Happy Thanksgiving

Naturally, I won’t be posting tomorrow, so I’ll say it now.

I have a lot coming up. I’m turning 18 soon. Something I’ve been waiting for since I was old enough to like taking care of kids, which was 6 or 7 for me.(I don’t mean I babysat at that age, of course.) My birthday will also mean I’m finally old enough to drive, which I held off on till this long because I heard it was better, and we didn’t have a good car anyway. (It was an amazing car, but not for a beginner.) I also self inflicted a no-dating principle till I turned 18. And now I know why that was wise advice I was given, because looking back, I wasn’t ready to date any sooner than this.

This is my year of change, that is  certain. Nothing has been constant since this Summer, but thing started changing last Summer. I believe this is sometimes called a Year of Grace.

But I’ve become a much more confident person, and I’ve had some dreams to fulfill come to me, and I have places to get to in life. And how many people can say that at the brink of 18?

Circumstantially, I have less to be thankful for than I did a year ago. But I won’t focus on that. Those who have next to nothing and are thankful for that are more thankful than people who have plenty, 9 times out of 10.

So, as it is the point of the holiday, I encourage everyone to take a minute to look over the past year and see what they’ve grown into, and what experiences they had that taught them, or changed their lives. I’d love to hear about this if anyone wants to comment. Thank you for reading, see you after Thursday.–Natasha.

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Quality driven

Hello Viewers, sorry it’s been a few days. I didn’t have any inspiration.

I wonder if any one who read this blog might ask why I talk so much about right and wrong, to be honest, I think my dedication to it sometimes wierds people out and gives them the impression that I don’t have any fun.

Well, that doesn’t matter if I know my own reasons. But I have been too uptight before, and there are some reasons that I think other people relate to.

For one thing, when you want quality stuff (for whatever reason), of necessity you must start censoring the garbage around you. But most of us, when we first start caring about this, go overboard. We start to suspect everything. I think there’s an expression for that, goblins around every corner or something along that line. But, on the other hand, if we loosen up too much, before long we’re right back where we started. An illustration would be the infamous resolution to get in shape and stop eating junk food, never eating any sweet stuff seems extreme, and can make you a party pooper around the holidays, (or it would at my house,) but if you don’t watch it you’ll just fall back into your old habits. Pretty soon you’re not exercising either.

I’ve read that it’s important to keep promises to yourself, but I’ve also learned it’s better not to make them if you know you won’t do it.

So those are some fallbacks of trying to have a disciplined life. But it doesn’t explain why people want to. Some do because it leads to more self respect; others for the health benefits; others are content with simple things. But often there are religious reasons for the choice.

I think there’s a stereotype that Christians, or just Conservatives, don’t watch dirty movies, don’t drink, don’t smoke, and don’t sleep around, all because they want to be nice, good people. Well, maybe that is true, but it’s not the main reason. The fact is a lot of Christians do those things before they convert, so if being nice was the main concern, what made it happen all the sudden?

I’ve known plenty of Christians who watch movies I’d never even heard of till I started attending Youth Group, and who have more popular ideas about morality than the Conservative Ideal. (Nothing-at-all-edgy-ever.)  I was shocked that people who claimed to believe in the Bible bought into the stuff they did. I won’t name specific things, but believe me I can still remember it. I mention this because shock is getting rare nowadays when it comes to questionable things in the culture. I come from a home where quality was the main concern in entertainment, as in everything else, but I know people who just want it to be amusing, as long as it’s not straight up evil, they think it’s harmless.

I’m sure my followers, being the thinking type, don’t hold this view. We all must agree that there is a standard beyond “It’s harmless” even if we don’t agree on what that standard is.

I want to learn from something when I partake of it. I’ve never had fun when I’m trying only to have fun, and not do anything wholesome. The secret to fun is that you can’t demand it, you have to do something that’s good for you and the fun comes in. It’s true bad things can be fun, but there’s not a person alive who’ll tell you it’s the same kind of fun. (I hope. I’ve never met one.) Sports are fun for the exercise, teamwork, and discipline they bring. Games are fun when you have to use your brain. Art is fun because it is creative. It’s a simple fact that fun comes from doing things that are good.

Am I missing out because I believe I need to be careful about what I allow in my head? No. Frankly the argument that I am is without foundation, the only thing that can be used to justify it is other people’s standards of what is fun, and when those are lower than mine, of course they think I’m uptight. The test really is if I have fun at all, if I don’t, then, yes, I’m too uptight. And if you never have any fun, please, find something that you can do that you enjoy. But if I have fun doing what I do, and build my character at the same time, then what can anyone say to put it down?

All well and good, but can I really condemn what other people do, if it works for them.

Here’s the thing, define “works.” Does it make you a better person? Does it inspire you? does it make you healthier? Does it get you to loosen up when you should, and better your focus on what’s important? Then great, I’d say it works for you.

