Journey to Faith

Journey to Faith
Follow your own path

Thursday, November 16, 2017

7 Ways to Let God Out of Your Box

So this week, I hope you have been noticing the beauty of creation and remembering how much God loves you to have created all these things for you to enjoy.  As the holidays approach, many people feel lonely. They are looking for someone or something to fill that void in their spirit. Hollywood would have us to believe the romantic Tom Cruise line "You complete me."

The truth is no human being can complete us. Only God can fill the hole in our hearts because he is the one who put it there. We were made to desire a relationship with God, but so many of us turn away seeking solace in people and things that will never satisfy.



Do you "believe" in God, but have no idea how to connect with him?
Do you crave the presence of another human being?
Do you feel incomplete when you're not in a relationship?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, today's post will help you feel the presence of God and fill that void inside you. God does not want you feeling lonely. That's why he promised "I will never leave you, nor forsake you."

It is possible to have relationship with God, in some of the very same ways we have a relationship with another human being. The difference is God is so much more reliable, faithful, trustworthy and loves us more than any human being ever could. So today we'll talk about 7 ways to enjoy the presence of God on a daily basis.

1. Practice Gratitude
    Do you focus more on what's lacking in your life or what's present? Just like Eve who had everything she needed in the Garden of Eden, she focused on the one thing that she couldn't have. It's human nature. But this thinking keeps us miserable. When we pay more attention to the blessings we all have, we will feel more joyful and less depressed.

2. Practice Joy
    How does one practice joy?  I have other posts on that topic so you can do a search. Joy is an inner delight. It comes from knowing God loves and cares for you and that everything that happens to you is under his watchful eye. It is a knowing that no matter how tough things might seem, they will work out for your good. Joy is a mindset that brings us into the presence of God.

3. Journal
    Now I don't know exactly how this one works, but I do know it works. When we get quiet, and put our thoughts down on paper, God can speak to us. It is that still small voice that reveals truth and gives answers. We gain clarity about problems we are facing. I have been journalling for over 20 years and I have a stack of journals I'm debating what to do with.

4. Spend quiet time alone
    This is key. You know how hard it is to hear your significant other when you're in a noisy restaurant? Well, God speaks to us in an inaudible whisper. We can't hear his voice if we have the radio or television on all the time. We need to turn all the electronics off and just be. God will show up, promise.

5. Read a sacred text
   This is a discipline that pays off dearly. Just this week, I almost started my day without going to my Bible reading. Boy was I glad I did. The words jumped off the page at me. That's one way we can tell God is speaking to us. It's like He is saying "This is for YOU!" But we won't be able to hear from God, if we don't tune into his word. I don't know how it happens or how it works, but it does.

6. Talk to God
    Think of your best friend. How often do you talk to him or her? Now how would you like to have that kind of relationship with God? You can. But unlike your friend, God is never too busy or to preoccupied to listen to us. I talk to God throughout the day most days. Just like any relationship it takes time to develop. Another way we talk to God is through prayer. The Bible says "Pray     unceasingly. I think what that means is what I just shared - talk to God during your day.

7. Meditate
    Meditation is a hot topic these days. However, there is more to meditation than sitting still, closing our eyes, and watching our thoughts float  by. Christian meditation refers to meditating on the Word of God. Take a passage or a phrase of Scripture and think about it, reflect on its meaning. Ask how it applies to you. This is how we absorb the truths that will help us to overcome the negative chatter that pervades our thinking.

When you start to practice these 7 steps, I promise you, you will feel less lonely and more connected. You will start seeing amazing things and you will know God is with you and cares for you. It could be an unxpected gift in the mail. A special delivery. A license plate. You never know where God is going to show up. But He promises that when we seek him, we will find him.

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 plus a copy of my free e-guide "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".

Stay tuned for more practical and spiritual wisdom to help you ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Keep looking up!

Ariel


   










Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Are You Keeping God in a Box?

How often do you think about God? Do you only think of God on Sunday mornings? Maybe you only call on God in emergencies or crisis.  Do you go about your busy day and not include or thank him until perhaps at night right before your head hits the pillow? God wants to be a part of our daily life. He wants to talk with us, guide us, and give us direction but that can't happen if we have God in a box we only take out every once in a while.

Today's post is to encourage you to let God out of the box and allow him to become more a part of your daily life. You will experience more peace and joy as you develop a personal and intimate relationship with the Creator of the Universe who loves and cares for you more than you could ever imagine. When we live in the presence of God, we enjoy life more fully and we are less distracted by the trials of life.

Think about when you're at work focused on a project, teaching a class, solving a computer glitch. Your full attention is engaged and you are fully present. Or imagine you are a dancer flowing with the music, or a cook preparing a dish, savoring each aroma. These are all times when we are fully present and we lose track of time. God is with you and enabling to do these things.

