A Generation Cries Out

This week we have two unique opportunities for students with regards to faith: See You At The Pole on Wednesday, and The Global Week of Student Prayer which began on Sunday.  See You At The Pole has been a practice for the past 25 years and is now done in countries around the world.  This year’s theme is “We Cry Out.”  I think it’s a fitting theme for the things we’re going through as a world, and the pressures that teens are experiencing now more than ever.

Each generation has their own challenges, but thanks to social media and other various kinds of technology around the world it’s easier than ever to know about the challenges that teens today are experiencing, but it’s also made the challenges increase.  For example it’s easier to communicate a secret drug buy with all the apps and text scramblers, and it’s easier than ever to bully or talk bad about someone thanks to social media.  But with that there are also more ways than ever to make your mark on the world, even among all the other people of the world that have great skills, abilities, talents and gifts, so it’s not all bad news for this generation.

Some say that See You At The Pole is more about appearances than actual faith, and that the numbers that show up at the pole don’t reflect or support spirituality all year long among students.  While I know this can be true for some, I think it’s still an important practice, especially if done by people of year-long (and life-long) faith.  I do believe it’s important to stand up and show that you believe at events like See You At The Pole, especially if it’s a practice that stretches your personal comfort zone a bit.  If it’s done by people of faith that actively live their faith, it’s also an opportunity for those who don’t have faith but are dealing with challenges personally or at home to know which of their peers they could turn to for some support and an open ear.

So to follow this year’s theme I encourage you to speak up for those who can’t as well as those who can, speak out against the practices that are harming the world we live in and the people we share it with, and pray for the wisdom to know how to lead as we move forward into the future.  There can only be change if we choose to speak out against the wrong in the world and speak up and make change for a better future.  What’s your cry for this teen generation or even your own?

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in his holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.  They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior.  Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.”  Psalm 24:3-6

Advertisements

Reality Reflection: Your Great Ideas

When was the last time you had a great idea?  Maybe it wasn’t cure AIDS or world peace great but great in it’s own context.  It could be something as simple as a great idea for dinner, or a bigger breakthrough idea for a client or at work.  Great ideas don’t have to be complicated or multi-stepped, though sometimes they are, these little bursts of insight are your mind’s way of showing you that you’re smart and capable and brilliant.  Sometimes they come immediately while other times your brain has to work through things for a bit before it can spit out greatness.

Why do I bring this up? Because as we get to the end of this month and consider what’s next I wanted to make sure we talked about mental health, including confidence.  Our minds are amazing creations that keep us going, that grow if we feed them and are essential to living.  Think about the term ‘brain dead’: without brain activity there’s nothing we can do without the help of modern medicine, but if we were to lose an arm or leg or are scarred in some other way, we could still function and even have an amazing life should we choose.

So what choices have you made thus far in your life?  Have you chosen to believe that you are capable of having good ideas and that you’re an amazing and talented person or are you just focused on the voices of others who have told you you’re not good enough or that the ideas you’ve come up with are stupid?  Now I’m not saying we all only have amazing ideas and none of your ideas were ever bad or silly, just that you are fully capable of having great, life-changing ideas that can not only rock your world but others’ as well.  Some people choose to use their minds for bad things, and you may choose that as well, but I believe it’s better to use our minds for the good of ourselves and others, rather than for harm.

My encouragement today is that you believe great things about yourself and your future, because you are worth an amazing future that allows you to show off a little who you are and what you can do, is filled with great people who love you and you’re working on achieving your big dreams and goals by overcoming the challenges and obstacles you face and coming up with new great ideas every day.

A Little Anticipation

Happy Autumn!  The new season has arrived, how are you feeling?  Are you looking forward to what is to come this season, or are you more apprehensive of the changes that are coming?  I’ve been thinking about what this season means to me and the potential it could hold.  Some of those thoughts are pretty overwhelming, and often when it comes to change it does seem overwhelming.  That could be the reason why you’ve been hesitating with changes that you’re considering in your life.

