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The nature of striving does not allow one to be content with one's current lot in life. Where, then, does "Be Still and know I am God" fit in? Where is the Rest from being weary and heavy-laden? How does Paul's admonition to be content in all things - whether rich or poor - add up? What about pursuing the Kingdom and His Righteousness, and trusting that God will add all this other stuff in due time? When did a community need to become compensated to be fruitful? When did earthly leaders become gurus on leadership to be all but worshiped?
Solomon had ALL these things and more. He was the richest, wealthiest, most famous, and wisest sought after man compared to none other in history and had more at his disposal than we will ever dream.
His takeaway at the end of it all? IT'S ALL MEANINGLESS; a vapor in the wind. He concluded it is best to be content with eating, drinking, and enjoying the fruits of one's labor and to be thankful to God for all we do have.
Moreover, THIS is what is identified, according to Proverbs as the joy of life: To find a noble wife (or spouse) and bear children with [her] so that you two can raise up a family to love God and people, all while enjoying the fruit of your labor with them and worshiping our Father in heaven. Easy peasy, right? NO; that's hard enough within itself without all the added strife. However, it is FULFILLING especially when one is grateful. To be GRATEFUL for your family and to do your best loving them - THAT brings contentment. With gratitude, there is a contentment that follows and a release of the need to strive.
As a nurse that works with a lot of the dying; you should know their biggest regret is always having worked too much and not loving and engaging their family more. Most sad in some of my encounters with these individuals is that many times they end up alone in a nursing home as their children repeat the same striving they learned from their parent. That sucks.
I am so grieved to see people, especially people I love, working themselves to exhaustion for vapor in the wind. Some even trying to save the world as they lose their loved ones and sabotaging their health in the meantime.
Now I am NOT saying to not to pursue excellence or not to work on being the very best you - that is definitely an important part of living and growing. And I am NOT saying not to pursue you dreams. What I am saying is that if your growing or pursuit of a dream is killing everything else in your life, then you are just growing into or becoming a weed. Even weeds look beautiful at first, but they choke the life of all the flowers around them, and even damage structures, buildings, and farms over time. What I am saying is; don't be a weed.
I got distracted with this mindset of striving for a long time too. That is part of why I am so grieved as well. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for snapping me out of yet another "good" thing that almost made me neglect my hugest treasures here on earth - the apples of my eye; Kyle and Aaron. I also pray that all those caught up in the hamster wheel of striving see the wheel they are in and escape it to fine true rest. Especially before it's too late. And lastly for my patients; redeem the time they have left. Bring them comfort and solace and make every minute they have left here on earth count. Amen
I think about all the times people think they are doing something because "God is leading" them.
Joan of Arc thought so.
The Pharisees thought so.
The Crusades thought so.
The men who bombed the World Trade Center thought so.
How many times even I have thought so.
You know what?
We all have to be careful when "God" speaks to our hearts. Satan is who he is because he is a great impersonator. After all, he is called the Great Deceiver who poses as an angel of light.
Sometimes Satan is most effective in the small things; those everyday life choices that seem so subtle but as one continues the trajectory just wrecks one's life. It can be so insidious over a period of years.
Even the things that on the surface are good - those things can become the trickiest. An example of how I recently sinned because of a good intention was when I was trying to correct a friend in something I think they are involved in as not good - I ended up flying off the handle and sinning in anger. My intention was good; the execution - Very Bad.
So when God is leading you, Pause. REALLY pray and ask for counsel. Align what it is you think is leading you with not just "a" scripture, but the whole passage in context. How many lives I have seen destroyed from proof-texting.
Make sure what ever you do is a blessing full of love. I have found that is a pretty good litmus test: If whatever you do is not in love, than it is not from God.
Lastly, if whatever you are doing in love still ends up destroying you, odds are, it's not from God either.
In memory of all who have lost their lives because of deception.
Today’s You Version bible “Verse of the Day” goes well with the theme of Labor Day quotes I’ve been posting this week on social media, and especially the quote from Colossians I posted even before seeing this one. And it kinda made me take a long pause to think about WHAT the “work” I do should be rooted in. The verse reads, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” -St. Paul - Acts 20:35.
