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Let's Pray for Haiti

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Unless you've been living under a rock, you probably know about the two major earthquakes that recently struck the incredibly poor and poverty-stricken nation of Haiti. The first one occurred last week Monday, and a second occurred last week Wednesday. The devastation and suffering the people of Haiti are experiencing is almost incomprehensible to us living in America. Here are some shocking statistics regarding Haiti that I found online. (Keep in mind these statistics are from BEFORE the recent earthquakes!)

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere:

 80% live in poverty
 54% lack clean water
 48% cannot read
 66% are unemployed
 The average life expectancy is
57.56 years.
* Statistics taken from http://www.haiti-micah.org/haiti-facts.htm
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Those statistics are from the best time of times in Haiti, so you can imagine what these recent earthquakes have done to an already suffering people. I believe that there is something all of us can do in the tragedy.

I truly hope that something good will come out of this tragedy. I also hope that churches will do their part to send teams to serve in Haiti. People who are willing to see some horrible things and to get their hands dirty. People are willing to love and serve these people who are in such desperate need of help. I truly believe this is what Jesus would have us do. But I also know that not everyone is able to serve in such a direct way.

I think we should give sacrificially to Aid organizations. A simple internet search will reveal multiple excellent organizations that are donating money and giving aid to this cause. My local credit union is collecting donations. Maybe your local bank is doing the same. If not, ask them if they would be willing to. We could also speak to our pastor about this. Maybe we could even get permission for a special collection. Another idea would be to organize a fund drive on our own, or with a group of friends. Even a little bit can make a huge difference in a situation like this. Remember, Jesus doesn't care about the size of the gift. He cares about our motivation for giving even more.

Third, even if we are not able to do any of the above things, there is something that we all can and should do. That is pray. These people are in desperate need of prayer. We should allow God to break our hearts and truly care about these people. So often, I am guilty of turning to prayer only as a last resort, and only after exhausting all my own ideas. But that is not how it should be. We should turn to prayer FIRST. No matter how angry we might be or how much we are hurting, we can always be honest with God. In fact, I believe He wants us to be honest with Him. Over the course of my life, I have come to believe that God is big enough to handle anything we can throw at Him. His love and His character will never change. The Bible says that God hears the cry of the poor. But the question is do we? I don't know how many of you have seen the movie "Amazing Grace" If you haven't seen this movie, I highly recommend it. but after the movie, there is a quote from William Wilberforce that always cuts me to the quick. This quote was orginally made in regards to slavery, but I think it applies here as well. If you cut to the quick by this quote, I encourage you to seek the Lord in prayer and ask Him what He would have you do.

"Having heard all this, you may choose to look the other way. But you can never again say you did not know." William Wilberforce

I recently came across online from a well-known Christian celebrity. At first, I couldn't believe it was really true. But sadly, it was. It is from famous televangelist Pat Robertson. Now, to be honest, I have never been a big fan of Pat Robertson. I very much disagree with his views on a lot of things and especially his teachings about wealth and prosperity (but that's a different blog)
emoticon

But shortly after the first Haitian earthquake occured, Pat Robertson directly quoted as saying Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about it. They were under the heel of the French. Napoleon the Third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil...But ever since, they have been cursed by one thing after the other." There is a video available on YouTube that features the quote in question. But it will make you incredibly angry.)

I was absolutely appalled that someone who calls himself a Christian could make a statement like that. Really? I mean, come on. There is no doubt about it. Haiti does have a long history of practicing voodoo. But that doesn't mean that they deserved to get hit by a major earthquake. Even reading this quote now makes me angry. But it also breaks my heart. It makes me wonder how many other Christians are thinking the same thing, but would never say it. We call ourselves Christians, but then refuse to live the way that Jesus did. Jesus frequently hung out with drunks, prostitutes, and other "sinners". If Jesus were alive today, I believe He would seek out and minister to the "undesirable" people of today. There is not a person alive (yes, even Christians) who do not have a checkered past or who haven't rebelled against God in some way. There are some people who go all out with their rebellion. But I believe there are many others whose rebellion is much more subtle and hidden. But the point is, its all the same to God. The same is true of countries. Even the United States has a less than stellar past. I mean, there was a time in this country when we subjected black people to discrimination, segregation, racism, and even lynchings. This is just one example. Anyone who knows anything about American History knows that there are many other equally disturbing examples from our own country's history.

