Sunday, April 10, 2011

Being Persistant

Persistent.  What do you think of when you hear that word?  Several things come to my mind, some good and some that can be aggravating. Our dog, Woody, is very persistent. He’s fed everyday  at 5:00 pm and you can set your watch by him appearing by his food bowl.  If I don’t feed him at 5:00 on the dot he comes looking for me. Sometimes he sits and stares at me. Loosing a staring match to a dog can be rather humbling. LOL  Should the staring not work, Woody goes to plan B.  Plan B involves him laying his chin on your knee if you are sitting where he can. If that’s not possible, Woody will nudge your arm, leg, whatever he can reach   with his nose.  Should Mom or Dad be able to ignore both plan A and plan B, he barks persistently.  Barking is something I can’t ignore so I will stop what I’m doing to go feed him. It’s not like Woody is going to die from starvation if his food is a little late arriving.  He’s a 95 pound basset/lab mix. There’s enough body fat on our sweet puppy for him to survive an extra 15 minutes without food. Woody is well behaved and persistent.  His behavior regarding dinner time fits in with Og Mandino’s Scroll Three - I will persist until I succeed. Woody has this principle mastered.

Mandino listed 9 keys to mastering this principle.  We’ll look at each one separately.

Key 1.  Be brave – I am not an outgoing person by nature.  People who know me well will argue the point.  Once I'm comfortable with you I’m eager to add my part to the conversation or activity.  If I have just met you or have not reached the necessary comfort level with you, I’m not going to be saying or doing much.  Woody doesn’t care what is going on when it’s dinner time.  He bravely goes forth to capture what is his!  “In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.” -John 16:33 New Century Version

 Key 2.  Be self-motivated – Self motivation is difficult for some of us.  Not being self motivated can lead to trouble if you are self-employed, have limited supervision at work or have important personal business that needs to taken care of. For the self employed, no or very little work leaves you no income.  You must produce your product before it can be sold.  If you are employed in a position where you have limited supervision, it’s easy to get distracted resulting in missed deadlines, poor performance and possible job loss.  Not taking care of your personal business can leave bills unpaid; cause you to owe unnecessary late fees and other negative outcomes. Self motivation is necessary for us to accomplish our required tasks.  Woody is self motivated to be sure he eats on time so he is persistent.  Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.  Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV)

Key 3.  Take another step – Don’t be afraid to keep stepping out with persistence.  Like Woody trying to get our attention to feed him, we cannot give up until we reach our goal.  Bravely take the first step and the additional ones necessary for success until you are running toward your goal.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 (NIV)

 Key 4.  Do the little things consistently – Little things can often be the direct cause of huge problems.  These little things can range from household tasks to customer service in your business.  Because it’s a small amount in the midst of the 3 cups of flour, it’s easy to forget the two teaspoons of yeast when baking bread.  Forgetting to add the yeast turns the loaf of bread into a door stop.  Some of the items on our daily to-do list are little things but they have to be done on a daily basis to keep our household or business running smoothly.  Loading the dishwasher after a meal, wiping down the counters and stove top and sweeping the kitchen floor are all “little things”.  They are also tasks that if left undone for several days create a big problem when it comes to providing your family a nutritious meal and a comfortable home.  If you’ve not loaded and run the dishwasher and the sink and counter are overflowing with dirty dishes it can cause problems.  Not only is it difficult to find a place to prepare a meal, you may not have clean dishes and tools that you need.  The floor covered with crumbs and dirt is not only unsightly but can invite pests into your home creating a big problem.  I occasionally sell items on Etsy and when I do, I try to make the package inviting to my customer.  I wrapped a pattern in tissue paper and tied it with curly ribbon finishing it off with a bow.  It was a little thing but the customer was so excited about it that she made mention of it in her feedback.  It’s the little things like wrapping the package or following up by calling or sending a card to those who have previously done business with you that goes a long way to building a dedicated customer following.  Doing the little things consistently instills them as a daily habit in your mind and pays off big in the end. 

Key 5.  Eliminate negative self-talk – I have a tendency to talk very negatively to myself about me. I’m my own worse enemy sometime.  Because of my health problems, I sometimes feel that I’m a burden to my husband and children.  I see myself as someone who can no longer pull my weight around the house in things like housework and yard work.  Even though I have income to contribute to the family expenses, I see myself as not doing enough.  Because of my pain and fatigue, I can’t consistently create items to sell to supplement our income.  It can be months at a time between my being able to create.  Instead of negative self-talk, I should be using positive self-talk.  It’s important to your mental and physical health to think positively about yourself and your abilities.  Negative self-talk can cause depression problems that in turn cause you to be stressed, sad, uncertain, and unable to perform the tasks at hand.  If you don’t believe in yourself, who will? 

