Today, I’m Thankful for Faith

Child like faith

By Dawn Onley

Today, I’m thankful for faith. I’m grateful that there’s a hope that defies logic.

I’m in awe of how children practice faith — so completely. We can learn a lot about faith from a child.

Children don’t question for a moment that we will catch them when they jump or when they fall. They naturally think that good things will come their way if they do what they are supposed to do. Children trust we will provide for them. They trust we love them and would never harm them.

They get excited at the least little thing – like putting on a costume and imagining that they are a Superhero fighting the bad guys.  “I can fight evil. I have big boots,” my son recently enthused to me. “You sure can,” I replied. “Evil doesn’t stand a chance.”

Children still see the world with awe and a sense of adventure. They know how magnificent the mundane is, even if we have forgotten.

This is why the Bible instructs Christians on the importance of faith. “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

And these verses extolling the virtues of a childlike faith: “At the time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who then is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Jesus called a little child to stand among them. “Truly I tell you,” He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:1-3)

Unflinching, children are acting on faith when they take us on wild adventures with their imagination and their toys, when they show compassion and concern, when they see what our jaded eyes prevent us from seeing and when they believe against all odds.

 

During the holiday season last year, I ventured out to the mall and almost immediately, my son started begging me to sit on Santa’s lap. “Please mommy, please?” Looking at the line that snaked around the Santa display and the bags in my hand, and knowing that he had already had this experience a few times over, I told him no. So he stood there, waving at Santa and calling his name. I told him Santa probably couldn’t hear him because of all of the noise and that he was busy getting through the long line of kids.

My son raised his voice: “HI SANTA!” and waved more frantically. Santa looked over and waved back. Then my son started to sing “Jingle Bells” because he said Santa likes that song. Finally, after several minutes, he looked up at me and smiled, content that Santa saw him and heard him and that he was on Santa’s good list.

He wouldn’t be deterred. He didn’t care that mommy was tired and that my hands were filled with bags. He wasn’t swayed by the long line of kids waiting to meet Santa. He didn’t care that his display was drawing attention from parents and their children.

All he cared about was reaching Santa. He had faith that if he stood there long enough yelling Santa’s name and waving, Santa would acknowledge him.

It reminded me of that faith in the Bible displayed by the woman with the issue of blood who came up behind Jesus, in the crowd of people, and touched the hem of his garment, believing that she would be healed.

sister praying

We could all benefit from a faith like this.

This holiday season, let us renew our hope in the things that we cannot see. Let us extend charity to those who are suffering. Let us love one another, if for no other reason, just for the fact that we are sharing this Earth together.

Let us practice our child-like faith.

Let us be guided by the faith of a child. Let us be reminded that it works for us, too.

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Take the Big Risks

By Samantha McKenzie

“Why not go out on a limb? That’s where the fruit is.” Mark Twain

Why not push the envelope? How about you cross that line again. Try walking along the edge or free falling through life. If it gets you closer to your dreams, why not?

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Inspiring people to chase after their dreams and follow their passions comes at a high price. The stakes are steep and the sacrifices are almost insurmountable. The acceptance rate is low and the negative comments usually come from the people we care about the most. It’s a tough pill to swallow when someone asks you to let go of what’s comfortable…what’s safe.

But do it anyway. When we’re full of passion and focused on our goals, we need to be reminded to take a risk…on ourselves. Stop talking yourself out of your dreams and settling, instead invite others to supplement their safe, cushy, comfortable lives, for the slim odds of gambling on their abilities.

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We have every right to break traditions that no longer serve us. This is how evolution takes place. It starts with relinquishing roles that make us unhappy and abandoning our fears for the sake of a powerful future.

The heart is tough. It was meant to take risks. The streets of our existence are graciously paved with both successes and failures, joys and sadness, and all sorts of juxtapositions. Don’t believe me? Ask anyone who’s done it.

They went against the grain, tolerated the “you’re crazy” comments and plowed away at what they believed in, regardless. They didn’t expect things to be easy. That would be the expectations of the ordinary. They knew from the moment they stuck their neck out there, that they were rolling the dice on uncertainty.

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They overcame their inhibitions and they toiled away.

