Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Did God Really Say That?

Don't expect those who desire to pull you from God to always be bold and in your face. When the serpent guided Adam and Eve away from God, he simply said, "Did God really say that?". Just a few words to open the doors of doubt and rationalization is often all it takes for you and I too take a step away from the truth of God. Deception often plays to our ego and desire to be self reliant, not God reliant.
When we embrace such words and allow ourselves to become more aware and intelligent than God, we open ourselves up to all kinds of lies that exist within the world. The lies are older that you and I and will be spewed from the serpent as long as we are open to listen. We must beware of false gods who desire our attention, even when that false god is self.
It is hard to watch someone you love embrace a false god, and it is harder still to see our own false gods that flatter our egos. Our egos tell us God owes us for our good deeds, that God is not as powerful as we, and His grace becomes something we try to manipulate, buy, and control. In the process, like Adam and Eve, we become our own false gods.
Be aware of the serpent in today's world, they are everywhere and they make very good sense to our human egos. Relying on and leaning heavily into Gods Truth takes us from our egocentric life into the Ego-less Love of Christ, from self justification, pleasure, blame, and isolation too His compassion, love, empathy, acceptance, reliance, and forgiveness. My heart hurts for you and me when we forget who we are in God the Father and Christ the Savior, and my heart rejoices when you and I remember who we are in Christ and submit to His authority, to the love and grace and mercy of our God. Remember today who you are, and let's remind each other every day.

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Fog

God reminds us of who we are in our journey of life through His creation. Driving this morning on the highway, I entered very thick fog, limiting my vision and awareness of my surroundings. Soon, I left the fog and was greeted by bright red and orange colors of the sun, welcoming me into the light, showing me clarity and direction. I had to thank God for his gentle reminder, "See Me, Focus on Me, and Trust Me - I'll get you through the unknown fog of life".

As we encounter the fog of stress, uncertainty, worry, obsessions, etc, take a moment to breathe and STOP:
S - stop and remember who you are, where you are, and reality that you are a child of God.
T - think it through, don't allow your feelings to run amok (guilty of that one).
O - observe your surroundings, remember you are not alone, God's got this, He always has.
P - pray, get out of your head (that's a dangerous place to be), plan to be present and in God's future.

Embrace the day and be Well

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Building a Memorial

I had the opportunity to travel alone, driving over 1100 miles, through the prairie and plains of South and North Dakota. I saw God's beauty all around me, the great vastness of land, the beauty of a sunset, the breathtaking wonder of the Badlands, to name a few.  I was able to experience solitude, loneliness, reliance on God, silence, and me in a different way than I had in a long time. During this time, I drove through and stayed in four Indian Reservations, visited three Tribal Colleges, met so many relatives, created new friendships, and gained a refreshing of my soul.  Along the way, I encountered many memorials to people, places, and events that hold significance to Indian people. I walked through cemeteries of my ancestors, honoring them and walking along the memorials that honored their sacrifice. They were there to remind us, never to forget.

There are many references in the old testament where God commands man to build a memorial, to create something that would help man to remember.  The memorials were to help man remember what God has done.  As man came upon the memorials, "that still stand to this day", man could see and remember  what God had done for them, and in turn, man could remember who he was in God and to God. These memorials also helped man to remember his old struggles, his old defeats, and how God delivered him from these struggles.  Memorials also reminded man how God lead him into what seemed to be moments of hopelessness and defeat, to help man realize the greatness and power of God, to build trust and reliance on the Creator of all, the Great I am, and not the weak egocentric self of man.  Memorials also offered man a time to reflect, a time to be, a time to explore and evaluate self, a time to recommit to God in a personal and real manner.  Memorials are what they mean to be, a reminder to remember.

You and I, Christian, are memorials.  We are set upon this earth to remind those who see us what God has done in not only our lives, but in the lives of others.  We are here to not only speak the words of redemption, mercy, grace, forgiveness, joy, peace and salvation, but to live the words we speak and to allow our appearance and our actions to show the words we speak.  Each morning we arise, we must remind ourselves that we are not of this world, that we are not of man, that we are not to be of the creation, but that we are of God, to be of God, to show the world our Christ, to be Christ in this world, to show man the Creator.  As you look into your mirror in the morning and see your reflection, remember that your are a memorial of the living and real God, of Christ himself, so that your family, your children, your spouse, your coworkers, your neighbors, and all those you encounter can look at you, a new and wonderfully made creation of the Creator, and remember the power, the love, the greatness of God.

God made me a memorial at age 12, and even though I forgot who I was as I approached adulthood, He reminded me twenty years ago, at 0930 hours, this very day, and I still stand as a memorial to this day, not about me, but about Him.  Gods memorial in me is freely chipped away daily and passed on to those I encounter.  This is God's mission for me, to create memorials as I walk this earth. Remember Christian, you are a memorial to Christ, to the living and real God.  Remember who you are, remember your memorial, suit up in His armor as you walk this world, be the memorial you are created to be, and build memorials in all you encounter and where ever the Creators hand takes you.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Sunday, May 3, 2015


I've discovered in life that we walk through cycles and that these cycles are like seasons of the year. The seasons travel through cycles and have a pattern. Each season has its own qualities, it's own specifics. Each season relies on the season before it for its own birth and looks to the season after it for its death. That sounds gloomy but in reality, the cycle of seasons are the rhythm of life. We need each season as we move through the years.

Serenity comes when we realize the season we are in and learn to understand and accept the flow and events of that season.  We enter our seasons with hope, the blossoms of spring and the great and new feelings that come with reviving rain and the warmth of the son. Our spirits remain joyful and hope and life is all around us.  Summer is a season of contentment, of peace, of relaxation. We walk the earth in new and wondering ways, our senses alive and active of all that lives around us. Fall brings with it beauty, maturity, and the promise of a new beginning right around the next mountain. With that promise, comes a reality that with growth and newness, we must slow down, re-evaluate, and let go of what we've been holding onto. Fall brings with it death, the natural pruning of life, a hibernation and transformation of one life into another.  Winter brings a harsh beauty of cleansing the earth. In death, new life is her promise, for without death, there is no new life.

We have to stop, listen, feel, and be as we travel the seasons in life.  When we are hurt, struggling with emotions, embracing joy, and on and on, we must see the season of life we are in. Knowing our season will help us to see the rhythm of the world and to understand we need each season, happy to sad and life to death, for us to grow into Gods design.  I might not be happy of the season I'm in, but I can be joyful that I am walking in the rhythm of the earth. My winter promises the next spring. For that, I will be joyful.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Wisdom of Elders

"There is a dignity about the social intercourse of old Indians which reminds me of a stroll through a winter forest" - Frederick Remington.