What about the painful times of life? When you have a hard decision to make? When a loved one is hurting? When you feel down and out? Do you call on God then? Or do you try to tough it out on your own? As spiritual beings, we were not made to tough it out on our own. This is why we need God. Life can be overwhelming. Challenges unsolvable. Situations unmanageable. God is with us in every situation and circumstance of life.

God is all around us if we have eyes to see. Delight in the spectacular colors of the autumn trees as they change their wardrobe. Enjoy a sunrise or a sunset as it heralds the beginning or end of a new day. Listen to the wind, the ocean waves and the trickle of raindrops and the thundering of the storms. God created all of these to delight us and to remind us of his great love and the power of his majesty.

This week make take time to notice the beauty and the wonder of creation. It will take you out of whatever problem is absorbing your thoughts. It will bring you into the presence of God. Allow him to speak to your heart, to comfort you, and to assure you that everything will turn out okay. Well, better than okay. God works everything for our good and for his glory. He wants to make a masterpiece out of you so you can reflect his awesomeness.

If this post has encouraged you, join our community by entering your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts and a free gift entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". Leave a comment or click the +1 icon. Also, check out my newest book on Amazon, entitled "How to Enjoy a Full and Balanced Life: 5 Fundamentals to Streamline Your Life". 

Stay tuned for next time when we'll explore the ways we can take God out of the box and enjoy his presence more each day. It is truly an adventure!

Blessings and joy to you,

Ariel 





























Thursday, November 9, 2017

The Perils of Listening to the Wrong Voices

Ever eat that donut or piece of cake when you know you are trying to lose weight? Plop yourself in front of the boob tube when you know you should be exercising? Tell yourself you're too fat, too old, too lazy? It's easy to be tempted to buy something we don't really need or can't afford, eat something unhealthy, or give up on our dreams and goals. It all depends on which voices we listen to.

There are many voices both in the world and inside our heads that clamor for our attention; many of them are negative and self-defeating. If we're not careful, our thoughts will lead us down Alice's rabbit hole and off the path to our goals, dreams and destinies. How does this happen and what to do about it?

First, realize that negative thoughts are normal. In fact, our brains tend to focus on the negative. Scientists call this the "negative bias". This means the human brain reacts more intensely to negative stimuli. This may account for the widespread fascination with bad news and events and why we tend to place more emphasis on the negative things that happen in our lives and in our relationships. Ever pay attention to people's conversations? Listen to what is being talked about and chances are it is about something bad that happened.

Second, realize that our thinking is highly influenced by the people we are around most. Our parents have the most impact on us because we have closer ties to them, communicate more with them, and we are subtly programmed to think the way they think. If our parents were negative, anxious, or fearful, chances are so will we be. The problem is we don't realize our thinking is faulty because that is all we have ever known. If we don't take action to correct erroneous thought patterns, we will pass them on to our kids and the negative fear cycle will continue.

When we focus on the negative voices, we will get depressed, which will cause us to lose our energy and then we will give up on our goals and dreams. It is a slippery slope which often goes unnoticed and that is why it is so important to be aware of which voices we are listening to.

Recently, I realized I was comparing my current situation to a period of time in the past when I was going through a divorce. The same of feelings hovered over me like a dark cloud.
It was beginning to get me down. But then I had a revelation. Instead of saying to myself, "Gee, here we go again....why is this happening to me?" it occurred to me that there was another way to look at my current circumstances and my past. I said to myself "Look at what all God has brought you through. He is going to get you through this situation as well, so relax and take a chill pill." I felt like the dark cloud was replaced by a ray of bright sunshine.

Reframing our negative experiences in a positive light may well be one of the most important mental activities we can learn. There is always another way to view our situation. Difficult circumstances happen to all of us, but I have found that something good always comes out of my painful experiences. In my book,"The Power of Faith", I share many personal stories of trials and challenges, and how they all eventually worked out for my good. When something bad happens, I ask myself "How else can I view this situation?" and "What can I learn from this?" I want to glean whatever buried treasures may be hidden in the difficult circumstances that present themselves.

We need to step back from the immediate situation and take a look at the bigger picture. I believe we need to have God's perspective on things. Romans 8:28 says "God works all things for the good of those who love him and who have been called according to his purpose." We are all children of God and God's purpose is the same for all of us: to make us more like Him. In other words, God allows the circumstances of life to make us more loving, kind, gentle, fearless, forgiving, wise, patient, peaceful, etc.

