Three Reasons to Consider Staycations

Ah vacation! The time-honored part of our work year when we get paid for not working.

Working at an international company, I have the privilege to observe how others countries take part in vacation. And I must say, their way is much better in my opinion than my own. I typically work way too long without having a break and then I hastily plan a trip, spend too much time in travel either by car or air (because let’s face it, unless you leave at zero-dark-thirty, with both road and air traffic, you’re not going anywhere fast these days) and then, by the time I get there and get settled, it’s time to come back. It’s crazy.

So, this year, I decided on a staycation. I took a planned trip that was intentionally short, but I also planned time to stay at home. I needed the rest more than I needed a chance of scenery. If you find yourself needing more rest than a change of scenery, here are three reasons things to consider:

1. Staycations are not for home projects

Yep. I said it. I know we want to maximize the most out of the time that we have. I’ve been guilty of it. But when I take on projects when I’m supposed to be resting, I don’t return to work rested. I return to work just as tired, if not more tired… Weekends are for projects. Staycations are not.

2. Staycations can save you money

And with this uncertain economic climate, I think we could all afford to save some dough. I still spend but it’s on things that promote rest – like massages or things that help me to relax. Of course, your money, your choice.

3. Staycations can help you realize what you have

Now, this may seem a strange thought. But, for sure, many of you can relate. I work so much that sometimes I don’t realize or have time to focus on the cool things that my house offers. Look around and enjoy the view. And this includes getting to know your neighbors.

I’m happy that I took a staycation this year. It helped me come back to some things that I had been missing…like writing on this blog!

One Day In…

So I already am behind the eight-ball.

I meant to post this … well, write this, on the first day of the new year. It’s officially 1:02am January 2, 2015 and I’m just getting to it. But I don’t regret the decisions I made today. I slept until I naturally woke up, I hung out with a family member for a big chunk of the day, I ate healthy, and I got some things crossed off the never-ending to-do list. I feel good. Albeit a bit sleepy. Stretching my fingers across the keyboard, I’ve come to this conclusion…

I will not go into this new year penalizing myself for every short coming. I will instead take a moment to look at all I have accomplished instead of what I did not get accomplished in any given day. How about that, huh? Let’s all take a moment to give ourselves a break. We work hard. Let’s not beat ourselves up this year.

Besides, there is always tomorrow.

Change is the new normal

So…I had the bright idea that in the midst of changes in nearly every corner of my life, that I also needed to change my blog. Yea…now I’m realizing that perhaps that wasn’t the best move for this season of life. But now I’m here and I’m determined to see this through with the same care and attention that I give to everything that I involve myself with. So, look forward to lots of changes as I adjust to this new platform. Change…it’s the new normal.

Nelson Mandela: He Changed the World

Picture from theworldbyroad.com
President Obama said of former President Nelson Mandela, “He no longer belongs to us. He belongs to the ages.”
South African President Jacob Zuma said “We’ve lost our greatest son.”
And although President Mandela had been sick and was 95 at his passing, his death is still profound. I feel it. Like a light has left this world. A real-life hero gone. Mandela’s resilience in the face of adversity is unmatched. His life, though hard, speaks volumes about the kind of people we need to be. A man of peace that lived it and made it available and acceptable to those who would give it a chance. He embodied the gentleness and humbleness of character that truly makes a person great. Mandela was a great man. One that I deeply admired. One that the whole world will weep for and mourn. He changed the World. His life made a difference.

Some of his famous quotes, and ones that I particularly like are these:

“Difficulties break some men but make others.” (From a letter to wife, Winnie Mandela, from Robben Island, February 1975)


“Without democracy there cannot be peace.” (South Africa, May 9, 1992)

“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

“Man’s goodness is a flame that can be hidden but never extinguished.” (From Long Walk to Freedom, 1995)

 “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all person live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”


From his Inaugural address:
We are both humbled and elevated by the honor and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.

We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.

We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all.

Let there be peace for all.

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.

Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign.

The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!

God bless Africa!


Whenever I think of Mandela, I think of strength, hope and peace. HIs life and legacy = amazing. I count it a privilege to have lived on the Earth at the same time as him – to be alive at the same time as one of the greatest men this world has ever known. A teacher. A humanitarian. A giver. A servant. A legend. He was an inspiration. A worldwide shepherd. He changed the world.
Visit us at http://www.beamsoflightministries.org for more content on dealing with emotional wounds through the power of God’s Word.

Paul Walker and the Bereaved

Oh, Paul…
Fans and friends continue to mourn Paul Walker who died in a fiery crash Saturday.

