The First Day of Spring

“It’s the first day of spring….And my life is starting over again.”

– Noah & The Whale: The First Day of Spring

No winter lasts forever. No spring skips its turn.

No matter what winter brought you, the world turns a page and melts away the cold hearts, the frozen dreams, the fruitless work and fading love.

Isn’t that the beauty of a fresh start? “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the sun.”- Ecclesiastes 3:11.

What are you waiting for this new chapter to bring? And how will you live? And will how you live define the quality of your fresh start?

Although a new season creates the condition for growth, and renewal and change: it takes the planting, the watering, the TLC to make the flowers grow. Where do you need some watering in your life? You can’t expect the same winter flowers to break out of the frost on their own.

Make this new season the foundation for a new start to the dead things in your life. May spring’s petals pave the path to your new birth. The hopes that are held in the darkness are the flowers that bloom in the light. 145811372663822-2

Standing with an Army… #OperationChristmasChild

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#Lyricoftheday I’m in pain, I’m a child, I’m afraid
But, yeah, you understand
When I’m with you,
I’m standing with an army

Ellie Goulding- Army

As the holiday season approaches, what better way to spread Christmas Cheer than being the “army” for a child in need and giving the gift of Christmas. Presents may just be objects to us. The Operation Christmas Child project may just seem like a bunch of shoeboxes with items from the dollar tree; but to a child it sends a message that in pain, fear, and loneliness- you are not alone. There is always someone who cares. These gifts demonstrate to the children that receive them that they are not alone. That they have an army, somewhere, half-way across the globe: someone cares. And aren’t we all like children? In pain. Young. afraid. Aren’t we grateful for the times when someone has taken our hand, given us a present, reminded us of their presence and said: “I’m with you, let’s face this together.” One simple shoebox can speak such a loud message to someone in need. And while you’re at it, tell someone right next to you who needs to hear that you are here for them.  That they don’t have to stand alone, they are not on the front lines of battle without armor, without an army fighting the fear together, hand in hand, heart in heart. That is the only way we can win this war: with Love.

A small shoebox can have a big impact. What goes into the box is fun, but what comes out of it is eternal. Be a part of changing children’s lives: For more information, visit: Operation Christmas Child

but girl-you’re not old yet

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#Lyricoftheday Step by @VampireWeekend
Everyone’s dying, but girl – you’re not old yet

#Photooftheday Park Bench in #SLO , CA

Some years, it feels like days fly by so fast, before you start to really understand what this year holds for you, it is already over. I looked at the calendar the other day and wondered how fast 2015 flew by. Sometimes it feels like your finger is super-glued to the fast forward button on the remote of life and you can’t let it go, no matter how hard you try. And isn’t that the truth about life? As much as we try to avoid it, the reality is that it has an expiration date.

I came across this park bench and was so moved by this woman’s tribute to her husband, who “showed me the beauty of life and love, and gave me a safe, sweet place for my heart and spirit. A man of dignity, gentle kindness and generosity. He suffered injustice bravely.”
What a legacy to leave behind. As the days speed by, and I am one year shy of ten years younger than Scott W. Bennett, I will strive to ask myself: how do I shine the light and show others the beauty of life and love today? How can I provide a safe and sweet place for the hearts of those who I encounter, even for just a moment? How can I embody dignity, gentle kindness and generosity through my words, my thoughts, my actions. How can I suffer injustice bravely?

There is not much we can control in this life, but we can impact the world around us, and as the great poet Emily Dickinson once wrote “if I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain.”

Wide Open Spaces

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🎶She needs wide open space, room to make her big mistakes🎶- Dixie Chicks: Wide Open Spaces

The most important thing you can do in the journey of reaching your goals is give yourself room. Room to make the big mistakes and learn from them. Learn about yourself and the only way you can do that is to be. Don’t live a restricted, constricted life. Don’t allow yourself to shrink because of anyone or anything. You are vast and your life is an open field to graze on. Be free. As you check in on yourself in the half-way through this year, I hope you let yourself make mistakes “Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.

