Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Simple Strategies to Start Your Day Off Right

Are you always tired? Run out of steam before the day is over? Feel like you have no self-control? The way we start our day has much to do with how we feel at the end of the day. Many of us are rushed, ragged, and run down on a regular basis. We snap at the kids, the spouse, the dog. We splurge on ice cream, chocolate, or down a few glasses of wine at night to relax and then we wonder why we wake up in the middle of the night. Seems like a vicious cycle but it doesn't have to be this way.

There are some simple strategies we can implement every morning that will help us cope with the stresses of the day, have more energy, and have better control over what goes in and comes out of our mouths. 

As a single mom of two young boys, holding down a demanding career in IT, managing a house, and all the issues of life, I learned that starting my day off right was more than a bowl of Special K. If I wanted to come home at night and be ready to deal with two small boys, homework, sports activities, and then grad school studies, I needed to make some adjustments. So today I am sharing these simple but effective strategies with you so that you, too, can feel good when your head hits the pillow at night.

1) Start off the day with quiet and movement.
As a single working mom of two, that meant rising before the sun and the kids, donning a pair of running shoes and going for a jog around the nearby college campus. The trail around the campus was lined with trees and every so often deer would come out to meet me. In the same way a deer pants for water, I was thirsting for time with God and this was the best way I could find it. The peace and quiet of the early morning campus was like a meditation of sorts. I could clear my mind and focus on the energy moving through my body.

Solitude is so important. It allows us to think through problems, prepare ourselves for the events of the day, and calm our restless minds. Movement also gets our energy flowing. A few yoga poses or stretches will help move the blood and the chi that has been stagnant over night.

2) Fuel up with good nutrition.
It's been said breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Fresh fruit with oatmeal or yogurt, your favorite nut butter on whole-grain toast, or an egg sandwich are all good ways to nourish the body and kick start our metabolism. A Starbuck's coffee, although quick and temporarily filling, is not going to give our bodies and brains the nutrition they need to function at optimal performance. Did you know your brain uses 20 - 25% of the calories we consume? When we use our brains for heavy thinking, it uses more. I also pack a nutritious lunch. Coworkers used to make fun of my healthy lunches and my ever-present supply of dried fruits, prunes, and nuts on my desk. I know I am what I eat and when others reached for the candy jar, I reached for a nutritious snack.

3) Dress for success
How we look has an impact on how we feel about ourselves. Yes, it takes time to do the hair, put on makeup, and exercise, but people notice. When I glimpse in the mirror, I feel positive. When I dress nicely, I feel better about myself. People do judge by appearances, sorry to say. A popular pastor recommends looking in the mirror every morning and saying "Girl, you look good today". I think that is pretty good advice. Most of us look in the mirror and see nothing but the wrinkles, the dark circles, or the thighs. As my mom would say, "Accentuate the positive and minimize the negative". None of us are perfect, not even the models in the magazines. Everyone has something they are not happy with, so go ahead and do your hair, put on some lipstick, and above all, wear a smile to work.

4) Set Your Intention for the day
Be intentional about your focus for the day. For example, if I am working on being patient, I will say "Today I will be patient with everyone I meet". Setting an intention helps keep our focus on what we want to improve on. Other examples are "Today I will remain calm" or "Today I will be kind". I personally have to use the same intention for a while before it becomes a habit. It helps me to memorize a scripture verse to go along with it. One verse I love is "This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it," This verse reminds me to have a positive attitude before I start my day. Have you noticed that negative thoughts seem to bombard you first thing in the morning? We need to counteract these thoughts with positive thoughts right off the bat or that is the way our day will go. I use scripture but you can use whatever sacred text or words that have meaning for you.

These four strategies cover all three parts of us: body, mind, and spirit. We must tend to every aspect of our being if we want to achieve healing, wholeness, and harmony. What area do you struggle with most? Is it your weight, your energy level, your self-confidence? These tips are guaranteed to help all of them. I hope you try these for yourself and I'd love to hear how things go for you. You don't have to live a life of lethargy and exhaustion.

If you'd like to join our blog community and receive my bi-weekly posts on health, wellness, relationships and spirituality, enter your email address in the box provided.  You'll also receive my free e-book entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path. 

Until next time, keep smiling and keep looking up!

