MY BLOG POSTS, My Reflections, Poetry

ALIVE


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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

WHERE WILL YOU STAND? (Part 2): Emotions


Emotions are part of our everyday existence.

We can all relate to having an emotional attachment to something or someone and noticing that attachment everywhere. For example, a child wants a dog and is trying desperately to convince their parents to get them one. So, they seem to become obsessed, noticing every dog that shows up on the shows they watch and the ones they see in public.

Were there suddenly more dogs around? Not likely. The child simply has their emotions tied up strongly to their desire for a dog.

With couples, ideas of children and parenthood are common. Maybe they are trying to have their first child. Maybe they’re waiting for a birth mother to choose them as the adoptive parents. Perhaps, the couple isn’t ready for a child yet or at all, but others are pressuring them with questions of when they will have a baby. Whatever the situation, the said couple cannot seem to help but notice pregnant women everywhere or couples interacting with their child/children.

Why? The emotions of the couple are wrapped up on a strong desire to become parents or to remain childless. Either way, situations like these are usually full of emotional reactions.

Selective Attention or Attentional Control are why our emotions can cause our bodies to react this way. Essentially, each day we are overloaded with so many things to occupy our attention.

Imagine you’re walking your dog through the neighborhood. You notice the houses you’re passing by, the way the sky looks, the joggers and cyclists, the sound of kids laughing in a yard somewhere and for some reason, you happen to zone in on one person sitting outside their home looking sad.

Why? Normally, our mind will choose to gravitate to where our emotions are, when too much is around us to focus our thoughts.

It’s likely that a source of sadness that you’ve experienced during the pandemic caused your emotions to pay more attention to the sad person, since you could relate.

Emotions have power.

Take the same scenario of walking the dog above, only instead of a dog you are walking through the neighborhood with your early elementary school aged child. While you go through the same walk, your child who is aware that the pandemic has changed life but doesn’t fully understand it strongly enough as an adult, gravitates to the laughter of kids in a yard.

Your child then says, “Hey, hear that?! When we get back home, can you run through the sprinklers with me? Wouldn’t that be fun?!”

What’s the difference? Whether we are an adult or a child, we have power to control which thoughts and emotions to concentrate on more rather than allowing our emotions and thoughts to empower us in a negative way.

Maybe you’ve gotten the coronavirus or possibly, you’ve lost loved one during these times.

Perhaps you are a person of color, as I am, and your heart, mind and soul keeps breaking over all of the injustices that are still occurring.

You may have felt inadequate in one of your roles at work, home, or in any area trying to navigate the new ways of life since the pandemic became more real for our country.

There may be exhaustion setting in, as you haven’t had a break or vacation for far too long and all you want is some way to temporarily escape and have some fun for a while, but it isn’t possible.

I can go on with a myriad of scenarios that can apply to just about anyone, but the point is that mental health is super important and you have a good deal of power to stay mentally healthy.

This video is Renée Elise Goldsberry from the musical Hamilton, as performed on Broadway and more recently shown on Disney+. Watch this brief video explaining the concept of the power you have within you.

Emotions can lead our thoughts astray or steer us onto the best paths.

That one minute video says a lot. The creator of that musical who also played the main character of Alexander Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, shows this very clearly. In a nutshell, Hamilton was a minority having been born and raised on the island of St. Kitts. He arrived in what would be America, an orphan with nothing, who had also witnessed his own mother’s death. Yet, he saw all of the pain of what was happening in this land and asked himself the questions referred to in the video above.

Rather, Alexander Hamilton said POWERFUL statements like the following:

He could have given into so many negative emotions, wasting away his life and just survive.

He could easily have said, “What’s the use? This is too much. I’m just one person. I don’t even have any family with me.”

Instead, he saw that he was alive, intelligent and resourceful and chose to seize the moments being given to him. To stay focused on the positive emotions that were telling him, “Go for it!”

You can gain control.

I don’t know your situation, but we all have the power to take the reins of our emotions and thoughts, which while clearly different are also heavily intertwined, and decide what will have power in us. Even during a worldwide pandemic that is still shaking up people’s lives, this holds true.

