There’s this thing about human nature. We want what we don’t/can’t have. And we take for granted what we do have. We misuse people and kill for status. We ignore pleas for help because maintaining the status quo is much easier than rocking the boat.
We hate the strong among us as much as we despise the weak. We lie, we cheat, we hate, we interrupt, we fear, we murder with weapons and with words. We make excuses, we look the other way…even from our own family members. And then we act civilized because of our technology, life-lengthening drugs, and a little unsacrificial giving occasionally. Shame on us!–Me.
I posted the above on Facebook a while back. I was feeling fed up with how we as human beings seem to take two steps forward then three steps back. We have been to the moon, and we are planning trips to Mars. We have technology that allows us to speak with each other no matter where in the world we are. Almost everyone on the planet has access to a hand-held computer that also allows us to make and receive phone calls.
Then there are the medications. There is a medication for almost every complaint and disease state under the sun! There is a medication for high blood pressure. There is a medication for incontinence. There is a medication for children who are behind the growth curve, to catch them up. And there is a medication for people who have grown too much. There are medications for mental, emotional, and physical ailments. There are medicines to re-grow hair!
But no matter how much technology or medication we invent, the baser things of human nature cannot seem to be fixed. We continue to be selfish. We continue to want to keep up with the Joneses. We continue to hate and despise each other. We continue to exercise elitism, racism, and slavery. And it is 2017.
I suppose it does not matter what year it is when we start to discuss innate humanness. We cannot fix something until we face it. And as in any relationship, everyone has to want the same thing. In the case of human nature, we would all want the next person to have what we want, which is typically peace, quality of life, respect. At least we should want these things.
But when some people do not want these things for themselves, they definitely will not want them for anyone else. It is sad to say; some human personalities are just that way.
What do we do in the meantime? Maybe those of us who care continue to help when and where we can? I believe we must because that is our personality. Generally, most of us value human life. Let’s continue to value human life. Let’s do our part to be a positive in the craziness of the world. Things may look bleak sometimes, but imagine it all without you!
The first time I heard the well-known evangelist say it, was like a light bulb had turned on in my head! I was so thankful because it released me from a level of confusion I had for years. Why do some people dislike, even hate you on sight? I’m not talking about the hate that comes with racism and prejudice. I’m talking about a person who can be the same race, gender, economic status; but just turn up their nose the moment they meet you. They refuse to speak to you, and may even have a smirk on their face every time you enter the room.
That sermon cleared it all up for me. In it she said that automatically, 20% of the world’s population will hate you on sight! I was shocked but happy to know there was an answer to this phenomenon. Don’t get me wrong, my feelings were not being hurt when this happened. It was more like I was puzzled. When I was younger, I would go over in my mind what I might have done to upset the person. But how exactly does one upset a person they do not know?
Answer: people view each other through their life experience filters. It may be, and usually is, that you remind the ‘hater’ of someone they know or knew. And that relationship may not have been a good experience for them. But immaturity causes people not to know how to differentiate and properly process experiences. Or simply put, it could just be jealousy.
So what do you do, how do you handle it? You be the mature one. People are funny. They want to treat you however they would like and expect you to take it. But if you dare push back or decide to take the high road, they get upset. Take the high road anyway. The Bible says to “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14. Make every effort to live in peace with others. Anything less would be uncivilized.
So, what does taking the high road look like? How does one live in peace? Be kind no matter what. Give the person their space. There is no need to chase anyone down. The person may one day come around, seemingly out of the clear blue sky. Or they may not. You may never know why a person dislikes you. But if your mind is clear, and you are doing your best to live in peace, leave the rest to God.
Oh, and make sure you are mature enough to recognize when someone reminds you of a person with whom you may have had a bad experience. Remember they are not that person. If you have a jealousy problem, recognize and face it. Do not allow childishness to be the cornerstone of your life. Instead, allow continual growth and maturity to be your Hallmark. As you head into a new year, make the effort to mature beyond the petty stuff, recognizing that everyone is different. They are not the high school friend of whom you may be reminded. Oh, and hey, peace be still!
I love the beach! Every chance I can go I am there. To me it’s like a mini vacation whether I go for just a couple hours or for the entire day. The sound of the waves calms me, and the vast ocean puts things into perspective.
So, here are my tips for a great day at the beach:
- Go to the bathroom before you leave home. What? What did you think I was going to say? I don’t know about you, but I don’t like public bathrooms, and I definitely do not like water park
bathrooms beach bathrooms. I just feel like they are a breeding ground for all kinds of germs. Eeew!
- Pack some great books and magazines. No tablets, no electronics, unless its a kindle. And read them.
- Pack a cooler of great snacks, water, and preferably sugar-free drinks. I don’t believe the heat of a hot summer day and sugar mix real well.
- Research the best and highest SPF sunblock you can afford, and use it. I also use lip balm with sunblock in it. It’s probably not the most glamorous thing, but I use the stuff lifeguards use. Re-apply when you get out of the water. Trust me, your older self will thank you.
- Now this next tip is dependent on individual needs. But if your hair dries out when you go to the beach like mine does, saturate it with leave-in conditioner before you go. When you get home just wash it out when you shower.
