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Monday, August 25 2014

Encouraging Word from Pastor Thomas

Every choice moves us closer to or farther away from something.
— Eric Allenbaugh

Happy Monday to you, friends!  I hope the sun is shining as beautifully for you right now as it is for me.  What a marvelous day!

When I think back on my life I become aware of certain truths.  I’m aware that most good things take effort, and usually lots of it.  I’m aware that some of the best things are happy accidents. I’m aware that an open spirit brings me better things than a closed spirit.  And I’m aware that life never, ever stops moving.  I may, but life doesn’t.  It’s nice to think that decisions and choices can be made in a vacuum.  Wouldn’t it be great if this naughty treat, or this selfish choice, or that innocent dabble were isolate from the rest of life, that it affected nothing but the moment? 

Factually, there are no isolated choices, only isolated lives.  Every choice/decision is part of the grander journey of our lives nudging us in one direction or another.  If you have a goal, a great destination, deciding is simply the first decision, albeit an important one.  There will be hundreds of nudges (choices/decisions) that become part of the journey, and each nudge has its own direction.  Are your nudges moving you in the direction of your chosen destinations, your personal dreams?  Are you helping yourself, or getting in your own way?  What decision can you make today to nudge you in the right direction?  What can encourage you to do it?  I encourage you.  Make the decisions that move you in your chosen direction.  The life you seek is waiting for you to arrive.  Have a wonderful week!

Proverbs 15:22

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:49 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 18 2014

Encouraging Word from Pastor Thomas

Today…stand taller, be kinder, live deeper. 
— David Romanelli

Good Monday morning, friends!  I hope you are doing well and ready to start a great week.  Let's try together!

There is something magical about today.  Really.  What other day do you have to get anything done?  The Dalai Lama reminds us that yesterday and tomorrow are untouchable, but today is perfectly malleable, workable to our own needs and dreams.  So what will you do today what will make today a well spent day?  Our quote offers three suggestions: stand taller, be kinder, and live deeper.  Each of these suggestions is wonderful; can you add anything else to the list to make today great?  May I suggest two ideas?  Science has fleshed out tremendous positive experience in people who practice assertive gratitude.  I imagine most people "feel" grateful, but benefit for today comes in being assertively grateful.  How can you express gratitude?  Journal something new every day for which you are grateful; exercise for 15 minutes every day to appreciate your health; pause for 2 minutes every day to watch your breath go in and out; and engage every day in a random, conscious act of kindness.  Do these acts for 21 days and you'll see tremendous positive change in your daily experience.  My second suggestion is to practice generosity.  Again, most people I know "feel" generous, but generous actions are not so common.  Current culture suggests we gain by keeping and hoarding, but happiness has been proven to be associated with generosity.  Help someone, give your time, support a cause, give a donation, make something better, or do something generous of your own choosing.  Practice gratitude and generosity and I guarantee your "todays" will be headed in a great direction very quickly.  How can you realistically make your today better?  What can you do to invest in your own better todays?  Whatever you choose, do it today and know a better life.  I'd love to hear what you choose to do, and encourage you on to even more.  Have a great, great week.

Matthew 20:1-15

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:13 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 11 2014

Encouraging Word from Pastor Thomas

Be YOU instead of a knock-off version of someone else.
— Christine Hassler

Good morning, friends!  I really hope the sun is shining where you are; I've had three dreary days in a row, with no appreciable rain to show for it.  Oh, well, at least it's cool in August!  I beg your indulgence; today's word is slightly longer than usual.  The spirit moved me; I hope you will afford me this kindness.

My uncle, Kenneth, was a successful pawn broker for most of his adult life.  Don't think of the images in moderately popular TV shows these days, or even in the shady images of pawn shops you see around your town.  Kenneth was first and foremost a successful business person, and his pawn shop looked and operated like any other I've ever seen.  Being a pawn broker, Kenneth learned to quickly recognize real from fake.  One of my favorite lines concerned watches.  One day when I was in his store he pulled out a small box of watches.  To my untrained eye they all looked exactly like the Rolex on his wrist.  He explained to me the subtle differences in each watch that made them, clearly to him, not Rolexes.  They were all, he said, high quality watches made to trick even the most sophisticated buyers, but not with the cache and quality of a Rolex.  His name for them was "Strolexes", playing on the image of stolen or street goods found in mega-cities.  It has long been my designation for any fake or imitation item.  

This past Saturday I participated in a 5K walk to support a worthy mission in town.  Something happened that I've known of me my whole life.  I like to walk, and walk fast, but my mind has a very difficult time keeping a steady, high pace.  When I have someone else to set a great pace for me I always do better.  Saturday I had a great pace setter.  This guy was flying!  I was about 30 feet behind him so I just kept my eye on him and kept his pace.  By the end of the 5K my time was faster than I'd ever measured a walk in my life.  Was I a strolex?  Life is hard enough, being honest, genuine and real.  It may seem like a better choice to let someone else "be" for us, so all we have to do is meet their standard, or keep their pace.  Ultimately, we all lose when we surrender our "being" to other persons.  Pace setters in life are one thing; these are the people who demonstrate, encourage, steady us, and teach us.  Our "being", though, is unique to us.  To see a pace setter, or anyone else, as a better you is to begin the road to being a Strolex, a knock-off version of the original you.  You may have voices in your life that tell you that you are inadequate, insufficient, ineffective, bad or wrong.  It's not healthy to ignore those voices completely; correctly sifted, there is likely some constructive advice in the negative messages.  It is key to healthy life to keep, protect, and nourish your own "being", the "you" that is unique, wonderful and blessed.  How can you keep a good pace and still be you?  What do you need to be "you" in a box of potential Strolexes?  Trust this: I have faith in "you", not a knock-off you.  Have faith in you, too!  And have a great week!

John 8:1-11 (again)

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:15 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, August 04 2014

Encouraging Word from Pastor Thomas

No great story was ever born from a life that began and ended in perfect harmony. 
— Skylar Liberty Rose

Good morning, friends!  I hope your weekend was epic!  Now a new week begins; let's get started.

This weekend my family and I were in Asheville and serendipitously fell into a craft fair on the grounds of All Souls Episcopal Cathedral in Biltmore Village.  Among the crafts were plenty of vendors selling wood carvings and wood turned items.  Without exception, the most attractive and expensive items were the ones with noticeable flaws in the wood.  Some were exquisite.  Woodworkers have learned that the value of wood is not in the perfect symmetry but in the variety of uniqueness.  What would happen if you viewed your life with the grace of those wood craftspersons?  I'll bet your life hasn't been perfect and flawless; no life is.  Things happen, things we don't want to happen, things we think are terrible, things we think will be the end of us.  We do things, things we regret, things we know better than, things we wish we could take back or do over.  Life is a flawed process, just one flawed experience after another.  We can't change our flaws; most times they happen too quickly.  What we can do is show grace to ourselves, and know that there's beauty in the reality of our lives, even in the flawed parts.  To be sure there will always be observers who will evaluate us like seekers of perfect diamonds, but don't be hurt by such evaluations.  We are not perfect; we are all flawed and the beauty of our lives is how we carry on and overcome and learn to deal with and sometimes are stumbled by our flaws.  Are your flaws the downfall of you or the colorful parts of you?  Just by carrying on you make something beautiful of your flaws.  How can you carry on today?  Carry on this week, friends, and know that I'm praying for you and pulling for you, and oh, how beautiful you are, even with all your flaws.  Just carry on, friends.  And have a great week!

John 8:1-11

Posted by: Pastor Thomas AT 08:55 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
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