Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit--Gentleness!

Gentleness means recognizing that the world around us is fragile, especially other people. It is recognizing our own capacity to do harm and choosing instead to be tender, soft-spoken, soft-hearted, and careful. When we are gentle we touch the world in ways that protect and preserve it.

Being gentle doesn't mean being weak; gentleness can be firm, even powerful. To behave in a gentle manner requires that we stay centered in our own values and strength -- that we are active rather than reactive. Coming from this center, a gentle word or touch can channel our energy into healing or making peace.

The North Wind and the Sun

The North Wind boasted of great strength. The Sun argued that there was great power in gentleness.

"We shall have a contest," said the Sun.

Far below, a man traveled a winding road. He was wearing a warm winter coat.

"As a test of strength," said the Sun, "Let us see which of us can take the coat off of that man."

"It will be quite simple for me to force him to remove his coat," bragged the Wind.

The Wind blew so hard, the birds clung to the trees. The world was filled with dust and leaves. But the harder the wind blew down the road, the tighter the shivering man clung to his coat. Then, the Sun came out from behind a cloud. Sun warmed the air and the frosty ground. The man on the road unbuttoned his coat. The sun grew slowly brighter and brighter. Soon the man felt so hot, he took off his coat and sat down in a shady spot.

"How did you do that?" said the Wind.

"It was easy," said the Sun, "I lit the day. Through gentleness I got my way."

Things I'm Thankful For...

After a month of reading what others were thankful for almost daily via Facebook, I decided to wait until the end of the month to share what I am thankful for. So here it goes:

Most importantly I am thankful for:

My pride & joy, my #1 sidekick, my mini me, my miracle, heart and soul, my son Austin!

My family…God gave me a wonderful mom & dad, a second dad who amazingly stepped up and took care of 3 girls even during the hardest time of our lives when our dad passed away, I have two fabulous sisters and best friends, a great brother, and nieces & nephews I love beyond measure. 

My faithful, true, like-minded friends…as I get older, I find that I have fewer and fewer of them. It’s not like I don’t have friends, it’s more like I am surrounding myself with these real ones more now than ever before.

Thankful for what I’ve been able to do & accomplish:
See a miracle….the birth of my son Austin was the day I saw the miracle of life be born. Realizing I played a part in making him and able to deliver him safely & hold him in my arms is my greatest accomplishment.

Form a relationship with my dad before he passed away. I was 11 when he died and for a few years while being very young I never wanted to go and spend time with him when it was our weekend over there. I can remember the nights I cried and wanted to go back to my moms & when I think back about those times I wish I had realized how wonderful he was sooner. Thankful that before he passed, I did finally realize just how much he loved his girls and would do anything for us and that it wasn’t too late.

Go on multiple mission trips: 2 trips to Arizona to help build a new school for the Navajo Indians and a trip to Honduras to help build onto a clinic, school, and church located on a mountain top. Experiencing these trips changed me from within. They made me more thankful for the things I have more than anything or anybody has ever done or will do.

Live life outside of Indiana: while my stay wasn’t as long as I had hoped for, living in another state & on water made me realize how much I missed Indiana. Indiana is full of beauty year round and you don’t see that kind of change & beauty down south.

Do crazy stuff: I’ve been white water rafting, bungee jumping, rode tons of roller coasters, experienced tons of concerts, traveled to places such as the Bahamas, Maine, and Niagra Falls on day trips by myself when I worked for ATA, had my share of piercings and experienced my share of raves.

I’m thankful for things about me:
For being a loving, loyal, trusting friend, sister and daughter…I’m hardly perfect but it’s good to know in my heart that I’m a kind person. I’d never intentionally hurt anyone, I don’t believe in being mean, I hate to see anyone cry, and love to see people smile. I may be a bit shy sometimes and not the best at socializing, but I genuinely appreciate and care about people and always wanting to help those I can. 

Having the talent to create art…it may not be the next Picasso or Van Gogh but its art that I love. Love that I can create it through paint, ceramics, wood burning, ink, chalk, lead, film, video, words, ect… There is no limit and when I find the need to express myself I tend to create a painting, write a poem, make a video to a favorite song, or pick up a camera. 

Being a go-to-girl…thankful that people are able to come to me for advice even if it is for the simplest things of how to do or find something on Facebook. People trust me with some of their innermost thoughts and feelings and I’m glad they know they can trust me and come to me for advice or a shoulder to cry on.

I’m thankful for the past:
For my past relationships….they have made me a stronger person and made me learn more about who I am and how worthy I am of having true love one day. I've had my share of good times & bad times and they all played a role in shaping me into the person I am today. 

