MY BLOG POSTS, My Reflections, Poetry

GRACE


No matter who we are

What we’ve done

Mistakes we’ve made

Even if we try to outrun

So many plans

That were tailor made

Till we take that step

And finally start to trust

As faith begins to grow

Doubts get pushed away

Letting the light flow

As the Lord leads the way

For His love is always there

He would never leave us alone

No matter what’s been done

No matter if we’ve roamed

His grace is in strong supply

Willingly given for He’s love

He will never steer us wrong

It is us He’s so proud of

For that is why Christ died

To give us what we need

Not having to live in darkness

In His light we can finally see

We are favored, we are loved

Talk to Him; He is always there

And will never steer us wrong

With God, He always cares

No matter what has happened

His forgiveness is always strong

Even if we’ve turned our backs on Him

With God we’ll always belong

For this is His gift of grace

Perfection is not what He ever seeks

He’ll always accept us as we are

In Him we are truly free.

By Rachel Basden © 2021

“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” EPHESIANS 2:8
MY BLOG POSTS, My Reflections, Poetry

ALIVE


Created by YouVersion Bible App

So often, we humans can focus too much on the negatives of life, because they dare to tear us down.

We are thrilled when good things happen in our lives, but we also cling to wanting our lives to be full of good times and peace. While we realistically know that the bad moments are also a part of life, we can’t help but want to avoid the pain that comes along with those times.

“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” – John 10:10

Every time I read this passage, I’m reminded of God’s mercy to us. Let me explain.

I spent many years of my life with asthma. At times, it was so debilitating. More than once, I came near death. I’ll never forget being asked by a paramedic, weeks after a massive asthma attack who not only treated me, but knew me, “I didn’t want to tell you this in the middle of helping you, but there’s still one thing I don’t understand. On that day, we couldn’t figure out how you were awake, how you were communicating with us [I used body language to get them to give me paper & pen to do this.], how you were even alive. How did you do that?”

I wasn’t certain what he wasn’t telling me, so after asking him what was so unusual about that, he replied, “Everything we had you hooked up to, every one of them showed your oxygen levels were at zero. Not only should you not have been able to communicate with us, but all signs pointed to the fact that you should not have even been conscious, let alone alive!”

That’s when I answered him with, “Well, let me tell you more of my story and my God.” Without Him, without my Lord, that miraculous situation never would have happened. While I don’t know why God used that health situation to occur, my life with Him has shown me over and over and over again, that He is good, that He is love and that His plans are always for our good. I give God glory for using me, even in that time, to touch the life and soul of another for Him.

Something that could have killed me, gave me an even stronger appreciation for being alive.

Since last March, it’s been even harder to avoid the negatives of life. Having lost loved ones and having seen so much grief on various fronts, I am all the more grateful for God who has never left my side. I say all of this as a known optimist, but I am also not naive and have had many situations throughout life that have dared to tear me down many times.

In spite of the ups and down, I still have a passion for life.

Just last week, the world celebrated Easter . . . the glorious resurrection of Jesus Christ.

While Jesus had disciples who learned and did so much from Him and with Him, prior to Jesus’ death on the cross, they found life much more abundantly in the years they had afterwards. They were able to travel to various locations, preaching the Good News to so many. Miracles occurred again and again. However, their stories cannot be told without also knowing that they each experienced what we would call negatives in life.

While that was so long ago, I can’t help but see that they felt more alive than ever before. How? Because, even after all of my own painful life experiences, God has shown me through all of my life that the great moments in life are that much sweeter. The great moments in life aren’t as powerful, without also knowing the other side. Life is fabulously amazing, because He lives.

Because He lives, the art and beauty of this world and universe exist.

Because He lives, we get to have others to love and to be loved, in return.

Because He lives, we are still in awe when we see an amazing sunrise or sunset, when we hear the laughter of children, when someone says or does just the right thing when we need it most and when we experience the joy of God through it all.

Because He lives, we know the negative parts of life are not all that exist.

Because He lives, we have those who provide healing for the mind and body.

Because He lives, we have churches that remind us that we are meant to live in community, we are here for a purpose and we are wondrously loved and wanted.

Because He lives, we have teachers who spend time helping others to find themselves, to learn, to connect and to find their passions.

Because He lives, we can get back up again after traumas that will forever remind us that life is fragile, but there is still so much abundance of life giving moments ahead for us . . . HOPE.

Because He lives, we live. That’s something to rejoice over.

Life is meant to be fully lived. While trials may come, never forget the joys of being alive.

JUST BREATHE

For while I have breath
I know I am alive
For while I have breath
I enjoy the beauty of life
For while I have breath
I can embrace another
For while I have breath
I am a wife and a mother
For while I have breath
I can sing and dance
For while I have breath
I can take another chance
For while I have breath
I can live my passions
For while I have breath
I can provide compassion
For while I have breath
I can dream great dreams
For while I have breath
I have faith in the unseen
For while I have breath
I can make this world better
For while I have breath
God always holds me together
For every breath that I will ever breathe
I will know I was created
By the King of kings.

By Rachel Basden © 2021

Being alive will always have its heartaches, but one thing I have learned from knowing how quickly one’s breath can be taken from them, is to never take a single inhale/exhale for granted. Never believe that we don’t matter. Never lose sight of hope. For within each breath we take, there are so many moments we are meant to be a part of and wonderful people whose lives are meant to intersect with ours. Every breath is a reminder of life, because He lives.

Don’t allow the hardships of life to tear you down. For we are more than just ourselves. There is purpose. We were made with strength. We were made with love. We were made to live life abundantly.

