Sunday, November 24, 2013

You only lose what you cling to

You only lose what you cling to.

This quote has popped up a lot in my life over the past two weeks.  The origin of this quote is unknown.  Some sources say Buddha said it, but others say it is one of many fake Buddha quotes.

Where the quote comes from is ultimately irrelevant, what is being said is more important to me.

I encourage you to take 5 minutes of silence  and think about what this quote means to you.  Form your own opinion of the quote before you read my interpretation of it below.  I would love to read your interpretation, so please leave it as a comment.

My interpretation

I thought about this quote in 3 sessions of 5 minutes each.  Each session was a few days apart.

First Session:

In the first session I related the quote to the physical world, to my attachment to physical possessions. 

Why is it hard for me to give away clothing?  I have too much clothing, that is for sure, but I only buy clothes I need and clothes I love.  Unfortunately the clothes I love I cannot wear to work and the clothes I need I don’t like wearing around the home because they do not reflect my personality.  So I am sitting with a double wardrobe, clothes I love but cannot wear and clothes I wear but do not love.  Logically, I should have given away the clothes I love because I cannot wear them on a daily basis anymore (and I really don’t need 5 sun dresses and 20 t-shirts if I can only wear them on the weekend), but I love them.  Why am I so attached to these clothes?

Clothing is just one example, there are many other things I own that I love, in fact I don’t buy anything I don’t love.  These are things that I cling to and would feel a very real loss if I was to give them away.

I didn’t come to a conclusion, except that I need to teach myself not to cling to possessions.  By not attaching myself to these objects I wouldn’t suffer loss if I was to lose them.

Second Session:

In the second session, I thought of the quote more in a spiritual sense. This Bible verse came to mind:

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” – Mark 8:35

If you click the link it will take you to a page where you will see the various translations of the passage, as well as cross references to other similar passages.

So I started thinking about how I am clinging to what I want for my life, what I think is best for my life, and how I am not trusting in the dreams that God has put in my head and heart because they are not “safe” options. 

A while ago I read a book with my husband called “When God Writes Your Love Story” by Eric and Leslie Ludy.  Why was it so easy for me to trust God with my love story (the one with Mark), but it is so difficult to trust God with my life story?  Why am I clinging to life?  Why can I not trust God and simply do what  I feel he wants me to do?

Yet again I didn’t come to a conclusion, just a decision that I needed to start working on this.

Third Session:

The third session ended in some form of conclusion: I’m clinging to my individuality.  I cannot get rid of the clothes I love because it is part of my individuality, it is an extension of myself.  I cannot get rid of my DVD collection because when I look at it I see 100+ different aspects of my personality, my individuality.  What I wear (or want to wear) hints to the world who I am.  The books and DVD’s I own shows my interests and likes to anybody who looks through them.  It is all part of me, part of who I perceive myself to be.

While I don’t like opening up my soul to someone until I am ready to (this post is something I am ready to open up, I never write anything I am not willing to be open about to the whole world), I still like to throw little hints of my personality and individuality out into the world. 

Skelanimals T-Shirts are my subtle hint at “I like the dark and creepy, but not too much”.

My jeans, hiking boots and T-shirts show the subtle hint at “I’m a tomboy. I am not a Barbie Doll. I am real. I am not fake. There is a brain in this head” and the summer dresses are my hint at “Even though I am a tomboy, I do like looking pretty, but you will only see me in it when I have proven my intelligence to you.”

By losing my attachment to these things, I will lose a vital tool that I use to show the world my individuality without actually speaking it.

Now comes the quest: giving over my individuality to God.  My individuality is the part of my life I am clinging to.  I am not trusting God to allow the person he created to show through regardless of what I wear, and the stuff I own.  I am using stuff to show it off in my own power instead.

Now it is time… figuring out the next step.  Changing my mind.  Not sure how yet though… when I have figured it out, I’ll let you know!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Media and advertising controls society

If you are reading this, it means you are connected to the internet somehow, so that means you are exposed to advertising and the media in some way or form. And that in turn means that you are at risk of being influenced by the media, just as I am.

Now before I start, I am not opposed to a healthy amount of media entertainment.  It is okay to watch a movie, it is okay to surf the web and it is okay to watch a series.  But you need to ask some questions.

Does the movie/series/website make you stop and think? Does it teach you something? Does it inspire you to do good? Or read up more about a topic?

I loved Stargate-SG1 for that reason, it made me think about real world issues, scientific possibilities and it taught me a lot. There were plenty of hidden warnings for our society in the series.

Other than Stargate-SG1 and a crime series called Life. It has been a very long time since I watched a series that I felt was giving me something to think about with every episode. As a by-product I no longer watch TV series, only documentaries and movies.  And even the movies I have become very selective with.

As far as actual TV goes, I have a TV and I pay my tv license as required of me by law, but I don't think I have watched more than 30 minutes of TV in the 6 months. I have no pay tv, I only get the free channels, and I don't even watch those.

This has allowed me to take a step back and really take a look at the world. How many hours do you spend a week watching a screen or paging through a picture magazine?

