Posts Tagged ‘ encouragement ’

hair happy

congratulations to you on your first, full-head, twist attempt! you were so patient and diligent, keeping the faith high when hours had passed and your hands were weary. you kept positive and were encouraged as you saw it all coming together. and now look where you are! no one thought you could pull it off, but you did and you look fab, girl! use this as a metaphor for life. you can accomplish anything if you just keep focused, block out any negativity, and just do it. you will be sure to achieve if you keep a faith-filled attitude. you can do all things. ALL things. because Christ is and always be in you. but for now, just go on rockin’ your ‘do!

love you. stay happy.

m

Music Monday: Albertine by Brooke Fraser

For the past month, I have been at a cross-roads, struggling to discern my own desire from God’s and my own fear from the Spirit of wisdom. And my decision has only been compounded by my mom’s fears. As I wrote in a previous post, I have had a tendency to identify with my mother, and because of that, I have to a certain extent struggled to become my own person, to become what I would consider fully independent. But that said, I also don’t want to choose one road due to some subconscious desire to rebel or break free.

Maybe all of this would make better sense if I am more explicit. Haha. So, in early April, I received an email about an opportunity to go to Haiti. Of course, I was absolutely psyched! I immediately emailed one of the directors for  more information on the program, but he never answered me back. After a few more inquiries with no replies, I wrote it of as an impossibility and forgot about it. A month later, I received another email about the program from another school department and this time the directors of the program would be visiting to hold a meeting about the program. After learning more about it, I decided I wanted to go! The program is not related to any of my immediate academic interests (health, health care), but would still give me the opportunity to interact with native Haitians, learn about their experiences living in Haiti, and improve my Haitian Creole (very important!). In fact, I’m hoping that 1) independently continuing on in my Haitian Creole textbooks + 2) 3-weeks of practice with native Haitians will allow me to skip the second level of Haitian Creole and go on to the third! (Here’s hoping.) Besides language, it may also help me further develop a non-profit idea that God gave me a few weeks ago.

So when I don’t think about the potential danger, I am so excited to go. I have been able to bring my mom on-board, but I can tell she is still very concerned. But I just don’t want my fear to limit me. I feel like I am so fearful of… everything, practically! And that is no way to live. Since high school, I have had an immense desire to work abroad with communities in extreme poverty. But over the years, I have seen that goal uprooted by fear. My mom has had angst about this goal and has pushed me to consider staying in the US instead. Her reasons are sound:  “There is so much poverty here. People need help here. Why are you running to another country when people in your own country are in need?” Logically, that makes perfect sense to me. But it doesn’t erase the pang in my heart to do something for those abroad. I feel like I need an experience in order to confirm either God’s calling for me to serve abroad or His intention for me to serve populations in the US. I just don’t want fear to usurp the decision and rob me of clarity.

Last night, I shared some of this with an old friend who I haven’t seen in… at least 2 years! We had a wonderful conversation. And I realized how much I have changed as a person through my conversation with her. I am so much more open and talkative now… but I’ll spare you details on that. Maybe for another post 🙂 But, yes… our conversation was so encouraging. She went to Haiti last year and was able to share about her emotional transition to living/working in the country. It was especially comforting to me that she could relate to my expressed desire to have an experience to call my own, one that would positively challenge me to grow and become independent, and one that would give me clarity on where to go from here (international vs. domestic). After listening, she strongly encouraged me to go and embrace this opportunity. When I push the fear aside, I feel that it is the right thing for me to do and I believe that it will be a positive experience for me.

So what does all of this have to do with Music Monday? Well, last night my friend told me about Brooke Fraser’s solo album, Albertine. You brothers and sisters out there may know Brooke from Hillsong United. She’s the front-woman for the songs “None But Jesus” and “Lord of Lords.” Well her solo album is absolutely beautiful and I have especially fallen in love with the title track, “Albertine.” In 2005, Brooke went to Rwanda to work with World Vision. In her visit to a Rwandan orphanage, she met Albertine, a young girl who was orphaned by the 1993-94 Rwandan genocides. This song is a promise to Albertine and this album is dedicated to her.

