Welcome to our "a little bit of everything we find interesting and worthy (in our estimation) of sharing" blog page. If you're looking for a particular subject, please use the "Category" navigation menu to the right to select topics in that genre.
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on February 7, 2010 at 12:12 AM||comments (5)|
You made it back for the finale! The suspense has been building as we were making our tortuous way through the necessary steps of discovery. Life is like that though isn't it? However long and hard we toil, we never really make it to the end do we? No matter how long we live, or how much we learn, there is always more to know and to do. Just remember at the heights of your frustration, how boring life would be if we already knew it all!
Have you ever considered how different we are from any other known life form on the planet? How is it that every other life form on the planet is able to go from birth to adolescence to adulthood with little to no parental guidance? What other life form has to be taught how to eat or walk? Since they can't talk, we don't know if animals ever question their existence, but my guess would be they don't. Animals are instinctive, humans mostly aren't. We have to learn everything from scratch.
Have you ever thought about our physiology? We're like machines in that we need an energy/fuel source to maintain us. Instead of gasoline, electricity, or batteries, we need food and water to keep our physical processes running. But, while the maintenance of our physical processes is critical to maintain life, adequate food and water are only the very basest of our needs as human beings. Humans have three distinct levels of existence: physical (body), mental (mind/soul), and spiritual (spirit), all in the same individual. Our evolution as individuals also progresses in that same manner: body, mind, spirit. Once our bodies have received the proper nutrients and development, we focus on the development and expansion of our minds. After our minds have been developed, we naturally seek the growth and fulfillment of our spirits.
You don't have to be religious or even know what religion is to seek the growth and fulfillment of your spirit. Everyone does it. It is the only inherently instinctual thing that humans do. How do we do it? Why do we do it? Let's start with the how we do it question. For some, it takes the form of consumption. Consumption in ever increasing amounts of whatever we believe holds the answer or means of filling the gap. For others it takes the form of depletion in systematically shedding the people and things we believe may be holding us back or preventing our ability to connect to the ever elusive "answer" to our spiritual fulfillment. Take for instance an excessive drinking, drug, sex, or work habit on the consumption side. Or, for example, an excessive or compulsive rejection of social interaction, material possessions, and exposure to certain world influences on the depletion side. Most of us have been somewhere on either side of the extremes in our search at one point in our lives.
Now let's look into the why we do it question. This is the most important question because the question itself holds the answer to the dilemma. The fulfillment we seek is an attempt to fill the emptiness that many of us experience and is described in many different ways, by all different types of people. For some it's a search for a purpose, for some it's a search for meaning, for others it's a search for fulfillment. It's easy to understand how a destitute individual with barely enough to survive could experience lack. However, how do you explain the experience of lack by individuals who by the world's standards have more than enough for themselves and for small countries combined? What is lacking in us all at birth is our direct connection to the spirit of our Creator. During our initial growth process we are so distracted by all the new things we experience and must learn in the first two dimensions (body and mind) of our being, we don't notice, have time for, or recognize and understand the third (spirit) dimension. It's only after we have attained adequacy on the first two levels that we begin to experience the lack in the third. As triune beings, we can never experience completeness and fulfillment as long as one of the three parts is not functional. To understand this allegory, it helps to understand the Creation story.
Consider that we are triune beings, made in the image of our Creator and that the only part of us that is eternal is our spirit. Our spirit knows its origin, but in the process of our birth into the physical world, our connection to the eternal is contractually veiled. Hebrew and Christian theology describes the separation from our Creator as a consequence of mankind's original sin of pride and rebellion. That one fateful choice started what I like to call the "divine tragedy" of our (human) existence on the earth. I see it like an immortal game of chess between opposing forces for the highest stakes of all time. Us, we are the prize that the divine powers war to win. So, the influences that we constantly battle against and must discern are not only in our minds and senses, but are also spiritual, powerful, and real.
Our reconnection to God, our Creator, is the only thing that can complete us as human beings. There is nothing created that is adequate to fill an eternal space. The gateway to reconnection is simple and instant, but it’s marketed by the deceiver as weakness, ignorance and ridiculous. Here is the answer: It's to choose and do the opposite of what caused the separation in the first place. Pride, rebellion and disobedience against God, our Creator, is what separated us. Surrender, humility and obedience is what reconnects us. God in His love for us provided the example and the only doorway home when He came here Himself in human flesh and became the blood sacrifice to redeem His creation, all mankind, once and for all time, in Jesus Christ.
