Saturday, December 14, 2013

Blog post written by Marc Chernoff

As Maria Robinson once said, “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Nothing could be closer to the truth. But before you can begin this process of transformation you have to stop doing the things that have been holding you back.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1.Stop spending time with the wrong people. – Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they’ll make room for you. You shouldn’t have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth. And remember, it’s not the people that stand by your side when you’re at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you’re at your worst that are your true friends.

2.Stop running from your problems. – Face them head on. No, it won’t be easy. There is no person in the world capable of flawlessly handling every punch thrown at them. We aren’t supposed to be able to instantly solve problems. That’s not how we’re made. In fact, we’re made to get upset, sad, hurt, stumble and fall. Because that’s the whole purpose of living – to face problems, learn, adapt, and solve them over the course of time. This is what ultimately molds us into the person we become.

3.Stop lying to yourself. – You can lie to anyone else in the world, but you can’t lie to yourself. Our lives improve only when we take chances, and the first and most difficult chance we can take is to be honest with ourselves. Read The Road Less Traveled.

4.Stop putting your own needs on the back burner. – The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special too. Yes, help others; but help yourself too. If there was ever a moment to follow your passion and do something that matters to you, that moment is now.

5.Stop trying to be someone you’re not. – One of the greatest challenges in life is being yourself in a world that’s trying to make you likeeveryone else. Someone will always be prettier, someone will always be smarter, someone will always be younger, but they will never be you. Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you.

6.Stop trying to hold onto the past. – You can’t start the next chapter of your life if you keep re-reading your last one.

7.Stop being scared to make a mistake. – Doing something and getting it wrong is at least ten times more productive than doing nothing. Every success has a trail of failures behind it, and every failure is leading towards success. You end up regretting the things you did NOT do far more than the things you did.

8.Stop berating yourself for old mistakes. – We may love the wrong person and cry about the wrong things, but no matter how things go wrong, one thing is for sure, mistakes help us find the person and things that are right for us. We all make mistakes, have struggles, and even regret things in our past. But you are not your mistakes, you are not your struggles, and you are here NOW with the power to shape your day and your future. Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.

9.Stop trying to buy happiness. – Many of the things we desire are expensive. But the truth is, the things that really satisfy us are totally free – love, laughter and working on our passions.

10.Stop exclusively looking to others for happiness. – If you’re not happy with who you are on the inside, you won’t be happy in a long-term relationship with anyone else either. You have to create stability in your own life first before you can share it with someone else. Read Stumbling on Happiness.

11.Stop being idle. – Don’t think too much or you’ll create a problem that wasn’t even there in the first place. Evaluate situations and take decisive action. You cannot change what you refuse to confront. Making progress involves risk. Period! You can’t make it to second base with your foot on first.

12.Stop thinking you’re not ready. – Nobody ever feels 100% ready when an opportunity arises. Because most great opportunities in life force us to grow beyond our comfort zones, which means we won’t feel totally comfortable at first.

13.Stop getting involved in relationships for the wrong reasons. – Relationships must be chosen wisely. It’s better to be alone than to be in bad company. There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen – in the right time, with the right person, and for the best reason. Fall in love when you’re ready, not when you’re lonely.

14.Stop rejecting new relationships just because old ones didn’t work. – In life you’ll realize that there is a purpose for everyone you meet. Some will test you, some will use you and some will teach you. But most importantly, some will bring out the best in you.

15.Stop trying to compete against everyone else. – Don’t worry about what others are doing better than you. Concentrate on beating your own records every day. Success is a battle between YOU and YOURSELF only.

16.Stop being jealous of others. – Jealousy is the art of counting someone else’s blessings instead of your own. Ask yourself this: “What’s something I have that everyone wants?”

17.Stop complaining and feeling sorry for yourself. – Life’s curveballs are thrown for a reason – to shift your path in a direction that is meant for you. You may not see or understand everything the moment it happens, and it may be tough. But reflect back on those negative curveballs thrown at you in the past. You’ll often see that eventually they led you to a better place, person, state of mind, or situation. So smile! Let everyone know that today you are a lot stronger than you were yesterday, and you will be.

18.Stop holding grudges. – Don’t live your life with hate in your heart. You will end up hurting yourself more than the people you hate. Forgiveness is not saying, “What you did to me is okay.” It is saying, “I’m not going to let what you did to me ruin my happiness forever.” Forgiveness is the answer… let go, find peace, liberate yourself! And remember, forgiveness is not just for other people, it’s for you too. If you must, forgive yourself, move on and try to do better next time.

