Struggles are Part of the Journey

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A man found a cocoon of a butterfly. One day a small opening appeared. He sat and watched the butterfly for several hours as it struggled to force its body through that little hole. Then it seemed to stop making any progress. It appeared as if it had gotten as far as it could, and it could go no further.

So the man decided to help the butterfly. He took a pair of scissors and snipped off the remaining bit of the cocoon.

The butterfly then emerged easily. But it had a swollen body and small, shriveled wings.

The man continued to watch the butterfly because he expected that, at any moment, the wings would enlarge and expand to be able to support the body, which would contract in time.

Neither happened! In fact, the butterfly spent the rest of its life crawling around with a swollen body and shriveled wings. It never was able to fly.

What the man, in his kindness and haste, did not understand was that the restricting cocoon and the struggle required for the butterfly to get through the tiny opening were Life’s way of forcing fluid from the body of the butterfly into its wings so that it would be ready for flight once it achieved its freedom from the cocoon.

Sometimes struggles are exactly what we need in our lives. Remember nature needs no help, just no interference. There are processes of life, things we all go through. The struggles are a part of our journey and are preparing us for what awaits. They are preparing us to fly.
-unknown

#throughthefire

Walk a Mile in His Moccasins

Walk a mile

This week, I had the opportunity to attend CABA which is an autism conference for my work. My favorite part of the conference was listening to talks from amazing women who are mothers of children with autism. These woman were at the forefront of fighting for services for their children. They gave up successful careers to take care of their families. The most heartbreaking part of their stories wasn’t the fact that they gave up their careers, have dealt with daily tantrum behavior, aren’t able to go out to eat and vacation like the rest of us, the lack of sleep, or even what it feels like to have therapists in their home daily. The most heartbreaking part of their stories is when they share the reaction from the community. The hurtful quotes that people have said to them and the lack of support shown by neighbors, friends, and family was shocking. Despite these difficult situations, these woman have great lives and love their families. One of the moms shared this poem and I wanted to share it with you.

The poem Walk a Mile in His Moccasins was written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was Judge Softly. Here is the original poem.

Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps, Or stumbles along the road. Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears, Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt Though hidden away from view. The burden he bears placed on your back May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today Unless you have felt the same blow That caused his fall or felt the shame That only the fallen know.

You may be strong, but still the blows That were his, unknown to you in the same way, May cause you to stagger and fall, too.

Don’t be too harsh with the man that sins. Or pelt him with words, or stone, or disdain. Unless you are sure you have no sins of your own, And it’s only wisdom and love that your heart contains.

For you know if the tempter’s voice Should whisper as soft to you, As it did to him when he went astray, It might cause you to falter, too.

Just walk a mile in his moccasins Before you abuse, criticize and accuse. If just for one hour, you could find a way To see through his eyes, instead of your own muse.

I believe  you’d be surprised to see That you’ve been blind and narrow minded, even unkind. There are people on reservations and in the ghettos Who have so little hope, and too much worry on their minds.

Brother, there but for the grace of God go you and I. Just for a moment, slip into his mind and traditions And see the world through his spirit and eyes Before you cast a stone or falsely judge his conditions.

Remember to walk a mile in his moccasins And remember the lessons of humanity taught to you by your elders. We will be known forever by the tracks we leave In other people’s lives, our kindnesses and generosity.

Take the time to walk a mile in his moccasins.

 

 

Every Person Needs Kindness

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Over the course of the last year, I have had the privilege of meeting many inspiring people through social media. I appreciate everyone who has taken the time to message me and share personal stories. I am both honored and, I must admit, a bit overwhelmed by the number of people who endure such difficult life situations. They have inspired me to look at statistics of those who are touched by trauma. Here is what I found:

1 in 4 women are sexually abused before the age of 18. 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. 1 in 5 women are raped. 1 in 4 marriages have at least one episode of abuse.

Human trafficking is out of control! According to a September 2017 report from the International Labor Organization (ILO) and Walk Free Foundation: An estimated 24.9 million victims are trapped in modern day slavery.

The cruelty that exists in the world today is inconceivable. Millions of children are being bought and sold as a commodity with no concern for their life, happiness or fulfillment. TV shows joke about pornography and attempt to “normalize” it. This is BIG business and many traffickers are becoming wealthy because society is saying this is okay. If there were no consumers, pornography would end and traffickers would lose money. Let’s boycott everything that benefits traffickers.

I have had parents of children who were murdered or missing contact me. Some children have been gone for months, some years, and some have been found murdered. The worry and stress that these parents endure daily is unimaginable. They love their children so much.

I remember how strange it was when I first came back home after being kidnapped. I imagine this strange feeling is similar to how others who have experienced any kind of trauma may have felt afterwards. One day, life is going along smoothly. Everything in life is moving like a fine tuned clock… and then the trauma occurs. The world around you continues as usual; however for those involved life is anything but usual. Instead of life being like a fine tuned clock, it feels more like you are frozen and a freight train is headed straight for you, but you can’t move.

