Whose Dream Are You Living

This month we’ve talked about living. Personally I’m a fan. I love being alive and experiencing what life has to offer us. There are things I have no interest in doing like going on a cruise or climbing Mt. Everest, but that still leaves a whole lot of things to do during the (limited) time I have. Part of life is other people. In this connected world it’s almost impossible to live without other people, especially since the internet allows us to connect so quickly and easily. But the truth is that I don’t know why you would want to live without others. Life is so much richer and so much more fun when others are involved.

But it’s a slippery slope because other people also can exert a detrimental influence over our decisions and our lives. I look at all the TV shows about kids who act or model and wonder who had the dream of getting on stage; is it the kids or are the parents living out their fantasies and dreams through their kids? Yes, others can give us really great ideas and help propel us to great success or inspire us to live life, but I believe that you should live your own life, not life for someone else.

Life should not be wasted trying to please people. Yes, you need to follow instructions from your boss or offer products and services that people want, but not at the expense of your happiness and wholeness. Each week I hear from people who are miserable because they’re trying too hard to please others, to be viral or to be the biggest and best. Rather than being everything for everyone I say it’s time we start living our own dreams. What’s your dream?

“Life is too short to be living somebody else’s dream.” Hugh Hefner

Choosing to Do Good

This month we’ve talked about living. I believe that God put each of us on this earth with our very own purpose, none of us are purpose-less. Some of us will work together more than others to make that purpose come to fruition, while others of us will operate more independently. The purpose God has for each of us is to share His message of love with our world using our gifts and talents. Some of us will share God’s message of love in really spiritual ways like being a pastor or spiritual writer. Others of us will spend time loving the world as gardeners and ecologists. And still others of us will be teachers to share love with the next generation. Just because we’re not all pastors and have clearly spiritual jobs doesn’t mean that we aren’t living our purpose or sharing God’s message of love.

The only way that we can go against God’s purpose for our lives is if we don’t live the message of love and if we encourage people in living cheating, lying, stealing, damaging lives. If we spend our time thinking up ways to mess people up or intentionally put hoops to jump through and obstacles in their path to make them work harder or try to make them fail we’re definitively not living lives that honor God.

Instead we should be looking for ways to encourage each other and help each other fulfill our purposes. We should be helping make a difference for God in the world and making the world a better place for the next generation if God sees fit to let us all live that long. Choose to do good for God this week.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.”  Hebrews 10:24

Thrive Today

We’re finishing out this month in the next week, can you believe we’re already at the end of April? This month the topic we’ve been discussing may have been less obvious: we’ve talked about living life and choosing and accepting the freedom to really live. Many of us don’t choose to live, we choose to just try to get by. Others of us are too busy living to appreciate life. But those who are living are at least choosing to live rather than choosing to let life pass them by.

This year I’m really working on making the most of each day. I shared on my business and family blog today about a recent experience with regards to one of my biggest priorities in life, my relationship with my partner. Unlike many couples we’re actually happy together, and we choose to approach each situation and opportunity with love, support and an open mind rather than judgment and suspicion. The decision to work through things together and love each other more each day was something we decided at the beginning of our relationship and has made all the difference years later.

I don’t deny that life can be challenging and have lots of twists and turns. But I believe that our acceptance of life and all that it means is the deciding factor in whether we just get through life or if we actually thrive. I don’t know about you but I would rather thrive in life. Yes, thriving does mean more responsibilities, obligations and risks, but when presented with the choice to live life or be miserable, I know what I would choose.

I believe that each of us has the power to have an amazing life. it’s just up to each of us to choose how we will face each and every day. What will today be for you?

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.” Maya Angelou

Explore on Earth Day

Some days it just seems like life is all and only about problems. It seems like one thing after another crops up. Today around the Earth is the day we remember the planet we all share: Earth Day. it’s a chance for all of us to come together and not only celebrate the planet, but raise the cry for doing better by it. It’s like New Years’ Day when countless people around the globe make resolutions, but today is a resolution to care more for that which sustains us all.

I’m not one to say the sky is falling but I do believe that we’re working day by day to permanently damage, cripple and eventually kill the world that is essential to us being alive. I believe that many of our habits and actions could be causing the serious weather changes we’re experiencing. Yet we continue with the destructive actions seemingly without too much concern for our and our grandchildren’s future.