19.Stop letting others bring you down to their level. – Refuse to lower your standards to accommodate those who refuse to raise theirs.

20.Stop wasting time explaining yourself to others. – Your friends don’t need it and your enemies won’t believe it anyway. Just do what you know in your heart is right.

21.Stop doing the same things over and over without taking a break. – The time to take a deep breath is when you don’t have time for it. If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting. Sometimes you need to distance yourself to see things clearly.

22.Stop overlooking the beauty of small moments. – Enjoy the little things, because one day you may look back and discover they were the big things. The best portion of your life will be the small, nameless moments you spend smiling with someone who matters to you.

23.Stop trying to make things perfect. – The real world doesn’t reward perfectionists, it rewards people who get things done. Read Getting Things Done.

24.Stop following the path of least resistance. – Life is not easy, especially when you plan on achieving something worthwhile. Don’t take the easy way out. Do something extraordinary.

25.Stop acting like everything is fine if it isn’t. – It’s okay to fall apart for a little while. You don’t always have to pretend to be strong, and there is no need to constantly prove that everything is going well. You shouldn’t be concerned with what other people are thinking either – cry if you need to – it’s healthy to shed your tears. The sooner you do, the sooner you will be able to smile again.

26.Stop blaming others for your troubles. – The extent to which you can achieve your dreams depends on the extent to which you take responsibility for your life. When you blame others for what you’re going through, you deny responsibility – you give others power over that part of your life.

27.Stop trying to be everything to everyone. – Doing so is impossible, and trying will only burn you out. But making one person smile CAN change the world. Maybe not the whole world, but their world. So narrow your focus.

28.Stop worrying so much. – Worry will not strip tomorrow of its burdens, it will strip today of its joy. One way to check if something is worth mulling over is to ask yourself this question: “Will this matter in one year’s time? Three years? Five years?” If not, then it’s not worth worrying about.

29.Stop focusing on what you don’t want to happen. – Focus on what you do want to happen. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story. If you awake every morning with the thought that something wonderful will happen in your life today, and you pay close attention, you’ll often find that you’re right.

30.Stop being ungrateful. – No matter how good or bad you have it, wake up each day thankful for your life. Someone somewhere else is desperately fighting for theirs. Instead of thinking about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that everyone else is missing.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

First Thanksgiving in USA in Seven Years

Those of you who receive our prayer letters know that the girls and I are in the US for a brief visit while my husband Doug stayed back in Tenerife, attending to the work and church. It has been a great time for the girls and me, as we have reconnected face to face with friends and family.

Our trip began in Pennsylvania, where our daughter Jenny and her husband Michael reside. Michael is an associate pastor with Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Brogue, PA. It is a beautiful place situated in Amish country. It is fairly common to share the road with horse and buggies. Jenny and Michael live in a farmhouse and it is so rural you can't even see the road or the nearest house. I was able to go with Jenny to her ultrasound appointment and discover that our next grandchild will be a boy!

From there we traveled north to the Adirondack mountains to visit my daughter Amy and her family. The scenery was amazing, and the timing was perfect as the trees were in full fall splendor. We don't have Autumn in the Canary Islands and I purposely planned our trip so we could enjoy this spectacular season. The weather cooperated and we weren't disappointed. Each day as we walked in the wooded areas surrounding the lake we had ample opportunity to partake of God's handiwork.

Next on the agenda was to travel down to Rochester, NY and spend a few weeks with our home church, Old Paths Bible Baptist Church in Holley. They are in the process of building a new sanctuary, all debt free, and it was fascinating to see the ways the Lord provided--free church pews, and many skilled workers offering their time and talents. It has also been a great learning experience for the young men and women in our church as they pitch in with the many tasks, from hanging and finishing drywall, painting, and cleaning just to name a few.

We continued our trip visiting our daughter Hannah and family in Lansing, Michigan. A few of the highlights (aside from our darling grand daughter Vanessa) was going to Frankenmuth and seeing Bronner's Christmas store, and visiting the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. We also learned that Hannah is expecting baby # 2! On the way back to Rochester we stopped at Niagara Falls since Leanna hadn't seen it since she was a baby. She was awestruck!

