Wednesday, December 17, 2014

May the LORD rejoice in his works: 50 Things I Am Going to Miss About California (#41-#39)

San Diego Skyline.  Photo Information:
www.freeimages.com/photo/1313570
I have finally finished fall semester and am looking forward to CHRISTmas break! It is overcast and rainy outside, the house is quiet, and I am sitting here with you and a hot cup of coffee. (Which, by the way, I’m thinking it is time I switch to tea. Do you have any suggestions for me?)

In celebration of our move from California to Texas, I am listing 50 things I am going to miss about this state. So far, I covered:
50. Earthquakes
49. Traffic

48. The freeways
47. The crazy expensive cost of living

46. The Oakland A’s
45. The Sacramento River Cats
44. The Stockton Ports

43. Disney’s California Adventure Park
42. Hiking to the Summit of Mt. Diablo


Which brings me to the next THREE:

41. San Diego
Oh, beautiful San Diego…about two or three hours (driving) from Los Angeles! Though (I feel) it is quite pricey, I believe it is a must see (and experience)! I have been there twice since moving here… once for Thanksgiving (circa 1999) when my cousin was living there and once with my parents, sibling, and a couple of my children (circa summer 2009). I would like to go visit one more time before we move. Maybe, I could catch up with a good friend of mine while down that way! San Diego is picturesque and lovely. My cousin’s apartment was in the downtown area when I visited with her and the hotel where my family and I stayed was near the harbor. Actually, come to think of it, I was there one more time when hubs did a job for work…years ago…somewhere between 2001 and 2006. Anyway, the San Diego Zoo is remarkable! It is huge and quite a sight to see! We went there around 2009. I would not mind going back, again. If I had, had the opportunity, I probably would have liked living in San Diego…aside from the cost of living.

40. Los Angeles (L.A.)
I do not believe it should be any secret I am not a huge fan of L.A. It has its charm, of course. Visiting Hollywood Blvd is fun (but I would not want to live there) and Rodeo Drive is a treat. But, L.A. also has its drawbacks. The two that spring to my mind the quickest are pollution and traffic. There generally seems to be this brown haze that hovers over and around L.A. Most days (when I lived in the area) I was not even able to see the city skyline. It is a stark contrast to Northern California in the quality of air and even the trash that lingers and is scattered about on the ground. And, as I mentioned at #49, traffic is a beast. The 405 is especially bad, in my opinion. I used to have to allow myself two hours, whenever I went from my house in Long Beach to an audition in the L.A. area. My absolute favorite part of L.A. is Santa Clarita. It is right on the outskirts of L.A. near the “Grapevine” (on the 5 freeway). It is close enough to visit all the sights yet, not smack dab in the middle of it all. There is a quietness, a peace and serenity to it. In Santa Clarita there are plenty of hotels (which I highly recommend to visitors of L.A.). There is Six Flags “Magic Mountain” and restaurants close by. Not to mention, relatively speaking, the prices are not too shabby. A word to the wise, though. Please take extra care in driving around in L.A. There are some pretty intense areas (so stick to the ones with which you are the most familiar) and NEVER, EVER tailgate on the freeways! The traffic will seemingly, spontaneously come to a complete stop from 65-70 miles an hour. Stay alert!
(Sidebar: Los Angeles named as one of “the most unequal places in America” (CNN Money).)