Having a teacher who gave me an F on a poem I wrote for an assignment one day in class. He told me it was awful and that I should not be writing poetry. I wanted to prove him wrong so I entered it into a contest where it was chosen, published in a book of poems, chosen to be one of 35 poems to be read aloud& recorded to an audible poetry cd, as well as received Editors choice that year. I ended up having 4 more poems published, the opportunity to publish my own book one day, and I still to this day write poetry thinking about how I was once told how bad at it I was. 

Not always chosen first and sometimes picked last….in some way that shaped me into being a better person. I learned that not everybody is going to like me or want me and that’s okay. I learned to give everybody a chance & not judge them based on things such as appearance. I graduated school feeling as though I was never part of any particular group of friends but rather a friend to everyone. If you were nice to me, I was nice to you and those who didn't like me, well didn’t like me—their loss!

Miscellaneous things I’m thankful for:

Being an American, coffee, chocolate, fresh fruit, a warm bed to sleep in, listening to my child’s laughter and seeing his smiles, flowers, a good novel, another chance at college, air conditioning on a hot day and a warm fire on a cold night, dishwashers, true friends, a good book, nights staring up at the stars, ice cream, red wine, good conversations and silent conversations, swinging on a swing and sliding down a slide, hugs and kisses, hearing someone tell me they love me, being told I’m missed by someone, a hot shower or bath, live music, rainbows following a storm, lazy days, sunrises and sunsets, pizza and a movie nights, family & friends who accept me despite my flaws, a nice long stretch after waking up, music, the sound of the rain on the roof or outside my bedroom window, camping outside, s’mores, seeing wildlife while driving or out on a walk, invitations even if I can’t accept and make it to the event, teachers, digital cameras, great neighbors, the kindness of strangers, aquariums and zoos, farmer markets, pumpkin patches and orchards, growing up out in the country, memories, photographs, keeping old notes, my first love even if I was only in 8th grade and it was only a few months long, struggles I face, getting my dad’s eyes, being smart, knowing it’s okay to be wrong, the beauty of fresh fallen snow, the little things in life, wildflowers and the beauty of their innocence,  campfire chats, drunken nights, being sensitive, Facebook and how it has brought family and friends back into my life, movies that make me laugh until I cry, cuddling with my son, laughing at inside jokes, my favorite tv shows, sleeping in, tumblr, songs that bring back memories, sushi, having the heart to give the homeless a dollar or a cup of coffee, knowing that I am not better than anybody else—I’m simply just me, having all 5 senses and somewhat good health, knowing sadness, happiness, fear, doubt, and pain, having a roof over my head, my enemies, my faith, God’s grace, reunions, picnics, choosing to forgive, being able to post notes for Operation Beautiful,  my freedom, the troops that serve for the Country I live in, the choices I've made and the mistakes as well, the joy and peace in my heart, knowing I’m on the right path and will make it to my destination one day, blogs, the moments where you realize you’re glad you chose to avoid responsibility one day and make memories instead, random text messages, not giving up on the ones I love, knowing what it’s like to struggle with my weight so I don’t judge others who are in the same boat, days where I act like a kid again, all-nighters, memories of fishing with my dad, not caring if my house isn't perfectly clean bc I know it’s perfectly lived in, and rambling on and on about things I’m thankful for while thinking nobody is actually going to read this so if you still are then know I'm thankful for you!

Monday, November 21, 2011

25 Truths!

I think part of a best friend’s job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. I’m pretty sure I know how to get out of my own neighborhood.

Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.

I can’t remember the last time I wasn’t at least kind of tired!

You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren’t going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blu-ray? I haven’t even switched over to the Blu-ray due to my already huge collection of dvd’s.

I’m always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page report that I swear I did not make any changes to.

“Do not machine wash or tumble dy” means I will never wash this – ever!

I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? **** it!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voice mail. What did you do after I didn’t answer? Drop the phone and run away?

I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day.

I keep some people’s phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.

I think the freezer deserves a light as well.

I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lite than Kay.

Sometimes, I’ll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the heck was going on when I first saw it.

I would rather try to carry 10 over-loaded plastic bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.

I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.

How many times is it appropriate to say “What?” before you just nod and smile because you still didn’t hear or understand a word they said?

I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars team up to prevent a jerk from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers and sisters!

Is it just me or do high school kids get dumber and dumber every year?

There’s no worse feeling than that millisecond you’re sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far. 

As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate bicyclists.

Ever notice that when you wear a watch, there are times where you may look down at it multiple times and still not know what time it is?

Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, finding their cell phone, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey – but I’d bet my a** everyone can find and push the snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time, every time!

