All Things Are New

All Things Are New

There we stood, on the edge of promise and defeat. And although we stand alone, we’re not alone, for with us is a great and mighty army beyond number as far as the eye can see. We, just like the ancient nation of Israel, are standing at the border, about to enter our promised land. Shall we allow our own weakness to stand in the way? How about fear? Are the giants going to destroy us, or shall we destroy them? Who knows, because here we stand, waiting for someone to take that first step.

Suddenly the ground reverberates as a booming voice shatters the desert, that was so recently shrouded in silence. ” Go in and possess the land, for I the Lord have prepared it for you.” Our choice has been made clear for us now, shall remain on this side of the valley and remain in our unbelief or shall we rise up as a phoenix from the ashes, discarding all doubt and march forth and take the land that lies before us, ripe for the taking.

As the swirling desert winds subside, I see standing before this army, is our King. He is adorned with majesty from on high, as He sits upon His mighty white steed. His appearance outshines the blazing desert sun and His brilliance is beyond description. The great assembly before Him is suddenly silenced as their King raises His sword high in the air, marking His signal to prepare for battle. Once more, He turns to those behind Him and lifts up a cry; “Come, take the land with Me. Behold old things have passed away, all things are new!”

A Dwelling Place

A Dwelling Place

Your testimonies are very sure; Holiness adorns Your house, O Lord, forever. Psalm 93:5 NKJV

 

If God is to adorn or beautify His house with Holiness, then where is His House? Is it on some lofty mountain where only those who have attained some sort of unreachable spirit level can go? Or perhaps, it’s in some distant land where only those who are good enough can go? And if so, what is good enough? I try to be good, but when I measure myself against the Lord, well there is no comparison. God is righteous and I’m not.

But is such a statement true? No there is nothing I can or ever have done that can ever attain to the unreachable levels of Righteousness. In Romans 3: 10 NKJV, Paul the Apostle says; “As it is written: There is none righteous, no not one.” So I guess that’s it, it says so right there, “there is none righteous, therefore to reach the levels of the previous supposition of being good enough, well that leaves me out. Or does it? If we read a bit further on, we see in Romans 3:22 NKJV, “even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” So, if I’m reading this right then, the righteousness of God is imparted or made known to and on us, and therefore through faith in Christ and His finished work, we are are made righteous.

So back to the original question, where is the dwelling place of God, the place where He adorns or beautifies His house with His Holiness? Well as it says in verse 22, God’s righteousness is given to us, through faith in Him, to all and on all who believe. So, if you have believed by faith in Jesus Christ, then, that’s you. You are the dwelling place of God that He is going to adorn with Holiness.

God’s Holiness is not a thing or a decoration to be hung up and put on display. God’s Holiness is who He is , Holiness is the essence of God. God’s glorious appearance changes everything. When I AM is here and you invite Him to be I AM of your life, then He says that He will make you His dwelling place, as it says in Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV; “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

I don’t know about you, but when I contemplate such thoughts, I think that they are to wonderful for me. Yet as the previous verses have shown us, it is indeed us, we are the one’s whom He has chosen as where His Glory shall dwell. I continue in my protest, but God I am unworthy, yet You God have made me worthy through Your righteousness and by Your righteousness I stand.

So I invite you to say as the Spirit and the Bride have said, “even so Lord come” and beautify Your house.

Life Used to Be So Simple or Life Makes It So Hard

Life Used to Be So Simple or Life Makes It So Hard

How often have we heard someone, even yourself say, ” If only I could do it all over again? ” I suppose the sentiment here is that if only we could go back and fix all the mistakes in our life; to have a do-over so to speak.  That could repair so much heartache, or would it?

Imagine if you will that you’re taking some time for you, so you go for a walk. For me, my favourite place for solitude is the forest. There’s a peace that can be found when you’re alone with your thoughts. The birds and the breeze that is rustling the branches of the trees above. I suppose another reason is that you may not feel so exposed when you’re surrounded by nature.

So off you go, alone with your thoughts as you begin your walk. The weather is pleasant enough, so you continue deeper into the rich canopy that is the forest. After a few minutes, you stop and close your eyes. As you breathe in the rich fragrance of the damp earth and fallen leaves from long ago your senses far more alive. You feel, smell and hear far greater than ever before as you become one with nature, and that’s when it happens.

