"The lifeblood of a nation is not freedom, although freedom is a virtuous thing for a nation to achieve. The lifeblood of a nation is always composed of its leaders, and their followers and detractors. And it is made up of the people whose business does not include the politics of the state, but contribute and live daily within a nation's borders. So then, people breathe life into a nation, regardless of the level of freedom or slavery of that nation. The great fabric of society is not society itself and its type, but a man or woman's life performed in front of the Father, God, regardless of or in spite of society. The Law of Liberty prevails whether a nation enslaves its citizenry or not." - Michelle Murphy
The term “freedom” as defined by an internet dictionary below:
the definition, in part, below
- the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.
- absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government
- the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved.
I do not believe freedom among people should mean "to be able to act without restraint”, for man is far from perfect. Without morality as a guiding light regarding the rule of law, we are lawless and anarchy is amuck; that same morality is required when dealing with neighboring nations and securing national defense. Yet, a careful balance between the state who governs and enforces laws, and the people is necessary; skill in governance is required to maintain this healthy balance, along with moral virtue among a nation's people. And yes, we know that there is a God that oversees mankind and its rulers.
Moral virtue is also required for the balance of energy between mankind and the earth. We cannot live in wickedness, arrogance, or greed without consequences. As a species, we cannot legalize and subsidize bad behavior as it affects others or the environment. Freedom comes with responsibility.
So, given that, what does freedom mean to me?
Freedom sometimes requires a heavy cost to maintain; investing in the character of a nation’s people requires dedication, just as war costs lives. American freedom is a virtue, and to maintain it should not require war. In our country, America, what it means to be free is to be able to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; people cross seas and borders to live here. Yet, certainly the idea of liberty has been stretched thin in this country.
Liberty encompasses the freedom of the press, and the freedom to voice one's own opinion. From where we are today, freedom of the press or freedom of information may be only a goal for the future, but it is a worthy goal that should be tended to. A good education and start in life, rather than a dumbed down version, enhances one's ability to live free within a nation's borders. A good education isn’t about exposing all conspiracies, but building character, intelligence, and skill for living in the workplace and being an active citizen. A nation endorsing freedom should encourage family developments, good health, support life of the unborn, and acknowledge safety as a virtue. Supporting engineering and technological infrastructure allows the populace to pursue and maintain the comforts of electricity and roads, among other things. I think these things are important.
Open conversation between the leaders and populace of a free country is a must on important issues including war, space, intelligent life elsewhere, and population issues; issues where the populace is affected should be realized by the populace. If they are hidden, is it because people would be in outrage? Is such an issue, pursued by the state in secret, of an immoral nature? Complex thinking by the populace is possible if politics and media are much less dumbed down, and better education realized. The populace needs to be willing to participate in solutions, and the calling would be good for bringing real meaning to people that are otherwise searching. It would also shoulder responsibility on the people at a time when more responsibility is needed. Freedom and responsibility go hand and hand and that is natural law.
Freedom means freedom to congregate as a church. It means what you believe is your own business, and a human’s thoughts are not owned by anyone else. This is why we have a relationship with God, so He can judge our thinking and influence our ways and judge our beliefs and faith.
Territorial and power wars between nations should be based on things that are more important than just the arbitrary; even wars about territory, money, and resources should be met with caution. Every nation has a right to seek safety and freedom for its people as a matter of defense and national security, and at times manufactured utopian thinking may have to take a back seat to sacrificing for something real and tangible. I believe in mercy, grace, forgiveness, and even second chances, especially as a matter of diplomacy with other nations. We should remember that the righteous live among even the most rogue or dissenting nations, and we should offer an olive branch on their behalf. These are my strong beliefs.
Overall, for governance, I am a bit of an authoritarian, because I believe in strong national leadership. I also think democracy can instill madness by governments, and lead to poorly skilled leadership, and an out-of-control citizenry; we see plenty of examples throughout history of overthrow of governments and eventual loss of freedom for everyone. Yet, a republic is better than a democracy, and it aims to instill a rule of law that even the leaders must ascribe to. Outside influence and help is part of every nation's repertoire. I am in favor of the rule of law to protect freedom as I outlined, and order and ingenuity among the disorder and rebellion; some rebellion and disorder is healthy.
The second question is, should a nation be able to decide its own fate?
