Do you want to know deeper love for God, yourself, and others? The Deeper Love Conference is coming to Houston, Texas in September 2017. Are you ready for Deeper Love? Find out details here.
Looking for the perfect Valentine’s gift? My new book on love just came out! Find it here.
Yesterday, Radiance our Golden Retriever, was leaping and bounding playfully in the yard, scampering around with glee. She ran up the hill to the neighbor’s house. When she came back down, she was foaming at the mouth, kept falling over, and suddenly became paralyzed. We looked into her eyes and could tell she was not in her right mind. We didn’t know if she had rabies or had been poisoned. Something was very wrong.
She snarled at my father when he approached her. He made a long pole with a noose-like structure so he could grab her from a distance. We took her to a local vet which has been in Tomball for many years called Kasper and Rigby. We made an urgent plea for them to look at our dog right away. The front office girl told us coldly that they could not fit us in, as they were full. Then she told us it would be 2 hours. She also stated that they did not have the ability to treat her in an emergency – which surprised us — and they weren’t even wiling to look at her. “What if she dies?” I asked. The girl was apathetic. The other office staff and nurses looked at me blankly. We used this vet long ago, but apparently customer service and compassion is not a priority for them.
“We can’t wait two hours!” I said. She said, “Then take her to an emergency clinic.” That’s easy for her to say – because she wasn’t the one who was going to have to pay several thousand dollars to go to an emergency clinic. We knew if they had just been willing to look at her, they would be able to figure out what she needed. But Kasper and Rigby were not willing to save our animal’s life in the moment.
My father had visited My Family Vet with a friend and recommended we take her there. He said that the front office staff and vets had been very caring, accommodating and gave good treatment. On the way there, we prayed that God would intervene and help to heal our precious dog and put her in loving hands for care. In answer to our immediate needs and prayers, the staff at My Family Vet were loving, compassionate, caring and concerned – and willing to treat her urgent situation.
The vet cared for her in a kind and thorough manner. He assessed her situation efficiently and accurately. He determined that she did not have rabies but rather had eaten a highly toxic plant called sego palm – lots of it. He induced vomiting and gave her an iv to flush out the rest of the sego seeds.
My Family Vet is the best vet we have ever had. Their motto is “We treat your pets like family.” They do! They could not have been more loving or caring. Their services and treatment were reasonably priced. We highly recommend them to anyone.
While visiting The Netherlands, I took a tour of Amsterdam’s Red Light District. Photographs were not allowed. So for anyone wanting to better understand human trafficking, I thought it might be helpful to write about what I observed.
Two views circulate widely about Amsterdam’s Red Light District – and prostitution in general.
The first view is that women are prostitutes by choice. They do so because they want to. They make good money. It’s an age-old profession and a career. They enjoy what they do.
The second view is that women are prostitutes by force. When most people hear about this view, they are surprised because most people have assumed the first view – that women do it because they want to – is the only view. But it’s not. In fact, in recent years, many more stories have surf
aced indicating most women do NOT engage in prostitution by choice. According to Human Trafficking expert Dottie Laster, most women do NOT choose to be prostitutes. They are forced, coerced, conned and manipulated into doing so. Then they are trapped and faced with threats by pimps and handlers who tell them if they don’t, the person will harm them or their loved ones.
Which is it for The Red Light District in Amsterdam?
Our guide – who had an air of handsome thuggishness — represented view 1 over and over again. He told us the girls liked their trade, they were proud of it, they enjoyed it, and many of them even did it on the side in addition to a day job because they enjoyed it so much.
However, their faces tell a different story. When I saw the girls for myself – standing behind large glass viewing windows scantily clad, wearing high heels, standing on red carpets – I looked into their eyes and saw a different truth.
Judging by their body language – crossed arms, wide eyes stares, a stone-faced drawl – they were not enjoying themselves. They were petrified or resigned. Some looked playful, but it was only an act, as there was no light in their eyes. When people truly enjoy something, they often have a brightness – a twinkle – in their eyes. They do not enjoy it. That is just wishful thinking on the part of those who choose to believe it.
I looked straight at our guide and asked him, “How do you know they want it? Like it? Enjoy it?” He said, “They want it because they want the power or they wouldn’t do it.” This may the reason he does whatever he does. But most women are not like that. In fact, in prostitution, it is pimps, not prostitutes, who wield power. Most people do not realize this because just like malicious spyware, the pimps are quietly in the background making invisible threats to the women causing damage that is not readily apparent to onlookers.