As I was thinking about autumn I was reminded of the season and events that are upcoming: winter and Christmas.  We look to Christmas (or Hanukkah) with a big sense of anticipation, even as adults.  We look forward to gatherings of family and friends.  We look forward to seeing what the stores come up with as window displays.  We look forward to our kids’ gleeful cheers and crazy antics with gift giving.  We look forward to cookies, things we let ourselves eat once a year and even leftovers seem to taste better because it’s the holidays.

Sure some of us anticipate pumpkin spice lattes, apple pie and apple and pumpkin everything that shows up this time of year. Some of us really enjoy Halloween and others really enjoy the falling leaves and autumn activities.  But do we really look forward to it as a season or are we so busy getting back into things, or missing the summer that we almost dismiss fall?  Would we adjust better and enjoy ourselves more if we lived life with anticipation rather than dread or just trying to get by?  I know that Christmas isn’t the perfect holiday, most of us can remember at least one bad one that we had (I can remember a couple that I was really sick for).  So it’s not about having the feeling of Christmas all year long, or having Christmas all year long, but about looking forward to what life sends us.

I encourage you to choose an attitude of anticipation for the rest of this month and season, rather than dread or apathy and see what awesome things come your way.

The Hope of Autumn

This week is the beginning of Autumn here in the US.  I’m not a big fan of the cold winter nights which follow autumn, but there is something awe insipring about the colors and what the trees go through every year during this season.  As a summer person I always struggle a bit with letting the summer go and moving into autumn.  Don’t get me wrong, I love curling up in a sweatshirt and with blankets in front of a fire with a cup of tea or coffee, a good book or a snuggle with my partner.  But the freedom that we have with the summer and late nights and relaxed schedules plus the warm days and lack of necessary clothing are super appealing and make it much easier to plan what to wear each day.

So every year when fall rolls around I seek out encouragement to help me get through it with a good attitude and maybe even enjoy it a bit.  As I was contemplating it today I read Genesis 8:22 which says: “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”  

This verse reminds me that God has a plan for our lives and the world, one that is often very orderly and regular. One of those things that we can really count on is the change of the seasons.  While we talk about the seasons as things ending or starting, God sees it as all part of His cycle of life, and a reason for us to keep hope alive.  This verse says that the change of seasons is very much like seeing the rainbow in the sky.  It’s a reminder that God hasn’t forgotten us, that He still has great plans for our lives and that there is still hope for the world to become a better and more faith-filled place.

What hope does this autumn bring you?

Reality Reflection: Books are Awesome

This past Friday was Read an eBook Day and September 6th was Read a Book Day, and of course it’s back to school month so there’s lots of talk of learning!  I am a huge book lover, I love reading articles online and in my emails and think that reading is one of the best ways to learn.  Of course there are other ways of learning, but to me it’s one of the best and most enjoyable.  There’s nothing quite like holding a book in your hand, but eBooks have certainly revolutionized the book industry and made it much easier for everyone to be able to read, not just those who have access to physical books or a place to keep them.

I always check out book list posts when they come through my inbox because I like to know what other people are reading both fiction and non-fiction.  Sometimes there will be books that inspire you or give you a new perspective on something that you would have never picked up yourself but thanks to someone else’s recommendation you’re able to read.  I usually go first to my local library and see if I can get the book through there since it’s not necessarily something I want to keep a copy of.

One of the things I’ve been seeing lately on posts like these and especially others that talk about the benefits of reading is how down on fiction books they are.  I love reading books about and by great leaders that can help further my knowledge about business, people and personal growth.  I’ve even read a couple good history books.  But the majority of books I read are fiction books, as are the majority of books I read with kids.

Why do I love fiction books?  First because of their passion for adventure, curiosity, love, relationships, learning, growing, dedication and sense of accomplishment.  Many authors do extensive research before doing writing and do their best to make many of the details in their books accurate to how things are in the world and given the fictional setting and characters is often a more palatable way for people to learn things.  Second because they keep us adults connected to the passion and energy that kids go through life with.  We encourage our kids to read anything they can get their hands on and enjoy when they’re kids. But when they become adults we start telling them to read newspapers and serious publications because the fiction they used to read can’t be good for anything now as adults.  But as with other things, it’s not true.

