Our life is most certainly like a garden. It matures through seasons and stands the test of time through the challenge of frost and drought, and the glory of bloom. Amidst our garden, there is the likelihood that we will allow people, circumstances, and even our own limitations (both perceived and actual) disrupt its full potential to blossom and endure. Be a good gardener. Prune and weed those things that will get in the way of your full bloom…
At What Cost Does Our Current System Of Education Come?
The developed world spends billions of dollars on education and is continuously moving the goal post on what is expected from our children. Absolutely, we should challenge our children’s potential. God created us with expandable capabilities, skills, and talents. So, we need to be all that we can be (As individuals, and not machines of course).
But, have we stopped to think “at what cost” does this investment come? We push our children to become more educated and competitive. Have we given other forms of critical development equal time? For example, the ability to think creatively and globally. What about socialization and coping skills or what about what we older folks use to call “common sense?” Finally, let us not forget possibly the weakest skill among our entire population. The ability to discern the truth from an opinion. Many schools have debate clubs which provide a competitive forum for students to learn to “win their perspective over.” Yet, where is the Truth Club?
Less Is More; Much More
I tool this photo of a schoolhouse in East Africa. Very typical of what you mind find in the rural part of the Continent. In this one building housed the all the children in the community or tribe. All ages shared a single room and a few sets of school supplies. The pencils were little more than a narrow piece of charcoal. Their writing books were crudely attached, curled pieces of paper. The children were all in uniforms (made possible through donations) which barely separated them by physical appearance. Consequently, there was no competition over who had the best outfit or the “hottest” sneakers (which would certainly upset Urban Outfitters and Nike). Yet, they were so intent on wanting to learn with so little to get in the way or distract them. A perfect setting to inspire a true learning experience.
We should take a lesson out of this book and realize that money doesn’t buy love and it doesn’t buy brilliance or intellectual superiority either. God embeds the gift of knowledge our DNA. And it is as much, if not more, the process of how we learn over what we learn. Knowledge alone, may get us a good job or make us plenty of money. However, the pursuit of knowledge and truth will make us what God intended us to be as individuals first, and as a race of man.
God blessed your past
For good reason
It came first and not last
God blesses His plan
Your future by His hand
Not the one influenced by man
God is blessing this moment
Whether you feel joy or resent
Because God’s gift that keeps giving
Is not just any gift…
It’s THE present
The Purpose Of The Past
For every ounce of happiness in the past, we can certainly find an equal dose of sadness. Maybe more. So the true value of the past, and the reason it is behind us and not ahead, is to remind us of God’s grace and blessing.
The wake of life, like that which trails a boat, has the potential to hypnotize us away from the conscientiousness of the moment. It can have us drifting into one of those “Wish I could have…,” “What if I did…,” and “Why me…” kind of mental games which bind us from fully living in the day. Similarly, it can overwhelm us with the euphoria of what “once was” and set us sailing on the “those were the good times” and “remember when…” excursions which lead us to believe the best already came and went. This cannot be the purpose of the past. The past should liberate us, and more importantly, unleash the potential of the current moment.
The Purpose Of The Future
The future, as we know it, is at best uncertain. This is how I describe it:
We have what we know; I call this our instinct
We have what we think we know; I call this our righteousness
We have what we don’t know; I call this our ignorance
And finally, we have what we don’t even know we don’t know; I call this our future
The result is endless, pointless, wasteful worry. Worry about our children, our health, our things, our jobs, our retirement, our country, our future… It is a no wonder that developed countries have medicated populations struggling with anxiety and the like. This cannot be the purpose of the future. The future should breathe life into us and more importantly, invigorate hope into the current moment.
There are gifts. There are presents. And then there is the ultimate gift which is the present. The moment. In fact, this very moment. It is the present that gives function and form to the past and the future as I illustrated above. Every new moment is a gift from God giving true, practical, and celebratory purpose to its two distant cousins, past and future. It gives us every reason to live, every reason to hope, and every reason to give thanks to God. Every moment of every day. That is my prayer for you.