Key 6.  Reframe Refusal - You’ve done everything right, bravely setting out to accomplish your goal.  You are on top of your game, motivated and confident.  Presenting your product or proposal to the boss or potential client went off without a glitch in your mind.  Grinning ear to ear, you leave the meeting sure that they will choose you for the project.  Even when you don’t hear from them in the time you expected, you are still excited and ready to get started.  Finally you hear from them.  Unfortunately, they have decided not to use you for the job.  Don’t go back to the world of negative self-talk.  Instead take time to reevaluate your product, proposal and presentation.  Possibly your product was not a good fit for the company’s needs.  People all take information in differently so perhaps your audience would have done better with handouts for your oral presentation.  Instead of giving up, reframe your ideas, be brave and keep moving forward.

Key 7.  Overcome Obstacles – In a way, this key goes hand in hand with the one before it.  Don’t let running into an obstacle stop you in your tracks.  Obstacles don’t end your plans; they merely put a detour in them.  Use the challenge of this interruption of your plans to look for a better method of doing things.  Look at all the options at hand, choose the best one and keep moving forward.  

Key 8.  End each day with success – So how do we end each day with success when we haven’t made a big sale, gotten a new contract or won the lottery?  Success comes in many shapes and sizes.  Your success may be claimed through another person. Here’s an example – your child has been having a really hard time with his math lessons.  Every night you have worked on sample problems together to help him understand the concept.  He has bravely taken a new step forward every night and his understanding is increasing. Today he had a big test.  Instead of coming home with a sad face and a low grade, today he came running in with a huge smile and an A on the test!  You can both end the day with success.  Your son has overcome the obstacles in his way of learning the math concepts and had a successful day by getting a good math grade.  You have the pleasure of knowing that you had successfully guided him over the obstacle that had stood in his way. Remember Key 4, Do the little things consistently?  If you’ve consistently done the little things today, you’ve ended your day with success.  You may have to stop and think over but I’m sure you’ll find success in your day.

Key 9.  Sustain momentum – Now that you have your keys to keeping on the road to success, keep going! Your momentum will keep you rolling on the way to your goals if you keep your feet off the breaks.  Following these nine keys consistently, you will allow you to develop new habits that help eliminate procrastination and create attitudes of perseverance and action.  You can do it!!  Persist to Success! 

Note:  The Scrolls and Keys are from Og Mindino’s website. The comments are not based on his writings but are my thoughts on the subject.                   

Thursday, April 7, 2011

We are Unique Miracles of God

Og Mandino’s Scroll Four is I am nature’s greatest miracle.  We are all nature’s greatest miracle.  Nothing in nature compares to the miracle of birth.  It’s an amazing event.  Psalm 139 tells us about how God shaped and molded us even before we were born.  God valued us even before we were able to do anything on our own.  He values us enough that from the very beginning He has a plan for our lives.
 13 For you created my inmost being;
   you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
   your works are wonderful,
   I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
   when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
 16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
   were written in your book
   before one of them came to be.
Each one of us is unique.  No two people are exactly alike.  New research is finding that even identical twins have a few differences.   Because God has a plan for us He gave us the necessary abilities and talents to live according to that plan.  Mandino wrote that we should recognize our unique strengths, talents and abilities and celebrate them.  Have you taken an assessment of your abilities and talents?  These abilities and talents are unique to you.  Understand them, embrace them and with a strong sense of purpose, go forward to a new life.  Obstacles may cross your path but look at them at opportunities to use your God given talents to the fullest.

Look at obstacles as opportunities?  Throughout my life I’ve had many obstacles that I have looked at as opportunities.  I think I crossed those obstacles well with God’s help.  When I was fifty, I went back to school and got my associates degree in paralegal studies. In my mind, I finally crossed that last obstacle that was the difference between having a job and having a career.  I was so sure that I had properly assessed my strengths, talents and abilities and celebrated them.  I burnt the candle at both ends and worked full time while going to school full time.  I kept up with my work and school work in order to have a 4.0 GPA until my last semester.  