Ariel

Thursday, June 22, 2017

3 Steps to a Deeper Relationship with God

Do you sometimes feel disconnected from others? Unloved? Alone? If so, you're not alone. We all struggle with these same feelings and doubts. We go through periods of time when we feel like everyone has deserted us and we are left paddling the streams of life all by ourselves. It is in these times that it is even more important to turn inward and to turn to God. Sometimes God allows these dry periods so we can come into a more intimate relationship with Him. We may not know exactly how to go about it so today I am going to share three steps to developing a closer relationship with God.

I was at a good friend's wedding having dinner, when a gentleman shared that he had read my book, "The Power of Faith". He said he wished he had the same type of faith to get through the trials in his life and asked me if I thought if it was possible for anyone to develop a strong faith.

"Absolutely", I replied without a moment's hesitation.

In fact, God promises us this: "You will seek and find me when you search for me with all your heart," (Jer. 29:13). Just as healthy earthly parents want a good relationship with their kids, so our heavenly Father wants a close relationship with us. In the same way, if we want an intimate close relationship with another person we must be intentional about it.

"Well, how do you do that?" my typically shy and reserved friend inquired.

Now I know many of us are stuck in this sensory, material world we live in. If we can't see, feel, hear, touch, or smell it, we don't believe it exists. God does exist only in another reality - the spiritual realm and, as spiritual beings, we have to get comfortable operating in this realm as well. The good news is the same steps we take when we are serious about getting to know someone are the same steps we can use in developing a relationship with God.

1. Have an open heart and an open mind.

In other words, we have to believe in our heart that it is possible to have a deeper relationship with God, that He loves you deeply, and wants to have an intimate relationship with you. God wants to connect with us, just as much as the spiritual part of us wants to connect with Him. Once we let this truth permeate our minds, we open the doors for an amazing adventure.

2. Spend more time together.

Getting to know God is much the same as getting to know another person. When we make it a priority to spend time with someone, we get to know them at a deeper level. We come to know who they are, their likes and dislikes, their values, how they think. We each have our own way of spending time with God. Some of us like to take a walk by ourselves, go for a hike or a bike ride in nature. Others prefer to listen to comforting music or work in the garden. Still others find God in a communal approach such as a church setting or a meditation group. Whatever puts you in a calm and receptive state of mind is conducive to meeting with God.

3. Learn how God feels and thinks about things.

God is not some secretive, illusive being. He wants to make himself known to us, to speak to us, and to guide each of us - personally. These days, when we want to find out information about someone, we do a Google search and look them up on the Internet. We can do the same thing with God, believe it or not. We go to a reliable source and seek information. In fact, God has put much information about himself, his ways, his thoughts, and his ways of operating in in one collection of books known as the Bible. Now I know many people have a problem with the Bible, saying it's old and antiquated but not much has changed in the way of relationships and human nature since it was written. Did you know that the way experts determine the validity of a manuscript is by how many copies there are of it? Did you know that the Bible is one of, if the not the most copied manuscript in history?

When we make time to read Scripture, we learn who God is, what He thinks, and what is important to him. We also open up the channel of communication with Him to speak to us. You will be amazed when you start reading the Word, how some passage will jump right out at you and you will know that it is meant for you. Try it and see!

"One more thing," I said to my friend. "Just ask God to reveal Himself to you, and He will." My friend smiled and nodded.

So there you have it, friends: three steps to developing a deeper relationship with God. Do post a comment, and click the +1 Google icon to let me know you liked this post. If you'd like to receive my free guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path", enter your email address in the box above.

Stay tuned for more practical and spiritual wisdon and
Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Lure of Addiction: How to Understand and Help

Do you know someone who struggles with addiction? Perhaps you do. The truth is many of us struggle with addiction to one degree or another. It could be drugs or alcohol, smoking or gambling. It could be overeating, overworking, perfectionism or overachieving. These are all forms of addictions - trying to get a need met in an unhealthy and excessive way. Today we will dive into this relevant and painful subject to understand why people get addicted and what to do about it.

We all need connection and to feel loved, valued, and appreciated, yet many do not. There are a multitude of reasons for this disconnection, such as divorce, the breakdown of the family unit, the need to succeed, and the fast pace of life, to name a few. It takes time and effort to connect to others.

Divorce has divided many families, including my own. Kids feel ignored, unloved, and guilty so they turn to substances such as drugs and alcohol to fill that ache in their hearts. Others turn to abusive relationships to fill that need.

