The Basics of life

Once in a while, I stumble upon articles in newspapers and magazines that are close to my heart. I always give time reading short stories and anecdotes that feature the reality and the basics of life. I believe that no matter what we do in our lives; attaining a great education; landing on our dream job or having a great career; having a dream home and possessing luxury cars; completing our bucket list, but at the end of the day, it is our understanding and how we live the basics in life that really matters. I’m sharing this one analogy of life from an anecdote that I read recently.

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles roll ed into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full.. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’ The professor then produced two Beers from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand.The students laughed.. ‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff. ‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you. Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn. Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand. One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the Beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked.’ The Beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of Beers with a friend.

 

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Our family enjoying nature to the fullest. Manly Beach, New South Wales, Australia

Enjoy and experience life with the most important people around you!

 

When You Grow Up

Guest post by Charles R. Swindoll

Matthew 20:28

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

That’s a favorite question we enjoy asking children. And the answers we get usually are “a police officer” or “a nurse” or maybe “a fire fighter.” Some kids are visionary. They answer “a movie star” or “a singer” or “a doctor” or “a professional ball player.” One recently told me he wanted to be either a car mechanic or a garbage collector. When I asked why, he gave the classic answer for a nine-year-old: “So I can get dirty!” I smiled as I had a flashback to my own childhood. And I understood.

Let’s take that same question and ask it another way. Let’s imagine asking Jesus Christ what He wants us to be when we grow up. Suddenly, it’s a whole new question. I honestly believe He would give the same answer to every one of us: “I want you to be different . . . to be a servant.” In all my life, I cannot recall anybody ever saying that when he grew up he wanted to be a servant.

It sounds lowly . . . humiliating . . . lacking in dignity.

We find it encouraging to think of ourselves as God’s servants. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be a servant of the King? But when it comes to serving other people, we begin to question the consequences. We feel noble when serving God; we feel humble when serving people. Serving God receives a favorable response; serving people (especially those who cannot repay) has no visible benefit or glory from anyone except from God!

Christ gave us the example: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). To be a servant of God, we must be a servant of people.

In business and work, the concept of serving people must undergird all that we do. When we serve, we think first of the one we are trying to serve. Employees who serve honestly in their work honor God and deepen their value to their employers. On the other hand, self-serving employees will seldom be valued in any company.

” To be a servant of God, we must be a servant of people. ” —  Chuck Swindoll 

 

Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

- See more at: http://www.insight.org/resources/devotionals/when-you-grow-up.html#sthash.DyAeaLaf.dpuf…

 

12 “Other” Life Resolutions/Habits to Consider

Editors Note: This is a guest post by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist

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“Change brings opportunity.” —Nido Qubein

The beginning of a new year sparks a natural inclination to re-evaluate our lives and look ahead to the future. It causes us to look back at the decisions that shaped our lives during the past year and gives us opportunity to make adjustments for the next one… or as we call them, resolutions. Some needed adjustments to our life habits are painfully obvious: we need to get in shape, we need to stop smoking, or we need to get our finances in order. Those life changes are typically easy to notice and are often promoted in our society.

But there are other, equally valuable life improvements available to us that fly a bit out of the mainstream. For various reasons, you don’t hear much about them. But in many cases, they are just as valuable. In fact, sometimes, they even help us address the underlying assumptions in our lives that are leading us to the poor decisions in the first place.

To that end, consider these 12 “Other” Life Resolutions/Habits as possible life habits to incorporate.

1. Intentionally laugh everyday. Laughter releases stress, lowers blood pressure, and exercises muscles. More importantly, it changes our outlook on life and brings us joy and hope. It ought to be practiced everyday. Put it on your To-Do List. And give yourself permission to laugh each day… especially during the hopeless days.

2. Practice solitude. Find time alone in quiet on a regular basis. No books, no music, no outside voices. Just you alone with yourself. Your life will never, ever be the same.

3. Make gratitude a discipline. Thank someone or something each day, every day. Gratitude refocuses our attention away from what we don’t have and redirects it towards what we do. As a result, it naturally causes contentment and generosity to spring up in our lives.