39. Long Beach
Oh Long Beach. When I first moved to California (CA), hubs and I lived in Long Beach for about a year. We were just a few blocks from the beach (and breakwater) and magnificent boardwalk (which I will cover at #27). We rented a room in a house with a garage off of an alleyway. I worked at the Rock Bottom Brewery (which is a fun microbrewery, by the way, which I highly recommend). The food and atmosphere there were great! For me, Long Beach was a left exit off of the 710 freeway. I forgot this when I first made the drive and ended up getting lost. Thankfully, one or two of my roommates came to my rescue! (I was not too far away from the house.) I actually liked Long Beach and think back on it fondly. We spent our Christmas there on the beach with our older children (who were about ages four and seven at the time). So, I recall the climate to be a bit warmer than Northern California. In addition to working at the Rock Bottom Brewery, I also held a position with a Real Estate Organization in Huntington Beach. I recall all of the beaches in that area (Laguna, Newport, Huntington, Seal, and Long Beach) to be lovely. We could even see Catalina Island and the Queen Mary from where we used to play in the sand. I also enjoyed strolling down 2nd Street (but I will address that at #28). As I mentioned, our time there was limited but it sure was action (and unfortunately drama) packed. It felt more like three years than just the one. I met a lot of wonderful people there. Sadly, I believe I am still in contact with only a couple. But, I think about all of them from time to time and they each have a special place in my heart.
31May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works,
32who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke!
33I will sing to the LORD as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
34May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the LORD.
35Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more!
Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Praise the LORD!
(Psalms 104:31-35. NASB.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

In All Circumstances Take Up the Shield of Faith, Praying at All Times in the Spirit

This world is unpredictable and, at times, hostile to God’s word. But, I feel, that does not give anyone an excuse not to follow scripture. When hubs and I were first married, he traveled and was gone three or four months at a time. However, just because he was absent did not give me permission to rebel against the word of God. I stayed faithful and steadfast with the strength of Christ. Whenever he has to go out of town on business (or work long hours), presently, it remains the same. No matter what, regardless of any other factors (good, bad, or indifferent), my number one priority is to glorify God.

I believe the same can be said for when someone (a loved one or stranger) sins against us. We are not called to “forget”. No one, no matter how hard he/she tries, is capable of erasing memories from his/her mind. It is impossible. It is my opinion, not even God “forgets”. But, we are called to forgive. You see, regardless of the situation, we are to remain constantly standing on the rock of God, Christ Jesus, and His commandments.

The bible is full of examples of nearly every circumstance of which you can think. Saul killed innocent people who were most likely survived by friends or family members. Has your loved one been murdered? David took Bathsheba as his own then had her husband put on the front lines of battle to die. Has someone committed adultery against you or forced him/herself on you? Abigail had a “badly behaved” husband. God only knows what he did to her. Have you been abused or maltreated by an individual? Delilah deceived Sampson and she was the death of him. Are you being lied to or cheated? (These just name a few and scratch the surface.) It is my opinion God gave us all of the answers (big and small) in His love letter to us. It might take some searching through the text and prayers of wisdom, but you will find it if you look.
7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find;knock, and it will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:7-11. ESV.)

Whenever I am faced by something…a life choice, a temptation, a difficult decision, strife, tribulation, a problem to solve, etc. I ALWAYS ask myself if I am behaving in manner consistent with God’s instruction. In other words, am I sinning? If my choice is “unorthodox”, out of the “norm” (out of the box), or difficult for others to understand…am I doing the “wrong” thing? No. I learned many years ago to NOT listen to men.
8 It is better to take refuge in the LORD
than to trust in man.
(Psalm 118:8. ESV.)
As well meaning and with the best of intentions, I (and all human beings) have limited knowledge. We cannot see the big picture or all of the details. There is so much information missing. Yet, God knows and the Holy Spirit directs us.

God NEVER deviates from His word. So, I encourage you and myself to do likewise. And, pray…ALWAYS! Put on the full armor of God.
16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one;17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. (Ephesians 6:16-18. ESV.)

Think "outside the box", not "outside the bible". (Okay, that's lame but you get what I mean.)

(Photo Information.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

People Will be Lovers of Self: Identifying Narcissistic Personality Disorder

I have decided to take a “General Psychology” course at university. If schedule permits I would like to go on to the “Abnormal Psychology” class after that. Or maybe it is “Social Psychology” I am interested in learning. I want to cover “personality disorders” like bipolar and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD). I have reason to believe I have come across a few, in my life, who fall into these two categories. It would be good to know how to properly interact with them in a healthy manner. If you have ever engaged with someone with one of these disorders you will know how insanely difficult it is, especially with the NPD, to communicate with them. At times it is nearly impossible.

