Do you see God?

What do you think?  Do you see God? Maybe you do but you just don’t realize it.  Psalm 96:7 says “O nations of the world, recognize the Lord; recognize that the Lord is glorious and strong.”  Here the writer of Psalm 96 takes it beyond just seeing God, to recognizing God.

The difference?  When you see something you perceive it.  But when you recognize something you identify, acknowledge, and understand it. So for all these years you could have been seeing God, but because you didn’t recognize what you saw, you didn’t know you were seeing God.

So what have you seen that you may have missed?

You can see God in the sand pipers who run along the beach, the dolphins in the sea, the tuna on your table, the homeless man you pass on your way to work, the mother with twin 3 year olds at Starbucks, the soldier halfway around the world, the squirrels chasing each other, the flowers in your neighbor’s yard, the beams of sun that shine through the trees, the email from your best friend, the joy in your wife’s eyes, the Bible, and a picture that says more than 1,000 words.

If you don’t think you’re seeing God, maybe you need to stop looking and start recognizing.  Maybe asking the question “What would God want me to see in this?” would help you get into the habit of recognizing God.

Where do you see God?  How did you get started seeing God?  Share your thoughts and recognitions below.

Empowered by Creativity

What empowers you?  One of my favorite empowering activities is creativity!  I love picking up a pencil, paintbrush, glue bottle, beads, needle or sitting down at my computer to do a bit of creating.  Being creative is one of the best ways to empower yourself.

Creativity is made for sharing!  You can’t create something and not share it.  It would be like God creating the beautiful flowers but having it always be night.  What would be the point of creating then?   Even if you’re not completely at the stage where you share all of your artwork, you should keep creating.  Why?  Because the more you do it the more confident you will become in your ability and the more your passion for your work will be evident.  You’ll also be more comfortable sharing what you do after doing it weekly for many months and years.

Creativity naturally builds community.  Think about some creative people like Einstein, Michaelangelo, Steve Jobs, Anais Nin, Edgar Allen Poe and Frank Lloyd Wright.  These are just a few creative individuals whose creative work has spontaneously drawn people together.  People love to see and share great creative displays and ideas.  I know when I see great work I want to share it.  Another great way that creativity builds and empowers community is when creative individuals get together to do something for charity, like painting a wall, decorating a children’s home or donating resources to a community group like Easter Seals or ?.

It’s easier today than it has ever been to share your creativity.  You can join Etsy, ArtFire, Ebay and other online selling platforms and sell your creations.  You can be on Twitter and Facebook and share what you’re working on.  And you can donate your artwork for local auctions to raise money for charities.  I love encouraging people to continue being creative.  It’s one of the reasons each week on my creative blog I interview a creative individual.

What impact has creativity had on your life?  Would you share your creative journey with my community?  You can contact me on Twitter or my website if you’re interested.

Joy and Satisfaction

How do you live each day?  Would you say that you live most days well? Are you an encouragement to your family and friends, great coworker, supportive team member and loving partner?  Do you like your life, or do you at least like where your life is headed?  These are just a few of the questions I’ve been pondering this month as I’ve thought and shared about Mental Health Month.   I think that being healthy mentally is one of the most important things you can do to empower yourself.

If you haven’t heard it lately, let me remind you that your attitude is one of the most important aspects of your life and mental health, of your success in business and relationships, in your friendships and as a parent.  If you have a bad attitude towards life, you won’t be as successful as some, and you certainly won’t enjoy your success when you have it.  You probably won’t have as many friends or like yourself as well as you could.

You have the power to change your attitude, to choose to have a better, healthier, attitude towards yourself and life.  I was checking out the Mental Health website and saw this really cool companion site that encourages us to “Live Your Life Well.” I’m not going to talk about all 10 points, but I encourage you to stop by and check them out.  The one that stood out to me, of the 10 tools for living life well, was #6: create joy and satisfaction.

Do you create joy in the lives of others?  Are you satisfied by your life?  You can become more joyful and more satisfied by doing one thing: changing your attitude!  You can choose to be intentional about sharing joy and contributing to the lives of others.  You can comment or share their posts and tweets on Facebook and Twitter, you can hold open a door for someone, you can bring bagels to work just because, and you can do something special for your partner for no other reason than because you love them.

Increase your life satisfaction by being committed to doing what makes you come alive.  Don’t work a job that is crushing you, be in a relationship that hurts you, or spend time with people who make you feel bad.  Decide that you will be content with what you have, but that you will never stop growing and striving to live and be better.

Whose life will you bring joy to this week?  In bringing them joy not only will you make them happy, you’ll also be blessed by it!  I’d love to have you share what you do to create joy and what being satisfied means to you below.

Being with God

What is your favorite book of the Bible to read?  I’ve been reading through the book of Psalms lately in my devotional times.  It’s really been exciting to read it again, and to still be learning things from passages I’ve read hundreds of times.  This week I read the inspiration in Psalm 68 where it shares “Tell everyone about God’s power.  His majesty shines down on Israel; his strength is mighty in the heavens.  God is awesome in his sanctuary.   The God of Israel gives power and strength to his people” (verses 34-35).