So here’s to all my full steam ahead, nose-diving, slaying ’em sisters who dare to dream and travel on with their big ole risky hearts. You are extraordinary.

Today, I’m Thankful for …

Quote On Being Thankful Quotes About Being Thankful For Others Archives Quotes Collections

By Dawn Onley

Each night, after my son says his prayers, we start naming things for which we’re thankful.

“Thank you, God for mommy, for daddy, for grandmummy and granddaddy, for Nana, for all of my aunts and uncles, for my cousins. Thank you for letting me play today. Thank you for my friends.”

When we first started doing this last year, he would blurt out how thankful he was for his toys. “Thank you, God for my Captain America shield. Thank you for all of my toys.”

As he prayed, he would look around his room, point to items and keep going: “Thank you for my Batman. Thank you for my Ninja turtles. Thank you for my cars. Thank you for my dinosaurs. Thank you for my books and my Avengers poster over there. Thank you for Darth Vader. The good Darth Vader.”

I tell him that it’s great to be thankful for his stuff, but that it’s even better to be thankful for people that make life so enjoyable. People like our family and friends, his classmates and teachers. People like his neighbors and even strangers who stop him (and me) almost daily to compliment him on how cute he is or to encourage him as he goes about saving the world as a superhero.

I tell him to be thankful for the food he enjoys that makes him grow big and strong.

 

my apple pie thanksgiving 2017

I tell him to be grateful he has a warm house and his own room when some people have no homes to shelter them from the cold. I try to teach him to be thankful for blessings like his eyes to see and his ears to hear.

Earlier this month, he helped me gather up some of his toys, clothes, blankets and shoes to give away to an organization that clothes and feeds the homeless in our community. He has gone with me to shop for canned goods and is helping me pull food from our cabinets for charity. He will go with me as I gather hygiene items for our town’s homeless students this weekend.

In early December, he will perform in a talent show (his talent, he tells me, will be donning a Darth Vader costume despite the songs I’ve been singing with him to give him another option) to raise funds for homeless kids. It’s part of a kid’s organization he joined that chooses a charity each month for which to raise funds.

He asked me the other day why couldn’t we move our town’s homeless kids into our home, in the simplistic and beautiful way children solve problems. I told him that their mommies and daddies would miss them just like we would miss him if he moved in with someone else. He then asked whether we could move their mommies and daddies in with us as well. I told him that I loved that he wanted to help and that I wish we could house our town’s homeless population, but that we couldn’t. That we didn’t have the space. I told him that we could each do our part, however, to make their lives a bit easier. I try to drum home that it starts with us.

He’s been asking a lot of questions about why some kids are hungry and why they don’t have toys. I tell him life can be good but that it can also be unfair.

My goal is to show him that for whom much is given, much is required.

I want him to be about a life of service. While I’m pleased that he is thankful for his toys, I want his gratitude to go beyond materialistic stuff.

I want him to have a heart for people – no matter what circumstances they are in – and to always strive to help make things better.

I want him to walk the tenets of the Christian faith, and not just talk it. And this holiday season, I’m thankful that we have begun to do just that.

Thankful

Be Thankful Beyond Tomorrow

By Samantha McKenzie

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” — Melody Beattie

There’s nothing wrong with spending the holiday celebrating with your family and friends, and being thankful for all of the good people you have in your life. There’s nothing wrong with counting your blessings and being thankful for the places you have been, the things you have accumulated and the experiences that have enriched your life. There’s nothing wrong with it at all.

Image result for thankfulness quotesIn this workaholic society that we live in, holidays have become the ideal time to gather with the people we love. For some of us, it’s the only face time we have with our relatives. It has become a time we carve out out to relax, eat well and enjoy catching up on each other’s lives.

As we join hands around the dinner tables tomorrow and talk about the things we are grateful for, remind each other that the act of giving thanks should be an every day occurrence.

Use the days ahead of you to be thankful for the many roads you have traveled. After Thursday, remember to be thankful for your family and friends. On Friday, be thankful that you woke up to see another day. On Saturday, remember to be thankful for good health, and if you’re not in good health, be thankful that you have another opportunity to take care of yourself. On Sunday, be thankful that you have a beautiful house that you’ve managed to turn into a home.

