Quote for the Day

Confront our inability to affect change.–Henry Ford

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Make Room for Gratefulness

NaplesBOTGAR (112) Good morning all,

I wanted to share a picture that I took last month.  Above is a picture of a butterfly taken at the Naples Botanical Gardens in Florida last month.  (©2016 PaulaBaines.com, used with permission). The butterfly flit and flowed among the beautiful blossoms resting intermittently; giving me just enough time to catch its rest. As it rested, it enjoyed the bloom’s nectar and the soft breeze blew between its wings. I watched during quiet several moments as the butterfly slowly opened and closed its wings. It was meditative. Calming.

Our hearts are like the butterfly, rest is our peace, and the nectar of the bloom is gratefulness.  Do we take enough time to rest or are we constantly flitting and floating from one bloom to the next?  I have learned that when we rush and do not make time for gratefulness to fill our hearts, we are not satisfied. We are continuously chasing the next bloom. Make room for gratefulness.

 

 

What is my “why?”

There are times in our lives when we wonder, why are we doing this? Is there a deeper purpose to our being? So I got thinking, what is my why?

It has been many weeks since I wrote a post to this blog. I have had writer’s block. What does the reader want? I can continue to write about the books that I have read and share an overview or book report. Is it different? Is it hooking the readers? Can my readers relate to what I write about? Books do inspire me.  I am a book lover. Are the blogs inspiring others to read those books? Is there a better way to connect?  Would the book inspire a conversation?

I was trained as a journalist. I earned my Bachelor’s in Broadcasting. I tried to be as objective as possible, offering more than one resource in my blog. Yet, in doing so, was I losing my voice? Was I losing my passion? Blogs were created to reflect the writer’s passion. I have seen that many blogs that successfully grab attention, keep attention, and create a following—show off the blogger’s view points, the blogger’s personality.

Here is my why.   I started this blog two years ago when I was going through a rough patch. I created the name of this blog, because I felt I was being called to do more, hence the name, the Creative Voice Beckons. I think I have lost my way somewhere and my initial passion has wandered off along with it.

For me the creative voice is the spirit inside me, the spirit of God calling me to make the most of my potential. How do I do that? I am on that journey to figure out what that Creative Voice is calling me to do. I may meet you on the road as you travel on your journey. We may travel together for the short duration or for the long haul. Such is our uniqueness, our journeys are individualized. We have our own “why’s.” We travel the same road but having different reasons for doing so.

I believe each of us have blessings and we need to make the most of those blessings. I think I have forgotten some of mine. These gifts and blessings were obscured, pushed aside. As I was cleaning out my mind, my memory, I recently came across them. One of them is writing, one is drawing and painting, and yet another is photography.

When we are not present in this moment, we miss the finite details that the Creative Voice (God) created. We miss points of our own story. Elements of our story that are revealed to us. Unraveled from obscurity. I think when I become engaged in life, I hold onto it. I explore it. I really try to fully live it. No doing the minimal to get by.

“This is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.” -Alan W. Watts

As I move forward, I look forward to sharing what the Creative Voice is beckoning me to do. I would be blessed and honored to inspire you to find your “why.”

Resources:

Jones, Laurie Beth. Jesus Career Counselor: How to Find (and Keep) Your Perfect Work.

Laurie Beth Jones is the bestselling author of Jesus CEO. She has inspired me to think differently about leadership and life.

Leading Past Difficulty

Several years ago, I participated in a program called Leading Small Groups. Here is an overview of my notes from the program.

One time or another, a leader is caught in a quandary. They face a difficult situation, have to deal with a challenging person, or face some kind of resistance.

It is easy to forget that not everyone in a group starts from the same place nor lands in the same place. Leadership is messy.

I wanted to continue sharing what I learned from Leading Small Groups.

It can be quite difficult sometimes when someone in a group that you lead states something that you do not agree with or oppose. As leaders, we are expected to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger.  Yet not all of us in leadership roles have learned or mastered these skills.

As I have been quieter in the past because of my nerves, I did not speak up as much as I do now. I am bolder in my statements and in my opinions. Now as I learn to lead, I am learning to rein that in.

God knows that suspending my own thoughts, opinions and agenda has been my big albatross. As I have gotten bolder, my tongue has become quicker. As a leader, I need to learn not to give advice, not to disagree, and not to persuade. Say what?! As a leader, we are in positions of influence; people follow our lead. They watch our steps, listen to our words, and interpret our actions.