As you listen to the sounds of the forest, suddenly a new sound invades your senses. At first, you’re certain it to be leaves rustling in the breeze, but as you listen again, you’re certain that you can hear either something or someone darting between the tree. As you slowly open your eyes, you stop and listen again and nothing. So you decide to continue on and enjoy your walk.

After a few minutes, you hear it again and you’re not certain but you could swear that you saw a flash of something off to your side. As you turn your head to where you thought that you may have seen something, you call out, “ Is anyone there? “ Following what seemed to be an eternity, you see the head of someone peeking out from behind the tree. When this curious wanderer sees you they quickly hide behind the tree once more. This time your voice is a bit softer as you call out, “ It’s ok, I won’t hurt you. Why don’t you come out so we can meet? “

At first, the wanderer peeks out again and then very timidly he steps out from behind the tree. You say hello but there is no response as the wander cautiously looks you over to make sure that you’re as safe as you appear. In an attempt to gain this strangers trust you take off and reach into your backpack to see if you have anything to eat. Slowly you pull out an apple and motion towards this curious visitor if they would like something to eat. He nods his head as his eyes look towards the apple in your hand.

Slowly, you both step towards each other and you can’t help but feel his insecurities, loneliness and fear, so you look right at him so that he can see in your face that you’re safe. But as you do look directly at him, you think that in some way or another that he looks familiar. You’re not quite sure from where, but somewhere or another you’re certain that you must have known him. As you get closer, you notice that a small brook lies between the two of you. Not wanting to startle him you decide to remain on your side of the brook, you carefully reach out, holding the apple for him to take. You notice that this boy looks no more than 13 years of age, but you can’t be quite sure. Your thoughts begin to go in a million different directions as you try and remember who this is.

As his hand touches the apple in your hand, you suddenly realize that this stranger is… you. You don’t know how this can be, but sure enough, this person is you. Of course not you as you are now but you as you once were. Everything within you wants to step across the brook that currently divides the two of you. You think of all the things that you want so desperately want to tell your younger self. All the things to look forward too as well as the things to look out for. You begin to think how different your life would have turned out if only you knew the pitfalls to look out for.

So as you steady yourself to make the leap across the brook you look once more into his eyes and you can’t help but notice a hint of wonder, innocence a spark within his curious eyes. His or your eyes stop you in your tracks as wisdom holds you back from crossing the brook. Yes, every fibre of your being wants to reach out and hold him and tell him that everything going to be all right, but you know that if you do you will only extinguish that spark within that he will so desperately need as he lives your life.

So instead you give him the apple, you smile deeply towards him and shake his or your hand and say goodbye. As you walk away, your mind starts racing with the thoughts and memories of the past. You almost turn around to warn him but then you see a new butterfly emerge from its cocoon and then it hits you.. without the struggle, there really is no life after all.

EQ vs IQ

EQ vs IQ

Whether  seeking employment, attending academic studies or a variety of other everyday tasks, one’s ability to perform whatever tasks that may be required of them has often been measured by their intellectual abilities or IQ. Surprisingly though, we have often seen that the seemingly smartest person in the class doesn’t always get the highest marks or the person with the largest collection of degrees on their wall at the office is also the same person who is repeatedly passed over for promotions. Why is this, since after all “knowledge is power?” Or is IQ the only measure to knowledge? Or, is there more that could possibly explain the apparent discrepancies that we often see in our lives and in the previous examples?

Recent studies give evidence to what could be considered the missing part to what is known as IQ; that is EQ or Emotional Quotient. EQ could be described as “qualities like, understanding one’s own feelings, empathy for the feelings of others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living or, to redefine what it means to be smart” To understand our own feelings is probably one of the best ways of understanding ourselves.  Self-awareness, be that positive or negative will often define who we are to ourselves and to those in whom we come in contact with, for this, in essence, is what we believe about ourselves. This concept, although relatively new to social circles is not new at all. In the bible, it states “For as he thinks in his heart so is he.” Proverbs 23:7, NKJV A modern translation could be, you are what you believe you are. Closely related to this is empathy for others. If a person is in touch with their own feelings or emotions, only then can they truly be able to touch and be touched by others. With this comes a connection that cannot be expressed through mere numerical figures. When we come into contact with others through empathy or being able to identify with their feelings or emotions, then trust is formed allowing for the free exchange of thoughts and ideas, thus giving way to a far deeper level of communication than possible without this empathetic connection.

