Four Life Lessons Taught by a Pair of Jeans

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Recently I put on an old pair of jeans that used to be my favorite! They were by a brand I have worn for over twenty years, and always appeared to be great quality. Changes in the brand became noticeable after they were sold to a huge department chain five years ago.

Love these jeans

A few years ago, I revisited a boutique that has had a reputation of selling quality clothing since 1947. They had a sell on their jeans and I bought some of them, and wouldn’t you know, they fit fabulously! So those all became my go to jeans. Fast forward to the present. I put on my old favorite jeans, and they were so ill-fitted. I could not believe it. The seams weren’t straight, which I vaguely remember being an issue in the past, but I would always fix them throughout the day. They were also extremely high watered. (I love anklet pants, but these were borderline “Steve Urkel-ish”.

Lookin good

I began to wonder when had these pants changed for me, and reluctantly put them in a bag to take to Goodwill. This brings me to the Four Life Lessons Taught by a Pair of Jeans.

Four Life Lessons

Lesson 1 – Great Fit

There may be a time when the friends you have, the organization(s) you belong to, the place of your employment, the products you use and the clothes you wear, are a great fit!

When you started with the friends, you all had certain things in common, and fun together. When you first joined the organization(s), it had so much meaning. When you started your position, you were full of purpose and excited about all of the potential opportunities that awaited. When you first used the products or wore the clothes, they seemed perfect.

It is totally natural to feel good about something when you first start it and even more common to keep it around if it is a good fit for you at the time.

Lesson 2 – Perception

To perceive, is to interpret things by our senses instead of at face value. Do not get me wrong, we need to be able to see if something is a good for us, but sometimes going only by what we see, can cause us to ignore minor defects that will become obvious in the long run.

A good example of this is when the Pharisees had conspired against Jesus, and planned to ask him a question in order to catch him off guard. The Bible said that Jesus “perceived their thoughts” and ended up being the one to catch them off guard with his response. If you want to read more about that it is in the Book of Luke chapter 5.

We can think something is a good fit, and it very well may be, but also be open to perception. Make sure to pay attention and not ignore what you may not see with the naked eye.

Lesson 3 – Change and Transition

You may be loyal to a certain brand, relationship, organization(s), place of employment, or location, but you must remain open to the possibility of change and transition.

Change and transition allows you to have the option of being flexible. Flexibility is the keyword. If you are open to change, then even if you are loyal to the brand, the relationship, organization(s), and position, you will be able to see things objectively and perceive whether or not it is time to transition to something different.

Transition

Lesson 4 – Making Room

Most of us are pretty good about going through our old jeans, clothing, and household goods. We end up putting what we no longer need into a bag and donating it. Why? To trim down clutter, and make more room/space. We may need to observe all areas of our lives and see if it is still a good fit for us. If it is, and you know it is where you need to be and what you need to be doing; in theory, continue wearing your old pair of jeans!

If you evaluate the areas of your life and determine it no longer fits who you are, and that you may need to be doing something else; it could be time to open the doors of change and transition.

It is my hope that the Four Life Lessons Taught by a Pair of Jeans, benefit you as much as it did me.

Jeans and Life Lessons

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

The Real Boogie Man: How to Deal With The Hamans in Your Life

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

Haman the Agagite, was a very important man in his day. He was an official of the Royal King of Persia, Ahasuerus (or Xerxes I). His position was called the Grand Vizier, Second in Command, the King’s most “Trusted Advisor.”

The interesting thing about this “trusted advisor” is that his true intent was to manipulate the King, in order to pursue his own personal agenda.

It was around 473 BC, when Haman’s devious plot began. It all hatched in his mind one day when Mordecai refrained from bowing to him in public. He was appalled by this action because most people bowed when he arrived and exited a room. Haman made a great effort to research Mordecai, and found out that it was against Mordecai’s Religious belief to honor Haman like he would honor God. Haman decided that Mordecai along with those who believed like him, had to be annihilated.

Let us look at 7 truth nuggets that will assist in dealing with this personality type.

