Monday, December 29, 2014

Why???

A thick and dreadful darkness came over him. (Genesis 15: 12)

In this Scripture passage, the sun had finally gone down, and the eastern night had swiftly cast its heavy veil over the entire scene. Worn out by the mental conflict, and the exertion and the cares of the day, Abraham "fell into a deep sleep" (v. 12).

During his sleep, his soul was oppressed with "a thick and dreadful darkness," which seemed to smother him and felt like a nightmare in his heart.

Do you have an understanding of the horror of that kind of darkness?

Have you ever experienced a terrible sorrow that seems difficult to reconcile with God's perfect love— a sorrow that comes crashing down upon you, wrings from your soul its peaceful rest in the grace of God, and casts it into a sea of darkness that is unlit by even one ray of hope?

Have you experienced a sorrow caused by unkindness, when others cruelly mistreat your trusting heart, and you even begin to wonder if there is really a God above who sees what is happening yet continues to allow it?

If you know this kind of sorrow, then you know something of this "thick and dreadful darkness."

Human life is made of brightness and gloom, shadows and sunshine, and dark clouds followed by brilliant rays of light. Yet through it all, God's divine justice is accomplishing His plan, affecting and disciplining each individual soul.

Dear friend, if you are filled with fear of the "thick and dreadful darkness" because of God's dealings with humankind, learn to trust His infallible wisdom, for it is equal to His unchanging justice.

And know that He who endured the "dreadful darkness" of Calvary and the feeling of having been forsaken on the cross is ready to accompany you "through the valley of the shadow of death" (Ps. 23: 4) until you can see the sun shining on the other side.

May we realize that "we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure" and that "it enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain" (Heb. 6: 19).

And may we know that although it is unseen within His sanctuary, our anchor will be grounded and will never yield. It will hold firm until the day He returns, and then we too will follow it into the safe haven guaranteed to us in God's unchangeable Word.

-- F. B. Meyer

The disciples thought that the angry sea separated them from Jesus. In fact, some of them thought something even worse— they thought that the trouble they were facing was a sign that He had forgotten them and did not care about them.

O dear friend, that is when your troubles can cause the most harm.

The Devil comes and whispers to you, "God has forgotten you" or "God has forsaken you," and your unbelieving heart cries out, as Gideon once did, "If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?" (Judg. 6: 13).

God has allowed the difficulty to come upon you, in order to bring you closer to Himself.

It has come not to separate you from Jesus but to cause you to cling to Him more faithfully, more firmly, and more simply.

--  F. S. Webster

We should abandon ourselves to God more fully at those times when He seems to have abandoned us.

Let us enjoy His light and comfort when it is His pleasure to give it to us, but may we not attach ourselves to His gifts.

May we instead attach ourselves to Him, and when He plunges us into the night, where pure faith is required, may we still press on through the agonizing darkness.

Oh, for faith that brings the triumph When defeat seems very near!

Oh, for faith that brings the triumph Into victory's ringing cheer—

Faith triumphant; knowing not defeat or fear.

  -   Herbert Booth

Stay Strong! !!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Alleluia. .....

He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant.

He grew up in another village, where he worked in a carpenter shop until he was 30.

Then, for three years, he was an itinerant preacher.

He never wrote a book.

He never held an office.

He never had a family or owned a home.

He didn't go to college.

He never lived in a big city.

He never traveled 200 miles from the place where he was born.

He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness.

He had no credentials but himself.

He was only 33 when the tide of public opinion turned against him.

His friends ran away.

One of them denied him.

He was turned over to his enemies and went through the mockery of a trial.

He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.

While he was dying, his executioners gambled for his garments, the only property he had on earth.

When he was dead, he was laid in a borrowed grave, through the pity of a friend.

Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today he is the central figure of the human race.

I am well within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that ever sailed, all the parliaments that ever sat, all the kings that ever reigned--put together--have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one, solitary life.*

*Attributed to James Allen Francis.

 Merry Christmas! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

[Stay Strong] "Call upon Mary"

In honor of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception today, I offer this prayer that consistently provides me and many with constant strength and inspiration!  :)

Happy Monday and Stay Strong!

> >>>>>>

"In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary.

Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart.

And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps.

With her for guide, you shall never go astray;

While invoking her, you shall never lose heart;

So long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception;

While she holds your hand, you cannot fall;

Under her protection you have nothing to fear;

If she walks before you, you shall not grow weary;

If she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal."

Say 1 Hail Mary....

Friday, December 5, 2014

[Stay Strong] Ask and it will come!!

Good morning and Happy Friday!! 

I wrote and posted this almost six years ago but felt it was worth a re-print!

The concept and the solution remains the same as does the need to remind ourselves of all our blessings daily - because despite the various challenges on our plates today, life can always be worse!  :)

Enjoy and Stay Strong!

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "CIM" <douglas.flaherty@gmail.com>
Date: Feb 25, 2009 4:38 PM
Subject: [Stay Strong] Ask and it will come!!
To: <douglas.flaherty@gmail.com>
Cc:

These days there is a seemingly over-abundance of negative news swirling around our heads!!

EVERYWHERE you turn it seems more bad news, negative situations, and Gloom & Doom commentary is being bandied about to the point of really affecting even the most positive person in a negative way!

We must be very careful to avoid this trap in these troubling and challenging times!

It is far too easy to allow our minds to fall in line with this overwhelmingly negative sentiment that has us in it's grasp!

This is a classic example of the negative "thought compounding" trap we have been discussing all this time and it is imperative that we identify it and snuff it out ASAP!

It is an amazing feeling to know that no matter how bleak things look, no matter how dark and gloomy the present and future appears-- THERE is NOTHING TO FEAR!!!!

Today I caught myself in a joyous and light mood walking the streets of midtown Manhattan at lunchtime - I didn't have a true, specific, identifiable reason to feel that way today or at that moment but the mood overtook me in spite of my current challenges, stresses, etc..

Now sure, I know I am blessed as you all are - with health, love, a great family and tremendous friends in my life -these things are a wonderful and powerful source of STRENGTH and JOY to me indeed! However, there are many days that we do not remember to reflect on those blessings and allow ourselves to develop into a little rut and feel down, apprehensive, fearful, even depressed! It happens to the best of us!

But remember it is only temporary and we can manage these emotions and overcome ANY OBSTACLE if we just try to do so!!

I know that my joyous and spontaneous mood today stemmed from my morning prayer asking for strength and joy and happiness from the Holy Spirit! I know for a fact that if we simply ASK for it, the Holy Spirit will deliver it to us! EVERY TIME!!! Without a doubt!

Do your best to ASK for Strength daily - ask for assistance and aid when in fear or doubt or trouble!

But most of all KNOW that you will be OK - no matter the circumstance you face, the situation in which you find yourself embroiled, or the lack of light you perceive at the end of that dark tunnel!!

IT WILL PASS!! ALL OF THIS darkness will pass!! Happiness is inevitable and unstoppable if you ASK for it, Embrace it, and Accept it as your God Given Right - literally!

Because guess what - it is!!

Stay Strong!!

Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

--
Posted By CIM to Stay Strong at 2/25/2009 04:38:00 PM

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

[Stay Strong] Be the Bridge. ...

As I waited on a telephone hold this morning, this song came on. 

Despite the fact that I have heard this song 50,000 times over my lifetime, I was deeply moved this morning by the lyrics.