I like winter, the snow, the cold, and the beauty that winter brings. It has a sense of wonder, of renewal, of a freshness for me. It also brings with its beauty an element of danger, of a wisdom and strength that needs to be respected. If we do not respects its strength, we can suffer at its hand. When I respect winter, I can enjoy her beauty and appreciate the life she brings.

Remington's words tell of a respect and honor for the wisdom of the Elders, from a non-Native who found a peace in the presence and lives of the old Indians he encountered. We have become a people who forget the wisdom of the Elders, who want to keep up with the worlds pace and not take the time to be in the greatness of those who walked before us. Being who we are is knowing where we came from, practicing the ways of our ancestors, and listening to the stories of our elders. I find too often the younger who want it their way and want to tell their story more than listen to the stories of those who have walked before them.

Let us all embrace the stories and tales of the Elders, of those who are our ancestors, who have walked the journey before us. Let us have teachable spirits, yearning for wisdom, eager to learn and grow and pass on the stories of the ages before our time.  Today, read of the Elders, of the fathers, listen to the stories, ask the uncles and aunties and grandparents, and slow your minds to not just hear the words, but to feel the experiences of those who know what we desire to learn. Let us not discard the old but lift up our spirits to our Elders. Weave their stories into yours and never let the tales of our  people and of our Nation fade away.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The sound of dissention

I wasn't able to watch the state of the union address last night, I was teaching an evening class.  I am aware of how polar we are politically these days.  In reading political commentary, many feel that we are more polarized today than we have ever been.  I see this myself as I read Facebook postings.  I don't seem to see much critical thought on either side.  I seem to see more attacks against conservative and Republican views, which might just be due to my own Facebook.  I would enjoy engaging in discussion that is well thought out, looks at facts and reality on both sides, and comes to conclusions based on reality versus political bias and emotions. 

I've been reading the book of Genesis, chapters 30 and 31 today, the story of Jacob and Laban, and Jacob's wives, Leah and Rachel, sisters in birth. So much jealousy, so much manipulation, so much deceit, all within the structure of a family.  It made me realize, again, that what we are seeing politically is nothing new.  We choose our sides and refuse to see the others.  We become victims on our side and dehumanize the other side.  And in the whole mess, we feel that somewhere we have control.  We are a funny race, both back then and now.  We claim compassion and unity in one breath and spew slander and insults in the next.  We salivate like dogs when we hear charismatic words and place higher esteem over a smooth tongue than experience, character, and wisdom.  We ignore history, the worlds, our Nations, our cultures, our own, to feel good and to keep in step with the marching drums of propaganda and hate, yelling, "hurray for our side".

I must say, do we really have a side?  Or are we just walking the side of another?  I must also say, when we get in boot step with the line of a person or a party, who's line are we stepping out of?  That's my fear, that as we continue to be polarized and march the steps of the charismatic drummer, we forget who we are, who created us, who our Master truly is.  To me, that is what is sad.  We post hatred instead of love, dissent instead of compassion, division instead of unity.  Like Laban and Jacob, Rachel and Leah, we have forgotten who we are looking at.  We will disagree, that's OK.  But do we have to be so mean, so ignorant, so bias, that we would kill our own family.  My challenge would be before you post some cute "we're right and their wrong" slogan or picture, do your research, know who you are attacking, and realize that they are your brothers and sisters.  In the end, there really is only one right, one path, one party, one drummer, and it sure isn't man's.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Skipped Heart Beat

Driving into work this morning, my eyes caught the flashing blue and red lights in my rear view mirror, and I felt my heart skip a beat or two.  The funny thing, the lights were moving in the opposite direction I was moving.  It appears that the police car drove right past me, flipped his lights on after he passed me, and I never noticed that he passed me, and wouldn't have, unless he had turned his lights on.

Resembles life, huh.  Ever noticed yourself just cruising along in life, not taking notice of what is around you, ignoring life as it moves on. Ever notice yourself losing interest in hobbies, events, and even people, slowly sliding into survival, letting go of living, your heart never missing a beat anymore, not feeling the love and excitement of life, liberty, relationships, and even God.

The thing is, the slide is long, slow, and steady, at such a pace that we don't realize we're no long living life until the changes around us are so huge that we no long feel anything really matters. We lose the center of our souls and convince ourselves that we are powerless, it doesn't matter, just let it all go by as looking out a side window of car driving 80 miles an hour, just a blur, out of focus, too dangerous to jump out. Then something happens, that I belief is a thumb from God, that rattles our soul and we become aware again, seeing life and all around us.

To me, today is just that day.  It seems like I've been in cruise control, watching the changes in my country and my world shift reality into something I don't always recognize, appreciate, or value.  I've gotten discouraged by the government, our President, the media and the hate speech of others. And as I stare out the window of 80 miles an hour speed, much gets blurred and insignificant.  Like the flashing lights in by rear view mirror, today, 9/11, causes my heart to skip a beat.  The sight of hundreds of thousands of motorcycles heading to D.C., the scenes of people and organizations who still hold onto the foundations of our country, give me hope.  In this heart beat moment, I will choose to continue to remember the greatness of our foundation.  I will be grateful to my God for the heart skip He struck in my chest today. 

Let us all pray for our country, for her people, and for the end of her fall.  Let's all remember who we are in God and God alone, and stop looking out the side window.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Thanks for the Memories Dad

I spoke to a young lady today who shared with me that that time has finally come, her most loved parent has decided to quit the fight, give up on chemotherapy, and enter hospice, at the ripe young age of 48. Stop for a moment and say a prayer for both of them, and don’t worry that you don’t know who the people are, God knows. The conversation jarred my present time to a time so many years ago, watching my own parent slowly walk into the arms of death, to be greeted by the life arms of his God, of his Savior. Momentary sadness and emotional missing of a man I wish I'd know longer, who I wish knew my children, and then the welcoming flooding of joy and peace that he was my dad, that his pain has long been gone, the pain that this young woman and her parent are just now entering.

We need regular reminders like this, of just how blessed life is, and how quickly it can all be taken away. But then, is it really ever taken away? I know that my children can tell stories of their grandfather, whom they've never met, through the stories I've shared with them. His life continues in the memories of those who loved him, in the stories told, and in the retelling by people who never were blessed to know him. Most of us have people like that, who've crossed over, some before their time, who continue to live in the stories from our hearts, our minds, some joyful, some sad, and some painful.