The Fruit of the Spirit--Faithfulness!

May all your Prayers be answered.

A voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea and only two of the men on it were able to swim to a small, desert like island. 

The two survivors, not knowing what else to do, agreed that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. 

However, to determine whose prayers should be most effective, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island. 

The first thing they prayed for was food. 

The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man's parcel of land remained barren. 

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing. 

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing. 

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that he and his wife could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island and boarded the ship with his wife. 

Since none of the other man’s prayers had been answered, he considered him unworthy to receive God's blessings, so he decided to leave the second man on the island. 

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, "Why are you leaving your companion on the island?" 

"My blessings are a result of my faith and prayers, since I was the one who prayed for them," the first man answered. "His prayers were all unanswered and so I figured he does not deserve anything." 

"You are sorely mistaken, and are in great debt to him.” 

“How’s that?” the first man asked. 

”It was his great faith that invoked the blessings, and he prayed that all your prayers might be answered." 

Is Your Hut Burning?

The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements and in which to store his few possessions. 

But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stunned with grief and anger. "God, how could you do this to me!" he cried. Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. 

The weary man asked his rescuers: "How did you know I was here?" 

They replied: "We saw your smoke signal." 

It is easy to get discouraged when things are going bad. But we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of pain and suffering. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit--Goodness!

The Smile
Author: Chris Gregory

Recently I was put in a nursing home to recover from a critically ill ailment. For the first time in my life I was totally dependent on others. I just lay there in the bed being pumped with antibiotics and fluids. It gave me a lot of time to reflect and slowly I become aware of my surroundings.

Over the course of a few days I started to really appreciate the housekeeper. She was an elderly lady who didn’t speak English. Every morning at 6:30 she would try to sneak into my room quietly so she wouldn’t disturb me. However, on every occasion I would awake and see her. She would try to apologize and at the same time gave this amazing smile. It got that I would be just waiting to see her come in and give that wonderful smile.

I found out from one of the nurses that there was an employee rewards program. I asked the nurse to write an appreciation card for my housekeeper.

I wrote: “Thank you for your incredible smile every morning. It fills the room with happiness and makes every day worth living.”

When the nurse put the card up another nurse came into my room about ten minutes later and asked if I had written that card for the housekeeper. I said yes and asked if it was okay.

The nurse said that I had to know that the housekeeper was out in the hall crying her eyes out.

Had I done something wrong or inappropriate? Then the nurse went on to tell me that the housekeeper had worked there for thirty years and had never received a rewards card.

It hit me like a ton of bricks. Just a few simple words made such a difference. It was beautiful! If you think she smiled before you should have seen her the next day.

From that day forward I tried to recognize someone every day for the good things they showed. The results were amazing. People came in with smiles, they talked more, they laughed more, they enjoyed life more.

The side effects were astounding. It seems the more I tried to recognize others the better I got.

I’m out of the nursing home now and almost fully recovered.
I thank my housekeeper for helping me see just how incredibly beautiful life is.

Do yourself a favor and tell your loved ones just how much they mean to you. It can make the world of difference with both them and you.

I really wish people would begin to see things more clearly, then perhaps they could see within themselves the goodness they harbor deep inside. It sits silently, just waiting for us to use it and then when the time comes that we need something, out pours that goodness that had been bottled up. I know most of you know what I'm talking about, you do something good in hopes of recognition or a return favor. Sound familiar? Thinking back to the kindness post, goodness goes right along with it. Without one you can't have the other, yet most of us have forgotten that. Doing things out of the goodness of our hearts can be quite hard for most. Yet, like most things that are hard in the beginning, it does become easier over time and more satisfying. I read somewhere that the average human being only uses a small percentage of their lung capacity. Just like our lungs, most people only use a small percentage of their capacity for goodness each day. Then, in times of need we use more as a survival mechanism. Being good and doing good things should become a daily habit and part of living a happy lifestyle. Plus, goodness can be contagious, so go spread some!

Take a minute to check this article out & see how you can begin to use more of your capacity of goodness each day. It is about the concept of having a "Small Act of Goodness website, that sends an e-mail each morning to subscribers, giving them a small, fun task to implement, which will make people smile"! While there is no actual website there is a link to a facebook page that was started & posts a weekly challenge. There is also a page on tumblr that talks about sharing smiles! Worth checking out both of those links which can be found after clicking this one:
 Small Act of Goodness!
*You may also want to skim through the comments on there for links to various sites that people have posted!

If that doesn't peak your interest perhaps becoming a part of Operation Beautiful might help. It's something I find personally fulfilling and I love leaving notes in random places now!
Operation Beautiful!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit--Kindness!

