Renewing Your Mind: Keeping Your Legacy in Mind

January 27th, 2016

I like to read the obituaries of people who have recently died. This habit of mine sometimes strikes others as creepy, but for me, it’s a fascinating way to learn about the legacies people leave behind after their earthly lives have ended. It’s also a powerful reminder of the importance of using the time I have left in my own life to focus on what truly matters most.

What information do others who knew deceased people consider important enough to include in their obituaries? Sometimes it’s only what a resume would mention (lists of accomplishments from careers and volunteer work). But sometimes, the obituaries include information that goes deeper, describing something about who the people were in terms of their character, what they believed, and how they acted on those beliefs. I always wonder if the souls of those people can read their own obituaries from the afterlife — and if so, what they think about how their loved ones have presented the stories of their lives.

Doing lots of research into the afterlife lately for my stories on near-death experiences on the About.com Angels and Miracles site, I’m even more convinced that those of us who are still in the throes of everyday living have many valuable lessons to learn from the dead. The most important one? Live every day that God gives us in light of what matters most — eternal values — so we can leave the best legacy behind when it’s our turn to go.

Have you had a near-death experience and would be willing to share you story to help others looking for inspiration and encouragement? If so, please consider sending me your story to post on the About.com site.

Blessings,

Whitney

 

Renewing Your Mind: Quiet Strength

January 13th, 2016

My favorite scene in the Star Wars: The Force Awakens movie is the light saber battle between Rey and Kylo Ren on the snowy cliff. When Kylo Ren mentions the Force, Rey remembers to turn her mind toward the Force for the strength she needs and, in the heat of battle, engages in quiet meditation!

What a great illustration of the truth the Bible describes in Isaiah 30:15: “…in quietness and trust is your strength.”

The best way to handle any kind of stressful situation, I’ve learned,  is to quietly and carefully turn to the real Force (the Holy Spirit) for guidance. Meditation may seem passive, but it’s actually an active process of discerning wisdom and receiving strength.

Messengers of the Force (angels) often meet us during meditation to send us the strength we need. I’ll be posting a variety of angel meditations on my About.com angels and miracles site, and here are four to get started that I hope you’ll find helpful:

Blessings,

Whitney

Renewing Your Mind: New Year Guidance from God

December 30th, 2015

As another new year approaches, it’s a great time to pray and think about what goals to set for 2016. The process doesn’t have to be overwhelming; it can be as simple as asking God for guidance and then acting day by day on whatever insights he gradually reveals to you.

Sometimes we think we have to hear a dramatic message from God that clarifies everything we’d like to know before we set goals. But God doesn’t usually guide us that way. While God may sometimes make a dramatic announcement to get our attention about something, more often, God leads us is in subtle ways that motivate us to keep up a close daily relationship with him. God wants us to walk beside him, listening and trusting. He doesn’t just hand us a map for our spiritual journey; he acts as our personal guide!

Blessings,

Whitney

Renewing Your Mind: Making Room for All People

December 23rd, 2015

For years during the Christmas season, my family and I have gone to an event called “Bethlehem Walk” at my father-in-law’s church that’s designed to give people an impression of what it would have been like to be in Bethlehem on the first Christmas. I’m grateful that I’ve also been able to travel to Bethlehem itself, on a trip to Palestine and Israel. Whenever I think about Bethlehem, I think about the part of the story that says there was no room for Mary and Joseph to stay at the inn where they were hoping to spend the night. Since there was no room for them, Jesus ended up being born in an animal stable.

Hospitality involves more than just welcoming people physically into our homes; it involves welcoming them emotionally into our hearts, as well. That decision begins in our minds.

How often has there been “no room at the inn” of our  minds for the difficult people we know — like a gossipy neighbor or critical coworker? This Christmas, let’s try to make room for difficult people by opening our minds up to listening, caring, and respect in deeper ways that grow our faith.

Blessings,

Whitney

Renewing Your Mind: Light the Darkness Intentionally

December 16th, 2015

It takes thoughtfulness and effort to choose light (hope) over the darkness (brokenness) that happens by default in this fallen world. When we use candles for prayer or meditation, we do so with a sense of purpose. Candles don’t light themselves. We have to make a conscious choice to light them — and in the process, we declare our faith and focus our minds on hope.

During worship services at my church, the candles get lit only if people intentionally ignite their flames. The candles are available, yet unlit, when each service begins. Then, gradually, individuals walk over and light candles as symbols of their intentions to pray for others in the coming week. The key is intentionally choosing the light of hope.

Brokenness and the suffering it brings are all around you this holiday season. But so are candles. Whenever you see a candle, let it remind you to light a candle in your mind by intentionally choosing hope in any kind of circumstances.

Blessings,

Whitney

Renewing Your Mind: Courage Despite Fear

December 9th, 2015

You’ll probably never stop feeling fear in this fallen world. But that doesn’t have to stop you from living with courage.

I used to think that, to boldly take risks, I needed to figure out how to stop feeling afraid at all. But now I’ve learned that faith empowers me to move forward, step by step, despite my fear. For instance, I’ve stopped expecting myself to stop feeling scared of talking to people I’ve just met before (I’m an introvert!). Instead, I let the fear wash over me like a wave but know that faith will always help me rise to the surface of the water and breathe.