4. Stop speeding. You may need to plan in advance or choose to leave a bit earlier. After all, you will be spending more time en route. But slowing down intentionally allows extra opportunity to be with yourself, be present, and enjoy the journey. Life is not a race. Life is not meant to be lived hurriedly rushing from one event to another. It is meant to be enjoyed and savored. And driving slower will remind you of that fact every time.

5. Fast one day each month. There is a reason nearly every religious tradition incorporates the use of fasting (the practice of not eating food for a specific length of time – usually 24 hours or sunrise to sunset). It teaches us self-control, self-denial, and sacrifice. It trains our mind to weather storms and temptation. And it heightens our senses. As a side note: the purpose for practicing fasting may be for spiritual purposes, but it doesn’t have to be… your mind, body, and soul will benefit regardless.

6. Adopt a “Do it Now” mentality. The opposite of procrastination is to simply “do it now” instead. And seeing as how procrastination results in an unnecessary amount of stress in our lives, “doing it now” is an appropriate life habit for many of us to resolve. Make that a new mindset for your life in 2012. Repeat the mantra often. And then, just do it now – whatever “it” may be.

7. Eat more vegetables. Eating more vegetables is a better, simpler, and often times more measurable approach to your weight loss goal than simply deciding to eat less. Eating vegetables at each meal (or as snacks in-between them) naturally reduces the amount of unhealthy food that we put into our bodies. Additionally, it gives us more energy, more self-esteem, and more opportunity to fight off illness and disease.

8. Read classical books from different centuries. Books that have lasted centuries tend to do so for a very good reason: they contain wisdom. They speak to timeless human truths that bind us together. Though our culture and world look entirely different today than they did 200 years ago, the human spirit is still the same. Life still includes sorrow, joy, hope, and trial. And we would benefit greatly from rediscovering how men and women approached life hundreds of years ago.

9. Remove pornography. Pornography limits our capacity to appreciate the real world and the people within it. It clouds our mind with unrealistic and unhealthy assumptions about sexuality and our relationships with others. Because of that, it never fully satisfies its consumer, but always leaves them desiring more. Sacrifice the temporal pleasure of pornography for a life that can better appreciate the simply joys of the people and relationships around you right now.

10. Go to bed earlier. Changing just the first hour of your day changes the remaining 23. And the best way to change the first hour of your day is to get a good night’s sleep. So make a practice this year to move your bedtime up. You may just be surprised at how that small change will naturally benefit other areas of your life.

11. Give to a charity. Pick a cause that you believe in strongly: poverty, education, animals, research, or the environment (just to name a few). And then, write a check. You’ll be glad you did. They’ll be glad you did. The cause they serve will be glad you did. And if you can spread that much joy by filling out a check, just imagine the joy you’ll spread if you volunteer your time and talents.

12. Date your spouse. Take your spouse/partner on a date at least once per month in 2012. You’ll have fun. You’ll reconnect. Your union will be stronger because of it. And if you think it’ll cost a bunch of money, you’re just not being creative enough.

Make no mistake. While I have intentionally tried to develop each of these habits in my life at some point in the past, I don’t intentionally practice each of them today (some still come more naturally than others). And my desire is not that these resolutions would be considered a 12-step secret to solving life.

Instead, my desire is that we would simply consider implementing one of them today… and find a better life because of it.

it’s not fair to Austria

I thought I was early but when I reached the auditorium, the room was packed with parents who were beaming with excitement to watch their children perform. It is Austria’s school Christmas program. The previous week, I was told by her teacher aide that she has been doing well practicing the songs. Austria normally gets overwhelmed with noise and people singing around her. She covers her ears oftentimes when she feels it’s too much or it’s over stimulating for her. In our family, she wants to be the only singer so we call her a diva sometimes but she does sing very well. Her therapist believes that she may have a perfect pitch. It amazes us when she listens to a song a couple of times and can sing some parts of it and the chorus to a perfect tune.

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Austria’s class performance during their Christmas program. She couldn’t perform.