This song (especially the chorus) expresses my exact sentiments about engaging work in the international community. After learning about disparity, how can you just sit down and do nothing? And in doing nothing, how is your mind not plagued by the truth and how are you not guilted by your unwillingness to do your part to help?

I have a dear friend at school who seems fascinated by my interest in Haiti. Because I have no direct connection to the country, he cannot understand why I feel compelled to help them. Akin to Brooke’s chorus, because I know the history of injustice the country has experienced and know of the extreme poverty that millions of Haitians live daily, poverty that their parents lived and their parents before them, and poverty that their children will have no choice but to endure… how can I not be responsible to do something? I may not have seen this (yet) with my naked eyes, but isn’t the knowledge that it exists enough to be mobilized to do my part?

“Albertine”

I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
Her mother’s voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent
And on a thousandth hill, I think of Albertine
There in her eyes what I don’t see with my own

[CHORUS]

Rwanda
Now that I have seen, I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
Now that I have held you in my own arms, I cannot let go till you are

I am on a plane across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
and the dust on, the dust on, the dust on, the dust on, the dust on my feet

[CHORUS]

[BRIGDE]
I will tell the world, I will tell them where I’ve been
I will keep my word
I will tell them Albertine

[CHORUS]

I am on a stage, a thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine

Tabs“Albertine” @ UltimateGuitar.com

I need to, I will…

M

“By Your Side” – Tenth Avenue North

God is so good. I’m going through a period of brokenness right now and I really needed this song. I found it randomly last night while listening to a stream of music on Imeem and have had it on repeat ever since! 🙂 I hope you enjoy and are blessed!

why are you striving these days?
why are you trying to earn grace?
why are you crying?
let me lift up your face
just don’t turn away

why are you looking for love?
why are you still searching
as if i’m not enough?
to where will you go, child?
tell me, where will you run
to where will you run?

’cause i’ll be by your side wherever you fall
in dead of night, whenever you call
and please don’t fight
these hands that are holding you
and my hands are holding you

look at these hands at my side
they swallowed the grave on that night
when i drank the world’s sin
so i could carry you in
and give you life
i wanna give you life

and i’ll by your side wherever you fall
in the dead of night whenever you call
and please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
and my hands are holding you

here at my side wherever you fall
in the dead of night whenever you call
and please don’t fight

’cause I, I love you!
and i want you to know!
that I, yeah, I love you!
I’ll never let you go!
No! No!

and I’ll be by your side wherever you fall
in the dead of night whenever you call
and please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
and my hands are holding you

here at my side, wherever you fall
in the dead of night whenever you call
and please don’t fight these hands that are holding you
and my hands are holding you

here at my side
my hands are holding you
oh

Your Greatest Ally

“Instead of seeing yourself as your greatest enemy, see yourself as your greatest ally. Because no one knows you better than you do.”

~ A1chemist (me)

Paulo Coelho – Quote of the Moment

Paulo Coelho

Man improves himself as he follows his path; if he stands still, waiting to improve before he makes a decision, he’ll never move.

(Unpublished Saying)

It is God, all God that I saw this quote today. This morning, I was thinking about the person I am right now and felt somewhat dismayed by the gravity of improvements I feel I need to make. Within myself, I wondered if I should just stop and try to make these improvements before I keep moving … make sure I am completely in order first. I laughed to myself, because I realized I was thinking with a perfectionist’s mindset. And yet, even though I knew I wouldn’t be able to be perfect, I figured I could at least try to become as close to perfection as possible before moving on to new experiences.

I know I am not the only one who is tempted to yield to such thinking. There is a security when you feel completely prepared for everything. (God, do I crave that security!). But I was so blessed by Coelho’s quote. And I feel it is so true, or at least in my own life it has been true.

Often when I stall, I get stuck there, likely because I become so fixated on my faults that they end up staying with me. Like I wrote in a previous post… the car analogy. When you’re driving, you subconsciously direct the car toward the point upon which your eyes fixate. It is the same in life. When you fixate upon a point, you begin to reposition your life to get there. So my stalling for perfection and fixation on my faults only keeps me right there at this point. I can’t move past them because I have stopped moving altogether.

We have to keep moving, with our eyes focused ahead on the person we want to be. When we focus on our future, better selves, we will position our entire lives to become the person we want to be.