This growing number begs the question - why are so many addicted?

Recently on an Oprah radio, I heard a short part of a dialogue between Russell Brand and Oprah. Russell Brand is a British comedian who was briefly married to the pop music star, Katy Perry. Oprah asked the question if one can ever get over an addiction like to drugs or sex and Russell made a statement that really got me to thinking. It went something like this.

"Addicts are usually very sensitive people who realize they are not connected spiritually and are looking for that feeling from the addictive substance or behavior."

Kind of puts a different spin on the whole addiction thing.  Human beings are made with an internal desire to be connected not only to other people but also to God. We are spiritual beings living in a human body but some fail to recognize this need.

Perhaps you've had an experience with an addict or an addiction, or know someone who does. They are usually very lovable, attractive, seductive, and charming personalities. They make you laugh and they make you cry. But deep down inside, like so many of us, they are hurting and they usually don't know why. So they seek solace and connection in something or someone that temporarily comforts their souls.

Addiction comes in many forms. Some choose alcohol. Others choose smoking, drugs, food, gambling, sex, work, exercise, approval. The list goes on and on. In fact, anything done to excess can be an addiction. And that includes relationships as well. Nothing, not even a relationship, is meant to be a substitute for God.

We all have a spiritual need, a void, a hunger deep down inside. God made us that way; to long for connection. We try and fill this need with so many different things, but only one person will truly fulfill that desire and He is God. Sooner or later most of us come to this realization, usually after we hit rock bottom in one or many areas of our lives. Even the wisest man on earth, King Solomon, came to this conclusion when he said:

"Meaningless! Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!" (Ecclesiastes 1:2).

Have you been deeply hurt in the past and look to substances, activities, or people to fill that loneliness and cover the pain?  Today is the day to get to know God. He  wants you to be healed and whole. As I say in my book, "The Power of Faith",  "When we are ready to meet God, He is ready to meet us."

If you'd like to ignite the power within and discover your destiny, join our community by entering your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly emails and also a copy of my latest freebie.

Stay tuned for more practical and spiritual wisdom and

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel








Three Keys to the Abundant Life

What kind of life do you want? Have you envisioned what the perfect life would look like? Are you living and doing what you enjoy? Would you like a more abundant life?

No matter where you are in life or what country you live in, I believe people everywhere want the abundant life: full of joy, abundance, provision, harmony, good health, and fulfillment. Don't you? Good news is there is a path to achieving the abundant life and it is doable. Today, I am going to share with you the three-step process that is guaranteed to bring you the abundant life you desire.


We each have challenges. They may be different but each person, as they say, is fighting their own battles. The key to living the abundant life has less to do with our circumstances and much to do with our perspective on our circumstances.  If you've read my book, "The Power of Faith", you know I've been through quite a lot and, like many of you, I'm still going through some tough stuff. As I often tell my mom, "It's always something, Mom. That's life. Get used to it."  Jesus himself said "In this world you will have troubles, but take heart for I have overcome the world," (John 16:33). Despite the seemingly never-ending onslaught, it is possible to live a life of joy, hope, harmony, and abundance. Here are three keys I've learned that can put you on the road to the abundant life.

1. Do the right thing.
The first key to living an abundant life is to do the right thing in every area of your life.  This means in your finances, in your health, in your relationships, on the job. We each have a conscience and we all know what the right thing to do is in most situations. When we need wisdom and guidance, we can turn to the pages of scripture. Did you know the book of Proverbs is a great source of knowledge on the various facets of life?

Every day we are faced with situations and decisions, and it is up to us to do what is right yet we don't always do the right thing, do we? We are sidetracked by our feelings and emotions, other people, temptations and distractions, laziness. Allowing these to control us will prevent us from living the abundant life we desire. When we have a choice before us, one of the ways to determine the right thing is to do is to notice which path is harder. The right thing is usually the harder thing. When we do the right thing, it will lead us into peace.

2. Work towards peace.
Peace is an integral key to the abundant life. There are a lot of things in this world that can steal our peace, if we let them. Relationships can steal our peace. Unfair treatment can steal our peace. Our own thoughts can steal our peace.

