Tag Archives: life

Asians & Cameras, Whites & Trump, Klingons & War

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Last night, my husband and I watched NFL football players take a stand or a knee against police brutality and racial injustice during the National Anthem, we listened to a panel of West Michigan Trump and non-Trump voters have a discussion with Oprah on 60 Minutes, and we watched the first episode of the new Star Trek: Discovery. One statement, made by First Officer Burnham of the USS Shenzhou, really struck me. She said, “… it would be unwise to confuse race with culture.”

Although stereotypes are generalizations and not true in every instance, stereotypes exist because there is some truth to them. Not all Asians are paparazzis, but there was a time before cell phones when it was not uncommon to see Japanese people sporting cameras. My husband once lamented, while he was scraping doggie do from his shoe during a hike, that I take pictures of everything! I chuckled and said, “Well, I am Asian!”

Both negative and positive stereotypes or cultural characteristics exist. Cultures are not only restricted to nationalities. They can be regional, geographical and social. Police officers are not all white nor are they all brutal. The majority of police officers of various nationalities are compassionate peacekeepers and first responders. If your race or culture is carrying a certain negative label, doesn’t it make sense to be proactive and seek every opportunity to do the opposite and dispel the label, like some police officers are doing to connect with their communities and live in peace?

In most instances, the divisions we are experiencing in our country and in the world are not so much about race or even culture. Most of it stems from fear and a lack of understanding. Babies aren’t born prejudice and suspicious; they learn it. Whether it’s conservatives and liberals, blacks and cops, Christians and Muslims, or Mexicans and Trump, although our cultures and environments have shaped us into who we are, we are really all of one race—the human race—and we need to stop warring with each other. If we want to survive and experience satisfaction, it would be in our best interest to pursue peace by seeking to understand each other. As one of the West Michigan panel members expressed, we need to learn the art of discussion and compromise again, else I’ll take a stand, and you’ll take a stand, and neither of us will obtain what we want or need.

Instead of becoming defensive or offensive when ideas and cultures clash, maybe we should do what some Trump rally members did when a Black Lives Matter group showed up. Invite your ‘opponents’ to the stage to speak, too, start a dialog, gain some insight, and come to an understanding. I could even take a picture of you working together!


How Are You Gonna Handle It?

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“It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.”  —Epictetus

We’ve read or heard the inspirational stories of how people have overcome tragedy or being dealt a bad hand.  We can either follow their example, take ownership and believe in possibilities, or we can remain in a cycle of making excuses, blaming others, and playing the victim.  We can be either a victim or a victor.  Anything worth having is worth striving for.

“Don’t get tired of doing good, for you will eventually see results, if you don’t give up.”  —Paul in the letter to the Galatians

 


Breathe Life

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“To know even one life has breathed easier because you lived, this is to have succeeded.”  —Ralph Waldo Emerson


What Do You Smell Like?

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Have you ever hugged someone, who was wearing a nice cologne, and later caught a whiff of their fragrance lingering on you? Mmmmm…. Have you ever hugged someone or been in their presence long enough to have their stench get trapped in your nose? [gag] Whether a person physically smells good or bad, some people have sweet smelling spirits while others have stinky ones. Just as breathing in a pleasant scent can bring a smile to our faces and remind us of a nice hug, so, too, can a sweet spirit linger and cause us to smile.

In the letters to the Ephesians and Corinthians, Paul spoke of the sacrifice and love of Christ being like a fragrant aroma to God, like the incense used by Jewish priests in the tabernacle and temple. When we imitate Him, we, too, are like a sweet aroma to God, but we can also be like a sweet fragrance of life to others. That’s what I want— the sweet spirit of God that leaves a fragrance of life.

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Pretty Is As Pretty Does

Photo credit: Christopher Bruno via freeimages.com with text added

Photo credit: Christopher Bruno via freeimages.com with text added

 


When Life Begins to Fray

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The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those who are crushed in spirit. —Psalm 34:18 NLT

I recently bought a colorful, artsy scarf, which I quickly noticed can snag and fray somewhat easily.  Even though the fray looks like a mess, the nice thing about the scarf’s design is it seems as easily fixed by stretching the fabric in just the right place and with the right amount of tension.  I was reminded of how God designed us in such a way that we are not so easily broken, and when life begins to fray, if we will allow God to stretch us a bit, even when it looks like a mess, our lives can become untangled.  He knows just how and where to stretch us, so our lives can look like a beautiful tapestry once again.

 

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God and Mr. Miyagi

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Wisdom Wednesday: Keep Your Heart

Photo credit minus type:  Nithya Ramanujam via Free Images

Photo credit minus type: Nithya Ramanujam via Free Images

This post is mostly for young people, but since I’m not immune, it’s a good reminder for those of us who are on the other side of the hill, too, especially for those who may be just starting a new stage in life.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” —Proverbs 4:23 NLT

I, and I’m sure many others my age and older, can confirm the validity of Proverbs 4:23, because the course of our lives has been determined by what our hearts have followed. For some, it has been a pretty good road, but for others, it has been hard and filled with regrets. Although some people would say they are grateful for the lessons learned, if they could go back and have a do-over, they would.

“To know the road ahead, ask those coming back.”  —Chinese proverb

“We’re prone to let circumstances fuel our emotions. Then our emotions dictate our responses, and so we become victims of our circumstances and of our emotions…” —Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Trials That Reveal Your Heart

“Look not upon your desires and your heart will not be confused.” —Chinese proverb

Sometimes flattery grabs the attention of our hearts, because it fills the common need of acceptance and love. Compliments and encouragement are one thing, but be careful of flattery that is intended to capture your attention for selfish reasons.