This month we’ve been talking a lot about power, but what jumped out at me was the phrase “God is awesome in his sanctuary.”  We go about our days rushing from one appointment to the next, not usually taking time out to really sit and appreciate life.  Hopefully you make time each day to meditate, read the Bible, pray or do something that helps you grow spiritually.  We’re pretty good at “doing” the spiritual thing, but do you take time to appreciate God? Do you take the time to sit and bask in his presence?

Think about the first really spring day you had this year.  You probably took 5 minutes to sit in the sun and let that warm sun chase any reminders of winter snow and chill from your body.  Sitting with God each day and basking in his presence is just like that.  We get “chilled” by the daily goings on, by being busy with all the little things we do each day and by the challenges we experience in the world.

Sit for a moment and think about what mentally comes to mind when you hear “God is awesome in his sanctuary.”   Do you see a field of peaceful flowers, picture yourself sitting at God’s feet just relaxing, find yourself raising your arms and worshiping him or do you picture yourself walking next to God on the beach?  Why is God awesome in your life?

Take time this week to sit and be spiritual, not do spiritual things.  Doing is important, but being is equally important.  Where do you feel God’s presence most?  Sit and spend time there this week.

The Power of Communication

This month we’re talking about empowerment.  One of the most empowering things you can do is find your voice.  Telling your story, learning when and how to say no in your life, and sharing your value with the world are all ways you can build your power.  In order for you to create the most power from your communications, there are several things you should do.

1-speak clearly.   No mumbling, lying, hiding, avoiding, or rambling.  Be honest about who you are and what you’re saying.  It doesn’t have to be abrupt, just clear.

2-speak with heart.  Speak about that which you believe in.  Don’t bother with the gossip and topics that you don’t like.

3-listen.  One of the biggest keys to good communication is listening.  You can gain a lot of power, support and strength from being a top-notch listener.  If you’re listening more than others, you’ll know what others needs are so you’ll know what to do to fulfill their requests better than other businesses, or people, could.

4-use it wisely.  Use your communication and the power you gain from it wisely.  Wasting your power on things that are trivial, won’t matter in the long term, won’t help you or improve you, is pointless.

What do the words you’re saying tell about you?  Do they tell a great story, a tale of overcoming, victory and hope?  Do they remind people that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to?  Do your words inspire others to do or be their best?  Carefully consider how you use your words.

Inspiring Empowerment

What helps you be empowered?  Not sure?  Here are some awesome quotes I’ve been sharing on Twitter this month that can help you be more empowered.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

“What doesn’t kill me, makes me stronger.” Friedrich Nietzsche

“Your attitude determines your altitude.” Zig Ziglar

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.  Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi

“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.” Benjamin Disraeli

“Authentic empowerment is the knowing that you are on purpose, doing God’s work, peacefully and harmoniously.” Wayne Dyer

“Don’t let the negativity given to you by the world disempower you. Instead give to yourself that which empowers you.” Les Brown

“No one knows what he can do until he tries.” Publilius Syrus

“The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking.” Robert Schuller

“Life is a series of experiences, each one of which makes us bigger, even though sometimes it is hard to realize this.” Henry Ford

“Many of our fears are tissue-paper-thin, and a single courageous step would carry us clear through them.” Brendan Francis

What empowers you?  Share your thoughts and reflections on the quotes below.

Empowerment and Enduring

Are you stuck?  Does it feel like life is beating you over the head about something?  Are you making the best of it or actually using it to build your future?  Romans 5:3 says:

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to endure.”

Most people don’t run into the street or hallway and do a celebratory dance when they are fired, have a family problem or feel stressed by life’s challenges.  But you know what?  Those challenges are exactly what makes you a more empowered, stronger person, should you choose to embrace them.  The difference between being beat up by your challenges and being empowered by them is that you must choose which way you will go.  Either you are run over by them, or you use them to build your future.  And I say a future is a terrible thing to waste.

So what should you do to let your problems become exactly that which teaches you endurance and empowerment?

1-Take it in.  This may mean you have a 5, 30, or 60 minute breakdown.  You need to open your arms to the emotions you feel and the stress you are going through.  After a brief time, it’s time to move on.  Don’t turn life into a pity party!

2-Get educated.  This is where you learn what your options are given the problem, trial or challenge.  You research online, talk with friends, work with a coach and consider all options that are possible journeys and conclusions of your current challenge.

3-Get support.  Don’t think you have to or can go through the challenge alone.  At least have a friend that you can call or touch base with occasionally.  You may have a host of doctors, business individuals, coaches or friends and family who support you depending on the challenge.

4-Practice Patience.  Challenges don’t clean themselves up in a day.  You may be able to put out the fire, but you’ll have to watch out for embers, and prepare for future fires.  Take it day by day, letting yourself have 5 minutes or so a day to feel the emotions and stress.  Write lots of notes to yourself so that you don’t have to remember everything.  Ask for help, prayer and support.

5-Look to the Future.  Consider how this will impact your future, or rather, how you want it to impact your future. You’ve got the opportunity to create your future, why not make it something you actually want?

