How Machine Gun Slinging Guards Intentionally Intimidated Visitors

 

Jerusalem, Israel

I am married to a man who loves adventures and experiences – especially those that are life changing, so when he gets an idea, he, sometimes very creatively, figures out how to make them happen. For example, he believes we need to see the world to gain a better understanding that we, personally, are not the center of the universe and to broaden our minds to what is happening in other parts of the world.Recently we were able to visit Israel because he decided to lead a trip.

I am changed because of the experience!

 

We, Americans, live in a place where great opportunities await those who are disciplined, courageous, persevering, who utilize the available resources wisely, and are not self serving but contribute their gifts and talents to benefit others.

 

While I saw some Israeli’s and Palestinian’s lives flourishing, they count themselves blessed to be in a relatively safe place – not compared to us – but to their neighbors. Yet they are aware that even their current level of  safety may not last long. At least six Isis flags wave in Jerusalem. Rachel, our tour guide, explained that they are sleeper cells so we were safe. But I thought, who knows when they will awaken!

 

Already, their lives have changed because of oppression. For example, there was a young mother we were with, who was now a widow because her husband would not denounce his faith and claim Allah as his god. He was murdered by Hammas. “You never know how much you really believe anything until its truth or falsehood becomes a matter of life and death to you.”  C.S. Lewis

 

On a less drastic note, we heard from a young Palestinian couple that they couldn’t travel (quite locally) on certain days because it was not safe. Yet, despite the atrocities and oppression, they were living their lives as forgivers and with joy as was the woman whose husband was murdered.

 

Our experience at the temple mount, which was once where the temple stood but is now Muslim controlled and hosts the site of the famous gold domed mosque, gave me a taste of how I could easily be intimidated and cower if I was not absolutely sure of what I believe. There were machine gun slinging guards, obviously trained to inflict fear by being rough and in-your-face rude, not just to us but to all the visitors. We were invited in, yet once there could hardly enjoy the experience. I’ve never seen anything like it. I am so thankful it was truly a foreign experience!

 

So how have changed? I can’t, in this short article, begin to tell you everything, but my boldness has increased and I have realized that I have a responsibility to share and bring awareness for even bigger reasons than I had ever realized.

 

I plan to write more in the coming weeks sharing my perspective on my experiences and how they are changing me in more radical ways. Stay tuned. .  . but I have to tell you, our winter Groups were life changing experience for many and I’m excited to let you know we have just opened registration for 3 Groups that will begin soon. Check out the GROUPS tab.

Words Can Hurt But You Are Stronger #2

strong-armI ended my last post by saying, “Understanding the power I have to control which words I allow to affect me has been intriguing, freeing and empowering, both in the spiritual sense and in the physical sense.”  Oh to be free from the power of unkind words!  The great news is that once we deeply desire and long to rise above their power – we can!”

Living in the power of the Spirit means different things to different people.  To many the greatest power the Spirit offers is the expectation of the miraculous. I am not at all discounting this, however, if we fail to aknowleget the power of the Spirit in our daily lives we’ve missed out in a big way!  “Peace I leave with you.”  This is a gift!  A gift to be used and appreciated daily. Speaking of miraculous…. to actually receive that gift – a life of peace – would it not be miraculous for most of us? Sadly most refuse to accept it, choosing to dwell more often on Words That Hurt than on words with healing power. Yes, it takes effort. Nurturing and developing our gifts does take effort. . . I’m thinking about the really cool iPad accessories I got at Christmas that I opened, but have failed to learn how to use (sorry guys.) Funny thing is, they would be useful and appreciated if I put in the effort to learn how to use them.  

So we’ve been given this gift – peace.  Do we make use of it, appreciating what it can do for us? Or do we allow hurtful words that were said once to replay in our minds and hurt us a million times?

In the physical realm, I love the study of the brain.  Dr. Daniel Amen has  has proven that “negative thinking actually shuts down the coordination of our brain.”  Inferring that when we choose to dwell on hurtful words we cannot live out the potential we have.  That is quite sobering! You may have seen Dr. Amen on PBS or read some of his work.  He has all kinds of tips for fighting off hurtful words.  One that is easy to put into practice is “…bring your attention to the things you are grateful for in your life, your brain actually works better.”  This doctor actually looks at people’s brains and has done the research to substantiate this claim. Hmmm… “give thanks in all circumstances” seems like I’ve heard that somewhere before.  And to think… it’s for our own good!