With every breath, know that you are alive for far greater things and with each breath your breathe you are walking further into your destiny. So never forget how each inhale and exhale matters. YOU MATTER!

My Reflections, Poetry

HOPE STILL REIGNS


The Lord is my shepherd

I know His call

For when I was young

He became my ALL

Providing me still pastures when I’ve needed rest

Bringing me to quiet waters, my soul restored the best

Whenever I’ve ever felt alone

His Spirit has guided my way

And through every dark valley

His hope within me has stayed

When I’ve felt like I could break

He’s comforted, loved and held me

Even when enemies were on the attack

He nourished and He blessed me

For His goodness and His love have followed all my days

And one day, I’ll be fully with Him forever and always

But till that day comes, He’s always been near

Till that day comes, He shows me that He’s here

When a pandemic tried to seriously crush my soul

When isolation and loss seemed to take control

Hope still reigned in the songs sung

Hope still reigned with every beautiful rise of the sun

Hope still reigned when justice marched

Hope still reigned as humanity battled on

No matter what’s happened or what will come

I will cling to His promises, every single one.

My Reflections

2021: Be the Fulcrum


As we usher in 2021, may we remember what truly matters.

So many are looking for 2021 to help us heal from what’s happened in 2020. Deaths of loved ones. Isolation. Lockdowns. Normal education having so many shifts. Fears in various forms. Faith and hope shaken up. Places shut down. Shortages and hoarding. Events cancelled. Places of worship shutting doors for weeks and months on end. Political unrest in ways never seen before. Racism and prejudices becoming harder to ignore. Loss of jobs, food, homes, relationships, and the list goes on and on.

I get it. I have faced a lot of that myself, as I’m sure you have, too.

There’s not a single human who can rescue us. God does all He can for us, yet we humans don’t make it easy. We never have.

We want life to get back to normal, while much of what was normal needed changing. Normal doesn’t exist.

We want masks gone. Not seeing full faces is not in our nature.

We want to hug and touch others. Humans crave connections.

We want to be there for our loved ones in the hospital or in adult care facilities. Going through hard times alone is not what we were meant to endure.

We want to gather with others for weddings, births, funerals and celebrations. Life milestones are important.

We want some sense of predictability we can rely on, after all of this. Yet, when was life ever predictable?

2021 will not erase the past and it will not entirely fix the world. However, each of us can do our parts and be the change this nation and world needs, be truly selfless and the best versions of who we each are meant to be in the time we have on this planet.

The best way to make 2021 a better year, involves all of us. May we do all we can to water those seeds.

We can each make the differences that are needed, making life easier for all. Each of us have purpose and it is those purposes within us that are parts of so many solutions. There is much to be changed, no doubt.

However, if we truly consider our fellow humans and other living creatures that inhabit the land, sea and skies, as well as the planet itself and our Creator, life in 2021 can be the turning point that can finally get us all on the right path.

By truly choosing to see others as humans who have their own burdens, we can have more compassion.

By truly listening to understand, rather than to have our say, we can have more empathy.

By giving of the resources we have to those in need, we can heal.

By trusting those who have proven themselves worthy and by giving the benefit of the doubt to others till shown otherwise, we can have more respect for others.

By seeking truth and not just trying to confirm our own conceptions, we can have better discernment.

By doing all we can, by valuing the lives of other, we can have more unity.

We are always a part of the equation. Each of us have more power to do good than most of us believe. Step out in 2021 and let’s do this, together!

While we head into 2021 in a matter of hours, reflect on what you have learned during this past year. Reflect on the good moments, because they also happened even if some were different than prior years, and learn from the bad ones.

While no year can fix so much, we can shift the trajectory too many of us have been on and begin moving into brighter days, weeks, months and years. We can leave a better legacy for those who come after us, rather than leaving behind more heartache.

May we all see the pandemic end or at least lessen to a huge degree soon.

Are you ready to be the fulcrum? Come join me and so many others. A shift is about to happen and we have plenty of room on the ride.

May we give, love, laugh, and enjoy one another more than ever before.

Let’s make 2021 the year we all begin to heal and help others to heal, because we seek to make our lives and those all around us the best examples of ourselves that we all need. When we are each on the other side of Heaven, may we truly do so knowing that we were “good and faithful servants” to all.

As we look in the mirror, may we each remember that today is a good day to have a good day, for us and for others. https://nikkibanas.com/

Healing comes in many ways. Seek and you shall find.

MY BLOG POSTS, My Reflections

WE ARE WALKING MIRACLES


After reading today’s blog post, know that miracles happen for a reason. Each one of us matter. May miracles awaken you to see how you’re supposed to change this world for the better.

During these pandemic times, it is easy to focus on all of the negative aspects of life. However, with Thanksgiving less than a week away, it’s normally a time when we stop and think of what and who we are thankful for, in our lives. Now, more than ever, this is needed on a more regular basis.

I’d like to tell you some parts of my story. While many believe in certain miracles, there are those who don’t believe a miracle can happen in their own lives. For that matter, there are those that try to explain miracles away.

However, I am a walking miracle.

At the age of 12, I began having severe allergies and asthma out of the blue, it seemed. It all began as I was walking home from school with a friend of mine. Towards the start, my breathing became labored and only got worse as we walked the mile to my home. By the time we arrived, she had been holding me up to help me continue on and I collapsed into the entrance and onto the floor, as my mom opened the door. Within a short time, I was in my doctor’s office getting injections immediately, as they treated me and having confirmed what was happening.