One thing I love about the Bible is it's unvarnished truth. It tells stories that put God's people (and the disciples) in a less than flattering light. According to my study Bible, it was a common belief at the time that disaster and sudden death signified divine displeasure over certain sins (hmmm...where have we heard that before?) But Jesus soundly refutes that belief. You can read the story for yourself in Luke 13: 2-4

Jesus in verse 4 says "Do you suppose that those 18 people on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all who live in Jerusalem? I tell you NO! (emphasis mine)

Over the course of my life, there have been many times when I have found myself asking God "Why?" But I have discovered something. More often that not, that is a question that God will not answer. Even if He did, we probably still wouldn't accept His reasons for allowing certain things. God doesn't punish us for asking why. But I have come to believe that asking why is the wrong question. We should be more concerned about what God wants to teach us or what He wants to do in and through us. We are supposed to be the hands, feet, and most of all hearts of Jesus in this world. We are NOT supposed to turn away and say "Well...they made their bed, let them lie in it." or "Wow, they must have done something really bad to deserve that." That is not the point. We would all be in serious trouble if God gave us what we deserve. But fortunately for us, God has chosen to show us grace, love, and mercy. But He has given us those things to share with others, not to hoard selfishly for ourselves. I am not trying to point fingers. I am as guilty as anyone else of these things of things.

In closing, I want to share one final section of text from the Bible. 2nd Corinthians 1:3-7 (NASB)
Blessed be the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer.

I encourage to you keep the country of Haiti in your prayers and do whatever you can (or whatever God asks you to do) to help.

  


Never Giving Up

Sunday, January 17, 2010

I think we all know how frustrating and discouraging trying to lose weight can be. It would be nice if we could lose the weight as easily as we can gain it, but unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. But I just want to encourage everyone reading this to never give up. No matter how many times you fall. Stand up, dust yourself off and keep going. Remember this is a journey, it's not a race. It's not about who reaches their goal weight first. It's about walking together and helping each other, and encouraging each other. We will all fall sometime. Here is a list of famous people who failed repeatedly before finding success. Some of these may be familiar, some of them will not. But I hope reading this will encourage all of us (including myself) never to give up on our goals and dreams. Here is a quote I found online that really encouraged me. I hope it does the same for all who read this.

"Never consider the possibility of failure; as long as you persist, you will be successful."
~ Brian Tracy


Consider This-Take from A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul and the original Chicken Soup for the Soul

Consider This...

-Ski instructor Pete Seibert was considered crazy when he first disclosed his dream to start a ski resort. Standing on the summit of a mountain in the Gore Range in Colorado, Seibert described a dream he had carried with him since age 12, and began the challenge of convincing others that it was possible. Seiberts dream is now a reality called Vail.

-In 1902. the poetry editor of the Atlantic Monthly returned the poems of a 28 year old poet with the following note "Our magazine has no room for your vigorous verse." The poet? Robert Frost.

-After Thomas Carlyle lent a manuscript of "The French Revolution" to a friend whose servant carelessly used it to kindle a fire, he calmly went to work and rewrote it.

-During its first year of production, the Coca-Cola company sold only 400 Cokes.

-Thomas Edison's teachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything.

-Henry Ford failed and went bankrupt 5 times before he was finally successful.

-Winston Churchill failed 6th grade. He did not become the Prime Minister of England until age 62, and then only after many defeats and setbacks.

-An expert once that this to say about Vince Lombardi "He possesses minimal football knowledge. Lacks motivation"

-At his first acting audition, Sidney Poitier was told that he should stick to dish washing.

In closing, I would like to share a quote that I think fits it very well with the whole struggle of losing weight.

