Left Behind

“We cannot hoard away the people we loved, experiences we treasured, jobs we adored; in hopes that they will never be tainted or touched by anyone else. Better we give them up, send them out into the world, let someone else feel the same way we once did, and accepting that the word, “forever” is rarely meant for our reach. and rightfully so.

We are never left with empty arms.

As we make the decision to leave the past behind, we pick up new facets of this lifetime that will help us grow another part of ourselves, but we must be willing to drop things to pick up new ones. We need to leave some things behind so we are not left behind instead.”

“I Am the Captain of My Soul”

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I know this poem by heart. Every last word of it. I can say it back to you without missing a beat. I was forced to memorize it. Trust me, I didn’t want to know this poem at the time, but it was a grade, and now I know more than ever that it wasn’t just a grade. Diane Walker was a great teacher. She knew every one of us personally. I had her for over six years in a row and it was a complete accident worthy of praise. She wanted everyone to be happy and took a great effort to get us to see that. I would visit her every day after school and tell her all the little things that were happening in my life, we’d go to dinner and talk about my classmates. She was definitely a lot more of a friend to me than a teacher and I am so grateful. However this is not a post about the greatest teacher I will ever come to know, but a whole lot more generic. Diane Walker made us remember this quote and the last two lines always stand out for me, “I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” It means we control everything about ourselves, from our fate down to our very well being. Sounds contradictory, but it is true. We control our fate. More importantly; we control our happiness.

I think about this a lot, especially when I’m not in the best of moods. It is very very hard to grasp in some situations. As human beings we can be too enveloped in trying to maintain and protect our own well being that we don’t think of others or as to why they could be the cause. They are not the cause. We are the cause. We control our own happiness. Here’s a few explanations:

1. It is impossible for anyone else to define you.

You are undefinable. You are the only person who gets to say who you are. Take pride in that. Circumstances and the opinions of others can only define you if you allow it. Do not give away your power by putting effort and weight in negative situations or the negative words of other people. I always harp on my friends for making dumb decisions and being swayed by peer pressure, and this is exactly why.

2. You were born with everything you need.

There is nothing you are missing. There is no need to frantically become more, be more, do more, or get more. You are complete, and every talent or insight you have is what you get to use to influence this world. Don’t change yourself. Please. Trust this and relax.

3. Perfection is an illusion.

Striving for perfection is a endless goal, as it is impossible. It can never be achieved. Strive for excellence, have high standards, but never confuse that with the crippling behavior of perfectionism.

4. You are not your thoughts.

Your mind does not define you, nor does it control you. It is not who you are. Your thoughts sometimes can be the big weapon against yourself. Look as yourself as a third party viewer to your thoughts and actively change them over time. You can no longer allow those to affect you.

5. Challenges are gifts for your personal growth.

Obstacles are opportunities for growth. We forgive others to free ourselves and walk into compassion for doing just that. Practicing gratitude is the first step to forgiveness. Forget what others have done to you and move on.

6. The past and future do not exist.

This is the most important.
Now is the moment. The past is just a memory. The future is a false mental projection. You can dwell in the past and reflect on the joyous times and never move forward and always wanting to be “happy” again or you can live in the now. Dwelling in the past suffocates and prevents you from the only moment you will ever have: now. Choose to be happy. Choose to let things go. Choose to live your life in the now. Enjoy it. Laugh. Smile. Keep on living.

Now, I am not saying I’ve gotten it all figured out. I still continue to struggle with each and every one of these, but I know what to do and how to change it, and these are the few pointers I use to remind myself that everything cannot be perfect and that it is important to enjoy the imperfections and struggles in life. After all it is your life and you only get one chance on this planet. So how are you living it? Make the change. Keep Moving Forward. Trust me, this is something worth it In the End.

Who Does Your Dog See You As?

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Personality Shining Through

This is my dog: Karlie. The happiest, most genuinely affectionate dog I’ve ever met, and that’s definitely not a biased opinion. She has not a mean bone in her body and the only time she barks is when you tell her to. Now, I was walking around the house the other night, deeply trying to figure out what topic to write about and here comes ole Karlie. Hopping herself onto the couch and laying herself next to me, begging to be pet. It really got me thinking.. How does your dog actually see you?

