My Personal Behavior Management Theory

Many have tried to solve the enigma of human behavior for centuries.  As a teacher, I am daily fascinated by how and why students act in certain ways. While human behavior itself is a phenomenon, its management is even more of a mystery. I decided to research some of the leading behavior management theories, analyze them, and see if I can combine the best elements of each philosophy into my own theory.

Abraham Maslow

Abraham Maslow designed a hierarchy of basic human needs.  It consisted of six components: knowledge and understanding, self-actualization, self-respect, belongingness and affection, safety and security, and psychological needs.  Maslow’s underlining theory was that every human has an innate need to be competent and accepted.  He further argued that such needs could not be met without the involvement of the surrounding human beings.  Only when the needs were met, could the individual become motivated and capable of learning.  Hayhoe (2004) proposed that if we truly examined our experience, Maslow’s theory would make a lot of sense.  For example, if the physical environment of the classroom were chaotic and unsafe, students would not be able to learn.  He also found that Maslow argued that achieving a sense of self-actualization did not have anything to do with academic accomplishments or awards.  Rather, it was an inner sense of fulfillment with one’s performance.

Rudolf Dreikurs

Rudolf Dreikurs theorized that children’s basic need was to be socially accepted.  He proposed that a misbehaving child was acting out only because he was struggling to find the acceptance.  Dreikurs also suggested four reasons for student misbehavior: attention-getting, power, revenge, and display of inadequacy.  Croake (2011) summarized Dreikurs’ book “Children: The challenge,” which addressed parenting issues that could relate to classroom management.  Dreikurs suggested that the world changed with the industrial revolution when feminist movement took root in history.  He concluded that the new freedom was not without difficulties.  Children quickly followed the new example set for them, hence, new parenting and classroom management issues.  Dreikurs researched how levels of discouragement posed with an unmet need as well as problems for parents and teachers, which in turn pushed children toward continuous failure.  He also researched how encouragement techniques could meet the need for acceptance and prevent misbehavior.

William Glasser

Glasser proposed a list of five basic needs to satisfy the powerful forces within humans: to survive and reproduce, to belong and love, to gain power, to be free, and to have fun.  He argued that students would function productively in a school environment only when they had a sense of control over their education.  In his book, Glasser elaborated on the notion of encouraging students’ sense of involvement and empowerment in their education.  He explained that educators encountered off-task behaviors because students were treated as if they were objects to be filled with information.  In his article on discipline, Glasser (1985) argued that while the lack of discipline was a problem, it was not the root of behavior issues in schools.  Traditional behavior management was based on stimulus-response theory, and that was the underlining problem.  He argued that students would not get interested in learning because they were threatened or rewarded, rather, they made the effort to learn because it interested and satisfied them.

Stanley Coopersmith

Coopersmith (1967) centered his research on factors that influenced self-esteem: a sense of significance, competence, and power.  According to Coopersmith, significance consisted of a positive involvement of two parties, competence referred to accomplishing a task just as well or better than others, and power required an ability to understand and control one’s environment.  McDonald’s (2010) positive learning framework (PFL) aligned with Coppersmith’s theory of significance, competence, and power.  Teachers trained to operate in line with the framework were challenged to facilitate the following conditions: develop environments where students would feel that they belong, provide them with tangible experiences where learners would develop competency, as well as engage in activities that would give opportunities for power and independence.

Comparing and Contrasting the Theories

Abraham Maslow designed a hierarchy of human needs and covered a variety of aspects of human nature that required a positive experience in order to accomplish meaningful learning.  Rudolf Dreikurs, on the other hand, narrowed down his research to specific reasons for child misbehavior.  He concluded that social acceptance was one of the highest human needs, which was indicated by a certain behavior that showed whether the need was met or not.  Dreikurs proposed a variety of encouragement techniques that could help parents and teachers to deal with child misbehavior.  Glasser took a broader approach like Maslow and attempted to cover every aspect of human needs to achieve proper development and learning.  Coopersmith similar to Dreikurs focused on one aspect of human desire: self-esteem powered by a sense of significance, competence, and power.  Glasser and Maslow would have agreed with him on the importance of power and control.  It appears that the four of the above-mentioned theorists concluded that human behavior heavily depends on human physical and emotional needs.  This leads to the conclusion that they would probably agree with each other.  While those needs are imperative to well being and survival, I believe it is important to address the spiritual aspect of the human condition, which affects behavior just as much as physical and emotional factors.  Recent research suggests that in order to fully assess client condition; counselors are encouraged to choose a holistic approach, which integrates physical, mental, and spiritual needs (Curry, 2010).  I believe this approach can be applied to behavior management in the classroom.

Personal Theory of Classroom Management and Biblical Perspective

The aforementioned theorists dedicated a great deal of effort in their attempts to paint a picture of human development and behavior.  I believe the Bible has the most complete perspective on the human condition.  My personal theory of classroom management stems directly from the Scriptures.  First of all, a Christian teacher must acknowledge and communicate to students that they are significant, as Coopersmith theorized because they are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27).  They are also significant because God was actively involved in their creation by knitting them together in their mothers’ wombs (Psalm 139:13).  I also believe if students come to understand that God has a plan for their lives that is good (Jeremiah 29:11), they will not have to struggle for control and power like Glasser and Coopersmith suggested.  Maslow’s theory of belongingness and affection falls in line with the Scriptures that emphasize human need for a meaningful kind of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).  Rudolf Dreikurs’ assumption that humans are in need of acceptance was also in line with the Biblical commandment, which encouraged people to love their neighbor as themselves (Mark 12:31).  God did not simply execute a command; He demonstrated it in the most sacrificing way to communicate His own love and the importance of loving and accepting one another (Romans 5:8).  Therefore, the communication of love, respect, and affection are some of the most important aspects of my personal theory of classroom management.  Students that come from difficult family backgrounds are especially in need of love and acceptance because they do not receive it at home.  Dreikurs expanded on the reasons for child misbehavior.  He concluded as the Bible suggests, that the cure for misbehavior is love, encouragement, and acceptance.

One concept presented by Maslow, which was supported by Glasser and Coopersmith, was self-actualization and the gaining of power.  They argued that only when students feel self-actualized and in control can they truly learn.  While success was always the driving force of human nature, Christ set a different example for those who truly wish to succeed in life (Philippians 2:7).  Therefore, I would have to disagree with Maslow and Glasser and present a counter-argument.  Throughout the entire Bible, God favored and elevated the weak as well as the poor.  For example, Joseph, the youngest son of Jacob, was sold into slavery by his brothers, later elevated as a ruler in Egypt, and was used to rescue his family from the famine (Genesis 37-44).  Tamar was a daughter-in-law mistreated by her family, yet God had mercy on her and placed her offspring in the line of the Messiah (Genesis 38).  Ruth was a foreigner favored by Boaz for her faithfulness and hard work, whose child was also in the line of the future Redeemer of Israel (Ruth 1-4).  David, the youngest and the smallest of eight brothers, was chosen to be a man after God’s own heart, a ruler of Israel, and the ancestor of Christ (1 Samuel 16 – 1 Kings 2).