Think for a moment about the statistics of those who have endured trauma. Then, think of the parents, sisters, brothers, friends, co-workers, school mates, neighbors, etc. If you really think about it, we are all effected by trauma. I think we are safe to say that at least half of society is deeply suffering. Wow! Even though they are suffering, life goes on. They have to get up every day, get dressed, and go to work, the store, the bank, and so on. So, if you are driving down the freeway and another driver isn’t focusing on the road and may cut you off, think twice before reacting. You don’t know what is happening in the lives of everyone you pass so it’s better for us to choose to be compassionate. Looking at the statistics shows us how important it is for us to be a little kinder to each other. Every person needs kindness. It takes strength to be kind. It’s easy to yell at someone and justify why they deserve it. But remember that we don’t know the story behind the people that we meet throughout our day. For some, it took all the strength they had within them to get dressed and out the door. Meet them with compassion. Be strong. Be kind. A simple smile or encouraging word can give hope to a hurting soul. Give love without hesitation.

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has also forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32

“Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” Mark Twain

Be the light!

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Love is a Verb ~ Without Action, it’s Merely a Word

 

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This is a repost of an article that was posted several months ago. Since it’s Valentine’s month, it seemed like a good article to repost. Love is a Verb-

Hiking through the hills after being kidnapped, was probably the most difficult time in my life. Having severe injuries, a blood soaked dress, covered in bruises from beatings, and being emotionally and physically exhausted, each step took extreme effort. One thought that kept me going was that I knew that if I kept walking that I would soon run into caring people who would help me to make it back home. All I had to do was make it back to civilization. I was sure that the first person that saw me would pull over their car and help me. I just needed to find one person and I would be saved! This is what I thought; however I would soon discover that I was very wrong. I would soon experience a profound sense of disappointment as car after car passed me without stopping. By passers slowed their cars enough to get a good look at me with shock and then continued to drive on. Each time this happened, my heart sunk. I didn’t understand why they wouldn’t stop and help me. As I came to a residential area, and passed people as we walked on the sidewalk, I felt that these weren’t “bad” people, yet everyone avoided me, looked away or sped off quickly. As disappointing as it was to experience how the kidnapper could be so cruel and thoughtless, the fact that others wouldn’t help me may have been even more disappointing. They looked at me as if I was “trouble”. Maybe they thought I was a runaway, homeless, or mixed up with the wrong type of people. Maybe they were afraid that if they stopped to help that they may be accused of hurting me or maybe they thought that the person who did this to me would hurt them if they got involved. Maybe they felt it was none of their business, not their responsibility; someone else will help me. Maybe they were just busy.  Maybe they never really thought about helping other people before. We will never understand why the people who passed me that day didn’t stop and help. There’s nothing we can do now to change the past. I hope by sharing my story that I can bring awareness so that we, as a society, will become brave and caring individuals and help people who desperately need our assistance.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta devoted her life to showing love to people who were dying in the streets. She picked them up, brought them to a home where they could die with love, joy and the peace of Christ. Mother Teresa spoke of loving with actions, rather than words. One time, she was inviting to a conference about ending world hunger. When she arrived to the conference, right in front of the door where hundreds of people passed to go into the conference to discuss how they would end hunger within 15 years, she found a dying man. Mother Teresa didn’t attend the conference that day, instead she brought the dying man home. He soon died – he died of hunger. Everyone in the conference talked about ending hunger, and the man that they passed on their way in died.

I wonder if one reason we don’t help others is because we judge. Did the people who passed the dying man judge him and is this why they didn’t help him? Did they feel their work in the conference was more important than the man? We are all precious to God. The man in the streets, those who are wealthy, those with disabilities, those who are healthy, all shades of skin color, you, me, and everyone – He loves all of us.

“A new command I give you; Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

Jesus spent his time loving and doing good deeds. If we are trying to live like Jesus then we need to put our love in action also. Just as our Heavenly Father sent Jesus, He sent us to love one another.

“We show love by thoughtfulness, by kindness, by sharing joy, by sharing a smile… through the little things.” Mother Teresa

Love is a verb and has to be put into action to have real meaning. We have all seen vicious arguments on social media where people are trying to convince others with their words to do good works. While many of the intentions of those arguing may have started with a good hearted intentions, talking alone isn’t enough. Instead of talking, we need to take action. We need to become comfortable being inconvenienced; to go out of our way to help others.

With all of the problems in the world, it can be difficult to know where to help. Mother Teresa has beautifully offered advice for us-

“I never look at the masses as my responsibility. I only look at the individual. I can love only one person at a time. I can only feed one person at a time. Just one, one, one. You get closer to Christ by coming closer to each other. As Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do to me.” So you begin….I begin. I pick up one person – maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person I wouldn’t have picked up 42,000. The whole work is only a drop in the ocean. But if I didn’t put the drop in, the ocean would be one drop less. Same thing for you, same thing in your family, same thing in your church where you go, just begin…. One, one, one.