Whatever your political persuasion and your feelings about the current environment, the real tragedy is that America is, was, and will likely continue to be a deeply divided people. Unfortunately, hate and prejudice are in the hearts of all men since the beginning of time. These traits do not belong to a particular political persuasion, religion, race, ethnicity, age, etc. However, man can and will use such mechanisms to promote his own divisive agenda. This vulnerability belongs to all of us.
Similar to President Kennedy’s election, President Obama’s was historic (no matter how you looked at it politically) because it had the potential for us as a country to embrace the notion that all men were created equal by God. Instead, it drastically widened an already existing chasm that separates Americans into adversarial groups. But I have the good news of hope for everyone, democrat, republican, apolitical, and those who may not care at all. God still loves ALL of us. No prejudice. No hatred. Just pure LOVE!
So, I say to all of you in pain; turn your hearts to God for peace and the strength to see that God is above all of this. And I say to all of you in celebration, turn your joy to humility and put yourself beneath those in need. So that America may rise up as “One Nation Under God.” Peace be with all of you…
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Power is handed down by God, who is the ultimate power, to politicians, teachers, corporate leaders, parents, etc. Those who are blessed with power are given gifts and talents to inspire and bring out the best in us as a community. However, if the fever of power overcomes the leadership, humility is overwhelmed by self righteousness and the pursuit of personal gain.
Before long, people question the motives of the powerful and lose faith in the system. When people lose faith in the system, chaos, confusion, and a breakdown in confidence ensues which then jeopardizes the power and authority of the leaders responsible. The entire community, including its leadership, is kept from progressing as a result. It’s as if the entire society is bound by a ball and chain.
When leaders approach power with humility, and recognize that it is on loan from God, they earn the respect of the people they lead. They gain increasingly more influence to inspire and elevate the community, and bring out the best in God’s creation. The system flourishes, and is respected and perfected by the people, for the people.
Doing well and doing good not only go together, but are among the secret ingredients of true joy. Not the joy that comes from graduating from college, landing your first job, getting married, having a child, buying your dream car or home, or retirement. Those things are joyful, but they are also fleeting. Their elation will last for a time and will undoubtedly be interrupted by life’s unfortunate circumstances. However, true joy gives us the strength to look way beyond our circumstances. It is found when we take everything we are given, and multiply it for the glory of God and His creation so that every day is met without expectation and only gratitude.
…true joy gives us the strength to look way beyond our circumstances.
“Okay, I’m sold!” you say. “Where can I get some “true joy?” It starts with the difficulty of letting go, or the “jump” as I like to call it. Like a first attempt at skydiving. Once you leave the plane, you have gotten over the hard part because you really don’t have any choice in the matter after that. Letting go is the key. Letting go of expectations. Letting go of things you think you need. And most of all, letting go of everything we have including our talents, gifts, time, energy, money, resources, etc. Oh, and the most coveted of all, our love. We want so desperately to be loved, but we are so possessive and unwilling to give it up without some sort of fair exchange. Unconditional love is costly, but delivers the greatest return.
Free Falling Drives Passion
During the “free fall” stage, we begin to detect true joy because it inspires unbridled passion. Now, our day’s expectations are shaped by what we can do to positively impact someone or something and not by what we can achieve or get for ourselves. The deep emotional expression of PASSION is activated and gives our life its greatest sense of meaning and significance.
We have become so use to doing things for personal gain. Our culture drives this aim which only leads to empty purpose and obsession, not passion. If you don’t believe this, just ask “really successful” people what they think about that which gave them the success and was the driver of their daily purpose. Then reread this article.
