Victories for Spring

Each day we’re faced with challenges, it’s one of the things I look forward to each morning and dread too.  There are days you don’t know what’s waiting for you, and sometimes what you are expecting that day isn’t something you’re looking forward to.  So today I have a challenge for you, as said by General George S. Patton:

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”  

We can get so caught up in the struggle, and feel like we’re so far from ever reaching our destination that we can forget about what it feels like to have a victory.  The length and fight of the struggle dissuades many people from choosing or accepting challenges, so many people stay stuck, poor, unhappy and alone.  Because we’ve forgotten how great the victory is we’re living partial, unfulfilled lives.

This is one reason why I encourage all my clients to celebrate little victories as well as big ones, because if you don’t celebrate the little ones along the way you’ll never get to the big one.  If we don’t get to the victories the journey of life is one long stretch of challenges that are pointless really.  Challenges exist for two reasons: to help you grow and to get you to victories.  If neither of those is happening, what’s the point?

So this week and this spring choose some challenges to accept, challenges that you know will bring you to a quick victory, little or big.  Once you’ve learned how you personally work through challenges it becomes a lot easier to accept them and pace yourself so that you achieve victories on a regular basis and in every season of your life.  Let this spring be the start of the rest of your life.

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Changes for Easter

Easter was yesterday and as has happened in past years the weather was a little more drab and dark.  It doesn’t always feel like Easter when it’s not warm and the sun is shining, but with it as early as it was this year, despite spring being early itself, it’s not surprising it wasn’t really warm or sunny yesterday.  Easter is always to me a festive occasion, Christmas is more of a quiet celebration, while Easter is bigger and more of a cheerful celebration, especially since it’s after Good Friday.

Easter is all about new life.  If you attended church or watched a service online the pastor probably encouraged you to look for the areas of your life where you need to make changes and encourage new growth.  There are lots of ways to encourage new growth in your life, but with growth of any kind usually comes change.  So I was thinking about how we could make the transition to new life and new growth through the necessary changes a little easier and Galatians 5:22-23 came to mind:

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

It’s not easy to make big changes in your life like jobs, relationships or location, so what if we started with something a little less involved but no less challenging: changing our attitude and how we treat others.  It’s not easy to look at people you’ve known for a long time in a new light, nor is it easy to not fall into old habits and rhythms. But God challenges us to let the Holy Spirit guide us into better relationships and better hearts.

So what will your choice be after this Easter?  Will you choose to start turning over a few new leaves in your life?

Reality Reflection: “Good” Friday?

Today in some of the religious world is Good Friday.  It’s the day that people remember the death of Jesus on the cross.  Many people question why we celebrate Good Friday each year.  It’s not a happy event, and to an extent I understand their skepticism in our very visual and frequent honoring of the event.  I mean the icon churches around the world use to show that they’re a church is the cross.  They don’t use a grave or a stone or angels or a manger, no, they use the cross.  People everywhere wear crucifixes and crosses as necklaces.  Do we really want to commemorate a man’s death?  Or is there more to it than that?

I think there’s more to it, I think that as important as Easter and Jesus’ resurrection is maybe Good Friday is just as or more important.  Why? Because as awesome as eternal life is, and it’s really awesome, it would not be the same if we were carrying the baggage of sin with us.  Could you imagine what forever would look like if we had to carry our sins? It would look like earth as we know it forever, rather than heaven as we have been told eternal life will be.   So in order to get the future we dream of and were promised something had to happen to free us, and that something was Jesus’ death on the cross.

This shows me how important freedom and forgiveness are.  Are you spending enough time in your life working on freedom and forgiveness or are you so focused on dreams and the ultimate goal that you’re missing out on what’s going on around you and how you’re reaching your goals?  If you’re just focused on the end result when you get there you may find out that the damage you caused along the way makes the end result not worth it.  Are there people you need to free and forgive in your life, maybe including yourself? If so choose this weekend to start the healing process.

Cleaning Up for Spring

It seems like spring is really here! There are signs of spring everywhere. But what I’ve seen this week as well is something that I’ve noticed in past years: the world looks really dirty and drab after winter. There’s something about the combination of spring sunlight and bits of green poking out that make it really obvious how much of a toll the death and stillness of winter has, not to mention what we do with our liberal use of salt on roads and parking lots.

It’s a little discouraging to look outside and see that drab and dead looking world compared to the bursts of spring that are popping up. It got me thinking about our lives though, and how we go through these cycles too. Have you moved any furniture recently? If so you’ve probably met up with a dust bunny or a family of them. What did you do? Be honest, did you just move the furniture into position and let the dust bunnies resettle where they would or did you get out the vacuum and clean them up?