I believe there’s a need for us as adults to spend time in worlds where things are a little less structured and a lot more fun.  We’re super serious because of all that goes on in the world and because of all we’ve seen.  But just because we need to know about the reality of the world around us, doesn’t mean that a little fun, adventure and out-of-the-box thinking can’t get us just as far or further than if we just work with the box.  So get out there this week and try a new author, read a favorite author’s latest book, or pick up one of your favorites and get lost in it for a little while.

A Little Quiet Health

When it comes to health we spend a lot of time talking about what to do, or the actions to take to become healthier.  In 2016 that’s a really important thing to do because of all our technology, desk jobs, TV habits and other sedentary pleasures.  Don’t get me wrong, I love those activities (I love reading), do them myself and spend a lot of my day sitting or being less mobile (it’s not great to be huffing and puffing on the phone with a client).  So it’s important that during the hours we are mobile and “doing” health activities that we really do make the most of it.

That said, just doing, blindly or not, isn’t the goal with health.  Health isn’t just about “doing” the right thing (though sometimes actions are required), it’s about a state of being, about how you feel and about how you see and interact with the world.  If you have your day scheduled from one health activity to the next you may be missing out on the opportunity to find peace and mental health.  That’s only found when you take breaks and have fun.

I know it may not seem fun to do things like meditating, napping and sitting quietly, but those times of peace and reflection help you understand your goals and if they’re really what you want or if you need to make an adjustment, and work through the challenges and situations you are experiencing in your life (rather than just reacting to them), as well as take a break from the action of the world.  Let’s be honest: when was the last time you had a good break?  Do you make time for them on a regular basis?  If not you should, even if it means you have to get a sitter for the kids or trade off with another family or your partner.  Some people choose to get up early or stay up late because that’s the best time they know to find quiet.

The other thing I mentioned was fun.  Having health means you have more opportunities for fun, and health isn’t just about ‘chores’ that have to be done.  You can make them fun family activities, like getting dinner ready together, taking hikes in the national parks near you or visiting farmer’s markets to check out new foods to try.  Health is also a great couple’s activity, like long walks, cooking classes and quiet time together.

But before you run off and get active this weekend, take some time to consider how you can work a little rest, reflection and relaxation into your life.  You’ll find it easier to get through the challenges as they happen and feel better about all the things you have to do to be healthy or become healthier.

“Ceaseless activity, constant mental and emotional commotion, is not just the avoidance of our unwanted sense of emptiness, but (it is) also complicit in its continuing cause.” Guy Finley

A Healthy Next Generation

The Bible talks a lot about parenting and how important it is to consider the next generation.  We have seen what happens when the next generation doesn’t care or doesn’t have the standards of the previous one, or is the opposite and believes that the past generations haven’t been doing a good job in their roles of caretaker, provider, protector and teacher.  Right now we’re in a mix of all these, there are those who believe we’ve been doing a great job at killing the earth through some of our practices and are making strides to change that, and then there are others who haven’t learned manners and don’t really care what happens to the next generation as long as they get to enjoy their time.

But as I said, over and over the Bible talks about how important it is to be teaching each other what is good. Yes, that means in the Biblical and spiritual sense, but also about the basic good things like love, peace, consideration, empathy, sympathy, critical thinking, community and kindness.  These aren’t spiritually motivated things specifically, but at the same time they can be done as part of your daily spiritual practice.

During His time on earth Jesus spent some time talking about and spending time with children.  He didn’t ignore them or count them out because they were ‘too young to know what the adults were talking about.’  Instead, He emphasized the fact that they were valuable and important and should be taught and loved, not just ignored until they were old enough to matter.  They’re also a great source of curiosity and wisdom that we often unfortunately lose touch with as we get older and more involved with the world and our responsibilities.  So not only should we be teaching them and thinking of them as we make choices and live our lives, we should be watching and learning from them too.

How healthy is your relationship with and attitude towards the next generation?  Are you so focused on your generation that you aren’t seeing the future ones?