Christmas Carol Classics: We Wish You a Merry Christmas

“We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year

Good tidings we bring
To you and your kin
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year

Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
Now bring us some figgy pudding
And a cup of good cheer

We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
We won’t go until we get some
So bring it right here

So bring us some figgy pudding
So bring us some figgy pudding
So bring us some figgy pudding
And bring it right here

Good tidings we bring
To you and your kin
We wish you a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year”

To finish out our year and this Christmas season I’m sharing one last song, “We Wish You A Merry Christmas.”  It’s one of those classic songs that you do hear every year and many artists do their own version of (including Weezer).

This is yet another song that has come out of England with smashing success.  While parts of it were around from earlier years, the rendition in 1935 brought about most of what we know of as the carol today.  The lyrics “a merry Christmas and a happy New Year” have ties to the carolers that would sing outside of homes in exchange for food or drink (hence the line that talks about “figgy pudding”).

As we look into the new year just a short while away I’m excited for what’s ahead.  We’ve just about made it out of this year and into a new one.  No matter how bad or good your last year was you’ve just about made it to the new one.  One of the reasons I chose this song is because of the passion and purpose in it.  As we go into the new year we often talk about resolutions, and while I’m not going to suggest that you make one right now, I do encourage you to commit to yourself that you’re going to make it your best year yet and you don’t give up, especially if this past year wasn’t your best.  What will you make of 2017?

Faith in Fasting

This past Monday Ramadan started. It’s not a holiday I participate in, but it is one that many people around the world care about. Ramadan is a month of fasting by Muslims to celebrate, remember and honor the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad.  Today though I wanted to talk a bit about the topic of fasting and what it says about Ramadan as well as the other times that people may fast.

Let’s talk about what this type of fasting is all about. It’s really a religious commitment to purify yourself, remember the founders of your faith, return to spiritual beginnings, ask for answers or intervention about something, ask for forgiveness and/or shake off the evil that may have become part of your life. Most spiritual traditions include fasting in one way or another. Depriving yourself of food, sleep, and even sometimes drink can be an effective way of helping you refocus and get reconnected spiritually in a very raw way that isn’t usually something you experience.  Other types of fasting can include taking a technology fast, chocolate fast or other type of fast, also with the goal of finding freedom, focus, or practicing sacrifice.

I’ve mentioned fasting before in talking about Ash Wednesday, but it’s not something I talk about much, nor is it something we do as much as maybe we should. What stood out to me as I was thinking about Ramadan is that Muslims give up a LOT to fast for this holiday. They fast for a whole month and not just the food as is typical of most fasting practices, but drinks as well, and they totally alter their days to partake of food before and after the daylight hours.  It shows true commitment and even gratitude towards Muhammad and their faith, but not in a way that would harm or be disrespectful to others, it’s a commitment they keep in and of themselves.

What about you?  When was the last time you made a sacrifice like that?  Maybe you didn’t think about it as a sacrifice or didn’t realize what a big sacrifice it was until you were involved in it.  Are you as committed to things in your life as the Muslims are to honoring the Quran and Muhammad?  What do you value enough in your life, physical or spiritual, that you would make such a life change for?  If there is something that is that important to you, make sure to express your gratitude today and give something back too.

Abundant Blessings

“When you focus on being a blessing, God makes sure that you are always blessed in abundance.” Joel Osteen

This week in the USA we’re celebrating Memorial Day and remembering the soldiers who have fought, and some who have given their lives, for the rest of us.  I’m very thankful for all the soldiers who give up their normal lives and leave their homes to be in other parts of the world and country and are willing to die fighting for us.

On Monday we talked about accepting the abundance that comes into our lives, and I believe soldiers (and their families) have to go through a similar process of acceptance when the decision is made to join the military.

This decision making and acceptance process isn’t something those of us without people in active service are affected by, but that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate and respect their sacrifice.  Occasionally when I flip through channels on TV I’ll see a home makeover or similar show where they’re doing a project for a Vet or their family.  I’m always touched by the outpouring of support shown to that family by the whole team and crew.  No, we don’t all do our part in supporting military families, but the awareness campaigns  and support by many groups (Wounded Warrior Project, Southeastern Guide Dogs, Our Military Kids etc.), has really helped to begin changing that.

In your life you probably have or have had people who have been a blessing to you.  This week I challenge you to do something for them.  Maybe start a scholarship fund in their name, donate to an organization that they like or support, or send them a gift and thoughtful card.

A big part of remembering, which we do for Memorial Day, is about remembering the blessing they were to us and blessing them abundantly in return.

Lives of Learning

Today we take a step back in history to learn from the wisdom of Abigail Adams:

“Learning is not to be attained by chance, it must be sought with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

What does this mean?  Well, Abigail has stumbled onto one of the greatest success secrets of all time: if you want to be successful you have to learn constantly.  You may get to success knowing a few things, but you won’t stay successful for long if you don’t keep learning and updating your knowledge of the rapidly changing world.

So what can you do?  My favorite learning solutions are books, blogs and newsletters, personally I love reading.  But there are also teleseminars, audio programs and online seminars and courses you can attend, as well as in-person events and classes for those who learn better in other ways.  I make time each and every day to do some learning that will help me in some area of my life or business.

The thing to remember is that even if you’re an average Joe or Jane, you probably have a family (or want one), and a job (or want one), and I don’t know anyone who couldn’t learn something and improve themselves in either area.  When you learn more not only are you more equipped to be a better employee, you’re also more likely to get pay raises and advance with the company, or find an even better job!  When you learn more about yourself or family, you can create an even happier, healthier, better-prepared-for-the-future family than the one you have.

This week I encourage you to get out there and start learning!  You don’t have to take on a bachelor’s or master’s degree at a college, just get out there and start learning and exploring your world.  You’ll love the results!  And if you’ve got a favorite method of learning, resource or book you love, share it in the comments.

