What’s In Your Garden?

This is the time of year when we buy seeds to plant.  We plant flowers, shrubs, trees, vegetables, etc and we expect that once the seeds are planted and the soil is watered that we will receive a harvest.  You can’t expect to harvest what you have not sown. It’s important to realize that if you do not tend to your garden, it doesn’t mean that plants will not grow.  What it does mean is the wrong plants will grow.  Weeds will pop up if you neglect the soil. This is also true for your mind.  Your mind is a mental garden and the weeds must be kept out.  You must pull out the negative thoughts (weeds) and replace them with seeds that will grow fruit.  Every thought we have is a seed being planted.  We can either plants seeds that grow into bountiful flowers or we can plant seeds that grow into weeds. We are all gardeners in our own lives and we need to pay attention to the types of seeds we are planting.  Ask yourself if you are growing weeds of judgment, unforgiveness, hate or disharmony? Or, is your garden (mind) full of seeds that will blossom into  peace, love and unity?

As you plant seeds in your  life remember that seeds take time to grow.  A whole garden isn’t created over night, and neither is a balanced life.  If you focus on the good things in your life, you will start to see something new and beautiful grow.  This is how a mature and balanced life starts and you are well on your way to living the life you’ve always wanted.  Also remember that seeds must change to grow.   A seed can’t stay a seed forever.  When cared for with nourishing soil, rays of sunlight, and water, they change shape and start to become whatever it is they were meant to be. To become mature, you too, must let go of anything that is limiting your growth so that you can embrace the transformation that needs  to take place. Be confident that you will take on a better form and it will take time. Take pleasure in knowing that once a seed begins to bloom everyone recognizes its beauty and  appreciates it for what it has become – the new you.

I urge you to become intentional with the seeds you plant in your life no matter how hard or pointless it may seem right now. With a little time, patience and hard work, your life will be filled with beauty and you will be forever changing and growing better and better with age. Just like bees are attracted to honey, your life will be a magnet to the right kind of people that will contribute to the growth and beauty of your garden in their own way.

Something to think about: Are you planting flowers or weeds?

Replace The Negative With The Positive

A positive outlook on life is one of the most powerful assets you can have. Positive people expect success, good health, happiness, wealth and good relationships and those things tend to show up in their lives. This is not because they are already successful, or because they are more confident, it is simply their attitude.  Attitudes like being positive, not being fearful and the determination to never give up are powerful and  affect your life in tremendous ways and it all begins with your thoughts.

Your thoughts control not only what you think but also what you say and do. That is why positive thinking is so important. If you have any questions in your mind whether or not you are a positive person, you probably have room for improvement. You can change your attitude by first expecting good things to happen in your life. Don’t just think about them happening, you need to fully believe that what you want will in fact come to you. Look for opportunities for your goals to be reached at all times and act on them when you see them. Don’t second guess if an opportunity is just wishful thinking. If you have been expecting what you want to happen then see it as the right opportunity.

Replace negative thoughts with positive ones.  In the same way, stop hanging out with negative people. They drain you on a daily basis and prevent you from reaching your potential.  Let your family and friends know that you want only positive energy in your life.  A good positive  environment must first start with you. No more saying “ I can’t”, only “I can.” Even the words “I think I can” is not good enough. You must believe that you can.  Anything is possible with optimism.

Your thoughts have tremendous power. With the right thoughts you create the right beliefs and when you really put your mind to it, I bet you can do anything.  I can do anything is a simple phrase, but it helps to remind yourself that you really can do anything you set your mind to. Instead of giving yourself reasons why you can’t do something, give yourself reasons why you can. It’s never too late to go after your dream.