Make your mistakes, this year, next year and forever.

An Unchangeable Heart

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This weekend, I volunteered to make necklaces for cancer patients of my alma mater, USC’s, hospital. This picture features the centerpiece for one of the necklaces I made: a beautiful, simple heart. Creating something for someone else to appreciate was a beautiful experience. It made me think of what musicians do for a living. They create a song that means something to them and then they give it away to us to use, cherish and wear on our sleeves, on our hearts as our own.
I made this necklace for someone who is probably losing heart. An illness like cancer not only appears to take your health away, but it appears to take the only life you’ve known away as well. I’ve heard it said that when you have a traumatic experience happen your life is always separated into to phases: before & after. Before cancer, after cancer. Before the divorce, after the divorce. Before heartbreak, after heartbreak. It’s as if we almost begin a new life after a death… everything after loss is rebirth. Even if we don’t have a chronic, life-threatening illness: I’d venture to say that we have all, at times, felt like something in our life has died, or everything all at once. Like every door has been slammed in our face and there is nothing left to hope in, nothing left to hope for.
But the reality is, there is something that no circumstance can ever take away from us and that is the choice of our heart, our attitude, our soul. We have ultimate control of our heart and soul. The best thing we can do is surrender our heart to God, and allow Him to keep it safe from all the attacks this world can bring on it. the only thing that we can never lose is our soul. It is who we are and it will go with us into eternity and even when it feels we have nothing, we have something because we have a Gift of Unconditional Love that if we choose to accept, will forever live in our heart so that we know what it is to have joy, in plenty or in want. When we have nothing, we have everything because we have the unchangeable Love of our Heavenly Father who does not change like the shifting shadows but enters in, changes us from the inside out. “We have a hope that is an anchor for our soul, firm and secure”- Hebrews 6:19

Find Faith in the Battle

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Washington Crossing the Delaware Painting By Emanuel Leutze E. 1851

Photo at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, December 2014.

Lyric of the day: Find faith in the battle

Stand tall but above it all- For King & Country Fix My Eyes

The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. (Hebrews 11:1)
“He’s fighting a cold.” “We just can’t seem to stop fighting!” “Sorry I’ll be late, I’m fighting traffic.”
Doesn’t it seem like we’re always fighting something? Like we are constantly at war with someone, something, somewhere. Life can sometimes feel like a constant battle against what you don’t want to happen or sometimes even worse, what is already happening.I’ve heard it said many times, and I think it’s an accurate label, that Hebrews 11 is known as “The Hall of Faith”. Where all the warriors of fear throughout the history of scripture stood up and fought against something that could have held them down forever and kept them from fulfilling their purpose for life: fear, the opposite of faith. I think it appropriate that this hall of faith begins with a definition of what this word actually means. I love how Eugene Petersen’s translation puts it: Faith is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It’s our handle on what we can’t see. Sometimes we battle things we see, traffic, another person, a physical ailment. But sometimes, we don’t know exactly what we are fighting against, or for.
Fighting is never easy, but it’s much easier when you can see your opponent am I right or am I right? When we can size up the competition, see exactly how big this army is, exactly how many weapons we have, etc. it makes this concept a lot easier. But finding faith in the battle means having a handle on what we cannot see. It means in the midst of a place where our lives are in jeopardy, we must hold onto something intangible. Isn’t that too high of a calling? It’s sort of like how the Israelites went to scope out the Promised Land and came back convinced they were not going to be victorious why? They scoped out the competition and felt inferior. When I read that story I think, well wouldn’t it have been better if they didn’t see their opponent at all? If you flip a few chapters you’ll see someone who overcame the battle the Israelites could not manage to— King David of Israel. He was only a boy when he took on 9 foot Goliath. He saw his competition, but trusted His unseen God. He stood tall and above the facts. He stood on the rock of faith, even though he and everyone else around him probably put their money on Goliath. If you don’t know how these stories end I’ll save you the suspense, the Israelites had to wait 40 years, experience plagues and death and lots of other unpleasant stuff because of their lack of faith whereas David, against all odds and all sight-based predicts, was victorious over Goliath.
This teaches me and I hope you, quite a valuable lesson: when I feel like there is no visible way to win the fight. I fight that fear with faith. I stand tall on His promises and above all the fear-based thinking that will keep me down, and the only way to do that is, like the boys of For King & Country remind us, FIX MY EYES on You. 🙂