Within a year of that same time, I also received confirmation that I had scoliosis. After finding a specialist, I was able to see that my spine was a perfect backwards S, which now made all of my back pains make sense. The pain was often horrendous and limited certain movements, as well.

When life is out of our control, there is One who is far greater than us.

Having severe allergies and asthma limited me from being around certain animals and various types of environments. I couldn’t exercise very much, as it too would exacerbate the asthma. I had to avoid any part of stores with strong smells, especially the lower levels of department stores with all the perfume and cologne scents. Being even on the farther side of those floors would trigger my lungs to spasm or get worse. From middle school through adulthood, I had specialists for my back, as well as for the allergies and asthma.

Over time, I just learned to adjust and tolerate the back pains, no matter how bad they got. As for the asthma, I hated how often it debilitated me from doing ordinary things and struggling to breathe through what felt like an airway the size of maybe a coffee stirrer straw.

Then, the miracles.

In 2000, I was at church. The pastor was up front praying and so were all of us. Eyes were closed and many of us were standing. I was in my pew, next to my husband. Suddenly, I hear God clearly say to me, “I know you’re in pain, and I know you have had others pray for you, but have you ever asked me to heal you?” Incredulously, I realized I never had asked him for this, though I had believed in the power of prayer since my earliest of years.

So I prayed. Then, the miracle happened, as I heard clicking sounds within me as my spine realigned and felt my body jolt with the transition. With everyone’s eyes closed in prayer, no one appeared to have noticed, but I began praising God as tears came down my face.

I had my husband, other family members and close friends touch my spine once the church service was over so they could realize this great miracle. There was no doubt that God had done what I explained to them. Glory, Hallelujah!

As for the allergies and asthma, they continued. I had gotten used to seeing a specialist regularly and all I had to use to manage. I have always loved singing and while I managed being on worship teams at various churches in my life, it never occurred to me how much of a miracle my strong singing capabilities were, with the asthma as severe as it was.

I always chalked that up to various exercises I started and continued doing on a regular basis to maintain as much breathing capacity as possible every day, and most especially so I can continue singing. Little did I know what a great miracle it was to sing as bad as the asthma was.

Over time, I had accepted the fact, based on what specialists had told me that I would like not be able to have a child without dying in the process and most definitely without alert them should a pregnancy ever happen in my future. There had been so many complications within my body, from everything that there was little chance of me surviving something like that.

Through the years, I had even had several times when I nearly died. The worst occurred while I was at work. A situation occurred that caused the asthma to go into overdrive. Paramedics came, and I knew it was the worse situation I had yet to experience, since there were so many of them and so much they were doing to me.

One of those paramedics was the father of two of my former students who after my recovery, came to visit me, because something had been gnawing at him since that day. How was I still alive? I looked at him and asked, “What do you mean?”

That’s when I learned that with everything that was hooked up and connected to me, I should have died either at my place of work, on the way or surely by the time I got to the hospital. Every indicator showed that I had zero percent oxygen in my system and my body was shutting down.

Yet, I remained conscious, even making the get me paper and pen to communicate with them, so my things could be gotten for me and whoever ended up teaching my students would know what to do. He said that’s why we all seemed so incredulous that day, as well as quite scared.

All, I can say is that God performed another miracle that day. Little did I know there was a greater one to come years later.

On April 7, 2013 God healed me completely of my major allergies and fully healed me from asthma. By that point in my life, I was on several medications for the allergies, plus several inhalers for the asthma, along with an epipen. These went with me everywhere I went. I always needed people to know where these things were, in case of emergencies, because emergencies happened often enough to warrant it.

So on that day in 2013, God chose to do another miracle. From that day onward, I have only needed an over the counter help for minor allergies. All other allergies were gone and never returned. The asthma was a complete thing of the past.

No more specialists. No more multiple medications, inhalers, injections, nor any need for the epipen. In fact, I was given an opportunity once to get an x-ray of my back, to see what it looked like years after my spine realigned. To see my spine fully straight wasn’t necessary for me, but it was wonderful to see. The only signs of it was a minuscule curve at the base and the fact that though my growth plates had already closed when the scoliosis had been confirmed, the miracle also gave me more height.

God wants the best for us, even when we don’t.

Since those miraculous moment, I have been able to be more active. I can be around animals, grass being mowed near me without having to isolate myself, walking in any place I choose, being near trees of all types. I’ve had so many opportunities open up for me, with the results of those miracles.

These parts of my life are just part of what I have personally experienced in my life, and I thank Almighty God, my Savior Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit for every bit of what I know are miracles.

You may be thinking that I must have been granted miracles in my life, because of who I am. Trust me when I say that’s not the case. God performs miracles, because of who He is.

God loves and wants us to know Him, no matter who we are. While He performs miracle each day, many don’t notice them for what they are, some try to explain them away, but if you really think about the details of what occurred, there’s only one answer: a miracle.

Check out the YouVersion Bible app or open your Bible if you have one, and see all of the miracles God has already done. Those people lived. Even those who don’t claim Jesus for who He is, once recorded much of the miraculous events that occurred.

If you are reading this, you too are a “living, breathing, walking miracle,” as written and sung by singer Matthew West in the video below. Listen to what happened to this young boy and others, and listen to the truth of this song. What have you got to lose?

Isn’t it time to start dwelling on the good in our lives? With God, there is hope. True hope. There is good in the world.

Still feeling skeptical? Please take a listen to Colton Dixon’s song “Miracles” which also came out this year. I don’t believe in coincidences. But, I do believe in miracles. In this song, you’ll hear from a believer, who also finds himself in awe every time God does miracles.

