Stand by your beliefs and you will be supported

May 1, 2018

Recently I watched a TV evangelist talk at great length about how God promises us that we can be ten times better if we just “believe”. He then went on to give examples of how this can come to be; one of these stories was of Daniel, a well-known central figure in the Bible.

According to Good News Translation/The American Bible Society, the following passage tells the shortened version of the story of a young man who along with others of his day stood by their beliefs and came out not only momentarily victorious, but generally many times stronger.

The Young Men at Nebuchadnezzar’s Court
1 In the third year that Jehoiakim was king of Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylonia attacked Jerusalem and surrounded the city. 2 The Lord let him capture King Jehoiakim and seize some of the Temple treasures. He took some prisoners back with him to the temple of his gods in Babylon, and put the captured treasures in the temple storerooms.

 

3 The king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief official, to select from among the Israelite exiles some young men of the royal family and of the noble families. 4 They had to be handsome, intelligent, well-trained, quick to learn, and free from physical defects, so that they would be qualified to serve in the royal court. Ashpenaz was to teach them to read and write the Babylonian language. 5 The king also gave orders that every day they were to be given the same food and wine as the members of the royal court. After three years of this training they were to appear before the king. 6 Among those chosen were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, all of whom were from the tribe of Judah. 7 The chief official gave them new names: Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

8 Daniel made up his mind not to let himself become ritually unclean by eating the food and drinking the wine of the royal court, so he asked Ashpenaz to help him, 9 and God made Ashpenaz sympathetic to Daniel. 10 Ashpenaz, however, was afraid of the king, so he said to Daniel, “The king has decided what you are to eat and drink, and if you don’t look as fit as the other young men, he may kill me.”

11 So Daniel went to the guard whom Ashpenaz had placed in charge of him and his three friends. 12 “Test us for ten days,” he said. “Give us vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13 Then compare us with the young men who are eating the food of the royal court, and base your decision on how we look.”

14 He agreed to let them try it for ten days. 15 When the time was up, they looked healthier and stronger than all those who had been eating the royal food. 16 So from then on the guard let them continue to eat vegetables instead of what the king provided.

17 God gave the four young men knowledge and skill in literature and philosophy. In addition, he gave Daniel skill in interpreting visions and dreams.

18 At the end of the three years set by the king, Ashpenaz took all the young men to Nebuchadnezzar. 19 The king talked with them all, and Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah impressed him more than any of the others. So they became members of the king’s court. 20 No matter what question the king asked or what problem he raised, these four knew ten times more than any fortuneteller or magician in his whole kingdom. 21 Daniel remained at the royal court until Cyrus, the emperor of Persia, conquered Babylonia.

Daniel

The point of the story is that Daniel and his comrades chose what they believed to be the correct behavior regardless of what others thought. In this case, the heavier food would indeed slow them down while a lighter diet kept their heads clearer and facilitated higher performance. In the end, Daniel rose up through the ranks as he aged and eventually became the leader of the city, while his comrades were also appropriately rewarded for their service.

What does all this mean for you or me? Well, it means that even under duress, if we take the higher ground, we will be supported by the positive forces in nature. Recently, I had 3 nasty things happen to me during a very short period of time. In just one week, a pipe burst flooding the lower level of my home; while the house was being repaired I was very sick with the flu; then at the end of the week when I finally went out my car was hit on the highway during a flash rain storm by an exploding semi-truck tire. It was almost as if it all was meant to happen to show me that I could live through lots of duress. Although each of these things were quite distressing, I kept my perspective and believed that it was all part of the divine plan. In fact, I believed that there was some lesson I was meant to learn. Perhaps that God had saved me – each time. I could have been away when the pipe burst; I could have gotten ill during a vacation rather than a week when I had to be home anyway; and the exploding tire hitting the car could have killed me. So I had lots to be grateful for. I continued to believe and stay positive.

The next month I left for a 2-week vacation and everything went very well… or at least the challenges I experienced were all kept under control. I had a wonderful time. I went on the trip believing that I had had my “three” bad things happen to me so that nothing else would happen this year! It was certainly one way to look at it! I believed and I was supported. We always have the choice to make daily how we will believe, and whether we will take the higher road when under duress.  

