Category Archives: Spiritual

New Paint

We have decided to place our home on the market, for the third time. In preparation, I am scraping down the old paint on the porch so that I can add a layer of adhesive primer and then some fresh paint. My son and I did something similar a couple of years ago to the same porch but without the adhesive primer. It looked great for a while, but after some time and weathering, the wood did not truly accept the paint and it began to lift off.

This reminded me of the process that we go through to become better people. Sometimes, we brush off the old habits, attitudes and thought processes so that we can take on new ones. A lot of the times, we find that without a proper foundation, the new habits, attitudes and thought processes just don’t stick like we thought they would. We find ourselves falling back into our old patterns. It certainly is easy enough to do.

I think that is why we need a life changing event, an ‘aha’ moment, a strong source of motivation to act as the adhesive primer to create the proper foundation for our newness. We need something that makes the new habits stick. My sister had complimented me on my will-power to avoid gluten containing foods, but I attributed that not to will-power, but a motivation to avoid the arthritis and pain that the inflammation gives me as a result from eating gluten and high sugar containing foods. That experience of overall pain and lack of mobility helps me want to avoid the same in the future.

“You must learn a new way to think before you can master a new way to be.” – Marianne Williamson, American spiritual teacher, author and lecturer.

To have a different attitude or develop a different habit, we need to change the way we think. We must make a conscience effort to change and be better. It is like putting on a new coat of paint. To make sure the paint sticks, we need a good foundation, which is why this time, I am using an adhesive primer on the porch. I don’t want the porch to look good temporarily, but for it to look good for the new owners for many years. I don’t want to change myself for the better just to fall back to where I was. I want to change myself for the better so that I can create a firm foundation to continue getting better. I know that I will never be perfect, but that doesn’t matter, as long as I try daily to be better than I was the day before.

I hope to have the porch painted by the end of the week. It is a good exercise in reminding me that, like the porch getting new paint, that I must continually strive to improve myself as well. Take this time to be thankful for all that you have, all that you are and ask for guidance to be all that you are meant to be. Take care and be well.

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Convergence

I have been very interested and fascinated by the convergence of end times signs. People have believed they were living in the end times for nearly 2000 years. Some signs are rather vague, like wars, famine, natural disasters and pestilence, which we have seen throughout history time and time again. These are still occurring and in greater frequency, or at least better reported. It is definitely worth noting the signs of the times, and the season of the end times.

But there are a lot of interesting events that occur this September. I am not predicting the end of the world, but the convergence of the signs are hard to ignore. Many end time prophesies did not even make sense a hundred years ago, but they seem easier to satisfy now, especially since Israel has restored.

September of 2015 will host the end of the shemita year ( the last year of a 7 year cycle in Jewish tradition). Shemita years are years of rest, blessings and the withdrawal of blessings. The last two shemita years saw the attack of 9/11/2001 and subsequent stock market drawdown, and the next shemita year, 2008, saw another stock market drop.

September of 2015 will also host the final blood moon of the current tetrad. The blood moons of this tetrad occur on Jewish holy days or feast days. It also hosts the start of a Jubilee year, which happens after the seventh shemita of the seventh shemita cycle, the year after 49 years. The last Jubilee saw the liberation of Jerusalem. This could be the 70th Jubilee but I have read different calculations and math that may or may not offer support for this.

A red heifer was discovered in the US, which seems to meet the very high standards required. It is only the 10th red heifer suitable for sacrificial cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem, if it were there and rebuilt. I think this will spur the efforts already underway to rebuild the temple. The Temple Mount Institute is already fashioning the furnishings and implements that would be used in a newly built temple.

We see frequent famine, earthquakes, epidemics, lawlessness, increased violence, and threats of wars; and now with the Islamic State on the march, a severe increase in the violence towards believers.

The Abrahamic religions (Jewish, Christian, and Muslim) all have end times prophesies that intertwine with each other, with some similarities. Regardless, it makes the convergence a most interesting study, which scares some. There are so many different ideas, interpretations and expectations, but there is no doubt that a convergence is occurring, there are too many things happening to just be a coincidence.

