can’t see a blessing when it’s there. Those with wanderlust can get caught in this vicious cycle. Other times, you may miss the opportunity, because you’re too focused on the here and now, and you’re never dreaming of a bigger, brighter tomorrow. You can get stuck in a rut, because you’re never looking beyond today’s job and tomorrow’s paycheck. Anyone from a small town who now lives with the regrets of a missed college experience or job opportunities can give me an “Amen” on this one.

My diligence in the here and now can both boost my perspective of the current situation and boost the opportunities that may open up in the near future. If I am diligent in doing what I am involved with today, someone who has an opportunity may see my diligence and desire my assistance on their team, as well as, sometimes, diligence can help me to accomplish things which teach me to be ready for my “next step” in life.

It is imperative to hold onto hope in all things and in all circumstances. For, if I don’t have a dream, a hope for a better tomorrow, how can I ever set goals to get there? If I don’t have hope, how can I finish what I’ve started today, and if I don’t hold onto hope, where will my joy in the little things be found?

Finally, I have realized, for my life, I have to have faith in Someone who is bigger, better and so much smarter than me. Some will call my faith in God a mere crutch, and, yes, I have found, I can’t even walk without Him holding my hand. He guides me, helps me, comforts me and loves me. He is the Creator of the universe; yet, He loves me. He is the King of all Kings; yet, He knows my name. He is one with God Almighty; yet, He chose to die for me and be raised from the dead to give me hope and a future! The Word makes it clear to me that He has good plans for my life. Jeremiah 29:11, says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” That’s a pretty great promise to which to hold! So, to have faith in a God who not only loves me but One who also is looking out for me and planning a good life for me, is definitely a great thing to obtain. How can I possibly live without Him?!

I have found having these four elements active in my life help me every time I am faced with a new challenge, a new dream and/or a new path to choose in life. When they are in balance, and I’m not leaving one out or leaning solely on one while neglecting the others, it is so much easier to find the path and walk in it. I have, also, found these four elements join together to bring perfect harmony and balance to my heart and soul on a daily basis.

Maybe they can be of help to you… 😊

The Crossroads

I think I have been relearning a lesson lately…

When we are seeking for inner change, and we are faced with our moment of exponential growth, we are faced with two choices. What we choose in that moment will determine if we move forward or start moving backwards, and sometimes, our choice will determine our ultimate success or failure. There is a crossroads set before us, and the road we choose will make all the difference.

Have you ever been there?

crossroads-660x400When we are seeking to be better, whether it be in weight training, ballet, education, acting, playing golf or even eating and health issues, there will always come a time, many times, actually, when the learning and the growth becomes almost painful to continue. It feels as if the choice to continue will surely be the death of our current state of being, and in actuality, it is kind of a death. It is at that moment when we must realize that our choice to “bow out” or to turn back to the more comfortable places will actually be detrimental to our overall growth, and in some cases, it can mean death to the dream or goal we have set.

When I, personally, come to this crossroad, this fork in the road, I am reminded of the poem written by Robert Frost many many years ago, “The Road Not Taken.*” This is one of my all time favorites, and I’ve referred to it often in my life experiences. He says, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.*” No matter which road you choose, each path leads you forward to a new place, or you can attempt to turn back from whence you came, and you may cripple the person you are to become. Just as a child, once grown, can never truly return to the little boy he once was, I cannot return to my former self without losing the strength, faith and understanding I have come to find in walking through these crossroads.

So, I choose to walk forward, to take this crossroad set before me, no matter the challenge it presents or the obstacles I may face tomorrow. The crossroad signifies a demarkation from what and who I was to what and whom I will become. I will keep moving forward, keep exploring and continuing to discover this new world, these new experiences and this new me to find who it is I am to become and to whom I will leave it all when my day has come.

 

*Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken, https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/road-not-taken

Photo: I do not possess nor do I own this photo. Simply found on Google Images from http://www.thebusinesswomanmedia.com/how-to-create-career-clarity-at-a-crossroad

Bridges Across Pain

Bridges are a curious thing.

They can lead you toward a promise, away from trouble and across a vast number of pitfalls and mine fields. A bridge can take you to an enemy’s camp, a friend’s home or a stranger’s land. They can lead you high or lead you low, depending upon the terrain that lies below. Bridges are a curious thing, because they can take you far away from a fear; yet, they can also become the source of fear if you are afraid of what lies underneath.