  1. Be watchful of those who get deeply offended when things do not go their way – Let me preface this by saying it does not apply to everyone. It is perfectly normal to feel a little disappointed when someone does not agree with you. I am talking about a person whose entire demeanor and behavior pattern changes when you chose to do something other than what was suggested. Haman was used to everyone doing things his way, and when Mordecai did the opposite; he was deeply offended. Deep offense left unchecked generally creates a vindictive person.
  2. Be watchful of those who are quick to befriend and/or fish for information – If you cannot tell the difference between someone who is genuinely trying to get to know you, for you; versus someone who is fishing for information, pray for discernment. Knowing the difference can save you from future headaches, heartaches and pain. Queen Esther and her uncle Mordecai, discerned that Haman did not have good intentions for their people, but did not react straight away; they waited and watched him until God gave further instructions.
  3. Be careful sharing personal business with “The Hamans” in your life – Haman had a nasty habit of listening between the lines, and sharing his interpretation. This is still problematic today. We all can think of someone who will take what is said, twist it and share their own interpretation of it to others. It is for this reason that you do not form judgements about someone you barely know based on another person’s second hand information. King Ahasuerus had a bad habit of listening to Haman without checking his words against the facts. This habit almost costed Mordecai and his entire people their lives.
  4. Be weary of people who are social climbers – Haman was a bonafide social climber. He could always be seen slithering about, like the snake he was, to royals, high ranking officers and political officials. He did this because he knew that if he won the favor of these people, he could manipulate them to push his own political agenda, which was destroying Mordecai and his people. Do not let these people slide under your radar, their aim is to control leadership in order to push their own agenda. Their only concern is for themselves and what they want, instead of what is good for everyone.
  5. Be alerted by people who are consistently negative – Haman had a pretty deceit life, a beautiful family, wife and ten children, was an advisor to the king, had powerful associates and friends, but this was still not enough. He chose to focus on the negative instead of the good things he had. Steer clear of people with a similar disposition. Misery really does love company.
  6. Be watchful of people who always want praise for themselves – There was a part in the story when Haman staged an opportunity to make himself look good, and wanted public recognition for it. Somehow it backfired and the recognition went to Mordecai. Haman was furious. It is human nature to desire a pat on the back occasionally, in order to feel appreciated, but when a person starts doing things only to receive praise, they need to check the “why” behind their actions.
  7. Refrain from revenge – Spoiler Alert – Haman ended up having some of the workers in the castle build a large gallow, so that he could hang Mordecai. The king found out that Haman manipulated him into creating a royal edict to annihilate Mordecai’s people, which also included his queen. The king could not believe he had been so blinded by Haman! He thought Haman was his friend. Haman was a friend as long as he was getting what he wanted. That is also how people with the spirit of Haman operates. They will be ok with a person, as long as things are going their way. As soon as it does not, mark my words, the backbiting, slandering and scheming will began.

Conclusion

Haman ended up being ordered to hang from the very gallows he intended for Mordecai. Mordecai did not have to vindicate himself, God ended up handling everything for him behind the scenes. If you remain faithful as Mordecai and Queen Esther did, He will also do the same for you.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Launch Into the Deep and Cast Your Net

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It is human nature for us to want to do things our own way because ultimately, we believe we know what is best for us. This is especially the case in our area of expertises. Did you know that sometimes, even an expert could still use some help?

This reminds me of Simon Peter. He was a Professional Fisherman, who had been doing it most of his life. He knew the proper weather conditions for fishing, and the proven techniques to use in order to catch fish. One day, he was out on his boat with Jesus, on the Lake of Gennesaret, also know as the Sea of Galilee, and Jesus had been teaching from his boat most of the day. After he finished teaching, he told Simon Peter to launch out into the deep, and cast his net.

Simon Peter was a little exasperated by the directive, and replied that he had already been working all night and caught nothing. He also could have been a little upset because he was a Professional Fisherman by trade, while Jesus was a Carpenter. Not to mention, there had been large crowds around most of the day, so the fish were probably scared away.

*Important Point* Have you ever been in this predicament? Felt as though you had been working diligently for, or towards something, only to receive nothing in return? If you have, then you understand how annoying it is for someone, who seemingly knows less than you about the subject, tells you to keep continue trying. If someone is telling you that right now, you have two choices. You can continue trying, or give up. Which one will you choose?

Choose one

Simon Peter decided to try again, and replied saying, “Nevertheless, at your word, I will let down the net.” Choosing to believe Jesus’s word, created an opportunity of abundance. Simon Peter ended up catching so many fish in the net, that it started to break! He had to solicit help from their partners in a neighboring boat. Each boat became so full, they almost began to sink!