James Dickson spends nearly his whole day serving and protecting people as a first responder in New York City. When he is not doing that, he is serving and protecting people. He explores ways that he can take his love for skydiving and make it more than a personal 10-minute joy. So, he aligned himself with an organization called Friends of Jaclyn which aims to improve the quality of life for children battling brain tumors and pediatric cancer. Through an event he organized, he made 25 jumps in one day while many others jumped to raise awareness and resources for this cause. Risking life for life. Each and every jump lasting far more than the jump itself, but for the lifetime of a dying child.
In a world that achieves new lows every day in its preoccupation with selfishness and hatred, it is great to see others who choose to go high with passion.
Whatever belief system you subscribe to, I think most of us can agree that civilization is becoming increasingly self-destructive. I suppose we may have been more barbaric in the distant past (and that may be debatable). Yet, has man’s creation of increasingly complex systems including government, finance & economics, health & medicine, organized religion, education, agriculture, commerce, technology, science, communications, media, and transportation, promoted progress for the human race? Is progress leaving anyone behind? Are we eradicating sickness and poverty; improving the quality, beauty, and integrity of life; preserving our environment and resources, or increasing peace, tolerance, respect, love, compassion, service, and faith around the world? These are all very important questions to ask ourselves. Right here and now.
Imbalances Often Signal Something Is Not Quite Right
Who has benefited and at what cost? This is the first question. The resource-rich United States is split in half politically with each side believing their respective needs and wants are not being met. The result is that no one seems to be content and the frustration and hate index is going through the roof.
We should ask, “Are the systems to blame? Do they consider the totality of the population or just a chosen few? Are they creating catastrophic imbalances that grow division?” Another example, the US is the greatest consumer of the world’s resources. It represents 18% of the world’s energy consumption* and only 4.5% of the world’s population. How can we think for a moment that such imbalances will not have intentional and unintentional side effects. Just to be clear, the United States is not the only producer of “imbalances.” Imbalances exist throughout the entire developed and underdeveloped world unfortunately. It’s a simple problem of cause and effect.
Manmade Systems Are Just That, Manmade; Not God-Made
We are not advancing as a civilization. Progress has not only stalled. It is going in the opposite direction. We need to look deeply and honestly into the design and consequences of the systems we are designing and managing.
In education, for example, we do not teach our children how to learn. Educational institutions have replaced those more natural abilities with tools and techniques that encourage memorization of facts and accumulation of information; Not knowledge. Furthermore, children are classified instead of individually nurtured due to the demands placed on these institutions to produce “results.” Progress is rewarded at the sacrifice of process. Moreover, test results and grades define potential instead of passion and conviction. Unfortunately, no training to seek or discern the truth. Rather, programming in nearly every course that teach our children to debate and promote a perspective or point. What some of us would call “lawyering.”
The more we learn, the more we may earn, and the less we will grow, because the less we will ever want to know.
The subject of manmade systems is is a fairly complex discussion and will invite much debate. However, it is central to how we live together in this world while seeking purpose, peace and passion. It will be a theme that will certainly present itself often on this platform because it is both a catalyst and disruptor to the different definitions of progress. Progress as humans. But more importantly, progress as a creation. An amazing creation with amazing potential to attain true joy on this earth.
Cynical, But Hopeful
In closing (for now), Please do not see me as cynical. I truly apologize if I disturbed the balance of your day at all. However, I am willing to disturb your day if it has the potential to enhance your life. Man has extraordinary talents, gifts, characteristics, and blessings that have been created for good. But… WARNING: When man relies fully and only on himself to pursue good, without God, it seems he too often ends up with not so good and not at all God.
Congratulations! By clicking this article, you are on your way to conquering the impossible – Your special impossible. The term “impossible” places such a burden on our lives as we grow up being told that more things are impossible than possible and that those things that are possible by someone are simply not possible by us. The reality is the contrary. Each of us has our own possible impossible. However, it requires a self-confidence and more importantly, a strong faith in God who makes all things possible. But how do you put this to work in your life to take on the impossible?
“Each of us has our own possible impossible.”