He seeks our redemption, reinstatement, and reconnection to His divinity; His enemy seeks our continued deception and ultimate destruction. Throughout the history of mankind's existence, the battle of good and evil has been playing out its epic saga, with the powers and principalities invisibly maneuvering and influencing the destiny and outcomes of what many believe is the sole manifestation of our own efforts. However, even those who believe in their own power experience the emptiness and void in their spirit, but cannot or will not recognize its origin. In the timeline of eternity the final confrontation is not long to come, when no holds will be barred in heaven and on earth, and the opposing forces will fully and openly engage. The good news is that everyone will finally know the supernatural powers do exist. The bad news is that it will be too late to choose sides.
Your choice is simple and will change your life forever. Once you receive the offer of His redemption your life will be enriched beyond your understanding. The veil will be torn away and your spirit will reconnect to the One who created you and loved you enough to die for your redemption. You will no longer need to walk in darkness or confusion and if you let Him, He will make all your pathways straight. If you ask Him, He will come and make His home in your heart today.
It’s your move now. Reclaim your birthright. Receive the King of Glory, and be crowned with Jesus Christ!
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on October 1, 2009 at 9:01 PM||comments (1)|
We had this great 10-year-old cat named Jack who just recently died. Jack was a great cat, and the kids would carry him around and sit on him and nothing ever bothered him. He used to hang out and nap all day long on the mat in our bathroom.
We have three kids, and at the time of this story, they were 4 years old, 3 years old, and 1 year old. The middle one is Eli. Eli really loved Chapstick. LOVED it. He kept asking to use my Chapstick and then would lose it. Finally one day I showed him where in the bathroom I keep my Chapstick and explained he could use it whenever he wanted to, but he needed to put it right back in the drawer after he finished.
That year on Mother's Day, we were having the typical rush around and try to get ready for church with everyone crying and carrying on. My two boys were fighting over the toy in the cereal box. I was trying to nurse my little one at the same time I was putting on my make-up. Everything was a mess, and everyone had long forgotten that this was a wonderful day to honor me and the amazing job that is motherhood.
We finally had the older one and the baby loaded in the car and I was looking for Eli. I searched everywhere and I finally went into the bathroom. There was Eli. He was applying my Chapstick very carefully to Jack's ... rear end.
Eli looked right into my eyes and said, "Chapped." Now if you have a cat, you know that he is right -- their little bottoms do look pretty chapped. And, frankly, Jack didn't seem to mind. The only question to ask at that point was whether it was the FIRST time Eli had done that to the cat's behind or the hundredth!?!
And THAT is my favorite Mother's Day moment ever because it reminds us that no matter how hard we try to civilize these glorious little creatures, there will always be that day when you realize they've been using your Chapstick on the cat's butt.
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on September 30, 2009 at 6:40 PM||comments (14)|
Are you in the market for a degree, and have more time than money? Would you like to know a very well kept secret that could be THE difference between getting your degree and just wishing you could? Then here it is: Western Governor's University, aka: WGU. And no, I don't work for them, nor am I being paid anything to recommend them. I am a current student at WGU hacking my way to the finish line!
I know, you're probably asking the same questions I did when I was scouring the net for an affordable online degree program. Here they are:
- Who the heck is WGU?
- What accreditation do they have?
- What is the tuition?
- Is the coursework 100% online?
- Who will accept the credit hours for transfer?
- How long will it take me to complete my degree?
- What degrees do they offer?
Believe me, I asked them all and more.
I can't even remember how many different options I researched, but I do remember my shock when I found out what most online universities charge! After I decided I could not afford a degree from an online university, I researched all the local state and private universities in my home state. I was equally disappointed to find out that none of them had complete degree programs for online completion.
When I had almost given up, I happened to click on an advertisment for WGU on the W3C Schools website. I watched the video and then scoured their website for a week looking for a catch or a chink in their program. I asked many questions about their programs, including how accelerated they can be. I checked the review boards on the internet to see what type of feedback the students were giving. After being assured by WGU that they were regionally accredited, I also called the local universities in my home state to make sure they would accept coursework from WGU and when they answered affirmatively, I signed up. Not only did I sign up, but I applied for and received a scholarship!
You will need to do your own due diligence, but I can tell you this, if you have business experience, good study habits, are self motivated and diligent, and are comfortable with the computer you can sail through a large portion of your coursework. A semester online is six months. Your coursework is scheduled at 12 credit hours per semester, however, if you apply yourself you can cram more than 12 hours into each semester at no additional charge!