So Lord, I have decided to keep walking.

A Simple Prayer

Lord, please keep me strong and steadfast on the path You have predestined for me. I don’t know where You’re taking me, but God, I place my trust in You. Let me not yield to former childish ways, nor the limiting thoughts that once constricted my perception. Holy Spirit, minister to me, edify me, remind me of my path. And remove my focus from any thing, person, etc. that may threaten to take me off it. Father, I pray, please remove my confusion and replace it with a resounding clarity and peace in You. Amen.

“Not Here” by Jelaluddin Rumi

I recently found this poem on Clyde’s Blog, http://opinionatedoldfart.wordpress.com/ and decided to re-post it here. It is by Jelaluddin Rumi, a 13th century Persian Muslim poet and theologian. This poem so suits a current transformation the Lord is undergoing within me (will post on later). And I especially loved Rumi’s mention of alchemists! 🙂

Not Here

There’s courage involved if you want
to become truth. There is a broken-

open place in a lover. Where are
those qualities of bravery and sharp

compassion in this group? What’s the
use of old and frozen thought? I want

a howling hurt. This is not a treasury
where gold is stored; this is for copper.

We alchemists look for talent that
can heat up and change. Lukewarm

won’t do. Halfhearted holding back,
well-enough getting by? Not here.

The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream

Everyone on the face of the Earth has a treasure that lies waiting for them.”

“In order to arrive you must follow the signs.
God inscribed on the world the path that each man must follow.
It is just a matter of reading the inscription He wrote for you.”

“The glory of the world is transitory, and we should not measure our lives by it,
but by the choice we make to follow our Personal Legend,
to believe in our utopias and to fight for our dreams.
We are all protagonists of our own lives,

and it is often the anonymous heroes who leave the deepest mark.”
(from Paulo Coelho’s acceptance speech to Brazilian Academy of Letters)

“The closer you get to your dream,
the more your Personal Legend becomes your real reason for living.”

The Alchemist

For the past two years, I have been searching for some person or word inspired by God to restore meaning in my life … I have found what I was looking for in Paulo Coelho and his novel, The Alchemist. After reading this book, I felt like I came alive again. I had feared that I would not find a way to dig out from underneath the negativity I had piled upon myself, and oftentimes felt tempted to surrender to an ever imminent feeling of defeat. And then, I learned of this book from a friend… it couldn’t have been suggested at a better time because, as I mention in my first post, I am trying to pull my life together.

I had heard of The Alchemist earlier in my life in passing… you know, like one of those books you know the title of and recognized it as a classic work of literature, but don’t know what it is about and don’t really have any inclination to read it. The Alchemist was that to me, until a dear friend of mine just recently suggested that I read it. She had just finished it and suggested that I read it, saying it was a story about a boy’s journey to realize his dreams. Normally, I don’t think that would have really caught my interest, but for some reason, I was intrigued by this description, likely because I am in a state now where I am trying to flush out my dreams and determine in which direction God will have me travel. I would like to thank my dear friend, for she has given me a gift that I could never have anticipated… the gift of hope and anticipation for greatness in my life!

I thank God for the gift of new perspective. My eyes have been renewed by seeing life through the eyes of a simple shepherd boy who had hope and faith in a dream larger than his present circumstances could ever foretell. Despite the immense difficulties that threatened to thwart the realization of his destiny, he persevered and chose to continue his journey instead of accepting defeat. To quote the book, “…he realized that he had to choose between thinking of himself as the poor victim of a thief and as an adventurer in quest of his treasure. ‘I am an adventurer, looking for treasure,’ he said to himself.” For him, quitting would take the fun out of his journey. As stated in the book, “It is precisely the possibility of realizing a dream that makes life interesting.”

That scenario speaks to me directly. In these past years, I have burrowed myself into a state of such deep regret that it has immobilized me. I have fixated on the mistakes I have made that I have allowed them to hinder me from moving forward. But looking at the shepherd boy fills me with such inspiration. I need to actively learn how to see my mistakes as moments of life experience, moments that carry lessons to be used as examples of how not to handle things next time… the key point being that I should not shelter myself from situations that will test what I learned from my mistakes, but face them head on with a new and greater awareness!