Nathan and Emily flew into Rochester as they are on a furlough from Mozambique, Africa. Due to some issues with their visas they will be visiting churches in the US and will return to Mozambique in a year or so. I didn't expect to get to see them on this trip, so it was an unexpected surprise and fortunately I had a few extra weeks in my itinerary so we could return to Rochester without cutting my visit short with my family in Ohio. It had been two years since I had seen their children and I also got to meet my grandson Caleb.

Currently I am in the Dayton area, visiting my parents, and a few of my siblings. Tomorrow we will celebrate Thanksgiving--my first in the USA since we left for the Canary Islands nearly seven years ago. I will be cooking the entire meal, something I haven't had the privilege of doing in a long time. I am a little out of practice, as I don't ordinarily prepare a turkey in Tenerife. More importantly than the food, I am looking forward to the fellowship. I am blessed with a terrific family. They are really supportive of our family and our ministry in the Canary Islands.

With bittersweet sentiments, we will head back to PA on Friday as we prepare for our journey back to Tenerife on my 51st birthday. We have had to say many goodbyes, as we don't know when we will see each other again, but my husband Doug is eager for us to return! This trip has been full of many pleasant memories, and I thoroughly enjoyed each aspect of the trip. However, we are all ready  to get back into our regular school routine, but it has been a wonderful, educational field trip for the girls. I am thankful how the Lord provided for us to go and all the people who shared their homes with us, making it possible for us to be here.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Leftover Hash

I am blessed to have a husband who will eat just about anything, including leftovers, and he will never complain about it. The price of food is pretty high here in the Canary Islands, and being budget minded nothing goes to waste in our kitchen. Stale bread becomes bread crumbs for meatloaf, leftover potatoes or vegetables will find their way into a casserole or soup, and I enjoy the challenge of being creative and resourceful.

I enjoy occasionally making "hash" with leftovers--the day after Thanksgiving we will put leftover turkey and dressing in a frying pan, along with leftover gravy, and make a delicious concoction. However, you can only reheat hash so many times until it will finally become unappetizing, changing quality in its flavor,  or become dry. I can tell leftovers are past their prime when my husband will reluctantly try to eat it, but he kind of pushes it around on his plate, not wanting to say anything--but when I am not looking he will be giving a few bites to our dog, or just quietly scrape it into the trash.

On occasion I find myself serving up "hash" in my conversations. Perhaps it is a womanly trait, as we tend to think about personal relationships more than men, or dwell on the past, thinking about what we said or did.

I am blessed with a husband who is a fairly good listener, but most women complain and get frustrated that their husbands don't listen to them, or that it doesn't "register." My husband is my best friend, companion, and counselor in this life--but even his patience eventually wears out if I continually rehash the past in our conversations. After 31 years of marriage, I am still learning to think before I speak--and stop myself before I "rehash" problems that I have already discussed.

In the heat of an argument there are certain topics or incidences from the past that I pull out of my arsenal to make or prove a point. Sometimes I think I could have been a pretty good lawyer--I am skilled at defending myself with arguments from the past.

I am being transparent, but if we are honest with ourselves, we all have some of that in us, otherwise marriage and personal relationships wouldn't require so much work. This not only applies to marriage, but also in the ministry and in our churches.

The apostle Paul said it best when he wrote to the Philippian church, "...this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13,14

Should we forget everything about the past? Not at all. We can learn from it, and the Bible encourages us to remember many things--study the words remember, remembrance, recall, etc. in your concordance. In the epistle of  II Timothy 1:5,6 Paul writes, "When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that is in thee also. Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God...."

However, there is a time to forget the past and move on. We can not dwell of the things that we can not change about the past. Yesterday's mistakes have been made, and of course we live with the consequences, but we have to press on. How much mental and emotional energy do we waste on wishing we could go back and do something differently? We have to focus on making this day the best with what we have. I am thankful that the Lord's mercies and compassions are new every day.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Last Day of School

Back in September I had an entry called "School Days" so I thought it would be fitting to tell about the girls' last day of school as well.

We were all counting down the days on the calendar until the final day of school--no more hurrying off in the morning during rush hour traffic, no more packing the lunches and meeting the girls at the school for the 1.5 hour lunch/siesta, and no more late nights for Rebekah, doing homework past midnight.

It was with very mixed emotions that we left the school . In September I will be traveling with the girls to the states for a few months to visit our family as it has been over two years since they last saw their older sisters and grandparents, but Doug will remain here in Tenerife to work. Rebekah and Leanna will be doing distance learning via the Bob Jones University Home School Academy.

