When the fog lifts…

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…that blurs your perception of any situation, and, it will eventually lift, you need to remember that eventually is usually sooner than you think, and that you will see and understand more clearly than you did before the fog enveloped you.

The good news is that the bridge that was there before the fog, is still there.

Remembering and honoring their sacrifice can help us to focus

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Erna Chambers of Copperas Cove kneels at the grave of her husband William Chambers at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery in Killeen on Sunday May 30, 2010. William Chambers, who died in 1997, was a veteran of three wars - World War II, Korea and Vietnam. "I still miss him," Erna said. Photos by Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman

 

In the United States, it is Memorial Day. We remember and honor the men and women in the military who died in preserving the freedom we cherish.  If you are not a US citizen, then I invite you to read this post from the perspective of your own country.

Consider that

  • The majority of the soldiers whom we memorialize today did not know you; yet, they were willing to serve for your benefit;
  • Most of the families grieving the deaths of their loved ones do not begrudge that they died for your benefit; and,
  • The soldiers’ sacrifice not only enriches your life – it also blesses the lives of those whom you most love, as well as our shared humanity.

Now, look at your life through the lens of their sacrifice. Allow their gift to you to sharpen your focus on the values that define how you express your identity. Allow their gift to broaden your focus to see how your actions and attitude immediately effect your family, friends, and colleagues.

Questions:

  1. What new insights do you see as you subjectively look at yourself?
  2. What one (1) thing can you do to enhance and enrich the lives of those closest to you?

 

 

[Photo: http://photoblog.statesman.com/tag/memorial-day-at-the-central-texas-state-veterans-cemetery]

Relationships are Risky: Betrayal

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Wanting life, more, we live beyond ourselves. We invest our lives in relationships. Some – like our family relationships – seem to to be a natural progression in our lives; however, even these are risky.

The risk? Whenever we allow ourselves to care about, and to be cared for, we make ourselves vulnerable. We are susceptible to being hurt by what someone does or doesn’t do.

Is it worth it? Yes. All relationships are risky. We best cope with the risk as we realize and accept that we cannot control how another person expresses him/herself, much less how s/he feels. Often, the pain inflicted on us is inadvertent, and forgiveness leads to reconciliation and new understanding, each, of the other.

There are times when someone’s motives extend beyond the reality that you choose, and s/he knowingly acts against you. That’s betrayal. Human nature, affirmed by disposability of our culture, inclines you to react, ending the relationship and discarding that person’s value as a human being. Many people choose just such a response; however, for life, more, there is a better way.

The Christian tradition has a story about a man named Judas who betrayed Jesus. His action resulted in Jesus’ arrest and execution. Jesus’ response to Judas seems counter-intuitive to how we want to think. Jesus continued to relate to him with genuine care. I cannot find anything to suggest that Jesus disguised his disappointment, but he did not let Judas’ behavior determine how he would act toward Judas.

That’s an amazing way to respond to betrayal. When we live like that, we still feel the pain, yet we  do not permit another person’s actions to negatively empower how we choose to live.

Questions: Have you been betrayed? How have you responded? What might you do differently now than you did then?

Maximize your shared efforts

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Mutual tasks and common goals give us an opportunity to create and enrich relationships. We can simply group to get the job done, or we can live, more in the experience by intentionally creating community.

Here are four (4) things that you can do to maximize the experience of shared efforts:

  1. Learn together.  Learn about whatever has brought you together. Each person’s understanding and perspective can enlighten everyone.
  2. Play together. Socialize, have fun, enjoy each other’s company.
  3. Eat together. Relationships are nourished when people sit at the same table.
  4. Work together.  Connect deeply as you engage in the action that brings you together.

The chart below suggests how you can balance the time.

  • 10% Eating
  • 15% Playing
  • 25% Learning
  • 50% Working

It’s most effective to remember that the four areas can overlap. For example, some of your shared learning will be done in doing the work.

Don’t be fooled by the above model suggesting that only 50% of the time be in working. Maximizing shared efforts, you’ll discover that the work is often more efficient.

