Reality Reflection: Memories and Reality

Tomorrow in the USA we celebrate Memorial Day.  It’s one of the days we take each year to honor the men and women who have fought for the country we call home, some paying the ultimate price.  I believe that whether you agree with the concept of war, or even with a specific war, or not, it’s our honor and responsibility as Americans to respect and remember these men and women and their families.

There have been some things that have happened throughout the years that some people more than others have questioned how real they were or what the actual story was (for example the moon landing, Bigfoot and Flight 370 from Malaysia). Unfortunately I don’t think we can ever say that the wars didn’t happen.  There is too much evidence, too many stories and too many people were killed.  The reality is these wars have happened and will continue to happen for the foreseeable future (as much as I wish they wouldn’t).  The reality is there will be men and women who will continue to go to war and their loved ones who will stay home and pray they’ll see them again.

I’ve never joined the military and while my grandfather did he was never one for telling those stories, which is totally understandable.  However, I believe some of the stories should be told.  We should hear how horrible war is occasionally, maybe we’ll fight a few less of them then.  But also, the men and women who fought should feel comfortable telling their stories rather than feeling like they have to keep it to themselves or the only person who “wants” to hear it is their appointed shrink.

So for those of us who aren’t directly part of the war effort, our job is to support those who are.  You can donate to any number of charities who support veterans from employment related ones to those who raise service dogs.  As business owners we can make it a policy to hire veterans and offer discounts to veterans.  And anyone can sign veteran support petitions or volunteer their time for veteran related causes.

The worst thing we can do though is forget (or try to forget) the wars and the men and women who were part of them.  No one deserves to be forgotten, ignored, disrespected or rejected, especially not those who have made such large sacrifices.  Who do you remember on Memorial Day?

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All About Fun

This month our topic is ‘fun’ so today I’ve got some quotes for you about fun, having fun, being fun, and finding fun.

“Even though you’re growing up, you should never stop having fun.” Nina Dobrev

“Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun.” Randy Pausch

“Fun is one of the most important – and underrated – ingredients in any successful venture. If you’re not having fun, then it’s probably time to call it quits and try something else.”  Richard Branson

“Just keep taking chances and having fun.”  Garth Brooks

“You can be childlike without being childish. A child always wants to have fun. Ask yourself, ‘Am I having fun?'”  Christopher Meloni

The reason that you dance and sing is to make the audience feel like they’re dancing and singing. As long as you’re having fun with it and giving it 100 percent, they’re gonna feel that.” Heath Ledger

“If you’re not having fun – I don’t care what you’re doing – don’t do it. Move on. Find something else, life’s too short.” Jerry Doyle

“This is the ultimate con game – I’m having fun and people pay me to do it.” Adam Osborne

“If I can contribute to people having fun, I would feel very fulfilled as an artist.” Shakira Having

“You gotta have fun. Regardless of how you look at it, we’re playing a game. It’s a business, it’s our job, but I don’t think you can do well unless you’re having fun.”  Derek Jeter

“The family teaches us about the importance of knowledge, education, hard work and effort. It teaches us about enjoying ourselves, having fun, keeping fit and healthy.”  Kamisese Mara

“I have a fun clause in my contract. If I’m not having fun, I can leave.” James Burrows

“People want to be creatively satisfied, and having fun is such an important part of that.” John Lasseter

What does fun mean to you?

Daily Victories

We celebrated the official day of Easter a little over a month ago, but people of the Christian faith are always celebrating Easter because it signifies the hope that we have for life today, tomorrow and forever. Easter gives us the motivation to keep going even when we’re faced with the challenges of life. In some ways just the action of Jesus coming back to life is enough to bring us hope, but He went beyond that and gave us the opportunity for eternal life, because Easter was more than just Jesus rising from the dead, it was Jesus overcoming the grave and the death that could be the end for each of us, if not for His sacrifice.

The two fold challenge is that while we have the ability to live our lives in victory every day we are faced with all the stuff going on in the world. First, it’s hard to always be upbeat and see the victories of life when life is going down the tubes, and second, it’s really not right to be the happy-go-lucky person when there’s a big tragedy going on. God understands the need to take time to cry and mourn, there’s nothing wrong with dealing with those emotions in this world, as long as the sin remains in our world.   While there’s a tragedy in someone’s life somewhere in the world every day, I would hope that the good days far out-count the bad ones in your life.  And even in some of those not-so-great situations you still can choose to have a positive attitude, it may be what helps you retain your sanity through the challenges.

