Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Best Is Yet To Come

It is so easy to get comfortable in one’s own comfort zone; allowing other people and circumstances to limit one’s possibilities, one’s vision, and one’s purpose. Yet, God has a way of throwing a monkey wrench into comfort zones. Just when we think that all is well, and that we have finally arrived, God shows up, steps in, and challenges us to move, and to grow spiritually. Sometimes growth comes through painful experiences, through loss, and sometimes through struggle. But spiritual growth always produces good fruit. It is never void or barren.

Spiritual growth requires openness and an awareness of one’s own humanness and vulnerability. It is the realization that everything comes from God. We are his creation, his beautifully crafted tools, created for his purpose, to glorify him, and to be used at his discretion.

Spiritual growth also requires self-discipline, commitment, sacrifice, and regular prayer and communion with him. It requires studying his word, not just from an academic or theoretical perspective, but as one who seeks to know beyond the superficial, beyond the surface. Because to know, requires a change in behavior. It is similar to one who looks at his reflection in the mirror and decides whether to fix himself up or to continue in disarray.

One might ask, why? Why follow this path? Life is hard enough. Why seek that which will never bring instant gratification? Yet, the human spirit needs more . . . more than the glitter and glamour that the world can provide. It is hungry, thirsty, wounded, beat-down, tired and desperate for something more.

I believe that this is why so many of us seek purpose – a higher call than our careers, wealth, and power. We feel in our spirits that life must be more than what we can see and obtain. There has to be more to life than going to work every day in order to pay bills and to get by. There must be more than loving and losing. There has to be more than watching good people die young; or more than suffering or watching others suffer. I submit that in spite of it all, God has a purpose for each of us. The best has yet to come!

Many of us have seen God’s handy work, whether directly or indirectly. I, personally, have experienced a transformation that only God could have made. I’ve also seen God change people that I might have counted out, and thought were hopeless. We can also look at our Haitian brothers and sisters, and while we see the poverty and devastation, we can also see their hope and resilience. People are still being rescued from under the rubble after being buried for 14 days. Miracles still happen, and the best is yet to come.

While circumstances can arise that may make us question God and our faith, we must believe that he has our best interest at heart. We must believe that God doesn’t put more on us than we can bear. I know this personally, because in my weakness, God was there. He was there through my mother's fight with cancer.  He was there in my darkness and embittered spirit. He was there through the difficulties and challenges of marriage.  He was also there through job loss and childrearing. I can confirm that he has never abandoned me.

If you haven’t seen God in action in a while, I challenge you to ask him, in faith, to make a difference in your life, according to his will. I promise that he will not let you down, and that the best is yet to come.

God bless!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Thrill is Gone – Now What?

Now that the holidays are over, and you’ve charged up your credit cards trying to buy gifts that you shouldn’t bought, cooked and eaten more food than your body can burn, and socialized until there’s nothing left to do or say, what’s next?

The anticipation of the holidays tends to bring about a flurry of action and a variety of emotions that can feel almost like a drug. But once there over, it’s not uncommon for many of us to feel sad or even depressed. The high, that drove many of us to run around the malls, shopping until our feet felt as if they would fall off, is nowhere to be found.

What’s a person to do when the thrill is gone? Well, most of us can probably stand to keep that appointment that we’ve been postponing with our treadmills or with the gym for the past 6 months.  It’s a sure thing that if we start now, we could probably work off that extra 10 pounds that we gained last year, and the extra 5 that we put on during the Christmas holidays.  Exercise is a wonderful way to improve one’s spirits and to get into the right mindset.   Very few things feel better than fresh oxygen flowing to the brain, as sweat drips down the side of your face after doing some aerobic exercise, or some other fun excursion. . . . You can decide what works best for you!

Although I’m an introvert by nature, I like social clubs. One of the reasons many of us probably felt good during the holidays, probably had to do with all of the people interaction we got. The holidays wouldn’t be special without “people” getting together, cooking, laughing, playing, and eating together.  I believe social clubs have a way of helping people who aren’t kin to feel a part of something that’s a little bigger, and more interesting than themselves alone. So, if you want to regain the thrill, join a social club and step outside of your comfort zone this year. I promise that you won’t get bored!

Even still, we all have a responsibility to give back . . . . If social clubs don’t do it for you, then join a community service organization.  Boy, there’s a lot of work to be done, and a lot of needs that need to be met in our communities.  I personally like the Habitat for Humanity, AmeriCorp, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, the United Way, and the Salvation Army. Although there are numerous organizations, these are a few that do an enormous amount of work in my community and have helped a lot of working people who fell into hard times by no fault of their own. I’m a believer that you can never beat the feeling that comes from helping someone in need who actually appreciates what you did for them. So, if the thrill is gone, reach back and help someone in need. I promise you the thrill will be ignited again.

Another idea, is to establish a church home and develop a genuine relationship with those of faith. I have had a church family for many years and have often been blessed by their generosity and support. If you don’t have a church home, I think you’re missing the mark.  I believe you can always find a church organization to practice your faith and to use your gifts and talents.   It may take a while, but the search will be worthwhile.  So, if the thrill is gone, join a good church!  I promise they'll keep you as busy as you will allow them.

Finally, if all else fails, or if you have enough energy to try this in conjunction with the other suggestions, you can make the decision (if your single) to enter the dating arena.  I know that dating now a days, can be a little scarey and sometimes frustrating.  But with the right attitude and the right approach, it can be fun.  If I were single again, I think I would probably hire a dating service to help find viable dating candidates since meeting strangers can be similar to buying a box of assorted chocolates! However, "friend referrals" can be very reliable.  I met my husband 11 years ago through a relative, and we have been married now for 10 years. 

Nothing is more exciting than meeting someone new who finds you attractive or desirable. However, a big part of the prep work is to develop a healthy self-esteem.  Keep in mind that very few people want to meet someone who looks like they don’t care very much about themselves.  It’s for certain, if you don’t think your sexy or interesting, than very few people will think so either. So, change the way you think about yourself! Spruce up your look if necessary.  Be honest with yourself, polish up your attributes and improve your shortcomings. With the right attitude, a little faith, and opportunity, you’ll be certain to meet someone who just might turn out to be Mr. or Miss. Wonderful!

When the thrill dies, do something different or something off the wall. Don’t just remain in a slump! Life is way too short to live it without passion and purpose. Good luck on your next adventure, and Happy New Years!