What I also love about how Paulo Coelho depicted this situation is that he was very real about it. Before coming to this state of hope and determined persistence, the shepherd boy was tempted to yield to the resistance created by his mistake. After being robbed, he thought regretfully to himself:

“When I had my sheep, I was happy, and I made those around me happy. People saw me coming and welcomed me, he thought. But now I’m sad and alone. I’m going to become bitter and distrustful of people because one person betrayed me. I’m going to hate those who have found their treasure because I never found mine. And I’m going to hold on to what little I have, because I’m too insignificant to conquer the world.”

I absolutely LOVE that Paulo wrote him realistically. I know that everyone of his readers must have been able to relate to this feeling of despair and utter regret, knowing that we had things better a time before our present misfortune and disparaging ourselves for allowing us to get to this state. It’s human nature, and like us, the shepherd spoke ill of his future and for a short time there, was tempted to believe it. He even thought to blame God for his misfortune, saying that “this was the way God repaid those who believed in their dreams.” But instead of succumbing to the temptation of quitting, he realized that his destiny still remained and that a treasure was waiting to be found, by him. So instead of stopping his life story there, he had faith in his destiny, proclaiming to himself, “I am an adventurer, looking for treasure.” This unfortunate event was only a mild pothole along the road.

His outlook of transcendence is an example to me, to us all. He acknowledged his part in his misfortune and decided to learn from his mistake of so easily trusting a stranger. Yet, he did not fixate on his mistake. Rather, he looked for beauty in the seemingly lowest of moments. He focused on the positives of his experience, centering himself on his accomplishment of reaching Africa and coming that much closer to realizing his destiny.

I hope that in life, I can face each day with such optimistic vigor. In every day, every moment, every breath, there lies beauty. There is always something to be praised. The challenge is to train your eye to see it. Once you can accomplish that, beauty is all you’ll come to see, in every circumstance. God is EVERYWHERE. He is not hiding. Rather, it is our human eye that fails to recognize his presence in every living moment. Here is an analogy to better explain my point. Don’t credit this to me; I may have heard this from somewhere a few years back. I am realizing this now: When you are driving, your hands naturally guide the vehicle to whichever point upon which your eyes are fixed. So if you are fixated upon the car approaching you in the opposite lane, your hands will naturally reposition the car toward this oncoming car. But if you are focused on the lane you are in, you will continue to safely drive the course. I have been focusing on my past mistakes, and have thus been living in the past. My life has been unable to move forward because my gaze is pointed on what is behind me. I feel closer to God after reading this book.

I may have finished reading this book Friday, June 20, 2008, but its words and the images it evoked still replay in my mind. I am certain that this book and its author have become bright threads in the tapestry of my life journey. The story was especially affecting to me as a Christian. I felt closer to God after reading this book, and that feeling still remains. Reading it, I just knew that Paulo Coelho must be a Christian because he speaks in the language of Christ. I cannot even express how much this blessed me. As my faith diminished during the last two years, my relationship with God grew gradually more distant. It was not until last January that I felt an undeniable separation from God, which truly scared my. I committed myself to seeking the Lord and have been praying for redirection in my life. I was feeling like my life was headed back in the wrong direction when I learned about The Alchemist. Reading it, it was as though my soul was being cleaned throughout and uplifted in encouragement. As I said earlier, I felt closer to God, which I so desperately needed. I heard Him through the words of his creation, Paulo Coelho.

I know that I am destined for something amazing! I was under so much spiritual fire in these last two years and at the point of almost succumbing fully to its will, when God sent me this light to guide me back to the path on which He has destined me to be! Wow… my destiny MUST be something amazing and important that the Universe conspired at this exact time to remind me that my dreams are realizable… the time when I most needed such encouragement! I just have to trust undoubtedly in the strength God has put within me and trust that He has portioned me more than the right amount to surpass ALL of resistance’s efforts to prevail against me. Thank you, Lord for this new view on life! It is the same life, but ahh… it looks SO different to me now. I never thought that I would reach this point of sublime certainty in my clarity and clarity in my certainty of Your truths in my life. But Lord, am I ever paying attention to Your signs now.

