2019: The Year of You

This year I hope will be many things for us, but what I really hope this year will be is a year for you. It’s my hope, and my goal, to make this year a year that we take the initiative, that we move ahead, that we stand up for what we want and need and what’s best for us. That doesn’t mean that we’ll exclude or not consider others, just that we’ll include and consider others less at the expense of ourselves, and with greater focus on creating all-win situations (wins for everyone).

In line with this being our year, one of the big themes that we’ll be talking about this year is that of ‘today.’ Having a ‘today’ theme means appreciating the moment, taking today for what it is, conquering challenges one day at a time, focusing on today, living today for the fullest (both for today and the future), living today and not reliving yesterday, and not leaving until tomorrow what can/should be done today.

I wouldn’t say these are resolutions, rather making a lifestyle change, choice or empowerment. Will there be change involved? Yes, because it’s not likely that you’re living as focused-and-empowered-in-the-moment as I’m hoping to this year.

So this year I’ll be focusing on today and whatever it brings, inspires, teaches, requires, motivates, empowers, or creates.  What about you?

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Victory is a Journey

For the past few years I’ve been following the story of two twin boys who were joined at the head and separated in a very difficult and complex surgery in October of 2016. It was a trial for them, their parents and their brother, and we only got a tiny glimpse into all of it. Today I saw that an update had been posted on their story and it spoke to me about this new year we’ve entered, with both words of encouragement and wisdom.

The first thing that spoke to me was the fact that they’re both still alive, developing and growing, which is really a miracle. It’s also a miracle that we’ve made it to 2019 without killing everyone off or doing more damage to our world than we could ever try to fix.

Second, the one thing the parents said repeatedly was that some things just take time. Things weren’t perfect the moment the surgery was done, it’s been years and they’re still dealing with setbacks and challenges. That said, they can see the growth and improvements that the boys are making. We expect things to be so instant in this day and age, but that’s just not always the case.

Finally, the parents are thankful to have this time with their boys. It was a do-or-die surgery, 80% of those joined at the head die by age 2. So the only choice the parents had was to pray for a miracle, and a miracle they got. We can choose to leave this life, but I have so much more hope for the future than I am discouraged by the past.

The bottom line is I hope that in 2019 we’ve gotten through the absolute worst and only have some more bumps to contend with. I’m tired of always fighting the most extreme of uphill battles and would like to see a year in which more things go my way and your way, more things go the way of more people. I don’t expect easy or perfect all the time, but some less exhausting wins would be nice. I’m hoping for a year that shows we’ve finally turned the curve, what about you?

Hope for 2019

The new year is just a few hours away and you may be one of the many who are celebrating the end of 2018. It’s not wrong to celebrate being done with something that was less than awesome, but it’s better to celebrate what’s ahead. You should never celebrate what’s done (and not great) with the enthusiasm, longevity or passion that you celebrate what’s yet to come or the victories you’ve achieved.

So I’m going to celebrate what’s ahead, the new possibilities that are coming in 2019, the opportunities to change and grow, the people I will meet, the days to enjoy the world, the transformations of nature, the successes in business and relationships, the victories I will help bring about, the relationships I help build, the ways that humanity gets to grow, and the ways we get to support each other.

Every day brings with it choices we have to make. I would hope that you choose to enter into 2019 with hope, joy, confidence and an attitude ready to conquer whatever comes your way. To make 2019 a year that you lived and loved and dreamed to your fullest. To enjoy 2019 with new friends and old. To being a year of laughing more.

“Today I choose life. Every morning when I wake up I can choose joy, happiness, negativity, pain… To feel the freedom that comes from being able to continue to make mistakes and choices – today I choose to feel life, not to deny my humanity but embrace it.” Kevyn Aucoin

Hope and New Beginnings

We’re just days away from the year, some of us have already packed in this year and are eagerly trying to urge the days to move quicker and get out of 2018. I’ve got a couple more blog posts in store between all my blogs before the end of the year with some reflection, anticipation and hopefully words of wisdom before we get there.

In Philippians 2:4 it says: “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” In 2018 (and 2019) I don’t think it’s possible or right to not consider yourself and your own importance, but I don’t think that it’s right to only focus on yourself and never on how your life impacts or could impact others. Everyone, from the biggest leaders to youngest children should consider the impact they can have on the world, and on the feelings, hearts and minds of others.

Today I read an article about the Queen’s annual Christmas message, she spoke about the Biblical Christmas story: “I believe his message of peace on earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone; it’s needed as much as ever.” and about how to navigate this world of uncertainty, change and differences of opinion: “Even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding…”

We could try and conquer world hunger in 2019, and honestly I think solving world hunger would be fairly simple to do if a few people would put their minds to it and more people stepped up to the plate to follow through on their directive. As impressive as it would be to do that, there’s something that I think is more important and as as big or bigger of an impact, and that’s doing our best to be at peace with and have respect towards each other.

It’s easy to make a snap judgment about someone, but it takes a little more care, compassion and heart to stop for all of a moment and really see them and really listen to them. It’s my hope that 2019 is a year of beginnings of respect and goodwill to all mankind.

