The Agape Movement

where there is love there is life - Mahatma Gandhi

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Starbucks

Starbucks is a Magical place.

For one the company itself is phenomenal! They’ve managed to create their success in roughly 50 years. They have over 20,000 stores in 61 countries and continue to pop up on every corner. The coffee shop was started by 2 teachers and a writer in the early 1970’s. Normal, average people at one point now their success is mind blowing.

There are so many things I love about Starbucks that goes so beyond their coffee. Which, yeah the coffee is good, but for someone who drinks their coffee black, I can get just as good of coffee for roughly 70 cents out of my Kurig.  

On a business level you have to admire their success in branding and marketing. They’ve developed a logo and brand that is world known even as it went through some changes in the late 80’s.

But on a personal level I love the atmosphere. First of all the smell: coffee and inspired focus. I am convinced some of the greatest ideas have formed from within the walls of Starbucks. Experiment: Next time you visit a Starbucks take a few moments to people watch. I’m always intrigued by the people.

The numerous people reading books, what books are they reading? Have I read them? Should I read them?

The group of ladies or friends catching up on a relationship, you can tell it’s a breath of fresh air to meet with that person who gets you. That person you know you should make time to meet weekly although your hectic life will never allow you. But for those few minutes for even hours the connection is reviving.

The people at a table with legal pads and laptops wearing suits and ties: Business. Sometimes they’re with average people, possibly trying to make a sale of some sort. What are they selling? What are they creating? What’s the business? Small business? Or multimillionaire next door?

The college students buried under their books. Thankful for the caffeine that’s keeping them alive and the smooth music allowing them to focus. Praying that their dedication and the choice they made to be at Starbucks rather than out living the college party life will pay off giving them an A, shoot maybe even a C.

The youngsters you know had to have their parents drive them there. Here to meet your friends outside of school. I was there once. It was the cool thing to do.

The people wearing average clothes just like average people typing furiously on their laptops. Are they future novelists? Columnists? Or just simply taking advantage of the free wifi to pay bills and return e-mails.

You’ll never know. However, you can feel the power of thoughts whirling though the room. It’s silly but it’s empowering like because you’ve witnessed these people working and deep in their thoughts that you too have the power to dream and create like all these people might possibly be doing. Then ultimately empowering you to be the best version of yourself.  

Magic : )

Filed under starbucks dream aspire create

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Donald Miller

Have I mentioned anything about my favorite author Donald Miller?

He’s too good for words, so inspiring! I’m attending his storyline conference in San Diego late February thanks to my wonderful husband! So excited! I am counting down the days. He is amazing!

Please do not take my word for it… See for yourself the following link is Donald Miller’s first blog post for 2013 on relationships.

http://storylineblog.com/2013/01/07/do-you-believe-you-are-good-at-relationships/

Filed under donaldmiller storyline blog inspiration christianity bluelikejazz

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Last semester I started taking my first college courses pertaining to my major: Human Services. Throughout the semester I found myself developing and growing with new perspectives ultimately making me a more culturally competent person. One of the things I learned about being culturally competent is that in order to do so you have to step away from your own bias and perspectives to hear and accept another. (ACCEPT I didn’t say agree) In short, one of the main ways people do that is by asking questions which is exactly what I did. I did a lot of asking questions with 2% talking and 98% listening. Along the way I ran into a conversation that I find myself thinking about almost daily.  To me the conversation basically came down to this: all black people (excuse the term if you are offended, I have asked many people and that is what the majority has told me they feel comfortable with… Interesting though how I am not comfortable writing the label let alone saying it.) DO NOT have the same opinion on their heritage and history. Now I’m sure some of you reading this are appalled I even had that perception, others probably think I’m totally ignorant, maybe even racist while the rest of you are wondering why I would even admit to that. The truth is I wasn’t aware I had that perception until it slapped me in the face.

