Years ago there was a show our family loved to watch – Fear Factor. Joe Rogan, now famous podcaster was the host and he had individuals do the scariest and most fearful things. It was creepy, scary, and fun to watch.
I wish I could say the same about the fear factor in each of our lives. Watching how we handle fear in our life, what we do with it, how we manage it is not nearly as much fun as watching Joe Rogan. But regardless, we are faced with our own fears and how we handle them is vital.
We all have fears. Fears of one kind or another. And even though we were born with just two fears, there are six basic fears we all must deal with.
The two fears we are born with
fear of falling
fear of loud noises
Six basic fears
loss of love from someone
Most of us deal with multiple fears. Hey, welcome to humanity. So check out the list, identify yours.
Here’s the deal though, each of those 6 fears have multiple symptoms that demonstrate in our life. And that is where it becomes very complicated and tangled.
Let me list symptoms and you associate each with the fear you think it is a symptom of:
lack of ambition
keeping up with the Jones’
lack of exercise or over exercise
fear of failure
I actually have a book with lists beside me with dozens of symptoms for each of those fears, not just these listed. So, if we are living and breathing, there’s quite a pile of tangled strings for us to undo.
But that is the key – we each have to manage that ball of twisted symptoms and fears. Denial doesn’t work, it just pushes fear below the surface. But denial also makes personal growth and progress impossible. When the symptoms aren’t heeded and dealt with our life becomes stressed, overwhelmed, depressed, out of balance, and eventually we are being managed by the fear, rather than us managing the fear.
We make excuses, procrastinate, have diversions, avoid, find fault, etc., etc., etc. when fear is ruling our life. I know, I do it.
So what’s the answer?
Anthony Robins, in Awaken the Giant Within, has a 6 step plan that I have whittled down to 3 steps: (sorry Anthony, it works better for me.)
ONE – Identify your fear
TWO – Redirect your fear
THREE – Act on your fear
Identify your fear – call it out, unmask it. Don’t deny it. My personal fear project for nearly a year has been the fear of failure. That belongs to the fear of criticism from the list above.
Redirect your fear – Science tells us you get what you focus on. So if I want failure, I should focus on it. But I don’t want failure, so I must redirect my focus. I choose to focus on success, God’s ability to help me through, and placing my trust in Him and His ability. I redirect my focus on trusting God who is with me, and not on my debilitating fear.
Act on it – it’s pretty easy to say I trust Him, but I must act on it. Faith without works is dead, empty, void, a lie. Taking action on my fear is fearful! No lie. But each time I do, and by repeated practice, my strength becomes greater, my trust in Him becomes greater and that fear diminishes. Without action, nothing would change. I must be brave and step into action.
Just a note here. Most of my blogs are intentionally not overtly or overwhelmingly biblical. That is by design. However, with this particular theme today, I must say, that the only way to overcome your fears that will last is by learning to trust Jesus as your focus, rather than your fears. Practice redirecting your focus on Him. Take your eyes off of your fear and step toward Him. You will never be disappointed.
“You have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
The most frequent command in the Bible is DO NOT BE AFRAID.
There’s a reason for that.
We humans are so fearful. But our God cares and will unravel our sorted mess of fears and symptoms if we focus on Him and place our trust in Him, thereby conquering The Fear Factor.
I have an amazingly effective, and lasting prescription for you today.
It is fast, effective, dependable, and has been scientifically proven to :
Strengthen your immune system
Boost your mood
Protect from the damaging effects of stress
Other proven effects are: It keeps you grounded, focused and alert. It helps release anger and forgive sooner. It is a resource for surmounting problems. It enhances relationships and it supports physical and emotional health.
Would you like a dose of it right about now? Would you keep this handy, little prescription close at all times and take as needed?
But it even does more! It relaxes the whole body, all muscles for 45 minutes. This prescription also protects the heart and blood vessels, ensuring good blood flow. It even burns calories; not many, but the 40 calories it does burn will add up to 3-4 pounds over a year. And lastly, it prolongs your life.
Best of all it is free!
Have you guessed what it is, this prescription that we so desperately need right now?
All of the above facts come from my research at MAYOCLINIC and HelpGuide.com and is referring to…… drum roll…
Are you ready for this miracle prescription?