Probably the most important level of EQ is the ability to regulate our own emotions. “Once an emotional response comes into awareness, or physiologically is processed, the chances of handling it appropriately improve. Scientists refer to this as meta-mood, or the ability to pull back and recognize the particular emotion.” If someone finds themselves in a stressful situation, often their thought process is hampered due to this stress. If that same person is able to recognize that the source of their stress is related to a particular fear, then the possibility exists where you may be able to deal appropriately with it thus enabling you to approach the stressor with a greater sense of ease. Once any given emotion, be that positive or negative is recognized and appropriately dealt with then cognitive consonance can be achieved. [Nancy Gibbs, The EQ Factor, Time Magazine Oct 2 1995: Volume 146, No 14]

It could be easy to infer that EQ and IQ are actually in competition with each other. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, they are in complete harmony with each other and true intelligence could not be attained if one portion of this equation is missing.  IQ could be described as a numerical measurement of one’s inborn intellectual capacities. Someone with a higher IQ is thought to be smarter and has a quicker grasp for learning. Whereas EQ could be described as the ability to tap into the already ˇexisting intellectual qualities through emotional self-awareness and expression. One who has a strong EQ is thought to be emotionally aware and is confident in their abilities thus enabling them to think freely. Although, as discussed earlier, EQ and IQ are not in competition with each other. Some would even go as far as to say EQ is more important because a true intellectual approach cannot be fully achieved in life without solid emotional strength, therefore giving the individual a holistic balance. This enables full intellectual and emotional expression to be achieved.

Although a deeper understanding of EQ within society could prove to be extremely beneficial, there is still a need to approach such a change with caution. Yale psychologist Peter Salovey says, “I love the idea that we want to teach people a richer understanding of their emotional life, to help them achieve their goals.  But, he adds, “what I would oppose is training conformity to social expectations.” If we were to teach children the aspects of EQ, the danger is the possibility of teaching a right or expected emotional response to any given situation. Children and adults alike must be encouraged to explore and develop their own emotions. For if emotional responses are taught instead of explored, then is the individual’s response real?  [Nancy Gibbs, The EQ Factor,” Time Magazine Oct 2 1995: Volume 146, No 14]

For years now through my own experiences, I have known about EQ, I just didn’t have a name that matched my knowledge. As a young child, I was told that I had a learning disability thus explaining my slow development in school at the time. This diagnosis was made during a very formative and traumatic time in my young life as I faced the death of my grandparents, multiple cases of violence in my home, the divorce of my parents, the death of my mother and my subsequent adoption into my current family. I have heard it been said by psychologists that if a child faces multiple emotional traumas such as I had, that same child will be temporarily, mentally impaired. This, I believe is what happened to me resulting in a possible mistaken diagnosis of a learning disability so many years ago. Armed with such knowledge, I don’t believe for a second that I have a learning disability. Unfortunately, this diagnosis is what I believed about myself and thus was what I allowed to define me most my life. As I was going to school, I was faced with various academic challenges. Unfortunately, I mistook this challenge as an inability to learn due to my learning disability. Through this process my emotions and self-worth plummeted, therefore influencing my intellectual outlook. In order for this process of emotional/intellectual destruction to be halted, a change of equal proportions-had and continues to take place. I had to have a proper self-worth, value and significance restored within myself. This emotional healing that continues to take place in my life,  is the result of intense psychological therapy, but primarily because of my deep faith in Jesus Christ. In Him, I have found forgiveness and unconditional love, which in turn has provided me with deep value. “ I have great worth apart from my performance because Christ gave His life for me, and therefore, imparted great value to me. I am deeply loved, fully pleasing, totally forgiven, accepted and complete in Christ.  [Robert S. McGee, The Search For Significance (Houston, Texas: Rapha Publishing 1990) pg. 61]

This phrase has become very valuable to me because it is full of life-giving truth, unlike the possible inaccurate diagnosis of a learning disability that was placed upon me. As I have adopted such truth as my own, I have changed, and one areain particular, is my perceived intellectual capabilities. At the risk of sounding proud, I now know that possess great intelligence. Yes, the process of learning is difficult, for in many ways I am learning all over again, but now I am armed with the truth that anything is more than possible. Truth is a powerful weapon for change. As my Lord has said, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:32 NKJV

Prepare For Battle

Prepare For Battle

Hurry, wake up.