 

“Life, More” Along with a new name for this blog…

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…comes refined, refocused purpose. My writing here will be more about you than about me.

Each day holds more potential for the ‘here and now’ than we realize. Since each moment shapes the future, let’s learn how to live, more – how to maximize our living.

With these posts, I’ll offer insights, ideas, in practical applications that you can test-drive in your living. I’ll share what I’ve learned and continue to learn about this individual and shared experience of life. I’ll ask questions to guide your thinking, without necessarily knowing the answers. Your comments to my posts will help us discover best-practice answers together – including additional questions to explore.

We’ll read and write together where this goes.

Question: What one (1) thing are you doing today to live, more?

 

A prayer for imagination

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LORD, throughout today’s tasks, and the timed events awaiting some response from me, please help me to lean into my imagination, perceiving with such clarity that closer to You, my artful living in purpose and play is enough, and that my words and images and sounds be means of grace and glory. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

How you remember yesterday is part of living today and tomorrow

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After five days in the Caribbean (more on that in future posts about the Re:Create Cruise hosted by Randy Elrod), yesterday was for the trip home. It began with a rubbery omelet (the only less-than-stellar meal in the ship’s Grand Restaurant) followed by the cruise line’s inadvertent (I hope that’s what it was) hide-and-seek with our luggage. Next came one of the best examples of airline inefficiency and poor customer service (I confess the temptation to identify the company), leading to the impressively excessive security procedures of Miami’s International Airport.

I’m saving my review of the flight for a future post about the power of minimal expectations; however, on our connecting flight from DFW, there was the family that stereotypically sends shivers down the spine of even the most seasoned travelers. Seated two rows ahead of us were a mom and dad, laden with stroller and toys, and their lively, flying-for-her-first-time 3-year-old daughter.

I want to be sure that you appreciate that it had already been a long day when we boarded that airplane.

You’ve noticed the increasing, piercing, noise of the engines revving with the forward motion of the plane’s becoming airborne? Louder than that were the delighted shrieks of the child. On either side of her, mom and dad had their arms raised. Isn’t that the universal sign language for “joy” on a roller coaster? Theirs was contagious delight.

There was also the interesting conversation with a flight attendant intrigued by a book written by pioneer women about the daily challenges of life and death on the frontier.

Joy. Daily encounters separating life from death. Such is what can put our own moments in perspective and choose what is truly important. How we remember the past has a great impact on how we live today and tomorrow.

What are you choosing to remember as important from yesterday? Thanks for sharing a comment.

The Sacrifice of Subtlety

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I decline entertainment that presumes its audience boorish. Does that make me a snob?  No, merely objectively selective.

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life” – Vivian, in The Decay of Lying – An Observation, by Oscar Wilde.

Art, in any media, does not need to pay obeisance to the moronic trinity of the crass, coarse, and crude. Posting the parental caution, “For Mature Audiences” is not a convenient convention to license vulgarity.

Life’s earthiness, even its bold sensuality, can be most adroitly represented (with humor or solemnity) by suggestive inclination. This requires a greater skill and keener performance than the blatant and overt, expressing the artist’s commitment to the craft.

Rather than victim of natural selection, subtlety has been sacrificed to idle gods.

It is time for a cultural resurrection.

The coming and going of life

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I’m thinking about two friends who are traveling this morning. One is on her way home from burying her father; the other on his way to bury a life-long best friend. Each is grief-weary. Each travels a soul-journey as well as a highway.

I know the depth of grief. I know that the emotion stuff that we call grieving, both the resolved and the untidy, lingers longer than we wish. I know the inexplicable sharpness of unbidden memories surfacing long after the last “Amen” at the internment. Even though I didn’t know her dad, or his friend, my empathy is sharpened and I share something of their soul-journey.

There’s this Jesus whom we Christians look to as the final arbitrator of things Eternal. He talked about life, teaching that it has an everlastingness. Our Easter celebrations are about his resurrection – his being raised from the dead. Most of us believe that some sort of life-after-death awaits us, too. We live knowing that our experiences are a soul-journey through mortality.