I would love to hear about your miracles. It’s great to read about those done for others. This Thanksgiving season and as we continue living through these times, know that you are here for a reason. You are here with purpose. A good purpose.

If you ever want to know more about this God of miracles, I would love to tell you more. He loves you no matter who you are, what you’ve done or what you think of yourself. He doesn’t want to change your world upside down. He simply wants to show you how much more there is for you. Trust me when I say that there is far more to my story, and I know without a doubt that He lives, that He is real and that He is trustworthy.

While there is much in life we cannot control. He can.

Poetry

Darkness Does Not Win


Stumbling in the dark
Not knowing where to stand
With so much confusion around
All across our land

Desperately looking for light
Struggling to find it
Trying to ease our anxious hearts
If only we had some guidance

Yes, 2020 was not expected
We want safety and security
While this year has seemed to wreck this
Could there be more to this daydream

Perhaps like Lazarus
All is not lost
Could it be we’ve just been sleeping
Instead of focusing on the cross

While looking at the bleeding
Happening all around
Like Mary and Martha weeping
With no hope to be found

Knowing their brother was a goner
Are we only looking at this year
Simply shouting, “How much longer?”
While the light has been so near

For God has never changed
He’s always had a plan
The Lord understands every emotions
And the ways of man

While darkness has appeared
More often during these time
All is not really lost
For Jesus is still the Light

For just as Jesus, rose
Lazarus from the dead
He did the same for us
Even while knowing what was ahead

He could see this year we’re in
All the grief, confusion and pain
When we’ve screamed, cried and suffered
He never looked at us with disdain

For Jesus is our Comforter
The Light of the World for all
Is it possible that in dark moments
We have been missing His calls

The light is inside you
The light is all around
The light is what I brought you
When no hope was to be found

Trouble was always coming
I’ve told you all this before
I have always been the answer
To every problem that was in store

You are never in this alone
In the darkness, I am there
Holding and loving you
Before you were, I’ve always cared

This time is only temporary
This time is not all there is
This time is meant to show you
That in Me, you can truly live

My promises are for always
They don’t shift like the waves
I’m the same yesterday, today and forever
Who I am, I will remain

Peace be still, I speak over you
Focus your eyes on me
You my precious children
Carry my light for all to see

So shine brightly through each day
As darkness does what it will do
For I have already conquered it
I’m here to see you through

Even those who don’t want to see me
I am here for them, the same
Cry out to me whenever needed
There’s power in my name

When all around you see chaos
And nothing seems to make sense
I am here, if you’ll simply trust me
You’re greatest source of defense

This time is but a moment
Though it has appeared to be too long
Remember from whom you’re made
And to whom that you belong

I will remain with you always
I will remain with you through this
As Lazarus still had more life
There’s a reason you exist

I am making you much stronger
I am showing you from what you’re made
I am preparing you for more
And I am still the One who rules and reigns.

By Rachel Basden
©️ August 18, 2020
Inspired by John 11:9-11

WORSHIP MUSIC IS A POWERFUL GATEWAY TO BREAKTHROUGHS. May you be blessed by these two songs that relate so well with the poem above.

Life.Church just released a new album this week and this song really encapsulates this time and a reminder that God is the God of Hope and will NEVER let go of us.
No matter how dark it gets, God’s light is still stronger. As one line in this song says, “The darkest night, You can light it up.”
My Reflections

WHERE WILL YOU STAND? (Part 3): Health


Most people value their own health.

Since the earlier months of 2020, we have been inundated with information about how to remain healthy. However, it has also become a very confusing time to know what’s best for us, to stay healthy in a world still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

How do we know what to believe as truth?During this pandemic, we all are looking for wisdom.

There are parts of staying healthy that still apply today.

Ways to stay healthy before the coronavirus still hold true. Eating well, exercising and regularly maintaining good hygiene have always been in our best interest. Essentially, doing those three things should always continue, whether the coronavirus is still impacting our lives or not.

As for social distancing, we normally tend to do certain things to preserve our own health in public or even in our homes when there’s sickness. We naturally keep ourselves away from those who are sneezing and coughing a lot. If it is apparent someone is feverish, we definitely do our best to keep ourselves from catching it.

Then, it stands to reason that social distancing is important with people moving about in public, when too many don’t yet know if they even have the virus. They may be asymptomatic and pass it on to others, never knowing that they were a catalyst for someone else’s ill health.

This is why so many areas of our country are requiring masks again and strongly modifying or temporarily re-closing certain businesses and events. Valuing the lives of ourselves and of others, as well as doing all we can to have more “normalcy,” should cause more people to do all they can for the good of all of our nation’s citizens.

Mask wearing has become part of the new normal, in 2020.
PHOTO BY RACHEL BASDEN

Most definitely, the coronavirus has caused new ways for us to protect our health.

You may be doing some of the recommendations or mandates put in place where you live. There may be times when you’ve gotten lax from remaining protective. It is possible you’re wondering what more you can do.

WAYS TO REMAIN HEALTHY AT HOME:

  • Staying physically active
  • Looking after our mental health
  • Quitting tobacco
  • Healthy parenting
  • Good eating

Source: World Health Organizing
(clicking on the SOURCE provides more details)

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF & OTHERS:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Avoid close contact
  • Cover mouth & nose with a cloth face cover in public
  • Cover coughs & sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily
  • Monitory your health daily

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
(clicking on the SOURCE provides more details)

At this point, you may be thinking that none of the above is new to you. While that may be true, the virus numbers are rising in areas that didn’t have high numbers before and other areas are showing upticks of those contracting COVID-19 again. Why?