Because Simon Peter chose to ignore the obvious and listen to Jesus’s word, he was rewarded with catching so many fish that he couldn’t contain it all. Simon Peter believed the word and not his circumstances.

*Take Away* We can work very hard, and for a long time without ever seeing results, but when Jesus directs our work, the results will be inevitable!

Wellness Tip: Eat and Drink more antioxidants, they protect your cells against free radicals, which may play a role in heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Free radicals are molecules produced when your body breaks down food or when you’re exposed to tobacco smoke or radiation. Foods high in antioxidants.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Hold on to your Pearls

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Wisdom

I came across this scripture and it illuminated in my mind. I decided to read it in the commentary in order to gain a better understanding. It mentioned not to give holy things to the dogs, nor things you hold dear to pigs, because neither will appreciate them.

“If we take our wisdom (like precious pearls) and throw it all around without knowing whether it might fall before dogs (an impure or self-righteous heart) or swine (someone who is considered unclean), Jesus warns us that they will likely tear us to pieces. This means they will twist and distort what is said and then come after us!” Biblestudy.org

There is a time to share, and a time to be silent, lest what you say be misconstrued. Be wise as a serpent, and humble as a dove.

Are these truly my friends?

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

Hypocrite Meter

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When you hear the word “hypocrite” many images may come to mind. A scheming actor on a soap opera, a politician, or world leader. What does not come to mind is probably the word theater. Yes, I said theater! I remember my surprise learning this information, first semester of my Freshman year in college. Would you believe my first (out of three) declared major in college was Theater? I was quite determined to be on broadway. Starting as a ten year old, I took ballet, tap, and jazz, and as a teenager acted in a few local productions. I got an agent, and I thought I was on my way, lol.

After first semester, I decided to give up on my broadway dreams, be content on the cheer and dance team in college, and change my major again, lol.

I digress, back to the topic at hand, hypocrites. The word hypocrite, simply stands for actor or stage player.

The Greek word itself is a compound noun: it’s made up of two Greek words that literally translate as “an interpreter from underneath.” That bizarre compound makes more sense when you know that the actors in ancient Greek theater wore large masks to mark which character they were playing, and so they interpreted the story from underneath their masks. (merriam-webster.com)

In the past, this word stood for pretense on the stage because ultimately actors were behaving as different characters. It did not gain a negative connotation until the early 1700s, 500 years after its’ original use. When it is heard now, we see it as a person who acts contrary to their beliefs and feelings depending on who they are around.

Anyone who says peer pressure is only a K-12 situation, needs to think again. Peer pressure still exist among adults as well.

Four Examples of Adult Peer Pressure

Friendship – You have a person who you consider a friend or decent individual, but if the group or certain person does not like that person, you feel pressured to start disliking them as well.

Praying over your meal – You have always said grace over your food, but when with certain people, you feel pressured not to do so.

Lifestyle Choices – You uphold certain values that may be perceived as primitive, but when around certain people you feel ashamed of those values and do not want to talk about them in fear of what others would think.

Hobbies – You like doing certain things, but when around certain people you clam up about it, because of being teased before.

These things actually happen in adulthood, and can produce hypocrites if not careful.

Solution

The solution to these issues is to be content.

Be Content

Be content in your choices of friendship – If you are friends with a person, it is for reasons that others may not understand and is between you and that person. If the friendship is true, do not allow other opinions to sway yours.

Be content with your values – If you have conservative values, be proud of that. The people around you will understand if they truly respect you. If made to feel uncomfortable because of your values, consider changing your surroundings.

Be content with lifestyle choices – If you have decided to live according to a certain creed, it was probably for a reason. Do not compromise that for anyone.

Be content with your hobbies – If certain activities bring you happiness, enjoy it! People may not understand why you enjoy it, but our differences are what makes things interesting.

Reflection

Where are you on the Hypocrite Meter?

We have the ability to reflect on our lives, see flaws, and change our behavior. We do not have to behave contrary to our belief system and feelings. We can become people of integrity which is the opposite of a hypocrite.

Being a person of integrity means we reflect on the outside, what is on the inside. Like an integer, we can be whole and complete. We are not perfect, but as the scripture says:

The Challenge

I would like to issue a challenge to myself and others.

Going forward, stop entertaining people that make you feel the need to wear a mask, in order to appease them.