A good laugh has the power to heal and renew. Laughter triggers endorphins. Laughter stimulates your organs, soothes tension and brings personal satisfaction. LAUGHTER – the miracle drug. Laughter – the best medicine.
Laughter is NOT contingent upon circumstances. Laughter can be learned and produced. Studies have even proven that simulated laughter (canned laughter) is just as beneficial as live laughter.
To help you laugh, you can surround yourself with reminders to lighten up. Put funny pictures, cartoons or memes around your house. You can choose to remember funny events when stress is mounting.
You can seek laughter by spending time with playful, fun people. This is one of the reasons I married my husband, he makes me laugh and even more after 33 years together. We have more stories and things to laugh at now. Sharing laughter with others strengthens connections and benefits all involved.
Then, of course, there is always the internet with YouTube, Social Media, and epic fails everywhere. It only takes a minute to find them and when you do, you’ll get your laughter fix and 45 minutes of muscle relaxing laughter.
Here are a couple to prime your laughter pump. Or at least get out a smile.
Dr. Debbie is hereby prescribing 1-2 daily doses of laughter. Deep belly laughs and laughing tears are extra bonuses.
This weekend, for many, we celebrate Mother’s Day, and by just walking into a grocery store we see that is obvious.
But I would like to take this time to drill down into a slice of Mother’s day, that may not be so obvious. It begins with a story.
There was once a woman who found herself surrounded by a disorganized throng of people, pressing in to see Jesus. In the midst of that crowd, she lifted up her voice and yelled out, “Happy and blessed is the womb or matrix that bore, carried you.” Luke 11:27 (I have transliterated this verse according to the original Greek word meanings.)
This crowd scene and the woman’s yelling out a blessing on Jesus’ mother seems kind of crazy, and a strange thing to blurt out in this particular setting. Yet, it’s significance cannot be overstated or lost.
The focus was on blessing the one who gave birth to Jesus. Why?
Let’s review what matrix means –
” Matrix – the environment or material in which something develops.”
The cry of this text is for us to see that no matter the environment or material of our birth, upbringing and nurture (or lack of it) it is blessed. It is by design. It is by mercy. It is by purpose. It is not by mistake. Everything surrounding your birth was perfectly aligned to bring you into the world into that situation to be and develop into the you that you are today.
It is the mother’s matrix.
Each of us were born into a situation by a mother. Period. We all share that.
It matters not whether the situation was good or bad. Whether we were raised by a present mother or absent mother. Adopted or surrogate mother. Abusive or affectionate mother. Nuclear family. Single parent family. Mixed family. Incestuous family. Imperfect, healthy, godly, evil, rich, or poor, family. Abandoned, embraced, loved, mocked, nurtured or neglected.
The situation into which you were born, by the mother that bore you is blessed. Not because it was a good situation but because that situation and that mother gave birth to YOU! And you were PLANNED.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at some examples of what I am talking about.
Eve, in a nuclear family, bore 2 sons who lived in anger and animosity toward one another and the one eventually killed the other. A “perfect family” produced killing.
Hagar – in a runaway, abusive family, yet, in her misery bore Ishmael, a great and powerful people
Lot’s 2 daughters -an incestuous family, both daughter’s bore sons who became great nations
Rebekah, a miracle pregnancy, bore twins boys, Jacob & Esau, who fulfilled God’s promises
Israel, who had 4 mothers ( Leah, Bilhah, Zilpah, Rachel) to his 12 children. Talk about a mixed family! With issues galore! And what a blessing came from those 12 kids and their upbringing in that crazy, mixed up family.
Elizabeth, a old, barren woman who bore John the Baptist!
Pharaoh’s daughter, an adoptive mother, who raised Moses
King David’s mother, a scorned and mocked mother who raised her son in shame and ridicule from siblings. (read Psalm 69, it is so sad!) Yet, David became a man after God’s own heart.
There are so many more stories, of other mother’s matrix and the amazing outcomes in spite of, (or shall we say because of ) the environment into which their child(ren) was raised.
Look, too, at the women who actually are listed by name in Jesus’ genealogy, which generally lists only men – Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba and Mary.
You see, the situation into which you were born, and the woman who bore you are blessed. Without that environment or building material for the structure of your life, you wouldn’t be the person you are now. Let’s be real, there are probably things we wished would have been different, perhaps a lot of things and maybe even everything. But that would truly change who we are.