When Monday rolls around, don’t go back to fussing about the little things that cause you undo stress. Don’t fall back into the routine of grumbling about having to go back to work. Force yourself to get out of that cycle of complaining about everything – like traffic, your workload, the weather, gas prices, the housing market, the dirty dishes, or the way you think the cashier looked at you.

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Carry the spirit of Thanksgiving into your tomorrows. Make it a practice to speak out loud something that you are thankful for on a daily basis.

Today, I am thankful for my mother. I’ve called her 3x in the past 24 hours about cooking. She’s been patient during each call. I’m sure she’s thinking it would be smarter if I just wrote down the directions, but she willingly takes me through each step of the process. I am thankful that she is still here to always help me.

Tomorrow, I’m sure I will have more to be thankful for.

May we all continue our thankfulness into the future.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I’m Thankful for a New Season

“Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress.” – Charles Dickens

Dawn (Nov. 2017)

By Dawn Onley

I am a sun person. I feel happiest frolicking in the sun, letting it beam its light and warmth on my face. The sun conjures up memories of road trips as a child, berry picking, family reunions, visits from my Great Aunt Anna, who lived in Phoenix, and my Aunt Ann, who lives in Vegas, the salty smell of the Atlantic Ocean, the silky feel of the sand, boardwalks and saltwater taffy, Hopscotch and kickball, playing outside until the street lights came on, Mr. Barnes’ corner store and 10-cent candy, and all of the hand clapping rhymes my friends and I practiced at recess, when we weren’t dangling from the monkey bars.

Summer is still my season, hands down. When the weather turns cold, I retreat inside, excluding the obligatory runs to the grocery store, school to pick up my son, and visits with family members, of course.

Well, no longer. This fall, I’m coming out! Lately, I’ve been humming that old George Benson tune “Everything Must Change.”

Everything must change,

Nothing stays the same.

Everyone must change

Nothing stays the same.

The young become the old,

Mysteries do unfold.

‘Cause that’s the way of time

Nothing and no one goes unchanged.

There are not many things

In life you can be sure of.

Except

Rain comes from the clouds,

And sun lights up the sky,

And humming birds do fly.

Winter turns to spring.

Wounded heart will heal.

Never much too soon

Everything must change

There is a time for everything. Change is a beautiful thing. Each season brings its own joy. These days, I’m actually welcoming the cool temperatures. I’m hitting up the gym. Meeting up with friends. Networking with potential new business clients. Escorting my son to quite a few birthday parties. Trying out a new restaurant (or dish). Even taking a horse and carriage ride through town. I’m rushing to get my holiday shopping done by the end of this month so I can relax and enjoy December.

horse and carriage (Nov. 2017)

It is said that autumn represents transformation and change. It’s all around us – in the bright colored leaves and awe-inspiring sunrises.

It’s within me, this rebirth. I’m stretching myself to new dimensions. I’m learning more each day. I’m discovering things about myself that can only come from change.

I didn’t always appreciate fall. Today, I am thankful for a new season.

reflection of leaves (Nov. 2015 -- honeymoon)

 

5 Things You Lose When You Think You’re Right…All of the Time

By Samantha McKenzie

Do you know people who think they’re right all of the time? Those people who reject your ideas, even when you present them with hard evidence, facts, and all of the common sense you can drum up to prove an important point? They sometimes mask their rightness as “stubbornness” and offer the non-verbal signs of disagreement (the slight eye roll, the folded arms, the deep release of breath that indicates they’re ready for you to shut it).

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Do you know people like this? Are you one of them?

Most people are trained to pick a side. We’re also hardwired to feel compassion for topics that best suit our lifestyle, the side that makes us most comfortable, or the side that allows us the freedom to continue on doing whatever it is that we like to do.

But no one is right all of the time. No one. If you’re one of those people who has to be right about everything, you’re also probably the person people hate talking to, because you’re going to dominate the conversation with your “holier-than-thou-rightness” and you’re “I told you so’s.” Being around these know-it-alls is indeed a bummer.