Be yourself. If they do not like it, it is ok. God can and will place like-minded people in your life. Bad company corrupt good character. ~1 Corinthians 15:33

Do not become a hypocrite at the pressure of so-called associates or friends. If they do not like who you are without the mask, they certainly will not care for you with the mask.

Be content. Life is too short to continue worrying about how others feel about you. Spend more energy and time helping those who appreciate it. Do not cast your pearls before swine. This will be the topic of my next post.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

Double-Minded Island

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I am back from my hiatus on Double-Minded Island. Double-Minded Island is an Island shaped like a hand and is a place people end up who are in the valley of decisions.

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On the island, as I was reflecting about life and where I wanted to go from this point, a memory of a time come to mind. It was a little over 12 years ago when I had been applying to different alternative teaching programs around the U.S. and internationally. It was a very confusing time. I had been praying for clarification because every opportunity that came appeared to be a good idea, but as we know, not everything that is “good” is of “God.”

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One day, I was visiting an old building that I used to rent for a business I owned. The new owners had made the building into a used bookstore that I frequented from time to time. As I stood in line to purchase a book, a man came behind me that looked like a character from a Canterbury Tales novel, beard and all.

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As I was standing in line, taking my wallet out for payment, the gentleman behind me asked about a picture in my wallet of a family member. After providing some insight about that family member, he went on to ask me had I been trying to make a decision about moving lately? I was surprised because I had been trying to decide on whether or not to move. He told me to hold out my hand, he wanted to use it as an analogy. He held up my pointer finger and said, “This is your who, the middle finger is your what, the ring finger is your when, the pinky finger is your where and your thumb finger is your why.” He went on to say, “Never make a decision to do anything, unless the why makes sense. The why functions like your thumb and without it, you won’t grip very well, or hold on to anything for long.” He told me praying about it will help me make sound decisions.” Afterwards I thanked him, and he mentioned he had to go walk to the store up the road to get medicine for his wife. It was super cold outside that day, as it was mid-October, so I was surprised he was walking. After I paid, I went outside to make sure he was ok and there was no sign of him anywhere.

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I got into my car and sat there thinking at how much God must really care to send a stranger to tell me something like that when I really needed hear it. As I prayed and reflected on the positions I vacillated between, I thought about my hands, my fingers and my why. As I did this, things became much clearer. I began to ask myself, “Why do I really want to go to these places?” I began to realize a lot of the why behind me going was not for me, but for others.

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We end up on Double-Minded Island because of discontentment. Discontentment usually comes from comparing ourselves to others. It can start small, walking by someone and noticing their designer watch or bag. Surfing through Instagram, FB, or Twitter, and seeing smiling faces on vacations in nice restaurants, waterskiing and so on. It could even come from chatting with a friend and hearing about a really great experience they’ve recently had. All of these happenings could lead to discontentment and unhappiness in our own lives.

Jealousy-quote

I am glad I had that memory after my hiatus to Double-Minded Island because it reminded me the importance of knowing my why behind each decision I make. If you are trying to decide between a decision, and end up on Double-Minded Island and remember:

Pointer Finger – Who

Middle Finger – What

Ring Finger – When

Pinky Finger – Where

Thumb Finger – WHY

This will get you back on the Boat of Contentment, which is a much joyful and peaceful place. I leave you with these last words of encouragement.

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Rejoicing in Trials

James 1: 6-8

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But he must ask in faith, without doubting, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 He is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

Wellness Tip:  Take vitamins. If you feel like you aren’t getting the nutrition you need from your diet, don’t hesitate to supplement it with specific vitamins to stay healthy and illness free.

Life is too precious to remain stuck in an unpleasant story, so go ahead and close that story book and began a new one.” ~Dr. Kamina Fitzgerald

The school bell has rung, class dismissed.

Neighborly Deception

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I was studying a chapter in the Book of Joshua, and came across a lesson that would benefit everyone who reads it. Essential Question: Have you ever had an enemy in your life? How did you handle them?

Joshua had many surrounding enemies. It was not because of anything he did, but was because God continued to give him victory over his enemies in battle. Victories can produce jealousy.

The enemies of Joshua and the Israelites were so upset, that some decided to joined together in order to construct a frontal attack on Israel. Note: A typical strategy of an enemy, is to find others who do not like you, and join with them to make their attack even stronger.

The second attack strategy is what I would like to focus on. There was another group of people called the Gibeonites, who decided not to join the others in their head-on attack. They wagered on the use of a different approach, deception. They conspired a plan to pretend to be ambassadors from a far away land and seek sympathy. They took with them moldy bread, wore old patched up sandals and garments, and placed old sacks on the backs of their donkeys.