Characters highlighted in the Bible were by no means in control of their lives.  They gave full control to their God and offered Him their faith and obedience.  God Himself said that He does not delight in accomplishments or sacrifices but in contrite and humble hearts (1 Samuel 15:22).  An important aspect of my classroom management is a demonstration and a call to humility.  I do not believe we have to be completely self-actualized or in full control in order to accomplish learning in the classroom.  If both teacher and students come to exemplify an attitude of humility and a trusting relationship, it will be possible to achieve a well-managed classroom and quality learning.  I do not mean to undermine the importance of the authority of the teacher in the classroom, yet, I am fascinated at the perfect balance that Christ had between making Himself nothing (Philippians 2:7), walking humbly among humans and at the same time presenting with the authoritative teaching (Matthew 7:29).  While we have much to learn from leading classroom management theorists, I believe the Bible and the example of Christ have even more to offer to Christian teachers like me.

Students ask my husband and me how we ended up leaving everything behind and moving to southern Texas on the border with Mexico to teach at the school where we currently work.  We enjoy sharing our testimony with them because it is a perfect picture of giving control to God and allowing Him to change our own plans as well as direct our lives in a better place than we would have chosen for ourselves.  I do not believe we would have learned many valuable life lessons if we had not given up our desires for self-actualization and control.  While the above-mentioned education theorists have done excellent research on human behavior and classroom management, I have not found a single human theory, which provides a complete solution to behavior management.  The Bible, however, offers infinite wisdom, which scientists only now begin to crack through research.

via Daily Prompt: Conversant


Where did we get the idea of immortality?

Have you ever wondered where humans got the idea of immortality? Some of the best art and the worst antagonists have been created by human imagination to reflect our inner search for something more than just this life. Gilgamesh is one of the heroes who embark on this quest.  The Epic begins by describing its him as “strong to perfection, son of the August cow.”  The author, then, proceeds to list Gilgamesh’s vast accomplishments and great deeds.  The author questions his audience by saying, “Who can say like Gilgamesh, ‘I am King!’?”  Gilgamesh is portrayed as a mighty and wise character; two-thirds god and one-third human.  Noah, on the other hand, is a simple man, who is righteous and blameless.  There is no mention of his appearance or accomplishments in the book of Genesis.  The Bible discloses that He walked with God, had favor in God’s eyes, and had three sons (Genesis 6:8-10).  There are two verses that describe the main character of the flood account.  Gilgamesh’s characteristics, on the other hand, are highlighted and repeated continually throughout the epic.  One of the most notable differences between biblical accounts inspired by the Holy Spirit and literary accounts created by humans is that human literature elevates human characteristics such as glory, beauty, and pride.  Biblical literature elevates humility, meekness, and faithfulness.

The God of the Bible never chooses people because of their accomplishments or appearance.  He certainly does not reveal the news of the flood to Noah because of his power and strength.  God saves Noah because he is confident in Noah’s obedience, which will ensure the continuation of the human race.  This is very different as to what Gilgamesh tries to achieve in the story.  When his friend Enkidu dies in his prime of life, Gilgamesh sets on a search for immortality.  While Noah’s family are the only humans on earth to survive the flood, there is no hint of pride or demand of elevation to the next level of survival such as immortality.  Gilgamesh, on the other hand, has a deep struggle with the issue of death.  He does not want to accept the fact that death is inevitable.  He refuses to let go of the memory of his friend and he does not want to end up like him.

Gilgamesh searches relentlessly for any piece of information that would help him in his quest.  He learns of a Babylonian legend in which Utnapishtim achieves the opportunity of attaining immortality.  Then, Gilgamesh crosses an impassable mountain range and talks a celestial ferryman into getting him across the sea of death to Utnapishtim’s island.  No obstacle is too big to accomplish his mission.  Gilgamesh finally finds Utnapishtim, tells him about the tragedy of his friend and demands the secret of immortality.  Their discussion covers an important theme of the notion of death, which permeates the story.  Utnapishtim’s reflection on death sounds a lot like Solomon’s contemplation in Ecclesiastes.  Utnapishtim argues that death is a natural cycle of events and is, therefore, inevitable.  The Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible makes a similar statement: “No man has power to retain the spirit or power over the day of death” (Ecclesiastes 8:8, ESV).

Utnapishtim, then, states that death levels the rich, the poor, the wise, and the unwise.  The book of Proverbs makes a similar claim, saying that the same fate awaits the righteous and the wicked, the good and the evil, those who sacrifice and those who do not, as well as those who do good or do evil (9:2).  Fisher (1970) in his interpretation of Genesis 3:17-19, claims that death is not itself the curse, but rather it is a result of the curse of the ground which Adam would toil by the sweat of his brow.  However, I would have to disagree as the list of the curses continues as part of which God clearly says, “till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19, ESV).  Fisher (1970) also expresses that both the Bible and The Epic of Gilgamesh hold the same position on the fact that death is a fundamental part of human nature and is a necessary distinguishing characteristic between humanity and divinity.  Once more, I would have to disagree.  While death has become an inevitable component of life, God did not originally destine humans to death.  It became a consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin, which was then passed down to generations.  God, in his mercy, had a plan from the beginning to break the cycle of sin and death and bring humanity back to the garden.  He would raise up a son of Eve, who would crush the head of evil once and for all (Genesis 3:15).  Finally, those who believe in Him will not perish but inherit eternal life (John 3:16).  Thus, there are many fictional heroes, handsome and strong, such as Gilgamesh who set off on a quest to find the secret of immortality.  Yet, God chose to reveal His secret to lowly, ordinary humans.  If only Gilgamesh attained the knowledge of God’s Word to convey to him the secret of everlasting life; all his worries would be soothed and all his questions would be answered.


via Daily Prompt: Constant

How to Integrate Learning Theories

via Daily Prompt: Enroll 

There are three general learning theories that systematically investigate learning: behavioral, social, and cognitive.  Every other learning theory falls or overlaps in these categories.  Understanding learning theories helps to improve educators’ teaching approach in their classrooms.  Learning theories can be effectively used to discover ways in which certain learning processes happen in different students.  As a result, researchers developed instructional methods that help educators create effective learning environments in their classrooms.

I have always been interested how learning and motivation can be encouraged by teachers in learners.  Self-Determination Theory (SDT) looks at learning in terms of extrinsic and intrinsic motivations.  Contrary to some expectations, studies have found that those who naturally learn well may not necessarily be personally involved in their learning process.  It is important to convince students that learning is personally important to them.  Merely enjoyable learning activities may not provide them with the necessary levels of self-determination.  These findings confirm Diaz Maggioli’s (2004) and P. I. Zinchenko’s (1981) hypotheses.  They argued that personal involvement and responsibility are crucial to facilitating effective learning.  The challenge with motivation is that it is difficult to measure.  Thus, it is important to be mindful of intrinsic and extrinsic motivations in the classroom.  Effective intrinsically motivated lessons appeal to students’ interests, are presented in ways that captivate their attention, and ultimately increase their interest in the material.  In the customized learning theory that I developed, it is my goal to consistently create a supportive classroom environment, arouse and maintain curiosity, and use interesting lesson presentation modes.  Intrinsic motivation includes helping students set their own goals.  Extrinsic motivation would include communicating clear objectives, providing timely feedback, and using appropriate praise.  I would also encourage self-regulated learning motivation techniques.  Before and after every term evaluation, I would ask students to write out their goals and the steps necessary to reach those goals.  They would feel challenged to analyze whether their assessment performance enhances or holds them back from reaching their goals.   Because of the variety of goals that students set out to reach, it is important to teach them to think strategically and to evaluate their own outcomes.  They cannot receive the same reward or punishment for their high or low achievements as some reinforcements may mean the world to one student and completely nothing to another.