Regardless of where you allow a bridge to take you, you will never get there if you stay only on one side. In order for that bridge to help you get to where you’re going, you must cross it. You must take the first step toward that destiny. It is a decision that can change your life. It is a choice only you can choose.

bridge pic2

There are many bridges, within my own life,  which have led me closer to my purpose and my calling: bridges of friendship, bridges of “blood, sweat and tears,” and bridges of the unknown. Every bridge that I have chosen to cross has taught me something and has helped me to grow.

The ones which have taught me the most are the ones that helped me walk above pain in my life. There have been friendships which bridged the gap between moments of loneliness and utter joy. There have been bridges of solitude which bridged the gap between insanity and complete peace. There have been bridges of faith beyond which the future was unknown, but I had to keep walking to receive the healing, strength and joy on the other side. There have also been moments of clear of decision which bridged the gap between regret-filled failure and wonderful heart-felt success. These are the bridges that have propelled me toward a greater destiny. These are the pillars upon which I stand. Had I not crossed over, I would have been left weak, broken and desolate.

When faced with the choice to cross a new “bridge,” the best thing to assist in the decision is to read the road signs prior to it. If are were no signs, find someone who’s gone that way before, and listen to what they’ve learned., and many times, the path to the bridge can give a great indication as to where it is headed. However, there are some times when it’s just going to take a lot of prayer and a whole lot of faith to know this is the right direction to take.

bridge pic

Have you had to cross any bridges lately? What have you learned in the process?bridge pic3

 

*Note: I did take these pics, nor do I own or possess them. Simple Google images search brought them.

Choices We Make

Just like in the game of chess, you have no control over what others will do, but you can decide what you will do. 

This is not a popular way of thinking in today’s society. Too many want to blame someone else for their problems, or they simply want to justify their poor choices. Fact of the matter is, aside from tragedy, you are never a victim of your circumstance. You have a choice. You make decisions. Even when it is a matter of “running out of time” to meet a deadline, you have made a choice to let the clock run out, by setting your priorities in a certain order, which have made room for your needs or for your desires. 

Everyone has been given 24 hours in each day; each day has exactly 1440 minutes. The CEO of a corporation has no more, no less than you and me. We have no more, no less than the homeless person in downtown, urban America. We each have a choice how we will spend each and every day. Life doesn’t just run you over by accident. You make a choice everyday to either run life or let it run you. It is surely a rough place when life is running you. When this happens, it is not because you just “happen” to become a victim. You have chosen to become a victim, and you have chosen to let life run you over. 

You may want to argue with me, but it is a fact. You have exactly what you have chosen to have in live, because you have what you value. If you value education, you have an education. If you value sports, you have a sports-centered life. If you value wealth, you have wealth. If you value family, you have a family. The list can go on and on. You have exactly what you value in life. 

Yes, I understand, you can’t control others, and others can mess up your choices. That’s where tragedy is involved, as in a tragic car wreck which debilitates you; a spouse who decides to cheat and leave you, which changes your family dynamics; a child who dies unexpectedly, which drastically alters your course in life. I get it, and I’m definitely not trying to sound callous and hard hearted. I have had tragedies in my own life which have changed some of my original plans. I’m also not addressing tragedy in this post; however, I will say, there are too many success stories, even in the face of tragedy, to dwell on the possibility that you cannot arise from disaster, but I digress, that is a post for another day. 

Simply put, if you don’t feel as if you can choose the things you want in life, I’d have to ask you, “Where have you placed your values?” If we can ever get real honest with ourselves on the answer to this simple question, we are able to assess exactly why we are where we are in life. When we can take the huge spotlight of Truth, and shine it on every decision we have made, we can truly evaluate the why’s of our situation in life. 

This is a very difficult process for so many people, especially when the culture screams to us, “Everything bad in life must be someone else’s fault. It can’t possibly be because I have made bad choices for myself!” It’s a tense place to be when we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and realize we have royally messed up, and it may take a while, and a lot of hard work, to get back to where we want to be. However, if we can ever get to this point, we will realize that success, and all our dreams, are really possible! We might just have to rearrange our priorities, and apply a little more effort, to make them happen; however, it is possible!

So, make a decision today. Don’t let life just run over you, and never choose to be a victim! Be a winner!! You can do it!! 😉