It made me pause to reevaluate the “why” of my work. I have been working A Lot lately. Some of you know I am a nurse that moonlights as a psych charge nurse at a mental health hospital, I pick up referrals for a home health agency to provide home psych evaluations, AND I am building a 2-part business – one part in coaching and mentoring and the other part in marketing for an online wellness company that provides affordable top end products directly to the consumer. In all that I do, I like to think I am following my Isaiah 61 calling and fulfilling my duty to each human I meet by providing the best of my services for their benefit.
However; I still paused. I, too, am human and can lose sight of the forest from the trees even in this “hard work” I do. I get caught up in the doing, rather than the being. My agenda to “help” people may not be how people want to be helped. And that frustrates me sometimes. I even get mad because I can be convinced I have the answer they have been looking for and decide to assert myself “for their good.” But that is where I think my work gets muddy. Am I truly “giving” and “helping” the weak, or am I just strong-arming my ideas? Am I trying to receive validation for my ego, or truly give compassion and understanding to the one I am serving?
Nursing teaches you to be a leader, an advocate, and provide evidenced-based education to individuals struggling with some kind of mental, physical and even emotional issue. However, the current nursing is provided under that medical model which is very diseased/cure focused, sometimes to the exclusion of the “whole” person. I get so caught up in the “hard work” of fighting a system of corporate healthcare that I forget the “weak” – those I am supposed to be fighting for. I get upset and get on soap-boxes about the woes of “the system”, rather than focus and listen to what is truly important – the heart of the person with whom I am ranting. I forget my attitude is very contagious and we all need more positive affirmation instead of being reminded about how messed up things may seem – especially those whom I serve and even with whom I work.
Moreover, I think a lot about nursing wages. They are honestly not the best, contrary to popular belief. Getting paid for nursing services is not wrong. I believe nurses should be paid better for their services. In fact; when one understands the purpose of money, one understands that trading money is a tool to allow individuals to make a living serving others - That is why I sometimes get bent out of shape when I am nickel-and-dimed for my wages or when someone demands something “free” from me. Truly, we all need to receive wages to survive and thrive. But with all that said, I have observed nurses, and especially myself, get caught in the wages and benefits compensation argument versus what we offer for our services and lose focus on how much we bless those we serve. I still believe in fighting for fair wages, of course. I just pray I never get so caught up in the “receiving” of compensation that I lose focus of the “giving” of my God-given talent to heal and cure others.
You may not be a nurse, but I still encourage you to pause and reflect on the hard work you do and ask yourself “why” you do it. Do you look at your job as something to “receive” wages and benefits only, or also to “give” your very best service? If you find yourself struggling with those questions, that may lead you to even a bigger question outside the scope of this post: Are you living out your purpose and working it out at your job?
Those are not easy questions, but I can pretty much guarantee that if you ask them and answer truthfully and then shift closer to the focus of giving rather than just receiving, you will feel happier and fulfilled. It really is more joyful to give than receive.
Today is September 5th. It is my late grandmother's Julia Olmo's, birthday, and I miss her. A lot. This morning I went to church in her honor. I typically do not go to early morning mass, but I did this morning because I wanted to give her the gift of my presence there. "Awela" (when I was little I could not pronounce the b, so that name stuck) was a godly simple devout Catholic woman with a first grade education who to this day captures a distinct and strong affection and longing in my heart. My cousins would all agree. We speak of her almost EVERY time we talk. THAT is how impactful she was. It is amazing that EVEN AFTER HER DEATH, she points me to Jesus and His peace. I can't think of any other reason I would have been up by 7:30, racing to mass, to be there if not for her. Her devotion and love led me to sit in quiet reflection of God's saving grace, mercy and comfort. Today's devotional that I am working on is on the scripture "Be still and know I am God." Awela exemplified this peace. Whether sitting at her feet watching novelas, taking naps on a sunny afternoon while I listened to her belly noises, I was able to just BE. I never felt anxiety, rushed, but complete Peace. She was Jesus to this child. At night, (we shared a room), I would already be in bed but would sense her coming into the room and peek groggliy as she readied her self to retire for the night. After the tediousness of her undressing (even though she remained home most of the time she was a Lady and wore all the "appropriate" undergarments of a lady) she would sit on her bed and pray. I never heard her speak, but still heard volumes in that action. She would then turn to the right to bless a statue of Mother Mary, turn over to my side of the room to bless a horrific bust statue that was also a night light of Jesus suffering in a crown of thorns, and then turn to her left to bless the crucifix. I would feel a blanket of something I could never point my finger on overtake that room and I would fall sound asleep. Her passing as left an amazing huge hole in our family that NO ONE in my family has ever been able to even come close to filling. I look forward to coming to NJ to visit with my cousin to do our best to honor this amazing Proverbs 31 woman. May the women in our family continue to strive to follow her example.