 


Blessed or Cursed

February 14, 2018

It’s every homeowner’s nightmare: to come home to a flooded home. From that perspective I was fortunate that the pipe burst in my home 36 hours after I returned home from a two week trip away. I heard water rushing in the lower level and after thinking, “there’s no laundry in the washer, why do I hear water running?”  I rushed downstairs to find water pouring from the ceiling. In disbelief for several seconds as I watched huge amounts of water gushing out of 3 ceiling lights onto the wood floor, I ran for a largwaterfalle bucket to put under one of the larger spots. At first, I thought I had a leak and then soon realized it was a much bigger problem. Very soon the bucket became too heavy for me to lift so I found a smaller bucket to literally bail water from there into the bathroom toilet about 20 feet away. I repeated this maneuver for about 2 hours. At more than middle age, this became very tiring but I just couldn’t stop. The water was relenting. I finally let the water spill over the one bucket long enough for me to turn off every water valve I could find with little result. I figured I had a burst pipe as the weather had turned very cold just days before. The pipe must have frozen and when I came home from my trip and began to run water throughout the house essentially thawing the pipe, it burst from the pressure.

As my wits began to return, I found my cell phone and in between bailing the water I started with the phone calls. First I notified my nail lady that I wasn’t going to make my appointment for my nails. Being the lovely person that she is and the wonderful relationship that we have, she sent her husband over to help me (fortunately, he’d just gotten off from work due to the icy road conditions). Within 30 minutes the two of us were working bailing water and doing our best to move furniture out of the way of the water. It felt like a small Niagara Falls in the lower level which by the way has a 12 foot ceiling so there’s a long way for the water to fall. Next I called the insurance company who said they’d try to find a mediation company to come out to help me; meanwhile they instructed me to call the local county water service to turn the water off at the street main. The county was unusually cooperative, not only responding to my frantic call within 40 minutes or so, but it did help calm the rush of water… yet not entirely. Next I tried to reach plumbers to fix the rest of the problem.

There were so many people with burst pipes in the area and the day was wearing on into late afternoon by this time that I was getting negative answers from the plumbers and water mediation companies that the insurance company provided. I was frantic. Finally I was given the name of a plumber by a company that couldn’t come out so I just called them. These people came out and essentially ripped me off, merely getting the water shut off but not fixing the problem. Next I went upstairs and after searching my files found a prior company I had used years before when a different water problem had occurred. They came out right away and took over. The plumber had gotten the water off, but the room was soaked and a mess. The mediation firm tore the room apart, moved the furniture and began the process of taking out the water-wet walls, taking up the wet floor and getting the room dried out.

This process took close to a week and most of this time I was sick with a very bad cold so I slept through it even with the banging going on downstairs.  When I finally did go out that Friday night, I was very happy to be out of the house. But on my way home, there was a flash rain storm and a huge semi-trailer truck driving by blew a tire and hit my car leaving black marks across two doors and damaging the front driver’s side to the tune of about $2,000 damage. I was pretty shook up by the incident but walked away from it (after driving home as it was still pouring rain). Insurance covered the 10 days for the car to be in the shop, repaired and the loaner car. So, does God hate me with all this or am I blessed? The answer is coming up shortly.

The following week the next company came in to start putting everything back together. They repaired the ceiling, the walls and swept up the floor. Then I started to see the damages. Many of my draperies, and other personal belongings were not handled properly and sort of just thrown aside rather than boxed up or moved to safer areas. If I’d been there and not half dead with the horrible cold I would have made sure where things were put and how they were managed. It wasn’t a pretty sight. Later that week I saw how my new fiberglass door frame had been gouged when one of the guys was pulling up the floor. Luckily I knew of an artisan who could fix fiberglass much like a boat is reshaped after a hole. Then I sent the bill to the company responsible and it was paid. So although it was great aggravation to locate this repair firm again, the damage was fixed. And my things were recovered mainly by my moving them myself after the fact to a safer location upstairs.

I still am trying to find a good vendor for the floor… I’m a bit worried about how things will be managed while the work is being done so I’ve scared off a few vendors. That’s ok. If they don’t want to be careful or responsible then they aren’t the right ones for me, especially after what I’ve been through.

Now here’s the message from all this. If it had to happen it did after I returned from vacation. I was home at the time to save my furniture. None of it got ruined. The bad cold enabled me to sleep through the first week and not know about the damage until I had more energy to deal with it. And the damage was repairable. The car accident was a reminder that none of this is life or death – but the situation with the car could have been.