He raced into our hearts as Brian O’Connor although he had been flirting around the outskirts for a good while. The Fast and the Furious was not his first movie nor was it his first time in front of a camera. No, Paul Walker had been around for awhile. But his role as Detective Brian O’Connor changed things. We who like a good action movie with pimped out cars and “lay-me-back-in-my-seat” speed identified with the movie franchise. We could identify with the choices between needing to belong to a “family” and loyalty to the job. We cheer for that guy. We become involved.

Therefore, when Paul Walker, a professed gearhead, and one who in real life mirrored to some degree what we saw on screen – a good-natured car enthusiast who cared about others – abruptly died, it seems like everyone took notice. We stomped the brakes in our lives to find out what was going on.

I was flipping through my cellphone when TMZ first reported the actor’s death. I was shocked. I hoped it was a hoax, and it became my mission to find out as much as possible. Was it true? Could it be? My heart beat so rapidly at the news. Alas, it was true. Paul was gone…and so was his most memorable character, Brian.


While we know that filming for the next installation of the Fast and the Furious – Fast 7 – was currently underway, it is unclear what will become of that movie. Everyone is in grief. My own grief shocked me. Laid me bare. And when I saw the footage of the wreck and how Tyrese responded upon visiting the site … wow. It threw me. What a terrible way to die.

Car = unrecognizable.

Crash = unsurvivable.

It disturbed me to the point that I questioned myself: “Why do I care so much about someone that I NEVER met?” What’s up with that? And then I knew. Grief knows no boundaries. Grief simply is.

Paul and Roger (the driver) were fellow human beings. No one deserves to die like that. It hurt because Paul was so relatable. We saw him at the movies and welcomed him into our homes via the television. He was a part of the fabric of our movie-going experiences. He was “family” – the whole Fast Family felt like people we know and love. And in person, in real life, Paul was a Reach Out World Wide good guy. Those who actually knew him attest to that fact. His actions outside of Hollywood prove the same. Like the time he bought a ring for a newly wed military couple.

He wasn’t the ordinary, fame-loving celebrity. He was different. People would send him pictures of their cars that they were restoring and he would comment back on Twitter. Earnest opinions and responses. No movie star fluff. He loved cars. Especially the fast, performance driven ones (per a video/interview he gave).

Grief is hard. I think I was in shock Satuday night when I finally went to bed. And Sunday, when I went to church, I prayed the whole way there for his family. His friends. For those who mourn in his passing. My heart felt heavy on Monday, and I began to wonder just why was the death of an actor – a person I didn’t know – was consuming me. I prayed more. And then I remembered the simple truth, and it is this. Every man has only a certain number of days.

Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass; – Job 14:5

And when those days are done, they are done. Paul had 40 years. And while I could argue that it was not enough time and that he needed more … deserved more…taking up that stance would mean that I would be in disagreement with the God I serve. I believe that God makes no mistakes. His will is perfect. I also believe that each person has freewill. A right, if you will, to make their own choices. And, as heartbreaking as it is, Paul made a choice. He got into the car under his own freewill. And for whatever reason, be it mechanical or mistake, both he and Roger would not get out alive. I find it eery looking at the last photo of Paul, wearing those dark shades that black out those beautiful blue eyes, looking into the very side of the car where he would die. It’s kind of like looking into your own casket.
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Contrary to some reports, I don’t believe that Roger was racing with someone else. I do believe that he was speeding. It was afterall a fast car – a light car – an expensive car. And because Paul is on video admitting that he himself has driven up to 197mph in the past, and they were both race car drivers, I don’t find it hard to believe that speed was a factor. Yet, it’s still sad.

I wish things were different but we all make our choices. And when it’s our time, it’s our time. I can only hope that Paul knew my Lord. I can only hope that Paul had a relationship with God. Roger too. I hope they had “their business straight” and are now at peace.  It’s hard right here at the holidays to say goodbye to cherished ones. So, for those who grieve, please know:

1. It’s alright to grieve.
Go ahead and feel what you feel. Cry. Scream. Let your hair down and do it. You don’t have to be strong. Just let go. Let the tears flow. Your family and friends may not know what to say but that’s okay. Let them know that they don’t have to say anything. By just being with you, it is enough.

2. Don’t be a faker.
This is almost like #1. Too many times, people are waiting for the bereaved to give them some indication of how they are coping with the loss. If you act like everything is fine, you sell yourself short. You deny the people who care about you the opportunity to help in comforting you – and thereby comforting themselves to some degree. So, don’t act like you’re fine when you’re not. Be in the moment. Grieve.