Something big is coming in September 2015. I am not sure what it is. It might be a financial collapse, a natural disaster, news that effects the world, or something else. I would rather prepare and not need it than to need it and not be prepared. It certainly is something to think about. There are numerous proposed timelines concerning end times. I am sure each one is made by a sincere person but I prefer to study as many viewpoints as possible. Not matter the timeline, the decision in the end is still ours.

Take care and stay well.

Quit Playing God

When I sit back and point out all the sins of others, look for opportunities to criticize them, and getting angry that they don’t do as I would do, or think as I think, I am playing God. It is not my job to pass judgment on everything that others do. So many of us take on the roll as the General Manager of the Universe. We actually believe that everyone should act and do as we expect them.

If taken too far, this causes resentment towards us in others and bitterness in ourselves. I believe that the root of bitterness is anger. When anger is closely held onto and unforgiven, it results in bitterness. Bitterness is a focus on the faults of others. We focus on those faults because we won’t forgive and we are sure that the person is going to once again let us down, or anger us, or hurt us in some way.

If we are not careful, bitterness eats at us, consumes us, and affects those around us. The solution is simple. To realize that I am not perfect. That everyone has their bad days, bad moods, and deal with their own situations. Often what they do or say has absolutely nothing to do with me. Once I realize that I have no real control over the universe and everyone who inhabits it, I can give myself a break from managing the universe and realize it’s just not my job.

Can’t I influence others? Yes, I can. But in the end, everyone is a free will creature and will do what they will do. I can pressure them, but if I push, they have three options: be pushed, push back, or just ignore me. It’s still their choice. They may do what I think they should do, but in their time, not mine.

Fred Rogers wrote in The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember, “Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”

The solution is simple, to give up the anger, the judgment, and forgive. But even though it is simple, it is hard to do. It is hard for us to let go. It is hard for us to allow the world around us to be outside of our control. But peace and joy lie in our ability to let go and forgive. Anger without forgiveness is a bitter poison and a cancer that eats us alive. Will Davis Jr. in 10 Things Jesus Never Said: And Why You Should Stop Believing Them, wrote: “Once you decide to forgive, you initiate the healing process. Forgiveness gives your soul permission to move on to the higher and healthier ground of emotional recovery. Forgiveness is to your soul what antibiotics are to infection. It is the curative agent that will help to fully restore your soul. It doesn’t immediately remove the pain of defense but it does start you on the road to recovery.”

So, if you are weary from running the universe, take down your shingle, leave the office and let our Maker do the job. Relieve yourself of the anxiety and disappointment that others will not follow your plan, your expectation, your will on your time.

I am happy not to be in charge of the universe. It is too much responsibility. The help is unreliable because they will do what they do. They do because they are free will creatures just like me. They are imperfect just like me. They suffer emotions, uneasiness, fear just like me. And I hope that they feel joy, happiness and contentment, just like me. I hope that I don’t steal their joy. I hope that I remember to always see their value as God’s child with God’s heart. As Dieter F. Uchdorf said, “There is enough heartache and sorrow in this life without our adding to it through our own stubbornness, bitterness, and resentment.”

We are all imperfect. Do not be bitter, be better. Forgive whoever you might be angry with and then forgive yourself for just being human. There is so little in our life that we can control, but we can control our own actions. We cannot control the actions of others, even God has surrendered controlling his children because He wants us to choose. That is why we have “free will”, and so does everyone else.

The Certainty of Uncertainty

As much as we might like to think we know what the future holds, we really do not. Anything can happen to keep us on our chosen path or derail us. We need to be prepared for uncertainty as much as we can be. Of course, we cannot cover every possibility. A town less than an hour from where I live was struck with torrential rains and gale force winds. When the storm was over, homes were flooded and damaged. This came as a great surprise. The news showed the residents coming together to help out with assistance coming from other areas as well. We just don’t know what might happen tomorrow.