When they arrived at Camp Gilgal, the group told Joshua and the leaders that they were from far away, showered them with compliments, and asked to please make a covenant with them. Note: Be careful when people seem to want to gain your agreement about certain matters rather quickly, especially when you have not had an opportunity to learn the motives or intentions behind their request. Use discernment.

6. The Gibeonites said that even though they were from far away they had heard about how God was helping the Israelites win all of the land. They asked if the people of Israel would make a special agreement to never hurt the people of Gibeon. The Gibeonite Trick 6.

Joshua asked the group how he could make a covenant with them without knowing exactly who they were or where they were from? For all he knew, they could have been from their enemies’s camp. Joshua knew that God charged him to destroy his neighboring enemies, especially since they were secretly plotting to attack Israel.

The Gibeonites went on to reassure them, that they were not neighbors, but from far away, and had heard all of the great things God had done for the Israelites. Although they were lying about themselves, they were telling the truth about God, and knew it would be pointless to oppose Israel. Note: The Gibeonites did not join the others in their planned ambush against the Israelites because of the Israelites’s reputation for overcoming their enemies. Instead, they decided to pretend to be from far away so that they could obtain a covenant of protection. They even mentioned that their clothes and sandals were worn, and their bread was very moldy in order to make it appear they were from far away. Note: This was a falsehood, they were not from far away, but were willing to stop at nothing to get what they wanted.

Joshua and the leaders took the Gibeonite’s provision, and did not counsel with the Lord about any of it. Joshua made peace with them, and let them live. Note: The main issue here is that they did not seek the Lord about these people. They accepted the deception hook, line and sinker. They chose to walk by sight and not faith, taking everything at face value.

Three days Later, the Gibeonite’s deception came to the surface. The Israelites decided to pay the Gibeonites a visit, but could not harm them because of the covenant they made to the Lord. Note: Even when a bad oath is made, it was a mark of godliness to honor an oath to God. To prove the importance of the oath; years later, King Saul harmed the Gibeonites, and brought famine on the land for his disobedience.

Because of their deception, the Gibeonites were made slaves, but left unharmed. Their motive for lying was the fear of being annihilated. The main takeaway is to seek Godly counsel when making decisions. When your enemy feels desperate, instead of attacking you like a normal enemy would do; they could decide to form an alliance with you based on deception. While the outcome would not be good for them, it would not be great for you either. Note: We do not know everything, and must be sure to not fall victim of our own intellect.

Walk by faith and not by sight.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

The Second Black Sheep

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I would like to talk about the black sheep, but not in the way one may suppose. I want to talk about the other black sheep.

Did you know there are two types of black sheep? The first black sheep is considered to be a rebel, and menace to society. They usually stand out because they like to purposely break the rules.

The second black sheep is the opposite, but treated like the first. This is an issue because the second black sheep is not a bad sheep. The question posed is, “Why would someone purpose in their heart to ostracize and label another individual a black sheep? When does this take place and how is the behavior recognized?”

Why would someone purpose in their heart to ostracize and label another individual a black sheep?

Some of the reasons include, but are not limited too, misinformation, jealousy, and the crab mentality.

Misinformation

The second black sheep is often classified as such, due to a misleading narrative. There is often a story, or two that went around about them that had never been verified, like the telephone game played as children. Once the information was shared several times, the storyline became nothing more than embellished untruth.

Essentially, resulting in the white sheep’s transformation to a black sheep.

Remedy – Go to the source and inquire about the information, so they can confirm or dispute it. Unfortunately, most people do not do this, but instead perpetuate the information for days, weeks, months and sometimes years.

Jealousy

The second way a black sheep is created is by the Green Eyed Monster, named Jealousy. If a person becomes envious of a certain aspect in another person, they usually begin to think about it in their hearts and minds. The next action is usually to start having “innocent” sidebar conversations about the potential black sheep, in order to gather a “support system” of people who feel the same way they do. The sideboard conversations eventually become a norm, and voila, the second black sheep is born.

The Crab Mentality

This is a mentality that some people have, who aim to reduce the self-confidence of others who are achieving certain goals for themselves. The crabs not only identify this person as a black sheep, they also spread false information about them to others in order to create teams against the black sheep nominee. The opposite of this behavior would be to mentor, pour into, and lift up, but ordinarily does not occur.

