What Two Things Most Shape our Lives? Love and Attention

Who, being loved, is poor? Oscar WildeOur emotional well being depends hugely on how well we can control our attention

Two fundamental things –  love and attention – shape our lives more than anything else. Without the consistent love of at least one person, children’s brains do not develop properly and their lives are often blighted. Being attended to  – that is, feeling held in another’s mind – is part of being loved and is also crucial for the brain’s development.

Attention is the gatekeeper for how experiences sculpts the child’s brain. Without attention, experiences don’t trigger physical changes in the brain tissue of the sort that attended-to input does. [i]   This means that potentially rich stimulation drains away like water into sand because it is not ‘activated’ by attention.

Our brains have a number of specific general purpose attention networks which help us to select what to attend to (one voice rather than the background conversation), allow us to switch from one thing to another (from the song on the radio to the red traffic light ahead) and to sustain it over time (read this blog to the end without mind wandering).

Loving adults sculpt these attention networks in their young children through joint attention; babies learn to attend a little like they learn to walk, by being held for the first few steps before gradually venturing on their own with just a hand, and finally staggering off with anxious hands braced to catch. Attention is a bit like that – the attentional circuits are like muscles which need to be developed.

Children learn to sustain their attention in this sort of faltering, supported way: the brain finds it hard to keep attention on an unchanging stimulus for more than a few seconds at a time, but that’s exactly what the children have to learn to do they are going to learn to read, think and regulate their emotions.

Love is a specific kind of attention imbued with feeling, and the same is true for hate. When a child struggles through a difficult reading passage in school, it’s not just her brain’s attention network which is keeping her focused – it is also the fact of feeling held in her parent’s attention which helps keeps her on task.

This is why children who are having emotional problems, say during family breakup, can really start to perform badly in school, but this is not just true for young children.

Attention depends a lot on the brain’s prefrontal cortex and this region is not fully ‘wired-up’ to the rest of the brain until the early to mid twenties, particularly in men [ii]. This is why car insurance premiums are so high for people in this age group – even young adults’ ability to focus their attention, consider future risk and inhibit their emotions are underdeveloped.

Attention is not just about thinking and focus – it is hugely important in our emotional life as well. When someone snaps at us, it is our ability to refocus our attention which allows us to remember that he is very stressed, and so with luck we inhibit our natural response to retaliate and provoke more trouble.

Our ability to control our attention seems to be very important for our own emotional balance as well. Left to wander on its own, the mind will quickly revert to unhappy memories or anxious thoughts if these exist –  as they do for many people.  This is why, in the words of one pair of researchers –  ‘a wandering mind is an unhappy mind’: this study showed that people are unhappier when their minds are wandering, even when compared how they feel when focused on routine or tiresome chores.[iii]

The centrality of love and attention to our health mental functioning is becoming starting to become clearer in recent research on the biological and psychological effects of two different types of meditation, each emphasizing one element of the love-attention partnership.

Today’s article was written by Ian H. Robertson, Ph.D. and is shared from the following website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-winner-effect/201306/what-two-things-most-shape-our-lives-love-and-attention

 

 

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How to Get Closer to God & to Know God Personally

We never grow closer to God when we just live life. It takes deliberate pursuit and attentiveness Francis Chan

Are you looking for deep spiritual meaning in your life and to learn how to get closer to God?

The good news is that God loves you (yes, you!) and He wants to get to know you too! He wants to show you how to have a peaceful, joyful life… right where you’re at.

Growing closer to God can include a Bible study for women (I’ll show you my simple Bible study method), but at its core, learning how to be closer to God starts with an open heart ready to welcome in God’s loving spirit.

Let’s learn about how to become closer to God, including the #1 spiritual growth skill that will help you better understand the Bible and apply God’s truth to your life.

DO YOU KNOW GOD PERSONALLY?

Do you know God? I don’t mean do you know “of” God. I mean, do you have an authentic personal relationship with the One who created you?

I’m not asking if you go to church every week or if you grew up in a home where God was talked about frequently. Honestly, that doesn’t guarantee that you actually know God at all.

I’m talking about “knowing God” in the sense of a friendship. A relationship founded on grace (not a religion based on rules and regulations).

I’m asking if you’ve had an opportunity to be forgiven for the bad things you’ve done (and yes, according to Romans 3:23, we’ve all done bad things) and made new through the power of Christ’s forgiveness on the cross.

I’m asking if you’ve experienced (even a taste) of God’s great love for you (Ephesians 3:19) and chosen to surrender your life to His plans and His ways.

Perhaps it seems strange to ask you this (since we’ve probably never met in person and choosing to enter into a relationship with God is a very personal decision) but…

Would you like to have a relationship with God?

Would you like to know how to discover that vibrant, full life that only He can show you (John 10:10) when you choose to surrender your heart to Him?

Let me show you how to start that relationship right now.