Here, in the United States, we have often meddled in the affairs of other nations, and in some people’s opinion, that means we are not following our own notion of liberty, especially if the outcome is not the development of a free nation. Liberty, in the fullest sense, has never been realized by political means, neither historically or throughout any one nation's entire history. It is more often imagined or an illusion of liberty that people experience. It is often the propaganda fueling non-liberty agendas. So, if one were to fight for it tooth and nail, they must understand that God appoints the times and seasons in life, and that we have true liberty through Jesus Christ and not through government. Fighting is real and not imagined, and more often then not, men are found fighting one another with the roar of liberty and freedom behind them, all the while dictating, killing and endorsing the suffering of others. We must be careful about pursuing war, although sometimes necessity requires it.
True freedom lies outside of sin, outside of suffering, and in talking, communicating, and lending a hand unto others. We should first demand of our leaders, and other nations, solutions we can take part in for the future that promote a better welfare for all, as if we were in this same life together, roughing it out and needing support. If someone were to be dictating our life, we should be an example to them for the short period we experience life here. "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people" (1 Peter 2, Verse 15). Again, war should always be a last resort. And when a nation fights for a neighboring nation’s freedom, and it is true in its intent and marksmanship, we should respond with caution and hope; caution in that we do not like war and its consequences, and hope that we shall all be set free. For some nations do not know freedom or how to obtain it; its leaders are wicked. We must always remember that God, the All Powerful, will judge us all, leaders and the populace.
The Bible says we should pray that our leaders extend to us a peaceful life and a world where the gospel can flourish. Those two blessings are part of the freedom we've traditionally held in the United States (1 Timothy 2, Verse 2 and 2 Thessalonians 3, Verse 1). We should pray earnestly for these two things here and overseas, and appreciate that we already have a peaceful life and freedom of religion in the United States.
Awesome God (worship song)
Our God is an awesome God he reigns
From heaven above with wisdom, power and love
Our God is an awesome God
How Great Thou Art (worship song)
O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed,
Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee;
How great thou art, how great thou art!
Acts 17, Verses 22 - 34, Sermon on Mars Hill - 22 So Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I observe that you are very religious in all respects. 23 For while I was passing through and examining the objects of your worship, I also found an altar with this inscription, ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you worship in ignorance, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; 25 nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; 26 and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; 28 for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.’ 29 Being then the children of God, we ought not to think that the Divine Nature is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and thought of man. 30 Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.” 32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” 33 So Paul went out of their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.
Today I was sitting in a bible study at church when I really took something in that was being taught, and I thought, "Our God is an awesome God". My focus shifted to this and I realized I was in a room with others who had declared that "God is Good!"; I was in a place of righteous worship, reflection and fellowship. I felt God shined a light on us in that moment. We were studying God's covenant with Israel and the many times they fell away. Often they fell into observing what neighboring nations were involved in, including orgies, human sacrifice, improper sexual relations, and deity worship outside of God. Looking back now, God's laws and commandments determined a path and pattern of righteousness for all people to inherit one day through the new covenant brought by Jesus Christ and the future judgement. All this which existed in part because of this prior relationship with God and Israel. Paul in Acts 17 is right - God will come to judge the entire world in righteousness through Jesus Christ at the appointed time. He is no longer the "unknown God" and He is a righteous God.
In a book by Jack Cottrell, "The Faith Once and For All", the characteristics of God are listed as follows: God is Spirit, Self-existent, One, Three (Father, Son, Spirit), Infinite, Eternal, Righteous, Immutable, Transcendent, Sovereign, Omnipotent, Wise, Good, Omniscient, Omnipresent, Immanent, Glorious, Holy, Loving, Jealous, Wrathful, Merciful, Patient, and Gracious. In the introduction it says, “Because God is holy, he is jealous and wrathful in the presence of sin; because he is love, he is merciful, patient and gracious toward sinners.” I am studying the biblical definitions and text associated with these traits so I can get a fuller understanding of God as part of my faith and prayer life. I want to make sure as part of my faith-journey I fully understand just how glorious God really is.
It is amazing to think of the world on God's terms rather than the alternative. In American culture there is an inherited belief system from Christianity that promotes justice, kindness, humility, family values, compassion on the poor, respect for all, work ethic and other forms of righteousness. Yes, darkness lives here; darkness has its place everywhere; it cannot be denied as humans are fallen. At the same time, we send missionaries into much darker places. In some places the worship of other gods, or another god, leads people into sexual slavery, or beatings, or because of a certain belief about karma for droves of people to turn a blind eye to the poor. When Mother Theresa first set foot in India her faith was tested for what she saw was terrifying. Christian missionaries are often overwhelmed with the situations they are confronted, but they most often are very passionate about their work because they seek what is good. Corruption is at a larger scale in most other countries than here at home. Often people blame corporatism, socialism or communism, but intermixed in these systems is a lack of respect for biblical values and freedom of religion, either through state-force or propaganda. Yet, God still reaches the hearts of the righteous and continues his kingship over the authorities.