Have you seen all the successful people in the world? The ones that are making a difference or have a lot of cash? How much time do you think they spend in front of a screen (actual work on computers excluded).

Don't you think that if 80% of the population got out and actually lived in the present moment, excluding screens from their lives a lot of change could be made for the better in this world?

By sitting in front of a screen all the time, aren't you just becoming a submissive, blindness sheep?  Aren't you helping keep the wealthy rich by only caring about how you are going to get your hands on the next season?

Then I come to another point, how much of the stuff you see and want do you really need to survive and be happy? Here is a good test... if you were to get all the raw materials (for free) and instructions how to make whatever it is you want, would you be willing to spend the next day/month/year making it yourself?  If the answer is no, then really consider if you need it!

Another question: how many shoes do you need?  In my mind: 4 pairs of shoes maximum.  1 for work,  1 for formal wear, 1 for exercise and 1 for casual/beach wear. I will admit I have more than 4 pairs shoes, I have decided that the ones I have are going to be worn until they wear out. No more are coming into my house.

Now the question is where did this idea that women have 50+ pairs of shoes originate?  The advertisers, movies and TV. Right from Clueless and probably even earlier. Clueless was the first time I was introduced to the idea of lots of clothes.

Going back to media and how it shapes society, I ask that you become aware.  You are not a mindless sheep. I encourage you, in this coming week, keep a notebook with you. Every advert you see or hear, make a note.  Every TV series you watch, make a note of the emotions it inspires in you, then stop and think, even if you are immune (or believe yourself to be) how does this advert/series/movie effect the mass public? How does it effect children who are vulnerable to this brainwashing?

Think for yourself, and if you need more convincing,  watch this video.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The empty church

One evening I was standing in church. The band was on the stage singing, the church was full, the minister was waiting for his turn.

Suddenly during one of the songs God put an image in my mind. I saw, in my minds eye, an empty church. Nobody was there except the pastor and one of the musicians. I was there, but not in reality.

I saw the pews empty. Not a person in sight. The minister got up to preach, and he preached to the empty pews. The musician played and only the pastor and the musician could be heard singing.

At the end the musician said to the pastor "why do we still do this every Sunday, nobody hears us?" The minister replied "God hears us. He will bring the people when they are ready."

God then placed an image in my mind of an old stone church, in a medieval setting. A monk was standing at the door while another man was ringing a church bell. The church was also empty. The man said "I don't think anyone is coming." The monk then said "Never mind, keep ringing that bell, it will remind the villagers there is hope."

The final set of images God placed in my mind was of the church I was in again. I could see everyone standing there singing. But they felt like empty shells, except for a select few, I sensed about 20 that were more than shells, their spirits in worship. I didn't hear a voice, it was just a feeling, a very strong feeling...

The feeling that the people there were not present in spirit, that they were going to leave as time progressed. That only a few would remain. Then the feeling that the few who are still faithful would feel that all hope is lost at rebuilding.

Finally there was the feeling that all God requires is that we keep doing our part and He will keep on doing his. A feeling of "I won't drop the batten, I will remain faithful." Because my God will bring the people, he will keep HIS church going even in the times of darkness.

I am sharing this because I believe that God intends someone else to read it. I don't know who that person is, or why.

Maybe you are the shell, the one who is in church, but not present in church.

- Seek to build a stronger relationship with God, or else one day you will be too far gone.

Maybe you are the pastor who is preaching to the empty church.

Maybe you are the musician who doesn't get why nobody is worshipping and is wondering what the point of continuing is.

Maybe you are the bell ringer... or in a modern context... the one praying, visiting, providing meals or doing another service for God and you feel like nobody is benefiting from all your energy spent.

- draw close to God. Always give him the glory. Pray and keep on keeping on. It isn't about the number of souls you knowingly reach, it is about the number of souls God reaches through you without you even realizing it. Give God your best, all eyes on him and let God do the rest.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

What have you done today to tick Satan off?

The title of this blog post might sound like a weird question but I am going to describe my train of thoughts in getting to it, and it may not seem like such a strange question anymore.

Who knows the Robin Hood story? That is the one where Good King Richard left England to go on the crusades and in his absence the Evil Prince John took over the throne. He taxed the people heavily and ruled by fear. Along came Robin Hood who refused to be terrorised by Prince John and worked for justice by stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. When King Richard returned Prince John got what was coming to him, and King Richard restored order to the kingdom. At least that is the basics of the legend.

There is a good Disney movie with a fox that will give you the basics of the story. It is a great watch an one of my favorite movies.

Robin Hood has always been one of my favourite legends. I was always fond of the love story involved in it. While stealing is still a sin even for a good cause, I loved the fearlessness of Robin Hood and his loyalty to the true king.

What does the Robin Hood story have to do with God and Satan?  Well, picture Jesus as Good King Richard and Satan as the Evil Prince John. Jesus has "gone away" to prepare a place for us, he left us with the Holy Spirit though (Robin Hood). However, Satan has temporarily taken over the throne and is trying all his tricks to rule by fear and hate.