Another question is whether intrinsic intelligence skills are connected with better learning.  Some scholars say that intelligence is a mental capability that involves reasoning, problem-solving, and other general mental processes.  Others state that intelligence is based on maturity and experiences in physical and social environments.  Howard Gardner (1983) proposed the Multiple Intelligence (MI) theory.  He suggested that humans process information in seven different ways.  Skills and abilities such as linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, and intrapersonal are seven categories of individual bits of intelligence.  Gardner believed that educators could address students’ diverse intelligences and accommodate to their individualized learning needs with the awareness of the seven intelligences.  MI theory suggested that there is no just one concrete measure of intelligence and, therefore, there is no one way of teaching.  He argued against general IQ tests as they only measured linguistic, logical, and spatial intelligences.  Lawrence (2014) agreed with those assessments, which include multiple choice, true/false, and matching questions, do not prove that students understood the material.  MI theory applies to a learner-centered mode of instruction.  In my customized learning theory, I purpose to encourage intrapersonal intelligence by involving students in inner thinking.  A teacher may also activate kinesthetic intelligence by engaging in learning through physical action and activate interpersonal intelligence through cooperative learning.

One could wonder if one theory is more effective than the next, or should each teacher integrate certain aspects of each theory to his or her own unique situation.  Young and Perkins (1995) attempted this, by trying to integrate competing theories into a general theory of a human learning.  An increased amount of agreement has arisen among theorists of learning behavior that underlying principles in learning, no matter the skill or the language, share similarities.  There is a general applicability of smaller theories to overarching theories.  That is one way to integrate multiple views into one general view.

The challenge of every educator is to prepare students to move from knowledge of the subject to its authentic application.  Upon the completion of extensive research, this article concludes that the following methods and techniques are effective in integrating learning theories: engaging students’ multiple levels of intelligences, helping them develop mental tools that are tied to learning, encouraging learners to be involved and personally responsible for learning, activating their self-determination, and engaging in automatization of procedures that improve metacognitive skills.


The Secret of Marriage

via Daily Prompt: Simplify

How does one find the right person to marry? How can one stay happy in a marriage?  I do not claim to know all the answers by any means, but Timothy and Kathy Keller offer some amazing insight into the essence, the mission, and the secret of marriage. The featured image of this blog is my husband and I when we got engaged.  We have only been married for three and a half years and are expecting our first baby. This message transformed my view of marriage and inspired me to put it into writing to share with others. If you are married, I hope it inspires you to invest in your marriage. If you are not married, I pray it encourages the attitude of your heart toward it.

The essence of marriage

In order to find the secret of marriage, one must first figure out the purpose of marriage. Here are some of the claims that our culture makes about marriage:

  • I don’t need a marriage license to tell you “I love you.”
  • The essence of marriage is love expressing itself through feeling and passion.

Here’s what the Bible says is the essence of marriage:

  • Long-term binding commitment epitomized in a covenant and contract.
  • Passion or feeling cannot be the essence of marriage because they come and go.


Human relationships can be summed up in the following two categories:

  • Consumer
  • Covenant

Consumer relationship is like what you have with your local grocer: someone who sells you goods. The moment the price or the service doesn’t satisfy you, you leave and find someone else to buy from.

A covenant relationship is best portrayed in the attitude that parents have toward their children. No matter how sick or selfish the children get, most people never give up on them.

Tim and Kathy Keller contend that:

  • Legal covenant teaches you how to be more intimate.
  • Legal covenant makes you more stable.
  • Legal covenant makes you more free thank you think.


Dating is essentially a consumer relationship.  If the partner doesn’t give you what you want, you can walk away at any time. When you date, you find yourself in a marketing and promoting stage. You want to put your best face on because the other person could walk away at any time.  When you enter covenantal marriage, it creates a cradle of security, stability, and room for vulnerability. Marriage makes it possible for you to be more intimate, more yourself because you know that your spouse will not walk away from you so easily.


Statistics claim that two thirds of all marriages say they end up figuring out how to have a good marriage and be happy if they put effort into it at for at least five years. Ulysses in the Odysseus tied himself to a mast on the ship so that he would not become controlled by the sirens and abandon his ship. It was his only way home. A marriage license can have a similar effect. It ties you to the person you chose to marry and helps you not give up on them the moment circumstances get hard. If you stick with it, you get into something richer and more stable than what you had in the beginning.


“If you don’t know the discipline of making a promise and sticking with it, you are not a free person. You are enslaved to your impulses, feelings, and circumstances. Without being bound to the fulfillment of our promises we wouldn’t be able to keep our identities; we would be condemned to wander in the contradictions of our own hearts.” When I make a promise, I rise above all the excuses and conditioning of my past. I make a choice.

Marriage vows are not just “I have feelings of love for you.”  They are promises to BE faithful, BE loving in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. But what if he says, “he loves me but he doesn’t want to marry me?” What he is actually saying, “I don’t love you enough to lose my independence; to bind myself to you. I want to reserve the room to be able to walk away at any moment in case things go wrong.”

The mission of marriage.

The contemporary culture says that marriage is for romance, fun, and maybe for merging your net worth to build a more comfortable life. The Bible says that marriage is to reflect the love of Jesus Christ for his church to the world.  Since most marriages are nowhere near that image, it must involve deep character change.

The culture conditioned this generation to look for a perfectly compatible soul-mate; someone who will accept me for who I am and won’t want to change me. Here is the problem: if that is your idea of compatibility, a person of such characteristics does not exist. You are trying to pose as someone like that but you are not all that either.

  • Everybody comes with flaws.
  • There is no such thing as two perfectly compatible people.
  • Marriage will bring up the worst out of you.
  • Your spouse will show the problems that were there in you from even before you met him/her.
  • You change when you get into marriage.
  • The false assumption is that there is someone who is just right for you.
  • The truth is, you always marry the wrong person. Even if you marry someone right, they will change.
  • Marriage is such a big life step. You will not be the same person after you enter it.

If this is true, here are some responses to these assumptions:

  • When you get into marriage, you are not going to be shocked that the other person is flawed.
  • Like two gems in a bag, you will clash and rub and polish each other. You embrace the differences and weaknesses. Your mission is to help each other grow for the better.
  • You shouldn’t be looking for a finished statue. Look for a great block of marble. You want to be in love with the person they are and with what they are becoming.
  • Look for a character willing to adjust and change.
  • You should be able to say this to someone you want to marry: “Your future excites me. I want to be there with God making you into a great person. One day, when you stand before Jesus perfected and you can tell each other, ‘I always knew you could be this beautiful and perfect.’”
  • Look for somebody who could be your best friend, best partner, most trusted counselor.

Most people choose a dating candidate based on looks and polish. One thing to remember: friendship does not flow out of sexual chemistry. Sexual chemistry flows out of terrific friendship. When you first kiss someone you like, you feel this great excitement and electricity going through your body. If you are honest with yourself, you will realize that the electricity in your body is actually your excited ego. When you date, you don’t even know the person all that much. You are in love with the idea that someone loves you.

The secret of marriage

  • It is critical that you love your spouse during seasons in which you get very little love back.
  • There will be times when you are not able to give and times when your spouse is not able to love you like you want him/her to.

The secret to such power is that it takes a SOURCE of love to keep feeding you from the outside. Think of it this way: most people do not break up with their children when they do not receive love back.  However, the moment your spouse doesn’t love you back how you want him/her to, you pull back. Sometimes you even take turns withholding love to punish each other.  If you keep pulling back like that you won’t have anything left in the end. Thus, keep giving love even when you don’ receive it.