Te amo, awela y me haces tanta falta. Pero estoy contenta que vives con el Senor y no sufres en esta tierra nunca mas.
This beautiful cool cloudy morning, I woke up to the thought, “uuuugh, I am so achy and I have work-out.” Now, I was not necessarily dreading to work out but I was thinking about how challenging it is first thing in the morning to get up groggy and stiff and move in any way after laying horizontal over 7 hours. However, working out first thing in the morning is the only time I have been able to remain consistent with it. After my morning prayer while still laying in bed, something in me decided to start gently stretching - kinda like I used to as a child. I started with raising my arms over my head and pointing my toes. Then flexing my toes and foot and moving my hands to me side. I repeated that a couple of times and intuitively started on lifting my knees, one at a time, then both. Mind you, I was still horizontal. Then I did gentle twists from side to side, and eventually turned around and did a gentle circuit of child’s pose, cat and cow. When I got up, I felt energized and not as stiff. When I went to the bathroom for my morning pre-workout routine, I did not feel as groggy. Finally, I eased in to my 10-minute low impact aerobics routine by BodyFit by Amy that I is getting me into to routine of working out again.
Every morning, I do something called a Miracle Morning, where exercise is part of that and meditation in prayer. (More on Miracle Mornings at a later date.) In the devotional I am going through during my Miracle monrning routine, Start Your Day Right - Don’t Waste Time by Joyce Meyer Ministries via YouVersion, Ms. Meyer wrote about it being so important to be self-controlled as not to waste time. Although we don’t need to by rigid or inflexible with our time, it’s important to use that time wisely. It hit me while reading this that in order to use time wisely, sometimes we have to be wise by being consistent with time. So I asked myself, “how is it that one becomes consistent with anything, let a lone time?” It occurred to me that routines make one consistent. Just as I had started Miracle Mornings as a morning ritual, I incorporated working out as another (among other powerful habits outlined in this morning routine.) Habits, whether good or bad, don’t always happen overnight. It is something that one makes a routine and becomes consistent with that routine. Hear ye: I challenge anyone reading this; Start with one easy activity you have wanted to implement, find a time of day you can make a routine out of it, become consistent with it and it will become a habit. It greatly helps if you have an accountability partner – someone doing this activity with you or just someone that you can tell you did the activity so that they can be excited with and encourage you. There are other tools you can use, some which I will mention in the next coming weeks. But start small – like I will with my new routine of easy morning stretches. You will be amazed how something simple like this will monumentally impact your day!
This week, my energy has been progressingly fading. At first, I couldn’t put a finger on it. I thought it was just the rainy weather and cloudy days, which I am sure could be a part of my blahness. But THIS much fatigue does not make sense. I haven’t been working any harder, nor experiencing any more stress than usual.
And then it came to me this morning!!!
I have not been CONSISTENT.
Consistency has been an ongoing growth area in my life for some time now. Although I have learned to be more consistent with bigger things, like getting to appointments 15 minute early, my morning routine, how I clear out my inbox; I am unfortunately not consistent with many small things in life that are just as and maybe even more important. Maybe I have a touch of ADD (my doctor claims I do), but usually when I set myself out to be consistent, ADD or not, my life takes on a whole new level of productivity and energy.
This time, I realized I stopped being consistent with something I didn’t pay a lot of mind to; I started taking Oligo-powered vitamins and minerals sporadically several months ago but last month I decided to take them daily no matter what. Prior to that, despite my mainly fresh primarily organic dairy free diet, I still had the metabolism of a SLOTH. If anything, my metabolism ran backwards. But after just 2 weeks, I felt amazing!!! I was up before 8am with no alarm clock, when prior I struggled to get out of bed by 10am. I didn’t feel I had to crash into bed by 8pm. I did not need naps in the middle of the day. It was like my chronic fatigue syndrome disappeared!!! I was focused, energized and my mood steadily positive.