Leading requires facilitating past difficulty. Facilitating includes paraphrasing, drawing out others, mirroring those in the group. Tracking what is said, balancing what is said, providing opportunities for taking turns, making space for others input, and intentional silence.

As I learned from the Leading Small Groups course, silence is effective, yet most underutilized.

How often do we try to fill up silence with words? I think silence is perceived as a negative void in our American culture. I am realizing now, intentional silence is where prayer can begin. Sometimes as a leader, prayer is all I got. I have to remind myself that silence is a place where understanding can bridge difficulty.

As my father has taught me, we are born with two ears and one mouth for a reason. As I have learnt from personal experience, I need to be quiet and listen twice as often and talk less. Silence can indeed be golden.

In order to move past a challenging or difficulty, is to key in on the situation and not focus on the person causing the difficulty. Move toward positive involvement.

Spiritual leaders are not responsible for changing who people are.

Leading can be a growth experience, not without a doubt hard work.

As leaders, we host the group. We are expected to invite, encourage and connect with those in the group.  This sometimes can mean meeting people who are strangers. We can encounter people who are strange to us in the way they dress, speak, act, or come across. It can be difficult in our culture of suspicions of strangers to openly welcome them. Yet we are expected to be hospitable.

“Hospitality gives without any expectation of return,” wrote Thomas R. Hawkins, author of The Christian Small-Group Leader. Adding, “In the modern world, hospitality has become increasingly secularized.”

There may come a time that resistance rears up; this is inevitable. Some may not even be aware that they are resistant to ideas or to people of the group. Resistance none the less can slow down a group process. It is an opportunity to create a safe place for participation.

“Safety does not mean the lack of challenge or even discomfort,” wrote Hopkins.

Resistance can be defined simply as looking before we leap, sifting through options and ideas before embracing new viewpoints or actions.

Resistance can come in the form of asking for more detail, flooding the group with details, going on attack, acting confused, becoming silent, intellectualizing the topic, or moralizing the situation with should, ought, need to or musts. It can also manifest itself as a bias or form of prejudice, or perceived “stranger danger.”

As a leader, how do we respond?

  • Recognize the resistance,
  • name the resistance,
  • explore why it is occurring,
  • offer emotional support,
  • explore the implications of the resistance,
  • Ask questions.

As leader, we will face difficulty, difficult people, and resistance. In these moments, we can open up ourselves to God and opportunities. We can change and transform ourselves and our followers. In time, we can move and act on a shared vision and shared mission.

Sources:

Hawkins, Thomas R. The Christian Small Group Leader Discipleship Resources, Nashville, TN. ©Reprinted 2004, pp. 41-42.

Creativity is all around us

Over the years, I have heard several people comment, “Oh, I am not creative…I cannot draw or paint. I am not artistic.”

Creativity is not just about the arts (visual or performing). Creativity is all around us. Businesses can be creative, Engineers can be creative, inventors can be creative. Creativity is about creating something new. Revamping, redesigning, reincarnating, revising, etc. We all can be creative in one way or another. It is seeing something where there may not be something there now. It is vision. It is experimentation. It is daring. It is challenging ourselves to go beyond the borders.

Without creativity, we would not have the telephone, the telegraph, the radio, the television, the mp3 players, the dvd player, the vcr, or any of today’s amazing technology. Creativity lets us believe in something that we have seen in our heads, our dreams, helps us make it into reality. It is picturing a building when there is an empty log. It is experimenting in the kitchen, or creating a new product to meet a need.

Yet creativity can be limited by our mindsets. Children are quite creative and can let their imaginations roam to imaginary lands. Yet as we get older, we often weigh others’ opinions more heavily and restrict our own creativity. The risk for rejection may be too high for some of us. We lose touch with our creative voice that is an all important part of ourselves. We can lose sight of new opportunities. Creativity means risk taking.

“Finding Courage and Patience.” –Part 2 of 5, God is My CEO blog series

Larry Julian is the author of God is My CEO. In his book, he offers straight-forward advice and sometimes pithy comments about directing our lives. He included the following, “A ship that turns its direction by one degree will alter its course by a hundred miles.”

What good is a path if it is taking you off course? We can find reason and faith, stated Julian. It does not always come easy though. We can move from choosing the easier “wrong” decision to making the tougher “right” decision. Throughout his book,  Julian invites us to walk with God in courage.

