The Wisdom of Nelson Mandela

One of the great men of all time was born 100 years ago yesterday: Nelson Mandela.  He endured through many challenges and struggles, yet never gave up, never gave up hope and always tried to do the best for everyone involved.  He’s a great example of what’s possible when you do your best, be your best, and lead regardless of the challenges in your past.  So today I thought we’d honor his life by taking a look at some of the great wisdom he shared.  

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.”

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

“Courageous people do not fear forgiving, for the sake of peace.”

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.”

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”

“Even if you have a terminal disease, you don’t have to sit down and mope. Enjoy life and challenge the illness that you have.”

“People respond in accordance to how you relate to them. If you approach them on the basis of violence, that’s how they’ll react. But if you say, ‘We want peace, we want stability,’ we can then do a lot of things that will contribute towards the progress of our society.”

I want to close with an invitation for you to read what other people had to say about the great man.  The words they chose to honor this man reveals yet again what a distinguished, caring and exceptional man he was.  How has Nelson Mandela touched you?

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Resting In God

As we move deeper into summer, many of us are getting into the swing of things being done differently, having a different schedule, and generally feeling more relaxed. It amazes me that something as ordinary as a season change can bring about such noticable differences in us and our lives.

But what I wanted to talk about today was that one tricky word in there: relaxed. We can get so caught up in life that we forget what it means to relax, and some of us aren’t interested in doing things like yoga or meditation which are both techniques that are known to help people focus and relax. If that’s you and you feel like you’re not resting and don’t know where to begin, I invite you to consider the words of Br. Nicholas Bartoli, and Psalm 23:1-3a respectively:

“Christianity enjoys a rich and ancient tradition of the practice of contemplation, some form of which can be traced back to the Desert Fathers and Mothers who retreated into the solitude of the desert. Saint Gregory the Great described contemplation as simply “resting in God.””

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength.” 

There’s no better place to begin your relaxation than by resting in God, and all it takes are a few quiet moments before or after your daily devotion time. You may not change the craziness that is the world out there by resting in God, but you’ll feel a whole lot better about yourself and your life if you make it a regular practice in your life.

From Feeling Stuck to Freedom

Feeling stuck? Yes, we all get there at different points in time during our lives. Summer is a great time to work through being stuck because we’ve typically got some extra downtime to work with, and long drives or hours on the beach with which to do the thinking. So if you’re feeling stuck here are some things to consider:

First, start with honesty. If you’re really serious about moving past being stuck, it starts with being honest about why you’re stuck and what’s making you feel stuck. Part of that honesty is knowing whether or not you’re willing to take the necessary actions to get over being stuck, or if you’re just in need of some venting time (and there’s nothing wrong with that).

Once you’ve decided that you are ready to make changes in your life and you’re done with being stuck it may help if you journal out your feelings and situations and examples, that way you can just dump and consider each issue after you’ve gotten it all out. You may have an idea of what’s frustrating you and holding you back, but writing it out can help reveal things you didn’t even know were an issue.

Then it’s time to talk about getting free. Freedom from being stuck will include new actions you’ll include and things you’ll remove from your life. It’s not likely that you’ll just add some things to your life (like eating more fruits and vegetables), it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll be removing, decreasing or stopping some things as well (like the number of times you stop for ice cream each week).

Moving forward it may be right for you to go cold turkey and make some really big changes all at once, but for other people they’re just as successful taking it one smaller step at a time. Regardless of how you do it, make sure you’ve got the support you need to do it and you’ve told the important people in your life about the change you’re making so that they can try to be considerate of the life change you’re working on. Who knows, they may want to join you in making those changes as well!

So what’s got you feeling stuck this week and what are you going to do about it?

Reality Reflection: One Small Person

This weekend in the US we’re celebrating Memorial Day. It’s a time we take each year to remember and honor the people who have made a huge personal sacrifice, as well as remember and thank their families who have suffered too with their loss. Every so often in the news we hear about one service member being killed or having died as part of whatever conflict they were working on. And maybe we think that one doesn’t sound like a lot, or it doesn’t seem that serious. And in some ways it’s not, because it is only one person and there are many others who are still out there fighting for our country and innocent people around the world.

But the simple fact is one person can have a huge impact on the world, even if that impact seems quite small. For example one soldier may save one child’s life and it seems small in the short run, but to that child’s family and who they may become in the future it is and could be huge.

With each word, action and attitude we each choose, we can make a positive or negative difference in the world, one that can be small or large. Sometimes it’s necessary to be part of a group to really see the impact, like with the Ice Bucket Challenge a few years ago. But often we can see the difference with only our own actions, like when we help someone pick up things they’ve dropped or share some encouragement with someone.

This Memorial Day I encourage you to step up. Don’t let the sacrifice that men, women and their families have made go to waste. And don’t forget to let those you love know that you love them, because you may not get another chance to tell them.