During my last semester of school, things began to get harder than they had ever been.  I began to notice that my once nearly perfect memory was not so perfect anymore.  Physically it was beginning to get hard to walk from the car to the building at work and school.  Convinced that I was just tired after two years of work, study and very little sleep, I didn’t think much of it.  I was sure that once I was getting eight hours of sleep every night and going home after work instead of to school, everything would be back to “normal”.  I’m still waiting for things to be back to “normal”.  

I moved into my new role as a paralegal eager to learn as much as I could.  I even gave thought to law school.  Things did get a little better, for a while.  I graduated in May.  By November, things were beginning to fall apart. My memory was getting worse, not better.  I was making so many notes but then couldn’t remember that I had made notes.  It was difficult to get up and be at work on time no matter what time I went to bed.  My wonderful husband became concerned because I was going to bed earlier and earlier.  Finally, in March I could no longer grasp new concepts.  Not only was I not grasping them, I was forgetting even being taught the new tasks.  The fatigue was so bad that many a time I thought I was going to have to sit down on a curb and rest to make it from the car to the building.  The pain kept increasing to the point that I would throw up in the mornings.  Finally on May 1, I could do it no longer.  I came home never to return to the working world again.  I’m not sure how long it actually was but it seemed like I slept for most of the next three months.  Two years later, I still suffer the pain, the fatigue, the memory loss.  It is a part of my new life and will never go away. It's an obstacle that I'm not sure how to overcome.  I have no idea how to look at Fibromyalgia as an opportunity.

Is it possible to be unique with abilities and talents only to have those no longer be part of your life?  Is it possible that God has another plan for me with its own set of abilities and talents?  I’m not sure but it’s beginning to seem so.  Only through prayer, faith in God and patience will I know the answer to that question.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Starting a New Life

Yesterday we talked about seeking guidance when making decisions. Every decision we make should be brought to the Lord for His input in the decision making process. Only then can we be confident that we are following His will.  Since I have that valuable lesson under my belt, it’s time to move on in Og Mandino’s principles for changing your life. Scroll One is “Today I begin a new life”. 

I've had several "lives".  Lives as a daughter, a wife, a mother.  My most important "life" began when I was in fifth grade.  One warm spring afternoon I was sitting alone in the front porch swing going over the events of the spring revival at our church.  Almost all of my Sunday School class had made the walk down the aisle professing their faith during the revival.  Several of them had encouraged me to come with them because “everyone was doing it”.  That didn’t seem like the right reason to do it so I sat all alone in the pew while everyone else was congratulated for making this life changing decision.  After I replayed everything and thought about the sermons we had heard, I remember looking up to the beautiful blue sky and saying “Lord, I believe.  I believe that you sent your Son to die on the cross and save me from my sins.” It was a day that I remember so vividly 40 something years later.  I had claimed the new life promised to me in the book of Romans.
We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 6:4)
Now, I’m two years into retirement several years earlier than I had envisioned.  I suffer from Fibromyalgia, Myofasical Pain Syndrome, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Peripheral Neuropathy and edema. Life is nothing like it was four or five years ago. My days are spent dealing with chronic pain and fatigue.  Some days are not so bad and I can almost forget that I have these problems.  Other days I can barely move to get out of bed and doing anything productive is not going to happen.  I will admit it.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it.  God has a plan for the next stage in my life.  If I am to remain in His will, then I have to accept it and move on with my life.  I am claiming the promise of 2 Corinthians 5:17 as the next step of my new life.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!”

Now that I've made up my mind that it is time to begin the next chapter in my life, where do I start?  How do I do it?  Praying for guidance has to be first and foremost in my mind. I have to trust God that with His help that I am capable of building a new life. Philippians 4:13 has long been my life verse:” I can do everything through him who gives me strength”. I’ll be repeating that verse over and over again along this journey as I reject the idea of failure.  I refuse to accept failure!   Since failure is not a possibility, I’ll be praying for guidance and learning from the wisdom of those who have gone before me. My life has changed.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it. 