There are five principles that one must cultivate to pursue the impossible. First, we must surround ourselves with people who encourage us and at least, ignore those around us who seek to bring us down. The great Imangineer, Walt Disney, was told by a former employer that he lacked imagination and creativity. One of the greatest inventors of all time, Thomas Edison was criticized as being to simple-minded to ever accomplish anything of significance. Media mega-mogul, Oprah Winfrey was fired as a local newscaster after being told she was unfit for television. Had any of these people listened to those harsh voices, they would have never achieved what everyone else thought was impossible by them.
Second, know that failure is not an option, it is a requirement. Failure is the mother of invention, truly. You have heard, “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Well, we must take measured risk to have measurable success. And the more “lean” failures we have, the more we learn and the closer we get to achieving the impossible.
“…failure is not an option, it is a requirement.”
Again, Thomas Edison, who in spite of thousands of significant patents, was most known for his invention of the light bulb. What most people do not know is that it took 1,000 failed attempts at the invention until he got it right. Had he been discouraged at any of the failures between 1 and 1,000, we would not have light, at least not by him.
Third, is the reality of adversity. You might be reading this in the midst of a great loss, an inability to cope, extreme challenges and distress and saying “I can not even see the potential of the day much less do the impossible.” Well, I have great news for you. Adversity can be your friend. The simple fact is that when you have nothing to lose, you have everything to gain.
“Adversity can be your friend.”
JK Rowling, the famed author of the Harry Potter series, was destitute, dependent on welfare while raising a young daughter, and suffering from clinical depression when after five years of perseverance, she became one of the richest women in the world. She credits her trials and troubles as a valuable source for her inspiration. She did fall off the billionaires list because she donates so much of her wealth to people in need. God bless her…
Fourth, when you pursue the impossible, be prepared to experience an emotional juggernaut. Periods as long as weeks and as short as hours will be met with extreme ups and extreme downs. But do not fret. Trust in God. Enjoy and savor the journey. You will overcome and be surprised by your progress as you look back with clarity. Just place your trust in God.
“Trust in God.”
Which brings us to the fifth and most important principle. Believe in yourself… But place all your faith in God. For your impossible is that which God made possible only by you. Blessings…
You can honor God in all you do. Especially in your profession, whatever it may be. Working for God is NOT a religious position. Working for God is the ONLY position. We can seek, serve, and honor God in every aspect of our profession. Often however, it means comprising our selfish ambitions for success and wealth creation for greater and a more impactful purpose. Always, it means performing our jobs at the highest levels and acknowledging God as the giver of all talent, skill, opportunity, and blessing. There is no pot of gold at the end of any rainbow here on earth. Just ask really rich people and they will tell you they are not rich enough. However, heaven holds the ultimate reward. A retirement laced in gold.
While in Central Park, I took this photo called “Prayer In the Park.” I could not help but capture the peace of this man in meditation. Maybe he was praying for a greater purpose, the healing of a loved one, or perhaps the world. Regardless, it is an amazing gift that we can connect with God through prayer.
The Thieves Of Hopelessness And Despair
The thieves of hopelessness and despair exist to breakdown gratitude and faith. Hopelessness operates like a well-planned heist. First, it shuts out the lights so we cannot see or find gratitude. All gratitude including gratitude for the moment we are occupying and gratitude for the moments of joy we already experienced, however few or far we may think they are. It wants complete darkness and control. It fills the dark room with obstacles like self-doubt, anxiety, and a preoccupation with everything that has gone wrong in our lives.
The Crown Jewel: Faith
The final stage of the crime is to run off with the crown jewel, Faith. In the confusion and sadness of the darkness, hopelessness convinces us that God doesn’t exist or if He does, He just doesn’t care. Then faith is ripped from the typically guarded protection of our heart and soul and the thief runs off with the goods.
The Real Thing: Hope
Except, the thief was unaware that the faith he stole was counterfeit. Just like the Mona Lisa in the Louvre in France, the real one is often relocated to unknown location. “True” faith cannot be taken from us. God protects and guards it just like His love.