WGU charges by the semester, not by the classes or credit hours. For instance, I have six months to complete 12 credit hours which started on September 1st. I have already completed six credit hours and it's September 30th. My semester cost is the same whether I complete six or twenty four credits! I know you're anxious to know the cost so here it is: $2965.00 per semester (2009 cost)! (This does not include books.) This is less than most state universities, and you never even have to leave your home to attend your classes!
I am so blown away by this program I just want to share it with everyone who may be looking to complete a bachelor's or master's degree, and wants to do it online on their own schedule. It is as affordable as anything you are likely to find anywhere. It's not for everyone, as it does require an extremely high level of independence in study and personal diligence. The coursework is just as demanding as any university, but you get credit for your business experience and that's what lets you sail through some of the coursework.
If you are serious about completing your first degree or working on your second or master's degree in business, you owe it to yourself to check out WGU. You'll be glad you did!
To find out more about WGU click on the link below:
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on September 30, 2009 at 6:17 PM||comments (2)|
A good belly laugh clears out the lungs and recharges the grey matter... so what are you waiting for?!!!
- The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.
- More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.
- Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
- There is a great need for sarcasm font.
- I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
- Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".
- How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?
- Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in' examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and said "Yes that's G as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm...Goonies".
- Bad decisions make good stories.
- Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem....
- You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
- There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
- I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
- Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
- Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket, hitting the G-spot, and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my last dollar everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time...
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on September 27, 2009 at 9:28 PM||comments (4)|
Good to see you again! We're picking up where we left off last time where we asked you to identify the sources of your current values, ethics and morals. That exercise was designed to help you identify the influences that affect the way you view the world, others, and yourself. There are very specific ways we allow influence in our lives. And the point is that not all of the influences that seem positive or harmless are what they seem. As we discussed in Part 2, influences that were appropriate at one point in our lives, may not be expedient for us anymore.
So, how do you know when the influence in your life is no longer appropriate for you? Here are some of the warning signs of negative influence:
- You get a queasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.
- You become physically sick.
- You come away from the encounter feeling drained, inadequate, inconsequential.
- You sense a heaviness or feeling of oppression.
- Your encounter consistently ends in confrontation.
- The influence urges you to think, do, say, or be anything that your conscience warns you to avoid or reject.
- The relationship is or has become completely one sided.
- The influence encourages you to consider only yourself.
- The influence focus is overly materialistic.
- The influence focus is consistently on the dimunition of anyone or thing.
The signs are warnings when they are always consistent to the event. Everyone has off days when everything seems negative, even things you love. Those are not the events to which we refer. When you consistently experience the warning signs listed above in the same situation, it's a negative influence.
We now circle back to answer the original question that we put forth in Part 1, how to take control of the influences that affect your life. The first step is to identify the influences affecting your life. The second step is to determine if the influences are positive or negative for your life right now. The third step is to consciously choose the influences you now wish to allow in your own life. If this is the first time you have attempted this exercise, until now, you have been living under the influence of any and everything that has ever been a part of your life. As an adult, you and only you, have the responsibility and the capability to determine and orchestrate the direction of your life. You have the right and the power to change your mind. And the secret to changing your life, is simply changing your mind!
Okay, sounds easy enough. Just change your mind and your life will change. Is it really true? It is absolutely true, and it is the only way anyone can truly change their life. The mind, your mind, is the seat of your soul, and is the driver of everything you are, think, and do. It has been conditioned (programmed) over the number of years you have lived, but just like a computer, it can be reprogrammed. This time around however, you get to choose the program.
The last post in this series holds the final promise: the right support mechanism. Like any good book, the best is saved for last. The final promise is the key to success so don't miss it!
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on August 21, 2009 at 12:26 AM||comments (0)|
We left off last time with a promise of some direction on how to take control of the influences you allow to affect your life. It makes sense to start with a basic listing of the main ways we are influenced today.
These are the main conduits of influence to which we are exposed and of which we are a part, throughout our lifetimes. Each of the conduits has a place and a purpose in our growth as individuals at different stages of our lives. Some of the conduits will be a continuing influence throughout the majority of our lifetimes, and some of them for a finite period of time.
You may be surprised to hear it, but each of the above conduits are both essential and detrimental at times, not however, usually at the same time. For instance, as a child you come into the world without knowledge, experience, understanding, and little more than a need to eat, sleep and be loved. You certainly would not make it very far or be able to contribute much in this world if you stayed naked, dumb, and totally dependent on your mother for everything would you? In your early years, your mother is essential and is (hopefully) a good influence.
