Never Hope Alone

 

NEVER HOPE ALONE

I have been paying attention lately, listening for the pronouns folks use when they talk about hope.  By far, the pronoun I hear most often is “I”.  As a result, I have begun to wonder if hope is a solitary endeavor, something one covets for oneself.

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Hope Never Disappoints Us

 

But that’s not all!  We gladly suffer, because we know suffering helps us to endure.  And endurance builds character, which gives us a hope that will never disappoint us… (Romans 5:3-4 CEV).

 

Hope never disappoints.

This is a very bold statement.  I would guess many of you would question never having been disappointed by trusting in hope.  And who gladly suffers?  What’s the lesson to be learned from this piece of scripture?

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Eating Without Hope

Eating Without Hope

 

“To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death.”  Pearl S. Buck

Dieting is eating but it isn’t what I would define as eating to live.  Having lived in New Orleans for several years, I experienced what it meant to eat and to live.  Meals were savored, not rushed.  Lingering over each bite of food while commenting on the flavors and aromas made eating so much more than just consuming food.

Eating in New Orleans was a social occasion.  Good friends seated at a table sharing food, conversation and a bit of their respective lives.  Food and drink were to be thoroughly enjoyed while you examined where you were in your relationships and where you might be going in your life as each day unfolded.

Food tasted better while eating with friends and colleagues.  Each bite added to the sum of the experience known as lunch or dinner or a late night treat.  Good friends, good food, good memories helped us to drift towards a sense of hope in our lives.

The hope we felt after sharing a meal was the hope born from being comfortable in the world, satisfied with our friendships, and literally full of nourishment.  Hope seemed like a noble purpose to pursue, a reason to thrive.  It resulted from the comfort of food, fellowship, conversation, and an awareness of living a full life, taking in all the tastes, all the flavors, all the textures and all the moments of calm relaxation.  This was eating with hope, of being alive.

Yet there are many examples in the world of people eating without a sense of hope.  And this taste of hope, while eating, is a form of starving – starving to death.

Standing in line, waiting for food, waiting to eat, waiting without a sense of hope, this is the starvation of which Pearl Buck speaks.  You and I can quickly look up the statistics for those in the world who are hungry or malnourished.  We can even go a step further and support organizations that seek to feed the hungry.  But have we found a way to share the hope that might go along with a hot meal, any meal?  Can we be present at tables where hope isn’t realized?

What about those who are alone at mealtime?  What are we doing for them to offer them hope in their aloneness?  What about the elderly, those confined to institutions and nursing homes?  Is hope their companion at dinner?  Or are they starving to death too?

“Every life should have a noble purpose.”  What could be nobler than sharing hope and a meal with someone who might otherwise be eating, yet still be starving?

 

 

 

 

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In The End Good Wins

In the End Good Wins

What an Outstanding Guy”

It is true that at some level we all want to believe that “in the end good wins.”  I was reminded of this life lesson during one particular funeral at which I served as officiant.

Since that service was for a person who I did not know well, I asked several family members to add their comments to my more general comments.  There was some unease about which family members would participate in offering words of remembrance.

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Core Values Part Two

Core Values Part Two

Knowing our personal core values helps us define our goals in life and as I suggested in Part One, affects what we hope to pass along to the next generation.  Just as importantly, recognizing our core values can help us discern if we are living in such a way as to pursue some great vision, some noble purpose.

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Core Values Part One

 

Core Values Part One

Not long ago I asked the members of a writing group to which I belong if they would share their thoughts concerning basic values.  I asked them what value they would want to pass on to the next generation.  Here are some of the responses I received.

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Living by Fear Living by Faith

In an effort to expand my abilities as a life coach, I am currently taking several continuing education courses.  One particular lecture has me thinking.  Do I live by fear or do I live by faith?

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Disappointment and Anger

 


Is there some emotion or response I can grab hold of to fill the gap between feeling disappointed and feeling angry?  I am not yet angry at the lack of principled leadership in organizations such as government and faith-based communities.  I am, however, more than disappointed.  I don’t know how to define my unease or how to resolve my disappointment.  Without some potential remedy, I am concerned that anger may result.

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Starting Over

Starting Over

I am reminded of the story, The Lady and the Tiger, in which a commoner falls in love with a beautiful princess and she with him.  The King is none too happy with this turn of events.  His daughter was destined for a better arrangement.  And so, the King devised a test of the commoner’s character.