Each time I drive by a serious accident on my way to work, I hope that there were no fatalities. There are times I am surprised that the driver lived. Even though I don’t know the driver of a fatal accident, I cannot help but think of the profound affect that this accident had on the family. The sudden death of a family member leaves the family confused, angry and anxious for the future. It is never hard to face the loss of a family member.

Other losses, such as a loss of a job or career, can cause just as much anxiety. Even when we get news about a severe or terminal medical condition is a loss. Again, we never know what might happen. But one thing we can do is live in the moment. Knowing that we are in someone’s heart, their thoughts, and prayers can be comforting. It is important that we look inside ourselves for strength. It is also important that we look to others for support. I certainly hope that you have those persons or organizations to give you support when you might need it. If you are a religious person, seek out God. Your faith can be your comfort, even if you have to be angry and shout at God at first because you just can’t understand why. It’s okay, God has very large shoulders.

Whatever might come your way, I wish for you speedy healing. If it is a door that closes, remember that every exit door is an entrance to somewhere else. We cannot know what will happen tomorrow. We need to plan for the unknown, but live in the present. It is paying attention to the now that builds the bridges to tomorrow. We might not know what is around the bend in the path, but what we do can determine the road.

Peace be with you.

A Rose for a Butterfly

This Friday, February 7, 2014, I have a medical appointment that will put me near the grave of someone I love very much. Her name is Laura A. VerDow Santelli. She died on February 20, 2010. Like the previous years, I will put a single red rose at her grave.

I know that she is not there, not really, only the shell of her body that her soul left behind, but it is my way of remembering her. I do this for my parents as well. I buy a bouquet of flowers and spread them on their graves. I could not do it last year as I did not travel to the state of my birth. I will this year. My parents names are Virginia and William.

David Eagleman in his book, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, wrote “There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.”

Mom, Dad and Laura, your third death has not come for I have not forgotten you and I promise to speak your names.

I look forward to placing a rose on Laura’s grave. She was my Butterfly. She loved life and was full spirited and fun loving. I do miss her and love her very much. Remember those that have passed on and say their names. Remember them for that is how they stay in our hearts. Because all of us, like my Butterfly, will have to fly off someday leaving our bodies behind.

I am not worthy

Even though I am not worthy, God still loves me. These words continually bring me great comfort. I am not perfect and won’t be. It is not in my nature to be perfect. Now knowing this does not give me an excuse to be unloving to people. It is still my responsibility to always try to do what is good and loving.

For several years, I had a young man work for me that was often disappointed in himself because he wasn’t doing everything perfectly.  I appreciated his efforts and stressed to him over a long period of time that what I wanted was his best.  I believe that when he was extremely overwhelmed, he finally figured it out. He could not always be perfect at everything he did. I am not sure where he learned this insecurity because I never explored that with him.

We tend to beat ourselves up when things don’t go as well as planned. Maybe we made mistakes or didn’t try hard enough. But it is up to us to examine the events and learn from them. Then again, it could be that we just might not be capable or talented for that particular task. I will never be a Russian ballerina. I am not Russian nor am I female and I am not particularly graceful. So I don’t beat myself up for not being a Russian ballerina. I know that is extreme, but the point is, there are just some things that others are better at.

I am not worthy but I try my best. I know that God is patient. I look at the men and women that God used throughout the Bible. These were not the top of the class, spotlight of the world people. They were everyday people. They often balked at the mission God gave them, giving God reasons why they were not worthy of such an assignment.

It didn’t seem to matter to God. He basically communicated that He knew they were not worthy but He would give them the strength and tools to get it done. I am not worthy but God has shown over and over again that He works through people. People, just like you and me.

I am glad that I do not have to be perfect to be loved by God or anyone else. If we had to be perfect, none of us would be loved. So, it comforts me to know that even though I am not worthy, God still loves me. He expects me to be human, which is a good thing, because that is what and where I am.

So don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Try to be the best you can be knowing that you can never be perfect. Know that even though you can never be perfect, that God’s grace and mercy are already waiting for you.

