Self-Sufficiency & Bread

Self-sufficiency and boot strapping are core themes of American culture.  It’s the spirit that pervades stories of the original colonies, the industrial revolution and settling the Wild West.  It’s an inherent quality to cultural ideas of success throughout our country.  Over the last 40 years, symbols of success have manifested more and more into convenience services and materialism, but I see that trend slowing down.  I would even say that the pendulum is rebounding with movements toward minimalism and personal sustainability.  Continue reading

Speak with Confidence

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.  How untrue!  I get that this phrase is meant to instill a greater self-worth and confidence so that mean words roll off your back.  In truth, however, words do hurt and they are powerful.  They can help or harm your life.  They can lead to a beautiful marriage, or a divorce.  They can inspire someone to take on a monumental challenge, or walk away from it.  Ultimately words can nurture progress or regression. 

Lately I’ve represented my needs and opinions inadequately.  After speaking in meetings, I sense that rather than supporting my cause, I’ve done it a disservice.  I care about my work and how I’m perceived so I decided to research speaking with confidence and stumbled across a YouTube video that helped me.  As the speaker enumerated each point, I felt like a culprit.  Now being aware of what to do differently, I amended the way I speak and I’m seeing quick improvements.  Continue reading

How to Build Integrity

Last week I was putting up Christmas decorations.  In particular, I was swapping out some Thanksgiving decor from an herb window I have above my kitchen sink.  That window is also where I’ve placed my mom’s Swarovski crystal figurines that I inherited.  She loved them, and since I have only managed to keep one plant alive (ever!) I treat the herb window as a display case for the crystals.  The sun hits them and they throw rainbows around the room – it’s truly lovely.
As I made room for some light up snowmen and a tea light candle display, I moved around figurines only to notice that three of them were broken.  At first I thought – did I do this myself?  I couldn’t have, I was just touching them for the first time in a couple months.  This is when it dawned on me that one of the cleaning ladies, who come once every two weeks to dust, mop and wipe down the baseboards, must have broken them.  I also realized that whoever broke them must have purposefully moved the figures to disguise that they were damaged.  One, which was a unicorn, had its entire horn missing – nowhere to be found.  Which indicates that it was thrown out so that I wouldn’t notice it lying separately from the body.

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Pride Keeps Us From All We Can Have

In my post, Sacrifice is the Heart of Love, I described love as a faithful action, where one puts kindness and the wellbeing of others ahead of oneself.  I also explained that it is dutiful, because constancy is what affirms it.  I want to apply these principals to my relationship with God.  I have every intention to deliver when He calls on me.  Even though I’m new at this, I believe I’ve heard the “still small voice” on a few occasions.  This post is about the time He asked me to serve a homeless woman, and what I learned from it. Continue reading

Sacrifice is the Heart of Love

Back in 2008 I stumbled across a Death Cab for Cutie song called I’ll Follow You into the Dark.  Between the words and melody, it has a poignant beauty.  If it wasn’t so morbid, I probably would have used it as my wedding song.  There is one verse in the song that struck me especially hard.  It includes a line where a Catholic nun explains that “fear is the heart of love.”

As a New Age spiritual seeker, I simply could not get behind the idea that fear is the heart of love.  It sounds ludicrous, right?  Love feels good and fear feels bad – even a 5 year old understands that.  How can something that feels bad, be the core of the most cherished of human emotions?

Having converted to Christianity, I think the surface level answer is that everyone should have a reverent fear of the Lord.  Let’s be honest though, I’ve never been one to stay at the surface level.  My seeker’s heart wants to dig in, go deep and find the truth.  I’ve been exploring this idea.

When I think of it from the perspective of my relationship with God, the use of the word “fear” aligns more closely with the word respect.  He made me, more than that, He made everything.  Including billions and billions of galaxies, let alone Earth and all its inhabitants.  It’s clear I should have some fear.  That magnitude of power is incomprehensible.  He has full authority over it all and decides on my judgement day whether I am headed for paradise or destruction.  This is scary, and I think this is why many Christians say that fear is the heart of love.

Parenting

I’m a parent and I love my kids.  I love them so very much.  They bring me immeasurable joy, but I will punish them.  When my daughter sasses me for too long, she gets a time out.  When she says bad words or hurtful things, she gets a dab of soap on her tongue.  I’ve even gone so far as to (dare I say it) spank her hiney when she out and out disobeys me.  There are rules in our home and I hold her to them.  Her brother will be taught similarly once he’s older.

On the flip side, my children know I love them.  They see it not just in my rules, but also in how I take care of them.  I clean, cook, work, juggle and fear for them.  I desire their safety and comfort above my own.  I make choices today that I may find distasteful or unpleasant, for their greater good.  Truthfully, I can say the same for my husband – although I’ve never had to put him in time out.

In other words, my definition of love has evolved.  I reconsider the heart of love; it’s not butterflies, excitement, eagerness, and fun.

Sacrifice is the Heart of Love

When we truly love people, we sacrifice for them.  Not all day every day, but often and dutifully.  We do this because we value them above our personal wants.  That is generous, kind and faithful.  That is how God wants us to think and to be.  This is what Jesus demonstrated for us.

In the end, I’ll say that a dose of fear is healthy for our development, but that love is not defined by that or any feeling.  It’s defined by attentive and deferential actions taken regularly for the benefit of others.

 

Know Your Nature to Change Your Story

Life consists of choices and consequences.  Unfortunately many of our choices are made on auto-pilot.  We make them because of lessons we learn as children, defensive thinking from bad experiences, or even willfulness born out of addictive or destructive habits.  In other words, we harden our thinking (and sometimes our hearts) because of beliefs we made up.  We tell ourselves this is who we are, but is it really? Continue reading