I used to find it a bit corny when I was growing up but now it was as if I was listening to it for the first time!

I think of my own daily struggles with life, trying to find meaning and value and do the right thing for our families and ourselves - balancing it all.

I think of my family and friends struggling with their issues today - fighting courageously against an illness, fighting to keep a marriage or relationship alive, dealing with the loss of a loved one, a setback or disappointment,  searching for a job or for meaning in their lives.

This "hold" song really sums up the Source of Strength we all need in our battles!

I view this song from not only the voice of friends and family who you know are right there in the thick of these battles with you - Always --- but also from a Spiritual perspective!

THIS is what is meant by Faith in whomever you believe in spiritually! 

THIS is what I picture God, or Jesus or Buddha, or Allah, or Virgin Mary, or especially the Holy Spirit communicating to us every morning, day and night!

This is what we need to ask for and to hear, and know and TRULY BELIEVE!! 

Remember..There is ALWAYS someone there along side us during the times of solitude, when we feel defeated, beaten up, in despair and Hopeless, lonely and troubled!!

I strive to be this person on this earth for my friends and family and often fall woefully short due to my own shortcomings and human frailties.

BUT I feel the pendulum shifting as we speak and I know with my prayers for Guidance and Strength and Courage, I WILL be a better bridge and source of strength for all whom I know are in NEED of it today!

For those of you whom I have failed, I apologize -- and WILL make it up to you~!~!

The time is NOW for YOU to be that bridge and shelter as well! 

Despite all YOU have going on in your lives, there is someone in your life who needs you and whom you can ASSIST TODAY!! 

You ARE NOT hopeless - you ARE NOT Powerless -- YOU CAN DO IT  --- starting today!!!

Believe it and it will be Truth! 

I believe in You!! 

Now it is your turn!!!!

Read the amazingly beautiful words below and BELIEVE that there is someone PROMISING you this type of protection and shelter and STRENGTH!!! 

Because there truly is if you BELIEVE there is!!!

Stay Strong!!

>> > A Bridge over Troubled Waters
>> >
>> >
>> > When you're weary
>> >
>> > Feeling small
>> >
>> > When tears are in your eyes
>> >
>> > I will dry them all

>> > I'm on your side

>> > When times get rough

>> > And friends just can't be found

>> > Like a bridge over troubled water

>> > I will lay me down

>> > Like a bridge over troubled water

>> > I will lay me down
>> >

>> > When you're down and out
>> >
>> > When you're on the street
>> >
>> > When evening falls so hard
>> >
>> > I will comfort you
>> >
>> > I'll take your part
>> >
>> > When darkness comes
>> >
>> > And pain is all around
>> >
>> > Like a bridge over troubled water
>> >
>> > I will lay me down
>> >
>> > Like a bridge over troubled water
>> >
>> > I will lay me down
>> >
>> > Sail on Silver Girl,
>> >
>> > Sail on by
>> >
>> > Your time has come to shine
>> >
>> > All your dreams are on their way
>> >
>> > See how they shine
>> >
>> > If you need a friend
>> >
>> > I'm sailing right behind
>> >
>> > Like a bridge over troubled water
>> >
>> > I will ease your mind
>> >
>> > Like a bridge over troubled water
>> >
>> > I will ease your mind
>> >
Stay Strong!!!!!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

"For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends."
   
    ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

God bless and Stay Strong!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Grateful....

"Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are."

        - Anonymous

PLEASE do not take a single moment of this life for granted.

The good and the bad, the challenges and the joys, the struggles and the victories, the defeats and the triumphs- all of these are the ingredients for the perfect life on this earth!

They all add up and blend into what we call the story of our lives...

It sounds cliche no doubt, but it really is the journey that matters - not necessarily the destination! !

Do not rush to the ending just yet!!!

Savor each chapter, even the painful ones, because those too shall pass!!!!

And with whatever storm you are in today having passed, with the sun shining on us and the storm clouds having lifted and dissipated, we will emerge stronger, more grateful and understanding, and confident that we can handle ANYTHING life throws in our way!!

It is not easy to see the shore sometimes when we are fighting for our lives, but we MUST envision it and BELIEVE in it because relief and peace will eventually come to all of us!! 

Embrace the challenges you are encountering with true Confidence and Hope, and have FAITH that all will be ok when the clouds lift and the seas subside!!

Because it all will....!!!!!

You are not in this battle alone!

Happy Thanksgiving to all and I wish you many blessings of Gratefulness and Joy for all we have been granted!

Let's count all our blessings as we all have so many!

Stay Strong!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Re: [Stay Strong] Lessons learned from Brendan Thomas O'Toole

Today marks 3 years since Brendan left us on this earth and the void he left in the lives of all who knew him is still a gaping hole. 

It is in the times of challenge and tension where we find that we most miss his steady counsel and no nonsense advice that somehow always seemed to prove to be tremendous insight and wise guidance.

Not having him here when his mom Grandma was sick and passed was another of those moments when you realized just the value of what has been lost to us all in his passing.

I take solace and some comfort in knowing that today he is smiling and laughing with his Mom and Dad, his brother,  his niece, his uncles and some of his friends.  And knowing Brendan, he has no doubt met and made friends with all of Heaven and EVERYONE up there knows who he is! ;)

I wrote a little piece back when he passed and it is attached below for those who never had the pleasure and amazing experience of meeting and knowing Brendan Thomas O'Toole.

I apologize for the length of it. 

It does not come remotely close to doing justice to who he was and what he meant to his friends and loved ones but it was a shot at an impossible task to pull off.

We miss you every day Uncle B!

Give our love to all up there and keep smiling down on us! 

Have a little extra stuffing and pie this Thursday - we will be thinking of you!

Thank you for the smile and the photo opp this am! :)

Stay Strong!

On Dec 6, 2011 11:59 AM, "CIM" <douglas.flaherty@gmail.com> wrote:

Sorry for such a long post, but you cannot write about someone like Brendan O'Toole in a few simple paragraphs.  ;).

It may be best to read in installments if at all... Lol...

Wow!!  What an emotional roller-coaster of a week to say the least. 

Brendan's sudden and tragic departure from this earth hit me like a ton of bricks across the nose and although I loved and cared for Brendan, I could not lay claim to being as intimately close to him as obviously his immediate family and close friends were. 

Still, the news of his death still reverberates into my very core.  I am still besieged with feelings of profound sadness, regret, anger, confusion, helplessness, hopelessness, despair, hope, love, and inspiration!!

All at once at times, and independently during the day at other times. It is chaotic and surreal.

My feelings today are much like what having a deep conversation with Brendan brought forth in me, and many others it appears. It ran the gamut of emotions and as o believe his brother Tim remarked to the effect,  a conversation with Brendan was so comprehensive, so intense, it left you exhausted but totally fulfilled.  His energy could not be matched, his passion could not be surpassed!  You never left a conversation with Bren wanting or needing more at that time.

But, sadly, we all surely want more now.

Spending time with Brendan was entertaining, amusing, and fun but above all, it was always educational.

His depth of knowledge on so many topics was dizzying and this encyclopedic intellect, combined with his raw passion and his pure love of living made for a rare, unique and tremendous human being and soul!

He touched so many lives, so many people, and truly helped people by saving lives.