I was informed by her school therapist that during the last practice she had with the class, she was being difficult and hesitant to go up the stage maybe because of its height and that she may not be able to sing during the presentation if she would be feeling the same. A part of me didn’t want to hear what the teacher was saying. Although I understand the situation, I was not ready to hear and accept the fact that she’s not able to perform in a big crowd. I still requested for her to perform even if she is placed at the end of the formation or at the back as long as her teacher aide is by her side to prompt her. I explained she can do it because she already performed something similar during her graduation at her pre-school.

Most of the parents had their video and the cameras ready. Of course I had one too. When the kids lined up and started going to their formation, I was eager to see Austria. One kid at a time, they went up the stage but I did not see her in the line. My heart was getting discouraged and I was almost in tears because I knew she may not be able to perform. I saw her special ed teacher waved trying to get my attention and she informed me Austria had a meltdown. They figured out the stage height may have scared her and the number of people in the auditorium. I could hear her screaming outside and she was inconsolable. I thought her crying was caused by a sensory issue but when we tried to bring her back to her classroom, she cried all the more.

It seemed impossible to bring her to the room without screaming. Usually, when she can’t stop herself from crying, she says “I’ve booboos, I need bandages” and I often give her one and immediately she stops crying, grabs her scarf and comforts herself. I told the teacher to place a couple of bandages to her legs even if she doesn’t really have any cut or scratch. As expected, she stopped crying and just soothed herself by sucking her thumb.

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My kindergarten photo during a Christmas program. I was singing ‘Away in a Manger’ with my classmates. ( I’m far right)

I brought her home and as soon and as I sat down, I took a deep breath to help me control the sadness and disappointment. There was a part of me wishing that Austria is a normal girl. I wished she could perform to an audience like her other classmates and I’d certainly be a proud mom. I wish she can also do the things I did when I was 5 years old in kindergarten. I wish she can just express and communicate herself like other children… so on and so forth.

Inclusion of special needs children in a regular school setting has been proven that their social and communication skills improve tremendously. However, for a parent like me who sees her classmates do great things, able to follow directions without prompts and can converse to someone,  I can’t help sometimes but to compare her to other normal children. I must admit there is a little bit of jealousy and envy towards other parents that is lingering in the corners of my heart.

A spent time with a friend of mine who is a family therapist and I shared about what I was feeling. She asked me if Austria’s development and improvement makes me happy and I said of course. In a very gentle way, she helped me understand that it is not fair to Austria for me to find happiness from her or from her development. She told me that I haven’t fully accepted her condition and that I should cultivate a deeper faith that God is in control and that my happiness should come from knowing that I was given a great gift from God. The role of my children is not to make me happy. It was a very deep conversation but very refreshing one. I praise God for friends who understand and can give me a spiritual perspective.

I felt empowered more than ever. I love my daughter tremendously and even if her condition and social skills do not improve or do the things like other normal kids can do, I’m a happy mother.