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Debriefing A Life

First of all Happy New Year!

I am assuming most of you will be reading this just before or just after 2017 draws to a close and 2018 arrives on the scene.  For some reason, this year’s transition is a particularly introspective event for me.  I am wondering about life and I am wandering through my thoughts concerning where I have been and where I might end up during the next 365 days.

Here are some issues I am considering, vis a vis, how I have handled myself in the past and what I have learned that may affect future interactions during 2018.

My wish/prayer/hope for each of you is that as you skim this post, you will give yourself time to sit down and consider your own review of the past 365 days.  Give yourself this present.  Sit down, listen to some favorite music, drink some favorite beverage, pull out a journal, just stop and slow down.

To be honest, the world has seemed particularly crazy this year.

I really want to make sense of how this year has warped me or challenged me.  I don’t want to conclude I  have just survived this year.  I want to have survived it and confronted it.  So here is what I have been asking myself.

  1.  What one thing this past year  has brought me a true sense of peace, hope, or joy?
  2. What  one thing has been a particularly difficult challenge for me?  In fact, what one thing has happened this year that has shaken me to the core of all that I hold dear – that has exposed my foundational values?
  3. Of whom have I asked forgiveness and for what offense?  Did I learn a lesson from that act that will affect the way I interact with folks during this next year?
  4. For loyal readers of this blog, you know I believe “every life should have a noble purpose.”  Did I discover and respond to something noble this past year?  Did it give me the courage and/or wisdom to consider a new purpose for 2018?
  5. Where did I travel, whom did I meet, what did I see that provided me with a new life lesson?
  6. How much time did I spend dealing with nostalgia, melancholy, and despair?
  7. How much time have I spent in hope – short term and long term hope?
  8. Have I fully attended to issues of mind, body, and spirit this past year?  What are my plans for 2018?

If you have hung in and read this far, I thank you.  I realize that you have committed about five minutes so far and I ought to be offering you some reward or gesture of thanks for your valuable time.

Here goes – to quote A Tale of Two Cities,  “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

During this year, enough has happened to significantly call into question my deeply held belief that in the long run good wins out.  My faith in the power and promise of hope has been shaken to its core.  The basic foundation of my life has been exposed.  Several times this year I have looked into the psychic abyss.

But this one thought kept coming back in the times of my worst angst. The short term must be fully embraced if there is any hope for long term happiness.  Suffering in fear is injustice.  Suffering in the pursuit of that which helps ease the turmoil of another person’s life is time well spent.  There is an agenda, a plan that supersedes all other plans.  It fits into the harmony of the universe.  Until a person finds that agenda, they can know no real peace or joy.

Certainly you and I can recreate some unique version of get up, eat, go to work, interact with others, eat and go to bed, but after a short time we sense that’s not enough.  I guarantee no amount of accumulated “stuff” will ever satisfy our lives.  You and I will always be looking for diversions to temporarily bring relief from the routines of our own “unique”  agendas.  We don’t dream big enough to bring us real success or purpose.

So we need an intentional process that begins with items 1-8 from above.
Here’s your reward for staying the course.

Do this in 2018, and I guarantee the year will fly by.  Devote yourself to someone.  What I mean is this – intentionally choose a person with whom you will interact in the following way.  During this next year, you will put the needs of your intentionally selected person before your own.  On a daily basis you will develop  opportunities and strategies to offer your person constant affirmation and encouragement.  You will only seek their well being and help them discover how they might best live out their perfect idea of a great life in the next year.

In short, this year, make a new best friend.  Not an acquaintance, not a shopping buddy, but a fully functioning new friend based on your utmost care for them.  In short, sacrifice  your time, your talent, and your treasure for the benefit of one new friend.  Make his or her welfare the most important purpose in your life.

One last thing – if you are single this may be easier than if you are living with another person.  Let me suggest before you begin this endeavor you discuss this exercise with your partner.  Your partner may wonder why they aren’t the object of the  challenge.

This will be tough because as we get older we don’t generally make new best friends.  Unfortunately we don’t always treat our old friends/partners with this level of sacrifice or intentionality.  Just keep this in mind.

Let me know how that  goes.

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