He was trained as an EMT, but amazingly he saved more lives as a Pedicab transportation engineer and through his leadership and compassion displayed with his brethren at Midnight Madness, than he did in an ambulance.

He was truly doing God's work on the tough, mean streets of Manhattan on a daily basis and there are undoubtedly thousands of souls touched by his energy and compassion that we will never have the joy of hearing about.

And maybe that is for the best, at least it is the way Brendan would probably prefer it to be.

People who may or may not have even known his name but were surely, as all who met him were, swept up in the BTO vortex of positive energy and passion and inspiration as he yelled out their name, pumped his fist, stopped to chat and listen to them, or helped them with whatever they were doing.

The coffee or bagel guy, local shopkeepers, street vendors, politicians - no one was immune or escaped his humor, wit, and energy field!  And no one forgot him!

Tireless, endless, passionate work helping others in need, not for the praise or glory, but because it was the right thing to do - and he just did it quietly, anonymously, and with nothing but the goal of making others' lives better.

Is there a better example of what my son Thomas said of his Uncle Brendan through sobs upon hearing how he was mistreated at the hospital when he crawled into the waiting room - "Brendan is like a modern day Jesus"... High praise from the mouth of babes. 

And as we hear more and more from the people who worked and saw him on a daily basis, he truly was a modern day Jesus and Mother Teresa and  Saint Theresa wrapped into one ball of love, passion, fury and energy!!!

He gave and gave and gave, helped ALL in need regardless of who they were or what they needed, all because of his tremendously huge heart and because he knew to do the right thing!  He could not do otherwise!!

As long as I knew him, Brendan was always a "blow in and blow out" type of guy. He was always heading somewhere or just coming from something and despite this lifestyle, as Tiffany said, you never questioned his presence and his place in the family. You always knew he stood ready to jump to your assistance at the drop of a hat!  He had all of our backs...continuously!

As he displayed with our niece Fallon when he would either sneak in or talk his way into the hospital after a night of work to stay overnight with her and Lizzy in those darkest hours of her illness - a steady rock of support and love in the toughest times was what we all came to know and expect of Brendan.

You did not need to see him daily to have 100% confidence that when someone - anyone - needed help or assistance or defense that Brendan would be the first on the scene, throwing the full brunt of his passion and compassion into the solution and leading the charge!

This was a given and an irrefutable fact.

I consider myself blessed to have known Brendan and to be a part of his family.  As with the entire family, just being around them makes you a better human being.

One cannot help but be shown what it means to be a caring, giving, and passionate soul by living near and with every member of the O'Toole family.  It is a privilege and a wonderful gift to be anywhere near their love and support network.

Brendan led that charge as well. As we heard from his co-workers and friends this week, his capacity for kindness and compassion was boundless and he was truly his father's son.

Listening to the stories from the people he helped ("Brendan truly saved my life") it was like deja vu all over again from his Dad, Tom O'Toole's, wake and funeral.

Brendan, your Dad would have been bursting with pride if he lived to see what you accomplished with your life, the enormous impact you had on people's lives, the unconditional love you showered on your son, Jonah, and the tireless work ethic you displayed on a daily basis.  All without losing sight of what truly matters in life.

Any dad would be thrilled to hear his son describe what their dad meant to them as eloquently as Jonah did about his father, Brendan.  It was an amazing and accurate tribute to a great man and summed up what made B so special....no judgments and unconditional love. 

So as I attempt to go back to a semblance of normalcy and fight through the fog of emotions that his passing has caused in all of us, I reflect on what lessons we can take from Brendan's way too short life here on earth.

1. Never give up on anyone. He never did and as Jonah said, he would see what was special in you and work with you, regardless of your shortfalls.

2.  There are second chances for everyone. No matter what path you start down, or how far we stray from "normal", there are always second and third and fourth chances to get to where we are destined to be. Brendan had amazing courage, willpower, and guts to do all he did in his 55 years and as my daughter Teaghan quoted, he lived 5 lives in his 55 years on this planet.  His last 12 years especially were an example for everyone as to the way a real man conducts himself, for his family, his beloved,  and his fellow human beings!!  Brendan nailed it and then some!!

3. None of the crap we use to measure our worth as humans matters at all!  You hear it consistently but does it ever really sink in? Who can look past societal norms and not let themselves be caught up on the chase for material wealth?  "What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet lose his soul?" Brendan had the courage and heart to do just that!! He lived simply, with only a few material wants (his blue convertible) and understood exactly what should be valued, what the measure of a man truly is by the standards that really count, and showed us all how very off base we are in that regard! Few people including myself, even if I won the lottery, could ever be as rich as Brendan was and this lesson should be a wake up call to us all!

4. As his brother, Robert "Bruce" O'Toole sang so perfectly at the funeral,  "Read, Read, Read, and help all those in need".  Brendan did both of these things tirelessly and was brilliant!  How often do we have the opportunity to help a fellow human and sadly do not do it for whatever reason and whatever excuse? B did not make excuses, he JUST DID IT!  Each and every time. He WAS the Good Samaritan on this earth!!  How much strength, courage and selflessness did this man possess? All in anonymity, all for the sole benefit of those who needed help.  How can any of us ever measure up to Brendan's standard?  To me, it is like the difference between a mole hill and Mt Everest!

5. Do not take anyone for granted. Life is so fleeting and short!  If you have to say something to someone, SAY IT!!  Show the love now, let them know you value them and this earth would not be the same without them!  Do not wait!!  Do not put it off until tomorrow.  Do it today, because tonight it may be too late to say it!!

6. No regrets!  There can be no regrets. We all screw up and make mistakes. Dwelling on regret gets us nowhere at all. Instead, learn from the mistakes and fix the problem. Teach others to do the same.  Life is a bizarre trip, and the real rules of this game are questionable and up for debate. Follow your heart and soul and do the right thing, with others as the focal recipients of our actions, and you cannot go wrong!  Brendan embodied this approach!

7. You never know what your actions, however small and seemingly insignificant, do to others.  People derive such strength and inspiration from our words and actions, so do not be afraid to share your thoughts with others and lead by example above all!!

Brendan will live on in our hearts and I am certain he will be a guiding force for us all going forward from his perch in Heaven! 

Listen for him, speak to him, and above all follow his lead and example as to what a successful life truly means!!! 

To me, he was by far the richest and most successful man I have ever known and I would be lucky to be 1/100000th as successful as Uncle B!!!  

We all would!!

And that is my goal now!!!

We miss you and love you, Brendan.  Fortunately for us your energy level and passion cannot be held back even from Heaven and we feel it today!!

You did indeed fight the good fight and you were the Champion in all of our hearts!!

Rest well!!! I will miss the sight of you rolling up on your bike and hearing your stories, opinions, and feeling that blast of positive inspiration and energy that blew in like a hurricane whenever you appeared!!

We have a lot of work to do here until we meet again!!! 

But meet again we certainly shall and I hope by then you can be proud of what we carried forward from your example! 

If not, I am sure you will let me know!!!!  ;)

Love ya, B!

Uncle Doug



--
Posted By CIM to Stay Strong at 12/06/2011 11:59:00 AM

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Unstoppable Power of Prayer

…If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed; ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you
          (Matthew 17: 20 KJV).

Prayer is, without a doubt, the most powerful force on earth.

It is unlimited and unsurpassed in its scope and power.

Prayer knows no boundaries and is not limited by time or space.