But last week I began slacking; life happens sometimes and we skimp on those things that we think will save us time, like sitting down for a healthy breakfast, taking my vitamins and doing 7 minutes of exercise as I had been consistently doing for a month. You know the deal - how we can get so productive, we get busy, but sometimes too busy so we skimp – you know the deal. When I realized the cause of my lack of zest and focus, I took the Oligo vitamins just this morning with a healthy breakfast wholefood shake and, NO JOKE, I feel my power coming back!!!!
So this is a good lesson for me on Consistency (Especcially when it comes to health): JUST BE CONSISTENT - NO EXCUSES. Skimping on those activities that Covey says are Not Urgent and Important is VERY important not to skimp. We often live life, according to Covey – (bestselling author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People) – doing things that are Not Important but Urgent, the Important and Urgent, and even too much time in the Not Important and Not Urgent. But those things that maintain us, grow us, are preventative and preserving – those things we give least time to but should be at the TOP of our priority, and to do them Daily! So I look forward to a GREAT DAY!!!! I hope your day is great too!!!
"Before we can be cured we must want to be cured. Those who really wish for help will get it; but for many modern people even the wish is difficult."
- C.S. Lewis ~Mere Christianity
I have found that lamentably this is a truth with our current culture. I encounter may individuals, both patients, clients and even friends and family that say the pain or discomfort of their current situation is much to bear. However, when offered a solution or a way out, the remain almost frozen as if paralyzed to act. I used to think it was mere laziness, but as I took time to do my best to understand their heart, I found this is not often true. There is, instead, a learned helplessness tied with an ignorance that takes time to penetrate. There definitely is a longing for the cure, but fear of the cost to obtain it. Fear about how much time it will take to change. Fear about the unknown. Fear about what being cured actually mean as it will become a new norm. Fear of the pain to change is still greater of the fear in remaining the same. I have to admit; I am sometimes at a loss at how to approach people that hold on to their fear like a comfort blankie. I know it sounds ironic, but many do. It is like trying to pry away their torn up smelly blanket from them because it is all they know and have experienced so much loss, losing even this fear they have grown quite accustomed and even comfortable with is too precious for them to give up.
I remember once seeing a profound meme of a father (I think it was representing Jesus) kneeling in front of a little girl. She was clutching to her mangled teddy bear. His right hand was gently wooing her to let it go, while in his left hand there was the most beautiful teddy behind his back ready for her enjoyment. But she first had to give this worn out possession to receive what was better. There is a famous quote by John D. Rockefeller: “Don’t be afraid to give up the good to go for the great.” But for most, I find this is still not relevant to them. They still let go of the fear of giving up the bad for the good. Or in this case, the dis-ease for the cure. The battle of any disease state – well most of them – the battle is in the mind. I have learned to approach others “stuck” in fear, with love. Love truly drives out fear. Letting others know that you want to genuinely understand them with no judgment begins to chip away at that fear. With love, patience. The patience to listen and learn; it isn’t an overnight process. Finally, with love and patience; be an example. An example by being conquering one’s owns fear and sharing that process without shame. Show that it is normal and even okay to be afraid, but courageous. How one will get a wish fulfilled with courage. The courage to fight. The courage to endure. The courage to feel stupid sometimes, especially when you fall. The courage to get back up again. The courage to share their story without shame.
I was an addict for many years desperately wishing things to be different. I so wanted to be cured of so much pain and heartache. I was that little girl desperately clinging to toxic relationships and afraid of being sober because I didn’t like how it felt to be otherwise. I was okay being self-medicated because it numbed my pain, discomfort and my awkwardness being around others. The band-aide of drugs, sex and trance music was all I knew. But one day, the fear of remaining the same was greater than the fear of being radical and doing something different. The fear of losing my life or soul became greater than the fear of losing my ‘friends’. Ultimately, the fear of my children following in those footsteps outweighed the fear of shuffling alone in my own. When I finally hit my rock-bottom, it produced something amazing – loss of fear. When you lose everything or even just that thing you have clung onto so long and realize you are still alive and don’t have anywhere else to go but up, you are forced to be courageous. Here’s another thing folks; you may think to yourself – “yeah, but I’m not an addict.” And this is what I say to you…EVERYONE is addicted to something. Everyone holds something so close that it is holding their personal growth in some area. Everyone is at one point or another afraid to change. And Everyone has something they wish for but are too afraid to get it.