This kind of love is called philanthropy. If you think practically, you can only give financially if you are making extra money somewhere else. The only way to get the love that truly fulfills and helps you love others no matter whether they love you is to receive it from God. If your spouse is the main source of your love, it will not be enough and you will eventually freak out. But when God is the source of your love and the fulfillment of your needs, you can carry through it.

When Jesus was dying for us on the cross, He could have easily quit on you because of all the pain you caused Him. Instead, Jesus loved us not because we were lovely but to MAKE us lovely. Therefore, love unconditionally today. Ask God to be your Source and watch Him transform your marriage.

Captivating in a Nutshell

via Daily Prompt: Expectation

This post is going to give you the best nutshell summary of one of the most inspiring books! I wrote this blog after reading the book “Captivating” by John and Staci Eldregde.  This blog includes a series of quotes, which helped answer many of the questions that arose in my own heart over the years. I hope that some of these thoughts may help those reading find answers and comfort.  The book “Captivating” is geared toward women but the inspiration that it offers, can provide valuable and brief insight for both males and females. So here we go … Captivated in a nutshell!

Besides being a piece of vital flesh that pumps the blood through your body, what do you think your heart is for?

“The heart is a core of who you are. It is the source of your creativity, courage, and convictions. It is the fountain of your hopes and the source of your love. The heart of a woman was made to be captivating. Guard it above all else.”

What does a woman’s heart desire?

“The great longing that you experience gives you clues as to what you were created for.”

“In the heart of hearts, a woman desires to be romanced, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, and to have her true beauty unveiled.”

“At the core of who you are, you were made to be romanced and pursued.”

Can a man pursue you and make you feel exactly how you were made to feel every single day of your life?

Even those of us in the best marriages cannot say that we feel pursued and romanced all the time.

“Most of our weaknesses flair up when we feel that we are not loved and not sought after. Guys might like you today and forget about you tomorrow, but God is the one who never stops pursuing you.”


“The vast desire and capacity a woman has for intimate relationships tells us of God’s vast desire and capacity for intimate relationships. God earns for a relationship with you.”

“God made you to desire to be the one and only. He desires the same from you.”

Here are some characteristics of God that you as a woman reflect:

“God is relational to his core.”

“God is a nurturer.”

“God wants to be the only love in your life.”


“You were made in the image of a perfect relationship.”

“You are relational to the core of your being.”

“You are filled with a desire of a transcendent purpose.”

“Just like God, you have a beauty to unveil – a beauty that is captivating and powerfully redemptive.”

Eve in the garden.

Genesis 2:18 states, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Did God make anything else after he created Eve? – No. Eve was the finishing piece of creation.

What that means is that …. “Girl, you are the crescendo, the final, astonishing work of God. The creation comes to finish not with Adam but with Eve. You are the Master’s finishing touch.”

“You are breathtaking.”

“You fill the place in the world that nothing else can fill.”

“The whole vast world is incomplete without you.”

When God created Eve, what do you think He wanted to reveal to the world about Himself?

“You were created because things were not right without you. Something was not good without you. You are significant.”

“God called the woman “ezer kenegdo,” which means sustainer beside him.  This word combination is only used to describe God in the rest of the Bible.  Just like God, you are made to be a life sustainer.”

“To become a sustainer and a life-saver, you need to be WITH someone. On this earth, God designed that people become families and love and care for each other.”

“The longing in your heart to love someone and share a great adventure with them comes straight from the heart of God.”

“You are the crown of creation; God’s glorious image bearer. And He will do everything it takes to rescue you and set your heart free.”

Why do you think women are so concerned with beauty? Why do people in general seek beauty?

“The pursuit of beauty is not a weakness – it is a glory.  A glory that reflects the heart of God.”

“Beauty is the essence of a woman. It is powerful, it speaks, invites, and nourishes those who are weary.”

“True captivating beauty comes from the inside. It draws you in, holds your attention, and encourages your heart.”

“People don’t just want to look at beauty. They want something that they can receive and pass onto others.”

“Beauty inspires.”

“Beauty comforts those who are mourning.”

“Beauty transcends mere outward appearance.”

“Beauty pierces us with longing for life as it is meant to be. It speaks of heaven and eternity to come.”

“Beauty says that there is a glory calling to you. And if there is a glory, there is a Source of the ultimate glory and beauty.”

“Beauty draws us to God.”

“A woman longs deep in her soul to bring beauty to the world. Just like God, you are not a problem to be solved, but a vast wonder to be enjoyed.”

“Every woman has a beauty to unveil.”

“Beauty flows from a heart at rest.”

“Beauty offers mercy.”

“A woman who is full of tender mercy and soft vulnerability is a powerful, lovely woman.”

“To possess true beauty, one must be willing to be sacrificial. Like Christ, who was perfected and glorified through sacrifice and suffering for the love of others.”

What if you don’t feel beautiful and no one ever told you that you are beautiful? Let me tell you this:

“A rare beauty is not the one that possesses it outwardly, but the one that chooses to keep her heart sincere and alive in this dangerous world.”

“God has set an eternity in your heart. The longing to be beautiful is set there as well.”

“Your true desire for beauty is really the longing to be captivating in the depths of who you are. Sometimes we try to compensate it with outward looks, but nothing fulfills like beauty from within.”

“Inner beauty and warmth and love that attracts other people and overall reveals to everyone that you are lovely, sweet, and beautiful at the depths of who you are.”

“God is after something much more valuable that your happiness. He is preparing you for eternal glory.”

“Even though you may not have everything you want to be fully happy, God is the one to tell you who you are. Only He can speak the answer you need to hear, but you must let Him romance you first.”

What do men think of beauty?

“Men do not merely desire physical connection and sex. God made it that in the presence of a true beauty, a man is inspired to be who God made him to be.”

“Every man needs someone to fight for. They long to offer their strength and protection. Nothing inspires a man to courage so much as the woman of true inner beauty whom he loves.”

“The desires of a man’s and a woman’s heart were designed to fit beautifully together.”

“A woman in the presence of a good man, a real man, loves to be a woman. His strength allows her feminine heart to flourish. His pursuit draws out her beauty.”

“A man in the presence of a woman of true character loves to be a man. Her beauty draws out his strength. She inspires him to be a hero.”


How can we inspire boys and men that surround us to be heroes?

“Respect them, encourage them, and avoid tempting them.”

Could it be, that the way you dress might inspire a man to be a hero or a loser? Before you get dressed today, think about what you are trying to accomplish with your beauty? Do you seek to inspire men to be heroes or do you seek to turn on their lust and thus, push them to be the opposite of heroes?


What if you are dying to be in a relationship or to get married but it never happens?

Why did God put those desires in your heart if you never get what you were made for?

“You were wired for romance but this does not need to wait for a man. You were ultimately wired for a romance with the God of the universe who is offering you His love right now.”

“No man could fulfill for all eternity to you this LOVE that you desire. Only God can.”

“What were the things that romanced you as a little girl? Horses in a field? Fragrance of the rain? Those were all whispers from your true Lover.”

“Open your heart to God’s whispers. His version of flowers and chocolates are sunsets, falling stars, and warm breeze against your cheeks. Don’t miss them.”

“You are meant to fill a place in God’s heart that no one else can fill. He loves you deeply.”

“When you realize that you are loved to the depths of your core, you cannot help but worship. Give your heart in return for a promise of life.”

If you finished reading this blog, my prayer is that your heart feels encouraged and inspired to be everything that God created you to be.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father … that you may KNOW the LOVE of Christ which surpasses all understanding, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.” ~ Ephesians 3:19.