Now is not the time to get lazy.

As humans, we too often allow ourselves to get lazy, and in summer this happens often. While we may have done most of the preventable measures even before COVID-19, these times need us all to stay diligent in all the above areas.

Think about it. Which ones of these scenarios have you noticed in recent weeks?

* People going into stores and/or businesses without masks
* Large groups gathering together in public places
* Those exercising outdoors and not maintaining enough distance from others
* Visiting friends and/or family members without social distancing and/or wearing masks

Single experiences like these may not amount too many health problems for people, but with summer, too many are doing the above. Summer is usually when we want to just let loose. No matter the season, the cases in our country rising and governments trying to enforce the precautionary measures once again are occurring, when all we want is for times to improve.

Some aspects of staying healthy are within our control, but there are always unknowns.

I won’t bombard you with all of the possible unknowns that the pandemic has caused. The radio, tv, social media, people we talk to and so many other sources provide us with enough panic of what could or may happen. It’s too easy to allow ourselves to give into fear.

Even if you are not a Bible reader, Matthew 6:27 has great advice: “Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” No, it doesn’t. It only worsens our mental health, which impacts our physical health if we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed with the distress that worries instill.

This is not to say that we should not focus on the parts of life that are bad and that we need to know about, but it’s important to not obsess or overload our minds. That’s true any time of the year.

When it comes to our health, it is important to not put all of our attention on only the physical part of ourselves alone.

Most people are better aware of the importance of managing our mental health, but we still don’t do as much as we should. As real as our physical health is, the mental part of us is equally and at times even more essential.

What you feed your mind with the most is what your mind focuses on the most. When the mind has enough true, real and good information to zone in on, it allows the mind, soul and body to boost itself up, both mentally and physically. It provides balance during tough times.

Whether there is a pandemic or not, there are always ways to focus on positive, joyful aspects of life. Need some ideas?

Below are 215 of them included below from “215 Things to Be Thankful For in Life (Even if You’re Struggling)” which you can click on to find even more resources.