Some of them looked very sad, many of them looked frightened, and most of them had a look of deadened resignation in their eyes.
On our tour, we visited a Museum of Prostitution where they showed us what the rooms were like. They explained hygiene procedures. And they, in essence, glamorized prostitution. But as many human trafficking experts will tell you, there is nothing truly glamorous about it, despite what many want to believe. Rather, it is forced slavery taking place in the modern day. I know it’s difficult to believe. But it’s true.
Pimps strategically select and coerce women and young girls into prostitution. And once their girls have been coerced in, they become afraid to leave. But it can be done. I have met former prostitutes who decided to risk leaving their pimps and their “profession”. They are so glad they did because now their lives are in a better place.
As for Amsterdam, the Red Light District is an illusion. There is no real pleasure there. It is a place of silent despair. Don’t let yourself be fooled. Just look into their eyes and you will see a different story.
Here are the stories behind the songs on Love without Fear.
I wrote this song about someone I was madly in love with. He said he loved me, too. But he didn’t pursue me the way someone who loved would. He was just a talker of fantasy, devoted only to his own desires, not to love or me.
In my quest to find true love, I have discovered true love is found in the one who calls to the depth of our souls with His love: Jesus Christ. He calls us from darkness to light, from despair to hope, from death to life.
Love without Fear
I was inspired to write this song in response to the shallow, catty ways women interact with each other – even religious people. Most people have some insecurity they have to overcome. Love is the only way. The truth is, we can love without fear!
I wrote More about a guy named “Shade” I had a crush on in college. He was such a cool dude. And he had a great smile, not to mention such a cool name. Every time I saw him smile, my heart felt that lilt of joy you feel when you see someone you like or love. But he always seemed to have his eye on other girls. I don’t know if he ever even noticed me!
Love is a mystery. Christ’s love is the most mysterious love of all. In fact, He is mystical. He is the most faithful friend. He loves without end. Who does that? I can’t explain Him. But I trust Him.
Love Without Fear music and lyrics by Mandy Seymour. Copyright 2016 Mandy Seymour. All rights reserved.
I am excited to announce my new book, 10 Best Chocolate Recipes.
Through the years, I have tasted and collected some of the most delicious and chocolatiest chocolate desserts you will ever find. This book is a collection of my absolute favorite chocolate recipes. They will make a lasting memory for any occasion! My favorite recipes of all time is the Homemade Chocolate Pie. It is the most delicious chocolate pie I have ever tasted.
About The Author
Mandy Seymour is an author whose writings and life are devoted to helping people live a deeper, more inspired and fulfilling life. Mandy has a B.A. in International Studies and Spanish from Trinity University and a Masters of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Mandy lives in Houston, Texas.
Do you love your life? If so, cherish it and love on! But if not, I invite you to ask yourself, “How could I love my life more?” What do you need to do to be more fulfilled? Here are a few suggestions:
Practice Gratitude – Finding what we are thankful for in our lives and taking time to be grateful will make huge inroads to brighten up your life, your perspective and your mood. Practice gratitude for the big things and the small things. It will make a huge difference.
Tell Those You Love That You Love Them – Telling your loved ones, “I love you” on a regular basis is very helpful. We love our lives more when we realize that we have people to love in our lives, people we love and who love us. Don’t feel loved? Ask people in your life, “Do you love me?” They will more than likely say yes. Then let the truth sink in: you are loved!!! And you are precious to many. Many people have a hard time believing this about themselves but it is really true!
Take A Rest Break — Stressed? Get some rest. Before you dismiss this idea as impossible, take a moment to consider: What if it is possible for you to rest and refresh? Even just for a moment? I’m here to tell you that it is possible. Stop feeling like you have to carve out a lot of time. Even 2-5 minutes will do. Take a rest break. Just get away to a quiet place, even if it’s just stepping outside for a moment or into the bathroom, and close your eyes and give yourself permission to rest. Many people try to get a million things done on their rest break. But rest breaks are called that for a reason. They really are for resting. So give yourself permission to take a break. Rest. Rejuvenate. And love your life!
In November 2014, I took a group of 13 travelers to Cuba with the World Affairs Council of Houston. We traveled there legally on a people-to-people humanitarian program.
On Wednesday night, we had dinner at our hotel with Dr. Andy Gomez before flying to Havana, Cuba the next day. He said, “Did you know people still come to the U.S. from Cuba in boats?” Then our waitress came over and introduced herself. “My name is Yunay,” she said.