As Galatians 5:22-23 reminds us, we can have these as our points of focus. They can change even the worst of situations:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-Control

Use your emotions to be the best you.

Hamilton Theme

Two major themes of both the musical and of the good that many have done during the pandemic is this concept.

As a Puerto Rican Christian woman, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a business owner, I know that my life impacts others. During these times, our lives’ impacts matter all the more.

Whether we like it or not, we are living a part of history. People will look back on these times we are living to see how we handled them. What will they learn from us?

Hamilton Theme

We can be complainers or encouragers.

We can be hopeless or hopeful.

We can be bystanders or world changers.

We can be blind to reality or stand up for those who need us.

None of the above are easy, but it’s up to each of us to rise up!

You’ve got the power!

Maybe you have been already been managing your emotions fairly well. I’m proud of you! That isn’t easy when life is full of so many unknowns.

Alexander Hamilton (in the musical) makes this powerful statement.

Possibly, you may have reached this point and wish you had maintained your emotions better than you did. Or you may think you haven’t done enough to help yourself and/or others.

The great fact is that you have power. You truly do!

Moving forward there are still many ways to shift your emotions for your well being and that of those around you. It’s not too late.

And know that this doesn’t mean that you can’t have negative emotions. They are just as important to have at certain moments, as long as they are not where you remain.

With so much ahead of us to accomplish as a people, living in times that are not ones any of us have lived through before, our mental health matters very much.

As writer Joshua Becker wrote on this subject:

These realities [Selective Attention or Attentional Control] extend to almost every possible response toward life, no matter the circumstances:

  • If you’re looking for reasons to be scared, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons to be mad, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons to be encouraged, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons to be grateful, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons to be confident, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons to be pessimistic about the future, you’ll find them.
  • If you’re looking for reasons to be optimistic about the future, you’ll find them.

If you are looking for a reason to be x, you will probably find it.

YOU have the power. YOU can decide. YOU can act. YOU can make the journey better.

Life is yours, so don’t lose focus.

For me, I find this a great source of help as I journey through life, no matter what happens.

Whether you believe in God or not, the concepts of this Bible verse still has powerful truths.

Focus on what you are thankful for.

Focus on speaking praise to those who deserve it and need it.

Focus on good when life gets bad; balance is good.

Focus on love. Those you love and those who love you.

Focus on holding on to faith, to believe in what you can’t see knowing that it’s coming, for this generation and for all the ones that will follow us.

Hope is powerful! Though life is hard and often can be VERY HARD, we humans are quite resilient and resourceful.

While New York City still has the most amount of victims of COVID-19 in our nation, and there is still a world of pain there, take solace in this video and maybe find a song of your own that makes you happy and fills you with hope. Then, go and do all you can to make this world a better place.

One hundred churches in the NYC Metro Area participated in the making of this amazing video, including my friend Efren Seldura.

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.

My Reflections

DREAM GOD SIZED DREAMS – Exodus 33:11, Numbers 14:5-9, Ephesians 3:20, Joshua 10:9-14, Ephesians 1:3, Matthew 13:23


This blog may be one of my longest ones to date. Over a long time, God has shown me to dream beyond my imagining to dreaming God sized dreams. I can remember a time, as a teenage girl, when my youth pastor encouraged us to pray for our future spouses.  He wasn’t encouraging us to focus on looking for the one God might have for us. He was encouraging us to pray “for” that person now, not after he/she entered our lives.  I can still remember him saying, “You never know if you are the only one praying for them.” Powerful words!

Well, as I prayed for the man who would later become my husband, God showed me the attributes that this man would and should have, if he was to marry me.  They seemed way beyond what even other Christians were hoping for, but as I continued to study the Word, I saw that they lined up directly with God.  Not only that, but focusing my eyes on who God would have for me, kept me from making some major mistakes.  Years later, when I did meet my husband, I learned that he came to know the Lord during his teen years, in a powerful way! God only knows how much my prayers may have helped to shape him into the man he was and would become. Even more, my husband is all God wanted for me, not an impossible dream.