HOW TO KNOW GOD PERSONALLY

  1. Understand that God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for your life (John 3:16, John 10:10).
  2. Know that all of us sin and that our sin has separated us from God (Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23).
  3. Understand that Jesus Christ is God’s only provision for our sin (Romans 5:8, John 14:6).
  4. We must individually receive Jesus Christ as our savior so that we can experience God’s love and know His plans for us (John 1:12, Ephesians 2:8-9, Revelation 3:20).

If you believe these truths about God and would like to have a life that is led by Christ (instead of your own plans), you can start that personal relationship with God right now!

Simply pray something like this:

“God, I recognize that I’m not perfect. I know I’ve made mistakes, and I’d like to ask your forgiveness for them. I realize now that your death on the cross is the only way that I can be made right with God and to atone for the wrongs I’ve done.

I want my life to be led by you. I want to learn more about you and to discover your good plans for my life.

I want you to show me how to have that abundant, full life that I’m craving. Please come into my life and take control. Please shape me into the person that you want me to be.”

If these words are the desire of your heart and your prayed something similar to this, then you can be assured that you are now in a personal relationship with Christ!

Today’s post is shared from the following website: https://yourvibrantfamily.com/get-closer-to-god/. I love this article and believe in what it shares. However, a portion of the post has been excluded. That portion infers that only faith is needed and not works. I have omitted it because my near-death experience clearly taught and showed me that our works are a vital part of our relationship with God and to success in our lives – from an eternal perspective. I love sharing the inspirational words that others share but I also feel a responsibility to make sure what I share is complete truth!

Have a great day!

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The Penny – In God We Trust

The Penny. In God We Trust.

What’s a penny worth. Well, a penny. Yet it’s easy to dismiss a penny, something of so little value. In fact the penny, the lowest coin or currency in the United States monetary system, is thrown away as worthless by some. This story offers a different perspective of the penny, a coin of great worth.

The Simple Penny

Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband’s employer’s home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the water-way, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband’s employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband. He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment. Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him.

penny jar

There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny. He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure.

How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Lesson from the Penny

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She causally mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.

A smile crept across the man’s face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?

“Look at it.” He said. “Read what it says.”

She read the words “United States of America.”

“No, not that; read further.”

“One cent?”

“No, keep reading some more.”

“In God we Trust?”

“Yes!”

“And?”

“And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him? Who am I to pass it by?

in god we trust lincoln head penny

When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God’s way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I can not change.

I read the words, “In God We Trust,” and had to smile. Yes, God, I get the message.

Today’s story is shared from the following website: https://www.atimetolaugh.org/thepenny.html

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God’s Love and Assistance

God didn't promise days without pain, laughter without sorrow, or sun without rain, but He did promise strength for the day, comfort for the tears, and light for the way. If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it. - Unknown

Poem that will give you goose bumps…………..

A drunk man in an Oldsmobile
They said had run the light
That caused the six-car pileup
On 109 that night.

When broken bodies lay about
And blood was everywhere,
The sirens screamed out eulogies,
For death was in the air.

A mother, trapped inside her car,
Was heard above the noise;
Her plaintive plea near split the air:
Oh, God, please spare my boys!”

She fought to loose her pinned hands;
She struggled to get free,
But mangled metal held her fast
In grim captivity.

Her frightened eyes then focused
On where the back seat once had been,
But all she saw was broken glass and
Two children’s seats crushed in.

Her twins were nowhere to be seen;
She did not hear them cry,
And then she prayed they’d been thrown free,
Oh, God, don’t let them die!”

Then firemen came and cut her loose,
But when they searched the back,
They found therein no little boys,
But the seat belts were intact.

They thought the woman had gone mad
And was travelling alone,
But when they turned to question her,
They discovered she was gone.

Policemen saw her running wild
And screaming above the noise
In beseeching supplication,
Please help me find my boys!

They’re four years old and wear blue shirts;
Their jeans are blue to match.”
One cop spoke up, “They’re in my car,
And they don’t have a scratch.

They said their daddy put them there
And gave them each a cone,
Then told them both to wait for Mom
To come and take them home.

I’ve searched the area high and low,
But I can’t find their dad.
He must have fled the scene,
I guess, and that is very bad.”

The mother hugged the twins and said,
While wiping at a tear,
He could not flee the scene, you see,
For he’s been dead a year.”

The cop just looked confused and asked,
Now, how can that be true?”
The boys said, “Mommy, Daddy came
And left a kiss for you.”

He told us not to worry
And that you would be all right,
And then he put us in this car with
The pretty, flashing light.

We wanted him to stay with us,
Because we miss him so,
But Mommy, he just hugged us tight
And said he had to go.

He said someday we’d understand
And told us not to fuss,
And he said to tell you, Mommy,
He’s watching over us.”

The mother knew without a doubt.
That what they spoke was true,
For she recalled their dad’s last words,
I will watch over you.”

The firemen’s notes could not explain
The twisted, mangled car,
And how the three of them escaped
Without a single scar.