  1. Holidays where you can spend time with the important people in life.
  2. Having a romantic partner or spouse who is there for you
  3. Being surrounded by friends and family
  4. Your children
  5. Having access to clean, drinkable water
  6. Not being hungry and having an abundance of food
  7. Having a roof over your head and safe place to live
  8. Your parents who raised and molded you in the person you are today
  9. Kindness from strangers and random acts of kindness
  10. Mistakes that helped you grow as a person
  11. Modern conveniences that weren’t available even a century ago (electricity, indoor plumbing, air conditioning)
  12. Having full use of your senses like eye-sight, hearing, and taste
  13. A new book
  14. Not being hungry and having an abundance of food
  15. The ability to learn something new
  16. The kindness of strangers
  17. A warm campfire on a cold night camping
  18. Feeling of acceptance
  19. The beauty of a work of art that moves you
  20. Making a final payment on a loan
  21. A nice hot shower
  22. Healthy foods
  23. Equality and diversity
  24. The voice of a friend or relative you have not seen in a long time.The ability to work from home -in your pajamas
  25. A beautiful sunrise
  26. The sound of a song you love
  27. Simply relaxing and playing a board game with friends or family
  28. Catching up with your favorite blog
  29. Having a personal routine that helps you accomplish tasks efficiently
  30. The smell of freshly baked cookies
  31. Creating a gift for a family member with your own two hands. (crochet, woodworking, art etc.)
  32. Surprises
  33. Access to the medication you need to stay healthy.
  34. Free time on your “to do” list
  35. A hot cup of tea
  36. A home that is free of clutter
  37. The sincere appreciation of others
  38. A movie that makes you laugh
  39. Amazon Prime
  40. The mother who gave you life, nurtured you, loved you, taught you and supported you.
  41. Seeing your favorite band in concert
  42. Free apps like Todoist that can organize your life
  43. An ice cold beer after a hot day working in the yard.
  44. Questions in emails that can be resolved in a single sentence (this one always makes me happy.)
  45. New clothes
  46. The joy of rewarding yourself after completing a difficult task.
  47. The values handed down to you from your parents
  48. Entrepreneurs who constantly create technology that makes your life better
  49. Love that lasts a lifetime
  50. A really comfortable chair
  51. Realizing it has been YEARS since you have wanted a cigarette
  52. Knowing how to make a budget – and sticking to it!
  53. Visiting an amusement park.
  54. Snow days
  55. Respect from others
  56. Paydays
  57. Dancing for the pure joy of life
  58. Someone enjoying your writing/art/creativity
  59. When you’re the recipient of a random act of kindness.
  60. Thank you notes
  61. Fresh popcorn — especially in a movie theater
  62. A favorite memory that you cherish
  63. An office desk with a great view
  64. Pizza
  65. The sense of accomplishment when you complete a difficult task
  66. The ability to complete a bucket list (If you don’t have one, here are 553 ideas.)
  67. Puppies
  68. The feeling of uncontrollable laughter.
  69. Great Ted Talks
  70. Being pushed to “think outside the box”
  71. A massage
  72. Teachers who spent the extra time to give you the knowledge you have today
  73. Taking a morning walk
  74. Bathing in a nice warm hot tub or thermal spring
  75. Fuzzy socks
  76. Your dog or cat snuggling with you when you feel bad
  77. Faith
  78. Having easy access to clean drinking water
  79. Chocolate
  80. The ability to spend time on a hobby you love
  81. Enjoying an episode of your favorite TV show
  82. Hugs
  83. The ability to learn from your mistakes
  84. A stranger opening the door for you when your hands are full
  85. The fresh smell of clean sheets
  86. Freedom of speech
  87. Coloring to relieve stress
  88. A colorful sunset
  89. The honesty of a child
  90. Happy people who make us happier simply by their presence
  91. The feeling of accomplishment when you stop procrastinating and complete the task you have been avoiding
  92. Memories of your first kiss
  93. Enjoying a movie marathon
  94. The freedom of choice
  95. Internal strength
  96. A child’s face after they get a present
  97. Spellchecker
  98. Being in love
  99. Foreign cultures we can visit and learn from
  100. Having a vibrant imagination
  101. Meeting up with your friends for lunch
  102. That new car smell
  103. Being accountable for your actions
  104. Trying new things. (even if it is simple – like a new cup of coffee)
  105. Old photographs
  106. Technology – for allowing us to stay closely connected with friends and family regardless of distance
  107. Netflix and other streaming service options that provide an abundance of viewing options
  108. A safe landing after a rough plane ride
  109. Positivity — even when things are difficult
  110. Visiting new places, especially ones you’ve always dreamed of seeing
  111. Getting a full night’s sleep (If you struggle with this, then here are 17 ways to fall asleep easier.)
  112. Home cooked meals
  113. The pride of owning a home.
  114. The first flower of Spring
  115. Home cooked meals
  116. The pride of owning a home.
  117. The first flower of Spring
  118. Having a morning routine that gives you energy throughout your day.
  119. The weekend
  120. Happy memories from your childhood
  121. A unseasonably warm winter day
  122. Long drives listening to a great podcast or audiobook
  123. Therapy
  124. Real honesty
  125. People who care about the environment, human rights, and animas
  126. Meditation
  127. Your car after it has been cleaned and detailed
  128. Getting a facial
  129. Grandparents
  130. Being forgiven for my mistakes
  131. Finding unexpected money in your pockets
  132. Sitting down for dinner time with family
  133. Aromatherapy
  134. The fresh smell of a Christmas tree
  135. The snooze button
  136. A sibling who listens to your problems without judgement
  137. Kittens
  138. Acting like a kid again
  139. Sharing a smile with a stranger
  140. Overcoming your fears
  141. Fall when the leaves change colors
  142. Going for a swim in the ocean
  143. People who go out of their way to try to make us happy
  144. Clean air
  145. Apps that help you save money (Here are 17 good ones)
  146. Dreamers who never give up
  147. The sounds and smell of the ocean
  148. Fresh healthy smoothies
  149. Good hair days
  150. Uncontrollable laughter
  151. Having a mental health day
  152. The heavy ozone scent right before and after a thunderstorm
  153. Driving and getting nothing but green lights
  154. Cell phones
  155. Spending the night in a fancy hotel
  156. God
  157. Blinkist
  158. A warm cup of coffee
  159. Doing something spontaneous
  160. Getting your most important task completed early
  161. Cheering for your favorite team
  162. Having a picnic with your family
  163. Wearing something that makes your feel confident
  164. Wearing a pair of comfortable shoes
  165. Getting positive feedback from other
  166. Poetry
  167. Having a roof over your head
  168. Doing work that matters
  169. Taking a power nap
  170. Discussing old time times with an old friend
  171. Participating in a hobby you enjoy
  172. Watching a funny Youtube video
  173. Having the ability to read
  174. Having good friends who you can share good times with
  175. Quirky family traditions
  176. Craft beer
  177. Couponing, travel hacking, and other unique ways to drastically save money
  178. The convenience of Amazon shopping
  179. Feeling hope
  180. Feeling inspired (If you don’t feel inspired, then here are 23 motivational podcasts that can help)
  181. Laughing so hard it makes you cry
  182. Healthy children
  183. Forgiving others
  184. The perfect playlist (Check out these 35 motivational songs you can add to this list)
  185. The smell of lavender
  186. My Fitbit pedometer
  187. Peace of mind
  188. The successes and accomplishments that you’ve achieved in your life
  189. Money in the bank
  190. Family vacation
  191. Good health
  192. Time to practice mindfulness
  193. The amazing scale of the universe
  194. Flying a kite
  195. Hearing good news
  196. Lists and organization
  197. Kindle
  198. Refreshing herbal teas
  199. Air conditioning
  200. Hiking trails where you can get out into nature
  201. A sincere apology from someone who hurt you deeply
  202. Honest conversations full of deep questions and getting to know someone better
  203. Showers with strong water pressure
  204. Walking on the beach
  205. Quiet time
  206. Free Wifi
  207. Overcoming anxieties
  208. Journaling (Here are 59 ideas to help you get started)
  209. Farmer’s markets and local craft fairs
  210. Books so awesome they keep you up all night reading
  211. Apple pie
  212. Feeling like a kid again
  213. The billions of stars on a clear night sky
  214. Remembering the people you have loved
  215. People sharing your stuff on social media

On a final note, it is always better for our health when we live in community with others.

Never forget the power of talking to or interacting with friends or family. If you can’t access those people in person, the pandemic has shown us all the power of virtual meetings online. There are forums like Facebook Messaging which are free to other sources like Zoom which are free for 45 minute intervals or allow for larger chatting or interacting time for a fee.

Whether life is difficult or you’re experiencing something wonderful, having connections with others is good for our health.

What about times, like late at night when it might be more difficult? Never underestimate the power of talking to God, even if it’s your first time or you don’t feel like you’re on good terms with Him.

