30 Days of Thanksgiving: Sharing and Caring

Today I am inspired by the words of W. Clement Stone: “If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.”

One of the best parts of having blessings are being able to share those blessings with others. Yes, it’s great to have blessings for yourself, but when you can share those blessings with others and bless them too, it makes it more special and valuable. The same is true for being thankful. Yes, it’s important to be personally thankful and spend time reflecting on and being thankful for the blessings you have, but it’s also important to share and pass that thanks on to others.

One of the things I hear from people again and again is how under-appreciated they feel at work. Yes, some people would like to have more money or different/better benefits, but when all is said and done what they really want is to be appreciated for the work they do. The same is true in our relationships, we like to be appreciated and be told that our significant other recognizes the hard work we do for them, for the relationship and for the family.

And just as you should share the blessings and the thanks with others, when burdens arise they should be shared too. This morning many of us woke to the news that there had been another deadly shooting, this time in California. In these situations sometimes there are answers and sometimes there are just more mysteries. Whether there are answers or mysteries it’s hard to deal with the death or injury of a loved one as well as process the idea that there are people out in the world who choose violence rather than supporting the community and/or asking for help.

As we head into a new day I encourage you to share. Share your needs, share your hurts, share your heart, share your love, share your thanksgiving. What will you share today?

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30 Days of Thanksgiving: thankful for opportunities

Yesterday was Election Day, and today brought lots of political-related news for us to digest.  I’m not someone who you would say follows politics by any stretch of the imagination, it’s rare that I can name more than a few of the people who currently hold political offices around the country. That’s not to say that I’m not interested in what goes on in our politics, I definitely follow the issues and sign petitions and vote on a regular basis.

Voting is an opportunity, a blessing that not everyone has.  Being on the ballet, let alone elected, is also another opportunity.  And thinking about these opportunities reminded me that our lives are full of opportunities.  We’re so blessed in so many ways in 2018.  Even some of the poorest countries and citizens of the world have access to cell phones, advanced resource-tapping technology and education that was never available in such numbers decades ago.  And more people than ever have a say in who’s elected and the laws we’re governed by.

It’s all these opportunities and advances that give me hope that we might actually solve some of the world’s problems like access to water, safe homes and sustainable food, not to mention poverty, malnutrition and diseases.  That each new Thanksgiving will bring with it new things to be thankful for, not just the things that we’re, rightly so, thankful for each year.  New opportunities, new friendships, new family members, new medical advances that save or extend lives, and new reasons to celebrate and be thankful for that you’re alive each day, and every Thanksgiving you get to spend at work, with yourself, with friends, and/or with family.  What opportunities are you thankful for today?

Facing Addiction as a Faith Community

There’s a serious problem in the US and other parts of the world, and it has to do with addiction to either drugs or alcohol. Whenever you turn on the TV whether to watch the news or one of the popular cop shows there’s a really good chance that something in that show will have to do with addiction. The addiction to alcohol has contributed to too many drunk driving episodes that have killed too many innocent people, and they’ve also contributed to many domestic violence charges too. The addiction to drugs is something that has been growing over the decades, from the fun and mystique of the 70’s to the epidemic it has become today.

It’s not something I have personal experience with nor do I have someone in my immediate circle who is dependent on drugs or alcohol, but I’ve followed the epidemic all the same, in part because of how deadly it is. For many people it starts innocently with a prescription and then snowballs into something more serious. I know that there are people whose lives have been made better because of the drugs that have been developed, and that there are people who are finding relief from medical marijuana. I support the use of drugs and other medical aides, but only with careful supervision and only for those who really need it. There is no reason anyone needs the addiction, and it doesn’t do anything good for anyone.

And yet the addiction grows. But over the past few months there have been a few stories of communities and people who are doing their part to not only combat the addiction but get the people who are addicted help including a small Washington community, and a family doctor in Iowa. Instead of viewing the addicts as a “dirty population” or “homeless” these people and communities are taking a step back and seeing them as people, humans just like themselves. Because while there are some addicts who don’t care, there’s a significant portion of the population who does care and just can’t break free for any number of reasons. Maybe it’s because they don’t have the resources to get clean, they don’t have the support to get or stay clean, or they’re trapped in the community and can’t get free, just to name a few.

Choosing drugs or staying addicted to them certainly isn’t treating your body like a temple, it’s not respecting the gift of a body that God gave you. For those of us who don’t have personal experience with an addiction we can’t understand what they’re feeling, thinking or really going through. We also have to accept that we can’t help everyone and everyone won’t want help. But for those who are willing to get help and be freed from their addiction, we should be open to extending them the same grace, patience and love that God does to us when we experience failings or sin. It’s not our place to judge or criticize them for their failings, just to extend the friendship and help that God would extend to us.

If you’re struggling to understand this whole topic I would encourage you to read some of the articles and stories from the communities and people around the country who have been addicts, are trying to make a difference in the lives of addicts, or are on the front lines interacting with addicts like police and emergency medical technicians. Understanding is one of the first steps to being able to help, or at the very least pray about this epidemic. After that we need to take a real hard look at our communities and whether we’re working to resolve this epidemic or not, and the damage it’s doing to our world.  What are your thoughts and experiences with addiction?

Reality Reflection: safety and security

This week in the US we’ve seen the unfortunate events unfold of several bombs being delivered to leaders and politicians. The good news about this story is that no one was killed as a result. I was talking about this event with a friend and we agreed that it had been a while since bombs have been on the news, and that’s a really good thing. It’s good that we’re not using bombs on each other as much, or that we’re getting better at catching them before they can be detonated or even delivered to their destination. There’s still too much violence overall, as the shootings that happen each week continue to show, but it almost seems like we’re making progress if people aren’t going the bomb route as much anymore.