As for most people, we put a lot of thought into how people see us, what people think of us, and how can we improve our outward image. I believe it’s common and natural to care about what others think of us, but it often truly gets the best of us, and that’s exactly what we were hoping to show: The Best of Us. If given time for that subconscious thought to become a conscious habit, we will begin to measure our self worth by other’s opinions. I don’t believe that’s how it should be, we should not think like that. Our self worth should be of utmost importance. If you ever begin to see yourself in this thought process, ask yourself some questions. How much importance to they have in my life, and Should their opinion matter? I think this thought process is motivated by our semi-selfish means, and myself am guilty of having selfish habits. It is a natural trait all living beings have. But instead of looking for approval of others, just imagine what your dog thinks of you. Most dogs have genuine love for their companions. They do not care about how you look, they don’t judge, and they don’t reject your attention (unlike cats). We often reject their attention when we have no reason not to. I am guilty of that one, and it’s another exhibit of a selfish trait.

You are your dog’s favorite companion, brother, and friend.

Now imagine if we felt that way about ourselves. I think we would be truly happy people, and would begin to shed that happiness to others around us. I also believe that we should spend a lot of time in our lives slightly undoing all the natural not-so-good humanistic qualities we all have (ie. Selfishness). If we removed selfishness and judgement, we ourselves could potentially see ourselves like our dog see’s us as. We would be truly happy people. We cannot determine our self worth by the mistakes and sins we commit. We do not need to look at what we’ve done wrong in life, but what we’ve done correctly. This Perspective on things is a stepping stone to feeling joy. True joy is unlike happiness. Joy is more inward, and seeing yourself as how your dog see’s you is a great way to experience true joy. Another one of those traits I believe make it all worth it In the End. So how do you see yourself?

Your Hands and What You Do With Them

There’s a famous question everyone has asked themselves at least one time in their lives and that is, “Why do bad things happen to such good people?” It brings up a very valid point. Pain, illness, abuse, brokenness, betrayal, sorrow, injuries, disappointment, and heartache happen to people on a day to day basis and many times they do not seem to have any purpose whatsoever. Why is a very good question.

I believe pain is inevitable. Jesus said that, “You will have suffering in this world.” John 16:33

Not might, but will. It will happen.

The main idea is: when something unfortunate happens in this world, you never get a definite answer as to why. There’s more happening than our human eyes can comprehend. Someday, We’ll see things in high definition, but as of right now.. We’re stuck with cruddy standard television. Understanding why there is tragedy in this world isn’t about what is here and now, it’s about the peripheral details that are obscured from our view. A great analogy of this is in one of my favorite books, The Five People You Meet in Heaven. It simply speaks about how the smallest of things and people have the largest impact on our lives, but that’s an entire blog post in itself I’m sure will occur in the future.

These unfortunate situations to me act like a conduit, or a means of transition or transportation: an arrow. These arrows lead us in the right direction, towards conclusions that I believe satisfy what our heart truly needs and desires. We only have to let it.

To me, many unfortunate situations come to be out of another person’s bad choices. Now I don’t think someone falling and spraining a knee *cough cough* is out of choice, but simply choosing to do good or bad. A person can either choose to do good, or choose to do bad, and those outcomes can have an effect on others. We can choose:

  • To Do Good
  • To Do Bad
  • To Do Nothing

The last two are what causes the pain and suffering.. Confused?

Here’s an example: People ask God why he doesn’t fix the suffering like famine , but to me I know that the world produces enough food to feed everyone, but it is own irresponsibility and selfishness caused by our hands prevents us from eradicating all world hunger. Completely out of God’s will. This same example could be used in a personal sense, heartbreak, sorrow, disappointment, etc. are human feelings in which we have complete control over. It is a conscious decision and we need to learn that whatever is causing such pain, needs to go.

Ultimately, what I’ve seen is that God uses that pain to draw us closer to him; to sharpen our character, to influence others for him. He can draw something good from our pain in a plethora of ways, only if we trust and follow him; and that’s something I find worth it In the End.

What Does Patience Truly Mean?

Patience is really waiting with hope. Forgiving ones lapses; knowing that we’re not perfect as well. Patience is being able to persevere from day to day. Putting up with the petty pass, and not being defeated with the little inconveniences.

This quote was written by an anonymous writer, and it really struck me as odd. Honestly I couldn’t agree more with what they said. Like modern society, I always believed that patience was about waiting. The term is usually used to describe when someone is acting calmly.

But is it really?

In a sense, patience is broad in the spectrum that it is used. In modern ideals people consider themselves patient people, but they really aren’t consistently patient. I don’t believe ‘waiting’ is real patience. Patience is more individualistic. It is an attitude on things, it’s the ability to be in a stressful situation and be able to react smoothly and recognizing what is right and wrong and coming up with a solid conclusion. It’s the ability to be in the present moment regardless of circumstance.