The new law of the New Testament means one should have faith in Christ and pursue righteousness as evidence for that belief. Our God has a true form of justice that has worked itself over man throughout history molding and shaping him for appointed times and a bright future. God will also finally judge each and every man, woman and child. God is perfect in every way, so it is with great relief and great fear that he is both our Maker and Judge. In the end, the debased may be given over to evil and hell, while the remaining in a heavenly resting place. The complexity of it all is for God and Jesus to understand; we tend to oversimplify it in our minds. But our God is not simple - he is great. "O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder, Consider all the worlds, Thy hands have made, I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed, Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee; How great thou art, how great thou art!"
Dear God, I am unsure when you are guiding my thoughts and actions, or in my presence before me, as I have a creative imagination and it is hard to pinpoint. Yet, today at church when my focus became pinpoint clear and the background surroundings faded out, I imagined You were there to be seen shining a light on us. I see answers to my prayers looking back, and callings to do what is more righteous when I am otherwise not up to it. I agree You work in mysterious ways, and it is not for me to know. Your ways, however, are great! As the Maker of all things I find You glorious and wise. When people dare to say, "God is Love!", I am assured of Your mercy, patience and graciousness. As the Author of the final judgement, I fear and respect the outcome, knowing that what is holy is perfect and righteous. I pray for those that are suffering in immeasurable ways, especially the vulnerable. May people not turn a blind eye to what suffering they see, and strive to make a difference for those in need. May the authorities not be given over to debased minds, and instead declare justice and freedom of religion in their lands; may they set an example of humility and skill in governing; may they resist war and violence on their own people and other nations. May Christianity flourish wherever it is planted. In the name of Jesus, the Christ, Amen.
"In Loving Memory", poem by Michelle Murphy
Ode to those that have passed,
Who wither a bit in our hearts and minds,
But gather steam in a world not too far away.
We long to be by their side and rejoice we may one day
At the sight of their face
And the sound of their laugh.
May they have uprooted the grave the day they were laid down.
May we hear their voice again.
Truly, ode to those that have passed.
In loving memory of our ancestors and loved ones
We say, "Live on!
Do not wither away."
Wikipedia - "This too shall pass" - (Persian: این نیز بگذرد, translit. īn nīz bogzarad) is originally a Persian adage reflecting on the temporary nature, or ephemerality, of the human condition. The general sentiment is often expressed in wisdom literature throughout history and across cultures, although the specific phrase seems to have originated in the writings of the medieval Persian Sufi poets. It is known in the Western world primarily due to a 19th century retelling of Persian fable by the English poet Edward FitzGerald. It was also notably employed in a speech by Abraham Lincoln before he became the sixteenth President of the United States.
Psalm 23, A Psalm of David
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
My father took his life in my early 20's. I've always remembered that about him, although I remember too what I loved about him. His sense of humor carried him through life and cheered others. HIs smarts and good work ethic made him a success at work. His spiritual convictions led him to do what was right nearly always. And yet, humor, smarts, ethics and a love for God were not enough on the particular day of February 4th, 2000. His humor, smarts, ethics and love for God are what I miss most about him 18 years later.
I've inherited something from my family. It's different from depression, but includes depression being bipolar I with psychosis. I can relate to complete loss of hope; I can relate to living in a personal hell-hole; I can relate to days where I would just wish life would end and that no spirit would leave my earthly body and continue in any form. I wanted suicide of not only my life, but my spirit.
I've had 3 Kate Spade purses. Many of her purses are best in design and functionality. Anthony Bourdain's show was best in class for bringing us the best about cultures all over the world through amazing food and conversation over the kitchen or serving table. These two were the best of the best at what they do. What that tells us is that no one evades human suffering.
The will to live is a strong human trait but the challenges of life can drive one down into a deep depression, whether one is usually a normal human being or one that lives with a chronic mental health condition. There are 3 tiers to life... mental, physical and spiritual, and deterioration in any of those categories from time to time is part of being a person. Facing challenges and overcoming them is an intriguing part of the human condition, but from time to time one will not overcome. And we grieve hard when that happens. Each person on this planet dies one way or another, but death by suicide has a unique effect on those around them because "Why?" is so difficult to grasp and accept.
Some of us face bad circumstances - life altering, devastating circumstances. Ending a life under such circumstances can seem like a way to relieve the situation. The decision to face what seems unbearable, even facing humiliation or pain, is difficult. Again, human suffering is a part of life and it manifests itself in complex ways. May we all find the will to live another day.