Our hearts became endeared to the caring teachers and staff at Mayco School of English. When we enrolled our daughters in the school we were told that academically  it was  a very good school with a "family" type atmosphere. The staff embraced our girls and listened to every concern.

When I went to pick Leanna up on the last day of school, one of the boys in the class came up to me as I waited outside the gate and said "you are going to be here a while because all the girls are in the classroom crying and hugging Leanna."

The secretary commented that the girls in Leanna's class had been crying all afternoon. One of the parents asked her why--crying because it was the last day of school?

"No," she replied, "because Leanna is leaving."

Another little girl came up to me and said in a pleading voice, "Please.....Leanna can 't go......We love her."

I was so touched by her comment that even I had to hold back the tears. Every day for the past ten months I picked the girls up from school--and none of the other parents really ever spoke to me except when I would say "hola" and that was the extent of our conversation. On the last day a few parents even came up to me and gave me a hug! It really made me feel good to see that people really did care even though they didn't always show it.

When Leanna finally came outside of the school, she was surrounded by her girlfriends, all of them sobbing. Leanna cried all the way home, and off and on all evening, finally crying herself to sleep that night. It was emotionally draining for her.

In general Americans tend to voice their feelings more readily, and sometimes living in a foreign country we mistake the silence for unfriendliness or rejection. It helped me understand that in a different country it takes time to build relationships, and gave me a renewed love for the people here. I hope we can continue some of the friendships that Leanna made in the school.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

33 Signs You Might be a Missionary

I know this is old, but it never ceases to make me smile. If you are a missionary or missionary kid, you will relate. I don't know the original source of this list, but I got it from another missionary's blog.

1. You can’t answer the question, “Where are you from?”

2.You speak two languages, but can’t spell in either. (I might add, you also understand the metric system and how to do rapid currency conversions).

3.You’ve home schooled your children going 65 mph down a highway in a minivan.

4.You read National Geographic and recognize someone.

5.You have a time zone map next to your telephone.

6.You consider a city 500 km away to be “very close”.

7.You watch nature documentaries, and think about how good that animal would taste if it were fried.

8.You can cut grass with a machete, but can’t start a lawnmower.

 9.You speak with authority on the subject of airline travel.

10.You have friends from or in 29 different countries.

11.You sort your friends by continent.

12.You know that furlough is not a vacation.

13.You know how to pack.

14. Fitting 15 or more people into a car seems normal to you.

15.You refer to gravel roads as highways.

16.You don’t think that two hours is a long sermon.

17.You feel odd being in the ethnic majority.

18.Your life story includes “Then we went to” at least five times.

19.You know the difference between 110 and 220 volts.

20.You think VISA is a document stamped in your passport.

21.You go to a church and find your picture on the bulletin board.

22.You can’t wait to leave the States and go “home.”

23.You have to fight panic when people drive on the right hand side of the road.

24.You’ve been lost in a large foreign airport and knew what to do.

25.Your suitcase has eighteen airline stickers on it.

26.Your family sends you Kool Aid and peanut butter for your birthday.

27.A national has said, “I knew an American once,” and asked if you knew him.

28.When you see a golf course, you start looking for impalas and lions.

29.All preaching sounds better under a corrugated roof.

30.You get excited about finding Dr. Pepper at the grocery story. (or anything American, for that matter)

31.(For kids) Your Dad scolds you in a foreign language.

32.You’ve ever dreamed in a foreign language.

33.You know that having a nice car is safer but will cause you to lose support.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What's Stirring in Your Pot?

It is our custom to wake up early, drink a cup of coffee, and have our quiet time in the living room before we start the day. It is also a time of sharing for my husband and me, as once the day's activities begin, we go our separate directions-- so it is our time to talk about what is going on in the world, our ministry, our ideas, etc.

My  unrenewed, still half asleep mind  tends to gravitate to problems, the faults of others, and things that aggravate me about living in a foreign country--and how to solve them. It can be anything, from not liking the way people drive here, to why there is so much unemployment in Spain and the Canary Islands and the way the government operates, or why people don't seem to want anything to do with the Lord, especially since He is so good and wants to bless their lives, or concerns with family and people in the ministry and church.

 As wives and home makers, we can choose the menu, so to speak, by deciding which ingredients will go into the pot. We can stir up our husbands in a bad way, such as Jezebel in 1 Kings 21:24-26

"But there was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up."