If we want to move forward in life and see our goals and dreams become realities, it is crucial to let go of erroneous thought patterns and reframe difficult circumstances. Like anything else, practice makes perfect. The more we catch our thoughts and replace them with positive affirming ones, the more energy and joy we will feel and it will be easier to maintain our focus on achieving our goals.

If you'd like to join our community, enter your email address in the box provided. You'll receive my bi-weekly posts plus a copy of my free guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path".

Stay tuned for more practical and positive insight so you can ignite the power within and discover YOUR DESTINY!

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel




Tuesday, November 7, 2017

How to Conquer Negativity and Have More Joy

Negative thoughts and feelings come to us all. This is normal. Negativity steals our joy and our energy. If we allow them, they will lead us down the proverbial rabbit hole into despair, depression, and lethargy. This is because negative thoughts take up more space in our brains, but there is something we can do to stop them. Today, I am going to encourage you to become more aware of your negative thoughts and feelings and give you practical tips on how to counter-act them so you can have more joy and energy and spend less time down in the dumps.


1. Be aware of how we are feeling.
I can testify, this takes practice. I'm still working on it as I was raised to ignore my feelings and it's only in the past few years that I have learned this is an unhealthy way to live.

We need to slow down and get quiet so we can identify what we are feeling. When we are on the run all the time or absorbed in tv, the internet, or our phones, we can't connect to our inner selves. We need to disconnect from all the electronics and the activities and just be still. I actually have some of those yellow sticky notes on my computer monitor to remind me to check in with my feelings. It has to become a regular practice.

2. Be aware of what we are thinking.
Our feelings come from our thoughts. If we allow negative thoughts to run wild, we will constantly feel down, depressed, and lacking energy. We won't be able to fulfill the destiny and purpose we each have. Joy promotes energy and when we are low on joy, we are low on energy.

This is where mindfulness and meditation practices can help. Check out my posts on these two practices that train us to be more aware of the thousands of thoughts that flit through our minds on any given day.

3. Counter-act negative thoughts with the truth.
Once we recognize the negative tapes playing in our minds, we need to take the next step. What we may not realize is that we don't have to dwell on these negative thoughts and feelings nor accept them as truth. Some things we have believed for years. Today is the day to put them in the dumpster.

Negative thoughts come from a place of low self-worth. Thoughts such as:
"I'm too fat." "I'm too old." "I too dumb". "I'm too unattractive" "I'm too clumsy" "I'm too lazy". "Nobody cares about me" bombard us regularly. If we want to live happy, healthy, and fruitful lives we have to reprogram our thinking.

Old thought patterns need to be replaced with newer, healthier thought patterns. This is where I use the word of God because God is truth. Whatever God says about me is true. God says this about you and me:
"I am loved" (John 3:16).
"I am a child of God" (John 1:12)
"I am fearfully and wonderfully made" (Ps. 139:14)
"God has a plan and a purpose for my life" (Jer 29:11)
"I am never alone" (Deut. 31:6)
"God cares for me" (Math. 6:26)
"God sees every tear I have shed" (Ps. 56:8)

So there you have a practical step-by-step process to help you conquer your joy stealers. Implement this process and see how you begin to feel. Write and let me know how it goes for you.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to become a member of our community, enter your email in the box provided. You'll also receive a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". Feel free to pass it on to a friend.

Until next time, stay tuned for more positive and practical wisdom to help you ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Ariel 





Thursday, November 2, 2017

How to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

November is here and Thanksgiving is only a few weeks away. I love this month for several reasons:
1) it is my birthday month,
2) the trees are so beautiful, and
3) I love celebrating Thanksgiving.


I like to dedicate the entire month to focusing on gratitude. We in this country have so much to be thankful for and so much we take for granted like abundant water supply, freedom of expression, freedom to worship, grocery stores! It is so important to recognize all our blessings and to take time to acknowledge them on a daily basis. When we are thankful and cultivate an attitude of gratitude, we increase our energy and our joy. 

A tradition I started at my house many years ago was to put out a small basket with a pad of paper and a pen next to it. The basket is known as the "Blessing Basket". Each day of the month, each member of the household and whoever comes into the home that day is asked  to write down one thing for which they are grateful for and put it in the basket. It can be anything, but the idea is to become more aware of the many blessings we each have on a daily basis. Then on Thanksgiving Day, we read all the slips of paper. They are anonymous of course, but it makes us realize how truly we are blessed despite the challenges we may be going through. In our house, there are always one or two blessings that make everyone laugh and that's a good thing too!

I know I have much to be thankful for: a lovely home, two wonderful sons, and good friends. I am thankful I can walk and I can see.  I am also thankful for the intangibles in my life such as love, joy, peace, kindness, and most of all, faith.

