Self Control – Learning How to Wait

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“Brown Thrasher” 20 x 16 acrylic on canvas; painting overlaps on barn-wood frame.

There’s an adage that says “Be careful what you wish for.” Conversely, there’s another one for believers: “Be careful what you pray for.”

As the mother of six children, I was constantly on my knees praying for patience. The Lord took me at my word and gave me strong-willed children, a critical spouse, and many opportunities to serve my church and community. In the process, I gained the skills I needed to serve my family and my God better.

Of course, the road was bumpy and difficult. I discovered my dependence on God for strength, and I learned how to wait for the things that I wanted.

Berry Picking Time 16 x 20 oil on canvas

“Berry Picking Time” 16 x 20 oil on canvas

If you think it’s easier to indulge your physical and emotional urges and let the “chips fall where they may,” you’re wrong. If that’s how you operate, you’re the one being controlled because you’re constantly at the beck and call of your passions and desires. You couldn’t stop even if you wanted to.

Once you cross the line from choice to addiction, your life becomes a living hell. You’re no longer cool and attractive because you’re no longer in control. It is much harder to break a habit than to shape constructive behavior.

On average, it takes 30 days to form a new habit and at least twice that long to break a bad one. But if you replace a destructive habit with a good one, you will heal in the process.

Whether it’s a craving for food or a sexual addition, all appetites and passions are difficult to break. If you gain two pounds every Christmas, and you don’t take that weight off, in twenty years you’ll have 40 pounds of excess fat. What if the amount you gain every year is five pounds, or ten? Is it really worth giving in?

Looking Outward (16 x 20) acrylic; frame: Old Window

Looking Outward (16 x 20) acrylic; frame: Old Window

Our government has self-indulged to the tune of almost $20 trillion dollars. Politicians are continually being “found out” for seeking prostitutes or taking bribes. Where did this lack of integrity come from? How did this unwillingness to take ownership and responsibility for one’s actions become so commonplace? It starts in the home and it begins in childhood.

Self-gratification always has a price either in divorce, disease, addiction and ill health, or in the downfall of success, prestige, and integrity. We have seen it across the nation in the lives of the rich and famous whose weaknesses are exposed in the finality of death

We should show our children the principles of self-control and integrity by example. We should teach them to wait for fulfillment instead of giving them what they want the minute they whine or throw a tantrum. We should help them learn how to plan and to save, so they may experience the joy of earning what they want.

Helping our children experience “delayed gratification” will increase their willpower, teach them how to save money, and how to endure when it comes to their own future education, marriage and parenting.

Today I see my personal struggle to overcome as an advantage and blessing. Instead of running up my credit cards, I have learned to sit back, reassess my needs and wants, and wait for the right item at a price I can afford. Instead of fretting over what I don’t have, I simply make a list, plan and adjust my budget, and watch for the right opportunity.

A friend helped me shop for a much-needed chest. She fretted for me. She urged me to make a decision and just buy one that she thought was appropriate for my bathroom; but I dug in my heels. I needed the drawer space for towels, but I was willing to wait for the right one.

It took me three years to finally buy the piece I wanted. It was the perfect fit! I didn’t have to move or alter the position of the wall art. Its size required no changes whatsoever between the door on the right or the towel rack on the left. The chest slipped easily under the large mirror hanging on the wall. I found exactly what I wanted at a price I could afford.

Peace Plant

Peace Plant

This “patience thing” has put materialism where it belongs: somewhere down there with “things,” and well below my priorities of God, family, church, community.

I admit I once was a “hot head.” But the Lord helped me count to ten, and then to 50 as I tried to weigh my words. We could use a little more self-control in our out-of-control-world. Road rage, shootings, stabbings, mob violence and destruction have never been higher. We can’t always control others, but at least we should be able to control ourselves.

What do you get in return for your self-denial and patience?   A peaceful center from which to deal with others. Your anxiety and worry will melt away as you stand fast on your convictions and beliefs. Self-confidence will replace doubts. I tell you from my own experience, the pay-off is well worth the effort.

Staying Power, What is it and Why does it Resonate?

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My granddaughter, Rachel and me

My granddaughter, Rachel and me

One of my favorite movies is Forrest Gump. From the moment the feather floats upward and the background music begins, I’m hooked. There’s something about the soft flutter of this delicate work of nature that intrigues us all. As the feather rides the air currents, we know this is going to be a whimsical fun tale; an imaginary flight of fancy.

The feather also mirrors each of our lives. We wander through a myriad of choices and struggle over countless obstacles that may, at any time, bulldoze us and lay us flat. The feather symbolism is real and down to earth. Birds soar overhead and use their feathered wings to escape their prey. They flutter gently to protect a nest full of hope and regeneration. Feathers signify angel’s wings and God’s protection.