What we often fail to realize is that Peace doesn't just happen on its own. We have to work towards peace and it has to be a joint effort with those around us. If we are overwhelmed, we need to set boundaries and say no more often. If we are being treated poorly, same thing, set boundaries and confront the other person. If our minds are cluttered, we need to meditate and calm them.

As a child of an alcoholic father, there was no peace in our home. I learned that chaos was the norm and so I allowed that into my marriage and my dating relationships after that. I remember soaking in the bath when the Holy Spirit said to me. "Whatever you bind on earth, shall be bound in Heaven, and whatever you allow on earth, shall be allowed in Heaven." (Matt 18:18).  I needed to stop allowing other people's behavior to steal my peace if I wanted to live the abundant life.

When we achieve peace in our homes, in our hearts, and in our minds, then we will begin to experience that delicious feeling - Joy!

3. Keep the joy. 
First let me be clear. Joy is not the same thing as happiness. Happiness depends on our circumstances which may not always be pleasant, but we can still experience Joy. How?

When we know we are doing the right thing, and we have peace in our hearts and minds, joy springs up like a bubbling geyser. Joy is that effervescence that exudes from us. I think of joy as a blessing God gives his children when they have done the right thing and are living in peace.

I can tell just by looking at some people's faces whether or not they are joyful. Joy does not come and go like happiness. Joy is a constant in the life of someone who has developed the power of Faith in their lives. Despite rough circumstances, we can still have joy because we know and trust Who is really in control of our lives. We can trust that God has a good plan for us and although the plot may twist and turn, the ending will be good.

So there you have them: the three keys to living the abundant life. The kingdom of heaven is here. All we have to do is follow these three steps and most importantly - BELIEVE - that it is possible for each of us to enjoy an abundant life.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join my blog community and receive a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path enter your email in the box provided. Feel free to share with a friend and leave a comment below. I love to hear from my friends and appreciate you taking time to read my blog.

Stay tuned for more on Igniting the Power Within and discovering your Destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel




Thursday, June 15, 2017

3 Keys to Better Communication

Ever get frustrated when you're trying to communicate with someone? Either they don't hear you, they misunderstand, they raise their voice, they go off on a tangent or they make random comments that are not related to the topic at hand.  No doubt about it, communication problems can make or break any relationship. 

Many of us want to blame the other person for a miscommunication but this shifts the focus off of who and what we can change - namely ourselves. We have no power over how the other person communicates and if we want to improve the relationship, we will take ownership over our part of the communication issues.



One of the keys to good communication is understanding that there are different styles of communicating. Some people like to chit chat. Others have a goal or a purpose and are to the point. Some people stick to light topics like the weather and sports or the latest Hollywood gossip.  Others like to discuss philosophical ideas and deeper topics such as religion and psychology. The key is to understand we all have different communication styles and personalities.

Here's a personal story. So my sister and I have not been very close over the years. She's been in another state and communication has been infrequent. Lately, due to my mom's situation, we have a need to talk with each other more regularly. It hasn't been easy. I am from a business background and she is not. We have different levels of education and therefore, different ways of thinking. I like to get to the point and get a problem solved. She likes to meander about whatever is going on in her world, regardless of whether it is relevant to the issue at hand. I get impatient. So, realizing this, I shared my frustrations with her. She got it and said she would try to keep her comments succinct.

If you want to improve your communication with others here are 3 keys to consider:

1) Understand what your style of communication is
     Do you like to chit chat or do you prefer having a purpose or a goal to the interaction?
     Do you think as you speak or do you reflect first and then speak?
     Do you prefer light conversation or deep topics?
     Are you more analytical or more emotional?
     Do you have to be right all the time?

2) Understand what the other person's style is
     Are they hesitant to open up and share their feelings?
     Are they aggressive and loud and try to overpower you?
     Are they emotional?
     Are they opinionated?
     Are certain topics too sensitive to be discussed?  

3) Make whatever changes you need to in order to bridge the gap.
    If we want to get along with another person, we must be willing to change. This shows maturity. We don't dig in our heels and say "Well, that's just the way I am". No, we take a good look in the mirror and ask ourselves what we can do to get along better with that difficult person in our life. This also shows we CARE about the relationship and we are putting forth EFFORT to make it better.

For more on the different styles of communication check out this article featured in Forbes magazine.