If you are challenged right now, rise to the occasion. There are 3 keys to this: (1) have hope in something, (2) have appreciation for something and (3) set some healthy boundaries (such as I will not kill myself ever, or I will avoid risky behavior, or I will get out of bed every day and do something). Develop reasons for having hope, appreciation and healthy boundaries and remember you can always have hope and appreciate that things change. Because what follows suffering is growth spurts and sometimes unexpected blessings. "This too shall pass". Don't give up or give in.
Dear God, I miss my dad. This poem was written by me because of him. I long to see him again. I long to avoid situations where I am challenged by spiritual or mental depression. Always remind me in my darkest hour that there is reason to carry on. Bring us into a world with more healing, hope and appreciation, so that more people may be at peace in their hearts and minds - especially for those I love and care about. Amen.
Luke 22, Verses 39-44 - Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
"On Responding to Stress", You Tube Video by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski
The Road Not Taken, poem by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
1 Corinthians 9, Verse 24 - Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
Romans 5, Verses 3-4 - And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope.
James 1, Verse 3-4 - Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
James 5, Verse 11 - Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.
Our desires often involve moving away from a place of discomfort to a place of comfort. However, it's important to nail the process of living uncomfortably at times. Why? We can grow in a way that prevents us from living a status quo life. We can build stamina that will pay off in the future. We can learn something about ourselves, others, or God.
So avoiding the status quo - what does that mean? I have an example. In my own life I've lived status quo and I've risen above it - I've had it both ways and always had pride when I've chosen the more difficult path. My current struggle is holding down a new full-time career with schizo-affective after years working part-time at home. It is certain that I am well enough to maintain a career right now. But some days I'm tempted to succumb to ending the anxiety I feel mid-week by quitting early on in the game, and go back to mid-afternoon naps so I can reduce my medication and live easy. My prayer is that I don't give in and that I rise above the discomfort so I can grow in new ways by dealing with a tough scenario. I have everything in place to do that - supportive family, friends, and church, an award-winning psychiatrist, and a counselor I work well with. Can I make it through? Will I give in to an impulsive end? Am I really that desperate to avoid pain, after all it has raged through my life in the past and I'm still OK. And have I though to pray about it? Am I being mindful to promote positive optimistic self-talk on those tough days? Am I lazy or wanting to give in to sin? The answers to these questions lie in a gray area - because I have succeeded in the past and I have built some stamina in my life from pressing on before. It's kind of a thing most women have experience in doing - that pressing on thing. But lying in the mix are worries from time to time that hold me back; worry is another thing most women have experienced and often been held back by. And sin is still tempting.
What can we learn about ourselves, others, or God from difficult circumstances or outright pain? Patience, right speech or right thinking under pressure, further development of our relationship with God, how to give or receive help from others, understanding what it means to be human, or a wife, mother or friend, and/or increased wisdom and perspective that finds a useful place in our minds. We learn that God sees over us even when we are tempted or tested, and that He not only allows for us to be tested but sometime authors the situations we endure for a greater purpose.
It sounds all nice on paper, but enduring and growing your relationship to God and others and with yourself is not pink roses at all; it's a thorny process. What Jesus endured, for instance, crown of thorns and all, He endured for us and His fruit is lasting. While it is beyond our capacity to run the race He ran, His example is a lesson in endurance and payoff - the two are related however unusual it seems to be. Good things lead to more good things, but bad things can lead to good things, and discomfort is not always a bad thing anyway (in most cases it's good). God had a plan for Jesus; God has a plan for us.
Dear God, When I feel weak and vulnerable give me wisdom and strength. When I feel like giving in to sin or anxiety give me wisdom and strength as well. I have given up on myself or Your plan or my responsibilities in the past, and there is always regret and tribulation. For I cannot run from tribulation but must face it in order to grow past it or above it. I seek Your wisdom and counsel and appreciate the wisdom and counsel of others. May all women seeking a better life from the discomfort they are facing, see another day and obtain both an earthly prize and the ultimate prize after this life has passed. We are so very lucky to have the freedoms we do in this country - may we not squander it or any other blessing we may receive. Glory be to God. Amen.
John 15, Verse 8 - “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
What does it mean to be alive? The mountains and the stars have an eternality about them. The rocks, the grass, the trees, etc. are all living in one sense; they leave an almost eternal imprint. Think of the millions of years that some of these things have existed, transforming, offering resources and land and life to humans and other lifeforms across the universe. God is the “eternal rock” so to speak being our foundation. He is also omnipresent; he is sovereign; he reaches our hearts. He is very much alive. And we too are alive.