Sometimes what’s necessary is not just “new” but to clean out the old. Don’t just paint over the bad stuff in your life or the stuff you don’t like, take the time to do what you can to actually get rid of it. Don’t keep it hanging around for old times’ sake, there’s no reason to if you don’t like it.

Sometimes you can move stuff around and it’s the a fresh perspective that you were looking for. But more often than not what’s necessary is some actual cleaning and removal. Do the best and most complete job the first time around rather than having to come back again when spring has sprung in your life and you’ve got all this new growth competing with all that’s left over from the past. What will you clean up this week?

“The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also.”  Harriet Ann Jacobs

The Spring of Eternal Life

This month we’ve been talking about spring and what spring means, and one of the most obvious things it means is new life. There’s a kind of life that we would be remiss if we did not talk about when talking about new life this month: that of eternal life. What happens after death is something that has been pondered since the beginning of time. Each civilization, group of people, culture, part of the world and span of time has their own ideas on what comes next, some that are similar and others that are vastly different. What most people groups can agree on is that there definitely is something “next,” whether it’s reincarnation, the afterlife, purgatory, hell or eternal life, this life isn’t the end.

What is awesome about the Christian belief of Eternal Life is that not only is there something after this life, it’s something better, and that something better is possible because of love. How cool is that?! I mean there’s so much talk about how commercialized love is and how it’s thrown around too much and not truly valued, but if you want proof of value here it is!

As we dive into this Holy Week of 2016 not only is it an opportunity to reaffirm our faith in Jesus and our belief that He is The Way, The Truth and The Life, it’s also an opportunity to share some love with those in our communities and our churches. Easter is one of the biggest attendance days for the Church so not only are the C&E (Christmas and Easter) people present, you’ve got people who have a feeling that they want something more out of their life and figure that because the church will be so crowded they can just slip in unnoticed. As you go to various church activities in the next week I encourage you greet those you don’t recognize. But don’t do it in a way that will embarrass them or make them feel guilty for being there, but to let them know they’re welcome and you’re genuinely glad to see them. If they seem like they want to chat offer to treat them to coffee (no, not the coffee that will be served after the service) and get to know them better. It could be your opportunity to share about the gift of Eternal Life with them.

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him.”  1 John 4:9

Reality Reflection: The Insanity of Daylight Savings Time

This past weekend we went through the experience of daylight savings time where I live.  I’m not a fan of the whole time change thing, it’s a hassle I don’t need.  I don’t mind it because of the lost/gained hour of sleep depending on which end of the daylight savings time (DST) we’re on, I have a great schedule that lets me catch up.  What I don’t like is the hassle it creates when trying to communicate with people in other parts of the world outside of my time zone (which is challenging enough), the difficulty of changing all the clocks and the grumpy people for several days after.

Like many controversial things DST has people who celebrate it and those who say there’s no reason to have it anymore.  I can see both sides.  I agree that changing the time may be helpful to those who like light at the beginning/end of the day.  However, the research that has been done into the costly effects of doing DST is very convincing.  One of the biggest aspects has to do with our use of electricity and lighting.  We’re not all on farms anymore and have to get up at the crack of dawn and are dependent on our ability to see by natural light to do our work.  Now we’ve got electricity to light up our world and research shows that the changes of dark and light with the time change actually raise our use of electricity.

So the controversy of DST is really another discussion on the topic of insanity.  By continuing to do DST are we doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?  If the research is right then DST definitely falls into the category of insanity, especially if we care about the future of the earth.

While you and I may not have a whole lot of influence over whether or not the powers that be will get rid of the practice of DST there are probably other insanities in your life that you can conquer, maybe even some that have to do with being productive like DST is supposed to address.   Don’t be afraid of what you’ll lose if you make changes and try to move away from the insanities, instead focus on all that you can gain.

Blessings for Spring

Today certainly seemed like spring is just about here!  I’m super excited as you can tell.  I love spring because it means winter is ending!  Summer is my favorite season but spring definitely is a season I love.  This week as we take a look at Irish sayings and proverbs I wanted to share one that has the hope of this season we’re entering:

“May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.”

Spring is one of the ultimate promises.  It comes around every year to remind us that our journey isn’t in vain, that the struggles we face, depression we work through, ways we fail, people who challenge us, and losses we experience will all work out somehow.  It’s also a reminder of how we should treat each other: that we should do our best to bless others through our words and actions, not add to their stresses.

You may be thinking about how much you’re going to drink for St. Patrick’s Day, but what if instead of drinking or instead of just drinking we tried to share as many blessings with others as possible?  What if instead of thinking about all the things wrong with your life while drinking and trying to drown them with your drink, instead you talked about all the things you can celebrate?

If you could use a break from the stress of your life, don’t use tomorrow as an excuse to drink your problems away.  Instead use tomorrow as an opportunity to celebrate all that you do have and all that the future, and the spring that is fast arriving, promises to bless you with.