3. Take your time.
Take time to reflect on the person. Take time to mourn the loss of what you had and what you had hoped would be. Your life is different now. And it takes some getting used to. So, take some time to get accoustomed to life without that person. Don’t allow anyone to rush you.

4.  Don’t get stuck.
Now, although it is healthy to grieve, it’s not healthy to get stuck in your grief. I’ve done that before. So, I would encourage you to really take a moment to access your situation. Remember what has been lost. But also, remember what you have to gain. You are still here. And there is a reason for that. Your purpose has never been for just one thing or one person. You are here for a reason – find that out and then live that out. You can be happy again. Take it one day at a time.

So, for those of us who mourn Paul, think of your favorite character and tell him thank you and good-bye. I think of Brian O’Connor most. It’s that character that really raced into my heart. I think of him and Mia and baby Jack…living out their lives in private now. No longer fugitives. Just living. And when I think of Paul the man, his daughter Meadow and his girlfriend Jasmine, I have chosen to take his father’s advice. Since he loved the outdoors and the ocean, I think of Paul on the beach with his surfboard, facing the ocean, about to go out into the waves. He’s smiling. I choose to to remember him like that. Happy.

Visit us at http://www.beamsoflightministries.org for more content on dealing with emotional wounds through the power of God’s Word.

New Things

How do you prepare for something new?
From what I’ve observed, the answer to that question largely depends on the nature of the “new” object or change.
For instance, buying a “new” car may require cleaning the garage or new family rules about eating in the “new” car. Yet, buying a new outfit may require losing weight or tossing out a worn-out garment. This seems logical when the “new” is material. But what happens when the “new” is spiritual.
For instance, if you are feeling the Lord prepare you for another level, how do you personally get ready for that? How do you prepare for growth?
Well, I can tell you how that doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen watching the latest episode of your favorite reality television show. It doesn’t happen gabbing on the phone with your BFF about the latest fashion trends and things posted by TMZ.
It does happen when we will set aside time to be alone with God. It does happen when we study our Bible. It does happen when we actively participate in the teachings and trainings about God that may be offered through our local church. Growth can happen if you/we will position yourself/ourselves to be near the Living Water. God’s truths will take root in your/our heart and given the proper attention and maintenance, they will flourish.
I’m preparing for something “new” in my spirit life. I don’t want to become so stagnated that I become a pool of standing water, infested with bug larvae. Umm…that’s gross.  Instead, I want to stay fresh, and current. A vessel that God can use for His glory. So, I’m getting closer to Him by reading and studying His Word. I’m preparing for a new season. And even as I prepare, I am excited to see where this will go – how it will twist and turn. I can’t see that far down the road and tomorrow is not promised, but I trust God. Cheers to “new” things!
Visit us at http://www.beamsoflightministries.org for more content on dealing with emotional wounds through the power of God’s Word.

Wrapping 2012

The books are almost closed on 2012.

I can’t believe it.

Seems like the year just started and at the very least, seems like it should be mid-year. But no, it’s been a full year – almost. So much has happened. So many things that shape our lives have been carried out in 2012. Some good – some not so good.

I think about the ways in which several lives were lost. That’s the not so good.
I think about the ways in which several lives were changed by connecting with God. That’s the so good.
I think about the ways in which I allowed defeat to beat me. That’s the not so good.
I think about the ways in which I surrendered and allowed God to use me. That’s the so good.

2012, just like any other year, will be summed up in our perspective. How we choose to remember it. I choose to remember it all – the good and the not so good because they both shaped me this year. And for that, I’m certain that I’m stronger. Wiser. Better. And as I look to 2013, should the Lord allow me to see it, I’m excited. I don’t know what the year holds, but I do know Who holds it. And right now, that’s enough.

Visit us at http://www.beamsoflightministries.org for more content on dealing with emotional wounds through the power of God’s Word.

You Are Always “Caught”

Sometimes, it appears that the paparazzo’s work is for the good. Sure, they want the money shot so that they can collect. That’s their line of work, training the camera on unsuspecting celebrity victims and then selling said photo(s) to the highest bidder. But there is another side. Sometimes, what they capture can shape your opinion, for better or for worse.
Recently, two relationships have been the victim of the paparazzo’s camera. Kristen Stewart, of Twilight fame, was caught in a very compromising position with her director, a married father of two. She, at the time, was living with her long-time boyfriend, and co-star, Robert Pattinson. The paparazzo brought their infidelity into the spotlight even though they had gone out of their way (they assumed) to avoid having their tryst made public. And while Robert Pattinson is heartbroken, and reportedly was about to propose, it is better that he knows now about her infidelity.