I can also remember the time when I had to decide which colleges to apply to, and though I’m not advocating applying to just one school (unless God makes that VERY CLEAR), I knew that I knew that I knew that I was meant to go to a specific state college.  Others, especially family, thought I was nuts.  How could I put all my eggs literally in one basket? This was my future, we were talking about!

To help provide a peace to my loved ones, I decided to apply for early acceptance, which meant I would know months before others if I was going there that fall, but most importantly, I would know ahead of having to submit more college applications, before the deadlines to other schools.  Though I did fairly well through my school years, there was no logical reason why the school God wanted me to attend would send me an early acceptance.

As God would have it, I got early acceptance, and He did one even better. They offered me a good-sized scholarship.  What had already been clear to me, became clear to others. What’s more is that I grew more spiritually in that place, than ever before, not because it is some special school, but because of daring to dream and trusting God for the results.

I can also tell you of the numerous times I would feel God showing me who He wanted me to be and what He wanted me to do, down the road.  However, the location of where this would occur, was completely foreign to me.  Then, many years later, as my husband and I were traveling from the airport, for his final pastoral interview and for my teacher interview, I couldn’t help but notice something.  Outside the car windows, for miles and miles, I was looking right at the location of my dreams.  As we arrived, and did some exploring, more of what God had shown me for so long, were now right before me, in living color and in some cases, in flesh and blood!  I cried joyful tears, many times during that weekend.

I have long felt an affinity for Joshua, in the Old Testament. He was a man who clearly dreamed God sized dreams. As he was mentored by Moses, it spoke to me when I read, “Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Afterward Moses would return to the camp, but the young man who assisted him, Joshua son of Nun, would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting,” in Exodus 33:11. Here was a man God was shaping to see the Promised Land before he would ever step into it. Twelve men had been sent to scout out the Promised Land and report back to Moses, Aaron and the rest of the Israelites. Ten of the twelve could only see what was in front of them, and they passed along their fears to the others that this was not of God, without consulting Him. However, in Numbers 14:5-9, we see Joshua and Caleb not only dreaming God’s way, but truly seeing His reality, before they entered into all God had for His people:

“Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel. Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, ‘The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

That’s what’s so amazing about dreaming as God desires us to dream. We can’t always see what He places in our hearts and dreams. They don’t always make sense.  Many times, they don’t, because they involve His intervention, rather than man’s, in order for them to come to fruition. But God tells us in Ephesians 3:20, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.”  That’s exciting! If we can think it, He is able to do even greater!!! That’s what He wants for us.

Even though that piece of Scripture was written many years after Joshua, Joshua knew the heart of God.  This is probably why in Joshua 10, we see five kings send their united armies to fight against Joshua and the Israelites, out of fear for what they had seen God deliver them from, in prior battles.  This would causes most people to run the other way.  Yet, God had given Joshua big dreams, dreams of who He is and what He wanted for His people.

In Joshua 10:9-14 we read:

“Joshua traveled all night from Gilgal and took the Amorite armies by surprise. The Lord threw them into a panic, and the Israelites slaughtered great numbers of them at Gibeon. Then the Israelites chased the enemy along the road to Beth-horon, killing them all along the way to Azekah and Makkedah. As the Amorites retreated down the road from Beth-horon, the Lord destroyed them with a terrible hailstorm from heaven that continued until they reached Azekah. The hail killed more of the enemy than the Israelites killed with the sword.

On the day the Lord gave the Israelites victory over the Amorites, Joshua prayed to the Lord in front of all the people of Israel. He said, ‘Let the sun stand still over Gibeon, and the moon over the valley of Aijalon.’

So the sun stood still and the moon stayed in place until the nation of Israel had defeated its enemies.

Is this event not recorded in The Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the middle of the sky, and it did not set as on a normal day.There has never been a day like this one before or since, when the Lord answered such a prayer. Surely the Lord fought for Israel that day!”