There is nothing that cannot be healed, used, strengthened, improved upon and built on in our past. There is nothing that is useless or wasted. We are all still in process on this road of life and the broken pieces are being mended. We are being made whole.
But this weekend, I truly would love for you to be encouraged that although imperfect, you are exactly who God designed you to be. He has used everything in your past, including your mother, and that situation to mold you and bless you.
That is why, I believe the story we started with, in Luke 11 is there. To make obvious to us, this slice of the Mother’s Martix.
So I will say to YOU, Blessed and happy is the womb or matrix that bore YOU, for it made you the remarkable human that you are today. You are blessed!
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people to peacefully assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The Constitution of the United States, Amendment I
We have no state religion mandated, nor should we have, and that was the desire and intentions of our founding fathers. They saw the damage it had done in the nations they left, which were cause and reason for their Atlantic crossings. At the core of most hearts who came, was the desire for religious liberty. Which included the liberty to be non-religious.
THAT is the foundation upon which our nation was built, regardless of how the history books have been rewritten to exclude the Puritans and Pilgrims.
Fact is fact. Erasing it from the page doesn’t change the fact, it changes people’s remembrance of the fact, or more accurately lack of remembrance of the true facts. And that’s what is being sought.
Did you know when the US Capitol Visitor Center was built in 2008, all references to God were removed from pictures, signs, and all else. The national motto, “In God We Trust” was removed and replaced with “E Pluribus Unum” – out of many one. Speeches were scrubbed, chairs and walls changed, and bibles removed. The Visitor Center was literally stripped clean of any references to any deity.
It was done to supposedly keep with Thomas Jefferson’s “separation clause” – you know, the one that he (supposedly) wrote separating church and state. (Even that is historian’s seeking to erase the facts, because that is not what Jefferson wrote at all in his letter to Danbury Baptist Assoc., in 1802.)
The Visitor Center designers were seeking to erase our foundations and build new memories into future generations. Memories that are devoid of God and His providence in America’s founding.
Have the facts changed though? No.
What has changed is us. Those of us who know the facts.
My favorite Reagan quote is –
Freedom is a fragile thing and never is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”
President Ronald Reagan January 5, 1967
We have taken our liberties and freedoms for granted.
Having lost some of them in the recent months, we now see that more clearly than ever.
But the facts have not changed. We have liberties and freedoms and we must not allow them to be whittled away, or erased from memory. And yet, remember this quote?
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke, 1770
In this new decade, even amidst a devolving pandemic, I urge you to not be that good man who does nothing.
Be a defender of our rights, a preserver of our freedoms from extinction. We have many to defend.
Why not start now?
Start with prayer. Prayer for yourself, prayer for your family, prayer for your neighbors and friends. Prayer for this pandemic to lift, for businesses to reopen, the sick to be healed, workers to be strengthened. Pray for spiritual awakening in our nation, for freedom and justice to prevail, for truth to be upheld. Pray for God to forgive and bless America.
Tomorrow, Thursday, May 7, 2020 is the National Day of Prayer, but it doesn’t have to be, nor should it be a single day.
It is not a constitutional violation to have a day of prayer, quite the contrary. It is the exercise of your religious liberty.
Let’s exercise those religious liberties, lest we loose them.
Recently I was tootling around our harbor in the dinghy, on which we are currently using a MinnKota, Riptide 45V electric, trolling motor. I love this motor because it is lite enough for me to lift in and out and it is so amazingly quiet.
I am never in the dinghy for power or speed and so I usually have her revved to only 3rd or 4th gear. But on this day, I cranked her up to her full-out, 5th gear, only to have the motor totally cut out. It wouldn’t restart, either.
Now I am thinking how glad I am that I put the paddles in the dinghy before I launched. So I used the paddle (s) to return to my dock.
Once there, I played around with the connectors from the motor to the battery and got her running again. So off I went. Again. In my mind though, I decided not go to 5th gear anymore on this trip. Solved.
Well, to finish the story, it was solved, for that trip. I had no further outages, but I also didn’t have the full strength of my motor or battery available. (Note to self, be sure and discuss this with husband.)
Well, today was the true problem solving day.