The Importance of Time

Life is too short and time is passing too quickly.  We hear these clichés over and over again, but most of the time, we fail to take them literally until something happens to us or someone we love. Most of us have a tendency to take life for granted but as we age we realize that life and time are too precious and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. Time cannot be contained. We can only capture memories of the things we did, the emotions we felt and the people we shared them with within time. Sometimes the memories are painful and we’d like to forget them, or we wish we could go back and redo but we can’t because time doesn’t stand still and a rewind isn’t possible. We can only learn from what has transpired within time, grow from it and move on.

Time is a precious gift though we rarely stop and acknowledge it as such. With every day time is equally allotted to everyone – 24 hours, and what we do with that time is totally up to us. We can spend our time wisely, or worthlessly, we can squander it, or invest it, we can enjoy it, or abuse it, we can live it, or retreat from it, but it moves on regardless. Time does give us opportunities to make changes within ourselves that will empower us to be better human beings. Time should be used to seek forgiveness for wrongs we have done and to forgive the wrongs done to us. Time should be used to change how we see others or even how we view ourselves. Time can also be used to build up your self-esteem because ultimately it will have a positive effect not only on yourself, but on those around you.

We need to use the time we have now, to live in the present, to embrace everything good, to love unconditionally, and to share our lives with others by showing them that we care. Make the decision to use the time given to you wisely, and you will not only find fulfillment, but enjoyment in the process. Refrain from wasting time by feeling sorry for yourself because there are people out there who would do anything to be in your shoes instead of where they are. Spend time with the people that have helped you to become who you are today. You can never thank them enough. Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves – regret for the past and fear of the future but life’s too short to wake up with regrets. Love the people who treat you right and forget about the ones who don’t. Sometimes it is helpful to remember those who don’t treat us well because they remind us to not treat others that way.

No one knows how much time has been allotted to them to live so live the best life you can live and be the best person you can be. Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.  Time is important and should be treated as such.  Making plans for the future?  Don’t forget to check the time!

Make A Difference

Every one of us can make a difference in this life.  You don’t have to be perfect or special by any means, or come from a privileged background.  A selfless, caring heart is all it takes to touch another soul and help them rise above the painful circumstances they are in. You can never tell what type of impact you may make on someone’s life by your actions or lack of action.  We all should keep this in mind as we journey through life.  God made each of us different so we can make a difference in this world and it is our responsibility to leave the world a better place than what it was when we first entered it.

John F. Kennedy said “One person can make a difference and everyone should try.” The single heroic act of Rosa Parks was the beginning of a freedom movement for equality that changed our society.  She showed us that one person just like you and I can make a difference. She had no idea that her actions would spread like a wild fire and have such a profound effect on our nation.  You do not have to do something earth shattering to make a difference.  It’s the little things that often have the greatest impact.  A smile, a friendly word, a compliment, a helping hand, a sympathetic ear, these are the things that you can do every day and the only cost is that you care about people and do whatever you can to show them that they matter to you.

We rise when we lift up another person because they will undoubtedly share what you did for them and you will never know how many times that one thing you did will be repeated over and over again.  You might not be able to help 100 people but you can help one person.  People may forget what you said but they will remember how you made them feel.  You are only one person but be the one who makes a difference and if you make a difference to one person then it is worth it.

Everything has a reason and a season.  If there is ever a time for you to make a difference, it is now.  It doesn’t matter where you came from or what you did; it’s more important where you are now and what you are currently doing.  You have a contribution to make.  You have a story only you can tell and someone desperately needs to hear how you overcame adversity.  It will help them to not give up and believe that they can make it also.  Choose to make a difference not only in your life but in the lives of others.  Change your life from making a living to making a difference!

 

Live Your Best Life

Living your best life is not defined by being rich, popular or highly educated. To me living your best life is about being real, being humble, being strong and taking the time to touch the lives of others. It also means that you are actually doing the things that make you happy and are doing the things that you always hoped that you would do. Doing what you like is freedom but enjoying what you do is happiness.  People who are living their lives to the fullest first had a vision. Next, they formulated a plan to make that vision a reality. Then they committed themselves to working that plan. Being successful requires a true commitment because your desire to achieve your goal must outweighed every challenge and all negativity that you will face. At the same time, living your best life requires that you still find the time to take care of yourself, spend time with your family and keep up with your friends. Is this all difficult? Yes, but it is well worth it.