- Go to the beach with people who want to go to the beach. There’s nothing worse than going to the beach and an hour or two later your companions are ready to go. Not a good scene if it was supposed to be an all day experience!
- Take note of all warning signs. Those signs were not posted to put a damper on your beach experience. There are dangers wherever you go. The beach is no exception.
- This may go without saying, but check the weather for rain, unless you don’t mind getting rained on at the beach. I mean, it does look cool in the movies!
- Clean up after yourself. I mean seriously? Don’t be a litter bug.
- Enjoy, and repeat as often as you can!
The 80’s. A time of huge shoulder pads, night time soap operas, and MTV. Like previous decades, the 80‘s brought about social change, technological change, and new diseases.
People were afraid they could catch AIDS by touching someone who had the disease. Car phones were a big deal, and those huge cell phones were an even bigger deal.
I came of age in the 80’s. The big deal for me during that time was the music, denim jackets, and pins. Yes, pins! I pinned them to my denim jacket, thinking it was the coolest thing ever. They had funny mottos or expressions on them, but of course some were just down right sarcastic. I was a pretty sarcastic person in my younger years. Thank God for maturity! Some of the expressions on my pins gave my dad pause. On more than one occasion he would ask me what I thought a certain motto (today we call them memes) really meant. I always answered that it was not a big deal, that it was just a saying. Fortunately I grew out of the sarcasm and taking words, mottos, and sayings at face value.
Everything has a meaning. Considering words, memes, mottos, instead of taking them at face-value is important. Some may see this as a type of self-editing of our lives. But self-edit is not the case at all. I would venture to call it protection of our mind, even our psyche. Also, things have a way of coming back to haunt us. There are very few people in my opinion, who do not have regrets over actions or words previously spoken. We have all opened our mouths and inserted one or both feet. But it should not be the theme of our lives. We should be able to mature, to listen, to hear from people who care about us. We should remain teachable and willing to continually grow.
If there is any doubt at all about what a saying, a sign, or a symbol means, we should take an extra moment to research it. I have written in the past, about an interaction I had with a stranger on the beaches of southern Belize. Here is a link to that blog post: http://civillamorgan.com/walking-through-part-2 Everything has a meaning. Every bumper sticker, every logo, every brand, every pin. Even apparently mundane, inexpensive jewelry created by a street vendor just trying to make a little cash.
Recently, I listened to a former satanist discuss the meaning of symbols most of us might find innocuous. As I listened to him explain each piece of jewelry, cartoon character, insignia, or logo; I could not help but wonder how we go through life missing so much. Between my dad finally one day telling me that everything has a meaning, the conversation with the stranger on the beach in Belize, and the former satanist explaining what certain symbols meant; I am sold. I get it, seriously, I do! We really do need to open our eyes and pay attention.
What about you? Tell me in the comments below.
Recently, my pastor preached a sermon on the story of Jonah, which can be found in the book of Jonah in The Old Testament of The Holy Bible. I have heard the story countless times over the years. But this sermon was given with a contemporary twist. Doing that puts things into better perspective for most of us, as analogies have a way of bringing the point home. He told how Jonah ran fast in the opposite direction from what God had commanded him to do.
You see, Jonah was a prophet. He was supposed to be following God’s direction to go and warn the Ninevites to change their wicked ways. But instead he was so prejudiced toward the people of Ninevah that he absolutely refused to go and speak to them. At least initially. God’s plans always work out in the end, but we as human beings have a way of forgetting that. We usually try our way first. The fact is, God will typically call us to do something we do not want to do. At the least, something we had no life plans to do. If you doubt that, talk to anyone who has a platform or a ministry. They probably did not grow up saying I want to go head to head and toe to toe, with the biggest sportswear company in the modern world. They never said, I want to become a nun and spend the rest of my life in India, tending to the marginalized. When asked ‘what do you want to be when you grow up?’ They most likely never said ‘I want to fill a need in society.’ No, they said they want to be a fireman, a policeman, or a doctor.
Yes, Jonah was a prophet. He should have known God would call his number at some point right? I mean, no one gets to do whatever they want all the time, and call it being in God’s will? No, being in God’s will is doing what He says to do whether you like it or not. Jonah did not like what God asked him to do, so he ran, but he ran right back into God! I mean, He is God after all. Where exactly did Jonah think he would be able to hide? So after finding himself in a bad spot, he decided to go back and do God’s will…kind of. He talked to the people of Ninevah, telling them to change their wicked ways. But his heart wasn’t in it. Funny thing is, even though his heart wasn’t in it, they still repented! Poor Jonah! He found out that the best course of action is to do God’s will to begin with, and with the right heart.
Have you ever been in a Jonah kind of way? Are you in a Jonah kind of way now? Are you a leader or lay member of your local church, but there are just certain people you do not care for? Maybe there is a group of people you wouldn’t mind if they all just went to Hell. Whether we live to 90, or we die too young. Whether we are on our death beds with 30 seconds to live, our hearts must be right if we want to see Jesus. That’s the bottom line. No one is going to Heaven with hate in their heart. It just does not work that way. “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone, and to be holy. Without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” Hebrews 12:14. Bottom line.
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.