So, when you think your hope has been stolen, remember that hope still remains.
All too often we look to others as an example of who we want to be. This process starts from childhood and works its way through our career. However, God made us special with a special purpose of our own. It was planted into our souls long before we were born. Empty your mind and heart of those expectations and leave a hole just big enough for God to expose your personal grand design. It may feel terribly uncomfortable at first like any brand new pair of shoes. Once worn however, you will be walking on a cloud! You truly have your own shoes to fill!
When we become too committed to what we think is “right or best” for us, we do not open our hearts to what God may have in store for our lives. I call it the studio apartment syndrome. We do not leave any room for God to live and work in our lives. Letting go of our conviction, for at least a moment, may reveal a better plan to be convicted to. Often, such plans, would never have had an opportunity to enter our imagination or consideration.
If we want God to work in our lives, we have to mentally move into a “McMansion” because God takes up that much room and more!
Do you feel like your life is going nowhere? I have great news. Nowhere is always somewhere; It just may not feel like anywhere right at the moment. Yet, life is not just a moment, but a continuum of moments strung together to form a glorious story. Your story. How do I know this is true?
God created you for greatness. You are an amazing creation with amazing ability and potential. Be patient and savor the moments. Be intentional, yet regard your current circumstances as part of a bigger plan. There is a bigger plan. Think back to the many times in the past you felt this way and then suddenly your circumstances changed. You may feel like you are in the middle of nowhere right now but rest assure, you are very much in the middle of somewhere. Blessings…
The world of reality television wants us to believe that the way to live is in conflict. Particularly among our family and friends. This is not natural. We were not created this way. We have a greater capacity to love and forgive. Real reality television would depict families and friends knowing that a cycle of discourse is nothing more than a cycle… Of discourse. But to love and to forgive is perpetual and grows exponentially with time. Like a flower raises from the ground, buds open from its stem, and blossoms for all to enjoy and marvel. It is only when it returns to the ground that it ceases to grace and bless us. This is a true friendship.
An entrepreneur risks the gifts and talents God gave him (or her) so they can be multiplied and used to bless others. An entre-manure only dreams of being an entrepreneur, but is burdened by the fear of losing or loss. God blesses us to be a blessing. Don’t store up wheat for a rainy day. Share it and grow an even bigger harvest next season.
Roses can be added to salads and used in desserts and cakes. Rose Petals and rose hips are also made into jam, jelly, and marmalade. Rose syrup is sometimes used to make marshmallows and is used in rose-flavored ice cream. The rose hip (the fruit of the rose plant) contains high amounts of vitamin C as well as trace amounts of vitamin A and B. Rose hip is considered one of the richest plant sources of vitamin C.
This photo is called “Gimme A Kiss” and it depicts man’s fascination with art. So – Not all of us are a natural-born Picasso. However, God did give all of us an amazing gift to create and be creative. Let your creative juices flow in all that you do. Don’t be satisfied leading just a “left brain” life. Even if that is your strength. God gave you a right side too. And for a reason. To support your creativity, imagination, intuition, artistic motor function, rhythm, non-verbal communication, emotional feelings, visualization, and the best of all, daydreaming! Don’t let the world convince you that you only have one half a brain. God gave you a “whole” in your head!
We needed a quote. And the photographingGOD community responded. So many to choose from. More importantly, it was a blessing to enjoy the inspirations that were shared. Really, they are all winners, and so, WE are all winners. However, we choose one to feature and that honor went to Allen Jose Hinahon Tingzon of Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands.
When asked what photographingGOD meant to him, Allen told us this…
“photographingGOD is a very unique platform to express one’s faith in God and in the process you inspire others by sharing your own spiritual insights. It is a privilege to be part of your inspiring organization.” -Allen Jose Hinahon Tingzon
Congratulations Allen! Blessings to all that participated and enjoy photographingGOD.