 "Today you, tomorrow me."

During this past year I’ve had three instances of car trouble: a blowout on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out-of-gas situation. They all happened while I was driving other people’s cars, which for some reason makes it worse on an emotional level. And on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my own car, and know enough not to park on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel.

Each time, when these things happened, I was disgusted with the way people didn’t bother to help. I was stuck on the side of the freeway hoping my friend’s roadside service would show, just watching tow trucks cruise past me. The people at the gas stations where I asked for a gas can told me that they couldn’t lend them out "for safety reasons," but that I could buy a really crappy one-gallon can, with no cap, for $15. It was enough to make me say stuff like "this country is going to hell in a handbasket," which I actually said.

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke any English.

One of those guys stopped to help me with the blowout even though he had his whole family of four in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend's big Jeep. I put signs in the windows, big signs that said, "NEED A JACK," and offered money. Nothing. Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a van pulled over, and the guy bounded out.

He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English. He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it. Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top and we were in business.

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones, and I wasn’t careful, and I snapped the head clean off. Damn.

No worries: he ran to the van and handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a new tire iron. She was back in 15 minutes. We finished the job with a little sweat and cussing (the log started to give), and I was a very happy man.

The two of us were filthy and sweaty. His wife produced a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I’d send them a gift for being so awesome. She said they lived in Mexico. They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks. Then they were going to pick peaches, then go back home.

After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the Jeep, the girl called out and asked if I’d had lunch. When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale.

This family, undoubtedly poorer than just about everyone else on that stretch of highway, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took a couple of hours out of their day to help a strange guy on the side of the road while people in tow trucks were just passing him by.

But we weren’t done yet. I thanked them again and walked back to my car and opened the foil on the tamale (I was starving by this point), and what did I find inside? My $20 bill! I whirled around and ran to the van and the guy rolled down his window. He saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no. All I could think to say was, "Por favor, por favor, por favor," with my hands out. The guy just smiled and, with what looked like great concentration, said in English: "Today you, tomorrow me."

Then he rolled up his window and drove away, with his daughter waving to me from the back. I sat in my car eating the best tamale I’ve ever had, and I just started to cry. It had been a rough year; nothing seemed to break my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t handle it.

In the several months since then I’ve changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and once drove 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. But every time I’m able to help, I feel as if I’m putting something in the bank.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit--Patience!

Every day our patience is tested; patience with others, patience with yourself, patience with what you don’t know, and patience with what you do know. Patience is something we all constantly strive for, and yet usually fall short of on a daily basis. It’s not easy finding patience, but when you do, happiness is usually right there with it too. 

Here’s a test! This is a short 5 minute film that I personally almost didn’t watch. It’s a slow moving short film and you can’t help but wonder “what in the world is this about”. Do you have the patience to give this short film 5 minutes of your time? 

Patience is a virtue.  

Patience is priceless.

Patience can only grow through experiences that test your patience.

 So treasure the times when your patience is tried,

and don’t impatiently wait to be rescued prematurely.

Make the most of it. 

Realize that there is a purpose and a plan 

that will work out for the best.

Friday, November 11, 2011

The Fruit of the Spirit--Peace!

The Meaning of Peace.

Once upon a time there was a king who offered a great prize to that artist who could capture in a picture the perfect peace.

Many artists tried. The king observed and admired all the pictures, but only there were two that he really liked and he had to choose one of them.

The first one was a very peaceful lake. This lake was a perfect mirror where some placid mountains that surrounded it were reflected. Above them was found a sky of pure blue with tenuous white clouds. All who saw this painting thought that this one reflected the perfect peace. 

The second painting also had mountains. But these ones were open and rugged. On them there was a furious sky from which fell an impetuous downpour with thunder and bolts. Downhill seemed to resound a foamy torrent of water. All of this did not reveal in the least the peacefulness. But when the king observed carefully, he saw through the cascade a delicate bush growing in a rock crevice. In this bush was found a nest. There, in the midst of the roaring of the violent water fall, was placidly sat a little bird in the middle of its nest... perfect peace. 

The king chose the second one. Do you know why? The king explained, "Peace does not mean to be in a place without noise, without problems, without hard work and without pain. Peace means that despite of being in the midst of all these things we remain calm within our heart. This is the true meaning of peace."

“When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others.”

Enjoy life, Give Joy, and Be at Peace!

“The mind is never right but when it is at peace within itself”

“To be at one with God is to be at peace ... peace is to be found only within, and unless one finds it there he will never find it at all. Peace lies not in the external world. It lies within one's own soul.”