Monday, November 30 2015
Give a friend the Christmas gift of encouragement. Share this e-mail and start the process. E-mail me email@example.com and I’ll welcome any interested person directly to the encouragement team! Thanks for being a blessing to this growing ministry.
“I wear the chain I forged in life. I made it link by link and yard by yard. Is its pattern strange to you or would you know the length of the strong coils you bear yourself? It was as full, as heavy, as long as this seven Christmas Eves ago, you have labored on it since, it is a ponderous chain!”
Jacob Marley [to Scrooge]
Good morning, friends! This first Monday of Advent begins cold and dreary and yet we are on a journey to joy. Perhaps it is an appropriate beginning. Before we begin please note that I will be quoting from Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” for the four Mondays of Advent (the immediate four Mondays that precede Christmas). Off we go!
“A Christmas Carol” is a story told in five stanzas. In the first stanza the stage is set and Scrooge is confronted by the challenge of the story. Scrooge’s old partner, Jacob Marley, returns to him as a ghost to reveal to him the connection between “this” life and the “afterlife”. It matters not one’s theology at all; this is a challenge for everyone today.
Curiously, Marley was warning Scrooge of a hell that was awaiting him due to his life; it is hard to imagine a more hellish life than Scrooge lived. A short list? Scrooge was lonely, selfish, angry, bitter, mean, miserly. Need I add more? And do you need more to see a living hell on earth?
If you were to craft a well-lived life, what would be your building blocks? Love, relationships, joy, peace, community, generosity. Sounds like a pretty good life, yes? Can you forge these chains now? Sure you can and your life will be better for it today, right now!
No one’s life exists in the clear extremes of any storybook character, not Scrooge or Fred or Bob Cratchit; they make great story because their characters are clear. Your character and my character are anything but clear. We wear the chain we forge in life, so get busy forging the chains of the life you want to live! Surely if “A Christmas Carol” teaches us anything it is that the life we project is the life we will receive. Start projecting the life you love! The chain will be lighter, the life will be brighter, and the experience of every day will be better. It begins with you and me, and we are up for it! Have a wonderful week!
Monday, November 16 2015
The encouragement team is growing! Do you know anybody who could benefit from some encouragement? Share this e-mail and start the process. E-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add any interested person directly to the encouragement team! Thanks for being a blessing to this growing ministry.
“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn, or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”
Good morning, friends! Is this fall, or what? Such crazy weather we have had recently, with cold, wind and rain, but today is positively beautiful and portends greatness for the next few days. Enjoy it while you can!
Few things have I ever experienced that have taught me more about life than cats. I have been allergic to cats from my youth and my allergic reactions have been so terrible I have learned to avoid cats at all costs. Even so, my wife is a big cat person and we took in two abandoned cats when we first got married; I did this as an act of love for my wife, not the cats.
I was pretty rough on the cats. They scratched my furniture, left hair everywhere, made the house smell, broke the occasional things, and generally were nuisances. In time I wondered (my ignorance shows through in this example) why the cats didn’t “like” me. Duh. Would I like anyone who treated me like I treated the cats? Of course not, but it was too late to change those relationships. We had those cats for seven or eight years before they each died.
Two years ago we purchased a kitten for our daughter’s Christmas. Had I learned anything from the prior experience? I deemed to treat this cat with kindness, love and grace. Quickly the cat warmed to me and now, as best as can be determined from a cat, she loves me. Our relationship is joyful and happy. Does this experience translate to life? I think so.
In the pre-digital age “level” was determined by water or bubbles. A spirit level has a small vial with liquid and a single bubble. When things are level the bubble is smack dab in the middle. I’ve come to see happiness like a spirit level. When my experience in the moment drifts away from love, grace and gratitude I feel myself on the wrong side of happiness. It’s as if I’m back with the first two cats; the loss of happiness is due to my own efforts and choices. And when my bubble is level in love, grace and gratitude all is well. It takes no greater effort to be level and happy, just a different effort.