Recently, I’ve added three new articles to my About.com Angels and Miracles site that I hope you’ll find useful when dealing with fear:

* A prayer for courage

* Advice on how Archangel Michael can help you overcome fear

* A report on why people have had near-death experiences no longer fear death

Hope you have a bold, exciting week!

Blessings,

Whitney

Renewing Your Mind: A Sense of Wonder

December 2nd, 2015

Now that the holiday season is here, I often hear the song ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ playing on the radio — and every time I hear it, I silently remind myself that every time of the year can be wonderful. While I do love the joyful Christmas season, I believe that we all can enjoy every day to the fullest by opening ourselves up to wonder.

Too often, adults lose the sense of wonder that they enjoyed as children, and as a result their lives shrink down to the basics of just getting by. That’s a tragedy! Staying attuned to wonder is an essential part of experiencing the joy that God wants us all to have every time of year.

One useful way you can open your mind up to more wonder is by taking a trip. Traveling is a powerful way to learn about many wonders and enrich your soul. Your trip doesn’t have to be long or expensive; any destination has something wonderful to teach you about God, yourself, and other people. I travel whenever I can, whether for work or with my family — and every trip has taught me more about how wonderful every day that God gives me truly is, with something new always waiting to be discovered.

Has God done something wonderful in your life that you’d like to share to inspire others? Consider sending your story in to be posted on the Angels and Miracles site.

Blessings,
Whitney

Renewing Your Mind: Giving Thanks No Matter What

November 25th, 2015

We all have something to be thankful for — even just the fact that God let us wake up today. But as Thanksgiving approaches and the holiday season begins, it’s easy to let our minds wander to what we wish our lives were like rather than how they actually are. Our culture is full of idealized images of complete happiness around the holiday season. By comparison, our real lives rarely measure up. So it’s tempting to dwell on the blessings we’d like to have and gloss over the blessings we do have.

In other words, despite our many blessings, sometimes we have to intentionally remind ourselves to give thanks.

It can help to pray for a fresh perspective on gratitude. When we learn to give thanks in all circumstances — no matter what — we start noticing more and more of the blessings that God is constantly pouring into our lives.

A good way to shift your  mind’s focus in that direction is to reflect on something new in your life that has blessed you recently. Dwelling on that one blessing will inspire you to discover others, even when you’re going through difficult circumstances. For me this year, that one recent blessing is the kitten who joined our household last month. Adopting Whiskers brought tremendous joy into my life, and pondering that brings to mind many other blessings I’m celebrating this year. Of course, I still face challenges and sorrow this holiday season, as I’m sure you do, too. My life, and your life, will never fit our idealized plans in this fallen world. But still … we all have reasons to give thanks!

Blessings,

Whitney

aboutangelsmiracles@gmail.com

Renewing Your Mind: Unconditional Love After an NDE

November 18th, 2015

The idea of unconditional love appeals to many people, but actually practicing the concept? Not so much.

At first, when researching miracles associated with near-death experiences, I was shocked to discover that being an NDE survivor increased the risk of divorce and other relationship problems. Since people tend to become much more loving after going through NDEs, it makes sense that their relationships with family and friends would improve as a result. But, too often, their relationships broke down after they came back to life. Why? The culprit seems to be the fact that they choose to love unconditionally in a world where love is usually expressed with conditions attached. Quite simply, many people become uncomfortable when they encounter unconditional love, because it challenges them to respond in kind, and loving without limits is challenging for most of us.

This is hitting home for me as the holiday season approaches. My extended family is still struggling with dysfunction that continues to lead to gossip, slander, and exclusion despite the efforts of some of us to work for healing. I’m learning that although unconditional love is a valuable goal, some people are so stuck in unhealthy ways of thinking that they can’t achieve that goal until they’re willing to turn for God to help — and that decision is one that only they can make for themselves.

But the good news is that each of us has the power to make that choice. Even when others don’t respond, it’s always worth choosing to love.

Blessings,

Whitney

aboutangelsmiracles@gmail.com

 

Renewing Your Mind: More Compassion After an NDE

November 11th, 2015

Survivors of near-death experiences (NDEs) develop more compassion for others after resuming their earthly lives. It’s an important lesson to learn, because compassion comes from love — and love is the essence of God, so it’s the most powerful force in creation, and the ultimate goal of all spiritual growth.

But what about those of us who haven’t had an NDE? I’ve found myself feeling jealous as I’ve researched these NDE articles that I haven’t experienced a glimpse of the afterlife myself. But I’m not in any hurry to die, and I’m sure you’re not, either. So it’s good news that we all can learn the valuable lessons that NDEs teach simply by reading about them.

I’ve been especially impacted by learning more about the life reviews people go through during NDEs. In those reviews, people not only see how the decisions they made in their lives affected others, but they also feel what other people felt emotionally when they made those choices. Now I often think more carefully about what I say and do in light of how compassionate the choice would be. I sometimes ask myself, “Would I like to see this in my life review?”

NDE survivors who have the courage to share their stories have so much to teach us all about compassion!

If you’ve ever had an NDE and would like to share your story on the About.com Angels and Miracles site I produce to inspire and encourage others, please consider sending it in.

Thanks, and Blessings,

Whitney

aboutangelsmiracles@gmail.com