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

 

 

Merry Christmas!

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Early Christmas morning, while everyone is still sleeping is one of my favorite times. It is so peaceful after all of the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas. After a month of planning and preparation, everything is perfect. Of course it’s not really “perfect”, but it’s what we created out of love and this makes us happy. It truly is in the giving that we receive. There is such a joy that comes from giving gifts and seeing the joy that it gives another person. Christmas is love in action!

Christmas also gives us a time to pause and reflect on the important things around us – a time when we can look back on the year that has passed and prepare for the year ahead.

I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all year.” Charles Dickens

If God is good, why do we have so much suffering?

 

Thanksgiving beach.jpgA question that readers many times ask is, “If there is a God and if he is good, why is there child abuse, war, and violence?” I understand how difficult it is to see violence in the world; especially when innocent children are hurt. Having been one of these children who was hurt, I understand how people feel. I was fortunate that as I was going through this terrifying ordeal, that I witnessed many miracles, including a near heaven experience. My conclusion from these experiences is that God didn’t cause the pain, but He is with us and helps us during difficult times. We are all given free will and unfortunately the kidnapper used his free will to hurt me. God clearly helped me through the kidnapping and for that, I’m so thankful.

Someone wrote to me this week and said that she understands my need to believe in this imaginary God, but that, “it was only my strong spirit that got me through. A loving God would never allow such things.” I appreciate this reader’s message. This is a topic that people have struggled with since the beginning of time. Historians all agree that Jesus lived on earth. In 1980, award winning investigative reporter, Lee Strobel, utilized his skills to try to disprove the claims of Christianity. His wife was a new Christian and he wanted to scientifically prove that atheism is right and God was imaginary. To this investigator’s surprise, he proved to himself that Christianity is true. The book, and now movie, is called Case for Christ.

That being said, when innocent people get hurt, it’s hard to process. There are terrible things that happen to good people. Really painful. We can’t change what people have done in the past, but I love the teachings of Jesus because he shows us how to respond in ways that we can live with peace and happiness, despite what has happened in the past. He is always there to help us to get “Through the Fire.”

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

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When you crash through the doors of heaven, your loved ones will be anxiously waiting to ask, “Are you okay?”

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It takes a conscious effort to not allow the struggles and tragedies of life define us in a negative way. Resentment is like a cancer that can destroy our hearts. Pride, jealousy, envy, and judging others also eats away at our hearts. I think it’s helpful to always keep our eye on the eternal perspective. Ask yourself, “Will I want to hold on to this anger eternally?” The answer will always be no. After having a near heaven experience, I can say that you would not want to take any negativity with you. It’s too beautiful and perfect to be blemished with hatred – and there was no hatred in my experience.

Events that have happened to us are in the past and we have no power over the past. Since we can’t change the past, we have two choices. We can hold onto anger, or we can accept what happened. For me. One possible way to respond is that I could hate every person of the same race or religion of the kidnapper and everyone who reminds me of him. Without conscious effort, isn’t this what we do as a society? We judge groups of people because of the actions of a few. How many people hate all black people, hate all white people, or hate people of a different religion, political affiliation, profession, or sexual orientation? So I can hate or I can accept. Whichever road I choose will affect my heart and change who I am and who I will be eternally.

The truth is that the kidnapper never actually hurt me because my spirit remains untouched. We don’t know how or when or body will die, but we all have a shelf life. Our bodies are dying. In 200 years, everyone’s body that is on earth right now will be dust. When our bodies are dust, we will still exist and as we hate, we are hurting this part of ourselves that is eternal.

In life we mistakenly confuse who we are with what we have. Somehow we think our bodies, our houses, our cars, our education, our money, and other external aspects of our lives are who we are.

The truth is that all of these things that we think make up our identity are only temporary and we will one day be stripped of all of the external facades. We will be left with only what’s inside us, and that’s what really matters.

I’ve heard people say that growing old is cruel. Our youth and beauty fades. Our skin, hair, nails, bones, muscles all begin to change. Even our senses begin to fade such as eye sight, hearing, and taste. At first glance, this seems cruel… but maybe it’s really not. Perhaps this is an opportunity to learn and grow to prepare us for when we no longer have this physical body. To help us keep our eye on what is most important. An opportunity to look at, and focus on the part of us that is eternal. Growing old can teach us what is truly important, if we keep our eye on the eternal perspective.

When I had the near heaven experience, there was a clear distinction between all that is good- all that is based in love and all that is not good. Being in a space of pure love was the most amazing experience in my life. I look forward to the day that it will be my turn to return to this beautiful place! I know that I won’t bring anything with me but my heart and soul. This is the treasure at the end of our lives.  This is what matters, the part of us that is eternal. It’s our love, which we take with us.

If you were to hear the news that a loved one was in a car accident, what’s the first thing you would ask? “Are you okay?” You wouldn’t care about the car so much at this moment, the real treasure is who is inside the car.

If you were to hear someone’s home burned down, what’s the first thing you would ask? “Are you okay?” You wouldn’t care about the house, but you would care about the people inside the house.

I know that one day, my body will die. I don’t know if I will die peacefully or traumatically, but I do know that when I crash through the doors of heaven that I will be greeted by a loving community anxiously waiting to ask, “Are you okay?”

We want to still shine brightly inside at the end of our lives; without taking into account the external factors such as our body, house, car, bank account, and so on. Life can be hard and knock us down. We don’t have control of some of the events in our lives, but we are in control of our response. We don’t have to let pain and suffering destroy us. Love is the key. As we choose to forgive; as we choose to love, we don’t allow tragedy to define us. Our spirit can remain untouched. That should be our goal- to shine brightly from the inside out, despite our circumstances so that when we are greeted in heaven by our loving community, they will give a sigh of relief and then cheer. “She made it home! And she is okay!”

 “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.” Gautama Buddha

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