In such times, we realize that all the labels, titles, possessions, etc., are meaningless. It is when we sit in the silence of the reality of life that the world's definitions of importance and success fall from our eyes and we see truth. This truth exists in the ordinariness of an extra ordinary savor that walked the very earth we now walk. Jesus shows us each day that the closer we come to him, the closer we come to the ordinary, the more our eyes see, and the more our heart understands, the greater the degree of serenity and peace grows within our souls. Funny how hard we fight to not be ordinary when who we truly are, in the eyes of our Creator, is a loved child who is extraordinarily ordinary.

Take time to love today. Take time to say I love you today. Take time to be kind to one who is unkind to you. Take time to love a stranger. Take time to pray. Take time to be ordinary. And most definitely, take time to tell the story, and be blessed you have the story to tell.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Worse or Best?

In reading Billy Graham today, he points out a human irony that is too painfully true. We humans often have a way of rejecting the best and embracing the worse. Do not get me wrong, I realize and greatly appreciate our human quality to embrace goodness as well, such as how the sports and media embraced the tragic accident of Louisville's basketball player Kevin Ware, supporting him and allowing his true character to shine.

It seems to me, and I can say this as I reflect on my own life story, that as we dumb down our moral code and accept more of the world's moral code, and dare I say the media's moral code, we allow more of the worse in life to become more of our normal, and unfortunately, the worse overshadows the best and redefines what is the best.

We do it in simple ways, in ways we can all look inward to see. We accept language that we once found offensive as acceptable. We allow our eyes to feed our souls what should never be allowed to enter, what we tell our kids and teens they should not be watching and ingesting. We can realize that if we eat a pound of chocolate a day we will gain massive weight and become physically unhealthy and at the same time, we intellectualize that we can feed our souls filth and moral depravity and it will not make us emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. Much of Hollywood yells at us to be open minded, to allow the government to control our lives, to embrace their moral code, to become more like their definition of what is good and just. We allow the world to seep into our minds and we slowly redefine our belief systems into something that pulls us from our foundational roots.

Scripture tells us that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked". We can look to Calvary to see the truth of this statement. The crowd embraces the worst of humanity and yells for the release of Barabbas, putting to death the best of mankind, Jesus of Nazareth. And to this day, the goodness of Jesus continues to be a rebuke to our badness. As Billy Graham writes, "His purity still shows up our impurities; His sinlessness still reveals our sinfulness; and unless we allow Him to destroy the evil within us, the evil within us still wants to destroy Him. This is the conflict of the ages".

I understand the ease of slowly allowing the world to define the best for us. I understand the process of intellectualization, rationalization, minimization, and all the other "ation's" floating down the river of denial. I also understand the slowly chipping away of our soul when we allow the worse to drive us from the best, from our Christ, from our Creator. Feed your soul well, see the best through the eyes of the one who defines best, and begin to leave the worse behind.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Seeing Blindly in Faith

Have you ever watched the wonder and awe of a child?  They seem to have the capacity to believe anything is possible.  They aren’t limited by the knowledge and doubt that comes with age.  They are also not limited to the critical brain and suspiciousness of people.  Children see and feel and dream and think and just be.  Oh how much some of us old people need to recapture that child of days long ago.

Children also have the ability to believe what the labels and blinders of age cloud over in time. Children believe that people are fair, that justice applies to everyone, that if you see it it’s yours, and that people who love them will never hurt them.  As we grow, the child hunkers down  deep inside and the skeptic being created by culture and society emerges and takes the reins of the small ones heart, mind, and soul, asking the question, “Is there really anything good and true to believe in anymore?”.

The roads I’ve traveled on my journey have blackened my eyes more than once.  My child remained dormant until the truth that was buried with him was rediscovered, reclaimed, and allowed to cleanse and heal the soul.  Logic and what I can “see” clouded the faith of what my being knew to be true.  So many of us give up our faith, our hope, and only hold onto what we claim as fact.  We put our faith and our God in a box, in an attempt to control a God that is too big for any man-made box to contain.

Mark Batterson, in “Wild Goose Chase”, enlightens us with the concept that faith is neither logical nor illogical, but rather theological.  He encourages us to understand that, “Logic questions God, faith questions assumptions, and at the end of the day, faith is trusting God more than you trust your own assumptions”.  Trusting God is understanding the truth in a way that is beyond and far greater than what man can ever comprehend.  Trusting God is regaining that child sense of wonder and awe in the hope and reality of love and joy. 

It is our choice as to whether we will see through the eyes of wonder and belief or cynicism and disbelief.  I encourage you today my friend and reader to not buy into the concept of limits, of self doubt, of 8 foot ceilings for an unlimited God.  Reclaim the promises of your youth and the faith of your fathers.  Reclaim the understanding that all is possible through the strength and power of God the Father and Christ the Son. 

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

New Sun, Old Darkness

The day began early, much earlier than I’d desired.  Being the first morning of a New Year, my daughter desired to welcome the first sunrise of a new year personally, as one might welcome a far away friend.  So we woke up at 6:45 am, threw on clothes, and ventured out into the cold morning of January 1, 2012.  Our goal: donuts before the sun came up and to greet a new sun on a new year’s day.   Mission accomplished, we drove back to share our feast with sleeping family at home.

As we drove back, the sun appearing over the trees and homes along the way, my excited angel stated, “The sun is lighting up the sky daddy”, to which I replied, “Yes, the sun chases the darkness away into a new day”.  She agreed with my small words of wisdom and we arrived home, sharing a beautiful morning together, while the rest of the world around us slept on.  Joy comes in the morning, in the darkness of the first day of a new year, shining from the excited eyes of a child.

Sitting in the simplicity of the morning with my child, it occurred to me that my comment was more profound than I had intended it to be.  I thought about that comment, “the sun chases the darkness away into a new day”, and I realized that yes, this is true in a much deeper way.  As I reflected over the past year, there have been both joys and struggles, easy and hard decisions, simple and complex choices to make, one in particular that will affect this year in a way that will be different than any prior years, and in each day, the sun has always risen, chasing away the darkness of the prior day.

No matter what life brings, it also brings the rising sun to fill the darkness of the night, each and every morning.  And with that sun, comes hope of a new day, filled with joy if you and I are willing to choose an attitude that embraces the joy that comes with each and every new day.  In a more profound meaning, with each new day comes the love of the Son from the Sacrifice of the Father that chases away the darkness of our sins and demons, each and every new day.  This love of the Son and His Light will outlast any position we might hold, any wealth we might accumulate, and any pain we might endure. 