"Brown Thrasher" 16x20 acrylic with overlapping paint on barn wood frame

“Brown Thrasher” 20×16 acrylic with overlapping paint on barn wood frame

Sometimes the loud obnoxious and violent things around us distract our attention from the subtle messages that play out around us every day. Yet these quiet gentle winds bring us whispers of hope, touches of love, and heartfelt warmth if we but listen and receive them.

Good things often come in small packages. Great inspiration is usually received in moments of calm. Reverie was a word used by many creative’s in the past to indicate those times when they were in solitude and sought to connect with their God or muse.

Gump made us laugh and cry, suffer and weep. We rode the tides of his emotion and felt the slap and abrasion of his pain when he hit the sand. It is surely one of the great classics of our time.

"Robin Hood" 16x20 oil on canvas

“Robin Hood” 16×20 acrylic on canvas

Staying power is a huge element in success. What are you creating or doing with your life that will have lasting staying power. I’m not speaking of a long life, but a memorable one where people remember the pleasure and the pain of your deeds, your life’s work.

Some artists call it “universal appeal.” Without this key ingredient, your work (your life) is just attractive colors and shapes pieced together on a page that will quickly be forgotten in the next wave of popularity.

Staying power is an eternal principle that doesn’t go away even after you are gone. Universal appeal reaches out to all people regardless of race, religion, or social status. There is something there, a quality if you will, that resonates with the masses and connects with another’s inner and spiritual life.

Forrest Gump captured the essence of these eternal vibrations and mirrored each of our lives as they meander and roll into endless time and space. Please enjoy the following clips:

(feather theme)

(preview of show)

A New High School Principal’s Plea to Parents and Students

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"First Daffodil"

“First Daffodil”

I was so impressed with this E-mail that came across the internet that I decided to repeat it here for you. America’s schools need a return to wholesome values in a big way!

A Speech Every American High School Principal Should Give. By Dennis Prager .

To the students and faculty of our high school:

I am your new principal, and honored to be so. There is no greater calling than to teach young people.

I would like to apprise you of some important changes coming to our school. I am making these changes because I am convinced that most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against our country.

First, this school will no longer honor race or ethnicity. I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian or European, or if your ancestors arrived here on the Mayflower or on slave ships. The only identity I care about, the only one this school will recognize, is your individual identity — your character, your scholarship, your humanity. And the only national identity this school will care about is American.

This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans. If you wish to affirm an ethnic, racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere. We will end all ethnicity, race and non-American nationality-based celebrations. They undermine the motto of America , one of its three central values — E pluribus unum, “from many, one.” And this school will be guided by America ‘s values. This includes all after-school clubs. I will not authorize clubs that divide students based on any identities. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation or whatever else may become in vogue in a society divided by political correctness.

Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood, ethnic, racial or other physically defined ties. Those clubs just cultivate narcissism — an unhealthy preoccupation with the self — while the purpose of education is to get you to think beyond yourself. So we will have clubs that transport you to the wonders and glories of art, music, astronomy, languages you do not already speak, carpentry and more. If the only extracurricular activities you can imagine being interested in are those based on ethnic, racial or sexual identity, that means that little outside of yourself really interests you.

"Twigs and Twitters"

“Twigs and Twitters”

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. My only interest in terms of language is that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently as possible. The English language has united America ‘s citizens for over 200 years, and it will unite us at this school. It is one of the indispensable reasons this country of immigrants has always come to be one country. And if you leave this school without excellent English language skills, I would be remiss in my duty to ensure that you will be prepared to successfully compete in the American job market. We will learn other languages here — it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English — but if you want classes taught in your native language rather than in English, this is not your school.

Third, because I regard learning as a sacred endeavor , everything in this school will reflect learning’s elevated status. This means, among other things, that you and your teachers will dress accordingly. Many people in our society dress more formally for Hollywood events than for church or school. These people have their priorities backward. Therefore, there will be a formal dress code at this school.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this school’s property — whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. If you can’t speak without using the f -word, you can’t speak. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission, plus epithets such as “Nigger,” even when used by one black student to address another black, or “bitch,” even when addressed by a girl to a girlfriend. It is my intent that by the time you leave this school, you will be among the few your age to instinctively distinguish between the elevated and the degraded, the holy and the obscene.

Fifth, we will end all self-esteem programs. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way — the way people attained it until decided otherwise a generation ago — by earning it. One immediate consequence is that there will be one valedictorian, not eight.

Sixth, and last, I am reorienting the school toward academics and away from politics and propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine, or terrifying you about sexual harassment or global warming. No more semesters will be devoted to condom wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as only or primarily a health issue… There will be no more attempts to convince you that you are a victim because you are not white, or not male, or not heterosexual or not Christian. We will have failed if any one of you graduates this school and does not consider him or herself inordinately fortunate — to be alive and to be an American.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

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