I bet if you stop and think about your life, no matter what else may be going on, you have much to be thankful for as well. There will always be negatives in life. The key to keeping our joy is to focus on the positives more than the negatives. This is where faith comes in. We do our part and then we trust God to work out the rest. It's a team effort and God is always on our side.

If you want to increase your gratitude quotient, try starting each and every day by giving thanks for something or someone in your life.  When we learn to develop an "attitude of gratitude", our outlook on life changes and we are better able to handle the difficult circumstances of life.

If you enjoyed this post and would like to receive my bi-weekly blog messages, enter your email address in the box provided to the right. I'll also send you out a copy of my free e-guide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, remember to be a blessing and, as always, keep looking up!

Ariel 

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

How to Be a More Loving Person

Would you consider yourself a loving person yet often feel unloved? Are you looking to find that perfect someone who will make you feel loved? As we conclude this month's series on relationships and emotions, we'll talk about what love is and how to express love in meaningful ways.

What is love, exactly? First off, let's realize this: love is not a feeling.  All that stuff you see in the movies and on television is either superficial romanticism or lust. It is not the stuff long-lasting relationships are made of.

Love is a verb - an action word. Love means going out of yourself to do something good for the benefit of another, even when you don't feel like it.  We learn about love from various sources. Our parents are the first examples of love  We can learn a lot from them - what to do and what not to do. We learn from our dating experiences - what works and what doesn't. We learn from observing "happily married couples". But I think the best way to learn about love is from God himself.

We've all heard the phrase "God is love", but what does that really mean? To me, God is love means that if I observe how God expresses His love to me, that is how He wants me to love others. Now, I know this is a huge topic and I'm only going to touch the tip of the iceberg, but I think it is a topic worth contemplating. How do I see God loving me? The best place to start is in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God in the flesh; that's why God sent Him - to show us His great love for us and to demonstrate how to love others: by accepting those different from us, by not judging others weaknesses, by showing compassion, and by sacrifice. If you look at the list below, you will see that Jesus modeled all of them.



So, if you'd like to feel more love and be more loving, here are some questions to reflect on:
1) How do you show love?
2) Where did you learn to love?
3) How can you love better?

For practical suggestions, check out 1 Corinthians 13 which spells out several facets of being a truly loving person and Ephesians 5 which talks about how to love others.

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

Until next time, practice loving more, for whatever you give out to others will return to you manyfold.

Keep looking up!

Ariel 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Are Your Expectations Ruining Your Relationships?

Do you feel frequently offended? Do you have expectations of how people should behave? I know I do and you probably do as well although we may not be aware of these unspoken expectations. Today's post is about revisiting our personal "rules" so we can enjoy more peace and less stress in our relationships and in our lives.

We each have a set of personal rules that dictate how we interact with and judge others. Our "rules" also determine how we view ourselves and the world. We get peeved because our notion of how things "should" be is not always in line with how things really are. These personal rules are established over time according to our beliefs and values. Some rules are healthy and reasonable, while others are quite silly or no longer useful. Here's a personal example.

As a long time single, I have had a rule that said "If someone wants to see me over the weekend, he needs to call me by Wednesday" so I can plan. The problem with this rule is most men don't plan. They wing things. If the fancy strikes them, they pick up the phone. Several guys have called me at 4 or 5 pm on a Saturday to see if I was free that evening. I was insulted but I accepted!

When we expect others to behave in a certain way, we set ourselves up for disappointment. As a woman in the business world, I learned to expect email and phone call replies within 2 business days. The problem I encountered with many of my school teacher friends was they didn't abide by this protocol. It took me a while to figure out the problem, but when I did, I had much more compassion and was less frustrated with them.

Often, we live by these unspoken personal rules and expectations but we are unaware of how they are impacting our lives and the lives of others. Here are some areas to review from time to time:
   - dating rules
   - housecleaning rules
   - relationship rules
   - parenting rules
   - friendship rules

Is my rule reasonable? How does my rule affect the other person? Is this rule helpful or unnecessary? What may have served us at one time may not be serving us today.

The key to remember is that love is freedom. When we love, we allow the other person to be free to be themselves. We do not require them to conform to our rules or expectations. No one likes to be controlled or manipulated. I know I don't. If we want more harmony in our lives, we would do well to reevaluate rules that cause disconnection or division.

If you enjoyed this post or found it helpful, please click the +1 icon. Feel free to forward to a friend or leave a comment. If you'd like to join our community and receive my bi-weekly posts, enter your email in the box provided. You'll also receive my free eguide entitled "7 Steps to Finding Your Spiritual Path". 

Until next time, stay tuned for more practical and spiritual wisdom so you can ignite the power within and discover YOUR destiny!

Keep looking up!

Ariel