If you want to be cured of something, you have taken the first step because first you have to know you are dis-eased in some way to need a cure. But don’t stop just at wishing for help. Help yourself first by getting the help you need. And if you don’t know where to go; just ask me. I may not have all the answers, but I will strive to connect you with resources to help you get the help you need. Why, because that is what someone did for me and part of my cure has been paying it forward.
I fell of the face of social media for a while. Truth is, life just got so exciting and busy that I had to focus my energy on a new chapter of my life in order to make it a smooth-as-possible transition. New house, new job, learning to work from home consistently and intentionally all while learning to make my way as a "strong independent woman." I have made so much progress as a person, made so many new friends and regained a sense of real priorities. What is my number one priority you may ask? Ultimately, life is truly about loving others - It's all about relationships. It doesn't matter how much money one has (although money helps), nor where one lives (although I still want a beach address) or what one does for a living (and I love what I do)...it all boils down to this: "am I adding value to someone else's life and am I growing in the process." If it wasn't for my relationships, even this awesome transition in my life would have been...lacking. The stressful bits were assuaged with family and friend's encouragement. The joyful parts were celebrated with mirth with the precious human beings doing life with me. The devastating parts were comforted with their hugs and understanding. The wonderful parts were wonderful because I could share them with people that truly cared.
I used to be a lonely bird - a loner, a rebel...one who lived life on the edge. And it WAS lonely. It dawned on me this morning, how NOT lonely I am anymore. Even in my fortress of solitude I know I am not alone. And that I am loved. So that's it folks; life is about learning to live a life full of love. So although I enjoy sharing on Facebook in this amazing platform of digital reality - sometimes I just gotta enjoy this thing called life in analog.
I am so glad I went food shopping with council member Tony. Already I was justifying items that, in hindsight, were outside the boundaries of the food items I designated for this fast. It is amazing to me how easily I will toe the line, even straight up tight-rope it, and push boundaries. As I sit here typing this, it occurs to me how in so many other areas in life I toed the line and tripped over it only to fall flat on my face, sometimes to some lasting consequences WAY outside the scope of this post. Walking down the aisles, I felt a surge of stupidity – “Tony, is this stupid? What I am doing.” Tony “you never asked me before for my opinion, you just go ahead and do it. It’s impulsive.” Me, “But I’ve been thinking about this since November.” Tony, “you don’t always communicate what’s going on in your head. I think the spirit of what you are doing is awesome.” I thought about what he said. I realize that I am brimming with thoughts and ideas and don’t share them with those closest to me. He is also concerned because of all that is going on in my life – I just put an offer on a fixer upper today, am running 2 businesses, working a job, homeschooling a 16-year-old, caregiving my mother and helping a 10 year old try and work out fractions. So maybe, just maybe, this venture will get me to open up more and share what is on my heart and in my head. I wonder what all the benefits and consequences of this “impulse” will bear fruit too. I will begin to have more clarity of my actions – even good ones – and how I clutter my life by busyness and actions. After the shopping experience, which took a bit longer than anticipated – due to meticulously reading labels of the more “complex” food items, such as the bread, the apple butter and apple sauce, I realized how fortunate I am to have people joining me in solidarity. I know I cannot do this by myself. Oh; I forgot to mention the deal on council members – Jen H. had one and it turned out to be pivotal in her journey as I will be in mind. I will introduce them to you them at another time. My thoughts are racing faster than I can type.
This morning, I proudly laid out all my groceries – all 100% organic, farm-raised, kinda pricey investment – and took a picture. I was actually excited to cook (I am sure the novelty will wear off soon) and made myself and my mother some breakfast of a spinach omelet, bread with apple butter. Unsweetened hot mint green tea, water with orange Fiberwise and some vitamins and minerals. It looked so pretty that I took another photo. I am like a crazy teenager snapping selfies and texting my friends with them. I am not in the pictures though, well except for the one picture with “my last meal” yesterday of beef tips in brown sauce and a beermosa – BUT it is not a selfie…Tony took that picture; okay at my request, but there. I am STUFFED. I may not have as much a challenge as Jen Hatmaker, because my basic diet is kind of bland with flavor shots, and I have the tendency NOT to eat regularly because when I am in the zone I actually forget to eat. So, I am anticipating awesome things to happen over the next several weeks. Jen H. missed coffee. I miss honey.
About the Blog...
We have heard the wisdom that we should love others as we love ourselves; but many of us do not even Like ourselves let alone Love ourselves. My mission is to help people learn to truly love themselves so that they can then love others as themselves.