That was the pronouncement my dad made over one of the crepe myrtle trees in his front yard. This was said as he chopped all the branches off. I could not believe it. He had those trees in his yard for years! He moved over to the other crepe myrtle tree and started chopping away at that one. I was shocked. But with more than a decade in the horticulture department at a major amusement park, I knew he knew what he was talking about.
This is the crepe myrtle tree growing back into its own.
But something weird began to happen. In less than a week, I started seeing leaves! Green, beautiful, and then as more time went by; luscious leaves. Unfortunately I did not get a picture before I caught a revelation, but if you look closely, you will see that some of the branches still do not have leaves. Imagine this tree with no leaves!
Do you have any areas in your life that you believe are dead? Any dreams that you no longer believe, or believe in? Has anyone told you that you are dead, or that some aspect of your life is dead? You know, I’ve seen my dad cut back these trees in the past, but never to the extent that he did this year. I truly thought the trees were completely dead and that he would eventually just cut them down. But apparently that was not what he meant when he said the trees were dead. I believe nothing is ever really dead until you are dead. In fact, even after you, we, die; our dreams still have life. If we die before fulfilling them, someone else will take them on. So the excuses that you are too old, or that the dream is dead, is not acceptable.
What are your dreams? What are you doing about them? No matter how much you or someone else has cut them back, no matter how dead they look; they are not dead. Just add water, and some faith, and some will power.
Recently my brother and I were discussing some fixes that were needed on my Jeep, which is a six-speed, manual shift. I would have it no other way. At any rate, for some reason we then started talking about the emergency brake, aka the e-brake. I told him about what my mechanic said the process would be to tighten the e-brake. He asked why it needed to be tightened. I told him that (there are no hills where I live) when I park on an incline, I tend to roll back a little. Listen really closely here, or should I say read really closely. He asked my if I relied solely on my e-brake. I said yes. I have since I learned, um, taught myself to drive a stick shift, in my 20’s. He was shocked!
My brother asked me over and over, if all I have ever relied on was my e-brake. He asked me the question in several different ways. It was the same question though. ‘You never put it in gear, in first or second gear?’ ‘No.’ There was silence, and then he said hold on. A few seconds later, there was a third person on the line. His mechanic. Yes, my brother called me out! But that was not his intention. I know, because I know his heart. He asked his mechanic how to secure a manual shift vehicle, whether it is on a flat surface or on a hill. The mechanic said he, along with 95% of the manual shift driving population, use their e-brake; but they also leave their vehicle in gear. Furthermore he said, and I knew this although I never did it, (remember, there are no hills where I live) you turn your wheels toward the curb so that if your vehicle does roll, it would roll into the curb.
OK, OK, I get it! So today, for the first time in my life, I parked my vehicle, and left it in a gear. I had to think about what I was doing. It really was a process! But wait, by now you are wondering what the point of this story is right? Here is the point: I believe I have been warned. I told my brother the same thing, and he readily agreed. But actually, I learned two lessons after that conversation with my brother. I had been seriously protected from tragedy over the years, having taken the risk to only use my e-brake. The other thing I learned was that I, we, could be doing the same thing for years; but one day find that it was wrong all along. We may have been putting ourselves and others at risk unknowingly. On the other hand, we could just be realizing that it is time to do some things differently than we have been.
After all it is not illegal to use just an e-brake. It is not bad, and if you live in a state or country where it there are no hills or mountains, it may never be an issue. But what if you need to learn the proper way to do something for a reason? What if God is getting you, me, ready for something new; and the only way I knew to approach this new thing was in the old process? A not necessarily bad way, but not necessarily the best way. Of course, the way we learn is being open to even listening and trying new ways in the first place. I am proud of myself for teaching myself to learn to drive a manual shift. I even later taught one of my sisters how to drive a manual shift.
It is OK to learn, teach, and continually expand your mind. But that expanding and stretching includes listening when God speaks to us directly, through others; and through situations. Have you been warned about anything?
No, I am not referring to a scene from The Walking Dead, I’m referring to food for your brain. You see, when we eat, we typically do so for two reasons: for nutrition and to quench hunger. We may even ask ourselves, ‘is this good for me?’, before we take that bite. But how many times do we ask if that piece of food is good for our brain?