Yunay is 29 years old. She immigrated to the United States on a boat her father made when she was 9 years old. She said her father was a fisherman. He used his skills to navigate to the U.S. shoreline. They landed somewhere near the Florida Keys. And their family has been in Miami ever since.
“My parents named me Yunay for United States of America,” she said. Yunay. United States of America.
I immediately felt a wave of patriotism and awe. Before she was even born, her father named her for the American dream. Sometimes we as Americans do not know how powerful this dream really is until we go to other nations and see the longing for America and her democratic way of life in people we meet. It shines forth in their hearts and eyes.
As a fellow traveler who seeks to do good in the name of America wherever I go, I constantly remember this. Although today’s news is replete with stories of many around the world who say “down with America”, there are so many more people around the world whose voices and longings are not being heard. But they are there. And they are willing to risk their lives to come to our shores.
Cubans really are still emigrating to the U.S. in homemade boats. On our return from Cuba, we met cruise travelers whose ship diverted to pick up boaters. Twelve Cubans spent four days at sea in this makeshift “boat”. Only eleven fit, so they each took turns dangling in the water. After four days at sea, the U.S. Coastguard intercepted them. They were in international waters, so they were returned to Cuba. Sometimes I lay awake at night wondering what became of them once they returned.
However, in recent years, a glimmer of hope has opened up for Cuba in regard to improving one’s lot in life. In 1993, the Cuban government began granting people the right to open a limited selection of personally owned businesses. They made slow progress in the beginning. But in recent years, their numbers and influence are increasing. I personally believe entrepreneurship is opening doors to greater freedom in Cuba on a personal, economic and societal level. And the more people find economic opportunity in their own country, the less they will have to go to distant shores to find it, and the better it will be for both.
In recent years, more Cubans have been opening privately owned businesses than ever before. Greater access to remittances have helped bolster the development of Cuban businesses. Some of the most popular businesses include restaurants, guest homes, and tourist-related attractions. Yet even individual Cubans with little access to resources are starting businesses, such as nail salons and barber/beauty shops.
When visiting Cuba on a people-to-people program with the World Affairs Council, our Havanatour guide shared that if she could open any business, she would open a bakery and make pies. As a former lawyer, she used to work at the U.S. Interests Section as a legal assistant. She said once she tasted pumpkin pie at a Thanksgiving dinner there. And she said it was the most delicious food she had ever eaten. She has dreamed of starting her own bakery ever since. “Have you ever made pumpkin pie?” I asked. “No,” she said. “Do you have a recipe?” “No,” she said. Surprised, I thought, How will she ever start a bakery if she does’t even have a recipe? And if she did have a recipe, maybe she could start making those pies now – and selling them to tourists for $5 each. Then that would supplement her income and allow her to share in the joy that we know as Americans, the joy of entrepreneurism and the ability to enjoy the little things in life and share them with others as a side benefit.
As an American who shares in her joy of baking, I thought, I wish I had a recipe for pumpkin pie to give her. Unbeknownst to me, I had brought the perfect gift for her to give her a start. Just before I left for Cuba, I grabbed a handful of magazines off my reading shelf. I planned to read them and then leave them for Cubans to share our American culture with them in a friendly and natural way.
When I looked through what I brought, I had a magazine entitled “Southern Living Our 2014 Thanksgiving Cookbook – 62 Great Southern Recipes” replete with a picture of a delicious pumpkin tart on the front. “No way!” I exclaimed when I saw it. “This is great!”
I promptly gave it to her and she thanked me. On my way back to the land of the free, I decided to make desert in honor of Ilyana. And then I realized something: she probably did not have the tools she needed to make any of those recipes.
I recalled one night at dinner when some of our traveling companions asked for a flan recipe. The waiter said, “Well, you use a can of sugar.” Who uses a can of sugar? What is he talking about? Later I learned he was referring to a coke can. After all, with limited resources, people do not have easy access to measuring spoons and measuring cups. So I bought some for Ilyana and sent them to her.
I look forward to visiting her bakery one day. But what I realized is that in Cuba, entrepreneurism is not as easy as pie. But we as Americans with access to so many goods can make a meaningful difference in small ways if we bring tools to equip our southern neighbors to achieve their future dreams. It doesn’t take much. A little willingness and resourcefulness on our part goes a long way to help Cubans to have a better future.