My Prayer for My Friends…

One of the things that has become extremely evident to me is that people are in need. The needs vary from person to person, from household to household, and even from community to community. I’m not only referring to those that are financially poor or homeless but to the average everyday individual that wakes up in the morning, gets prepared for the day and just ‘goes thru the motions’.

You see, I may write these, sometimes, wonderful words of encouragement but there are definitely times that I feel your pain. There are times where I don’t really want to do any of this stuff that we call ‘life’, or living. What makes the difference is this… It is the understanding that no matter what MY situation is right now, there is ALWAYS someone who is in an even WORSE situation. So, it’s MY responsibility to help THEM. It’s about having a ‘Common Unity’, or community.

I am reminded of a story about these children in Africa. A test was given to these children and it was this… All of the children were placed at one end of a field and a basket of candy was placed at the other. Whoever got to the candy first, got to have ALL of the candy… On your marks, get set, GO!!! To our disbelief, the children grabbed hands with each other and walked to the basket. When asked why did they do that, the reply was classic. No one wanted the candy alone. They all wanted to share it.

In America, we have replaced the communal process with me-isms. It’s all about me and mine. How can I get ahead? How do I get my agenda passed? Unfortunately, one of the things that occurs with this type of thought process is the rejection of assistance.

People reject assistance because there is this feeling of “what are THEY getting out of this” or “what’s the catch?” We’ve all been scammed in one-way, or another, and if it sounds too good to be true then it must be too good to be true.

Another reason for this rejection is that people have become comfortable in the state that they’re in. We as a society have segregated ourselves into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’ and it is just not the truth!!! The only difference between these two sets of people is comfort level!!!

Here’s a quick story…
When we first moved to Miami, we lived in an efficiency ON the beach. As you know, any property located ON the beach is prime real estate. Well, the Trump Corporation bought out our development and both developments on either side of us. Well, when we moved, we moved into the city and because of cost we moved into a placed that met our cost needs. Unfortunately, the first night, we found out that this place had roaches… BAD!!!! We moved out of this apartment on the 3rd day!!! We found another place that met our cost needs without the additional houseguests AND was a much nicer place. But why did we move? We weren’t comfortable.

I started my fitness journey to get rid of a few pounds. Once I saw how easy it was and that this program works then I started sharing it with other people. The thing that hurts me regarding people is that we are not stupid people. We are the most intelligent and informed society in history but we consistently make those stupid choices. Here’s what I mean… when I started my journey with ViSalus, I got rid of 20 pounds in my first 25 days!!! I did this by drinking 2 shakes a day and eating a sensible 3rd meal. I did not exercise or work out. I didn’t go join a gym or anything like that. I continued my ‘regular’ routine but replaced 2 meals a day with shakes. I love sharing what I do and I noticed something about people (even myself)… Whenever I post things about healthy stuff, the response kinda trickles in. But, let me post a big juicy steak with mashed sweet potatoes with candied green beans and all of that, and the responses pour in before my mouse finishes hitting send.

This hurts me because I’ve buried too many loved ones because of bad habits. Cancer, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Chlolesterol, “Sugar”, Heart Disease… all of these things point us back to our knife and fork decisions. I love you too much to see you kill yourself without at least reaching out a hand to help you out of these issues…

I in no way am I saying that I’m better than anyone and I don’t mean to negatively offend anyone… What I am here to do is RAISE THE FLAG!!!! This is an OFFICIAL CALL TO ACTION!!! If I offend you to the point of change then THAT, my dear, is why I’m here!!!

John 10:10 says, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” The thief is the enemy, the devil. He wants us to wallow in bad options which lead to bad decisions. He wants us to shun an apple for SweetTarts or Jolly Ranchers. He wants us to kill ourselves by stealing our energy and destroying our livelihood. He wants us to die and pass on our bad decisions as an inheritance. BUT, we have an advocate!!! One that came to help us fight these errors and bad options!!! One who wants us to see our children grow up and get married. One who wants us to see our grandchildren grow up and get married. One who wants us to see our great grandchildren grow up and get married!!! THAT my friend is abundant life, an abundance OF life!!!!