R.A. Torrey very eloquently and powerfully said concerning the power of prayer:

Prayer can do anything God can do.

All that God is and all that God has is at the disposal of prayer.

Through prayer we are transported into the heavenlies where we stand before Almighty God in His glorious majesty, seated upon His Throne.

We are able, through prayer, to tap into the unlimited power of God and take hold of the impossible.

"The vast, unsearchable resources of Heaven are at our disposal through prayer! God has given us "… exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature…" (2 Pet. 1: 4 KJV).

There are approximately 37,000 promises in God's Word!

From Genesis to Revelation, God has given us His promises, which make provision for every need in every area of our lives to be met.

By His promises, God puts all things He possesses into our hands. Prayer and faith put us in possession of this boundless inheritance. -E.M BOUNDS

By His promises, He has placed all things He possesses in our hands.

Prayer and faith enable us to take possession of those promises and appropriate them in our lives.

We can have all that God has!

Prayer can transcend the laws of nature, invade the realm of the dead, and restore life.

Prayer can give instant access to anywhere: into any home, hospital, office, courtroom, prison cell, or any other location desired.

I will never forget when my darling wife, Theresa, was at the point of death. She had been at death's door several times but God healed her.

One day in a Partners' Conference a man came up to us and said, "Theresa, honey, is everything all right?" Theresa answered, "Yes, it is now."

He said, "Well, on such and such a day God woke me up and for three days I prayed and interceded for you."

Those were the three days Theresa had hovered between life and death.

Your prayers can be used by God to impact cities and nations, bring salvation, healing, and deliverance to people in India, Africa, China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, or any other country.

Through prayer, angels can be brought down to protect you and your family.

Your prayers can go into a hospital operating room and help guide the surgeon's hands and release a flow of God's healing power into a loved one.

God has given us a secret weapon called prayer that gives us access to anywhere in the world!

....From "Prayer Changes Things"

Stay Strong!!!  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Promise

"Do not look forward to the changes and chances of this life in fear;
rather look at them with full hope that, as they arise, God, whose you are, will deliver you out of them.

He is your Keeper.

He has kept you hitherto.

Will you but hold fast to His dear hand, and He will lead you safely through all things; and, when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms.

Do not look forward to what may happen tomorrow.

Our Father will either shield you from suffering,  or He will give you strength to bear it."

- St Francis De Sales

I absolutely love this passage!!

If we believe this and take it as truth - or better yet, even if we are skeptical and not all the way there yet but willing to give it a try - how can any one of us have an ounce of fear, worry, anxiety or a lack of Peace about anything in our lives?

It is akin to a "Guarantee"! 

It is His Promise!!

If you were "guaranteed" that at the end of all our struggles, troubles, and daily strifes that it would all be ok and everything would work out for the best, would that change what you think of and spend your time thinking about?

Would that make a difference in how you wake up or go to bed?

Would it make a difference in your peace, your joy, or your attitude?

Would believing in this promise alter how you approach problems and deal with setbacks, live your life, and interact with people?

Would it change how you are handing a current battle or storm - be it illness, divorce,  unemployment,  grief, person relationship strife,  etc??

How great and easier would life be if we had this type of guarantee??

What would your mind and thoughts consist of when all the worry, uncertainty and fear vanish in an instant?

Well, this in no infomercial but that guarantee exists TODAY!!!!

It is not in writing or in a legal contract anywhere and we really don't have a "Tripadvisor" review site to check it's legitimacy.

However, it does exist and it is real and all we need do is take that Leap of Faith and BELIEVE it for it to take hold!

Seems worth a shot to me!

Afterall, what do we have to lose by taking that Leap?

Only gripping and debilitating fear and anxiety.

Stay Strong!!

Friday, November 14, 2014

[Stay Strong] We are Protected -Always!

"You are being protected by the Power of God through FAITH.

Even if now for a little while you have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith - being more precious than Gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire - may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Although you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your FAITH, the salvation of your souls."

1 Peter 1:4-9

Stay Strong! !!  Relax!!
Happy Friday!!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Trust

"Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right. "
  - Max Lucado

We all struggle at some point with our Faith and with the challenging circumstances that we often find ourselves facing in our daily lives.

For some these life events are not life threatening, earth shattering or life altering in the grand scheme of things.

For others of us the events are devastating and seemingly impossible to overcome.

Whether it is illness, divorce, loss of a job, loss of a loved one or a parent or a child, physical or mental abuse, financial troubles or family strife, we all have our crosses to bear on this earth.

One thing I can guarantee is that no matter what we have weighing on our minds today, there are many that have more serious and difficult challenges to deal with today than we do!!

By way of  this comparison we are able to put our own troubles in perspective,  but we rarely look past our own worlds to do this.

This is human nature!

If we could truly focus on what we have going for us and the many BLESSINGS we have as opposed to our current concerns, we would quickly be able to shift our worry, fear and anxieties away from panic toward peace and solutions.

What is most important in this practice is that we have Faith that everything will be ok and will work out regardless of our own predetermined belief about it!

It is not always visible to us the path or mission we have been given to fulfill on this earth.

It is sometimes not for us to know or understand why these storms have been placed in our paths at any given time.

But if we can accept the notion that even if WE don't see why things happen to us, or why that door closed to us, or why we have to carry this burden or hardship at this point - if we can somehow accept that there is a VALUE in these challenges and this too shall pass - we will have no other option but Peace and Joy!!

Trust that there are bigger powers than us in motion and if we place our Faith in these forces - namely God - we will find our battles to be much more manageable and find our STRENGTH to be insurmountable in the face of ANY adversity !!!

What we want and what is best for us in the long run are not always necessarily the same thing!! 

Believe that God will continue to guide us safely down the path we are on today and if that path has some potholes and challenges along the journey,  accept them with Courage, with Hope, and with Faith - but always with Trust!

Stay Strong!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hang on.....

Some nights last longer than others it seems.

Sometimes the night appears to linger on for days.

But no matter the length or the duration of the darkness, LIGHT inevitably, undoubtedly, miraculously appears!!!

It is a given - a true blessing indeed! And one that we must remember when the night's darkness seems to endure and drag on in our lives!

LIGHT always breaks up the darkness - no matter how dark or how bleak the night seems!

It is ONE thing we can all count on when times get tough, when life takes a bad turn, or you feel overwhelmed!

Take a deep breath - step back and remember that regardless of how bad things seem to be at that moment - nothing can stop the LIGHT from appearing to dissolve the darkness!

It always does and it always will!!!

Ask for it to come - pray sincerely for it to come! 

Then TRUST that it will arrive and drive out the darkness you are experiencing!!

"This too shall pass" is a phrase we use and hear often, but it is one of the most accurate and true phrases ever uttered!

The Night does not last!! Everything we experience will pass!! 

You will get through this - even if it is so dark today that you cannot see your hand in front of your face!

As far fetched as it seems in our current storm, it is a fact! !!

No one, no matter how torturous the situation,  no matter what challenges ir trials you face today, ever lives their lives perpetually in the dark!!

The Light is on it's way so STAY STRONG and hold on for it to arrive!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

[Stay Strong] Surrender your heart to God

"Surrender your heart to God, turn to Him in prayer, and give up your sins….Your troubles will go away like water beneath a bridge." 