They know they won’t live forever. Yet they spend their days as if they are never going to die.

via Daily Prompt: Puzzled

Leo Tolstoy’s novella “The Death of Ivan Ilych” explores the inevitable occurrence of demise.  It is one of the human concerns, which crosses cultures and historic ages.  Tolstoy asks his readers to experience the process of dying and examining life with his protagonist Ivan Ilych.  The author is convinced that without death, life loses its meaning.  He compels Ivan Ilych to examine his life before he dies.  Olney (1972) writes that Tolstoy does not mean to frighten his readers with death, but rather to cause them to reflect on how they live.  Most do not live as if they will live forever.  Yet they spend their days as if they are not going to die.  At the end of his life, Ivan Ilych realizes that he spent his life chasing a social deception, which left him with nothing to show for.  Therefore, each must strive to live beyond the expected social conformity and aspire to love authentically.

Stages of Death

Tolstoy’s famous novella introduces the reader to a simple character of Ivan Ilych: “Ivan Ilych’s life had been most simple and most ordinary and therefore, most terrible.”  He comes from a family of three siblings and is the most successful out of the three.  Ivan follows in his father’s footsteps and works his way up the Court of Justice.  The story begins with his widow, Praskovya Fedorovna, giving an account of Ivan’s death to his friend Peter Ivanovich.  While she calls Peter his closest acquaintance, there is no evidence throughout the story that he ever visited Ivan during his sickness.  This short introduction gives the reader a sense of the social conformity that Ivan spent his life on; working his way up the social ladder yet not developing a single authentic friendship.

Napier (1983) explores Kubler-Ross’ description of the stages of death and adapts Ivan Ilych’s physical and emotional phases to them.  The first stage involves denial and isolation.  While Ivan’s symptoms become alarming by the day, he turns them into scenes with his wife and fails to address the real issue.  “And his irritability became worse and worse …”  Such behavior creates the first phase of isolation between him and his family.  In his isolation, Ivan realizes that just as he senselessly judged his victims in the court, the doctors treat him the same – as someone without a fate.  The next stage involves anger with envy and resentment.  One of the causes for his anger is the denial by the doctors and his own family that his health issues are serious.  “He saw that his household, especially his wife and daughter, who were in a perfect whirl of visiting, did not understand anything of it and were annoyed that he was so depressed and so exacting as if he were to blame for it.”  The third stage comes with bargaining.  Ivan endeavors to manipulate his physical well-being by consistently keeping up with the doctor’s orders and by mentally imagining the healing of his organs.  “And by an effort of imagination, he tried to catch that kidney and arrest it and support it.”

The fourth stage of dying involves depression.  For Ivan Ilych, it comes with an ongoing discord between despair and hope.  His mental anguish increases with his physical symptoms.  The true despair comes, when Ivan realizes that he is not sad over the loss of his family or career; for he attained everything, which was expected of him by the society.  Rather, he is sorrowful that as he looks back, he sees his childhood alone as something good in life and having more of life itself.  Finally, Ivan arrives at the stage of acceptance.  Acceptance, however, should not be mistaken for a happy place.  Acceptance is a state of taking in the circumstances of life for what they truly are.  Not only does Ivan Ilych accept the approach of his death, but also the wrongness of his life.  Ivan realizes that while he blames his family for denying the serious situation of his sickness, he himself avoided the important matters in life such as truth, love, and authentic relationships.

Psychoanalytic Study of Ivan Ilych’s Moral Character

Feldman (2004) seeks to apply the concepts of the superego and the ego ideal to the character of Ivan Ilych.  Ivan becomes confronted with death at the peak of his professional career.  The concept of ego ideal shines on Ivan’s situation when he becomes unable to comprehend his own death.  Ivan Ilych is not the only one with such pattern of thinking.  His entire professional group thinks the same way.  The notion of the superego explores the relationship between conformity, self-interest, and hierarchy.  Ivan’s co-workers build their lives around professional career opportunities, only form relationships that help enhance those possibilities, and pursue pleasures that come with such prospects.  “Little moral development is seen beyond the organizational conformity needed to pursue their self-interest.”

The idea of primary narcissism as developed by Sigmund Freud explains the relation of infants to their caretakers and can be applied to Ivan Ilych’s view of his authorities.  When infants look upon their caretakers, they idealize them and take on their views of reality as their own.  Ivan Ilych appears to see his superiors in the same light and develops his values based on theirs.  His professional conscience does not seem to be developed beyond the state of primary narcissism.  Ivan chooses his ideal objects based on his self-interest.  Additionally, Ivan fails to show signs of independent moral decision-making.  “It all was done with clean hands, in clean linen, with French phrases, and above all of the people of the best society and consequently with the approval of people of rank.”

It seems important for Ivan to appear in the society of the “best people.”  His ego ideal is directed towards external appearance and is lacking internal content. Ivan was focused on social adaptability while maintaining the approval of those above him and pursuing pleasures within the socially-acceptable boundaries.  His self-esteem was dependent on the external factors and his gratification on the availability of his cohorts.  Additionally, Tolstoy endeavors to show the reader that Ivan fails to differentiate between the ego and the ego ideal.  Ivan Ilych becomes like a child, who finds easy ways to keep his parents happy while getting the things that he wants.  “He only required of it those conveniences – dinner at home, housewife, and bed, – which it could give him and, above all propriety of external forms required by public opinion.  For the rest, he looked for lighthearted pleasure and propriety and was very thankful when he found them, but if he met with antagonism and querulousness he at once retired into his separate fenced-off world of official duties, where he found satisfaction.”

Ivan’s philosophy of life was aimed at meeting the standards of social conformity.  Such positioning toward social status could not provide him with an orientation toward life.  One of the false beliefs that the society attempts to make people believe is that socially-promoted behavior and pursuits guarantee an easy, comfortable, and even pleasurable life.  Kamm (2003) also claims that one of Ivan’s mistakes was believing that he was immune to unfortunate circumstances.  People like Ivan Ilych, who live with such expectations of life, fail to build up internal resources to provide the necessary support when external resources collapse.  Thus, when struck with a deadly ailment, Ivan Ilych was not prepared to have a moral conversation with himself.

How One Lives May Determine How One Dies

Most readers would agree that Ivan Ilych did not live how he should have.  The question is, how did it affect his death?  Kamm (2003) theorizes that if Ivan had lived differently, perhaps, his experience of death would have been different as well.  First, Ivan does not believe that something bad could possibly happen to him.  It could happen to other people, but he is the exception.  “Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore, Caius is mortal.  It had always seemed to him correct as applied to Caius, but certainly not as applied to himself.  That Caius – a man in the abstract – was mortal, was perfectly correct, but he was not Caius, not an abstract man, but a creature quite, quite separate from others.” Ivan Ilych sees himself as a man of particular characteristics and someone who has an active subjective life.  He fails to realize that the rule of syllogism applies to him just as much as it applies to others.  The protagonist of the novella separates himself as a judge from the victims that he judges.  Because of such separated view of others, Ivan fails to build an accurate view of himself, and thus, fails to build meaningful relationships, which could provide him with support later in life.

Another sad truth is that the society in which Ivan lives in has the exact same view on life as he does.  Thus, he receives no compassion from those that he had surrounded himself with.  “He only had official relations with people only on official grounds … as soon as the official relations ended, so did everything else.  He let himself do this just because he felt that he could at any time resume the strictly official attitude again and drop the human relation.  And he did it all easily, pleasantly, correctly, and even artistically.”  If Ivan Ilych realizes that other people such as his family and those that he judged were just like him – people with special characteristics and a special reality to themselves, he would have treated them with more consideration.  Ivan’s experience of death would have been different because those people would have been there, relating to his special reality of death and displaying compassion.