Romans 12:9 says that we should, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulations, and steadfast in prayer.” and it’s true. If we were truly capable of being patient in difficult situations. I believe they will
either blow over or you will begin to acclimate.

The comparison between these two versions of patience is compelling as the common version relies on the assumption that there is something out there that we’re waiting for. Basically, common patience requires pulling your attention to someplace and sometime. It means we are not being ourselves presently.

Yes it’s true that God tells us to be patient and to put up with the trials and tribulations without complaint or irritation, but that’s very difficult. That’s why I believe it was deliberately put here. Life is never supposed to be easy, and if it is, you’re doing it wrong. God also promises it will all be well with time. Patience is taught commonly as a virtue, but it’s not truly a virtue until it’s used in the correct context and when you truly understand it. In a sense, the term is very comforting to me, as it exemplifies the good that is to come. Patience is really the ability to ride out the storm, face fears, and trust that it will all work out In the End,
and thats a great feeling.

Be the Person You Would Want to Meet

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, he shall also reap.

– Galatians 6:7

Being supremely analytical, this scripture can correlate to many things, but the primary principle that stands out to me is the simple fact that you shouldn’t ask for something you wouldn’t demand from yourself.

As a teen that tends to avoid unfortunate circumstances, or seems to have an overly average amount of intuition for his age, people tend to come to me for answers to their struggles and strifes. Sometimes the advice needed is not what is given, and sometimes I don’t have a definite answer for what they seem to be asking. Recently, this confounding moment happened to me, and it was difficult for me to cope with as I hate to not have answers to a question. The question was seemingly simple, very simple as a matter of fact. “Why do I put up with this?” they asked, and thinking intently about it for a period of time I came to the realization that there is a much deeper question inside. That question is simply what kind of person are you?

Most people feel the need for positive influences in their lives. People build and sculpt relationships and friendships based on the steep precipice of an idea that those friends inspire change in us good and bad; keeping the positive influences and removing the negative ones, but we neglect to ask ourselves if we are direct positive influences on ourselves? There’s a well renown quote that people know and repeat every day: ‘be the person you would want to meet.’ I couldn’t agree more. If we were to be the person we would want to meet, people like ourselves would gravitate towards us.

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A simple approach to this is to think intently about the traits you exhibit outwards towards others, good and bad. Then to interpret and understand those traits and comprehend which ones you possess as a reflection of your inside self. Do they match? Do you need to add or remove some to reflect your outward self? Realistically we all have something to change. Change is truthfully a never ending process as each little decision or obstacle to encounter molds us into who we are, but we alone hold the power to use it positively or negatively.

An authentic sense of ourselves is not inward, but outward. Love and compassion needs to flow out of us and not into us. We as humans need to exhibit as little selfishness as possible. We need to give as much as possible as ultimately ‘we reap what we sow.’ We not only need to look not only into our own interests, but also to the interests as others. The range in which we can seek out the interests in others is infinitely large, and if we give as much as we can give, listen as much as we can listen, and love as much we can love. It will be returned. It’s tremendous and fundamental; it’s just another one of those amiable traits worth it In the End.

‘The New Normal’ – Moore Tornado Relief Effort

Natural disasters are a well, naturally occurring thing; taking place on every hemisphere, in every square mile, and in every country. It is inevitable. Storms, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc. are going to hit wherever you may live. Causing particularly large damage to homes and businesses and unforeseen financial costs. Mass amounts of grief are felt by the survivors of these disasters, and I particularly saw that grief today working with Convoy of Hope in the Moore/El Rino area here in the state of Oklahoma where numerous EF4 and 5 tornadoes struck just a few weeks ago. Initially, I saw the aftermath of these storms through the media and was sympathetic but yet I felt that I couldn’t help personally with the relief effort. Thankfully, my absolutely amazing mentor and pastor Jerrod Murr with help of his colleagues found a relief group and diligently asked the youth like myself if we wanted to participate and I graciously accepted. I knew what I was expecting, but the magnitude of what I witnessed and learned in that trip was as usual: astronomical.

