The Adventure of Easter Eggs

As many people are, I’m thinking about Easter coming up on Sunday. Whether you celebrate it more as a spring holiday and just get together with friends and family, or it’s a religious day for you, something that’s very traditional and well-known are Easter eggs. People, churches and towns around the US will gather up little plastic eggs of bright colors and hide pieces of chocolate or candy and little stickers and toys inside of them and then scatter or hide them around the house and yard for little boys and girls to find.  Maybe you’ve had the fun opportunity of filling the empty eggs with the surprises for the boys and girls.

If you think about it, Easter eggs are a lot like each of us: you never know what’s inside until you open up the egg. Sometimes you’ll find it filled with treats that you would rather trade with someone else and sometimes you’ll be thrilled with the surprise inside. Part of the gift of Easter eggs though, are the adventure of finding them, or of getting to know the other people that we share this world with. Just because the egg is yellow on the outside doesn’t mean that you’ll find the same thing on the inside all the time, or that it will always be your favorite filling because you love yellow.

As you finish this week working on victories, I encourage you to not judge people before you get to know them. Apply the breaks a bit to your speed through life and take the time to get to know someone before you jump to a conclusion about who they are or what role they may play in your life and success.  Maybe even take the time to get to know someone that you’ve not connected with in a long time or never really took the time to develop the relationship beyond a surface level.  The way you treat others can have a big impact on your ability to achieve victories, personally I’d rather have a team I can work with than find myself alone trying to be everything for everyone.

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Cross Reflections

As we look ahead to Good Friday and Easter Sunday I was again reflecting on the symbol of the cross that we’ve used since the first Good Friday throughout our churches, on rosaries, around our necks on chains, in stained glass windows, and in paintings as a way of remembering Jesus and showing our faith in Him. There’s always been some discussion as to why we focus on the cross rather than other things that would be symbolic of Jesus and the salvation Christians have.  After all, we could be using a rock or dove, or angel wings as a much more easily recognizably positive symbol.

As I was thinking about it, the one thing that I was reminded of is that as much of a symbol of pain and suffering as the cross is, it’s also a symbol of hope. Each and every one of us go through challenges in our lives and there are times that we wonder if we’ll get through them. Jesus experienced a big challenge of facing death on the cross in His life, and seeing the cross is a reminder to us that as much as we will be challenged, as much as we may have to sacrifice, if we’re doing the right thing for the right reasons, we’ll see a great reward.  There isn’t any greater reward than knowing that Heaven is waiting for you.

So if you’re going through a challenge today, I encourage you to stop and remember the cross. Sometimes you have to go through your darkest of nights to get to the best and brightest of days.  There may not be a pot of gold waiting for you at the end of this dark path, but the victory will be worth the effort.

The Progress of Spring

I’m so excited that spring is officially here! I love seeing all the new life around us and seeing how the world transforms each year in this time. Pablo Neruda said:

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.”

There is little we can do to make the world do our bidding. We’ve tried to exert some control over our food, over the animals, and over each other, but most things seem to backfire on us. We can try to cut all the flowers, but we won’t stop spring. It continues on with or without our bidding.

In older times most cultures had some rituals they performed during this time to ensure a good harvest and a healthy year of growth and prosperity. We don’t tend to perform these rituals as often anymore, maybe because we see how little control over the things of nature we have.

That said there are things we can do to put the odds in our favor, like learning, communicating and sharing our knowledge and experience with others around the world. We’re not helpless even though we have little to no control over the world around us. But we have to be willing to take action, admit we don’t know everything and fail occasionally (not necessarily in that order).

Our lives continue to march on whether or not we want them to. It’s up to us to decide if we want to march in line, strike our own path or be swept away. Most people choose to be swept away or march in line. It’s easier and doesn’t seem to require as much work or commitment from us. However, we do commit to not taking action and responsibility for our lives in those situations. Only when we chose to strike our own path do we stand a chance of thriving like spring does.

This week I encourage you to shake off the snow and chill of winter and step forward into the power of transformation that spring holds.

Who is Writing the Story of Your Life?

Today I thought we’d get some inspiration from the March-born writer John Irving.  

“Good habits are worth being fanatical about.”

“With every book, you go back to school. You become a student. You become an investigative reporter. You spend a little time learning what it’s like to live in someone else’s shoes.”

“If you are lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.”

“Half my life is an act of revision.”

“I sometimes think that what I do as a writer is make a kind of colouring book, where all the lines are there, and then you put in the colour.”

“The building of the architecture of a novel – the craft of it – is something I never tire of.”

“I write very quickly; I rewrite very slowly. It takes me nearly as long to rewrite a book as it does to get the first draft. I can write more quickly than I can read.”

As I was perusing these quotes and many other bites of insight from him, I was reminded about some important facts of life that we don’t always consider or want to consider.  Sometimes life is more about the distance, enduring and doing the work to see life through.  Life isn’t perfect and that’s something that not only keeps it interesting for us all, but also keeps us thinking, growing and discovering.  It’s really hard to get bored when every day is a new adventure or requires you to be more creative and patient after the events of the previous day.  If life really is like a coloring book, then you’ve got the opportunity to do whatever you want with the colors.  You can color your trees purple, bananas pink, dogs green and sun blue.  You can start your day when and where you want as long as you’ve got enough drive to make it happen.  What story will your life tell today?