The story goes like this: One night before our Social Welfare Policy class, a group of us were studying, or trying to at least. The group composed of many different backgrounds. Myself, being the young white middle class sheltered college student, another white lady ( we can call her Betty for clarity in the story) in her late 30’s established middle class mom, another one of my colleagues black male (John), 20’s Katrina survivor, vice president of the democratic club, deriving from a low income upbringing. Another black female 30’s (Susan) grew up in the inner-city of Chicago where violence is prevalent and income is low, then moved to a suburb outside Chicago called Rochelle giving her the perspective of two different life styles.  - - - All that saying we had a good group of diverse people, along with some others I didn’t mention. I was talking with Betty when the question of labels came up pertaining to the black race. Not wanting to assume, I asked John. As a fellow colleague, I value John’s life experiences and his opinions as to what he’s been through whether or not I agree with them.  So, I asked him how he feels about being called black and what is the appropriate choice of words for those of us who are not black to use. I for one surely do not want to offend anyone especially unintentionally. His response was for me to hold on so we could let Susan in on the conversation because she would feel the same way…

Except, she didn’t feel the same way at all. Then somehow we found the conversation in a whole new place talking about how to rid racism. Susan believed against black colleges. She said it doesn’t teach diversity and only further encourages segregation and racism. She also believed we as a nation are held back by the focus of the trials and tribulations the black population endured. Her point was that we focused too much on what we’ve been through. It’s over, move on as a nation and stop looking in the rear view mirror.

John on the other hand, came from a black college previously before attending KSU. He believed passionately about the education of African American rights and history. He believed there are many things that happened in history that we as a society do not have a clue about because it is not taught in a normal college setting. John also believed that the trials and tribulations the black population had gone through we’re still new. The civil war, MLK Jr., wasn’t that long ago and we should still be sensitive to those parts of our history.

The whole time I sat back, shut up, listened and absorbed. Then there it hit me. Somewhere in the back of my head of which I was not aware of, I too like John thought that because John and Susan we both of the same race they had the same views and opinions. WHAT?! That’s crazy! My sister and I are of the same blood and we don’t have the same views, why would they?

Among the billions of people in the world, I doubt John and I are the only people guilty of this perception. So, if we’re walking around grouping and classifying people to say they’re all on the same page when there is a good chance they’re not, how does that play into racism as a whole?

Morgan Freeman said the way to stop racism is to stop talking about it…

Please note I am a huge Morgan Freeman fan, but I’m not sure about his fix to racism. I’m thinking we don’t talk about it enough. We talk at each other instead of to each other. We preach about our views of a certain race instead of asking about it. We’re not asking questions. We’re talking 98% and listening 2%.

Are you talking or listening? Are you standing in the way of moving against racism?  

Filed under racism morganfreeman perception equality blackvswhite

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Book 5 - The Kite Runner

I spent last summer reading this novel as a required assignment for a World Literature course. I will say had I walked past the novel in a bookstore I wouldn’t have looked twice to pick it up. However, I am so glad I had the opportunity to read it because it’s magnificent! It is heart wrenching story about an afghan boy who betrays his best friend in the worst possible way and the struggle he has to not only forgive himself but to accept grace from his friend. There are 2 reasons why I love this book and why it remains on my “best ever” book list.

1.      It’s raw. It’s written beautifully to where you feel for each character in the book, especially the main character Amir. Because it’s real, the theme of the book hits home. It’s a common struggle people face day to day. The power of shame and pride and how those things can eat at you and put you to a level where you feel as if you don’t deserve forgiveness or even kindness.

 2.      It’s a great perception of the life of an Afghan living under the rule of the Taliban.  I am a 90’s baby. I am sad to admit that I was not aware the twin towers existed until they fell. At the time I was 11 and sheltered to the issues going on in the world. So as a 22 year old college student who hardly knew what the Taliban was, it was enlightening to read a perspective of what that was like fiction or not.


Quotes:

“For you, a thousand times over”

“There is only one sin, only one. And that is theft. Every other sin is a variation of theft. When you kill a man, you steal a life. You steal his wife’s right to a husband; rob his children of a father. When you tell a lie, you steal someone’s right to the truth. When you cheat, you steal the right to fairness.”