As this verse in Psalm reminds us, no matter what we are going through, God will always be with us, everywhere we go and at any time. May that provide some peace to your health.

We are all better TOGETHER. Let’s stay safe for the sake of ourselves and others. We are all truly in this journey of life together. Let’s make the most of it.

As with all of my blog posts feel free to COMMENT, to FOLLOW my blog and to SHARE. I value you taking the time to read my posts.

My Reflections

WHERE WILL YOU STAND? (Part 1): Faith


The ground moved under our feet, all too quickly.

As a teacher, this summer break has been very different. Before the summer of 2020, summer has often included times of fun with others, a possible vacation away, and moments to relax, refresh and rejuvenate after a school year of teaching. It meant more carefree times. Instead, at least for my family, we have been largely isolated to do our best to stay safe from COVID-19.

Our schools were only three days into Spring Break, before the nation was essentially locked down. Life, as we had known it, had changed and it felt like someone had kicked our collective knees out from under us. We knew the virus had impacted the eastern part of the world, but too many of us believed or hoped that it would never land here.

Suddenly, we all began to feel unsteady.

Within two weeks, we shifted from traditional learning within school buildings to teaching and learning remotely online from the youngest of students in elementary school through colleges and universities. Educators, students and families all had to shift accordingly.

Businesses, of all types, began closing down. Those who were fortunate enough were able to shift into working from home. Food and supplies became scarce in stores, as hysteria appeared to take over and people began buying in large quantities with the intentions of hoarding. Medical workers and grocery store workers became heroes, but they also were getting put at great risk, even with governments setting up mandatory face mask wearing protocols when out in public.

Without knowing what the future held, as a worldwide pandemic made it to our hemisphere, fear set in among our citizens, right here in America.

The virus changed our world, and we didn’t know what would shift next.

Prior to the official start of summer, I lost my mother and my grandmother in a matter of two weeks due to COVID-19, each having died in two different states while I was in a completely other state. There would be no time to gather with others to console one another. There would be no memorials or funerals, with hopes for the ability to do this in the future. This would follow about a month later with the loss of my father-in-law and us joining the memorial virtually.

Losses like this are HUGE under normal circumstances. This time though, we couldn’t count on the typical traditions we would typically count on during times like this, ones that often help to bring us comfort and support.

One thing I learned during those times, and as I continue to learn as we move forward, is that the virus has most definitely changed the world and how we are living. However, there are still constants that exist, in spite of the virus, ones I knew I could depend on strongly for the comfort and support I needed.

In my own home, my immediate family (both human and animal) were able to listen and help us process. They were able to provide hugs when we broke down in grief. When needed, they stayed near when all we could do was just sit quietly and allow ourselves to feel, think, and remember without any interference.

The virus changed our world, BUT FAMILY rallied together.

The gift of technology proved to play a huge part in helping us through the healing. We were able to spend time talking or texting on our phones, and more importantly video chatting with the rest of our family no matter where we each live in the country. In a time of isolation from most, this was a HUGE comfort and helped us to process further with those who also knew these important members of our lives. We felt like we could stand more steadily, after that.

As our entire life largely shifted to staying at homes and outside on our properties, many great and unexpected changes began to happen. This wasn’t just in our home, but also in the homes of many families’ living all over the country. Life began to slow down for most of us. We were having more time together, to engage more with one another, to make have actual home cooked meals more regularly and together, and our pets loved having us around more.

The need for using apps, like Zoom, caused many to catch up and stay more in touch with family and friends whether they lived a few houses down or across the country or globe. It appeared the gift of time had helped us remember that who is in our lives matter more than what is in our lives.

Life wasn’t entirely what we knew, and like most of you, I needed to find a firmer place to stand with so many unknowns ahead.

You see, way before COVID-19 ever emerged, my biggest comfort and support was one I was already very familiar with and one that had never let me down, even in the toughest of times . . . GOD.

I look up to the mountains—does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The Lord  himself watches over you!The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night. The Lord keeps you from all harm and watches over your life. The Lord keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever. PSALM 121:1-8

From the first time I ever knew troubled times existed in life, and every time since, God has been there. He was the One who has always held me close when I’ve cried out to Him. He was the One who has let me scream at Him when I have been frustrated or angry. He was the One who brought the perfect people to me, at just the right moments when I needed them. He was the One who reminded me of so many truths that not only have lasted the test of time through centuries, but have lasted the test of time in my own life from a very young age.

Getting my legs back didn’t change a lot of what was out of my control, but it helped me stand so much stronger.

I found myself using the time that was now freed up to talk with God a lot more. The ability to pray to the One who knows far more than any human ever could know, provided me with immense peace.

This peace was with me when my mother was in the hospital for over a week, without knowing what the outcome would be. It was with me on the morning of Mother’s Day when I learned of my grandmother’s death and soon followed by my father-in-law. It stayed with me as I did all I could to teach from my home, in a way that was not how any of us expected to finish the final quarter of the year that I was still reaching and supporting my students. That peace reminded me to trust my Lord and those He put in my life.

This peace was with me, anytime fear rose up over the unknowns of living life with the coronavirus now in it. Remembering Bible verses were a source of strength and peace. Having the luxury to read the Bible for longer periods of time provided me with peace like even my favorite novel cannot do. Talking and listening to God, in prayer, however and whenever I needed has kept me standing strong.

The virus changed our world, BUT GOD has never changed.