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Getting to the site wasn’t a difficult task. It was quick and to the point. We received entertainment from a few games, the trip of roughly two hours felt like a mere thirty minutes. We met up with a partnering church and made our way to the aftermath site. Shock and awe followed. Receiving t-shirts and immediately heading out; we collectively picked up masses of strung out insulation, particle board, and the particularly heart wrenching personal items. Progressing quick as there is much strength in numbers. The amount of personal items were slim, but a few stuck out in particular. Coloring pages were strewn out for yards, each color sloppily inside the lines just as the usual child struggles to keep their hand steady, personal photos sparingly embedded in grass or dirt, clothes, toys, a scrapbook page, a tattered bible, and much more. Personal belongings exposed to outside conditions. As if life was abruptly stopped by this massive twister, there’s no preparation like in hurricanes. These are sadly unforeseen forces of destruction.

The mood was clouds of understanding and responsiveness. Hearing the touching stories of the survivors opens your eyes and can really give you a glimpse of how they’re feeling. One woman spoke to a group of us and said that when the tornado hit, her family and neighboring families squished into one storm shelter and as the tornado struck, they sang Amazing Grace in unison and as loud as they could. As even in the scariest of times, they kept faith. This absolutely touched me in more ways than one. Emotions were high as the father from one family had to step away for a brief period as he stated, “Couldn’t stand to watch what [he] worked so hard for be tossed to the curb.” I couldn’t imagine. I spoke briefly with the wife and shared a few of my Katrina survival stories and she thanked me many times over for speaking with her. She connected with me on a level as I understood how it felt also having my house destroyed eight years earlier. Younger women of the youth sat down with a child of the family and spoke with him on how he felt on the entire situation, comforting as well as they could. The homes were sparingly destroyed as if the tornado chose which one it was going to hit. Bare foundations were next to still standing homes. Steps and porches led to nowhere. Exposed attics with visible belongings. A particular house in which was weathered badly, but yet a new American flag waved out front, displaying hope and patriotism as these survivors acclimate to ‘The New Normal’ as one man put it. Work dislodged showers of dust that of course mingled with the sweat and rain that had clung to the skin. Eventually the rain made it harder to continue and we had to stop. I would’ve continued but the day was done.

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As a volunteer to such disasters, there are many lessons and enlightening realizations that can be learned. You make many new friends as the day progresses, laughing and going along, it enlightens the mood. This is so enjoyable. Joyfully giving is my absolute favorite thing to do, it not only improves your outlook on things, but it also improves the outlook on others. Everything has either a direct or indirect connection with another and smiling and making light of a particularly awful situation indirectly affects the mood of the survivors in a positive way. Every story counts, as each one no matter how big or small paints a larger picture of what truly happened there. That’s nothing the media can even compete with. Unfortunately, disasters such as this one will happen again, and again, and again; however, I will be right there ready to assist in any way I possibly can and at all costs. Sharing God’s love with everyone is truly an extraordinary thing. It not only brings you closer, but it brings others as well. Showing that nothing, even a destructive tornado, can put a dent in the love that humanity has for one another, and for me. Missions is absolutely a cause that I will never lose devotion to and that is absolutely a pursuit worth it In the End.

From Lemons to Lemonade: Tackling ‘Impossible’ Circumstances

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Every person falls, and we hopelessly end up in seemingly difficult situations in which we regret and find impossible to escape from, and in these situations, we find that they mold us into who we are. Yet we shouldn’t never regret those predicaments. We also should not use that time in which we are given unwisely. This main idea is derived from one of my favorite quotes from J.R.R. Tolkien and it states,

We all live to see such times caused by others, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.

This quote means many things to me, and it simply means that when we are in difficult situations, decide to take that time and do good. As human beings, we tend to notice negative things more often. They seem to flood our lives, and we tend to begin to ask ourselves when will it ever let up, but the truth is it will never let up while you continue to dwell on it.

The truth is, none of us are ‘immune’ or incapable of being confronted with bad predicaments. However, we do have the opportunity to learn and deal with it properly. Since we are incapable of avoiding these circumstances, it is imperative that we learn how to turn them into positive situations.

Use simple strategies, like never losing control. Maintain control over the situation by over thinking it. Many people tend to not analyze every option and in turn end up with unpredictable outcomes, maintain control by over thinking. Over thinking is not a bad thing.

Learn from the situations.Bad situations always have causes as to why they happened. Most also tend to have ways in which they could’ve been avoided. This information is valuable information to ensure not to do it again.

Maintain a positive attitude.. A positive attitude prevents panic and anxiety when confronted with the problem. Good outlooks focus time and energy into planning and managing to overcome the issue.

Laissez Faire that jazz! During the times in life when bad situations happen, they’re truly out of our control, and there’s nothing you can do to reverse the damage caused. You must remain calm at let things take their course. Do not become depressed and do not give up.