No, this is not a nutrition blog. Well, maybe a little, but humor me. I think you will appreciate the point I am going to make. Many of us know that just as there are foods like fruit and vegetables, that are good for us. There are other foods, like cake and ice cream, that are not so good for us. We know that the nutrients in carrots are good for our eyes. The nutrients in beets build the blood and are very good for several internal organs. The nutrients in tomatoes are good for our skin! Who knew? Well, the list goes on. Bottom line, fruits and vegetables are good for our bodies, our brains! You know that old saying, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’.–Benjamin Franklin. It really is true.
But I would like to add to the list, a different type of brain food. This food should be pretty easy to ingest, but unfortunately for many, it is a process. This is because there are things that can block this food from getting in. It’s almost like you have to fight to get the food in! But I would suggest you fight. What is this brain food you ask? Well different people call this food different things, but it’s the same food. Here are a few of the different names this food goes by: positive self-reinforcement, daily self-affirmations, positive self-speak.
You see, we all know there is a big bad world out there. There are mean, hurt, difficult, people out there.
You’ve heard the saying, ‘hurt people hurt people.’ Unfortunately, some of these mean people exist right in our homes! Some people must fight against difficulty and hurtful words the moment their eyes pop open in the morning. In fact, some people even sleep with their eyes open! From the time some of us are very young, we have to fight against the words family members tell us. Words such as ‘you will never amount to anything’, or ‘you are stupid like your father’, or ‘you are not smart enough to go to college’.
But no matter what negative word has been spoken to or over you, you still have a choice. It does not matter how young or how old you are, you can make this choice. When you make the choice, there is nothing the perpetrator(s) can do about it. The choice? Create your own brain food. We should eat the natural brain food I mentioned earlier, as much as possible. But when we create our own brain food, we can eat as much of it as we want, day and night. There are no calories, and we receive tons of positive self-reinforcement. And the wonderful thing is, the perpetrators do not need to know you are consuming this food!
So here is how it works. If we find ourselves in a situation where we are being punched and pummeled with negative words from family or from strangers, we must have something good to say to ourselves. It’s that simple! But you have to be ready. You have to practice these positive words and phrases.
When you hear ‘you will never amount to anything’, say to yourself, ‘I am a child of God. I know I’m somebody, because God does not make junk.’ If you hear ‘you are stupid like your father’, say to yourself, ‘that’s not true. I am smart and getting smarter every day!’ If you hear ‘you are ugly’. Say to yourself, ‘I am beautiful because I was created in God’s image.’ Get the idea? Always be ready with something positive to say to and about yourself. And please know, it is not vanity to speak positively to yourself. You, we, are created by God. No one has a right to mistreat us or call us names.
Unfortunately, people do and say ugly things because those things were done to them. Maybe you are beautiful inside and out, so they are jealous. Maybe people love your personality, but theirs not so much. There are many reasons human beings mistreat each other. But that is not your problem. Maintain a good attitude about yourself and others. Say positive things to yourself daily. Every good thing you say to and about yourself, builds you up. Our brains are the most awesome machines on earth. Did you know that?
Did you know that I create lists of affirmations and positive self-speak for people? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or inbox me on Facebook or Twitter for details. In the meantime, remember, no matter what anyone says, you are awesome! You are handsome! You are beautiful!
I think about leftovers quite a bit.
I’m one of those people who does not mind eating left overs. In fact, my favorite leftovers are cold pizza and cold fried chicken. Sounds like high school or college kid food right? Unfortunately however, as I get older, I am finding my body is becoming less agreeable to this diet plan. I am changing my ways though. I do not eat those foods as much as I used to.
Unfortunately, leftovers are not always about food. Sometimes we as human beings can feel or be made to feel like left overs. Over 40 and single? Maybe you have never married? Those of us in that demographic can sometimes feel like leftovers. Forgotten leftovers.
To make matters worse, some of the more disingenuous members of society tend to want to take advantage, or perceive there is an opportunity to take advantage of a situation. But it is up to us to hold ourselves in high esteem, because we are of high esteem. We are human beings who deserve to live our best, most fulfilling lives; regardless of our marital and family status.
