Asking for Wisdom

Something that’s challenging for some of us is asking for help. Sometimes we know we need the help and ask for it but then try to place all kinds of conditions and limitations on the help or micromanage the person or people that we have helping us. All of that quickly turns into frustration for everyone involved, because the helper doesn’t feel as though they’re appreciated or able to truly help and the person who needs help gets frustrated by things not getting done to their limiting requirements.

I recently read a Bible verse that spoke to the topic of asking for help, James 1:5: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

First and foremost this verses say that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak or a failure or bad, it means you recognize you’re in too deep, out of your areas of expertise, struggling, overwhelmed or just unsure. You don’t have to be or know everything to be an amazing person, the person God created you to be.

Second, this verse doesn’t say how God will respond, only that He will respond. He may send you an article, video, social media post, radio show, bit of inspiration, random stranger or any of other countless answers. Sometimes it will be the wisdom you need to take the next step, other times it will be a revelation of several steps, sometimes it will be a firm no, and other times it may just be the reassurance that God is going with you on the path you’ve chosen.

This week I would encourage you to ask for help and release some of the rules, limits, pressures and requirements you may put on that help or the answer.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way that God and people answer and support you.

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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?

Reality Reflection: Baseball’s Long Season

Lately I’ve been thinking about the sport of baseball, especially since my partner watches a lot of it and we’re getting close to winding down another season. Each year teams play over 160 games, which is the most of any sport. While it may not be as physical as football or soccer, 160+ games are still a lot of games to play.

By the time you get to the end of the season it’s always interesting to see who is ahead in the number of games and who is still or now playing well. Some teams begin well and end well (but can’t win anything in between), some consistently do decently enough throughout the whole season to be in contention for post season, some don’t play well all season long, and some just play so well that there’s never a question during any part of the season that they’re going to be at the top of the ranks.

The long season is one reason why a team can get a second wind, even if it won’t totally fix a team’s (poor) season. That second wind is incredibly frustrating for fans because they want to see their team play that well all season long, and wonder why they can’t. It also causes me to think about the seasons of our lives and how sometimes we really need a little more time for things to develop, and that short and quick aren’t always the answer.

I think the secret to success during long journeys like this is to be able to get focused and stay focused for a sufficient period of time each day, to have a team that can support you and you can support them, to not have to or plan to rely on luck all the time, and to not just focus on the big win but work more on the smaller stepping stone victories that will lead to that bigger victory.

Raising Awareness

Whether you know it or not each month there are months, weeks and days designated to raising awareness of illnesses, cancers, or other issues that many people face, whether we talk about them or not. This week is National Suicide Prevention week, and over the next 2 months we’ve also got Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, National Sickle Cell Awareness Month, National Traumatic Brain Injury Awareness Month, World Alzheimer’s Month, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, National Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome Awareness Month, and Mental Illness Awareness Week, and a couple dozen other awareness events too. Simply put there are a lot of issues going on in the lives of the people around us at any given time. No one should ever feel that they’re alone in facing the issues they deal with.

In many situations there’s absolutely nothing that could have been done to prevent someone from facing the issue. You don’t really choose to deal with these issues personally, and you don’t wish that anyone in your circle of family and friends ever has to deal with these issues. There also aren’t answers to all of the issues, although each of these awareness days/weeks/months are yet another opportunity to raise awareness (and funding) to understand and conquer these issues.

Awareness is such a key step to healing and conquering the issues because there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty around many of these issues. If everyone were either more educated or more willing to be educated about these issues they wouldn’t seem quite as scary or weird and there would be a lot more friendliness and support available for everyone.

If you or someone you know is facing one of the issues I mentioned above, or any of the countless other issues there are, I encourage you to do some research so you better understand what you/they are facing and then talk about everyone getting the support that they need to live a fulfilling and rewarding life regardless of the challenges they face.

What issues are you raising awareness for?

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?

