I’M FINISHED WITH IT!

You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, “I forgive. I’m finished with it.” ~ Maya Angelou

The reason I love this quote is because it both embodies what love truly is and the real benefactor from forgiveness.

Ms. Angelou got it right. Love isn’t sentimentality or mushy feelings. It is respecting, valuing, and honoring. It is doing the right thing even if it is hard or goes unnoticed.

Dovetail that with forgiveness. I used to think forgiveness was to benefit the offender. This understanding of forgiveness made it hard  for me to forgive because I didn’t feel that person deserved to be forgiven. I felt like I was giving that person a pass. It was the same to me as saying, “What you did was okay, you are not to blame.”

However, now I realize forgiveness is for me. It is for me to be free. I needed to respect, value, and honor, myself! And I couldn’t do that while holding a grudge, wanting justice, and wanting that person to suffer as I had. Just as Maya Angelou said, I had to say, I forgive. I’m letting it go from myself. I’M FINISHED WITH IT! And I did.

That said, for a couple of years the person and the offense replayed in my mind and I had to remind myself, I’m finished with it. After a while, it no longer played in my mind.

I’m free! DSC_0025-9

NOTES ABOUT QUOTES

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I’ve always loved words. Especially those that inspire and encourage. Maybe that’s why I’m so drawn to quotes. I use them everyday on my Facebook page to encourage my FB friends. I’ve done this for years and although well-received by most, there are times the quote is totally misunderstood by some, especially those from other countries who are not familiar with our culture. Believe me, those who misunderstand the intent of the quote are quick to let me know exactly what they think. This sparks those who totally got the meaning and they are quick to let those who misunderstood know it. Thus, the whole purpose of the quote is forgotten in the fray. At the beginning of this year I noted on my page my purpose and goal for the daily quotes and also warned if anyone’s comments cause a misunderstanding of the intent of the quote I reserved the right to delete the comments. I’ve only had to do this a couple of times, thank goodness.

So, Linda? Why are you telling us this?

Well, I’ll tell you. I’ve written blogs for YEARS, and frankly, my ‘blogging well’ is dry. While driving today I worried over my dilemma, knowing I didn’t want to give up blogging, but I hate putting words in cyberspace that meant very little to most. That’s when it hit me! I love quotes. Quotes are often misunderstood. Why not share a quote and what it means to me? This ideas gave me new energy!  So each week I will post a quote and write a little about it. AND I will open it up to discussion. If you agree or disagree, there will be no deleting. (Unless the rudeness level is off the charts, of course)

Quotes are like powerhouse vitamins, small, yet nourishing. They are composed of a few words, yet they speak volumes. Therefore, with this new inspiration, I will change the direction of my blogging to using quotes that give health to our present and our future!

For now, I will close with a quote by Mark Twain. It perfectly summarizes why I love quotes and my reason for using them. I look forward to this new blogging venture!

A drop of ink may make a million think. ~ Mark Twain

Next blog’s quote is from the amazing Maya Angelou!

WHO IS THIS JESUS?

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So who is this Jesus?

Is He like the angry Christian crying fowl over being discriminated against? Is He like the one posting on Facebook about all the hateful things people do to Christians and calling those people hypocrites?

I don’t think so.

The real Jesus said this sort of thing would happen. He didn’t react to his detractors, He responded with humility. He reached out with his hand, not raise his fist. In fact, the only time we see Him angry is when people were blocked from the temple because vendors filled the courtyard selling items to use for Passover Celebration.

Is He like the Christian standing on the street with the turn or burn sign warning all homosexuals they are heading straight for hell? Is He like the Christian who decides that homosexuality is the greatest sin of all while turning a blind eye to his or her own gluttony, anger, jealousy, and slander? Is He like the Christian who says, “I love the sinner, but not his sin,” but all the while this same Christian loves his own sin? Is He like the Christian who rants on social media about homosexuals but forgets that these homosexuals are people—people with lives, hopes, and dreams. People who work hard and most important, people God loves? Is He like the parents who are fearful for, ashamed, embarrassed, or disappointed by their children who are gay?

I don’t think so.

Jesus left that kind of condemnation to the Pharisees. He chose to love. Why? Because love casts out fear and love never fails.

Does Jesus belong to a political party? Is He a liberal or a conservative? Democrat or Republican? Did He raise his voice in anger and argue with those who did not agree with Him or challenged Him?

I don’t think so.

He stood, silent, before his accusers—those who were violently opposed to Him, and listened to them lie about Him, ridicule Him, and then treat Him unfairly. He voluntarily lay on the cross. And from that cross He asked for God to forgive those very people.

Is He the white man who feels superior over all other races? Is He the black man who feels all his troubles are because of the white man? Is He entitled? Is He a bully? Does He feel the need to use drama to draw attention to Himself?