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." Thomas Edison

No matter how many times you fall, or how hard the struggle, NEVER, EVER Give up!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PEGGO45 1/17/2010 3:50PM

    Lovely! and add fall down 7 times get up 8....
Enjoyed your blog very much. Having fun re-sparking.... reading the book... getting a better understanding of what makes sparking so wonderful... feeding off the community and staying connected. Thanks for taking the time!! Peggy emoticon emoticon

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Stand

Friday, January 08, 2010

Hey everyone!
I've been having a pretty rough time lately both in my diet and also just life in general. But last night, as I was laying in bed, lyrics to this song came into my head. I don't know why, but this song always helps me feel like I can keep going. No matter how hard it is sometimes just to put one foot in front of the other.

I thought we could all use a little encouragement in our journeys. Enjoy emoticon

This song was a #1 hit a couple of years back for a country group named "Rascal Flatts" Many of their songs have really connected with me, but this is one of my favorites.

Stand-By Rascal Flatts

You feel like a candle in a hurricane
Just like a picture with a broken frame
Alone and helpless like you've lost your fight
But you'll be alright
You'll be alright

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause it's all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you stand
Then you stand

Life's like a novel with the end ripped out
The edge of a canyon with only one way down
Take what you're given before its gone
Start holding on, keep holding on

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause it's all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you stand (then you stand)
Yea, then you stand (then you stand)

Everytime you get up
And get back in the race
One more small piece of you
Starts to fall into place, yea
Ooohhh

Cause when push comes to shove
You taste what you're made of
You might bend, till you break
Cause it's all you can take
On your knees you look up
Decide you've had enough
You get mad you get strong
Wipe your hands shake it off
Then you stand (then you stand)
Then you stand (then you stand)
Yea, then you stand (then you stand)
Yea (then you stand)
Ohhh (then you stand)
Ohhh (then you stand)
Ohhh (then you stand)
Ohhh (then you stand)
Then you stand

  


Doing Away With New Year's Resolutions

Friday, January 01, 2010

There is something about starting a new year that causes people to become reflective and almost wistful. A lot of people make New Year's resolutions. They convince themselves "This will be the year that I really stick with my resolutions, but inevitably, the resolutions have gone by the wayside, at least until next year.

For what it's worth, I believe that making New Year's Resolutions is kind of like making a wish on a shooting star or on a birthday cake. There is something a person would like to do or change, but they don't have a plan in place to enact that change. Willpower simply isn't enough. Real change is difficult and often slow. There are fits and starts and stumbles along the way. Sad to say, I think for most people, real change is simply too difficult. We Americans are especially susceptible to this. We have become accustomed to getting what we want, when we want it. Everything is about ease and convenience. We (myself included) hate to wait for anything. We would much rather have a miracle cure and a quick fix. But there is a significant problem that is very rarely mentioned when it comes to quick fixes. It has been my experience that quick fixes generally deal with the symptoms rather than the underlying problem. But even more than that, quick fixes are usually temporary. They don't result in lasting change. It may take a while, but usually a person who has settled for a quick fix will go back to their old habits.

I think this idea of quick and temporary fixes also applies to weight loss. If you have done any research at all on diets, you will know what I mean. Some of the claims that weight-loss gurus make are almost laughable. Just yesterday, I was looking at a book that promised "Lose 30 pounds in 2 weeks." That is neither realistic nor healthy. What's even more sad, is that these types of gimmicks and quick fixes suck people in. I have also recently seen books or ads that promise things like "Lose Weight as You Sleep." "No Exercise Required." "Lose Weight without changing your lifestyle." As anyone who has ever made a significant effort to lose weight knows, it's not easy. It goes on much more easily than it comes off. Losing weight means making a lifestyle change. It means incorporating exercise, eating in moderation and burning more calories than you consume. Even though there are some who I'm sure would disagree, I don't necessarily think that means adopting a very restrictive diet. I believe there are simple, common-sense ways to eat in moderation. A good rule of thumb for life in general, especially when it comes to dieting is this: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." I also don't think that dieting should take a "one size fits all approach." We all have different needs. Some people need a more restrictive plan to stay on track. Also, we all have different ideas about what is considered restrictive. Something I consider too restrictive might be just right for you.