A Star’s Guidance

Can you believe Christmas is already done? I like celebrating through the new year, meeting with friends and giving gifts and really stretching it out as long as possible since it’s such a special time of year. From the Bible story of the first Christmas we know that the Shepherds came down to join Mary and Joseph at the place they were staying where Jesus was born. What we don’t always talk about is the fact that the wisemen weren’t there in those first days, some say that they visited Jesus 13 days after He was born, and others say Jesus was more than 1 year old by the time they arrived.

The thing that’s not disputed regardless of how old you think Jesus was when the wisemen arrived is that they arrived because they followed the star. The shepherds visited Jesus because the angels told them about it (something that would certainly get your attention and move you to check things out), but it always amazes me that the wisemen came to Jesus because of a star. We don’t see stars to the detail that they did back then (unless we’re looking through a high powered telescope), and we also don’t spend as much time analyzing and following them as the wisemen and other people in Jesus’ time did.

The wisemen, as sure in the stars as they may have been, still took a chance at following the message as they understood it. It may not have been easy and was probably years of work, if not a lifetime, but I would say they were quite pleased by their journey as they got to meet Jesus.

The wisemen stepped out in faith and followed the guidance of the star. At this time of year we think about stepping out in faith as well and becoming a better, healthier, more fulfilled person in the new year. We may have tried things in the past unsuccessfully, but that doesn’t mean that this can’t be the year for us, that we can’t do what we set out to do, and that we can’t step out in faith and let God lead us to a great destination this year.

If you had a great year I encourage you to keep doing what you’ve been doing, but if you’re looking for a new adventure or simply more out of life, take some time this week to consider the signs in your life, and how you want to feel and where you want to be in your life at this time next year. There’s nothing wrong with taking time to evaluate your life, reflect on your journey and plan for the future.

Simply Jesus

Here we are, hours away from Christmas Day. It’s a time to reflect on family and friends, to celebrate life and love, to enjoy gathering and gifting each other with little blessings and tokens that show how much they mean to us. It’s the time of year that we go all out decorating, hanging lights, trimming trees, baking cookies and gingerbread houses, and setting out our Nativity scenes. I would encourage you to spend time with friends and family, but also to take time to be alone and reflect on your life and the many blessings you have.

I find it interesting that one of if not the most important events in the Bible is only shared in 2 chapters in detail, and that the big event can be captured in just 20 verses (Luke 2:1-20), with just one verse to sum up the actual event “She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” (Luke 2:7)

Sometimes it’s not about the big moments in life, but about those little events that aren’t broadcast around the world, about the people who you know but aren’t known by the world, about the memories that you’ll treasure forever but may mean nothing to others. Yes, there was a celebration with Mary, Joseph, Angles and Shepherds, and later wisemen and Anna and Simeon at the temple (Luke 2), but it wasn’t a large fanfare, there weren’t crowds around for miles waiting for a glimpse.

Yes, Jesus is God’s son, the ruler of heaven and earth, but He also came to earth as a baby, innocent and as human as you and I. He grew just like we did, but had a little extra special knowledge in His heart and mind. He knows what it is to scrape a knee, struggle through loss and make friends.  He also knows all about love, forgiveness, grace and hope.

This Christmas I would encourage you to take a moment and re-read the Christmas story, and ask God what He wants to share, teach, encourage, and reveal to you through those simple words.  Just because you’ve read it before doesn’t mean that you know everything about it, but if you think you do, try a different translation and see how God speaks to you through that.  Merry Christmas!

Christmas is Calling

There’s a song that I love hearing during the Christmas season called “Do You Hear What I Hear.” It talks about using the senses we have to experience Christmas and especially the magic of the First Christmas. The one sense I’ve been thinking about a lot recently is that of hearing, and how Christmas is calling to each of us, if only we would hear it.

The message of Christmas can be different for each of us. Some of us need to hear the call of family, some need to hear the call of a higher job, some of us need to hear the call of a healthier relationship, some of us need to hear the call of God, some of us need to hear the call of love, some of us need to hear the call of peace, some of us need to hear the call of memories. Whatever the message is, I know that Christmas is calling to us.

How do I know Christmas is calling? Because the Bible talks about how Elizabeth, Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, shepherds, and wisemen all were called to regarding Christmas.  God specifically spoke to them and gave them a role to play in the first Christmas. I doubt that the wisemen and shepherds were the only ones that could have heard God’s call, but they were the only ones that followed through on it. God’s been calling since then as the many Christmas carols, hymns and songs, sermons and inspirational speeches can attest. And then there’s the figure of Santa who also speaks to being generous and loving to your loved ones.

Sometimes I think God calls to us when He knows we’re ready, but other times I feel like there’s a call to be heard any time if only we would listen. For example you can pass by a part of nature or part of a store or part of a city or a person a hundred times and either never see it or not have it/them speak to you, but one day for whatever reason it calls out to you. It hasn’t changed, but for some reason it’s talking to you that day.

As we are only a few sleeps away from Christmas I would encourage you to open your ears and your heart to the message of Christmas, whatever message it is that God wants to send your way.