-Job 11:13-166 

All of us at some point find ourselves in a storm, a challenge or a crisis!

Your temporary squall could be a lost loved one, an illness, financial troubles, marital or relationship challenges,  job or work issues, trouble finding work, sadness, loneliness, etc.

It is inevitable, if we live long enough, that we will be challenged with trials and strife as we move through our lives on this earth.

We all do and you are not battling alone!!

Consider what Dr. Peale said:  "It makes no difference what your problems are or how many of them you have, you can find an answer.

The answer may be what you desire and want, what you have hoped for.

But on the other hand, the answer may be something far different from what you expect.

But if it has been hammered out with God, it is the right answer.

There is nobody who has a problem for which there is not an answer through the wisdom and the guidance of God."  

How do we hammer out our problems with God? 

You have already taken the most important step in doing so, by tapping the power of prayer.

Lift it up to the Lord by name and need.  Watch and wait in Faith for an answer to your prayer. 

You just have to Ask! 

Ask with complete belief and faith that your request will be granted and it will be so! 

The right answer will surely come…even if, perhaps, not in the way you expect.

Whatever you seek, whatever weighs on you heavily today, go ahead and give that challenge, give that trial over to God right now.

You will not be disappointed!

You do not face this battle alone - and you will come out of it Stronger and better prepared for any other one the mat come your way! !

Stay Strong!

Monday, November 10, 2014

[Stay Strong] Faith AND Trust - Both are necessary!

When you give a problem to God, you exercise Faith.

When you leave that problem with God, you exercise Trust!

Your Faith can grow stronger and you can experience God's victorious results when, after giving God the problem, you TRUST him enough to not take it back and bear the full burden of it alone!

Even in times where God is silent or when his answer to your prayer is "no", you can still have faith, hope, trust, and the ASSURANCE that God is in charge, no matter how things may look!

God WANTS to be in charge in your life!

Ask Him to be!

See with the eyes of Faith, face the impossible with TRUST and COURAGE, and have the confidence that God will work on your behalf even if the answer to your prayer does not come exactly as you want it to come!

    - Deacon Ralph Torrelli

Stay Strong - God Bless!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Do Not Be Anxious

22 And he said to his disciples,

"Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on.

23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.

24 hConsider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!

25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?

26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?

27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!

29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.

30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.

31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

Stay Strong and Trust!!

[Stay Strong] You are not ALONE!

YOU are NOT ALONE!

Certain days it seems like things pile up and pile up on you until you feel like you are at a breaking point.

No matter the size or scope of the challenge on our plate - from marital strife,  children issues, divorce,  battling illness,  coping with deep, personal loss, financial hardship, depression,  or work related issues - we all can feel overwhelmed at times!!

We all experience moments of helplessness, hopelessness, uselessness, anxiety loss, fear and desperation --and at times we can feel like we are all ALONE in this universe!

Well Newsflash:

You are NEVER alone!

It is easy for our minds to go immediately to the worst case scenario and isolate ourselves from others when we are in trials and strife!

It is all too easy to rollover in the face of pain and fear!

It is so easy to capitulate and just throw in the cards because fighting seems like too hard of a battle - and a losing cause!

Don't Do It!

Remember - .despite what your earthly mind tells you -you are Never alone!!

The Holy Spirit - The Comforter-  waits for you to ask for His help!

That is why He has been given to us by the Lord!

He is ALWAYS with you!! Utilize Him!

It is simple to ask and pray for strength and guidance.

He is the answer to all sincere prayer!!

He is the Comfort we seek in all times of challenge!!

Never despair!

Never fear!

Call upon the Holy Spirit for guidance - fall back on the Faith that you know will never forsake you - and whatever you ask will come to you!

It is His promise!

You will get through this storm and when the sun rises and the cloud have dissipated,  you will be all the stronger and more prepared for the next inevitable challenge to come your way!

Don't Quit - Don't lose hope! 

The tide has turned in your favor and all you need to do now is stay in the game!

Stay Strong!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

[Stay Strong] Head down, Move forward!!

"Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn."
 
      - Harriet Beecher Stowe

Imagine how many amazing and tremendous things in our world resulted from someone NOT giving up on a goal or project!!!

So many breakthroughs and inventions may have never seen the light of day if the person who finally nailed it had not given it one more shot!!!!

I dont care what the issue is or what you are facing!

Do not give up ...do not quit!!! 

Ever!!

You may be dealing with severe stress and sadness from a loss of a loved one.

You may be out of work and desperate to put food on your family's table.

You may be battling an illness or a physical challenge.

You may have marital issues, family issues or struggling with relationships.

You may feel alone, helpless, and hopeless no matter what storm you are engulfed in today and battling!

It doesn't matter the source of the challenge we face - we need to set our goal to reach the shore and calmer waters - with total Hope and Faith that we will achieve it!

BECAUSE YOU WILL!!

Keep your eye on the goal and do not waver from it, no matter how many setbacks or failures we experience in the meantime!!

Success will come if we trust and believe the outcome is close at hand and put our heads down and move forward!!! 

Do not get discouraged!! You are not alone in your battle!!

Do not let negative thoughts or negative people influence or override your Trust and Faith that you will get through this tsunami and come out unscathed!

Setbacks are inevitable and should be embraced, it just means you are getting closer to the goal!!

You are MUCH tougher and more determined than you ever thought or believed!

It is time to show the world this TRUTH!!

Do not turn back now and do not give up hope - because the dawn is breaking and the seas are calming - and this too shall pass!!

It is a fact!

Stay Strong!!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

[Stay Strong] Why Worry...??

"One who has any faith in God should be ashamed to worry about anything whatsoever."
     - Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi

I love this quote as it succinctly hits the entire point and concept of Faith.

I remember as a child trying to prove to my parents that I was maturing and becoming a responsible person and being so aggravated when they would not trust or have faith that I could do a task, or carry out their instructions because of my age.

The same must hold true for God when you think about it.

Here we have our whole religion as Christians based almost entirely on "Faith" that we can trust God has our backs, has a plan based on His will that is best for us, and that He is Our Father who will protect us.

So if we truly believe this, how can any of us waste a single second worrying or anxious about ANYTHING that happens to us during our time on this planet??

How disappointed God must be with us when we discount His protection, His will, His plan for us by making ourselves sick with worry and fear and anxiety as if He is powerless or absent from our troubles!

What an insult that must be to Him!

Next time you find yourself worrying about some challenge or phase or issue in your life, take a second and draw on our Faith that it MUST BE happening for a reason and trust that God has a plan, that He does have our backs, and that to worry or fret over it is a complete waste of time!!

How liberating and freeing is it to KNOW that someone else you can trust will handle this issue??!!!

Pray?  ALWAYS!

Worry?  No way!! 

Why??  Why bother??!

God has our backs even if we cannot see it and as I constantly try to teach my son and daughter, ask yourself, "what is the worst that can come of my current worry"? 

The answer is normally more manageable than you may think!!

And we all know that 99% of what we worry about NEVER comes to fruition anyway!

Do you think that is a coincidence?

Stay Strong --- these storms we are experiencing - Loss, depression,  financial,  illness, employment, divorce - all will surely pass and we will always make it safely to the other side of the lake!

Better for the experience and Stronger for our Faith and Belief in God's CONSTANT Protection and Love!!!

Stay Strong!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

[Stay Strong] Live and battle just this ONE day!!