The terminals on the battery had to be cleaned from a build up of corrosion. I guess the battery’s acid was reacting with the saltwater causing that yellowish, electrochemical reaction. That “corrosion can interfere with the battery terminals ability to conduct power and in some cases can completely block the flow.” Autoblog.com.
Silicones Inc. tells us that corrosion, “Is a natural process that involves deterioration of metals because of its reaction with the environment.” It can drain the battery, and even shorten it’s life.
It is interesting to note that “corrosion”, a Latin word, actually means, ” to gnaw through”.
Far more than sharing a Science lesson or a personal story, I’d like to share 6 applications and analogies.
1. Connections are vital for life – no matter who locks you down or what restrictions are placed on you, without connections to others, you will loose power and die out. Stay connected to other people.
2. Environmental reactions – the people in your close family/work environment will cause reactions in you, and you will cause reactions in them, especially over long periods of time. Be aware.
3. Unhealthy connections – when things build up between you and those you are connected to, it must be cleaned up or you are draining the power of your relationship. Notice & deal with it early.
4. Corrosion – those reactions, not cleaned up, will gnaw through your mind, heart and eventually the connection to the other person if left alone. Gnawing feelings are corrosive.
5. Clean connections take time – the time and effort it takes to apply some cleaning compound (honesty, love, forgiveness) to that connection is minimal and yet mandatory for you to run at full-power, 5th gear capacity in your relationships. Take the time.
6. 5th gear living – you were designed to run at full throttle, full power, abundant life. Don’t settle for less by choice or by corrosion on your connections with others. Let’s go.
For most of us humans, being boxed up as we have has probably caused some electrochemical, corrosive reactions within our walls. Perhaps we have even noticed we haven’t been running at full power, or ability.
The good news is, we know what to do now to get back to full power and lite, quiet running.
This phrase/verse has been weighing heavily on my heart lately.
” When hope’s dream seems to drag on and on, the delay can be depressing.”
Proverbs 13:12 The Passion Translation
The loss of hope is debilitating. Paralyzing. Depressing for sure. Today, we want to talk about the importance of hope and offer you some solid examples of those who had hope in difficult situations.
A study of the original Hebrew words used in this passage from Proverbs would reveal that this is a much better transliteration of Proverbs 13:12:
” When a prophetic vision or expectation from the Lord is delayed, prolonged or removed; feelings, will, and intellect are all worn down, and worn out, making one sick and weak.”
Proverbs 13:12 original Hebrew meaning
You see, when hope is removed from the equation, our mind, will and intellect become worn out and weak.
Let’s be honest, it has been really tough to watch the news and read the latest reports without emotions rising up within us. Each day we hear restriction updates, business expectations, state revisions, financial concerns and add the family realities chiming in, we are definitely being worn out and rubbed down by the news.
Just today, I had to cancel our flight and accommodation reservations to Honolulu in mid-May for our son’s wedding! Vacations are being cancelled or postponed, graduations are not receiving the honor they are due, workers are still unemployed, travel has been suspended, schools have been closed and morphed into online, distance education, church meetings are virtual, gatherings are forbidden and freedoms have been handcuffed.
Hope has definitely been deferred!
Today, I’d like to submit to you stories of people who also faced a deferment of hope so that “hopefully” we can be encouraged and keep us from allowing our will, feelings and intellect from becoming “sick”.
Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman (Psychology.com) tells us from his studies, that hope is a “cognitive motivational system.” It starts in the emotions and follows to the cognitions (mind). Lord knows, our emotions have been stirred enough and pressed upon enough to affect our thinking. Right?
But your hope, is more than a cognitive or emotional reaction.
Dr. Jerome Groopman, in his book, “The Anatomy of Hope”, tells us that belief and expectation are key elements of hope and they can block pain by releasing endorphins and enkephalins because they act like morphine in the brain and body.
So hope, in and of itself, has a powerful effect in the human body, mind, intellect and emotions. And hope triggers a virtuous cycle.
We are told that there are 4 types of hope. Let’s look at each of those and then look at those stories of biblical characters who demonstrated that kind of hope. Ready?
These are the four types of hope that psychologists say we have:
In reality, if we are struggling with having hope, who cares that there are four kinds??! But here goes, anyway.
1. Realistic hope – this is the hope that says in a cancer situation, if we take these meds it will help. It is realistic in and about the situation.