Are we alive to do good? I read the book “Chaos: Making a New Science” by James Gleick. The chaos theory is a science based conclusion that explains how a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world affects the weather in another part. Just think of how a human life is one life and is worth living. As U2 puts it, it is “one life, we got to do what we should”, and that is because of our impact. Maya Angelou, a famous writer and poet, states that “words” are alive. She is very careful about her choice of words, and recommends this to others. Being careful with the tongue is also elaborated on within the Bible. Words have value to God. Morals are related to the type of impact one makes. Living a moral life is the type of life worth living.
Christians believe we are alive after death. One of the differences between the atheistic view of life and the Christian view of life is whether we are “alive” after death or not. Some of us picture ourselves like spirits floating around in new bodies, worshiping God and visiting with our loved ones. Is this reality? Christians should know their loved ones in the afterlife. The atheist does not feel value in believing in the afterlife, but are only doubters of the truth, not knowers of it. Dante left the Christians of the day and into the present with a view of hell and heaven that pervades to this day, much of it incorrect. Yet, the few descriptions of hell and heaven in the Bible are indeed symbolic and sometimes literal of what life means after death. We do continue to be alive after death.
Jesus is very much alive. Very few deny that Jesus lived. Most Christians, as they define themselves, accept Jesus as the Son of God. He established the kingdom of God on earth; he left an everlasting imprint - one that means we must strive in our living. He atones for our sins and He is our savior. He taught us we are saved through grace, and to accept the Holy Spirit into our life and be baptized, and to start producing good fruit. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:8.
Living a good life, striving to make an imprint on the hearts of others, recognizing the beauty of the natural world and putting faith in an everlasting life - these are ways to reduce the cruelty within our own species and to move forward with a better vision of life on earth and the hereafter. Our vision originates with God and Christ and as living Christians we have many promises from God along with responsibilities as one within His kingdom.
Pray a silent prayer along this topic. God bless!
Epigenetics, definition (Google) - "The study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself."
Thriving on Super-Experience, Poem by Michelle Murphy
I used to want to be saturated to death with All That Is - and I have been,
I thrive on super-experience.
Yet I’ve been reborn with a love for the small things.
It was all about:
Super-heroes and champions.
Above and beyond.
Tying knots to resolve chaos.
Last minute endings.
Resolving the unresolvable.
Roads that don’t end.
Deep colors of red and purple; black.
Now it’s all about:
Cycles and perfection.
Truth in context.
Here and now.
Roads of contentment.
Fractals of light.
Is something still missing?
Am I done with super-experience?
Or is it game-on?
Guess what? Humans are organisms, or if cells are organisms then various types of cells make us up. From the study of this gene expression within epigenetics, it has been found we can alter organisms and ourselves through gene expression willfully. With the outcome of each memory we make in our lifetime our gene expression is made up; even our ancestors pass down their experiences to us through the gene expression phenomenon. Ways of thinking, visuals, recovery or non-recovery from trauma, nutrition, and attitude can all alter our gene expression. At any moment we can create a positive change, and when positive changes accumulate direction can be changed - we can recover from cancer, our mental problems can diminish, and life can be better enjoyed. We can set new patterns based on old patterns and send positive vibes onto the next generation through birth. We can be reborn ourselves.
For instance being diagnosed with any mental illness, if it is related to any particular gene, should show up under the gene expression umbrella of the DNA code rather than just the code. It appears we can mingle or co-mingle with the present to alter our physical makeup in a way that can re-route us towards recovery. Just knowing we can make a line in the sand and walk over it a new person is encouraging. Here are a few tips related to creating new positive habits from the book Self Discipline by James Daugherty - (1) It takes 21 successful days in a row to develop a new habit, work through the hump, (2) Remind yourself of the goals you feel inspired and motivated to complete, every day. (3) Deny yourself of something to strengthen self-discipline muscles. (4) Visualize and imagine how you will be (picture yourself and your way of being) if you incorporate these new habits for 6 months, 1 year, etc. (5) Remind yourself of what inspired you to set these goals.
My poem, Thriving on Super-Experience, is about a period in my life when I depended on super-experience. Later I was reborn and my life changed. The before and after is given above as best I can explain it. A similar thing occurs when giving up alcoholism and taking on a new life, or the rebirth associated with baptism in the Christian religion; much is expected when giving up one way of life, and then taking on or following a new way of life. Stumbling blocks continue to persist but with confidence and prayer we can boost ourselves to a level that we have finally passed that line in the sand; we can be rerouted to success or recovery and our gene expression can help us as we provide it with better experiences, thoughts and memories. If there are a series of memories flowing through our life as each event goes on each day, then we must develop the framework to make those memories gene-boosting. We must choose wisely what we read and stimulate ourselves with. Wise attitudes are important. Conversations with loved ones weigh into the future.