Little would any of us know that life would still have curveballs to throw at us. While my faith is usually strong, it doesn’t mean I don’t feel afraid. Every human does. With 24/7 news and social media providing continuous information and misinformation, along with photos and/or videos, faith has been the key to my mind, heart and soul remaining tethered through it all.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,”he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”MATTHEW 14:28-31

There’s a part in the Bible, in Matthew 14, when Jesus sends His disciples to get into a boat while He dispersed the crowd of people they just finished miraculously providing for with food none of them had. Imagine the fear of hundreds of people not knowing when their next meal would be. Yet, Jesus provided for their needs and probably saved so many lives that day. He also increased the people’s faith that God saw them, God knew what they needed and God could provide.

Then, those disciples got into the boat knowing Jesus would catch up with them. After just seeing the miracle of food simply appearing in their baskets to give out until every mouth was fed, it was clear that had God seen them, God knew what they needed and God provided. Then, rather than waiting to catch up with the disciples on the other side or by following in another boat, Jesus was standing on the lake water itself and asking Peter to trust Him and walk to Him, on that lake.

What does this have to do with the coronavirus?

That moment has everything to do with the pandemic that we are still living with, in our nation and across the globe. Peter took initial steps of faith in Jesus Christ as he began to walk towards Him, but then suddenly, the human he was saw the wind blowing and his eyes went off Jesus and most likely looked at the water as he freaked out and cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Even then, the Lord saw what happened, saw the need and provided. Jesus reached out His hand and caught Peter. He knew Peter had faith, but like us, Peter also struggled during times of “rough waters”.

We have moments when we feel more at peace, as though God or even humans, have life more in control. We feel completely comforted and in full faith that life will work out and there’s no need to worry.

Then, we see the numbers rising again of those testing positive for the virus. We see that the new school year is right around the corner and worry as an educator, as a parent or loved one of a school age person or as all of the above. Masks are required to be worn again and some businesses have to close temporarily again, while others do so for good, not being able to handle the lack of money anymore. Events that were looked forward to get cancelled and sports are making major changes, as well.

We read, hear, or see all of that. Then, we have moments when even though we are still alive and may even have what we need, we feel our faith dropping. Like Peter, as changes continue to occur through these times, and we feel the wind moving and the water beneath our feet, we realize that while we may have faith, we also feel better feeling and touching the realities we are used to around us.

The virus is not greater than God.

This is why talking and listening to God, reading His Word for instruction, for guidance, for assurance, for wisdom, for how to handle whatever comes in life is so vastly important.

God is always with us, whether we acknowledge His existence or not. He sees us. He knows what we need. He provides.

His provision may not always make sense to us, like when Thomas the disciple saw Jesus alive again, after His resurrection, and needed further physical proof it was Him. Then after some time of rejoicing over His return, those who had seen Him after rising from the dead, soon came to realize that Jesus had to return to the Father. Imagine the immense confusion and hurt that brought on, not knowing when they would see Him again. Yet, their stories continue on with greater moments of faith that changed the lives of so many people in the world for His glory.

As it indicated in this Bible verse, we are truly blessed when we have faith, belief in God, when we cannot physically see His presence before us.

Why? Because, God knew that this pandemic would occur. He knew that we would be afraid at times, whether we have faith in Him or varying degrees of faith in Him, at times.

YET . . . GOD is far greater than anything life throws our way, even the coronavirus.

The virus doesn’t take away our faith.

For those of you who struggle to have any faith in God at all, the amazing fact is that we all have faith in something or someone at different points in life. While each of us continue to live our lives as best we can, He still sees us, knows what we need and provides for us.

When the dark news related to the coronavirus interferes with our lives, we continue to keep looking for the light. Most humans can’t seem to help it.

No matter what unknowns will come our way, pandemic or not, don’t give up. Have faith. It helps us to stand firmer, to keep going and to remember that better times will come.

The light exists and will always outshine the darkness.

Stay tune for the next part of this blog series. Keep the faith.

As with all of my blog posts feel free to COMMENT, to FOLLOW my blog and to SHARE. I value you taking the time to read my posts.

Poetry

THE POWER OF BEFORE


Before I could breathe, God gave me life

Before I could sin, He became my sacrifice

Before I could love Him, He first loved me

Before I knew my worth, He died to set me free

Before I could doubt, He gave the Word as my guide 

Before I knew His plans, He shined my path with light

For before I ever was, He had always been

And I was already a reality, to the One who made me His. 

By Rachel Basden ©️ June 2020

As with all of my blog posts feel free to COMMENT, to FOLLOW my blog and to SHARE. I value you taking the time to read my posts.

Poetry

MY FATHER, MI PADRE


As I’ve gotten older, I’ve taken time to reflect

On you as my dad and what that’s meant 

With the strength of an army, you showed love

For the sake of family and our Lord God above

Working so hard, even giving up your dreams

Each decision made to set my sister and me free

Often talking with me for hours, with my curious mind

What you didn’t know, you encouraged me to find   

Helping me grow strong in mind, spirit and heart

I can never thank you enough for doing your part

You gave me a love for good food, music, and dance

You provided me a good education to give me a chance 

You instilled in me a pride of heritage as a Puerto Rican, an American

You encouraged me to explore again and again

You helped raise this independent daughter, empowered from shy to bold

You pushed me to make my own choices, out of your control

You believe I could be a world changer, wherever God guided me

To create a family of my own and to follow my dreams 

And I’m thankful for the father you have fought hard to be

So that no matter what happened, I could be me. 

By Rachel Basden ©️ June 2020
Dedicated to My Dad/Mi Padre

As with all of my blog posts feel free to COMMENT, to FOLLOW my blog and to SHARE. I value you taking the time to read my posts.