Saved by Love

I’ve been thinking a lot through this month and as we head into next month about our value in life. We haven’t heard about a lot of suicides in the news recently, but statistics say they happen about every 15 minutes, and every day people who are young die for various reasons including car crashes, diseases and some are just unexpected heart attacks or other unforeseen accidents. You never know when it will be your day to go, and you never know when a day will be your last.

Today as we finish this month discussion on love I don’t mean to talk about living your life to the fullest so you can say you did, but about the incredible opportunity of contributing to someone else’s life. It is important to value your own life and take care of your self mentally, physically and spiritually. But each of us has the opportunity to do more than just live our little lives in our little bubble: we can make a difference for someone else.

There are millions of people around the world suffering with depression, having a bad day, or struggling with a life situation who would be so blessed by a kind word, little gift, or knowledge that someone has been through what they’re going through and survived. You can be the one that brings hope through a shared Facebook post, paying for someone else’s drink at Starbucks, partnering with a local church as a resource for those going through what you’ve been through or writing a blog with your thoughts and encouragements.

You never know, you could save someone’s life today. Who will you encourage?

“You just might be the miracle someone is looking for today.” Mary Morrissey

Overcoming with Love

This month we’ve talked about love.  It’s a topic I’m passionate about because I’ve seen the amazing things love can do.  I’ve been blessed with a loving family and a loving partner, people who support me through the good and bad, people I can trust and people who trust me.  There are people around the world who aren’t loving or trusting, we’ve seen lots of evidence of that from the fights and atrocities around the world in the news every day of late.  You can find examples of the lack of love closer to home too with the random murders, hate crimes and prejudices that people have and allow to let rule them.

But we’ve also seen example after example of how determined to survive and thrive people are; people who are found after years in captivity, people who survive unbelievable weather conditions, people who overcome the physical or mental limits they have. It’s these people who remind us why life is worth living despite the significant evidence to the contrary.

It’s been said before that the true evidence of who you are is only visible after you’ve gone through life’s most stressful and challenging tests.  It’s who you are after cancer has ravaged your body, who you are after your partner is killed by a drunk driver, who you are after you experience several miscarriages, it’s who you are after being without a job for years, or who you are after the tsunami destroys your world.  What have life’s tests and challenges revealed about you?

I hope that they’ve shown that you’re a survivor, that you’re strong and capable, that you’re powerful beyond anything you ever believed and that you can make a difference despite or in spite of all things you face.  If you haven’t made it quite through yet, you’ve got a chance to become the person you always wanted to be, or better.

“They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know that we were seeds.”  Mexican Proverb

Love in Light

We’ve talked this month about love and the power it can have in our lives.  Love is a choice we each have to make; will we love ourselves, will we love our families, will we love our partner, will we love our kids, will we love our coworkers, will we love strangers?  The choice we make determines what kind of life we’ll live.  Will it be a life of light and possibilities, of victories and successes, of helping and supporting, or will it be a life of darkness and judgments, fears, shame and disagreements?

When we choose to add love to our lives, when we choose to help others rather than hurt them, and when we choose to contribute to the growth of the world, we’re choosing to shine a light on all that’s good, on the hope for a better tomorrow, on the belief that people are inherently good and not out to get us.  But when we choose to hate, to judge, to corrupt, to waste, to condemn we’re allowing the darkness to take a stronger hold on our world.

Holly Gerth said it well: “The only way to get rid of darkness is to add more light.”  If you’re tired of seeing the news reports, if you’re tired of seeing people hurt, if you’re tired of seeing the destruction of the world, the only thing to do is let in more light, share more love, invite God to make a difference and spread hope in a struggling world.

What choice will you make this week?  Will you be light or dark, love or hate, acceptance or rejection?

“I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark.” John 12:46

I Believe in Success

What you believe about yourself is one of the greatest indications of how successful you can be.  If you believe you can be successful you’ll have the motivation, the focus, the drive and the willingness to do what it will take to accomplish your goals.  If you don’t believe you have the abilities, the confidence, the means or are worth being successful you won’t get there.   Success means different things to each of us, some of us will find success in a monetary value, others in a family one, and others in making a difference in the world, so the definition of success isn’t what we’ll talk about today, but that I believe you have the ability to be successful, we all do.

Every day I see things in the news that are an unbelievable waste of time, from random crimes and large scale unprovoked violence, to physical abuse and cyber bullying.  They’re a waste of time because if life is all about the result that you achieve, the success you achieve, the success you achieve from any of these actions isn’t going to get you more than a passing rush and won’t make the world a better place for future generations.   I believe that everyone has something of value they can contribute to the daily workings of the world or to the future world.  It’s their choice, it’s your choice, what kind of future is created.