Mother Teresa’s Mission

Today we’re celebrating two August birthdays, those of Julia Child and Mother Teresa.  These two women have made an impact on our world in ways we’ll always be grateful for and learning from.  Mother Teresa, as we’ll talk about here, made her impact in life through her words and actions towards other people.

One of Mother Teresa’s greatest gifts was her ability to love others unconditionally.  This ability to love allowed her to see past people’s faults, mistakes and appearances, to see them in the greater scheme of things and allow herself to open up to who they were inside. Quite simply she said:

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” 

In life Mother Teresa made it her daily mission to show anyone and everyone she could that they could, and should, be loved.  Yes, she did work in the areas of physical need, she helped feed many people and spoke highly of organizations and people who were meeting the needs of people around the world.  It’s a great thing to be able to make that kind of impact on people in the world.

But what Mother Teresa did was more than that.  At the end of the day Mother Teresa didn’t just lead with her actions, she inspired with her words.  She didn’t just set an example for us to follow, she told us how we can make a difference in someone’s life no matter who we are.  You have power with your words and your words do make a difference.  You can share an encouraging word on Twitter, send a thoughtful note to a friend in need, or be kind to the flustered stranger behind you in line at the store.  You don’t have to be Mother Teresa or have a national spotlight to make a difference.  You can show that you love to anyone and everyone you come into contact with.

Who will you share love with today?

2011 Life Wrapup

Last year we talked about some important topics.  Some of these topics we’ll talk about again this year, but before we get to this year’s topics, I wanted to highlight some things from last year. (click the link in each topic to read the rest of the blog post)

January-Hope
“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.” Christopher Reeve

February-Transformation
Transform your perspective: Believe that there is hope for the economy.  Believe that you can still make good money.  Believe that there is a great relationship for you (whether you rebuild your current one or start a new one).  See things as opportunities, not problems, challenges not issues, and always look for multiple ways to achieve your goals.

March-Change
Change is NORMAL! Can you believe it?  Think about it for a moment.  The world is designed to change.  We see the changing of the seasons, the changing of the weather, the changing of people, and yet we still hope that things don’t change or that we can stall or stop the changes we don’t like.  The reality is you can’t stop change or stall the inevitable too long.  So what can you do to turn change around and instead of it frustrating you and causing problems, actually make it work for you?

April-Purpose
Our purpose should not be our fair weather friend, it should be something active in our lives all the time, especially when the tough stuff piles up.

May-Empowerment
Increase your life satisfaction by being committed to doing what makes you come alive.  Don’t work a job that is crushing you, be in a relationship that hurts you, or spend time with people who make you feel bad.  Decide that you will be content with what you have, but that you will never stop growing and striving to live and be better.

June-Passion
If you’re not passionate, life will get boring pretty quick, and your self-esteem will quickly disappear.  Self-esteem is fueled by passion for life, by hope for your future and by living life in a way that makes it all matter to you

July-Creativity
creativity an essential aspect of life, and without it, not only would life be boring, I dare say life would be very uniform and ordinary.  Creativity adds a depth and spice to life that nothing else can add.

August-Commitment
“Failure doesn’t mean “game over.” It means try again with your new experience.” Len Schlesinger

September-Dedication
“It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” Roy Disney

October-Forgiveness
“Resentment is like a glass of poison that a man drinks; then he sits down and waits for his enemy to die.” Nelson Mandela

November-Kindness
“Be the living expression of God’s kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile.” Mother Teresa

December-Love
As I’ve said on many occasions, life isn’t a one man show, it’s a journey we’re all taking together in one way or another. So in this festive season of the year, let me ask you a question: what do you need to make room for in your life?…What would bless your life in a way that you can’t imagine if you were to only open up to receive it?

What did you learn in 2011?

Spiritual Hope from 2011

Last year was a great year!  I enjoyed all that we learned together and really appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with you each week.  In 2011 we talked about 1 topic each month, always considering our core topic of hope.  Let’s review what we learned (click the link if you want to read the whole blog post):

January-Hope
Habakkuk 2:3 “This vision is for a future time.  It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.  If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.  It will not be delayed.”

February-Transformation
3 little take-aways for you today from Ephesians 4:24: 1-You are created to be like God. 2-God is proud of you 3-Every action you take, word you speak and promise you make should be helping you transform ever more into the individual God know you can be.

March-Change
Jeremiah 6:16.  It reads “This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.””

April-Purpose
Sometimes we need to just trust that the road is supposed to be this crooked.

May-Empowerment
Romans 5:3 says: “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us — they help us learn to endure.”

June-Passion
What can we do to be more passionate spiritually? Do spiritual practices you enjoy, remove bad distractions, get creative, make more moments spiritual, make time for your spiritual life, change your attitude.

July-Creativity
Psalm 19:1 “The heavens proclaim the glory of God.  The skies display his craftsmanship.”

August-Commitment
You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? …You are the light of the world — like a city on a mountain, glowing in the night for all to see. Don’t hide your light under a basket!” Matthew 5:13-15

September-Dedication
I think God wants you to be dedicated to Him: to living the purpose He’s given you, to trying to live right and asking for forgiveness when you don’t, to sharing His good news with others, and to spending a little time each day with Him.

October-Forgiveness
At the end of the day I don’t think that what really matters is the error.  It’s that we seek or offer forgiveness.  It’s not about doing right all the time, it’s about knowing that we’re human, accepting our mistakes and living lives actively forgiving each other.

November-Kindness
Psalm 103:2 “My soul, praise the Lord and never forget how kind he is!”

December-Love
Regardless of what you believe, we can all learn from the message of the story: love is a gift that lasts.

What did you learn in 2011?