“And that’s the thing about people who mean everything they say. They think everyone else does too.”

“I wondered if that was how forgiveness budded; not with the fanfare of epiphany, but with pain gathering its things, packing up, and slipping away unannounced in the middle of the night.”

“There is a way to be good again…”

"It was only a smile, nothing more. It didn’t make everything all right. It didn’t make ANYTHING all right. Only a smile. A tiny thing. A leaf in the woods, shaking in the wake of a startled bird’s flight. But I’ll take it. With open arms. Because when spring comes, it melts the snow one flake at a time, and maybe I just witnessed the first flake melting."

“…there is a God, there always has been. I see him here, in the eyes of the people in this [hospital] corridor of desperation. This is the real house of God, this is where those who have lost God will find Him… there is a God, there has to be, and now I will pray, I will pray that He will forgive that I have neglected Him all of these years, forgive that I have betrayed, lied, and sinned with impunity only to turn to Him now in my hour of need. I pray that He is as merciful, benevolent, and gracious as His book says He is.”

“Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it.”

“One time, when I was very little, I climbed a tree and ate these green, sour apples. My stomach swelled and became hard like a drum, it hurt a lot. Mother said that if I’d just waited for the apples to ripen, I wouldn’t have become sick. So now, whenever I really want something, I try to remember what she said about the apples”

“…and every day I thank [God] that I am alive, not because I fear death, but because my wife has a husband and my son is not an orphan.”

“I think that everything he did, feeding the poor, giving money to friends in need, it was all a way of redeeming himself. And that, I believe, is what true redemption is, Amir jan, when guilt leads to good.”

 “Life is a train, get on board.”

“It is now your duty to hone that talent, because a person who wastes his God-given talents is a donkey.”

“Better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.”

“Not a word passes between us, not because we have nothing to say, but because we don’t have to say anything - that is how, it is between people who are each other’s first memories”

“It’s wrong to hurt even bad people. Because they don’t know any better, and because bad people sometimes become good.”



Filed under books thekiterunner betrayal forgiveness quotes hosseini

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Love & The Point of No Return

Why do we need to feel love from a certain person? We all know one-sided love sucks. To have feelings for someone who doesn’t feel the same way is an awful feeling. For any relationship it can be scary.  To pour out your soul and have it left hanging off the cliff is an ungodly feeling. It’s the point of no return. There’s no going back. Everything is different, and you’re now playing a different ball game.

But why do we feel like we’re hanging off the cliff? Why can’t one-sided love be enough? Why is it when love is not returned we’re broken? I’ve been thinking about my buddy Maslow today as I’ve been contemplating this question.

For those of you less familiar with Maslow, Abraham Maslow was an American psychologist who created a theory of human needs known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1968). The theory is composed of 5 levels

1. Physiological

2. Safety and Security

3. Love and Belonging

4. Esteem

5. Self- Actualization

Numbers one and five are pretty clear.  You need food, water and shelter to live, duh. In addition to that you also need to be involved in the process of self-actualization to feel like life is meaningful and you have a purpose on earth. However numbers 2 through 4 are not as clear in regards to love and human needs. Safety, Security, Love, Belongingness, and Esteem, do they not all go hand in hand? In regards to my dilemma on one-sided love I find myself pondering number 4: Esteem. Is our fourth need messing up our third (love)?

Esteem, pride: the letdown, that point of no return. Why are we so prideful?  Can we not throw out our love and that be that? I LOVE YOU!  YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO ME! Do I need to be important back? If love is not returned why are we broken, why is our esteem crushed? Speaking on a romantic note maybe it’s the fear that the relationship will never take that next step. It will never be physical and will only be the stinging one-sided emotion…. Is the physical necessary in a relationship? It definitely defines one.   Display of affection: Sex. It’s one of thee ways we know that love is returned. (Maybe…even sex can be vague) However if the relationship never makes that step to physical is it not a relationship? Mm… not necessarily. One-sided love can be full of display of affection.  Maybe that’s the issue; we don’t know how to love outside a relationship furthermore in a one-sided relationship.