I highly recommend this book as a read for EVERYONE. I especially think it should be a necessary read for school-aged children, whose dreams are so vibrant and fragile, full of fervor but slipping so easily to the wayside as they grow. The lessons it teaches are invaluable. Also, I particularly recommend the book to those walking with Christ. You will be greatly blessed to see how God’s words flow through His faith-filled creation, Paulo Coelho.

I feel it only fitting to end this post with the words of the man who inspired both this post and this blog. Be blessed and may God bless you and Paulo Coelho, right where you are now.

Life

What is this force that drives us far from the comfort of the familiar
and makes us take up challenges instead,
even though we know that the glory of this world is only transitory?
I believe this impulse is called the search for the meaning of life.
Over many years of seeking a definitive answer to this question in books, art and science,
and in both the dangerous and easy paths I have followed,
I have found many answers.
I am convinced now that a definitive answer will never be given to us in this life,
but that, at the last, at the moment when we stand once more before the Creator,
we will understand each opportunity that was offered to us.

– Paulo Coelho

Resisting Resistance

I have been stuck in this dream state, resisting action for these past 2 years. College is supposed to be a time when I am supposed to be doingacting toward my dream(s). I am one of the fortunate ones in that I already know what my destiny is and even how I’m going to get there. And yet, I’m not doing anything to cultivate myself in other areas, or even fully devoting myself in preparation for my career path. I feel stuck in this place in between adolescence and adulthood, at a standstill because both sides are equally pulling me in their direction. I know I am supposed to yield to the pull of adulthood, and yet, I can’t seem to cut the rope to adolescence.

I found an article that perfectly articulates these troubles and provides excellent solutions to battling them. All is not hopeless with Christ. Amen? Amen!

According to the article, Getting Unstuck: Stepping Toward Your Dreams:

Resistance is the derailing force we experience when we attempt any potentially good thing — a painting, an article, a marathon or a marriage. It strikes anyone who hopes to move to a higher plane — in relationships, spirituality, academics, creative work or business.

– Stephen Pressfield, The War of Art

That statement cannot be any more true. Whenever we try to better ourselves, we can be certain that the devil will try to deter us from accomplishing success. He is directly against any goodnesses in our favor.

According to the article, there are 5 things we can do to overcome resistance:

  1. Expect It — if you’re trying to better yourself, you had better believe that your efforts will be strongly opposed by Satan, and that such opposition will manifest itself in your thoughts and events of your daily life
  2. Face It — by facing the resistance and not running away from the thoughts of defeat that fill your mind, you come to recognize resistance when it occurs in your life and will know how to challenge it. Don’t run away, don’t fear. Stand strong and grapple the resistance in your life
  3. Claim It — Change your “want” to “are.” As you work steadfastly toward your aim, don’t continue to tell yourself that you want to be a dancer, but that you are a dancer. Revamp your vocabulary, removing those words of uncertainty to words of truth. You are on the path to becoming a journalist, You are talented. When you tell speak to yourself in this way, your commanding the statement as a reality, and will be more likely to do things toward accomplishing your aim.
  4. Seek Support — Resistance will give you its hardest hits, but linking yourself up to encouraging individuals will fortify you against its efforts. Identify professionals in your (intended) field who are willing to serve as a mentor, or form an accountability partnership with a friend so that when you feel like succumbing to defeat, they can edify you and set you right again.
  5. Take Small, Manageable Steps — Break your goals into small steps. Accomplishing a small task is less intimidating than taking on a huge project. Cutting your goal into smaller steps will increase both your motivation and likelihood to see it the whole project through to finish. when you see a small task to accomplish

That was just my synopsis of the 5 steps. If you want the entire write-up, click the link I posted above. It’s well worth a read, and not much longer than what I wrote.

I want to close with the ending quote from the article. As you read it, know that you were created by God for an important purpose. It does not matter how small or insignificant you and your dreams may seem in your mind because they are large in God’s eyes. Don’t compare yourself to another person’s destiny because in they are equal in value when achieved for the will of God. Be blessed.

“If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself. You hurt your children, you hurt me, you hurt the planet. You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite God Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter further along its path back to God.”

– Stephen Pressfield