One Thing You Need to See Your Dreams Come True

We all have dreams we want to see become a reality. Some dream of traveling to an exotic country. Others dream of owning the latest hot sports car. Still others dream of finding the love of their life or writing a best selling book. We can put all kinds of effort into trying to make things happen, but there is one key ingredient that we must have if we want to see our dreams come true.

Some say it is will power. I know my will power only goes so far – just show me a jar of peanut butter. We can try to use will power but sooner or later our will power will run out. It is not brute strength, intelligence, knowledge, or great wealth. All of these things are helpful but without this one key ingredient we will not be successful. The one key ingredient to seeing your dreams come true is the power of Faith. We must BELIEVE it is possible to lose that 20 pounds, run that marathon, write that book, or take that trip of a lifetime.

For example, I have wanted to go to Argentina for 10 years. Ever since I toured the Argentine Tall Ship that docked in the Baltimore Harbor one summer, I promised myself “Someday, I am going to go to Argentina.” Now traveling to South America as a single woman is not exactly an easy thing to do. There are safety issues, language issues, and travel issues. Yet, I had faith. I was going to go to Argentina.

Two years ago, I decided it was time. After a few months of planning, lots of research, and applying for a Brazilian visa, I was off to South America on American Airlines. I wound up visiting not only Argentina, but Brazil as well. It was a dream come true and all because of the seed of Faith that I planted 10 years earlier.

So, what exactly is Faith?

To put it simply, Faith is the positive belief of things not yet seen. It is the belief that our dreams can come true. It is the fuel that fires up our engines. Without faith, we idle through life, never really achieving anything great and watching our dreams go up in a puff of smoke. A life without faith is not the life we were intended to live.

Faith begins with a belief in God because God is the ultimate source of all good things as well as the power to achieve them. When I exclude God from the equation, I am setting myself up for a lot of hard work and eventual failure and disappointment. It is God who gives us the grace and the power to succeed and flourish.

I like to think of Faith as a muscle we all possess. In the same way we need to develop our physical muscles to lift stronger weights, if we want to achieve greater things in life, it is necessary to strengthen our spiritual muscle. Each goal we achieve builds our faith and our confidence. We can stand on our victories and our failures like stepping stones that help us step up to the next level.

We all fall at times. The key is to pick ourselves up and get back in the race. Proverbs 24:16 says “Though the righteous may fall 7 times, but the Lord will always raise him back up.” There is no shame in failing. In fact, failure is one of the best ways to strengthen our spiritual muscle. Look how many times Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln failed. Failure builds character and strengthens our spiritual muscle. If you have failed recently, I encourage you to get back in the game. If you’re still on this earth, God still has a plan and a purpose for your life, but it is up to us to do our part to make our dreams come true.

If you have a dream you want to see come true, ask yourself this question “Do I truly believe this can happen in my life?” Stretch yourself. Start saying things like “I believe I can break this habit.” “I believe I can lose this weight.” “I believe I can make it through this.” Whatever you’re going through, use it as an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual muscle and to grow your faith. You will be surprised at the results and when you look back at your life and see how many of your dreams really have come true, you will be amazed!

If you liked this post, please comment or click on the +1 Google icon. Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

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God Feels What You Feel

Emotions are powerful. They can energize and motivate us and they can bring us to our knees. They put the spring in our step and take the wind out of our sails. Emotions are God-given and to be honored, not suppressed. Some of us are more emotional than others and this is sometimes seen as weakness. In reality, the more we are in touch with our emotions, the more we are in touch with our heart, the hearts of others and the heart of God.

What grieves your heart? Is it rejection? Abandonment? Loss? Unfaithfulness? Abuse? Being misunderstood? Jesus suffered all of these. He knows all about pain. He endured it all for our sakes and to save our souls from death and eternal separation from God. I cannot even fathom how it must have grieved God to see His only Son hanging there on the cross, pierced and bleeding for our transgressions. What grieves God the most today?