life is not a sprint, it is a marathon…

Some friends asked me why do I love running. I don’t. A year ago, I was going through challenging times in my life due to an episode of my bipolar disorder. The effects of my illness combined with my weaknesses have caused a lot of pain in my family. I was becoming hopeless and thinking of just giving up. One day, I heard a voice in my head, “Run, Lorraine, Run”. You know, it’s like that film Forest Gump but I kinda knew it was a whisper from God. I didn’t have any experience in running and I’ve never tried a 5k or a 10k or a half marathon let alone a 26 mile run but I registered anyway for the LA marathon. There were thoughts of the unknown. Am I gonna last? Am I really gonna finish it? I was anxious a little bit because it’s my first time and I did not train the way I should. I only slept approximately 4 hours the night before the run, my thoughts were racing. I’m just so blessed to have my loving husband who supported me since the very beginning of my training.  photo (5) It was a very cold morning and good thing the organizers provided a heated tent. I was comforted seeing a sea of people lined up for this marathon. I had full energy and unexplainable excitement. The first 10 miles were both exciting and amusing. There were live entertainment bands plus hundreds of strangers cheering for us. I posed for the official cameramen while running. I drank liquids to get hydrated when I had the chance and took energy gels as I ran non-stop. After finishing the 20th mile, I was relieved and surprised that I was still running and my energy was still there. However, as I was I approaching the last 6 miles, I could feel my body was slowing down. I started to feel the fatigue and exhaustion but I pushed myself. I denied the pain in my legs. Entering the borders of Santa Monica gave me some hope. Im near…im near…just a little bit more! But the more I pushed myself, the more it seemed the finish line was getting farther and farther. I was feeling really cold in the last 2 miles. Hypothermia was creeping in. My bones and knees started to lock. I was tempted to walk away and just give up. The cold was crippling my legs. I just could not run anymore so I started brisk walking, I was running out of energy. I knew if I don’t do anything, I will not make it. I took the courage to ask another runner if I could borrow his thermal. I was surprised he was very kind to give it to me although his lady companion gave me a shrug and a look of disbelief. I did not care what she thought, all I cared is to finish the race. The thermal gave me so much comfort and heat that helped my contracted muscles to loosen up. As my body became warmer, I started running a little bit, and more. When I finally saw the big banner at the finish line, I ran as fast as I could. I can make it! There was a rush of excitement as I came closer. 10 yards, then 5, then 2 ’till I reached the finish line! I was exhilarated! I got my medal! 26 miles in 5:56 hours. :) photo (3)  The marathon experience is just like my life. God wanted me to experience and learn practical things in life. He was teaching me to push more, deny more, and persevere no matter what struggle, what illness, what storm I go through in life. I’m on a race. My life is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. I have learned and accepted that I can’t just run fast and finish in a breeze. A marathon is a long stretch of miles and it pushes your body to extreme lengths. Like a marathon, I’ve learned and accepted that my life is not about ‘getting there’ quickly and getting things done right away and easily. Like a marathon, you will experience and meet different kinds of people in life. Some are kind and generous, some just care for themselves. Some will push you and knock you down. Some run to beat their athletic records, some run for the prize, some run for a cause, some run for fitness and some run just for fun. Like a marathon, there will be times you will get tired and you feel like giving up. But you push yourself anyway because you have a goal, you want to finish the race. You need encouragement to stay in the race. You need people who can cheer and will believe in you that you can do it. In a marathon, you need those Gatorades and gels to replenish your energy. In the same way, in life, you will need spiritual energy to drink to finish the end of your life with a bang and a celebration. Jesus said when you ‘drink’ him (meaning digest his teachings), you will never get thirsty and even if you do, you can always be refilled again and again. He is just there, he isn’t giving up. He is available for those who are thirsty. Sometimes we ignore the things that will help us finish the race. In my experience, I did not prepare or bring a thermal. I was a bit arrogant in my training and ignored the warning of the weather. I thought the thermal will just add ‘weight’ and a nuisance in my running. Besides carrying a thermal doesn’t look good in the camera. I was putting more attention what I’d look like in the photos. Like life, we put too much emphasis of what people would say about us. We are too concerned of our appearance to other people. If I brought a thermal, I would have been prepared and perhaps enjoyed my last 6 miles. But God always gives us a way out in life. I knew the only way I can finish the race is to be humble and have the courage to ask for help.photo (2) Like life, God puts people in our life to give us support, provide encouragement and cheer for us. But we have to decide and take courage to ask for it. There are people who will lend their help and can provide ‘thermals’ to help us go on. When we ask for help, God is teaching us humility because in reality, all of us need help. When we ask for help, it trains us to be vulnerable of our weaknesses and the things we have to change. It helps us to face the truth and deal with our pain. In the beginning, I did not know why God wanted me to run and I finally figured out at the end of the race. He wanted me to learn a character of perseverance. In 1 Corinthians 9:24, it says “You know that in a race all the runners run but only one wins the prize, don’t you? You must run in such a way that you may be victorious.” To sum it up, I can say the race was a wonderful, enjoyable experience and I felt victorious! I imagined God was cheering for me and I didn’t want to disappoint him. I celebrated it with the most important people in my life, Moses and the kids. My next marathon is now for a cause, for my daughter. I’m running to support Autism awareness so watch out! San Francisco marathon, here I come! photo (4).psd

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