Fear and discouragement keep us from doing the right thing, wrote Julian. Adding, we need to learn courage to walk away. Courage, he points out, can be misunderstood. As humans, we face common challenges, rewards and blessings. We are not alone. God is with us as our faith is tested.Julian included a great quote from Bob Buford, “God has planted the spiritual DNA in every human being.”

People can see the true spirit of service when it comes from the heart, noted the author.

“Every decision shapes our character.”–Isaiah 40:29-31.

Courage and patience are important and admirable character attributes but not always easy to achieve. I once asked if I could have a super power for a day, what would it be? I responded patience.  Author Larry Julian notes in his book, that we can move from sprinting under pressure to running with purpose. There is pressure from external and internal forces. Adding, that we can develop patience to run long distance in a “100-yard” dash world.

Former coach Tony Dungy is quoted “While winning is important, it should be the result of doing what is right.”

Julian asks the readers, are you seeking God’s help or trying to do it yourself? Courage and patience can help us prepare, give us perspective, and pray. As noted in the Scripture, “commit to the Lord whatever you do and your plans will succeed.”–Proverbs 16:3

According to Tony Dungy, sticking to God’s plan produces results.  Be courageous, be patient, let go and let God.

Tune in next week for part 3, “Leadership by Example.”

This book overview is based on the book, God is My CEO: Following God’s principles in a Bottom Line World, by Larry Julian. Adams Media Corporation, Holbrook, MA, copyright 2001.

Creating Hope

Sometimes when we get bogged down by life, hope is our life jacket.
A blog that I wrote last February, seemed fitting today, “Creating Hope.”

A Creative Voice Beckons

 

We are challenged by what life throws at us.  Sometimes, we get knocked down a few rungs or end up face down into the ground. If it happens often enough, we get discouraged. So from our standpoint, life and our future may not show promise. So how do we create hope?

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant. …It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”—1 Corinthians 13:4,7. New Reivsed Standard Version (NRSV)

Recently interviewed by Live Happy magazine, Shane Lopez, author of Hope Matters  stated we are suffering from a hope deficit in the U.S He has concluded that people are lacking excitement about their futures based on the responses that they gave in public polls.

 “Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one. Sometimes all we need is a little hope,” wrote…

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Creating Hope

 

We are challenged by what life throws at us.  Sometimes, we get knocked down a few rungs or end up face down into the ground. If it happens often enough, we get discouraged. So from our standpoint, life and our future may not show promise. So how do we create hope?

“Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant. …It bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”—1 Corinthians 13:4,7. New Reivsed Standard Version (NRSV)

Recently interviewed by Live Happy magazine, Shane Lopez, author of Hope Matters  stated we are suffering from a hope deficit in the U.S He has concluded that people are lacking excitement about their futures based on the responses that they gave in public polls.

 “Hope doesn’t promise an instant solution but rather the possibility of an eventual one. Sometimes all we need is a little hope,” wrote author Max Lucado in his book, A Love Worth Giving. (p. 181)

As I asked in my previous blog, what is our relationship with tomorrow and the future. I believe that how we see the future starts from within. It is more than optimism and positive thinking. Our relationship to our future requires forethought to what we face. We need to take into account what we have: strengths, weaknesses/deficits, resources and abilities. From there, we need to set goals for ourselves.

This concurs with Shane Lopez, author of Hope Matters views, Creating hope is about creating a plan; one that states where and when we will achieve our goals. This is your appointment with your goals.

If we up against it, Joel Osteen, author and minister, noted that God does not change anyone that you are dealing with until He first changes you.

Creating hope starts with our perception of trial and failure. Creating hope is defining for ourselves a faith in the future.

“The trial is a test of your faith, character, and endurance,” wrote Joel Osteen. Sometimes it takes trusting God when life doesn’t make sense. (pp. 211, 213, Your Best Life Now.)

Once we have a better understanding of our trials we can move forward and get better view of a future. What does the future hold for you?

It was noted in the Lopez article, “Making Hope Happen”, that for some individuals, there is more will than ways to achieve goals. Lopez added that there is a gap between wanting it and how to do it. Lopez pointed out that we need to know how to make good things happen. Kids are particularly floundering and there is a gap between wanting something like college and learning to make it happen.  We need to learn how to go from goal setting to goal chasing.

If goal setting is a part of creating hope, how do you set goals for yourself?

 

 

 

 

Resources:

“Making Hope Happen” (Live Happy, magazine February 2014, pp 49-51)

Lopez, Shane. Hope Matters.

Lucado, Max. A Love Worth Giving. Thomas Nelson Publishing. ©2002.