As the sun of the new day on this New Year broke through the darkness of the night, remember that the love of the Father and Light of the Son will surround us in this life and bring us home to our eternal life, forever.  I encourage you, my friend and reader, to take action, choose wisely, pray continuously, and make yourself open to receive the Light of the Son, this new day, on this New Year, and in every day to come.  Happy New Year.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Hopeless Hope

Driving north bound on I-75, destination dinner at an Irish pub; I approached a tow truck on the right hand side of the highway. As I came upon the tow truck, I realized that the truck was broke down, dead on the side of the highway. That occurred to me to be rather ironic, the vehicle of rescue needing some rescue of its own. And off I continued to my dinner of fish and chips and whiskey soaked raisin bread pudding and vanilla bean ice-cream.

In reflection, irony seems to occur around us more frequently than we might imagine. In my line of work, this occurs on a daily basis. I have walked with people who have discovered life through their own terminal illness. I have seen marriages burst open in renewed love and commitment through facebook affairs and office romances. I have seen life grow abundantly through forgiveness that was never thought to be given. The people who have found God through running from Him into addiction, pornography, power and control, and corruption are too many to remember.

Think of the times you were afraid, lonely, abandoned, uncertain, and helpless, not having a clue as where to turn, and in that misery, hope burst forth like a bright ray of sun on a cloudy and rainy day. The irony is that we are at times that broken down tow truck, needing rescue from life’s blown gaskets, pot holes and flat tires. When we find ourselves in such an unwanted and undesired situation, we can cling to being hopeless rather than cling to the hope that meets us each day, like the air in our lungs and the sun of the morning rise.

I’ve always been fascinated by Victor Frankl’s search for meaning and finding it in a Nazi Concentration Camp. Dr. Frankl tells of finding hope in what I would consider one of the most hopeless places in documented history. And then, again, the irony of this existence brings life to a man sentenced to certain extermination, at the hands of an executioner, via gas, a bullet in a mass grave, or starvation.

It seems to me that when I am like Victor, I am seeking the same God in misery that I sought in times of Joy. I’m not saying that this is easy, as I know that it is not, but then in my often confused brain, I do understand that this is quite simple. But then, as Thomas Merton and St. Francis told so long ago, simple is not easy. Seeking God when I feel abandoned by God is simple; it’s my emotions that make it hard.

As you drive the back roads and highways of life, remember that the God you praise is the same God when the driving is fast and easy as when the driving is slow and filled with the rocky roads of life. Slow down, understand that you’re in a tow truck moment, and seek the rescue of the One who knows no limitations, who knows no boundaries, and who carries you in this life and into eternity.

Like Dr. Frankl, hope is a choice, and like Dr. Frankl, and like me, hope is yours to choose or yours to lose. After all, I suppose the biggest ironies in life are that all life is meant to die, and in death, our life is birthed into eternity. My reader and friend, embrace hope and cling to her Owner, even in the irony of life.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Is This Map Right?

I often use Google maps when I need directions, times of travel, and/or miles between destinations. In fact, I use Google maps to find locations between 2 places of travel. Google maps are also on my phone and I access directions wherever I might be. I use to use Rand McNally, and even though I like that site better, Google is more accessible.

But as you probably know, Google maps are not always accurate and can leave out steps. It doesn’t always account for roadblocks and obstacles. We were traveling through Savannah, Georgia over the summer and I relied on Google maps on my phone to show me the way. I also relied on Google maps to guide me to our friends’ home in North Carolina. As you might guess, Google maps was a nice tool but it wasn’t accurate and often “led me astray”.

This reminds me of our travels through life. I have found that the only true road map in life is God’s word and His map for my life. In my earlier days, I would attempt to discover God’s will for my life and what direction to take, in my career, family, relationships, etc. It’s funny how often my keen understanding of God’s will lead me down some rather lengthy and confusing detours and dead ends in life.

Like the flaws of Google maps, my flaw in understanding God’s will was the belief that somehow in my superior intellect and human mind and human emotions that I could actually grasp God’s will. Oh, how human of me to think that in my human greatness I could obtain an understanding of the will of a Creator who hung the moon and set the stars exactly where He intended them to rest. Even more ridiculous is the notion that even though I can’t grasp my own will half of the time, I held onto a belief system that convinced me I could grasp the will of the God who created me, all of the time.

How childish we can be, even as we approach old age. I realized many years ago that knowing Gods will was beyond me, and when I often felt I did know his will, I was really merely repackaging my will as God’s will. We so often create our own will and call it God’s. I have discovered that in walking this journey of life with Gods roadmap, I am to simply "be". I am to spend my journey discovering this God, this Creator of mine, and in this relationship, I will become and grow as obedient as I am capable. In this, I will truly “know” God’s will.

I encourage you, my friend and reader, to walk the life God has made before you, through His word, and in that journey, trust Him, as He is the true and only map maker on this road we call life.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

I Wonder

The clouds looked liked long jagged white and grey streaks, with touches of darker black, which stretched across the skies.  They represented left over’s from the storms of yesterday, and announced the coming storms that will arrive this afternoon.   The sun shone with warmth and life, breaching through the clouds, declaring a new and glorious day.  All creation of nature seemed to be bright with greens and yellows and occasional color of flowers and flowering weeds, which held their own sense of beauty on a cool and welcoming morning.  I don’t know if all was truly brighter than normal or my senses and awareness were in tuned with the Creators creation this morning.

“God of wonders beyond our galaxy, You are Holy, Holy. The universe declares your Majesty, And you are holy, holy”, echoes through my mind, the lyrics of a Third Day song.  The word that rings in my head is not holy as much as wonder.  I look around with wonder, of how can all this be, all this beauty, all this wonder, for me to enjoy, no cost, no price, just free, for just me.  My contemplation caused me to reflect upon just how often I don’t see the wonder due to the busyness of our American way.  To miss such wonder in the hurry to take myself to an office of manmade reality is really quite the “sin”. 

How often have you found yourself arriving for your destinations and never seeing the wonders that God has created, that surround you, for your pleasure, to be drank in, to heal your soul and give you energy and life.  Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that, “Stopping, calming, and resting are preconditions for healing”, and don’t we all have something we could use a little healing for.  The wonder is there, why not just notice it, why not be in its presence, why not be in His presence, and soak in the wonder of a Wonderful God. 

