When it comes to Advice or Help, Who do you Trust?

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“Blending In” 11 x 14 acrylic on canvas (A red wing blackbird flutters its wings and replicates the sunflower petals.

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Young children come into this life trusting others, mainly because they’re so dependent. They soon learn who comes when they cry, who feeds them and makes them comfortable. If this care is consistent, they not only trust the giver, but come to depend on their care. As trust develops, bonding strengthens between mother and child, and father and child.

When I was dating late in life, I was criticized for being overly suspicious and hesitant about many things. “Why don’t you trust me?” one person said. My answer was simple: “Trust must be earned. It is not given away.”

I still believe that to this day. You can get completely over your head or in a whole lot of trouble if you simply trust everyone who comes into your life. Young children and teens are vulnerable to compliments, gifts, suggestions because they are so open and trusting. As you grow into adulthood, you learn, oftentimes from hurts and mistakes, that not everyone is trustworthy.

I was offered a lift to church one evening by a neighbor’s son when I was in my teens. I’d seen him in their driveway over several weeks and months. When he asked if I’d like a lift, I hesitated, but only for a moment. Before I could change my mind, I was bouncing along in his truck ignorant and happy until he passed our turnoff. When I complained, he said he had an errand to run, and it wouldn’t take long.

I protested with urgency, explaining that I’d be late, but he ignored my pleas. When we got to the end of town, he pulled into a darkened lumber yard. We were the only vehicle in the lot. As he jumped out of the truck, I told him to hurry, that it was important that I get to church.

He walked some distance away into the darkness. A light never came on anywhere, and I began to fear he was misleading me. I prayed for all I was worth. “Please Heavenly Father, help me be safe. I just want to get to church.”

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“Sunshine” oil on 11 x 14 canvas

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About 10 minutes later, he walked back, jumped into the truck and wheeled away. Without another word, he drove me back to church and dropped me off. What went through his mind that night and what his real intents and purposes were I’ll never know. I only felt grateful that through my prayers and persistence, I was kept safe.

I’m always reminded of Ted Bundy’s handsome face. He fooled many young women because of his charm and good looks. But he was anything but nice! Trust must be earned. If you want to keep your own daughters safe, teach them this principle. Trust is dependability and consistency. It is not a promise made by a stranger or a bad friend. Trust is built by knowing someone and what they do.

Sometimes your gut will unmask a villain, but only if you trust your first impressions and instincts. Sometimes you scold yourself for feeling bad about someone because of their looks or their color. Instead, you should trust how you feel in their presence. Or, if you’re like me, you’ll trust in the Lord to help you make the right decision.

Find Your Passion — Make Your Mark, and Succeed!

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“With These Hands — Wonder”

We all need a purpose in life that stirs our passions. We need to feel useful. Personal fulfillment comes when we feel we’re making a contribution to our family, to society, and to the greater good. Our creator has given us gifts and talents to use in the service of our fellow men. Why? Because he loves us and wants us to be happy! He wants us to be joyful.

A few days ago, I was sorting through the books on my shelves and discovered a forgotten book called: “Discovering Your Purpose,” by Ivy Haley. It brought back memories as I thumbed through its pages. Part of the “SkillPath Publications” used in training seminars; I had purchased the book while attending another class on customer service and office management.

Haley points out there are “Certain key principles that have guided countless generations and remain relevant for us today; such values as honesty, integrity, respect, equality, excellence, kindness, faith, fair-play, accountability, quality, and unconditional love. These are universal values or truths.” The golden rule adapted from Christ’s teachings, which urges us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, falls into this category…”When you’re principle-centered, driven by and operating out of your values, you experience far greater life fulfillment.”

I read my personal scribbles in the blanks provided. Sadly, life conflicts and personal turbulence ended my completion of the book, but my notes are revealing. In the section: “Inventory of Values and Principles,” I answered the questions. Please answer them for yourself, along with me:

  1. What four things are most important to you? (My answers follow 🙂
    God, Family, Church, Friends.
  2. What are some things you’ve really wanted to do, but never dared go for? Professional Writer (although I did free-lance for awhile, guilt made me      hold back). Develop my artistic skills – illustrate my own children’s book.
  3. What, specifically, are you willing to give your life to? My God and Savior, My family, My talents: writing and painting
  4. In what areas of your life do you spend the most time and in what activities? Taking care of my family, Computers (a necessity in my work at the time.), developing web sites with an eye on developing my own.
  5. In what areas do you desire to spend more time than you’re spending?
    For me, it was writing and painting
  6. If you were to defend or support something you believe in, what would it be? My answer: The Gospel of Jesus Christ
  7. What character qualities do you find admirable in others?
    My answer: Goodness, helping others, a positive attitude
  8. What could you do that would be of most value to others?
    I try to write helpful, uplifting articles, stories; I like to help others; to cheer them, assist them, I like to get involved in causes I feel strongly about.

I can’t say I fulfilled these promises to the letter, but I gave it a good try. According to Haley, we usually feel passionate whenever our values are involved. In her book she uses the following exercise. A “values” grid is arranged like a checker-board. In each square is a “universal” value: those things you are willing to give your time and attention to; your life and your “passion” to.

Here are the universal values: (circle five that are important to you): accomplishment, adventure, affection, approval, challenge, competition, family, freedom, health, financial security, independence, integrity, loyalty, order, relationships, recognition, prestige, power, security, self-acceptance, spiritual, wealth, wisdom, pleasure, self-development.

These were my five choices: 1. Family, 2. health, 3. integrity, 4. spiritual, and 5. wisdom. The author then gives a scenario: “You’ve been diagnosed with an incurable disease and told you have six months to live. You spend the next several weeks searching for a cure. Each challenge presented, gives you a choice and asks you to place a value you are willing to give up in order to achieve that goal (either to be cured or remain healthy).

By the end of the exercise, the last value you are willing to give up becomes the first value of importance to you on the next list. Here are my values listed by importance, and why that value was and still is important to me:

  1. Integrity: If I am true to myself, I will be true to my God. If I am honest with myself, I will be open and honest with my God.
  2. Spiritual: God lends me breath. He is my reason for living. He sustains me. He is “my joy, and my song.”
  3. Family: My prayer every day (and still is) is that my children will recognize the “light which shines in darkness,” and that they will “hunger and thirst after righteousness” and put their trust in the Lord.
  4. Wisdom: All learning is not good unless eternal perspective and knowledge is applied. We become wise when we obey God’s commandments.
  5. Health: Health is of no value if the other four values are missing. Health is important if it keeps you vibrant and alive in standing for truth and honor.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said: “The biggest tragedy in America is not the waste of natural resources, though this is tragic. The biggest tragedy is the waste of human resources.” And how do we waste those resources? We spend our lives doing the things we think we should do or the things that are “popular” or “smart” or “worldly” and “we go to our graves with our music (our passion) still in us.”