I believe in you.  I believe that you have abilities that are needed in the world, whether that’s in raising the next president, discovering a medical breakthrough, creating a business that gives people jobs, or just making someone else smile.  We won’t all believe the same thing or agree on everything, that’s the beauty of each of us being different.  The one thing we should all agree on is that we each have value and the potential to make an amazing difference in the world.  It’s unfortunate that there are so many people around the world who refuse to see or tap into that belief.  Take time this weekend to check your beliefs.  Are your beliefs holding back your success?

“We are what we believe we are.” CS Lewis

Live for Today

With the false snow alerts we’ve had in New Jersey over the past few weeks it gives me hope that we at least may be heading towards spring, even if up north they’re still buried under snow.  With spring comes talk of new life.  I love talking about new life because we talk about hope, we feel more confident that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and tomorrow may finally arrive.  But what I think we forget with all that goes on in our lives is that even the dark days mean that we’re alive for one more day.

I know it’s hard to get perspective when you’re swimming in depression or just got fired, got bad news from the doctor, are having trouble with your kids or just woke up on the wrong side of the bed (even if your bed only has one side).  It’s really easy to forget the gift you have in that day when all you see is the laundry list of things to accomplish.

Which is exactly why it’s important to leave reminders around your house and work place, to have friends who are good influences on you and don’t drag you into bad habits, to be in a relationship with a partner who loves you and you work well with, and to take time to care for yourself so that you don’t fall into the traps that you’ll uncover and find the strength to keep going and look for the good in life.

Not every day will be a good day.  But every day is a gift and I believe that if you were to unwrap your day you would find that the value you can contribute to the world far outweighs the bad stuff.  One of the reasons the world suffers so is because we’re not stepping into our value and living our lives as the gift they are.  We’re refusing to see the potential in the day and focusing instead on the not-so-good aspects that will probably be there until we’re all dead.  All of the bad stuff may never go away but it’s not your responsibility to fix everything, just to do what you can. God has given you another day, what will you do with today?

“God gives us life and takes us away as He sees fit.” Johnny Cash

Overflowing Love

Ah the Monday after Valentine’s Day, I’m sure you or someone you know is sighing their relief that all the love stuff and talk will go away for another year.  But if I could be honest with you, that wouldn’t be my wish.  This weekend in my devotional I shared about how love is something so much more than a feeling to be recognized once a year.  As we’ve been talking about this month love is powerful, it’s not something that can be avoided and it takes work!  If you know anything about work you know that it’s not done typically in a matter of minutes but it’s necessary to be given consistent effort and attention over a typically longer period of time.

Love, like work, isn’t easy, that’s not part of love’s definition.  But I have found that love is easier when I’m willing to embrace it for all it is and all it can be.  My partner and I, just like you and any relationship you’re in or will get in had to make a tough choice when we got together and continue to make that tough choice every day: to love enough to overcome the challenges and problems and be the best supporter and helper we can be for the other person.  It’s not about being perfect, it’s about loving him enough to be willing to work through the tough stuff and remember the good stuff and the reasons why we spend out lives together.

What I’ve learned is that love, when shared, when focused on, and when embraced doesn’t go away or become a chore, it grows.  The challenges are worth it because the love gets bigger and better with each day, each hug, each conversation, each dream, and each walk.  We’ve decided not to let the things that could separate or divide us keep us apart.  Instead we’ve chosen to love each other more and spread that love through the world.  What will your choice be this week?

“And may the Lord make your love for one another and for all people grow and overflow, just as our love for you overflows.”  1 Thessalonians 3:12

Truths of Love

With Valentine’s Day tomorrow I wanted to share 4 truths of love; 4 things you may see as stereotypes or insignificant, but really play an important role in who we are and the way we are in relationships.

Everyone wants (to be) a hero/heroine: Not only do we want to be in a relationship that our partner sees us as the best thing since sliced bread, we also want to have someone come in and rock our world. There’s no need to hide from this, in fact it’s really who we are as humans: we like being successful, being seen as important and knowing that at least one other person’s life is better because we are in it.

Everyone wants to belong: no one likes to deal with all the bad stuff alone, we all like to know that we’re needed, that someone would miss us if we weren’t and that we fit somewhere in the world. The world has become more accepting and open over the past few decades, but we still have a ways to go to having less fear over being honest about who we are and what we need.

Everyone needs reinforcement/feedback: how many times a day do you tell your partner you love them? My partner and I make it a point to say it several times a day to each other, even if it’s a random text message. We all get busy, we get overwhelmed, we forget, fears and doubts creep in, issues happen and we wonder if it’s worth it and if we’re doing the right thing. We need to tell each other how much we matter and how committed we are to the relationship.

Everyone enjoys a good love story: say what you will but the 50 Shades premiere this weekend will be big. You may not support that type of intense relationship, but it’s really about something that is essential to each of our relationships: two people learning how to make a life together with all the baggage each of us has, the needs we all have and being willing to put it all out there and live life full throttle. Don’t you want a relationship that excites, thrills and fulfills you? You don’t have to add the drama, bondage or film crew to your life to have a fantastic story, you just have to be willing to go for it.

