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Knowledge, inspiration, and encouragement from a Christian perspective is my goal. I post a weekly commentary, which could be about world events or the events of my week. Other days I might share stories, recipes, homemaking tips, book reviews, political talk, biblical truth, or other blogs and websites I like. This blog is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, NOT YOUR FEARS


Martina Mc Bride has a great song out right now called, Do It Anyway.
It's such an inspiring song. I'm sure it's motivating people all over the world to follow their dreams despite the uncertainties of stepping into the unknown.

We all have moments of uncertainty, self-doubt, and reluctance. Trying something new or something we're not good at makes us fearful. We worry about the outcome. Fear of failure, rejection, or embarrassment prevents us from stepping out of the comfort zone.

After graduating from beauty school, I couldn't wait to have a salon of my own. In 1984 my dream came true, but I had a fear that hurt my business. I was afraid of haircolor. When a client asked about coloring her hair, I talked her out of it. Color was a profitable service, but I let fear rob me.

For the first thirty years of my life, I avoided everything I feared. But something happened in my early thirties. I got tired of letting fear control me. And I discovered that doing what I fear is far more exciting and rewarding than life in the comfort zone.

Fear is possibly the greatest destroyer of our growth. It robs us of financial success, steals our joy, prevents us from meeting new people, and deprives us of exciting experiences. A rich, full life can only begin when we decide not to let fear control us.

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind," said the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1:7. Fear is a demonic, spiritual force and only the Spirit of God can set us free from it.

Every time I sit down to write this column, I have a moment of uncertainty. I wonder if people will see me as a proud know-it-all or too judgemental or too harsh. That's fear rearing its ugly head. What makes me press on is knowing that God doesn't want me to be fearful. He wants me to use my talents to serve others.

There will always be someone with a negative comment, no matter what you try.
But a sound, determined mind that is focused on serving others will always have God's blessing. Fear may rear its head, but it has no power when your intentions are honorable.

I challenge you to do the thing you want but are afraid to do. Don't let fear steal your dreams. You can't grow in the comfort zone. Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

THOUGHTS AND WORDS HAVE POWER
We all talk to ourselves. Sometimes out loud when no one is around, I'll carry on a conversation with myself. I'm not afraid to admit this because I think it's healthy to talk to myself. Everyone does it, but perhaps not everyone does it out loud. Some prefer to speak to themselves only in their minds without uttering a word. Either way, it's healthy to sort out feelings, work out problems, or relieve stress by talking to yourself.

The only bad thing about talking to yourself occurs when the words you speak are negative. Negative self-talk causes depression because our thoughts precede and determine our feelings. If a woman tells herself that she'll never be happy and that her life is a hopeless drifting of one lonely day into the next, then she'll soon be too depressed to do anything about her predicament.

People underestimate the power in our thoughts and the words we say to ourselves. Most of us are careful to say just the right thing to others, but we don't give ourselves the same courtesy. We are hard on ourselves, unforgiving, and unkind. We don't realize how we drag ourselves down with that internal voice that is always focusing on the negative.

Women are especially good at negative self-talk. They put so much pressure on themselves to be perfect that they forget about the wonderful qualities they do have. If the scale doesn't read the right number or if their children aren't behaving, they blame themselves for these imperfections and scold themselves for not doing better. "I'm a bad mother," says one woman.
Another woman obsesses about her weight, telling herself, "I'm disgusting."

Sometimes negative self-talk is the result of a poor childhood. Growing up with critical parents that could never be pleased, or parents who didn't give the nurturing we needed can cause us to feel bad about ourselves. Our self-esteem is often tied to our upbringing.

But the good news is that we don't have to continue feeling bad. We can train ourselves to speak positive words when we talk to ourselves. We can catch ourselves when we think negatively and redirect our thoughts to be praiseworthy instead of critical. Then when we become good at speaking positive words to ourselves, we can take it a step further and begin to praise the people around us.

Most people don't realize the damage that can be done with negative thoughts and critical words. The way we think determines the way we feel. What we say to ourselves can put us into a state of depression if those thoughts are constantly negative. What we say to our children can ruin their self-esteem, kill their ambition, or fill them with anger.

So be careful what you think and say. Words and thoughts have power. Your thoughts and your words have the power to bring death or life to any relationship, including your relationship with yourself. Dwell on the good things in yourself and others. Train your mind to be humbly self praising. And train your tongue to be a life-giving force that focuses on what is true and good and right. You can change your life just by changing your thoughts and words.

Monday, March 5, 2007

LEARN TO SPEAK YOUR SPOUSE'S LOVE LANGUAGE

What is a love language? It's the way that people show and understand emotional love. According to Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, we must be willing to learn our spouse's primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.

The five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. These are the ways that people express love and the things that make them feel loved. And since everyone's love languae is different, you must express love in the language that your spouse understands in order for him to feel loved and vice versa.

For example, Steve's love language is acts of service. He feels loved when his wife, Cindy, does things for him like cook his favorite meal. As long as she continues displaying loving acts of service, Steve's "emotional love tank" stays full and he feels secure in her love. But if Cindy fails to speak his love language, her husband will feel used, not loved.

On the other hand, Cindy's primary love language is physical touch. She also has two secondary love languages: words of affirmation and quality time. If Steve neglects to touch his wife as they go about their daily routines, if he forgets to kiss her goodnight, hug her when he gets home, or just touch her as she walks by, she will begin to feel lonely and unloved. If he spends most of his free time with friends and doesn't plan time alone with Cindy, she will feel unimportant. And if weeks go by without a single compliment from the man she loves, she will feel unappreciated.

People express and receive love in different ways, yet so many couples don't have a clue what each other's love language is. I could buy my husband a gift every day, thinking that I'm expressing my love, but receiving gifts isn't his love language, so it wouldn't make him feel loved at all.

Have you ever heard a man say, "I give that woman everything she wants and she's still not happy"? His idea of "everything" is material things like a new car or a new wardrobe. But what if his wife's love language is quality time? A workaholic husband with a wife who feels loved when he makes time for her, now there's a divorce in the making.

Don't underestimate the importance of knowing your spouse's love language. Talk about it. Let him know what you need to really feel loved and appreciated. Ask him what he needs from you. Then write it down and post it on the refrigerator as a reminder.

Something else to keep in mind, children have love languages too. Chapman also has written, The Five Love Languages of Children. It's a must read for every parent. But if you don't have the book, you can learn your child's love language by observing the way that she expresses love to others. This will give you a clue. If your child is always creating gifts and cards for people, then she probably feels most loved when she receives gifts and tokens of appreciation.

Once you understand love languages and begin speaking them to the ones you love, you can literally change the atmosphere of your home. It's that powerful! We all long to feel loved and appreciated, so we must learn to express love in a language that's understood. Learn the love language of every member of your family. It's a valuable thing to know and a powerful tool to put into action.