But if it weakens your resolve, leaves you feeling guilty, puts a barrier in relationships, and takes away from your life and energy instead of adding to it; then no, it doesn’t work for you. There is a reason quality is valued, because it’s essential to happy and healthy living. When I know my life is filled with good things, I am at peace. That’s all I have to say for now, toodles20160329_185243_001–Natasha

 

I’m in Control.

I hope I won’t lose points if I admit that I do, on occasion, like to watch Barbie movies. Barbie annoys the heck out of me 90% of the time, but now and then the company comes out with a good movie. (Is there a hashtag for that?) In case anyone reading likes her, here are my top three: Barbie and  The Fairy Secret, Barbie Princess Charm school, And Barbie Starlight Adventure. The titles are the worst, I admit, but the content isn’t. Okay, now to why I am bringing this up. In yet another movie (The Princess and the Pop star,)045 there’s  a song that’s pretty good, and one line in it has always grabbed my attention. “I’m in control, I broke the mold, the girl you see is up to me.” (Here I am.) It’s a standard theme, being yourself.

But I always think of the implications. It’s one thing to be yourself, it’s another to think that means no rules, no boundaries. “No right, no wrong, no rules for me, I’m free!” I love Elsa, but I’ve never like that part of the song. But  the words “I’m in control” from the above song, those warrant a little reflection.

What does it mean to be in control? Especially of your career, your life, your self.

Well we all know one can’t be in control of one’s career, disaster can strike, at any time. We hope it will not, or we ignore the possibility, but it is there. You can make career choices, but you can’t control accidents, economy, or public zeal.

Being in control of our life is something a lot of us really want. If only we could meet all its demands, and still do something meaningful. If we could know we were making a difference. Well, we are, whether we know it or not. No one is inconsequential. On our own strength, I really don’t think we can balance all aspects of life. And that is because of thing number three.

If we can’t control ourselves, then we can’t control anything else. I heard the term Self-Control for years before I knew what it was. I’m still figuring it out actually, but this is what I’ve got so far: Self Control is the ability to keep your feelings and impulses from ruling your behavior. It is not banishing all feeling of pain or sadness, it is simply not letting those feelings ruin your life. Self Control means if you get angry, you can keep from blowing up at someone, even if they deserve it. Self Control means you’ll do what you intend to, and not get side tracked or succumb to temptation.

In that movie of movies, Frozen, Elsa thinks for a while that the key to freedom is having no rules to break. But no one has to tell her that’s not true, she realizes it pretty quickly after her sister informs her that she’s plunged her entire kingdom into deep winter; eternal winter they think. (I suppose there’s no proof it was eternal.) Elsa finds out that whether she’s around man-made rules or not, there are rules of nature. Fear does affect things. And she’d not gotten rid of hers yet. Fear is very hard to control, I’ll admit. Sometimes you can’t, the only time you can is when something else is more important than fear. I make this point because so many things in ourselves that we don’t control are fear-based. Anger is, panic is, stress is, binging is. The answer is, of course, Love.

Love is my favorite thing to talk about, because it’s all we need. Every need finds its root in love. God’s love is the cure for every fear, and human love can do wonders as well.

Before Self Control, comes love. So at best, the message that you can be yourself when you learn self-control is half cocked. You can be yourself when you know you’re loved. Bottom line. And I mean really loved, unconditionally.

All right, that’s all I’ve got for now. Next time–Natasha.

A stand?

Whew! Election day is finally past. I’m not against elections, but all of them cannot have been as intense as this one was. I’m not unhappy with the results, but  I won’t go into that, I’m fairly certain everyone who reads my blog can guess my political positions. Anyway, what’s concerning me more is what to do now. Even when the person you wanted is elected, it’s not like some magic spell is going to suddenly give you a chance to do something with it.

I keep seeing and hearing about protests.

I remember when I was a few years younger, I might react like that.

It’s easy to react, and maybe the protesters honestly think they can help something by raising their voice.

I think that poses the more interesting question here. It would be easy to just shake my head at their antics, but what if they have a point? Isn’t it a free country?

This is where it gets more complicated. I like to say that freedom is not freedom without responsibility. A phrase I came up with to sum up my belief that unless you guard yourself, you’ll soon become enslaved to something, even if you don’t realize it. Like the words “I know I need to stop, but…” It’s denial. I support freedom in any area of life, but only if it’s used responsibly.

It’s a question I have to deal with a lot as I transition from minor to adult. What is just sass and disrespect, and what is a legitimate issue that I need to be more in control of if I’m going to learn. I don’t believe there’s an easy answer, because every situation is different when it comes to this. But I have some guidelines.