What, what’s going on?

We need to get moving.

Why?

The enemy is here.

What, here with us?

Yes, now we must be moving forward.

But where are we going.

To the front.

The front, huh, wait, what front?

The front, where the battle is taking place.

What, if there’s a battle going on we need to get out of here, why can’t we just leave? I don’t know how to fight.

Yes, yes  you do and fight you must. The enemy has surrounded us and spies have already infiltrated our  camp.

But, I don’t know how to fight.

Do not fear, just stay by my side and use the weapons of your warfare.

But there are only the two of us, and already I can hear them coming towards us, we will be destroyed.

No, that is where you are wrong my young friend. Open your eyes and you will see the glorious army that has been sent for our deliverance.

But I can only see the darkness, where are our deliverers?

No, you don’t understand. When you use the eyes of your mind you will see only fear, you need to open the eyes of your heart if you are to see by faith.

I still can’t see anything.

Be still my friend, be still, do not fear. I am by your side, now look, but only with the eyes of your heart.

I think I see something.

What is it that you see.

I don’t know, it’s small, but they look like tiny lights, hundreds of them, no thousands.

Keep looking.

They’re starting to look bigger, or is it closer, I don’t know. They look like many jewels.

Keep looking.

Wait! They’re not jewels at all. They’re lights, they are the brilliance of thousands of warriors dressed in armour that shines with the intensity of the midday sun. Are they here for us?

No, they are here with us. Now stay by my side and do not leave. Raise your mighty weapons for the enemy is upon us.

A Sandblasted Wall

A Sandblasted Wall

The dreariness of the weather matched the sombre mood of all on parade. The day was the 11th of November 2008. November the 11th is a day of great significance in Canada, that we all call Remembrance Day, a day that collectively the people of Canada takes time to pause, remember and give thanks to the men and woman who have served our great nation in the military for the cause of peace.

As the final notes of the “last post” sounded across the parade square, the uneasy quiet of the rows upon rows of soldiers standing at attention was shattered as the artillery guns fired the first rate of the funeral salute. Even with the noise as well as the pomp and ceremony that was all around, it would be hard for one not to be lost in his or hers own thoughts concerning the significance of this day. For me, Remembrance Day has always had great significance and more so now as a Canadian Army Medic.

As the snow began to fall lightly at first, it’s swirling patterns matched the swirling thoughts within as I was contemplating going to Afghanistan in spring 2009 on my first combat mission as a medic. Little did I know then that Remembrance Day would forever afterwards take on a totally new meaning and significance for me.

And so here we are 11 November 2018 once again giving thanks on Remembrance Day. Though a lot has changed in 10 years since that dreary day caught between rain and snow. To begin, my family has now grown, then from 4 children as well as my wife and I to the 8 of us. It’s funny how time has a way of playing tricks on us. When I was growing up, I came from a family of 8 and I swore that I would never do the same thing, and yet here we are the 8 of us, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Secondly, when people gather to give thanks and remember those who have gone to war on their behalf, I am now one of those who is remembered. Once again, life has a funny way of playing tricks on us. As a teenager, I was a rabid antiwar advocate. From my clothing, the music I listened to, to the way I lived my life gave testimony to my disdain concerning war. Nothing in that regards has changed, I still hate war. I heard someone once speak about the topic of war that sums up my feelings exactly. “war is not about the hatred for the enemy in front of you as much as it’s about your love for those behind you.” After 9/11 something changed in me. Even though I’m Canadian and the events of 9/11 did not directly affect me or my country, it did affect my neighbours to the South very deeply. So in the same way that I would never tolerate the abuse of my neighbour down the street, I could not stand idly by while America was being attacked, they are my neighbour. So after I received my diploma from college as a paramedic, I rejoined the Army knowing very well that I may be called upon to ante-up and go to Afghanistan. Never then, did I know what the cost would be, but I feel I can share in the sentiment of General Eisenhower when he said, “I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m immensely proud of what I was a part of there. How often can you say I get to save lives, well in Kandahar I could say that almost every day. Yes, there were days that it was the opposite but thankfully our averages leaned far greater to lives saved than lives lost. I’ve often said to myself and others that knowing what I know now, would I do it again? That’s a hard one. Once I read an editorial in a major newspaper asking one simple question. “Now that Canada has pulled out of Afghanistan, when you consider the lives lost and the war still goes on, was it worth it?” I’m not one to answer many editorials but this one I felt compelled to. My response was something like as follows; “When we ask was it worth it, it would first be important to consider to whom you are asking the question. Has this question been asked of any girl, who for the first time in her families history, is now able to go to school and with that have a real possibility at a future? Or perhaps you should ask the many soldiers and civilians who are still alive, who perhaps without Canada running the Multinational hospital in Kandahar would not be here to tell their story. Maybe you should ask the parents, brothers and sisters, spouses and children of those who have come back home, either of their own ability or in a flag-draped coffin if it was worth it? I for one will never forget and nor do I wish too.” 