It grieves God when we deny our emotions and we stuff, suppress, and ignore the still small voice deep inside otherwise known as the Holy Spirit.  God is always speaking to us. The question is are we listening? Emotions are one of the ways God speaks to and thru our hearts. But we must allow ourselves to be sensitive. It takes a lot of courage and the grace of God to do this.

Both men and women struggle in this area of emotions. Society has taught us it is weakness to express emotion and that it is shameful to cry. The truth is there is no shame in crying. The shame is in hardening our hearts and putting up a wall around them. When we cry, it shows we care. Do you think God didn’t cry when he saw Jesus on the cross? Do you think he doesn’t cry when he sees injustice and mistreatment?

Although others may shake their heads in disgust like the Pharisees did to Jesus, God sees what each of us has and is going through and He cries with us. He does not mock, jeer, or judge like the crowds did. People, like myself, who have been wounded much by the punches of life, have a lot of tears. But God promises that one day He will dry every tear. He has captured them all in a bottle. He sees every punch thrown at us because He allowed it to happen.

The good news is this. God never wastes the pain and there is a purpose in every punch. We may not understand at the time and that is where we have a choice. We can either respond in doubt and unbelief, or in trust and faith. Pain is how our faith grows stronger. Every punch life throws at us is another opportunity to trust God.

As we remember what Jesus went thru on the cross, how we was abandoned by his closest friends, and even by God himself, let us remember – Sunday is coming! Victory over our pain and circumstances can be ours when we put our faith in Christ and not in men.

What punches has life thrown you, dear child of God? How many tears have you cried? How many times have you been judged unfairly or misunderstood? Rest in the knowing that God sees all and he is faithful to wipe away every tear and replace them all with unspeakable joy. Until then, do not harden your heart or put up a wall. Reach out to others who are hurting and God will reach out to you.

Until next time, I leave you with one of my favorite prayers by St. Francis of Assisi and I encourage you to embrace both the joy and the suffering of the cross. Jesus paid for all our sins and indeed He is risen. Happy Resurrection and to God be the glory!

Simple Tips for Becoming a Stronger You

Spring is here and pool season is right around the corner. I know I can’t wait. It’s been a long winter, hasn’t it? Have you been exercising this winter? What about weight training? When we make the time to strengthen and develop our physical muscles, they have more tone, definition and strength. Our body is then equipped to do all the things we want and need it to do throughout our lifetime.

This week’s post is about exercise and no, it is not a dirty word, so let’s do away with any negative thinking or excuses right now, ok? Exercise is not a chore we have to endure. There’s a woman at the gym who is wheelchair-bound and I have been watching and encouraging her as she makes the effort to move her body. She is making slow but steady progress. The other day I saw her climb onto the stationary bike. Imagine what it would be like to be in a wheelchair.

Exercise is a blessing and also a lifestyle. Exercise is a part of my life and has been for many years. There have been seasons when I have been injured and out of commission, so I know what it feels like to be immobile. It’s not fun. Fun is being able to move, dance, and regular, consistent exercise helps us do just that. It helps us feel more alive.

It is important to make regular exercise a priority. I know you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating, especially with the rate of obesity and cardiovascular disease on the rise all over the world. Did you know Mexico has surpassed the United States in terms of numbers of obese people – 32.8%. The United States now ranks #2 and that is not something to be proud of.

There are many ways to strengthen our muscles and get our bodies moving. Now that the weather is warming up, I love to get outdoors as much as I can. My grown sons still love to play soccer and basketball. I taught them to play tennis and took them to soccer and baseball practice. They saw me exercising in the basement to my videos. When I was raising my kids, I used to get up at 5:30 am and go for a run around the nearby college campus before the sun came up. Running is a great way to get a quick cardio workout in and all you really need is a good pair of running shoes. I’d sign up for 5 and 10k races and collect donations for charities. Then there is biking, working out at a gym, taking a fun group exercise class like Zumba, playing several sets of tennis, swimming, the list goes on and on. Let’s not forget yoga and pilates – two great ways to tone, stretch, and strengthen our core and connect with our bodies. Two fantastic low impact weight-bearing exercises that can really train the heart muscle as well as strengthen the bones are fitness walking and hiking. Both are easy and free.