Google Search / Source: http://69.89.31.80/~beamsofl/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Kristen-Stewart-Tells-Robert-Pattinson-Why-She-Cheated-in-Laura-McDonald-Video-Parody4.jpg



Then there is Anderson Cooper’s long-time lover who was also caught lip-locked with another man. And while I do take the same position as the Bible when it comes to same-sex relationships, this post is focused on the pictures. They too were reportedly about to marry, but now that relationship is done. And although it hurts now, it is for the best that Anderson Cooper knows about his lover’s infidelity.



Google Search/Source: http://www.radaronline.com/sites/radaronline.com/files/imagecache/350width/cooper-bf-sn.jpg



I would say that what is done in the dark will come to light as the old saying goes, however, in both of these cases, everything was done in parks out in the open – in the light. Most victims of the paparazzo are ashamed when their indiscretions become public knowledge. As it relates to these two stories, Gossip-rag TMZ  reports Kristen Stewart is “pissed” that her co-conspirator in adultery, Rupert Sanders, is not taking more public heat. And while he has more to lose, in theory, with his wife and kids to account for, there still is the bottom line – and it is this…If you do not want to be caught doing it, then do not do it. Don’t complain when the heat is on you for something you brought on yourself.
Celebrities and the rest of us may not like to have our photographs snapped at every turn for every thing we have done. Quite frankly, for most of us, it’s not an issue because who really wants to take a picture of us! However, we can imagine that it may not be an easy feeling to have our lives documented in a way that is at best invasive. And with certain lines of public focused work, like movies and other media, this is the trade-off. Your privacy is not private after all. Just ask Ashton and Mila who in the privacy of his home patio thought they were away from the shutterbugs. Not so.
But have you considered this – as invasive as a photographer’s lens may be, they still cannot see everything. Yet, there is One that does see everything. He knows everything and you will not … CANNOT… hide from Him. There is no hiding from the Lord. Just ask Adam and Eve. While you may be caught by man’s lens on occasion, you are always in focus with God. You are always “caught” even if no one else knows what you are doing. You are always in His sight, and one day, you will stand before Him in judgment and give an account of all you’ve done. Me too. No one is excluded.
So, it seems to me then, that instead of getting wrapped up in whether or not we and/or our behaviors are reflected in a positive or negative way, it is a far better thing to concern ourselves with how well we live our lives before God who sees and knows everything we do.  
Visit us at http://www.beamsoflightministries.org for more content on dealing with emotional wounds through the power of God’s Word.

People WILL Show You Who They Are

It may take a little while or it may happen quickly, but rest assured, people will always show you who they are. It is impossible to keep up a farce forever. There are always tell-tell signs. The problem is that most of us will ignore those tell-tell signs or if we do see them, we justify them as something else; in order to keep believing what we want to be true about a person. Don’t fall into this trap. The truth of the matter is simply this, people will always show you who they are. Always. You just have to believe them.

 

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Now, when this is a good thing, embrace it. Value their strength of character. But, when this is a bad thing, please don’t ignore it. Take heed. Be Alert. And evaluate whether or not this is the type of person you want to surround yourself with. Does this person uphold the same values as you do? Does this person serve the same God as you do? Does this person esteem you and lift you up or does this person drain you and pull you down? When you watch this person, do you see them trying to live for God or trying to live for themselves? Have you gotten still long enough to ask whether or not this is the type of person that God wants you to be around?
In this time of easy gratification and instant access, we can sometimes take our relationships too fast. And when we zip down the freeway of love, the caution signs on the side of the road become a blur. And the faster we go, the more likely that we will lose control and crash our vehicles. Then we have to deal with the crumpled heap of our emotions, and sometimes our physical bodies. Wouldn’t it have just been easier to go slow? Why are we in a rush? For what? God is never in a rush. God has the plan. He takes His time in implementing it. And His plans are always good.
So, let’s be like Him, eh? Let’s take some time to get to know one another. And let’s take the appropriate time to observe exactly who it is that we are getting involved with. The time you take in building the foundation of your relationship will shore up the rest of your relationship. So, take some time and build it right. And no matter what, keep your eyes OPEN.  
Visit us at http://www.beamsoflightministries.org for more content on dealing with emotional wounds through the power of God’s Word.