My two friends traveling this morning are also Christians. We’ve texted and talked about the coming and going and life. Our conversations will continue.

Today, it’s enough for me to remember to hold every moment gently, loosely; yet, close.

Soul stink? Close to stagnate? Try refreshing your spirit

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God freshens creation through the changing of seasons.  Here in Central Texas. winter quickly rebirths Spring into landscapes’ colors, enticing hibernating spirits to stretch and see the new thing that God is doing.  Our souls, stretched to new breadth and length and height and depth, embrace the presence of the Christ who is with us always and we can find ourselves refreshed, too.

The refreshment does require some effort on our part.

Today begins a season when we Christians are encouraged in our shared effort of living faithfully.  The Christian season of Lent starts on this Ash Wednesday. Formalized by the Church in the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D., Lent has evolved in its observance to engage Christ-followers in spiritual disciplines – intention practices – that help us to nurture our relationship with God.  John Wesley, founder of my tribe (The United Methodist Church), called them “means of grace.”  I think of these as “holy habits” – good for Lent, and all the time.

Looking up “Lent” in the Bible?  You won’t find it (but, remember, there are a lot of things about faith that aren’t in the Bible); however, in Luke’s Gospel (4:1-13), you will find the story of Jesus’ forty-day experience that is the model for this season and highlights some habits that we can develop refresh our spirits:

1 Jesus returned from the Jordan River full of the Holy Spirit, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness. 2 There he was tempted for forty days by the devil. He ate nothing during those days and afterward Jesus was starving. 3 The devil said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, command this stone to become a loaf of bread.”

4 Jesus replied, “It’s written, People won’t live only by bread.”

5 Next the devil led him to a high place and showed him in a single instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 The devil said, “I will give you this whole domain and the glory of all these kingdoms. It’s been entrusted to me and I can give it to anyone I want. 7 Therefore, if you will worship me, it will all be yours.”

8 Jesus answered, “It’s written, You will worship the Lord your God and serve only him.”

9 The devil brought him into Jerusalem and stood him at the highest point of the temple. He said to him, “Since you are God’s Son, throw yourself down from here; 10 for it’s written: He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you 11 and they will take you up in their hands so that you won’t hit your foot on a stone.”

12 Jesus answered, “It’s been said, Don’t test the Lord your God.” 13 After finishing every temptation, the devil departed from him until the next opportunity. (Luke 4:1-13, CEB)

Here are four holy habits that can help refresh you spirit.  For at least the next 40-days:

  1. Be confident. (vv. 1-2.  These references draw you back to the biblical story.)

Enter this season confident that you are being guided by the Holy Spirit.  You are not alone in the effort.

[About the devil:  Whatever your personal beliefs, let our common ground be an acknowledgment that there is always something in our awareness offering opportunity to exploit what we believe for our own selfishness, and move us away from our consistency in living and loving like Jesus.]

2.  Take a time-out from something that fills your life. (vv. 2-4)

Know your cravings; your appetites.  Discover in abstaining from something whether or not it feeds your soul (soul = your core identity as a Child of God).  If it doesn’t, then why are you choosing to keep it?

3.  Keep worship in your schedule and commit to being with the Church. (vv. 5-8)

Don’t rationalize that you can be anywhere else than with other believers for the purpose of glorifying God and it being the same as worship.  [Example:  “The other 3 in my foursome are Christians, too, and our tee-time is on Sunday morning where we are blessed by the beauty of God’s creation.”  You’re not fooling God about golf being more important than God and your soul (soul = your core identity as a Child of God).]

4.  Preview, and review, each day’s tasks. (vv. 9-12)

Before your day begins, anticipate where you’ll be tempted to think that God will do something for you that you are fully capable of doing for yourself.  At day’s end, review your actions to lean how to distinguish trusting God with what you cannot control, from trying to manipulate God to do for you what you simply don’t want to do.