One thing I’ve realized is that I procrastinate a lot. Previously, I never procrastinated.  I wanted things done and marked off my to-do list.  Now procrastination is the first habit that I have to get rid of.  I believe that a good bit of my procrastination is due to being afraid to fail. I'm not accustomed to failure so if I don’t start a project then I can’t fail.  I’ve lost a lot of self confidence since I’ve been ill. My short term memory can be nonexistent some days and the pain and neuropathy hinder my ability to do many things.  These are real stumbling blocks but I have to overcome them and quit putting things off.  I looked up procrastination and when I was reading about it on Wikipedia, it was like someone had been watching me.  Here’s what it said:

The tense-afraid type of procrastinators usually feel overwhelmed with pressure, unrealistic about time, uncertain about goals, and many other negative feelings. They may feel a sense of malaise. Feeling that they lack the ability or focus to successfully complete their work, they tell themselves that they need to unwind and relax, that it's better to take it easy for the afternoon, for example, and start afresh in the morning. They usually have grandiose plans that aren't realistic. Their 'relaxing' is often temporary and ineffective, and leads to even more stress as time runs out, deadlines approach and the person feels increasingly guilty and apprehensive. This behavior becomes a cycle of failure and delay, as plans and goals are put off, penciled into the following day or week in the diary again and again. It can also have a debilitating effect on their personal lives and relationships. Since they are uncertain about their goals, they often feel awkward with people who appear confident and goal-oriented, which can lead to depression. Tense-afraid procrastinators often withdraw from social life, avoiding contact even with close friends.
My life has changed.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it.  I pressure myself, setting unrealistic time lines without being clear what it is I really want to accomplish. I end up accomplishing nothing but disappointing myself becoming as frustrated as I was when I did something but didn’t accomplish what I set out to do.  In my new life, that has to change.  Procrastination is a time waster and a stress builder that I don’t need in my life.  It is out the door – gone from my life!

My life has changed.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it.  To be successful with making the change, I have to form good habits to help me in my new life.  Habits, good or bad, are who you are.  They control your life if you let them.  By learning to control my habits, I can make constant progress toward my new life.  I’ve often read that if you focus on a new habit for thirty days it will become a part of you.  In that length of time, your brain should be conditioned for the new habit to be part of your life without even thinking about it.  At this stage there is a chance of problems throwing you off so you still have to be diligent in adding the habit to your life. After ninety days, the changes you have made are a part of your life to the point that without it, things are difficult. At the one year point, it’s firmly established as part of your life.  These new changes need to be simple so that they can be consistently achieved every day.  To accomplish this, I’ll will pray for guidance and help in putting these changes to work.  God transforms our hearts when we accept him into our live.  He will change our lives as well. “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” (Revelation 21:5)

My life has changed.  It’s been hard to accept.  I don’t want to accept it.  I have to accept it. I will make a new life with God's help.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I Will Seek Guidance

If you’ve read this blog for the last few days you know that I discovered Og Mandino’s Ten Scrolls or principles for changing your life.  Over the next week or so, I’ll be exploring each one, looking to the Bible for reinforcement.  I’ll be looking for ways to implement changes in my life to help me become productive in retirement.  When I envisioned retirement, it was with a healthy body that would be hiking, bike riding, fishing and doing home renovations.   It was also envisioned at a much later time in life.  Now I’m learning my limitations, both physical and mental.  I have to learn to accept those limitations. Those limitations are why there may be days, weeks or months between blog posts. The limitations can be gone and then five minutes later, they are here.  They can go just as quickly.  Plans can change or be made suddenly.  The only constant is no consistency.

The first thing that jumped out at me when I first read Mandino’s Ten Scrolls or principles for changing your life was Scroll Ten.  Scroll Ten is I will seek guidance.  I’m moving this principle up to number one.  I believe that it’s wise to seek guidance when making decisions especially those about things we have no expertise.  King David was a wise man who didn’t always do the right thing.  He did however always love and trust the Lord.  Psalm 25 begins with David telling the Lord that he trusts Him.  We can always trust the One who gave us life.   Verses four and five are our example for decision making when David asks God to “Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long”.  When sending a message to those He had carried into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, God told Jeremiah, “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. God went on to say, Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the LORD.  (Jeremiah 29:11 – 14a)  

Any time we have a decision to make, we should first stop and ask God to show us the path He has planned for us and ask Him to guide us and teach us what we are to do. He has promised to be there and listen to us when we call upon His name and pray to him.  When we ask for His guidance first, everything else falls in line. The right people and/or information become available to us.  It’s important when you go to someone for their advice and counsel to be able to explain the situation at hand clearly and precisely. Be focused when you request help and advice.  Be sure that the counsel offering their advice and insight understands exactly what the decision you are trying to make is.   You must be prepared to accept their advice even if it’s not the advice you wanted to hear.  Instead of being disappointed, upset or even angry at the source of advice, ask questions.  Look for ways to expand your knowledge.  As them to help you to understand why they answered as they did.  It could be that by making a few changes to your original idea, your idea becomes doable. It’s important to be willing to think “outside the box”.  Being willing to look at all sides of the situation and different solutions help you to become more effective and productive.