When does this take place and how is the behavior recognized?

Some of the places this behavior is recognized is in the home, church, work, civic organizations, among family, and friends. Anywhere there are people, there will be a risk of being labeled as a black sheep.

While it is not a pleasant position to be in, it could be God-Ordained. I have read throughout the Bible about people who were doing all of the right things, but were still treated like a black sheep. These people were always being used by God because society had written them off due to misinformation, jealousy and not wanting to see them elevated.

I have some pertinent information to report, God’s plans and purpose for a person’s life cannot be stopped by anyone, but that person. He said as long as we are obedient to him, and walk according to his ways, no-one can pluck us out of his hand.

This should bring much comfort, because if you are feeling like the second black sheep right now, you probably have a really important calling on your life. Be encouraged and stay obedient to God. Focus your eyes on him and not man.

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

Six Questions to Help you Identify Your Calling?

Two Eagles and a Vine: A Riddle and a Parable

The school bell has rung, class is now in session.

I have been studying the Book of Ezekiel and decided to park in chapter 17.

I came across a really interesting riddle and parable. Let me preface this by defining the two. A riddle is usually a statement, question or phrase containing a double or veiled meaning; presented as a puzzle to be solved. A parable is a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Jesus was really good at using these. Let’s begin!

This is the beginning of the parable of the Two Eagles and a Vine. Before the Book of Ezekiel, it was prophesied that the Children of Israel would fall into the hands of their enemies, due to their disobedience and lack of loyalty. The first eagle represented King Nebuchadnezzar, and the twigs on the top, represented the nobility of the Children of Israel. He came, uprooted and deposited them in the city of merchants (Babylon). The King made an oath with the Children of Israel and their leader, King Zedekiah. The oath basically stated that they would remain in submission to him, and would be well cared for. He even allowed them to live freely. Think about your life right now. Have you ever felt uprooted and taken out of your comfort zone? Have you felt like you have been given over to the hands of your enemies? Have you felt powerless to stop what was happening? What if I told you that this COULD possibly be the Will of God for your life?

The twigs (Children of Israel) were placed in a fruitful field, by great waters and a tree. They were provided for by God, even though they were in captivity. This captivity was a part of God’s judgement on their disobedience, but through His mercy, He still provided a comfortable living for them. Consider this, the Children of Israel were taken and placed in a fruitful place, the only thing they had to do was pay taxes and be under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar. I know in hindsight it sounds easy, but how many times have you felt forsaken, or wondered why you were going through a certain situation? This is how King Zedekiah felt for himself and his people. Over time, the twigs began to grow and with them came forth new generations. As they began to grow, another eagle came onto the scene.

The second eagle represented Egypt. King Zedekiah began to despise the oath he made with King Nebuchadnezzar, and plotted on how to overturn him. He began to conspire with the King of Egypt and the more they talked about joining against the King of Babylon, the more King Zedekiah’s judgement became cloudy. The parable went on to describe how the branches (Children of Israel), began to divide between each eagle. God was sorely displeased about King Zedekiah’s plan to break his oath with King Nebuchadnezzar, because it was ultimately God’s plan for the Children of Israel at that time. This part of the book was profound because essentially, King Zedekiah thought that by seeking assistance from the King of Egypt, that he was in the will of God. He was dead wrong and God judged him for it. How often does this happen in our lives? When we use our human intellect to reason what is right or wrong, only to realize afterwards our huge mistake. This chapter caused me to reflect because I know I have made decisions in my life that I thought were God ideas, but turned out to be only good ideas. Going forward in this new year, take your eyes away from what is seen on the surface, those things can be deceiving. If King Zedekiah had been paying attention, and remembering what God had originally said; he would not have ended up dying before his time.

*Take away* Hide God’s word in your heart. He is one with His Word. You cannot know one, without the other.

The last lesson that can be learned, according to the Matthew Henry Commentary is “Those who depart from God, only multiply their wrongdoing by changing one (humanistic) confidence for another, and will never prosper.”

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

Energy Level Check: Is There an Emotional Vampire in Your Life?

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When you hear the word “vampire” the images that may come to mind is Barnabas Collins from “Dark Shadows” or

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Edward Cullen from “Twilight”

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I have come to inform you that vampires are quite real, maybe not in the sense of these characters, but when it comes to certain individuals we have in our lives, they could very well be Emotional Vampires and if they are, you need to run the other way, fast!