It is sad to read that Ivan Ilych receives the first taste of a genuine relationship with his servant Gerasim on his deathbed.  Tolstoy contrasts Ivan Ilych’s ignorance of the reality of death with Gerasim’s simple acceptance of it.  Common folk like him do not suppress the actuality of life and accept things as they are.  Ivan Ilych finds it relieving and comforting to have Gerasim at his side, as everyone else around him pretends and avoids facing the fact that he is dying.  Gerasim’s simplicity shows that people like him know that they will die and find no reason to deny the truth in life.  They do not put themselves above others.  Nor do they see themselves as remarkable exceptions as does Ivan Ilych.  There is much to be learned from Ivan’s ignorance and Gerasim’s authenticity.

Meaning and Metaphors

Tolstoy does not seek to present death as a mere slayer of life, but as a reorganizer of the things of life.  Humans make the mistake of not taking the death of others seriously.  If life had no end, one would only pursue endless pleasure.  Tolstoy encourages his readers to look death in the eye through Ivan Ilych and to find their own meaning in it.  Ivan asks himself a question as to “why” and “what for” he experiences such suffering.  Olney (1973) claims that the meaning is not in the end, but the presence of meaning is expressed by an end.  Meaning, however, cannot be found in the beginning alone or in the end alone, but in the complete configuration.  Ivan Ilych realizes this truth as he reflects on his own life.  The main hero looks back on his life and sees his childhood alone as something good in life and having more of life itself.  As his symptoms become worse, the memories of his adult life offer nothing but emptiness and pointlessness.  He realizes that social conformity and selfish pursuits determined the meaning of his adult life.  Now that those ambitions have collapsed, Ivan is left with nothing.

One metaphor that Olney (1973) proposes is to see death as the ultimate conversion.  Conversion usually affects the perceptive self on a personal level rather than the perceived world.  The story focuses on Ivan Ilych as the subject of such transformation.  Ivan’s condition forces him to expose every moment of his life from past to present and evaluate it in terms of meaning.  He struggles, yet in the end, he realizes the wrongness of his life.  While a compassionate reader would want Ivan Ilych to revive, Tolstoy introduces another aspect of conversion; that is, in order to transform, one must die.  Just as the Apostle Paul says, “I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Galatians 2:20, ESV).  Ivan Ilych must experience death in order to experience the ultimate conversion and then, life.  Finally, after he realizes the wrongness of his life, he sees light.  “At that moment, Ivan Ilych fell through, and caught sight of the light, and it was revealed to him that though his life had not been what it should have been, this could still be rectified.”  Olney (1973) interprets this as the rebirth that Christ talks about when Nicodemus comes to him for answers to his questions.  Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again …” (John 3:3).  While we do not know, what happens to the protagonist after he dies, the reader sees a clue that upon Ivan’s realization that he should have lived differently, he receives peace.

Structure of the Chapters and Themes

The structure of the chapters, roughly speaking, shortens as Ivan approaches his death.  The decreasing size of the chapters is matched by a parallel decrease in their time frame.  The story of Ivan’s life is told in years, then months, weeks, days, and finally hours.  Eventually, the flow of time stops completely and Ivan faces his death following by the light – a glimmer of hope.  The relation between time and space is also interesting in Tolstoy’s chapters.  Ivan’s physical space becomes limited by the sofa on which he faces his death.  Tolstoy’s character experiences a slow shrinkage of time around him, which leads to the final time-zero dimension.  Finally, mentally he becomes confined to the limits of the “black sack,” which intensifies its darkness as his pain becomes worse.  Just when the reader prepares to accept time-zero and space-zero as the fate for Ivan Ilych, Tolstoy unexpectedly introduces a new beginning.  Ivan Ilych receives relief from his pain, overcomes time, and escapes the black sack.  He becomes introduced to a new form, which contains no time or space, but only light.

Critics disapprove of Tolstoy’s last-minute reversal from Ivan Ilych’s miserable death to sudden relief and light at the end.  Jahn (1982) argues that the writer is not pursuing a religious concept but rather artistic consistency.  The entire story is filled with sudden reversals such as (1) Ivan’s change from success to disappointment in his career; (2) transition from health to illness; (3) a shift from blissful marriage to constant disagreements with his wife; (4) a switch from having the freedom to come and go between work and home to being limited to a horizontal position; and finally, (5) a transition from shallow relationships to a genuine one with Gerasim.  The main character shows signs of the realization of these ironic reversals as he reflects on his life.  A thought occurs to Ivan Ilych: “It is just as though I have been going downhill while imagining that I was going up.”  He realizes the true direction of his life and regrets chasing trivial pursuits.  Another sub-text pointing to reversals is Ivan’s changing moods.  On a regular day, he experiences hope in the daylight and feels despair in the night.  However, when Gerasim assists Ivan in the evening, his spirits rise.  Ivan realizes what is important in life and that is living authentically.

Since the first six chapters prepare the reader for a gradual decline of Ivan’s quality of life, Tolstoy artistically designs the last six chapters to lead up to a creative and almost miraculous reversal.  First, the author provides Ivan with the caring Gerasim, whom he does not deserve, because he never showed care for anyone else other than himself.  Next, while his journey toward death is rather torturous, it offers relief and releases to him in the end.  Ivan gets to escape the consequences of his life’s choices and the contraction of time and space around him.  Finally, in mentally returning to his past, Ivan makes time turn backward and thus, annuls the direction in which he is going.  “Thus, while the text is the vehicle of Ivan’s temporal, spatial, and physiological movement from birth to death, its sub-text is the vehicle of his spiritual, non-spatial, and atemporal progress from death to rebirth.”


While Ivan Ilych is the focus of the story, Tolstoy writes in his My Confession that Ivan is the embodiment of his own spiritual realization.  Even though the story was written in the cultural setting of the 1800’s, there are many lessons that the modern readers can take to heart.  One of the lessons that Tolstoy compels his readers to conclude are ways in which Ivan makes his decisions.  He follows the way of life of the bourgeois society in which he lives.  Thus, to avoid repeating his mistakes, one should question the ways of culture, judge the morality of the popular movements, and stand firm on one’s convictions.  Second, his friendships and marriage with Praskovya Fyodorovna become pursued for selfish reasons: “Ivan was doing what was agreeable to himself in securing such a wife, and at the same time doing what persons of higher standing looked upon as correct.”  Therefore, to avoid the pretense and loneliness at the end of life, one should build authentic relationships for unselfish reasons with those around him.  Third, in regards to his work, Ivan fulfills his duties but with the expectation to continue raising his rank and pursuing more money; yet, he is never fully content: “With their new income, which was always only a little – some five hundred rubles – too little.”  Ivan’s career success becomes his idol.  To avoid great disappointment when it becomes impossible to do one’s job, it is important that it does not become an obsession and one’s only source of fulfillment.  Finally, Ivan’s biggest mistake was that the above-mentioned factors were merely external moving parts that he set in place to conform to the societal expectations.  Since he is so concerned with the external, he completely neglects the internal and is completely unprepared to have a moral conversation with himself.  Thus, while the world says that the physical reality is all there is to life, Ivan’s example shows that emptiness on the inside can be even more terrifying than the brokenness on the outside.