Over the years I have witnessed a phenomenon. I would tell my mom about it, sometimes annoyed; sometimes with a laugh. I have witnessed women draw their husbands closer whenever a single woman was in the room. I believe many single women have witnessed this phenomenon. My mom finally told me one day, that when a woman draws her husband closer, it is because she knows what kind of man she married.
I had never thought of it that way! There is nothing like a great mom to put life into perspective. I mean, I do not want anyone’s leftovers. I do not want to be treated like left overs, or a side item. I want what is rightfully mine, even if what is rightfully mine is a life of singleness. I would rather have a clear head and a clear life, than to play telephone games.
So, my life did not exactly turn out the way I expected. I thought I would be married with children by age 25. Yes, I even had the age of marriage scheduled, and then children would follow two years later. Have I had moments of asking God what exactly I did to deserve this? Yes, every once in a while down through the years. But it really does not matter does it? It is better to live a life of self-respect. I would rather earn my own money. I do not want to have to rely on someone else for a place to live, or food to eat. Unless that someone is God.
I have been told at various times through the years, that my choice of good, available men is greatly diminished because I prefer not to be unequally yoked, and I do not believe in dating for dating’s sake. But hey, we all have our preferences, belief systems, and levels of understanding right?
So I have learned to live a life of thankfulness for what I have, and I have learned to be thankful for what I do not have. God knows why and why not. I want to live my life as a fresh plate of food, instead of a side item of cold leftovers. What about you?
What is God’s view on women?
What do you think? As a woman, I may have differing opinions than many men. But I am not sure why. It’s something I have been thinking about for quite some time.
Down through my years of Bible reading, I have seen nothing but good from God (Old Testament), and Jesus (New Testament). I think of the story of the woman at the well, the Samaritan Woman (John 4): Jesus met her where she was, in her element, her world. In all of the stories of Jesus’ interactions with women, He never made women feel uncomfortable. But He always made his point. His conversations with women always brought about life-changing revelation and change.
The woman at the well was OK in her sin, at least she pretended to be. Jesus took a detour to go talk to her. And he talked to her one on one, instead of embarrassing her in front of an audience.
Jesus healed Mary Magdalene of seven demons (Luke 8). This tells me what we all know, that Jesus cares about every aspect of our lives. He wants us to be healthy and whole mentally, physically, and emotionally. After Mary Magdalene was healed, she became a follower of Jesus. But what I find interesting is that on at least one occasion, several women who were also healed of demon possession, had traveled with Jesus at least on some occasions. In fact, there were other named women, women Jesus had healed of other physical issues.
Almost from the beginning of time, women have been mistreated. Traded like property in many cultures, like slaves in other cultures. But every where Jesus went, every interaction he had with women, he treated them as equals. And He loved women regardless of their status in life. The woman accused of prostitution by the Jewish leaders (John 8) was no different. Imagine, these leaders ‘made her stand in front of the group…’ (verse 4). But Jesus put the ball back in their court, asking if any of them were without sin.
So why do some men in every culture, mistreat women? Why are women’s wages just a percentage of their male peers. Why are women still traded like livestock in certain cultures? Why are women stolen and tricked into going into sex-trade slavery around the world?
In the Old Testament, God spoke to Eve as though she were equal to her husband Adam. In fact, when God created Eve, he did so by putting Adam to sleep and taking one of his ribs. He did not create Eve from the soles of Adam’s feet. It’s true, God did not create Eve from the top of Adam’s head to rule him. God created Eve as a helper to Adam, not as a slave, not as property.
Even in the case of Miriam, Moses’ sister. She spoke against the fact that Moses was the only person who ever heard God’s voice. She also did not like the fact that Moses was getting ready to marry a black woman. Again to my point: God created us all, from the darkest skin, to the lightest. We are all God’s creation. As punishment, God temporarily struck Miriam with leprosy because of her rebellion. I have always marveled at the fact that Miriam’s seven-day bout with leprosy meant that the entire camp had to wait until her punishment was removed. She delayed progress. But that’s another story for another day. I have also marveled at the fact that God’s punishment was temporary, and that his love for Miriam was not lessened. God loves His daughters AS MUCH as He loves His sons.
I continue to hope that one day women will be treated with equal respect, from the rib and not from the head or the feet. Given equal pay, and equal safety. I believe that is what God wants too.