But when you’re not experiencing a tragedy, and the world that you live in isn’t being affected by one at the moment either, there are lots of opportunities for victories.  Victories can be found in big and small opportunities, from finding a bedspread you and your partner both like, to finding the perfect parking spot, to your home cooked meal turning out great, to the kids doing their homework without complaint, to completing the assigned task at work on time.  Those may seem like little things, but they’re the kind of thing that we run into on a daily basis in our lives, victories aren’t just about the big things in our lives like Easter.  Jesus performed many miracles before Easter that were pretty awesome to those people. so why should your ordinary victories be any less victorious than the big ones?

I encourage you to find at least one victory each day to celebrate.  If you can’t find one good thing that happened in your day, one thing to celebrate, one thing that amazed you, or one person you’re thankful for, we need to have a serious talk about your attitude and what’s going on in your life.  What victory will you encounter today?

“Wherever in your life is victory; there is resurrection. Wherever in your life is joy, there is resurrection. Wherever in your life is wonder, there is resurrection. Wherever in your life is resurrection, there is Christ calling you to follow him out of death into his larger and more glorious life.” Br. James Koester

Reality Reflection: Focusing on the Real Issue

This week I was visiting the Facebook page of an author I enjoy and saw that their PR person (and friend) had posted an update sharing a little on the health issues the author has had, explaining some of the delays to books being published or written and had some choice words for the people who leave negative comments about how long it takes for books to get done or why the author hasn’t written books they’ve been promising for years.

I know it’s not easy to be disappointed and to wait for things that you’re looking forward to, but no one actually schedules into their life getting sick, divorces, job loss, flat tires or rebellious kids (or any of the other things that pop up into our lives).  I also understand the interest in and need for schedules and deadlines, it’s an important way to make sure things in life (including work) keep moving forward.  But when you’re more concerned by the work than your own health or the health of someone else, I get worried.

I personally love to read, and of course I’m a little sad when I hear that it’s going to be another 6 months or year until one of my favorite authors is coming out with a new book, not to mention how bad I feel for the author and all they’re going through.  But one, I’d rather know the author will write again, than that they’re dead or done writing.  Second, there are so many authors out there in every genre to read that to say you’ve only got one author you read and be completely dependent on them for books is pretty silly.  Finally, if you’re so worked up over the fact that a fiction book isn’t being published or written yet that you have to leave nasty comments, I would have serious questions about your attitude towards life and about what goes on in your life.

But this is about more than just one author or one book, it’s about how we treat each other.  What gives you the right to bash on someone else?  It’s one thing to give feedback to someone or a company in a private manner, it’s another to tell the whole world how they’ve failed you and how pissed you are.  There are a few situations when that’s appropriate, but that’s not the typical case.  There’s also a difference between helping someone move on from a person or situation in their life and being rude and nasty about how stuck they’ve gotten and how stupid you think they’re being.  I know it can be a difficult line to find and not cross, especially in this very public world that we live in, but my encouragement to you would be to take a step back before you offer criticism or say what you’re thinking before you think about it.

I encourage you to choose words that will help, encourage and support this week, and look to build up your relationships, not destroy them.

A Meaningful Life

The one thing that most people want in life is to know that their life is meaningful.  No one wants to reach the end of their life and feel like they’ve wasted all their opportunities.  I think this lines up really well with our topic of the month, fun, because we tend to enjoy life more when we’re feeling useful, helpful, and needed.  Doing good brings a strong feeling of pride to us and makes us feel (almost) invincible, or at least like our favorite superhero.  Living a meaningful life can also be really humbling because you’re having a possibly significant impact on someone’s life, an impact that can change them and their future in amazing ways, maybe giving them the opportunity to do really big things, things that you personally could never do.

Living a meaningful life can only happen if you’re willing to take action in your life.  It’s very difficult for most of us to live a meaningful life from our couches.  There are a few people who do, but most of us have to get out into the world in some way to make an impact, or at the very least interact with other people.

I think that living a meaningful life has to start with believing in yourself and that you have a gift (or several) you can share with the world.  None of us are perfect, but we’re not required to be perfect, know everything or be good at everything in order to live a life of meaning or make a difference in the world.  You don’t have to be the best baker to design websites.  You don’t have to know anything about phones to paint.  You don’t have to like animals to be a doctor.  The list, and comparisons, are endless.  Someone else is good at each of those things, but they don’t have to be good at others in order to fulfill a purpose, help someone else or feel fulfilled by life.  In fact, if you try to do everything I don’t think you’ll find much happiness or meaning in your life.