Today, let the wonders of the Creators creation remind you of who you are, a child of God, a being created in such love and beauty, it’s truly a wonder.  Let today be a day of wonder and worship, to a Savior who gives you complete love and acceptance, and to a God who gives you all the wonder you can embrace.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Mirror Mirror On the Wall

While attending a conference last year, I met a dark skinned woman who told a story that so many in the ballroom had little to no struggle identifying with, I being one of those people.  She told a tale of growing up always feeling she was different from others around her, including those in her own house.  She would look into her father’s face; closely observe the contrast of color as she held her mother and fathers hands, the different features of her siblings.  She’d ask when reaching 7 years of age, only to be told that she was no different than they.  It wasn’t until her parents divorced, and in a both evil and misguided attempt by one of her parents to hurt the other, did the truth come forward.  She learned that she was adopted.
She soon discovered she was Native, that her deeper complexion was  due to the genetic pigmentation of her Native parents, who’d she’d never be able to find, somewhere in Canada.  She spent much of the next 10 years discovering her People, her Tribe, where her roots were planted, ascertaining her culture.  I could not identify with adoption, but I could identify with discovering the roots of culture, the foundation of being, and the essence of existence. 
As I listened to her story, I realized that scattered throughout that ballroom were Natives of many cultures, some who knew their origins and some who didn’t, of various blood lines, and mixed among them, beings of no Native heritage.  It dawned on me that in the room were many confused Indians, and in my family, equally confused Indians.  It also occurred to me that what we see as Native American, American Indian, or just plain old Indian, is rarely reality.  Identity is not something put upon us, it is something we draw from within and reveal to the world of out there.

As I walk this earth, I pass daily those lost souls who have no idea of their identity, of who they are, of where they come from, of who are their people.  They change and adapt and modify and create some form of “I” so that they may find their tribe.  The problem is that many of the tribes we find as home were never ours to belong to, to identify ourselves with.  In the scathed reality of life, we humans much too often compromise our Godly tribe for a manly identity.
You and I, my friend and reader, are members of a Head much bigger than any creation of man.  We are adopted children into the ultimate Family of Man, God’s family of man, through the love of Christ and the sacrifice of our God and Savior.  So, I suppose I can identify with being adopted, as can we all.  Our tribe is endless and doesn’t depend on percentage of blood or heritage qualifications.  I am greatly blessed to be Native, and much more greatly blessed to be Christian. 

Today, remember your tribe, and if you are lost in your identity, wondering your roots, look no further than the soul that rests within you, your true self, and seek His guidance into your identity.  No one walks alone who walks with God, and no one who walks with God need to wonder his identity, for it belongs with his Creator.  Today, remember who you are, from the inside out.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Don't Flip the Switch

“I have to do everything, it’s not fair”, echoes from down the hallway, as small feet stomp off in utter despair and anguish, bearing the weight of the world.  “You can’t tell me what to do”, softly follows in a whispering cry as a tired soul brushes her teeth, wanting only to go to bed, escaping late night exhaustion.  Oh, how being tired can transform a princess into a pain stricken creature of the night. 

We all have our moments, our triggers, that if we are wise, we learn and embrace, to guide us away from negative emotional impulses that result in even worse decisions and regretful consequences.  Triggers are those little switches insides our brains, our bodies, and our souls that when flipped, invite the demons of another world to take over our beings and turn us into schizophrenic psychopaths.
Learning and feeling our triggers can rapidly disarm the imps that sneak into our selves and drive behaviors down a road of colliding destruction.  Common triggers can be identified in the word “HALT”, warning us the when we are hungry, hurried, angry, lonely and tired, we are set up for emotional defeat and eventual regret.  There are other tricky triggers lurking behind the shadows of our minds, but those that rest in the word “HALT” are our most common.  For my little princess, being tired lead to anger and a hurried desire to skip the nightly routine of teeth brushing, and when not granted, to great despair and frustration (which easily gave way to later prayer and the traditional night time off key singing of “Holy, Holy, Holy” and “Octopuses Garden”).

If not aware and careful, the “HALT” she openly expressed could have resulted in a trigger of my own, which often manifests itself in the form of feeling disrespected.  It’s far from funny how these little triggers eagerly wait to be switched on, dominating our psyche and turning our intellectual brainpower into tribal and primitive emotional explosions.  With a little awareness, a few good, slow and abdominal breathes, and a word of prayer, we can feel our triggers and embrace another word, “STOP”.
“STOP” allows us to stop in our tracks, think of what is going on instead of reacting emotionally, observes the reality and here and now of the situation, and choose a healthy perception and plan in addressing the uninvited and unwanted triggers from dominating our responses.  As a child, I learned to stop, drop, and roll in case my clothing caught fire.  As an adult, I must learn to stop where I’m at, drop the emotional triggers and embrace an attitude of love and acceptance, and roll through the punches of those annoying triggers.

Today, take some time to realize your triggers, challenge their motivations, slow down, and don’t let little nothings turn into major something’s. 

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The I Don't Want To Zone

The night is still and my home is quiet. My angelic children are in bed and the big dog is asleep on his back, his long legs reaching for the ceiling. The washing machine downstairs keeps time in rhythmic electronic tones which I cannot describe in words, but I’m sure I could mimic vocally. I think my mechanic of 20 years is the most talented in mimicking noises I’ve ever met. My bride sits quietly on the couch writing and reading, of what I’m not sure. My bed is quietly whispering my name and calling me to sleep.

I made the mistake of saying out loud, “I don’t really feel like blogging”, to which my focused wife utters, “Maybe you should blog about that”. I laugh, and then think, “You know, you’re right”. It’s not that blogging is a chore, as it most certainly is not; being much more of a release and a pleasure for me, but then, how often do our pleasures become somewhat burdensome at times. It’s ironic how pleasures in life can convert themselves into burdens within our minds, robbing us of their onetime joy.

I think it’s also ironic how a thought can interfere in our desires if we let that thought grow into something it was never meant to be. The thought of a pretty woman turns to lust and an eventual act of unfaithfulness. Celebration turns to drunkenness and results in new jewelry and free room and board at the county jail, not to mention financial and relational burden. Anger grows into rage and emotional and physical pain is soon to follow. The thought is not necessarily the culprit in the scenario, the hidden and underlying emotions that drive the thought being more to blame.

The I don’t want to, I don’t feel like it, I don’t feel it’s fair, that makes me angry, and the I deserve it emotions find their way into the center of our thoughts and soon our thoughts take a back seat and emotions drive the being into who knows where, often digging ourselves out of guilt, shame, resentment, and disappointment. Been there and done that, more times than I can remember and more times than I want to remember.