While reading up on the topic I have come across many informative articles on the matter. Is there a husband or wife you do not quite understand? Perhaps he or she appears to do things a particular way. By chance it is in order to try and avoid tirades by his/her spouse. Did you ever ask him/her if his/her spouse resembles this example:
(Think of the man who berates his wife when dinner isn't ready as soon as he comes home. He lashes out precisely because at that very moment, he's forced to acknowledge that he depends on his wife, something he'd rather avoid.)(“5 Early Warning Signs You're With a Narcissist: Learn how to spot the red flags for narcissism you might have missed”. Published on June 21, 2013 by Craig Malkin, Ph.D. in Romance Redux. http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/romance-redux/201306/5-early-warning-signs-youre-narcissist
So, why would a woman want to be an excellent wife if her husband is going to lash out at her for caring for him and doing what she is taught to be what a good wife does?

But I am putting the cart before the horse, here. First, let us look at the “Mayo Clinic” definition of NPD.
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Narcissistic personality disorder is one of several types of personality disorders. Personality disorders are conditions in which people have traits that cause them to feel and behave in socially distressing ways, limiting their ability to function in relationships and in other areas of their life, such as work or school.

Narcissistic personality disorder treatment is centered around psychotherapy.

Narcissistic personality disorder is characterized by dramatic, emotional behavior, which is in the same category as antisocial and borderline personality disorders.

Narcissistic personality disorder symptoms may include:
• Believing that you're better than others
• Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
• Exaggerating your achievements or talents
• Expecting constant praise and admiration
• Believing that you're special and acting accordingly
• Failing to recognize other people's emotions and feelings
• Expecting others to go along with your ideas and plans
• Taking advantage of others
• Expressing disdain for those you feel are inferior
• Being jealous of others
• Believing that others are jealous of you
• Trouble keeping healthy relationships
• Setting unrealistic goals
• Being easily hurt and rejected
• Having a fragile self-esteem
• Appearing as tough-minded or unemotional
(“Disease and Conditions: Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20025568

The tricky part comes when trying to have every day, run of the mill conversations with someone who exhibits NPD.
You will find you are always to blame and it is rare that they will be accountable for their actions due to the fact that one of the main characteristics of narcissism is an unwillingness to see symptoms as flaw; experiencing them—believe it or not—as virtues. This is in large part due to an amazing sense of denial that the narcissistic individual possesses in order to maintain their fragile self-esteem. This sense of denial makes it very difficult for them to benefit from treatment or to take criticisms constructively from a significant other.(“Should We Treat Narcissists Like Alcoholics? New use for an old method just might help break through the denial. Published on March 17, 2014 by Neil J. Lavender, Ph.D. in Impossible to Please

There is a vast amount of information out there. What does God’s word say about NPD behavior?
1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions,7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:1-9. ESV.)
Take my word for it, avoid the narcissist! He/she cannot be reasoned with or changed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Abandoned Disney Parks

I was so surprised and sad to see these two parks at Disney World have been closed. I used to go to each of them, often, when I was a child.



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

All Things are His Servants: God Uses Me According to His Will

I have to admit, I do check the "hit counter" for this site. I look to see how many readers have accessed it, etc. But, I remind myself regularly, God does not NEED me. This blog could be gone tomorrow and it would not affect anything. So, my thoughts do not go out into cyberspace. No biggie. God can create followers from the rocks. He does not require my help. So, why blog? Why not? And, because He also gives the "Great Commission",
18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them inthe name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20. ESV.)
This is one of my ways of doing that. Why not use every resource possible?

The computer I am on today is not my own. Ours, as I believe I mentioned before, is having "mother board" issues. It is less than a year old so to say I am disappointed would be a HUGE understatement! My dinosaur Dell, I had before the new HP, is still kind of working (though it seems to maybe have a virus) and it is a 2005! Technology, what a blessing (and a curse).

What should be the scripture to preach to myself, today? How about,
7 My heart is steadfast, O God,
my heart is steadfast!
I will sing and make melody!
8 Awake, my glory!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
9I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
10For your steadfast love is great to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
11 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens!
Let your glory be over all the earth!
(Psalm 57:7-11. ESV.)