 Like Jezebel, if I am not careful, I can drag myself and my husband down first thing in the morning by bringing up negativity. I "stir" the pot so to speak. We live in a world where many bad things are happening and there is much evil.

We try to make a difference in the world by sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, but it seems like people just aren't listening and are so indifferent. We teach the principles of how to live a successful, victorious life in Christ to young believers, and sometimes growth is slow, or they make unwise decisions that lead them astray and we take it to heart and feel discouraged. My husband is my closest confidante, and a  patient listener, but even he can grow weary of  "rehashed" leftovers.
If we allow negative emotions, thoughts, and attitudes to simmer and stew in our mind, naturally that is what will come out of our "pot."

"Hatred stirreth up strifes..."Proverbs 10:12

"... grievous words stir up anger." Proverbs 15:1

 "An angry man stirreth up strife..." Proverbs 29:22

In a positive manner, we are encouraged to ".... stir up the gift of God..... 2 Timothy 1: 6;
... stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance:" 2 Peter 3:1

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:7

As I grow in Christ, I need God to fill  and stir up my pot with the ingredients of forgiveness instead of anger, humility rather than pride,  and faith in place of fear. If these things be in me, then I will yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Simple Life Lessons

As a child, do you remember things your parents used to tell you over and over again?  Here are a few things I can remember my dad saying to me as a child.

1. I am teaching you how to work. It builds character and you will thank me someday. Don't be lazy and don't procrastinate.

2. Don't complain. It makes the job harder.

3. Don't jump to conclusions or read into things.

4. Don't blow your money--save some for a rainy day or something of greater value. Don't give your kids everything they want, make them work and save for it.

5. Don't be so sensitive. Learn to laugh at yourself.

6. Don't worry about what others think or say about you. Let it roll off your back like water on a duck.

7. Don't be afraid to speak up. Look at someone in the eye when talking to them.

8. If a man truly loves you, he will wait til marriage.

9. When you do a job, do more than what is expected--even when you think the boss isn't watching. Even the little things, like moving the furniture when you sweep--don't just do the bare minimum. Don't just stand around when you finish the task--look for something to do to keep busy. Employers take notice of people who can work on their own and do things without being told.

10. If you don't have something nice to say about someone, don't say anything at all.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Semana Cultural

Last week was Semana Cultural at Rebekah and Leanna's school. They said they have 27 countries represented by the families attending the school. Leanna's 5th grade teacher asked me several months ago if I could do a presentation on the United States for her class.

Since I had a lot of time to prepare, I ordered a small US flag on a wood stick for each student on the Internet and had them mailed over. Those were a huge hit with the kids as they marched around the school yard carrying them home while they chanted "USA".

I also made a power point presentation which Leanna and I did together. In the process, it brought to my mind the many reasons I love my country. I talked about freedom, our diverse mix of immigrants, and what it means to be an American. We highlighted education, holidays, customs, manners, and contributions and inventions made by Americans.

I asked the children what they thought of the American people. I was rather surprised and encouraged to find that the children for the most part had good impressions of Americans. Words like freedom, friendliness, intelligent, and good ideas were mentioned. They also like our accent! I only had one "negative" comment from a boy who said "my sister thinks Americans are fat." He said it so politely and as if he didn't want to offend me.

I love children's enthusiasm at that age--they are old enough to understand words and concepts like patriotism, liberty, diversity, punctuality, etc. while not so old when it isn't "cool" to speak up and participate in class.

I brought in a microwave oven (an American invention by the way) and we made Rice Krispies Treats. I was trying to think of a quick and easy American food for us to make together. It is really difficult to find truly "authentic" American food though. Chocolate chip cookies would have been fun, but would have been more difficult to bake in the classroom. I thought of hot dogs, macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter (ruled that out because of potential allergies)--but Rice Krispies Treats is something I have never seen them eat here and something they could easily duplicate at home.

At the end of the class period we had handouts with puzzles and a map to label the 50 states (I gave them the first letter of each state on the map). One boy raised his hand and wanted to know where the state of Miami was ; ) . I gave a trivia contest and asked them questions like, who was the first American president, who was the first woman president--with the options of a. Hillary Clinton; b. Sarah Palin; c. none of the above. It was funny to hear their wide range of answers.

We gave away prizes including two dollar bills to the student who could name the president on the bill, and the motto on the back (I had to give a lot of hints). I also had 3-D puzzles of the Statue of Liberty that I found at the local china store. The most popular prize? Believe it or not, Kool Aid drink packets!