What “good” trials and challenges have you experienced lately?  Share your encouragement and support tips below.

Start Small

Are you confident?  You’ve probably been at a local coffee shop, a bar or other social location and have seen people who have really low self-confidence.  Why do some people have lower self-confidence than others?  Some people have had a more difficult life, perhaps they experienced abuse or grew up feeling unloved, and that contributed to destroying their confidence.  Others have been through very difficult situations but have a lot of confidence. The difference between those with and those without confidence is often their willingness to develop confidence in themselves.

Are you willing to be confident and believe in yourself?

That’s the million dollar question.  No, really, your answer to that could be the difference that helps you break through to making a million dollars or more in your life, or developing million dollar relationships that impact and benefit your life and the lives of many others.  If you aren’t willing to invest in developing your own confidence, you won’t get anywhere in life.

Start small, perhaps with something like Twitter or Facebook, and “like” some personal development pages and comment on some of the people’s comments where they’re expressing a challenge or situation that they don’t know what to do.  Help them and you will help yourself.

Start small, perhaps with a walk every day.  Start by just getting the newspaper at the end of the driveway.  Then walk to the end of the street.  Increase your walk time each day, or start with one distance, like the end of the street and back, for a week.  Then increase it to twice to the end of the street and back.

Start small, perhaps eating a vegetable with each meal, or not eating cookies with your lunch.  Make healthier choices which will help your body function better, giving you more energy and helping you feel stronger to do what needs to be done each day.

Start small, perhaps looking for a different job in a location or with people who are more positive, or in a field that is doing something you believe in passionately.  Or start your own business or creative hobby that can encourage you in your free time and help you get through your work day.

What small step will you take today to make your life better and build your confidence?

2011 in Words: Empowerment

Are you empowered?  Not sure?  Take a look at the definition on Wikipedia: “Empowerment refers to increasing the spiritual, political, social, or economic strength of individuals and communities.”  Do you make a point daily to increase your strength?  Here are 10 things you can do to daily be more empowered.

1  Say no.  Not to everything, but to something that isn’t going to support you or is just too much.

2 Decide in favor of you.  Don’t be selfish, but know what your needs are and how to meet them (and actually do it).

3 Subscribe to blogs and newsletters that share uplifting ideas, articles and support.

4 Exercise.  It builds your self-confidence and makes you physically stronger and more capable of doing the day to day things.

5 Have great friends and relationships.  If you come home unhappy after spending time with your friends or significant others, it is probably time for a change.  Hang around those who support you, and you can support, physically, emotionally, spiritually and relationally.

6 Eat right.  Get those fruits and vegetables on your plate and in your body.  Eat fewer over-processed foods and more natural ones.

7 Cultivate a spiritual practice.  Connect with others, nature, spiritual books and with spirit (God, nature etc) on a daily basis.

8 Have values and standards and stick to them.  Knowing them and having them are 2 different things.  Most people have them but don’t know what they are, or live according to them. After writing down what they are, make sure your life is lived with them in mind.

9 Look for options in your life.  Limits and boundaries are important, but even more so are knowing that you have options and resources: financially, socially, career wise, and location wise.

10 Give back.  Support community groups, non-profits and other organizations with your time and resources.

Stay tuned the rest of this month for more conversations on empowerment, and share what you do each day to empower yourself below.

Travelers, Guests and Fitting In

You’ve probably felt at least once like you didn’t fit in.  Maybe you think you were born at the wrong time or in the wrong place.  Or you believe this is our temporary home on the way to heaven.  I’ve felt as if I haven’t belonged at times too. While reading of the book of Psalm for my devotional time the past few weeks I ran across an interesting verse:

“Hear my prayer, O Lord!  Listen to my cries for help!  Don’t ignore my tears.  For I am your guest—a traveler passing through, as my ancestors were before me.”  Psalm 39:12

It’s hard to fit in when you’re traveling- the bed isn’t the same, you don’t know where everything is in town, and you’re dependent on yourself to take care of it. But what if you had a host?   What if there was someone with you who knew everywhere you stopped and everyone you met who could help make your traveling a little easier?  The good news is that’s exactly what this verse is talking about. The writer, David, is asking his host, God, for a little support on his journey.  God, the best host you could ask for, is with each of us on our journey through this life.

This verse puts a different spin on not fitting in though, it calls us guests.  Think about what it’s like to be a guest.  You’re probably on your best behavior, you’re life may be a little uncomfortable and you’re constantly exposed to new things, and guest are usually treated as special people.  This means a couple of things for us.  We should get used to the changes and new things in our lives because it’s normal.  Second, don’t ever let anyone tell you you’re not special.  You are special, period.  Finally, as a guest you’re supposed to be on your best behavior, we all are.  We’ve done a poor job being guests so far, and need to make some dramatic changes in our lives and in our world if we want to continue to be guests.

I encourage you to do those three things this week: work on your attitude towards accepting change, loving yourself and treating yourself as special, and taking care of the place where you are visiting.  Share your thoughts below.