Looking back to Maslow’s third need, love but not only love, belongingness. We’re talking about the idea that we have to feel like we belong, and are connected, the point of no return. But why do we need to belong to someone? And what happens if we just DON’T belong? What happens if we give our love to someone who doesn’t want it?

What’s worse, giving love to someone who doesn’t want it, or giving love and that love not being returned? I would think B. as it’s more painful due to rejection and that point of no return.

So why can’t the act of loving someone be enough to fill our souls? When I give love do I feel loved? Not always… Therein lays the problem. Rejection and the point of no return. The potential scenario of hanging off the cliff.  Mother Teresa said, “I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

Which brings me back to the agape love. It’s unconditional. You don’t deserve it. It’s just given to you. It’s powerful, exhilarating, and one-sided. To love someone not because they’re loveable but because you are loving. It’s love not determined by the one being loved but by the one choosing to love.  Agape is the only way love can last a life time. If you love unconditionally you will be loved.

Love can inspire others to love. Love can be contagious. Maybe that person will never love you back, but that is what it is.  And maybe that’s okay. Maybe the overflowing love we exhibit will allow us to be content with loving one-sided. To me agape further defines us, giving us characteristics of strength, selflessness, courage. It’s not easy to love and not be loved in return. But it is necessary, because without love there is no life one-sided or not. A life without love breeds destruction. When we love we are existing for something other than ourselves. Love breathes meaning into life.

So how do we go about loving one- sided?

1.      Honesty and sincerity- when we choose to stand up for love and proclaim it we further inspire people to do the same. Don’t hide your love. Proclaim it. Tell everyone you love them all the time. Why? Just because. (Everyone has something to be loved for!)

2.      Smile- The greatest way we can love is by smiling. It’s the easiest way to love and it’s the most fulfilling.

3.      Take Interest- Remember birthdays and important priorities and then follow up on those. Send a card. Send a text to ask about that thing they’re going through. Give a complement; let them know you are thinking about them. Tell them they are great and you appreciate them!

4.      Hug Them- This might be out of your comfort zone (maybe even theirs too) but I promise you it’s therapeutic not only for the recipient but for yourself as well. Step outside the box. It fulfills Maslow’s third need, belongingness. Touch and connection is something we as a society do not get enough of. This is the public display of affection of a one-sided love.


 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 PETER 4:8 (NIV)

 

 

Filed under love heartbreak maslow pointofnoreturn agape

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Love takes interest

One of the more important concepts I have about love through marriage is that love takes interest. One of the more difficult acts of love to portray, it requires one to be selfless.

Tonight I’m at Hooters watching a UFC Fight with a group of our good friends. These people know me well so well that when I asked if we would be here long, my best friends boyfriend responds “awhile, you should have brought a book!” It’s comical because its true. We all know I am happiest with a cup of coffee and a book. In fact, UFC fights are totally not me. It A. Makes me cringe B. it’s against everything I stand for. Love not hate. Peace not war. However, it’s a guy thing. Beer, blood, and buffalo wings. It’s something he loves. Going out with the guys hanging out and having a good time.

Although it’s not something I love, I love him. And that’s what love is about. Going 50/50. Doing the things the other person likes because you like them. Listening to the music you can’t stand because your significant other loves it. I’m ashamed to say my husband is way better at taking interest than I am. It’s more of a 80/20 with my selfishness being a 20.

Earlier today my husband went with me to hangout with a very special friend of mine. He’s in his 90’s and lives in an assisted living facility… Totally out of his comfort zone. But he smiled the whole time and whether or not he truly in enjoyed himself he never gave the impression otherwise and would never anyway. He’s like that. Loving. Always inspiring me to love deeper and better.

So tonight I’m at hooters watching the fight with my boo…drinking coffee. Hey I’m still me : )

Filed under love selflessness inspiration