New Year's resolutions are a good place to start, but if you want to make a real change, like losing weight, then it can't stop there. I also think that when it comes to New Year's resolutions a lot of people expect too much too soon. For example, a person who says "I'm going to lose 30 pounds by the beginning of February" isn't being realistic. That probably isn't going to happen. A realistic goal would be "I will start eating only when I'm hungry." or "I'm going to cut out snacking." I also think that exercise is important. I will be the first to admit that I HATE exercise. I will do almost anything to avoid doing it. I have a thousand and one excuses for not exercising. But I know it's something I need to do. I have found that exercising with a friend helps keep me motivated. I also think it's important to start slow, especially if you are out of shape or haven't exercised in a while. Yes it is going to hurt when you first start, but if you stick with it, you will see results. But you need to be realistic. Someone who is working full-time and has children, probably isn't going to have the energy or the time to work out for 2 hours a day. But no matter how busy a person is, I think a person can set aside 3o minutes to exercise. Even if that means taking the dog for a walk. Something is always better than nothing. I also think it's helpful to add variety to your exercise routine. Maybe walk one day, go to a gym another day, and exercise to a DVD another day.

I am not the most coordinated person in the world. So it has taken me a few false starts to find an exercise program that works for me. If you are more coordinated or athletic, feel free to try something a little more challenging, like Tai Bo. But for me, the best exercises are Yoga for Weight Loss and Pilates. But there are so many options out there when it comes to exercise. Everyone can find something they like and can do! No more excuses! You can add more time and difficulty as you go.

If you truly want to change, do yourself a favor. Don't make a New Year's Resolution. Instead, come up with a realistic goal and a realistic plan to achieve it! You can do it!

  


Negative thinking and a lack of purpose and direction

Friday, December 11, 2009

At my last counseling appointment last week Monday, I basically stormed out of my counselor's office. I was so angry I could barely see straight. I thought she was being incredibly unfair and intentionally hurtful. But after venting to a friend yesterday, I've realized something. She was right. She made some comments that obviously struck a nerve with me. If I known it was coming, I would have been prepared. But I felt totally blindsided. Which also contributed to my anger.

One area of my life where I have struggled for a long time is my career. The first real job I had was as a cashier. At first, I loved it. I have a learning disability in math, so no one thought I could work as a cashier. But I proved them all wrong. I did it and I did it successfully. But after working as a cashier for almost 10 years, I finally had enough. I decided to go in a new direction. But I didn't really put much planning or thought into what that new direction might be. So I started working for temp agencies. I had some long-term assignments and some short-term. But the bad thing about temp agencies is that the job can end at any time. There were jobs were I went in and they told me the job was ending that day. I was also unfairly let go from several jobs. I have quite a few gaps in my resume and some pretty long times of unemployment. But rather than using that time to reassess my career goals. My mom kept telling me "You just need to get a job. Any job." Because of unemployment, I had to take any job that was offered to me. Regardless if it was something that was a good fit for me or not. Which led to a lot of frustration on my part. But I didn't know any other way. So I was pretty much like a leaf on the wind. I had no direction of my own, I was just carried along on the breeze. I had no idea how to go about finding a direction, so I didn't it even try.

I've known since I was about 14 what I would like to devote my life to: I have a deep passion for writing. But I was thinking much too narrow. I thought that the only options to be a writer were as a poet or an author. But recently, I read a book that helped me realize that there are many other options out there for writing. I just needed to expand my mind a little bit. But I kept telling myself that being a writer just wasn't realistic. I honestly thought there was no way I could be a writer and support myself. I have no interesting in being a starving artist (or writer). But my counselor basically called me on my crap. She asked me what I wanted out of life. I didn't even have to think about that one. I want to get out of my parents house and have my own life. She asked me how much time I had spent on career exploration. I told her a little. But she said that it wasn't very much. She said that I hadn't done much of anything to change my circumstances. She recommended taking a career exploration class at a local technical college. But I told her I didn't think that would help. My counselor also told me that I was in a rut and afraid of change. I didn't want to admit it (to myself or to her) that she was right. I have never handled change well. In some sick, twisted way, I would rather stay miserable because its familiar, rather than taking a risk, stepping into the unknown and trying something new. She said she knows I struggle with depression, but this was something more.