Living your best life also means that you are living a balanced life. Balance is a key part because only when your life is balanced will you be able to enjoy the journey you are on.  You must nurture your mind, body and spirit to achieve ultimate results. To live your best life you must be willing to change, to grow, and to do what it takes to be the best person you can be. Being your best self often means doing things that are difficult and challenging. It is much easier to sit on a couch than to run a marathon. Breaking bad habits and creating good habits takes discipline and strength of character. We can build strength of character by challenging ourselves and doing things that other people consider difficult.

It takes courage to live your best life because you will find that it will be necessary to break old habits and make changes in your life. Those changes may include walking away from friendships that do not positively support your goals and vision. Be prepared to run into resistance from family and friends as they see the new you. Many times the people that don’t support you are the same ones that are not making an effort in their own lives so they prefer that the people around them remain stuck like they are. It takes courage and strength of character to not care what people think and to create the life you want while others are judging you.

Life is a one-way ticket. It is by experiencing every single opportunity that we find our destiny and live our best lives. So ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Am I living the life I want?
  2. Is that life the best life possible for me?
  3. Am I the best person I can be?
  4. Can I be stronger, kinder, more loving or more compassionate?

You decide, and if you are ready to take on a new challenge to live the best life you can, just do it! Fight through the bad days to enjoy your best days.

 

The Golden Rule

Do you want to be happy? If your answer is ‘yes’ then you should make it a habit to treat others how you want to be treated. To put it another way, what you do not want done to you, do not do to others. This Golden Rule principle applies not only to how you should treat people, but it also means to think about others the way you want to be thought of; feel about others the way you want others to feel about you and, finally, you should speak about others the same way you want to be spoken of. Luke 6:31 puts it this way “as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” This principle will not be easy to follow but imagine what this world would look like if this became a way of life for us all. Life is like an echo. What you send out will come back to you. What you sow you will reap. Choose to be the type of person who will treat others nicely even when others have not been nice to them.

Our actions speak louder than our words. Our lives are defined not only by what we say but also by what we do. Show empathy. Make it a habit to try to place yourself in the shoes of another person – your loved ones, co-workers, people you meet on the street. Try to understand what it is like to be them, what they are going through, and why they do what they do. Be compassionate. Once you can understand another person, and feel what they’re going through, ask yourself what you would want someone to do for you in that situation to ease your pain and then do it. Don’t procrastinate – just do it. There are many people who go out of their way to be helpful, but in general people have a tendency to keep to themselves and to ignore the problems of others. Don’t be blind to the needs and troubles of others. Look to help even before you’re asked.

Overcome prejudice regardless if it is based on skin color, attractiveness, height, age, gender, religion. See each person as an individual human being, with different backgrounds and needs and dreams. Focus on the things you have in common with that person despite your differences. Stop criticism. We all have a tendency to criticize others whether it’s people we know or people we see from day to day. Just ask yourself if you would like to be criticized if you were in that person’s situation. Give people the respect and dignity that you want to receive. Don’t be afraid to interact with others even though they may look a little different than you do or are accustomed to.   The late Maya Angelou is quoted as saying “people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Be careful how you treat people. The person you took for granted today just may turn out to be the person you will need tomorrow. Treating people the way you want to be treated fulfills the will of God. Make it hard for people not to want you in their life. This is happiness. What does this ‘golden rule’ mean for you?

 

Focus On The Positive

It’s been said that if you pay attention to the darkness, you will never find the light. This is a wise saying. Some people see the positive in a situation, and others see only the negative.   It all comes down to your point of view. Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. It’s like looking at a glass that is half full of water. The pessimist will say ‘the water is almost gone’ but the optimist will say that ‘there is still a half of a glass of water left’. We spend too much time dwelling on the negative and fearful things in our lives. We worry about what could go wrong instead of paying attention to the positive and good things we have. It’s imperative that we train ourselves to focus on thoughts that will move us forward in the right direction and avoid focusing on the negative.