Leo Tolstoy’s The Death of Ivan Ilych addresses a common human concern of demise in a fascinating fashion.  Tolstoy creates the conditions in which Ivan’s physical ailment reveals his spiritual disease.  He uses the disorder of the physical nature to root out the disarray of the soul.  Such tactic makes the reader wonder, what ailments of the soul are hiding within his or her own depths.  As the reader participates in Ivan Ilych’s transition from life to an important realization, and then toward death, one grasps the fact that this could happen to anyone.  Thus, it is critical that those who care about how they live and how they die, examine their present pursuits and the authenticity of their relationships.  Death comes upon everyone.   Perhaps, Ivan Ilych had a little more power over “how” he died than he thought.  Thankfully, he realized the wrongness of his life and had just enough time to tell the reader about what matters in life.

Overcoming the Devil’s Den

via Daily Prompt: Nervous

On a sunny spring break morning, a young married twosome, resolved to escape the flatlands of their dwelling and pay a visit to the desert mountains nearby. Upon their first stop, they elected to warm up by undertaking The Devil’s Den. If the den knew their “warming up” intentions then, she would laugh in their faces. The afternoon  was growing sultry and the canyon was promising a cool shade. The passage started out flat and undemanding. The rocks, however, grew bigger by the yard. At first, our lovely couple was leaping up the boulder rocks like the mountain goats. As the stones continued to grow and the passage narrowed, the trail turned into a climbing passage. As the guests endeavored to clamber through the trail, the breeze was sauntering through the canyon like a casual guest. The shade  from the desert sun grew more consistent. Some blooming vegetation disclosed its hidden florets. They were pleasing to the eye and smelled deliciously. The local bumble bees thought so, too. They were swarming the plants, indulging in the nectar. It was easy to avoid the bees up until the deeper parts of the canyon welcomed our hikers with tinajas. Those were natural features that over time formed basins in the rocks by the falling waters. It must have rained recently, for the basins were full. The first tinaja was made of two pools of water on both sides of the rock. Thankfully, it provided a bridge in the middle. It was as if she knew that the travelers would need a passage to move forward. Swarms of bees were wallowing in waters on both sides.  In that moment, the wife stepped back and said that she could not bring herself to walk through such busy crossing. The challenge was to walk between the pools and not disturb the swarm. She was willing to resign from this venture and trudge back down the canyon. The husband allowed her to step back and express her premonitions. He listened intently and gave her space to process the fears. Then, he took her hands and reassured her that if they kept the bees attracted to the water and not themselves, they would be able to cross unnoticed. He held her hand and kept her close behind his back. George led the way. He was right; the bees barely noticed the passers. In that moment, Rinata realized, that while this situation was specific to this hike, it reflected George’s tactic to their marriage. He always listened to her fears. Even when they seemed ungrounded. He gave her space and did not seek to shut down her distress. Upon overcoming this short pass, she became free of the fear of bees for the rest of the hike. It is true when they say that in order to overcome your fears, you must face them. Facing them with someone who wants best for you and someone you can trust, is what makes it possible. It seemed that the worst was left behind. Yet the den was primed to test the limits of her visitors. Now she demanded that they climb her rocks. The trail was not passable by mere walking. As the hikers attempted to take turns climbing, they realized that one would have to push up the other and then get pulled up. Since the girls are always easier to lift, Rinata went up first with George’s help. She then secured her feet against the rocks and extended both her hands. They have never been in a situation where she had to physically pull him up. This exposure was broadening their marriage scopes. He was able to get a foothold as he pushed himself up and she advanced with a final pull. Both laughed in a comforted relief as they overcame their second obstacle. The den was not satisfied even then. Three pools full of algae waters and high rocks were awaiting for them next. As they reached the first pool and attempted climbing up the rock around it, it became apparent that shoes would have to be slipped off. George managed to climb around. Rinata was not confident that she could hold her balance and grab his hand in time to not fall in. She took off her shoes with the confidence that this was the first and the last time she would have to do so in this den. As she entered the green waters, she felt the algae hugging her toes. Once she reached the point where George would pull her up, there was nothing to use for a foothold. She had to entrust her entire weight to him. His strong arm took hold of her. Rinata did not doubt for a moment that she would slip out of his hand. When her entire weight pushed against his chest, she was thankful to God for her husband’s strength and grip. She once again thought of all the moments in their marriage where his strength kept her going. How many times he lifted her up after a discouraging day. There was never a hint of letting go or giving up. She treasured her husband in that moment. Both laughed in relief only to see two more pools awaiting them. He led the way through a bigger pool barefoot. This one was tricky. If you could see through the waters, it means the bottom was beyond slippery. George said, “walk where you cannot see; that’s where the ground is and your feet will have a better grip.” As she followed his directions, she approached the wall where she could push herself up. The moment Rinata’s torso reached the other side, she was thanking God for gravity for the first time in her life. The den perceived that these two were not going to give up. She gradually became shallow and released her hold. However, it must have conspired with the thunderstorm. A thick layer of clouds started darkening above. They walked fast. The trail out of the den was wide and clear. As they hastened down the road, something was not right. It was taking them around the mountain rather than to the top of the den to take the upper trail back. In that moment, the thunder had caught up with the travelers. The rain started lavishing them in heavy drops. When they turned back and arrived to where they started at the end of the den, there was no sign of a trail leading up. George with his sharp eye looked around and saw a cairn about a hundred feet up. The storm kept pushing in. If they stayed at the bottom, they would be soaked in rain and eventually freeze. If they went up, they risked being struck by lightning. The only choice was to scramble up. Both silently pleaded with the Lord to spare them. When cairn on the trail was reached, George and Rinata were overcome with thanksgiving and hope. The trail was there. It was parallel to the den. It was the way back. The wind was telling them to run. It was pushing their backs as if escorting them out. Strong gushes of wind were aiding them. The wind seemed certain that they could outrun the storm. After four miles of running and walking as fast as possible, the storm and the den were left disappointed. They could not break these two. They made it home.

The hike turned out to be longer and harder than our young visitors imagined. But isn’t it how life treats us sometimes? The problems become bigger, the hiking becomes harder, and at some point it feels like rock climbing and scrambling. It is what you do to overcome the challenges that really matters. Who do you listen to? Who you follow when you get swarmed with stinging problems? Do you seek out those who will pull you up? When you do, do you entrust to them your entire weight? Will you overcome the den and gain greater courage or will you turn back and allow fear to control you? Make your choice today.





The Sound of Silence

via Daily Prompt: Smoke

In today’s culture, silence is not a common friend. Most will consider silence an enemy. People are terrified of silence. It concerns them. Like smoke, it clears up the actuality of their state and they petrified to be left alone with themselves … in silence.

This prompt made me think of a song that was written by Paul Simon back in the 60’s. My favorite part of the lyrics seeks to convey the following:

And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening

People writing songs
That voices never share
And no one dare
Disturb the sound of silence

“Fools,” said I, “you do not know
Silence, like a cancer, grows.
Hear my words that I might teach you
Take my arms that I might reach you.”
But my words like silent raindrops fell
And echoed in the wells of silence

And the people bowed and prayed
To the neon God they made
And the sign flashed out its warning
And the words that it was forming

And the sign said,
“The words of the prophets
Are written on the subway walls
And tenement halls.”
And whispered in the sound of silence.

The sad truth about silence is that while it is capable of bestowing its peaceful stillness, it is also skillful at muting one in expressing his vital convictions. Even tranquility has its time. One must learn to be silent when necessary and speak up when he must.