  1. If I am just raising my voice in anger, and fear, then it is not a stand; it is a plea. It may be a legitimate plea. I think people should be willing to listen to pleas, there may be a real neglect or abuse happening and it needs to be rectified. But, a plea does not deserve to be treated like a principle. A plea is, usually, simply what you, the plea-er, want. It’s not bad to get what you want on occasion, if it’s a good thing , but if you act like what you want is a law of life for the people around you, then they will laugh at you. And rightly so, because not a single one of us deserves that kind of preference
  2. Have I checked my facts? If what you are taking a stand on is something your really know nothing about, beyond what people have told you, the chances are you’ve been misinformed. The people I respect the most have sometimes given me faulty information, not intentionally , but because they were given false information, and so the story goes on. Even the best sources can have an incomplete picture so it’s good to go to more than one. I just had such an experience this past week.
  3. Am I considering the good of all? In  the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, one of them is “Think win–win.” It means you need to think about what’s best for everyone, yourself included, so that no one gets shortchanged. If we don’t practice this habit, someone is always oppressed, or just plain exhausted. Find things you can agree on with the other party.

If all these fail it may be the time to realize that not everything is worth making a fuss over. Some millennials are never told this, and some, like me, are told it but still have to really struggle to get it ingrained. It took me a long time to develop  thicker skin, I hope it takes other people less time. I am a sensitive person, but I’ve learned that I can’t use that as an excuse to get down every time someone does something I don’t like. And the miracle is, once you stop letting it get you down, often you stop noticing it period.

Since I’m running long, I’ll stop this here. If you have anything to add be sure and comment. I know I need this if nothing else. So maybe some meditation would behoove us all. Catch you later–Natasha.

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Bridge the gap.

Still have it.

“…But I know in my soul that no matter how bad it gets, I’ll be all right.

There’s hope in front of me, there’s a light I still see it, there’s a hand still holding me, even when I don’t believe it.

I might be down but I’ not dead, there’s the best still up ahead.

Even after all I’ve seen, there’s hope in front of me.

There’s a hope still burning, I can feel it rising through the night,

and my world’s still turning.

I can feel your love here by my side, You’re my hope…”

This goes out to all my readers, on election day, on every day. We still have a hope.

“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope,” Jerimiah 29:11.

3-forest“…I still have hope, you are my hope.” ( Hope in front of me, Danny Gokey.)

–Natasha

 

For freedom we are free.

I read an interesting idea from Abraham Lincoln, (I’ve been studying historical figures,) he said that God did not give Adam the tree of knowledge of good and evil so he could choose between the two, but so he could choose to not to eat of it. (I’m paraphrasing.) I’ve never heard this idea before. I’ve thought for a long time that Free Will means the ability to choose between right and wrong. Of course we know that it’s not right to choose wrong, but God won’t stop us.

But Lincoln gave me a paradigm shift. I believe whole heartedly the Good and Evil are real things. But what if freedom is not choosing between them, but simply choosing. It sounds like the same thing, I know. But let’s dive in deeper.

The thing about evil is, it depends upon the fact that the longer you allow it, the less you can resist it. The Bible says Sin makes us its slave. But I haven’t been the only one to think that it’s kind of unfair that Adam makes one choice, and screws up the rest of humanity. Yet that’s how it is. It’s called the Ripple Effect. Plus, every person re-enacts the scenario found in Genesis, we all have Good and Evil before us, we all at some point decide what we want to know.

Knowing Good and Evil is not the same as knowing it exists. Adam and Eve knew that tree was there, but they didn’t know what it was to be evil, to do evil, or to understand it. They were innocent. God made them good, but perhaps they didn’t know what that meant either. The choice they really had was God, or getting knowledge their own way. God didn’t set them up, the tree was not a bad thing, it was how it was used that was.

That’s another theory in of itself, but what I’m trying to get at is that Freedom to  Choose remains freedom only as long as you choose rightly. That’s the nature of choice, to be able to make the right decision, not just any decision.

It used to be that people would tell you what a bad decision was, none of this nonsense about it being up to you to decide what was right. People, there is a difference between choosing right, and choosing what Right is. I don’t mean that we can’t  decide what is the right course of action,  but we don’t set the standard.

If God really wants what’s best for us, then he want us to be free. Evil doesn’t make you free, it makes you evil. Stealing makes you a thief, drugs make you an addict, lying makes you a liar, etc. Once you are that, how can you ever not be that again? Your deeds stand. We do have a choice, we can choose God. That is the only choice we have, because he allows us to keep our choice. Evil doesn’t. You get in, it won’t let you get out.

But I don’t despair. Evil may trap us, but evil is not the most powerful thing in the world and we all know if you can’t free yourself, the only option is to be rescued by someone stronger than your captor. This is why the Word says Christ freed us, and “It is for freedom that Christ set us free.” You might say Christ freed us for our own benefit, or you might say he freed us so we could be reconciled to God, but the Christian knows those two things are the same. It’s true, we are described as slaves for Christ, but slavery to one thing is freedom from another.

Freedom is choosing God, that is just the fact. I know from my own experience that this is true. There are tons of reasons to back it up, but I suggest Mere Christianity as a resource if you’re curious.

(This post got preachy, but I want everyone to know that was unintentional, I was thinking as I typed. I don’t just say this stuff, I really think this way. So it’s no more preachy than anyone else sharing their thought. I’m only saying this to clarify that I wasn’t proselytizing.)

Whether you like my conclusion or not, this subject is certainly intriguing. Feel free to  comment with your thoughts. Until next post–Natasha.