It’s not easy to stop a speeding train on a dime, in fact it won’t happen. But I do believe we need to do better by ourselves and our planet a little each day. As I shared with my newsletter subscribers over the weekend, I think a big reason we don’t do more on behalf of our world is because we don’t spend enough time out enjoying it. We’re wrapped up in our technology and crazy full schedules and don’t make time to get out and experience nature in the raw.

So this Earth Day, go ahead and turn off your lights for an hour and get outside and enjoy nature. Explore a garden, take a walk in a park, go on a hike, have a picnic at a lake. See the world that everyone is talking about saving, and you’ll see why I want to save it too.

“On climate change, we often don’t fully appreciate that it is a problem. We think it is a problem waiting to happen.”  Kofi Annan

Choosing to Live

The celebration of Christmas is long past and the celebration of Easter just past. Both of these were a celebration of the choice that God and Jesus made to come to earth and then to die for our sins. God didn’t have to save us, He could have just wiped the slate clean and started over. But instead Jesus chose to make the public sacrifice of leaving heaven to come and live among us for 30 some years and then die so that we could be forgiven for our sins. I’m sure that there are other ways that this could have been done without all the sacrifices and symbolism, but it would not have meant as much to us or been as special then.

Christmas, Easter and Jesus’ presence on earth means we now have a choice to choose to live life as He did, fully present and passionately, or to live as the Pharisees, stuck in old beliefs and rituals, refusing to see that a new day has dawned. We can choose to remain in judgment, hatred, separation and suspicion, or choose to love until proven wrong, and even beyond that.

The prayer that has stayed with me after the Easter celebrations this week was to live each day. Jesus knew that He had a limited time on earth, and while He had a better idea of when the end would be than we do, that doesn’t mean that we should live live any less fully or openly. I choose to make a contribution to the world rather than keep living on credit, to give when I could ignore, and to care for the world and others when I could leave that up to others with more finances or time. What will you choose?

“Rather than being in hatred, let me be in love. Where there is injury let me bring pardon. Where there is doubt let me bring faith; despair let me bring hope. Where there is darkness let me bring light, and where there is sadness let me bring joy.” Frances of Assisi

Remembering Earth Day

It can be painful to watch someone you love get older. My family has been going through the dementia/Alzheimers journey with my second grandmother now (the other one had it as well and passed away a few years ago). It’s painful to deal with her as she struggles with her grip on reality, and occasionally challenging to deal with family members as questions of the future, care and finances arise. Yes, we all want what’s best for her, but there are so many questions we, and many other family members in our situation have, that we just don’t have answers to.

We don’t know how she really feels, what goes on inside her mind, what would really help her or what we can do to avoid a similar fate. Yes, there are researchers working hard on finding answers, but the way the disease works, we can’t really talk with patients to hear their end of things like you can with so many other diseases and illnesses.

Right now the part of the world I live in is transitioning to spring. There’s new growth everywhere, grass is looking more like grass and Earth Day is just a few days away. It can be hard to put things in perspective seeing all of this life and the dealing with the sickness eating away at my grandmother a little more each day. But there’s struggle in the world too, just look at California and their struggle with water, or the animals that live near places there have been oil spills, or Fukushima and Japan’s struggle with recovery after the tsunami.

As we look ahead to Earth Day next week my encouragement to you would be to appreciate what you have as long as you can, care for it as well as you can and take time to remember the good as often as possible. Spend time in nature with people you care about, make good memories and do all you can to care for the world you, I, and our children depend on for life.

Challenged by Circumstance

I don’t spend all day watching TV or even do it daily, but I do enjoy it on occasion, typically crime/detective shows. In many of these you find people who have been born into a bad situation and have never been able to get over the imprinting that happened in those years, resulting in crazy chases and serial killers who are reacting to and lashing out because of things that happened in their lives. In many situations they were given opportunities by people in their lives to get out and do things differently, yet they chose to continue down the path of destruction and hurt.  The thing that gets me is how many times these people were given the get-get-out-of-jail-free card or the do-over card and yet they chose to continue with what was familiar to them.

We may not be in similar situations to theirs, but each of us are living in a set of circumstances. Some of us have chosen and created our lives intentionally like entrepreneurs and many parents, others of us are living in the world we were told we could live in or the world we’ve never tried to break out of. I believe that just about all of us have the ability to change our circumstances. If we’re not able to change them, there is something we can change, something that may be even more influential: our attitude.