Turn your attention to other things. This one is most important, as external happiness is directly controlled by internal happiness. All of us have been given a period if time in which to live, and in that span of time God has given to us, make it count. Don’t spend glorified amounts of time on the Internet, or on the Xbox, or staring blindly at the television screen. Time is a precious commodity and drifting through life is a waste. There are purposes and directions we need to take, we have been called unto this planet to help others who have also been called. We are to help other people. We are to care about other God and your peers more than you care about yourself. Love and do not expect love in return. Do admirable things and don’t expect a reward. Invest in missions. Do charitable work. Thank someone for what they’ve done. We are to love one another and lift one another up regardless of past circumstances. If done correctly, it will be returned, it will be rewarded. Maybe not in this life, but in the more glorious one to follow. This path, this ‘guide’ to living is what makes life worth it In the End.

Looking for Happiness? It’s Already Here

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Happiness. Unlike love, happiness is an emotion. Something individuals seek out to find and to cling on to. Happiness is subjective: meaning its particular to each person, but it all brings out the same outcome. Being happy. Some people seek happiness through hobbies, careers, and education. And primarily, other individuals seek happiness through other people. As a teenager, this trait is very prevalent. Someone needs another persons approval and attention to be content, and ultimately it ends in disappointment. As a teen, I catch myself in these situations often, but I swiftly remove myself from them. Individuals my age emphasize the need for a relationship, or constantly change their appearance or demeanor to find acceptance through other people. This frequently leads to individuals ending up in unfortunate situations and becoming friends with the wrong people. Nothing good comes out of looking for happiness and acceptance in others.

The key to happiness is seeking it through yourself. Learn to be independent and not interdependent. Love others, love everyone, but do not expect love in return. That’s the dependency on others. Do not expect anything in return.

Transitioning from interdependency to loving yourself is not and easy task, but you can start by asking yourself these questions:

1. Who do you love the most? Friends? Family? Keep them in mind.

2. Think about the heartfelt things for these people. Do you love them? How much? What would you do for them? What about them makes you happy?

3. Now, you would most likely tell these things to those individuals in which you love, but I want you to take all those words of affirmation, and turn them towards others, not those particular people, but everyone who needs it, even towards yourself.

I define love as unselfish, loyal, having benevolent concern for another, and having affection based on admiration. Use these words, reach out to others, show them the love and expect nothing in return. Actively go out and ease the sadness and suffering of others, for then you will find joy and happiness within yourself.

The best way to do this is through volunteering and through missions. Give as much as you can. Glorify God and show willingness and character in your community. We as individuals can do much, more than you can expect. Simple acts and words of kindness have a positive effect on others and yourself. Many people need company, and by God give it. Show affection, in any way possible. Expect more of yourself, and you will give more. Look outward, give outward, do everything outward, never inward. You will change lives, and ultimately change your own. It’s what gives life purpose, it’s what’s makes life worth it In The End.

Love Isn’t an Emotion: The Mathematics of Sustainment

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In modern society, there’s nothing more emphasized and written about than finding “the one” or seeking happiness through other people. Humans urge to feel love. Some humans urge to show love. Then there’s that majority who seek love through other people. This is one of the profound reasons why relationships fail.

Most relationships have a cycle, and there are three major transitions between them:

1. The beginning “excitement” stage where individuals anticipate their partners calls, need their approval, want their touch, and enjoy their idiosyncrasies.
2. The middle “contentment” stage where things begin to slow down, become less enjoying or exciting.
3. The last “dull” stage where all the original idiosyncrasies that you once enjoyed now are a burden. It’s a subsequent stage where individuals begin to wonder if their relationship is ‘worth it’. You begin to reflect back on when it was enjoyable and wonder what happened, and this is when things tend to break down and/or end.

The key to succeeding in a relationship isn’t looking for the right person through trial and error, but learning to love the person you’ve found.

Individuals blame their partners for their unhappiness and begin to search for outside sources of enjoyment such as through work, excessive hobbies, abusive substances, or even through another person, but the answer to the burning question doesn’t lie outside your relationship, but inside of it.

Sustaining love is not a passive, non laborious job. It takes effort, day in and day out. It takes energy. You have to understand what to do in order to continue. Love is not a mystery. Love is not an emotion. Love is an action, a decision so to speak. There are laws to relationships just as there are laws to Physics, if you fail at one thing, the results are predictable. God determines who walks into your life, it is your choice as to whom you let walk away, who you let stay, and who you refuse to let go of. That takes effort, emotional strife, and time. It might be hard, it might seem impossible, but its just another one of those things worth it In The End.