There are two days of the week about which we should not worry...two days which should be completely kept free of fear and apprehension.

One of these days is called Yesterday, with it's mistakes and cares, it's faults and its blunders, aches and pains.

Yesterday has passed forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday.

We cannot undo a single act we performed or erase a single word we said.

Yesterday is GONE and that is ok!

The other day we should not worry about it Tomorrow, with it's possible adversities, its burdens, its large promise and poor performance.

Tomorrow is beyond our immediate control.

Tomorrow's sun will rise, whether in splendor or behind a mask of clouds, but it will rise.

Until it does, however, we have no stake in tomorrow, for its yet unborn.

This leaves only one day - TODAY!

Any one of us can fight the battle of just one day. 

It is when you and I add burdens of two awful eternities - YESTERDAY AND TOMORROW - that we break down.

It is not necessarily the experiences of today that disturbs one's peace of mind.

It is often times the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday and the dread of what tomorrow may bring!

Both of these practices are a waste of our energy and time!

Fight the urge to dwell on the past,  and embrace tomorrow with Faith, Hope and Courage - but do not fear what it may bring!! 

You are NEVER alone in your battle and you will overcome whatever you are up against!

Let us therefore BELIEVE and live ONE DAY AT A TIME.

Stay Strong!  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Happy Feast of St Jude

Please take some time today to celebrate the Feast of St Jude and to give thanks for all our blessings.

St Jude, Patron Saint of many things in many countries but well known as the Patron Saint of Hopeless, Desperate and Lost Causes, is an amazing resource and source of strength for many in times of trial and in real dire circumstances.

Saint Jude was one of Jesus' twelve original apostles, so we can conclude that he was also at the Last Supper.

Saint Jude is also known by the name Thaddeus, which means sweetness and gentleness of character.

He is not the traitor Judas Iscariot.

Saint Jude, rather, followed Jesus faithfully until His crucifixion, and then later worked on evangelization.

Very little is known about his life, but we do know that he died as a martyr — some say around 65AD, giving his life to Jesus Christ.

He is now one of the most invoked saints for intercession in desperate situations because his New Testament letter stressed the importance of a faithful person persevering in the environment of harsh circumstances.

Find the Original Here: http://www.praymorenovenas.com/st-jude-novena/#ixzz3HRHHkHiv

Pray the St Jude Novena 9 times each day for 9 days and your prayer/request will be granted.  All that is also is that you publicize this miracle work so others may benefit from his intercession.  

This Novena has never been known to fail.

"St. Jude, holy Apostle, faithful servant and friend of Jesus, you are honored and petitioned by the universal Church, as the patron of desperate, hopeless and impossible cases.

Pray for me. I am so very helpless and I feel alone.

Intercede for me that Almighty God may bring swift aid where it is needed most. Come to my assistance in my great time of need!

Pray for me that I may be given the comfort and help of Jesus. Most importantly, I ask that you pray that I may one day join you and all of the saints in heaven to praise God in consolation, rest and joy for all eternity.

I will remember your prayers, O Holy St. Jude. I will honor you as my patron as so many have before me because of the graces God deigns to give freely at your request.

Amen"

Find the Original Here: http://www.praymorenovenas.com/st-jude-novena/#ixzz3HRHfMNkX

"May the Sacred Heart of Jesus be adored, glorified, loved and preserved throughout the world now and forever.

Sacred Heart of Jesus Pray for us;
Saint Jude Worker of Miracles Pray for us;
Saint Jude Help for the Hopeless Pray for us."

Learn More?

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jude_the_Apostle

Stay Strong!!!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Re: [Stay Strong] The Key

"Try to make at least one person happy every day.

If you cannot do a kind deed, speak a kind word.

If you cannot speak a kind word, think a kind thought.

Count up, if you can, the treasure of happiness that you would dispense in a week, in a year, in a lifetime!"
 
  - Lawrence G. Lovasik

The secret to happiness and peace lies in the words above - and it begins with others.

When we lose ourselves in our own worries, problems, and daily challenges, it becomes even more difficult to see the forest for the trees.

Simply by shifting our focus on helping others with their daily challenges and making other people feel stronger and supported, our own problems seem to diminish and pale in comparison!

Now I know many of us are going through some hard challenges and often it is extremely difficult to escape the quicksand that comprises our grief, anxiety, fear, anger, disappointment, loss, and worry.

However, the more we can take our minds off what is troublesome to us and redirect our efforts to help others, the stronger and quicker our healing begins.

One amazing fact about our minds is that we as humans can hold only ONE thought at a time.

We cannot think of two separate thoughts at the exact same time.

If we can succeed at making sure that our one thought is positive - or at the very least NOT focused on what is troubling us, we stand a fighting chance!!!

If we don't leave any time in our day to lament and worry over our own issues, challenges,  battles, and storms - instead we fill our thoughts and days with trying to help others with their storms and trials, our lives WILL improve on a daily basis!!!

It is the key to the right path!!!  And it works like a charm!!

Give it a shot today.

Happy Monday - Stay Strong!!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Life is Pain....


"Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you different is selling you something."

     - Wesley, "The Princess Bride"

A terrific and funny movie indeed but so much truth in that one line!

Life is often filled with pain, suffering, loss and hurt and all of those things we have come to fear and try to avoid at all costs.

But guess what? 

These are all facts of life and the sooner we accept that we will without doubt meet these struggles, meet pain, meet loss, and encounter hardship on this journey, the sooner we can work on solutions to these problems and move past them!

If we know what to expect, know that at some point these things will confront us, and accept that as a fact, the better we can prepare to fight through them and be ready when they do rear their ugly heads!

And they will eventually...and that is ok!!

Now, a life without struggle and some hardship is something we can and maybe should aspire to obtain, but to let these tough things completely take over our lives and make us miserable is foolhardy on our part!!

Some have more pain, more struggle and complications than others.

Some of us are in battles for our lives on a daily basis - dealing with illness, tragedy, and painful loss.

However, we all must see the VALUE AND BLESSINGS that come with overcoming hardship, loss and pain - as difficult as that can be at times.

Never lose faith in the FACT that no matter what what we encounter, things will always get better, that everything passes eventually, and that through this test by fire we always emerge stronger, better, and more certain of why we are here  in this life!!!

We need to use each other, be there for each other, and help each other navigate this landscape of uncertainty and anxiety and useless fear!

It is each of our duties to help each other weather these storms of life!!

Remember this - YOU are never alone!!!

Embrace this life and make the best of this short time we have here! 

Use the right measurements of what "success" and "happiness" really means and think about what you want the world to remember about you and what you are doing here when it is our time to move to the next station!

Focus on building your Faith and rely on the Hope that we all are blessed to have in our souls! 

Replace your fear with Faith and Hope!!

These will get you through ANYTHING that troubles you today!

Stay Strong - the Tide has turned in your favor and the waves are receding!  

And so many of us are here to help you!!   :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fear is what we make it ...

"In my ministry, I meet so many different people who are struggling with fear in all its varied forms.

There are widows, for example, who feel so alone since they lost their husbands. Typically, these ladies have so many fears— the fear of being alone, the fear of the future, financial insecurity, health issues, and other real threats they face on a daily basis.

Losing a spouse brings up many fears, both realized and hidden.

My heart goes out to them, and I try to let each one know that they are not alone.