One lesson that you may learn when going to God for His guidance is patience.  Patience is defined as an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay and to have quiet, steady perseverance. Impatience is the opposite.  It’s a lack of patience, an eager desire for relief or change; restlessness and intolerance of anything that thwarts, delays or hinders. We live in a society where patience has for the most part become a thing of the past and impatience has become the norm.  We want things when we want them and most of the time it’s possible to get them.  Our world is one full of fast food, fast cars, fast answers through fast internet access anywhere you are.  David experienced impatience and cried out to the Lord, “Answer me quickly, O Lord; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit.  Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.”  (Psalm 143:7-8)

When you experience impatience waiting for God’s guidance, work toward learning patience.  It is His desire that we become patient and wait for His direction.  Paul wrote in his letter to the Colossians, “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”. (Colossians 3:12)  I'm not sure I could think of having compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience if I had been through all the Paul had.  Paul was struck blind by God on the road to Damascus, had his death ordered by the Jews, was shipwreck while a prisoner and spent a good bit of time in prison.  Despite all the negatives, Paul lived his life in complete devotion to the teachings he received at the feet of Christ.  He was patient and waited for God’s timing to have these negatives removed from his life.  It’s important for us to do the same.  

While waiting for God’s guidance and His timing, we should be in prayer and the study of His word.  Having a clearer understanding of the Bible will help us to recognize God’s will and plan for us.  Don’t just sit around waiting for something to happen.  Remember,  “We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised”. (Hebrews 6:12)

I leave you with words of wisdom from the book of Proverbs. 
Proverbs 15:22
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

Proverbs 16:3
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Proverbs 16:9
In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.

Proverbs 19:11
A man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

Proverbs 19:21
Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Rethinking Life

I can waste a lot of time on the internet. There, I admitted it. I love to follow a link from one thing I’m reading to another and another and… well, you get my point. Sometimes, I really do learn something from following those links but like other distractions in life it can make me forget what my original goal was when I started. Yesterday, I was reading an online article about a group of ladies who will be sharing stories of how they live their best life, handling the highs and lows of being an artist so that they keep their “hearts light and open”. I still have not read any of their stories although I will (maybe).

The author opened her post with a quote by Og Mandino where he said in part “Remind yourself, as often as necessary, that you are a creature of God and have the power to achieve any dream by lifting up your thoughts”. This quote was the jumping off point for yesterday's post.

Since I had never heard of Mr. Mandino, I did a Google search and found several sites with information on this gentleman who passed away in 1996. Mandino wrote The Greatest Salesman in the World which contains the "time-tested wisdom of the ancients distilled into ten simple scrolls". Written to teach insurance agents how to sell policies in difficult times, the principle of each “scroll” was designed to teach a person replace bad habits built up over a lifetime. The official Og Mandino site is being redesigned but I found an archive of the site that listed the principles in the scrolls.

The ten principles are:

• Scroll I - Today I begin a new life.
• Scroll II - I will greet this day with love in my heart.
• Scroll III - I will persist until I succeed.
• Scroll IV - I am nature's greatest miracle.
• Scroll V - I will live this day as if it is my last.
• Scroll VI - Today I will be master of my emotions.
• Scroll VII - I will laugh at the world (Keep perspective)
• Scroll VIII - Today I will multiply my value a hundredfold.
• Scroll IX - I will act now, I will act now, I will act now.
• Scroll X - I will pray for guidance.

While I've not read his book, a quick look at his principles tells me that Og was on to something. Since my life has changed so drastically due to my health, I truly need to begin a new life. Please join me as I pray for guidance and then act now to put changes in place.  Everyday I'll explore one of his principles looking for Biblical backup for them. Then I'll share something new that I've learned, a change I've decided to make or an encouraging Bible verse I've found.  Come along for the ride.  I can guarantee you that it won't be boring!