You don’t have to wait until the end of your life to appreciate living a life of meaning either, you can enjoy it and feel fulfilled by it today.  Many people also say that they find great pleasure, and fun!, by doing what they’re good at and making a difference in the world.  Rather than trying to fight against the direction your life is pulling you in because you’re scared or feel stuck or don’t feel like you’re ready to make the jump, I would encourage you to work on at the very least dipping your toes into those things that you know make you feel more fulfilled and make your life more meaningful this week.  Try at least one thing out that you’ve been wanting to do or get a little more creative about how you can incorporate those things into your current activities.  What brings meaning to your life?

Rivers of Life

I was reading a very interesting article about how rivers can be a representation of our lives.  The other option is to be a stagnant pool of water.  I don’t know about you but I’d rather be a moving river than a mosquito home.  Throughout the Bible the topic of rivers are returned to again and again, including a very painting-worthy passage in Ezekiel 47.  Rivers were often used because the people knew them to be a source of life, and in using them as a teaching example the listeners could more easily understood the concept of the living word and life of God, especially before the birth and death of Jesus (although there are lots of examples in the New Testament, too).

Where are you at in your life right now?  Are you in a stagnant place?  Or are you being swept away by life?  Or are you moving along with life, taking it as it comes?  The funny thing about rivers is that they can do a real good job of hiding the truth. What can look like a peaceful spot can be deadly to dive into or a bottomless pit or have an incredible current that will sweep you under before you know what’s happening.  People too can hide the truth, there are countless people all around the globe that are hiding their real feelings, hurts, frustrations, fears and maybe even their joys.  They hide because they’re afraid that if people knew the real them, they would be judged.  And the unfortunate thing is many would be judged, humiliated, laughed at or not taken seriously, that’s how too much of our world works.

As people of faith we’ve got a responsibility to step up and be better people.  It’s unfortunate that we too have at times fallen into the judgment zone, trying to look all perfect to the world while struggling privately.  No, we’re not supposed to live as sinfully as others in the world do, but Christian or not we’re still human and have our not so great moments.  We have many of the same challenges to face as others do around the world, we just know that we can go into the rushing river with an excellent rescue team on hand for us (the people at our church or Bible Study or other faith-based group, not to mention God).

Is this your week to conquer the river in your life?  I encourage you to be brave and say that enough is enough, and choose to move as your life (and God) directs.

Reality Reflection: The Next Generation

Today in the US is Mother’s Day.  It’s a chance we all have to celebrate the moms and mom figures in our lives. We’re not at the point that we can just create kids, they’re still born the old fashioned way, even if sometimes a little extra help is necessary to get them here.  I’m amazed with how far we have come with the technology/science we have to help kids into the world, and the technology/science we have that helps us all live longer and enjoy more time together as a family.

This week of course I’ve been reflecting on the upcoming Mother’s Day and on the state of the world and the kids of the world and the moms of the world.  From a quick glimpse at the internet or any TV news program (and many TV shows) it’s pretty evident that there are problems in the world.  Whether we try to be blind to it or not, there’s a huge problem with drugs (and I’m not talking medical marijuana use).  There are too many people dying each day from drug overdoses.  Which also says there are too many people using drugs to escape problems or reach for some high they’re not finding in life normally or doing it to be “cool.”  There are also the stories of the not-so-good moms who don’t seem to have a care in the world, especially not about raising their kids with any manners, good behavior and goals.  There are also some not so good statistics and stories about the kids of the world and some people have concerns about the ability of the next generation to run things in a responsible and thoughtful manner, regardless of their parent/parents teaching.

Can we all use some improving? Yes, absolutely.  But Mother’s Day is a great opportunity to talk about the next generation.  Do I believe that some moms need to step it up and do a much better job? Absolutely.  Some moms don’t have the resources to care for their kids and don’t make any effort to get the widely available resources for them.  They don’t feel that maternal bond or need to care for them that some moms do (the same is true for dads as well).  But if you’ve been around for a bit you know I’m a supporter of the concept of having a village raise a child.  There’s no reason for anyone to try to do it on their own.  That means that each and every one of us has a responsibility to check how we’re behaving and talking around kids, to support child related organizations and charities and to step up for our own families when they need the support.  Tomorrow can be a bright future, but only if we all step up for the next generation.