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Now in order to run from the Emotional Vampires, you will need to be able to recognize them. So, I will list six ways to identify these horrible creatures.

1. Emotionally Draining – The first thing you will noticed about this type of individual is
how emotionally and physically drained you feel after being in their company. I am not talking about the occasional time when a particular family member or friend share their issues with you, and you feel slightly tired after listening to them. I am talking about the individual who does it the emotional vampire way. Instead of sharing a small problem, they constantly bombard you with a plethora of them, while sucking you dry of advice and emotional responses ALL-THE-TIME.

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You may ask, “What is wrong with doing this? Plenty of people do this, even I do this!” That is not what I am referring to. I am talking about feeling like your head is literally spinning after you have finished a conversation with them. #abnormalfeeling

  1. Negativity Overload – After the conversation is long over with the emotional vampire in your life, you still experience this nagging negativity hangover. It is like taking a Benadryl too late before bed and waking up feeling a groggy brain-fog, after-affect. You probably did not realize until now, but that cloud of negativity was not coming from you; it was actually coming from the words of that emotional vampire you have been surrounding yourself with.
  2. You feel much better when they are not around – Picture yourself listening to the individual, while listening to them you feel bad, after listening to them you still feel gloomy. It isn’t until you have gone a few days, weeks or months, without talking/listening to this individual that you start to feel somewhat normal again. This is because while conversing with them, they not only unload a lot of negativity on you; they also tend to not actively listen to anything you have to say. So, going on a detox from this individual may show you just how good life could be without them. Go ahead and press the “Reset” button, for lighter and happier times ahead. #letitgo #frozenstyle
  3. Simplicity goes out the Window – Another sign of an emotional vampire is when having, what you believe to be, a simple conversation with them, ends up leaving you in a ball of confusion.                                                                                                8EB71179-F9AB-4CDB-AD8C-05A6757D8F51_4_5005_cWhat starts out as a simple statement, ends with the emotional vampire taking things completely out of context; leaving you disoriented and wondering what in the Sam Hill went wrong. Communication gaps happen, yes, but in the case of the emotional vampire, they are inevitable because the vampire is usually busy being negative, playing mind games, refusing to give straight answers or being overly defensive of their “uncalled for” behavior. This is definitely a trait that you should be on the lookout for because simplicity is certainly a thing of the past with them. #byebyesimplicity
  1. They make you feel deflated – These emotional vampires tend to deflate everyone around them. They cannot stand to see anyone thriving in anything because they are debbie-downers and want to make others feel that way too. A true friend would like for you to be happy and celebrate with you when things are good, and comfort you when things are bad. An emotional vampire does the complete opposite, covertly; they do not bring comfort; nor do they celebrate you. They only do it if it serves themselves in some form or fashion. Most of the time they appear to only “tolerate” you being in their lives. They are really not into you or what you have going on but keep you around for their own purposes. So, ask yourself again, why do you entertain such a person? Inquiring minds would like to know.
  2. You have a sneaky suspicion the friendship isn’t quite real – With emotional vampires, they only put up with you because a) they need a sounding-board b) they need someone to put down so that they can feel better about themselves c) they need emotional responses to what they are saying [in these cases they will have multiple people they run to for this because your response alone will not be enough] d) they need your energy to empower themselves. Notice how all of these reasons are about them and not the friendship? This is normally the case with these creatures, I mean, emotional vampires. Once they get the energy and attention they crave, you will be out of sight and out of their narrow minds, until they need another energy fix again.

What to do if you have been bitten by an emotional vampire:

1. Establish the no contact rule, this is important because they are sly creatures and can usually lure you back into the friendship before you have time to think about it. Cutting ties will allow you to get back to emotional freedom sooner than later.

2. Do not try to reason with emotional vampires, it will not work. You will just become tangled up again in their web of deceit.

3. If you work with the person in a common organization, separate yourself and only deal with them professionally. Do not meet up for dinner or talk on the phone. Keep everything strictly work related, and at work only.

4. Develop a support system of people who care about you, and who are willing to talk and actively listen. This marks a healthy relationship. Now go forth and be a Vampire Slayer!

 

Wellness Tip: Clear conscious. Do not be afraid to say you are sorry and to forgive.

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” ~William A. Ward

The school bell has rung, class dismissed!

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