Once you learn to walk, talk, feed yourself, toilet and grooming etiquette, proper human interaction (I know...debatable for some of us), you're sent off to school to learn the "3 R's" which used to be reading, writing, and arithmetic. At this point you still depend on your parents, but you don't bring them to school with you!
Hopefully the knowledge gained from a public education is objective and not too slanted in any one direction, because this knowledge is forming the foundation of who you are eventually going to become and what you will either believe, or potentially spend thousands of dollars to unlearn. Education is essential and is again, (hopefully) a good influence. Your formal education, however, is also not an endless endeavor.
If you learned your morals and values at home, then you at least had a fighting chance when you were exposed to the immense pressures to conform to systems other than your parents! If you were not one of the fortunate few, then you probably did your best to find your own way, and are most likely still trying!
The worst news is that you've probably wasted a lot of valuable time; the good news is that life is a continuous learning experience! Now that you are an adult, you've undoubtedly experienced the consequences of bad choices and/or decisions...to what extent will be our little secret! Bad experiences (usually traumatic) teach us to avoid, good experiences teach us to seek or promote the behaviour that elicited the experience. Our morals, ethics, and values then are all that's left to teach us to differentiate the good from the bad, especially when what feels good is actually bad for us.
Now the all important question is from whom do we derive our morals, ethics and values? Going back to the main three groups of influences listed above, which group holds the greatest influence in your life today? There will be no written test so you can be brutally honest. After you answer that question, ask yourself three more:
- Does that group honor and deserve the power over your life that you have bestowed upon it?
- Does that group know and love the real you?
- Will that group stand up for you and beside you in your time of greatest need?
If you answered yes to all three questions, you are already living a rich, fulfilling life. Be grateful to the extreme and pay it forward whenever you can. If not, then stay tuned. When we come back next time we'll identify some warning signs of negative influences that may be masquerading as positive influences in your life.
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on August 6, 2009 at 12:20 PM||comments (1)|
I found it! After months of searching online, filling out applications, talking to recruiters, following up on accreditations, checking references, course work, and outlines, I finally found a fully online, accelerated, accredited university that costs about the same or less than a local state university! It is truly the best kept secret from degree seekers looking for an online, accelerated program, fully accredited as discovered by TIME Magazine. This was THE biggest "Eureka" moment for me in a long time. If you want to finally finish that bachelor's degree program you've been chiseling away at completing, or work toward your master's degree at home on your own computer, on your own time, without mortgaging your children's future, look no further. Here's your link:
You don't need to take my word for it though, check it out yourself! Do your own due diligence and see if they have a program that will fit your needs. Then don't forget to apply for the financial aid, including scholarships! If you were affected by the recent economic recession and lost your job, you may be eligible for the WGU Economic Turnaround Scholarship, as well as additional financial aid. Don't waste another minute of your present. Take the steps to prepare for your future now!
More ideas for no and low cost ways to educate yourself today for tomorrow's opportunities coming soon, so stay tuned!
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on August 6, 2009 at 12:03 PM||comments (1)|
Did you know that you could get access to actual courses from MIT and Brigham Young University online for free? You don't get college credit, not even certification, for now anyway. But, it's a good start I say; not where we need to be by a long shot, but at least a solid beginning for 21st century education. I am amazed that so few of the traditional brick and mortar universities have a comprehensive virtual (online) degree program available today. I have been researching local traditional universities for online degree completion programs and found they basically don't have any. The programs that are online for most of them are the level one classes which I don't need. I don't have the time to attend a traditional classroom course, and don't need the basic courses which are all they offer online. I don't want to spend the money the online universities are charging (with questionable accreditation) so what do I do? Unfortunately, those are the majority of the available options right now. There are certification courses available from many colleges, universities, and vo-techs; however, they are mostly administered by third party education providers. You take the course online, test, then receive your certification from the sponsoring college, university, or vo-tech. Looking into the online certification, I asked the university admissions professional what difference there was in the coursework between the 3rd party online and the university class. She said there was not much difference, both were comprehensive and the students from each would emerge afterward with substantially the same knowledge, expertise, and ability to apply the learning. She explained that the coursework from the 3rd party provider was not eligible for college credit simply because the accreditation process is lengthy and the university's priorities were not geared in that direction. Also interesting to note is the difference in cost and time for the certification program and the coursework required to complete a degree in the classroom. The certification program for let's say Web Database Developer costs $2175.00 and takes approximately 12 months. The degree coursework would take a minimum of 24 months, and would cost a minimum of $10,800 (not including books and additional fees). A huge disparity of costs for essentially the same coursework and if you ask me, a solid basis for the need for virtual classrooms! So, kudos for the universities that are making a move to make it easier for a wider range of individuals to get access to higher education! Here's an article from the Christian Science Monitor on the subject:
By Amy Farnsworth | Staff Writer for The Christian Science Monitor/ May 13, 2009 edition
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on August 1, 2009 at 11:41 PM||comments (0)|
Living a life of gratitude is only possible if you believe you have something for which to be thankful. My mother always told me that no matter how good or bad you think your life is, you can always look up and find someone better off and look down and find someone worse off than yourself. In the end, it's your own perspective and perception that determines your place in your world. Your world will be as big or as small as you wish it to be. It will be as rich or as poor as you make it. Only you have the power to create your own world. True, there will always be outside influences and circumstances that will mobilize to try and affect your outcomes and more importantly, your internal dialogues. However, no matter how strong or constant the barrage of those influences, they can only touch your outer being, unless you let them in.