While I’m on the subject of strengthening our muscles, let’s not forget our spiritual muscle. Did you know you have a spiritual muscle? Yes, indeed, and it’s called faith. Think about this. We all have faith in something to some degree. We have faith that the sun will rise every morning even if we don’t see it. We have faith that the chair we’re sitting in will hold us. We use faith every day but there are times when we need it in extra doses. In the same way we lift more weight at the gym, or run longer distances, there are circumstances in our lives that put more demands on our spiritual muscle. If we haven’t made the effort to develop our faith, we won’t be able to endure the inevitable trials that are destined to come our way.

So how do we develop our faith muscle? By exercising it, of course! Faith needs to be used in order to grow stronger. Every trial we go through is an opportunity to develop and strengthen our faith. Just as we strengthen different muscle groups with different types of exercise, different situations in life cause us to develop our faith in different areas.

Here is a short video I put together about this entitled “How to Transform Your Life”. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

What do you think of the idea of having a spiritual muscle? Does yours need to be exercised more? What concrete things can you do to strengthen it? If you’re not sure, stay tuned and I’ll be sharing simple yet concrete and practical steps you can use to develop your faith. If you want to be stronger and stay calmer through the ups and downs of life, now is the time to start strengthening your faith.

Love to hear from you. Until the next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Ariel

Double for Your Trouble

We’ve all heard the saying about “everything that can go wrong, will go wrong”. Ever feel like that is the case? The furnace goes up. The car battery dies. The phones die. The computer goes on the fritz. Seems like things all hit the fan at once sometimes and I ask “Lord, what is going on around here?” I have learned that these are all tests in the school of life and when we learn to respond in a patient and gracious manner, we can trust that God will give us double for our trouble.

So the other day I was having lunch with two friends. I decided to head over to a local Asian spot since I was in not in the mood for salty soups and sandwiches. I placed my take-out order and asked the cashier how long the wait would be.
 

“Ten minutes or so,” he says.

“Ok, that should be fine,” I answered and checked my phone for the time.

Ten minutes goes by. Then fifteen. Then twenty.

Ok, it’s been twice as long as the time he quoted me. I think I better check on my order.

“It’s on the grill now,” replied the cashier.

“Ok, just wanted to check on the status,” I replied and sat back down against the wall.
After a twenty-five minute wait, the cashier packs up my ginger broccoli chicken and says “Here’s your order”. Needless to say, I was not a happy camper, but I thanked him and hurried over to meet my friends, who I was sure had finished their lunches by then.  I was resolved to respond to the customer survey on the bottom of my meal receipt.
About a week or so later, I get an email from the company.
“We regret to hear about your take-out experience and we appreciate your feedback. We’d like to send you a “Be Our Guest” coupon to regain your confidence.”
Now THAT is customer service. But wait, it gets better. The next day, I received a phone call from the manager of the establishment. He, too, was apologetic, and offered not only a “Be Our Guest” card but he said,
“The next time you are in the area, stop by and your meal is on us.” Wow!
As I sipped my hot spearmint tea, enjoying my full course meal on the house, I sensed the still small voice speak to me.
“I’m giving you double for your trouble.” I paused and said a quiet prayer.  Somehow I felt that it was more than just the meal He was talking about.
Thank you, Lord. Thank you.
If you’re going through a tough season right now, take heart. The Lord, our God, sees everything you that is happening to you: the stress of the job, the family, the health issues, the financial woes. He is sovereign and He will not let anything happen in our lives without giving us His grace to endure. I love the verse in 1 Peter 5:10 that says  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” Nothing is wasted with God. Every tear, every heartache, every broken relationship serves a purpose.  If you have a minute, listen to the song below and until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking For a Sign?

