The Next Big Thing

 “I am not proud, but I am happy; and happiness blinds, I think, more than pride.” 

 Alexandre Dumas – The Count of Monte Cristo

 

Photo by: Keven Law

The title of this blog is in no means an indication of how I feel about my work-in-progress. I was invited to participate in this event by my author friend, Pauline Conolly. Therefore,  I will use this time to introduce my work: SHINE!  which is scheduled for release next Spring by Faith and Reason Publishing.

 
That being said, here goes:
 
 
 
 
1.) What is the working title of the book?
                     SHINE!
 
2.) Where did the idea come from:
                     A sincere desire to share with others my life’s journey to find spiritual wellness.
 
3.) What genre does it fit into?
                   I think it most closely resembles spirituality and  personal growth works.
 
4.) Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition of your work?
                    Well, since this is an autobiographical, spiritual development book with no characters except myself, this  really doesn’t apply. 
 
5.) Can we have a one sentence synopsis of the work?
                     To be a spiritually mature you must SHINE and bring light to the darkness wherever it is found.
 
6.)  Will it be self-published, or represented by an agent?
                    It will be published by Faith and Reason Publishing with no agent involved.
 
7.) How long did it take to write the first draft?
                   Not long, just a  few of weeks, but the editing process has been going on for a long, long time.
 
8.)  What other books would you compare it within your genre?
                    Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer and Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, but I am not saying that  SHINE!  is anywhere as near motivating, profound or as well-written.
 
9.) Who or what inspired you to write the book?
                    All my college studies in spirituality and spiritual formation left me with a desire to better myself, and grow in my faith, to really SHINE.
 
10.) What else about the book might pique the readers’ interest?
                    It is a brutally honest look at the pitfalls we all become trapped in and that lead to darkness in the soul. I hold nothing back in the process of exposing my own shortcomings to the Light with the hope that it might help others avoid the same traps.
 
Authors invited to participate include:
 
Jody A. Kessler – www.jodyakessler.com
 

Vincenzo Bilof –  http://vincenzobilof.blogspot.com/

 
 
 

“If you done it, it ain’t bragging.”
Walt Whitman
 
 
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Knock, and It Shall Be Opened Unto You

 

“Reach high, for stars lie hidden in your soul. Dream deep, for every dream precedes the goal.”
Mother Teresa
 

Sometimes when we are in the middle of wanting something, struggling to achieve it, and seeing no results, we give up. We think, “I’ve done all I could. It just wasn’t meant to be. I’m not good enough.” Etc. So much nonsense, so many excuses, so many reasons to fail, and to give up our dreams. But, I don’t really think that this is what is supposed to happen. I think we are given dreams and goals to make life more interesting, and to help us change and grow into the people God meant for us to be.

The caterpillar starts out as a nasty little thing, sluggish, slow and sometimes very ugly. It then goes through a long dormant period where little seems to happen but where major unseen changes occur. What emerges is usually something very beautiful, something God had planned all along, and something to which the butterfly never agreed to but never resisted. It simply went along with God’s plans for its life. Humans, however, are given a choice, and with that choice comes responsibility for our actions.

Scripture says, “…knock, and it shall be opened to you.” Matt 7:7 KJV.  In related verses the Holy Scriptures talk about asking and receiving, and seeking and finding. What is key here is that we are required to initiate some kind of action, first. Then, God responds to what we have initiated. Unlike the butterfly, whose transformation is part of its genetic code, if we want to transform ourselves, change our lives, accomplish our goals and see our dreams become reality, we must undertake some type of proactive measures to set things in motion.

 Henry David Thoreau knew this. He wrote, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”  Action! Accomplishing your goals, making your dreams come true, requires action on your part. The butterfly does nothing but let nature take its course and becomes what God has planned for it. God has different plans for humans, it seems, because He requires us to take action, to break open our cocoons and fly into our destinies.  Some of us never fulfill that destiny, but those that want to succeed must take the first step. They must ask, seek and knock.

As William Shakespeare said,  “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”  And, God has promised us success if we but simply take the first steps and reach for our goals. He has given us our destiny, planted the dreams, and provided us with the tools to accomplish them.  The caterpillar doesn’t dream of becoming a butterfly. It doesn’t have any goals beyond the next sip of nectar or the next mating call. We, however, can be inspired, motivated and dream.  We have the genetic code built into us that helps us build, create and succeed. All we have to do is set it free.

“What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly.”

Richard Bach

 

 

There and Back Again

 “If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”  – Confucius
 
There have been many roads that I have taken in my life. Some have been dead ends, some have been wrong turns, and some few might have been in the right direction but my ignorance and/or wrong-headedness led me astray. However, as I look back on the roads I have traveled, I do not so much regret that I strayed from the “straight and narrow” as much as I am grateful for what I have learned.
 
In my youth, I made decisions that led me on a difficulty journey. It was a rocky path that led to the desert where I wandered for many years. However, this desert helped to create my character and mold me in ways my early training could not do.  I often felt lost and alone, and wanted to escape the desert that I had created. Yet, it was not my time.
 