What will you do to celebrate your partner this weekend?

Love that Fails or Succeeds

Failure scares us. As we look ahead to Valentine’s Day this weekend in the USA I thought we should talk about 5 reasons why relationships fail or aren’t as successful as you want them to be.

Lack of persistence and discipline: A relationship only lasts and endures if you don’t give up and keep putting in the time and effort to keep it not only alive but thriving. One of the things I always tell couples I work with is how important it is to have date nights/times. You may think that dating is only for pre-marriage convincing and getting to know you. However, dating gives you and your partner the chance to catch up, be adults, and nurture your relationship, but only when done consistently.

Lack of conviction: if you aren’t fully on board with the relationship your actions and attitudes will reflect that. You won’t do all that it takes to make the relationship work, you will think more about your doubts than your hopes, and you’ll constantly be waiting for the other shoe to drop and your partner to call it quits. If you’re not fully invested in the relationship your partner will know that and won’t want to fully participate either.

Rationalization: instead of taking the time to really work things through and come to solutions and answers that work for everyone all too often we just make up stories and lies to make ourselves feel better. However, in doing this we’re injecting doubt and possibly irrational fears into our relationship, and usually end up making mountains out of molehills or not seeing the issue for the iceberg it is.

Dismissal of past mistakes (without learning): forgiveness is absolutely necessary in every relationship, but the forgiveness is only worth it if you’ve taken the time to learn from what went wrong so you don’t repeat it. It may take a couple of tries to not do it again, but you won’t ever be over it or stop it if you don’t know what went wrong.

Poor self esteem: I close with this one because it’s the one that many people struggle with the most: believing they 110% are worth an amazing relationship. I fully believe that there is a special someone out there for each of us, someone who will treat you with the respect, honor, love, joy, and patience you deserve. There is no reason why you can’t have your happily ever after, it may take kissing a few frogs first though.

What relationship challenge will you work on this week?

The Power of Love

When God created the world He put a lot of awesome things into it, things that we’ve managed to screw up over the years, sometimes intentionally, other times by accident, and one of those things is love. It’s been turned over, had holes poked into it, been ridiculed, been avoided, been crushed and been exploited all making it very hard to see it for what it really is. As we look this week at love and relationships as part of this month of love and Valentine’s Day this weekend I wanted to look at what love can be.

Love can be a safe haven. After you’ve reached out to God, your partner should be the first person you go to when something happens because you know that your mutual love will support you through whatever happens. You should be confident in the knowledge that at the end of the day no matter what you can go home to your partner and know that they will be there with love.

Love is powerful. Love does have the ability to bring down kingdoms, make people stand in front of a bullet, and save people from choosing suicide or an addiction. When we don’t allow love to be all that it can be, with God and in our world, we’re not able to access its full power, and suffer as a result.

Love should be enjoyed. I’m really sick of seeing miserable couples around the world and on TV. If your relationship is that bad you shouldn’t be in it! You should be in a relationship that makes you want to dance in the rain, sing songs, and tell the world.

Going into this week and weekend I encourage you to check on the one and/or two most important love relationships in your life: that of you and God and you and your partner if you have one. Is the love still there, are you tapping into the power of love, or are you going through the motions?

“But as for me, I will sing about your power. Each morning I will sing with joy about you unfailing love. For you have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress.” Psalm 59:16

The Tale of the To-Do List

A to-do list is a powerful tool. It can keep us on track, help us accomplish our goals and help us avoid distractions and procrastinations. But many of us have to-do lists for our to-do list (guilty!). It can be easy to get on that hamster wheel of doing things and forget what the real goal of the to-do list is (no it’s not just to cross things off, even though that feels really good). The actual goal of the to-do list is to help us become more or have more than what we were or had when we started.

But as you well know the to-do list is really endless, we cross one thing off and 1, 2 or 3 more things get added. It’s like this at work, in business, at home, in family and in relationships, there’s always more to do. This is one reason why it’s so important to be more focused on what the things on the to-do list have the power to help you become or achieve than being stressed out by the number of things on that list.

A to-do list helps keep you on track for those accomplishments and opportunities for growth, helps you keep going when you hit blocks and ditches, and helps you set goals so you can celebrate mini victories along the way. A to-do list is really a map to incredible opportunities and a sneak peek at the potential you have in your life. If you want to know where your life is headed take a look at your to-do list.

Start this weekend to go over your to-do list and see what it says about you, and take the time to write up a new one that better guides you on the path to success and the dreams you have for your life.

“Instead of thinking about all you have to DO to accomplish this goal, think about all you have to BECOME.” Darren Hardy