So this brings me back to the topic of Remembrance Day. Now I actually have something to remember, now that I can remember the faces of those who were won and lost. The faces of the children, who for no fault of their own were born in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like the one child, we treated for a double amputation below the knees simply because he decided to take a different way home than usual and is now the victim of another senseless landmine accident. Their screams that still wake me in the night and the visions that invade my thoughts during the day. Now that I have been diagnosed with PTSD and Major Depressive Disorder and as a result, I had to be medically but honourably discharged from the military. With all these thoughts and memories swirling in my mind like the first few flakes of snow on that same parade square so many years ago, would I do it again? YES, I would. For those of us that can remember the events of 11 September 2001, there is one thing that stands out to me beyond the senseless waste and loss of life, the airplanes and collapsing buildings, that is the rescue workers. The countless men and woman of the New York Fire, Police and EMS, who despite everyone running from the danger, they, instead were running towards it. Something like this far out shadows “just doing my job.” This is the heart of a warrior. A warrior is one whether at home or abroad who stands on some imaginary line often not of their own making, stare death and evil in the eye and say, “ You are not crossing this line even if it costs me my life to stop you.”

Now with slight reservation, I now count myself among the ranks of the warriors that have gone on before me. And one thing you’re not going to hear from any of those warriors is that they are heroes. In fact, when anyone has tried to attach that label to me, I will humbly deny the honour, because it’s not mine to wear. If you think I should, maybe you wouldn’t think so if you saw me when I was saying goodbye to my family at the airport on the way to Afghanistan. I was crying like a baby and so were they. A word of advice I was given from another soldier prior to leaving is “once you say your goodbyes and you turn to leave, don’t look back.” Well, I didn’t listen, instead, when I got to the corner my heart ached for one more glimpse of the ones I love. So contrary to sound wisdom, I turned around to see them one last time. What I saw was my 5-year-old daughter sobbing bitterly, holding on to the leg of my wife, her mother.

Now that PTSD is now a part of my life, in many respects, I don’t even know who I am sometimes. Everything that I once held on to so dearly, everything I thought I was and will achieve, has over the past several years have been slipping through my fingers. Everything I thought I was is vanishing with the same winds that blew across that parade square 10 years ago. It’s all been nothing but a facade, but that brings me to my final thoughts; change whether we want it, it is a good thing. Have you ever seen an old building restored to its original grandeur? The process is not just a mere fresh coat of paint and the sweeping out of the lobby. No, the process is far greater than that; no coat of paint will ever cover up the defects that are plainly visible. No, often the building has to be gutted, walls that were crumbling have to be rebuilt or even replaced. The wiring and the plumbing need to be ripped out and replaced so that the building is up to code, and the inside is redecorated in order to match the purposes and designs of the master builder. And finally, there is the outside or the facade. All the years of paint, dirt and pollution have to be removed in order that the outside matches the beauty of the inside. Often that process of stripping the exterior facade of a building is accomplished through the process of sandblasting. The process of sandblasting is where sand under very high pressure is forcibly sprayed against a surface in order to remove any foreign material like paint and grime from the surface of an object. The thing is, that once the process is complete, and the dust has settled, that same building no longer resembles what they years have marked it with, instead it now reveals the original design it was always meant to wear.