Abraham and Sarah, in Genesis 15 were given a promise of a son of blessing and yet 60, 70, 80 years passes before Isaac, that son of promise was born.
They lived a normal family life for years with that hope and without it’s fulfillment. They tried to hurry the hope and Ishmael was born, but he wasn’t the son of promise. The hope of a son of promise had been rubbed down and worn out as Ishmael grew to the age of 13. Their hearts could haven been sick. Their hope could have escaped.
And yet, in Romans it says in chapter 4, verse 18, ” Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfill it. He took God at His word…”. Hope was deferred for at least 13 and maybe 60 years, and yet Abraham and Sarah had hope in the God of their circumstances. They were realistic in their circumstances.
2. Utopian hope – is a collective hope, negating the present and driven for a better future.
Joshua and Caleb, in the book of Joshua would be a great dipiction of this type of hope. They held out for the collective victory of Israel and their entering Canaan for 40 years. Do you think that after 40 years of hoping, they may have been a little worn down? A little heart sick? Was their hope deferred? You betcha!
Yet, after a 40 year wait, their hope was strong and Caleb said, “So here I am today, 85 years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle as I was then. Now give me this hill country…” Joshua 14:10-12 NIV
Joshua and Caleb hung onto the Utopian hope of a better future of fulfillment for Israel.
3. Chosen hope – chosen hope helps us live in a difficult, present situation with an uncertain future. It helps us to regulate negative emotions.
Joseph, in Genesis 37, who dreamed at age 17 of his brothers bowing before him, had that dream burning in his heart and thoughts for 13 years! In those 13 years he was betrayed and sold as a slave by his brothers. Imprisoned in Pharaoh’s palace, yet favored and set as a leader there. Falsely accused of sexual assault, thrown into prison again. Joseph’s dream, still burning in his heart, fighting off deferment sickness, he hoped until he finally became the Prime Minister. And then, his brothers came and bowed down before him. His chosen hope was finally fulfilled.
David, at a young age of probably 15, was anointed to be the next King of Israel. (1Samuel 16) That anointing, held him and his hope, through so many discouraging circumstances. He was literally searched for as an enemy of the king and his life was in danger, sought after, and chased down for 15 years. He did not become king until he was 30 years old. 15 years of hoping… 15 years of deferment. Yet he chose to “be strong and hope in the Lord.” Psalms 31:24
4. Transcendent hope – a general hopefulness that something good can happen.
Romans 8:28 – In all things, God works for the good of those who love him…
Psalm 38:15 – Lord, I hope in you
Lamentations 3:21 – This I recall to mind, thereore have I hope
These verses are just a few of the many we are given assuring us that something good will happen to those who put their hope in the Lord.
Yet, the best example of transcendent hope would be Jesus, the epitome of transcendent hope. His hope was fixed not on the now, but on the future… “Who for the joy set before him endured the cross..”. Hebrews. 12:2
And yet, even Jesus hoped. As a 12 year old kid, stumping the Rabbi’s until he entered his ministry in AD 26, he hoped. He hoped as he called the disciples and built the Kingdom of God inside them. He hoped as he taught the crowds, healed the sick, and raised the dead. He hoped in the garden of Gethsemane and he hoped hanging on the cross. He hoped in that empty tomb, he hoped as he ascended from that hill.
He hoped for them, he hoped for us, that we would hope without growing weak, tired, worn out or rubbed thin. He hoped that we would hope in Him, His promises and His Word.
Jesus’ hope transcended every limit.
Our hope can be secure like these heroes of hope, when it is anchored to God’s promises, (Hebrews, 1 Peter, Acts 26), when it is anchored to Jesus (1Timothy. 1:1), and when it is anchored to the Word. (Romans 15:4.)
Those three, God’s promises, Jesus, and The Word of God make for us a three-fold cord, that will not be easily broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:12) When our hope is built upon these, we are anchored, secure with an UNSWERVING HOPE. No matter the length of wait, wearing, or rubbing.
When our hope is anchored in Jesus, His Word and His promises we are secure. Our mind, emotions, will and intellect are strong and stable. We are not sickly. Our hope is in Him and our emotions will follow our will.
That kind of hope motivates. That kind of hope is congious. That type of hope can be learned. That type of hope is healthy and promotes healthy behaviors.