I don’t think so.

Jesus’ eyes were never on Himself. He gave grace to the weaknesses of mankind. He stood on a hill overlooking Jerusalem and wept because the people were like a sheep without a shepherd. In other words, they didn’t have a clue. Neither do we.

Is He a taskmaster? Does He require us to do good deeds? Hand out tracts? Beat on doors with the Gospel? Carry our Bibles as a weapon? Set the pagans straight? Serve in every capacity in the church? Cover our heads? Wear dresses? Avoid caffeine? Attend church every time the doors are open?

I don’t think so.

He had only two commandments, to love God with all our hearts, souls, and minds. (note: He didn’t say to make sure others did that too). Then the second was to love our neighbors as ourselves. Everything He came to do is based out of these two things—alone.

I’m writing this today because tomorrow there will be churches filled with frilly frocks, bloody Jesuses carrying crosses down the aisles, and choirs singing joyful hymns. There will be children hunting eggs and gorging themselves on chocolate Easter bunnies. And most of us will not take the time to stop and ask ourselves, “Who is Jesus?”

Why? Because we all think we know. But if we are guilty of any of the few things (there are many more) I’ve written about today, then we need to take a fresh look at Jesus Christ.

His message was simple—love God, love others. He warned us to not look at other people’s sins but to look at our own sin and repent. He wants us to take care of the poor, not judge them or grumble because they are taking away from us.

Read the red. Know Jesus.

Finally, as a follower of Christ, I want to apologize to all who have been confronted with the Jesus some Christians have created in their own image. The Jesus who is angry, who is political, who hates homosexuals, who blames every problem on others, who points his or her finger in judgment, and who is the taskmaster expecting us to whip ourselves and crawl on our knees across a gravel parking lot to please and placate God.

That isn’t the real Jesus. He isn’t pushing his finger in your chest because you are divorced, have an addiction, or visit bars.

I’m sorry for how we have used manuscripts and letters that were written in the ancient Middle East and forced them on a Modern Western world in a literal fashion while ignoring the truth they conveyed.

So, who is Jesus—really?

He is the one who values you, who treasures you, who respects you as God’s creation, who cherishes you, who accepts you, who honors and respects you. He is the one who is devoted to you. In other words, He loves you.

He is the one who stoops and writes upon the sand, then says, “I don’t condemn you, now go and sin no more.” And when He says that to you, you will understand what He means. You won’t need others telling you.

This Resurrection Sunday (what most call Easter) I hope you forgive the Christians who introduced you to the Christ patterned after themselves. I pray you will lift your face and open your heart to the true Christ and say, “Hello Jesus, I’m glad to finally meet you. Let’s have coffee and get acquainted.”

WHAT I’M WRITING ON MY 2015 SLATE

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To me New Year’s Day is like a clean slate. Before I write on it, I look back over the previous year and evaluate what I wrote on it. I ask myself, “What did I do, think, or say that backfired on me, that caused me sorrow or pain, even worse, caused someone else sorrow or pain? I do this because I don’t want to fill my clean slate up with the same bad scribbling. This week before New Year’s Day is perfect for reflection. I will take a hard, honest, look at 2013 and determine what things need to be erased from my life. When New Year’s Day 2014 dawns I will be ready to write on my clean slate and hopefully I won’t be ashamed during my week of reflection as I prepare for 2015.

                                                                                                                                                     ~ Linda Apple, December 2013 

I wrote the above quote one year ago today. And I can honestly say I’ve achieved this goal. The most rewarding achievement is learning how to forgive. For years I held myself in a prison of bitterness because I wasn’t willing to forgive someone. But this year I reached a point to where I couldn’t continue living with unforgiveness and animosity, so I released the person I had held in this state. Now there is peace between us . . . even friendship.

Of course, where there are people there are hiccups, times when misunderstandings arise and the temptation to hold a grudge happens. But this year I’ve practiced flinging these temptations from me as fast and far as I can. I do this by practicing gratitude.  A grateful person is a happy person, a person at peace.

My goal for 2015 is to  my slate with gratitude. I want to express my gratitude to those around me. There are those who flood my soul with life and never even know it. But they will from now on! And should hard times come, for as we all know life is famous for handing us those times, I hope to gather enough courage and still be grateful.

How about you? What do you plan to write on your 2015 slate?