If you were trying to overthrow a kingdom, how would you do it? I know I would try to convince the people that the real king isn't coming back, and as time progresses, that he didn't exist in the first place. Then I would tempt the key people, the ones who have the potential to make a difference in the world with fame, money, power and as a last resort fear.

Fear of "what will people think of me" and "I will look silly" and fear of failure and as a last resort fear of torture and death.

What is the key difference between Prince John and King Richard (in the legend) ? I see it as Prince John ruled by fear, King Richard ruled by love.

So if we (the Christian's) are the Merry Men (and women) of this time, because we are filled with the Holy Spirit (Robin Hood), what should be our goal? Reflect the Love of Jesus (King Richard) and strive to keep his kingdom intact, the way he intended it to be.

Remember how in the story, Robin Hood frustrated and infuriated Prince John by doing good, showing love and thwarting his every plan until King Richard returned to deliver justice? He really ticked Prince John off, and just by being a good man.

That makes me end with this question:

What have you done today to tick Satan off?

Friday, October 18, 2013

Writing Therapy

Have you ever had a time where you feel like you just can’t cope?  Where your thoughts are buzzing around your head like a swarm of bees and you can’t seem to focus on any thought for very long?  And the thoughts keep flying backwards and forwards through your mind?

How does a person focus on a single bee (thought) in the swarm bees (thoughts)?  Have you tried writing?

There are times when I have days that I cannot focus.  That certain things are bothering me so badly that I keep thinking the same thoughts over and over again without ever actually dealing with any of the thoughts in depth.

What helps me is to write.  Even if I don’t write each thought out in detail, only do a “mind map” of the thoughts going through my mind it helps.

Ever had a child that struggles to express themselves verbally?  It is probably because when they think, they think with pictures rather than words.  I think with both, but I see pictures first, then translate those pictures into words. Writing helps me put my thoughts into words.  Once I have written it, or even drawn the picture that was in my mind, I am better able to explain it to somebody else.  Why not try to get the child to write, or draw their thoughts instead of explain them?

The benefits I have found in writing include the following:

Focusing on a specific thought: By writing down one specific thought after the other, you slow down the swarm of bees in your mind.  Each bee is still there, but they are now flying in slow motion so that you can focus on each one individually and not loose tract of it.  You may find that the bee you are writing about will interact with other bee’s in your mind.  When this is happening in normal speed then you loose track of the bee you were busy with and jump to another one.  While writing, you are able to see how the bee you are busy with interacts with the other bees in your mind, you connect patterns that you normally wouldn’t have noticed.

Create patterns between thoughts:  By seeing how each bee interacts with the others you will start to notice patterns or observe more detail than you observed previously. 

Calming: It can get frustrating to have all these thoughts going on in your mind and not know how to express them to someone else quickly enough.  By writing them down, you can take your time to express your thoughts.  Not having the stress of getting your thoughts out there fast enough enables you to think in a more calm way.

Still not convinced?  Just give it a try for a day.  Take a pen or a keyboard and write whatever comes to mind.  Slow down those racing thoughts, and see the benefits for yourself.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Sit and think

Each weekend, for the past 3 weekends I have sat and thought for an hour or two.

I can honestly say that there is a distinct benefit for taking time out from your busy day, or week, to sit and think. Even if it is just for an 15 minutes.

Some of the benefits I have found:

1. Relax - it allows me to stop and breathe, free from stress and anxiety because I know that for the next time span, I don't have to worry about anything.

2. Extra insight and wisdom gained - I focus on a specific issue that is confusing me, or something I have read, or a quote I have heard and by focusing on it, I flesh out the details of "whatever it is" and gain greater wisdom accordingly.

3. Appreciation - I learn to appreciate the world around me with all it's details, especially the natural world.

4. Focus - I get focus to go forward into my day. Refocusing myself on what matters and reminding myself to let go what doesn't matter.

And that is why I think it is good to just sit, breathe and think.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

30 Days to make a habit: Walk the dog daily

Some time ago I heard the saying "it takes 30 days to make a habit".  I have finally started on my 30 day journey to turn walking the dog daily into a habit.

I am on day 11 now. I will definitely say that the "30 days to make a habit" phrase is true.

In addition to walking the dog, I am also getting up before 6am daily. If I don't, then I won't have enough time to walk the dog and shower before heading off to work at 7am.

Some of you reading this will get impatient thinking "I don't have 30 days to turn all I want to do into habits" and you may try to do more than one habit at a time.

I want to say, do some simple maths. How old are you? How long do you expect to live? Life expectancy minus age and multiply by 12. That is how many habits you can still learn by doing this method.

I hope to live to at least 90, I am 28. 62 years multiply by 12... that is 744 habits I can still learn (if the maths I did in my head is correct).

Also, I have found that by getting one habit I am also getting a side effect of other habits being developed... like reading my Bible in the mornings in the last 15 minutes before I leave for work and waking up before 6.

I strongly recommend trying this for yourself.