If you're having problems in a relationship, communication may be the root of the problem. Rather than avoiding the person or throwing in the towel, try sharing your difficulties with them to open up a dialogue for change.  If they care about you and preserving the relationship, they will make the effort.

Love to hear your thoughts on this. Do leave a comment. If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community and receive my bi-weekly emails on personal growth, relationships, spirituality and healing, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll also receive a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Stay tuned for more insights on how to achieve healing, wholeness, and harmony so you can enjoy the life you dream of and discover your destiny!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel 




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Quick & Easy Watermelon & Feta Salad

Summer is here and so are the fresh fruits and vegetables of the season. Since I am committed to encouraging a healthy and balanced lifestyle, today I am sharing a refreshing and easy salad idea to enjoy with your picnics and summer time meals. 

Here's what you need: (Adjust amounts depending on how much you want to make)

1/2 seedless watermelon, rind removed
1- 2 large cucumbers
12 oz crumbled feta cheese or queso blanco
3 tbsps olive oil
juice of 2 limes 
1 bunch spring onions
1/2 tbsp tarragon or your favorite herb


Dice watermelon. Peel and dice cucumber. Wash, then chop green onion. Mix in your favorite large salad bowl. Add cheese, olive oil, and lime juice. Add tarragon to taste. Serve chilled as a side with salmon, burgers, or all by itself.

Give it a try at your next summer get together and let me know how you like it.

For more recipes and ideas, click on the link to visit my Pinterest page.

Until next time, stay tuned for more on healing, wholeness, health, and harmony.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel 


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

One Thing That Could Be Keeping You From Your Destiny

PROCRASTINATION should be a four-letter word. People don't realize the impact of procrastination. This bad habit keeps us from moving forward in life and from seeing our goals and dreams come true. "Someday I'll..." never comes and in the meantime, we'll be less joyful, less fulfilled, and less excited than we could be. Taking action on our goals and dreams gives us life, energy, and a joie de vivre.

What is it that you have been putting off? Starting that diet or exercise program? Sticking to that budget? Getting your business going? Finishing that degree? Getting serious about your relationship with that special someone?

How many times have we said "Well, I'm not quite ready yet."  Or, "It's not the right time." Or how about "I'm going to think about it for a while." Sound familiar?

I have put off things from time to time or more like taken too long to make a decision. I've missed out on tickets to concerts or events because I was still "thinking about it". What have you missed out on because you were still "thinking about it"? Here's a personal story about commitment.

In my book, "The Power of Faith", I talk about how I felt God was telling me it was time to commit to my church. I had been going to different churches every few months or so, depending on what the sermon series was at the time. I was like a sponge and wanted to soak up as much as I could of God's word and teaching so I'd venture from church to church around town.

But then one day I heard this:

It's time to join the church.

"Lord, am I ready to join the church? What am I getting myself into?"

All sorts of doubts crept into my mind. This is what happens when we are about to commit to something or someone.  I thought my freedom was being taken away until it occurred to me that God just might want to use me at the church. And indeed He did.

I started by becoming a greeter at the door. Then I moved on to being a small group leader at my house. Next I joined the devotional ministry. The possibilities were endless and I was learning all sorts of skills in the process. I didn't lose my freedom. I gained connection and a place to belong and to serve.

But commitment takes confidence. We need to feel a certain comfort level about whatever it is we are about to undertake. If we let those two pesky critters "Doubt" and "Fear" creep into our minds, we will never commit. We imagine all sorts of negative outcomes. And that, my friends, is where Faith comes in.

I have found that having faith to commit to something new is kind of like Peter learning to walk on water. He had absolutely no skills whatsoever to do what Jesus was calling him to do, but what did Peter do? He stepped OUT OF THE BOAT! And He kept his eyes on Jesus, at least for a little while. What happened to Peter and what happens to us is that the minute we take our eyes off Jesus and look at our own abilities, we begin to sink.

What is it that you are longing to do? Are you willing to TAKE A STEP OF FAITH AND GET OUT OF THE BOAT? This means getting out of our comfort zone into the unknown.

I hope this post has encouraged you to take action in some area of your life. You deserve to see your dreams come true but it is up to you to take the first step. You don't have to have the whole process mapped out. All you have to do is take the first step and then the next one and the next one.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts and also a copy of my free e-guide, "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Stay tuned as we begin the next step on our journey to igniting the power within.

Keep looking up!

 Ariel