That, in many respects, is what PTSD is. It strips all the false facades that we’ve put up for one reason or another. The process is not an easy one, in fact, it can be very painful. The fear and anxiety that I have faced as I’ve groped around in the darkness looking for anything that may resemble my former life are now gone. But for me at least there is good news. I believe that the process of my own personal sandblasting due to PTSD is now revealing who I really am according to the Master Builder, God’s original design. In Romans 8:28 it says; “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Holy Bible NKJV Now am I saying that my loving God has brought PTSD upon me? No, that would be cruel and not fitting at all with the loving, tender character of Jesus. Once again the bible tells us; “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace.” 1 Corinthians 14:33. To bring such a disaster upon me would be completely contrary to His nature, instead, He has used what was meant to destroy me and is using it for His glory and my benefit. Since PTSD has invaded my life, I’m no longer the serious stern taskmaster that the Army so loved (perhaps that’s one of the reasons they got rid of me) with very little imagination and always willing to follow someone else’s path that they made for me. Instead, in some ways my inner child is coming out, that often silly child that no one including myself can predict. As a child, I could spend hours immersed in a variety of art projects or imagining some of the wildest stories imaginable. Well, thanks be to God, if that is my original design, then in many ways that is what is being revealed in me, the mystery is, I haven’t a clue what’s next.

There’s Power In Our Words

There’s Power In Our Words

“A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. “ Proverbs 15:1

Have you ever been told in your past? “Sticks and stone’s may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Anyone who taught this probably had only the best intentions in mind when sharing this with their child. The purpose being that child would not allow themselves to be impacted by someone else nasty comments. The problem is that names do hurt, sometimes more than stick or stones.   In fact, this little rhyme may only serve to reinforce the sense of denial that a child is building within themselves when what they are actually attempting to do is to cover up what they’re really feeling on the inside through the use of these words.

Words that are spoken to us, especially as children, go straight to a child’s heart and have the power to build us up, or tear us down. It is this power, this longevity encapsulated in our words, that we must consider carefully when dealing with our children. The words we speak shape worlds in our children’s mental and emotional consciousness. We set them up for success or failure by the very words we speak. When we utter words such as “You’re so dumb or you’ll be just like so and so,” we shatter our children’s self-esteem, self-confidence and sense of well-being. Yet conversely, when we say to them, “come on I know you can do it ” we lift them up and affirm them in ways that last eternally.

From the time that a child is growing in the womb, right up till adulthood, a child receives such qualities as self-worth, self-esteem, and self-confidence from their parents and other family members, but primarily from their parents. The way most often these qualities are imparted to our children, is the words that we speak to them.

A parent has the profound responsibility and privilege of building a child. As with any building project, the success or failure of the project depends upon the quality of materials and the tools that are used to its completion, but most importantly the foundation that we lay for them. For without such a foundation, the house is doomed to collapse due to a weak foundation. The same could be said about the building of a human being.  A child needs a solid foundation in their lives if they are to succeed in any capacity throughout their life, and that firm foundation can be given to them by the love and affirmation of their parents, from conception and onward for the rest of their lives.

In the Jewish culture, the concept of speaking words or blessings that will cause a child to grow in a positive way is very common. This can be seen in the Bible, in the story of the conception of Jesus.

  Upon hearing of the divine conception within her, Mary the soon to be mother went to stay with her cousin Elizabeth for three months. The purpose of this visit, which was very common at that age. During this time the mother and other relatives could pray, sing psalms (songs) to the child, and speak blessings or words over the mother and child. This was extremely helpful to the mother, as the first trimester is usually the most difficult. Also, according to the Jewish culture at that time, this was very necessary for the child’s development emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. For this is the way in which they would build the foundation of the child’s life. Although the practice of going to a relatives house may not be observed anymore or at least not as much, the practice of blessing a child while in the womb, speaking a father’s blessing right after the birth and continuing to speak words of encouragement throughout that child’s life is still widely practiced.

When a child lives with parents who believe in them, they instinctively hold a higher view of themselves. One recent study revealed that when teachers have a positive perception of their students, those students score higher on the tests given, even if their abilities are no different from those of their peers. In another study, research showed that juvenile delinquents who had been conditioned by excessive criticism couldn’t even recognize praise when it was offered.