Dear God, When I was baptized and I dedicated my life to following Christ I had still several stumbling blocks to over come. With time and slow-but-steady dedication I have overturned most of those stones and am finally living the Christian life I wanted to live back then. God, Your hand, is always there to nudge me along and hopefully my joys are Your joys. There are other lines in the sand I hope to cross to alter my gene expression and help me potentially at work and with family and friends. Your creation is full of mystery and wonder. Amen.
Romans 8, Verse 28 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
John 15, Verses 9-11 - As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Romans 12, Verse 2 - And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
Poem by Michelle Murphy - "About That Feeling That Life Isn't Fulfilling"
About that feeling that life isn’t fulfilling...
I hear about it all over.
Like when you’re married with kids and done everything you thought would make you happy, but something is missing.
Like when you're a high dollar lawyer and partner at one of the most successful firms but just feel burned out - not alive.
My life is chock-full of examples.
I have that feeling… that itch I can’t scratch.
Am I forgetting to count my blessings?
Am I forgetting to make the most of my lot in life?
Am I forgetting to focus on God’s plan?
What is this itch all about and what should we do?
Do we have insatiable drives? Or insatiable desires for bliss?
Are we afraid of anything labeled normal?
Are we afraid of drawing a paycheck? Would we rather be homeless?
Do we want life to be interesting from day to noon to night? And while we sleep?
Are we allergic to routines; should we avoid shaving today or taking a shower to keep it real?
What is this itch about and what should we do?
How do we find what makes us feel alive?
For me, it is not drinking or lush environments.
For me, it is not any particular type of work, so far.
For me, it is not the greatest party which only lasts a day or two.
For me, it is not the adrenaline of lifting weights, shopping, or vacations.
All of that just sprinkles my skin and fades away.
But nature makes me feel alive, when I'm not taking it for granted,
And freedom, when I’m not taking it for granted.
And sprinkling my skin in all its fading glory is a blessing I don’t have to give up.
The cycle of birth and rebirth - trying something new now and then… That does it for me.
I’m onto my next work assignment.
And presenting my poems live is the next pressing thing.
Saving money, working out, planning the future.
It all makes me feel alive.
And that party on the horizon and the vacation in the sun,
Moments with family, and love-making a new way.
Yes it all fades.
Finding myself walking in circles, treading the same footprints…. It drives me nuts, but it’s part of living.
And so that itch is part of being alive,
My insatiable drive and desire for bliss too.
I better count my blessings and make the most of my lot.
The reward of Heaven is the best spade I’ve got -
And so I can appreciate the fading part of life.
Being alive does not equate with feeling alive in a glittery way,
And I can deal with it. I can learn to deal with it. I want to deal with it.
About that feeling that life isn’t fulfilling…
Who cares. Let's be real.
I watched part of a documentary lately about a cult that attracted tons of people in the 80s. What struck me about most of the people who got involved was their "itch" to improve their lives - life seemed too normal and mundane, or their high-dollar profession had them burnt out. They found the answers in possessing meditation, a mesmerizing guru, sexual freedom, and a promise that they were part of a revolution of world peace. I thought how were these educated people falling for this, and then realized that before I settled on Christianity I may have easily fallen into the same pit.
A good part of my motivation and accomplishment has been reared in a search for a fulfilling life - one of purpose and value. So it's important where my values come from in taking on new endeavors. The driven must drive towards the right things. But I've made mistakes. At one time I was embroiled in politics - leading armies of people to state conventions, debating political philosophy with leaders, using social media to share my views, and fighting for national security, foreign policy and energy reform as if it were my dying wish. Today, my endeavors are more Christ-centered and I do Hospice, mentor youth, blog here and share my poetry through multiple venues. Life is much more fulfilling now then it was under the trance of "saving the world". Romans 12:2 is my favorite verse that I forgot to follow - "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Take note of your endeavors and glorify God.
Christianity is not a flash religion, and as Christians we have to deal sometimes with the mundane. For example, avoiding sexual sin is much more mundane than being promiscuous. So is a good work ethic or a clean shaven attitude. But we are rest assured by Romans 8 and John 15 (and throughout the Bible) that God's purpose lives within us, and that hope and joy are big pieces of our faith and long-term dedication as Christians. Christianity historically has been a religion of peace and it offers the world stability wherever it takes root, so as Christians we are part of a peace movement. There are answers within Christianity to the normal and mundane, or professional burn-out; by seeking answers from God though prayer, study and from examples among our brothers and sisters in Christ we can succeed.