Negativity is all around us and it will take time to uproot it. Many people fail to reach their goals because they focus on what hasn’t happened yet; whereas they should concentrate on expanding in the areas where they have seen success. Good things in life take time and you must be patient and visualize how you will feel once you achieve your goals. If we concentrate on what’s good, we’re likely to be encouraged and motivated. The problem, though, is how to focus on what’s positive in our lives when it’s so much easier to dwell on past mistakes and regrets. It’s more fun to work with people who are positive and are always striving for success as opposed to people who are always negative. No one wants to hear reasons why something won’t work. Make better use of your time by thinking of reasons how something will work. Positivity creates confidence and brings unity and support among people. Check the attitude you bring to the table and do not allow negative people and their negative thoughts hold you back or drag you down.

Being positive just doesn’t happen by saying, “I’m going to be positive.” You have to work at it. You have to find ways to get the negative things out of your life and align yourself with people who want to do big things while becoming a better person at the same time. If you want to get away from a problem, you should not focus on it.  Focus on what is good and what is positive. There is so much in life you can’t control but your attitude is a choice that you make every day. You can choose to be happy regardless of your circumstances or you can choose to be negative filled with fear and despair. When you focus on your problems, you will have more problems, but when you focus on possibilities, you will see opportunities. Negative thinking will never make your life positive. Happiness is a result of a decision to be happy. Happy people understand that to enjoy life you must “live” it and not just “think” about it.

Make a decision to change your negative thinking into positive thoughts. For example, if you are worried and focusing on what could go wrong in a situation, change your thoughts to what could go right. The mind can only think one thought at a time; so changing the negative into a positive eliminates the negative. Make it a habit to only use positive words when you speak regardless of what you might be feeling. Choose words that generate strength and emphasize success. Before you become successful you must first believe that you are successful. Remind yourself daily that you have so much going for you. Believe in yourself and you will create a healthy and positive environment around you that others will want to become a part of. Positive thinking will not only make you better, but it will make those around you better.

THINK BIG!

It’s been said that we are what we eat but we also are what we think. Proverbs 23:7 says that “so as a man thinks in his heart so is he.” How different would your life change if you started to think big? It’s important to have big dreams for your future. After all, failing to plan is planning to fail. If you don’t think big about your future, you’re not going to have a very big future. But what is big? It is, of course relative, meaning that what is big for one person may not be big for another person. So that we are all on the same page, I’m going to define big as anything that takes you farther than where you are today or it is possessing much more than what you currently have.

Thinking big begins with a single thought. The one major factor that separates the most successful people from the rest begins with a single thought. This single thought grows over time and eventually propels a person to their reward which is achieving their goals. Thinking big is not easy because you will constantly run into people who will criticize the way you think. These people will tell you that what you are thinking is not possible. They will tell you that you are wasting your time and energy and that you should be thinking about something that is more in line with what already exists. In other words, they want you to lower your thoughts and believe in something else – something that won’t bother them or make them envious once you get it. They want to discourage you from reaching your full potential. People will always judge, criticize, condemn and complain. It’s just a natural part of human nature. However, this is not a barrier to thinking big unless you make it so. Just accept the fact that not everyone is capable of thinking big like you and you must look for support from others who have already achieved big things because of their big thoughts.

People who think big place no limitations on themselves nor are they plagued by fear. They embrace every challenge and are prepared to break down every wall standing in their way so they not only think big but they act big. This allows them to keep doing bigger and bigger things. On the other hand, people who don’t think big get stressed about what might go wrong, so they think small, make small decisions and act accordingly. Life is about making mistakes, it’s about taking chances, and it’s about thinking big about your life. The enemy knows that our every day decisions are made based upon the way we think. Therefore, let’s think big because we have the mind of Christ in us. Whatever degree of success you have achieved so far, raise the bar and think bigger! Remember, we are what we think so think BIG! When you do, you’ll find that your future will be far more amazing than your past, and even more amazing than you thought it would be.