Dressember Challenge in Review: They say, “Stay down” and we stand up. King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up

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Lyric of the Day:
They Say, “Stay Down” and we stand up.
King pointed to the mountain top and we ran up.

John Legend “Glory” from the movie Selma

Dressembers Day 22-31 🙂

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January 11, 2015. National Human Trafficking Day. The day to bring awareness on this issue of slavery that our forefathers fought 200 years ago. That we are still fighting today. Today I reflected on the challenge I embarked on one month ago, that changed my life in many ways. Changed my perspective on activism and raising awareness. Changed my perspective on my role in advocating. But most of all, changed my perspective on how this issue of human trafficking has more to do with the underlying problems of injustice that plague all the issues we face in our world today.
With this in mind today, I was especially touched by several moments at the Golden Globes which brought to light the importance of restoring the dignity of people and especially the cause against unequal treatment and oppression toward women. Issues of Restoring Dignity. Of Equal Rights and Respect for Women. Of giving a voice to the oppressed. Of justice and civil rights and being a brother of courage in the face of evil.
Once we address these underlying issues happening in our workplaces, our homes, our relationships and our hearts we will find that the larger issues and injustices facing us in a global and sociological sense will heal themselves. Let us run to the mountaintop that Martin Luther King Jr. pointed to, laying aside all hindrances and fear. Stand up against the injustice in your world, and the injustice in another’s will feel your light. Your courage is contagious, like the courage of these actors, who chose to use their moment in the spotlight to shed light on the injustice in another’s:
1. On women who have experienced the horrific injustice of rape: Actor Joanne Froggat, who plays one of my favorite characters of all time Anna from Downton Abbey, won the season in which her character was raped and she played a rape survivor dealing with the trauma of the aftermath of this injustice which so many women struggle with. She recognized the thousands of letters she received from survivors of rape who just wanted to be heard and gave their voices the spotlight of the world. “One woman summed up the thoughts of many by saying she wasn’t sure why she’d written but she just felt in some way she wanted to be heard. I’d like to say, I heard you and I hope saying this so publicly in some way means you feel the world hears you.”
2. On the strength of women:  Amy Adams recognizes her character’s “quiet voice and strong heart, and her ability to use her voice.” and thanked her own husband “who would never silence my voice”.
3. On the injustice of slavery: Common reminded us that “Selma is now” and “we stand in solitary for those fighting for justice right now.”
4. On the role of women in this industry: Maggie Gyllenhaal recognizes that the wealth of roles for actual (genuine) women in TV and in Film is revolutionary.
5. On the classiest human rights activist couple in the room: Amal Clooney being recognized for her incredible work in human’s rights while “her husband” gets a lifetime achievement award lol… and to take from his video montage:
“we have to continue to fight this fight and the best way to do it is shining a light on the atrocities. Making it harder for the bad guys to get away with it and harder for the good guys to ignore it.”
Let’s all be known as being the brother of courage and stand together against trafficking, genocide and all other injustice. No matter our position. I was humbled by this experience, thank you for your support and encourage you to never be silent about what matters and what is wrong in this world. Whether it takes wearing a dress, or using your voice: do something.
“I always thought, someone should do something about that, until I realized: I am someone”.
Thank you for all your support. You can still visit my fundraising page until the end of this month: https://support.dressemberfoundation.org/fundraise?fcid=372170
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”- Martin Luther King Jr.
“If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”- Abraham Lincoln.