Dear God, Thank You for delivering me from the wrong path. Thank You for the answer that sometimes life is normal and mundane and that even that can be a welcome breath of fresh air after things get seemingly out of control. If not, I am to deal with it as a mature Christian. I pray that more non-Christians and youth are drawn towards the Christian way of life for what it offers and what is true. We know You hear our cries, and we should listen for that answer that always comes from You. At times, my life isn't fulfilling and I get that "itch"; it can either lead me astray or head me in the right direction to doing greater things. Be by my side always and guide my paths. In Christ's name, Amen.
Quote by Audrey Hepburn (one of my sister's favorite people) - "I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe tomorrow is another day, and I believe in miracles."
My sister is pretty damn cool. She handles mom-hood with grace, and is the kind of mom any sane person would love to have. She keeps her marriage going, and welcomes people into her home and life with love. She gives the best toasts over a drink, and can still get down and dance. What she believes is what she practices, and she is a very beautiful woman - inside and out. Lastly, but not least, she has a great sense of humor - it's nice when we laugh together.
When my father died, at his funeral a church mentor of my sister and I told us two that we needed to keep our relationship strong with each other. He explained his close relationship with his brother and the importance it had on his life. I was in college and he had been our Youth Minister when I was young. He was right. And my sister is a big part of my world today. I am very lucky to have a close relationship with my sister, but besides luck, I have also put in a lot of work to keep the relationship at a high level; she has too.
So what was the key from the brotherhood example that inspired this sisterhood example from my life? To be honest, I think it's a combination of witnessing the various mundane to monumental moments in another one's life since birth, and the unique humor that grows up around that into later-hood. Later-hood is first older kids, then young adults, then getting old, and oh my! full-old. Our sisters know us without our masks; they know how we came to be. Having humorous moments on the same page with a sister is part of a life-sustaining journey. Laughter has always been the best medicine in my life, and the laughter of two sisters is more than twice the benefit. This is why everyone needs a sister in life.
Dear God, Thank you for this life sustaining blessing in my life - my sister. Maybe when we laugh the world lightens up around us, even if only very briefly. I pray that as two sisters we can continue to overcome what life throws at us. My sister's kids are a wonderful addition to my world, and I thank you for the wonderful parents they have to raise them and show them the way into adult-hood (they have a ways to go!) Cheers to good toasts, good advice, good humor and beautiful ladies. Praise God! Amen.
Something Outside of Herself, poem by Michelle Murphy
I get my typewriter out
And it says to me, “Push my buttons.”
This is what I type:
Psychosis wipes away the tears
Of frozen words.
You say, “She’s possessed!”
But that does not capture the meaning.
Words are spectrums -
Not concrete shapes.
I say, “She’s also on the spectrum
Of inspired -
Something outside of herself causes
Her to dance, to tick.
"If it’s not black or white,
Then it’s gray?”
No! What we’re talking about
Isn't even colors.
It’s shades - or shadows really
And how they appear
Mental illness is a bad choice of terms.
I got issues - you got issues.
And hell no! - I don’t want
Your issues instead of mine.
I have abstract thoughts
That have broken me from the
Wrist ties that keep us locked away,
And from reasoning and speaking.
I’ve slipped away enough times
To know I don’t do any kind of
Cocktail that will make me slip again.
It’s a question I’ve faced -
Whether to have a daughter that
Might be a duplicate of me.
I would protect her.
Oh glorious! I’ve climbed a mountain
Before and given a speech to no one.
Oh dreadful! I’ve nailed a semi-truck
And only by God’s grace stand here now.
Oh police! Oh naked in terror
Running down the street.
Sheer terror makes my rides
Not worth any set of dollar bills.
I am older than I look.
I’ve been possessed and inspired!
At war and brought about peace!
I am known in the spirit world
And I have been anointed.
Oil has glazed down my head - my crown.
I put the typewriter down and speak.
I said psychosis wipes away the tears of frozen words.
That cocktails can free us from our prisons.
If you zero in on thousands of years what are ladies still talking about?
The glorious, the dreadful, and the police.
Inspiration, war and peace.
Cocktails, the spirit world, my issues - her issues.
Protecting their daughters.
The woman’s shadow has always been there, it never disappears.
But almost all shadows are worth chasing after.