We are subjected to influence every day of our lives. We learn to filter out those influences we believe are harmful, and to absorb as much as we can of those we believe are helpful. The trick is in knowing the difference. If your life is not producing the fruits of abundance, joy, love, and gratitude, then it's time to take a look at your diet of influence. Who and what are you allowing access to your inner self on a daily basis? How and by whom are you being influenced?
Although many things are available for our consumption, not all things are expedient for our well being. If you only eat twinkies, doughnuts, french fries, and ice cream, you wouldn't expect to look like Twiggie would you? If you answered yes to that question, you need more help than you will be able to give yourself. You are also probably one those people who believes that television commercials and the nightly news are irrefutable fact, am I right!?
Most of us know better than to expect the outcome to be vastly different than the inputs. What keeps most of us from achieving the outcomes we desire is the fear or dread of the effort required. Yes, it does take effort. But, it might surprise you to find out that it actually takes much less effort than most of us believe. Especially when you have the right support mechanism.
Interested in learning more about how you can take control of the influences you allow to affect your life? Come back next week and we'll get into part two of Enrich Your Own Life.
|Posted by Stone Art Traders on July 23, 2009 at 11:14 PM||comments (0)|
When I die, I want to die like my grandfather--who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car." --Author Unknown
Advice for the day: If you have a lot of tension and you get a headache, do what it says on the aspirin bottle: "Take two aspirin" and "Keep away from children." --Author Unknown
"Oh, you hate your job? Why didn't you say so? There's a support group for that. It's called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar." --Drew Carey
"The problem with the designated driver program, it's not a desirable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house." --Jeff Foxworthy
"If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant's life, she will choose to save the infant's life without even considering if there is a man on base." --Dave Barry
"Relationships are hard. It's like a full time job, and we should treat it like one. If your boyfriend or girlfriend wants to leave you, they should give you two weeks' notice. There should be severance pay, the day before they leave you, they should have to find you a temp." --Bob Ettinger
"My Mom said she learned how to swim when someone took her out in the lake and threw her off the boat. I said, 'Mom, they weren't trying to teach you how to swim.'" --Paula Poundstone
"A study in the Washington Post says that women have better verbal skills than men. I just want to say to the authors of that study: "Duh." --Conan O'Brien
"Why does Sea World have a seafood restaurant?? I'm halfway through my fish burger and I realize, Oh my God.... I could be eating a slow learner." --Lynda Montgomery
"I think that's how Chicago got started. Bunch of people in New York said, 'Gee, I'm enjoying the crime and the poverty, but it just isn't cold enough. Let's go west.'" --Richard Jeni
"If life were fair, Elvis would be alive and all the impersonators would be dead." --Johnny Carson
"Sometimes I think war is God's way of teaching us geography." --Paul Rodriguez
"My parents didn't want to move to Florida , but they turned sixty and that's the law." --Jerry Seinfeld
"Remember in elementary school, you were told that in case of fire you have to line up quietly in a single file line from smallest to tallest. What is the logic in that? What, do tall people burn slower?" --Warren Hutcherson
"Bigamy is having one wife/husband too many. Monogamy is the same." --Oscar Wilde
"Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.. But I repeat myself." --Mark Twain
"Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Afghanistan " --A. Whitney Brown
"You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'" --Dave Barry
Do you know why they call it "PMS"? Because "Mad Cow Disease" was taken. -- Unknown, presumed deceased