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Here’s a few things we lose out on when we think we’re always right and tips to opening up to what others have to say:

  1. You lose the ability to listen. I know this sounds a bit obvious, but research says most people start forming their response while the other person is still talking, which means they’re not really listening to you. Active listening means clearing your mind, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes, empathizing if you can, and if necessary, offering solutions. Learning to listen is a great building block for improving your relationships and building mutual understanding with others.
  2. You lose out on learning. Yes. When you’re not so busy being right, you may stop and realize you have lots more to learn. You might not agree with all that is being said, but it’s best that you open up your mind to learning other concepts and another person’s perspective. Trust me, there’s nothing for you to lose here. It’s just an opportunity to gain more, maybe even useful, information. And who doesn’t need that.
  3. You limit your experiences. Limiting yourself, in most cases, is not good. You can potentially stunt your growth. You miss out on trying something new because you don’t understand it. Sometimes we choose not to participate in an activity because of fear, or because of what we heard someone else say. Toss away your predetermined mindset and expand your experiences. I promise you, you’ll grow from it.
  4. You forego opportunities. Was it a job you should have taken? A relationship you prematurely abandoned? Sometimes we’re left with the ‘what ifs’ because we thought we were so right about it at the time. Opportunities are fluid. They come and they go. Don’t be so quick to dismiss everything that doesn’t agree with your thinking. You may miss out on THE opportunity that was meant for you. Stop. Think. Ask questions. Then decide.
  5. You lose friends and potential friends. You’re not the expert on all things. Just because you read about it, doesn’t mean it’s the truth. Just because someone told you about it, doesn’t mean you should repeat it. Don’t alienate others in a conversation or hit them over the head with every piece of factual information that you’ve come across. It stifles people. It sucks up all of the air in the room and it’s a sure way to lose friends. Learn how to share what you know in a way that still leaves room for healthy dialogue. Friendships are worth more than the silly topics we tend to debate about. Create the space for everyone to participate in the conversation.

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Today, I’m Thankful for Experiences

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Jet skies

By Dawn Onley

Today, I’m thankful for my experiences. I’m thankful for my ability to try out a new city, to experience a new food, to develop a new hobby, to travel to a foreign land, to meet new people. I’m grateful that my experiences have stretched me in the process.

I’m a big fan of experiences. I like to engage, as often as possible, in stuff that involves family and friends and a good time. I will save for lavish vacations and splurge on concert tickets, a new class, or a Broadway play – all for the thrill of the moment and to feel engaged and alive.

I do this because I love connecting with people and I love creating memories that will far outlast the actual experience. I love to delight my senses. It thrills me to create and to discover. There is no question that my dominant brain is right.

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Experiences rule!

Don’t get me wrong, I love nice things. I’m a girly girl. If you see my closet, you would realize that I may just have a purse and shoe addiction, and I possess more than enough other “stuff” – from clothes to accessories and from perfumes to jewelry — to start my own consignment shop.

Still, there is nothing that tops the experience of travel or the invigoration of learning something new. There is nothing like a brisk hike up a new trail or dining at a new restaurant. I will choose taking a walk on the shore and the smell of the ocean over the chance to buy more stuff. In fact, the choice isn’t even close.

Stuff doesn’t last.

Stuff is not fulfilling.

Sure, you might be saying, but experiences don’t last either. That is true for the actual experience, but for me, it’s so much more than that.  That new gadget is outdated before you can blink your eyes. That car loses its value before you even drive it off the lot. But the memory of that experience — the concert, the play, the sports outing, the dinner date with friends, the party, the vacation, even those trips to the library with your kids — will last forever, growing more valuable over time. When you are sad, you can draw from those memories. Bonds with friends and family are strengthened through our experiences. Kids perform better in school when they have family time. This is life-changing stuff here!

Increasingly, as I watch that show on tiny homes on HGTV, it appears some people are downsizing their lives to make more room for experiences. While I don’t desire to live in a tiny house at this stage in my life, I love the idea and think these people are onto something.

After all, it’s not the size of the house that makes life so beautiful. It’s the memories created with the people inside and outside of it.

Stuff will fade away. I’m finding that it’s the memory of my experiences that I will cherish.

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