At the end of our life we will not be judged by how many diplomas we have received, how much money we have made, how may great things we have done. We will be judged by ‘I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was naked and you clothed me I was homeless and you took me in.’

Hungry not only for bread – but hungry for love.

Naked not only for clothing – but naked of human dignity and respect.

Homeless not only for want of a room of bricks – but homeless because of rejection.

This is Christ in distressing disguise.” Mother Teresa

Let’s be people who love with our actions – on earth as it is in heaven.

 

 

 

 

 

Love is…

Love is 2

 

Happy Valentine’s Day!  Today is the day to celebrate and show those around us that we love and appreciate them. It’s not really about candy,  flowers and gifts. All though these extras are fun and we all enjoy them, they are meaningless without truly “being” love with one another.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight it evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

I hope you all have a fun Valentine’s day filled with love!

 

Only Light Can Drive Out Darkness ~ MLK

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Today we celebrate a man who dedicated his life to making the world a better and more loving place. His mission was to fight for the oppressed and in doing so, he showed the world keys to bringing forth change. He understood how to creatively use his anger to make change in a loving way. “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy.” He understood and demonstrated the power of love. “I have decided to love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” He watched as society hated through their actions as people retaliated over and over. It was clear to Martin Luther King, Jr that hate created more hate. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” We must put aside our differences and work together to achieve peace. “We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”

When bad things happen to good people, we naturally become angry and want justice. Trust that God will take care of the details. We don’t need to retaliate and hate. God will take care everything in time. Our job is to create peace. “Never succumb to bitterness.” The road of bitterness will destroy us if we allow it. “We must learn to live together as brothers or perish together as fools.”

It is difficult to accept an injustice that has happened. When bad things have happened, we can’t change that fact, but we can work towards a better tomorrow. If we remain bitter, we remain part of the problem of hate creating more hate. “We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.” We must keep our eyes on the eternal perspective and work towards a better tomorrow.

We can all make steps to make the world a better place. The first and most important step lies within our own hearts as we chose to love, rather than to hate. As we collectively love, the world will shift for the better. “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Love is patient, love is kind. It always trusts, always perseveres. Love never fails.                   1 Corinthians 13:4, 7-8

Encouraging Quotes for the New Year

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As we count down to the New Year, we get to reflect and prepare for what’s ahead. For all the bad news that seemed to dominate our collective experience of 2017, there are countless stories from the year that remind us of the good in people. These stories give us hope for a bright future and bond us together as a community.

I hope that my story will help people who are struggling to make sense of suffering in the world. The book, Through the Fire will be released soon. The editing is complete, the page design is complete, and now we are working on the cover. I can’t wait to share the cover with everyone! I’m working with the talented artist Phil Roberts, who is creating beautiful artwork for the cover.

I’m grateful to everyone who reads, throughthefire.blog and especially to everyone who has followed, shared, and commented. Visitors have come from all over the world! It’s fascinating to me that I can write in my little home in the US and then have these words travel across the globe. There are readers from the following places: Greece, Canada, South Korea, Ireland, India, UK, Bosnia, Australia, Philippines, New Zealand, China, Spain, Columbia, Chile, Singapore, Turkey, Nigeria, Greenland, Trinidad, Kuwait, Sweden, Japan, Nepal, Kenya, Malaysia, Russia, Oman, Zambia, Taiwan, Ukraine, Germany, and South Africa! Thank you all for reading! It has been a privilege to share my story with all of you and to read the stories of those who have messaged to me. I am truly humbled as I read your stories and witness your strength, bravery and courage as you choose to live lives of love. The world is seeming much smaller as I see that across the globe, we all have similar struggles and joys in life.  Regardless of our geographical location, socioeconomic status, race, religion, political affiliations, or gender, we are all faced with the same dilemma, how will we face the struggles in life and how will we face our achievements?

As we look forward to 2018, we might be a little hesitant to set new goals, especially if we  want to achieve the same goal that we had as a resolution last year and maybe even the year before and the year before that. If we didn’t meet our goals last year, we begin the new year with a feeling of discouragement. ‘If I couldn’t accomplish my goal last year, how am I going to do it this year?’ First, we have to change our thinking. In order to succeed, we must first believe that we can!

To achieve our goals, we need accountability, determination, encouragement, and perseverance – we can never give up.  Here are some of my favorite quotes for encouragement on not giving up.

“Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

“I never lose. I either win or learn.” Nelson Mandela

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. Time will pass anyway.” Earl Nightingale

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison referring to the light bulb

“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.” T.F. Hodge

Let us not become wearing of doing good for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9

“Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.” Confucius

The question is not if we will have struggles and hardships, but rather “how” will we meet them? When we fall, will we rise? Will we continue to persevere and walk through the struggle? #throughthefire

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I wish you all the best for 2018! Happy New Year!

Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14