When we enter the “I don’t want to” zone, and zones like them, it’s always wise to slow it down, take a few breaths, and remember who you are. By being aware of the emotional triggers of being hurried, hungry, angry, lonely, and tired, we can regroup in our vulnerability, reenergize our beings, and continue to make good choices, not emotional reactions, that will lead us towards our paths and goals in life. Today, or should I say tomorrow, keep your thoughts pure and focused, choose to do what you need to when your emotions tell you otherwise, don’t sell your soul to emotional reactions, and walk the good road of love and acceptance in life.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Difficulty in the Need

Walking through life discovering our wants and needs and how to get and obtain them can be a tricky road indeed. In the words of the great philosopher Mick Jagger, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, well you just might find, you get what you need.” We probably get those two things mixed up quite frequently, the wants and the needs and the differences between them. In reality, I suppose they often appear to be the same thing.

A want is a desire for something or someone, like a new car, a certain lifestyle, children, a loving spouse, a nice house, or the family best friend of a dog. A need is more a necessity in order to live life, to function, to survive, such as oxygen, food, shelter, clothing, and income. The fine line between these wants and needs seem to occur on deeper levels, such as spiritual, emotional, and relational needs and wants. The line becomes even more gray and foggy when one takes into account ones culture, norms, expectations, experiences, perceptions, and interpretations.

In writing and thinking about acceptance, I often view acceptance as enduring limitations, understanding what can and cannot be changed, and realizing the difference. I have to wonder if acceptance is also about the difficulty of embracing acceptance. Acceptance brings with it difficult emotions and realizations of what is not good for us but what we still desire, or who is not healthy for us yet who we still desire, of situations we find ourselves in that we must now accept that reality and learn to live within the consequences, both negative and positive, as they do exist together, and not fall into survival but learn to continue to thrive and live within boundaries and limitations.

I am not saying give up as in accepting defeat but rather embrace acceptance as a driving force to live a healthy and meaningful life within the reality of our reality. If we take Mick’s words to heart, we might find that in not getting what we want we might realize and appreciate that what we need to what we have. We all have dreams that did not come true, or mistakes we’d like to forget, but if we spend some time reflecting on what we do have, what memories linger in our brains, practicing gratefulness for how we have been blessed, we might just find, that we got and have what we need.

Realize that acceptance is not always easy, and in its difficulty, we can grow through grace, love, mercy, and yes, even through acceptance. Be blessed.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Convince Yourself

Growing up, my mother read me the story of, “The Little Engine That Could”, probably dozens if not a hundred or more times, or at least, if not read it to me, told me of the little engine that could. In fact, I can remember my mother telling me about this little engine throughout my childhood, into my high school years, and even into my adulthood. One evening years ago, in sharing my hectic and crazy “scheduled” life of working multiple jobs, internships, completing my masters program, and taking care of my family, all at the same time, my mother reminded me of that little train that could, assuring me I can do anything I tell myself I can.

Funny how stories linger in our minds from our childhood and continue to strengthen and drive us into our adulthoods. That story of a little train that was originally told back in 1906 continues to echo in my psyche, helping to convince me that yes, I can do anything I put my soul into doing. As we humans continue to grow in our beings and discover who God has created us to be, once we recognize our need to be who we’re created to be and let go of what others have determined us to be, we must begin to convince ourselves that yes, we can do it, and yes, with perseverance and strength, we can achieve the changes we desire in our lives. Like the little train, we tell ourselves, “I think I can”, and with God, we move into the reality of, “I know I can”.

Paul affirms us in Philippians 4:13 that, “I can do all things through Christ who Strengthens me”. The words of Watty Piper’s little train continue to echo in my mind but the reality of Christ and the strength He gives me brings reality into my life in a very real manner that affirms and assures me that yes, in hard and easy times, in joy and pain, in celebration and in mourning, I can do all things, not through my strength, by through the strength of Christ, which never leaves me. My mother convinced me that I can do anything and my God and Savior continue to encourage me that staying with Him, I will do all things through his strength.

Accepting who we are, our place in this world, what is safe and what is not safe for us, and what people are safe in our lives, is a continual journey towards going Home. Refuting the negative voices, as one of my clients says, “the committee in my head”, from our belief system and convincing ourselves that nothing is impossible through Christ, gives us the power of forgiveness, the motivation for change, the will for acceptance, and convinces us that the good fight is worth fighting. Today, convince yourself that you are a worthy and valuable person, a child of the King. Accept your place in His kingdom and convince yourself to stay in His game.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It's a Lie, Don't You Believe It

Max Lucado, in his children’s book, “You are Special”, tells a story about a people called the Wemmicks who spend their days placing stars and dots on each other, to determine the worth and value of each person in the village. Gold stars are granted to the pretty and talented ones, and gray dots are stuck on those who can do little, are flawed, or perceived as less in value than the others. In the story, a Wemmick named Punchinello is the target of ridicule and scorn, his wooden body covered in gray dots. Punchinello strives to get a gold star, yearning for acceptance and unconditional love. It’s not until he meets Eli, the woodcarver who created him, that he understands how special he is, even with the flaws covered by dots.

I can appreciate and completely agree with W.C. Fields comment, “It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to”. For so many of us, we have allowed our spirits to be conditioned by what others have called us, just as Punchinello allowed his worth and value to be determined by the dots others put upon him. Accepting ourselves as a wonderfully made creation by a Loving Creator takes believing in who we are through the Creators eyes, not through the eyes of those in our experiences, whether they be our family of origin, the bullies from our school days, the ridiculed betrayal of a once close friend, the pain of a once endeared love, or from the Wemmicks in our life.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent” - Eleanor Roosevelt. To accept the greatness of self we must accept the greatness of the God who is our Father and embrace His view of who we are. God doesn’t tell us we are inferior, even when mean spirited people, family members, and yes, even misguided Christians, preach these words into our being. God tells us that he knew us before we were born, that we are created in His image, that we are wonderfully made. My God is not a creator of substandard garbage, and I hope you can realize that neither is yours.

Like Punchinello, who needed to spend time with Eli to realize his worth, we must spend time with our Creator to understand and accept who we are, in His eyes. Acceptance of self is really acceptance of our place with Jesus as our Savior, God as our King, and His Spirit as our Guide. In our acceptance, we must realize it rests with our Master, not with His other creations.