Think about it!

 

 

Live In The Present

How would your life be different if you stopped worrying about things you can’t control and started focusing on the things you can? Don’t anticipate trouble, or worry about what may never happen. Worrying about tomorrow is like moving into tomorrow ahead of time. It is difficult to live in and enjoy the moment when you are thinking about the past or worrying about the future. You cannot change your past, but you can ruin the present by worrying about your future. Sometimes people let the same problem make them miserable for years.   That means that they have not accepted what they could not change nor have they changed what was in their power to change. We must learn from the past but look towards the future. The more you live in and enjoy the present moment, the happier you will be.

If you want to be happy, do not dwell in the past, do not worry about the future, focus on living fully in the present. You can’t fully appreciate today if you worry too much about tomorrow. Realize that tomorrow is going to happen whether you worry about it or not; and since worry has never accomplished anything for anybody, redirect your energy on your life today. Fully appreciate the moments of today. Soak in as much of today as you possibly can – the sights, the sounds, the smells, the emotions, the good things and even the sorrow. If you can only live one moment at a time, you might as well make it the present.

Dream about the future, but work hard today. Set goals and plans for the future but working hard today is always the first step towards realizing your dreams tomorrow. Don’t allow dreaming about tomorrow to replace living in today. Today is full of all sorts of possibilities and promises. The dream that didn’t happen yesterday for you could happen for you today. Avoid dwelling on your past accomplishments. If you are still talking about what you did yesterday, you haven’t done much today.

Jesus Christ gives us peace. The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 to “cast our cares on Him because He cares for you.” Understanding and accepting that God cares for you and that He can take away your anxiety is life-changing. God does not want you to carry your burdens alone. In fact, He doesn’t want you to carry them at all and that is why He sent His Son to take away everything you are worrying about today. Leave the past in the past. Live in the present with a peace that passes all understanding. It’s what God wants for you.

 

Someone Is Always Watching

Whether you realize it or not we all have the power to affect the behavior of others and that is why we must be careful about our words and our actions. Your words and actions will have a lasting influence on the people who are watching you and, yes, someone is always watching. You are setting an example for someone even if you are not aware of it and the example you set can change someone else’s life for the better or for the worse and that kind of power should not be taken lightly.

The power that can change another person for the better is shown when you show respect to a homeless person on the street by acknowledging that you see them by saying a simple hello. It is shown when you encourage someone to keep moving forward when they are going through a difficult time because you believed in them and you took the time to tell them that. Your influence has the power to comfort someone who has lost a loved one because you shared in their grief by just being there in their time of need. Enough cannot be said for the person who sets an example of kindness by ‘paying it forward’ when the opportunity presents itself.

The power that can change someone’s life in a negative way is when you show disrespect for someone who might be of a different race, gender or religion than you are, and just as you can put a smile on the face of someone you have helped, you can also break the spirit of someone you have hurt just as easily. Therefore, it is extremely important to be an example of a righteous and honorable person in our world today.

Albert Einstein said that “Setting an example is not the main means of influencing another, it is the only means.” As you go about your daily life remember your words and actions do matter and may influence more people than you may realize. Power is something we all have so use it wisely. You may never know which lives you influence and influence can last a lifetime. Be mindful of the fact that someone is always watching you. Be careful what image and legacy you leave behind. Life is too short to promote negativity and bad habits. Take pride in having some integrity at all times because even when you’re the only person in the room, someone is watching you from above. Be the example that you want others to follow.  Your influence cannot be over-emphasized. Inspire people and maybe one day someone will look at you and say “because of you I didn’t give up.”