Something outside of herself causes
Her to dance, to tick.
"If it’s not black or white,
Then it’s gray?”
No! What we’re talking about
Isn't even colors.
It’s shades - or shadows really
And how they appear
There's a reason women still live in a shadow of what they could be. For American women, today is the age of anxiety, the age of a sure-to-fail expectation of success, the age of general naiveness among the masses, and the age of an explosion in creativity. These all contribute to the challenges of being a woman.
Anxiety is talked about by all the experts; it's a growing problem in the United States. American culture, technology, education, nutrition, genetic expression, and exposure to elements in the environment all play key roles in this discussion. Anxiety affects all sectors of the population. How it affects women is key to who women are; who a woman is, is not arbitrary. But who that is, is not simple. There is a shadow of women from the past that follow us today. In many ways we cast today the same shadow as from past times; we weep together with our past and future, and we sing together.
Today, a surefire success campaign in the public domain will expect a woman to be equal to a man in their shared domain - the competition is this way in many career-fields. Women do this body-double with males plus she is expected to surge in the home, among her family and friends and as a parent. Not every woman feels this bar to compare herself to, but a large number of women in my age-group certainly have - I have.
Even with the age of instant news and information, generations have been steered away from real information through careful news administration, conspired busyness about daily life, and Prussian-style public schooling. This lack of careful study and accurate understanding affects the world-views of millions of women. But, many women escape this delusion by focusing on what is true to their inner circles - women have a tendency to answer back to the war on for their minds.
Women in America are free to create in all sectors, and they score a creative-high in all sectors. Big thinkers, optimistic dreamers, careful students, readers, engineers, artists - all assets to our world. The explosion in freedom and free-markets has sent women into overdrive, some of which we have been unprepared for. The act of being creative usually entails deep employment of the heart and sometimes vulnerability. Yet, many women are not prepared to handle their emotions in a responsible way. It affects work and relationships, our mental and spiritual health.
These are complex and tumultuous times, yet mankind is better off for adding women to the equation in a larger way (as in recent history here in America). Yet many things have to be worked through. Some things stand out like a sore thumb as problems, yet obstacles stand there providing us an uphill battle. It's an uphill battle women will continue to climb.
Pray for a woman in your life.
Philippians 4, Verses 4-9 - 4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
With the exception of people like Paul in the Bible or Tony Robbins, we all face challenges with anxiety from time to time. There are a number of ways to respond to anxiety. We often respond to the unknown with unease. The unknown can keep us on edge almost continuously, it can trigger PTSD symptoms, and it can be dangerous to our mental, spiritual and even physical health. When something we are counting on falls through, disappointment turns to grief and then recovery. If not recovery, then anxiety and other negative things.
Don't place your bets on what you think will be with you tomorrow, or what you think you might lose. Place your bets on things like charity, acceptance, wisdom, faith, and hope. Those are sure things, pure things and they come through 100% of the time. Life events do not always come through, and you've likely lost a bet or more before. Rather than projecting the past into the future, the framework needs to be altogether different. Philippians chapter 4, verses 4-9 are very popular verses for Christians, and offer an understanding response as well as solutions to the problem of anxiety. Paul gives two actionable items: (1) to pray requests to God in thanksgiving, and (2) to think on excellent and praiseworthy things.
Look up at the sky. Taste food. Actually get on your knees and pray. Listen or remember a favorite song. Smell your skin. Remember a meaningful hug. Stir your mind to answer the question, "What is excellent and praiseworthy?" from this looking, tasting, praying, listening, touching and smelling. Doing this is grounding for anyone, and something I do to ground myself.
I've learned it is key with anxiety to be gentle with yourself, and with others. Remember your worth and the worth of others. Love yourself properly. Remember to love others as we would ourself. - it's the golden rule.
Dear God, You are most excellent and praiseworthy. I thank Paul for his meaningful words in Philippians and the sacrifice he made with his life and death for the sake of the Church. I will work to focus more on excellent and praiseworthy things. I pray for my nation that has the #1 highest anxiety rate in the world. I pray for our busy, tensed up lives, and ask for more than medication and counseling to resolve the issue. I pray for the state of individuals today. I pray for my state. I am optimistic. With thanksgiving I rejoice because what is excellent will prevail. Amen.
Michelle is a woman of depth whose faith has pulled her through some difficult times. She finds beauty and inspiration from life experience and literature, sourced from all ages and walks of life. Michelle seeks to inspire other women in their personal journeys, especially those who struggle. Michelle is also a mental health advocate, writer & engineer. Her other website is www.freemindbooks.com.