But today what we’re focusing on is the actual circumstances. If you’re in a bad relationship, get out! If you’re in a job you hate ask your boss for a change of responsibilities or discuss the problem, or find a new job. I get how hard it is to take that first step and make those changes.  So if your life is falling down around you ask for the help you need to change things. Don’t just suffer because you’re too ashamed to ask for help or talk it over with someone, choose to make the changes that are necessary for your happiness.

“Do not let circumstances control you. You change your circumstances.” Jackie Chan

Found by Grace

A topic I come back to time and again is grace. It’s one of those topics like love that can’t be simply defined and is always changing and evolving throughout your experiences and as you learn from and spend time with God. Matt Redman sings a song about grace, you can check it out here, but the lyrics are as follows:

“It’s there in the newborn cry
There in the light of every sunrise
There in the shadows of this life
Your great grace

It’s there on the mountain top
There in the everyday and the mundane
There in the sorrow and the dancing
Your great grace
Oh such grace

It’s there on a wedding day
There in the weeping by the graveside
There in the very breath we breathe
Your great grace

The same for the rich and poor
The same for the saint and for the sinner
Enough for this whole wide world
Your great grace
Oh such grace

There in the darkest night of the soul
There in the sweetest songs of victory
Your grace finds me
Yes your grace finds me

From the creation to the cross
There from the cross into eternity
Your grace finds me, yes your grace finds me…”

There are a couple things we learn from this song about grace. First, that grace exists. Second, that grace is anywhere and everywhere. Third, that God’s grace will find us anywhere we are and in whatever situations we’re in. Finally, grace is for each of us. Grace isn’t something set aside for only some of us only on some days or in some situations, it’s for all of us at all times no matter where we are. What grace do you need today?

Secrets and Sharing

This week I’ve been thinking about how well we know people.  Some of us are really secretive and don’t like to share anything, others of us seem to share our whole lives with the world.  But with the media today how much of what we see is real and how much is marketing, right?  Sometimes we’ll think we know someone really well only to find out we really don’t know them at all!  And other times we know people so well we can predict their words and actions.

It can be really intimidating to us when people know us.  Why? Because when they know us that well they can call us out on our BS and procrastination and bad habits.  It’s not fun to be called out on that stuff, even if it is necessary sometimes.  So because we fear being called out some of us try to stay away from others as much as possible or build fake relationships.  I call them fake not because the people aren’t real, but because you’re not being real with the people.

However, one of the best decisions you can make, one that’s ultimately essential to your health and sanity, is to have at least one person you can be completely honest and open with, without fear of judgement.  Personally, I believe that honesty is one of the best policies.  If we’re not honest with the people in our lives, soon we won’t be honest with ourselves.

Each day we’ve got a choice whether we’re going to open up to the people in our lives or if we’re going to hide who we are and how unique, special and interesting we are.  Don’t be afraid of your quirks or getting close, instead learn how to make the most of the time you have with the people you love.

“I don’t have any fear of intimacy, but rather thrive on it, which is rare in a public person.” Jack Nicholson

The Tax of Life

It’s that time of year again in the USA, tax time.  And every year around this time the old saying about the only guarantees in life being death and taxes.  The past few months have, as usual had stories in the news about people who almost died but miraculously recovered, people who chose to die, people who died in accidents, people who died of old age and people who died before their time.  For most people you’re either dead or living, there isn’t an in between, and without the help of modern medicine things would be even more black and white.

Just last week we were looking ahead to Good Friday when Jesus died on the cross.  But Jesus’ death was unlike other deaths because His death wasn’t about the end of His journey but really about the beginning.  His death did mean the finishing of how things were, but it was more so about what was yet to come.

When you think about death what you’re really thinking, talking and remembering about is the past. You remember the life that the person lived, who they were, what they did, who they loved, and how they lived.  If it’s an unfortunate or accidental death seemingly before their time we often talk about the life they’re missing because of their death.

The choice we have to make each and every day is how we’ll see it.  We can see it as one step closer to our death and it’s a waste of time to make an effort.  We can see it as one step closer to our death and feel the need to do crazy things.  Or we can see it as one more chance to live life as fully and passionately and purposefully as we can.  How do you choose to live your life?  Are you at peace with what people would say about your life if you died today?

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.” Leonardo da Vinci