George Orwell wrote that, “Happiness can exist only in acceptance”. And I feel that in that acceptance, one can embrace the truth that leads to joy that exists no matter what the external life may bring to the eternal being. “For God So Loved The World…”; always remember that you are part of that world.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Anger in the Way

Acceptance necessitates enduring those things that you cannot change. It is not becoming a doormat, but rather understanding what you can change, what is outside your locus of control, and focusing your efforts on change and influence that is within your power, letting others be themselves while you allow yourself to be yourself. Once we realized that much is outside our realm of power, change, and control, we can stop allowing it to overpower us, surrendering our will to a God greater than ourselves.

Many emotions and belief systems get in our way of surrendering our will and focusing on what is within our power to change and influence, understanding our limitations. Anger can be a healthy emotion and it can also be a destructive emotion if we allow it to overpower our own power or if we use it in an attempt to get others to become what we desire them to be. Anger can stand in the face of acceptance, capturing our soul, life direction, and relationships, convincing us we need to “fight to be right”, and yet at the end of being right, there is no price that awaits us.

Thomas Kempis wrote, “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be”.  Funny how anger is a tool we use to force others into what we cannot live up to ourselves. Acceptance and positive change cannot occur without surrendering our will and our lives, accepting ourselves as we are, faults, struggles, and positive character traits alike. Only through acceptance can we begin to make the forward journey our inner beings so desire to take.

Accept today what is yours, accept today the reality of the world and those who live in it, and accept your responsibility to grow towards God to become all that He has created you to be, allowing others to become what they are created to be, realizing where your power lies and where the center of your control begins and ends.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yesterday and Today and Forever

An old friend of my life in the eighties wrote me a little note today. How nice is it to hear from people you knew in the “good old days”, especially from those whom you shared a good friendship bond. There are many people in my life I just don’t get to see or talk with often, whether they are only a 3 hour drive away or on the other side of the planet. Those unexpected “hellos” bring back fond memories of a younger me.

I suppose we all enjoy memories of the younger us, in a day when risk was worth taking and chances were the call of the day, when cares were few and happiness was the goal. The forgetfulness of my mind and the aches of my body tell me that yes, those are memories, and if I attempted what I did back then today, I probably “wouldn’t make it out alive”. Thank you God for the memories of yesterday and for the wisdom not to go back there again.

And at the same time, older age does bring with it wisdom. The memories of my youth stir old time happiness and the wisdom of my here and now bring forth more lasting joy and love that I ever could have imagined in my youth. I would not trade my present for my past for any amount of wealth or any amount of promises. In the normalcy of my life and in its daily struggles and triumphs, reality exists, and in this reality, I will embrace the joy it brings.

I encourage us all to embrace the fond memories of our youth, reconnect with an old friend, share the past and relive it in today. When it’s all done at the end of the day and reality resumes control, be grateful for the memories and for what you have today. Thank you my friend for the memories of yesterday. Thank you, my wife and children, for my reality of today. Thank you God for life, grace, forgiveness, and the wisdom to know Your reality in my life.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Oh, the busyness of Technology

It amazes me sometimes how many different organizers I have that are used to simplify my life and plan all the functions and responsibilities that exist in my life.  Millions of people use organizers like me, such as iphones, blackberry’s, date books, sticky notes, etc, to get their lives in order.   We do our best to structure our busy days, minute by minute.  And just how many email addresses, calendars, organizers, can one person use.  I have 3 different on line calendars, a printed calendar, a phone organizer, and 4 different email addresses.  A friend told me one, “me thinks you have too many email addresses”. 
As we make attempts to micromanage our lives, I have to wonder what we would discover if we were to analyze our entries.  How much time has been allotted for meetings, work duties, picking up the kids, taking them to sports and after school activities, social events, and duties and responsibilities? Moreover, I wonder just how much time you’d discover in your organizers that was set aside just for you, for your own well being, to connect to your soul and to commune with your God.  Be honest, are you neglecting your two primary and most significant relationships, that with your God and with your own being? 
Start today by taking the time to “pencil” in some one on one time with yourself.  Take time today to be purposeful in connecting with your God.  Block out time to be quiet, to walk in the woods, to pray, to meditate, and to be in oneness with the Creator.  As Charles Richards wrote, “Don't be fooled by the calendar. There are only as many days in the year as you make use of.”

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Got a Quarter?

Traveling during the holidays can bring episodes of nostalgia, memories of times lost, of events of the past, stirring thoughts of days long gone, of memories of “the good times” of the life of our youth. In driving to my home town to see my family over Christmas, my own children and wife sleeping in the van as I listened to the music of a different era, of my era, songs sung by John, Paul, George and Ringo, Janis, Elton, and Kevin Cronin, my mind was flooded with such memories of the past relationships and related events of my youth. A nice escape during a four hour cruise.

The Christmas Season can do that do us, bring back memories of times gone, of lost opportunities, of choices both good and bad, as it signifies a coming new year, with new hopes and dreams and anticipated changes in life. I like my memories, even the not so joyful ones, for they tell me where I’ve came from, hint to me where not to go back to, and stimulate my being towards the endless options God brings into my life, and the power He has granted me in my ability to choose.

The past can be a powerful backdrop to the stage of our future. It is filled with the props we’ve used before, some of which we hold onto that just keep us rooted in the past, some in our grasp keep us rooted in the present, and others linger about to remind us of who we could be, of what we are suppose to be, according to the narrative of the Writer of the play. Oh how so much easier life can be when we listen to the Writer and not to His other characters in this play of life.

In a spiritual context, contemplation is a concentration on spiritual things as a form of private devotion, a state of mystical awareness of God's being. In a change context, contemplation is the recognition or awareness of the need of change before the action or willingness occurs to implement the change. To contemplate is to consider the options that will lead to the desired wants and needs of our future. Contemplation leads to the action of change which leads to the newness of life we are all meant to experience.

To change is to grow, to evolve, and to continue to become what God has designed for our lives. To fully embrace life means to fully embrace the changes it brings, those that produce the births of joy and those that produce the deaths of sadness. For not to evolve in the changes of life is to merely survive, void of meaning and joy. Hold onto the memories of yesterday, live in the reality of this day, learn to embrace the changes of a new day, and dream in the hopes of tomorrow.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Now That's A Fire

The family gathered, cooked, ate, enjoyed the Thanksgiving dinner, enjoyed time together, took naps, and relaxed.  The three guys build a huge fire, flames surpassing 20 feet, pine trees burning as the sun went down, the heat warming the cold New York air.  Three woman sat inside, watching the television, comfortable inside from the cool temperatures in the darkness of outside.  Watching the flames, feeling the heat, being outside, it just felt good.  Sitting inside, watching the guys in the cold of darkness, outlined buy the flames of the fire, they felt happy to be inside.  Different views to same situation and different definitions of being content and happy.