I see so many people seeking happiness is so many ways only to find themselves empty handed; sometimes I do myself. The choice is yours to be happy or not based on how you live, not what you have or do. Like the butterfly, happiness will land on you when you pause to let it, and it will stay on you as long as you remain “level”. How is your level these days? Have you found consistent happiness in yourself? What can you do today to find a level of happiness? I’ll pray for each of you today that happiness is yours. May it be so for you. Have a great week.
Monday, November 09 2015
Do you know anybody who could benefit from some encouragement? Share this e-mail and start the process. E-mail me at email@example.com and I’ll add any interested person directly to the encouragement team! Thanks for being a blessing to this growing ministry.
“Life is either a daring adventure, or it is nothing.”
Happy Monday morning, friends! I hope the day and week have begun with great gusto for you. It is wet, cold and dreary here, but not in my spirit. I’m ready to go! So let’s get to it.
An awareness that is growing more and more common to me is the power of inertia in my life. And it’s not just that I see it in me; I see it in everyone, everywhere. Inertia is the dominant force in my biological life and I’ll bet yours, too.
Consider your life for any period of time… a week, month, year, decade, you choose the period. I’m quite certain a near straight line can be drawn in the patterns of your living over any periodic time. Mine too. I’ll generally do this week what I’ve generally done every week for years, and I’ll generally do this year what I’ve generally done every year for decades. I will be a slave to inertia in my living. But why?
Yet when we look back over our inertia-filled lives what clearly stands out are those times, moments, experiences, happenings, doings, ect. that are not of the norm. We recall with great clarity the time we did the different thing, the joy the unexpected experience brought us, and the blessing the new path gave us. Did they all? No, but neither did the humdrum of the everyday inertia. The best experiences are only possible when we intentionally break the inertia.
I do not like to think of my life as “nothing” nor would I comfortably call your life “nothing”, but plain and ordinary I accept. Why not break up the plain and ordinary with a daring adventure this week. The possibilities are endless as long as they are not in your ordinary path. Dare to do something different each week, or month in the least, and experience the joyful ride on the wild side! Can we eliminate inertia in our living? No, but we can choose to be daring in our fun, joy, difference, etc. and I challenge you do begin today. What have you to lose? Nothing. What have you to gain? A greater and better life. Let’s live, friends, and let’s start now! Have a great week.
Sunday, November 01 2015
Help spread the news of this encouraging ministry; have you acted on the challenge to share with friends? I hope so! E-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll add any interested person directly to the encouragement team! Thanks for being a blessing to this growing ministry.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
Thomas A. Edison
Good afternoon, friends. Sorry I didn’t get this encouragement to you earlier this morning. Job demands pushed my day to a later start, so it’s still early for me! At least I hope the sun is shining where you are. It’s a wet mess here. On we go…
A word that I’ve long loved is “symbiosis”, in all its grammatical variations. Symbiosis is a relationship between two living, active things that work together and depend on each other. Examples are everywhere and I’d say everything is an example. Marriages are symbiotic. Businesses are symbiotic. Friendships are symbiotic. Biology is symbiotic. Examples are indeed everywhere, and one more is opportunity. Opportunity is symbiotic.
Bear with me. Have you ever heard of what is the common experience of people who win outrageous lotteries? The inflow of money creates life changes that the unlucky winner is ill-prepared to handle, and the win very often turns out to be a curse. “Throw me in that briar patch.” you say? Think twice. We see the exact opposite experience with persons who earn vast wealth by hard work (and requisite luck). The value of work prepares the person for life in the blessing. There is a clear symbiosis between work and blessing.
Yet how many opportunities for blessings have you missed because the opportunities presented themselves naturally, symbiotically paired with work? Successful opportunities don’t come any other way, nor should they. The work it takes to be successful prepares you to fully experience and appreciate the success. In the symbiotic system it can be no other way; work and success depend on each other.
What opportunity is staring at you, with a bit of dirt on its face, and mud on its shoes, and stains on its clothes? It’s an invitation to get busy, do what you must, and know when you succeed it was a well-earned experience. I am convinced you know of what I speak, these work-laced opportunities. Take the next one by the hand; you won’t regret it. And wave to me when you speed by me! Have a great week, friends!