My prayer for YOU, my friend is this…

Dear Lord, help my friend to recognize the needs in their life and accept the help that has been sent to them. But not only that, Lord. But also help them to recognize the needs of others and help them as well… Amen

I love you ALL!!!
Stay Blessed,
Jackie

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I need a break!!!

How many times have you heard someone say this, including yourself? I woke up this morning and begin to think about ALL of the things that I have going on and my conclusion is… “I need a break!!!” The sad part is that even though I need to step away and go on vacation, the truth is that I won’t. And what’s more, YOU won’t either.

According to a CNN report, as an average, Americans were expected to give up 2 days of vacation time due to non-usage. Seriously? Use it or lose it in full effect!! The part that was crazy to me is that as an average we only received 12 days to begin with which is already down from 14 days in 2011. So, we lost 2 days and then we gave up 2 days… something about this story just ain’t right!!! But, this is better than 2011!! How about in 2011, 57% of Americans had unused vacation time and MOST of them had 11 days leftover!!! That’s like 70% of their vacation just left on the table.

I did a little more digging around and according to a 2011 Business Insider article, among all of the developed countries in the world, the United States has the 3rd least amount of days off. We got beat by Canada and China in that respect. We hardly get any vacation time but then we don’t use it. Hong Kong is next in line with 26 vacation days! That’s almost double what we have!! On the other end of the spectrum the French, Russians, Fins, Brazilians and Lithuanians all get 40 or more vacation days per year!!!! Man, I’m trying to tell you… 40 days!!! Child please…

But, why don’t we take vacations? The top three reasons that I’ve found are… (1) Most of us feel that we have too much work; (2) We can’t afford to travel; or (3) we’re afraid to take off.

Let’s talk about affordability first. The greatest issue that I’ve learned in talking with people about vacation isn’t the cost of the vacation but rather the expectation. We feel like in order to take a vacation, we need to go somewhere far away. We need to get those frequent flyer miles up. We need to be sittin’ on somebody’s island somewhere. Real talk… What is a vacation? According to Webster, it is a period spent away from home or business in travel or recreation. Does it say how far we need to go? Let me help you… NO!!! That’s where we get it messed up. We’ve all laughed at people that said that they were going on vacation but they weren’t leaving the city. It’s a waste of time. You better save it up so you can GO somewhere. No, that’s the wrong thinking. If a vacation is simply vacating my everyday pattern then let’s go get a hotel room 15 minutes away from home and just eat room service for one night.

The feeling of having too much work and the fear of taking off are like first cousins. They are definitely related. The question that I have always posed to people who have these fears is, “What happens to your job if you were to die?” The quick and easy answer is this… they will put someone else in your seat. They will train someone else and the job will keep moving. Not taking a vacation because of workload is dumb. There will ALWAYS be volume. There will ALWAYS be deadlines. YOU will NOT ALWAYS be around. We overwork ourselves until we get sick. Longer hours in the office and now we work at home. We don’t even stop working to have dinner anymore. We have our iPads right there on the kitchen table. I’m sorry to tell you this but STOP IT!!!!!!

Being afraid to take off is the same thing. Why are you scared to leave? If YOUR job were important and your work ethics were good then you bring value to the employer and would be hard to replace. If not, then they are waiting for you to mess up again anyway. You might as well take a vacation and get paid to be off!! Seriously, if you’re afraid to take a vacation because someone else is going to do your job while you’re gone… Go get another job.

True story: When we lived in Miami, Florida, we met a couple that were long-time residents of the city. If you know anything about people that live on or near ANY coast, most of them never go to the beach. But, as newcomers, my wife and I were ALWAYS at the beach. This couple was so overtaken by our love for the water that they decided to come with us a few times. Don’t forget, they’ve been living next to the beach for at least 15-20 years but they never went. Their goal was to retire to Georgia, or somewhere up South, within a few years. Here’s the turnaround, they said that they didn’t have the time to go and see the city or go to the beach like we did. But, after they retire to Georgia, they would come back to Miami and spend vacations there…

Here’s the wrap-up, our lives are fully stressed. As a society, we are wound up tighter than a serpentine belt. There is a reason that employers offer vacation time. It’s not because they want to, trust me. It’s because they need to. Employees who take vacations are generally happier, more content and more productive. So, do your boss a favor… TAKE OFF!!!!

I love you ALL!!!
Stay blessed,
Jackie