J.R.R. Tolkien said,  “Not all those who wander are lost.”  In one of the great paradoxes of  my life, I was indeed lost, wandering, searching after goals that I had set for myself. I was supremely confident and convinced that my path  was clear, straight and narrow. Like the Hebrew children who wandered the desert for forty years, they had a destination but they simply did not know how to get there. I also wandered for many years, and  like the followers of Moses,  I was certain I knew how to get to where I wanted to go. If I only worked hard enough, studied enough, learned enough, prayed enough, worshiped enough, always urging myself to do more and work  harder, then I would get to where I wanted to go. However, after many years of struggling down the wrong path, I finally realized that not only was I on the wrong path but I also had the wrong destination in mind. My goals were not only inaccurate and misguided, they were flat-out wrong. 
 
I have been blessed with family, friends, talents and other gifts, which I have not always appreciated and/or put to good use.  I cannot say that I am doing so now, but I am trying to do better by setting better goals, exercising self-discipline and trying to control the OCD part of me that seems to take over at times.  Jesus said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matt 7:14 KJV  He always seemed to talk in paradoxes or teach in parables which lend themselves to various interpretations and frequently more questions than answers. Like what is this gate and narrow path and how am I to find it? How do I avoid making wrong turns and choosing the wrong road?
 
For me, what I have discovered, is that there is one simple commandment, one road to take that will lead you in the right direction without fail, and that is to, ” ….Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matt 22:37-39 KJV If this is my goal and my destination then there is no stress, no striving after more, no confusion, no wrong turns. However, even good intentions can become twisted, and if in serving others and in loving God, I place more emphasis on results and programs and progress and less on love, then I am once again striving after things instead of serving and loving others. I am once again headed down the wrong path, and now that I am writing again, I pray that I can enter by the right gate and stay on the narrow path.
 
So, it seems, I have come full circle, down many wrong paths and then back to one that I knew in my heart was right all along.  I focused my thoughts and actions on the destination and missed the joys of the journey set before me. I have learned from this wilderness experience, learned from my mistakes. I have learned to pace myself, to have fun, to put people first and these are the lessons that I am taking with me. I want to do it right this time, and am packing my bags for a joyful experience.
 
“Life is a journey, not a destination.” 
– Ralph Waldon Emerson

There and Back Again

 “If you make a mistake and do not correct it, this is called a mistake.”  – Confucius
 
There have been many roads that I have taken in my life. Some have been dead ends, some have been wrong turns, and some few might have been in the right direction but my ignorance and/or wrong-headedness led me astray. However, as I look back on the roads I have traveled, I do not so much regret that I strayed from the “straight and narrow” as much as I am grateful for what I have learned.
 
In my youth, I made decisions that led me on a difficulty journey. It was a rocky path that led to the desert where I wandered for many years. However, this desert helped to create my character and mold me in ways my early training could not do.  I often felt lost and alone, and wanted to escape the desert that I had created. Yet, it was not my time.
 
J.R.R. Tolkien said,  “Not all those who wander are lost.”  In one of the great paradoxes of  my life, I was indeed lost, wandering, searching after goals that I had set for myself. I was supremely confident and convinced that my path  was clear, straight and narrow. Like the Hebrew children who wandered the desert for forty years, they had a destination but they simply did not know how to get there. I also wandered for many years, and  like the followers of Moses,  I was certain I knew how to get to where I wanted to go. If I only worked hard enough, studied enough, learned enough, prayed enough, worshiped enough, always urging myself to do more and work  harder, then I would get to where I wanted to go. However, after many years of struggling down the wrong path, I finally realized that not only was I on the wrong path but I also had the wrong destination in mind. My goals were not only inaccurate and misguided, they were flat-out wrong. 
 
I have been blessed with family, friends, talents and other gifts, which I have not always appreciated and/or put to good use.  I cannot say that I am doing so now, but I am trying to do better by setting better goals, exercising self-discipline and trying to control the OCD part of me that seems to take over at times.  Jesus said, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Matt 7:14 KJV  He always seemed to talk in paradoxes or teach in parables which lend themselves to various interpretations and frequently more questions than answers. Like what is this gate and narrow path and how am I to find it? How do I avoid making wrong turns and choosing the wrong road?
 
For me, what I have discovered, is that there is one simple commandment, one road to take that will lead you in the right direction without fail, and that is to, ” ….Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matt 22:37-39 KJV If this is my goal and my destination then there is no stress, no striving after more, no confusion, no wrong turns. However, even good intentions can become twisted, and if in serving others and in loving God, I place more emphasis on results and programs and progress and less on love, then I am once again striving after things instead of serving and loving others. I am once again headed down the wrong path, and now that I am writing again, I pray that I can enter by the right gate and stay on the narrow path.
 
So, it seems, I have come full circle, down many wrong paths and then back to one that I knew in my heart was right all along.  I focused my thoughts and actions on the destination and missed the joys of the journey set before me. I have learned from this wilderness experience, learned from my mistakes. I have learned to pace myself, to have fun, to put people first and these are the lessons that I am taking with me. I want to do it right this time, and am packing my bags for a joyful experience.
 
“Life is a journey, not a destination.” 
– Ralph Waldon Emerson

Something To Ponder

Sept. 17, 2012

There is so much hatred and violence in the world this week, with each side thinking that their ways are the best ways, maybe we would all do well to consider the following:

“Beware lest we mistake our prejudices for our convictions.” – Dr. Harry Ironside

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned:  Luke 6:36  KJV – Jesus Christ 1-33 AD

Something to ponder this week and pray about.