Do it for Love

We usually don’t stop to analyze why we do the things we do, especially for other people. Too often, we do things out of fear. We do things because we are afraid that someone might be upset or that they might be angry if we didn’t.

In our personal lives, we did things when we were young because we knew that if we didn’t our parents would be upset. So, if we did not want to get in trouble and be yelled at, we made sure it was done. Then there were times that we did something, like make a card, out of love. Remember how that felt? There was no anxiety, just joy and the hope that the person receiving the card would be filled with joy as well.

Even when we grow up, we continue to do things out of fear. We do things at work that we might not appreciate because if we didn’t, it might cost us a raise or even our job. We do things at home because we don’t want to hear our partner complain about it not being done. And we might behave a certain way because we are afraid that God will punish us.

It is so much better to do things out of love. The fear part comes out of expectations of how others might react, especially if they have demonstrated that behavior previously. We might have learned that connection. I very much prefer to do things out of love. I want to do things that make someone happy. That takes a mind change. I have to think to myself, “I am doing this because it makes her happy” instead of “If I don’t do it this way, she is going to be upset and I’ll have to hear about it.”  The former is much better for my soul, but sometimes the latter sneaks in there. Besides, are we really doing our best, if we work from a place of fear? Our hearts and minds are more invested when we work from a place of love. Doing things out of fear just makes everything more difficult.

Even at work, a mindset change is essential. Think ‘I need to do this for the customer. The customer deserves the best.’  Instead of ‘If I don’t do this, my boss is going to yell at me and I might lose my job.’

And most importantly, many people are raised to ‘fear’ God. They are afraid that God will punish them if they do not behave in a certain way. We were not meant to fear God in a way that makes us afraid, but in a way that we revere and find God to be awesome. Thus we should behave to please God just as we would want to please our parent by making them a card, not because we are afraid.

Fear is a big part of our human life. It is the dealing with our fears and overcoming our fears that lead to confidence, self-reliance, and ultimately peace within ourselves. May peace be with you always.

What color is your world?

When I was young, my Uncle Harry (after whom I am named) came to live with us because he had lost his greenhouse nursery business. He stayed with us quite a while and as a gift for our family’s kindness, he left behind a black and white television set. It was the first television we had.

Black and white television depended on shades of gray to create contrast. We fooled ourselves into believing that we could tell the colors that should have been there by the particular shade of gray. Whether or not we guessed the color correctly didn’t really matter, as we painted the grayscale picture in our mind.

Like today, there was an annual showing of the Wizard of Oz. I did not know until years later that the dream sequence of the film was in color. That Zenith TV my uncle left us lasted a very long time.

There are some people who live in black and white only, others in grayscale and still others in technicolor. Of course, all of us have episodes of all three. Those that live in strictly black and white have a very hardened set of rules which establish right from wrong. Basically, anything that isn’t right must be wrong. That’s it – no argument. They write the script for the rest of the world to follow and become upset if they don’t, despite the fact that the rest of the world had no opportunity or desire to follow their script in the first place. So, they spend much of their time being consumed by the world’s inconsideration of their beliefs.

There are others that live in grayscale. They have a defined concept of right and wrong but know that there are motives, reasons and situations that create circumstances that dilute the rigidness of those concepts, hoping that grace will provide trails to the right path. The gray in their lives comes from wishing for better and playing the ‘if only’ game. I would be happy, if only I were married. I would be happy, if only I got a raise. I would be happy, if only I had another job. I would be happy, if only I had lots of money. Instead of looking at what they already have and the relationships around them, they always see what they are doing without or things they don’t or cannot have. They miss out on the joys of life.

Then there are those that live in technicolor. They know that the world is full of wonder and mystery. They want to see the colors of the orient. They want to hear the music of the African plains. They want to feel the tropical breezes. Creation is alive and vibrant, pulsing with color: to be experienced by all of our senses. They have defined concepts of right and wrong but understand that many cultures exist. That backgrounds and experiences shape the lives of each one of us – that grace belongs to all of us; that love and God are not limited; and beyond our full comprehension. They understand that two people can listen to the same music and be moved differently. They accept the diversity as the wonderful mystery of God and creation.