Osteen, Joel. Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential. FaithWords, New York. ©2004.

Our Brains Are Like Fingerprints

What weighs about three pounds and fits in the palm of our hands?

Our brains. It is the last unknown universe. Our neurons and the paths that they create across the span of our brain are unique as fingerprints.

Although small in size, our brains are complex and vastly intricate.

Let me share with you some things we know about the brain:

  • The brain consumes 20 percent of the fuel our bodies take in.
  • The brain is filled with hundreds of billions neurons that create pathways cris-crossing over the surface of our brains. These pathways and links stretch out to 170 thousand kilometers.
  • The brain’s circuitry is made of billions of neurons that could power a light bulb.

As noted in a Ted talk The Brain-2, The brain’s cortex is folded differently in each individual. This means that every fold is like a fingerprint.  So even though a signal may come from the same functional part of the brain, by the time the structure is folded, the physical location is different, even among identical twins.

Just knowing that…amazed me.

I began this research wanting a better understanding of how the brain processes information and in what way and why does it differ for individuals who are on the autism spectrum.

Flemish researcher Peter Vermuelen, Ph.D wrote a book called Autism as Context Blindness.  Dr. Vermuelen has more than 25 years of experience in the field of autism spectrum disorders. He has worked with the Flemish Autism Society.

Dr. Vermuelen theorizes that through the years of evolution, the human brain has become an efficient information processor. Paradoxically, as advanced as the brain has become, it cannot completely understand itself.

Dr. Vermuelen notes in his book that there is a lot of know-how, but still lack of know-why. Research into the neuro-typical brain and autistic brain are both in their infancy.

According to the National Geographic & History Channel’s The Brain documentary, Our brains have evolved over 5 thousand years and doubled in size. It has been only in the last five years or so, that we have gotten out of the stone age per se, in our knowledge of the brain.

I learned from the NOVA Science Now: that Our brains have multiple processors and human language itself has its own complexities and context.

The neurons create pathways in our brain and like are unique like fingerprints.

In a NOVA episode, Secrets of the Mind, the brain’s neurons offer a spectrum of abilities and understanding how our brain works is the ultimate challenge.

Our brain’s have a plasticity to them, neurons can be molded. The neural pathways can be rewritten and rewired. We are not fixed so to speak. Our brains have amazing capacity. There are several parts of our brains working together, connected, and integrated.  

Did you know that our brains can hold 1 million gigabytes of information? Although our brain is often compared to computers’ processing units, the human brain has a huge unique advantage…it can process human language and context.

As an example, computer designers and programmers of the super computer WATSON that competed on Jeopardy faced many challenges. Jeopardy is not just a game of knowledge, it is a game of language. So to prepare Watson for its appearance on Jeopardy, it took may processors, volumes of information compiled and input, to run through multiple possibilities for questions.   

From our smart phones, iphones, kindles, e-readers, and personal use technology, we have the capability of creating artificial intelligence to augment our brains’ capacities. As one new product is introduced, another is in the works. However, technology of today is yet to compete with our own processors inside our heads.

Although we have come a long way in building computers with artificial intelligence—A I for short, experts have determined that we are a long way from creating a robot like C3-PO from Star Wars or Data from Star Trek the Next Generation television series.  

Authors Stephen Mkosshynz and G. Wayne Miller state in their book, Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights Into How We Think, the human brain is arguably the most complex object in the known universe; by our estimate, the numbers of possible connections among it many billions of cells rivals the number of elementary particles in the universe.

Until we have a better understanding how our brains our built, process information and store information, then finding answers to how our brains are impacted by disabilities such as mental retardation, ADHD, Dyslexia, autism, brain injury and disease will be further a long the road.

As one expert noted, our brains are so complicated, yet so often driven by primal instincts. We have much to learn, the field of neuroscience is in its infancy. Perhaps one day, it may lay bare our inner universe that is our brain.

 

Resources:

Mkosshynz, Stephen and G. Wayne Miller Top Brain, Bottom Brain: Surprising Insights Into How We Think.

Vermuelen, Peter, Ph.D. Autism as Context Blindness

 

The Brain: Documentary on the Abilities of the Human Brainhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et-cnKqPFFw

 

Nova: Science Now:  “How Does the Brain Work?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhIJbIX1_D0

 

The Human Brain. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1imN6oc_YtU

 

The Brain : Documentary on Modern Discoveries about the Brain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ue5BdtfE2Hk

 

[National Geographic 2013] The Brain – History Channel