Seems like single guys and gals both have the same problem – how to read the signs that the person they are interested in is interested in them. This has long been an issue amongst my single friends, so I thought I’d share an anecdote about it, and do what I can to help the situation. I’m all for couples getting together and sometimes we shy folk, (yes, me included) have a bit of a time deciphering the signs. Now, I’m going to tell you up front, I’m going a bit out of my comfort zone with this post, so please do write and let me know your thoughts, ok?

This past Friday, I decided to go to the west coast swing dance. Most of you know that I love to dance, right?

Lord, please let me meet some new people tonight.


As I entered the ballroom, everyone was smiling and dancing, glad to release the cares of the week. The lights were dimmed and the rhythm of the music electrified the air.  I noticed a few new faces and smiled to myself.

Thank you, Lord. I see some new people here.

It wasn’t long before one of the new faces asks me to dance and to be honest, he was quite the dancer. Cute, too and plus, he made me laugh. I’m starting to feel something.

So the second time he asks me to dance, he starts telling me how hard it is for guys to know when a woman is interested. My ears perk up. Then he shares that he only gets phone numbers from women he isn’t interested in. Now I start to chuckle.

Hmmmm. Funny I feel the same way.

“Well, I have to tell you, we women have the same problem. And I will admit, I have been told I need to send louder signals.” We both smiled at the absurdity of it all and decided to enjoy the fun of the evening.

As I thought about the conversation on the way home, I analyzed why men are so afraid to ask. I think it basically boils down to two fears:
1)  the whole fear of rejection thing
2)  the ‘She’s not interested in me’  mentality

Both of which stem from a basic lack of – dare I say – faith. You knew I was bringing it around now, didn’t you?

Luke 11:9 puts it this way “Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened to you.” This is a promise, kind of like an if-then statement for all my techie friends. If we ask in faith, God promises to answer. It’s a fact. This verse has been tested by yours truly over and over, so trust me, it does work.

Somehow many of us have a hard time asking for what we want. We feel we are unworthy. Or God is too busy to answer our prayer. Or some other lack of faith excuse. Just as we women want you guys to ask, God wants us to ask. How much more of a sign do you need?

Lastly, consider this: if we don’t have the courage to step out in faith and ask, the answer will always be no. So what will you do next time? Will you still be looking for a sign? Or will you take a step of faith and ask?

Hoping this post encourages some of you to have a bit more faith, and to step out of your comfort zone. What situation are you hesitant about? Asking for a raise? A date? More time with your beloved? Until next time, keep looking up.

Ariel 

Hope for the Holidays

The holidays are upon us and with them come a mixed bag of emotions, fun, stress, drama and anticipation. Perhaps like me, you have lost someone or something you value this year. It may have been a parent, a home, a job, a son or daughter or a relationship. The holidays will not be the same this year, you may be thinking to yourself.

But are they ever the same? A lot changes in the course of a year, doesn’t it? Friends get married. Others get divorced. Babies are born. Loved ones die. Old friends move away. New friends come into our lives. Things rarely stay exactly the same as the year before.  Life changes and that is a good thing. The certainty of change means there is always hope.

As the season of Advent begins, the focus for this week is Hope. It is the first gift of Christmas.
It is a time to reflect back on the year and ask ourselves what can we do differently next year to improve our lives, to live closer to God, and to walk more in love. Each of us is on our own path and we each have different steps to take, but take them we must, if we want to move forward into a more peaceful and rewarding life.

We may need to let go of unforgiveness or bitterness; be more grateful, generous, less self-centered. We may need to laugh more and stress less; surrender more and control less, trust more, and fear less. In every trial, there is a hidden treasure in the form of a lesson to be gleaned and applied to our lives.

Look at the example of the young girl named Mary. When the angel of the Lord told her she was going to be with child, which in essence meant she was going to be an unwed mother, a crime punishable by stoning, what was her response? “Let it be done unto me according to your word.” Mary was willing to trust and to surrender her life and her will for God’s purposes. Can we say as much?