If the custom of speaking positive words or blessings towards our children is practiced, the dividends that children and parents alike will receive is immeasurable. If not, then it is never to late to get started. Although the going will be tougher than if this custom was practiced earlier in life, most often the child or adult will respond positively. Here are some suggestions to follow in order to bring positive affirmation into a child’s life.

Get Specific

Phrases like a good job or nice going are fine, but they have limited impact because they’re too vague. Specific communication is always more effective. Praise that’s specific also affects future behavior.  Not only will your child feel encouraged they’ll also understand what they did well and will likely build on that.

Learn to Lavish

In order to lead productive lives, children, like all people need more praise than criticism. As parents, it’s important to recognize the power of our words as well as the responsibility of affirming our kids and guiding them toward good choices. Even though we know we should be generous with our praise, it’s easy to get caught up in the little things our kids do wrong and overlook the things they do right. That’s when we need to remember and look for the positive even in the negative, and learn, even ourselves to lavish praise and encouragement upon our kids, even when it doesn’t come naturally. Encouragement, by nature, involves creativity and sacrifice on the parents part. But the reward is children who feel good about who they are and confident about meeting the challenges they face.

Dig Deeper

Parents tend to focus their attention on the outward behavior of kids, good and bad. But it’s just as important to look beyond the behavior and see your child’s character, honesty, diligence, playfulness, respect, and kindness. These inner qualities are essential for your child to grow into a mature adult. Whenever you address your child’s behavior, ask yourself, “What is it that I’m affirming?” Even when your child does something good, look beyond the work well done to find and encourage the character trait in your child.

Leave an Impression

When you praise your kids, it’s not the words that mean the most. What’s even more important is the lasting impression you’re creating on your children’s lives. Knowing you think they’re great will carry them through hard times, loneliness, discouragement, and failure. Maya Angelou once said, “They may not remember what you said, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.”

Personally, I have found this concept of positive affirmation to be just as important as the food that we eat and the air that we breath. For words are the food of our heart and spirit, and they can be either nourished and taken care of or poorly provided for; the determining factor is in the quality of our words. I’ve heard it said before that “a child only needs to hear ten negative things about themselves before they will believe it. In order to reverse such a trait, there must be at least one hundred positive things spoken before a child will forget the curse and embrace the blessing as truth for themselves.”

It is my goal now that as a father, to build my children up. It’s not always easy, sometimes it is downright difficult to say the things I should instead of the things I want to, but like money in the bank, my words are an investment. For me, this process began when we first found out that we were going to have a baby. I was always praying over and speaking to this precious life that we were given, even while in the womb. When each one was born I spoke a “Fathers Blessing” over each child, by speaking positive words of hope and promise. Even now when they are misbehaving, I try to correct the behavior with words of blessing. Thankfully albeit not always, I have seen a reversal from negative to positive behavior as they are corrected with words of truth and affirmation. Also, when I’ve used a more negative approach, well I think you can imagine the outcome. The words that we speak are powerful, so let’s be ones who build instead of ones who tear down.

“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6 Amplified Bible

P.S. Just in case anyone thinks I have it all together and that my kids are doing great, don’t. I fail often, but each time I do I ask for forgiveness, I trust God and I try again.

What’s Your Story

What’s Your Story

“I had always felt life first as a story and if there is a story, there is a storyteller.”

G.K. Chesterton

From the beginning of time, we have told stories, whether it has been the exploits of the day’s hunt, reciting a sonnet to the object of one’s affection, or my favourite, reading bedtime stories while snuggling with my children. Stories are powerful and are far more effective than dry narration when expressing the heartbeat of life. In the Gospels, we see that Jesus taught and expressed the beauty of heaven, not through well-planned lessons in theology; Instead, He used the language of stories.

In a simple greeting, we ask one another. “how are you?” When what we’re really trying to understand is, “what’s going on around here?” In other words, tell me a story. Stories can bring clarity and understanding, where previously none existed. They are the stuff that unites us, be that a group of people, friends or an entire culture, stories have a power, that in some ways, define us and provide us with purpose. Yet many of us may echo the sentiments of Samwise Gamgee as he asks a very simple and yet profound question.

“I wonder what sort of story we’ve fallen into?