Now everyone has episodes of all three of these examples. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, her dream world was vibrant, beautiful, and at times a little scary. As exciting as it was, she was still tied to a place called home. Her relationships were important. She had tasted the Technicolor life, and it is my hope it remained an important part of her psyche.

I try very much to live a technicolor life, but I admit, I sometimes fall into the grayscale (probably more than I would like to admit). Each morning, when I wake up on the right side of the grass, I am thankful and blessed – anything beyond that is a gift. I wish to continue to see all these little gifts as blessings, trials as lessons that give me insight and strength, and relationships that promote love and understanding. My world is full of color and you shine brightly. You can be a gift to the world no matter how you see it through your own eyes. The reality might be gray, but that does not mean you can’t live a technicolor life.

Take care, be well, and be blessed.

The Magic Isn’t Gone

I watched a movie last night called the Secret of the Wings. I wish I could have watched it with all the ones I love. Not because the movie was so wonderful, it was a good movie, but because it had magic. I am not talking about the kind of magic that witches have or the magicians want to trick us with, but the magic of the imagination.

Some would relegate this kind of movie to children. I believe that we should be reminded daily that the awe and wonder that we had as children is just as important and wonderful today as adults. We seem to be so busy and preoccupied that we miss out on the magic that happens all around us.

If we have young children or grandchildren or otherwise interact with small children, you will see that spark in their eyes as they explore the wonder around them. Think about the magic of the machine that dispenses frozen custard or the other machine that dispenses cash. As an adult you know that there is no magic but to a child, it is almost miraculous. And it is miraculous, these everyday occurrences started out as an idea in someone’s imagination. Through talent and perseverance, these things came into being. I think that is magic.

Every snowflake that falls is magic; the flowers that burst from the ground in spring fill the air and our views with magical splendor. The birds exercise their magic of flight and the children chasing butterflies exercising the magic of creation and beauty.

My children are grown. I may have grandchildren one day and if I do, I will enthusiastically explore all the wonder and magic with them. So many people complain about how the media is so wicked that all TV and movies should be done away with. Yet, I feel that there is some  good there. There are stories of love, family, courage and determination in all different forms if we care to look for them.

I enjoy “children’s” movies and programming. It reminds me to be childlike in my wonder and awe of everything around me. It reminds me to look for beauty and miracle. Yes, life is hard, it can be miserable. But life can also be filled with beauty, wonder and magic. So don’t be afraid to watch a “children’s” movie, even if you don’t have children or youngsters around. Have the attitude of looking for the magic that you once had or may still have from your childhood.

A life without magic, wonder and awe can be very dark indeed. To block out magic is to stifle the spirit. It has been said through the ages and in many ways to stop and smell the flowers. There is much for our senses to observe. Look for the magic there because the magic isn’t gone, just not always believed or remembered.

Does God Exist?

Almost every workday, there are two gentlemen where I work who discuss the existence of God. Some days are more passionate than others. They are constantly bringing up evidence or proof of their opposing beliefs. One believes that science proves God does exist by discovering: the delicate balance of nature; our unique circumstances that allows life on this planet; the incredible complexity of life itself and the programming of DNA. One believes that all these things are incredible but in no way proves the existence of God. I do believe in God. I have faith in God. But I am intrigued by the argument for and against.

I asked privately if they learn anything from their arguments. The believer said that he was learning a great deal about science. I agree. There is so much that we do not know. As soon as we think we figure something out, there is always something else beyond our reason.

I believe that God does exist. He is not only all around me but in me as well. But I can understand that some need hard evidence, and maybe even then would not be convinced. I appreciate both these people. They are thoughtful and passionate. They are friends, even though they disagree. So, even if you do not believe that God exists, I wish you well and hope that you will be well blessed.