My verdict: I’m blessed and yes God must really love me to protect me and make sure it all works out ok.


How Giving Back Helped Me Pay it Forward

August 23, 2016

Little did I know when I started interacting with a new friend last winter that it would lead to my fulfilling one of my life goals; which is to give back to the community after a very rewarding professional career in IT project management.  I decided that I needed to share some of what I had learned throughout my many years in the corporate world to foster workplace performance. Not only had I never lost a project due to my well-developed PM skills, I had loyal and dedicated teams. Sure, this may sound boastful, but it’s true. Being grateful for the experience, I wanted to offer tools and techniques that I had gleaned to others as my legacy to contribute to the improvement of corporate culture.

kids

Volunteering my skills and offering workshops turned out not to be so easy. After several lengthy failed attempts involving writing proposals, offering startup funds to get my “Enlightened Leadership” concepts into my university curriculum, and then to my spiritual organization’s mindful leadership program to no avail, the successful situation actually came to me. When my friend wasn’t able to take an assignment, he suggested that I coach summer school for kids. I had co-coached with him for several months providing me with a basic understanding of how to work with the kids, but teaching multiple times per week for eight weeks was a totally different situation. After a very brief negotiation with the head mistress of the learning center, I had to design 18 classes with only 10 days’ notice. It was at this point that I decided to use the backdrop of what I had wanted to present to the older group, just on a more modified scale.

My philosophy was to start with the youth teaching the basics of interpersonal skills, time management and planning projects as a foundation for being a more informed participant in the workplace. Hopefully, these skills learned at a young age would help these students grow into adults with better emotional intelligence as well as analytical understanding of the requirements they might face later. This material was ground breaking for 6th and 7th graders. And my interactive, problem solving and team-oriented style was new to them. That said, eventually we all got used to the program; I adjusted to them and in turn, they got used to speaking to each other and thinking more analytically. By the end of the eight weeks, the kids were all writing and presenting on the elements of a project plan using a model familiar to them – the five questions: Why? Where? Who? What? When? One of my life goals is now accomplished. I did it and they did it!

As I finished the summer session, I wondered what would come next only to see a brief article in the local paper advertising for STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) volunteers to help local teachers in the school system. I applied and was quickly accepted. My training is in a few weeks. So on to the next chapter of paying it forward to give back. My experience has been both exhilarating and exhausting. I expect the next experience with coaching kids to be equally rewarding.


Reaping What You Sow

August 9, 2016

A very long time ago a great man once said, that as you sow seeds, you reap what you’ve sown! There are many ways one can interpret this expression. The first is, of course, literally. Whatever seeds you put in the ground, you can pretty much expect that plant or vegetable to grow. But as most such sayings go, they are meant to be allegorical; that is, represent more to us than the literal meaning. So here’s where it starts to get interesting.

seedsFrom the esoteric perspective, reaping what you sow also means that as we treat others, we can expect to be treated ourselves. I look at this expression in a more karmic way; that is, if we are positive in our interactions then we bring positive energy to us; whereas, if we act in a careless fashion we could very well bring negative energy our way. This is also called the Law of Cause and Effect and is applicable to our three dimensional world whether we believe in it or not. This is a really important point. Just because you don’t believe in gravity doesn’t negate the effects of gravity! The same holds true for the Law of Karma (Cause and Effect). So how does Karma impact our lives?

It’s pretty simple really, as you want others to treat you, treat them. If you want to be respected, loved, nurtured, trusted, etc. then you need to be and act that way with others. Or, if you are harsh, mean, hateful, aggressively antagonistic, etc. then at some point in this life or the next, the Law of Karma will catch up with you. As Einstein figured out, energy is neither created nor destroyed. So the negative energy we create stays in the universe until it comes back to us somehow and some way. Sometimes we wonder why there’s a person in our lives that just doesn’t seem to fit – perhaps it’s because they are here to finish a karmic debt from another place and time. Or, if it’s you that’s dishing out the junk, then maybe in the future, you can have a person come into your life to do the same to you. In any case, it’s a lot better to just be nice, considerate and caring as if everything we do really matter. Since, in the long run, it does!