I share Scriptures with them, showing that Jesus is with them, and He promised to never leave or forsake them.

I've discovered that there are passages in the Bible that give God's answers to every fear that exists to humanity.

I try to encourage God's children by speaking His words of comfort to them, such as, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you."

This assurance of God's presence enables us to say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?" (Heb. 13: 5-6).

And in the Gospel of John Jesus said, "I am not alone, because the Father is with Me" (John 16: 32).

And the same is true for us.

This is a solid answer that we must stand on if we are going to defeat fear.

Here are some other specific Scriptures that speak to common fears:

The fear of uncertainty—
" God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake at its swelling pride" (Ps. 42: 1-3).

The fear of losing everything—
" And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4: 19).

The fear of death—
" I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die" (John 11: 25-26).

The fear of the devil—
" Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world" (1 John 4: 4). "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you" (Luke 10: 19).

The fear of failure—
" Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15: 4-5).

For every fear we may face—
" Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go" (Josh. 1: 9).

Beloved, in these Scriptures and so many more throughout the Bible we find the revelation and strength we need from God's Word to overcome fear.

He wants us to believe His promises, and walk in them every day of our lives.

As we do this, the devil and his fears will be put to flight. We don't have to suffer from fear any longer.

The Lord says, "Seize My Word and don't let anything else in."

As we discipline ourselves to seize God's Word, not letting anything else in, we will become free!"

- "Be Not Afraid"

Stay Strong

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Do not Fear

"Do not fear, for I am with you;
do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
surely I will help you,
surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand"

(Isa. 41: 10).

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

"Turning Sh÷# into Gold"

I am cutting a corner today as I came across a very interesting and thought provoking article on negativity and the effort to overcome it in our lives.
 
I hope you enjoy it!

Stay Strong!

♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡♡>>>>>>

THE BLOG

How to Turn Your Negative Mind Into a Positive One

Ed and Deb Shapiro 10/14/14 08:28 AM ET

Have you ever wondered how amazing it is that a water lily doesn't grow in a pure mountain lake but in murky, muddy and dank pond water thick with weeds, and yet its beautiful flower appears on the surface totally pristine? All life starts in the dark, either in the earth, mud, or in the womb: The darkness contains the nourishment needed for life to emerge.

This is important as it shows how all the mud in our lives -- all the difficulties, fears, concerns, doubts, insecurities, hurts, conflicts, everything that seems so impenetrable and difficult to wade through -- is actually the very stuff needed for growth. Without it we would have no ground, no strength, no nourishment. That's why we can't just make the darkness disappear or deny its presence.

The choice is to get stuck in the mud or to use it as nourishment; to let our lives go by in a dream or to awaken with awareness; to wallow in self-pity, hopelessness, failure, procrastination, and the longing for things to be different; or to find a deeper acceptance for things just as they are.

Our ability to use the mud as our means for growth will determine the strength of our plant, for the stem of the lily symbolizes our intention -- a pledge to our sanity, to our awakening. When our intention is inner peace and unconditional happiness then we will slowly emerge from the mud, our roots always being fed by it, the bud of the flower heading for the sun. We need never be concerned about the flower opening, for that happens by itself as a natural response to the light.

Just as the stem uses the mud to produce a beautiful flower, so the transforming power that can take a difficult or negative emotion and turn it into something positive and uplifting is within us all.

Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trunpa called it the power to turn shit into gold.

A peacock eats poisonous snakes and transforms that poison into beautiful of iridescent feathers. It is the irritation of a grain of sand that causes an oyster to make a pearl: no irritation, no pearl.

Can you transform your irritation -- all the doubt, fear, anger or frustration -- into pearls of wisdom?

We were sitting in a coconut grove, the sun shining through the broad, flat palm leaves. "Are you happy today?" As the monk spoke he broke into a wide grin from ear to ear, white teeth glistening in his crinkled, brown face, illuminated by his orange robe. "Are you happier today than you were yesterday?" 

Despite his humorous tone his question was a genuine one.

A group of us were in retreat and had been practicing meditation all that day and all the previous day and there were eight more days to go. If we weren't beginning to feel happier as a result, then what was the point of being there?

Every day for 10 days he asked us the same question. And each day it drew us deeper into looking at ourselves while also highlighting our concerns, doubts and conflicts, how difficulties can actually feel more real and meaningful than joy, how hard it was to trust happiness, even that we had forgotten what happiness meant.

What our Thai monk was telling us, in his own way, was that the very nature of life includes change and unfulfilled desire and the longing for things to be different from how they are, all of which brings discontent, sadness, and even mental illness, but that happiness was our birthright.

"What is this nature?" Achaan Maha Dharma Tam asked. "Look at how the rain falls to the ground and makes muddy water. And how the coconut tree takes that muddy water all the way up its long, long trunk to make sweet coconut milk. What is this nature that can take muddy water and make sweet coconut milk?"

No one can change your negativity for you.

We can change the way we look, where we live, even who we live with, but unless we connect with who we are inside then none of those external changes will make much difference.

The commitment you make is not to anyone else -- not to a teacher or even to your family -- but it's a commitment to a far deeper joy and happiness within yourself.

That has to be made by each one of us.

Can you turn muddy water into sweet coconut milk?  :)

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Faith

"I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish he didn't trust me so much." 

    - Mother Teresa

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it." 

You may think you cannot get through this storm, that the day will not break, that your struggle and challenge may not end - but it will and you can handle anything that is thrown at you - IF you keep your Faith and Hope in your heart!

- Stay Strong and Happy Saturday

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

"Three 'fer Tuesday.... "

"It isn't what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy.    It is what you think about."
  
     - Dale Carnegie

"Instead of dwelling on negative thoughts, cause your mind to dwell on peace and joy."

   - Ernest Holmes

"Let Go, Let God."

     - Anonymous

Three terrific quotes to begin and guide our blessed day today!

There is no denying or rebutting the fact that in order to move closer to peace, we need to identify "what we let" our minds think, reflect upon, and dwell upon in order to understand what defines our moods and consequently defines the amount of stress,  worry and fear we  deal with on a daily basis.

"Thought is Supreme" is an understatement! 

If you feel crappy, fearful,  anxious, depressed,  lost, helpless, hopeless,  or fearful,  you can bet that you are ALLOWING that creep of negativity - the storm of negative thoughts - seep into your head and it is running roughshod all over the place!

The second you feel these emotions,  stop yourself and identify what you are dwelling on immediately!

Now what is ailing you may be legitimately bothersome and may be a real hard issue that you are struggling through daily.

Regardless,  we must work to replace these negative thoughts with a prepared, handy, positive thought or concept.

Ask yourself what is the worst that can come of this situation!

Remind yourself that no matter the pain or loss you feel today, it will pass in time and you just have to keep hold of the rudder and weather the squall a little bit longer!

You are never alone in your battle!

Put it all in perspective and realize that no matter your concern or worry, it will not matter 1, 10, 30, 100 years from now!!!

So why are you beating yourself up over it now? 

Why are you letting it run your life and ruin your peace??

You know it will pass as everything does and you know you will be STRONGER as a result of riding it out - confidently - with Hope and in Faith!!

Take back control now!

You hold all the power necessary to do so!

I will close with one of my favorite pieces of inspiration that my bro in law showed me years ago - I recommend you keep it handy and make it a daily read and mantra! 

It certainly can shape and frame your day - it shapes mine every morning!