LEARNING AT NATURES KNEE ~ Small Beginnings

 

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“Mighty things from small beginnings grow.” ~ John Dryden

This week my daughter, Olivia, and I started our heirloom tomatoes seeds and some have already pushed their thread-like stems through the potting soil. Each year when I see these little shoots I’m amazed at how such small beginnings result in plants taller than me, bearing tomatoes larger than my fist. When I first started learning how to start my own tomatoes, my friend, Connie, taught me a cool trick for strengthening the seedlings hair-sized stems, you pet them. Yep. You read it right. She showed me how to gently run my hand over the miniscule leaves to simulate the breeze blowing. I have to admit, it is kind of fun. In a few weeks of petting and watering my little plants, my little plants will face another hurdle, transplanting. This process will give them a little shock at first, but soon they will stretch their roots in the soil and and reach toward the sky, fulfilling their purpose.

As I write this I’m reminded of how much I can learn from nature. Just as the quote says, I should never despise small beginnings. Another lesson is when life blows over me, bending me to the ground, I have the choice of standing up and using that experience to make me stronger. Finally, if I’m uprooted and transplanted, whether it be my goals, dreams, or plans, I should keep an optimistic attitude, reach deep, look up, and grow into my purpose.

The lesson of my tomatoes? Never give up because of small beginnings, winds of adversity or change.

 

LOVE ACTUALLY?

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Love seeks one thing only: the good of the one loved. It leaves all the other secondary effects to take care of themselves. Love, therefore, is its own reward. ~ Thomas Merton

Yesterday was perfect book weather. The steel-gray sky threatening icy rain gave me permission to curl up on the couch, sip hot coffee and indulge in a couple of books. I alternated between Normandie Fischer’s, Sailing Out of the Darkness, and Steven James’s, Sailing Between the Stars. Hmmmm, I wonder if my subconscious is trying to tell me something?

Any way, James made a point in his book that made me stop and think, (actually, he makes a lot of points that makes me stop and think). He wrote that the opposite of music isn’t silence—it’s noise. A sour note that ruins the harmony and distorts the melody.

After I read that I thought about what the opposite of love might be. Some would say hate. But I don’t think so. To me the opposite of love isn’t hate—it’s selfishness. It’s the what’s in it for me mindset.

The problem is with the English language. We say we love everything. We love our warm socks, our pets, traveling, chocolate, riding our bikes, our mate, our children. But does our use of love there mean the same thing for all the above?

No.

In the Greek language there are many words for love. Smart Greeks.

What they are passionate for they use eros. Whom they are fond of as friends they use phileo. Natural love of family is Storgeo. But the highest form of love— the sacrificial, unconditional kind— is agapao.

My daughter, Olivia, once said, “Hollywood film directors and producers are the prophets of our generation sending a false message of love.” I might add so do those in advertising. Most of what the media feeds us is created and based in eros. And we buy it, believing this is love.

No wonder so many relationships are built on toothpicks.

Erros says, “You look sexy, you make me feel good, you make me happy, you make me look good, you make my life easier.” Notice a trend here? It’s all about how others make us feel.

What does agapao look like?

In a word, sacrifice. It isn’t about us.  And the troublesome thing about agapao is sometimes it isn’t convenient, appreciated, and at times it even hurts our hearts. And yet, it remains. Agapao doesn’t depend on emotion, as does eros. Eros evaporates with the changing wind. Agapao cherishes, honors, accepts, is devoted and focused on others. It remains through the tough seasons of life.

This month is dedicated to love, so why don’t we give the gift of agapao—the gift of true love. And, when eros comes knocking at our door with candy and flowers—think. It isn’t our good it wants and we shouldn’t accept anything less than agapao for ourselves!

VALUABLE YOU

While visiting a garden in Hilton Head I noticed a dead tree among several majestic oaks. Perhaps it was struck by lightning or maybe it was diseased.  I wondered why the gardeners didn’t cut the dead tree down. It was an eyesore. All the other trees had lacy ferns and velvety moss growing along their thick branches. Spanish moss hung from every branch like a shawl.

And then my gaze fell on this sign in front of the dead tree.

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Wow. Who knew? This sign changed the way I viewed the dead tree among the beautiful ones. It was no longer an eyesore, but a refuge and valuable. The filter of my understanding was altered.  In just a few seconds my estimation for that tree rose to new heights.

In human society we admire pretty people. People who did nothing to earn their beauty. They just inherited great genes. And yet they are held in highest esteem, envied, and emulated. Those who are considered passable or homely are often ignored, even mocked. There are also those whose lives have been struck by a firebolt or altered by disease.  Are they any less valuable?

NO!

True beauty is hidden deep in the soul. We see it in the way people conduct themselves, how they treat others, and what they contribute to their communities and the world.  And in my humble opinion, those who have soul beauty grow more physically attractive with each passing year. As a society, we need our filters altered. We need to seek the good in others. How wonderful it would be to appreciate their strengths and talents over their physical appearance.

Do you feel unimportant and over looked? Please, look in the mirror today and say to the reflection, “You are valuable.”

Why?

Because you are!