Hope deferred does NOT have to make your heart sick when it is anchored God’s promises.
But if it does, please allow Abraham, Sarah, Joshua, Caleb, Joseph and even Hannah, Simeon, Anna to encourage you to not allow the constant rubbing away of freedoms & strength in your situation to make you sick, weak, and depressed.
Hope deferred, may make the heart sick, but may it not be your heart, because you are anchored into Jesus, His Word and His promises.
I just can’t shake these two words that have been rolling through my mind, heart, and spirit for sometime. They’ve been simmering there and over time have thickened and come to just below a boil. Now is the time to take them off the heat and share their nutritional value with you.
Or more precisely, overcoming inactivity, staleness, laziness, idleness.
Movement – changing physical location or position.
Movement is so important to our body for so many reasons. It affects everything – our circulation, digestion, our metabolism and even our immunity. When we move, our bodies regulate our hormones, detoxify our blood stream and clear and strengthen our respiration. Daily movement stimulates our brain and neurons and thus boost healing and immunity. (oh my goodness do I see spiritual applications in all of these)
We have all been affected in one way or another by the restrictions placed on us by this virus and governmental authorities. But that is no excuse for any of us to become idle, inactive, lazy or stale in any way. We must move.
We must war against laziness and idleness that would seek to rob us of what our body requires, and our spirit desires.
We must beware of hours lost to swiping, video/TV/movie watching, or sitting or laying around – even reading.
Movement is vital for life, growth, health and even feelings of self esteem, value and worth. Who hasn’t felt terrible about “wasting a whole afternoon” doing “nothing”?
The key here is to MAKE TIME TO MOVE. Schedule it. Make it happen. If you’re one that has a watch that tells you to move, then listen to it and move when it reminds you. (Don’t just ignore it or turn it off.)
(Just today, I had to kick myself in the rear and make myself get outside and take a long walk. My desk had become a cement block around my feet, brain and spirit.)
Movement – your body and brain will thank you.
The season of bearing fruit, showing evidence of what’s been planted.
” Fruitfulness – the fact that something produces good results”
Many of us live in urban areas and loose site of the seasons of fruitfulness and harvest, unless we go into the market’s produce section. Yet, we still can see fruit growing on a tree and understand that tree is being fruitful.
Fruitfulness demonstrates for all what has been planted. It reveals the results of what has been going on underneath the surface; what seeds have been germinating, sprouting and now are blooming. Fruitfulness is show and tell time.
Seeds that are planted are programmed to be fruitful and will produce their fruit given the correct exposure to water, light and soil conditions. It sorta happens naturally, by their design. Plant an apple seed – get apples. Plant lemons – get lemons. Fruitfulness displays good results.
I once taught a lesson called, “When you’re squeezed, what comes out?”. This again, makes the point that whatever is planted within us, will eventually bear fruit in our life.
During this time, what has been planted in our lives is coming out. The seeds that have been sown into our hearts and thoughts are bearing fruit in our words and actions. The germinating process is now giving way to fruit dangling from our lives. (Side note, are you proud of what’s coming out, your fruit?)
Fruitfulness – seeing the results of what’s been planted in your life.
” Me thinks that the minute my legs begin to move my thoughts begin to flow, as if I had given vent to the stream at the lower end and consequently new fountains flowed into it at the upper.”
Henry David Thoreau
Perhaps there is a link you are seeing between these two words? Perhaps not.
I hope you too will allow these two words to simmer in your heart and mind. Let them reach that gentle roll of bubbles and then take from them anything you find nutritious.
At the very least, there’s something for you to chew on.
In this crazy world that we’re all dealing with, where we are looking for reasons to smile again, may I suggest – GIVING.
You know, looking for and planning opportunities to give. You can give things like time, goods, talents, strength, kindness, abilities and yes, money. You can give hope, happiness, a meal, thanks, letters, notes.
As a kid we loved receiving gifts but as we grow we discover the joy of giving – seeing some’s face when they open or receive a gift we gave is tremendously satisfying and rewarding. We actually made them smile, happy. Wow. What a thrill. And we too, are smiling now.
Giving makes us happier than receiving. But it also: helps others, makes a difference, cultivates self-worth, teaches responsibility, inspires giving and is easy.