Mary’s hope was in the Lord and in His great love for her. For this same reason, we, too, can have hope this holiday season. When we are secure in the knowledge of God’s immeasurable and unfailing love for us, no matter what comes our way, good or bad, we can rest in God’s promise to be with us. His name, Emmanuel, means exactly that – God with us. Like Mary, sometimes we don’t know what the future holds, but we can hold fast to the One who does.

What are your hopes this holiday season? What is the longing of your heart? Whatever it is, give it to the Lord, and trust that He will surround you with His amazing love this season. His gifts are for every child of His and that means all of us.

If this post has encouraged you,& you’d like to receive my weekly posts, please enter your email in the space provided and do pass it on. Someone you know may need a little hope this season. Until next week, keep looking up!

How to Receive From the Universe

What is it that you want to “attract” into your life today? Riches? Love? A bigger home or a new car? Better health? What will you do to get these things? Work more hours? Join an internet dating site? Think positive thoughts?

There are many belief systems out there in this world of ours today that tell us how to receive the desires of our hearts. One of them I’d like to talk about  is the “law of attraction” which gained immense popularity with the book entitled “The Secret”, published several years ago.

The basic premise of the book is that we can attract whatever we desire in our lives simply by thinking about it. Yep. Honest. The book promises that by focusing on the object of our desires, things will “magically” appear in our lives. The interesting thing is this book has sold over 6 million copies and has spawned a whole series of books along these lines. Millions of people are adhering to this concept.

Let me share a story that happened last weekend at the mall while I was getting my hair done. So there I am in the chair, and the young lady straightening my hair, perhaps all of 20 maybe 22 years of age, starts asking about my relationship status. I don’t know why, but people always seem to be very interested in that topic for some reason.

“I’m  single,” I replied.

“Well, you need to start thinking about Mr. Wonderful and start expecting him to appear at any moment.”

She’s talking about Faith – believing in what has not yet been seen. I smiled.

But no, during the entire conversation there was not one mention of God.

She was the second gal I had met in the past two weeks who believed in the law of attraction. Now I am all for thinking positive thoughts, believe me. In fact, scripture exhorts us to think on good things: “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Phil 4:8). However, God does have a starring role in our blessings. James 1:17 says “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights,”. To leave God out of the equation is – well – unthinkable in my humble opinion.

So now I ask you – do you believe in the law of attraction? Do you believe that simply by thinking about your desires they will appear? Or do you believe that there is a God who wants the best for us and is more than willing to bless his children according to his will for our lives? I would love to hear what you have to say about this topic.

Until next time, keep looking up and remember – good things happen to those who wait upon the Lord.

Spring, Exercise, and Muscles

Spring is here and pool season is right around the corner. I know I can’t wait. Have you been exercising this winter? What about weight training? When we develop our muscles, they have more tone, definition and strength. The body is equipped to do all the things we want and need it to do. I know I’m not getting any younger, but I plan to stay fit and active for as long as I possibly can.

So this week’s post is about exercise and no, it is not a dirty word, so let’s do away with any negative thinking or excuses right now, ok? Being able to exercise is not a chore. It’s a blessing and a lifestyle. Exercise is a part of my life and has been for many years. Having been out of commission several times, I know what it feels like to be immobile. It’s not fun. Fun is being able to move and regular, consistent exercise helps us do just that.

Exercise is important. I know you’ve heard it before, but it bears repeating, especially with the rate of obesity on the rise all over the world. There are many ways to strengthen our muscles and get our bodies moving. Now that the weather is warming up, I love to get outdoors as much as I can. My sons love to play soccer. When I was raising my kids, I used to get up in the mornings at 5:30 am and go for a run. It is a great way to get a quick cardio workout in and all you really need is a good pair of shoes. I’d sign up for 5 and 10k races and collect donations for charities. Then there is biking, working out at a gym, taking a fun group exercise class like Zumba, playing several sets of tennis, swimming, the list goes on and on. Let’s not forget yoga and pilates – two great ways to tone and strengthen our core. Two fantastic low impact weight-bearing exercises that can really train the heart muscle as well as strengthen the bones are fitness walking and hiking. Both are easy and free.