But the overall question here that again puzzles me is why people think it’s such a big deal for people to be part of one political party or be a leader of some kind, and as a result think they need to be killed. I may not agree with everyone’s views, but I don’t see that as a reason to kill them. If we were talking more along the lines of a vigilante, while I don’t agree that they should do that it would at least be more understandable from a ‘they might actually deserve it’ standpoint. With the places and people that the bombs this week were delivered to there were a lot of innocent people in harms way, people who could have been killed for no real reason other than associating with someone that someone deemed to be a threat.

As I said initially there weren’t any casualties as a result, and it really speaks to the improved training and awareness of those in law enforcement who not only diffused the bombs but also tracked the clues to a suspect. There are people around the US who put their lives on the line each day for the safety of others and don’t get to return home, so it was a victory that everyone was able to get home and they were able to do their jobs quickly and effectively.

So this weekend I would encourage you to hug your loved ones a little closer, say a prayer for those in law enforcement and be thankful for the life and blessings you have.

Reality Reflection: Educating the Voters

It’s that time of year again, election season! I don’t know about you but it is getting harder than ever to put on the TV without seeing a commercial about a politician or even just going around town there are all kinds of banners and signs up promoting different politicians. I’ve always voted, my preference is to do it by mail rather than attempt to make it to the actual polling stations on the one day that voting is done. It’s a lot less stressful that way and being that I’m not one to just vote for one specific political party by default it gives me the time to consider my decisions and know all the people up for vote before making a decision.

I love that we’re able to vote in the US for the people that we have in office. I appreciate that we’re able to have some say in who gets elected, or at least show that we care about how things get done in our country. But there’s one thing I hate about voting, especially as someone who isn’t voting by default party, is that there’s little or no information about the majority of the people who are up for election online.

Why does that matter? Because I want to know who I’m voting for, I want to know that I’m voting in the people I think will do the best job or have the relevant experience or might help bring about needed changes. But I can’t know those things unless the information about them is shared!

Sure the top candidates like senators have information online, but when you get down into the local government you’re lucky to be able to put a face to a name let alone find where they stand on issues or how they’re going to help the community. Anyone can make a free website and create free social accounts. They don’t have to be fancy or have lots of political dollars behind them to share who they are and why people should vote for them. If they want to be elected that’s the least they should do in this day and age of the internet.

Gone are the days when politicians or those desiring to hold political office can simply get into office by throwing up a few signs or holding a couple of rallies, and don’t think that you won’t be held accountable to doing work in office either. Voters have changed, it’s about time that politics and politicians understand that and start stepping up.

Free to be Honest and Open

Lately I’ve been captured by the TalkSpace commercial featuring Michael Phelps. For those who haven’t seen the commercial you can watch it here, and if you’re not familiar with TalkSpace it’s an online/phone therapy help line. Now that you’ve seen the commercial (spoiler alert) what has interested me with the commercial is how clear Phelps is with the fact that he’s struggled and that he wishes he had gotten help earlier.

I’m humbled by his willingness to speak about the issues he’s faced and may still be facing. Often we look at celebrities as people who must have their lives together, when in fact that’s not the case and their celebrity status is actually hiding serious struggles from the world, something we saw at the beginning of the summer with two celebrity suicides. It’s not easy to admit that you’re not as perfect as the world sees you or thinks you are.

But more people are speaking up about their challenges, weaknesses, failings and struggles. Why? Because we’re all human. While leaders do have a responsibility to be their best and set a good example, no one is perfect and most people have at least one ‘dark night of the soul’ in their lives. It’s not about flaunting failures or issues, but about speaking to other people with honesty and openness about your struggles so they can relate and hopefully feel comfortable getting help like you have.

Don’t let your weaknesses or challenges hold you back, choose to get the help you need so you can move on and live your life more fully. You’re not alone in the world with your issues and thanks to internet advances there are ways that you can get help without ever visiting an office or feeling forced to share parts of your life with the whole world.   Will you choose honesty today?

Faith for the Ages

This month we celebrate(d) days that speak to a whole variety of people. We had the holidays of Labor Day on the 3rd and Grandparents’ Day on the 9th, and coming up on the 26th is See You At The Pole Day, which is a day that students gather around the flagpole at their school and pray. One of the most awesome things about faith and spirituality is that it’s something for everyone. It’s not something that only young people are interested in or only senior citizens, or only people from one country or only people of one language, it’s something that can speak to anyone at any time throughout their lives.

The Bible begins with chosen groups of people, from Noah’s family to Abraham’s family to Joseph’s family to David’s family, all part of a chosen group of people: the Israelites, as those who are “God’s people”. Then in the New Testament things get turned on their heads and we’ve suddenly got Jesus dying for everyone’s sins, and then Peter dreams of a sheet of animals in Acts 10 which blows the field open more specifically and clearly saying that anyone and everyone is able to access Eternal Life through Jesus.

All of this says there’s never a wrong time to start to get to know God or to rebuild your relationship with Him. There’s nothing going on in your life that God hasn’t been through with someone else before. There’s nothing you can tell Him that will surprise Him. You can share the Good News with anyone whenever God gives you an opportunity. You can have your new day whenever you need it. Grandparents can sit and read Bible stories with grandchildren.  Partners can read together.  Parents and children can read together.  Anyone can join a Bible study and develop their faith and their faith community.  What have you learned and how has your faith journey changed as you’ve grown?