Winston Churchhill said, ” We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give. “
There’s lots of research to support these statements and the feelings we get when we give. Let me just share a couple statements:
Our brains are hard-wired to serve. Giving activates the brains prefrontal cortex. When we place the interests of others above our own, our brain lights up.
When we help others, there is a “helpers high” or euphoric feeling that we receive that makes us stronger and more energetic.
Helping others is a door through which one can go to forget oneself.
I’ll tell you what, I could stand to forget myself and my circumstances for a while. How ’bout you? Looking for more energy? Perhaps the helpers high will help.
I had planned on writing about serving/giving for this blog. And then I stumbled upon this movement called
It’s a global generosity movement, with special emphasis this year on helping during the Coronavirus Pandemic. It is scheduled for next Tuesday, May 5, 2020.
On this day, people are encouraged to simply help others, to give of yourself in someway. Here are some ideas:
pay for a meal
express thanks (words, cards or signs) to first responders
express thanks (words, cards, or signs) to medical professionals
express thanks to “essential workers”
make a donation to a food pantry
help serve at a food bank
write letters to troops
do chalk art on sidewalks
paint rocks and leave them around town
make a poster to hang outside your home
Would you consider getting involved? Would you think about what you could do that would lift up someone else and bring a smile to their face(s)?
I really can think of no better door to go through to forget about myself for a while. And I’m in. The world needs a smile and so do I. Plus, my brain could use a good lighting up too.
Let’s do this. Let’s surprise someone.
Think. Plan. Gather materials. Do. Give.
Check out more at http://www.GivingTuesday.org and share it on social media with #GivingTuesday. You can even post a pic with hashtag #UNselfie and share what you did and why.
Which ever side of the coin you find yourself on today, I have some solid advice and encouragement for you. But first, let me share a story.
Years ago, I was teaching in Pasadena, CA and at the time had to drive between 2 campuses during my day. On one particular day, while driving to the second campus, when passing through a quiet intersection, I was broadsided, driver side, driver door, by a Cadillac. I didn’t see it coming and when I did, it was pretty much at impact. All I had time to do was yell out in prayer, “JESUS!?!” – which I did. I don’t remember anything after that.
Witnessses say they saw my car flip over and fly through the air, landing on its roof. When they ran to find me, I was upside-down, in-shock, but very much alive. When I was removed from the car by first responders, witnesses told them there’s no way I should be alive because by what they observed, I should be a mangled wreck with severely damanged bones and organs.
I was not. I was taken by ambulance to hospital, treated for mild bruises, scratches and shock and released that same day.
I was definitely hurting, though. So, “Yes” would’ve been my answer to the title of this blog.
The only thing I could do and had time to do is let out that one word cry for help – “JESUS ! “.
The Bible says, in Ephesians 6:18 – ” Pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” NIV
In James 5:13 – ” Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing.” The Message Paraphrase
Whether it is a one word prayer of desperation, a 15 minute prayer time in the car for your family/job, or a passionate request for help and wisdom- we are told to pray on all occasions with all kinds of prayers. They all count! No matter the length or position, if offered in faith they are heard.
Prayer changes us and often changes things. It is true. Prayer allows us to approach God with our requests and leave them in his care. Leaving it there with Him and trusting that He will take care of us and the request is often harder than praying itself. Right?
To that point – Not too long ago our son had planned an extensive backpacking trip on the John Muir Trail. For over a year he was thorough and a bit obsessive in his preparation for this huge trip. He had done his best and the day to begin had now, finally arrived.
My husband and I had been praying for him nearly daily for that year. No kidding. This was a ginormous undertaking and we were not without our concerns. So when that day came, and we took him to Yosemite to camp for the night and set out the next morning, we were doing our best to trust the Lord and leave it in his hands. That was hard. This was to be a 2-3 week hike of 221 miles!
Talk about all kinds of prayers. Our prayers then were not not one word prayers. This was pouring out petitions on a regular basis. Asking, seeking and knocking and then repeat – keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking.
In Luke 18:1, Jesus tells the disciples “they should always pray and not give up.” NIV
Here’s a verse you can easily memorize, “Pray continually.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17NIV
Some prayers require persistence, not giving up, or loosing hope.