Wow! How many of us would ask God to stop time, the revolution of the Earth around the sun, even stop time, very unnatural things, because His people needed more time, and Joshua knew that if he could think it, God could do greater, and God did! He allowed His people to get physically involved in the battle, and as if the sun standing still wasn’t enough to show them who was really at work here, God destroyed those who tried to escape, with a hailstorm. That’s the God we serve, a God who wants us to expect great things from Him.

Looking back at those who dared to dream God sized dreams in the Word, in the lives of others I have known or met, and in my own life, I couldn’t say this better than Paul did in Ephesians 1:3, when he stated, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.”

Did you catch that? He has already blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms! It isn’t future tense.  He has already done it.  All we have to do is enlarge our vision and dream as God wants us to, because He has already ensured us that He is able and has already made a way.

This is why the Dream Centers, which began in LA, came into being and spread world-wide.  This is why the “National Community Church” in Washington, DC stands today and its pastoral staff and congregation continue to be testament to dreaming God’s way. This is why the Assemblies of God exists today.  This is why Wayne Tesch, an ordinary man (like all of God’s big dreamers) began Royal Family Kids Camp, a camp for abused foster kids, which is now over 150 camps strong world-wide!

Are you getting it? God wants us to dream big enough for Him to do even bigger things!  Jesus Himself told us in Matthew 13:23, “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” He wants to go WAY beyond whatever we dream.

So start dreaming, but keep God in the equation. Ask Him to enlarge your vision. Dream in accordance to who God is and who He says we are in Him, because we serve a BIG God. Dream, remembering that what is impossible in our eyes is VERY possible in His, and feel free to share with me and my readers about God’s big dreams and what He’s done since you dared to dream!  Not only does it encourage all of us, but each testimony gives glory to God, the giver of great dreams.

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

TRUST ME – John 12:44-50


WHO CAN YOU TRUST?

Funny how we often want to have people in our lives we can trust, can count on, but then someone tells us, “Trust me,” and inside we hear, “Wait a minute? Trust you?  Why should I trust you?” Then your mind runs through every moment of mistrust ever done to you, by that person or any number of other people in your life.

We so desperately want to trust.  We even want to be worthy of trust ourselves. But, then we have those moments.  You know the ones. Those moments when we fail ourselves and let someone down. Those moments when even those who you should be able to trust with your very life let you down, and you wonder if trust is even obtainable.

It is.  John 12:46 says, “I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their TRUST in me will no longer remain in the dark.”  That’s a powerful truth. But maybe you’re still sitting there, doubting.

That’s a powerful image. Picture yourself in complete darkness. No light from anywhere, and you’re alone, without any clear indication of which way to get out, which way to go, to reach light. That’s a frightening thought, but we’ve all had those moments, those panic stricken moments.

So you begin doing everything you can think of to find your way.  You may try walking with your arms outstretched, possibly stumbling over things or smacking straight into a wall, feeling more and more pain with each attempt to get out. You may even begin to get down and crawl, something you haven’t done since you were quite young, but you simply don’t know what else to do. Even though you can feel your body being scraped and cut, as you try to make your way, you continue. You’ll resort to anything. You need to find a way, and there’s no one there to tell you what to do.  No one you can trust, to help you out of this dark place with no chance of escape.

Suddenly you remember. Wait a minute, there is someone to get you out of this dark place where you have nowhere to turn. Inside yourself, you mentally ask God, “Are you there? Do you see me? Can you really get me out of this?”

Then, as more time passes, and you keep trying on your own, with no results, you find yourself crying out, “Jesus! Help me. You tell us in Your Word that we can put our trust in You! Lord, get me out of this darkness.  I don’t know which way to go!”

Suddenly, the answer is clear.  You know exactly which way to go.  Jesus answered, and made the way out known to you.

God is always worthy of your trust.  Man may fail you. Friends and family will fail you, from time to time. But, your Heavenly Father, your very Creator, will never fail you.

When you’ve tried everything else, try God. Maybe next time, you will remember to trust Him first, and save yourself all of the bumps, cuts and bruises from stumbling around in the dark. He will never let you down.

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.