Standing Strong to Make A Difference

As I’ve been thinking about our topic of the month (strength/courage/bravery) and one of my other favorite topics, victories, I had what may seem like an obvious epiphany, but here it is: it’s through using our individual strengths that we’re able to make a difference in the world. It’s not by bringing my weaknesses to the table that I can help others, that I can make the world better for the next generation, or I can have a happier life, it’s by standing on my strengths.

I can’t avoid or completely erase my weaknesses (although I can improve on them), but I can rely on other people’s strengths to help me with my weaknesses or to support me where my skills or resources aren’t as good as theirs. I don’t believe we have to be perfect people or good at every single thing. It’s OK to bring our own skills and strengths to a project but not be able to do the entire project on our own. There are tons of short cuts and supports that have been created in our modern age from “supermarket short cuts” that help us cut cooking time down, to tech templates that allow us to do some of the online design work but not have to do it all, to search engines that give us answers with a few taps or clicks with no trips to the library required (unless you want to!).

The question really is will you bring your strengths to the table for the good of everyone, or will you keep them just for yourself? While I don’t think we have to help everyone with everything, I do think we need to give back and make a difference in the world. Lawyers can donate a couple of hours a month to helping non-profits, doctors can donate a couple of hours to free clinics, teachers can donate a couple of hours to inner city students or those with learning disabilities, parents can donate a couple of hours to single parents in their neighborhood to watch their kids, and business owners can donate a couple of hours to helping veterans learn a trade or start a business. Not to mention that everyone can recycle, plant a tree, share information with the police or crimestoppers, help someone cross the street, pay for someone’s coffee, or say something nice to someone on social media.

You know what you’re good at, you know what you enjoy. How will you take your strengths and use them for good in the world?

Earth Day Encouragement

Earth Day is less than a week away, and as I was reflecting on some of the earth/nature related Bible verses, the earth related events I know about coming up this weekend, about tax time, and still about Easter which is only a few weeks ago, I was reminded that it all eventually circles back to one thing: community.

Let me explain. Yes, the Bible tells of God doing things for just one or a few people, but Easter is really about everyone, not just one person or a few people. Everyone pays taxes, because it’s too big of a burden for just one person to take care of. The earth is something we all share and we’re all going to either keep it or lose it depending on how we live on it. As much as we’re all individuals and God sees us that way and has individual relationships with each of us, we’re all still part of a body of believers and called to meet together, care for each other and love each other.

Earth Day is one of those things that individually we’re responsible for doing our part to pay better attention to how we live on the earth as well as make sure we give back to the earth. But it’s only when we look at our collective effort that we can really see the difference over the years since 1970 when Earth Day officially began. It’s only when we recycle all year long, and not just on Earth Day, that we’ll make a difference. It’s only when we consistently choose the environmentally friendly choices that we begin to see a difference.

The same is true for our faith communities. You may not think you’re doing much only talking with one person about what faith means to you, but when many people are talking with others about their faith, not only does the Great commission not seem so overwhelming, but it actually looks like we’re making progress spreading the word.

So today I encourage you not to give up. Don’t be disheartedned if you don’t see your personal efforts having huge effects. Take the time to be part of your community and see what your community is doing to make a difference in the world, both your local community for Earth Day and your church community for the Great Commission. I’m not suggesting that when you see everyone else is doing the work that you let others do all the work and don’t give a personal effort, but rather be encouraged that the work you’re doing in connection with the work they’re doing is making a difference.

“Sometimes—by sheer determination–we can just kick the stone away from the door of the tomb and march out triumphantly into Resurrection Life. More often, we must wait: wait for circumstances to change, wait upon on God, wait on others for help. When Lazarus was called out of the tomb, Jesus said: “unbind him.” You –you friends and family of Lazarus—you unbind him. Sometimes we cannot unbind ourselves, but have to wait for others to help us into freedom.” Br. Mark Brown