Prayer is simple yet hard. When you’re hurting, pray. When you’re stressed pray. When you’re alone pray. Pray in every situation, every day, with every attitude, circumstance and battle raging. Pray with one word prayers, and extended, passionate cries. Pray.
Are you hurting? Pray.
Choose to pray. It is a choice made in advance of everything else. It is a decision made before the hurt, stress, lonliness. It is an act of the will, your will. And it will change you and may even change the situation too.
Let’s increase that stat that says 55% of adults say they pray daily. Not just for numbers sake either, but because prayer changes us. Learning to pray with regularity changes us. That’s why we want to pray.
Now to the second part of this blog title – Do you feel great? (And I hope you do.)
Let’s go back to James 5:13 ” Do you feel great? SING” The Message
I love this! I love music too. That is why it is so wonderful to hear scripture encourage us to sing. Music and singing should naturally flow from a full, happy, content, joyous heart. So if you’re feeling great, PUMP IT UP. SING IT OUT. CRANK UP THE VOLUME.
Matter of fact, singing changes your brain. Seriously. According to an article in TIME’s, Life and Style section, “Singing Changes Your Brain” by Stacy Horn, 2013 –
“Researchers are beginning to discover that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.”
Whether it’s from those endorphins that bring pleasure to the brain or the oxytocin that relieves anxiety and stress; singing regularly contributes to quality of life. Even if you are a bad singer!
Psalms 47:6 – ” Sing … sing… sing… sing…” NIV
Singing however, is also a choice, a decision, an act of the will, and it is not dependent on a happy heart. It is always nice when the heart is happy and a song flows naturally from it. But, a song can also be sung by decision, in spite of circumstances.
Choosing to sing in spite of surroundings still releases those hormones on the brain and the same soothing, perfect tranquilizer effects occur. So SING.
Do you feel great? Sing.
With these two simple tools, Pray and Sing, one in each hand, all day, every day, we can face and conquer whatever the day brings, for in our hands we hold two very powerful weapons.
Have a wonderful week, and I wish I could hear you singing it LOUD and proud.
Please take 13 seconds and look at this very cool and rare video
These lit up waves are the product of “red tide” and it indicates an algal bloom. It happens at sunset during these blooms by photoplankton releasing biochemical light. But not just phytoplankton release it, so do fireflies and deep sea fishes.
Bioluminescent tides are rare, red by day and blue by the darkness of night.
I remember being in Catalina sometime ago, and we were atop a hill on a night hike overlooking the ocean and shoreline. That is when I first saw the bioluminescence of those photoplankton as they lit up the shoreline.
It is a stunning display, almost eerie because you are surrounded by darkness yet you are seeing a brilliant blue-white light from the waves. then the waves crash and light is disperses.
At almost the same time these waves were on display on land, in Newport Beach, CA, the same skies were lit up as well. It is the season of the Lyrid meteor showers. In April, every year, around the 21st, these showers are seen in the dark skies and are also a stunning sight.
My son and I set our alarms many years ago to go out and watch them. (I don’t remember how many we saw, I just remember the alarm part.)
These lights show up yearly, yet still only in complete darkness.
The simple and encouraging pivot here, to me is this –
Each of us have been entrusted with a light. A light of hope, a light of positivity, a light of faith, a light that burns deep within us. It’s illuminated our own private lives, attitudes, needs, and even brought beauty and stunning vibrance to us, individually, and privately.
We are currently surrounded by dark times. Darkness has replaced many once well lit places. Darkness has replaced hope, faith, and even tried to extinguished our little light. (I hear a song in my head we sang as a kids…)
But I am here to tell you, it’s time to SHINE. It’s time to allow what’s been blooming within you – your algal bloom – to break forth on the shores of your life and spread beauty, light, hope and awe to those you touch. (metaphorically speaking, of course. )
YOU ARE THE LIGHT, you are the living organism that carries that biochemical emission of light into the darkness and hopeless areas of your family, your city your sphere of influence.
You are that meteor of blazing light, hope, strength, soaring through the darkness, bringing hope and illuminating the foreboding skies.
It’s time to SHINE dear friends.
No longer consider the smallness of your light or it’s lack of wattage. In dark times, the smallest of lights brings illumination and dispels the darkness wherever that light burns.
So burn dear friends. Let your light shine. Illuminate the dark skies and shores and bring beauty, hope, awe and calm to every onlooker.