Reality Reflection: Who will you be at 92?

With much of the world looking at England for the Royal Wedding, my ear was caught by a couple of statements made not about the royal couple, but about the Queen. I’m not a huge history person, nor am I really on top of all that goes on in England, but every statement I heard in the days surrounding the wedding regarding the queen were positive, which is a huge statement about who she is and how she has ruled.

The first statement that stood out to me was regarding her fashion choices. According to those who pay attention to these things, her fashion statement has always been “I need to be bright,” and her fashion choice for the wedding certainly was that, and you couldn’t miss her in the bright green outfit she wore. But it’s far more than just a fashion choice in my book. I think the bright fashion choices not only help her to stand out, but they’re a reminder to her, and the world if they pay attention, that we’re at our best when we’re being bright lights in the world.

The second statement was regarding that at age 21 she gave a birthday speech and in it she said I “shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family…” That’s far different than saying ‘I will lead this country’ or ‘I will be the best leader I can be’ or anything along those lines. It’s really a statement about how she chooses to put others first and considers their needs/worries/concerns/hurts. And it’s a statement that she has lived up to, and something she has passed on to her children and grandchildren.

When you’re 92 what will people say about you? Will they smile and think of the cheer you brought to the world, way you uplifted others, and the service that you led? What will they remember you for?

A Turn of the Word

We deal with so many unknowns in our life it’s almost funny. Recently I had the check engine light come on in my car and of course that concerned me. But all that light tells me is that the engine needed to be checked, it doesn’t come out and tell me exactly what the issue was, so it was frustrating and a little worrisome, knowing there’s a lot that goes on under the hood of a car, and it could be something serious or something not super serious (but obviously still probably pretty important).

Later I was on Facebook doing work for a client and stopped by my newsfeed to see what my friends were doing and glanced past a friend’s post where she talked about having to make one of the toughest goodbyes in her life. My first thought was that she lost someone close to her, but it wasn’t that serious, the other person was just moving away.

What’s my point with these two stories? They’re more examples of how communication can challenge us, and the impact that the words (or lack thereof), or actions/signs can have on us. But if we look at it another way, there’s incredible positive power in our words, too. Sometimes being positive, or just saying positive things can help turn your attitude, day and life around. Hearing the words “it’s just as sensor” was a big relief to me for my car. Seeing that my friend’s friend didn’t die was a big relief, because she’s too young and you never want someone to die before they’ve lived their life fully.

If you’re struggling to find the silver lining or turn the words around, I thought I’d share some words of encouragement that can lead you on the path to victory from Kendall SummerHawk:

I will try again
I will do something different the next time
I will have learned something incredibly useful
I will say, “How fascinating!”
I will be smarter & wiser because of the experience
I will congratulate myself for trying
I will start over
I will have a great story to share with others, later
I am stronger and tougher than any failure
In my heart, I know I am unstoppable

What great things will you choose to do with your day today?

Building Relationships with Respect

With yesterday being Mother’s Day here in the US, I’ve been reflecting on families and relationships. Every day in the news there are stories of relationships gone wrong, of people letting others down, of people hurting other people and ways that people are destroying our world. But at the same time you can’t ignore the fact that some of those people are bad people. They’re not people you want in your life or around your kids, and they can’t be “fixed” unless there’s an Act of God. But fortunately, there aren’t as many of those people as the news makes it out to be. Most of us just have issues, quirks and traits that may or may not mesh with the people around us.

I do believe that we can learn to get along with just about everyone, whether it’s having a civil conversation or actually developing a friendship with them. But that does take a lot of work, typically from both parties. For some reason some people choose to hold grudges or make snap judgments about some people, and aren’t open in the future to changing those opinions, despite how they or the other person may have changed over the years. And no matter how kind or polite you may be to them, they’re just nasty. I’m not suggesting that you need to be best friends with everyone, but I don’t think we need to have the poor interactions and relationships many people have.

Does it take superhuman effort in some cases to get to that point? Yes, but that’s part of what God can help you with. Yes, the Bible talks about loving everyone, but for some of us loving is a big stretch. So let’s start with two things that are a lot simpler: treating others as you want to be treated and respecting others. God made them just like He made you and I, and I haven’t known God to make anything that was wrong or without purpose. So if for no other reason, choose to respect and treat them based on how you want to be treated, because God loves them. Not all moms are perfect examples, but many moms can run circles around us when it comes to loving and accepting their kids in a way that we struggle to accept and understand others.

This week I encourage you to think about your attitude and how you treat and interact with others, and spend time in prayer with God asking for His strength and guidance in how you can build more relationships and have more interactions that will honor Him.

“Respect everyone, and love your Christian brothers and sisters. Fear God, and respect the king.” 1 Peter 2:17