As we move closer to the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year, we all sit at different places in life.  Our perceptions of where we are and our desires of where we want to be become more profound. Sometimes the struggle in becoming motivated to make the changes we need in life to live the life we desire is moving past our complacency and our contentment.  Watching the rhythm of a fire and listening to it's roar is soothing, but remaining in front of the fire too long can put us into a trance, avoiding the self care to not freeze in the cold air.  Staring into the mindlessness of television can zap our desire to interact and impact the world around us.  At some time, we must all get up and walk out of our comfort zone, pushing the walls of our box out, widening the experiences and growths of life.

Today, become aware of those habits, thoughts, actions, and attitudes that keep us rooted into the zone of nothingness.  Dream of what you can accomplish and how your life would be full of deeper meaning, relationships, and self awareness as you reach beyond your zones of normalcy and mediocrity. Write your dreams and the steps you will begin to take to change the attitudes and mindsets of staying stagnant into a belief system of growth in life.  Letting go isn't always easy, or that is, it isn't easy until you do it, realizing that what you were holding to was really not that important in the first place.

Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying, "let go and let God".  Yes, it is a simplistic saying, but in reality, simplicity is often where we find our meaning, where we often find our God, and where we often find ourselves.  Today, begin to let go and embrace the change that awaits you.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Oh, The Comfort Of Those Blinders

Have you ever walked through life oblivious of your surroundings, such as arriving home from work not really remembering the drive, being so absorbed in your own head that you were on “autopilot”? While walking in the woods or enjoying nature from my back deck, which is really just the neighbors trees and the beauty of the sky, I can often become unaware of what’s occurring around me, until my senses are jarred. This is a common practice for those of us who meditate or practice mindfulness, being in the exact moment of time, void of the past and future.

In the change process of life, being oblivious to the effect of problems in life is referred to as pre-contemplation, or in a state of denial. When we are in this state, we often view the problems in our lives as not a problem. Being in this stage is feeling complacent in our current state or believing that we have no control over the behavior. Being in this state, we sometimes don’t understand how the problem is affecting our lives or we struggle seeing the consequences of our actions.

It is helpful if we begin to ask ourselves real questions to better understand the impact of behaviors, thoughts, and emotions that lead to roadblocks in our lives. Listening to others and evaluating the reality of what they are saying can help open our spirits up to the questions we need to explore within ourselves to see the problem, desire the change, and embrace a new road in life.

We can ask ourselves if we’ve ever attempted to make changes in our lives to deal with the problem in our past. We can begin to explore ways to see the problem more clearly, to recognize it and to begin to explore avenues to improve our lives, making changes that will prompt positive consequences and diminish negative consequences. We can also ask ourselves what life would be like if this problem no longer existed.

Beginning a process of change can be both exciting and scary. The fear of the unknown and the complacency of the pain often keep us locked into our dysfunctional patterns of thoughts, emotions, and actions. Taking a risk, being vulnerable and facing fear can move us from pre-contemplation to the next step in our change. Always remember, you are never alone, God always walks with you. Today, remove the blinders of denial and slowly and steadily walk towards the light of change.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

So, I See

Listening to Christmas music, the song, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”, plays and as I look out the window, it is cold, but I won’t say it’s looking a lot like Christmas.  The skies are blue and very clear, not a snow cloud in sight.  But then again, just because I view Christmas time as a soothing blanket of snow doesn’t necessary mean the next person sees Christmas the same. 

Change is much like the holidays, we see it differently, yet we see it just the same.  Some of us see change as huge and challenging, others see change as exciting and worthy, while others see change as fearful and scary.  How we see change is probably motivated by our experiences and the views of those who still whisper silently in our ears, scripting our belief systems and views. 

Change entails many factors, and I suppose the first is to recognize the need for change.  To recognize is begin to see that change is necessary, or at least desired, even if at the same time the efforts of change are nonexistent or the thought of change brings fear and apprehension. 

As we grow and change becomes inevitable, allow yourself to relax and just begin to recognize the flaws you desire to correct, the belief systems you wish to modify, and the behaviors you want to adjust.  Recognizing the need and/or want for change is to begin to see what is in the way of becoming the authentic self, the one created to be, the original design.  It is the first step, and maybe even an inactive step, that slowly begins the process.

Today, sit back, with a good cup of coffee, and let your mind embrace the Spirit of God, allowing yourself to see what He sees in you, and write the changes you are allowed to see.  Don’t be afraid and don’t analyze what comes to your mind’s eye, just be, just write, put the pen down, and relax.  Tomorrow is another day for another step.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)

Monday, November 22, 2010


Time continues to move forward, much as the colors of the fall trees continue to brighten, fade, and leave the safety of their branch homes, covering the ground, preparing for the winter.  With a new year comes a new spring and new growth, from that which passed before, from the activities of the winter, from the changing seasons and climate of the environment.  The cycle of the seasons comes to an end in winter and begins again in spring.

We’re much like the cycles of the seasons.  We are born, we rely on the warmth and sustenance of our mother, the protection of our father, and the support of our family.  We grew from child to teen, discovering the self of who we are created to be.  Growth moves us forward into adulthood, and eventually, we grow old, and we too return to where we came.  The cycle of life comes to an end on this planet and begins again in our immortal state with God.
Along the way, we make choices in our lives, all in an effort to get our needs met, to find love and happiness in relationships, to discover our purpose in life, to find the self that God has blessed us to be.  And in this we walk the journey of our life, making our way up hills and down into valleys, over roadblocks and hurdles, embracing happiness and joy and enduring heartbreak and sadness.  We lower our walls of vulnerability to let others in and rebuild our walls of boundaries to keep others out. 
We make mistakes along the way, and as we embrace hope, as Frankl taught us, we continue to embrace the life God has granted for us.  As January approaches with a new year with new opportunities, it is wise to reflect over the past, not to wallow in it, but to explore how to grow from it, making our next year of life blossom into the beauty we are designed to be. 
Let us look in all directions to seek the lessons life will bring.  Let us not run from our selves or fear what we do not understand or what we cannot envision.  Let us gain the wisdom to learn from roadblocks and the strength to persevere in trials.  In the remaining 39 days of this year, begin to discover what God desires for you by learning a lesson each day, even if it is the same lesson presented in 39 different ways.  So, the end of the year school is in session, let the learning begin.

(The writings in this post are random thoughts and observations and are NEVER intended as professional or personal advice. Take what works and leave the rest. For information on mental health and/or substance abuse help, visit http://www.rodneyvalandra.com and refer to the links page.)