While I’m on the subject of strengthening our muscles, let’s not forget our spiritual muscle. It, too, needs to be strengthened. Did you know you have a spiritual muscle? Yes, indeed, and it’s called faith. We all have faith to some degree and it needs to be strengthened and developed just like our physical muscles. Think about it. We have faith in ourselves, in others, and many of us have faith in God.

How do we develop our faith muscle? Glad you asked. By exercising it, of course! Faith needs to be used in order to grow stronger. You know those trials I’ve been sharing with you recently? Well, every trial we go through is an opportunity to develop and strengthen our faith.

Check out this month’s video

and send me your thoughts. What do you think of the idea of having a spiritual muscle? Does yours need to be exercised more? What concrete things can you do to strengthen it?

Love to hear from you. Until the next time, keep the faith and keep looking up!

Hope Floats

Have you seen the movie with Sandra Bullock? Talk about an embarrassing and sudden end to a marriage: her husband declares on public television that he is having an affair with her best friend.

Many of us have had sudden and life-changing events in our lives: the cancer diagnosis, the financial collapse, the job loss, the breakup. Life seems unfair at best.

But the good news is this: there is always hope. Yes, it is true. There is ALWAYS hope and as the movie title suggests, hope can float us while we’re going through the current storm. It is a choice of where we put our focus.

As we come to the close of the first week of Advent, the focus this week has been on HOPE. Hope means keeping our eyes on God, instead of our circumstances, knowing that He is in control and has everything under his watchful eye.

If we look around us, like the disciples in the ship with Jesus amidst the storm, we will lose hope. The winds of uncertainty and fear are blowing everywhere, just turn on the evening news. But what did Jesus say to the winds? “Be still”. He can quiet the storms in our lives in an instant.

That is what the Lord is saying to us today. “Be still and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:1). Hope is a close relative to faith. Hope means expecting good things to happen. Faith is envisioning them to become reality.

What is it that you are expecting this season? A job? A marriage partner? A prodigal son to return home? A healing? Believe me, the Lord can do all these if we have hope and faith. I have seen it happen in my life many times.

Remember that God has a plan and a purpose for your life (Jer 29:11). So until next time, I leave you with these words: “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

How Big is Your Faith?

We all have a measure of faith. Think about it for a moment. In order to succeed in this life we must have faith – in ourselves, in others, and ultimately, in God. Whatever we choose to call him (the Universe, the Divine,our higher power) there is no denying the fact that a power greater than ourselves does exist. The bottom line is EVERYBODY has FAITH!

My question for you, friend, today is this: how big is your faith?
Jesus said that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Do you know how small a mustard seed is? Pretty small. So if we have even the tiniest bit of faith, we can do great things.

Now I have to admit, I didn’t always have a lot of faith. Children learn faith from having loving parents that are there for them. Growing up in a dysfunctional alcoholic home, my dad was not exactly an example of security or safety. Sadly many parents are not trustworthy. They hurt their children: emotionally and sometimes even physically. After a painful childhood or adult experience, many turn their backs on God.

But the Lord never turns his back on us. He is always there waiting with open arms for us to come back to him.

So, back to my question for today. How big is your faith? Do you have faith in yourself? Do you know the miraculous things you can achieve in this life? The changes you can make? The things you can accomplish? Do you realize that you have a GREAT power inside of you that can help you climb mountains? It is the power of FAITH.

What mountain are you facing today, dear one? Are you feeling alone in this world? Like nobody cares about you? Perhaps you may be a single parent, like I was? Raising teens on your own? Or maybe you’ve received a bad report from your doctor and the diagnosis looks grim.

Whatever the mountain is in your life, remember these words. “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37). It is only our faith that limits us. Today, will you choose to have faith? Will you believe?

Until next time, keep looking up!