But on the cop’s report was scribed,
In print so very fine,
An angel walked the beat tonight
on Hwy. 109

 Today’s poem was shared from the following website: https://boardofwisdom.com/togo/?viewid=1005&listname=Faith#.WsKuxmbMxBw

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Using Faith to Overcome Adversity

Faith is the strength by which a shattered world shall emerge into light Helen Keller

A Personal Story of Overcoming Adversity

Adversity challenges all of us. It seems to pinpoint our weaknesses and swallow our dignity until all we are left with are two choices: to cry out to God deeper than ever before or throw in the towel.

Nearly ten years ago, adversity struck our family in a moment when we least expected it. My normal routine flipped upside down when I received a call from my husband as he was on a ministry trip. He calmly yet firmly told me the doctors received the results from his biopsy. He had cancer. My husband, a dad, a Pastor, an evangelist, a man of God, my best friend, had cancer. Not just any cancer, but metastasized melanoma. The kind of cancer that has no cure and spreads rapidly in the bloodstream. In that moment, I was faced with those two choices. I chose to do what I had done for years and trust in God that His position has and will always be higher than any adversities we face in life.

My husband battled six years of horrific clinical trials and treatments until there was nothing left for the doctors to do. We stayed steadfast when there was no hope in the future. We prayed. When others told me to have a drink or take medication to calm the nerves, I chose to cling to Holy Spirit and listened to His voice for direction.

My husband passed away on March 9, 2014. Seven months later, I received the news that our only son had passed away from an overdose in his apartment. Can you imagine my agony as a wife and mother? The pain I experienced after losing the love of my life AND my son? I literally could not stop crying, I used my tears to cry out to God and asked Him to take my tears of loss and turn them into tears for the lost. I wanted to see His plan in all this and He was so faithful to let me know He wasn’t out to hurt me, but wanted to use what I had been through to touch others.

I literally could not stop crying, I used my tears to cry out to God…

As I was reading the Word, a story in 2 Kings, chapter 4 became alive to me. It’s the story about a widow and what was left in her house after her husband died. She began to tell Elisha that she had nothing left since her husband was gone, but what she didn’t realize was there was something in the house. There was oil. I came to a point in my grief when I cried out to the Lord and said, “I have nothing left!” But He quickly reminded me that I was full of oil of the Holy Spirit. God gave me two beautiful daughters and two son-in-laws full of oil of the Holy Spirit. He left me with the ministry that Steve and I began together years ago. He left me with people who loved us. I had oil in my home and that’s what would help me overcome these tragic, life-altering events.

So, how do we overcome adversity? Just as David said in Psalm 77:11, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” I remind myself of where He brought me from, how He saved me and set me free from a life of sin. He took a girl who was born from a rape, never knew my biological father, don’t remember my mom’s first husband, then she was a single mom with three children on welfare and food stamps. Life had dealt her hand that she didn’t know how to play. She married again, an alcoholic, a very abusive man verbally and physically. I let hate & bitterness fill me which lead me to start drinking & smoking at age 12, which continued to escalate until I was 18 and in jail for selling drugs.

Going to church Easter and Christmas didn’t give me much of a foundation. I didn’t think anyone could understand the Bible and change. My mentality was that you had to be born into a Christian home to be able to have a good life, so I thought my lot in life was a life of sin. But then something happened, my mom got saved watching a Billy Graham crusade on TV. She started reading the Bible, praying for God to do SOMETHING in her family. An Assemblies of God pastor came to our house and invited us to church. My mom wanted to go but my stepdad wouldn’t let her. This pastor wouldn’t give up, he came back every Saturday for two years, even when my stepdad threatened to call the police on him and I told him we weren’t interested. He kept telling me that Jesus loved me and had a plan for my life. I didn’t believe him, I told him and God I wasn’t worth it and they might as well give up on me. It took two years of his persistence for God to wear me down to a place where I would say, “Okay God, I am sorry. Have your way in my life, forgive me, cleanse me, make me new.” And He did!

I went into a program called Teen Challenge where they taught us the Word of God and to memorized it. to pray and have a love relationship with Jesus. For the first time in my life I thought there was hope and that if God could change me, He could change anyone. My heart’s desire was to let God use me to reach others.

I met Steve in Bible School. He had been touched, changed by God and wanted to share Jesus’ life changing power with others as well. I loved serving Jesus alongside Steve for 35 years. Now he is with his first love and I am still serving my first love.

I am still serving my first love.

How do we overcome adversity? Cling to the Word of God, holdfast to His voice, and never allow the enemy to diminish your purpose in Christ. I will never allow fear or grief to water-down God’s plan and purpose for my life. The enemy lies to us telling us we aren’t worth it or life isn’t worth it, but when we decide (And I believe it is a decision) to believe in God, His Son, Holy Spirit and let our thoughts be taken over by the Word of God, we can overcome any adversity that comes our way.

Today’s story was written by Jeri Hill and is shared from the following website: https://godtv.com/overcoming-adversity/

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