“The ear is the road to the heart.”  —French proverb

Sometimes our present circumstances are tough or even bad, and all we want to do is escape, and we go for the first person or circumstance that would appear to rescue us.

“A fleeing person is not choosy about his road.” —Japanese proverb

“Whether you understand the motivations of your heart or not, really what’s driving your actions, and what’s driving your life and how you fill your day, actually comes back to what you believe is actually gonna bring about the most fullness of life possible for you.” —Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Fig Leaves, Lies and the Grace of God

“If you want to know where your heart is, look to where your mind goes when it wanders.” —Unknown

“Your feet will bring you to where your heart is.” —Irish proverb

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  —Jesus

“For where your treasure is…”

The deeper meaning of Proverbs 4:23 reveals the value of our hearts. Most other English translations more accurately read similarly to the NKJV, “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” Our hearts are like a water spring, a source, and everything in our lives flows from it, and that is what determines our course. It is like a life giving spring, but if it becomes polluted, it can mean disease or death, suffering and heartache, so we must guard it well.

I would be the last person to tell you that it’s easy to control the direction and affections of your heart. And changing the course of that direction can be especially difficult when it involves the heart of another as well. Have you ever found yourself involved in a relationship and found it difficult to let go because you didn’t want to hurt the other person? They usually end up getting hurt in the end anyway, so it’s better to guard your heart— and theirs— from the beginning.

“He is most free from danger, who, even when safe, is on his guard.” —Latin proverb

“It’s okay to follow your heart, but take your brain with you.” —Nicole Hill

 

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Breaking & Making Habits and God’s Plan for Your Life May Not Be What You Think It Is

 


Wisdom Wednesday: Balance Is Key

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“Moderation in all things.”

“Even in adultery?” a response was shot back.

The responder was being facetious in trying to defend his position in a discussion, but even though he used a logical fallacy, his retort does bring up a good point.  Moderation in all things obviously does not include immoral things.

“Immoderate desire is the mark of a child, not a man.” —Democritus

“Every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things…” —1 Corinthians 9:25a KJV

“If there is one single secret to long life, that secret is moderation.” —George Gallup

Moderation and temperance for one person may be different for another, because the idea of moderating something has to do with measuring it, and temperance has to do with self-control.  One person might be able to eat a pint of ice cream without gaining weight, while another person gains weight just by looking at it.  One person might be able to have a glass of wine with a meal, while another person cannot stop at just one.

“Be moderate in order to taste the joys of life in abundance.” —Epicurus

“Hast thou found honey?  Eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.” —Proverbs 25:16 KJV

“Even nectar is poison if taken to excess.” —Hindu proverb

“Enough is as good as a feast.” —English proverb

Moderation and temperance are not just about food and drink, it’s about every area of life— work, recreation, relationships, hobbies, sleep…

Do not be excessively righteous and do not be overly wise. Why should you ruin yourself?” —Ecclesiastes 7:16 NASV

“Nothing brings more pain than too much pleasure; nothing more bondage than too much liberty.” —Poor Richard aka Benjamin Franklin

“Better learn balance.  Balance is key.  Balance good, karate good.  Everything good.  Balance bad, better pack up, go home.” —Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid

 

If you liked this, you might also like… Wisdom Wednesday: Breaking & Making Habits


Read Between the Lines

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God’s Plan for Your Life May Not Be What You Think It Is

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While attending a friend’s high school graduation, the commencement speaker gave an excellent speech, one that Christian graduates don’t often hear. While telling the graduates that God doesn’t care which college or career path they choose, he also balanced it out by encouraging them to seek God in fellowship and prayer, to use the wisdom God has given in His Word, and to pursue godliness. He said if Jesus were to give a commencement speech, He might simply say, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

 That’s it.

Preachers and teachers have often said, “God has a wonderful plan for your life,” as if each step is mapped out, which has led to a lot of confusion, not only in trying to find the elusive plan but in dealing with the subject of evil.  Although I understand that some will say His plan starts after a person accepts Christ, which may answer someone’s question, “Was it part of God’s plan for me to be abused as a child?”, making the answer, “No,” it still falls short. And some would say, “Yes, it was a part of God’s plan for your life.” Sure God can turn what was meant for evil into something good, as in the case of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, but how does it make sense to anyone, much less a child to imply that his or her suffering under the hands of abusive parents was all a part of a good God’s plan? That’s where the long debated subject of God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility comes in.

“It’s interesting that while many of us will reject Calvinist theology in matters of salvation, we embrace the idea of a predestined personal life.” —Jennifer Taylor in “God Does Not Have a Plan for Your Life

Does God have a plan for our lives? Yes. He has provided a plan of salvation and reconciliation, and that plan includes the plan of conforming us into the image of His Son. He is not a puppet master pulling all the strings. He has given us a Book of wisdom and the responsibility to study it, apply it, and seek Him and His counsel… or the freedom to not. Just as He had an overall plan for the Israelites and gave them promises with conditions to choose or reject them, although He was very patient, He did allow them to suffer the consequences when they continually rejected His commandments and wisdom. Both the promises and the consequences were a part of His plan, but He gave them the freedom to choose.  He also gives us the freedom to choose.  That was His plan all along.

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” —Psalm 119:105

 

If you liked this, you might also like… “Just Do Something” and Wisdom Wednesday: Use Some Common Sense


Memorial Day Tribute

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“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”  —John 15:13


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