A Sweet Touch of Kindness

We’re nearing the end of Lent with the arrival of the Easter holidays starting on Sunday with Palm Sunday, and today we were able to celebrate the arrival of spring. Some of us have a spiritual practice of giving something up for Lent, but spring is known for the arrival of new things and Easter is really about a fresh (forever) start. So today I thought we’d talk about something you can start fresh this spring, something that’s Kingdom inspired, as shared in Proverbs 16:24:

“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.”

Kind words are one of the least expensive but sometimes most challenging things we can do. It’s easy to keep our mouths closed and a little too easy to pass on gossip or say something that’s more disparaging than constructive criticism. However, with a little practice I believe we can make kind words not only something that’s sweet, but easy going down too. I think the best place to start is with whatever is easy for you. If it’s easy for you to thank the cashiers, start with consistently thanking them. If it’s easy for you to send a nice, meaningful thought to your partner each day, start with that. If it’s to offer kind words to pets that have been severely neglected or abused by volunteering at animal shelters, start with that. Find something kind that feels good to you and you feel comfortable doing and do it every day, multiple times a day.

As anyone who has tried to lose weight or get in shape knows, one meal or one workout doesn’t an ultimate goal reach. You have to be consistently working on those meals and workouts and starting with small steps and growing to bigger ones if you want to get to your target weight or activity level. The more you’re kind in ways that are practical, normal and easy for you, the easier it will be to branch out into other ways of being kind and saying kind things to others.

What kindness practice will you start today?

Reality Reflection: The Legacy of Ireland

Today we’re celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, honoring the man who was later honored with the title of Saint, as well as remembering and celebrating all things Irish. As I’ve been enjoying learning more about the world of Ireland, celebrating my Irish heritage and appreciating the beautiful products they create, I have been reminded time and again about something that isn’t really unique to the Irish but is part of who they are: history, legends and lore. Whether you believe in faeries, pots of gold, leprechauns, luck or not, these stories have been passed down through the generations, and are a big part of the culture. Also woven in with the legends and lore are symbols that are iconically Irish like the Claddagh, trinity knot, and many knitted patterns like the basket, honeybee and cable stitch.

These symbols may not be only found in Irish culture and products, but all of them have a story connecting back to Irish history that is uniquely Irish and has remained tied in to Irish beliefs and lifestyles. For example the Claddagh is based in a story of a man who was kidnapped before he was to marry, learned to create jewelry while away from his bride-to-be and came up with the Claddagh design and presented her with that ring when he returned to her and they were married. Many other connections tie in with the land and work that people do like fishing, bee keeping, and basket weaving. And we can’t forget the clover leaf, which became an icon when St. Patrick used it to explain the concept of the Holy Trinity when he came to Ireland.

I think these stories, icons, symbols and legends do more than make Ireland a place tourists visit. I think in many ways the stories and rich history has given the Irish a leg up in life where the history of some other places and cultures has been a point of contention. The joy of finding 4 leaf clovers, looking for magical fairies and pots of gold, and believing in love that lasts has taught many Irish to have a better outlook on life, to respect each other more and have more faith. That doesn’t mean they don’t have challenges, bad days and problems, it means generally they’ve learned how to bounce back better and to keep the faith. It makes me very proud to be part Irish.

What do you appreciate about the Irish, or about your heritage?

Celebrating St. Patrick

Saturday in the US (and in Ireland) we’ve celebrated St. Patrick‘s Day.  While many people celebrate it by drinking, eating and wearing green, the holiday itself is named for a Saint.  So I thought we’d take a look at who the individual was and why he’s honored on this holiday.

He, Patrick, was a missionary back in the 5th century to Ireland.  He is one of the primary saints of Ireland and many credit him as having brought Christianity to Ireland.  Of all the holidays that are celebrated in the US today, St. Patrick is one of the few people that a holiday is named for specifically, and not as part of a larger celebration or remembrance.

I don’t think it ruins the memory or honoring of St. Patrick to have a drink and wear a little green, just like decorating a tree, having cookies or hunting for eggs doesn’t hurt Jesus or the true meaning of Christmas/Easter.  One of the reasons we celebrate St. Patrick is to honor our heritage if we’re Irish, and to honor and remember our heritage in general.  St. Patrick’s Day is a great opportunity to celebrate whatever heritage you have, and especially to pass traditions, stories and icons on to the next generation so they’re not lost.

But it is also important to take time to remember what the stories of Jesus and St. Patrick are all about: their faith.  Both men are known because they chose to step up for their faith and the faith of countless others.  It’s not necessary to go to another country and share your faith like St. Patrick did, that’s just one way to do it.  You can practice the countless much smaller but not less significant examples of faith that Jesus showed through every kind word, loving touch, and prayer you pray.

How will your faith and heritage live today?