 


Heart Energy Eases Relationship Bad News

July 28, 2016

It’s important to understand the uses of heart energy vs. head energy in inter-personal communications. When I use the term, head energy, I mean data, facts – like “it’s hot today” or “let’s go to the movies”. Conversely, heart energy is about the emotions; such as, “when you come late, it makes me feel unimportant” or “I don’t like playing soccer”.

 brokenheart

Why should we care about when to use each type of energy? When communicating with another person hence, “interpersonal”, we can include facts (head energy), but should also include emotion (heart energy) for more of an impact. Take this situation, for example: your boyfriend decides he no longer wants to date you. If he calls and says, “We’re done, bye”. That’s pretty hurtful. Rather, if he says, “we’ve enjoyed each other for these past months but I don’t feel it’s working out so it’s best if we end things.” You might still be upset but the blow is reduced. An even better approach is to meet over a beverage, chat and offer what went well and what didn’t go so well – like completing a circle so both people can come to closure. Being sensitive to the feelings of others is always the best approach when delivering any news – particularly when it’s negative.


How we get programmed by simple actions

July 10, 2016

Ever give your dog or cat a treat? Do it once and they will demand it forever! So in the end, who is training who? I have a friend who taught his cat Sherman to sit up and give the paw before providing milk as a treat. Before too long Sherman was prancing into the kitchen, sitting himself down and offering the paw as if to say, “ok, big guy, where’s the milk?” If my friend ignored him, Sherman would resort to pawing the dishwasher and meowing loudly until he got what he wanted – the milk! It’s pretty funny, but that’s how it went.

Sherman with the paw for milk

Sherman with the paw for milk

Now I have a similar story relating to my own cat Skylar who, after getting crunches on top of his soft food only once as an incentive to eat would then refuse to eat without the added bonus. The cat could be starving, but would just sit and look at me like, “Are you kidding? You want me to eat that?” of course, not wanting him to go too long without food I’d give him what he wanted. Now the crunches are a stable and no longer a treat.

But isn’t this how life is? If we’re given a bonus at work too often, we come to expect it. Or, more likely, certain behaviors from friends and family say a significant other takes us out regularly or perhaps a child gets good grades in school. So much for that new behavior being special, since if rewarded too often, it’s expected and no longer appreciated. Thus we move into the taken for granted mode.

It’s easy to fall into this trap. Take a look around your life and see where you’ve been programmed or perhaps where you’ve programmed those around you. Do your kids expect multiple vacations, gifts and treats per year because you did it once and now they think it’s normal and so expected? Think about whether you should re-program certain areas of your life for the better to bring things back into proper balance. Is all that behavior, whatever “that is” really necessary?

Only then can we have true gratitude and appreciation for what’s truly special in our lives. That’s how it’s supposed to be! Let me know how it goes..


Doing the Right Thing

March 8, 2016

Life can be complicated. Heck, it’s most often complicated. And on top of it there is usually more than one way to get things done. When we look at all the variables and the options to attack our problems, sometimes there are short cuts, ways around the issues, or even methods that may be a bit nefarious. Ah oh! What happens when we choose to cut corners, snip a bit off the end of something to save time or take the low road rather than the high road? This is called taking the easy way out and is not the spiritual way; that is, thinking or doing in this manner will not serve us in the long run. Anything that doesn’t serve us, certainly doesn’t serve our soul growth, so why do it?

This leads us to a better understanding of doing the right thing. It’s obviously not easy to do the right thing when there are other options. If there were only one option, it would be easy. But this isn’t the way the world was built. We are usually given challenges so that we come out of the situation stronger than when we went in. As souls in a body, we’re given a choice – we can move towards the higher path towards the light or take the low road towards the darkness. Without a choice, there would be no challenges and therefore no way to ever overcome difficulties; thus, we would be in a world where we wouldn’t know the difference between the light or the darkness. So when we have issues, understand that these problems are not thorns in your side, but opportunities to grow and become stronger. Without hills to climb our legs would never have a chance to know their limits for example. The same is true of our spiritual and moral bodies. Only by stretching our limits can we grow, become better people and move forward on our spiritual path.

lightdarkIn the end, doing the right thing may be harder, but it is usually more rewarding. This has been my experience. I’ve found that with challenges in my life, moving through the tunnel of difficulty eventually brings me to the light; how wonderful it feels to get there. And, often there are unexpected rewards. It’s also my experience that when we follow the light and do the right thing, goodness follows us also.


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