Thankfully, silence is not the enemy of God. He only speaks in the silence. Do not be frightened of being alone with yourself. It might be your only chance to hear the voice of God. It might also be your only opportunity to become emboldened to speak up when no one does.

There is a difference in being silent to attain peace and quiet as opposed to being silent in the face of atrocity.

Choose your time of silence well.

Too Good to be True

via Daily Prompt: Generous

Imagine if you committed a terrible crime. Imagine standing before the judge and being pleaded guilty. Visualize your reaction if your sentence was death penalty. Hopefully, your response would be remorse and repentance. You would cry and plead with the judge to reconsider. You would utter promises that you would commit no such crime again. However, it it would not be realistic or fair for the judge to just let you go. What’s done is done and the punishment must be carried out.

If the earthly judge could not let you go in spite of your contrite promises, why would a Heavenly Judge change the system of His universe to accommodate to your pleading?

The bad news is that you ARE guilty. You HAVE committed the crime. And you ARE on death row.

The Bible says that no one is righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10). Every single human being that walks the earth is guilty.

How does one’s life or freedom get purchased in the earthly justice system? I do not claim to be an expert in this area, but I know that in many cases a large bond must be paid. Even then, a criminal does not possess the full freedom. Additionally, I do not believe there is such a thing as a substitute in the earthly system of justice. There is not a single person on earth who would be allowed to take your place in prison or on death row for YOUR crime. YOU and only YOU must carry the punishment for your crimes.

It seems that in the Heavenly realms, the Judge did make one exception in the favor of the guilty. And that is the good news.

It was the joy of the Son to obey the Father; He came to earth in the form of man to live a perfect life that we failed to live. He walked among us and unfolded to us the heart of God. His life and death were predicted by prophets across centuries. It was His joy to give up His life by being brutally crucified; a death He did not deserve. On the third day, just as He had promised, He rose from the dead and revealed Himself to many witnesses, whose accounts are recorded in the Gospels of the New Testament.

God’s Word says that whoever repents of their sin (Acts 2:38), believes in his heart and confesses with his mouth that Jesus is Lord, will be saved (Romans 10:9).  The Scriptures also say that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord, will be saved (Romans 10:13).  If at some point in your life, you prayed the prayer or gave your heart to Jesus, but have not repented, believed in Him, and called on His name to be saved, you may not be a child of God.

Who would be so crazy to voluntarily lay down his or her life for you? The answer is simple: SOMEBODY WHO TRULY LOVED YOU.

Say, what if your spouse or your family member would be willing to take your place of punishment? The Bible says that it would not be enough, for they are just like you: in sinful rebellion from birth. The Judge of the universe requires a perfect spotless substitute to fully satisfy His wrath.  You could not pay your own bail with stolen money from the bank next door. Christ was that perfect substitute who volunteered to take on YOUR death penalty. He did it even though He knew the secret places of you heart and saw the worst of your rebellion against Him.

He is calling you to repent of your sin and is extending to you an invitation to call upon the name of the Lord so that you can be saved (Romans 10:13). Not only did He take your place of punishment and suffered a scandalous death, He rose on the third day just as He had promised, because He had the authority to take up His life (John 10:18). He was God in man’s flesh, who had the authority and the power to undergo what you would not survive. When a gift is extended, one must decide to receive it in order to possess it. It is simple logic: if you do not ask for help, you will not receive it. If you do not believe, repent, and call on His name, you will not attain salvation.

Abraham’s faith was counted to him as righteousness. God saw Abraham as righteous even though he did not do anything right; he simply believed (Genesis 15:6). Nothing changed in the heart of God since the times of Abraham. From genuine faith will stem a true relationship with the One who created you and saved you from an eternal punishment. Once you see Christ for Who He is, you will fall in love with Him, I promise. Once you grow to love Him, you will become more like Him. Christ is the new you living in you and through you. Let Him do it and see for yourself how much your life will turn around.

Rejoice! Your punishment has been carried out. He endured it for you. Repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). Receive His free gift of salvation. Put your faith in Him, believe His promises and watch them come true in your life. One thing He did not say, “follow me and I will make you happy.”  He said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). Ponder that.

In all of your mess, He still thought you were worth it (Romans 5:8). Nobody will ever love you like that.

The Queen, the Giant, and the Snow Peaks.

via Daily Prompt: Hike

I absolutely love hiking.  This hidden passion of mine was discovered with the help of my husband, who is by the way a camping genius. None of my friends imagined that I would enjoy such activities.  However, I found that if you plan a trip at the right time, at the right place, you will fall in love with the creation that surrounds you. One of the recent hikes happened when we visited Kyrgyzstan, my homeland, located at the heart of Central Asia. It is a beautiful country with hidden treasures up in the mountains. Being a native, I did not imagine such splendid views existed. We took a three day trek from Karakol valley, up to the Ala-Kol mountain lake (elevation: 12,664 feet), up the overpass (about 15,000 feet) and down the valley towards Altyn-Arashan hot springs. It was one of the most unforgettable treks that we have ever done. One simple truth emerged from this trip:

Some of the most beautiful places on earth are the hardest to get to.

After hiking for two days, we found ourselves spending the night by the turquoise wonder, bigger and more beautiful than we ever imagined. The lake was glorious and at the same time intimidating.  It seemed as if our very lives were in the hands of these dangerous waters. We were in the presence of the wintry queen who was guarded by the giants wearing the snow hats. They were the servants and we were the guests. It was a moody queen as she welcomed us with warm rays of sunshine one minute, then frowned on us by growing darker, and finally lavished us in white flakes and ice pearls.  We were grateful for the generous presents, but they melted the moment her mood lightened up. Perhaps, the queen was volatile because she was all alone. Yet, just around the corner we were welcomed by her consort, the mighty glacier. He did not speak much. We only heard the thunder of his shifting layers. Both the queen and the giant were so frigid. It was difficult to judge whether they were imposed upon each other. Perhaps, their union was of their own choice. We could not ask and they did not tell. One thing was obvious: he was a giver and she was a taker. Streams of waters flowed down his surface to stock the endless storage supply of her royalty.

Quite honestly, we did not plan to lodge in their residence. After rock climbing and pushing ourselves up the steep loose rock, we enjoyed a filling meal by the lake and headed for the overpass. However, hours later, we found ourselves in the middle of the boulder field. The overpass seemed an eternity away.  The queen decided to extend her kind invitation. There were no regrets in delaying our trip.

The next day, we were awoken by the moody countess. It was as if she desired to hasten our departure, while being downcast about it. George and I had to continue advancing as we did not know what was awaiting us beyond the overpass.  The queen lavished us with some additional icy flakes and pearls that melted by the time we reached the peak.

We thought the lake was magnificent from close up. When we reached the level of the peak giants, it was understood why they were guarding her royalty. She was absolutely resplendent. It also made sense why his majesty glacier was so firmly rooted where he was. One dangerous verity was revealed  about the queen from up high. She was dammed. She could bring down her bitterly frosted waters upon the valley whenever she pleased. The glacier and the giants were committed to compelling her not carry out her threats. They were not just her servants. They were the guardians of the valley.

Most of the local people never make it up to the lake because of the lack of training and gear. They enter this world and die without being aware of these giants preserving their lives day and night by having to amuse this capricious queen that could annihilate the entire valley with a flick of her finger.

This is a sorrowful story that is hidden up in the snow peaks. Only those that undertake this journey become witnesses of this happening. They carry away this story back to their homelands. I resolved to write about it and let the world know that even the hidden summits and glaciers were set in place by the Almighty to secure to safety of His children in the valley.