Another area where she really came down hard on me is in regards to my negative self-talk. I once read a quote from a author who came from a very abusive background. She took, had a very negative thinking pattern. She made the comment ďIf I had two negative thoughts in a row, my brain would get a cramp.Ē At the time, I simply laughed it off. For my homework last week, the counselor told me to write down my negative thoughts, change them, and then do a wrap-up for the day. This was a lot harder than Iíd thought it would be. Negative thinking has become such a habit and an engrained way of thinking, that I couldnít see the positive at all. Even when someone said something good about me or gave me a compliment, I still reacted negatively. I didnít know how to catch the negative thought until it was too late: it was already spinning around and around in my head. My counselor told me ďI know you have depression, but this is more than just depression. Negative thinking has become a habit with you. You are so focused on the negative that you canít see the positive.Ē Again, I didnít want to believe she was right. But she was.

I have been confronted by more than one friend (people who donít know each other) about the way I take a compliment. When someone says something good about it, the negative messages just kick in and drown it out. In my mind, the solution is simple: If you donít like the way I respond, then donít give me the compliment.Ē I also try to convince myself that they are just saying it, and donít really mean it. But I know these people better than that. They are the type of people who wouldnít say something to me until they genuinely believed it was true. I remember especially eye-opening incident. This woman and I became very close very fast. I used to go to this young adult group on Friday nights at my church. I met here there. We just connected. She eventually stopped going to group, but I would meet with her for like an hour before group and just talk and pray together. I remember this one week, I was really struggling. She was telling me how she used to struggle with the way she looked as well. (this was before I gained so much weight in college) She started rattling all these good things about me. She said I was kind, generous, loyal. I donít even remember what she all said, because I started shutting down. And my friend knew it. I remember I made some comment like ďNo, Iím not.Ē My friend told me I was hurting her feelings. But I said ďOh come on, no Iím not. ď But she insisted that I was hurting her feelings. Before that, I wouldnít look her in the eye. Finally, when I did look her in the eyes, I could see tears there. Thatís when it hit me like a ton of bricks. I truly WAS hurting her feelings. This friend had been nothing but caring, nice, and kind to me. I had hurt her, which made me feel even more like a heel than I did already. I was overwhelmed with shame. I told her I was sorry, and didnít mean to hurt her. She graciously forgave me. But that incident has stayed with me. Even now. But again, I this way of thinking had become so engrained that I had no idea how to change it. Even worse, I found it hard to believe that it even could be changed.

The whole negative thinking thing is still a major area of struggle for me. I know I need to capture the negative thought and replace it, but catching it is the difficult part for me.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MISBEHAVING 12/17/2009 10:26PM

    I just ran across your thread on EE team. You are taking all of the right steps by venting and putting your obstacles out there. Acknowledging starts the healing. We all battle some deep seated demons, but fight them you must. Keep reading the motivational articles here on SP until they sink into your soul. Use the strategies. Post good positive affirmations on your mirror. Remember that this is a journey, not a destination. And Only You Can Change You. YOU ARE WORTH IT.

BE BLESSED.

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SEEHOLZ 12/14/2009 11:24AM

    Oh man, I can relate to the negative talk-- it really does take effort and dedication to be nice to yourself, but I say just do it! What do you have to loose? Once I realized that I only had things to gain- aside from some superficial crap I made up in my head- I had no excuses. I still do it-- am negative--- but I also say positive things about me with more conviction these days. I understand the concept, you know?
Of course you can be the writer you want to be--- it sounds like all your doors are wide open... stop shutting them! It takes way too much energy!


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TRIGFROST 12/11/2009 2:41PM

   

Glad to know you are very normal, Your Story says alot about yourself. You have a good-Heart emoticon..You want the right things. You just need to keep praticing on what you want. You heard the book. [One step forward, two backwards]. You will get there in the end. Do you know why I think so. Because you want it for yourself. emoticon You have welcomed and accepted the truth, even though it hurts to come out of the safe-places you have been hiding under. emoticon it sounds to me that you are hunry for it, and what you are hungry for, you will chase after it....So keep up the good work on Changing yourself lady..... emoticon

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