An excellent question and one deserving of an answer, for life, occasionally appear like something that we’ve fallen into and is completely outside of our own control. But just for a moment and take a deep look into this theatre, we call life. Your story holds all the makings of one of the all-time greatest legends ever told. The Storyteller is creating your story as it has always been intended to be, an epic drama, and we play a crucial role on this stage that is unfolding before us. The Storyteller of this tale has held nothing back, nothing has escaped from the production of this wondrous story, your life. Sadly, unlike the fairy tales of old, the performance that we have fallen into, rarely ends ‘happily ever after.’ Yet life is no longer a fairytale that has been recited many times. No, this adventure that we are part of, is being written as we live it and don’t try peeking at the last chapter to see how it end, as I said before, it’s still being written. Your life is a story of epic proportions. So go, live your story, your part is crucial to the entire plot, and without you, well, there’s just no story to be shared.

Vulnerability – A Prison or Freedom?

Vulnerability – A Prison or Freedom?

Webster’s  dictionary defines vulnerability as “the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”
 
By its very definition, vulnerability is something to shun or to avoid at all costs.
 
Why?
 
Why is that?
 
Because if I do, I will open myself up to the opinion of others and willfully leave myself exposed.
 
Will my ideas, life, will I be accepted. Does it, do I really matter?
 
I don’t know, so what do you do when you’re left exposed or naked?
 
You cover up!
 
You put on one layer or facade after another, till even you don’t recognize yourself anymore.
 
So what is the danger the danger of being vulnerable?
 
Isolation, misunderstanding – alone – all alone.
 
So we put on just one more layer of armor, armor that was never meant to fit because it’s not mine to wear in the first place. But wear it I do and I continue to stumble through life, weighed down as I wear this false self, a fake me, hoping beyond hope that this “me” will be accepted and perhaps even loved.
 
Vulnerability is a prison.
 
It keeps you locked up and the guards of this prison are shame, guilt, self-loathing and fear.
 
But, there is one thing…
 
This prison that you’re locked in, that you have locked yourself in…
 
You hold the key.
 
Did you hear me, YOU HOLD THE KEY!!!
 
So how does any key work?
 
You have to turn it.
 
So, turn the key that locks you in and embrace the truth.
 
Truth is hard, very hard. As I write this, it is very hard, but truth must and it will triumph over the lies that have kept you imprisoned far to long, telling you that if you reach out to others that you are weak, you should be able to handle this yourself.
 
As I tell myself this one little truth, can I tell it to you as well?
 
You can’t do it, this life on your own. You were never meant too.
 
I need other people, we all need other people.
 
It’s ok to feel the things that you do, to think the things that you do.
 
It’s ok to be you.
 
For if we were all a bit more honest – a bit more vulnerable, we would see that we’re not so alone after all.
 
Others think, feel and in secret, do what you do as well.
 
Vulnerability doesn’t have to be so limiting.
 
Yes, you may open yourself to harm, but you may also open yourself to the healing we all so desperately need.
 
And as you open yourself to receive the gift of help, you in turn, allow yourself to give the help that you have received.
 
Victor Hugo, a poet, playwright, and novelist once said, “The greatest happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved, loved for ourselves or rather loved in spite of ourselves.”
 
Know that you, yes YOU are loved, and if you are the only one who knows this incredible truth, then love yourself and look into the face of God.
 
To love another person is to see the face of God.” Victor Hugo
 
P.S. That prison I spoke of earlier, well vulnerability is a big part of what sets you free.
A Spark Within

A Spark Within

Alone

Darkness is all around

Darkness is everything

Can’t even move

Can’t even see

And yet there’s a spark, deep within

The spark ignites a fire

It’s a raging fire and it refuses to give up

But the spark

Barely visible

And yet visible

The spark remains

Giving light to the eyes

And with the light there comes vision

And the vision comprehends that the darkness is a veil

Alone

…or are you

Pull back the veil, PULL IT BACK

First, there’s one

And another

And more still

Previously alone

All of them

But no more

Their eyes seem vacant

Empty

Void of life

Darkness

But look deep

Very deep within

Allow those eyes to pierce your own

And you will discover a …

SPARK

a new day

Subscribe To Hope Is Defiant

Join me as a Hope Activist

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Hope Is Defiant

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This