Friday, April 1, 2011

God Will Be There, Leading Our Path

I belong to an email list that is geared towards getting those of us who are creative (or like me think they are creative) motivated and inspired. This morning I read about a new blog hop where over thirty women will share how they live their best life, while navigating the highs and lows of living a creative life, living in such a way that keeps their hearts light and open. Several quotes in the article jumped off the page at me. I started an email to share these thoughts with my Fibromyalgia support group. When I realized that this was going to be much more than an email, I "hopped" over here.

Although what I was reading was written to encourage artists of all kinds, there were many passages that encouraged me to look at my Christian walk. Or, unfortunately, sometimes the lack thereof.

“Never fret at any imperfections that you fear may impede your progress. Remind yourself, as often as necessary, that you are a creature of God and have the power to achieve any dream by lifting up your thoughts. You can fly when you decide that you can.” ~ Og Mandino
Og Mandino wrote the bestselling book "The Greatest Salesman in the World". His books have sold over 50 million copies and have been translated into over twenty-five different languages. Sounds like a pretty successful guy to me. What made him successful?  According to his biography, the Holy Bible topped the list of his favorite books. Mandino's main philosophical message that every person on earth is a miracle and his tenth principle for replacing bad habits was to pray for guidance. Looking to his Heavenly Father for the power to achieve his dreams worked for Og Mandino and it will work for you and me.

Society has “rules” about how we should look, speak, dress, how smart we should be. If we don’t fit into that mold, society tells us that we have no value, no personal worth and our self-esteem becomes non-existent. God calls us his children if we receive him into our lives. (John 1:12; Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—). As God’s child, we have infinite worth! We are a miracle by our very being! We should be meek but at the same time our self-esteem should be out the roof! All we have to do is look to our Heavenly Father through prayer and he will help us to achieve our dreams that are part of His plan for our life. He is there to lift us up and remind us that we are special and that He is our help in our time of need. Hebrews 4:15 - 16 tells us

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
God is faithful and beside us to guide us just as we walk beside our children and guide them. We should be confident that He will impart mercy and grace upon us and help us live a life of happiness as we work to achieve our dreams. He is there even when we don't allow Him to guide us, waiting for us to reach up and take His hand.

“When you do what you love, you are free to be who you are and live the life of your dreams come true.” Such a simple thought but so true. When we follow the One who loves us so much he sent his only son to die on the cross, we are free!  When we are free from the worries of society and focused on the love of God and His will, our lives take amazing turns. I’ve seen it in my own life many times over. Life is not always easy but with God guiding you, you can do everything. (Philippians 4:13)

As the Israelites made the journey from Egypt to the Promise Land, for 40 years God led their path. They moaned, groaned and complained. God was there, leading their path. Even when they built idols to worship and rebelled against Him, God was still there, leading their path. Our idols are different but we have them like the Israelites. We moan, groan and complain like the Israelites. These days they take the form of large screen TVs, jewelry, expensive cars, big houses, the big boats, fabulous vacations. We say they aren’t idols but we put making the money to buy them first and foremost, putting our families second and God a distant third, if He makes it that far up the list. So what else can you call them? We "love" these things but are we truly happy? Do we feel "free"? Are your dreams really coming true? Too many people are “worshipping” things as opposed to our creator.

True happiness cannot be found in things. Our God is faithful and as He stayed with the Israelites, He will do the same for you and me if we just ask. God will be there, leading our path. Directing us to true love, freedom and fulfilled dreams. Nehemiah wrote of God’s faithfulness to lead his people:

18 even when they cast for themselves an image of a calf and said, ‘This is your god, who brought you up out of Egypt,’ or when they committed awful blasphemies.

19 “Because of your great compassion you did not abandon them in the desert. By day the pillar of cloud did not cease to guide them on their path, nor the pillar of fire by night to shine on the way they were to take. 20 You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst. Nehemiah 9:18-20

Just think how much easier it would be to be free and live a life we love if God is leading our way! He has "great compassion and will not abandon us in the desert of our life". God will be there, leading our path.  In order to be free, we cannot be burdened with trying to live up to man’s standards. On our on we can't live up to God’s standards but we can with His help! God will be there, leading our path.  Is a life with God at the center guaranteed to be a bed of roses? No, the closer we get to God and the more He is the center of our lives; the more the devil will do everything in his lowly power to drag us down. God will be there, leading our path.  We aren't guarantee an easy life, a life without trials and tribulations. We are guaranteed that no matter how hard our life is by man’s standards, if it is lived with God first and foremost in our life, it’s a life of true love, true happiness and dreams come true.

God will be there, leading our path.