If you have tips that help you fight off hurtful words, please share.  Your journey may help someone.

Words Can Hurt But You Are Stronger! #1

strong-armEven the strongest characters, occasionally have their hearts wounded by words that come at them like flaming arrows.  How is it that some seem to deflect these flaming arrows, on a regular basis, virtually unscathed while others seem to be shaped by them?

A popular theory is that if parents, teachers and friends are affirming and positive that a child, when grown, will be a strong, healthy individual with great self-esteem. In a way, I wish that were true, but it only takes a minute to think of people I know personally who have overcome a terrible childhood and because of it, are now armed with a shield that protects their heart. And then there are others, like me, who came to depend on those affirming words heard as a child in order to feel good about themselves and be strong in this world but ….when the apron strings were cut, I wasn’t so strong.  Certainly every child deserves to have adoring parents and granted, it does affect a child positively, but there are no guarantees as to how a a person will survive once in the real world.

I guess it’s best that way. It keeps us all in the same boat with equal opportunity to grow into the strength intended for each of us.  So how do we do that? The strength of the Spirit within each of us is the same, yet some of us hold onto this weakness with a mighty grip quenching what the Spirit in us longs to give. Why not let go of that grip and be free?

Just imagine wearing a shield that could deflect flaming arrows. Now imagine those arrows as carrying words that have hurt you – and still do hurt you.  Wouldn’t it be cool to have protection from them? What if the only words that could penetrate the shield were words of truth? Truth, truth and nothing but the truth.

Yeah, I admit sometimes the truth hurts too – but those are the words I want to embrace, even if they hurt.  Maybe I need to do something with them – like ask for forgiveness – or take action so they are not true any longer or just learn how think about them productively.  Where the truth gives life – embracing lies can be deadly. Hurtful words are most often lies and lies, when believed, can be deadly.  It’s truth that makes us light in the world. It’s truth that sets us free. Understanding the power I have to control which words I allow to affect me has been intriguing, freeing and empowering, both in the spiritual sense and in the physical sense.  Oh, it’s good to be free from the power of unkind words!

Desiring Growth?

Some say that the desire for growth is always rooted in dissatisfaction, I beg to differ. I may be odd, but dissatisfaction rarely inspires me. Initially I feel a bit down, negative and stuck, whereas contentment gives me freedom. I realize that I’m not stuck! Unhindered by negativity, I have the clear frame of mind to look at all the options, think out of my box without pressure, and remember to keep my eyes open for new ideas and possibilities   Dissatisfaction blinds me.

growthDesiring growth is a human phenomenon.  Throughout childhood we look forward to the next phase of life marking milestones and marking walls by the quarter inch.  Once our full stature is reached we continue to look ahead still marking milestones with graduations, marriage, children, careers and accomplishing goals – until we stop, or die.

When I believe dissatisfaction is a good foundation for growth I tend to focus on the negative and that leads me in a path I’d rather not travel. Often the first negative thought is not nearly as bleak as the next, nor that one as hopeless as the one that follows – it’s a downward spiral. Worse yet, dissatisfaction wells up in me a need to blame.  Blaming myself doesn’t help me any more than blaming you or even the circumstances.

Desiring growth, movement or change is not a choice – we are human – it is what we do. Cultivating contentment is a choice that God intends for us to make. When we choose to be grateful and live with a real sense of peace, our eyes are unveiled to possibilities that are veiled when we are dissatisfied.  Untainted by negativity we make healthy, wise decisions and fulfill the longing that never dies – growth.

Besides all that, contentment is way more fun!!  Not to mention the fact that we are called to be content.  We know God doesn’t intend for us to stagnate so I’m quite certain he wouldn’t call us to contentment if that is where it led.  Wanna grow?  Try contentment.  I’ve been so very blessed when that is the choice I’ve made.