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Lord Gave, and the Lord Has Taken Away

Not spending each morning with God throws my day off. It is like going to battle without my armor. I feel like something is missing. I look forward to this time in His word and would love to spend every waking moment, there. I am feeling a bit out of sorts, out of focus, and chaotic. This week got a little crazy and I am having a hard time adjusting.

Each Monday I create a schedule for myself based on university assignments to complete, my family's activities, my volunteer time at the school my children attend, church stuff, etc. I keep telling myself, "Next week is going to be better." But I have to admit, I am lacking motivation. Not to mention this past Thursday, our home laptop stopped working. It is less than a year old! It looks like a "mother board" issue, I am told. Then, Friday, hubs was bringing home his work laptop for me to use and someone smashed out the back window of his work truck and stole it. Next, I attempted to use my old (2005 dinosaur) laptop and my iPad 1 to get some college work done. Well, the iPad cannot access some stuff because it does not have "flash" capabilities and the dino laptop powered up but would not go on the Internet. I was told it might have a virus. So, I have currently missed one deadline so far (in one class) and I have 11 hours to finish an assignment and test in my Macroeconomics class. Further, I have another deadline this evening for my Instructional Technology course.

But, most importantly, my family and loved ones are healthy! Sure, I am having technical difficulties that are messing with my grade point average (GPA) but those who are dear to me are doing well. For what more could I ask? I need to get refocused and make sure I am keeping the main thing (Jesus) the main thing!

Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. (Philippians 4:11-14, 19, 20, 23 ESV)

And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord." (Job 1:21 ESV)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Echoes of My Sin Long Ago Are Loud and Relentless

Have you ever had to live with the aftermath of sin? Have you ever sinned and found yourself reaping the consequences many years later? I really feel for adolescents and young adults. I remember those times in my life. I thought I was more knowledgeable and invincible than I was, realistically. I made several mistakes, gave into temptation, and was downright foolish. I look back on some of the things and can see God’s protection over me because I sure am amazed I am still here.

It has been a rough morning. The echoes of my sin long ago are loud and relentless. I pray earnestly but what is there to say? “I knew better, still I did what I should not have done. Fix it, Lord!” Why should He? Then, there is the ugly side of me that says, “I’m already serving time, why not just keep on sinning?” What is that quote? “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.” Or some such thing. I keep myself very busy. Not the being under satan’s yoke type but always engaged…in God’s word, studying, reading, completing bachelor degree projects, working with my children, volunteering at their school or church, blogging, extra-curricular activities, etc. I do not like finding myself in “the devil’s workshop”.

Someone asked me, last week, why I think I have anxiety. Where do I believe it is rooted? In my heart of hearts I know where. Some nights, I wake up in a cold sweat with an elevated heart rate. Or the stress gives me bad headaches. But, there is nothing I can do about it. I have done everything short of bribing God and trying to bargain with Him to take away the “thorn in my flesh”. Yet, it seems He has no intention of doing so. I find comfort in what Paul says about his,
…a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-9. ESV.)
I have “pleaded with the Lord” far more than “three times”. I suppose it is a reminder, residue, of my sin from so long ago.

A well-meaning believer once told me, when I was saved my sin was forgiven and I will harvest good. She/he did not understand why “if” I am, indeed, “saved” do I still have ramifications for my sin. If I am being honest, I will tell you the “thorn in my flesh” hurts. Some days I want to cry. But, a lot of times my pride stops me. So, why do I blog about all of this? Because,
18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20. ESV.)
And, blogging is how I tell people, from all walks of life, about Jesus! Maybe you know me, personally. Perhaps, we have never met. You may even have to have this translated to read it. If you take nothing else from this blog, please hold in your heart,
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. (John 3:16-17. ESV.)
Despite whatever mess I have made of my life, Jesus died so I can have a wonderful relationship with God. I can (and do) approach His mercy seat whenever (and where ever) I want. So can you.

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