God Bless and Stay Strong!

"Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high, and fill the lungs to the utmost;  drink in the sunshine;

Greet your friends with a smile, and put soul into every handclasp.

Do not fear being misunderstood & DO NOT waste a minute thinking about your enemies.

Try to fix firmly in your mind what you would like to do; and then without veering off direction, you will move straight to the goal.

Keep your mind on the great and splendid things you would like to do, and then, as the days go gliding by, you will find yourself unconsciously seizing upon the opportunities that are required for the fulfilment of your desire, just as the coral insect takes from the running tide the element it needs.

Picture in your mind the able, earnest, useful person you desire to be, and the thought you hold is hourly transforming you into the particular individual…

Thought is supreme!!!!

Preserve a right mental attitude — the attitude of courage, frankness, and good cheer.

To Think RIGHT is to create.

All things come through desire and EVERY sincere prayer is answered.

We become like that on which our hearts are fixed.

Whenever you go out of doors, draw the chin in, carry the crown of the head high.

We are gods in the chrysalis."

    — Elbert Hubbard

Friday, October 3, 2014

[Stay Strong] Transform Fear....Now!!

"Can you imagine a life with no fear? What if faith, not fear, was your default reaction to threats?"
  ―Max Lucado

Fear is such a huge and often debilitating aspect of all of our lives that it is really tough to imagine an entire day without some sort of fear surfacing.

It is a shame because normally the things we fear most never even transpire, yet the time spent worrying about something that never comes to fruition is so large and disproportionate in many of our lives.

Therefore, today's quote about replacing fear with FAITH is so fascinating and exciting to me!

If we can succeed in creating a habit of identifying fearful thoughts and in turn replace them with FAITH, imagine how much more peace we would have in our lives!

We can do it!! 

Resolve to do it today!! 

Key on every thought that appears with which you can identify as having fear associated and ask yourself "what is the worst thing that can happen if that thing did occur". 

Chances are no matter what that conclusion is, it is not as bad as the trembling fear that accompanies it.

We can Stop that fear by believing and understanding that we are here to struggle, to be challenged, and to battle through tough times!

None of us is immune to these storms in our lives.

Do not wish for them, but certainly embrace them with strong feelings of courage,  hope, faith and trust!!

Because IF we have FAITH and Believe that whatever it is will always pass, we will without doubt come out on the other end of it Stronger and our Fear will be reduced to what it deserves - nothing!!

Just imagine the feeling if you had a proven GUARANTEE at your disposal that no matter what you were worried about, no matter what challenge or crisis you face or fear could be taken off your plate and handled by someone else instead. 

How sweet would that be?

Well I truly Believe and Know that this GUARANTEE already exists - and each and every one of us has it at our disposal every minute of every hour of every single day!

All we need to do is summon the courage and ASK for it and simply CLAIM it!!!

The choice is ours - Fear or Faith??

Enjoy the weekend, Count your Blessings, and Stay Strong!!

* Photo of The Redeemer - Rio de Janeiro Brazil - Celebrating Pink October - Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Friday, September 26, 2014

Do not Quit!! Do not Surrender!!

We all have our own daily battles to fight in our lives.

No one escapes this fact, no matter your lot in life, your situation, or your circumstances.

From the very Richest people to the most impoverished, we all have our crosses to bear on a daily basis.

Granted, they are often different concerns and worries, but they are challenges, fears, unrest and loneliness nonetheless.

We all possess the POWER and STRENGTH inside of us to not only face these hourly battles, but to defeat and overcome anything life throws us!

A critical step in this is to put your challenge in perspective!!

To every one of us, our own problems are Mountainous!!! 

Often there does not appear to be anything more important going on in the world!!!

And sometimes we do have challenges and trials that large and overwhelming!

However, if we truly size up the trials and problems we struggle with daily and put them into a range of true urgency and importance, we will probably find that we are more often than not making a mountain out of a mole hill!

Try and look at the big picture when faced with a trial and place a level on it if that helps!

Rely on the FAITH and reflect, pray and believe that a solution will surface - because it will and it ALWAYS does.

Excessive worry and fear brought on by ranking every issue we face as "critical" serves no purpose to anyone but to create more worry and fear, and distraction from the true solution and course of action!!

Remember that You are never alone in this world!

Even the birds and insects find a way to live and survive!!!

Ask for help!  Ask for guidance!

You will be answered!

Replace Fear with Faith and Hope and Love!!!

There is no challenge we face that cannot be dealt with and a solution found if we believe and seek to receive guidance!!

Pray for others who may be down on their knees with worry and fear, ask that they may find strength and hope and a solution to whatever ails them! 

Stay Strong and NEVER, ever give up!!!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Trust

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths."
Pro 3: 5-6

Monday, September 22, 2014

Cast aside all fear - Choose Faith....

Beloved, lay aside your fears; the Lord will take care of you.

If we all give and care for one another, then even if you should fall into need, there will be another to lift you out.

But if we want to do the right thing, then we need to be the ones to take the first step, even if no one else is.

There is no fear in love; there is faith: faith that God loves you and rewards the faithful;

Faith that God is well pleased with a cheerful giver.

It is not what we do religiously that justifies us, but it is both Faith and Love working hand and hand that justify us.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

[Stay Strong] This too shall pass and make us stronger!!

"We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival."

  - Winston Churchill

"One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the ONLY strength which can overcome adversity."

- Albert Schweitzer

Life can be a crazy roller coaster.

Not many things are guaranteed in life but there are a few inevitabilities that we can count on during our stint on this earth.

One of them is disappointment and pain.

We spend so much time worrying, lamenting and fearing the storms that we will surely encounter in our daily travels that we lose sight of the fact that we will always weather the storm!!!

Some of us are in the middle of a sunny stretch of open water,  others are in small squalls, and some others are in the mother of all storms, feeling lost and hopeless with no land in sight and all of our prior bearings dashed!

Regardless of the storm you are in - or that will inevitably arrive as we set sail forward - it WILL clear, the winds WILL subside, and you WILL survive to enjoy the blue skies and beautiful ocean!

You may not see it as you hang on for dear life with each wave that crashes over the bow, but you must have FAITH that the storm will pass and you will get through it!

Another guarantee we take for granted at times is the fact that we are not alone in these storms.

We may feel like the only human to have to fight this battle or to encounter such dark skies and smothering clouds, but you would be surprised how many others have stood where you are now, feeling the same lost and despairing thoughts,  and have come out of the night into the healing light of day!!!

If you hang on and do not waver in your faith and keep the hope alive in your heart - refuse to succumb to the waves of doubt and fear - you will eventually understand why you were asked to captain that ship through the storm in the first place!

You can choose to be the one who comes out into the clear skies and helps others navigate the rocks, the waves and the frightening thunder and lightning! !

Every survivor story begins with "I thought I was going to die", but it is faith and focus on the next opening in the storm that will get you to that safe place of peace and meaning!

More people than you know are pulling for you, praying for you, there to help you steer your ship through the jagged rocks!  

Feel their energy and let it strengthen you!

Storms cannot be avoided - but with every storm conquered and overcome we cannot help but grow stronger in our faith and move closer to understanding why the heck we are out on this ocean together in the first place!

Stay Strong and do not lose that FAITH and HOPE now... the skies are clearing and the morning is much much closer than you know!

;)